Dialogue/Forum on Women's Reproductive Self-Determination

In response to the article by T.F. Barans
Women's Reproductive Self-Determination

About this forum:

Please note that this file contains selected comments taken from e-mails sent to T.F.Barans. This is intended to be a representative sample of correspondence. Not all e-mails are included; those most likely to be included are those that discuss the issues intellegently, not those who call names or who use excessive profanity. Submissions may be edited for space and relevance and extraneous or personal comments may be omitted, however the actual words selected for inclusion will be used exactly as submitted.
In most cases, T.F.Barans will have already exchanged correspondence directly with the writer and even if the writer has received a response from T.F.Barans directly via e-mail, it may take a few days before the response is included in this forum.
Most recent additions are shown first.

Comments from those SUPPORTING women's reproductive self-determination (PRO-CHOICE) are shown in GREEN.
Comments from those OPPOSING women's reproductive self-determination (ANTI-CHOICE) are shown in RED.
Replies by T.F.Barans are shown in BLUE (different shade than e-mail links and not underlined).
Neutral editorial explanations and general information not part of the dialogue are shown in BLACK

1. While comments in agreement and disagreement are shown, this forum is a commentary on the article by T.F.Barans. The editors will try to present a balanced dialogue, but do not claim to be impartial and cannot ensure absolute objectivity.
2. Entries are presented in a dialogue format -- i.e., a series of related entries by a single writer are grouped together, with T.F.Barans' replies to specific comments. Generally, individual writers focus on a specific area of interest or viewpoint (religious, legal, scientific, moral, medical, etc.), and different writers submissions may focus on very different aspects of the issue. Because some of the dialogues include numerous back-and-forth exchanges of e-mails, some of them are rather lengthy. If one specific discussion is not in your area of interest, you may wish to scroll down and see if the next writer included a subject of more interest to you.
3. Will also occasionally invite and include participation of (and additional commentary from) additional participatns with special qualifications and expertise.

Dialogue with Jon M.
AKR writes on 4-2-05:

JM: One of my pro- choice acquaintances directed me here, as if I would be unwilling to engage in dialogue with you. [Follows by quoting extensive excerpt from website at http://www.wordwiz72.com/choice.html#moral.]

TFB replies: Or maybe BECAUSE this person knew you would be willing to engage in a thoughtful and reasoned dialogue. Take it as a compliment.

JM: I dissected certain glaringly false parts and countered them; I'd like to see what you think. Inside quotes is the excerpt from your text, the text after the long dash (---) is my reply at the time, and anything in brackets is what I added while writing this email.

"Equating LIFE with PERSONHOOD reduces the value of a human PERSON to that of any other life form -- the same as a bacteria, virus, insect, fish" --No, because the bacteria, insects, and fish all lack developing human DNA and developing human characteristics.

TFB replies: RTF j
{\rtf1\mac\deff2 \margl1080\margr1080\margb1080\widowctrl\ftnbj\fracwidth \sectd \linemod0\linex0\cols1\endnhere \pard\plain \f20 You missed my point. I was looking for a QUALITATIV
E (based on qualities) not QUANTITATIVE (based on definitions) basis for the value of human personhood. We agree that bacteria, insects and fish do not have HUMAN DNA. So what? What is it about DNA of humans that makes it more valuable? I am NOT disput
ing that it IS more valuable. But what is the basis for that conclusion? Just saying, "Oh, a fish does not have human DNA" means nothing. It also does not have lizard DNA or hummingbird DNA. That would be a QUANTITATIVE difference (by definition, based
on species). The QUALITATIVE difference includes the reason for WHY humans are distinct and of greater intrinsic value. And this goes to the points about human personhood and my definitions for that. What I am saying is that zygotes, embryos and fetuse
s do not have ANY of the actual

JM: Not to mention that virii aren't even alive in the first place.

TFB replies: This is an absurd statement. Of course virii are alive. They lack many of the characteristics of other life forms, but they are clearly alive. Have you ever been in a room with scientists discussing strategies for KILLING the HIV (AIDS) virus? I have. You can't be concerned about killing something that isn't alive. This shows the level of science on which your position is based and, anyway, the point would still remain extant without the virii.

JM: "Sperm and egg cells are alive and human, but they are not human beings, only POTENTIAL humans. I would put 1st trimester embryos in the same category as sperm and eggs." --A sperm and an egg lack genetic completeness and viability; skin, hair, and the like are not developing human beings. That's the difference you still choose to ignore.

TFB replies: So what? They are alive. They appertain to the human species.
Now, your hang-up about skin and hair and the like show that you recognize that being HUMAN LIFE is not enough to be a human person. So since you AGREE that to be a human person requires more than mere HUMAN LIFE, then why not define human life in a way that is QUALITATIVELY different than other life forms? All mammals have skin and hair "and the like" so how does your definition make us any more valuable than dogs or cats or hyenas? The definition on my webpage defines humanity in a way that clearly is unique to human persons ... but does not include embryos.

JM: "When the soul departs from an ensouled person it goes somewhere else and never returns; of course, nothing like this occurs or is relevant if the being does not yet have a soul. What do you think happens to the soul of a fertilized embryo when it is frozen and stored for YEARS? Where does it go? When revived, is the soul yanked back from heaven and restored to the body?" --Hmm, because souls are a very scientific argument.

TFB replies: My website includes scientific reasons for my position; it also includes NON-scientific reasons, including arguments that address religious questions.

JM: [I find it interesting to note that I read on your site that you're against religious and ideological arguments opposing abortion, but this shows you don't mind using them for your own side]

TFB replies: I am NOT against using religious arguments. I do recognize that religious arguments are distinctly different from scientific arguments. In fact, in addition to scientific arguments, I also use religious arguments. I am not against such arguments. What I am against is claiming religious authority (specifically Biblical authority) to oppose abortion, since my religious arguments clearly prove the opposite conclusion. I notice that you did not choose to even address these points.

JM: In the end, there is no justification to ever have an abortion.

TFB replies: You have the right to make that decision for yourself. You do not have the right to make that for any other person.

JM: "It takes two to tangle" is the mantra of the feminist movement, but the man is wiped away when it comes to abortion.

TFB replies: The zygote, embryo or fetus is not in the man's body. Prior to fertilization or after birth the man and the woman have equal rights and equal responsibilities. During pregnancy, ONLY the woman's body is occupied so ONLY the woman can make the decision as to what to do with HER body.

JM: A woman made a concious choice to have sex, knowing a child could result. The problem with your "car accident" analogy I read (You get into a car knowing full well an accident might occur, it does; should you not seek remedy?) is that it's a different situation because in the car accident analogy, the accident is in no way your fault, but getting pregnant certainly is, except in the case of rape.

TFB replies: You get in the car. You do not intend to have an accident, though you know that is always a possibility. So if you have an accident, you could argue that it is your "fault" because you knew it was one possible outcome. Similarly, most acts of sexual intercourse do not result in pregnancy. Especially if some effort was made to time the sexual act or use birth control that fails (yeah, it happens), the intent was to have sex, not a baby, just as the intent was to drive somewhere, not have an accident. But the accident happened; remedies are appropriate. The unwanted pregnancy happened; remedies are appropriate. My point is that the intent was to have sex, not a baby, but the pregnancy happened. And you still haven't offered the slightest justification for why ending an unwanted pregnancy is the slightest bit problematic. While I have not personally had an abortion, I have worked with numerous women who have, including a few who did not want to use chemical or biological agents (pills) for birth control and so used repeated abortions as their birth control. While I personally consider that to be more traumatic than just using the pill, if those women feel that is the best option for them I can't for the life of me come up with a single reason for objecting to their CHOICE.

JM: But the problem with rape is that it makes up such a SMALL percentage of the total number of abortions in this country, and if a law were passed saying, "No abortions except in the case of rape," it would lead to hundreds and thousands of false rape reports so that women could abort their children and then drop the false charges.

TFB replies: Your rather silly logic here does not undermine the validity of the rape exception, but rather demonstrates the silliness of having any law against abortion in the first place.

You still have not demonstrated that the zygote / embryo / fetus is a human person.
And even if you had, you have not demonstrated that it would have a greater right to occupy the woman's body than the woman's right to bodily sovereignty (do you support the right of forced blood transfusions or forced marrow donations that I discussed on my web page?).
You have not even begun to establish even a preliminary basis for your position.

John M. continues later on 4-2-05:

JM: Well, to nip one thing in the bud in the first place.
The definition of a virus. <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=virus>The majority of the scientific community does not consider a virus living. You hear of "destroying" or "stopping" the spread of HIV, but not of killing it.

TFB replies: The exact, accurate quote from the website YOU provided a link for was that "viruses are typically not considered living organisms." It does not say "a majority of the scientific community" nor that they are not alive, just that they are not complete organisms. In any case, I'm not going to hash this out with you because it is not the least bit relevant to my example which included many other examples which you will agree are alive. This is simply a red herring so you can avoid addressing the substantive issue I was discussing.

JM: On April 4, 2004, "Lynn" wrote to you and said, among other things, "Arguments on whether or not women have a constitutional right to abortion therefore, in my mind, should not be based on religious conviction and ideology concerning when human life does or does not begin." Your response was, TFB replies: Excellent point. I agree 1,000%.

The line you sent to me in the email, "I am NOT against using religious arguments" is directly contradictory to what you agreed to. My assumption, therefore, was entirely natural.

TFB replies: No it wasn't. You have misrepresented my statements by divorcing them entirely from their respective contexts. CONTEXT is extremely crucial to what things mean, though I understand that sometimes people feel the need to quote things out of context because they can't deal with the actual context they found them in.

CONTEXT for my comments to Lynn: legal and constitutional issues of public policy.
CONTEXT for my more recent response to you: YOU said: "I read on your site that you're against religious and ideological arguments opposing abortion." You did not cite the specific example of my comments to Lynn. You did not provide any context whatsoever, just a general comment. If you will refer to the overall CONTEXT of my website, you will note that I address many aspects of the abortion issue, but the primary level at which I address the scope of the issue is to divide it into two primary dimensions of the issue: the legal issue (public policy) and the moral issue (personal life). As to the CONTEXT of the legal issue, I do not believe that religion has any place because religion is personal, private and part of the moral issue. That was clearly the CONTEXT I was addressing to Lynn's comments which were about constitutional and legal aspects of public policy. But as to the issue of the moral rectitude of abortion, which is a different dimension, obviously moral and religious issues are extremely important in that aspect of the issue. And in fact, you will note that I have an entire section of my web page that focuses on religious and scriptural aspects. So please do not mis-quote me and do not misrepresent my views by taking them out of CONTEXT. I understand, of course, that this is the only way some people can respond to them since they can't respond to what I have actually written in its actual context and real meaning. I hope this doesn't apply to you.

Do you understand the difference now?

JM: As for your whole mess of "qualitative v. quantitative," you're missing an important point--you can't use qualitative language and descriptors when writing public policy...

TFB replies: Why not, if it is relevant?
And again, I was addressing the moral issue at that point. I had a major heading "Legal Issue" and discussed that aspect of the issue. Then I had another major heading "Moral Issue" and it was there that I discussed the qualitative vs. quantitative aspects of human personhood.

JM: ...public policy, which is what we're discussing when we discuss the issue of abortion.

TFB replies: See above. The issue is not merely, or even primarily, a matter of public policy. There are many things that are legal (smoking, drinking, gambling, birth control) that many would consider immoral, but as long as people's choices to be involved in such behavior don't infringe the rights of anyone else they are left as matters of personal choice and are not treated as matters of public policy. IF you want to outlaw abortion, you have to address all of my arguments, first as to the moral issue (if it isn't even wrong there's no point in outlawing) and then also as to the legal issue. You haven't even come close.

JM: The simplest way to define viable human life (hereafter referred to by the simple legal definition of "life") is an organism containing unique human DNA.

TFB replies: That is absolutely correct ... but only in a quantitative sense. Because you could also define "fish life" as an organism containing unique fish DNA. You haven't shown a qualitative difference to justify why one form of life is sacred and the other can be a cheap, healthy meal for the first. By the way, the "simplest" definition is not always the best.

JM: DNA is the ONLY thing that separates creatures into species, based on the organisms potential to mate with another human being and create fertile offspring.

TFB replies: Right, whether human, fish or insect. Your definition doesn't justify why humans AFTER birth should be more sacrosanct than fish after birth, much less humans BEFORE birth while they lack any actual characteristics of a human person. Not only that, but since eggs and sperms also have HUMAN DNA, and are alive, your definition includes them as human life. Please outline in specific detail what you plan to do to all the women who let any of their eggs get washed away in the "senseless murder" of monthly menstrual blood, and to all the men who allow BILLIONS of sperms, each one a human life with unique DNA, during each nocturnal emission. And please explain how God can create a species in which the number of male sperms so vastly outnumber the quantity of female eggs, resulting in the mandated deaths of quadrillions of sperm cells, each one alive and human, each day. Obviously God doesn't share your view of the definition of "human life." Oh yeah, the religious argument.

JM: It's great to talk about souls and personhood, but those are insubstantial and unscientific things that violate the fundamental laws of falsifiability that govern science.

TFB replies: Again, your definition does not explain why the cold, cruel realities of nature should treat human value any differently than the value of any other species. Your purely cold "scientific" definition merely defines the species, it does not apply matters either of public policy or morality to them. It is irrelevant to the issue of abortion, except to say that it is just as much OK to kill embryos (or even people after birth) as it is to kill a salmon for your dinner. And again, your definition, based only on species DNA, applies just as much to eggs and sperm as to fetuses.

JM: Therefore, my definition is scientifically superior to yours.

TFB replies: Your definition is a technical species identification. It has nothing to do with either the legal issues or the moral issues of abortion.

JM: Counter-summary. "You still have not demonstrated that the zygote / embryo / fetus is a human person." Nope, because 'personhood" is vague and undefinable. However, I have clearly demonstrated how a fertilized human egg--and therefore any organism that develops from it--is a human life.

TFB replies: I have never questioned the fact that a fetus or embryo is a human life. I made this specific point on my website. Life is not the issue. Personhood is, and the qualities that define what it is to be a human person, qualitatively, not just quantitatively, distinct from other life forms.

In any case, sperms and eggs are also human lives, each with a unique selection of DNA. They are alive. They are unique individual carriers of human DNA. They are human life.

JM: "And even if you had, you have not demonstrated that it would have a greater right to occupy the woman's body than the woman's right to bodily sovereignty" Right to bodilty sovereignty. I guess the Founding Fathers and the United Nations charter both missed that unalienable right. Sounds a bit... made up? Sorry, but the "right" you refer to does not exist in the United States, only inside your head.

TFB replies: Read your history. At the time of the Founding Fathers, abortion was accepted as a lawful practice up until "quickening" (the perception of fetal movement). It did not begin to get outlawed until the mid 1800's. The Supreme Court concluded that the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th amendments of the Constitution did, in fact, show a clear intent of the Founding Fathers to create a penumbra of privacy rights and, taking into consideration the historical values contemporaneously in place, that it included the right to abort in the first trimester. In fact, you are wrong. The Supreme Court has said that the "right" I referred to does in fact exist in the United States. It is NOT "only inside [my] head." It is the law of the land, my friend. You may not like it, but that's what the Supreme Court decided. If you deny that, the fantasy is in your head, not mine.

Quote me accurately next time, and in context.

John M. continues on 4-3-05:

[The issue of whether or not viruses are alive is] not simply a red herring, just a deflection of a thinly veiled insult (which you seem to like to hide inside your outwardly polite messages) in which you claimed that your being right in this issue demonstrated scientific superiority to mine.

TFB replies: It was a red herring.
a) it was inaccurate; you misquoted your source, just as you mis-stated your citations of my comments.
b) it is completely irrelevant to the actual point, which is what makes it a red herring.
c) your comments above show you to be thin-skinned and overly sensitive, imagining "thinly veiled insults" where no personal insult was intended. Certainly it was my intent to engage on issues and ideas, and vigorously so; I did not make it personal. The fact that you took it that way demonstrates your own sensitivity to the quality of your "science."

JM: It was not a "red herring" meant to avoid addressing the specific topic of abortion--if it were, I surely wouldn't have devoted so much time to the text that followed the opening paragraph. But I'm sure you read it.

TFB replies: It was a distraction, meant to call attention away from the weaknesses of the argument that followed. It was the classic substitution of irrelevance for substance under the guise of at least saying something.

JM: [Vices such as] smoking, drinking, gambling,birth control ... are only legal because, in all cases except for birth control, the government stands to make a large amount of money off of the products without a serious social downside--especially since all of those activities would continue at almost the exact same level should they be illegalized, except then there'd be a criminal organization involved.

TFB replies: Your statement is overly simplistic. Certainly the revenue from taxing "vices" is a factor. To say that it is the "only" factor is simplistic and dismissive of many key dimensions of the issues involved, not the least of which is the specific point I made: many people want to leave private choices to private hands and restrict public policy to matters of legitimate public interest. I certainly understand that there is a substantial body of the population, consisting primarily (but not exclusively) of religious fundamentalists (whether Islamic fundamentalists, evangelical Christians or ultra-Orthodox Jews) who want to deregulate public administration of many matters of legitimate public interest (including economic issues) while moving public institutions into the micro-management of personal choices.

JM: Matters of "personal choice" are treated as public policy--ilicit drugs, beastiality, incest, and other such laws are clear examples of legislation illegalizing "personal choices" when they are detrimental to the individual or others around them.

TFB replies: 1. illicit drugs: many, including me, do believe that purely private aspects of using controlled substances, should be left to private decision making. There are, however, many legitimate aspects of public interest in policies regarding controlled substances. If you are interested in pursuing this question, an excellent web page on this issue, exploring both public and private dimensions of the issue in a way I fully agree with, is written by the author who hosts my web pages, and can be found at:

2. bestiality: recognizing that while animals may have lesser extent of consciousness, they do have some consciousness, and the regulation of bestiality is handled under the same respect for life that prohibits cruelty to animals; it also reflects the lack of consent by animals which, while non-human, still have rights to be treated with decency.

3. incest: you have lost it by citing this one. In the case of incest there is a clear victim: a child who lacks the capacity to consent to sexual abuse. Even in the case of an adult father to an adult daughter (or son), the capacity for consent would have to be called into question because of the unequal, authoritarian figure of the parent, in the same way that sexual interactions between doctors and patients or instructors with current students can be regulated. I would say, however, that I would not object to legalizing brother - sister incest if it was truly consensual, though I find the idea creepy.

JM: We are humans. When we write laws, we write laws to protect human life

TFB replies: You are incredibly inconsistent. First you cite laws against bestiality and then claim that we only write laws to protect human life. The very law you cited, along with the one I mentioned about animal cruelty, show that you are way out in left field. We write laws to protect the rights of sentient beings. Certainly humans have the greatest degree of sentience and certainly that is the focus of our public policy efforts. And when we do consider other life forms, we clearly consider the degree of sentience. We are far more protective of dolphins, whales, chimpanzees, dogs, cats, horses and African gray parrots than we are of bacteria, snails or insects. But our focus is clearly not just human. AND, it is not just life. We protect a wide range of interests for humans and other sentient beings. We protect emotional well-being, health, economic and property interests as well. Your failure on this point clearly reinforces my position.

JM: since it is an accepted scientific fact that humans are the only specie on the planet that has a evolutionarily developed cortex and frontal lobe capabale of complex emotions, reasoning, and more important, self-awareness.

TFB replies: Uhm, this is the very point I was making ... the QUALITATIVE difference that separates humans from other species. And by the way, the zygote or embryo does not have an "evolutionarily developed cortex and frontal lobe capable of complex emotions, reasoning, and more important, self-awareness -- they only have a genetic blueprint for potentially developing them in the future, if a number of conditional variables are realized. So even by your admitted standards it does not have the actual qualities that distinguish humans in a qualitative way. Thank you for this!

JM: Therefore, any organism with that potential is sacrasanct while organisms lacking that potential

TFB replies: "Potential" is bull hickey. The term "potential" recognizes that it does not have these qualities yet, but may have them at some time in the future if conditional variables are realized. The real point at which human personhood occurs is when the qualities and characteristics of human persons ACTUALLY EXIST, not when they are mere "potentials."

JM: (read: everything with non-human DNA on the face of the Earth) is not.

TFB replies: You are wrong. Dolphins, whales, chimpanzees, gorillas, dogs, cats, horses, many kinds of birds, do have aspects of intelligence, consciousness, feelings and sentience. Certainly it is limited, though some come closer than others -- but all of them, in their mature forms, have far more than any embryo, AND they are not infringing the body of a host. It is not "black or white." There are an infinite range of grays. The intrinsic value is commensurate with the degree of that quality. I agree that no other species has the same level of self awareness, introspection, or other aspects of human beings and that does make us unique. But we can (and do!) recognize a lesser degree of rights and protections for other animals proportional to the extent that they have the qualities out of which such rights and protections are derived. An embryo has NONE of them in their actual form. A newborn baby has ALL of them, in actuality, even though that actuality is in a primitive form.

JM: However, to prevent you from saying, "Why not define human life as a creature that has the traits of conciousness or self-awareness," I'll take the time to point out that the average child does not establish any sort of sentience until the age of 12 months and does no become self-aware until at least 18 months.

TFB replies: This is an absurd statement. You obviously have never held closely or cared intimately for a newborn baby, or if you did your interaction must have been very cold and sterile. I have held and cuddled a newborn daughter and granddaughter, and cared for them intimately. Any parent who has done so will be able to see through this absurd statement. A newborn baby is sentient, conscious, and aware. It has a full compliment of brain waves from alpha through delta. EEG brain waves can be measured as early as the 25th week of pregnancy (middle of 2nd trimester). The newborn is aware of surroundings and responds to them. I acknowledge this quality is in a primitive state of operation, but its operation is actual, not potential.

JM: Therefore, using sentience or self-awareness as a prerequisite for life is insufficient as this would allow the murder of all children in which said awareness can't be demonstrated.

TFB replies: I know of at least one social theorist who does seek to justify infanticide on this basis. I reject and repudiate this position, especially since after birth the other side of the issue -- the infringement of the host's body (against her will if she doesn't want it there) -- no longer applies so, without the issue of bodily sovereignty, there is no longer any reason not to err on the side of caution, especially since we do know that the baby does have brain waves, brain activity, and conscious interaction with the people and objects of its environment.

JM: We're humans--it is not the job of our species to regulate the other species with serious regulation, just our own.

TFB replies: I have already responded to this silly, factually incorrect statement. We do NOT just protect other humans. We protect many other species from wanton killing, cruelty or environmental infringement, NOT "just our own." You are simply wrong. AGAIN.

JM: Eggs and sperms ... aren't organisms, nor do they have complete OR unique DNA. If you had taken any 101 Biology course or equivalent (I hope you have, or I fear my efforts may be in vain), you would know that eggs and sperm contain 23 chromosomes that do not exist in pairs. Therefore, they do not contain complete DNA, therefore they are not human.

TFB replies: First of all, your response errs in saying that eggs and sperms do not have "unique" DNA. They do. The combinations of chromosomes that split off of each of the 23 pairs creates a unique set. While each sperm's set come from the father, it is a random mixture of halves of chromosome pairs, and none of them is the same as the father (random mixes of half pairs) or of each other.

Second, the point about being "complete" or "organisms" is irrelevant.
Eggs and sperms are alive.
Eggs and sperms are human.
Your talk about being "complete" or "organisms" merely adds conditions to the valuing of human life, just as I do when I say it needs to include the actual features and processes out of which conscious sentience arise. So we both AGREE that the issue is NOT "human life." It is human life under certain conditions. The difference is that the conditions I cite arise out of the qualities that distinguish us qualitatively from other species. Yours do not; in fact, the matching and blending of chromosome pairs from the father's sperm and the mother's egg is exactly the same process that occurs in all other species who reproduce sexually, including insects and fish. My criteria are relevant to what makes us human; yours are not. But we both agree that HUMAN LIFE is not the issue.

JM: Futhermore, [eggs and sperms] are not organisms, they are cells--they will never become more than what they are without a catalyst.

TFB replies: Ah, the old "potential" thing. My point exactly. Potential is not enough. Eggs and sperms have the POTENTIAL to become human persons IF a number of conditional variables occurs. Same for the zygote or embryo. IF the blastocyst implants; IF it receives adequate nutrition; IF it survives the mother's immune system; IF, IF, IF ... it remains a POTENTIAL until it has developed the ACTUAL processes and features out of which human personhood arises. The only difference between a sperm/egg and a blastocyst is that the blastocyst has passed one step further along the chain of potentials.

JM: Murder is defined as the termination of human life without just cause including but not limited to self defense or defense of a third person.

TFB replies: This is not a good definition. Please cite your source. I think you just made this up, and you didn't even do a very good job. This definition does not include accidental death, or unintentional death. Both intent and malice must be part of any definition, as I noted on my website. Otherwise, even in the case of adult humans, you might have only manslaughter or accidental homicide with liability. Another criterion is that the being who is killed must be a human person. I have cited many reasons why this does not apply to an embryo.

JM: So except in cases in which the mother is seriously endangered by her unborn child, you should be against abortion, using your own definition.

TFB replies: Full term pregnancy and childbirth inherently include many risks of injury and death that cannot be foreseen 5 or 6 months in advance. Forcing a woman to endure and unwanted pregnancy for nine months and assuming such physical risks is, itself, a threat that she cannot be forced to accept against her will. Of course, as a male who will never be forced to endure such a process, this is a very safe position to take. How convenient. A man has no more right to force a woman to have the most private part of her body occupied against her will for nine months than a rapist does to occupy the same space against her will for nine minutes.

JM: I pretty solidly established that an embryo is a living human organism

TFB replies: We agree that it is human life. So are sperms and eggs. Additional conditions, restrictions, definitions are just your own limitations on that principle. We both agree some limitations are necessary. Again, mine are rooted in the essence of what makes us human; yours reduce us to the same level as any other life form.

JM: therefore termination of the life of said organism is murder.

TFB replies: Your definition of murder was sadly flawed as I noted, but then again a better definition wouldn't have worked for you, would it?

JM: I also very distinctly established the difference between an embryo and a salmon.

TFB replies: No you did not. Not qualitatively. Your whole point is mere species identification, not the justification of special status for humans. Your further point was about humans only making laws to protect humans, which of course is absurdly erroneous.

JM: don't chastise me and my history by trying to tell me that the Founding Fathers had anything to do with the writing of the 14th Amendment. Seeing as how it was not ratified until the Reconstruction period, more than 60 years after the death of the last Founding Father.

TFB replies: You are ignorant of the meaning of that term "Founding Fathers" in the Constitutional context (you seem to have a problem with that) I was referring to. When the Supreme Court decides a case they look to the "original intent" of those who wrote the Constitution. For most of the Constitution, it is those delegates who met in the original Constitutional Convention or those who met subsequently to draft the Bill of Rights, generally known as the "Founding Fathers" for the nation as a whole. But when looking to the 14th Amendment, the "Founding Fathers" for purposes of that amendment were those in Congress at the time it was passed in 1868. And your "60 years" figure just shows your sloppy "research." Sixty years before the passage of the 14th Amendment would be 1808. At that time, Thomas Jefferson was still alive (and would be for 18 more years). Madison, one of the primary architects, was not only alive, but the current sitting president! James Monroe's term as president was in the distant future.

JM: Secondly, you know very well that the decision in Roe v. Wade was made by what political scientists everywhere agree to be the most libera court in the history of the United States, and

TFB replies: No it wasn't. It was decided by the Burger Court of the 1970's. In comparison, the Warren Court of the 1950's and 1960's was far more liberal, as was the Court filled with FDR appointees during the 1940's. By 1973, Nixon had already begun appointing numerous judges, including the Chief Justice, Burger, and several associate justices, including William Rehnquist who would later be elevated to Chief Justice by Reagan. The author of the decision, Blackmun, was a Nixon appointee. The two dissenting votes were from Rehnquist (Nixon) and by a Kennedy appointee, White. Nixon had appointed FOUR justices by the time Roe was decided (Burger, Powell, Rehnquist, and Blackmun). Three of them voted in favor of Roe! Yes, the Court then was much more liberal than now, but not the most liberal in history. More reckless, half-baked statements demonstrating your level of dialogue.

JM: it still only managed to pass through said body with a 7-2 vote.

TFB replies: "Only"? Seven-to-two was, is and always will be a pretty decisive vote.

JM: To discuss the legal aspects of it: The intent of the 14th amendment was not to guarantee privacy

TFB replies: You obviously have never taken a course in Constitutional Law (I'm no lawyer, but I did take four semesters of Con Law). The 14th Amendment is the key to applying Federal privacy rights under the 4th, 5th, 6th and 10th amendments to be applicable to actions by state legislatures.

JM: the clear intention of the writer of said amendment was to help quicken the process of bringing civil rights and liberties to recently freed African Americans.

TFB replies: The original Bill of Rights applied mostly to actions by the Federal government, not state governments. The key to the 14th amendment was that it applied the rights and immunities from the federal Bill of Rights to actions by states. So the 4th, 5th, 6th and 10th amendments define those rights but it is the 14th that allows the Court to apply it to a state law; in the case of Roe it overturned a state law (from Texas), NOT a Federal law. This couldn't have been done without the 14th Amendment. Uhm, Jon, this is pretty basic Constitutional Law -- usually covered on about the first class period of the first semester.

JM: Interpreting in a way other than that (or in a way other than holding the states accountable to the bill of rights) is an egregious miscarriage of justice.

TFB replies: I have to admit, hearing you expound about "interpreting" case law and "egregious miscarriages of justice" (and earlier about "discussing 'legal' aspects") did cause me to laugh out loud. You don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about. You are so far over your head....

JM: If you have the right to bodily sovereignty, please explain why illicit drugs and suicide are illegal? Take your time with that one, because you won't be able to answer it.

TFB replies: I have previously commented on the issue of illicit drugs. There are legitimate public policy issues; there are also needs to liberalize drug laws for individual freedom. Read the article by my friend who hosts my web page, which is at:

As for suicide, yeah, it is technically illegal. I think anyone who kills themself should get the death penalty :-)
Actually, people don't get prosecuted for attempting to kill themselves. They get put in mental health facilities. The presumption is that a sane person will not kill themself, and that they lack the capacity to freely consent to that choice (not of "sound mind") and what they really need is help. That could be construed as valid public purpose. I do, however, see the need to liberalize statutes for "death with dignity" and "physician assisted suicide" where intent is clearly evidenced and where there are circumstances that render it a rational choice, such as a painful, incurable illness.

JM: [Quoting TFB prior comment]: "You may not like it, but that'swhat the Supreme Court decided. If you deny that, the fantasy is in your head,not mine."

Just remember that your statement is a two-way street that I anticipate you aren't going to like in the next decade. The country is growing decidedly more conservative, and it's almost guaranteed that Bush will get one (and maybe two) new justices on the bench before 2008. Combine that with a Republican victory in 2008 (which is probable, as the Democrats lack a viable candidate) and you're looking at justices replacing your beloved O'Connor and Stevens, which gives the pro-life side more than enough votes to waive Roe v. Wade.

TFB replies: Your political analysis may or may not be accurate ... it is too early to predict the popular will in 2006, much less 2008. That isn't the point. Certainly it is possible that Roe will get overturned and, yes, I won't like it or agree with it. That wasn't what I criticized you for. Reasonable people can disagree about Court decisions and express that disagreement. You didn't just say you disagreed with Court, you denied what is the current state of the Law of the Land. Here is your exact statement again: "Sorry, but the 'right' you refer to does not exist in the United States, only inside your head." In fact, that right does exist in the United States today, because of the Court's decision. Before 1973 in many states if you had an abortion you could be prosecuted, there was no such legal right. After 1973 that right did exist, and it still exists today, and not just inside my head. You may disagree with it, and you may not like it, but to say it "doesn't exist" just makes you look really, really foolish.

JM: In closing,When discussing issues of public policy, we do not need to completely redefine and examine the abortion issue but instead use legal precedents already before us. We have laws outlawing murder.

TFB replies: Abortion is not murder. It is not an act of malice, but of relief for the owner of the body. It is not the killing of a human person. It is within the self-defense exception because the woman is protecting her body from immediate unwanted occupation that could last 9 months (she could kill a rapist occupying the same space for 9 minutes and be cleared based on self defense) and a prolonged pregnancy and forced childbirth expose her to risks and complications that she may not be forced to endure. Even rational people who want to outlaw abortion classify it distinctly from murder, more along the lines of manslaughter or unjustifiable homicide.

JM: We have such laws as the Unborn Victims Act which are already substantiated that unborn children killed in the mothers' womb are persons. Science, the driving force behind reason, defines a fertilized egg and any delineation of said organism as a human life, which would make abortion the termination of a human life. Based on our existing legislation, that makes abortion murder.

TFB replies: I agree with the outcome of this law but not its theoretical basis (though I wouldn't be so stupid as to say it "doesn't exist except in your own mind" - geesh!). And by the way, facts are not "substantiated" by laws, which are merely opinions enacted into public policy. As I stated on my website, I agree that the killing of a fetus by a third party should be a crime, because it deprives the woman of her choice to be pregnant if that was her choice and also exposes her to risks and injury in the process of the killing. A zygote or embryo itself has no intrinsic worth, any more than a diamond does. But a diamond has ascribed value because of the value ascribed through the perceptions and consciousness of its owner. For a woman who WANTS her pregnancy, depriving her of it takes from her a precious gift. But if she does NOT want it, then it forces her to endure a lengthy hostile takeover of the most private part of her body.

Dialogue with Lee
Lee writes on 11-11-04:

I was wondering if you could make an argument for a womens right to chose by applying the 13th amendment. " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist with in the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction" If a womans right to chose is taken away wouldn't this force her in to involuntary servitude by forcing her carry to term and wouldn't that be a violation of her rights under the 13th amendment of the US Constitution? Thank you Lee

TFB replies: In a modern context I would agree that this might apply, as I noted in my comments about the comparison to slavery. However, taken in the context of the "framers' intent" -- the intent of those who wrote the amendment, I believe they were referring to slavery of Americans of African descent, and the idea that this might apply to women was far removed from their minds. In terms of the legal issue, I believe that Roe v. Wade, despite many other limitations and flaws, was right in drawing the right to choose out of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments that, together, create a "penumbra right of privacy" which was the basis for a woman's right to make this most private of choices. Even though a specific right of "privacy" is not stated in the Constitution using that word, the intent of those Amendments clearly created the right to be private and secure in our persons and homes, which created the basis, first, for legalizing birth control (Griswold v. Connecticut) and later abortion (Roe v. Wade). I think in principle you are right, based on modern standards, but in terms of the legal standard of what the framers intended, I think the standard used in Roe is correct. Since abortion, at least prior to "quickening," was socially and legally acceptable in the U.S. at the time of the original Bill of Rights (and did not become questionable until the mid-1800's), it seems reasonable that the founding fathers' intent regarding privacy rights in the original Bill of rights would also apply to a right to choose which, at that time, they took for granted.

Dialogue with Patricia
Patricia writes on date:

I wanted to write to tell you how helpful this website was for me. I found it amazing that a google search was so dominated by pro-life arguments. It took a while for me to find your site.

TFB replies: I'm glad you found it. We are outnumbered out there. I am surprised there aren't more women concerned about the right of self determination over our own bodies. The day that abortions is again outlawed, as I fear it will be if the president gets to make several court nominations (as is expected), I can assure you women will rise up again as they did in the early days of the modern liberation movement. Most women now are too young and don't remember how it was; they take it for granted.

P: I recently chose to end a pregnancy. I hate the term abortion. It sounds like murder to me.

TFB replies: I understand how you feel. But the word abortion is NOT the same as murder. I hope I have addressed it. The reason the word has such a nasty connotation to many is because of the way it has been unfairly vilified.

P: I am 42, I have three beautiful children, the last oen being 17months old. I love my children. I was clear I did not want to invite another child into our family. I have a very loving and supportive husband who felt the same way.

TFB replies: You are fortunate to have a good support system. Not everyone does. But (as I point out on my site) in working with women to help provide access, one of the big surprises is that the stereotype of the irresponsible single, unwed pregnant teen is an "urban myth." The typical woman choosing to end a pregnancy (I'll use your terms) is married and is unselfishly considering the children she already has, and giving them priority over cell tissue that has the potential to grow into a child if certain variables are met.

P: I did not think I was capable of choosing to end a pregnancy. I thought abortion was wrong. I din't know if I was pro-choice. My last child was a surprise and quite an adustment for our family so it wasn't that I didn't think I could raise another child. I knew we would be ok.

TFB replies: Abortion IS wrong for many women. The whole point of "choice" is the recognition that not every choice is right for every person or every situation.

P: I also knew I did not want to have another child. I will save the detailed list as to why, but know most of the reasons were quality of life reasons, for my family, myself and the child I would be inviting.

TFB replies: The reasons are no one's business but your own. There are MANY valid reasons why it is unwise (and unfair to the children you already have) to add more. They are as numerous as the women who face those different situations. Whatever details are specific to your situation don't matter. It is your life and your decision. And I'm sure you made it prayerfully and unselfishly.

P: Your articles/essays put into words what I felt intuitively and thought about with regard to my own body, my right to make a choice, about how everything is God to me.

TFB replies: Thank you for these kind comments.

P: I am a PhD student in prenatal and perinatal psychology. Thanks to my education, there is no doubt in my mind consciousness is continuous as life is continous. I have read studies where women who did not wish to be pregnant asked the soul to leave and they miscarried. Life is so much more complex than much of the religious right seems to embrace.

I acted on the right I determined I had to say to the soul who wished to be born through me - simply no - not now- and probably not in this lifetime. I prayed the soul leave and I said goodbye with a deep sense of love for the lessons I learned from his/her presence. I hoped I would miscarry. That would have been so much easier to justify - but no - my lessons went deeper for me in that I had to decide more actively, not passively, and follow thru with my decision by finding help to end my pregnancy.

TFB replies: I'm sure your experience will make you more empathetic toward and understanding of women who love their families but still need to make a difficult decision. You will be able to help them, whichever way is the right choice for them, to assume a greater burden of sacrifice or to watch out for the needs of the family that is already there.

P: How grateful I was to know I had that option. I know now that I will help other women also have the option. This truly feels the most loving and spirit filled way to be for me.
I am very grateful for the support you offered me. Bless you!

TFB replies: And bless YOU for sharing. I appreciate the supportive comments. Needless to say, most of my correspondence (most of which I don't post) is rather less encouraging :-)
While my website makes it clear that sending the message authorizes me to use it, because yours is so personal, I would like to say that I would like to add it to my forum site, but would ask your permission so as not to put you on the spot. Of course I would delete all identifying or personal information.

Dialogue with AKR
AKR writes on 9-8-04:

AKR: I agree that the Bible does not directly address abortion and it does not address PRO-CHOICE either.

TFB replies: I do not claim Bible authority for a pro-choice position. If you read my entire web page you will see that it is based on a broad range of other facts and reasons, but not on the Bible. I do, however, point out (as you agree) that the Bible itself can also not be used as the authority for opposing abortion, any more than it can be used for opposing organized sports, which it also neither endorses nor opposes. Only one side of this issue has a large constituency which bases their position largely on scriptural claims, and I am pointing out that they are wrong.

AKR: I would also like to know exactly how you know that abortions happened in Biblical times, because as you say it, it is not included in the Bible. So, if I go your route, then I would not believe abortions happened either, because it is not addressed in the Bible.

TFB replies: Because I cite other contemporary and historical writings showing that other Jewish writers of the time commented on it. Please review my website -- I cited the Talmud, the Didache and letters to Barnabus and Dignetus (early Christian era leaders) as well as other sources, and my correspondence has many instances where Christians have cited examples of writers from that time who wrote against abortion (others supported choice in the matter), but the point that is proven by their own writing is that, whatever others wrote about it, pro or con, it shows that this issue was known, and that the writers who opposed it didn't get their statements into the Bible. And despite the Bible's many references to birth, death, life, conception, pregnancy, creation, etc., any of which would have been a perfect opportunity to discuss the issue, THEY DIDN'T. I have no doubt that God has inspired some that abortion was not right for them, while others report having prayed upon the matter and been inspired to feel that for them it was right, without later regret. Some commandments are general and universal, others are individual and personal, such as the call to a foreign mission which might be right for one person but not another.

AKR: Taking a life that God has given is taking a life no matter how you try to twist it.

TFB replies: You are twisting what I wrote. I have never once denied that abortion kills a human life. So does the menstrual ouster of an unfertilized egg or the loss of hundreds of millions of sperms when they die without fertilizing an egg. Each is a genetically unique life, of the human species. They are human lives. I made a clear distinction between human LIFE and human PERSONHOOD. At the end of life, we say that a person is legally dead (and can have organs removed) after the cessation of measurable EEG brain waves. Since measurable EEG brain waves don't occur prior to the middle of the second trimester, then certainly no one could reasonably claim that the HUMAN LIFE that exists prior to that point is a human person. It has none of the actual attributes of a human person, but merely the potential to develop into them if certain contingent variables are realized. In contrast, as any woman who has held a baby in her arms, after birth a baby has ALL of the actual attributes of a human person, even though their functional operation is new and primitive, but they are there.

AKR: If I step on a snake and smash his head "I killed it." I could say, "well I am scared of them and I felt the right choice was to take its life." I STILL KILLED IT.

TFB replies: Again, I was not denying that something is killed. I said it is not a human life. Neither is a snake. So let me ask you, if you (or your human children) are threatened by a poisonous snake approaching, would you have any regret in having killed it to save your children? What about an unwanted pregnancy that might threaten your physical health and financial security, especially if you are already trying to support three other children?
But rationally I could justify killing the fetus much more than the snake, or killing animals to eat for meat for no valid health purpose other than to satisfy a wholly unnecessary lust for artery-clogging animal fat.
The snake (or cow, or pig) has far more conscious sentience than a first trimester fetus, which has none.
The cow or pig is not occupying the most private part of your body, nor threatening you in any way.

AKR: I do not believe in abortion, but because I believe that, that does not make me a RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS!

TFB replies: There are many valid reasons why any individual woman might believe that abortion is wrong for her. Where it gets out of line is when she wants to impose her choice on other women, by force of law. And if they falsely claim the moral authority of scripture as their basis, then they are also RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS. Since you have already stated that you agree with this last statement, then I would not call you a RELIGIOUS EXTREMIST.

AKR: I go to abortion clinics and I hear the hate that comes out of so-called christians mouths to these women. I am not one of those.

TFB replies: Amen.

AKR: I pray silently for each woman who enters the door of the abortion clinic. I also see the hurting mothers and fathers who cry before entering those doors. Those are the ones who are not sure about the choice they are about to make.

TFB replies: I agree that it is wrong to pressure women to make choices they don't really want, as this also denies them their real choice. I believe that may be one source of those tears, but another source is the hate and pressure and taunting and un-Christian cruelty foisted on them by the tormentors you describe. I have accompanied women to abortion clinics when no protesters were their to impose their phony, unnecessary guilt trip on them, and I have NEVER seen the tears or regrets you describe. And a study I cite in my web page notes that 89% of women, years later, have no regrets. As to the other 11%, it would make an interesting follow-up to note how many really changed their minds (I'm sure there are a few), contrasted with those who were pressured by boyfriends or parents, or who were cruelly assaulted by RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS.

AKR: It does not matter if it is a sin or not,what matters is the hurt that these precious human beings go through. My heart breaks everytime I see a young woman crying and the boyfriend in tears, they are hurting. Their faces haunt me at night. I will NEVER forget them. To see a woman come out who apparently has had an abortion and no one says a word to her because the baby she had inside is gone, now that is a worthy cause. They need help. Maybe not that day or the next, but one day they will. I will be giving out journals with counseling papers inside in hopes that if someone is hurting, they can get the help the need.

TFB replies: Their tear-stained faces SHOULD haunt you, as you reflect on your role in imposing guilt on them, and accompanying and aligning yourself with those who you acknowledge say cruel and unchristian things.

AKR: I write all this to say that the next time you try to put all christians in the EXTREMIST clump you will remember that alot of us are not that way.

TFB replies: You have some nerve to accuse me of "trying to put all Christians in the EXTREMIST clump...." when I never said any such thing. I don't even claim YOU are a religious extremist, since you don't claim a Bible basis for your position, although I do disagree with you if you claim that a decision that is right for you should be imposed on anyone else (do you support laws to restrict abortion?).
I especially do not apply the "EXTREMIST" label to those many Christians who are ... PRO-CHOICE, and there are many who are.

AKR: I am very sad by the way you ended with God using virgins as a BOOTY and rape as spoils of war. You clearly do not understand the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for you.

TFB replies: I didn't make that up. Read the Bible, Numbers chapter 31. Quoting from the web page of Dave Danizier (http://www.wordwiz72.com/bible.html): "Numbers Chapter 31 COMMANDS the Israelites to invade the Midianites (verse 1-2), the chapter goes on to describe the cruelty, destruction and taking of spoils of war COMMANDED by God. It says God COMMANDS the killing of every adult male, and this was done (verse 7). When they return with the male children and females, they are COMMANDED BY GOD to kill all the male children and all the females who "have known man intimately," which is Bible language for not being virgins (verse 17). But it tells this bunch of horny warriors, as part of their spoils of war, to keep alive the virgin girls "for yourselves" (verse 18) For what? To baby sit them? Why just the girls and not the boys? Why only virgins? Why is their sexual history relevant? Putting it into historical context, and given what we know of the culture of that time, and the tradition of rape and pillage allowed by conquering warriors, and that this is given as a litany of military spoils, in that context it clearly appears that, according to the Bible in this passage, God (through Moses) is COMMANDING RAPE!! (Verses 30-35 showing the command was carried out). Some have claimed that the Midianite virgins that the soldiers were instructed to "keep for themselves" means the soldiers were to marry them. However, the Bible has no record of wholesale marriage between the Israelite soldiers and Midianites. And verses 32-35 of this chapter refer to the captured virgins as "booty" (in the King James Version; the New International Version uses the term "plunder"). It does not refer to them as "brides." In any case, why would they need only brides; after all the men lost in battle, seems they would be more in need of young men if marriage was the object. And after the soldiers have just killed their fathers, mothers, brothers and any sisters who weren't virgins, I'm sure they can really look forward to loving marital bliss (at least the Israelites won't have to worry about "in-law" problems, but one would think a compassionate God would have more consideration for these poor girls)."
Look it up for yourself.

AKR: May you find God's peace

TFB replies: Thank you for your kind sentiment. I have found peace. I am not the one who lays awake at night with a broken heart or being haunted by the tear-stained faces of those that I and my unchristian accomplices have tormented.

Dialogue with Carmen
Carmen writes on 8-3-04:

Something for you to Ponder
http://[link to website with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses]

TFB replies: Something for YOU to ponder:

I cited very specific facts and reasons for my positions. You could not, would not or at least DID NOT respond -- obviously you can't.

Instead, you make a raw appeal to emotion, using pictures that are in some cases outright misrepresentations and in others grossly out of context.

When you can address the situation honestly, maybe we can have a discussion.

Carmen continues on 8-4-04:

I don't care to discuss anything with you.

TFB replies: You are the one who initiated this discussion.

C: I've done all the "discussing" I'm going to because there's no use in talking to the deaf and dumb.

TFB replies: This is a very offensive way of referring to Deaf people. I know. I work a lot with Deaf people, and have for more than 42 years. This is a very un-Christian reference, and shows the depravity with which you dismiss human being who have actually been born, just because they don't conform to YOUR idealized standard of perfection (or at least "normalcy").

C: I just wanted you to see some pictures of the things you are advocating.

TFB replies: I do not advocate abortion. I advocate the right for a woman to control her own body, including the right to choose between abortion or full-term birth.

C: And, believe me, they are NOT "doctored" or misrepresented!

TFB replies: I did not say they were "doctored." I did say they were misrepresentations. They show an 11-week fetus (first trimester) almost right next to a full term baby, with no adjustment for scale. The 11-week fetus is very small, barely visible. It is not at all comparable with the full-term baby. And it is just a physical shell. As I note, with documentation from the scientific literature, EEG brain waves don't even begin until the middle of the 2nd trimester. Note that, at the end of life, when EEG brain waves cease, the person is declared legally dead, even if some other cells are still functioning and have not shut down yet. So if post-EEG brain wave cessation is not a human life, then how can you say that pre-EEG brain wave onset is a human life? I don't disagree that it is alive and that it is of the human species, thus "human life," but so is a sperm or an egg and no one calls that a human person.

C: Why don't you just go to an abortion clinic and see for yourself? Perhaps THAT would open your eyes.

TFB replies: Been there, done that. On multiple occasions I have accompanied Deaf and disabled women to help provide equal access to services. And the first time I saw a first trimester abortion, done under safe, sanitary, medical conditions, just a quick scraping -- just a few minutes and it was over -- I thought, "Is that it? Is that all? THIS is what they are making such a big fuss about?" So the next question is for you: have YOU ever been inside an abortion clinic, through the procedure, and seen it for yourself? Perhaps THAT would open YOUR eyes.

C: Like I said before: I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall on Judgment Day.....

TFB replies: Ah yes, when all else fails, the Cosmic Death Threat. Of course, you can't find one single place even in your own Bible, that forbids, or even frowns on, abortion, although it talks about life, death, pregnancy, childbirth, and many other related topics which would have been perfect places to mention it.

So if you are there at any Judgment Day, it will be your own, and yes, you will be worth little more than a fly because of your lack of compassion for real human women and your blasphemous misrepresentation of the Bible and what it says (or doesn't say).

Dialogue with Rachel
Rachel writes on 5-3-04:

You say to someone, a woman has to right to protect herself against an unwanted intruder(self-defense). I'll just start with this point, your welcome to bring on any and all your mighty pro-choice arguments you want in reply. Intelligence says this intruder would not exist at all had she and another male not brought him to life.

TFB replies: The unwanted "intruder" is NOT there because the woman invited it in. IF (and only if) you are talking about a consensual sexual relationship, what the woman consented to was sex (and of course this doesn't even begin to cover pregnancies caused without consent, such as rape or incest). Most sexual encounters do not result in pregnancy. Whether she used birth control and it failed or she didn't use birth control at all, what she consented to was sex and the pregnancy was an unintended consequence, just as driving your car is a choice to use a particular form of transportation to get from point A to point B ... even though a traffic collision is a known possible risk, all you consented to was a specific means of transportation, not the collision. If a collision occurs (which is not what you chose, but you knew it was a possible risk), there is no reason you shouldn't be able to take any necessary measures to prevent the unwanted consequences. Similarly, when a woman chooses to have sex, she consents to SEX, not necessarily to pregnancy. And if she ends up with an unwanted pregnancy she has the right to remove the "intruder" from the most private part of her body.

R: That would be like saying I brought this robber and rapist home with me and he robbed me and he rapped me.

TFB replies: What are you saying here? If a woman brings a man that she thought she could trust to her home and it turns out that he robs her and rapes her (so it means she is the one who brought the robber/rapist to her home), you don't think she has the right to file a police report? You think "date rape" (and even "date robbery") are OK? If a woman brings a man to her home he has the right to do anything he wants to her, just because she happened to bring him to her house? Why do you have so much animosity toward women? Why do you think women have no right to say "no"? Your hatred for women and your refusal to allow them to be anything more than the property or playthings of men shows a contempt for human rights that undermines any credibility you might have had on this issue!

Dialogue with Bill
Bill writes on 4-25-04:

What I have never understood in the "right to choose" arguments is why there is never discussed the woman's right to choose contraceptives or even, dare I say, abstinence in the absence of contraceptives.

TFB replies: How can you say that the "right to choose contraceptives" is never discussed in dialogues about abortion? I discuss it at several points in my main commentary, and repeatedly in my dialogues with those who correspond with me. If you have missed it, it is because you are not listening, not because it isn't being discussed.

Those who support women's right to reproductive self-determination ("choice") support the whole range of choice options: abstinence, birth control, full-term pregnancy with adoption, full-term pregnancy with parenthood or abortion ... or, at varying times and situations, the same woman might make different choices. What YOU have NOT contributed to this dialogue is the slightest hint of why a woman's range of choices should be restricted.

B: To me, listening to "my right to choose" rings very hollow. I hear: "I have the right to have carefree, whimsical, unprotected sex! If as a result I get pregnant, I have the right to an abortion!"

TFB replies: And your point is? If a woman chooses to have "carefree, whimsical, unprotected sex," you haven't even attempted to justify why she should not then be allowed to have an abortion if that "carefree, whimsical, unprotected sex" happens to result in an unwanted pregnancy. If you have a problem with "carefree, whimsical, unprotected sex," it may have more to do with the quality of serious relationships than with the right to choose an abortion, and there may be legitimate concerns about cheap, shallow relationships, but that is a whole 'nother subject. But let's say there is a married couple who has a very high quality, serious relationship that also involves the occasional ""carefree, whimsical, sex" act, perhaps without contraception of perhaps the contraception fails (does happen, you know). You haven't given the slightest hint of a reason why using abortion for birth control would be immoral or unethical. For my part, I would consider it impractical, since birth control is simply more practical and convenient, and to me having serial abortions because you don't want to use the pill or patch is like having serial root canals because you don't want to brush or floss. But that's my view. If someone else prefers the root canals, I find it hard to understand from a practical perspective but I wouldn't see it as a moral issue. If you disagree then you're going to have to have clear and specific REASONS why you as a male feels you have a right to judge the differing choices women make about their own bodies.

B: I personally don't have a moral or ethical objection to certain abortions. Rape, incest, underage, mentally incapacitated....where the conception was not concensual, or, if concensual, was not otherwise legitimate (underage, etc). Might be a few other situations, but they could be defined. Not a great solution, but limited.

TFB replies: You didn't include failed contraception, which your first comments suggested might be a valid basis in your view. In any case, you are entitled to your own personal opinions about what is moral or ethical, with or without justifying them with specific reasons, but you haven't even begun to offer the slightest basis if you want to impose that choice on others. So let me ask you: are you just tossing out your personal beliefs, or would you want to see that enacted as legislation that you would use to control by force women's choices about their own bodies. The latter carries a much higher standard of justification.

B: So, am I correct that the position of the "Right to Choose" movement includes the right to have carefree, whimsical, unprotected sex and the "right" to use abortion as birth control in this scenerio? "Sex in the City" kind of behavior with occasional "oops"?

TFB replies: As with those who oppose abortion (some allow it for rape, incest, "life of the mother" or "morning after" treatments, others oppose all abortions with no exceptions), those who are "pro-choice" support a wide range of views, from any time in the first trimester, to full abortion on demand at any time in pregnancy (I have even heard some call for allowing infanticide, but I think you'd find precious few pro-choicers who would support that very extreme view once the woman's body is no longer part of the equation and you clearly have a complete person with all of the actual, not potential, features out of which humanness derives, even if they are still at a primitive level of operation. As for me, I support abortion rights any time during pregnancy, up to the point where induced childbirth becomes less invasive, and for any reason, including pregnancies that result from "carefree, whimsical, unprotected sex and the 'right' to use abortion as birth control" even pursuant to sex that is irresponsible or part of a cheap or shallow relationship. You have indicated your obvious disgust, but haven't actually even offered the slightest kernel of a reason for that dissenting view.

B: Would appreciate hearing your response. Don't bother with all the religious, moral, ethical sideroads, please. I'm just trying to understand this as a logical, pragmatic issue. One where adults accept consequences for their actions...or inactions.

TFB replies: Having an abortion is one way responsible people solve a problem. Not all solutions have to be punitive, or are you suggesting that you want people to be in some way penalized for choices you are morally opposed to. If so, it is you who is going down the "religious, moral, ethical sideroad." If I choose to avoid brushing and flossing and get an abscessed tooth, a root canal solves the problem. Letting it further infect and fester until I die may provide a proper punishment for my carelessness, but it isn't always necessary that consequences be the most punitive in order to solve a problem and take responsibility for it.

I presume that when you provide a reply that actually includes some reasons why abortions is not a good way of solving the problem that your reply will adhere to your own standard and avoid "all the religious, moral, ethical sideroads."

Dialogue with Carmen
Carmen writes on 4-5-04:

A friend of mine [See prior "Dialogue with Tara" earlier in this forum] brought to my attention the fact that you (1) insist that the Bible is silent about the subject of abortion and, (2) that you are assuming the position of "all-knowing sage" when it comes to the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of others about their abortions.

Let's start with number (2) first, in order to get it out of the way. I am the friend Tara was referring to, who "felt bad" about having had two abortions.

TFB replies: I do insist that the Bible is silent on the subject of abortion but, as you requested, we'll address your second point first. I understand that this is very personal to you since you are the "friend" Tara mentioned, so that explains your flippant tone. I did not claim to be either an "all-knowing sage" or even to have determined what anyone else thinks. I cited two points of support for my position: objective poll results from independent surveys showing that about 90% of those who have had abortions have no regrets. I also noted that of the many women I have personally talked to, none have expressed regret and many have expressed relief at their chance to solve a problem. I have no doubt that many other examples to the contrary can be found from among the 10% who made what turned out to be the wrong choice for them.

C: To refresh your memory, here is what was said:

Tara: I have a friend who has had TWO abortions, and she feels horrible about both of them. Your response: Nonsense. Obviously she didn't feel so horrible about the first one to prevent the second one. Something happened since that first one. Could it be her conversion to a cultist movement that imposes guilt trips that didn't exist before? I have a good friend who has had four abortions. She doesn't want the "chemical intrusion" of birth control pills and uses abortion as birth control. Can't say I think this is a practical method of "birth control" but I respect her choice. She doesn't feel the slightest bit badly about any of them and will abort again if the need arises.

First of all, what makes you think that my feeling horrible about my abortions is "nonsense"? Who died and made you God?

TFB replies: I don't believe you could have felt so "horrible" about the first abortion if it didn't stop you from having a second one. So let me ask you, do you believe you committed a murder? If so, do you believe you should be found guilty of such and sent to state prison? If not, why do you support positions that say you got yours, now any other woman who makes the same choice you did should be called a murderer and go to prison for it? Nice to have it both ways, isn't it? I have no doubt that you now feel guilty remorse for what you now consider a sin, but I don't for a minute believe that you felt that "horrible" after the first one, or you wouldn't have had the second one.

C: Let's dissect your comments and fill them in with the REAL story, shall we?

"Nonsense": Why are my feelings about my abortion nonsense? By age 22, when I had my first abortion, I had experienced the following: been given away at birth; been a sexually abused baby; was forcefully retrieved from my foster home in Germany at age 9 by my natural mother - who married a total of 8 times; and had been sexually abused by one of her husbands (who raped me practically every night for four years from age ten to 14) AND his 72 year old father who lived with us for a few months. By that time I had also had been divorced from my first husband, a drug addict who was in an insane asylum after murdering a friend of his over Heroin. I had also been hospitalized for internal injuries after my pedophile adoptive father beat me half to death; and just before I turned 21 I went into a three-week coma after a misdiagnosed ruptured appendix. That surgery botched up my insides so badly, the doctors assured me that I would never be able to have children - which was good news as far as I was concerned because I did not want to impose this world on any children! Unfortunately, the doctors were wrong, and I ended up pregnant at 22 - without knowing who the father was, because I was extremely promiscuous back then and always "looking for love in all the wrong places". Unfortunately, I was in the Army (I'm a 22 year veteran), stationed in Germany, during a time when pregnant women were still kicked out; and I had no place to go, and was petrified of "the world". During the six or seven weeks of my pregnancy, I bonded with the baby growing inside me, yet I was plagued by all my fears along with an onslaught of nightmares about my childhood. Plus, the word "mother" made me cringe because I had hated my natural mother with whom I never bonded; and the word "father" made me at once homicidal and suicidal, for obvious reasons. I was terrified that my child would be a girl and that she would suffer the same fate as I had - and I KNEW I would kill any man who touched my baby, regardless of the consequences! In the end, I felt I had no choice but to abort. So, I flew to London where abortions were legal, and had the procedure - as fate would have it, on the 14th of December, my birthday. They briefly "put me under" for the procedure, but I awoke as someone in the Twilight Zone, screaming for my baby. Until I fully "came to", it took several nurses to convince me I hadn't had a baby. Let me reiterate: I had bonded with that child, and it tore my heart out to terminate the pregnancy.

TFB replies: You detail a very sad life. You explain why you chose to have an abortion. You even cover some points as to why you might feel bad about it. But not enough that it prevented you from having the second one.

C: Let me reiterate: I aborted because I COULD. The baby had no choice....

TFB replies: You aborted because you COULD ... AND because you made that choice. Many women who have the choice EITHER to abort or continue their pregnancies don't make the same choice. Yes, the embryo/fetus did not have a choice. No problem. It didn't have sentient consciousness or the capacity to choose or even be aware of what was going on any more than a rock. Not to say that wanted embryos and fetuses don't have value, but that value is ascribed to them through the sentient capacity of the woman in whose womb they reside ... IF she wants them.

C: "Obviously she didn't feel so horrible about the first one to prevent the second one." For your information, I was on "the pill". Last time I checked, birth control pills were supposed to keep one from getting pregnant, so your callous comment was horribly unwarranted! Anyway, long story short, same story as above. Agonized and horrified that this could have happened to me a SECOND time, I ended up in Rotterdam for the next abortion (this time on December 24).

TFB replies: Birth control pills (or other methods) don't always work. Having failed, abortion is an important backup, as you discovered. Those who have a serious objection to abortion don't choose that option to solve their problem, while those who do not object to abortion have no problem with it. Since you had already had one abortion and knew about the procedures and your emotional responses to it, you clearly decided that the choice to abort was right for you.

C: They didn't put me to sleep there. They just simply scraped out the uterus. Because I had bonded with this baby, as well, I could literally feel it screaming as it was being sucked out of me.

TFB replies: While I have not personally had an abortion, I have been present for this kind of first-trimester abortion you describe. They don't put you to sleep because it is a very simple procedure that just takes a few minutes. As for the "baby" screaming, first trimester embryos don't scream. They have no sentient consciousness whatsoever. The biological structures for sentience or consciousness have not even developed yet. That part was all in your imagination, and I suspect it became much more real after your so-called conversion to being "saved" many years after the fact.

C: I felt bad back then, and I STILL feel bad thirty years later because I, the bully with my HUMAN logic and reasoning, decided the fate of someone who couldn't defend him/herself. I MURDERED my own children just because it wasn't convenient at the time....

TFB replies: Okay, so what are you doing to place yourself into a state prison system and subject yourself to the same penalty you would like to impose on anyone else who makes the same choice you did?

C: Something happened since that first one. Could it be her conversion to a cultist movement that imposes guilt trips that didn't exist before? Hardly. I didn't believe in God until January 1995 (fully 20 years later) when I FINALLY saw the light. Before that, I was simply a human being with a CONSCIENCE!

TFB replies: That is my point. You describe how upset you were about the abortions, but it didn't stop you from becoming a repeat customer. I think you are now trying to exaggerate how "upset" you were -- maybe convince yourself of it -- but until you experienced your religious conversion into a group that requires that you feel guilty it didn't really bother you all that much. Sure, I'm not saying you enjoyed it -- kind of like getting a root canal, you don't enjoy it and so in that respect it is unpleasant and uncomfortable, but not something you feel guilty about.

C: Now to reply to some of your assertions in your pro-abortion article:

Bottom line up front: Abortion IS murder, whether you choose to believe it, or not. God says not to kill/murder, so who are you to refute Him?

TFB replies: I addressed the point about murder, both to Tara and on my website. Obviously you didn't get that far since you didn't address a single substantive point that I covered. I'll repeat what I said to Tara: But the Bible also makes it very clear that not all killing is murder. Killing in battle, as lawful execution, or as self defense is not murder (and a woman clearly has the right of self defense to remove an unwanted occupant of the most private, personal part of her body). Even all wrongful death is not murder; an accident is not, even though it may be wrongful -- manslaughter is different from murder, even though punishable, by the lack of malicious intent.

As I note on my website (gee, before I answer someone's website I make sure I've at least read it), even if you believe it to be wrong, abortion fails to meet the standard of "murder" on several grounds.
1. The embryo is not the moral equivalent of a human person because it lacks the actual attributes of a human person.
2. Abortion is well within the standard of self-defense.
3. The killing is not "wanton" or "malicious" -- it is to solve a specific problem: an unwanted pregnancy.

Again, since the Bible addresses classes of killings and makes these distinctions, but does not mention abortion one single time (even though it was known and practiced in ancient times as evidenced by other contemporary writings I referred to), obviously the silence was intentional. It is the right choice for some women, and not for others.

C: That HUMAN embryo is ALIVE and GROWING from conception, and therefore has all the rights of every other human. If that "tissue" as you call it, were NOT alive and growing, it would be DEAD. Dead things don't grow....

TFB replies: So are HUMAN eggs and sperms. So are other life forms such as ants or rodents that we kill for convenience, or fish, fowl and mammals that non-vegetarians kill to satisfy their wholly unnecessary lust for artery-clogging animal fat. All these creatures are alive and created by God, and in fact they have far more sentience and consciousness than sperms, eggs, embryos or fetuses.

C: Your "learned" comment about "Specific Scriptures" begins with: "Exodus 21:22: "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine]." (KJV). You go on to explain: "This scripture has nothing to do with the voluntary, intentional choice of a woman (or her husband, in the days before women had many rights) to have an abortion. It is about two men struggling together who ACCIDENTALLY cause her to have a miscarriage, and the resulting penalties. The point that it is about 3rd-party causation rather than voluntary choice....." Blah, blah, blah. Whatever supports YOUR viewpoint....

Let's see what the Hebrew Bible says: Ex 21:22 - If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if not other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman's husband and confirmed by judges. 23 But if any harm follows, then you are to give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooh, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.

If you truly knew your Scripture - and were reading it (rather than reading INTO it with your limited, HUMAN mindset) you would see that, in Exodus 21:22 God gives a specific law regarding social order for the Israelites. He stated that if two men were fighting and hit a pregnant woman, thus causing her to give birth prematurely, they must be fined according to any damage done to the baby. The fine must be paid in relation to the amount of damage inflicted upon the child. If God would make a law specifically referring to the rights of the unborn, then surely the unborn must mean something to Him!

TFB replies: No, you misquote the scripture. That's NOT what it says. At least Tara had the honesty and decency (and respect for scripture) to quote it accurately. It does not refer to damage "to the baby." It specifically states that a miscarriage has occurred, which means the embryo/fetus is DEAD. How much more "damage" can there be? While it doesn't specifically state that the damage is to the fetus or to the woman (you just made that part up), it doesn't have to because obviously the damage is to the woman, not the fetus, which is already dead, by definition (do you understand what a miscarriage is)? And even if somehow it did refer to the fetus, I'll repeat what I said to Tara: the actions of the men have no relation to the woman's choice to abort or remain pregnant. This verse has nothing to do with a woman's voluntary choice to abort, it is about what 3rd party males do to her. You dismiss this as "Blah, blah, blah. Whatever supports YOUR viewpoint...." because you can't address the FACT that this has NOTHING to do with the issue of a woman's own voluntary choice to abort.

C: You go on to mention the Ten Commandments: "Exodus 20:13: "Thou shalt not kill. (KJV) This scripture, one of the Ten Commandments, is often translated as 'Thou shalt not commit murder.' One could easily look at the Ten Commandments and view them as an 'index' to the Law of Moses which follows in the remainder of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy." I'm unsure as to what you're getting at here. Are you trying to impress us with your knowledge of the Bible, or have you simply looked up enough scriptures to support your viewpoint? Whatever - you go on to expound your views about what you THINK God said; not what He actually said....

I'm looking at my Bible, a version translated directly from Hebrew into English, and Ex 20:13 says: "Do not murder." That, to me, is very clear. Murder refers to human beings. That includes embryos GROWING into actual people. HUMAN embryos.

Your rambling thoughts about the Ten Mitzvot and verses that support your viewpoint culminate with, "The Bible neither promotes nor discourages abortion. Period."

Izzat so?

TFB replies: You obviously understand very little of the Bible. Your support for it is superficial lip service only. The Ten Commandments are like an Index to the Law of Moses. They summarize key points that are then elaborated and detailed in the Law. The Law of Moses then goes on to explain each of these in more detail. There are many, many verses that elaborate the definitions of murder. It does NOT include killing HUMAN BEINGS in battle, as lawful executions, or in self defense (such as a woman defending her body against unwanted occupation). It never once includes abortion in this level of definition, and nothing you can invent changes what is not there.

C: God said to the prophet Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 God knew this man before he was born. As he was forming in his mother's womb God gave him his personality, talents, and temperament. If his mother had gotten an abortion, the "fetal tissue" she aborted would have been a real person named Jeremiah; a mighty prophet of God and the gift of God's voice to the nations, though she would never have known.

TFB replies: Oh yeah, Jeremiah 1:5 -- I addressed this on my website, which you obviously didn't read (at least if I take the time to respond to someone's website, I read it before running off at the keyboard). Since you didn't get that far, I'll repeat what is on my website regarding this verse: "This scripture has traditionally been used by Protestants to show god's foreknowledge of long future events, and by Mormons to show a pre-mortal existence. Only recently have very desperate anti-choice extremists interpreted this in the context of abortion. Look at the wording of this scripture, "Before I formed you in the womb...." It is talking about before birth, before viability .... BEFORE CONCEPTION! Is that referring to sperms and eggs? It has no relevance to abortion whatsoever; but if it shows reverence to POTENTIAL life, it actually applies as much to sperms and eggs as to embryos, since it is before conception. And even if it were a reference to embryonic life (it isn't), no one denies the existence of embryonic life with the potential to become a human being -- and, once again, it would have been a perfect opportunity to condemn abortion, but.... In context, Jeremiah writes in chapter one specifically about his own calling as a prophet -- that it was known by god before he was born or even conceived. He was appointed, chosen, selected, ordained - whatever. He is talking about the fact that God knew of his calling long before he existed as a real or potential human. Prior to Roe v. Wade, most Bible scholars interpreted this as a reference to God's foreknowledge of the future, and not until recently did the scripture ever enter into the abortion debates. And this reference to God's foreknowledge of the future also suggest that He should have been able to foresee the modern controversy about abortion."

C: The Lord hath called me from the womb: from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. Isaiah 49:1 KJV

TFB replies: Again, like Jeremiah this shows God's foreknowledge of the future. God knew the prophet Isaiah was not going to be aborted and had purpose. And so it was. In contrast, God also knew all the embryos and fetus that would not be carried to term; in fact, natural miscarriages far outnumber induced abortions, making God the greatest abortionist of all time, so it is hard to say he has much opposition to it. Nothing here says it is wrong for a woman to choose to abort, however, in discussing the womb, this would have been a perfect place to come right out and make such a statement if the Bible writers had any such intent ... BUT THEY DIDN'T.

C: Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us within our mothers? Job 31:15

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14

TFB replies: Again, this describes the process of creating a human body in the womb. Duh, this is pretty basic. We all know that's where and when it happens. And when it is wanted, it is truly wonderful and miraculous. And notice, nothing here states that human personhood or ensoulment have occurred at this point, or that it is wrong for a woman to decide that she doesn't what the process to continue inside the most private part of her body. Again, in discussing the creation of the human body within the womb, this would have been a perfect place to come right out and make such a statement if the Bible writers had any such intent ... BUT THEY DIDN'T.

C: I notice you carefully omitted the above Scriptures from your article. The above verses are only a sampling of the many Biblical references we find to life inside the mother's womb.

TFB replies: I'm sure there are many references to life, death, birth and pregnancy that I haven't specifically listed in my webpage. We all know that there is life inside a pregnant woman's womb. We also know that eggs and sperms are human life but don't have too many qualms about the trillions that die every day. Each of these many references to birth or pregnancy would have been a perfect place to come right out and make such a statement if the Bible writers had any such intent ... BUT THEY DIDN'T.

C: From them, it is clear that life begins when God creates it, not at some later point in time when it has grown to look like a newborn.

TFB replies: And eggs and sperms are also human life created by God. And fish and fowl and mammals killed to satisfy our unnecessary lust for artery-clogging animal flesh are also LIFE created by God. What exactly was your point? The one thing you can't find is God saying that it is wrong for a woman to decide that she doesn't want to carry that life inside the most private part of her body.

C: You said: It should first be pointed out that the Bible is a text of religious belief, not of public policy or law. Some people believe in the Bible as the word of God, many others do not. In a nation of many faiths and traditions, no single one can be used as the basis for public policies or laws that affect everyone. However, as to the moral issue, since many do believe in the Bible, and cite it (in error) to oppose women's reproductive self determination, this section is presented to address the concerns and questions of those whose religious tradition does include belief in the Bible.

My response: "...since many do believe in the Bible, and cite it (in error)... In error??? Ditto the above! You aint' got a clue, lady!

TFB replies: There is not one single statement in the Bible that even hints at opposition to abortion, and you certainly haven't come close to providing one. So those who cite the Bible as being opposed to abortion do so IN ERROR.

C: You said: ...The Bible is SILENT about abortion. Neutral. The Bible neither supports, encourages, condemns nor discourages the practice. It is left to individual discretion ... or CHOICE. As to whether abortion should be LEGAL (the topic of this folder) I take a purely neutral, middle-of-the-road view: the far left (Chinese Communists) want forced abortion mandated by law; the far right (Christian Conservatives) want forced pregnancy mandated by law; the middle ground (Moderate Middle) leaves it up to each individual ... JUST LIKE THE BIBLE.

My response: The Bible is NOT silent about this issue! I cited just a few references above. Just because you can't find the word "abortion" per se, does NOT mean that God is SILENT.

TFB replies: I don't need to see the word "abortion" per se. But if you say that God opposes abortion, then you have to have some description of a woman's own voluntary choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, which could be expressed in any possible number of word combinations without using the word "abortion." You can't find it because it isn't there.

C: That is strictly YOUR narrow and uneducated Biblical interpretation - What blasphemy! I wish people who don't have a clue about the Bible would STOP "interpreting" it according to their limited, human mindsets....

I could really counter every point you made, but what's the use? I know you aren't listening because you are boxed into your shallow, carnal belief system that only a major revelation in your life could change. People like you (who think they know everything, including the very THOUGHTS of others), are playing into Satan's mindset.

TFB replies: Not judgmental or anything, are we? I have listened and responded in depth. The real reason you don't "counter every point" is because you can't. You wrote me one of the longest e-mails ever received for this forum. You obviously had no reluctance to address whatever feeble points you could come up with. You answered (weakly, as noted herein) what you could. If you could have answered more, you would have. It's OK, I understand.

C: The only thing that really bothers me is that you are espousing false gospel to the world and trying to pass it off as TRUTH. Well, mark my words, one day, you WILL stand before the Judge to explain yourself - and I'm positive that HE will tell you that sexual misconduct was NOT an option in the first place, and abortion was NOT an alternative to remedy our sexual misconduct.

TFB replies: I suppose you believe that you, too, will have to explain why you distorted, manipulated and invented scripture because you blasphemously were unsatisfied with the sacred writ actually handed down to you.

C: The reason we even have a sex drive at all is for pro-creation, not as carte blanche to abuse our bodies....

TFB replies: Please cite chapter and verse, or this another one of the made up scriptures you want to add to the Bible you obviously are not satisfied with? Certainly procreation is an important purpose for sex. Perhaps God also intended it to be a pleasurable way in which loving couples could express spiritual closeness. I suppose you also believe that any couple where it is known that one is infertile, including elderly couples past childbearing age, should be forbidden to marry. Sorry, I don't believe God is so cruel or narrow minded.

C: One final response to something you brought up in your article:

You said: (Reference Falwell's and Robertson's comments about 9/11): Let's get a few things straight:

1. America did not "deserve" this cowardly act of terror, and anyone who says we did is on the same side as the extremists who perpetrated this act of murder.

2. God did not help or in any way support the terrorists. This was an act of evil and God is not evil. What kind of deity do Falwell and Robertson believe in if they claim he aided and abetted this murder?

My response: Yes; let's DO get a few things straight: You might think "religious extremists in America are even more perverse" - but GOD'S view and the bottom line is: Innocent people who lost their lives in 9/11 might not have deserved their fate, but AMERICA AS A WHOLE DID!

TFB replies: Yup, just as I thought. You are on the same side with Osama bin Laden.
Thank you for this candid admission.

Dialogue with Lynn
Lynn writes on 4-4-04:

We have a little concept called separation of church and state in America. Arguments on whether or not women have a constitutional right to abortion therefore, in my mind, should not be based on religious conviction and ideology concerning when human life does or does not begin. In fact, these are issues which the Supreme Court sited they could not decide upon since the leading philosophers and religious scholars could not themselves come to a conclusion concerning when ''life begins." Leaving all that behind, we must decide this issue on some other premise. I choose the right to privacy and self-determination that all American's are guaranteed under our constitution, even if she is carrying a developing fetus in the womb. It is up to the woman to decide what she does with respect to that life as it is inextricably connected to her own. Until the fetus is viable, the government has no interest in what she does. To grant rights to a fetus would inevitably lead us down the road of denying a woman her rights because it would force compulsory pregnancy, strapping women down in hospital beds against their will, prosecuting them because they're not taking pre-natal vitamins, etc. All situations we could not tolerate as a free society. So this is why I have no choice as an American but to advocate for choice.

TFB replies: Excellent point. I agree 1,000%. In fact, I made the same point on my webpage. Here is the exact quote from my site, in the portion of the site that addresses the religious arguments on this issue: "It should first be pointed out that the Bible is a text of religious belief, not of public policy or law. Some people believe in the Bible as the word of God, many others do not. In a nation of many faiths and traditions, no single one can be used as the basis for public policies or laws that affect everyone." Having said that, however, I noted that going beyond the legal issue, even if it is legal (which it still is, barely), some people still use religious arguments to claim that the choice to abort is always a wrong or "sinful" choice. I also show that, even using their own sources, their argument is flawed as to the religious aspects as well. It so happens that there is not a single word in the Bible that opposes abortion, even though abortion was known, practiced and (as evidenced by other contemporary texts) controversial. The silence appears to have been intentional. But again, as we have both articulated, this is a religious point and cannot be a part of the legal or constitutional dialogue.

L: All arguments against it are based on religious ideology, specifically Christian ideology, and in my mind, this is a clear violation of the separation between Church and State and an attempt by the religious fright to codify their beliefs and force their ideas of sexual morality on everyone else.

TFB replies: Actually, while I fully agree with your position supporting the right to abort and the moral legitimacy of that choice, I have to disagree with this conclusion. If you read through my dialogues, you will see that many non-religious arguments against abortion are raised, and in fact a small number who oppose abortion are even atheists! The primary NON-RELIGIOUS arguments against abortion are that, like murder, it intentionally takes another innocent life. The fallacy of that position, as I describe in detail on my site, is twofold: that the embryo does not have the actual elements (sentient self awareness) necessary to constitute human personhood in a way that is qualitatively different from animals, and that even if it did, it would not have the right to occupy the body of the woman against her choice any more than you would have the right to demand a marrow or blood donation from an unwilling donor even if that were necessary to keep you alive.

Glad to see, however, that on the key issues we seem to be in agreement.

Dialogue with Tara
Tara writes on 3-24-04:

You say it's obvious that the scripture is talking about harm to the woman in Exodus 21:22. Let's reason with a little common sense.

TFB replies: I stand by what I wrote. Using the common sense that you claim but then avoid, it OBVIOUSLY refers to the woman, because since the fetus is miscarried and is DEAD, the conditional reference "if" doesn't apply. There is no variable; there is no "if" about whether the fetus is harmed because by definition it is killed, therefore harmed.

T: If it was speaking of the woman, what's the point of even mentioning that the woman was with child? Uh, if I'm not pregnant and get hurt, I'd like to know that the person will be punished, REGARDLESS of whether I'm pregnant. It's very clear what the scripture is saying.

TFB replies: There are many other passages in the law that address physical injury, to both men and women. Yes, if you hurt someone you will be held accountable. This verse is clearly talking about the specific situation of causing a miscarriage that was not chosen by the woman. It is possible to cause a miscarriage without other substantial injury to the woman (thus the conditional term "if").

And do note, that even if this were talking about the conditional variable of harm to the fetus, it only considers it a crime if it is done against the mother's will! It makes no reference to the voluntary choice of a woman to abort, even though abortion has been known and practiced in all ancient times. This would clearly have been a perfect place to bring up such a prohibition if any had been intended, but the Bible writers clearly chose not to do so.

T: It's very clear throughout the bible what God thinks of preborn children.

TFB replies: Yes. It is VERY clear. There is no single place EVER in scripture where a blanket pronouncement is given that applies to all fetuses. Sure, there are specific instances where individuals have been cited as being recognized for the special future that these potential humans would grow into, such as Jesus and John the Baptist. But these are not blanket pronouncements. It is kind of like when God whispers to someone the inspirational calling to go on a mission to China. It is specific to that person; God doesn't intend it to mean that every single Christian should go specifically to China!

T: Elizabeth's child (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb for joy.

TFB replies: Again, this refers to a specific instance, not a blanket universal statement, though it would have been a perfect place to have made such a statement ... but they didn't! And also please note that at this point Elizabeth is identified as being in the sixth month -- into the third trimester, when only 4 out of every 10,000 abortions occur, and most probably because of unusual medical complications. This certainly has no bearing on the 90% of abortions occurring in the first trimester or even the 99.6% that occur in the first two trimesters.

T: Read Psalm 139:13-16.

TFB replies: I've not only read it, I cited it on my web page. Guess you didn't get that far, since you didn't even make the feeblest attempt to address the points I made in discussing it. Since you missed it, I'll repeat them for you: "This scripture describes the purely physical process of bodily formation, a process that everyone knows is occurring in utero. Here is a perfect opportunity for a later prophet to also confirm that a soul is also attached to these purely physical body parts (cell tissues) of 'unformed substance,' and clarify any ambiguity in the 'perfect' law of Moses, yet no such clarification is forthcoming. Psalms 139 is David's praise to the Lord, written as the lyrics to music -- he is praising God, not commenting on embryology and, in any case, says nothing about the soul or humanity of the embryo."

T: There are many, many more scriptures.

TFB replies: Yes, my point exactly! There are many, many scriptures that discuss life, death, birth, conception and pregnancy. Any one of these would be a perfect opportunity to simply have come out and indicated the slightest direct disapproval of abortion, if the Bible writers had meant that ... BUT THEY DIDN'T!

T: People who want the bible to agree with their twisted ideas often twist scripture, even when it's very clear what God means.

TFB replies: Yes, people who want the Bible to say something against abortion, when it actually doesn't, twist and distort and try to make it say something that it doesn't. Those who add to scripture that which it doesn't actually say blaspheme the words they hypocritically claim to revere.

T: By the way, fetus is Latin for "young child" or "little one".

TFB replies: The use of etymological word origins as the basis for imputing modern meanings in ever-changing language is desperate but pointless. We don't call it a baby because it is not a baby. Like sperms and eggs, it has the potential to develop into a baby if a number of conditional variables are realized.

T: Why not use English and call the child a baby?

TFB replies: The word "fetus" comes to us from Latin, like many words that are taken from other languages, but like those words is also now an English word. Look in any English dictionary and, sure enough, it'll be there. It is an English word, and the reason we needed to add it was to recognize the obvious DIFFERENCE between it and a baby.

T: With all the pain an abortion causes a mother, father, and many others, not to even mention the baby who was killed (and some babies have survived abortion with horrible injuries), it's clear that it's wrong.

TFB replies: Abortion is clearly the wrong choice for some women, and clearly the right choice for others. In either case, a woman who makes the wrong choice (especially if it is because it was forced on her by husbands, clergy, or morality Nazis), will have pain. Close to 90% of women who have had abortions feel no remorse, loss, or suffering of any kind. Many women have had multiple abortions and while I don't feel it is the most practical form of birth control, it clearly shows they don't seem to suffer much from it. However, those who I know that HAVE suffered are usually those who have been made to feel guilty by those whose agenda benefits from their suffering.

As for those who "survived abortion with horrible injuries," what are you saying? Are you agreeing that in those cases they would have been better off if the abortion had succeeded, and the real problem is that they didn't finish the job and actually ... were born?

Tara continues on 3-27-04:

First of all, NO, I'm NOT saying the babies born with injuries should have been killed, and they certainly are all glad they weren't. They speak out against abortions, rather than say that they should do them better. Murder is murder. The bible does say that murder is sin.

TFB replies: But the Bible also makes it very clear that not all killing is murder. Killing in battle, as lawful execution, or as self defense is not murder (and a woman clearly has the right of self defense to remove an unwanted occupant of the most private, personal part of her body). Even all wrongful death is not murder; an accident is not, even though it may be wrongful -- manslaughter is different from murder, even though punishable, by the lack of malicious intent.

As I note on my website (gee, before I answer someone's website I make sure I've at least read it), even if you believe it to be wrong, abortion fails to meet the standard of "murder" on several grounds.
1. The embryo is not the moral equivalent of a human person because it lacks the actual attributes of a human person.
2. Abortion is well within the standard of self-defense.
3. The killing is not "wanton" or "malicious" -- it is to solve a specific problem: an unwanted pregnancy.

Again, since the Bible addresses classes of killings and makes these distinctions, but does not mention abortion one single time (even though it was known and practiced in ancient times as evidenced by other contemporary writings I referred to), obviously the silence was intentional. It is the right choice for some women, and not for others.

T: The statistics you quoted are WAY off the mark. Nearly all women are hurt by abortion.

TFB replies: The statistics I cited were from several polls, cited at various times in the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, both of which are far more objective than either you or I. I have never actually talked with someone who expressed being troubled by their abortion; obviously you have a different perspective. It just might have something to do with our strong opinions on the subject. You might be very surprised to know just how many of the women you know, perhaps even in your own family, have had abortions and live quite comfortable, normal, untroubled lives (those 40 million abortions had to come from somewhere). It isn't likely that they would open up to you about their experience knowing your strong opposition to abortion.

T: You say something about the baby already being dead during miscarriage. Maybe, and maybe not. Depends a lot on the age of the child. Some are miscarried and die minutes or hours afterward. Anyway, the bible says:

"If people are fighting with each other happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined." (Complete Jewish Bible) The person still is having to pay the penalty. It doesn't say anything about a penalty if the child does not die. And, like you said, there are other places in scripture where penalties are spoken of for both men and women, so obviously the penalty spoken of for the woman would have to be paid, even if her unborn child did not die.

TFB replies: I have several Bible versions, but not this one. No matter, it makes the same point. By definition, in this scenario, the baby is dead. That's what it says "her unborn child dies." So what "other harm" could it be talking about? What more can you do to something that is already dead? Obviously the "other harm" cannot mean anything other than to the woman. My point exactly.

Tara continues on 4-4-04:

Perhaps the self-defense should be enacted when the man is trying to put his penis into the woman, if she doesn't want to be pregnant.

TFB replies: In the case of rape, this is true. But sometimes women consent to sexual intimacy, but don't want to be pregnant. Having babies isn't the only reason couples engage in sexual intimacy.

T: And, like I said, God imposed fines for the death of the unborn child.

TFB replies: The Biblical penalty for murder is DEATH, not merely a fine. Clearly, in your example, the Bible makes a clear distinction between the deathh of a fetus, and murder. But even so, this case does not apply at all to a woman's choice to have an abortion. In this case, it is not the woman's choice. It is the result of violence against her by two men fighting, NOT HER CHOICE. I agree there should be a penalty. I don't agree that it should be a mere fine, I think it should be a serious felony. These men have (either by carelessness or malice) done the same thing YOU want to do: take away the woman's choice. As a parent and grandparent, I understand the wonder and awe of a WANTED child (and grandchild). When a mother wants her pregnancy, and it is taken away from her by force, it is a horrible violation of her reproductive rights. Conversely, while never having had to face an unwanted pregnancy myself, I have witnessed the anguish of those who have. Again, it is her choice, and the violation of that choice is a serious breach of human liberty and dignity, indeed!

T: I have a friend who has had TWO abortions, and she feels horrible about both of them. Her step-daughter is not a Christian and says that if she ever gets pregnant, she'll have an abortion. She tried to tell her how much anguish it causes.

TFB replies: Nonsense. Obviously she didn't feel so horrible about the first one to prevent the second one. Something happened since that first one. Could it be her conversion to a cultist movement that imposes guilt trips that didn't exist before? I have a good friend who has had four abortions. She doesn't want the "chemical intrusion" of birth control pills and uses abortion as birth control. Can't say I think this is a practical method of "birth control" but I respect her choice. She doesn't feel the slightest bit badly about any of them and will abort again if the need arises. Again, you know those on whom you have imposed your guilt trips. I know those who have shared their stories with me. Our observations are not impartial; the 89% - 91% feelings of NO REGRET are those that came from objective polls from both liberal and conservative news organizations.

T: The vast majority of abortions are repeat abortions. Most of those women, though, hurt inside. They will deny it much of the time. They will even speak up for abortion rights, because they are trying to justify what they did.

TFB replies: This hardly argues for regret if women repeat the procedure that you claim causes them so much anguish. I understand that when they are talking to someone like you, who they know is strongly opposed to their choice, that they will either give lip service to some measure of regret to avoid a confrontation, or maybe they are in the 10% who really regrets it because of people like you who impose guilt trips on them.

Dialogue with Sarah
Sarah writes on 10-7-03:

I just wanted to say that I was recently raped and I have decided that if I end up pregnant I will have an abortion. I used to think I was against abortion, but this happened. Also one of my best friends recently told me about an abortion she had. Hearing about her experience and reading your views really shed some light on the subject for me.

TFB replies: No one can say what they would do, or understand how it feels, until something happens to them. I understand you have gone through a very traumatic violation, and I sincerely hope you are getting the support you need from friends, family and professional services.

S: I also wanted to add that I think your religious beliefs can be the same and your beliefs on abortion can be different. I am a christian and I think that abortion is an okay decision if it is early on in the pregnancy.

TFB replies: It is OK to be a Christian and accept abortion, especially when it is early and does not have the characteristics of human personhood. As I noted in great detail on my web site, the Bible is completely silent about abortion. When someone says that abortion is a sin, they are just stating their own opinions -- it is NOT IN THE BIBLE. The Bible talks extensively about birth, death, pregnancy and the formation of the human body. Any one of these subjects would have presented a perfect opportunity for the Bible writers to state an opinion on abortion if they felt it should be included, but even though abortion was known and practiced in Biblical times, and other non-Bible writings addressed it (see some references on my web site), it is never once mentioned in the Bible. Some people cite some scriptures and claim they are against abortion, but not one of them specifically addresses abortion -- it is their own speculative or derivative interpretation. On my website I have a link that specifically addresses most of the verses common cited on this subject, at: http://www.wordwiz72.com/chscript.html. The Bible does not support abortion nor oppose it -- it is one of those things that is left up to individual opinion and individual needs. What is right for one person might not be right for someone else's situation. Some women have prayed about abortion and felt it was the right thing in their situation; others have prayed and felt that it was not right for them. This is a personal choice that must be left up to each woman, and nobody else.

S: Also I was apalled by some of the things people wrote in the forum about people who had been raped and that they should put the baby up for adoption. Until it happens to them they shouldn't say that. Why would anyone bring a baby in the world who was formed from an unwanted and violent act?

TFB replies: It is easy for people who have never experienced serious and traumatic events to casually say what they would do, and even what everyone else should do, but until it happens to them they really have no idea what they are talking about.

For some people who have been raped, if they become pregnant, waiting until childbirth and putting the baby up for adoption is a good choice and makes them feel better. For many others, like you, it is the worst possible thing and they could never imagine going through nine months of carrying the unwanted and unintended offspring of the brutal, vicious thug who violated them.

Dialogue with John
John writes on 9-12-03:

You state the following on your website: "Sperm and egg cells are alive and human, but they are not human beings, only POTENTIAL humans. I would put 1st trimester embryos in the same category as sperm and eggs."
Sperm and egg cells are indeed alive, but they are not human until they conjoin, bond.

TFB replies: We seem to be in agreement that sperm and egg cells are alive. I say they are human; you say they are "not human" until they conjoin. Since you say they are "not human" please help me understand exactly which species to which you think they appertain. They are alive (we agree). They are produced from the biology of a male and female we agree are human beings. Each sperm and each egg has a unique selection of chromosomes distinct from all the others produced from the same reproductive glands and even from the parent whence it originated since it only a random selection of half that parent's genes, not a matching entire set. They are alive. They are of the human species. They contain a distinctly unique genetic fingerprint.

You say that they are not "human" until they conjoin or bond. That is just an opinion, and since you just throw it out there without backing it up, it is just your unsupported opinion. Just because you say something does not make it a fact. Why should your standard, that of "conjoining" or "bonding" be what separates a human person from mere human life? I requested a standard that distinguishes a human person from other life forms not only "quantitatively" (the ability to identify it as a species), but also "qualitatively" (why it has the value that morally differentiates humanity from any other life form. Your standard, that of "conjoining" or "bonding" does not meet that criterion. In fact, all other species that reproduce sexually meet this standard. So why is human life intrinsically of a higher moral value than that of a salamander?

The standard for human personhood that I set forth does meet this criterion. Here is the actual definition I stated from my webpage: "I define personhood as holding a preponderance of the ACTUAL features, functions and processes out of which the experience of human personhood (including consciousness, sentience, experience, memory, self-awareness/introspection, etc.) arises, as well as a preponderance of the actual physical features (arms, legs, internal organs, brain) which in their usual operation generate such experiences and processes. Again, an absolutely complete set is not required, or no one would qualify, but a general condition of having these attributes. A newborn infant, for example, has ALL of the mental, emotional and physical attributes out of which these processes will arise, even though they are still primitive in form and function and have not yet achieved their full operational essence. It has these mental, emotional and physical features in actuality, not the mere potential to develop them. In contrast, a newly-fertilized blastocyst has NONE of these actual features, though it contains a genetic program for the potential of possibly developing them in the future, if a number of contingent variables are realized. Those who define human personhood as merely the existence of human DNA are merely making a quantitative distinction based on identity, and not a qualitative distinction based on what makes human persons unique and special in their differentiation from other life forms. My definition, based on the qualities of personhood, distinguishes personhood from mere life, and does so in a way that would be qualitatively distinct from other life forms."

Yes, this is my opinion but, unlike you, I have given a rational basis for why this should be the operational definition of a human person. A newborn baby meets this standard. Eggs and sperms do not. Neither do newly-fertilized blastocysts, nor any embryonic life until at least the second half of pregnancy.

J: If the fertilized egg is left in the womb it will develop fully barring some negative incident. If a sperm or egg is left alone, it can never develop.

TFB replies: Your previous statement was opinion, and I gave the reasons I disagreed with it. This statement is one of alleged fact, and you are simply incorrect in this alleged statement of fact. It is true that sperms and eggs, left alone, will never develop. But this is also true of fertilized eggs. The fertilized egg (blastocyst), if merely left alone, even inside a womb, will also die. In each case, for eggs, sperms or fertilized blastocysts, a number of further conditions need to be satisfied. For the newly-fertilized blastocyst, it must attain uterine implantation, it must receive sustenance, and it must receive hormonal stimuli. The egg or sperm requires all of these, too, but also the condition of conjoining that you note. The only real difference is that the blastocyst has passed one of those very important milestones and is simply further along the continuum toward becoming a human person if all of those conditions are satisfactorily accomplished.

J: At best, you might say that a sperm or an egg are "half-human".

TFB replies: I continue to hope that, as in my request above, you will tell me which species the other half belongs to. For my part, I continue to aver that they are 100% human, and no other species is involved.

J: But I don't think you should equate them [eggs/sperms] with embryos.

TFB replies: You misrepresent my position. There is no point at which I ever equate sperms or eggs with embryos. In fact, my website specifically notes that "an important milestone is clearly passed on the occasion of an egg (ovum) being fertilized by a sperm." Clearly an important change occurs at this juncture, and the newly-fertilized blastocyst is clearly not the same -- not equated to -- a sperm or egg. That said, I do go on to note that "it is nevertheless true that a newly-fertilized blastocyst or ZYGOTE is far more similar to the egg or sperm (one-celled carrier of genetically-coded material) than to a baby." The blastocyst or zygote is DIFFERENT from (not equated to) the egg or sperm, but they share the attribute of not having the actual attributes of human personhood and therefore they are not human persons. But neither are monkeys, apes, dolphins, dogs, cats, birds, lizards or fish, yet I do not equate all of those with each other, either. They are all different, but share the quality of not having the actual qualities of human personhood. Similarly, a newborn baby is not the same as and not equated to a toddler, or a preteen or a young adult or a senior citizen -- they are all at different points along the continuum of human life, but all of these do manifest the actual, not merely potential, attributes of human personhood, and all of these are human beings.

J: That truly is your opinion, but not good science.

TFB replies: Yes, that is my opinion. The qualitative definition of when human life becomes a human person is a subjective conclusion, or opinion. But do believe that I have backed it up with good factual support (science) as well as rational logic in which that opinion is rooted. Can you do the same?

J: Maybe you might consider modifying this on your website?

TFB replies: I am continually modifying my website, often in response to feedback from readers. In some cases, readers have pointed out actual errors and I have made changes. In looking over this section, I think I might even see some points at which I can express my views more clearly, and will certainly consider such modifications. But as to the point that eggs, sperms and zygotes share the quality of being human life but NOT human persons, you have not given me any reason to alter that conclusion. Your suggestions, however, are appreciated.

John continues on 9-15-03:

A sperm is indeed human, I didn't mean to infer it was capable of becoming another species. It is human just as much as a cell from your skin, or a piece of hair, which also contains our unique DNA material, is human.

TFB replies: You misunderstood what I said about the uniqueness of the DNA of sperms, eggs and embryos. The DNA of skin or hair is not unique from the person whose body it came from, nor is it a separate, individual organism. In contrast, the sperm, egg or embryo is a unique, individual organism, and has a completely unique set of DNA. Each sperm or egg gets half of the chromosomes of the father or mother, but each gets a different mix of selected DNA, such that each is unique. No two are the same as each other, and no individual sperm or egg is exactly the same as the father or mother, having a different selected mix of half the DNA combinations. In other words, UNLIKE the finger or the hair, each is a separate and individual human life with a unique set of DNA. Comparing fingers or hairs, which are simply body parts, does not compare, but I understand that this is the best you can come up with.

J: We wouldn't consider it a moral crime to amputate a toe in a life threatening situation, nor would we consider the discarding of sperm or egg cells a moral or legal crime.

TFB replies: Nor should we conclude that it is a moral crime to remove unwanted embryonic cell tissue from within the most private part of a woman's body if she doesn't want it there.

J: So when I say it is not human, I erred; I should have said it is incapable of becoming a complete human.

TFB replies: And you err still further with this statement. Eggs and sperms are just as capable of becoming complete human persons as fertilized blastocysts or embryos are. In each case, certain conditions have to be satisfied. If those conditions are satisfied, the eggs, sperms and embryos can become fully human persons. If not, those eggs, sperms or embryos will not become human persons. No difference, except that the embryo has crossed one additional important milestone and has one less condition that needs to be satisfied, that of fertilization. Therefore, having passed that milestone, it cannot be "equated" with eggs and sperms, but as to the qualities that merit distinction as a "human person" the fertilized blastocyst is more similar to a sperm or egg than to a newborn baby who, though still at a very primitive level of development, at least has all the actual attributes of human personhood, and -- having been born -- is no longer occupying or infringing the most private part of a woman's body (if she doesn't want it there).

J: However a conjoined egg and sperm are capable of becoming a mature human, as they are already an immature, but genetically complete human.

TFB replies: A newborn baby is "immature" but has the complete attributes of a human person, though in primitive form. Eggs and sperms, and embryos, are genetically unqiue individuals of the human species, i.e., human life, but do not have the actual attributes of human personhood (nor the actual features and functions out of which they arise), but merely the potential to develop them in the future, if a number of conditional variables are satisfied.

J: However, I'm sure I won't present anything that you haven't already considered.

TFB replies: Well, certainly if you look through my website you'll see that I have considered quite a few approaches to this issue. If you don't think you can come up with anything new, I'll understand, otherwise feel free to try to surprise me.

J: In your reply to me, you made the statement, So why is human life intrinsically of a higher moral value than that of a salamander?

TFB replies: Please look at the context in which I made that statement. I was not the one equating human life to the value of a salamander. I was saying that human personhood has to include higher qualities that actually distinguish us from other life forms, and I listed what some of those qualities were, including (from my website): "the ACTUAL features, functions and processes out of which the experience of human personhood (including consciousness, sentience, experience, memory, self-awareness/introspection, etc.) arise." Salamanders, chickens, cows and even dolphins or chimpanzees do not have the level of self awareness or introspection that brings them to the level of human personhood. And eggs, sperms or embryos also do not have these qualities, neither in actuality nor in the actual physical features and functions out of which these arise. A newborn baby has the beginnings of such experiences, but does have, fully, the physical features and functions out of which these arise, even though he/she has only begun the process of using them. I was pointing out that YOU, in making the existence of quantitatively defined species life (human) the criterion, had not distinguished human personhood from that of a salamander, and I was rejecting and arguing against your dehumanizing and degrading representation of the value of human personhood. I did not equate humans with salamanders; I was objecting to the fact that YOUR failure to establish a standard of personhood beyond mere life forms, no matter how species-based, is the one that pulls human personhood down to the level of a salamander ... or even an insect. I reject that.

J: This statement reminds me of some of the writings of the bio-ethicist Peter Singer, with whom many of his opinions I strongly disagree. Perhaps you've read him?

TFB replies: I'm very familiar with Peter Singer's positions, and I reject them completely. He allows for the possibility of infanticide, which I disagree with completely, as do most responsible supporters of women's rights to reproductive self determination. There are two serious fatal flaws in Singer's position: first, that newborn babies lack human personhood -- though they are very primitive, they have ALL of the actual (not merely potential) attributes of human personhood, and all of the features and functions out of which that personhood arises, unlike blastocysts or embryos which have NONE of these characteristics but merely a blueprint or potential for developing those in the future. Second, since the newborn no longer occupies the most private part of a woman's body and no longer infringes her bodily sovereignty, any questions or doubts now must shift in favor of this biologically autonomous individual, whereas prior to birth there is the problem that if there are competing claims on the right to control the woman's uterus, that it is the woman who owns the uterus and has the right to decide who occupies it. For these two reasons, I and most responsible supporters of choice reject Singer's positions, and I hope this clarification disabuses you of the notion that there is any similarity in our positions.

J: The only reason that a human life is of higher moral value than a salamander is due to the value placed upon it by a creator God.

TFB replies: But since there is no basis, certainly not from the Bible, to support a claim that god has ever taken a position on this issue, then you have no basis for a claim that your position is rooted in divine providence. Otherwise, please cite the basis for your preposterous claim.

J: If God is out of the equation, then I would agree with Mr. Singer. (and Adolph Hitler or Hugh Hefner for that matter!)

TFB replies: My position relative to a woman's right to control her own reproductive destiny has nothing to do with god, who is quite silent on the subject. And I also reject Peter Singer (as noted previously) and certainly Adolf Hitler, and can't imagine how you can link either or these extremists to my very moderate position. And while one might have personal moral qualms about Hugh Hefner, I have a very difficult time imagining how you could possibly link him to Hitler or Singer.

J: I also realize that the concept of God is merely an opinion for some. I contend that if there is no God, than moral values are an illusion to satisfy us, nothing more.

TFB replies: Again, I find this an extreme position. While I definitely do not rule out any belief in god, the need for morality and moral standards would exist with or without a belief in deity, just for the orderly operation of society here on earth. In fact, many moral philosophies, whether they rule out the existence of god or not, are still founded on principles apart from any theistic basis of origin. Your statement above is quite simplistic from the standpoint of ethical theory.

J: You stated (as best as I can recollect) that we who eat meat have a craving or lust for animal fat. (Did I quote it correctly?)

TFB replies: Well, you didn't capture my exact words, but you got the drift of what I was saying :-)

J: If so, I wanted to let you know that I always cut the fat off, I only like the lean meat. I know some who like that fat, but for me it just tastes awful, whether it's pork, chicken, or beef. (Also, I've been to a slaughterhouse, it didn't bother me when I sat down to eat later.)No biggie, just wanted you to know I don't like fat either, nor do I have a craving for it.

TFB replies: While lean meat is certainly less objectionable than the fat, it still contains fats and cholesterols and other toxins. Of course, even some vegetable products can contain fat, though none have any cholesterol. My point, however, was not just the lustful craving for artery-clogging animal fat, but that killing innocent animals which have far more consciousness and feeling than an embryo could ever come close to imagining, when that animal has done NOTHING to you and has not infringed your biological autonomy in any way (as an embryo or fetus infringes the most private part of a woman's body, if she doesn't want it there). While I do recognize the difference in value between humans and animals, and thus am "pro choice" on the subject of eating meat (though I personally choose not to do so), those who can kill innocent animals and then condemn abortion are hypocrites. I do not believe "meat is murder" as some pro-animal organizations state, but I could certainly make a stronger case for that position than the claim that "abortion is murder."

Dialogue with Dr. JTE
Dr. JTE writes on 8-27-03:

I read (most of) your commentary. You are in serious error.
[This is the complete text of the e-mail from the good "doctor"]

TFB replies: I note that all you could do is note that you disagree. While I put my views on the line, clearly and specifically, I note that you were unable to identify even one single point in which you found me to be in error.

My statements were clear, specific and thoroughly documented.
Your hollow protest offers nothing whatsoever of substance.
I guess this summarizes the merits of our respective positions quite nicely, Doctor.

Dialogue with Mathis
Mathis writes on 8-10-03:

Has God showed you the truth about abortion and how it is wrong yet.

TFB replies: Nope. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that God has ever indicated even the slightest hint of opposition to abortion. And I certainly notice that you didn't provide any, although if you could I'm sure you would. The fact that you didn't means you couldn't.

M: HTTP://www.wordwiz72.com/chscript.html - Not very convincing!

TFB replies: Maybe; maybe not. I notice, however, that all you could do was express the fact of your disapproval, but even you could not actually find a single specific point in which you could cite any error that I made. I'll take that as a begrudging vote of confidence. Thank you.

M: Murder is murder.

TFB replies: That is correct. Murder is murder. But abortion is not murder. Of course, I addressed this common allegation on my website. I notice that you did not (could not) address a single one of the points I made. Again, thank you for this concession of the validity of my position.

M: Are you trying to justify Abortion?

TFB replies: Abortion does not need to be justified. It is a choice for each person to make for themselves. No one needs to justify their choice either to have an abortion or a pregnancy, but they would have to justify why they think they have the right to make that choice for someone else (or everyone else). You certainly have not justified that.

M: Maybe the reason the Bible doesn't speak of abortion is because its common seance not to have one.

TFB replies: It is also common sense not to lie, steal or commit adultery, but the law was quite specific on those points. And it is also common sense not to kill humans that have already been born, who are not inside someone else's body, and the Bible gives extensive and specific definitions of what constitutes murder ... and does not include anything remotely similar to abortion. Yet abortion was well known and widely practiced in those days; my website cites some contemporary writings NOT in the Bible, some that support a right to abort and some that oppose it. So it was well known and controversial in that time, yet not a single one of the Bible writers chose to even mention it. If you believe the Bible to have been inspired, then that omission can not be consider some random accident. The silence must have been INTENTIONAL.

M: Why else would women feel so terrible afterwords....? Every woman I've spoke with that has had an abortion has REGRETTED it.

TFB replies: Most women don't feel terrible after abortions. I personally known many women who have had abortions, including friends, relatives and those I have assisted, and have never known one who regretted their choice. as noted in my web site, studies show that, nationwide, only about 11% of women ever express regret. Obviously, those women made the wrong choice for them, perhaps because they succumbed to pressure from husbands, parents, clergy or others instead of making a truly voluntary choice. And I strongly suspect that a large share of those are women who later fall into religious extremist groups with people like you who impose on them a cruel and unnecessary guilt trip.

M: The heart tells the truth!

TFB replies: So 89% of hearts can't be wrong!

M: If God didn't want you to have a child then you wouldn't be pregnant.

TFB replies: So you're saying if unwed couples have sex and get pregnant, that's "God's will"? If a poor, honest married couple who already has two kids gets pregnant, that's "God's will"? Is everything that happens, "God's will"? Is every murder "God's will"? Are all the problems in the world "God's will" or, maybe, just maybe, are some of them the result of human errors, and can be solved by humans taking responsibility for those errors and doing something to correct them?

M: It's a trial to see how you deal with it.

TFB replies: You reveal your real agenda. You want to force women to stay pregnant to make sure they endure the consequences of sexual behavior you might not approve of.

M: abortion is a quick way to failure.

TFB replies: No, abortion is a quick way of solving the problem for those women who decide of their own free will that it is the right choice for them.

M: Repent and believe in Jesus....you can be forgiven...and then give you testimony to others to stop them from the same sin!

TFB replies: Jesus has nothing to do with it. Jesus never said a single word against abortion. No one who wrote in the Bible (or the Koran, or the Hindu or Buddhist scriptures either, for that matter) wrote a single word against abortion. Jesus received the prostitutes and poor women with compassion, unlike you who wants to make sure they suffer for what you judgmentally decide are their sins.

Mathis continues on 8-12-03:

If your right may God be with you but if your wrong may God show you the truth and not hold you accountable for false teachings.

TFB replies: This, of course, applies equally to yourself as you blasphemously pronounce the "word of God" on subjects where there is no such word. At least I can support my position with specifics. You merely state your opinions, but are absolutely and completely unable to back them up. If the intent of your cosmic threats is to instill some kind of fear, understand that it is you who should be contemplating the fate of blasphemers according to the teachings you claim to believe in.

Dialogue with BabyBlue
BabyBlue writes on 7-8-03:

I would really like to know how you can "claim" to agree with God when you do not know the first thing about what you are reading in the bible.

TFB replies: Please don't put words into my mouth (or keyboard). Please cite the specific example where you claim I "claimed" to "agree with God." I do not "claim" to purport God's position on any specific issue, and certainly not abortion. What I did point out, however, and what you completely failed to respond to, is that there is not a single word in the Bible that even hints at opposition to abortion.

BB: Unless you have asked Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal savior, and devoted your life to him, then you have no clue and I mean NO CLUE, what or how God feels.

TFB replies: I don't claim to speak for God. I also don't believe that YOU speak for God, and I notice that you haven't been able to come up with a single piece of evidence to support the slightest hint that any deity in the universe has even the slightest opposition to abortion.

BB: Therefore, you can't "agree with HIM" (which if you had done as much research on the Bible as you have on what organs are formed in the first trimester, then you would very clearly see that God is a Him not a her).

TFB replies: I don't dispute that the Bible assigns the male gender to deity. I don't necessarily accept the Bible as the sole source of authority about deity, but that is a separate issue. My point, which you haven't even tried to refute, is that the Bible does not contain the slightest hint of opposition to abortion.

BB: But since you are obviously one of those individuals who likes to pull bits and pieces out of the Bible to use them to state your claim instead of reading the whole thing, I wouldn't expect you to understand or see anything clearly.

TFB replies: Any time I claimed the Bible said something, I cited a specific reference. You didn't. So instead of these broad generalizations that amount to nothing more than junior-high-school name calling, be specific: please cite the specific example where you believe I misrepresented the meaning of scripture, in either spirit or detail, and/or the specific example of a single scripture in the Bible that specifically and unambiguously opposes abortion.

BB: A little FYI for you here, unless you have a personal relationship with God, you won't understand the Bible anyway.

TFB replies: Let me see if I understand what you're saying. One cannot understand the Bible until they have a personal relationship with God; but they cannot have a personal relationship with God until they have been exposed to "his" word in ... the Bible. This, my dear, is called circular reasoning, one of the most basic logical flaws. Beyond this serious error of reason, you also come across as being judgmental and ignorant in all the ways that Jesus forbade (see Matt 7:1-2). And you disregard the MANY Christian women who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior, who are active in their churches, who have "personal relationships with God" (which can't be discounted just because you happen to express disagreement which you cannot even support with facts, reasons or scriptures).

BB: And you quite clearly do not have a relationship with God, otherwise your opinion on this matter would be quite different.

TFB replies: Again, many women who DO have a "personal relationship with God" do have a different opinion than you do. And since you haven't offered the slightest bit of religious evidence for your position, not to mention the lack of rational or factual support, your opinion (just because you "say so") really doesn't count for much.

BB: I do agree with you however that it is each woman's individual opinion on whether they carry the mistake they made or someone else made. Unfortunately, if that woman who does not choose to carry the "unwanted invader," she then has to turn to God and truly repent for the sin that she has committed. Otherwise, like so many others in this ungrateful world, she too will burn in Hell for the sins she committed.

TFB replies: You are a hypocrite. You say that it is "each woman's individual opinion" but that if her opinion doesn't match yours then she'll burn in hell ... even though you can't cite one single reason, fact or scripture to support your claim.

BB: I know you don't want to hear it, but abortion is sin.

TFB replies: Just because you say so? I cited extensive support for my position. You cited ... NONE ... except that you say it, therefore it is the law of the universe, above god or anything else. Since you could not find a single point of mine to disagree with (other than your opinion) I'll take that as reluctant acceptance that, however much you dislike it, you actually know that I am right.

BB: It is killing a human being.

TFB replies: It is the termination of a human life, similar to that of a sperm or an egg. I established extensive support for my distinguishing between a human life and a human person. I am sure that if you could have found a single flaw in what I wrote, you would have eagerly identified it. Since you didn't, I'll gladly take that as further endorsement (however reluctant) of my conclusions. Thank you.

BB: So what if they don't feel pain or think for themselves. There are many mentally and physically handicapped people who have these same issues. But, I don't suppose you think we should just get rid of them too.

TFB replies: There is no situation in which a person with mental or physical disability has ZERO level of measurable EEG brain waves, which is the case up through the middle of the second trimester, per the scientific documentation I provided. Even persons in a persistent vegetative state have measurable brain waves in ways that embryos do not. In fact, the cessation of brain waves is the point at which death can be certified; so if we recognize the end of life after brain waves end, why should we claim human personhood before they begin?

BB: Or maybe you do which would really make me question your intellect even more.

TFB replies: Tsk, tsk. Resorting to cheap name-calling. You sound very frustrated. Maybe because you couldn't actually support your position with facts, reasons or scriptures.

BB: So what if the organs aren't fully formed yet. At some point they will be.

TFB replies: The same thing applies to sperms and eggs. They are human life, but although they don't have all the actual attributes of human persons, at some point they will (assuming that certain contingencies occur, which is also true of fertilized eggs). Are you saying that eggs and sperms are also human persons? What do you propose to make sure that no egg or sperm ever dies and thus "wastes" a "human life"? Sorry, but the potential to become a person is not the same as actually becoming a person. When the potential becomes the actual, then you might have a point, but not before.

BB: The fact is God created that life, ...

TFB replies: God also created the lives of viruses, bacteria, one-celled amebas, fish, frogs, lizards, chickens, rats, pigs and cows. Are they also human persons? Are you a vegetarian (as I am)? Because I do not equate animals with humans, I do not join those who claim that "meat is murder" but I could certainly make a stronger case for killing sentient adult animals who are not occupying the body of any human persons than for the silly claim that "abortion is murder."

BB: ...not you, not the woman, not the rapist, no one. Only God. And whether they were raped, molested, inbred, or in any other way unwanted, they are still a living being.

TFB replies: Are you saying that you believe a woman who has been raped, who has absolutely no basis for claiming that the pregnancy is the result of consent, should be forced to remain pregnant against her will? You believe someone should be able to have their body used (against their will) to keep someone else alive? Do you believe that if someone is identified as a compatible donor match for a kidney, bone marrow or even blood, that they should be forced to donate those body parts to keep someone else alive?

BB: Tell me this, what about the heartbeat? Does the heartbeat mean nothing?

TFB replies: Let me respond to this point at two levels:
First: What exactly is the meaning you ascribe to the heartbeat? Fish, frogs, lizards, chickens, rats, pigs and cows all have a heartbeat. This has nothing to do with the question of human personhood. And if you believe that the "heartbeat" has special meaning as regards the sanctity of life and you are not a vegetarian, then you would believe yourself to be a murderer.
Second: At what point do you believe human personhood begins? At fertilization of the egg by the sperm? At that point there is no heartbeat. Do you accept abortion before the onset of heartbeat? (if not, then this "point" was just a "pointless" bit of "red herring")

BB: I'm troubled to know that you have watched an abortion and been shocked at how simple and rather painless it really is.

TFB replies: Have you seen a routine, first trimester abortion (when almost 90% of them actually occur)? I don't mean the grotesque pictures of late-term fetuses (when 4 out of 10,000 abortions occur) shown on the dishonest billboards of anti-choice extremists who can't stand the idea of someone seeing the reality of what a normal abortion is all about. Yeah I have seen abortions, and the first time I couldn't believe that this simple removal of a teensy blob of cells was at the center of such a storm of controversy. Yes, it is simple and painless under modern medical procedures -- certainly less obtrusive than most dental procedures. Why do abortion opponents have to lie about what abortion is all about? Is it because they know that if women knew the truth, that most abortions are simple, painless and over in less than five minutes, that all their dishonest propaganda would instantly crumble?

BB: You have watched an abortion and not one thing in your heart or your soul has made you wonder if it was the right thing to do?

TFB replies: I never had an abortion myself. So the times I was there to help disabled women with their medical procedures (including abortions) it wasn't my body or my situation. Each woman has to decide for herself what is right for her. I certainly had no issue about the morality of abortion in general, and as to the appropriateness in the specific situation, I rightly left that up to the woman to decide.

BB: Yet another clue for me that you don't have God in your life. Because He would tell you.

TFB replies: Yes, a number of Christian women have told me that they prayed for an answer for their situation and that God inspired them with the knowledge that, in their situation, abortion was the right choice. For those who accept the Bible as the "word of God," the fact that it says NOTHING about abortion, either pro or con, (even though abortion was well known in biblical times and written about in other biblio-contemporary writings) causes these Christian women to believe that the God of their belief left this up to individuals, depending on the circumstances of each. For some it is the right choice. For others it is not. You certainly have not offered the slightest bit of support for any claim that abortion is universally evil or sinful.

BB: Well, to wrap up this little letter, I pray that God reveals Himself to you. I hope you find Him someday and repent of the things you have done so that He may forgive you and His grace be upon you. And to all the readers, it doesn't matter what is formed yet and what isn't.

TFB replies: Sure it does. If a person has been formed then it is a person. If that hasn't happened yet, then it isn't a person until that happens.

BB: God knows that child before they are in the womb.

TFB replies: I suppose this is a not-too-subtle reference to Jeremiah 1:5, which I addressed on my site. Yes, those who believe in the Bible would assert that God knows that child before they are in the womb; but he (or she) also knows the child before they are in the womb, before they are conceived, before their parents are conceived. Jeremiah does not talk about knowing the child in the womb; it talks about knowing the future of the child's existence before it is in the womb, which obviously means before conception. It is about God's foreknowledge, not about abortion.

BB: That right there is enough to tell me that they are a life and not a blob or mass of tissue. An abortion stops an innocent LIFE from growing and maturing into a BIGGER human being.

TFB replies: We agree it is a life. A human life. So is an egg and/or a sperm. You still haven't proposed what you want to do to make sure that no eggs get wasted (dies without being fertilized) or that any sperm dies without fertilizing an egg (and since sperms outnumber eggs several billion to one, God must have had a perverse sense of humor if he/she thought that human life is equivalent to human personhood). Again, you close by equating LIFE and PERSONHOOD. But viruses, bacteria, fish, frogs, lizards, chickens, rats, pigs and cows are also LIFE but they are not persons (and please, please tell us whether you are a vegetarian or not).

Dialogue with B.Whit
B.Whit writes on 6-24-03:

The choice of words "The Right to Choose" conveys the impression that women have never had that right.

TFB replies: No it doesn't. It talks about the choice itself, not the history of the choice. We could talk about your right to choose what career you want, something that has never been questioned (at least in this society), without any implication or suggestion that you have not always had that right.

That said, the fact is that women have long and often been denied the right to make their own reproductive choices. Abortion was outlawed for many years, and many reproductive options we have today simply did not exist in the past.

BW: They have not been denied the right to contraception, abstinence, or "morning after" pills. Although in the past, women took desperate measures to rid themselves of an unwanted fetus, resulting in serious injury to themselves, the pregnancy was the consequence of a failure to choose earlier, when conception took place.

TFB replies: You must be very young. I remember well the days before contraception or morning after pills, and "abstinence" requires that women choose between competing choices. And contraception or "morning after" pills can fail. And why shouldn't a woman be free to make her own choices, to engage in romantic intimacy AND to avoid pregnancy?

BW: I'm not presenting a viewpoint that has no basis in personal knowledge. My second child was the result of a serious error in judgment, and, as an unwed mother I was tempted to destroy the consequences of that error. Thank goodness, I did not. My daughter now makes me very proud, and excels in everything she does.

TFB replies: Congratulations on making a choice that was right for you (though if you had made the opposite choice, you wouldn't even know the difference -- or can you imagine all the beautiful, intelligent children who excel in everything that you don't have today because, on the right night, you "weren't in the mood"?). Having made the right choice for you, why do you think you now have the right to dictate your choice onto every other woman?

BW: When I suggest that other opportunities to choose may have existed, I refer only to the use of abortion as a form of birth control. There is no question that when a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, is the result of rape or incest, there is some justification for terminating the pregnancy as quickly after the event as possible.

TFB replies: At least you have some intellectual consistency as to the issue of "choice." Many would also deny the right to abort in cases of rape, incest, failed birth control or even to save the life of the mother. However, the problem for those who oppose women's reproductive self determination is their basis for denying this CHOICE. Why shouldn't the woman have the right to control her own body? What is your reason? If you claim that the zygote, embryo or fetus has some special quality of personhood, then why does the woman have the right to choose to abort in cases of rape? Why should an innocent child pay for the sins of the unknown rapist father? The reason you allow her this choice is that, in your heart of hearts, you realize that the woman DOES have the choice is that it is HER BODY, and she is a fully human person while the embryo is not. But if you join those who would deny her this choice, then you deny her the right to make a choice that she didn't have prior to the pregnancy. Either way, those who would deny the woman her choice fail logically and morally.

BW: Birth control should, however, be a choice at the time of insemination, not after the pregnancy becomes "inconvenient". There are a wide variety of pre- and post-coital methods of preventing or terminating pregnancy.

TFB replies: Why? Just because you say so? You make this broad moral decree, yet you don't cite a single logical reason to support why other women should be denied the control of their own bodies just because that isn't the choice you would make. Your idea of choice is that YOU got to make the choice you wanted, and everyone else can also choose, as long as they make the same choice you would ... or at least on the same timetable as you want. If you are going to tell women that they can't control their own bodies, then you are going to have to offer a reason.

BW: Why insist upon the right to choose to abort, months after failing to choose prevention?

TFB replies: There are many reasons "why" the woman might make that choice at a different time than YOU would want to impose on her.
a) she used birth control and it failed
b) her situation changed -- perhaps the father of the embryo left her or she (or he) lost a job, or she came to realize that she wasn't emotionally, financially, spiritually, whatever, prepared for the responsibilities of motherhood
c) she changed her mind
There are all kinds of reasons a sentient, fully human person might make a choice after the time YOU think she should have made it. All of them are her business, NOT YOURS. And why shouldn't she make that choice any darn time she feels like it? In my commentary, I have clearly established that it is her body and her right to control it, and that she is the fully human person, while the embryo does not have the actual qualities of human personhood, so why shouldn't she have the full and absolute right to control her own body any time she wants? You ask "why" but you ask the wrong question. The right question is: "Why not?"

BW: Your efforts to educate women are commendable. They would be better directed to educating them in the timeliness of birth control, if not abstinence until such time as they are able to care for a child.

TFB replies: It isn't an "either/or" proposition. I support education of women as to all their options. I would love to see a world with no abortions, if that were only the case because no women made that choice, having adequately educated all women (and their equally responsible partners) as to 100% use of birth control and 100% accurate methodology in that use, and 100% perfection in the production of birth control products, and 100% education of men on moral and emotional issues to eliminate all possibility of rape or incest. Until we get to such a perfect world, however, I do believe women should have the right to choose their own reproductive destinies.

BW: In any case, I choose not to judge those who make choices I would not make. I hope that anyone who can justify in their own heart their failure to protect themselves and who belatedly determine that they must take the life of their unborn child, will give it serious consideration first. I don't think the government (or the Supreme Court) have anything to do with morality.

TFB replies: We agree. And in that regard, I'm sure you'll agree that the government (including courts) should not make decisions about abortion, but should let women make their own choices about their own bodies.

BW: If we do not teach our young people the difference between right and wrong, and that there are consequences attached to making wrong decisions, we will continue to have this battleground of Pro-Life and Pro-"Choice".

TFB replies: Exactly what do you mean by "consequence"? Do you mean "punishment"? Is that your real agenda, that if women don't make the same moral choices that you think they should, when you think they should, that they should be forced to remain pregnant against their will as a "consequence" to punish them for their moral error (in your view)? Well, guess what, that inconsequential embryo, after it is allowed to grow and be born and become a sentient, autonomous human person, is a lot more complicated. That "consequence" might grow up in a home that, unlike you, fails to appreciate its many talents and contributions, and may be neglected, abused, and have not such a good life as an unwanted child. Yeah, some people like you do change their minds and come to love the children they didn't plan for. Many others suffer horrible "consequences" (I'm talking about the innocent children, not the immoral women that YOU wanted to "punish"). Newsflash: it's not a "consequence," it's a child -- and choosing to have children also brings many consequences, often far more than the choice to abort.

B.Whit continues on 6-25-03:

I gave you my OPINION; I did not at any time DENY ANYONE A CHOICE.

TFB replies: You noted that you do not believe the government or the courts should be involved and I noted my agreement with you on this point.

BW: I don't have that right, nor do you have the right to promote a choice in a situation in which you are not personally involved.

TFB replies: I do not promote either the choice to abort or the choice to bear a child. That is something each woman must decide for herself. I want to ensure that both options remain available for women, so each woman can decide for herself which one is right for her situation. There is nothing in any of the pages on my website that encourages women to choose to abort -- only to make sure that the option (choice) remains available, against the onslaught of those today who do want to use the government and the courts to deny women the choice that you and I both agree no one should be able to deny them.

BW: There are at least two sides to every discussion, or it is no longer a discussion.

TFB replies: I'm confused as to your point here. I expressed my opinion in my website. I allowed you to express your opinion. I reiterated my opinion in my reply. Back and forth. Two sides. This seems to be what you want, yet your tone seems to be complaining about it????

BW: I am 72 years old! I have lived a full life, personally experienced many of the difficulties you use as examples, and somehow managed to solve them without finding it necessary to destroy anyone. I took responsibility for my own behavior, without judging the behavior of others. I have helped many young unwed mothers, and those who chose not to be young mothers, to live with their decisions. How many children have you had? I lost one, bore two with health problems, have three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

TFB replies: I am somewhat younger, just in my fifties. Have also had a good life and a full life, and looking ahead to more. I have one adult daughter and one granddaughter. I want to make sure they grow up in a world where they have the freedom to make whatever choices are right for them, and not have the government or the courts (or pressure from men) to force them into different choices. Sounds like you agree on this point.
I'm not sure, however, what age and the number of descendants has to do with qualifications to discuss questions of morality. I stated my opinions, and provided solid facts and reasons to back up my positions. If you want to have a two-way "discussion" as you said earlier, then I suggest you respond at the same level instead of trying to turn it into something personal.

BW: I think I am a better judge of what life is about than you are

TFB replies: You say you don't judge then claim that you are a "better judge" than me? Please make up your mind!

BW: and I don't spout propaganda on television or the web to convince others that my way is the only way.

TFB replies: Please define exactly what you mean when you suggest that I "spout propaganda" on my website, and then cite a specific example. Again, I stated my opinions and provided extensive factual and rational documentation. Just calling names or making accusations without even a single specific example I can respond to doesn't add much to the kind of two-sided "discussion" you said you wanted. And again, I have never said that "my way is the only way." I have never told women which choice they should make. I have argued, however, very strongly that women should have the choice and they alone should be the ones to make their own personal choices. I'm confused as to exactly what you're so upset about.

BW: Morality is a personal and private issue. It has no place in a courtroom, nor on a scandal sheet.

TFB replies: We agree that personal moral choices should be left up to each individual to make privately. So what exactly did you disagree with me about? However, it is also perfectly fine for people to have intellectual discussions about moral issues, as long as they don't try to force their own preferences onto others.

B.Whit continues on 6-27-03:

I took responsibility for my own behavior, without judging the behavior of others. I have helped many young unwed mothers, and those who chose not to be young mothers, to live with their decisions." One experience in particular was my involvement, as a close friend and room-mate, when I accompanied a young woman to an illegal abortion clinic. After the procedure, I helped her get home, and she bled all over my sofa. It took some time before she recovered physically. She did not, however, recover psychologically. Each time the memory of what she had done became unbearable, she drank herself into a stupor and pounded her head on the floor trying to knock the memory of it out of her mind. An innocent young girl, who had just made a mistake, became promiscuous, had two more abortions, and met the man she married in bed when she awoke following a drunken night of partying. She was never able to have children. I didn't judge her then, nor do I judge anyone who makes those choices. Like you, however, I want them to know the whole story (not just the pro-Choice story).

TFB replies: Using the unfortunate consequences of an ILLEGAL abortion to argue against legal abortion is completely counterproductive. It shows the failure of illegalizing abortion, and is, itself, a powerful argument for why abortion must remain legal. My grandmother had an illegal abortion (in the 1930's, in the deep South). At that time she was married and already had three sons (including my father) but could not support additional children, and birth control and even giving birth control information to married couples was illegal in her state in those years. The illegal abortion was traumatic, but she did not resort to drugs or promiscuity like your friend. A lot has to do with individual differences and, again, citing examples of problems from ILLEGAL abortions has nothing to do with the issue of legal ones.

BW: The difference between me and my room-mate was only what we chose to do about our pregnancies. She chose the route above; I chose to accept the pregnancy and to make it a positive. I fought to make a living to support us and eventually to provide her with an education. She went on from there, making me a very proud mother. Of course it was hard. At times, it was devastating. But not as devastating as the other girl's life was. But, it was her "choice".

TFB replies: With all respect, differing choices about how to handle problem pregnancies was NOT the only difference between you and your roommate. There are many differences of personality and temperament, and how one handles relationships and problems. There are many women who have never had abortions (illegal or otherwise) who became promiscuous substance abusers, and many who did have abortions (legal or illegal) who did not. Citing a single example is hardly represented. I noted on my website the studies that show that 89% of women who have legal abortions have NO emotional regrets or problems. And out of the 11% who do, I suspect that a lot of that has to do with either having been pressured to make a decision that really wasn't theirs by the men in their lives, or by moralizers who intentionally try to make them feel guilty to promote their own agendas. Since you cite an example of an ILLEGAL abortion to support your claim of consequences, I'll cite one of a younger relative of mine who had one child out of wedlock and, a year later, became pregnant again. She decided that she could not be fair to the child she already had by taking on a second child, so came to me (naturally) for advice on her options. She had a (safe and legal) abortion, has had no subsequent physical or emotional problems, regrets or complications; her first child today is a happy, healthy pre-teen.

Dialogue with Barbi
Barbi writes on 4-26-03:

The murder of Laci Peterson and the arrest of her husband Scott Peterson for a double homicide (killing Laci and her unborn child) raise the issue of personhood of the fetus, especially in the late term. Do you, or do you not, support laws that punish those who kill or harm a fetus? And if you do, how can you justify allowing fetuses to be killed by abortionists?

TFB replies: The issue is that of women's reproductive self-determination. The right to choose is the right of a woman to make the most basic choices about her own body; her own personnae. As I mentioned on my main web page, this is independent of whether the fetus is or is not a person. I do address the issues of personhood because I do not believe embryos or early term fetuses are equivalent to a human person, but ultimately this issue does not hinge on that. It is the right of the woman to control her own body. Even if the fetus is a human person, it does not have the right to occupy and dominate the most private part of a woman's body for nine long months if she doesn't want it there, any more than a rapist has the right to occupy it against her will for a few minutes and we rightly consider that a serious crime.

The issue is CHOICE. Not the right to choose an abortion, or the right to choose to be pregnant. But the right to choose EITHER (or both, at separate times). Her body, her choice. When a religious extremist tells a woman she cannot have the abortion she wants, that person has denied her the most basic right a human being has. In contrast, if she wants to be pregnant (perhaps has spent thousands of dollars and millions of tears struggling through fertility treatments for a pregnancy she really wants) and someone takes that choice away from her, that is also a terrible crime, exactly the same crime as the person who tells her she can't have the abortion.

Forcibly terminating a pregnancy from the woman who wants to be pregnant, against her will and her choice, is therefore always a terrible and serious crime, no matter at what stage of pregnancy it occurs. We should treat it as such. We must do the same for anyone else who interferes with a woman's right to make whatever choice she, and she alone, deems appropriate for her own self-determination.

Dialogue with E.Chapman
E.Chapman writes on 1-30-03:

All of your reasons for being pro-choice on the abortion issue are correct. However, you did not mention the most important: that Jesus was totally opposed to all forms of oppression, and certainly the anti abortion people wish to oppress women. Since I'm 73 yrs. old, I have experienced a lot during my lifetime and feel that I know Jesus. He has guided and protected me on many occasions when there seemed no way out of a dilemma. Although I never faced the need for an abortion, I know that this is a decision for the affected individual to make and I know that Jesus would feel the same.

TFB replies: I do agree that Jesus -- whether you accept him as son of god, divine messiah or a wise philosopher -- did oppose all oppression and was more understanding of women's empowerment than others of his time. I did point out, at great length, that the Bible takes a completely "hands off" position on abortion, neither encouraging it nor discouraging it, leaving that up to each individual woman and her specific situation. I also noted that abortion was well known and widely practiced in Biblical times and cited other contemporary writings about it, but while the Bible speaks authoritatively on many aspects of our lives, it never once offers the slightest hint of opposition to abortion.

Prior dialogues:
To keep this web page to a manageable size, previous dialogues have been moved to a separate prior file which can be found at:

We welcome feedback! Send e-mail feedback to: feedback.
Please note, be sure to include the word "feedback" somewhere in the title of your message to avoid having your e-mail deleted unread with all the other junk e-mail that is mass deleted.
Please note, all e-mails or comments submitted become the property of T.F.Barans and Word Wizards and may be included in this forum.

This forum consists of selected e-mails representing views that both agree and disagree with the comments on this webpage, along with responses from the author when appropriate. Comments used will be quoted exactly (copied and pasted from e-mails) but personal or extraneous comments may be omitted in the interest of space and relevance.

To participate, send your e-mail comments to TFBarans@aol.com (including the word "feedback" somewhere in the title) and then watch this space to see your comments as part of a current, topical discussion. Please include all comments within the text area of the e-mail. DO NOT SEND E-MAIL ATTACHMENTS. All messages that contain attached files will be deleted -- the e-mail text will not even be opened, much less the attached file -- it will be dragged straight into the "Delete" icon.

Please note that this file contains selected comments taken from e-mails sent to T.F.Barans.
This is intended to be a representative sample of correspondence. Not all e-mails are included; those most likely to be included are those that discuss the issues intellegently, not those who call names or who use excessive profanity. Submissions may be edited for space and relevance and extraneous or personal comments may be omitted, however the actual words selected for inclusion will be used exactly as submitted (copied and pasted from e-mail messages).
In most cases, T.F.Barans will have already exchanged correspondence directly with the writer and even if the writer has received a response from T.F.Barans directly via e-mail, it may take several days before the response gets added to this forum.

Please note, only issues-related comments will be included. Irrelevant comments or personal insults will not be selected. If multiple participants make a similar point, only those that make the point most efficiently will be selected, and all e-mails or comments submitted become the property of T.F.Barans and Word Wizards and may be included in the forum at the sole discretion of T.F.Barans and Word Wizards.

LINKS to other sources of pro-choice information and involvement opportunities:
--Planned Parenthood.
--National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL).
--California Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League (CARAL).
--Californians for Responsible Choices.
--Catholics for Choice.
--Elroy's Abortion Rights Commentary.
A particularly insightful and informative commentary on the subject.

We are pleased to host several insightful commentaries by renowned physician Dr. William F. Harrison, and recommend the following:
Human Soul and Abortion Morality, at: http://www.wordwiz72.com/wfh-soul.html
Smug Religious Terrorists, at: http://www.wordwiz72.com/religterror.html
Election 2002 - The Mourning After, at: http://www.wordwiz72.com/wfhmd2002.html
Roe v. Wade, Bush and the Republican Congress - A Thirty Year Run Ended? at: http://www.wordwiz72.com/roe-v-republicans.html

Return to main article (Women's Reproductive Self-Determination) by T.F. Barans

Return to Word Wizards free downloads for other articles that may be downloaded FREE!