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Subject: "When I change my mind, the facts change. What do the facts do for you?" rss

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Philip Thomas
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(Not what John Maynard Keynes said!)

I've been consciously pro-life for about twenty years, dating back to my youthful embracing of Christianity and (slightly later) Catholicism. I had some serious intellectual arguments on abortion with my teenage peers. At one point we were arguing about a gap of 24 hours (for the beginning of human life)...although when I suggested we agree to differ and concentrate on the implications my friend said if I could concede 24 hours from conception why not go all the way to birth.

At university I was an officer of the Durham University Pro-Life Society. DUPLS had 4 members and they were all officers and I was the least important (I've forgotten my title). We didn't do very much and we achieved even less. But I remember arguing for Christian education to include sex education, because it could save lives. I was in favour of non-abortive methods of contraception for the same reason. DUPLS wasn't entirely about abortion of course: we also opposed capital punishment and euthanasia.

After university my interest in the subject waned and it became little more than a line on my cv. I was still pro-life in theory, but I did nothing about it in practice. Occasionally I might allude to my position on an internet forum, sometimes while weakening it (for example, to make clear my opposition to criminalising abortion).

Two days ago I became pro-choice in theory and practice. I'm not allowed to go into any detail about why or how and I'm still fairly confused about my position. At this point maybe half of you think I'm an idiot and the other half think I was an idiot up to 2 days ago: lets see if I can unite the two positions.

Pro-choice doesn't mean pro-abortion (despite the mocking language of my former self). It just means supporting a woman's right to choose whether or not to give birth to a child. Nor does that have to mean denying that human life begins at birth or denying that the choice of life is always preferable to the choice of death: it is still the woman's choice. The woman can make the choice on her own, but if she seeks impartial advice that advice should be as impartial as humanly possible- and it should be assumed she is seeking impartial advice unless she makes it clear she wants advice of another kind.

Both choices should be fully supported to make sure that they are safe for the mother, which means that medical services associated with those choices should be free of charge- which in turn is likely to mean the involvement of the state (something I was once bitterly opposed to, producing a bizarre theoretical world in which abortion was not criminalised but could only be performed privately, making it much easier for the rich than the poor).

There are a lot of nuanced positions possible on abortion. Some people say that they support choice only in 'hard cases' such as rape, congenital disability, or some particular period of time since conception. But, as my friend said, if you've conceded conception, what is left but birth?
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I don't see how it unites the positions. What you describe is what pro-choice people think. I doubt there are any pro-choice who think that abortion is a wonderful thing.
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Philip Thomas
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HavocIsHere wrote:
I don't see how it unites the positions. What you describe is what pro-choice people think. I doubt there are any pro-choice who think that abortion is a wonderful thing.


The 2 positions being 1) I'm an idiot now and 2) I was an idiot up until 2 days ago. I didn't mean "unite pro-choice and pro-life": that is obviously impossible.

My description has parts which definitely are not what all pro-choice people think: I well know that many pro-choice activists do not believe human life begins at conception, for example.
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Boaty McBoatface
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I am neither pro-death nor anti-choice.

As A man any laws about the subject do not affect me.

The science is not conclusive as to when life occurs.

Pregnancy can have medical complications that can take a life.

I dislike abortion in principle (and I do not really buy the choice argument), in practice I accept the issue is complex, and so tend to ere towards allowing those whom the law affects to have the final say. That does not mean I will be quite or not express my opinion, just that I will not force others to do something that actually may cause them real harm.

As to the OP, no it is not idiocy to learn by experience, not is it idiocy to have opinions based upon incomplete experience. An idiot is someone who believes something despite the evidence before him, not someone who has just not seen the evidence.
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It's a good thing that you're able to change your mind.

It's also natural that a major change in perspective modifies how you assess related information. I'd suggest though, that this hasn't actually changed any facts. More likely the facts are the same, but your interpretation and reaction have changed.

OT with pro/anti choice, I have a comment and a suggestion:

Think about the difference between potential and actual. In this context, one of the amusing side-effects of being overly strict is that it can lead to defining solo sex by females as being ok, but not solo sex by males.

I'd also suggest that the last line of your post is an over-simplification in the same vein. This doesn't mean that "lines must be drawn" of course. That mindset is part of the problem. It means that it's by nature a "grey area" issue, which should be considered from a pragmatic perspective.
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Philip Thomas
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I'm obviously not conveying my meaning very well in the OP.

The title is ironic. Obviously when someone changes their mind, that does not in itself change any facts.

It is a reference to an actual John Maynard Keynes quote: "When the facts change I change my mind: what do you do?"
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Boaty McBoatface
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Philip Thomas wrote:
I'm obviously not conveying my meaning very well in the OP.

The title is ironic. Obviously when someone changes their mind, that does not in itself change any facts.

It is a reference to an actual John Maynard Keynes quote: "When the facts change I change my mind: what do you do?"
Facts do not change, only your interpretation of them does of them does (but I suspect that Keynes is being ironic).
 
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I guessed what topic this thread would cover when I saw the title.

For most the fetus is either a person or a blob of tissue and when one changes from pro-choice to pro-life or vice versa, the "fact" of what the clump of cells is switches as well for that person.

It hasn't for me. I am basically pro-choice, but still consider the blob of cells a person. There are, unfortunately, times when the needs of the mother outweigh the right to life of the person unable to survive ex utero. I don't trust government to make rational and fair decisions, so it should be left up to the mother.

Besides, there are already too many people on the planet and, in general, people that would prefer not to be parents probably aren't going to be the best at raising kids anyway.
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Confirmation bias, we all do it. I like to think that I do a better job than most at not ignoring facts which conflict with my beliefs, but probably I'm just suffering from more confirmation bias.
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Philip Thomas
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slatersteven wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
I'm obviously not conveying my meaning very well in the OP.

The title is ironic. Obviously when someone changes their mind, that does not in itself change any facts.

It is a reference to an actual John Maynard Keynes quote: "When the facts change I change my mind: what do you do?"
Facts do not change, only your interpretation of them does of them does (but I suspect that Keynes is being ironic).


Facts do change. Yesterday it was a fact that 10 days ago was the 11th February 2014. That is no longer true.

Or, say the central bank raises interest rates. The interest rate is a fact. But it has now changed, and maybe I should change my mind about my investment policy.

More often, what changes is both a person's interpretation of the facts and his/her understanding of them- s/he learns additional facts, which cause his/her interpretation of the old ones to change. A new scientific discovery doesn't change the facts, at least if one believes scientific truth is immutable- but it can change people's understanding.

That is all by-the-way because you are quite correct with regard to this thread- the facts about abortion have not changed, nor have I learnt any additional facts. I have simply changed my perspective.

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It sounds to me like you've put a lot of thought into this and that your intentions were always heartfelt. Experience has made you wiser in the realities of things that were previously theoretical, and I'm guessing the personal impact of the theories in action. Still how you choose to process and redress your position is entirely a self-generated response and it does sound like you've put critical thought into it.

As a fellow 'dislike in principle but recognize that life is something that happens without reguard for neat little boxes' pro-choicer I can understand in general that journey.
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Philip Thomas
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qzhdad wrote:
I guessed what topic this thread would cover when I saw the title.

For most the fetus is either a person or a blob of tissue and when one changes from pro-choice to pro-life or vice versa, the "fact" of what the clump of cells is switches as well for that person.

It hasn't for me. I am basically pro-choice, but still consider the blob of cells a person. There are, unfortunately, times when the needs of the mother outweigh the right to life of the person unable to survive ex utero. I don't trust government to make rational and fair decisions, so it should be left up to the mother.

Besides, there are already too many people on the planet and, in general, people that would prefer not to be parents probably aren't going to be the best at raising kids anyway.


I still think human life begins at conception, yes. The UK government makes 2 decisions 1) not to criminalise 2) to provide free of charge. The effect of these 2 big decisions is to leave to the mothers all the individual small decisions about the lives of unborn children- which is right and proper.

However "there are already too many people on the planet" utterly stinks as a reason for killing some of those people. I would still be pro-choice if we had a global under-population problem- and I think you would be too.
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Boaty McBoatface
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Philip Thomas wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
I'm obviously not conveying my meaning very well in the OP.

The title is ironic. Obviously when someone changes their mind, that does not in itself change any facts.

It is a reference to an actual John Maynard Keynes quote: "When the facts change I change my mind: what do you do?"
Facts do not change, only your interpretation of them does of them does (but I suspect that Keynes is being ironic).


Facts do change. Yesterday it was a fact that 10 days ago was the 11th February 2014. That is no longer true.

Or, say the central bank raises interest rates. The interest rate is a fact. But it has now changed, and maybe I should change my mind about my investment policy.

More often, what changes is both a person's interpretation of the facts and his/her understanding of them- s/he learns additional facts, which cause his/her interpretation of the old ones to change. A new scientific discovery doesn't change the facts, at least if one believes scientific truth is immutable- but it can change people's understanding.

That is all by-the-way because you are quite correct with regard to this thread- the facts about abortion have not changed, nor have I learnt any additional facts. I have simply changed my perspective.

Not sure I agree, it is still a fact that 10 days ago it was the 11th, and that tomorrow it will still be true that 10 days before the 22nd it was the 11th. What changes is out perception of that fact (in this case it becomes the a past fact rather then a present fact).
 
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I still marvel at the intellectual gymnastics that some people go through to convince themselves and others that an unborn child is not, in fact, a human being*. I actually tend to agree with the OP here, in that I can't see how an unborn child can be thought of as anything other than a person, but that at the same time, there can be situations where that life may need to be sacrificed. Myself, I liken the situation to that of a ship in danger of sinking. The captain orders a watertight door shut to save the ship, knowing that there are men inside the flooding compartment. The captain knows those are his men that he is condemning to death with his order, but he makes the decision in order to save the ship and the rest of the crew. A very difficult decision is made in full recognition of the implications and consequences of that decision. In terms of an abortion, the woman is the captain of her body, and she has to make a very difficult decision. Ending a life, for whatever the reason, should be a difficult decision, not something to be taken lightly.

*Of course, maintaining that an unborn child is not a life is a necessary legal construct to allow women to have abortions without having murder charges filed against them and/or the physicians performing the procedure, so from that perspective, I understand the need to define things as they are. However, I think people should be honest with themselves about reality versus legal necessity.
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Boaty McBoatface
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desertfox2004 wrote:
I still marvel at the intellectual gymnastics that some people go through to convince themselves and others that an unborn child is not, in fact, a human being*. I actually tend to agree with the OP here, in that I can't see how an unborn child can be thought of as anything other than a person, but that at the same time, there can be situations where that life may need to be sacrificed. Myself, I liken the situation to that of a ship in danger of sinking. The captain orders a watertight door shut to save the ship, knowing that there are men inside the flooding compartment. The captain knows those are his men that he is condemning to death with his order, but he makes the decision in order to save the ship and the rest of the crew. A very difficult decision is made in full recognition of the implications and consequences of that decision. In terms of an abortion, the woman is the captain of her body, and she has to make a very difficult decision. Ending a life, for whatever the reason, should be a difficult decision, not something to be taken lightly.

*Of course, maintaining that an unborn child is not a life is a necessary legal construct to allow women to have abortions without having murder charges filed against them and/or the physicians performing the procedure, so from that perspective, I understand the need to define things as they are. However, I think people should be honest with themselves about reality versus legal necessity.
Except that the is no agreement on when life begins, it is a potential life, but then so are eggs and sperm. This of course ignores the fact that being pregnant is never a guarantee you will produce a child.

 
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It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.

If you're pregnant you've already produced a child...obviously we're going to go nowhere with this argument and since we're all pro-choice here (did the pro-life part of RSP go on vacation or something?) the distinction seems somewhat academic.
 
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Philip Thomas wrote:
It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.


This, right here.

Basically, it sounds like you were pro-life until suddenly someone in your life decided they wanted / needed an abortion. Hey, it happens. It's easy to make a theoretical argument about the sanctity of life, etc., etc., until it's your or your loved one's life that's getting fucked up by a baby you didn't plan on. That you've arrived at your new stance by way of "my, personal loved one should get to control her own body" speaks volumes about what the REAL issue is in the pro-life / pro-choice debate.

Women's rights, that is.

Welcome to the rational side of the aisle. Sorry it took you so long to get here. Hopefully your advocacy didn't cause too much suffering on the way over.
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Boaty McBoatface
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Philip Thomas wrote:
It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.

If you're pregnant you've already produced a child...obviously we're going to go nowhere with this argument and since we're all pro-choice here (did the pro-life part of RSP go on vacation or something?) the distinction seems somewhat academic.
I am not pro-choice, After all the child does not get a choice. Nor am I pro-abortion, I just do not see a better alternative being offered.
 
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desertfox2004 wrote:
I still marvel at the intellectual gymnastics that some people go through to convince themselves and others that an unborn child is not, in fact, a human being*. I actually tend to agree with the OP here, in that I can't see how an unborn child can be thought of as anything other than a person, but that at the same time, there can be situations where that life may need to be sacrificed. Myself, I liken the situation to that of a ship in danger of sinking. The captain orders a watertight door shut to save the ship, knowing that there are men inside the flooding compartment. The captain knows those are his men that he is condemning to death with his order, but he makes the decision in order to save the ship and the rest of the crew. A very difficult decision is made in full recognition of the implications and consequences of that decision. In terms of an abortion, the woman is the captain of her body, and she has to make a very difficult decision. Ending a life, for whatever the reason, should be a difficult decision, not something to be taken lightly.

*Of course, maintaining that an unborn child is not a life is a necessary legal construct to allow women to have abortions without having murder charges filed against them and/or the physicians performing the procedure, so from that perspective, I understand the need to define things as they are. However, I think people should be honest with themselves about reality versus legal necessity.


The captain analogy is exactly why I'm pro-life, except in cases where the life of the mother is threatened (and certain other dire cases). The captain does not have the right to choose death for his crew except in life and death situations. He does not, as the ships captain, have the right to choose the death of those sailors if, say, he accidentally sailed to the wrong port and wants to avoid embarrassment. Or if he suspects that their home life is crappy.
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Philip Thomas
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ohbalto wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.


This, right here.

Basically, it sounds like you were pro-life until suddenly someone in your life decided they wanted / needed an abortion. Hey, it happens. It's easy to make a theoretical argument about the sanctity of life, etc., etc., until it's your or your loved one's life that's getting fucked up by a baby you didn't plan on. That you've arrived at your new stance by way of "my, personal loved one should get to control her own body" speaks volumes about what the REAL issue is in the pro-life / pro-choice debate.

Women's rights, that is.

Welcome to the rational side of the aisle. Sorry it took you so long to get here. Hopefully your advocacy didn't cause too much suffering on the way over.


I guess it does sound like that. But, as far as I know, no one in my personal life has decided they want or need an abortion. Would that happening have caused me to change my mind? Perhaps, but I'm never going to find that out.

I don't imagine that I ever succeeded in saving a single life by my pro-life position. By the same token, amount of suffering caused is likely to have been minimal.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
If you're pregnant you've already produced a child...


I don't think that necessarily follows.

What was the primary deciding factor for me, in swinging me over to 'pro choice' from 'pro life' all those years back, actually came FROM my religion's insistence on 'human life begins at conception'.

Then I found out about 'spontaneous abortion'. A thing I had never heard of before! From the way I'd been taught growing up, miscarriages were incredibly rare, and a result of human imperfection and the evils of Satan's world.

That human souls would die before even being born, and that this was a totally common thing that women would regularly (up to 50% of pregnancies) be 'pregnant' (by the 'life begins at conception' rule) and never result in a childbirth as a NORMAL THING...

Yeah, that was a problem. Either God was a monster beyond any reckoning, or human life didn't actually being at conception. At some point BETWEEN 'conception' and 'full-term childbirth', sure, no doubt, you are dealing with another person...although may still need to balance the life of one vs the life of the other (or both). But, in any case, the hard line "if pregnant = already have child" seemed ludicrous in the new context.
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Philip Thomas
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Good point. Does the fact that some newborn babies die before they're baptised mean that baptism bestows human life not birth? If God can save the Holy Innocents who were born and died before being baptised, can he not equally save the innocents who were conceived and died before being born?

If your problem is that bad things happen on God's watch, I don't think it can be solved. I've been wrestling with that one for years...
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Philip Thomas
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slatersteven wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.

If you're pregnant you've already produced a child...obviously we're going to go nowhere with this argument and since we're all pro-choice here (did the pro-life part of RSP go on vacation or something?) the distinction seems somewhat academic.
I am not pro-choice, After all the child does not get a choice. Nor am I pro-abortion, I just do not see a better alternative being offered.


"pro-choice" and "pro-life" are shorthand but they are short-hand for a reason: One way someone gets a choice, the other way they don't. I do see a better alternative being offered, but I believe that it is a woman's right to choose the worse of the two alternatives.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.

If you're pregnant you've already produced a child...obviously we're going to go nowhere with this argument and since we're all pro-choice here (did the pro-life part of RSP go on vacation or something?) the distinction seems somewhat academic.
I am not pro-choice, After all the child does not get a choice. Nor am I pro-abortion, I just do not see a better alternative being offered.


"pro-choice" and "pro-life" are shorthand but they are short-hand for a reason: One way someone gets a choice, the other way they don't. I do see a better alternative being offered, but I believe that it is a woman's right to choose the worse of the two alternatives.
Actually in both someone does not get a choice. Neither are short hand they are emotive. They are there to try to appeal to emotion (and morals) rather than reason or logic. In truth "Woman's rights" or "fetus rights" might bet better terms.

When I said no alternative I meant that it is the only reasonable (to my mind) one that has been offered.
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Philip Thomas
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slatersteven wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
It is a difficult decision- and it is her decision and we can't take it for her.

If you're pregnant you've already produced a child...obviously we're going to go nowhere with this argument and since we're all pro-choice here (did the pro-life part of RSP go on vacation or something?) the distinction seems somewhat academic.
I am not pro-choice, After all the child does not get a choice. Nor am I pro-abortion, I just do not see a better alternative being offered.


"pro-choice" and "pro-life" are shorthand but they are short-hand for a reason: One way someone gets a choice, the other way they don't. I do see a better alternative being offered, but I believe that it is a woman's right to choose the worse of the two alternatives.
Actually in both someone does not get a choice. Neither are short hand they are emotive. They are there to try to appeal to emotion (and morals) rather than reason or logic. In truth "Woman's rights" or "fetus rights" might bet better terms.

When I said no alternative I meant that it is the only reasonable (to my mind) one that has been offered.



Yes. The federal budget is being drawn up. Party A comes up with a plan for a tax cut for billionaires but not millionaires. Party B comes up with a plan which involves no tax cuts at all. Which Party is the "pro tax cut" party?

I think we're talking at cross purposes on the 'alternative' thing.

I am talking about the two alternative choices faced by the pregnant woman considering an abortion. A) Abort or B) Don't Abort.

I think you are talking about the two alternative choices faced by society of A) allowing women the choice of whether or not to abort or B) not allowing that choice.

Is that what you are talking about?
 
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