About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The war on women

by Michael De Dora

I traveled home to New York City this past Saturday to speak at a rally organized by Unite Women, a widely endorsed outfit working to band together people against the recent attacks on women’s rights — in part by orchestrating marches and rallies across the United States on April 28.**  For all intents and purposes, the event in New York City was a success, as were — at least according to news reports — events in Arizona, Virginia, Connecticut, and Texas.

Unfortunately, I noticed in the lead up to April 28 that many of my secularist and liberal religionist friends who I would otherwise expect to support women’s rights had not embraced the term “war on women,” and thus were avoiding (whether actively or passively) the movement fighting under its banner. I’m not sure why this is or was the case. Perhaps they don’t think there is a war going on, or maybe the language strikes them as inflammatory (it is, a bit) and they don’t like conflict.

Well, I think there is much evidence to support the term “war on women,” and I think it’s an enormous mistake to avoid the conflict. So, I would like to explore a couple of major anti-women legislative actions and ways that people can get involved in the hope that those who have been sitting on the sidelines will decide to engage.

The foremost evidence for the “war on women” is found in recent attacks on reproductive rights by the religious right. In fact, these attacks alone could quality as a war on women. State lawmakers set a record in 2011 for the most anti-reproductive rights provisions enacted in a single year, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Legislators introduced more than 1,100 provisions last year, and enacted 135 of them. To help put this in perspective, 89 such provisions were enacted in 2010, 77 in 2009, and only 34 in 2005. Unfortunately, this pace has not slowed much.

The measures include, but are not limited to:

> “Personhood” proposals that would allow states to completely outlaw abortion, and even emergency contraception. These have had success in states such as Virginia and Oklahoma, and are now being pushed in Nevada.

> “Fetal pain” laws — now in place in Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama — that ban abortion after 20 weeks.

> Laws that require physicians to perform ultrasounds, and then show and describe the image of the fetus to the woman asking for an abortion.

> Mandatory waiting periods — some as long as 72 hours — between ultrasounds and abortions, which negatively impact women who are poor, without transportation, and/or live in rural areas. Keep in mind that 87 percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion clinic.

New regulations on abortion clinics, regarding things like the amount of space in janitorial rooms, and other requirements, which make it physically or financially impossible for many abortion clinics to remain open.

> Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of critical reproductive health services to women across the U.S.

As I’ve previously written, these attacks are wrong on several fronts. There are no serious philosophical arguments in favor of extending the full range of moral or legal rights to embryos and fetuses. We do not grant such rights to mere “human life,” such as small collections of cells, but to beings that have at least some degree of sentience, self-awareness, or agency. Fertilized human eggs clearly lack all three, as do fetuses until at least 28 weeks, if not later. Moreover, the “fetal pain” argument is moot, as only 1.4 percent of abortions happen after 21 weeks, and women who receive late term abortions usually do so because of health reasons (in which case the interests of the mother, a fully grown human being, win out) or due to difficulty in setting one up (thanks to anti-reproductive rights efforts!).

Furthermore, religious doctrines simply have no place in public policy. They are either untrue or too specifically sectarian for law in a pluralistic society with a secular constitution — or both. In sum, women ought to have access to full reproductive health care, and the privacy to make a decision over her body with her doctor.

Fortunately, many of the aforementioned reproductive rights laws have been struck down in courts as clearly violating the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, and several later decisions. Yet while attacks on reproductive rights merit serious consideration, lawmakers have taken much broader political action against women that provides even stronger evidence for a “war on women.”

Consider just these five examples:

> A large number of Senate and House Republicans opposed the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides women greater legal avenues to pursue equal pay lawsuits (which are unfortunately all too necessary).

> Some Republicans have said they will continue to work to repeal the law.

> Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently repealed the state’s equal pay act, charging that it could “clog up the legal system.”

> Florida Gov. Rick Scott (who we’ve discussed before) last week vetoed $1.5 million in funding for state rape crisis centers.

> And Senate and House Republicans are currently holding up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Equality is among the most basic of moral ideas, so it would seem uncontroversial to say that men and women ought to be treated equally, and that we should act to reverse situations in which this is not the case. As evidenced above, apparently many elected officials do not accept this proposition. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Surprisingly, many of those prosecuting the war on women are women. Consider the statements and positions of just a couple of female lawmakers or political figures across the U.S: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minnesota), South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Yet, whether or not all women agree with these actions, they are negatively affecting all women. First, it is hard, if not impossible, to predict how one’s feelings might change regarding abortion depending on the circumstances, such as threats to the mother’s health or severe birth defects. Even the wife of Rick Santorum, who believes abortion is always wrong, apparently took advantage of her legal access to abortion-type services. As such, I think it helps everyone to keep abortion accessible, and let people decide if they need to partake or not. Or else you get horror stories like this. Second, the attacks on outfits such as Planned Parenthood have an impact not just on reproductive health, but on the overall quality of a woman’s health. Yes, Planned Parenthood performs reproductive services, but they also provide a wide range of health services, such as cancer screenings, regular check ups, contraception coverage, STD-related work, and more. Lastly, we live in a bad economy in which we all have lesser choices, and most women have fewer choices than men merely because of their gender. Their choices become even fewer when they lose control of their reproductive systems and are subjected to unfair economic situations.

All of this is why I think one can reasonably argue that there is an ongoing social phenomenon that could be described as a war on women’s rights. It doesn’t matter whether the war is being waged by the religious right or by economic conservatives, or whether these lawmakers are doing it to distract from their lack of solutions for real political problems. It is happening. The question then becomes: what should we do? I think there are two answers.

Increasing the scope and turning up the volume of the conversation on women’s rights is an important first step, and the Unite Women marches and rallies on April 28 hopefully helped. But it can’t stop there, and there are plenty of other things one can do. Write letters to the editor. Write and comment on blog posts and online news articles. Attend local hearings and public forums and voice your opinions. Post links to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and whatever other social networks you use. Do whatever you can to spread the message.

But even that is not enough. A majority of Americans agree about reproductive rights and gender equality, yet a small group of lawmakers still works to pass opposition measures in Congress and statehouses across the U.S. This is why we need not just social action, but also political action. And voting every couple of years and hoping it all turns out well does not suffice. Sign up for and fill out action alerts as much as possible (here, here, and here) and let lawmakers know that you oppose or support pending legislation. Call, write, or schedule meetings with them to state and explain your views. Write to federal agencies when comment periods are open on federal regulations and rules. Hold them accountable. Tell them that they should either support your views, or face the prospect of looking for a new job next election.

You might think that all of this is relatively inconsequential, but that is not the case. The more that elected officials hear from you, the more they have to consider your points of view. Remember, they want to keep their job. Also, the more that the public hears the logic and reasons for reproductive rights and gender equality, the greater the chances that those who agree might get involved, and those who don’t — either those who sit on the fence or those who lean right — might actually learn something and shift their views. Which means that politicians might have to consider your viewpoints sooner than they thought.

The kinds of social and political action I’m discussing here do not take as much time as you may think, and there is no guarantee that anyone else will take up the cause. Simply put, a couple of moments of your time could make a difference. Indeed, anything less than vigorous involvement in the political process would leave reproductive rights and gender equality to the religious right and economic conservatives. And we’ve seen the damage they can do.

** You can read the text of my speech here.


  1. A great article, Michael. Thank you. And thanks for all your efforts to combat misogyny and the constant and seemingly endless intrusions of religious doctrine into public life.

  2. Michael,

    I also endorse the phrase "war on women", and primarily for the reasons you advance. Of course, the war on women -- in particular, the concerted front to violate their bodily integrity-- has at its base an anachronistic, morally reprehensible religious ethic which must be eradicated from civilized society.

    That said, I must take issue with the bit about funding for Planned Parenthood. As much as I myself support Planned Parenthood (I have in the past donated money to the organization) I have yet to hear an argument as to why individuals should have their taxes directed toward causes for which they have not consented nor would ever have consented to undertake.

    1. > I have yet to hear an argument as to why individuals should have their taxes directed toward causes for which they have not consented nor would ever have consented to undertake.


      (a) The business of the individual is primarily to attend to her own health and well-being.

      (b) The business of government is primarily to attend to the health and well-being of society.

      (c) The needs that must be met in order to accomplish (a) and (b) are neither wholly equivalent nor wholly intuitive. That is, each requires specialized education to accomplish effectively.

      (d) There exists no societal mechanism to ensure that individuals are sufficiently educated about (b) as to be able to either render wise judgments or recognize wise policies with respect to (b).

      (e) Even if (d) were not the case, in non-coerced, non-duty-bound individual experience (a) trumps (b), so any expectation that individuals would or even could reliably choose the greater good over personal benefit is inherently flawed.

      Shall I go on?

    2. No response whatsoever?

      Taking your silence as tacit agreement, then, and hoping never to hear any variation on the "Why should individuals ever have their energies redirected toward causes for which they have not consented nor would ever have consented to undertake?" theme from you again.

    3. Perspicio,

      I apologize if my non-response offended you; perhaps I should have provided a note thanking you for your thoughtful reply and informing you that I do not care to enter into a lengthy exchange at this time.

      So, I admit, it was only courteous to give some acknowledgement of your (again thoughtful) initial reply, but equally I find your second reply unnecessarily acerbic. In the future, if I do not respond to comments, do not interpret that as tacit agreement or inability to reply, but rather a disinterest in the comments themselves or the topic in general.

    4. No offense taken, Eamon, nor was any intended on my part. I take your point about the acerbity, though. It's applicable elsewhere in this thread as well. Without excusing the behavior, I'll just say that certain position statements - usually fairly popular ones that as far as I can tell have attained ubiquity and an attendant semblance of legitimacy primarily through artful framing that appeals to intuition, but nevertheless don't appear to hold up very well under more than a cursory examination - much like Three-Card Monte - tend to impel me toward that type of response. It's the argument, not the arguer, that I feel that way about, though. Or, even more accurately, it's the deceiver, not the deceived. But I should probably find better ways of expressing myself that don't make people (other than willful deceivers) feel targeted. Thanks for the reminder.

    5. Perspicio,

      Thank you for clarifying yourself. Rest assured that my views on political theory are not premised upon an indolence of mind or on some, at base indefensible, moral intuition. I am confident in the near future we will have the opportunity to examine my and your political views more thoroughly :-)

    6. And you will probably school me in the process as well, at least if I let my own misplaced intuitions cause me to so blatantly jump to conclusions as I did in this instance.

  3. Eamon,

    that is a remarkably bizarre comment, particularly coming from someone who usually has so much interesting stuff to say here. According to your reasoning, I would like to immediately file a request for reimbursement of all my tax money that went into funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention all the corporate financing that our government has done. See how silly that objection is?

    Not to mention, of course, that abortion in this country is *legal* (for now), which means that it makes no sense for local governments to treat it as if it were a terrorist activity and withdraw funding for it.

  4. The problem is that it's a ridiculous title. It's not a war on women, it's a war on sex. The fact that women have the short stick is a collateral.
    Saying that it's a war on women trivializes the instances where there's true misogyny. Let me say it again, in this instance nobody is attacking women, they are attacking sex.

    1. There was a time when I agreed with you, thinking that the "war" was simply over reproductive rights -- which of course belong to women, but are a category of their own.

      Then I started to notice that lawmakers were fighting equal pay laws and funding for crisis services, and it became clear to me that the "war" was broader than I originally thought.

  5. Carlos,

    I don't think so. Sex is not being attacked at all, as demonstrated by the fact that nobody seems to have trouble with health insurance reimbursing Rush Limbaugh for his use of viagra...

  6. @Eamon,

    I guess I would ask why you (or anyone) would object to the government granting money and contracting out to an organization that primarily provides women legal and safe health care services such as cancer screenings, check ups, contraception coverage, and STD-related help.

  7. "Why do they hate us?".....no, wait, that's the OTHERS...

  8. Massimo,

    I would agree that public funds should not be spent on military activities which are not directly defensive and financing private business concerns. I fail to see how your examples reveal the silliness of my objection.

    Regarding abortion. Abortion is legal and local and state governments should comply with the law and not directly attempt to obstruct access to abortions, but it does not therefore follow that public monies should be allocated to funding such practices.

    1. Eamon,

      I'm sorry, but -- and I say this with the utmost respect for the overwhelming majority of the comments you make here -- when you switch to your libertarian hat you make precisely no sense to me. Then again, nor do libertarians in general.

    2. American Libertarians generally see themselves as marching on the picket line between individual liberty and government tyranny. I say they see themselves that way because that's how it looks from the side of the line they stand on.

      A more objective view is that they are actors on the stage where the intrinsic tension between the desire for individual liberty and the need for social institutions is dramatized.

      I state that with all due respect. It's an important drama, and it's fantastic that we live in a nation that has in fact institutionalized the right to enact it in the public arena. There's some meta-irony in that, too.

    3. Massimo,

      Left-libertarianism (and Nozickian-type libertarianism) should make sense to you considering much of the conclusions are derived via means similar to those Rawls, e.g., employed in deriving his egalitarianism.

    4. Eamon,

      I wouldn't mix Nozick and Rawls in the same sentence, and as I'm sure you know, left-libertarianism has precious little to do with the term as understood within the American political landscape. (I mean, Chomsky can be described as a libertarian in the left sense of the term...)

    5. Massimo,

      Re: "I wouldn't mix Nozick and Rawls in the same sentence ..."

      Why not? Nozick was a remarkable thinker and Anarchy, State, and Utopia is remarkable work.

      Re: Left-libertarianism

      You are correct, and this is part and parcel why I do not associate with (much of) the libertarian movement in the U.S. The type of left-libertarianism I find most attractive is roughly the type espoused (in varying degrees) by David Gauthier, Peter Vallentyne, and Hillel Steiner.

      Re: Chomsky

      I have had a few opportunities to discuss political theory with Chomsky and each time I came away without a clear idea of his general position. In nuce I would identify him libertarian socialism rather than the more market approaches of Vallentyne and Steiner.

    6. Yes, Nozick was a brilliant philosopher, but I think he was way off in his criticism of Rawls.

      As for the various types of left libertarians, I have a lot of sympathy for Chomsky, but I am not overly skeptical of markets. I just think they need to be properly regulated, and that issues of social justice -- other things being equal -- trump considerations of economic efficiency.

    7. Spoken like a consummate libertarian! As if efficiency and "social justice" were trade-offs!

  9. Michael,

    Perhaps I was unclear in my initial comment. The issue I raised is not with funding for cancer screening and other services, but rather with abortion services.

  10. To all,

    I should also add that as public funding issues go, funding for Planned Parenthood abortion services ranks low on my concerns vis-a-vis corporate financing, aggressive foreign military actions, and sporting stadiums.

  11. @Eamon,

    The 1976 Hyde Amendment largely bars the government from funding abortions, except in certain specific circumstances:


    The taxpayer dollars going to Planned Parenthood are being used for other health services.

    1. And, again, it is hard to fathom why this sort of amendement exists to begin with, since it means that the Government is banning funding of a type of medical procedure that the Government has deemed legal. On what grounds, then, is the ban established? Oh wait, hateful religious ideology and misogyny...

    2. I don't think it's hard to fathom why legislators grapple with how to draw policy lines around matters that deal with life and death. And abortion certainly is an example of that.

      Nor do I find it hard to fathom that there may be certain legal medical procedures that may not have any legitimate claim to government funding (i.e. purely cosmetic procedures).

      Massimo, I think the way you cast your view in this instance may be an example of how distorted the debate appears when one has had one's nose right up in it too long. Jon Stewart made a similar argument to David Barton about the "war on religion/Christianity" last night. There is certainly more substance to the opposition's argument than hateful religious ideology and misogyny. It just gets occluded by the sensationalist renderings.

    3. perspicio,

      really? And what would that substance be made of? We are not talking about cosmetics, we are talking about an important medical procedure. Not to mention all the non abortion related anti-women legislation that Michael mentions.

    4. On review, "when one has had one's nose right up in it too long" sounds slightly pejorative to me. It was not intended that way; I, myself often feel that my nose is continually being rubbed in the more odious aspects of these debates (although I of course have the option to abstain). My point was that when resentment about an issue comes to rest on a hair trigger, reasoning behavior about it practically vanishes. At such points it may be important to distance oneself from the issue for a time and decompress/decondition oneself, in order to renew one's capacity to bring a fresh perspective to it at a later time.

      When one finds oneself using propagandists' language and arguments, it's a good indicator that one has been, quite literally, "framed".

    5. My previous comment was posted without seeing yours, Massimo. Allow me a pitifully brief response, after which I will need to move on at least till later tonight. Not a dodge; rather, a job.

      Substance: Questions of life & death.

      On cosmetic medical procedures: This was a direct response to your objection to the Hyde Amendment "since it means that the Government is banning funding of a type of medical procedure that the Government has deemed legal." I was merely pointing out that the efficacy of that argument has obvious limitations, as there are certainly some types of medical procedures for which the banning of government funding may be quite legitimate.

    6. perspicio,

      seems to me that there is a big difference between the government not funding, as a matter of budget priorities, procedures that have to do with cosmetics. A ban, however, implies that there is a moral objection to the procedure, which is inconsistent with the Government maintaining that said procedure is legal.

      Not sure I get your reference to life and death. Can you elaborate?

    7. Massimo,

      My overall point is that the abortion issue is inherently problematic, and properly so, because it deals tangibly and inescapably with questions of life and death. We can debate all we want about whether the life inside the mother is a human life, whether it's a person, whether it has a soul, whether it's a sin to terminate it, whether that life is more or less important than the life of the mother, whether it is more or less important than the health of the mother, and so on, but no matter how you slice it, abortion is a life-terminating process. We can traverse the entire terrain endlessly but it will likely always remain a problematic issue because our rational understanding is at odds with our intuitive understanding, in much the same way that pushing the fat man off the bridge to stop the streetcar from killing five people is much, much worse than pulling the switch that diverts it to the track that kills one person instead of five.

      More rational people can override such intuitions, at least in the abstract, much more readily than less rational ones can. And yet I would argue that regardless of this fact, such intuitions are quite substantive in their own right - not in the same way as a rational argument is, but nevertheless in an important way that cannot be lightly dismissed. One cannot simply reason away the ingrained intuitions experienced by a broad swath of society about the rightness or wrongness of an act. One must instead find ways to negotiate this difficult terrain in ways that balance the needs of the directly affected individuals, the moral sensibilities of the indirectly affected ones, and the legitimate needs of society. More than one potentially navigable path exists, but the territory is always going to be spongy due to the dynamic tension between these factors, so it's difficult (for me at least) to suppose that any kind of absolutist stance about how to accomplish the feat is going to be broadly accepted as just, fair, non-arbitrary, and non-tyrannical.

      Many people, particularly absolutists, convince themselves that moral quandaries can be avoided by steering well clear of the difficult terrain and scribing, "Here there be moral bankruptcy" on that region of the map. Rules that allow little or no room for ambiguity hold a strong appeal to some. (To them I would like to issue the reminder: Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is absurd. But a good absolutist would simply be certain that I am wrong, so what good would that do?) Such a stance has the self-reinforcing effect of short-circuiting any impulse toward reflection or consideration of ripple effects. All that matters is the specific act and its immediate consequence. Pushing the fat man off the bridge to save five lives is bad because it harms the fat man, but pulling the switch to save five lives is not bad because it only affects the streetcar even though somebody still dies. And Pilate washes his hands and goes about his business.

      I hope this has addressed your question to me adequately. I realize the parent conversation is quite a bit broader than the abortion issue, but that's what this side spur seemed to be about.

      I also think that a mistake that's made far too often in these policy debates is the failure to distinguish between the rhetoric, strategy and goals of policy architects and the sensibilities of common people on the receiving end. Societally, we seem to lack a habit of employing sufficiently precise language to distinguish between these two groups, and it's extremely common for meaningful progress to be subverted in these kinds of conversations by providing wholly inappropriate counter-arguments from the side of that schism that is inapplicable to the parent point that has been made. But that's another discussion for another time, perhaps.

    8. Abortion is as much a "life-terminating process" as a splenectomy.

    9. Quite honestly, Kevin, your statement imparts no meaningful contribution to the conversation. Completely aside from the reality that the issue simply isn't as cut and dry as you prefer to believe (and thus from a rational vantage point you undermine your own view as surely as absolutists on the other extreme do), the controversy persists and will continue to do so because people of differing and mutually exclusive views are heavily invested in the notion that they are factually and morally right and that those who disagree with them are wrong. So in fact the only sense in which you have contributed anything to the discussion is in the capacity of reinforcing the persistence of the controversy. As that would have certainly been the case anyway, I can only hope for your sake that the wind was at your back while you relieved yourself.

    10. There is no coherent, meaningful concept of personhood which contains both us and fetuses. Pretending that there's a controversy or uncertainty because most people don't know how to think about personhood (or even that they should think about it at all) is not rational.

    11. Speaking of coherent and meaningful, if what you said earlier and what you said most recently were intended to be contiguous, there seems to be at least one link missing in the logical chain.

      Also, are you suggesting that people are pretending that there's a controversy?

      And finally, the belief that only rational ideas have any standing in realms of human interaction is not rational.

  12. Michael,

    I was unaware of the Hyde Amendment. Even so, after giving the matter more consideration, I am not sure I can consistently hold to the moral permissibility of abortion (which I do) and to the view that governments should not (in some measure) assist with funding abortion services for lower-income women. In essence, I cannot consistently differentiate abortion from other medical services such as casting fractured bones.

  13. I'm tempted to be a bit cynical (not sure that's the right term) about all the actions of Republican legislatures, i.e. they were elected by the voters, who should have known what sort of people they voted for. So the war on women (I agree it's going on) is just democracy in action;the public is getting what it voted for.

    1. "Large majorities of Americans favor the broad intent of several types of abortion restriction laws that are now common in many states, but have mixed or negative reactions to others."

    2. @Phiwilli,

      Unfortunately, many of the Republicans you speak of ran on an economic platform, then pursued a more social agenda once in office. I agree voters should have know who they were voting for, but as we all know, lawmakers don't always wear their convictions on their sleeves.

  14. "If pain is defined in terms of a noxious stimulus being detected by a nervous system that can preferentially respond to stimuli in the noxious range then pain can be attributed to the foetus from around 10 week s GA . However, if pain is defined as an elaborate multidimensional experience that is subjective, then pain can never be attributed to the foetus because it is implausible to attribute that much conceptual activity to the foetus".
    (Derbyshire SW, Foetal pain?, Best Practice & Research Clinical
    Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2010).

    Dr De Dora (or Pigliucci) how do you define 'pain'?

    1. Recognizing that you did not address the question to me, I nevertheless think it is incumbent upon you to first demonstrate that this question is at or near the crux of the issue.

    2. Domics,

      I think the authors of the article are mistaken in presenting what I think is a false dichotomy. At any rate, pain is a subjective experience, not just a response to a stimulus. (If it were the latter, plants and bacteria would feel pain.)

    3. so, do you agree with Derbyshire: "if pain is defined as an elaborate multidimensional experience that is subjective, then pain can never be attributed to the foetus"?
      where the point is the 'never'...

    4. No, that would be silly. After the nervous system is sufficiently developed fetuses can experience pain in the sense above defined, and I believe there is broad agreement on this in the biomedical literature.

    5. I wonder if 'broad agreement' is the same as 'scientific consensus' but let's read what De Dora writes:
      "There are no serious philosophical arguments in favor of extending the full range of moral or legal rights to embryos and fetuses. We do not grant such rights to mere “human life,” such as small collections of cells, but to beings that have at least some degree of sentience, self-awareness, or agency. Fertilized human eggs clearly lack all three, as do fetuses until at least 28 weeks, if not later"...

      Might someone say that this 22 weeks born baby had not "some degree of sentience, self-awareness, or agency"?


  15. Great post, Michael. A few points to add:

    These "fetal pain" laws are directly contradicted by what actual research exists into the subject. A thorough review of that evidence can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    There's even more legislation being attempted to cut abortion funding, this time by restructuring Medicaid: The GOP's New Sneak Attack on Abortion Rights.

  16. “many of my secularist and liberal religionist friends who I would otherwise expect to support women’s rights had not embraced the term “war on women,” and thus were avoiding (whether actively or passively) the movement fighting under its banner. I’m not sure why this is or was the case.”

    I think there is an argument to be made regarding the morality of the use of the term “war” when debating social policy. You have sidestepped that issue completely by assuming the use of the term is justified under the circumstances. While you cite a number of examples related to why you think these efforts directed at women are wrong, I see no reasoning as to why this label is appropriate.

    What is the justification for applying the term war to a struggle over ANY social issue peacefully pursued through political means and does that apply here?

    1. I think the question you posed is an excellent one, Al, although I suspect that the shying away from the term that Michael refers to is less directly grounded in moralistic concerns than in a persistent sense of proportion and balance that political noise machines have thus far been unable to eradicate or completely flummox.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.