A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Problem with Sarah Palin

I take great interest in Albert Mohler's latest piece about Sarah Palin, the woman who was the former "Miss Wasilla" and now is our newest VP hopeful. There is no doubt that she has captured the hearts and minds of many religious conservatives. To be frank, I suppose this what many religious Republican men see when they look at Sarah Palin. The newest bombshell of the Religious Right does nothing for me, however.

Ostensibly religious, conservative women are not necessarily a boon for men, the church, our government, or society . Do we forget Debbie Maken and her marriage mandate sisters? Do we forget Palin's remarks about glass ceilings or the fact that she calls herself a "feminist"? My problems with Sarah Palin are essentially as follows:

1. Now that she has an infant to take care of, why is Sarah taking up a office that will most assuredly demand a lot of her time? Quite frankly, I think a lot of religious pundits are giving her a special pass that they wouldn't give to the rest us down lower on the social food chain. Consider Albert Mohler's statement:

Well, I would be even more concerned now. Do I believe that a woman can serve well in the office of Vice President of the United States? Yes. As a matter of fact, I believe that a woman could serve well as President -- and one day will. Portraits of significant men of history hang on the walls of my library --but so do portraits of Queen Elizabeth I of England and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility. I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture. Then again, that presupposes that women -- and men -- have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.

Isn't that just dandy? Al Mohler has no problem with women infiltrating spheres of responsibility traditionally reserved for men. I suppose he wouldn't be too upset if Sarah Palin made more money than her husband, either. But what about the rest of us? Quite frankly, I think this blog post says enough about the hypocritical Special Dispensation of grace bestowed by the pontiffs of the American Neocon Church when it comes to "family values."

2. My biggest beef: I believe Sarah Palin is a neocon. She is not the friend of libertarians, minarchists, or paleoconservatives. She can talk all she wants to about "small government" but if she really believed in it, she would not be supporting John McCain. I think Stephen Carson is correct in referring to her as a "stalking horse."

Bottom line: Palin serves to make sure the gullible are mollified and that nothing will change.

Update: Check out EW's post for more of why men should be concerned about Palin.

75 comments:

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Ostensibly religious, conservative women are not necessarily a boon for men, the church, our government, or society"

Indeed. Let enumerate three ways: (1) Religious conservative women are often the first to put men in chains for their (women's) mistakes or choices. (2) Supposedly reglious women agitating for leadership roles in the Church contra scripture, (3) women's suffrage has led to the skyrocketing growth in government and concomitant loss of freedom for all and many rights for men.

From Mohler's piece:

"...but considered him [Trig Palin] a gift from God. Now there is another gift..."

Mohler's right, there is another gift that I'm surprised that he didn't bring up. And that is the gift of the Word which, if faithfully executed, frees us from slavery. The kind of slavery that results when you have extramarital sex.

"Is this kind of public role what most women want?"

No, most women do not have this level of ambition and competence.

"The tasks assigned to women within the home are monumental."

I gather Mohler is of the women-stay-at-home-and-raise kids crowd. That's nice. I disagree with him that women have no place in the workplace. Moreover, his advice, coupled with the present-day legal regime, turns his Marriage Mandate into slavery for men.

"I think a lot of religious pundits are giving her a special pass that they wouldn't give to the rest us down lower on the social food chain."

Agreed. But missing in this entire mommy-wars discussion is that she isn't the caregiver to Trig Palin. It's as if only women are qualified to raise kids. I'd also bet that if the Palin family were lower on the food chain, and S. Palin were the breadwinner and T. Palin the SAHD, he in particular would be lambasted for not complying with the men-as-provider paradigm.

Amir Larijani said...

Anakin says:

1. I'm glad that she decided to carrying a baby to term and to reject the pro-abortion culture, but she had no business conceiving at her age. Did she plan to get pregnant? Didn't she have the sense to realize that it is very risky for the health of the baby when a middle-aged woman does so? Or was it an accident? "Accidents" are understandable when they happen to someone the age of Sarah Palin's oldest daughter--but not to a married, middle-aged career woman who ought to understand something about the birds and the bees. Either way, I sense a lack of discretion here.

In the words of the great philosopher, John McEnroe: YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!!!

Are you suggesting that it is more moral for a woman (past the age of ideal fertility) to use contraception--most of which carries substantial abortafacient risk--rather than accept the premise that children are a blessing from the Lord?

Assuming you are not expressing sentiment tongue-in-cheek, you are being as ridiculous as a marriage-mandater by imposing judgment on that point.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Amir,

I am serious. I am not a Catholic. I am not against contraceptives as long as they don't result in abortions. I have always been against the anti-contraceptive, "let's have babies at all cost" mentality among some religionists.

I don't believe in the idea that "Children are gift from the Lord" means married people must have children. I don't believe the idea "Children are gift from the Lord" means one can be reckless in what one does with one's body (such as having babies well past one's prime). Why don't we just use that premise to justify teen pregnacy out of wedlock, while we are at it? One final piont: The last time I checked, having his tubes cut or her tubes cut was not a abortifacient.

There are very real risks when older women have babies and asking women to show discretion, wisdom, etc. in that regard is a no-brainer.

The Learner said...

Anakin,

I do have reservations about someone choosing to make the kind of life change running for VP brings while caring for a newborn and dealing with a teenage pregnancy, but on the other hand I don't think it is really my business to decide how she and her husband decide to meet the needs of their family. Since the only people to make the ballot (so far) in my state are Obama and McCain I have to decide between not voting at all and choosing the lesser of the two evils.

A woman has no business conceiving at her age? Why is that Anakin? Because she has a 3% chance of conceiving a child who might be have Down Syndrome and will be disabled? I sincerely hope that you are not suggesting that Trig’s life is a mistake or worth less because he has a disability. Because that, my brother, is an incredibly prejudiced position. Dude, consider the consequence of that line of thinking. Disability can happen to anyone at anytime...and it’s presence doesn’t make the individual worth any less.

Anakin Niceguy said...

So, Learner,

If I say a woman has no business drinking while she is pregnant, that means I count the lives of those who were born with birth defects as not having worth? Women in this country already suffer under the delusion that they have it all: Be careerists in their 20s and 30s and yet get married and have children in their 40s and 50s. Elusive Wapiti's post on this matter is pertinent. I believe God meant for young women to have children. Why are we going against nature?

Amir Larijani said...

I don't believe in the idea that "Children are gift from the Lord" means married people must have children.

Agreed.

I don't believe the idea "Children are gift from the Lord" means one can be reckless in what one does with one's body (such as having babies well past one's prime). Why don't we just use that premise to justify teen pregnacy out of wedlock, while we are at it?

Teen pregnancy--out of wedlock--is not the sin; the sexual act out of wedlock, at any age, is.

Let's not conflate matters, Anakin.

One final piont: The last time I checked, having his tubes cut or her tubes cut was not a abortifacient.

On the other hand, you are acting just like Debbie Maken, imposing a judgment on a couple that is unprecedented in Scripture.

When you do that, you undermine the credibility with which you attack the marriage mandaters.

It's wrong when Maken imposes such non-Biblical commands on single men; it is equally wrong for you to impose it on married couples.

For the record: I am not a Catholic either.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"I have to decide between not voting at all and choosing the lesser of the two evils. "

That shouldn't be too hard, I hope

"A woman has no business conceiving at her age? Why is that Anakin? Because she has a 3% chance of conceiving a child who might be have Down Syndrome and will be disabled? ".

While I won't go as far as to say that a woman has no business conceiving at that advanced age (44 in this case), at the aggregate, that means that 3 children out of 100 are born with that disability. A risk they would not have been exposed to, a burden not imposed on family and society had they elected to not roll the dice.

By the way, parents go beserk over a 1/100 chance of serious complications over vaccinations. Same difference as far as I'm concerned. Yet no one seems to bat an eye at a risk 300% higher.

So I guess it all goes to motivations...why are you having that child, anyway? Is it because you feel led to spawn your fifth child, or is there something more selfish at play?

BTW this link confirms your 3/100 stat for a 44 yo woman.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Teen pregnancy--out of wedlock--is not the sin; the sexual act out of wedlock, at any age, is."

I'm thinking about blogging about this, so I may as well as the question here to all participating in this thread:

How do each of you define "married"?

That may sound like a silly and fundamental question, but given the State's involvement and legalisms and such, I thought I'd ask.

Amir Larijani said...

How do each of you define "married"?

That may sound like a silly and fundamental question, but given the State's involvement and legalisms and such, I thought I'd ask.


I define married in terms of one of two possibilities:

(a) Affirmation by a Church or other religious body that includes the elements of (1) competent parties entering the relationship willingly and (2) witnesses from said body to attest to that, and (3) affirmation of overseers.

(b) Affirmation by a government body.

As a libertarian, I'd love nothing more than to see government put out of the marriage licensing function altogether, but--reality being what it is--I don't see that happening.

Anakin Niceguy said...


It's wrong when Maken imposes such non-Biblical commands on single men; it is equally wrong for you to impose it on married couples.


Amir,

Maybe I should clarify. I don't think a woman is in sin by having a baby past 35. I think it is a very unwise move, but it's like my view on a motorcyclists who don't wear helmets. Sinful? Probably not. Short-sighted? Probably.

Compare that to the marriage mandators who, for all intents and purposes, put to choice to stay single in the same category as lying, cheating, and looking at porn.

The Learner said...

Anakin,

I don’t think that you go around consciously thinking of children with disabilities as having less worth. But, ask yourself this: If Trig was healthy would you have said she had no business conceiving him? Did my mom have no business having a healthy me at age 40 or my healthy brother at age 45? I’m not asking you to necessarily tell me the answer to those questions (‘cause maybe at this moment you wish my mom hadn’t had me ….just my attempt at some humor… LOL), just think about it.

Comparing a woman who engages in the 100% natural (not to mention Biblical) act of having sex and conceiving a child with her husband of 20 years to a woman who drinks more than 2 drinks a day while she is pregnant (amount of alcohol associated with even slight signs of FES) is not a reasonable comparison. Life involves risk. There is always risk associated with having children. Spina Bifida, cleft lip, and other neural tube birth defects are more common among young mothers. Women 25-30 are three times more likely than women over 35 to have a child with certain types of abdominal defects. White women are three times as likely as black women to have children with spina bifida. So, do women between 25 and 30 have no business conceiving a child because of that? Should white women not have children?

Also, neither your post nor my comment had anything to do with women who delay marriage and having children because they think they can have it all. Sarah Palin has been married for 20+ years and had children when she was in her 20s and 30s as well. Certainly a woman’s fertility is higher when she is younger and the risks for some birth defects are lower, but if God meant for women only to have children when they are young He would not have made their bodies able to have children when they are older. And He probably would have denied the desires of older mothers in the Bible like Elizabeth and Sarah.

The Learner said...

While I won't go as far as to say that a woman has no business conceiving at that advanced age (44 in this case), at the aggregate, that means that 3 children out of 100 are born with that disability. A risk they would not have been exposed to, a burden not imposed on family and society had they elected to not roll the dice.

EW (if I may call you that) Ok, but that is like saying the child is better off not existing at all than having Down Syndrome. As far as the burden on the family and on society, men are twice as likely as women to suffer a head injury or a spinal cord injury and become a “burden on their family and society”. Does that mean y’all shouldn’t be allowed to drive because car accidents are the most common cause of those injuries?

And incidently, I always try to get my stats right...I'm geeky like that :)

The Learner said...

Oops I forgot this:
So I guess it all goes to motivations...why are you having that child, anyway? Is it because you feel led to spawn your fifth child, or is there something more selfish at play?

True, but the same could be said of anyone having a child at any age.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Learner,

You seem to suggest that risks of older women getting pregnant is nothing substantive that anyone should worry about it. It definetely goes against the medical opinion of other experts. See here ...

http://www.socalfertility.com/age-and-fertility.html

Elusive Wapiti said...

"If Trig was healthy would you have said she had no business conceiving him?"

Whether or not Trig was healthy would be beside the point. The risk is still there, regardless if it didn't burn them that time.

Take a wider perspective on the issue for a second, and let me ask you this: is it better or worse for a society when its parents have children when older or younger?

That's all I'm is sayin'

"He would not have made their bodies able to have children when they are older."

I don't buy this. Let's look at two cases where your analogy breaks down.

First, look at younger women/girls. They can successfully carry a healthy baby to term at what? 12? 13? I mean, if the grass is green, play ball, right?

Second, what about guys? We men can sire children until we die. Does that make it risk-free? Nope. Apparently older dads jack up the risk as well, not only for autism, but for Down's, esp when mom is over 40.

Yet God designed both sexes this way to have this capability.

Still think we should be having kids at extreme younger/older ages just because we can?

"Life involves risk. There is always risk associated with having children..."

No doubt. But not all risks are equal

"Spina Bifida, cleft lip, and other neural tube birth defects are more common among young mothers"

The occurrence of this defect, at 7/10000 in the USA, and 1/1000 among white women [source] (sorry couldn't find stats that isolated the risk for young white women, the highest risk group), is more than an order of magnitude less in women overall than the risk of Down's syndrome for women giving birth in their mid-Forties.

So you tell me: which should we worry about more?

Learner, I'm not picking on you. I just disagree with your relatively rosy opinion about older women bearing children. I do thank you for your reasoned and measured presence here.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Sorry, Learner, you asked me this question and I missed it:

"As far as the burden on the family and on society, men are twice as likely as women to suffer a head injury or a spinal cord injury and become a “burden on their family and society”. Does that mean y’all shouldn’t be allowed to drive because car accidents are the most common cause of those injuries?"

Nope. Let's look at exposure (hazard * exposure = risk) for a second.

Without looking up your statistic, let's look at the things that men do to earn head and spinal injuries. You mentioned driving. Women have a higher crash rate (crashes/miles driven) than men. Men also have 3x the fatality rate, which implies that there is more energy involved when they do crash (also the crash/fatality data lumps in motorcycle operators, who are overwhelmingly male). I would imagine that the male perm-disability rate is symmetrically higher than it is for women, but without looking at the data, I don't know.

Going back to exposure, men drive 3x the miles than women, which is a huge difference in exposure. No wonder their risk of injury is higher. I suppose we could prohibit men from driving, but that would mean that women would suddenly be required to be the primary breadwinner in their families. Were that to occur, I'd bet that the fatality/injury data would shift accordingly.

Speaking of sustenance, did you know that 93% of workplace fatalities are men? The reason for this is simple...we do the dangerous jobs women can't or won't do. The trick is, these jobs usually pay more.

My point here is that there is a risk acceptance involved, a tradeoff of risk vs benefit where you don't get the benefit if you don't accept the risk of something bad happening.

Let's look at why those risks are accepted. Sometimes people (men and women) just do stupid stuff. They accept risk in the heat of the moment because it's fun, they're drunk, or whatever.

But most of the time, people accept risk because they are aware of the risk but have to do it in order for their families to eat or some other higher purpose, as would be the cases of male workplace mishaps or MVA mishaps.

Then there are the cases where people accept risk because they are not the ones bearing it. This would be the case with older age childbearing, as the developing baby is forced to accept the risk by his aging parents.

The former is warranted and arguably moral in that it involves self-sacrifice for the benefit of self and others. The latter, well maybe not so much, as it involves the sacrificing of others for the benefit of self.

Amir Larijani said...

Anakin: The semantics mean nothing in this case, as you are casting aspersion on her Christian life on the basis of her not embracing a practice that is foreign to Scripture.

The Church does this to singles all the time. Remember: one need not be a mandater to discriminate against singles. Churches often assume that a wedding band somehow makes a man or woman more cut out for ministry than a single.

I've seen many cases where a married couple is chosen--over qualified singles--to lead singles classes. The underlying assumption: singleness--especially the protracted variety--is a reflection of lesser judgment.

Oh, they won't say that they believe singles are living in sin--as Maken does--they'll just suggest that they won't be complete until they get married, or that they are less-qualified than one who is married.

At the end of the day, they are imposing expectations that are unprecedented in Scripture.

You are doing the same with Palin on the matter of middle age pregnancy, suggesting that it is more congruent with Biblical values to have her tubes tied, or for him to have a vasectomy, than to enjoy each other as husband and wife, trusting trust God to open and close the womb at His will.

Questioning her other family choices, however, is fair game.

If she is going to be governor and hubby is still going to have a full-time career--which puts both parents out of the home when there is no need--then it is fair to ask how this squares with the values she claims to embrace.

It is also fair to ask that--if she becomes VP--whether hubby will give up his career and be a SAHD, or whether she plans on subjecting her kids to day care.

It is also fair to ask what she means by feminism when she identifies herself as one (she's an FFLA member), and what her thoughts are on neoconservtism and nanny Statism and what her view is regarding the fole of Federal government in our lives.

But casting judgment on her conceiving in middle age, you are just promoting another version of Maken Lite.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Amir wrote:

"whether hubby will give up his career and be a SAHD"

I think he already has.

"It is also fair to ask what she means by feminism when she identifies herself as one"

Agreed. This aspect needs to be more thoroughly explored. I wish the evangelical leadership had done more homework before throwing their support behind the McCain - Palin ticket just because they nominated her.

"You are doing the same with Palin on the matter of middle age pregnancy...trusting God to open and close the womb at His will."

I dunno...is it Biblically permissible to attempt to conceive a child knowing that you are forcing that child to assume the risk of his late conception?

Good point about God opening and closing the womb, though. I guess this assumes that people are deliberately listening to God's voice when having children, rather than selfishly pursuing a pregnancy because you just want another baby. Or just pulling the trigger carelessly by negligently having unprotected copulation (since the Palins apparently believe in contraception).

The Learner said...

Learner,
You seem to suggest that risks of older women getting pregnant is nothing substantive that anyone should worry about it. It definetely goes against the medical opinion of other experts.


No, Anakin, I never said that there wasn’t risk associated with a woman conceiving a child when she is older. I said “certainly a woman’s fertility is higher when she is younger and the risks for some birth defects are lower”. I am in my early 40s, if I ever manage to delude some poor man into marrying me, whether or not we decide to prevent conception because of our ages is a decision that we will have to make together based on many factors. But, for me, those factors will not include the idea that a child would be better off not being born than being born with a disability.

The issue I was responding to is that the “risk” in this case = disability. My point was that by saying that the reason that a woman should not have a child when she is older is because there is an elevated risk that the child may be disabled says it is better for a child to not exist than for the child to be disabled.

The Learner said...

EW,
No worries, I don’t consider it being picked on to have my ideas challenged. I say “bring it on”, not because I am certain that I will be “right”, but because it serves either to help me clarify my point, or to help me see/hear/experience a different perspective and learn something.

Whether or not Trig was healthy would be beside the point. The risk is still there, regardless if it didn't burn them that time.

See my comment to Anakin on this one (and the rest of this comment, now that I have finished it).

is it better or worse for a society when its parents have children when older or younger?

I would definitely say that it is better for people to have children when they are younger for many different reasons. However this has nothing to do with the Palin’s situation (they had kids when they were young too), and it had nothing to do with my point. I am not in favor of people waiting to marry or have children. My mother wasn’t waiting to marry and have children to “have it all”. She simply hadn’t met my father yet. My point was that saying someone has no business conceiving a child because of the increased risk that the child may be disabled (and there is an increased risk, as I mentioned) in the end implies that people have no business risking having disabled children and by extension that there is something inherently wrong or less about a child with a disability…that society, the family, and the child would be better off if the child did not exist.

Still think we should be having kids at extreme younger/older ages just because we can?

It isn't my position that we should have children at extreme ages. I was countering Anakin’s argument “ I believe God meant for young women to have children. Why are we going against nature?” by pointing out that neither God (in the Scripture) or nature (in the way that God created our bodies to work) prohibit women having children when they are older. I was not advocating that women should wait till they are older to have children, I was pointing out that I thought Anakin was taking liberties to say what God meant on the subject.

So you tell me: which should we worry about more?

It is not py position that risks are equal for younger and older women (or men for that matter). My point was that any child, actually anyone, can become disabled at any time. It is part of life. And again my point is not that older women do not have a higher level of risk in having a child with Down Syndrome. My point was that by saying that a couple has no business conceiving a child that has an increased risk of having a disability you (not you specifically) are saying that it is better that the child not exist than that they be born disabled (sorry for repeating myself, but that really is the point).

The Learner said...

EW, First I was wrong about the incidence of SCI and TBI. Men are actually 400% (or 4x-it is an 80/20 split) more likely to have a spinal cord or head injury (I was reporting that stat from the top of my head but when I double checked my course materials…I teach on the subject… I discovered that I had understated it.)

Next, LOL, I wasn’t advocating that men shouldn’t be allowed to drive :) Let me just say for the record that I am in favor of men driving. And I appreciate men like my father who worked a dangerous job in the steel industry to provide for his family.

Then there are the cases where people accept risk because they are not the ones bearing it. This would be the case with older age childbearing, as the developing baby is forced to accept the risk by his aging parents.

The former is warranted and arguably moral in that it involves self-sacrifice for the benefit of self and others. The latter, well maybe not so much, as it involves the sacrificing of others for the benefit of self.


Again, this assumes that the child would prefer to not exist rather than be born with a disability. It is this assumption that is the issue- the idea that it is better to not exist than to be disabled.

Anonymous said...

There is a reason why Dr. Mohler likes Mrs. Palin. Statistics are indicating that anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of all babies who are diagnosed with Down's syndrome in the womb are being aborted. Trig Palin is part of a very special and increasingly rare group of children whose parents are choosing not to abort. As a middle aged woman with children, I am 99.9% sure that Mrs. Palin's pregnancy was unplanned. Looking at it from my perspective, some of the men on here don't seem to have very much knowledge of the female body at middle age. When a woman gets into her forties, her periods can change. You can go one or two months without ovulating, and then have normal cycles for the next several months. All this talk about blaming Mrs. Palin for an accidental conception or putting the "risk" onto her baby by choosing to conceive is, in my opinion, wrong. There are so many women who have gone to their doctors thinking that they have started menopause only to be told, "Yeah, your body is going through a change all right, but not the one you think." When Mrs. Palin told her husband about their unborn son's diagnoses, he is reported to have said, "We shouldn't be saying, Why us? We should be saying, Why not us?" They clearly believe that God has a purpose for their son, and that his life IS worthwhile. I agree totally. One of the previous posters is absolutely right, God opens and closes the womb at His will. Don't even talk to me about getting tubes tied. For me, it would be a sin.(I'm not passing judgement on anyone else who may choose to do so. It's just not something I would ever do.) It would be me unilaterally deciding that I would not have children thereby potentially going against God's will. Mrs. Palin was 43 when she conceived. She had about a 1% chance (per cycle) of being able to conceive a child at her age. As far as I'm concerned, it's perfectly fine to debate whether or not she's qualified for VP, or whether or not she's giving enough time to her family, but to judge her for conceiving this baby, when the odds were so much against her ever being able to get pregnant...It really is true that it's so easy to criticize other people when you've never been in their situation.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've been as clear on this subject as I might have been. The general idea coming from some of the male posters on this thread seems to be that older women can just "choose" to get pregnant whenever they want. Or, that they can control whether or not they become pregnant by taking preventative measures, and they are to be condemned as reckless just because they got pregnant at an advanced age.
Some women go their entire reproductive lives without ever having regular cycles. Regular equals cycles that are roughly always the same number of days, say 28 or 35. While having regular cycles does not guarantee you will be able to conceive, in theory women with regular cycles have a better chance than those with irregular cycles. On a 28 day cycle, you ovulate on day 14. If you have consistent 28 day cycles, it is a safe bet that you are ovulating on day 14. The egg stays alive for about 24 hours after leaving the ovary. Sperm have a 24 hour window to fertilize it. When a woman gets into her forties, all that changes. You may skip one month, then have a really short cycle, say 21 days only, then skip two cycles and have a 35 day cycle. Then you could go back to having 28 day cycles again. It makes trying to conceive a child like playing russian roulette. Many women who are in their forties don't bother with birth control, because their cycles are so messed up, they figure there is no way they are going to conceive. Fertility takes a dramatic plunge at age 40, and another huge dip after age 42-43. Like I said, chances of a 43 year old woman being able to conceive are 1% on any given cycle. Most women just don't have very many good eggs left at that point. The only way to know if you are ovulating is to chart your temperature or use the test kits (which aren't totally reliable) The only women who chart their temperature are those who want to get pregnant. It's too much of a hassle otherwise. You've got to do it at the same time everyday, before you get out of bed in the morning. Even then, even if your temperature lines indicate you are ovulating--you still might not be. Pregnancy is the only true proof that you ovulated. The only real way for forty something married women to totally avoid the possibility of getting pregnant is just not to have sex. I don't believe this would be a fair or righteous way for them to treat their husbands.

Anonymous said...

Instead of "russian roulette," I should have said, "It makes trying to conceive a child like playing a slot machine."

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Again, this assumes that the child would prefer to not exist rather than be born with a disability"

I think I understand where you are coming from Learner. It appears that we're talking past each other a bit.

I do not contest that a child would prefer, as if he had a choice in the matter, to have a disability versus not being born at all. But I also think that that same child would prefer to be born un-disabled if that choice was within the realm of control of his parents.

"...some of the men on here don't seem to have very much knowledge of the female body at middle age"

I don't think it's a question of knowledge. It's a question of morality. And I don't think there's a single man on this board who doesn't respect Sarah Palin for not exercising her unilateral right to destroy Trig Palin.

"The only real way for forty something married women to totally avoid the possibility of getting pregnant is just not to have sex."

While I appreciate the biology lesson, this statement is not true. How many birth control options do women have?

"but to judge her for conceiving this baby, when the odds were so much against her ever being able to get pregnant...It really is true that it's so easy to criticize other people when you've never been in their situation."

No, I'm not in their situation. But I'll be forty in about 5 years, so I'm not that far away.

And what you call "judging" is really a matter of perspective, now isn't it? I call it being able to distinguish between right and wrong.

Anonymous said...

"How many birth control options do women have?"
I've got news for you. Birth control doesn't always work. No birth control method is always 100% effective. Everything I said just went right past you, didn't it? For the vast majority of women, just being 43 years old is like having built in birth control. Go ahead, believe what you want to. I could care less.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Birth control doesn't always work. No birth control method is always 100% effective...Everything I said just went right past you, didn't it?"

Anon, I wasn't born yesterday. And I think I completely grokked what you were saying. I just wasn't buying it.

If you couple an effective birth control method with the reduced fertility you speak of, you can drive the risk to darn near zero. And that's just with the non-permanent types of birth control.

So, as you say: go ahead, believe what you want. Doesn't make it any more true or accurate.

Anonymous said...

"Darn near zero" is NOT the same thing as zero. The truth is, you do not know that she wasn't using birth control. She may very well have been. I object to the whole idea that a disabled child has a life that is of less value than a so called "normal" one. One of my children is in class with a Special needs child, and he is one of her best friends. She prays for him every night. I believe that God gave her Trig. I believe God Almighty has put her where she is for the purpose of showing the entire world that He values ALL life. Whether or not she is going to be VP is anybody's guess, and, like I said, it's debatable whether or not she is qualified. Don't think I will vote for her, myself. But to imply that she is somehow "immoral" you've got alot of nerve.

The Learner said...

I think I understand where you are coming from Learner. It appears that we're talking past each other a bit.

Thanks EW, I believe I understand where you were coming from as well and I appreciate you making the effort to hear me out.

I do not contest that a child would prefer, as if he had a choice in the matter, to have a disability versus not being born at all. But I also think that that same child would prefer to be born un-disabled if that choice was within the realm of control of his parents.

You may be surprised to learn that many people who are disabled would not chose differently if given the option, I certainly was. I will leave it at that instead of turning this thread into a disability studies primer (too late, I know….sorry about that Anakin). I’ll just recommend a good book on the subject for anyone who is interested- Disability, Society, and the Individual J. Smart, 2001.

The issue, though, is that the choice within the older parent’s realm of control in this scenario is not if the child will be disabled or not, it is if the child will be conceived or not (leaving abortion off the table for the discussion). So the options for the aging parent arenot Option A- conceive a child who is disabled, or Option B- conceive a child who is not disabled. The options for the aging parent are Option A- conceive a child and give them a chance to exist, whether they are disabled or not disabled, or Option B do not conceive the child and they will not exist.

John said...

Anakin,

I am a Catholic, and I am more convinced after reading your post than ever, of the need for the magisterial authority of the Catholic Church - if for nothing else than to protect Christianity from your kind of thinking.

Very disappointed by your post here. Like Amir, I was hoping you were somehow speaking tongue-in-cheek in regards to Sarah Palin's conception of Trig. You have a very muddled view of humanity and the intrinsic dignity of every human being.

Though you seem to be sometimes shortsighted and reactionary, I have almost always had an appreciation for what you have to say, up until this post. This has soured me to your blog.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Anon,

""Darn near zero" is NOT the same thing as zero. "

No kidding. You can get so close to zero that it is, for all practical intents and purposes, the same. Certainly well below the baseline risk factors for the young and the healthy conceiving children.

"The truth is, you do not know that she wasn't using birth control. She may very well have been. "

This is true. And you don't know either, I'd bet. But the odds suggest that she wasn't. I'm placing my money on an unprotected oopsie. Who knows? God may have led them to try for another one.

"But to imply that she is somehow "immoral" you've got alot of nerve."

To put it into spiritual terms, we are not automata. We have free will and are called to account for how we exercise it.

So with that in mind, tell me Anon, what's the more moral act? Having your family when you are young, or deliberately waiting to conceive children when you are older and when the risk is more than an order of magnitude higher for both mild and severe defects and disabilities? Or does cause and effect not mean that much to you? Are you that fatalistic?

Learner,

Yes, I am surprised to learn that folks with disabilities often prefer that, but then again it makes sense because they normalize off of that.

Reading your comments, I think there is a piece of the mental picture I have in my head that I've failed to communicate. And that is there is no way to draw a line in the sand as to what the "acceptable" risk of defects is when attempting to conceive. Is it 1/700, or is it 1/42? Moreover, there is so much variation in individual people (biological disposition, risk tolerance, etc) that trying to fix a particular point in time after which conception is no longer advised would be quite difficult.

To your list of options available to a couple, I would add a (C), and that would be: 'Complete your family when young, thus children may both survive and enjoy better chances of not having a disability or a defect'.

To John's comment about the "magisterial authority of the RCC": With due respect, my ex wife was Catholic, filed for divorce, made hordes of false accusations, and the Church granted an annullment after 8 years of marriage, effectively bastardizing my two children. God save us all from legalisms and priestcraft.

Anonymous said...

EW,

Wait a minute here. I'm trying to defend Sarah Palin from accusations that she and her husband are somehow immoral because they conceived a child when she was 43, and you are asking me a question about "deliberately waiting to conceive." Mrs. Palin DID NOT deliberately wait to conceive!!! She was married at 24, to her high school sweetheart, and had four children by the time she was 37. I would think men like you and Anakin would like Mrs. Palin. She's definitely not a Makenite. She is not sitting at home expecting her husband to provide her with all the best things in life. She is not the type of woman you are always condemning--those who turn down good men when they are young, who want only the alpha males. She married young and has remained faithful. You know what? I place my faith in God Almighty. Menopause is the dividing line beyond which I believe women should not conceive children. Anything else is in God's hands. Call me fatalistic if you want, I don't really care. I really try to have sympathy with you men, because there are some very bad young women out there who have hurt a lot of men unjustly. But at times like this, when I read stuff like what has been written here, it's not easy.

John said...

EW,

I don't know your whole story, but be sure you don't blame the Church for your wife's making false accusations.

Elusive Wapiti said...

John, I don't blame the RCC for her lies.

But I do have some hard feelings about how on her word alone the Archdiocese of Virginia granted her the annulment.

We're kinda wandering off thread here, but I don't think that legalism like that is all that healthy.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Mrs. Palin DID NOT deliberately wait to conceive!!! "

Anon,

Sorry for the confusion, I was talking in general with that question. I can see how the context-switch could be confusing.

Specific to Palin, I do consider it probable that she and her husband chose to have unprotected intercourse and the odds didn't go their way. Thus my criticism of the morality of that choice.

My question still stands, tho' this time specific to this particular situation with two parents well past their reproductive primes: which is more moral...taking steps to ensure a pregnancy that one is not led to have doesn't occur? Or rolling the bones and seeing what happens? Or are they both equivalently so?

"I would think men like you and Anakin would like Mrs. Palin."

I am encouraged by her staunch pro-life stance and her position on firearms. The fact that she's open-minded enough to support her SAHD husband is a positive too. She is a rarity in that regard.

"She is not the type of woman you are always condemning"

I'm not so sure. I'm suspicious about a nascent feminism within Palin that is hinted at with an FFL membership and insipid, pandering "glass ceiling" and pay gap bloviations. A feminist philosophy is a deal-breaker for me, for it would suggest a compromised, if not nonexistent, faith, and a rotten attitude toward both men and women.

"I place my faith in God Almighty"

As do I. Otherwise, I would have not remarried, knowing what I know now about the legal condition of men in our society esp re: children and money.

I think the issue between your opinion and mine boils down to free will and responsibility.

I think that, if a couple doesn't feel led to conceive a child, then they should take steps to ensure that doesn't happen. I think this responsibility is doubly so if the risks are elevated, as in this case here.

Lastly, I appreciate the sympathy. Personally, I'd rather have the action to ameliorate injustice. It's not just men who suffer, but it's women's sons, daughters, and even themselves too.

Triton said...

You know, it would really help this conversation if we could find out whether or not the Palins were using contraception when Trig was conceived. If they were, then they can hardly be called irresponsible; they took the proper precautions, and those precautions failed, resulting in a freakishly-low-probability pregnancy. This whole discussion would then be moot.

I haven't been able to find such information; perhaps a more enthusiastic Googler can dig it up.

As things stand, I'm disinclined to believe the Palins were actively trying to get pregnant. It seems more likely to me that either their contraceptive methods failed or they thought Sarah was menopausal. Until we know one way or the other, though, I think any judgment would be premature.

I am a Catholic, and I am more convinced after reading your post than ever, of the need for the magisterial authority of the Catholic Church - if for nothing else than to protect Christianity from your kind of thinking.

John, are you just looking to pick a fight?

Anakin Niceguy said...


Anakin,

I am a Catholic, and I am more convinced after reading your post than ever, of the need for the magisterial authority of the Catholic Church - if for nothing else than to protect Christianity from your kind of thinking.

Very disappointed by your post here. Like Amir, I was hoping you were somehow speaking tongue-in-cheek in regards to Sarah Palin's conception of Trig. You have a very muddled view of humanity and the intrinsic dignity of every human being.

Though you seem to be sometimes shortsighted and reactionary, I have almost always had an appreciation for what you have to say, up until this post. This has soured me to your blog.


John, you are entitled to disagree with me if you want, but ...

1) I do not recall ever saying anything pejorative about the Catholic Church on this blog. I simply stated that I was not a Catholic and therefore indicated I was not going to take a stand against birth control, per se.

2. You write ... "You have a very muddled view of humanity and the intrinsic dignity of every human being."

What proof do you offer to back this assertion? Where did I indicate that some human beings had less dignity than others? Which group of human beings was it? Make sure you read what I say carefully before you misrepresent my position.

John said...

Anakin,

It is very clear that your understanding of the dignity of the human person is muddled by your response to the conception of Trig Palin. That I didn't elaborate on this was due to the fact that others here have elaborated on it already. You criticize Sarah Palin for conceiving at her age because there is more risk for her baby to have a health problem such as Down's Syndrome than a younger woman conceiving. By this you say that it is better that Trig did not exist than that he be born with Down's Syndrome. You are saying that a human being born without Down's Syndrome is better than a human being born with Down's Syndrome. How can I conclude otherwise from what you said, that she "has no business conceiving at her age?" How can I conclude otherwise than that you meant "She had no business starting a human life, when it had such a great possibility of having Down's Syndrome?"

John said...

"John, are you just looking to pick a fight?"

No, I simply thought having a Catholic weigh in on things might be helpful.

The Learner said...

Reading your comments, I think there is a piece of the mental picture I have in my head that I've failed to communicate. And that is there is no way to draw a line in the sand as to what the "acceptable" risk of defects is when attempting to conceive. Is it 1/700, or is it 1/42? Moreover, there is so much variation in individual people (biological disposition, risk tolerance, etc) that trying to fix a particular point in time after which conception is no longer advised would be quite difficult.

EW,
I would agree with the idea that there is no way to draw a line that indicates “acceptable risk” in essence. However, this idea is still operating under the assumption that having a child with a disability or being a person with a disability is inherently negative. My point is that disability is not inherently negative. When we say that the reason not to conceive a child when older is because there is an increased chance the child may be disabled, we are saying that disability is inherently negative. If for example we change the variable “disability” when considering this to, say “red headed” as in “a couple has no business conceiving a child when they are older because there is an increased chance the child may have red hair.” –this only makes sense if having red hair is inherently negative (I personally love red hair). I hope that made sense.

To your list of options available to a couple, I would add a (C), and that would be: 'Complete your family when young, thus children may both survive and enjoy better chances of not having a disability or a defect'.

I wrote my “choices” as the choices of an older couple (whether they had children already like the Palin’s or were childless). So, choosing not to conceive a child when older is my “Option B”.

It seems that two separate issues are getting intertwined in the discussion here (ok, it’s more than 2 but I’m going to focus on 2). 1. Whether or not it is acceptable/wise/discerning to conceive a child when you are older due to the increased chance the child will be disabled and 2. whether or not it is a good idea to put off having children until you are older in order to put other things first (school, career, hobbies etc., AKA “having it all”) because you think you have plenty of time. I don’t believe that these two are the same question or issue.

Anakin Niceguy said...

John,

I've already dealt with Leaner on this one. I'll ask you what I asked her: If I criticize a woman for drinking while she is pregnant, am I casting aspersion on the babies who are born as the result of such carelessness? If I criticize a teenager for getting pregnant (and suppose she marries later), I am casting aspersion on the babies of teenagers? If I criticize persistent endogamy, am I casting aspersion on deformed children who result from that? How about children born addicted to crack cocaine?

A false dilemma is being posed here. Anakin is supposed to pick between Sarah Palin having Trig late in life or not having him at all. How about the choice being having Trig EARLY in life as opposed to having him late in life? Some of you want me to pick between a down's syndrome baby or that baby not existing. How about picking between that baby being born HEALTHY as opposed to that baby born with deformities?

If you take issue with my idea that it is better to not be born with deformities, then you are not upholding a Biblical wordlview, you are upholding political correctness. If Jesus thought the physical maladies of the people he came in contact with were just fine and dandy, he would have not healed them, would he? He didn't say to the man born blind, "Let's just say you were born special! We all different, you know." No, the Savior realized that blindness was a NEGATIVE.

I think some disabled people have engaged in identity politics (see here for example). "There's is nothing wrong with us" they shout. Yes, there is something wrong. I myself have mild congenital defects (while not quite disfiguring or disabling, have nonetheless caused me some problems). There is something wrong with me. It's not that I don't have any less worth somebody else. It's just that I realize that a fallen world does not produce perfect results.

My mother has told me that if she had to do it all over again, she would have had me earlier. I don't take her comments as "I wish Anakin was never born." But if I followed the logic of some here, I suppose that's what I would have to do. Folks, please stop putting words in my mouth or attributing positions to me I don't take.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Edit: Uggh! Excuse my double-negative in the last post. I meant to say,"It's not that I have less worth than somebody else."

Anonymous said...

"How about the choice being having Trig EARLY in life as opposed to having him late in life?"

It's you, Anakin, that's imposing the false dilemma, not Learner, who aptly pointed out that Palin did aspire to have children not only early in life, but throughout her (fertile) life as well -- and may have even more, I might add.

The notion that if you *can* control your fertility, then you *should* control your fertility (or only have children when you feel "led", as EW put it) is an expectation based entirely on modern technology. As Amir pointed out, it has no basis in scripture.

Like most problems that have to do with men and women and love and sex and romance and babies...your dependency on logic and information to discern what's right and what's fair will only go so far in this situation...alas, there are some things that can only be reasoned with the heart and soul.

The Learner said...

Anakin, I am truly sorry if you feel like I am putting words in your mouth. I don't want to do that. As I said I don't think you go around looking at disabled people thinking they should not have been born. What I was trying to do was to point out the "end results" so to speak of what you said about Sarah Palin's concieving a child ar her age. I will admit to being passionate about the subject because of having friends and family members who are disabled and because I teach about this stuff. I have had the opportunity to examine the historical evidence related to prejudice against person's with disabilities and I reacted to what you said based on that. I regret if my tone or what I said came off in an accusing manner because I do believe it is better to discuss this on a factual level.

A false dilemma is being posed here. Anakin is supposed to pick between Sarah Palin having Trig late in life or not having him at all. How about the choice being having Trig EARLY in life as opposed to having him late in life?Some of you want me to pick between a down's syndrome baby or that baby not existing. How about picking between that baby being born HEALTHY as opposed to that baby born with deformities?

Biologically speaking, the false dilemas are:
1. How about picking between that baby being born HEALTHY as opposed to that baby born with deformities? This is a false dilema because there is a large difference between choosing that a child is born with deformities and choosing to concieve a child knowing there ia a chance the child could be born with a deformity. The parent does not get to chose "deformed" or "not deformed".

And, 2. How about the choice being having Trig EARLY in life as opposed to having him late in life? If she had a child earlier it would not have been Trig. It would have been a different individual, created by a different ovum and a different sperm cell, with different DNA. That child would not have been Trig. And the same goes for you Anakin.

If you take issue with my idea that it is better to not be born with deformities, then you are not upholding a Biblical wordlview, you are upholding political correctness.

Jesus also forgave sin, that does not mean that people should avoid concieveing because the child will sin. We are all sinners. It is a part of living in a fallen world. Disabilities are a part of life as well. God does not heal all physical infirmities. Sometimes he even uses them....like the man born blind. Jesus said he was born that way so that God would be glorified in his healing (major paraphrase on my part).

When I say there is nothing inherently negative about disability I am not saying that disability has no consequence, or that it results in no loss of function, because it can. What I am saying is that loss of function does not discount that unique life or make it not worth living.

Anakin Niceguy said...

It's you, Anakin, that's imposing the false dilemma, not Learner, who aptly pointed out that Palin did aspire to have children not only early in life, but throughout her (fertile) life as well -- and may have even more, I might add.

False dilemma? So, let me guess, if I were a woman, I could have a baby when my body is able to handle it or I can have the baby when I am not so able to handle it. I am missing another choice here?


The notion that if you *can* control your fertility, then you *should* control your fertility (or only have children when you feel "led", as EW put it) is an expectation based entirely on modern technology. As Amir pointed out, it has no basis in scripture.


Come to think of it, modern information on nutrition and exercise has no basis in Scripture, either.


Like most problems that have to do with men and women and love and sex and romance and babies...your dependency on logic and information to discern what's right and what's fair will only go so far in this situation...alas, there are some things that can only be reasoned with the heart and soul.


Tell me, in any other context, would we praise a woman who put her unborn infant at substantial risk (Learner didn't deal with the miscarriage rates among older women) for her preferences and desires?

I challenge the folks who criticize me to have babies indiscriminately. Have more than you can possibly afford to support! Why not? Poor, starving babies have worth, too! So have plenty of them! Be welfare mommas! Remember, nobody can criticize you for doing so ... because there are some things that can only be reasoned with the heart and soul.

Anakin Niceguy said...

And now I reply to Learner ...

1. How about picking between that baby being born HEALTHY as opposed to that baby born with deformities? This is a false dilema because there is a large difference between choosing that a child is born with deformities and choosing to concieve a child knowing there ia a chance the child could be born with a deformity. The parent does not get to chose "deformed" or "not deformed".

Just as there is a large difference between not choosing to concieve a child knowing there ia a chance the child could be born with a deformity and not choosing a child already born into the world.


And, 2. How about the choice being having Trig EARLY in life as opposed to having him late in life? If she had a child earlier it would not have been Trig. It would have been a different individual, created by a different ovum and a different sperm cell, with different DNA. That child would not have been Trig. And the same goes for you Anakin.


I knew this one was coming. I don't buy it. Here's why. Suppose Sarah heeded my advice for my reasons. What would you say to her? That she did wrong by not have a potentially healthy baby? How many other potentially healthy babies are we obligated to bring into this world? Do you cry every month because a ovum passed from you unfertilized? Should I when sperm exits my body by natural means?

Here's the torpedo: Susie gets raped and gives birth to a child and names it Conner. "Why Susie, it's good that you had a child by a rapist instead of your husband, because if you didn't, you wouldn't have had Connor! Why if you question the goodness of your rape, then you are questioning the worth of your child!!" By such logic, we can't criticize the rapist, because if he didn't do what he did, Conner would not been born.

And Learner, I understand that sin and disabilities are a fact of life, but no responsible parent knowingly puts their child at risk to either.

John said...

Anakin,

I cannot do better than others have already done here at explaining why you are wrongheaded on this. I cast my vote with them in the hope of clearing your mind, since apparently more words will not do it.

Christina said...

Ok.

This is so irksome.

First of all - the idea that a woman (of ANY age) should have a responsibility to be on Birth Control:

You are absolutely bonkers. First of all, do you understand that birth control carries a lot more risk associated with it than getting pregnant at 40 does? And even if she was on Birth Control at 40, getting pregnant while on BC brings about a lot more risks with deformation and desease than simply getting pregnant over 40.

Second of all, your premise that she was IRRESPONSIBLE in having a child at the age of 44 is absolutely ridiculous for 2 reasons:

#1) It carries with it the assumption that a woman can conceive without God's approval. What? Excuse me? God is in charge of that. She could or could not get pregnant based solely on God's will in the matter. He is the only one that can bring that about - no matter how much sex she has. The ONLY thing she has control of is the sex part.

#2) The ONLY sure-fired way of NOT getting pregnant, even when utilizing proper birth control, is to remain ABSTINENT. So, now your advocating she abstain from sex with her HUSBAND? Ummm....I say no.

On another note, Anakin, I completely agree with you that she is not the best choice and I also take issue with the religious right being so overly approving.

I am not certain I'm all that thrilled with her...

Anonymous said...

It's plain to see that the Learner has learned a thing or two from Anakin. But the learning is surely a one-way street -- he will not be moved, especially on anything that has to do with women. It's not about learning for him, just one big, long, wah, wah, wah....

Amir Larijani said...

And Learner, I understand that sin and disabilities are a fact of life, but no responsible parent knowingly puts their child at risk to either.

What are you smoking, Anakin? Parents put their kids at risk every day. Moreover, such risk is not foreign to even the good parents in the Bible.

Even Jesus' parents left him to himself in Jerusalem. He could have been abducted by others with cruel intentions. Herod's minions might have been looking for the opportunity to score a hit. And those leaders in the Temple, we know what thieves they were...

Mary and Joseph: what irresponsible parents!

Seriously...the issue is not whether responsible parents put their children at risk; every parent, good or bad, does. The issue is whether those risk exposures are reasonable or unreasonable.

That the possibility of a Down's Syndrome birth from a middle age conception increases to 3% might constitute an imprudent risk is highly debatable.

What is not debatable is that you have chosen to go down the same road as Debbie Maken--and others you rightly make as targets--and impose a standard on Palin that is not a Biblical one.

The Learner said...

Because the back and forth may get confusing:
Bolded-Anakin’s questions to me
Italics- my previous response to Anakin
Bolded italics- Anakin’s response to me
Plain text- my response to Anakin

1. How about picking between that baby being born HEALTHY as opposed to that baby born with deformities? This is a false dilema because there is a large difference between choosing that a child is born with deformities and choosing to concieve a child knowing there ia a chance the child could be born with a deformity. The parent does not get to chose "deformed" or "not deformed".

Just as there is a large difference between not choosing to concieve a child knowing there is a chance the child could be born with a deformity and not choosing a child already born into the world.

I understand what you are saying here Anakin, but the fact of the matter is that you were referring to an actual situation, not a hypothetical one. In that actual situation a child was already born into the world. Had Sarah Palin “taken your advice” Trig would not exist. When I say that, it doesn’t mean that I think you are actively saying or believe that Trig should not exist, but that in fact is the result that would have occurred if Mrs. Palin had followed your advice...Trig would not exist. You cannot separate “advice” from it’s consequences. She did not get to choose disabled or not disabled, she got to choose to try to prevent conception or to not prevent conception (and in fact we don’t know which she chose).

2. How about the choice being having Trig EARLY in life as opposed to having him late in life? If she had a child earlier it would not have been Trig. It would have been a different individual, created by a different ovum and a different sperm cell, with different DNA. That child would not have been Trig. And the same goes for you Anakin.

I knew this one was coming. I don't buy it. Here's why. Suppose Sarah heeded my advice for my reasons. What would you say to her? That she did wrong by not have a potentially healthy baby? How many other potentially healthy babies are we obligated to bring into this world?

I never said that anyone was obligated to bring any children into the world Anakin (I’m not referring to the abortion of already conceived children). If she had “followed your advice” she would not “do wrong”, but Trig would not be here either. I am saying that is not an inherently “better” choice.

Do you cry every month because a ovum passed from you unfertilized? Should I when sperm exits my body by natural means?

No, I don’t cry every month when I get my period (well ok, I do cry, but it isn’t because an ovum passed from my body unfertilized). I don’t cry, because as a single woman I have zero expectation that my ovum could have been fertilized to become a child. But I know married women (both younger and older) who have struggled with infertility and who did/do cry every month when they get their period because it means that she and her husband have not conceived. Sperm and ovum together are required for fertilization, as we all know from high school biology class. Every ovum and every sperm are not potential children on their own, however each pairing of ovum and sperm is/would be unique.

Here's the torpedo: Susie gets raped and gives birth to a child and names it Conner. "Why Susie, it's good that you had a child by a rapist instead of your husband, because if you didn't, you wouldn't have had Connor! Why if you question the goodness of your rape, then you are questioning the worth of your child!!" By such logic, we can't criticize the rapist, because if he didn't do what he did, Conner would not been born.

Anakin, do you realize that this scenario compares the “goodness” of the natural and Biblical actions of a married couple of 20 years having sex with the violent and criminal actions of a rapist? I have no words with which to respond to that.

And Learner, I understand that sin and disabilities are a fact of life, but no responsible parent knowingly puts their child at risk to either.

Anakin, every child that is born is a sinner (leaving the discussion of when a child becomes accountable for their actions out of the equation). Every parent puts their child at 100% risk of being a sinner when they conceive them.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Anonymous insinuates that I am stubborn. Okay. Here's the problem I am seeing with the comments on the thread:

1. Assumption #1: Anakin cannot criticize a woman who puts her child at risk. I am told that Down's Sydrome is a negligible risk. OK. I grant that. Miscarriages are NOT a negligible risk for older women. I brought this up and nobody dealt with it. In fact, I would like to see a counter-defense that having babies at ANY age is just a-okay.

What is Learner saying? That is there is no meaningful disadvantage to having babies in one's 40 or 50s? Is it all relative? I am making a mountain out of a molehill about middle-aged women having babies? Have we've been mislead by the medical establishment? If so, then what am I supposed to make about Amirs comment that "both the men and the women need to understand that time is not our friends"? If I understand Learner correctly, time doesn't matter. Have babies as long as you want! Is that what we are saying here?


2. Assumption #2: The quality of a potential babies' life doesn't matter in making a choice to conceive. I therefore brought up people just having babies indiscriminately. I challenged people here to tell me why it would be wrong to have more babies than one could care for. No response.

3. Assumption #3: I can't question the circumstances by which a child is conceived or else I am passing judgement on the worth of the child. Learner accuses me of comparing rape to sex in marriage, but she's missing the point: What about the child of a rapist? Does Learner demand that we pick between (a) condoning rape or (b) demeaning the child born of rape that way she demands that I pick between (a) condoning risky reproductive behaviors or (b) demeaning the child born of such risky reproductive behaviors.

I say the worth and specialness of a human being is not a prima facie defense for the actions of the parents. Learner seems to think otherwise. I believe this is the central issue to the debate on this comment thread. But until she actually deals with the argument I raised, I don't see how it can be resolved.

4. Assumption #4: I am no better than the Makenites. I explained that I believed bad judgment did not rise to the level of sinful rebellion against God. Compare this to the Makenites who claim delayed singleness is sinful. Nobody answered in response, but the bald assertion was nonetheless repeated with any constructive explanation.

I still respect Learner, Amir, and some others who disagree with me, and I have no hard feelings, but until I get some on-point responses to the issues I raise, I don't think I can add much more to what I've said.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Anon wrote:

"The notion that if you *can* control your fertility, then you *should* control your fertility (or only have children when you feel "led", as EW put it) is an expectation based entirely on modern technology. As Amir pointed out, it has no basis in scripture."

You are right, it has no basis in scripture. So what? I make no appeal to scripture in my my condemnation. In fact, I do the opposite, by leaving the "out" for couples who genuinely think they are doing God's will--who am I to argue with that?

Let's try this analogy on for size. Your child gets an infection that leaves a small percentage of it's victims with permanent deafness. Do you (a) use modern drugs to stamp out the infection just in case, or just (b) let it run its course and force your child to accept the (small) risk?

Using your logic, you'd go with option (b). Just because you *can* use modern technology to treat this infection--vice faith healing or doing nothing--doesn't mean you *should*. I mean, just because God has given we humans the knowledge and technologies to keep bad things from happening doesn't mean we should act on it or use it, right?

Is this what it means to act with your 'heart and soul'? If so, get me off this crazy train called irrationality.

Learner wrote:
"If she had a child earlier it would not have been Trig."

How do we know that? The shell may look different, but would the soul be the same?

"No, I don’t cry every month when I get my period (well ok, I do cry, but it isn’t because an ovum passed from my body unfertilized)"

Good one...I sniggered at that one a little...

Christina wrote:
"...do you understand that birth control carries a lot more risk associated with it than getting pregnant at 40 does?"

I think it depends on the birth control method. There are some non-chemical BC methods, just like there are some that are not abortifacient.

Let's not leave the guys out of the picture either. They have a couple options, too, and have 50% of the role to play here (even though the feminists disagree).

In the end, the whole food fight on this thread boils down to one question:

"Is it right to choose to attempt to conceive a child at age 44 or, by course of action, allow this to happen?"

I am staunchly pro life, and would vigorously defend Down-syndrome Trig's right to live. I am no utilitarian; I see no difference in the ultimate value of his life versus mine.

Yet I think that the person who deliberately or negligently conceives a Trig, knowing the risks involved and/or having had the alternatives made available to him/her in times previously, is an ass.

Does this apply to the Palins? Maybe. Maybe not--maybe they took all the steps I'd ask them to take and they still were surprised. But as I've said before, the odds favor a deliberate or negligent conception.

Thus, I say no to the question I posed above. I'm pretty sure Anakin does too. Most here are all for it, for reasons that I apparently do not understand, even though they appear to me to be insane sentimentality overriding the faculties of reason.

Amir Larijani said...

Anakin: It ain't personal; I just think you're undermining yourself because you are falling into the same trap that Maken has fallen.

While you do not go as far as to say that Palin was sinning by conceiving late in life, the semantics in this case are relatively petty, as you are imposing a standard on Palin that is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

I'm all for questioning her on many other fronts that you have raised, but picking on her for conceiving in middle age is petty.

If she wishes to enjoy relations with her husband--trusting God to open or close the womb as He chooses--what is that to you or me?

That is a matter of freedom, and judging her on that strikes me as petty.

As for her fundamental beliefs regarding the role of government in our lives--especially at the federal level--that's a wholly different matter.

As for her possible views regarding neoconservatism versus paleoconservatism, that is also a completely different matter.

The Learner said...

I still respect Learner, Amir, and some others who disagree with me, and I have no hard feelings, but until I get some on-point responses to the issues I raise, I don't think I can add much more to what I've said.

Likewise on the respect Anakin. I feel like I have addressed the issues that you raised(or most of them anyway) so I am not sure if you didn't see it or if you thought my response was irrelevant or? I'll try to cut and paste what I have already said here and elaborate if necessary.

What is Learner saying? That is there is no meaningful disadvantage to having babies in one's 40 or 50s?

Certainly a woman’s fertility is higher when she is younger and the risks for some birth defects are lower

No, Anakin, I never said that there wasn’t risk associated with a woman conceiving a child when she is older.

I would definitely say that it is better for people to have children when they are younger for many different reasons. However this has nothing to do with the Palin’s situation (they had kids when they were young too), and it had nothing to do with my point. I am not in favor of people waiting to marry or have children. My mother wasn’t waiting to marry and have children to “have it all”. She simply hadn’t met my father yet. My point was that saying someone has no business conceiving a child because of the increased risk that the child may be disabled (and there is an increased risk, as I mentioned) in the end implies that people have no business risking having disabled children and by extension that there is something inherently wrong or less about a child with a disability…that society, the family, and the child would be better off if the child did not exist.

It isn't my position that we should have children at extreme ages. I was countering Anakin’s argument “ I believe God meant for young women to have children. Why are we going against nature?” by pointing out that neither God (in the Scripture) or nature (in the way that God created our bodies to work) prohibit women having children when they are older. I was not advocating that women should wait till they are older to have children, I was pointing out that I thought Anakin was taking liberties to say what God meant on the subject.

(Learner didn't deal with the miscarriage rates among older women)

True, I didn't because I was focused on the disability issue. A woman's risk of miscarriage is as high as 10% in her 20s and as high as 33% between 40 and 45 (the age range Sarah Palin is in)so yes, the risk of miscarriage is higher for older women. Anakin I think the comparison here is this (in my mind anyway)- The child has a ~66% chance of surviving (whether with a disability or not) and a ~33% chance of not surviving. While I do not discount the pain and trauma of miscarriage for the family and the child (depending on when the miscarriage happens developmentally), I would not fault someone for believing that the chance at life is worth the risk. I also would not fault them for chosing to not concieve. In fact after a miscarriage at 42 years of age my sister and her husband decided to pursue adoption (and now I have a sweet little niece...who incidently has some developmental delays). What I have a problem with is the imposition of a judgement that someone else's decision that life is worth the risk demonstrates a lack of discernment or that it is something that they "have no business" doing.

2. Assumption #2: The quality of a potential babies' life doesn't matter in making a choice to conceive. I therefore brought up people just having babies indiscriminately. I challenged people here to tell me why it would be wrong to have more babies than one could care for. No response.

I didn't see that you posed this question specifically to me, so I didn't address it (I figured I had enough to address)but I will now. I have not advocated for indescriminate conception (as I have noted above). I do think we should exercise wisdom with regard to what we can afford financially, and with what we can deal with emotionally etc. If someone cannot handle having a child with Down Syndrome or some other disability, then yes they should consider that and be responsible for their choices.

3. Assumption #3: I can't question the circumstances by which a child is conceived or else I am passing judgement on the worth of the child. Learner accuses me of comparing rape to sex in marriage, but she's missing the point: What about the child of a rapist? Does Learner demand that we pick between (a) condoning rape or (b) demeaning the child born of rape that way she demands that I pick between (a) condoning risky reproductive behaviors or (b) demeaning the child born of such risky reproductive behaviors.

Anakin, I believe you are missing my point. When we condemn rape but do not judge the child it is because the rapist commits a violent and criminal invasion of a woman's body, not because the rape will result in a child. You criticized Sarah Palin because she concieved a child at the age of 43. That act of conception at that age only becomes negative if you judge the result of that act as negative (having a disabled child). The act of consentual conception with one's spouse is not inherently wrong, the act of of rape is inherently worng whether it results in pregnancy or not.

I've already dealt with Leaner on this one. I'll ask you what I asked her: If I criticize a woman for drinking while she is pregnant, am I casting aspersion on the babies who are born as the result of such carelessness?

Comparing a woman who engages in the 100% natural (not to mention Biblical) act of having sex and conceiving a child with her husband of 20 years to a woman who drinks more than 2 drinks a day while she is pregnant (this is the amount of alcohol associated with even slight signs of FES) is not a reasonable comparison. I think this issue is related in some ways to the other comparison you made about a rape situation above. Drinking while pregnant is not comparable to concieving as an older couple because drinking a significant amount of alcohol while pregnant doesn't just increase the odds that they child will have FES, it causes FES. It is not a risk of association or chance, it is a risk of causation.

I say the worth and specialness of a human being is not a prima facie defense for the actions of the parents. Learner seems to think otherwise. I believe this is the central issue to the debate on this comment thread. But until she actually deals with the argument I raised, I don't see how it can be resolved.

True, I do believe that the value of human life is not diminished by risk (I am not saying ALL risk. )I'm not certain though that this is the central point in the discussion that is not connecting here. I'm not sure what argument you mean here Anakin. If I have not addressed it in this comment could you be specific about what argument you are referring to?

I have felt like the issue that is getting muddled is this: It seems that two separate issues are getting intertwined in the discussion here (ok, it’s more than 2 but I’m going to focus on 2). 1. Whether or not it is acceptable/wise/discerning to conceive a child when you are older due to the increased chance the child will be disabled and 2. whether or not it is a good idea to put off having children until you are older in order to put other things first (school, career, hobbies etc., AKA “having it all”) because you think you have plenty of time. I don’t believe that these two are the same question or issue.

The Learner said...

Learner wrote:
"If she had a child earlier it would not have been Trig."

How do we know that? The shell may look different, but would the soul be the same?


E Dub,
At this moment in time, I am stupid tired but I'm going to try to answer this. Let me know if it doesn't make sense.

I don't know if the soul would be the same or not. But, how much of "the person" is deterimned by the soul? Things like external appearance, gender, intelligence, some elements of personality, etc. are influenced by genes and would be different to some degree. It seems like in essence this question is about how much about having children is "free will" and how much is "God's will". Does God will that you have a certain number of children and intend a certain number of souls for them or does he create new souls as children are concieved based on our wills? Is the choice really have the child young or have the child older? Or is it that you have a number of children young and you may or may not have more when older (in the Palin's
case)In this case children had when younger would not be in place of children had when older...that having a child when older is an AND not an OR

I hope that made sense.

Christina said...

Anakin,

Now that Learner dealt with your "miscarriage" issue...

My mother was 22 and had two baby girls. Between the ages of 22 and 26 (the age I'm at now), she had 2 miscarriages.

Did that keep her from having more children? No. I have 3 younger brothers - all incredibly healthy, though we all have slightly ODD eye issues...

I'd like to hear your input on the role of God in the conception or lack thereof of a child. The ONLY thing that we are responsible for, and the ONLY thing God is requiring from Palin and her Husband is that they love eachother and do not commit murder. There is NO stipulation that she should use BC, there is NO stipulation (especially) that she should avoid sex with her husband.

If she has sex, she has sex. That's it. That is the extent of her responsibility.

GOD is in charge of the conception.

Your turn to respond to THAT.

Also, Anakin, what would you say to this: if she was using birth control (and you don't know she wasn't), she runs a higher risk of complications in a pregnancy on the slight chance she DOES get pregnant (which does and could have happened). So now, is she at fault for attempting to control it?

I bet you want someone to bring this up and are probably surprised no one has yet...so what exactly is your case against Sarah?

One more thing...
Every woman is born with a specific number of eggs. Those eggs will last her from her own conception to menopause. Only one (and occassionally two or more) is released once every month starting at puberty. God created her that way. Why is God not responsible for Trig's conception?

EW, your right there are other methods of BC.

Personally (and I'm not a catholic or anything), I take huge issue with the use of BC. Not because I think it gets in God's way (nothing can...not even a visectomy =p), but because I think it largely causes more complications than it solves more often than not.

Ultimately, I believe God is in charge of conception. If I don't want to have a baby, I don't have sex. If I have sex, I accept the possibility of a baby.

Simple as that.

The Learner said...

I wanted to add something additional about the miscarriage (and genetic abnormality) issue as I thought about it today. Something Christina said in a comment here started me thinking about this. I don’t think this issue is just about the chance something will happen, I think it is also about the actual number of children affected by the outcome.

According to the link Anakin provided earlier, the spontaneous miscarriage rate of a woman in her 20’s is 5-10% and the incidence of a genetic abnormality is about ~1/1200.

Between 30 and 34 the risk of miscarriage is about 20%. Incidence of birth defect ~1/465.

Between 35 and 39, the miscarriage rate is 25% and the incidence of a genetic abnormality is ~1/350.

Between 40 and 44 the miscarriage rate is 33% and the incidence of a genetic abnormality is ~ 1/38.

Between 45 and 49 the miscarriage rate is 50% and the incidence of a genetic abnormality is ~ 1/12.

According to http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005074.html in 2005 the number of live births in the US by age of the mother were:

Age 20-29- 2,171,984
Age 30-34- 950,691
Age 34-39- 483,156
Age 40-44- 104,667
Age 45-49- 6,119

So if the rates of miscarriage and genetic defect above are correct, that means among mothers:

Age 20-29- there were 114,315 – 241,332 (5-10%) miscarriages and 1810 children born with a genetic defect.

Age 30-34- there were 237,673 miscarriages and 2044 children born with a genetic defect
Age 34-39- there were 34,889 miscarriages and 1380 children born with a genetic defect
-So for ages 30-39 there were 272,562 miscarriages and 3424 children born with a genetic defect.

Age 40-44- there were 51,552 miscarriages and 2,754 children born with a genetic defect
Age 45-49- there were 6,119 miscarriages and 510 children born with a genetic defect
-So for ages 40-49 there were 57, 671 miscarriages and 3,264 children born with a genetic defect.

So, because of difference in fertility levels the higher rate of miscarriages for women in their 30s is mitigated somewhat so that there is only a 13% difference in the actual number of miscarriages between women in their 20s and 30s.

Women in their 40s actually miscarry ~1/5 of the number babies that women in their 20s do because the increased rate of miscarriage is greatly mitigated by the decreased fertility.

The largest number of children with genetic defect is born to women ages 30-39 and the smallest number is born to women age 40-49. Again this is because women in their 40s have less capability of conceiving to begin with. I do not mean to say that these fogures make risk factors meaningless, they do not. I just think it is important to not the actual number of children involved.

someone said...

Haven't been over here in a while, but I have to say that this latest post disappoints me like most of the stuff here seems to do these days. Back when I first discovered Anakin, I was thankful for his critique of Debbie Maken's nonsense. As time has gone by, however, the things he posts, the general tone of this blog, and the discussion here have become more and more extreme and myopic. It almost seems as if people are looking for anything at all to criticize and complain about.

I mean, we are seriously advocating, as Christians, that a woman of a certain age is under some kind of obligation to avoid getting pregnant because she might have a child with disabilities? What exactly does this say about our view of people with disabilities, by the way? Nothing good, it seems to me. This is subChristian thinking on display.

Maybe it's time to write "Ichabod" across the doors here.

Anakin Niceguy said...

I mean, we are seriously advocating, as Christians, that a woman of a certain age is under some kind of obligation to avoid getting pregnant because she might have a child with disabilities? What exactly does this say about our view of people with disabilities, by the way? Nothing good, it seems to me. This is subChristian thinking on display.

Wow. I guess nobody can counsel women not to drink while being pregnant, either because that would be unfair to the babies born with defects (or did you actually read my argument on that?). Drive-by-postings by people I hardly see comment on here and who don't take the time to read through my posts and respond constructively bear the hallmarks of trolling IMHO.

Anakin Niceguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anakin Niceguy said...

Learner says:

I would definitely say that it is better for people to have children when they are younger for many different reasons. However this has nothing to do with the Palin’s situation (they had kids when they were young too), and it had nothing to do with my point. I am not in favor of people waiting to marry or have children. My mother wasn’t waiting to marry and have children to “have it all”.

What does it matter, Learner? The careerist woman and the woman who keeps having children past her prime are BOTH having children in their old age. Why judge one and not the other? Are you are no better than a Makenite, by the way, because your judgments on the career woman putting off motherhood are "nowhere in the Bible"? (okay that wasn't really directed at you, but I was addressing a poor allegation made about me).


My point was that saying someone has no business conceiving a child because of the increased risk that the child may be disabled (and there is an increased risk, as I mentioned) in the end implies that people have no business risking having disabled children and by extension that there is something inherently wrong or less about a child with a disability…that society, the family, and the child would be better off if the child did not exist.


Okay, Learner, will due respect, I am getting tired of this accusation. I have shot this unfair allegation down repeatedly with parallels -- such the woman who drinks alcohol while with child. All you have done is offer a poor dodge - accusing me of comparing a pregnant woman drinking alcohol with legitimate sex in marriage. No Learner, you are incorrect. I am comparing the decision to have a risky pregnancy with drinking alcohol. Let me put another way - as a three-part syllogism to illustrate the logical end of any rhetoric that accuses me of devaluing handicapped babies:

1. To question the decision making by which a child is conceived is cast aspersion on the worth of the child (Learner's major premise)

2. A pack of teenagers decide to get pregnant (real life situation and minor premise for sake of argument)

3. Questioning the immature behavior of these teenagers is to question the worth of the babies born as result of their decisions.

That's where your logic is headed. You can bring in the side issue of "oh, but the Palins are married" all you want ... but how does that justify having risky pregnacies?


While I do not discount the pain and trauma of miscarriage for the family and the child (depending on when the miscarriage happens developmentally), I would not fault someone for believing that the chance at life is worth the risk. I also would not fault them for chosing to not concieve.


Learner, tell me how your line of reasoning is any different from couples who seek fertility treatments that result in discarded embryos? When you know the risks are high for miscarriages, how can you justify the probable (not possible) loss of innocent life?


I have not advocated for indescriminate conception (as I have noted above). I do think we should exercise wisdom with regard to what we can afford financially, and with what we can deal with emotionally etc. If someone cannot handle having a child with Down Syndrome or some other disability, then yes they should consider that and be responsible for their choices.


Maybe we are getting some agreement here.


Drinking while pregnant is not comparable to concieving as an older couple because drinking a significant amount of alcohol while pregnant doesn't just increase the odds that they child will have FES, it causes FES. It is not a risk of association or chance, it is a risk of causation.


Learner, your statement makes no sense to me. Drinking while pregnant is said to increase the risk of defects, just as trying to conceive in middle-age results in an increased risk of miscarriages. What about smoking while pregnant, Learner? Are we supposed to be non-judgmental about that? Or are we being oh-so-judgmental because there is only a 4% difference between birth defects between smokers and non-smokers? (see here). I, Anakin, am not allowed to have an opinion, nor can the March of Dimes (they are judgemental, mean-spirited people telling women not to smoke).


The largest number of children with genetic defect is born to women ages 30-39 and the smallest number is born to women age 40-49. Again this is because women in their 40s have less capability of conceiving to begin with. I do not mean to say that these fogures make risk factors meaningless, they do not. I just think it is important to not the actual number of children involved.


This statement makes no sense to me. Suppose you have three gamblers that have $500 to play and lose $100 each. Suppose you have another three that only have $100 to play and lose $50 each

Let's tally:

First set total losses: $300
Second set total losses: $150

Are we going to tell the second group to just keep on gambling, because in the aggregate they lost less money then the first set? Learner, I believe you implictly committed the Fallacy of Division by trying to reason something from aggregate numbers to individual groupings.

Wrap-up: Here's a hypothetical application of the logic I see: If your 16-year old gets married in Mexico to her boyfriend and gets pregnant, say nothing because (a) they're married and (b) they had natural sex. To show any concern about their maturity or how it will impact the baby is to be a petty judgmental person.

The Learner said...

While I do not discount the pain and trauma of miscarriage for the family and the child (depending on when the miscarriage happens developmentally), I would not fault someone for believing that the chance at life is worth the risk.

And we wonder why women seek fertility treatments that may result in disposed embryos.

Anakin disposing of an embryo is not a risk. If you believe as I do, that life begins at the moment of conception, then disposing of an embryo is murder.

If you are making an inference about what I meant based on what I said about the developmental age of the child you have misinterpreted what I was saying. My point about the developmental age of the child had to do with when their neurological systems are developed enough to feel pain, which was what I was talking about when I made the point. I did not say that the destruction of a child while in embryonic form was ok because the child could not feel pain.

Regarding your longer comment, I will have to come back later today to reply to most of that. I believe that you aren't understanding my basic premise regarding children with disabilities and the concept of risk and so I need to think about it to see if I can come up with a different way of expressing it.

However, at this time I would like to say something about this:
Learner, your statement makes no sense to me. Drinking while pregnant is said to increase the risk of defects, just as trying to conceive in middle-age results in an increased risk of miscarriages. What about smoking while pregnant, Learner?

Anakin, you are confusing the concepts of risk and causation. I understand that information meant to educate the general public about these sorts of medical issues may not make this distinction, and may even use the terms interchangeably, but they are different concepts. If a woman were to drink in excess while pregnant she is not increasing the risk that the child will get FES, she is causing it to happen. If she did not drink in excess the child would not get FES. It is not an associated risk issue, it is an issue of causation. At certain levels alcohol acts as a poison to a developing child, as do tobacco products and a host of other substances. A woman concieving a child does not cause the genetic abnormality to occur. No woman knows how many of her ovum may have a genetic abnormality. The older you get ther greater the risk is that any individual ovum will have a genetic abnormality. It is an issue of risk, not causation.

Christina said...

Anakin,

What's your problem with me?

I thought I made some good points and the only ones you choose to address are Learner's?

Anyway, here's the difference between drinking while pregnant and conceiving in your old age:

Drinking - you have ALL the control in the world.

Conceiving - you have MINIMAL control, but God calls the shots...quite literally...

This little spermy goes here...these one stays here...ok...all set and go.

And again, what if she WAS on BC and conceived anyway? Does that make her more at fault because BC actually doubles the risk of birth defects?

The Learner said...

Christina,

I thought you made some excellent points, especially about the increased risks associated with birth control.

The Learner said...

Anakin,

I regret that I seem to have put you on the defensive. As I have already stated, I do not believe that you go about in your life actively discriminating against people with disabilities. I do not believe that you said what you did in order to say that children with genetic abnormalities are worth less. I have said many a similar statement about many topics because I didn't understand the implications of what I was saying because I was not in a position to do so. Everyone has hade statements that if carried to a logical conclusion would not represent what we meant to say.

But now, I am going to ask you to put that aside for a minute and consider that, even though you did not intend your criticism of Mrs. Palin to be prejudicial against her child, that is what the end result of that statement may be (for reasons I have been trying to explain). So, let me give it another shot.

My point was that saying someone has no business conceiving a child because of the increased risk that the child may be disabled (and there is an increased risk, as I mentioned) in the end implies that people have no business risking having disabled children and by extension that there is something inherently wrong or less about a child with a disability…that society, the family, and the child would be better off if the child did not exist.

Okay, Learner, will due respect, I am getting tired of this accusation. I have shot this unfair allegation down repeatedly with parallels -- such the woman who drinks alcohol while with child. All you have done is offer a poor dodge - accusing me of comparing a pregnant woman drinking alcohol with legitimate sex in marriage. No Learner, you are incorrect. I am comparing the decision to have a risky pregnancy with drinking alcohol.

Here's the problem Anakin, when you compare having a risky pregnancy with drinking alcohol you are "mixing the metaphor" in your parallel, so to speak. The result of both situations are "risky pregnancies" (leaving aside the fact that alcohol causes FES and does not just increase the risk of it). One is the result of marital sex and the other is the result of excess consumption of alcohol. A person takes an action, and that action has a result. So:
Situation 1:
Action: A 43 year old woman has sex with her husband
Result: A child with Down Syndrome

Situation 2:
Action: A woman consumes two or more drinks daily while pregnant (which by the way would likely cause her some problems too)
Result: Child born with FES

For it to be a parallel, the comparison should be made between the actions of the parents, not between the action of one parent and the result of the other.

Anakin continued: Let me put another way - as a three-part syllogism to illustrate the logical end of any rhetoric that accuses me of devaluing handicapped babies:

1. To question the decision making by which a child is conceived is cast aspersion on the worth of the child (Learner's major premise)


{Actually Anakin, this is not my major premise}

2. A pack of teenagers decide to get pregnant (real life situation and minor premise for sake of argument)

3. Questioning the immature behavior of these teenagers is to question the worth of the babies born as result of their decisions.

That's where your logic is headed. You can bring in the side issue of "oh, but the Palins are married" all you want ... but how does that justify having risky pregnacies?


When it comes to the examples or parallels that you have put forth, the problem Anakin, is that the situations you are proposing are not actually parallel in the way you are applying them. I made this case after your rape parallel about how judging the actions of the parent (the rapist) is not prejudicial against the child, because the actions of the parent (rape) are worthy of judgement as wrong, regardless if a child resulted from that action or not. It is wrong because of the action of the parent, not because of the result.

So, to apply this to the other parallels you raised:
1. In your drinking while pregnant parallel, the wrong in this example is poisoning the child with alcohol, not the resulting child. (and again this is not really comparable because risk and causation are not comparable).
2. As I mentioned in the rape parallel, the wrong is the rape, not the resulting child.
3. I your group of teen girls with a pregnangy pact, the wrong was premarital sex (and if it was the case, also the girl purposefully getting pregnant against the wishes of the father), not the child.
4. In your parallel of my hypothetocal 16 year old daughter going to Mexico to marry a guy, the wrong is my underage daughter crossing state and country lines in order to do something that would not be legal in my state without my permission, not the resulting child.

Now, you have said that the wrong in the Palin's situation was concieving a child knowing there is an increased risk the child could be disabled. But in saying that you are no longer judging the actions of the parent based on the actions themselves (having sex and concieving a child), now you are judging their actions based on the risk of the outcome. For the risk of the outcome to be the "wrong" that is to be judged, then the outcome itself is what the judgement is based on.

Anakin continues: Suppose you have three gamblers that have $500 to play and lose $100 each. Suppose you have another three that only have $100 to play and lose $50 each

Let's tally:

First set total losses: $300
Second set total losses: $150

Are we going to tell the second group to just keep on gambling, because in the aggregate they lost less money then the first set?


Since I'm not advocating telling either group (women in their 20s or 40s) to "stop", but you are, I'll counter your gambling example with the following question: If the first group is actually having larger losses than the second group, why would you tell the second group to stop but not the first?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anakin,

I doubt that there is anything I could say that is going to make any difference in your opinion, but here goes anyway.
You are blaming the Palin's and all women who are "past their prime" for conceiving when there is a higher risk for disabilities. In the first place, these women are not past their prime. If a woman conceives and becomes pregnant when she is older, nature/GOD has decreed that she is not past her prime. You have to have a certain degree of good health to be able to conceive at any age, and especially if you are older. MENOPAUSE is the natural point at which women could be considered "past their prime."
You have criticized older women (40's) who knowingly or accidentally conceive. They are to blame when their babies are born with disabilities. I'm confused, because, to follow your thinking to its conclusion, then why aren't 20 something parents of Down's Syndrome babies under the same condemnation? Maybe the risk was much lower, but it was still a risk, and they were unlucky. Their babies will suffer because of their defects/disabilities the same as the children born to the older parents. They are just as at fault for getting pregnant knowing there was a risk that their baby would be born disabled or have a birth defect.
So, why don't we just blame every couple everywhere in the world who has given birth to a child with a birth defect or a disability? They were all selfish. They all conceived knowing that there was a risk that their child might have a birth defect, but they were "willing to allow their child to have to live with the resulting defect or disability."
I remember reading a biology textbook in college that dealt with this subject. One paragraph stood out vividly in my mind, and I have never forgotten it. It said that birth defects/disabilities were unavoidable. They would always happen. From the text: "Even if you packed every pregnant woman in the entire world in cotton fluff, and put her in a room by herself for nine months, there would still be some babies born with birth defects and other disabilities."
So, why don't we all just stop having sex and conceiving children, because there is always a risk involved, and it is our fault if our child is born with any defect.
I have personal, first hand knowledge of a case, a woman I know, who became pregnant while on birth control. She lost the baby because she was on birth control. That is what her own Dr. said. So, as Christina has asked you previously, "Is she at fault?" I also know a woman who had a stillbirth six months into her pregnancy. The unborn child had Down's Syndrome. (If you lose a pregnancy past a certain point, it is not called a miscarriage, it is a stillbirth.) This was devastating, and she totally gave up on having children. Almost a year later, she conceived again, and gave birth to a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boy---two months shy of her 46th birthday.
We older mothers who have children are always going to be these awful, reckless, selfish people as far as you're concerned. Well, just go ahead and think that. We'll just keep loving our husbands, and trusting God to bless us with children if it be His will. Our faith is in our Lord and Savior, who opens and closes the womb at His Will.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Learner,

Sorry but you haven't substantiated your premise that my position logically leads to devaluing the lives of the handicapped. Tell me plainly why my position leads to the devaluing of the handicapped. You should be able to tell me in a short concise statement.

Quite frankly, I think you are engaging in Special Pleading argumentation when you cite non-material differences between my parallels and Palin's case.

Earlier you write:


I have not advocated for indescriminate conception (as I have noted above). I do think we should exercise wisdom with regard to what we can afford financially, and with what we can deal with emotionally etc.


But later you write ...


Now, you have said that the wrong in the Palin's situation was concieving a child knowing there is an increased risk the child could be disabled. But in saying that you are no longer judging the actions of the parent based on the actions themselves (having sex and concieving a child), now you are judging their actions based on the risk of the outcome. For the risk of the outcome to be the "wrong" that is to be judged, then the outcome itself is what the judgement is based on.


You just argued against yourself, Learner. The end result of your position that we cannot even pass judgement on indiscriminate conception.

Let's take your same wording but instead of talking about 40 something women who want to have babies ...


Now, you have said that the wrong in the (POOR COUPLE'S) situation was concieving a child knowing there is an increased risk that (THAT THEY COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF THE CHILD). But in saying that you are no longer judging the actions of the parent based on the actions themselves (having sex and concieving a child), now you are judging their actions based on the risk of the outcome. For the risk of the outcome to be the "wrong" that is to be judged, then the outcome itself is what the judgement is based on.

DEFORMED CHILD = CHILD IN POVERTY

Ergo, okay to have babies indiscrimatinely regardless of age and/or income.

The Learner said...

Anakin, I have plainly told you why your position leads to devaluing people who are disabled. Whether or not I can do it in a short, concise statement....now that is another issue. First because all of my previous attempts to do so were rejected by you without you being specific about what part you rejected. Secondly, if you can get me to answer a complex question in a parsimonious manner I know several people on my dissertation committee who would probably pay you good money for that.

Quite frankly, I think you are engaging in Special Pleading argumentation when you cite non-material differences between my parallels and Palin's case.

Ok, let's start here. Exactly what issues were immaterial and how were they immaterial to the issue?

Regarding the two quotes of mine you referred to , No, Anakin, I did not argue against myself. First, I didn't pass judgement on anyone conceiving in either of those statements. Do you not see the difference between me saying er should exercise wisdom in our choices to be sure we can meet our responsibilities, and you saying that Palin "had no business" conceiving a child? Second, and more importantly, in the first quote I was talking about a parent's ability to meet their responsibilities to the child they plan to conceive. Have the Palin's given any indication that they are unable to handle Trig? No, they have not. So, your transposition of terms does not work.

Explain to me on what basis you think the follwing is true:

DEFORMED CHILD = CHILD IN POVERTY

someone said...

"Wow. I guess nobody can counsel women not to drink while being pregnant, either because that would be unfair to the babies born with defects (or did you actually read my argument on that?)."

This is a lame comparison. To compare getting pregnant past a certain age (a natural result of spouses having sex) to drinking while pregnant (an act that clearly involves putting an already conceived child at risk), as if they were morally equivalent shows the level of intellectual honesty in argumentation one can expect from this blog.

And where, pray tell, is your "argument on that" that you refer to above. I just went back and reread the original post to see if I missed something and there really isn't that much to it. What you said, point blank, in your original post was as follows: "but she had no business conceiving at her age." It was an offensive statement then and it still is.

And the irony is that you sit around here complaining about the legalism heaped on you and other men by Boundless and Maken (which I agree with you on,) but then you would heap legalistic requirements on women to avoid getting pregnant because they might have a special needs child.

I've honestly lost all respect for you and this blog.

Christina said...

I don't get it, Anakin.

Regardless, the only option that REALLY (with absolutely no chance of conception) works is abstinence.

You've stated plenty of times before that women who abstain from sex with their husbands are not worthy of any respect and are "sinful" - which I actually agree with you on.

No other method of birth control is COMPLETELY, 100% fool proof. Not a visectomy, not the girly version of it, not pills, not IUDs.

Ok. So regardless of all those precautions, Palin could *miraculously, maybe* get pregnant.

What happens then?

Let me paint you a little picture...

My mom was pregnant. She had no idea she was pregnant - none. It was only her 2nd pregnancy, and the first one had absolutely no problems - no morning sickness, nothing. The 2nd one, though...it was BAD. She had to be hospitalized. No one knew she was pregnant. They did tests on her, x-rays, gave her drugs that would kill anything inside her.

And then they found out - "You're pregnant", they said. But they didn't stop there. "The risk of stillborn, mental illness, and birth defects are high. We've put you on too many drugs and through too many x-rays for this child to develop normally. We suggest you get an abortion."

Ok. So, my mom was pregnant. Risks are INCREDIBLY high that birth defects will be present - higher than they were for Palin, higher than they were for a woman who drinks alcohol while pregnant.

What do you suggest she do? Apparently, its "wrong" for her to bring someone into this world with such a high chance of disability. All odds were against this being a NORMAL CHILD. ALL. It was already a miracle the baby had survived through so much.

Maybe, by your instantiation, she should get an abortion - not bring a deformed child into the world. I guess, in your opinion, both would be a sin...guess abortion is the lesser of the two evils, because that really does seem like the only way Palin could have legitimately avoided having Trig.

Thing is, that in spite of ALL the odds against that baby, she was born normal and healthy. This wasn't some small percentage like is documented for a 40-year-old to have a baby with birth defects. This was near certainty.

My sister is 23 years old. She's intelligent (though blonde), is going to be one of the best cops in the DC area (already is a cop, but my aunt has to retire for her to be the best), is beautiful and happily married.

She functions like any normal human being could possibly function having been raised by my family.

She is a miracle, through and through.

Trig had no such odds against him. There was still more than a 50% chance that he would be born healthy. If God really thought Palin was past her prime, she'd be menopausal. He didn't. Whether the conception was planned, accidental, or a complete and total miracle if she was preventing it, she did RIGHT by bringing him into the world and NOT getting an abortion. Even though at 16 weeks they conduct tests that would've told her if he was healthy or not.

The chances were still in his favor, regardless of the risk involved - a risk that is NEVER negligible, but never worth regarding or you'll never experience the miracle of life.

********************************
I have another question for you to ponder, though I've given up hope of you ever responding.

You mentioned how the risk is enough for her to be responsible for the outcome.

I strongly believe that suicide is a form of murder and is wrong - I don't think its an unforgivable sin, though.

So the risk of death is higher in certain activities - like sky diving, driving my car, riding a motorcycle.

So if I took all the necessary precautions EXCEPT refraining from such activities and were in an accident doing any of those things, am I committing suicide? Or was it an accident?

Seems to me that Palin and her husband knew the chances, knew the risks involved in engaging in a certain activity, regardless of any precautions they made (if any). But you know, the risk of conception is already diminished and the risk of having a disabled child is still less than 50%, so why risk an unhealthy marriage and avoid sex? Why not have sex, and deal with the consequences as they arise?

Its always a possible outcome. Regardless of precautions, sex makes babies.

If you have a problem with that, keep it in the pants. But for Sarah Palin to refrain from sex with her husband is a worse thing than her getting pregnant because she did.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Learner,

It occurs to me that we are talking past each other. Here is the point that I am making:

1. You cannot say that I am devaluing Trig's life simply on the basis of questioning the parent's conduct, per se. If I cannot question ANY parent's conduct due to the baby that might be born, then A LOT is off limits. If the act of questioning a parent's conduct is off limits then even acts like drinking alcohol while pregnant cannot be questioned.

2. You counter that one act (sex) is moral but drinking alochol is not. This is not the issue. If you want to make it the issue then fine, but you will have to concede #1 and refine you premise.

Maybe this this is your premise ...

3. Questioning an inherently moral act of sex by married couples on the basis of the risk of what might happen to the child thus conceived reflects on the worth of the child.

The premise now refined might be satisfactory in dealing with your quibble about the rightness/wrongness of the parent's conduct in the examples I raise. But there is still a problem ...

1. A poor couple with four kids having sex is inherently moral.

2. But there is a risk that they cannot afford to care for the child born to them. Palin's risk may not be exactly the same, but the two cases are parallel in the sense that there is probable hardship in store for the child.

There are couples that don't believe in any kind of family planning (not even a natural method). They just leave everything to chance (or in their minds "to God"). So what should a family member do? Tell them to get their tubes tied? Or just have the attitude that "we shouldn't judge" even though their household situation becomes more precarious with each new baby born. What if this was one of your family members? What would you say to them? Do whatever they please?

You can raise another objection why the cases aren't parallel, but with each new objection, your premise for why I am devaluing Trig become more complicated and unwieldy - a product of ad hoc argumentation the becomes a case of special pleading.

The problem is that you never really stated your reasons in an affirmative argument why you think I am devaluing Trig. When I asked you to do so, you refused. This is like a prosecutor charging me with a crime but refusing to produce the evidence in court because "it would take too much time." If you object to this statement, then you merely need repost your affirmative argument.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Folks, I've been thinking about my post and I want to extend an apology to all here and to Sarah Palin (even though she will probably never read this blog). I was making judgments about her personal situation regarding her pregnancy without having all the facts. I have edited my post accordingly.

The Learner said...

Anakin,

I spent a while thinking this evening, trying to come up with a way of explaining what I was trying to say. I thought I had finally come up with an example that would get my point across to you (it was about feminists, and cloning and men lol)so I come here to reply to you...and then I read your latest comment.

I admire anyone who is willing to reconsider their position. It requires humility to do so in a public forum, and I respect that.

Anonymous said...

The wealthy have ALWAYS had nannies, tutors and governesses for their children. I don't view this as wrong. In fact, I wouldn't mind having a maid. I wish my dad would have let my mom have one because my mom works too and it would have been good of him to allow it. Now the house is a mess especially now that my mom is older and still working while my dad is retired and doesn't do jack shit to help her. Marriage is about sharing responsibilities. I wonder what my dad would be doing without her? Probably living in cave and never washing. Scary thought.