What do they mean by "life"?

Main Entry: 1life
Pronunciation: \ˈlīf\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural lives
Etymology: Middle English lif, from Old English līf; akin to Old English libban to live — more at
Date: before 12th century

1 a: the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body b: a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings c: an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
2 a: the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual b: one or more aspects of the process of living
3: biography 1
4: spiritual existence transcending physical death
5 a: the period from birth to death b: a specific phase of earthly existence c: the period from an event until death d: a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of a convict's life
6: a way or manner of living
7: livelihood
8: a vital or living being ; specifically : person
9: an animating and shaping force or principle
10: spirit , animation
11: the form or pattern of something existing in reality
12: the period of duration, usefulness, or popularity of something
13: the period of existence (as of a subatomic particle) — compare half-life
14: a property (as resilience or elasticity) of an inanimate substance or object resembling the animate quality of a living being
15: living beings (as of a particular kind or environment)
16 a: human activities b: animate activity and movement c: the activities of a given sphere, area, or time
17: one providing interest and vigor
18: an opportunity for continued viability
19: capitalized Christian Science : god 1b
20: something resembling animate life

It always seems as if people discussing "life" are referring to different meanings of the word. How can people argue about two different interpretations of the same word? It gets very confusing. It's like debating personhood. The "life begins at conception" crowd is always aghast that any person could deny this absolute truth. But, what do they mean? Do they mean the the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body? Well, what is meant by a "vital and functioning being?" Do they mean an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction? The fertilized egg does have the capacity for those things but studies done have proven that 1/3 of all embryo's fail. They certainly can't mean the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual - these things would occur after birth, right? I know that they don't mean the spiritual existence transcending physical death. Obviously they do not mean the period from birth to death. Do they mean a vital or living being (if so, we're back to the whole question of what constitutes "living"?)

I believe it is really difficult to argue an interpretation or perception. I think it is equally difficult to argue a personal belief system. I believe that each individual is capable of deciding for her or his self what these things mean to them. It would be wrong to force ones interpretation, perception or personal belief system upon the general population. Therefor I believe that is it every persons right to decide for themselves what life and/or personhood means when referencing abortion and to decide for themselves what the best moral decision would be. Now, why is that concept such a difficult one to comprehend?


Another try in South Dakota

Just a few of the reasons to vote NO on Measure 11: No exceptions if baby wont survive outside the womb; Women can be forced to carry their pregnancies to term; Exceptions for "health" are dangerously vague.

If you'd like more information, please visit the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families site.

If you're wondering how this ban will affect women, here is just one excerpt from a Doctor in SD (one of very few) who perform abortions for seriously ill women...

Dr. Buehner is an obstetrician and gynecologist from Rapid City, SD who opposes the abortion ban. Buehner has previously stated that he would no longer perform abortions for seriously ill patients if the abortion ban passes, at the risk of spending 10 years in prison. He said that the phrase “accepted standards of medical practice is so vague and nebulous that no physicians I know, myself included, would take that chance.” [Wall Street Journal, 8/12/08] Such a situation would have chilling effect on a doctor’s ability to properly care for his or her patients.
In the video, Dr. Buehner says, “It’s a very difficult decision for any woman to make, but especially for women with health complications in pregnancy. […] [Under Measure 11] the decision would probably be made by attorneys, rather than the physicians or the patients themselves.”

I don't know how these anti-abortion fruitballoons would feel about having non-medical personnel make their private medical decisions (perhaps they'd be just A-okay with it) but I would prefer that every single one of my medical decisions were made by myself after proper counsel with those whose lives have been dedicated to medicine. I'll keep the legal decisions for those who have dedicated themselves to the law.


I love Cox!

Affirmation Girl

Okay, so I may have stolen this from the Bloggess (but I am pretty sure that I'm in love with her so it should be totally cool.)

My favorite line: "I'll shit on you... how do you like that... how does that make you feel in your mind?"


Embryology? We don't need no steenkin' embryology!

Those opposed to abortion usually use the same old arguments including, but not limited to: misinformation, half-truth, pseudoscience, circle-talk, religiosity & the "personhood of the fetus" so this was a new one for me. Denying embryology.

Following is a li'l tidbit from a severly uneducated person who thinks abortion is icky... now, to be fair and all, I personally know people who are morally opposed to abortion and they are intelligent people who are capable of acknowledging both science and the law. For the most part, their distaste for abortion comes from the belief that a fetus is a "person" with a "soul" although some (not all) have no response to (or find it very difficult to articulate) why abortion would be acceptable in the case of rape or incest since there would be no apparent difference between the fertilized egg that was the result of rape and the fertilized egg that was the result of consensual sex (aside from the obvious differences regarding the intercourse.) Which leads one to believe that their stance on abortion has far less to do with the moral or physical status of the zygote/embryo/fetus and more to do with the intercourse itself (enjoying it without being open to the possibility of gestating a pregnancy.) But I digress... this person who (perhaps in a deliberate attempt at irony) calls him/herself "truth" makes the following statement regarding embryology (which is a branch of biology dealing with embryos and their development also the features and phenomena exhibited in the formation and development of an embryo.)

Truthiness: Seems like Embryology is a farse...

my thoughts: Yes, I just made it up, right now.

Truthiness: It just seems that Embryology takes the focus off the child developing in the womb and makes it seem like it's just another animal.

my thoughts: So what you're saying is that embryology takes the focus off of the embryo? Hmm, okay. Would you be okay with it if you could change this branch of biology to "thechilddevelopinginthewombology"? I mean, come on... put forth a tiny, little effort.

Truthiness: Do you think that Humans are just animals with higher functioning brain capacity?

I swear to God, I could not make this shit up if I tried.

ps. farce is spelled with a "c"... it doesn't really matter, I knew what he/she meant... I'm just saying.

News from Illinois

According to the ACLU of Illinois, an appellate court has blocked an effort to grant rights to fertilized eggs that have not implanted. The statement reads, in part:

The Appellate Court properly noted that the Illinois law cited by the Cook County Judge was never intended to grant rights to an unimplanted, fertilized egg. In an amicus curiae brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, we also noted that the decision relied on antiquated, scientifically-invalid Illinois abortion laws that long ago were blocked from enforcement by federal courts. The Appellate Court today acted swiftly and directly to reverse this lower court's error.

One of the comments from the coverage at RH Reality Check says (and I'm not embellishing):

This Godless judge needs a Biology 101 class!! (truthiness, is that you?)

"An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health. It may make you sterile, so that when you want a child you cannot have it." — Planned Parenthood

That PP "quote" is another anti-abortion myth that the extremist claim came from a 1963 pamphlet from PP. Now, I don't doubt that illegal abortion most certainly caused sterility and even death - but this is a very good argument for keeping abortion safe and legal - legal abortion is safer than childbirth, for crying out loud. The baby stuff is pure nonsense... no pregnancy, no birth, no baby.


This is for Princess.

I was browsing the net... not sure how I happened upon this (the official website of Sofie Kinsella.) It is Kelly Tuesday and sometimes magical things happen for no reason whatsoever on this, the Grandest of Days. I couldn't remember if Ms. Banana-hammock had read the one published in February (Remember Me?) - it looks good! Maybe you bring it over here and I'll read it, eh? Anhoo... just thought I'd share (I love you so mu-u-u-u-u-u-u-uch!)

Get out and vote!

I am voting to protect my daughters basic human rights and to ensure that we, as Americans, do not end up living in a Theocracy!
Why are you voting?


Saturday Night Live

*** update at 10pm 9/15/2008 - my video is gone - youtube is not permitted to keep the SNL skits up. I've tried to embed off of the NBC site but it totally sucks balls... just go here to see it (it's worth the ride)***

They are so good... the only thing I can bare to watch on SNL is the political satire and "the news"... enjoy!

Her Good Abortion

Erika Lutz is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and wrote about her abortion experience; called "My Good Abortion"... there is also audio found here if you'd rather listen. I so love women who share their experiences with abortion - good, bad or indifferent we must end the stigma surrounding this medical procedure.


Abstinence only education: an oxymoron

Great video and if you're interested in speaking about the content... visit the Reproductive Health Reality Check site!


Oh, the hypocrisy... will it never end?

I got this off of the RH site... I have always had a crush on John Stewart that grows with each Daily Show. Rock on Daily!


oh, Boo...

McCain is now freakin' out that Obama used the term "putting lipstick on a pig" - accusing him of directly insulting Palin (why Mr. McCain... are you implying that Palin is a pig?) but the most ironic part? McCain used the same phrase when discussing Hillary Clinton's health-care plan.

Ah well... does any of this actually surprise anyone? Smear tactics and politics as usual in the McCain camp... par for the course and all that. What a maverick of change, no?


a letter worth reading

please take the time to read this...just click on the title. very well stated.


Random Funny

I know I've been in this whole pro-choice place for a while... thanks should be given to Mr. Jasper for the role he has played in this fact. But the truth of the matter is that I do not spend all of my online time reading RH or posting about Reproductive Rights... sometimes I just like to laugh and thanks to some really fucked up funny bloggers, such as The Bloggess and Mimi Smartypants I am able to laugh whilst online on a pretty regular basis (writing "whilst" makes me feel fancy.) I hope I'm not breaking any blog rules by posting this - I'd really hate to do hard time for blogging.
Here it is and it is fabulous.


How Much Time Should She Do?

McCain/Palin: The Most Anti-Choice Ticket in History

John McCain is worse than George W. Bush on abortion rights.
But guess who’s worse than John McCain?
Sarah Palin.
From supporting failed abstinence-only sex education,
opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest and
cutting funds for programs that support teen mothers –
Palin has consistently demonstrated a chilling lack of respect for women and a
refusal to acknowledge any options other than the ones of which she approves.
The stakes have been raised.
With the presidency and the Supreme Court hanging in the balance,
the time is right to expose the stark realities of what a
McCain/Palin administration would mean for America.

Help get this message out to the public.
Run our ad yourself or contribute today so we can
get more ads like this on the air.


If I were the king of the world, I tell ya what I'd do...

Mr. Jasper: Pro-lifers are not against measures taken to save (or that risk) the life of the mother. Induce labor or have a C-section.

Mellankelly: How lovely that you would risk a woman's life and her reproductive future by "allowing" her to have a Cesarean Section. Only (and correct me if I'm wrong here) there is not an instance where some third party with no stake whatsoever in the outcome is allowed to make private medical decisions for another person... that's too bad, since it sounded like such a win-win scenario and all. Perhaps you should be fighting laws which restrict you (and any other like-minded person) from being able to decide which medical procedures are in a woman's best interest... Lord knows that Doctors just don't know what the heck they're doing, right?

Mr. Jasper: If I had a born child with either of those 2 conditions, could I terminate his life?

Mellankelly: If it was your child, you would be the one to decide which procedures, if any, your child would have. I suppose, for many parents, the treatment (if any) would depend upon the severity of the brain damage and paralysis, how developed the problem was prior to and at birth would also factor into the treatment options. The bottom line is... each parent would decide for themselves whether or not to start any treatment at all, and if so, which treatments they would be willing to inflict upon their child. See, their child = their decision. Your child = your decision. Are you getting it yet?

Mr. Jasper: Btw: that mother referred to unborn baby as her 'child'.

Mellankelly: Of course she did... this was a very wanted pregnancy that went terribly wrong. I forgot to add this bit to my original posting:

"I wrote my doctor a long thank-you note on my good, wedding stationery. I thanked him for his compassion and his kindness. I wrote that it must be hard, what he does, but that I hoped he found consolation in the fact that he was helping vulnerable women in their most vulnerable of times. He keeps my note, along with all the others he's received, in a large bundle. And he keeps that
bundle right next to his stack of hate mail. They are about the same size"

And this really got to me because the people who invented the "PB" phrase (no such medical procedure... SURPRISE!) and the President who helped outlaw certain procedures have caused many good Doctors who have helped countless women to deny future women these options.
This is so very sad...

"The doctor who performed my termination talks about the women he has helped through the years -- the pregnant woman who was diagnosed with metastic melanoma and needed immediate chemotherapy, the woman who was carrying conjoined twins that had only one set of lungs and one heart, the woman whose baby had a three-chambered heart and would never live. Now, he is turning these women away. 'Now, today, I can say no, but what is she going to do?' he says sadly. 'What is she going to do?'"

And a chilling quote from that Doctor:

"Now, it's like the Stone Age, it's like a Muslim country here," says the doctor who performed my procedure. "This is the most backward law, it is not for a civilized country. If this was Iran, Iraq, I wouldn't be surprised. But to pass this law in the United States, what is this government doing?"

You said it, Doctor! And how!


Late Term Abortion

Mr. Jasper seems to think that women have late term abortions on a whim... here are some of the stories:

When Congress first considered the ban in 1995, Watts testified on Capitol Hill. So did Viki Wilson of Fresno, Calif., who had a late-term abortion because the brain of the fetus she was carrying had developed outside the skull. So did Vikki Stella of Naperville, Ill., whose fetus had dwarfism, no brain tissue and seven other major abnormalities.
All three women told legislators they owed their health to late-term abortions and that a continuation of their doomed pregnancies posed grave health risks such as stroke, paralysis, infertility or even death.
As they campaign to save access to these procedures, Watts, Stella and Wilson point out that in virtually all cases, late-term abortions are the only way to respond to unanticipated complications: the death of the fetus inside the womb, problems that mean the fetus can't live outside the womb, or serious threats to the mother's health.
"No women has these procedures for frivolous reasons," says Stella. "They have them because it's their only choice."
In its Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court acknowledged this fact, giving states permission to regulate--or even proscribe--terminations of pregnancies except "where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother."

Reference and full article can be found here.

Here is another equally compelling story which highlights why it is important that the decision of whether or not to have a late-term abortion should lie with the pregnant woman, her loved ones and her doctor... and why "maternal health" is an important distinction from "maternal life".

Instead of cinnamon and spice, our child came with technical terms like hydrocephalus and spina bifida. The spine, she said, had not closed properly, and because of the location of the opening, it was as bad as it got. What they knew -- that the baby would certainly be paralyzed and incontinent, that the baby's brain was being tugged against the opening in the base of the skull and the cranium was full of fluid -- was awful. What they didn't know -- whether the baby would live at all, and if so, with what sort of mental and developmental defects -- was devastating. Countless surgeries would be required if the baby did live. None of them would repair the damage that was already done.
We met with a genetic counselor, but given the known as well as the unknown, we both knew what we needed to do. Though the baby might live, it was not a life that we would choose for our child, a child that we already loved. We decided to terminate the pregnancy. It was our last parental decision.
Reference and full article can be found here.

That was their decision to make... not yours or mine or any other third party who would not be directly affected by this decision... that was theirs and theirs alone!

Fetal Brainwaves

A favorite anti-abortion myth is the "fetal pain" myth... as taken from the ironically named "abortion facts" web page:

"the cortex isn’t needed to feel pain. The thalamus is needed and is functioning at 8 weeks. Even complete removal of the cortex does not eliminate the sensation of pain. Indeed there seems to be little evidence that pain information reaches the sensory cortex."
Now, if we go to the Mayo Clinic we would find the following regarding the thalamus:

"What the thalamus does is act as a sorting and switching station located deep inside the brain. The thalamus quickly forwards the pain message simultaneously to three specialized regions of the brain: the physical sensation region (somatosensory cortex), the emotional feeling region (limbic system) and the thinking region (frontal cortex). Your brain responds to pain by sending messages that moderate the pain in the spinal cord. "

Ummm... you might be asking yourself just how the heck any stimulus could be "felt" if one "completely removes the cortex" considering the thalamus forwards the stimulus message directly to the somatosensory, limbic system and the frontal cortex. You're right... it can't be "felt" without the cortex.

But hey... scientific facts? Who needs 'em... they just think abortion is icky.

It seems that the anti-abortion extremists enjoy using misinformation (considering that they tend to employ this tactic quite regularly.) I'm not sure if they think this will make women decide not to have abortions (although, as far as I know, no woman has ever listed a reason for terminating a pregnancy as "my fetus cannot feel pain.") But never mind those sneaky devils, there will always be people around to ensure that these woman receive accurate medical information (thanks Mayo Clinic!)

On another note... I recently had a fellah (yes, a person who will never know the emotional or physical -not to mention the financial- responsibilities of giving birth to a child) chastise me for using a photograph of a 6 week abortion. He would prefer that I use the photographs that the anti-abortion extremists use (usually very much wanted pregnancies which ended in still birth or therapeutic abortion). Apparently, he is of the mind that a 6 week abortion looks just like a 40 week full term baby (killed moments prior to birth, no less.) OH, the emotional horror!!!

Listen dude... I'm sorry... but this is what a 6 week abortion looks like...

And may I add (for the record and all) that if I feel compelled to use terms such as "dude", I can use my God-given right (free will... thanks God!) to use this term (and any other I so deem necessary) whenever and where ever I like. It is not enough that this guy wants to control my reproduction and my choice of medically accurate information... he would also like to control my use of verbiage.

Hey Jasper... go fuck yourself.


This is what I've been saying for the past ten years... the difference in this "debate" will be the voices of women who share their very personal and private experiences with the world!!!