A Challenge For Pro-Life Conservatives

January 26, 2010

We have a challenge for all of our pro-life conservative readers.

Drudge is linking to a story about a women who was ordered by a court to remain in a hospital for the duration of her pregnancy, against her will:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Samantha Burton wanted to leave the hospital. Her doctor strongly disagreed, enough to go to court to keep her there. She smoked cigarettes during the first six months of her pregnancy and was admitted on a false alarm of premature labor. Her doctor argued she was risking a miscarriage if she didn’t quit smoking immediately and stay on bed rest in the hospital, and a judge agreed.

At the end of the article there is a list of other similar cases where a court rules on the medical treatment of a pregnant woman:

—In 1987, a Washington, D.C., judge ordered a woman who was dying of cancer to have a C-section, which she had refused, to save her fetus. The baby died within two hours of delivery and the mother died two days later. An appeals court later ruled the judge should not have ordered the C-section.

—In 2003, prosecutors in Salt Lake City charged an acknowledged cocaine addict who had a history of mental health problems with murder when she refused to have a C-section for two weeks before finally agreeing to the procedure. One of her twins died in the womb during the delay. Through a plea deal, the charge was later reduced to child endangerment.

—In 2004, a hospital in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., obtained a court order to force a woman to have a C-section because her seventh baby was oversized, but the order was too late. The mother, whose first six children each weighed nearly 12 pounds at birth, went to another hospital and delivered an 11-pound, 9-ounce girl naturally.

—Also in 2004, a judge in Rochester, N.Y., ordered a homeless woman not to get pregnant again without court approval after she lost custody of several neglected children.

We don’t want pregnant women doing stupid crap that endangers the life of the baby and/or themselves, but here is the challenge we are making to all of our pro-life conservative readers; What is conservative about a court ordering a medical procedure against a person’s will? Does that sound like small government to you? Does it get any more nanny state than that?

Do you really want to live in a country where the state can compel a person to have a surgery they do not want, even if they are wrong for not wanting it?? Should the state have the power to restrain a pregnant women if the fetus would be protected by the needed bed rest?

What is the lesser of two evils, letting a pregnant women endanger their unborn child, or empowering the state to determine what is appropriate behavior regarding private medical decisions?

We want to protect the fetus too, but giving the state that kind of power over an individual seems pretty UN-CONSERVATIVE to us.

We understand the moral argument regarding the protection of the vulnerable fetus, but there are also the no less legitimate rights of the mother, even if she is acting like an ass. Isn’t there something conservative about erring on the side of caution, or in this case freedom? Or is it somehow conservative to err on the side of Nanny-State empowerment to decide how an expecting mother should behave?

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41 Responses to A Challenge For Pro-Life Conservatives

  1. Steve on January 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    It could be argued some women who make decisions that are obviously the wrong choice for their children – born or yet-to-be born – are mentally ill and should have medical decisions made by family members or the state.

    It’s obvious in some cases, not so obvious in other cases.

    The question is … where should the line be drawn?

  2. John Williams on January 26, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Most of these are not conservative in that the mother hasn’t broken any laws. The last one probably doesn’t belong on that list, IMO. I think she was given due process in the custody hearings and found to be an unfit mother. That should apply, unless she can convince CPS that she’s reformed. Am I wrong?

  3. Jon Baker on January 26, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    First, let’s look at the vocabulary. 1. A fetus is a made up term for an unborn HUMAN.
    2. A medical procedure can mean several different things including abortion.

    When you say”We understand the moral argument regarding the protection of the vulnerable fetus, but there are also the no less legitimate rights of the mother, even if she is acting like an ass.” it sounds pretty good. However, there are TWO humans in this scenario. The rights of one human end when they put another human in jeopardy. This obviously could get pretty inane and comical, so I come to the conclusion that unless the mother is doing something illegal, like drugs, prostitution,etc. then the court has NO business dictating behaviour like smoking.
    That is ridiculous. If, however, bedrest really is necessary for the unborn child to have a chance, then I am ok with that. I am concerned the smoking part of that article is just a red herring.

    I feel strongly that the defenseless who do not have a voice are protected as much or more than the adult who has a voice.
    The Declaration of Independence guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for even the smallest and weakest among us.

    Just my thoughts.

  4. Rhymes With Right on January 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    But If She Wanted An Abortion, It Would Have Been No Big Deal…

    I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I am pro-life when it comes to the issue of abortion. And while I might not be as absolutist as others on the issue, I do think that the state ought……

  5. MissTammy on January 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I guess I don’t understand how a judge can order such things if they don’t think an unborn baby has a right to live.

    It is either a living, breathing, though as yet unborn person, with its own inalienable rights, or it is in some sort of limbo which has never been explained to my satisfaction, and doesn’t count as anything, and has no right to live til it is full emerged from it’s mother and the cord is cut. (And even then not if it was unsuccesfully aborted, because then it is left to die a slow death)

    I don’t see how you can legally have it both ways.

    The argument that is at the core of Roe v Wade is privacy, and frankly, I think it is a huge violation of one’s privacy to not be allowed to leave a hospital bed; those darn gowns are a violation of privacy in and of themselves!

  6. Daddy-O on January 27, 2010 at 7:35 am

    There ought be no broad brush answer. Each case ought to be considered individually. Jon is right when he says that we need clear definitions on our terms. Politically charged language tends to obscure the truth.

    The way I see it a nascent human life is still a human life, and the value of the unborn is not dependent on their level of development. No one would argue that a six year old is worth less than a 12 year old, or a 20 year old less that a 50 year old. So, why think a six month old child in the womb has any less worth that the mother who carries him?

    Neither does location decide worth.

    Case 1- She smoked cigarettes? Okay, how much? Smoking cigarettes in today’s politically correct culture is a huge no-no. But, we are not told how much did she smoke? A couple a day? A pack? Two? Exactly how much did her smoking actually endanger her unborn child? Or was it simply that she smoked at all? …Both doctor and judge could simply be politically correct drones, or they could actually see a medical danger in this case. Was the unborn actually being hurt? In which case they SHOULD intervene. Were they just politically correct drones, and the baby was not in danger? Then they need to butt out. Need more info.

    Case 2- On what grounds did the appeals court come to its decision? If the woman was dying, and the child would have died if they had done nothing, then yes, they must save the child, even if the woman argues against it. Yes, it is her body, and she has rights, but so does the child. …If two people are in danger of drowning, and there is only one life preserver, would you not opt for saving one over saving none? …The fact that both died after surgery does not make the case that attempts to save one were wrong. It only shows the conclusion was unavoidable. Err on the side of life.

    Case 3- I see no issue with this. The charge was reduced due to her mental state, which is probably fair enough.

    Case 4- Remove the word “homeless” to reduce the emotional baggage. This is a woman who clearly neglects her children. Okay. Can a judge order her NOT to get pregnant again? No. It is stupid. People are free to have sex with whom they choose, regardless of their level of responsibility, and sex makes babies. So, unless the court is willing to rule that the woman wear a state issued and installed chastity belt, with the key being held by a state official, there is no real way to enforce this ruling at all. …The judge was emoting, and though I can agree with the desire to keep this woman from pregnancy, freedom allows her to do that very thing. …Which only means the court will most likely go on taking her children away.

    There are no easy answers.

  7. Scott on January 27, 2010 at 10:43 am

    First off, I don’t see why the “law” cares about this situation if abortion is OK.

    However, I am against abortion because I think it is murdering another human.

    Is it not true that smoking while pregnant can seriously endanger the health/life of an unborn child? If so (and correct me if it’s not so), why would I want a woman to be allowed to possibly kill her child?

    Of course, I know no specifics of the case, how much she smoked, etc.

  8. Scott on January 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Also, your “nanny-state” argument is a little off in my opinion. As a conservative I do want the government to stay out of as much as possible, but I also expect our country to be run by the rule of law, especially ones as basic as “do not murder.”

    I guess this really comes down to the science of exactly how dangerous it is for a woman to smoke during pregnancy.

  9. Founding Blogger on January 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed responses everyone. Many of you have done a very good job of laying out the moral case for preserving the rights of the fetal human baby. But lets review the post:

    We understand the moral argument regarding the protection of the vulnerable fetus…

    The question being posed is not just a moral one. It’s a constitutional one. What is constitutional about government intervention in these and other cases? Sure, every case is unique, but a couple of general issues do come to mind.

    1) If the government can intervene on this level, even before birth, they can intervene at any point for the rest of your life. Do you think that was the government our founders had in mind for us? Monitoring all of our life and death decisions to make sure that we were all making the best choices all the time, according to the whims of the mob cultural norms of the day?

    For example, what difference does it make how much the woman referenced above was smoking? Who is to say what is too dangerous? How about if the mother has a dangerous job? Or works with chemicals, like a dry cleaner? Should she be forced to take leave or quit to protect the unborn baby? Where the hell do you draw the line? It’s maddening, and that’s precisely why society should give strong consideration to erring on the side of keeping a restrained government. Don’t you think we are already living with the result of a totally unrestrained government? Isn’t the Tea Party movement supposed to be about turning back the tide of our totally unrestrained government?

    2) Just how far should government go to protect the fetal baby? Does the end game of this “conservatism” provide a future wherein a woman who openly declares her intent to abort her pregnancy would necessarily be institutionalized, and restrained if need be? The thought of a future like that is enough to make me take a second look at the carbon tax.

  10. Star on January 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Back when I was born most of us were born to smoking parents – it was the thing to do back then. A lot of them also drank – and nowadays drinking is frowned on during pregnancies, but it wasn’t back then. The only women who were locked up or forceably sterilized tended mostly to be those who were mentally unstable.

    Both conservatives and liberals want a nanny state based on their principles. The legislating of abortion, contraceptives, etc. is something that’s only been in the last 20-30 years.

    Government has no more right to interfere with parental choice or legislate it (there should be no laws stating a pharmacist has the right to deny an adult making an adult decision to use contraceptives access to a contraceptive) any more should a court say a woman who is smoking should be restrained in a hospital because she is pregnant.

    I wonder how much therapy that poor mother who was forcefully imprisoned in that hospital is now going thru since her rights as a person were violated. Smoking may be being banned {nanny state again} via laws, but that wasn’t always the case, it was the norm once upon a time. The liberals on some websites refer to conservatives as “the forced pregnancy crowd.” The court’s intervening in the smoking woman’s case seems to support that thought in my opinion. Legislation and the court system have superceded the woman’s rights being a woman and her rights severely violated.

    Small government means not legislating ever little detail of everyone’s life. When it interferes with a man’s or woman’s access to birthcontrol, or education as to reproductive matters, or imprisoning a woman in a hospital just because she smokes – that’s not small government. That’s not freedom. And if government or the courts interfere with that freedom it’s not just woman who aren’t safe…none of us are safe.

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  12. Zooticia Zoot on January 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I am a pro-choice “conservative.” I do oppose big government. But protecting lives is a moral issue and has nothing to do with the size of government. In fact, the government’s primary purpose, in my opinion, is to protect its citizens. If the fetus ends up being born and then has to suffer from birth defects its entire life, the government fails if it could have prevented that.

  13. Spud on January 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    So how is this woman being told to stay in the hospital and on bedrest so horrible and evil? My own mother had to do the very damn thing with me! And she had quit smoking during the time she was pregnant with me!

    And she had trouble carrying and conceiving too thanks to an abusive husband and just a general hard time to conceive.

    So you’re saying it’s horrible and evil that this doctor was concerned over the welfare of a mother and a soon to be child? I usually come to this blog expecting idiocy to be shown, but this is the first time I came to the blog and found the idiocy was in its own postings.

    Would you have turned around and cried wolf if the doctor hadn’t done anything? If the judge had done nothing?

    To be honest this is just disgusting- not the article, this challenge.

    Also the doctor could have been thinking about himself- you know how sue happy we Americans are! So it’s less ‘big goverment lol’ and more ‘people are stupid get over it’ :/

  14. Soccer Dad on January 28, 2010 at 6:29 am

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  15. Lindy on January 28, 2010 at 9:34 am

    This is an issue I’ve struggled with as a pro-life conservative woman of child-bearing age (I’m about to have my third at any moment, now) who is also very mindful of the dangers of big govt/nanny state intrusions upon freedom. (for example, these smoking bans are ridiculous, imo.)

    The way a woman is allowed to give birth in this country is a place where these opposing views meet head-on. For instance, in my state, it’s against the law for a midwife to attend a woman wishing to have her baby at home. Instead, many times women have no choice but to deliver at a hospital, with many unnecessary medical interventions that have been shown to negatively alter the outcomes for both mom and baby. That is not right, imo. I think a woman should be allowed to deliver her baby in ways both she and her practitioner deem safe and appropriate, which is entirely situational.

    Of course, when I argue this point with some people, they accuse me of sounding just like a pro-abortion supporter (“my body, my choice”) and subsequently dismiss my arguments altogether. But to have the govt. tell me, in essence, that I MUST give birth in a hospital because it SEEMS safer for the baby sounds quite nanny-statish.

    The situation you mentioned above, about the woman almost being forced into a Cesarean due to her carrying a “big baby”, is one that speaks the most to me, because this is often an entirely arbitrary diagnosis made by the practitioner usually out of a fear of litigation–and nothing more. Many women have big babies naturally, and are just fine.

    So I absolutely see the point you are trying to make, and I wish I had the answer, because I often find myself in conversations relating to Obstetrics where I sound almost liberal, when I’m probably one of the most conservative people I know.

    Thanks for posting about this; it’s terribly intriguing. I look forward to more comments/follow-ups, esp. because this topic is hardly ever discussed on more conservative blogs.

  16. Tea Time on January 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

    This is not a pro-choice or pro-life issue. It is a parent/state issue. And those are very tough issues for blanket policies. I much prefer a very hands off approach, myself, where the state is concerned. It should intervene only when absolutely necessary. We should do much policing this ourselves by assisting those in need – pregnant women and those with small children – so the state has no excuse to invade. The more we “need” the state to intervene, the more that they will. And the more that they do intervene, then the more that we will need it. No getting around these fact.

    If we would do the honest thing and admit that a “fetus” is just a very young human being, then we would make clear the expectation that if you have a “fetus” then you have a responsibility toward another human being (like it or not). For those who refused that reality, consequences would be *somewhat* more clear and comprehensible. No need then to be confused as to why you can end the life of your fetus but you cannot “abuse” it.

    There is no difference between the issues involved here relating to a “fetus” or to those involving a newborn or to a small toddler. Very young children are just as at the mercy of terrible parenting as are those in the womb. No difference. If you struggle with the issues of where/when/how the state intervenes with parents and their children then you should struggle with it for pregnant women as well. As the previous poster noted: there are no easy answers.

    The state has an interest in protecting children. It has an interest in ensuring strong and solid parent/child relationships. It has an interest in protecting the helpless. If you think the state should butt out so you can fry your child in-utero or neglect your toddler, then you should be very disappointed. These are NOT nanny state issues but rather issues of decency and hit the heart of what it means to be “civilized.” Of course they can and will be used as *excuses* by some to become a nanny state, but it is our job as citizens to help determine the difference. Hard work there.

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  18. JON on January 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Doctors have a stake in this matter, big time. Why did they ask for a court order in the first place?

    It’s not the nanny state, its the nanny doctors, doing everything they can think of to try ans save a child and the mom. And I think they should do that. It’s their job to save people.

    The courts were trying to help the doctors, really.

    If these women wanted full unbridled freedom, they could have just stayed in their homes. But they asked the doctors for help. And when you do that, a semi-legal immediate contract is stuck where they are now responsible for the mother and baby’s life. The courts are just recognizing that.

    I don’t have sympathy for these reckless women.

  19. Shastamagic on January 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I too have always thought the pro-life conservative stance on abortion was hypocritical. Also, many conservatives complain about welfare and welfare recipients, but encourage the breeding of them by trying to outlaw abortion. Many children are just government paychecks to their parents.

  20. Scott on January 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I appreciate this post and Lindy I appreciate your comment. They really give me a lot to think about, as I definitely don’t know exactly how I feel about this. Most things I have a clear cut opinion on, but there are a few difficult issues that I really don’t know the answer to.

  21. Scott on January 28, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    “Also, many conservatives complain about welfare and welfare recipients, but encourage the breeding of them by trying to outlaw abortion. Many children are just government paychecks to their parents.”

    I don’t agree with this – just because someone doesn’t agree with abortion doesn’t mean they want people to be irresponsible and have children that they don’t want or can’t care for.

  22. Cindy on January 28, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I’m not a “conservative”, I am pro-life though.

    The story here is not about abortion because the woman did not want an abortion, the woman wanted good medical care and wasn’t not getting it and wanted to leave and seek medical attention elsewhere and if bed rest was all she needed then she wanted to do that at a different hospital with better care or at home.

    The hospital had no right to hold her and she was never there for an abortion to begin with. The hospital was wrong, period.

    Just because she was pregnant and lost the child has nothing to do with abortion. She was looking for MEDICAL HELP, she couldn’t find quality there and wanted to leave. No one should be forced to stay at any institution if the care is not good. Why make reference to abortion when this could have easily been any other medical condition that any patient might encounter…not receiving good health care.

  23. Logan on January 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I agree with Scott. I am pro-life but that doesn’t mean I encourage breeding among people who obviously cannot provide proper care for a child/children. I encourage the use of birth control or abstinence if you can’t or don’t want to care for a child! What liberals don’t understand is that if you’re considering abortion, the “choice” has already been made. Pregnancy is the consequence of the choice you made to have sex. Mature adults deal with the consequences of their actions. Even birth control in all forms is not 100% effective, so unless you are prepared for the consequence of sex- don’t do it!!

  24. Clair Schwan on January 29, 2010 at 1:59 am

    The key issues involved here are personal choice and individual responsibility. The doctor is essentially a contractor that can advise, but has no business trying to force someone to do something that they don’t want to do. We need to support personal choice, even bad ones, so long as those choices don’t directly harm us.

    Yes, there is an unborn child involved here, but it’s not my child nor your child, and it certainly isn’t a child of the state either. We need to insist that parents be allowed to make choices for their children – even bad choices – for they are the ones that have to live with those choices.

    The alternative is “reporting” on our fellow citizens and allowing government do-gooders to play family to us all. That is tantamount to surrender of our freedom to “the authorities.” Let’s face it, we are the authorities in our own lives – not the government.

    No matter how painful it may be to us personally, we must have the courage to live our lives as we see fit and let others live their own lives and manage (or mess up) their own families. The question was asked, “Where do we draw the line.” I suggest it be drawn at our front door and we mind our own business. Thomas Jefferson reminded us, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”

    The more we insist that the liberty of others be managed, the more we are encouraging government to manage our personal affairs, and they certainly don’t need encouragement in that area.

    The idea that society eventually pays for the irresponsible acts of others is a separate problem altogether and it requires a separate solution – one that doesn’t penalize me for the irresponsible acts of others. The price that society pays shouldn’t cloud our thinking when it comes to defending the rights of others to make personal choices and the obligation to take responsibility for their decisions.

    Each time we diminish the rights of others, we diminish our own. Each time we look to government to take care of us, we encourage it to grab more power and influence in our lives.

    I defend the rights of others, even those that are engaged in activities that I disagree with. I think it’s up to me (and all of us) to do so simply because when looking through the eyes of others, our choices might appear to be equally disagreeable.

    Clair Schwan

  25. Lindy on January 29, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Good discussions, all. But can I suggest that we all refrain from using the word “breeding” in describing people who choose to have babies? Thanks!

    Also, it really does very little to promote one’s point of view and be taken seriously when one adds the word “encourage” before using the word “breeding.” It smacks of, well, a eugenics bent. Seriously.

  26. Lindy on January 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Clair Shawn: Great points. Well-stated.

    As I mentioned in my earlier comment, a lot of the “hot-button” parenting issues all boil down to parental rights. Vaccinations, birth choices, circumcisions, genetic testing, etc…

    That’s why it’s so interesting to discuss those sorts of issues; hard core liberals and hard core conservatives suddenly find themselves on the same team. Maybe we’re all just libertarians!

  27. Scott on January 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

    “We need to insist that parents be allowed to make choices for their children – even bad choices – for they are the ones that have to live with those choices.”

    The problem is, Clair, that there is an obvious line between a bad choice and a bad choice that may result in the death of the child, the latter of which, in my mind, should not be acceptable. But then I guess you get to the point where letting your kid ride a four-wheeler could potentially kill them, etc.

    Like I said, I don’t have the answers for this one.

  28. Tea Time on January 29, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Clair said: *****Yes, there is an unborn child involved here, but it’s not my child nor your child, and it certainly isn’t a child of the state either. We need to insist that parents be allowed to make choices for their children – even bad choices – for they are the ones that have to live with those choices.

    The alternative is “reporting” on our fellow citizens and allowing government do-gooders to play family to us all. That is tantamount to surrender of our freedom to “the authorities.” Let’s face it, we are the authorities in our own lives – not the government. *****

    The choice is not reporting to the gov’t or for us to simply “look the other way” when children are abused but for us to provide a means and method to support and encourage one another through strong families and through private organizations. If we did this a lot more, then we would not need so much gov’t intervention in our lives to fix problems that we create. A completely “hands off” philosophy will only allow people to fall through the cracks and give an excuse for the gov’t to step in with endless social programs to pick up the slack. But I am sure we both agree that this is all about personal responsibility. Sadly our responsibilities extend farther out from ourselves that we would like.

    I agree that this issue totally boils down to parental rights not pro-choice/pro-life (my post noted). I am darn near hard-core myself in that area. I want so much to say that no one should ever interfere with parent’s rights. But the fact is that one cannot stand by and ignore abuse of a child. It is indecent and uncivilized. Would you really do it yourself it you were personally in that situation? So I assert that sometimes intervention is needed, preferably by means other than the state; but the state (locally as much as possible) does have an interest in protecting our weakest members when individuals and communities fail to do so.

    Lindy said: ******hard core liberals and hard core conservatives suddenly find themselves on the same team. *****

    Unfortunately to me this only shows how the *far extremes* of any particular viewpoint without adherence to strong underlying principles will lead to absurd positions that are rarely tenable. We would like a blanket “law” for all circumstances – the *ultra libertarian* point of view is appealing – but to do so will inevitably lead to decisions that are just plain morally bankrupt. They often fail to do what we hope they will do as well, namely, shrink gov’t.

    And I want to add my agreement that the term *breeding* is not a term that anyone should use in this discussion. It belies a sad disdain for human life.

  29. Sherman on January 29, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Clair Shawn is right.

    What makes the cases in question dubious is our muddled attitude that doctors are something other than wage laborers. In fact, they serve the one who orders the service and pays the bill. We should not be surprised that doctors serve the state when it is the state that orders their service and pays them for it (or dictates who should pay for it).

    If a doctor disagrees with the wishes of a patient, the doctor should simply refuse to serve the patient. This could be easily done if the patient was the sole source of the doctor’s direction and remuneration. This is not so easily accomplished in our addled society wherein the state dictates care and dictates who should pay for that care.

    The life or death (or even the “health”) of a “fetus” is not the issue here. We sow what we reap. Give the government charge of our life, our death and our health, and the government WILL BE IN CHARGE of our life, our death and our health. Once the power is given it is pointless to argue that it is being used unwisely.

    The abortion “question” will not be answered by giving the sole power of health care (i.e., the sole responsibility of ordering and paying for care) back to the patient, but the problem might be clarified enough so that we might arrive at a reasonable solution.

  30. Lindy on January 29, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I think this is pretty relevant to this conversation:


    To quote Mr. Morrissey’s last statement:

    “Nick has it exactly correct: if you don’t want to pay for someone else’s choices, then get government out of the way of the consequences of those choices. Better yet, quit believing that government can act to prevent negative consequences of choice simply by creating more nannies for the nanny state.”

  31. Watcher of Weasels » Rethinking the on January 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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  32. Aunt Wie on January 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    First, recent studies are showing that a cup of coffee or a glass of wine will do no harm whatsoever. The earlier “science” was wrong. I doubt that there are any circumstances that would make cigarettes anything but harmful, but then where would you draw the line. Shall we “confine” women who refuse to take their pre-natal vitamins? Who don’t walk every day? I don’t want a pregnant woman to smoke, but I can’t see how the government has any right to intervene unless that fetus, and by extension all unborn babies, are wards of the state. I don’t think we want to go there.

  33. bogie wheel on January 30, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Hi everyone … new to FP here. Came to read about Lech Walesa and stayed to look over some of the other threads.

    The question in the original post, on which the poster expresses a POV, is to what extent do we empower the state in the pregnancy & birth process.

    Note that the first 3 examples cited all involved a judge ordering a C-section. As I don’t know the identities of the judges involved nor their political leanings, I can’t say what motivated each of these rulings. But the *actions* on their face are those of an interventionist and powerful state.

    I do believe there is a difference (a big one IMO) between (a) the state, in the person of a judge, ordering a woman to have a C-section, and (b) the state, in the form of a people’s elected legislature, passing laws to severely restrict abortion.

    I’m a pro-life conservative. Philosophically speaking, the trend we have been seeing is, government tends to grow as traditional societal institutions and restraints break down. The liberal-left siren song of overturning traditional moral values INEVITABLY leads to more government … as it is designed to do! I don’t think conservatives should play into the left’s hands by basically falling into the mindset of, “the remedy for bad behavior is more (and more powerful) government.”

    The ability of government to do evil is exponentially greater than the abilility of an individual do to evil. Although you may have the best of intentions as a pro-lifer by empowering the state to intervene in cases like this, I think you are also creating a monster. And we all know how these types of stories go. One day, the monster turns on its creator.

  34. Clair Schwan on January 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Tea Time: I agree that the alternative isn’t only having government step in, but too often what falls on deaf ears is simply turned toward the government for resolution by those who think it’s their job to fix things. And, we tend to shy away from confrontation with others, preferring to let the “authorities” handle it.

    We would all be better off if we spoke up, but there are few brave enough to do it. Much of our problem stems from the fact that those in government have a “sense of service” that they often are too eager to please others and stay in office, so they pick up on popular causes. The doctor in the original post knew this very well and that’s probably one of the primary reasons he pressed forward for government intervention – they could help get done what he felt compelled to fix.

    And, since it involved a child, he knew very well that there would be no end to the people that would back the cause and interfere with what should be a parental responsibility. And, in doing so, he has advanced the cause of the nanny state.

    Clair Schwan

  35. Tea Time on January 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Bogie Wheel said: *****Philosophically speaking, the trend we have been seeing is, government tends to grow as traditional societal institutions and restraints break down. The liberal-left siren song of overturning traditional moral values INEVITABLY leads to more government … as it is designed to do! ******

    Very well said! As we give way on the big concepts (sanctity of life, definition of marriage) we fall into the trap of unintended consequences and end up with MORE gov’t to fix the failures that those hugely important values held in check. It is like giving up the very ground that allows us to stand. It is a very, very subtle point so it is easily missed.

    I haven’t addressed the individual medical issues in this question because they do not matter one whit if you can’t conceptualize the problem on a bigger scale. Those anecdotal oddities (which is what they are) disappear (thankfully) with correct principles. I know it is idealistic, but if we do not aim at ideals we lose all realities.

    My point is definitely not that we should allow state intervention in ridiculous cases such as these (conservatives or libertarians would never agree with these specific examples), but I want to remind people that this *doesn’t* mean you can’t be pro-life, or that you must be pro-choice. They are different issues! The question posed is a false dichotomy.

    We have a goal of less gov’t intervention, but if that becomes our only focus, our only plumb line or standard, our only ideal in and of itself, then we will NOT do what needs to be done to accomplish exactly that.

  36. [...] Fourth place with 2/3 points – (T*) – Founding Bloggers – A Challenge For Pro-Life Conservatives [...]

  37. AMERICAN DIGEST on January 31, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Watcher Winners: Rock Stars and Pariahs Edition…

    First Place, Council: Wonderful: Iraqis Permanently Scratch Out Ancient Hebrew Inscription On Biblical Prophet’s Tomb @ Mere Rhetoric Let’s put the Palestinian Authority in charge of Jewish and Christian holy sites. Sure they’re actively destroying…

  38. PatrickKelley on February 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Wow, this is a really well thought-out question. I don’t know, honestly, I can see both sides here. But I can see a conservative viewpoint to this as well. If the child is going to be harmed significantly by the mother’s actions-never mind it might die-then it could conceivably end up being a burden to the state and the taxpayers if the mother is unable or unwilling to pay the money it might cost to care for the child’s special needs, which could be considerable. The doctors in this case would seem to be in the position to know from experience and training what the possible consequences of the mother’s actions are.

    It comes down then to the issue of is the mother capable of knowing, acknowledging, her need for help and being able to follow up on it. Is she so badly addicted to smoking that she can’t quit, even at the risk of endangering the child, which is after all an innocent party to all this.

    It becomes then an issue of whether or not the mother is capable of making her own decisions, or of being able to act on those decisions in the best interests of the innocent child, which is also conceivably in the best long-term interests of the state and taxpayers who are left holding the burden of the care of said child.

    In other words, it’s complicated, much too complicated to boil down to a matter of liberal or “nanny state” versus conservative ideology.

  39. Rhymes With Right on February 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results…

    More good stuff for your intellectual consumption! Winning Council Submissions First place with 1 2/3 points! – Mere Rhetoric – Wonderful: Iraqis Permanently Scratch Out Ancient Hebrew Inscription Biblical Prophet’s Tomb Second place with 1 1/3 points …

  40. Jett on February 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Ummm, howzabout some common sense, here? Your and anyone else’s rights stop where they infringe upon another person’s rights. Our laws and all our social conventions are (at least are supposed to be) designed to ensure that one person’s exercise of their liberty does not damage or prevent another’s exercise of theirs.

    While there may be room for criticism of the examples given, once the fundamental truth is acknowledged that a human life begins at conception (a matter of distinct human DNA existing in a living organism), a mother’s “right” or “freedom” to do something clearly harmful or even life-threatening to the child has to be curtailed.

    Your question seems to presume denial of the humanity of the unborn child, which pro-abortion advocates also do by refusing to call a “fetus” a child or unborn human being, though those terms are more precise, since “fetus” could apply to the unborn offspring of other animals.

  41. Plumb Bob on February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I know I’m way late on this, but I have to say that I think you’ve all been had by bad newspaper accounts.

    Since there’s no law being broken in any of the instances, each of these court cases most likely had to have been brought by somebody with standing — arguably the father of the child, or perhaps a grandparent. If the plaintiff is Child Welfare Services, that’s one thing, and I agree that allowing such an action sets a horrible precedent. But I imagine most of the cases in question were filed by concerned relatives, in which case the Court is not really intervening so much as settling a family dispute in favor of the concerned relative. Without knowing who the plaintiff is, what standing they had, and the details about which they were concerned, it’s impossible to know what precedent is being set here, or whether it’s improper.


Jon David Kahn “American Heart”