Thursday, September 21, 2006

James Dobson on Abortion

James Dobson spoke in Pittsburgh in an effort to drum up support for anti-science republican candidate Rick Santorum. One of Dobson's comments caught my eye:

He accused the Republican House and Senate of "sitting on their hands" on key conservative social issues. He said they had squandered a growing public sentiment that abortion should be limited or banned.

One of my problems with Dobson is the incongruity of his stance on abortion and abortion prevention. At one extreme, Dobson preaches that all life is sacred - even leftover invitro eggs, or the potential for pregnancy represented by his opposition to the morning after pill. His position is an oversell. Dobson is against abortion but takes pro-life to a point so extreme that it cannot be supported. On the other end of the spectrum, Dobson rails against contraception, sex education, HPV inoculations, and Mifeprisone (RU486), all in the name of moder fundamentalist morality. It is as if he does not understand the no matter what we do, kids are going to have sex. When ignorant kids have sex, they do so without the benefit of contraception. The results are unwanted pregnancy, the spread of STDs, broken families, teen parents, adoptions, and worst of all, abortions. Kids are not the only one affected by Dobson's extreme positions - adults must deal with the fall out. Adults have unprotected sex, people are people, and we do illogical things impulsively and then deal with the consequences. However, Dobson actively fought the release of HPV inoculations and Mifeprisone - affecting every woman of childbearing age in the country. How many unwanted pregnancies resulted from his illogical position? How many women died because of Dobson’s crusade to prevent abortions, how many cancers did he cause by his opposition to the HPV inoculation? Most damming, how many abortions did he cause by promoting abstinence over sex education and contraception?

Abortion is one of those touchy subjects that I do not like to address. No matter what I say, I will upset friends and family. Where do I stand? My position is simple and moderate. I firmly support a woman’s right to have an abortion (I think the politically correct term is the "right to choose" – but I prefer to call it what it actually is, the right to have an abortion). However, it makes sense to reduce the number of abortions performed. Abortions are undesirable; they can be reduced in number through access to education, contraception, and when necessary, access to emergency contraception. Dobson's position - prevent access to abortions while simultaneously limiting access to education and contraception, well... it is just plain illogical. However, logic has nothing to do with it. Dobson position is religious, flawed, and dangerous.

I will not pull punches the Right to Choose team either. I will get to them in a future post. I have just one question – does it really make sense to deny parental rights so that a child can seek an abortion?

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MissHailey said...

Dr. Dobson is not someone I am a fan of for reasons other than abortion and related matters. I do not, however, agree with some of your criticism.

I was not aware of Dr. Dobson's position on HPV inoculations and, if true, I think that's an error. It's a parental responsibility in my opinion to look seriously at a vaccine that has the capacity to reduce their child's risk of cancer. That, however, is a parental failure. Parents make that decision and if they allow Dr. Dobson to guide that - blame them.

I do not, however, believe that Dr. Dobson is against contraception. He believes in contraception for married couples. He is not against sex education. He is against specific kinds of sex education. Naturally he is against RU486.

Your idea that kids are going to have sex no matter what is not accurate. Children can and do make the decision to be chaste. If people are making other decisions that is certainly not Dr. Dobson's fault. I am willing to bet that many of the teens getting STD's or getting pregnant unexpectedly haven't even heard of James Dobson so I am not sure why he would be to blame.

If you are suggesting that people aren't using birth control because of James Dobson ..that's weird to me..weirder still that you would then blame him for the abortions of those pregnancy. If the person listened to him so attentively - they'd know he was agaisnt that too.

And Dr. Dobson is entitled to his voice and to say things that you or I disagree with. People can ignore him or they can integrate his teachings into their life.

Eric said...

Try living in the same town with him _AND_ Ted Haggard!


Mojoey said...

Hailey - Dobson views the world through a religious filter. It clouds his judgment. If the goal is to reduce abortions, then the full range of options should be explored.

He believes in contraception for married couples.
This is of course a Christian values judgment: What about unmarried couples? What about casual sexual relationships? What about teens going at it for the first time?

He is not against sex education. He is against specific kinds of sex education.
Again, a Christian values judgment. By exclusively teaching abstinence and leaving out contraception and the wider biologic processes, we don’t give kids the full tool set. Is the goal to prevent abortions or to turn kids into good little Christians?

Naturally he is against RU486.
Why? A pill that stops a pregnancy before it starts is a reasonable alternative to an abortion. A pregnancy occurs with the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. Preventing implantation is in no means the same as an abortion and actually represents a sane alternative.

Your idea that kids are going to have sex no matter what is not accurate. Children can and do make the decision to be chaste.
Your statement only makes sense when you add the word “all”. As in All children make the decision to be chaste – otherwise “some” children DO NOT make the decision to be chaste. Those that do not remain chase can make babies. Being chaste can lower the odds, teaching contraception can lower the odds, teaching emergency contraception can lower the odds even further.

If people are making other decisions that is certainly not Dr. Dobson's fault. I am willing to bet that many of the teens getting STD's or getting pregnant unexpectedly haven't even heard of James Dobson so I am not sure why he would be to blame
The difference here is that Dobson is lobbing our government on behalf of his religious beliefs. Dobson has been successful in getting abstinence only education into schools. He has been successful in sowing doubt about the effectiveness of contraception. In fact, in this area, Dobson has been widely influential. So let’s talk about culpability. If a young girl gets pregnant and has an abortion, Dobson contributed to the abortion because he contributed to the policy and practice of withholding information and health services. The young girl may have never heard about condoms from an authority figure. She may have not understood her options with regard to emergency contraception. She may not even fully understand the ramifications of having sex, all because of Dobson’s efforts. She bears responsibility for actions, but culpability extends to those who influenced the situation. Dobson bears some responsibility for her condition and the unfortunate outcome.
And Dr. Dobson is entitled to his voice and to say things that you or I disagree with. People can ignore him or they can integrate his teachings into their life.
I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but you cannot be serious? Dobson is actively involved in pushing his views into our government. He intends for his vision to reach my children – who have no idea who he is. The inherent danger is that his agenda is to change our culture through legislation. That alone makes him dangerous – but, you assert there is some decision making process here. Really? If government policy becomes abstinence only, with restricted access to contraception and reproductive health services, abortion rates will rise.

What is your goal? Reducing abortions or turning America into a theocracy?

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "What is your goal? Reducing abortions or turning America into a theocracy?"

Great question. I await the reply :)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Dobson's position is perfectly logical; it's just that he isn't stating it honestly. He wants to use the threat of unwanted babies to control women's sexual behavior. It's perfectly logical that he wants to ban abortion and limit contraceptive use to married couples--if women have access to contraceptives and abortions, that threat goes away.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Before I spoke to Hailey's issues, I deided to cjheck out her website. She is a conservative Christian homeschooler whose main themes are anti-abortion, anti-feminist, and homophobic, but I find she also has linked to "Gentle Christian Mothers" and has condemned the writings of the Pearls and other "Bible-Based Baby Beaters." This is a topic I have discussed in the same CotG that this post appears in.
I will ask Hailey, if she returns, if she was aware that James Dobson's works feature many of the same arguments she opposes in the Pearls, if this is the reason he is 'someone I am not a fan of', and suggest she -- and other readers of this(sorry for blowing my own horn, but it is another important side of Dobson you should be aware of) should check the article out.

Now to one of her specific points -- Mojoey has handled her others quite well. This is the question of 'abstinence only' sex education. (I'll touch on it briefly here, but it looks like I'll be doing a much longer post on Salto Sobrius if it fits Martin's blog sometime shortly.)
The basic idea behind 'a-o' is, in itself, absurd, because it assumes that even someone who has 'decided to be chaste' doesn't need the basic information on contraception -- and on 'alternate sexual practices' that can't lead to contraception. Hailey, imagine one of your kids is a teenager -- I don't know how old they are -- follow your rules and has decided to be chaste. But they have a friend who has made the opposite decision. They might say, "Look, you know I think you are making a mistake, but you're my friend and I'm not going to abandon the friendship. But here are some things you might want to know so that you won't compound your sin by 'making a baby.'"

There is a much worse problem, though I doubt if Hailey will recognize it. Once you prohibit all premarital sex, as your basic and total position, you lose any chance of communicating with those who choose to ignore your prohibition. You can't teach them how to have sex ETHICALLY -- that is, with respect, honesty, and responsibility -- if you tell them 'don't do it at all.'

What you wind up doing is leaving them open to the lessons of the street, of their companions, even of their fathers. How many of the cliched attitudes of the straight man's attitude towards sex -- I'm bisexual, btw --, the idea that sex is something you do TO a woman rather than WITH a woman, the idea that women are prizes in some sort of competition, the idea that there are no rules in sex except 'get all you can,' come from the abandonment of the 'just say no attitude' with nothing to replace it?

Anonymous said...

People like Dobson feel sinful choices should have adverse effects, and if they don't they'll legislate it so. Nothing drives the point of being a dirty little slut home like some chemo or giving up your own flesh and blood because you can't support it.

Besides, what does a married couple need birth control for, I thought marriage was intended as a framework by God for child rearing? Why aren't the conservatives lobbying to keep intentionally child free or infertile or -god forbid- atheist couples from marrying?

Apsalar said...

I just wanted to clear up something from the comments.

RU-486 is the "abortion pill" that causes an abortion within the first trimester of pregnancy. I don't agree with him, but it's not inconsistent for Dobson to be opposed to this pill.

It is not the same as the "morning-after pill" (brand name Plan B), which is taken within 72 hours of intercourse and works by preventing ovulation. It also has a potential effect of preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, but this is not the primary means by which is works, it is not known if this has ever actually happened, and this is also a potential effect of the regular birth control pill.

There is no consistent way to be opposed to Plan B and not be opposed to regular birth control pills. I suspect in his mind Dobson would prefer to oppose both, but he knows he would piss off too many of his married followers if he said these pills could never be used by anyone.

Mojoey said...

Thanks Stacy - I confused the two pills in my remarks.

Sheldon said...

Hailey said:
"Your idea that kids are going to have sex no matter what is not accurate. Children can and do make the decision to be chaste."

Interestingly enough, there have been studies tracking teens/people that have taken these "abstinence until marriage" pledges. A sizable percentage of them have been unsuccessful, and had higher percentages of STD, unwanted pregnancy, AND ABORTIONS!

If Dobson and his ilk really believed that abortion is murder, then they would endorse ALL means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.

In was once a high school teacher which gave me a good opportunity to observe teen behaviour (as an adult). From that experience this is what I have concluded.

Yes, teens should be encouraged to refrain from sex until they are emotionally mature enough to make a decision to have sex. Second, they should be given all the information and access to resources to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STDs.

Anonymous said...

I am a new mum. I was amazed at the life developing in me. At the week 12 scan my baby, Ellie, put her hand up in the air and waved. How beautiful and wonderful is this process of development.

When did she become human? No one can argue that this is a life - its growing! so the value of this life is what's debatable. Is the mother's right to choose more valuable than the baby's life? When does it become human? At 3 months when it starts sucking its thumb, at four months when it develops finger prints, the second it enters the world and makes a noise we can hear or when it can actually determine between right at wrong 6 months out of the womb or maybe its not quite human until it can talk? Who determines when it is human? Why isn't it murder inside the womb but murder the second its outside? Some places around the world say that babies aren't human until their are 3 months old when they can determine that they are their own person separate from mum. So it would be ok to kill a 2 month old baby according to their definition. I am from Australia and I know 1 in 3 pregnancies are terminated. In some states its 1 in 2. Can anyone deny that this is too much? I have about 5 friends desperately wanting children...the adoption books are closed because there are no babies to adopt. Have we forgotten the other alternatives?

I also have plenty of friends who have had an abortion. Not one of them wishes desperately that they hadn't. Every one of them are haunted by their decision. Even if it's not defending the life of the defenseless unborn surely we should be defending the life and health of the mother?

Mojoey said...

Anonymous - congratulations. Becoming a new mother is a wonderful thing.

I can't answer your questions. I don't know when life begins. I only know that the choice to end a pregnancy is a personal one. Choosing to have a baby or choosing to not have a baby is a decision that will change your life. The important this to remember, is that in a free country, you are responsible for your decision.

I prefer to use every means available to give women options that reduce the number of abortions. Information with religion attached. Sex Education, birth control, counseling, adoption, abstinence programs, the morning after pill... you name it. As a last resort - abortion.

People like Dobson paint women into a dead end. If you suport him - you are the enemy.

Leigh said...

If any of you knew the love of Christ and understood how much he loves you, then you would be able to see why James Dobson has such strong convictions about abortion and many other issues. Christ did not come to condemn the world, but that through Him the world could be saved. Mr. Dobson is not Jesus Christ so he is imperfect as any other human being. However, when Mr. Dobson speaks he is not trying to condemn anyone but show the wisdom that he has found from the word of God. I dare any of you to start studying the Bible--just like you would study any other book. Give God a chance to prove Himself to you. He doesn't need any of us. He simply allows us to be here on this earth because of his love and patience that you might one day know Him. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." 1 John 5:13 You don't understand Mr. Dobson's positions because you have yet to understand the love that a real, living God has for you. Study the entire word of God. Don't just pull out pieces of scripture that you think you can use to prove your own point. If you only read parts of stories you would never get the entire understanding of what the author wants you to know. I write this out of love for the reader--not to defend one man. James Dobson does not need your "put-downs" to know that his convictions come from God's word.

Unknown said...

BTW. By saying that kids will have sex no matter what. Hmmmm let me see here. I do not think that I am an animal. at 15 years old and full of hormones I can rightly say that I am not drooling over a girl wanting to bang the life out of her. Sorry for the puns. It is not that hard to ABSTAIN from sex.

generic viagra said...

Is it cheaper in Canada to have invitro fertilization? Is there any recommendations as to where to go? About how much does it cost in the U.S.?

Spillersman said...

I'm a Constitutional Libertarian as well as a Christian. I am prolife and do believe that life is sacred. I do support legal protections for the unborn child and efforts to reduce abortion. I also can see that there is another side to. A pregnancy requires a woman to carry a child to term with her body functioning as a natural life support system. Pregnancy also has dramatic effects on the woman's life and health (physical, mental, and emotional). So I beliee the two interests have to be balanced. For the first 3 months abortion should be legal or broadly permitted. As the pregnancy progresses abortions should more narrowly be permitted. There should be restrictions like parental consent, informed consent, and waiting periods. I agree about support greater access to contraception and other family planning services as well as making adoption easier. I don't support forcing tax payer to pay for abortions or embryonic stem cell research. I also believ abortion should be regulated by the states and not be a federal issue.

Adult Services said...

"Is it cheaper in Canada to have invitro fertilization? Is there any recommendations as to where to go? About how much does it cost in the U.S.?

I would like to know too. Any body?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing in the bible about abortion (except one part in the old testament where a man is fined if he causes a woman to have an abortion against her will). Sure, there are verses about how God knew people from when they were in the womb but there are also verses where God says it is better if a certain person was never born. So while James Dobson uses religion to back up his "pro-life" stance he is actually lacking christian character (which is supposed to be defined by compassion for others) by showing more consideration for unborn embryos and fetuses but none for the mothers.

detailing supplies said...

I think abortion was not the only answer to the situation. You should think twice before going for such decision. What was the fault of the baby in all this happened ?

Anonymous said...

Does Mr Dobson even know what the 'morning after pill' is? It is a pill that a woman can take the morning after unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. It is NOT an abortion pill. I wonder if he knows in Bible times, women put a pebble in their uterus to keep a fertilized egg from attaching! I imagine he would call that an works the same as an IUD in the modern world of birth control.
Sincerely, Lorrie