Tuesday, July 19, 2005

John Roberts Chosen By Bush

John Roberts, a Washington federal appeals court judge, has been chosen by Bush to take O'Conner's place as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Roberts will now have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can officially take his seat.

Bloomberg.com notes that "One issue certain to be scrutinized is a brief he signed, while in the solicitor general's office, that included a footnote calling for the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that granted women a right to abortion."

Roe v. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion, is an extremely important right. Stephen D. Levitt, an economist at the renowned University of Chicago, wrote a book recently called Freakonomics. In this wonderful book, we are reminded to question the "conventional wisdom", and he dedicates a chapter to the major drop in crime during the 90's, when many criminologists predicted crime to rise to unforeseen levels. Levitt argues that the markedly drop in crime is a result of Roe v. Wade. He claims that many would be criminals were never born because of the legalization of abortion. Whether you agree with him or not (I do), let's hope that this ruling and pro-choice remains a critical right for women.


Blogger Jim V said...

One thing to bear in mind regarding Levvit's chapter on abortion is that his brand of economic analysis makes for an interesting book, but is not terribly useful as genuine analysis. There are several top economists that have called him to task for the substantial liberties he takes with his methodologies. His analysis of the data he looks at is certainly plausible, but he frequently fails to consider all relevant data. I'll have to try to dig up a few of the critical arguments I came across.

I would caution the use of Levitt's conclusions as support for any intelligent argument. And you appear to be a person that values an intelligent argument. He is entertaining, no doubt, but not necessarily presenting an accurate perspective on the real world. In short, it's a nice read, but not something I would formulate an opinion about regarding a topic as important as the qualifications of a Supreme Court Justice.

Regarding the content of your comment, though, it appears that you would advocate the use of abortion as a mechanism to reduce future crime. So first, is that assessment of your position accurate, or have I oversimplified?

Secondly, I believe that life starts at conception. I know that many don't agree with this, and I can present reasons for why I believe that if you like. My question is this: Do you believe that life starts at conception and argue that ending that life is acceptable if there is a likelihood that it would become a criminal as an adult? Or do you hold the position that life does not begin at conception? If the latter, when do you believe that life does begin?

Note: This is my first visit to your blog. Nice. If you have a minute, I've got a couple of blogs.


Take care! I'm jealous of your trip to Alaska.

10:21 AM  
Blogger David Yaffe said...


Firstly, I appreciate both your comments and your opinions. I can't argue with you that Freakonomics is a good read and may not hold for serious debate, but I haven't read any of his academic papers on the topics in the book. On the other hand, I don't think we can just throw out his theories and label them crank.

I wouldn't advocate abortion because it could possibly reduce future crime (my apologies if that is what you thought). My views on abortion are mainly based on moral issues. This brings us to your question. "Do you believe that life starts at conception and argue that ending that life is acceptable if there is a likelihood that it would become a criminal as an adult? Or do you hold the position that life does not begin at conception? If the latter, when do you believe that life does begin?"

This is certainly both a tough and philosophical question. It isn't about when life begins because I don't see that as important to this discussion. Most women considering abortion are either too young, poor, or just unsuitable to take on the responsibility of a child. Why should we bring a child in to the world where it is not wanted? If an unwanted child were brought into this world, where the possibility of it living in privation and misery were high, then I would say that would be costly to society.

I know I didn't answer your "when does life begin" question, but what is life anyways? If you really want an answer, let me know and I'll think more about it.

Hopefully this helps. Thanks again.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Jim V said...

"Why should we bring a child in to the world where it is not wanted?"

This is a great question. I would ask it differently, "Why CREATE a child that is not wanted?" I think both sides of the abortion debate have forgotten this simple question.

I would say that this child WAS wanted when the mother and father had sex. That, or there was a great disconnect between the reality of having sex and the reality of being a parent. They are substantially related to one another. What if pro-lifers focused on this instead of outlawing abortion? What if abortion ended simply because no one wanted them anymore? Isn't outlawing abortion kind of a Johnny-Come-Lately solution? Well... it gets good press though.

This point raises another question. If a person is truly pro-life, is their life better spent ensuring that abortion is illegal, or are they better off determining which socio-economic conditions are most correlated to abortion and work to eliminate those conditions? Which would God have you do? The Sermon on the Mount talks about extending love to everyone. I didn't read anything about ensuring that legislation does that job for you. Abortion is not like speeding, and can't be solved the way we solve speeding. To save the baby, I think you need to save the mother. Legislation can't do that. Extending a hand in love, though, can do that. There are a lot more people that are against abortion than are having abortions. If each person against abortion extended their hand in love to a person considering one, would that do a better job of eliminating abortion? Is trying to pass a law just a way of "doing God's work" without all the mess of dealing with real human suffering and pain?

You also commented that it is wrong to bring a child into this world where it will only suffer and be unwanted. I respond in a few ways.

1) First, I disagree. My point sounds harsh, I know. Many of the greatest people to ever walk the earth became great through suffering. Suffering frequently produces greatness. You are a musician. Who makes the best music? Those who've had difficult lives are the most capable of tapping into the suffering of all and lifting people up. Take Anna Nollick's (sp?) song Breath. All about suffering, and what a work of art it is. Even if you don't like the music, it's a powerful message. Or Trent Reznor (sp?). Man has he suffered. And it all appears to be at the hand of the world's worst girlfriend. Lots of rage there. And lots of great music. Non-musical examples are endless.

2) I don't think any child is unwanted. As I noted, if you're having sex then you should be wanting or at least prepared for a child. This is why I advocate, but do not mandate (like I could anyway), sex only within a marriage. But even if you change your mind later and decide you do not want to be a parent (hey, it happens) there are thousands of families waiting years for children. Adoption is an option. Can't handle the burden of pregnancy and childbirth? As far as I am concerned, these challenges are simply the accountability for your actions that you clearly didn't understand when you had sex. It's a lesson you clearly need to learn. I don't think it is right to end a life just to avoid that accountability. It is a small price to pay when the benefit is a new life full of possibilities.

I once made my entire campus mad during undergrad. We had a huge conference on abortion with big name speakers and the whole bit. I made pro-choicers mad when I stated that refusal to consider the fetus a life is simply illogical and a thin veil over what everyone feels inside is the truth if they really admit it. Then I made the pro-lifers mad by saying they were wasting their time trying to pass laws against abortion as opposed to helping those mothers struggling with the decision to have or not have an abortion. Why have an abortion? Because a child will bring suffering. So aleviate that suffering if you're really a Christian. Don't legislate against what that mother incorrectly believes is her last option. Give her other options. Reach out. Many pro-lifers use the law as a shield against seeing the true suffering of a woman considering an abortion.

Man, I'm glad I came across your site. Take care.

By the way, are they going to make you cut your hair if you're nominated for the Supreme Court?

12:17 PM  
Blogger David Yaffe said...

Well said my friend. I was thinking after I replied to your first comment about life and when it begins. Have you ever heard that matter can't be created or destroyed? If this is true, then can life begin, or end? That's something to think about.

I think you have very good points, and we can agree to disagree on a few of them.

I have one question for you that you may or may not answer, it is up to you. If you could predict the future of an unborn child, and you knew that child was going to cause atrocities, would you abort it?

12:29 PM  
Blogger Jim V said...

That is a great question. A really great question. While I don't like my own answer, it is my answer none-the-less. I firmly believe that each of us is put on this planet by God for a specific reason. I believe this so strongly that I take it to the point that there was even a reason for Hitler, for example. Perhaps it is simply that that reason was abandoned by the individual as he turned toward evil. I don't know.

There are a great many things that I do not understand about God's will. Some of them apply to my own life very specifically. But there are also many terrible things that have happened to me that seemed terrible at the time but turned out to be a great blessing in my life. One of these things, and the blessing it became, are detailed on my second blog justtellyourstory.blogspot.com.

Some people essentially say, "Show me how to understand faith, and I will have faith." I have chosen to say, "I will have faith first, and work to learn about what it means as I go." Which position is correct? I think mine is, of course. But my wife tells me I think I'm right about everything. Any thoughts?

So as I'm writing this it occurs to me that it can seem like a cop-out. "Hey, if the kid turns out to be another Hitler, it's not my fault for refusing to abort, it's God's will." Sounds like a cop-out. But it isn't. I can tell you that I'm enough of an infant in my spiritual path that things like this are still hard for me to explain in a way that makes sense.

Throwing all your trust in God is not an easy thing. At least not for me. I think some people just kind of do it and maybe don't mean it, or whatever, and it's easy for them. I struggle with it big time, especially now that I have a family. But it has taken years for me, and I'm still not there yet totally. But I know that I do believe that God puts every person here for a reason, and does not create life by accident. Why certain people turn out to be evil and why God allows that to happen, I don't have a good explanation for unfortunately.

While I call myself a Christian, I am embarassed to say that I'm only reading through the New Testament for the first time right now. Perhaps as I make my way further through I'll have better insights and will be better able to answer your question. Maybe there are good explanations for the existence of evil in there. I hope so.

But to summarize, I would not abort a child known to cause future attrocities because I still believe that the life of that child was created by God for a reason, regardless of the fact that I don't understand that reason.

Also, what are the points that you agree to disagree on? I promise I won't badger you incessently about them, I'm just curious as to where we meet up and where we're at odds.

2:59 PM  
Blogger David Yaffe said...

If were put here by God for some reason, then is it God's will that a mother wants to abort her child? Is that what God wants, or is God the unmoved mover?

Personally, I think organized religion to some extent is a crutch that people in need tend to rely on. Certainly not every pious individual needs that crutch; some people consider religion a cultural or traditional thing. They use that crutch as a simple explanation of the world and our existence. They don't ask questions. As I mentioned before, not everyone involved in religion fits into this description but I feel this is an observable trend.

We disagree on the issue of abortion. The reasons are backed by what appears to be emotional arguments, not necessarily rational. This is okay, and is why it is such a controversial issue. Nonetheless, this has been a great mental exercise and I hope we can both learn something new or think about this issue in a non-traditional way.

Thanks again, and I'll read the story you were referring to.

4:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home