Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Nice company you keep, terrorist; or, I'm just like the fetuses, Chuck, I wasn't born yesterday

(the first half of the title is stolen from Span, who stole it off some bloke called Zedley who got it from Daily Kos. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual post. Btw, who got the "George Bush calls them his Base" joke? Second half of the title - well, points for reference, folks).

Originally I was going to call this post foetal position, which was the best I could come up with at short notice (i.e., since this morning). Obviously the topic at hand is the recent NZ study that concluded that abortion raises the risk of depression. Extract from the NZ Herald:

researchers had followed the progress of 1265 children born in Christchurch in mid-1977 from infancy to adulthood. Its latest research found 41 per cent of the women studied had become pregnant by age 25, and 14.6 per cent of the women studied had had an abortion. By the age of 25, the study found, 42 per cent of those who had had an abortion had also experienced major depression during the previous four years.
This was nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant and 35 per cent higher than those who had chosen to continue a pregnancy.

"Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders," said the researchers, whose study has been published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.
Pretty stunning stuff. But it potentially suffers from the same error that research concluding that marijuana increases the risk of mental illness
does (at first glance - if someone can find me a link to the published David Fergusson study please chuck it in the comments). And that error is that you may be reversing cause and effect. That is, it is equally possible to conclude, from the data so far available, that women who are suffering from (latent) depression are more likely conclude that abortion is the best option (how long typically does it take for people to be suffering the effects of mental health problems before they are diagnosed as such). We could stretch things even further and ask whether the social conditions that lead to unplanned/unwanted pregnancies also lead to mental illness ... or if you were really mean you could speculate that guilt-laden propaganda espoused by anti-abortion pCms leads to depression (it sure depresses the hell out of me).

Equally, with Marijuana one could conclude from the current correlation-based studies that people with latent mental illness attempt to self-medicate with recreational drugs - I just wonder if they ran the same studies but replaced "marijuana" with "heavy alcohol consumption" they might find the same correlation ...

If I am going off half-cocked (oh, I am, I am) it's not because of the study or it's conclusion - it's the way it's portrayed in the media - i.e., uncritically. Morning Report (sorry, Summer Report - may you burn in your bland hell) was basically "so your report says X? Really? Golly, that's interesting!"


Anyway, none of this should be taken as signalling that I am rabidly pro-abortion. I am rabidly on the fence. That is to say, abortion isn't a good thing, but on balance I suspect banning it leads to a worse situation. I think it is silly to equate a foetus with a self-conscious human being (cf Peter Singer); but it is wrong to dismiss the importance of a foetus on that basis; rather it is important to focus on the foetus as having sentience and an ability to feel pain (after a certain point in gestation).

Also on the silly tree is the idea that it's is wrong to abort because a foetus is a potential human being. Bugger me. So's every period. So's every nocturnal emission. Hell, so's every time I think about sex but don't actually have sex (which, by God, is a lot of potential children right there). Next time you want to picket my bed to stop me having wet dreams just give me a call. You bring the cold shower and a bible, I'll put on my gimp suit and get Apathy Jack to wear his "I am Satan's crack whore" t-shirt. You know, the one that shows his nipples.

In other words, it's complicated. And people who try to simplify it and see it relentlessly as black or white get on my wick. Really, stop beating the baby-murderer drum and work on something positive - you know, sex education, or a campaign against equating "sex" with "dirty", or doing something about our fucked up drinking culture, or improving adoption services, or ... fuck, start seeing abortion as a symptom not a disease in itself. There's things wrong with our society and it's not all the fault of the SLC.

More Peter Singer
South Park Quotes

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
Does PCP turn people into cannibals?

Newsy stuff on the theme of "The RIAA is Satan's sockpuppet":
Music sales slide despite RIAA's crushing blows against piracy

... and another South Park quote to go out on, even though it has nothing to do with the topic at hand:
Benjamin Franklin: I believe that if we are to form a new country, we cannot be a country that appears war-hungry and violent to the rest of the world. However, we also cannot be a country that appears weak and unwilling to fight, to the rest of the world. So, what if we form a country that appears to want both.

Thomas Jefferson: Yes, yes of course, we go to war and protest going to war at the same time....

Benjamin Franklin: And that means that as a nation, we could go to war with whomever we wished, but at the same time act like we didn't want to. If we allow the people to protest what the government does, then the country will be forever blameless.

John Adams: It's like having your cake and eating it too.

Redneck Founding Father: Think of it, an entire nation founded on saying one thing and doing another.

John Hancock: And we will call that country the United States of America.

Post written to the themes of:
Big City Life - Mattafix
Drugs have done good things - Bill Hicks
Night Shift- The Commodores

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