Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

An Adult Treatment of a Difficult Issue

The television program “Boston Legal” tackled the issue of abortion and achieved a more balanced and nuanced discussion of this incredibly complex issue than any I have heard on the topic in quite some time.  It was the kind of complex presentation of the information on an issue that is necessary if we are going to make progress in considering the difficult and multifaceted issues that require our attention.

I would like to believe that the blogosphere can provide forums to treat issues as contentious as abortion with the thoughtfulness needed.


The writers of this show chose to pit characters against each other on the issue and evolve the complexities through the narrative.  The protagonists included a pregnant 15 year old girl, her pro-life mother, a male pro-choice defense attorney, his pro-life best friend, and his female pro-choice co-counsel.  The characters wrestled with the issues of a woman’s reproductive freedom, parental responsibility on the part of teenage mothers and their parents, gender selection via abortion, the beginning of life, the lasting emotional impact on both men and women of choosing abortion, and the ability and inability of legal institutions to implement mechanisms to appropriately address all of these competing factors.

For an entertainment piece it was an impressive effort.  We can only hope that with more time for deep discourse and a more serious focus, those of us in places like this one can do at least as well dealing with this and other issues that resist being divided into simple black-and-white camps.


  1. but wow – lots of moose fireworks tonight 😉

    however – i think that abortion is not the issue, its the governance over a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body.  now i know down there this is a hot-button issue about partial births and all that stuff.  but here – legal up to 3 months unless there are medical reasons after.

    and here’s my position – i don’t necessarily believe in abortion, i know that i probably could never have one (particularly now that i have children and understand the whole birth cycle).

    but that doesnt mean my personal beliefs should provide for the govt to have a say over what i do with my body.

    ps. cb got your email – thought with ya.

  2. The abortion issue is very complicated. Unfortunately, the anti-abortion side sees it as a black and white issue. I guess I would see it the same way if I believed life started at conception. However, even if you believe that life starts at conception that doesn’t mean there aren’t other factors. There is the woman’s right to control of her own body. The emotional factor not only of having an abortion, but also the emotional toll of being forced to carry a pregnancy to term. The health of the mother. Who’s rights have priority – the full-grown human mother or the potential human. Like I said, it’s complicated as hell.

  3. spacemanspiff

    … tries to impose their beliefs on others with agressive and misleading arguments.

    I am prochoice from a political point of view because I believe it’s every woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.

    I’ve seen firsthand what living in a prolife country looks like ( Dominican Republic) and I’ve seen 15 year old girls die from sepsis because of a botched abortion. The smell coming from the young girls deathbed will never leave me. I’ve seen them drink drugs that are abortifactants but are not necessarily safe or healthy and die on the emergency floor. I’m not talking about this happening once or twice every couple of months. Botched abortion problems, from mutilations to death were a weekly occurence.

    Roe v. Wade CAN NOT be overturned.


    Every woman has the right to choose what she does with her body.

    It is extremely unhealthy and dangerous for society to have abortions outlawed.


    As I said, I respect both sides on this.

    But I have strong issues with extremists on both sides of the issue.

    It is not murder but it’s not just taking some medicine to get rid of a parasite either.

    I am prolife in personal belief.

    I am prochoice in political belief.

    My political beliefs (as in my vote) is what affects others so that’s the only thing that should concern anyone really.

    • Having posted mine above. I think your position is consistent. I wish mine was so. I do believe in military action as a form of harm reduction: e.g. invasion of Normandy, relieving the siege of Sarajevo. Again, the lesser of two evils.  

      • Murder is by definition extra-legal.  Neither capital punishment nor deaths in war time fit that label.  Homicide and murder are not the same thing.

  4. The pro-life movement is, IMO, the side of the debate which is at least honest about what the debate is about. The debate is not about a woman’s right to make personal medical decisions that affect them and nobody else — because, frankly, the number of people who believe that a woman shouldn’t have the right to make medical decisions that affect them and nobody else is pretty similar to the number of people who believe that the Earth is flat.

    The issue is about when human life begins.

    If you believe that a fetus is a human life, then abortion is murder. And the number of people who think that murder is OK is probably even smaller than the number of people who think that the Earth is flat.

    So the question is: When does human life begin?

    Well, at one extreme I think we can all basically agree that human life doesn’t begin before conception. Women are not menstruating serial killers and men are not genocidal maniacs with wet dreams.

    At the other extreme, I think we can all agree that once a healthy baby has been born, human life has begun. No reasonable person thinks that killing an infant born yesterday or even 15 minutes ago is anything other than murder.

    So somewhere between conception and birth, human life begins. Some people maintain that it starts at the moment of conception. Others maintain that until the baby is completely and wholly born it hasn’t (and, thus, partial birth abortion is A-OK).

    The only real complication to any of this is the question of medical emergency: A pregnancy in which the life of the mother is at risk.

    (Rape isn’t actually a complication if you stop and think about the issue rationally. Imagine a rape victim who decides to carry the baby to term. Five years after the baby is born, the mother kills the child. Anyone think that shouldn’t be considered murder?)

    None of this, of course, means that this is a simple question. What does the phrase “human life” even mean? And, if we can all decide on that, how would we go about determining when it starts, exactly?

    For me, based on my layman’s understanding of the medical issues, I suspect the line lies somewhere during the second trimester. It definitely lies no later than the point at which a child can successfully survive a premature birth. (Which is currently sitting at 21 weeks, although that’s rare.) Since I’d prefer to err on the side of caution, my position on abortion boils down to:

    – An abortion can be performed during the first trimester for any reason.

    – After the first trimester, a pregnancy should only be terminated for medical necessity.

    – Even in such circumstances, all efforts should be taken to help the child survive if that’s medically possible.

  5. DeniseVelez

    I try not to use terms framed by the right.

    I am pro-life. I oppose the death penalty.  I am anti-war.

    I think that all people should have health care. That’s really pro-life 🙂

    That has nothing to do with my stance on reproductive rights.

    I am not  anti-abortion.  I am pro-choice.  


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