This week, two generations after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the U.S., many women will be commemorating the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by speaking openly, some for the first time, about their own abortions. While some live with regrets—as with any important life decision—most say explicitly that they do not. More often they express gratitude that the ability to terminate an ill-conceived pregnancy allowed them to become educated and financially secure and to raise children they love with men they love:
People would be surprised by how much less toxic gender politics were in the 1970s than they are now.
Mary Ziegler teaches law at Florida State University, where she holds the Stearns Weaver Miller chair in the College of Law. Her book, After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate, traces the evolution of American political dynamics surrounding abortion.
Changes in what we can do always lead to new questions about what we should do—questions about what is prudent or loving or wise, about what serves human well-being or even that of the broader web of life. Recent medical advances around resuscitation and life support for extremely premature infants are no exception, and new options have opened a set of difficult conversations that many would rather avoid.
Last week’s historic summit on human gene-editing has come to a close, and its organizing committee has given the go-ahead for scientists in the US to experiment on human genes — only if it doesn’t result in a pregnancy. It’s a surprisingly progressive stance. But make no mistake, human trait selection is coming. Here’s why we’ll eventually accept the prospect of genetically modified “designer babies.”
There should no longer be any doubt about whether humans will one day be genetically modified. A new tool – called CRISPR – is already being used to edit the genomes of insects and animals. Essentially a very sharp molecular knife, CRISPR allows scientists to carve out and insert genes precisely and inexpensively. It is only a matter of time before it will be used to engineer our descendants – eliminating many dangerous hereditary diseases in the process.
The recent news that womb transplants will be trialled in the UK has sparked much debate regarding the desirability of this and other future infertility interventions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea of artificial wombs has been brought into this discussion, complete with the usual concerns about women’s reproductive liberty.
The future of nations is not written in the stars but in their demographics. In particular, a futurist can study national fertility rates, urbanisation trends and the age structure of population groups to get a picture of a country’s long-term future.
Remarkable polymath Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers of America and, back in the 1770s, he enjoyed unbridled optimism about the future of his nation, which at the time was still overwhelmingly rural and comparatively “backward”. Why, then, was his prognosis so rosy?
Birth control options for men lag behind options for women by almost a century. Can changing attitudes and a new generation of researchers change that? Maybe.
Three state-of-the-art birth control methods for women have annual pregnancy rates below1 in 500, and the user doesn’t have to think about them for years at a time. By contrast, the best option available to men (short of sterilization) has an annual pregnancy rate of about 1 in 6 and has to be rolled onto an erect penis during each sexual encounter. A new generation of researchers would like to change that—but change takes money.
Surrogacy is the practice whereby a commissioning parent (or parents) procures the services of a surrogate who will carry a child to term on their behalf. For obvious reasons, all surrogates are thus biologically female. There are two main categories of surrogacy: (i) genetic, whereby a male commissioning parent impregnates the surrogate (typically via artificial insemination); and (ii) gestational, whereby the commissioning parent(s) provide (or procure) an embryo for implantation in the surrogate.
What prompts a young woman to shout her abortion or live tweet her IUD insertion?
The most lasting effect of the smear campaign against Planned Parenthood may be this: Young women are done–beyond done–with being shamed for the fact that they are sexual beings, with sexual bodies that have tits and asses and twats and vaginas and uteruses.
Howard Nathan was reading his hologram news “paper” at breakfast (funny how archaisms survive, he thought— there hadn’t been paper newspapers for well over 50 years). It was December 2099, and the pundits had begun to pontificate about the new century. The headline “Worried Environmentalists” caught his eye; it was an article about the impending manmade Ice Age and the disappearance of the world’s deserts.
What did you really see and hear? Don’t be so sure you know the answer.
Garth Spruiell has spent the last thirty years working as a professional video editor, most recently creating promotional content for The Weather Channel and before that tweaking everything from ads to religion to porn for an independent editing shop in Los Angeles. He knows the tricks of the trade: how to grab your attention, heighten emotion, create seamless transitions, or even weave a compelling story from a whole lot of nothing.
If recent right-wing insanity has driven you over the edge and you’ve decided to tell the world that you think Planned Parenthood is a good place or abortion care is a good thing (or even decided to share a personal story), you will need to get prepared for the muck that’s likely to get slung your way. Fortunately, once you move beyond your inner circle of people who matter, much of what flies through the air will be ignorant comments and insults from people who don’t. As someone who is public about why I am pro-abortion, and about my own story, here are eleven lame shaming themes I’ve encountered, along with my responses.
Fortyyears after Roe v. Wade, the anti-abortion movement is a radical failure by the very metrics that Pro-life leaders cite to inspire their base. What would an effective anti-abortion movement look like?
U.S. women have obtained nearly 53 million legal abortions since 1973. At least in part, that is because self-described abortion foes ignore or oppose the most powerful strategies for making abortion obsolete. The anti-abortion movement is dominated by religious fundamentalists whose determination to control sex—who has it, with whom, for what purpose—takes priority over their desire to reduce abortions. This focus has seriously interfered with eliminating the supply and demand for abortion services.
Will our daughters, sons and young neighbors have the same reproductive rights we have? Only if advocates of chosen childbearing tap the deep moral roots and emotions beneath abortion care.
Picture a future in which children come into the world by design rather than by default. In this future, young women and men pursue their dreams and form the families of their choosing without the ever-present risk of a surprise pregnancy that plagues young lives today. Contraceptives almost never fail, and most pregnancies are healthy thanks to “preconception care” and prenatal care.
Transhumanists often disregard overpopulation as a serious problem; perhaps many just accept the relaxed viewpoint Max More expressed in his essay “Superlongevity Without Overpopulation” published in 2005. I am guilty of that mimicry — in 2009 I supported More’s analysis in my hplusmagazine.com essay “To Breed or Not To Breed?”
Imagine that someone hated you (or your company) and wanted to make you look bad. So, he pretended to be a friend or colleague, went to your events, repeatedly asked you to meetings or lunch, gained your trust, and then spent two years recording private conversations. Could he find stuff that would make you sound like a heartless monster? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, there’s no way it would take years.
What do conservative politicians want even more than balanced budgets or an end to abortion?
When Republicans in Colorado pulled the plug on America’s most successful teen pregnancy prevention program, they told the world something about themselves and their political kin: Conservatives may talk about ending abortion or balancing state budgets, but there’s something they want more. This point has been underscored by the latest spliced-video smear campaign against Planned Parenthood that, if successful, will defund every service Planned Parenthood provides except abortion.
Now that the U.S., and other countries, have legalized gay marriage, we asked “Should polygamy, polyandry and plural marriage also be legalized?” The Right has long used the argument that the logic for permitting gay marriage would apply equally to plural marriage, and some of us in favor of gay marriage have long agreed. Of the 129 respondents to the IEET poll, the IEET audience favored legalizing plural marriage by an almost 3-to-1 majority.
Fewer pregnant teens, fewer abortions, fewer unwed mothers, fewer single-parent families on welfare, more balanced state budgets. Sounds like a set of goals that should be common ground for anyone who cares about America’s future, right?
As right wing news outlets have it, untrained government workers in Washington State are doing secret gynecological procedures on 11 year old school girls, implanting dangerous and unhealthy birth control without consent from doting parents who have no idea they are losing their daughters! Liberal priorities are so messed up that it’s easier for an 11 year old to get an IUD than a Coca-Cola at a Washington school.
At some point technology will allow us to live forever. With billionaires spending millions on research  and huge corporations such as Google getting in on the act, very soon we are likely to see rapid advances in life expectancy – with the ultimate aim of radical life extension. All diseases will be cured, and the cellular aging that leads to the deterioration in body and mind will be slowed and eventually reversed so that everybody can choose how long they want to live for.
Birth control options for men and women are a century apart. Men deserve better.
The best birth control options for women today have qualities our grandmothers could only have dreamed of. They toggle the fertility switch to off until a woman wants it on, making pregnancy “opt in” rather than “opt out.” They are easily reversed when a woman wants a baby and have bonus health benefits like lighter periods and protection against some cancers. They last from three to twelve years, depending on the method and can simply be forgotten once in place, yet have an annual failure rate below 1 in 500.
Several months ago, the UK approved a groundbreaking reproductive technique in which babies are created from the genetic material of three people. The US is now considering the procedure, but Congress’s new spending bill will require religious experts to review a forthcoming report.
“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”
So said white supremacist Dylann Roof to black members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as he systematically executed nine, leaving one woman and a five-year-old child to bear witness to the slaughter.
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