"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: The Best Way to Reduce Abortion

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Best Way to Reduce Abortion

Initially I wrote this as a response to Cvow, who (like many of you, dear readers), believes that abortion is wrong in all circumstances because life begins at conception. Although I am prochoice, I think this view is logically consistent given its premises. And I'd like to thank Cvow for being candid and calm in expressing his views.

With all respect to you guys, as a woman of child-bearing age, my views are not merely academic: at any point, it could be me in the moral crosshairs. (Later, I'll tell you what two friends just decided.)

Let's agree, for the sake of argument, that all abortion is immoral because life begins at conception. We'll leave aside for now just how that is determined, but accept the fact that a good 30% of these conceived lives self-abort, i.e. miscarry. (If we were being consistent, we might want to limit human reproduction to nonsmoking, non-coffee-drinking young women, and neuter men over age 35 as they are risk factors for miscarriage).

But onward: what is the best way to reduce abortion?

Three options: make it unnecessary, unavailable, or illegal.

Is the first method effective? We know that women continue to have abortions in countries where it is illegal, under conditions that often result in terrible tragedy. Some 70,000 women a year DIE from unsafe abortions. Others suffer grave injuries, including infection, hemorrhaging, and infertility. This hurts women, their families, and whole communities, but it does very little to reduce abortion.

Making abortion less available is happening right now in the U.S., and it does work to reduce the number of abortions -- among the poor and the very young, who are least likely to afford daycare or healthcare. The baby is substantially more vulnerable to violence, poverty, disease and abandonment. I respect the anti-abortion activists who adopt such children, but there will never be enough of these adopters to stop the cycle. Except in those rare cases, this option is not ethical, as it treats the unborn life with higher value than the born life.

How can we make abortion less necessary?

The first way is to reduce unintended pregnancies (half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended, and, of those, half end in abortion). Prevention includes adequate sex education (abstinence-only doesn't work), contraception (cheap or free, like Viagra), and safety from sexual violence.

In spite of the above, there will always be some unintended pregnancies. I can't emphasize enough that the best way to reduce abortion in this case is to ensure that the mother has the means to have and raise a child in health and safety.

One of most common reasons women choose abortion is because they can't afford a(nother) child. How are we doing as a country to ensure that ALL women have education and career opportunities, healthcare, childcare, housing, and services for disabled children?

Personal aside: two of my friends are now well into unplanned pregnancies (birth control is not 100% reliable). They have previous children, are in committed marriages, and have stable (well, until last week) incomes. These women are prochoice for all women, while against abortion for themselves. They are also, given the current economic crisis, deeply concerned about how their expanded families will make ends meet.

Imagine how many women of less fortunate circumstances are weighing their options. How can we best help them come down on the side of bearing the child?

Both of my friends are supporting Obama in this election. Like them, I think that Obama's priorities and policies will go further in preventing abortions than McCain's.


  1. How about a fourth way to reduce the number of abortions - to make it an unacceptable choice for a woman to make because of her respect for and appreciation of life.

    We live in a violent world. Wouldn't it be wonderful to reduce the violence? How can we be empowered to bring about that change, even in a small way.

  2. Free, I hear what you are saying, and I think I even understand the logic of your position. How to reduce abortions is a problem I do not pretend to know how to solve. The same goes for feeding and care of unwanted children, and all of the other related issues surrounding this. I wish I had an answer, as I'm sure most of us do.

    That said, I hope you understand why I am so vehemenently and adamantly against abortion. With a good deal of prayerful consideration, I have decided that I simply cannot go there, anymore than I can condone capital punishment. In my heart, I believe both involve taking another life. One is a definitely innocent life, and as much as I might believe the opposite to be true of a criminal, I am not anointed by God to be judge, jury, and executioner.

    Frankly, I cannot understand how someone can be against one and not against the other. I think many Republicans are flawed in condoning capital punishment while fighting abortion, and I think many Democrats are flawed in an exact mirror image.


  3. Norah, I agree that we should cultivate and model a reverence for life, for all life (even animal and plant life, taking it only as needed, with as much gentleness and respect as possible). Buddhists and farmers have much to teach us in this respect. Children, too.

    People who shoot from planes, not so much.

    Cvow, I respect your consistency regarding the capital punishment, but wonder if you are also a pacifist, which would be the logical extension.

    For myself, I don't think any of these areas are black and white, and that taking life to protect life while abhorrent is ethically justifiable in rare circumstances.

    I would wager we all agree that we must evolve, as a society, from our competitive, violent, tribal history to a more interdependent, holistic and nurturing one.

    We just disagree about how to do that.

  4. Funny how politics works in the individual. Abortion has been argued for so long and so vehemently that it would be good to recognize that we will never get anywhere with it. It is the single most important reason that Roe vs. Wade was such a bad decision. It removed an obviously political issue from the very polis that should be deciding it. In all the years of voting, I have never made a voting decision on the issue and probably won’t in the future. It seems to me to a too personal issue to do that. As far as extremes go though, (This is to Tomte), Obama’s position on saving a youngster from an abortion gone awry is an extreme one given where the body politic is today. The fact that you explained the rational for his position is nice… however it doesn’t change the fact that it is in the extreme.

    CVOW.. I see nothing inconsistent in respecting life and supporting capital punishment because the death penalty is an expression of how much value the society places on life. Society, by having a death penalty for murder, is saying to a murderer that life is so important that should you take a life we feel compelled to take yours. Any punishment less than capital for such crimes is a message from and to society that life isn’t worth that much. An interesting aside on this whole issue is this… Those in opposition to the death penalty should recognize that they are willing to impose violence on the criminal… locking him up forever is a violent act and furthermore risk exposing the society to more death by the possibility that he will commit more violence.

    The general argument of violence is an extremely complex one and to even consider it one has to ponder the fact that wars usually come about through irreconcilable differences in values. That is why pacifism, in my view, is an immoral philosophy.

  5. Interesting take, Stylux, as usual! So while this topic started as abortion, let me pontificate on the death penalty thing.

    Now while I oppose the death penalty, I do think there are other ways of punishment that show that life is of great value -- and I do hold life to be of very great value indeed.

    My solution to that is prisons that are truly prisons. No computers. No television. No work out clubs. No sports. No telephone. No mail. No contact whatsoever with the outside world. No parole. (If you're in for ten, you're in for ten. If you're in for life, you go out in a box.) Good conduct? You bet, because if it isn't shown, the situation goes from bad to very bad immediately.

    In my prison, a criminal would be introduced to a nine pound hammer and a large pile of rocks yearning to be small rocks. Working to resolve that issue would require long days, six days per week. (Hence no workout rooms required.) There would be a day of rest, and all prisoners would get warm clothing, adequate food, basic health care, and a dry bunk to sleep in, in a cell with no adornment. Misbehaviour of any kind would be dealt with immediately and harshly.

    Less dangerous criminals could be used for jobs benefiting society. Picking up trash or doing some other kind of manual labor is fine. Making license plates is fine. Making things that the state can sell at a profit to offset the costs is fine. Chain gangs are fine. Solitary confinement for misbehaviour is fine.

    I've heard it proposed that hell is not a place of flames, but rather is a place of utter banishment, into an existence of incredible loneliness.

    Why do we send criminals to prisons that have amenities to entertain and educate, with reduced sentences for "good behaviour"? Who would be such an idiot that they wouldn't behave knowing they can shed years off their sentence. Why have we not learned that "rehabilitated" prisoners rarely are?

    Would this be expensive? You bet. Would it be more expensive than letting "rehabilitated" criminals back on the streets to steal, rape, and kill again? I don't think so. In my world, a killer or rapist would never kill or rape again.

    Still think I'm a pacifist, Free? While I won't go so far as Stylux did in declaring it immoral, I think it is foolish and irresponsible. I suppose we could discuss what pacifism really is, but that's for another time...

  6. CVOW... I'll go with your prison even though it is impossible politically to implement... with all the feelings based policy that we live with.

    Pacifism, as a personal philosophy, is immoral because it does not permit a person to commit violence to save lives. In this sense it places a higher value on the holder's sense of duty to philosophy than it does on the potential victim's life. It is not only immoral but extraordinarily narcissistic.

  7. This is a different subject, but I'd like to know what anyone here thinks of the financial crisis and proposed bailout. I had believed there was no other solution to this mess, but heard Newt on Fox last night, opposing it. I did some reading online and found others who agree - and they believe that the Bush administration and the Democrats are wrong, wrong, wrong about this. What are your thoughts?

  8. In fact you are very on topic, Norah! The economy is directly tied to the abortion rate.

    As for the solution proposed by Paulsen, it seems blatantly ridiculous.

    If we as taxpayers have to bail out the greedy, we should demand oversight, transparency, accountability and a share in any gains. Contact your representatives!

    This is absolutely a moral issue with far-reaching impact.

  9. I see your point Stylux, and can probably join you on the immorality of pacifism, in that surely it is immoral to idly stand by, defending a principle rather than another life.

    I'm not sure about narcissistic though, as I guess I see it as a love of an idea and I think of narcissism as a love of self. I suppose an argument could be made that anyone who would ascribe to the defense of an idea like that is a pompous ass who has put him/herself on a pedestal of self-enlightenment...

    But on the other hand, I tried to consider the Good Book (apologies to Tevye), trying to weigh both sides and considering a WWJD approach, I know of no clear guidance as to how the good Lord would have reacted if he had been called to defend another's life. He did step forward in the garden and stopped the swordplay and probably saved Peter's life. Would the other cheek have been turned in an out and out attack on someone, or does that only apply to an attack on one's self?

    In one way it seems Jesus was pacifistic in his approach, but on the other hand, I suggest that he was defending his flock by giving his own life so that theirs would be saved.

    The Old Testament abounds with lots of defending and attacking and all sorts of rambunctiousness. The archangel Michael is a warrior, so the call to war and defense can be defended as an ideal.

    Deep thoughts....

  10. Dear cvow:

    I have one simple comment to make, when I am one of those against capital punishment and for the right to have an abortion. It is simply a question of religious freedom. I myself do not believe in the soul. For me, there are 3 reasons that killing is a bad, immoral thing. The first reason is the most obvious thing, it's very painful to die, and to put another person trough such pain is in no way a good thing to do.

    nr. 2: Human beeings are aware of their own existance, I know I exist. People who continue to live usually doess that becouse they want to, and by killing them, you steal that away from them.

    reason 3: You steal something from the friends and familiy of that person. A person is loved by many, and by killing that person, you steal that away from them.

    So, a unborn child: First of all, uncapable of feeling pain. Mainly becouse its not fully developed, secondly becouse the life in such contained space would be frightening and scary. So, the unborn child doesn't feel anything, thus it doesn't feel pain.

    Secondly, and unborn child doesn't have a devoloped brain, so it simply doesn't know that it exists. Thereby, abortion is just preventing that notion to happen. It is preventing the unborn child from experiancing life as we know it.

    and the last thing: an unborn child is not known by anyone. Nobody have seen it, played with it, conversed with it or by any means had any form of comunication with it. Thereby, its not stealing anything from anyone by taking it away.

    Abortion is unethical if you believe in the soul, becouse some believe the soul to be made at consumption. Well, wich turns the whole debate into one simple thing... a religious question. You can't force your beliefes upon someone, so it's frankly none of your buisnuess. Simple enough, if there is a god, this is a case whom God and the individual woman should solve between them selves. It's none of your concern.

    I wish to appologize for my lack in english capability.

  11. And about the issue of capital punishment. The whole way of thinking in the states startles me. Instead of viewing upon jail and official punishment as revenge, I view upon it as help. Our actions reflects our upbringing, our life and how we've been treathed troughout life. This is clearly backed up by criminal figures all over the world. The poor, mentaly ill and unemployed are overrepresented. The best way to fight crime is to fight poverty, misstreatment of children, and bullying and harrasment at school.

    A criminal act is in most cases a desparate call for help by a person who have been trough alot of pain without us even offering him or her a thought. Its a result of continous misstreatment, pain and helplessness. Its our responsiblitity as fellow citicens to make sure that everyone is cared for. When we oversee someone like we do, we can't exept that they behave they way we want them to. So, what is jail then? In my opinion, the only reason to lock people up, is so that we can give them proper care, education and the love they never had. This is the governing though in Norway, where I'm from... and it works. The figures for returning to crime after jail is way lower in USA, despite the fact that we have much shorter jail time and jail is, despite the removal of freedom, comfortable and at some extent enjoyable.

    I think it is unethical to oversee, and by doing that, abusing a person for such along time that this person breaks out and doess something horrible, and just talk about revenge and "justice" when this happens. We as fellow citizens are partly to blame, so its unethical of us to cause this person more pain than absolutely nessesary. The shorter a jail period could be without the risk of returning to evil deads, the better.

  12. So because an unborn baby supposedly does not feel pain (I beg to differ), hasn't experienced life, nor has anyone else experienced this babies life it's ok to kill him/her. Unreal! I really don't believe abortion is a religious issue, I believe its an ethical issue.

  13. If a living organism doesnt feel, is uaware of its own existence and doesn't have any relations there is no defendable reason for why it is wrong.

    What gives a human being value? Why should you care for your fellow human beings? Becouse they are able to feel pain, usually enjoy life and has alot of people caring for them.

    Why not torture animals? Becouse you cause suffering in them.

    A fetus does not have any value besides the value you grant it. It has the potential of life, but it's not. To claim otherwise is a religious claim, without any evidence to back it up. It might hold as an argument, and prevent people from doing it. But it's not strong enough to force people to not having an abortion.

    Besides: It's in my opinion way better to remove something before its able to feel and think, than forcing that being into living a dreadfull, awfull life.

    And just to get one step ahead: about responsibility. A very common argument for anti-abortionists is that when you are enjoying sex, then you should handle the consequenses. Especially for those who use abortion as the only way of prevention. My answer to this is simply that if a person is actually using abortion as the only prevention against getting pregnant, then this person clearly are not mature enough to take care of a child.

    Abortion is a private matter, fetuses are not citizens. Thus its a case between God and the girl in question.

  14. Well, thats your opinion and your entitled to it. I am also entitled to my opinion. I believe life begins at conception, period. I believe abortion is unethical, period.

    In your opinion fetus have no right to life, are not citizens and are open to us choosing whether they live or die. I don't believe God makes mistakes. I don't believe its up to us to take a human life. I believe God knows every child before they are conceived and he has a purpose for that child.

    So because the child may grow up in an unwanted home, an abusive home, then get rid of the child to spare them the pain. So shall we get rid of all the other children on the planet that are in pain as well, who are in abusive homes, starving, homeless, unwanted? I don't believe that is a decision for us to make. I personally don't believe God would condone it either. Just my opinion as I will not claim to know everything about God.

    I will never support abortion under any circumstances. To me a fetus is a life and has a right to life. An innocent life who has done nothing wrong.

    But we could go on all day arguing about who is right and who is wrong. I make no claims of being right, just voice my opinion and what I believe.

  15. Discovery,
    I have to admit I'm having a hard time following your logic -- or inconsistency thereof. You state that you do not believe in the soul. It logically follows then that you also do not believe in an afterlife, because with no soul, how could that happen? With no soul and no afterlife, why do you ascribe to there being a God? Since there is a great deal of guidance in the Bible regarding the soul and heaven, I assume you reject the Bible as well, and if you reject the word of God, then it seems logically you also reject the entire concept of God.

    On the subject of a fetus having no feelings, no rights, and therefore no right to protection, how do you understand Jeremiah 1:5(assuming you do not reject the Bible), where the word of God is given as "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." If God knows us before we are in the womb, it seems to me that it has to be a soul to which he refers. If God knows us before we are in the womb, then surely he also knows us in the womb. You do what you choose, but I am not going to support terminating that which God knows.

    With regard to capital punishment, you mistakenly take my position as one of revenge -- which it is not. There is a great difference between punishment and logical response to crime and the idea of revenge. We can and should punish criminals, and that has nothing to do with revenge. All criminals are not from poor and downtrodden segments of our society. In many cases I suggest that a criminal may migrate to that level of their own volition, whether they started there or not. Ted Bundy, one of our most recent dramatic criminal cases, was reasonably affluent, if I'm not wrong.

  16. I am not going to argue about it, but as you say repeatedly, its your opinion and it is what you believe. In other words, its a religious opinion.

    You believe every child has a purpose given by God. I don't believe in God, but I fully understand your stand, and I respect it. The only thing I want is that girls whom think differently, are free to do so and choose out of their own beliefs.

    And again, first of all, there are more than enough babies being born. And no, I don't think we should kill children who are being abused. But I do think its a good idea to prevent children to be born into abuse. Children feel pain, they know they exist and they have at least someone who loves them and cares for them, even though they are abused. I think we should focus on helping these children, and of course, I don't want to force any woman under any sircumstance, to take an abortion against her own will. If my girlfriend became pregnant now, me personally would want her to take an abortion. But, I would never, ever tell that to her. If she asked me, I would hounestly tell her that it is her decition to make and that it's her life. If she decided to keep it, I would help her raise that child with all my hearts content.

    I am, just as you, no jugde. I don't know whats right or whats wrong. I just feel that every person has to make that decition them selves, becouse neither of us has the right to make that decition for them.

    I just want to make it clear _why_ I think abortion is a good alternative. The downside with it, is that it can be a very hard thing for someone. It's not an easy decition, and I must say that I _hate_ those people who run around hospitals with pictures of abortions telling girls who have had their thoughtest decition in their lifetime that they are murderers. Thats mean, wicked, brutal, perverted and sick. I hate people like that down in the deepest places in my hearth. Young girls have killed them selves becouse the people around them have accused them of murder, that kind of behaviour is despicable.

    I don't know how it is for you as a religious person debating against an atheist. But I beg you to see me as the person I am, and not someone without morals. I care for my fellow human beings everyday. My daytime job is in politics, and I do that out of one reason only, to help people gain a better life, to fight poverty, to fight economical differences and to fight unjustice. I'm a very moral person, yet I believe in no god. All my actions are done without any need for salvation, gratitude or jugdement. I don't believe in heaven, and I love life to the fullest. Therefore I want everyone to have the same oportunity to make their own choices and their own life. It should be possible to have a nice and meaningful life even though your born in Africa or Palestine. I want people to be able to choose their own path, their own beliefs, their own careers, their own way to love and care and their own way to be them selves.

    As Torbjørn Egner says in one of his great plays for children (in norwegian, this rhymes):

    You shouldn't bother others
    you should be caring and nice
    and as long as you do that
    you can do whatever you want

    And just to make it clear. I respect you as a human being, I respect your beliefs, you seem like a caring and a good person. It's just that we disagree.

    Besides: I allways am looking to challange my views, I allways am looking to grow and develop, to learn and understand. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I value them, even though I disagree with them.

  17. cvow:

    I'm glad you took your time to answer. Well, in regard of that question, no I don't believe in God. Despite that, I've been having doubt lately. I have been temtated by the thoughts and philosophy of the quakers. But I know alot of people in Norway share my views on abortion, even though they see them selves as christians. This is explained by a simple argument: the Bible is written by people, commended to do so by God. But, the same book states that humans are not perfect, humans do sinn, and we have no guarantee that Moses, Paulus etc. was without temptations if you think of how much power that lied in their hands. They knew that they represented the authority of God, and that the words they wrote would be beleived to be the truth by millions of people. It's easy to understand that it might be temptating to refer to moral issues in a way that supported their view. I am not saying that it is how it happened, but I am not going to rule out the oportunity. That being said, I like the ideas of the quakers. They beleive the truth to be constantly changing, and that the only way of knowing whats right is to dig deep into one self and ask. Truth comes from the inside, from "that of God" in everybody. "That of God" can be whatever you imagine it to be, and what seems to be true for someone, can be totally wrong for someone else. I like that consept, it encourages critical thinking. It encourages you to feel and deside for yourself, becouse it's your decition.

    So on to the next question: The quakers doesn't want to take a stand on the issue about the afterlife. It might be heaven or hell, or there might be nothing. God is here for one reason and one reason only. To guide people and help people when they are in need. God doesn't jugde, God helps, God understands, God comforts. God doess not punish. The concept of evil simply doesn't exist in my world.

    I reject the concept of God as the christian majority describes it. I have a hard time believing in a supreeme being that has existed for all eternety. But I do believe that every single person or living being on this planet have the power to do good within them, and I choose to call this God. If its supernatural? Nah, I don't think so, but its my concept of God. I am not tottaly convinced that Jesus has ever walked this earth, but if he have... He is the one single person with the deepest understanding and ability to use this power of good within him.

    Then, capital punishment:

    I hold no person fully responsible for his or her actions. And we should develop our systems of punishment on how the majority of criminals are built. There is no way you can say that the majority of criminals have had normal, good lifes. The huge majority becomes criminal becouse of a terrible life.
    My point is that punishment doesn't make one person regret and stop doing wrong. The way of making someone stop doing wrong is by letting that person see the consequenses his or her actions have on other, innocent people. I am not willing to acept that a normal, healthy person with a normal, safe background has any need of killing another person or hurting another person in cold blood. A person performing such actions are sick, and should be treathed thereafter. A murderer is a mentaly unstable person, a person with a need for help. At the same time, this person has to be keept away from others until he or she is cured. A other reason for killing or doing criminal acts are simply so that the criminal can survive. The persons capasity of surviving is not increased after 10 years of imprisonment, but by giving him education and care, he actually has an option.

    I have some language difficulties, so I might missunderstand some. I hope you will take this into account.

  18. “I hold no person fully responsible for his or her actions. And we should develop our systems of punishment on how the majority of criminals are built.”

    It is always good to get some clarity on differing views regarding public policy and the above is certainly one such occasion. I have a different fundamental take on responsibility and that is… I hold everyone responsible for their actions to the greatest extent possible and that is because I have a high regard for humanity to take such responsibility. It is very difficult to craft public policy with this chasm separating two sides. Perhaps the use of “fully” will extricate Discovery from taking full responsibility for the consequences of his or her assumption. But the further one goes toward not holding people responsible the more one approaches a tyrannical government which, by necessity will be formed to protect us from such a philosophy. This fits, by the way, hand in glove with the fact that the less religious a society becomes the more a society needs a powerful central government. If the body politic does not have a transcendent being to hold their behavior in check the more it needs a powerful central authority to perform the same function.

  19. I feel this to be very relieving. But then again, I do not agree. You cant underrestimate the power of culture and surroundings. Our actions is based hugely on our past experiences. We get our morals from the people around us, no matter what. It might be from religious people and it might not be. But I want to ask you one question: Why is it then, that christians are well represented in jails?

    Norway is a very secular country, we have mild punishment. The longest time you can stay in jail in Norway is 21 years, and it's very rarely used. The crime rates in Norway are way lower than in the united states, and we have the lowest murder rate in the world i believe. The majority of the people are either atheist or agnostic, and the majority of christians are very, very, very liberal compared to US.

    The reason for the low crime rate in Norway is partly becouse we have a great public school system, we are highly educated, we have a social security system that works very good and we have a child care program who takes care of abused children. The mild way of punishment, and the fact that jails offer education contributes to this figures on a very high basis.

    How do you explain this figures, when Norway has a non-religious people combined with a very forgiving state?

    Just to make my point clearer: When I went to primary school, with around 300 students aging 12-16, I am actually quite sure that none of them went to church more than once a year, christmas eve. And alot didn't even do that. I did, out of cultural reasons, but no religious ones. Thats the main reason people go to church during christmas in Norway. We have our children baptised, we burry our dead and marry in church, but its more out of cultural reasons than religious reasons.

  20. Discovery, I haven't taken the time to get completely caught up, but I did notice your reference to the Quakers. I "joined" our local Quakers over a year ago (I suspect one ought to be involved a while before requesting full membership). If you look up "quakerfinder" on the net, you will find that Quakers are (like humankind in general) tremendously diverse. There are evangelical Quakers who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior and at the other extreme are Quaker groups who want no mention of Jesus at all. In our area, in fact, there is currently dissention because some are "Christocentric" and others are not. This doesn't bother me one bit. I consider it rather "spiritually immature," in fact, and suspect that this sort of argument does not serve God, or one's own soul (should one believe in God and/or souls.)
    I love the Quakers. They are anything but materialistic. They take action for good in the world. They meet God in the sanctity of their own hearts. They practice true equality, to the extent that humans are capable of it. They only negative things I have ever read about them are: they tend to be awfully serious and they tend to discount the value of the visual arts ie creation of beauty.
    Many blessings to you, Discovery. Welcome to our blog. Many Trails Home

  21. "How do you explain this figures"...
    I cannot explain all of the figures but will offer this... The Scandinavian countries all have a long history of religion. As they have grown more secular they have adopted more and more socialistic programs and whether this is sustainable in the future is still to be determined. In addition Norway, Sweden and Finland are all relatively homogeneous as compared to the US. This country is quite unique in our cultural diversity and I believe this explains at least in part the differences in crime rate etc. I do notice that you mentioned a child care program that cares for abused children… meaning that at least on some level there is a problem with abused children.

    One of the major contributions to society and thought lies with the Romans who decided that all cultures regardless of differences in religion, race, wealth etc. could live under the rule of law and could be held responsible for actions. I still hold this to be true and further regard it as enlightened rather than the notion, popular today that certain acculturations let some people off of the hook.

  22. Responsibility and Accountability are two watchwords that I think are missing in too much of our business, our society, and our lives. Unfortunately, too many people avoid these two precepts at all costs -- but then it is all too easy to point the finger of blame at someone else and smugly walk away.

    21 years maximum for any crime in Norway, Discovery? So if a mass murderer were caught, he would serve no more than 21 years? That seems to me to be assigning little value to human life.

  23. Yeah, 21 years. A mass murderer would most likely be jugded with a much shorter jailtime than that, combined with alot of psychological treatment.


    It might be a bit, well, childly presented, but that represents norwegian philosophy in a good way on jail and punishment.

    The last time 21 year was used in a sentence, was against the leader of a band leading an armed robbery against one of our biggest banks.

    Economical crimes are struck harder than traditional criminality. And calculated actions are in general struck harder than those done out of impulse.

    Lastly, the life of the criminal is just as important as the life of the offended.

  24. To Discovery (or any Norwegian reader of this blog): I have been trying off and on for the past 2 years to get a copy of The Shamanic Zone by Ailo Gaup. It is printed in Oslo but written in English. It is not available anywhere in the US that I can find, and I was unable to make contact with the publisher (I did email the author, who referred me to the publisher). Can you give me some help on locating a copy of this book? Thanks. Many Trails Home

  25. I have a Norwegian Saami-American friend who knows all the Gaups, I'll ask her about this book and get back with you, Many Trails. She has a master's in indigenous studies from Tromso, I wouldn't be surprised if she owns it.

    --Stranger in a Strange Land aka Lefty Laestadie

  26. Thanks, Stranger. MTH

  27. I'm sorry, but that struck me as extremely funny -- Trails saying "Thanks, Stranger". It just sounded so John Waynesque...ROLF

  28. or ROFL, if the fingers would work whilst rolling...

  29. LLLreader here: I just got a small paperback book called "Darhushjonet, A Book by LLL, The First Part, Translated and Published for the promotion of true Christianity". It was translated from Swedish to Finnish by J.F. Hellman, and then to English by an unnamed translator. No dates, but appears that it was written before the Laestadian movement really started. The preface only says that he was a pastor in the State-church of Sweden in Swedish Lapland. This is part of a larger book--and covers only paragraphs 883-1168. The writing is VERY difficult to follow. Here is a quote, "The moral matter of love is spermatical or seed-mixture blood, which causes a special influence to the fibers of the heart: afterwards it is changed in the liver". I'll try to wade through some more of this. Has anyone else seen this book?

  30. Discovery-

    All of your statements about fetuses are flat out wrong.

    A fetus can't feel feel pain?? Wrong. A fetus is frightened & scared in the womb?? Way wrong. Unless Mom is frightened and scared all the time. Anybody who has cared for a tiny infant knows that they love nothing more than being wrapped up in tight little bundles, creating a womb like feeling. In fact for the first week or so I think they are thinking "Things were just great, what the hell happened." At least my kids anyway.

    All scientific research shows a fetus can feel pain and they enjoy there time in the womb for the most part. Facts are facts.

    I take it you don't have a child. Such cavalier attitudes about abortion, whether for it or against it, are usually only found amongst the childless.

    I lived in Finland for some time & one thing I learned is that people aren't as familiar with the development of a fetus as Americans are because abortion is a non-issue over there.

    As for crime and punishment: The Scandinavian countries do have very low crime rates. So does Saudi Arabia. In fact Norway's homicide rate is more than double that of Saudi Arabia.

    So does crime rate have more to do with the punishment, or with the culture? Methinks its the culture.

  31. Dear Rusty Cage:

    First of all, I want you to prove this to me, give me one single scientific article claiming that fetuses feel pain, and even more controversial, know of their existence.

    The first 12 weeks is what we are debating here, if your 5-6 mouths pregnant, things are different. There is a difference between a fetus and child. So the interesting question here is when the fetus developes into a child. You can't hounestly think that an egg and a sperm that melted together a day ago can feel pain, thats just absurd.

    Well, you are right. I don't have a child, but I can't wait to become a father. I love children very much, and I am usually pretty good with children.

    About culture and crime. Well, I agree. But I think punishment is a part of culture. The most important aspect in Norway is care for eachother and low poverty rates.

  32. LLLreader continues: More about "Darhushjonet". LLL is speaking against the pastors of the Swedish state church. He quotes Descuret frequently. He is making conections between the organs of the body and behavior, such as the small bowl providing a person an organic impulse to be a thief. Free, do you want this book? If someone is doing a study of LLL, it might be useful. I have a feeling it's a fairly rare book. He mentions the "readers", but I think it was written before he met Lapp Mary.

  33. Oh yes, LLLR, I would LOVE to borrow the book. This winter (when I have more time), I could excerpt passages for the blog. No doubt many of you would welcome a switch from politics :-)
    My email is: extoot (at symbol) gmail.com

  34. Laestadius wrote Dårhushjonet during the last 10 years of his life, 1850-1860.

    In Europe, most Laestadians know about its existence and especially in Finland quite a few even have it on their book shelves, but I don't think so many people actually read it. While they usually encourage people to read other writings of Laestadius, Dårhushjonet seems to be an exception. It's considered a book that is not for the "beginners" but rather for the ones with more "understanding" who don't get confused so easily.

  35. To hibernatus from lllreader: Have you read it?