Morsi, Democracy and Problem with Fundamentalist Politics

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Muslim_Brotherhood_LogoWhile I‘ve been trying to take a break from all politics and news as I bask in the glow of my family staying with me this week, I’ve nonetheless been fascinated by the fall of Egyptian President Morsi, in what must be described as a military coup. I’ve never been a fan of coups as I expect is true of most of us, yet the fall of Morsi has raises issues that I think are far more nuanced than appear on the surface. The salient facts are that after too many years the corruption of the government of Hosni Mubarak (who had been installed by the Egyptian military) led to severe economic issues and dissatisfaction with totalitarian rule. This then led to such massive protest that the military felt compelled, or justified to remove him. Mubarak’s removal was cheered, but then the clamor for free elections arose and after 18 months of martial law elections were held, as the first step towards transitioning to democracy and formulating a constitution.

The Society of Muslim Brothers, or Muslim Brotherhood was:“Founded in Egypt in 1928as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna,” It’s stated purposes was to: “to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood In a country such as Egypt, with its’ long history of totalitarian rule, the concept of political parties was not strong. Through its 85 years history the Brotherhood became the most stable opposition faction in the Egyptian political scene and was the main focus for opposition to whoever ruled Egypt by dint of the Egyptian Military’s backing. Such has been the success of the Muslim Brotherhood that it has branched out to have a significant presence in 20 nations around the world, many without a Muslim majority, such as the Russian Federation, the Indian Subcontinent, Great Britain and the United States. Therefore when the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 took place, the now legal “Brotherhood” was in an excellent position to vie for political power and formed the “Freedom and Justice Party” as its electoral arm. It won more than 40% of the parliamentary seats and its candidate Mohamed Morsi won election as President with 51.73% of the vote. His chief opponent had been a man who served as Mubarak’s Prime Minister. The Egyptian voters were faced, I think, with a “Hobson’s Choice” of Presidential candidates and chose what they perceived to be the lesser of two evils. Sound familiar?  What I will attempt to examine here is a question which is framed as: “Are Religious Fundamentalists capable participating in a pluralistic democratic society?”The stated objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood through its’ “Freedom and Justice Party” politically were certainly ones that few of us could complain about and perhaps soothed the secular voters of Egypt and its non-Muslim Egyptians.

“We believe that the political reform is the true and natural gateway for all other kinds of reform. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political pluralism, the peaceful rotation of power and the fact that the nation is the source of all powers. As we see it, political reform includes the termination of the state of emergency, restoring public freedoms, including the right to establish political parties, whatever their tendencies may be, and the freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and thought, freedom of peaceful demonstrations, freedom of assembly, etc. It also includes the dismantling of all exceptional courts and the annulment of all exceptional laws, establishing the independence of the judiciary, enabling the judiciary to fully and truly supervise general elections so as to ensure that they authentically express people’s will, removing all obstacles restricting the functioning of civil society organizations,etc”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood

However, that statement is belied by the following objectives openly acknowledged by the Brotherhood:

“In the group’s belief, the Quran and Sunnah constitute a perfect way of life and social and political organization that God has set out for man. Islamic governments must be based on this system and eventually unified in a Caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood’s goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam’s manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.[21] It preaches that Islam enjoins man to strive for social justice, the eradication of poverty and corruption, and political freedom to the extent allowed by the laws of Islam. The Brotherhood strongly opposes Western colonialism, and helped overthrow the pro-western monarchies in Egypt and other Muslim countries during the early 20th century.

On the issue of women and gender the Muslim Brotherhood interprets Islam conservatively. Its founder called for “a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior”, “segregation of male and female students”, a separate curriculum for girls, and “the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes … “

“The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state.”

“The Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

This is then the dichotomy of beliefs that the Brotherhood’s political party presented to the Egyptian voter. On the one hand it had denounced violence and agreed to work within the framework of a democratic political process. Yet its’ core beliefs are that (at least within predominantly Islamic countries) they should be ruled by the beliefs of Islamic law and justice in accordance with their interpretation of the “Qur’an” which they believe is perfect. Part of the task of the Morsi government was to create and implement a Constitution for Egypt. It was also promised that his government would include all factions of Egyptian society including the large group of Egyptian Coptic Christians. What occurred though was that Morsi only brought in Brotherhood political allies into the various Ministries of government and created a Constitution that was decidedly Islamic in content. Egypt, which was one of the most enlightened countries in the Mid East in the treatment of women, was being pushed into a far more fundamentalist outlook. This decidedly religious obsession of the Morsi government failed to pay attention to improving Egypt’s collapsing economy, growing poverty and the social unrest that goes with those conditions. Rapes of women increased in alarming increments and crime soared as people sought the wherewithal to feed their families. Cairo, that great and venerable city, increased to a population to more than twenty teeming millions the majority living in horrendous slums. City services in Egypt’s capitol collapsed under the weight of those numbers. The elation of the 2011 Revolution led inexorably to the despair of 2013 as millions of Egyptians, many with nothing to lose took to the streets and gave the Egyptian Military the tacit permission to remove Morsi and arrest the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is not my intent to paint the Muslim Brotherhood as evil, nor is it to give a litany of their history of violence and terrorism. Such a view is in my opinion one sided and ignores the reality that led to the Brotherhood’s creation and to its success in surviving for 85 years in a hostile Egyptian climate. Historically, since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Mid East has been an area controlled by wealth and Western imperial power. While wealthy rulers lived in luxury, the middle classes were relatively small and the masses lived in abject poverty. No doubt from the perspective of the Brotherhood’s founders they were mandated by their beliefs to aid their brother Muslims and to return them to the “perfection” of Islamic Law. Intermingled with those beliefs was the memory of Islamic empire and the determination to return to its’ glory. However, noble their motives may have been and are, within their beliefs is this inherent problem. If you see that everything you believe is “perfect” and mandated by God, then the idea of compromising those beliefs is blasphemy and sacrilege. How indeed can you live in a pluralistic society, when those who reject your beliefs, are by your definition “evil” and “sinful”?

There are two thoughts that arose in my mind and caused me to write this piece. The first is that the entire concept of “Democracy” has been deconstructed through the years by ours and other governments to mean the ability to vote and little else. How often throughout the world have we seen dictatorships legitimized simply because elections were held? A democratic government needs to be supported by democratic institutions and the agreement of its citizens to abide by the results of the electoral processes. Beyond that it needs an overall conceptual structure that provides the framework for the existence of a government that will protect the rights of all the people, not just the ever changing majority. It requires a legal system and a judiciary that protects its conceptual framework (constitution) and with it the rights of the individual. It’s of course more complicated than that, but if you’re a regular visitor here I’m sure you get my meaning and could on your own flesh it out beyond my brief offering.  The point is that when the world saw the welcomed upheaval of the “Arab Spring” it had been conditioned by years of propaganda that made simply holding a vote appear to be the acme of a democratic process. There is much more to developing a democratic society than simply voting for a “leader” and the election of Morsi, given his subsequent actions, did not a democratic Egypt make. This leads me to my second thought on this subject.

I seriously wonder whether it is possible for Fundamentalist religionists to actually be able to take power in a democratic society and wield it in a way that allows people of differing beliefs their freedom to have those differing beliefs?  When you have a belief system that you not only see as “perfect”, but as the road-map for a perfect society, how can you make the compromises that are necessary to maintain a pluralistic, democratic society? From the perspective of the Muslim Brotherhood, indeed it is their stated goal; you can only build a “perfect” society based on Islamic law and justice. In this respect they are not really very different from other Fundamentalist true believers that see “their way” as the only way towards true righteousness.

When we apply this to America the abortion debate comes to mind. There is no doubt that the majority of Americans do not believe that women should be denied the right to choose what they do with their own bodies, yet in the years since Roe v. Wade this has been one of the flashpoints of the American political scene. The only conceivable, immutable ending for those anti-abortionists to this national controversy, is the complete end of abortions. Compromise of positions can only be temporary and must include small gains for their side. If and when those opposed to abortion finally gain power they will not hesitate to end it completely, regardless of the equity of the situation and a sizable opposition to their actions. I use abortion though as merely an illustration of this problem. There are many other areas, prayer in schools for instance, where the same dynamic would apply. The problems is that when someone sees their views not only as perfect, but also as the only way to live, compromise becomes ugly and unacceptable.

My contention is that without the ability of people to compromise, maintaining democratic institutions becomes impossible. This is true whether in Cairo, or Washington. The nature of much of today’s religious fundamentalism, be it Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Judaic, is that compromise is impossible, because one cannot compromise “God’s Word”. If you are a true believer than that is an obvious fact of existence and you would cease to be a “true believer” without that philosophy. This brings me back to Morsi and Egypt. I hate the idea of military coups anywhere, but what was to be done in Egypt. There is strong evidence, that contrary to their platform, once in power those of the Muslim Brotherhood returned to their stated principles and were moving quickly to establish the version of Muslim Law upon Egypt, while at the same time denying equality of treatment to others. This fanaticism in the application of their beliefs distracted them with dealing with the economic and social problems that plagued most Egyptians and led inevitably to the Egyptian Military’s coup. I think this is a quandary that is at the heart of the difficulty of maintaining a democratic, pluralistic system in many countries, including ours. While is certainly is not the only difficulty, it ranks high on a list of contributors to political dysfunction. The question is what to do about it and the answer is quite difficult. The problem is that if you exclude religious fundamentalists from the political process due to their authoritarian views, then you no longer have a pluralistic society because of that exclusion. In a pluralistic society religious fundamentalists should also have a voice, or when do you stop excluding. Please help me out here because while I can frame the problem I admit that I don’t have the “perfect” answers.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

286 thoughts on “Morsi, Democracy and Problem with Fundamentalist Politics

  1. He answered that already.

    Thus illustrating that reading comprehension is a weak spot for you as are what constitutes evidence (don’t forget, you’re the one who has previously argued there is such a thing as “subjective evidence” when there is no such thing), logic and science (both in accumulated knowledge and the application of the scientific method by which it was derived).

    You can dress it up all you like, but arguments from ignorance fail because they lack a substantive foundation.

    • Gene H wrote: “He answered that already.”

      No he did not.

      Tony C’s answer concerned what he thought was reality (something I would disagree with him about based upon hard empirical data). My question now is more direct and concerns how he personally interprets the CNN data.

      Tony C’s answer was an intellectual dodge and I think he knows it. It is entirely likely that Tony knows the CNN data doesn’t say what you claim it says, and that his position is that even though you are wrong about your interpretation of the CNN data, you are essentially right for other reasons because most people are pro-choice for the first trimester of pregnancy.

      If Tony’s answer is anything other than No, then that tells me a lot about Tony C’s honesty. I will not waste time investigating for myself claims that he makes in regard to other matters that are less straightforward from a mathematical and statistical analysis.

      Any objective statistician has to answer No, that you went beyond the data to draw your conclusion that 78% of Americans are pro-choice.

  2. Apparently you are an illustration of how conservative propaganda leads to blindly ignoring the obvious.

    “Are you really going to argue that those 39% who want abortion legal only in a few circumstances are pro-choice?”

    Some may think the choice should be narrowly constrained but that the choice should exist and therefor are pro-choice as opposed to anti-choice. As previously stated, there really are only two sides to the legal question: either you think a woman should be able to have an abortion legally as her choice in determining her healthcare as a basic right of self-determination and privacy or you don’t.

    Duh.

    • Gene H – While we wait to see if Tony C will answer or dodge, please tell me whether you think Tony C’s answer to my Yes / No question will be Yes or No. It might be helpful in future dialogue.

      You claim he already answered it, so go ahead and tell me how he answered it. The CNN data says 78% of Americans are pro-choice. Yes or No? How do you interpret Tony C’s answer to this question?

  3. But please, flail about some more and resort to partisanship and ad hominem when your arguments are totally dismantled based upon sound logic and objective relevant evidence. It was funny the first time you did it here. It’s funny now. It’ll be funny when you do it again.

  4. Apparently the number of people who can think independently and look at the data for themselves is far less than I had previously expected.
    Yes, David, you speak well for yourself in that sentence. (Unfortunately snark invites snark.)

  5. When someone says a person who disagrees with your position is dishonest I think it is a matter of projecting by the speaker. You have your position David, Why must everyone else agree with you or they are dishonest in their position. I can say you are dishonest in your statements, but I don’t believe that, I believe you truly believe your position. It is a standoff but you just don’t seem to get that you are on a losing streak. It’s not my place to say it but if I were you I would just take my ball and go home. You are not going to make any converts here.

    • leejcaroll wrote: “When someone says a person who disagrees with your position is dishonest I think it is a matter of projecting by the speaker. You have your position David, Why must everyone else agree with you or they are dishonest in their position.”

      I am not leveling that charge against everyone. Presently it is a question now for two people: Gene H and Tony. I don’t really know Gene H’s background well enough, but I raised the issue with him to make him answer. He claims to understand logic and statistical analysis better than me. If that is true, then he is dishonest with the CNN data. However, based upon his answers to my questions, I no longer think he is dishonest. I think he just trusts people like Tony C and others to properly have a grasp of those areas of knowledge for which he is deficient. He simply enjoys intellectual banter but is deceived by liberal propaganda because he trusts the authority who gives it out.

      Now in regards to Tony C, the issue still stands. My scientific training and background is more similar to Tony C’s background. I sincerely think he understands the principles of mathematics, statistics, scientific design, rules of data interpretation, etc. well enough that his bloviating is purposeful and deliberate to cloud the issue, which means it would be dishonest for various speculative reasons that I feel no reason to give you right now.

      I suggest for the time being you sit back a little and see how he responds rather than just pile on with your ad hominem attacks against me. I am still a little hopeful that he has a streak of honesty left to answer me appropriately. I think he knows what is on my mind about this.

  6. Yeah, he did.

    You just didn’t like the answer.

    But please continue to react in precisely the kneejerk manner you’ve previously displayed when proven wrong and was predicted you’d react in again.

    And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t know an objective statistician if he bit you on the ass, Cherry Picker. Tony is a research scientist. His life revolves around being able to accurately interpret statistical data. And while not a science professional by day, I do work (and socialize) with many of them which requires that I have a more than functional grasp on statistics and the scientific method in addition to a minimum amount of raw science based knowledge. I’m very comfortable asserting that when it comes to statistics and how to interpret them, we both know what we are talking about.

    You, on the other hand, think that cherry picking data and conflating taxonomic classifications into something they are not, cherry picking out dated data, applying fallacious logic and that “subjective evidence” is a real thing when it isn’t are all perfectly acceptable practices. This demonstrates that you have a very superficial when not outright wrong understanding of science and statistics. Do you even know how to start to argue against statistical evidence? Apparently not based on your poor showing here.

    To quote Slim Pickens in “Blazing Saddles”, “You use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore” but no amount of sophistry will hide the fundamental flaws you present here in your logic failure to grasp proper evidentiary standards both legal and scientific. As I’ve said before, you’re well spoken. You almost pull off the trick of making it sound like you know what you are talking about. Almost.

    You’re a salesman with no substantive product.

    We don’t buy snake oil around these parts.

    • Gene H – I noticed that you chose not to tell me whether his answer will be Yes or No. Why is that? Are you afraid to be straightforward with your answer?

  7. David,

    If you can’t get that answer yourself from Tony’s response, I’m not going to do the thinking for you. Lessons can only be taught, they cannot be learned for the student. The answer is perfectly ascertainable from the what Tony said. Figure it out. If you’re blatantly wrong (as you likely will be based on past performance), I’m sure Tony will correct you.

  8. DavidM: Sorry, I am in the midst of becoming a substitute PI on a rather large contract and I was gone to discuss logistics.

    Your question is the equivalent of, “Please answer YES or NO: Have you stopped raping your students?”

    Are 78% of Americans pro-choice? I think the answer is that more than 78% of Americans are pro-choice, given the right circumstances, one of which includes first-week “precautionary” abortions (say a pill that prevents pregnancy, if one is in progress, if taken within a week of coitus.)

    Are 78% of Americans pro-choice when it comes to partial birth abortion of an otherwise healthy ninth-month fetus? Hell no, and I am part of the group that is adamantly NOT pro-choice in that particular circumstance; because I think in that choice the “fetus” is an “infant” and a “person” and in my philosophy, a decision that will result in the death of person should only be resolved by professionals, and if the matter is not too urgent a medical decision, perhaps a judge or legal panel; I do not think lay people have enough training (or objectivity) to balance the issues.

    In general (and when I said Gene was roughly correct, I include myself as identically “roughly correct”) I think a super-majority of people ARE in favor of letting a woman choose for herself whether to abort or not in the “early” stages of pregnancy.

    I do not think it is possible to say exactly X%, but when the question is put properly I think 78% is a reasonable guess.

    Do 78% identify as pro-choice? No, but I think that is because 50% vote Republican and interpret “pro-choice” as a liberal Democrat position so they say no, and of course there are Democrats that are explicitly against that platform of their party (for example those opposed for religious reasons) so they do not identify as “pro-choice” either.

    But when the words aren’t loaded with political overtones, and we poll people’s attitudes about very-early-pregnancy abortions, 78% or more do not object to the woman making the choice on her own; for example by taking a pill, even if both mother and fetus are otherwise completely healthy.

    In Gene’s book and mine, that makes them technically pro-choice: They do not believe every healthy pregnancy must be carried to term, therefore they believe in a potential mother’s right to choose; at least if they do not dawdle too long.

    These other polls were not straw men or diversions, they were chosen to illustrate why the poll YOU quote is meaningless, and does not represent the information you implied it did. Namely, 51% of people identifying as “pro-life” is more about claiming a political label than it is describing how they actually feel about whether a woman should be allowed to choose an abortion when she finds out she is pregnant, or choose an abortion when she finds out her child will be mentally disabled, or if she should be allowed to take pill that may cause an abortion of a few-day-old pregnancy.

    I think the evidence of the polls (including the 70% that do not think RvW should be overturned) is that a over 78% of people agree the mother’s choice of abortion should be preserved for MORE than just the few exceptions you originally detailed, and in my mind that makes them technically “pro-choice” whether they self-identify as such or not.

    • Tony C wrote: “Your question is the equivalent of, “Please answer YES or NO: Have you stopped raping your students?””

      No it is not. What a ridiculous way to avoid the question. The question is not about you, what you are doing or not doing. The question involves the basics of data sampling from a population and the inferences applicable to that data. The question is not even about what actually exists in the general population. The question is about basic experimental design and the proper use of statistical analysis to make inferences from the data. A first year graduate student in statistics should be able to answer this question with ease. He would know that it is impossible to conclude that 78% of Americans are pro-choice from this particular data set.

      I am asking you based upon the CNN data, did Gene H go beyond what is warranted by the data? The answer is yes, but you want to spin this into there being something wrong with my question. I know you are more intelligent that this, so clearly you are doing this on purpose. Maybe you are getting some kind of kick out of this, like Gene does, just arguing because arguing is fun.

      The kind of question I have asked is asked hundreds of times during the years a graduate student works toward a graduate level degree in a scientific field. It is an important concept, to train them in how to conduct research and make inferences. I don’t expect the average person necessarily to understand this, but as you have been proclaimed to be the research scientist here, I expect more from you. The way you deal with this data creates a lot of doubt about you.

      Even if you do not go to the poll data itself, you could just parse the conclusion of the CNN statement, “A full 78 percent of Americans want abortion to remain legal, at least under some circumstances, according to a new poll released by CNN/ORC; 25 percent want abortion completely legal, regardless of circumstances.” Knowing that some pro-life people want abortion to be legal under some circumstances, and agreeing that the 78% include pro-life people, and knowing that other polls show the number of people identifying as pro-life is around 50%, the question is easy to answer in the affirmative, but you choose to dodge and avoid answering it. I’m not going to beat a dead horse, so if you don’t change your mind about my question and clarify your position, I will just assume you are a dishonest person. You are either not a scientist as you claim, or you choose to use your credentials for credibility, and you purposefully pervert the proper practice of the scientific method to achieve your own personal agenda. Your responses lately are just unexpected bizarre dodges.

    • One more thing…

      Tony C wrote: “I think the evidence of the polls (including the 70% that do not think RvW should be overturned) is that a over 78% of people agree the mother’s choice of abortion should be preserved for MORE than just the few exceptions you originally detailed, and in my mind that makes them technically “pro-choice” whether they self-identify as such or not.”

      Oh, I see, well, you just classified me as pro-choice so I guess that just solves everything. I can see how that will just create so much harmony here, how everyone here will accept me as being pro-choice. Do you think making me part of the pro-choice agenda will give me more credibility with Gene H? Hmmm? Are they now going to hear what I have to say about abortion? Does it get me out of the accusations that Gene H previously leveled against me? I doubt it. LOL.

  9. DavidM, responding to leejcarol: A pro-life person who wants abortion prohibited in all cases with exceptions for rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is in danger are part of that 78%.

    Yes they are! They are not saying rape victims should receive mandatory abortions; they are not saying if the mother’s life is in danger she must have an abortion. They think under those circumstances, even if the fetus is healthy, the mother has the right to choose.

    And btw, that can be the case: A woman with an undetected cancer can get pregnant, and while she is pregnant the cancer can spread. The fetus may be entirely healthy, but it may be impossible to perform surgery, or chemotherapy, or radiation therapy on the mother without aborting the pregnancy first. And then the mother has to choose: Should she risk waiting until the baby can be born (early by C-section perhaps), or should she abort a healthy fetus so she can save herself from cancer?

    Unless the baby can be delivered by C-section immediately, I truly think that should be her choice.

  10. DavidM says: I think [Gene] just trusts people like Tony C and others to properly have a grasp of those areas of knowledge for which he is deficient.

    This is another example of DavidM’s last resort of ad hominem attack, this time on Gene. Essentially his claim is that Gene is too ignorant to have his own grasp on statistics, he is deficient in areas of knowledge, and therefore Gene has no choice but to trust figures of authority, and therefore Gene’s opinions do not matter, they are just reflections of the opinions of more authoritative people.

    Of course DavidM himself would never consider the alternative which is the reality: that two intelligent people (Gene and I) that disagree frequently both independently arrived at the same belief through valid logic because the task was to understand reality. While DavidM, due to being blinkered by the baggage of his theism which prohibits hypotheses that contradict it, has been wandering in circles within his fantasy forest, and declares everybody else wrong or ignorant if they cannot meet him there.

  11. I’m not exactly known for appeals to authority. I prefer to think for myself. I do so considerably well.

    Your lack of credibility rests solely upon your history of incredible, often illogical claims made upon specious evidence (or simply not understanding the nature of evidence at all as your claims of “subjective evidence” illustrates) and is entirely your own doing, David.

    And the question remains: either you think a woman should be able to have an abortion legally as her choice in determining her healthcare as a basic right of self-determination and privacy or you don’t. Which is it?

  12. DavidM: The question is not about you, what you are doing or not doing.

    Man do you have trouble generalizing, but okay: The question is equivalent to: “Answer YES or NO: Are females capable of having children?”

    Okay? Not about me. But the answer is yes and no; my wife was capable of having children but is no longer; before puberty my daughter was not capable of having children, then she was, now she is not.

    The question you ask cannot be answered because your group is too vague;

    NO, Gene was not incorrect, because in the context of what he said he was 100% correct: Anybody that does not completely exclude choice in abortion is in favor of some choice, and therefore pro-choice.

    Here is the context: At 1:30 PM:
    DavidM says: Are you really going to argue that those 39% who want abortion legal only in a few circumstances are pro-choice?

    Gene H says: Some may think the choice should be narrowly constrained but that the choice should exist and therefore are pro-choice as opposed to anti-choice. [emphasis mine.]

    END OF CONTEXT.

    You do not get to, by your personal decree, exclude those people that make exceptions for extreme circumstances, even if they claim to be pro-life (and you do not know if that 39% make that claim): They are still in favor of choice playing a role, even for a healthy embryo, fetus, or unborn infant.

    That is what Gene was saying, and that is a matter of correct logic and correct set theory (weapons he deployed without any help from me).

    It is a valid technical point, that the set of those that believe choice should play a role in abortion decisions has gradations, from those that believe choice is absolute to those that believe choice should be available only in special circumstances; what makes it a set is nobody in it thinks choice should be abolished altogether.

    Your question to me incorrectly conflates how people self-identify with what people actually do.

    Which I tried to explain to you are two different things, and therefore your question is equivalent to asking me to attribute a single state to an ambiguous set: Do we define the set of “pro-choice” by the label people apply to themselves, or do we define the set of “pro-choice” by what people actually believe, or do we define the set of “pro-choice” as only that tinier set that believe in absolute choice across the board? Are people that believe in absolute choice within six weeks and then a doctor’s medical concurrence after that “pro-choice”? Are people that believe in absolute choice with a ban on partial birth abortion “pro-choice”?

    Gene’s claim is based upon the technicality of what the word “choice” MEANS, and relying upon the poll he cites it is correct. Your claim is NOT based upon what the word “choice” means, but whether people identify with the label “pro-choice,” and relying upon the poll you cite YOU are correct.

    Except I do not think the question is about how people self-identify, because clearly from multiple polls, including the ones I cited, many people that identify as “pro-life” believe in some choice, and not only the choices presented by rape, incest, or health problems.

    Since my belief is that the question is about whether the majority of people believe that abortion of a healthy fetus by a healthy mother should be universally banned from the moment of conception, I’ll stand by Gene, for my own scientific reasons.

    I make a distinction between “living human tissue” and “person,” because a tumor is living human tissue; we expel and kill our living human tissue constantly (heck we swallow and digest it constantly). We exfoliate it, we slice it off as skin tags and warts, we cut ourselves and wash blood down the drain.

    A “person” is more than living human tissue, a person is a functioning developed human brain, and in my opinion, born or not. I do not think a fetus has a functioning, developed human brain for at least four months, possibly five, but to be conservative I do not consider an abortion in the first four months to be immoral, no more so than excising a tumor, cyst, or other growth. Emotionally speaking it will mean more than that to many due to the lost potential for a human life, but morally I do not think it my right to impose that responsibility on somebody else, by law, at that point in time. The responsibility I would impose is to make that decision before that four month deadline has expired (or since we can’t always know the date of conception, before certain developmental markers have developed).

    Your answer is YES, in the context of what Gene said and relying on that poll, he was absolutely correct; the poll indicates 78% of people believe choice plays a role in abortion decisions.

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