Ireland’s Roe moment approaches

posted at 2:31 pm on January 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Imagine, if you will, that Roe v Wade had resulted in a punt by the Supreme Court, ruling that state laws apply to abortion laws and that the issue was best addressed in legislatures — as opposed to finding that the Constitution somehow protected abortion as a right with nary a mention of health care, let alone abortion, in the document.  Instead of having to debate the issue in courts over the last 40 years, we would have had robust political debate in a number of forums with plenty of room for individual states to act in concert with their own electorates.  What might that debate have looked like?

We could get a good look at that from Ireland. The traditionally Catholic nation still outlaws the practice of abortion, but has recently come under pressure from the EU to “clarify” the legal status.  The Fine Gael party won a resounding victory in the last election in part by promising to remain firm on the ban, but have now floated a legislative proposal legalizing abortion under limited circumstances — and are reaping the political consequences of that betrayal:

In 2011, members of Fine Gael, now Ireland’s ruling party, made a pre-election promise that they would not legislate for abortion. They were subsequently elected with a landslide victory. A little over a year later, the party broke its promise by bringing forward legislation to allow for abortion where there is a risk to the woman’s life, including the risk of suicide.

At the government’s own public hearings on how to “clarify” the meaning of Ireland’s abortion law — as the European Court of Human Rights has requested — every single obstetrician present testified that not a single woman has died because of our ban on abortion. Every single psychiatrist present testified that abortion is not a treatment for the condition of suicidality.

On the cold, dark, wet winter’s evening of Jan. 19, without any media promotion and with little notice, an estimated 35,000 Irish people gathered in Dublin to oppose the government’s proposed legislation. In American terms, this would be equivalent to 3 million people attending Friday’s March for Life. The event was described as “extraordinary” and “a master class production” by the mainstream press. Reporters commented that the sheer numbers present should give the government “pause for thought” before implementing any abortion legislation.

Interestingly, columnist Dr.Eoghan de Faoite notes that Ireland actually has “one of the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the entire world — far lower than in the United States or United Kingdom.” The doctor attributes that to a culture and political system focused on saving human life rather than treating it as disposable.  Whether or not that’s a fair causation or just correlation, it’s clear that abortion didn’t provide that outcome, and that banning abortion didn’t prevent Ireland from leading the world in that category.

One could argue, of course, that Irish women simply left the country to get their abortions.  However, the most likely place to travel for that purpose would have been the UK.  As de Faoite notes, the outcomes for maternal care in the UK turned out to be inferior to that of Ireland.  Again, that could be correlation rather than causation, but the same conclusion applies to that argument as well; abortion may not have made that worse in the UK, but it certainly isn’t making it any better.

Perhaps Ireland’s success in this area is an outcome of treating women holistically as women, rather than as androgynous humans who happen to be cursed at the moment by fertility. That’s certainly Dr. de Foite’s argument, which was bolstered by Pat Gohn, who celebrated her innate maternal nature in the Washington Post this week (via Deacon Greg):

A woman’s womb, her uterus, signals that she is made for something and someone more than herself. This reality touches a woman at her very core — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The womb’s raison d’etre illuminates this gift that welcomes and receives the life of a child, sheltering and nurturing it, until finally, a woman gives birth. We even use the expression — giving birth — denoting the gift that it is. The maternal gift ought to be honored and celebrated.

What’s more, a pregnant mother is entrusted with carrying an immortal soul besides her own — a soul that is destined for eternity. That’s why a woman really needs to be aware of the dignity of her feminine creation, and the sublime gift of her maternity, so she can confer that dignity on her child, and upon others through her love of life.

The gift of maternity is inherent in all women. They are predisposed to motherhood by their design. Yet, as we know, not all women bear children. Even if a woman never gives birth, a woman’s life is still inclined toward mothering. All women are entrusted with the call to care for the people within their sphere of influence. This broadens our ideas of maternity beyond gestation and lactation.

A woman’s relationships with others, even though they may not be fruitful biologically, can be fruitful spiritually. Therefore a woman’s life–her feminine genius–is characterized by physical and/or spiritual motherhood.

When the gift of a woman’s fertility and maternity are devalued, they are misinterpreted as liabilities or threats to a woman’s potential happiness, or earning power, or freedom.

That brings me to MK’s post yesterday on the abhorrent-yet-clarifying missive published at Salon this week.  Mary Elizabeth Williams put aside the “clump of cells” charade and acknowledged what is scientific reality — a child is a human being from the moment of conception, and it’s absurd and ignorant of modern science to acknowledge it as anything other than human life.  Williams ultimately makes the basic argument for abortion, which is that if a human life that is dependent on another is inconvenient or unwanted, then the stronger has the right to dispose of the weaker. That’s also the argument for euthanasia, by the way, or for Peter Singer’s oft-cited support for infanticide.

It’s an abhorrent argument, for two reasons.  First, many if not most people consider human life sacred to at least some degree.  Second, our entire basis of laws and natural rights are predicated on the belief that human beings have the right to life equal to all others, and that right can only be forfeit based on his or her own actions.  If we lose sight of either, then life becomes nothing but a competition on the material plane between the strong and the weak, and there is almost literally no restriction on using that power to whatever ends the strong seek.  As I wrote earlier this week, that’s the utilitarian and materialistic viewpoint taken to their logical conclusions, and the basis for natural rights entirely evaporates.

And that’s why I find Williams’ piece clarifying, and very helpful to strip off the rhetorical nonsense that abortion equates to freedom.  In the end, it equates to a tyranny of privilege.

Now Ireland has to face its own Roe moment.  Let’s hope they choose more wisely than we did, as the 55 million human lives lost here to the principle of abortion-on-demand should attest.


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Dont do it Irland.

ChunkyLover on January 24, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Hmmmm, I hope Ireland doesn’t do this…

Scrumpy on January 24, 2013 at 2:40 PM

RIP Savita Halappanavar, victim of terrible Irish law.

mythicknight on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

RIP Savita Halappanavar, victim of terrible Irish law.

mythicknight on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Every abortion has a victim. But your head is too thick to get that.

22044 on January 24, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Abortion is nothing less than legalized murder. Those who support abortion had better pray that there is no God, for if their is a God, and he is the same God who said, “Thou shall Not Kill” then they are in the deepest of doo-doo’s.

SWalker on January 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

mythicknight on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar

The staff of University Hospital, as well as members of Ireland’s HSE Regional Health Forum, have stated that there is no “Catholic ethos” that is impacting treatment provided.[27]

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology and a university master in the Rotunda Hospital, one of the biggest maternity hospitals in Ireland, said: “This case probably does not have a lot to do with abortion laws.”[28] He added that it would be preferable to introduce legislation to bring in clarity, saying, “We really do need legislation in this area, otherwise we’re going to be at risk of doctors working outside the law, and that’s not appropriate.”[29]

Dr Rhona Mahony, the Master of the National Maternity Hospital, said: “[I]t is very disappointing that, 20 years after the ‘X-Case’, we don’t have legislation” and that women “need to know that they are going to get the appropriate health care that they need” while doctors “need to know that they are also protected in their ability to do their job.”[30]

Microbiologist Dr James Clair [31] stated that the “main problem is being missed” in the case, suggesting that the real issue may be that the septicemia was caused by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase positive gram negative bacteria (ESBL), which “are now spreading rapidly within the Irish population” and are resistant to many known antibiotic treatments.[32]

Ed Morrissey on January 24, 2013 at 2:47 PM

“Love them both”

EXACTLY.

The Schaef on January 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM

RIP Savita Halappanavar, victim of terrible Irish law.

mythicknight on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

RIP 1 in Ireland vs. RIP 55 million in the US.

Thank you for exposing the proper ratio to consider a thoughtful response…

dominigan on January 24, 2013 at 2:51 PM

then the stronger has the right to dispose of the weaker

Apart from God, from absolute right and wrong, this is what it always comes down to, when all the “nice” words and smiles are stripped away…

“I want what I want, and if I’m stronger than you or enough stronger people agree with me, then I will get what I want.”

Marcola on January 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM

RIP Savita Halappanavar, victim of terrible Irish law.

mythicknight on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

There is no moral argument against treating someone who is sick
Delivering her baby before it was viable may have been necessary to save her life if she had an intrauterine infection and sepsis
But the death of the baby though unavoidable was not the intention
That moral distinction is clearly made by the Catholic Church and most Irish people would accept it
It is not abortion
Maybe the law should be changed to protect docs who are faced with this terrible although thankfully rare condition

breffnian on January 24, 2013 at 2:54 PM

mythicknight on January 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

using Time Magazine as a source? That’s as stupid as a WaPo/ABC poll.

DanMan on January 24, 2013 at 2:56 PM

“I want what I want, and if I’m stronger than you or enough stronger people agree with me, then I will get what I want.”

Marcola on January 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Yes, it is know as the “The End Justifies the Means” ideology. It is the foundation and bedrock of Marxism. Wherever you see Marxism, Socialism or Communism you will see this as the final arbitrator of their political and social systems. It is singularly the greatest evil mankind has ever created.

SWalker on January 24, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Fine Gael is a center right, Christian Democracy party; what in the world is wrong with them?

IR-MN on January 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Abortion is nothing less than legalized murder. Those who support abortion had better pray that there is no God, for if their is a God, and he is the same God who said, “Thou shall Not Kill” then they are in the deepest of doo-doo’s.

SWalker on January 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Actually, the Commandment is “Thou Shalt Not Murder”.

But yeah: Abortion is murder and there is never any excuse for it. Never.

Abortion needs to be made a capital crime and those who engage in it prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

TKindred on January 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Fine Gael is a center right, Christian Democracy party; what in the world is wrong with them?

IR-MN on January 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM

They are also the party of the urban elite.

Fianna Fail are the party of the common people.

It makes perfect sense that Fine Gael would advance this “progressive” policy but I bet their grass roots are terrified

breffnian on January 24, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Uhhh, it would have looked pretty much like this country did BEFORE Roe v. Wade. I was involved in health care (lab tech in Kansas) back then. Abortions WERE being done back then; limited and in MEDICAL settings. You needed to have a medical reason, but we had two doctors in town (not well -respected ones from this.) who accepted ‘depression’ as a medical reason.

michaelo on January 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

SWalker on January 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Actually, the Commandment is “Thou Shalt Not Murder”.

TKindred on January 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Yes, I am aware of that, I am also aware that most people are unaware of that. Most modern translation say “Kill” as opposed to Murder. But yes, you are correct the commandment is to not shed innocent blood. There is no more innocent blood than that of a baby.

SWalker on January 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

I’m no Xenophobe, but why is someone with the name Savita Halappanavar even in Ireland? Do they promote chain migration from the Indian subcontinent in Ireland the same way that they do in the USA?

Statists usually promote indiscriminate migration for one reason only: to subvert and/or debase the society’s own cultures/traditions.

Levinite on January 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Catholic Hospital Argues Fetuses Are Not People In Malpractice Suit

How does this make any sense?

SnarkVader on January 24, 2013 at 3:16 PM

St. Patrick, ya done good.

29Victor on January 24, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Rather than whine about people getting pregnant perhaps a better idea is to help people not get pregnant.

Dave Rywall on January 24, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Rather than whine about people getting pregnant perhaps a better idea is to help people not get pregnant.

Dave Rywall

If you can’t figure out how to not get pregnant, there’s not much help for you.

xblade on January 24, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Every abortion has a victim. But your head is too thick to get that.

22044

For the win!

xblade on January 24, 2013 at 3:44 PM

For the win!

xblade on January 24, 2013 at 3:44 PM

ROTFL – I probably should have ignored it but my patience is so thin this week. :)

22044 on January 24, 2013 at 3:53 PM

By “punt” I assume that you mean followed the law and constitution, rather than making sh*t up and substituting their personal policy preferences for that of the people and their legislators.

besser tot als rot on January 24, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Savita Halappanavar asked for an abortion,if she had been in the U.K with this level of developing sepsis, termination would of been the treatment.
They were unable to do this because of the law.
This is ‘health of the mother’

Irish women travel here for abortion’s.It’s their own doctors that refer them saying this is what they have both decided is the best option but because of the law they are unable to do this.
Those having abortions for fetal abnormality including incompatible with life have to leave their families during this traumatic time and don’t benefit from the post procedure support given here and unavailable in Ireland.
Nobody should sit in judgement of these women

Levinite on January 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

I’m no Xenophobe, but why is someone with the name Savita Halappanavar even in Ireland?

I think you should rethink that statement and what has that got to do with it,just awful

mags on January 24, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Fine Gael is a center right, Christian Democracy party; what in the world is wrong with them?

IR-MN on January 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Same thing that’s wrong with the Republicans.

Doomberg on January 24, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Abortion conducted outside the boundaries of life threatening ailments/complications, rape, and forced incest (family member rape) is nothing less than State Sanctioned Murder of the unquestionably very most innocent of innocents in our country.

Who speaks for those unborn babies literally without a voice?
YOU DO!

Planned Parenthood abortion mills pepper our states, cities, and townships from sea to shining sea like 7-11′s. Your one stop shop for the legalized taxpayer subsidized Homicide of utterly defenseless human-beings. Over half a BILLION dollars in taxpayer subsidies – and MILLIONS of dollars of that ends up in the campaign coffers of America loathing reprobate Democrats.

Planned Parenthood received a record $542 million in taxpayer dollars for 2011-2012 by way of government grants, contracts, and Medicaid reimbursements.

That amounts to almost half of all Planned Parenthood’s budget. That’s right – Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Murder Mills in America is a BILLION dollars a year booming industry. And the taxes you are forced to pay to your Government funds over a half BILLION dollars worth of it.

And of those 55 MILLION+ people over the last few decades who were murdered in the womb – or [moments after abortion failure] outside of the womb – we will never know how many of them would have been discoverers, innovators, rocket scientists, genius researchers who could have found the cure for cancer and a myriad of inevitably curable medical conditions that needs only one exceptional person to make one small discovery to render the cure(s) a manifest reality, etcetera ad nauseam.

No. The manifest reality is – Murder On Demand.

 

Let me be clear. I’ve got two daughters. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals.

But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them ‘ punished ‘ with a ‘ baby ‘. “
~Presidential Candidate – Senator Barack Hussein Obama [APR 2008]

 
Period. End of story.

SD Tom on January 24, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Same thing that’s wrong with the Republicans.

Doomberg on January 24, 2013 at 4:00 PM

RINOs in Ireland, I guess.

22044 on January 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Catholic Hospital Argues Fetuses Are Not People In Malpractice Suit

How does this make any sense?

SnarkVader on January 24, 2013 at 3:16 PM

The Church: A fetus is a human life — except when it would cost us money. Similar to the Church’s position on child sexual abuse by priests. (And yes, I’m Catholic.)

cam2 on January 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM

This is ‘health of the mother’

mags on January 24, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Are you really pretending that this type of circumstance defines what is accepted, legally, as “health of the mother?” That is a lie, and the propagation of that lie and others like it is what eliminates the possibility of meaningful and rational debate and policy resolution.

besser tot als rot on January 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

I never knew that Ireland cared more about defenseless lives than we did. I hope they continue to fight instead of allow these pagans to sacrifice the unborn as the cost of their corrupt lifestyles.

njrob on January 24, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Perhaps Ireland’s success in this area is an outcome of treating women holistically as women, rather than as androgynous humans who happen to be cursed at the moment by fertility. That’s certainly Dr. de Foite’s argument, which was bolstered by Pat Gohn, who celebrated her innate maternal nature in the Washington Post this week (via Deacon Greg):

In my experience, women’s health care in the U.S. is usually defined by 3 blocks:
1. For God’s sake, don’t get pregnant. Here, condom. Here, birth control pills. Here, IUD. Here, abortion. Menses problems? Here, birth control pills. Acne? Here, birth control pills. PMS? Here, birth control pills. What? You don’t want hormonal birth control? Can’t help, sorry.
2. You want to get pregnant now? Here, fertility drugs. Here, Chlomid. Here, test tubes and turkey basters.
3. Done? Hysterectomy.

What I wouldn’t give to have had a doctor that would have treated me and my PCOS in my early twenties so that when I finally got married and am trying to have kids in my thirties it wouldn’t be so hard. My current doctor is great, but for at least 10 years, no doctor would help me after saying I didn’t want to take the pill.

cptacek on January 24, 2013 at 4:17 PM

The Church’s lawyers
cam2 on January 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM

And they are right. That is what the law says. We think the law is wrong and should be changed. Is that what everyone posting about this “hypocrisy” is in favor of?

cptacek on January 24, 2013 at 4:18 PM

If you are in or near Northern California on Saturday (January 26) and you want to express a pro-life message that may even help the Irish with their decision come out and join the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday January 26, 2013

Locaton: Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco, CA

Schedule:

10:45am – 12:15pm Silent No More Awareness Campaign

11:00am – 12:30pm Info Faire

12:30pm – 1:30pm Walk for Life Rally

1:30pm – Walk to Justin Herman Plaza (a little over a mile on a flat route)

Speakers include:

Lacey Buchanan, Elaine Riddick, Rev. Clenard Childress. and Kelly and Matthew Clinger

Check out the website for more information and video from Walks in past years.

http://www.walkforlifewc.com/event-info/event-schedule/

In 2012, an estimated 40,000 pro-life people joined the Walk in San Francisco.

Counter-protesters from the left have been minimal(maybe 100 scattered along the walk) for the past several years. San Francisco Police protection has always been excellent.

The Walk is an annual event, and it is the only time when conservatives will vastly out number leftists in San Francisco. It is a wonderful sight to behold.

Please come join us and bring friends!

wren on January 24, 2013 at 4:25 PM

I’m no Xenophobe, but why is someone with the name Savita Halappanavar even in Ireland? Do they promote chain migration from the Indian subcontinent in Ireland the same way that they do in the USA?

Statists usually promote indiscriminate migration for one reason only: to subvert and/or debase the society’s own cultures/traditions.

Levinite on January 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Nope, you’re not a xenophobe, you’re just a racist. What the hell is wrong with you? Why wouldn’t we have been happy to welcome her in Ireland? The woman was a dentist, and her husband an engineer. It’s fairly unusual on this site to see such blatant, open bigotry like that, but hey, I guess it’s still out there.

zarathustra on January 24, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Levinite on January 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Nope, you’re not a xenophobe, you’re just a racist. What the hell is wrong with you? Why wouldn’t we have been happy to welcome her in Ireland? The woman was a dentist, and her husband an engineer. It’s fairly unusual on this site to see such blatant, open bigotry like that, but hey, I guess it’s still out there.

zarathustra on January 24, 2013 at 5:04 PM

A question for you my Irish cousin, since I genuinely do not know. Does Ireland have an immigration policy whereby Ireland get’s to decide whom they allow to immigrate and whom they exclude from immigration?

Sadly here in the United States once you physically get into the United States whether legally or not, there is always somebody here willing to put up a fight to ensure that you are allowed to stay.

SWalker on January 24, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Imagine, if you will, a conservative site blogger who is opposed to abortion, yet publically endorses a presidential candidate who voted to fund Planned Parenthood and then bragged about it on tv.

Dante on January 24, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Dante on January 24, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Imagine, if you will, a commenter who doesn’t pay attention enough to know that the blogger endorsed the most pro-life candidate in the primary with any prayer of winning it, and then had to make a choice between a moderately pro-life Republican and an abortion-rights absolutist like Barack Obama. And, by the way, who knew that abortion wasn’t going to be the make-or-break issue in the election.

When you pull your head out of your ass, maybe you can check that out, eh?

Ed Morrissey on January 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Does Ireland have an immigration policy whereby Ireland get’s to decide whom they allow to immigrate and whom they exclude from immigration?

Well, citizens of any EU member state are entitled to take up residence in any other EU member state. (There were a lot of eastern european immigrants during the boom years.) For non-EU countries, applications for work/residency permits are basically dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Certainly, highly educated individuals such as Savita and her husband would breeze through the process. So, to answer your question, yes, it’s a selective process.

zarathustra on January 24, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Ed Morrissey on January 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Don’t waste your time with him Ed, he’s a devout for his cause. He is neither capable of understanding or forgiveness.

nobar on January 24, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Are you really pretending that this type of circumstance defines what is accepted, legally, as “health of the mother?” That is a lie, and the propagation of that lie and others like it is what eliminates the possibility of meaningful and rational debate and policy resolution.

besser tot als rot on January 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

I work in this area,her ‘waters’ ruptured at 17 weeks and was miscarrying.Most cases are due to maternal infection which gets worse when your waters go.Like this patient they can go septic very quickly from infected membranes,if they don’t respond to antibiotic’s it’s unsafe to await miscarriage.
That is what they had to do,they couldn’t induce the pregnancy due to the mother’s condition because of the abortion laws so had to wait until she miscarried, by then she was in muti-organ failure and died

mags on January 24, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Now Ireland has to face its own Roe moment. Let’s hope they choose more wisely than we did, as the 55 million human lives lost here to the principle of abortion-on-demand should attest.

I suppose it’s unfair to expect Ed to be caught up on the political situation in Ireland, but he could at least do some research before hitting the keyboard. To start, any article about the current abortion debate in Ireland that doesn’t bother to mention the Savita case is basically bloggerly malpractice and a disservice to the reader. Savita is the context. This is all about the Savita case, which is pretty much the biggest news item in Ireland of the last several years. Every man, woman, and dog in Ireland knows of and has an opinion on the case.

Secondly, this is nothing like a “Roe moment”. Whatever legislation is introduced will be to clarify the law for doctors on when it is permissible to terminate a pregnancy when the health of the mother is at risk. There is no legislative proposal to introduce on-demand abortion, or anything of the sort, and Ireland is still a long way from that culturally and politically. Arguably it’s already legal to perform a termination if the mother’s life is in danger, but no-one’s really sure exactly what the legal situation is, hence the need for the clarifying legislation. So, nothing whatsoever like a “Roe moment”, I’m sure you’ll be glad to learn.

zarathustra on January 24, 2013 at 6:33 PM

To the baby killers…may the cries of the 55 million keep you awake at night …hopefully changing your darkened heart…until then you are a white washed tomb…your heart and soul is a dark place…….

crosshugger on January 24, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Ed I appreciate the fine moral stand you take on this issue. You need to add the specific context as to why this matter is suddenly an issue in Ireland. It’s a glaring omission that undermines the other points you make.

lexhamfox on January 25, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Well, I have a friend who works on Broadway. He says that he never met a woman who had an abortion and didn’t regret it. These are dancers for the most part, and a pregnancy is career ending in many cases, and they are a pretty freewheeling bunch to start with.

If the 50 million fetus had come to term, what then? Would people willingly support them? Would they just be part of an underclass? And what of the mothers who really are the ultimate payee?

As to the middle class, well, it is their choice and it is on their head not mine. I would also say that we have here a rational self-judgment.

Denver Bob on January 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM