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March 08, 2016


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Now write something like this about DISABLED PEOPLE. Every few days.
We are important and we are capable too.

Nabila Sid

Thank you Chad for this tribute to women in IT.
Merci pour les encouragements. You are a great leader and I am happy to be part of your organization.

Chad Sakac

@Nabilia - merci beaucoup, c'est vraiment mon plaisir! C'est moi qui est chanceux d'etre un membre de votre equippe!

@Tom - watch this: every day is a day to celebrate diversity in all forms. It just so happens that today is Women's day.

Notice multiple times that I point out diversity/discrimination in all it's forms. Yes, disabled people are important, and are capable too.

BTW - seriously, diversity comes in all shapes, sizes and types. I'm a ridiculously short dude (like way off the charts short) - and yup, lots of discrimination through my life (not complaining). My brother is profoundly Autistic, so I have a point of view on that. So, yeah - important to recognize it all.

Ana Vasquez

From guts to reasons, from passion to pragmatism, love your post and appreciate your pause to go into a non technical and yet immensely important topic. Proud that "Our journey to 2020. Diversity and inclusion in technology" at Global PreSales has one of the best possible executive sponsors! Huge task but one that is totally worthy and that will aim to make diversity a core value within our organization.

Shai Harmelin

Great post Chad. We too had a great WIT event in Tel-Aviv that I was proud to attend and work with my fellow XX gender colleagues


Charlie Dellacona

Yes, diversity comes in all sizes and shapes and you do an admirable job of acknowledging it. Except for the unborn. Unique, complete, functioning, growing human beings. For them its death if they so much as exist at an inconvenient moment. And the likes of you will hide behind phrases like women's health care or reproductive rights. But these are thread bare and conceal nothing of the inhumanity when you have to admit an innocent life was ended.

Compared to people who think this way, I'd gladly take a million of Donald Trump.


For the lighter side, having aliens show up isn't always cool or even safe. If you meet a seven foot extra-terrestrial with a document that proposes 'To Serve Man' I suggest you run away quickly. Reality is not always a Roddenberry utopian fantasy.

Nevin Yuksel-Ekici

I came back as usual to check if there was a new post on a technical topic - this was a great surprise!
THANK YOU for covering this topic, and addressing it so well, with great arguments, humor and data!

Chad Sakac

@Nevin - thank you for the comment!

@Charlie - thank you as well. Look, we're going to disagree on this, and that's OK - I respect you, and respect your point of view.

Forgive me for elaborating....

I don't view the topic as black and white, and I land in the 70% of the US population that feels that while there **are** some cases where abortion should be limited, or even restricted - that outright "no" is also inhumane. Limiting all abortions is constraining the rights of the fully developed human being (the woman in this case). That means (to me at least) that this is a question of "where is the line drawn".

I feel that the law of land in the US (Roe v Wade) captures this balance - for example, constraining 3rd trimester abortions.

Where we REALLY disagree - I think that the people in the best position to make what is a difficult decision, one with complex morality questions - that person is the woman, not a person (male or female) far removed from their personal circumstance.

I've known women who have had early-stage abortions - and I've never encountered one who didn't agonize over the decision. They were in a far better place to weigh that decision than I would be.

To me "Reproductive rights" and "women's health" are not "phrases", but rather important fundamental ideas.

My comment re "women's health" in the post was to call out that this phrase is used in Orwellian fashion to attempt to legitimize reducing access to facilities and services... which doesn't hold water when exposed to the light of reason.

I understand for some this is a deeply religious topic, and for others (religious or not) they land on a different side of the morality equation than I do. That's OK.

I don't restrict the rights of those who disagree with me. They are entitled to not have abortions, are entitled to not use birth control.

Others are of course entitled to their point of view.

I just don't think constraining the rights and point of view of others (beyond the law of the land - which is the "group consensus" where to draw the lines) is the right answer.

Seriously, thanks for the comment - the dialog is always useful, and brings society forward (at least in my utopian point of view :-)

Charlie Dellacona

Chad the US supreme court is a very bad place to look for moral guidance, it's the most political part of our government. They get much wrong, must I list some of the real boners they have reversed themselves on over the years? Roe v. Wade is just one more example. The Rehnquist court upheld it by 5-4. If you think that is broad consensus...

As well, I am a convinced atheist, not at all religious. My opinions are, I hope, scientific and logical and based on the otherwise universal concept in all western law that taking of a life must be justified or it is criminal, the underlying assumption is the most basic, you have a right to your life. My comments here are *exclusively* about abortion, all actual health services are another matter entirely.

I don't think all abortions should be prohibited. Those that are necessary to preserve the mother's life are clearly defensible, they are essentially triage. Abortions to end pregnancies that would end in miscarriage and damage the mother's health are also clearly defensible. Abortions of babies that would suffer a short and awful life due to birth defect or similar also seem defensible, though it is a very slippery slope and encourages an awful sort of abuse.

So in that respect it is not black and white. However, those excepted, elective abortions end a life without justification and are thus wrong in the most serious way. No amount of rhetoric about the rights of women can change it.

But I really wanted to get to your central point. Your emphatic assertion that only a pregnant woman is somehow endowed with a superior moral insight as to whether to end a life is specious. Her moral judgement is no different, better or worse, than anyone else's and subject to scrutiny as any other judgement. This line of thought leads to all sorts of silly conclusions. Any criminal could use it as a defense; only he or she could understand the act that all of existing jurisprudence deems unlawful and so is protected because only they are a fit judge. And the fact the wrong doer agonizes about it just adds to their culpability, they clearly know right from wrong and are stressed by it. Seriously, where did get it? You need to think it through.

To close, evolution (god if you must) dealt women a raw deal reproductively. But you cannot sanction mass killing of innocent third parties to rectify it. Given the choice between that and forcing women to deal with the burden it is clear what must be chosen, the innocent right to life is the greater claim.

Chad Sakac

@Charlie - thanks again. Dialog = good.

My point wasn't "supreme court = good" (I think any bureaucracy led by humans is by definition imperfect :-).

Rather - this is a topic where there is a lot of grey. You acknowledge several examples (life of mother, mother's health, baby condition) let me give you some more:

Is a blastocyst (a few cells) alive? Should a hundred cells outweigh a change in the life of a fully conscious human? for perspective, we slough off hundreds of thousands of cells a day from our endometrium.

If not hundred cells - what about a thousand? Where is something alive? How does one draw that line? I don't think that a thousand cells is an innocent life.

If you do think that a blastocyst is alive, then why stop there? Seems arbitrary. By that logic, all artificial insemination would equally be murder (because by definition that requires the creation of many potential lives). But - of course, we all know of many beautiful lives created through artificial insemination - should the whole process be banned? Doesn't that seem a little "not right?"

If you start to say "a blastocyst is the 'potential' of life", so is an inseminated egg (the vast majority of which are naturally aborted). Heck, you could argue that unfertilized eggs and sperm cells themselves are "the potential of life"

... then you end up with "every sperm is sacred" as a Monty Python sketch.

As much as it's funny, it's not - this is a hairball... So - we have a lot of grey - not a little. When there's a lot of grey - I struggle with any "black/white" position.

The position of "I support abortion in some cases, and believe in choice" (my PoV) is by it's nature a grey position. Saying "it's mass murder" doesn't feel too grey. It seems pretty black/white.

I don't say this lightly - I don't think the answer is as clear as your argument suggests. I don't think your arguments are specious - I'm listening, it's a shame you claim mine are specious. That feels a little black and white.

I think the line that was drawn in Roe v Wade is logical (not because it came from a supreme court, but because it has a real attempt to balance the dilemma) - which is to draw the line at "viability outside the womb" (that was - to my understanding - at the core of the 3rd trimester line that was drawn).

My comment "the person CLOSEST to the impact of the decision is in a better place to decide than me" - is actually generalizable to many topics. In this case, yes, it lands on a "male/female" boundary (because as you say "they got a 'raw deal' on reproduction - not the way I would put it).

More generally can be otherwise stated this way: "who am I to judge?" (other than the gross boundaries set in law, and which society as a whole keeps adapting).

If you acknowledge health of the mother - who are you (or I) to force someone into a decision that will affect the rest of their life - if they don't have the same moral code as me (but is within the boundaries of the law - without some boundaries, that "who am I to judge" PoV leads to very unstable society).

I would never judge someone for deciding to take a baby to term based on their choice. I would also not judge someone for deciding to have an abortion (in the limits of the law).

I guess I'm a libertarian on this.

I'm happy to continue the dialog, maybe better face to face next time I'm in your neck of the woods.

Charlie Dellacona

Yes, Chad, a blastocyst is alive. And to anticipate the next question, a one cell zygote is alive. You were one once, I am truly glad no one decided you weren’t alive. I mourn the 30+ million that haven’t fared so well since Roe. On one of other your points, that number justifies the use of the adjective mass, by several powers of 10. All of that, just the US count. I’ll leave other people’s countries to them.

Your reference to ‘our endometrium’ leaves me a bit confused. I don’t have an endometrium; I didn’t think you did either. Nonetheless, none of those cells would, left unmolested, continue along the human development path. So no contradiction here.

If you don’t think a thousand cell blastocyst is alive then explain your existence. You’re alive now. You were a thousand cell blastocyst once. When do you suppose you became alive? Answer: when you became unique and started the biological processes that are caused by that joining of gamete DNA. Prior to the joining of your parental DNA you weren’t unique, and the egg and very lucky sperm cell would have done nothing on their own. BTW, this is why the shrill speaking people in the article you reference talking about ‘egg people’ and ‘spilled sperm people’ are wrong. Once joined, instantiated for geeks, it is a continuous process from fertilization to death. There isn’t a magic moment.

Try this thought experiment. Suppose one of the rovers sent to Mars had observed microscopically a single cell splitting into two more cells and so on, forming the thousand cell blastocyst you mentioned. After seeing the video feed there wouldn’t be a scientist on earth that doubted life had been found.

Now suppose the video feed had been discovered to be hacked, it was really from a medical camera inserted in the uterus of a woman on earth. Real video, but not from Mars. This would be sad; the Mars story is cooler. But the conclusion that life was observed would still be valid because the evidence didn’t change, only the location.

Okay, now onto your artificial insemination questions. I presume you are actually speaking about in vitro fertilization. A process that usually creates many zygotes, only some of which are implanted in the mother’s uterus. So what about the unlucky ones not implanted, aren’t they alive? Yes, they are, and they die as a result of not being implanted. But this isn’t abortion. First, left alone they would die because the uterus support structure isn’t available. Second, there isn’t an intentional act that causes the death. Unlike abortion, this is a death by natural cause, not at the hand of man. There is no guilty mind. So, IVF doesn’t seem objectionable to me.

I suppose this is a good place to say I thought the python skit was hilarious as well.

Also, you are a little too free with my words regarding exceptions for the health of the mother. I didn’t say health generally, I said when pregnancy was doomed to miscarriage and would damage the mother’s health, specifically tubular pregnancies.

You ask if “Should a hundred cells outweigh a change in the life of a fully conscious human.” You clearly don’t think it should. Congratulations on this question, it crystalizes our difference. I think it is science that the 100 [or 1] cell(s) you speak about is a human life. You propose through an intentional act to end it, which is killing. You have no justification for the taking of this life other than it might unfavorably change the life of another human being. Intentionally ending a human life without justification is criminal. I’m not sorry to be black and white about that point. Some things really are black and white. Have the moral courage to realize it.

Saying ‘who am I to judge’ is an abdication of civic responsibility. Civilization is based on judgements that become laws. Society judges all the time, letting everyone do anything they want based on ‘who I am to judge’ only produces anarchy which isn’t utopia.

I replied to you on here because you asked me a lot of questions here. If you want to continue it in person or not at all, it is fine with me.

I acknowledge your willingness to openly discuss issues like this one, most people wouldn’t do it in public.

Chad Sakac

@Charlie Thanks again for the comments and dialog Charlie.

I suspect we'll agree to disagree, but your comments make me reflect (as I hope mine do for you).

I'll give you one more (not trying to drag this on and on) - there absolutely is a guilty mind in the IVF example - the hopeful parents (knowing they are starting a process that will by definition create that circumstance), and the medial facility and employees (that knowingly perpetuate that process). Now, I have no substantial issue with either personally - because I've been clear that I don't view the zygote in some hallowed way. But - I don't think there's a coherency in the argument if you do. If you follow your train of logic that the cells on Mars are alive, how is that different than a blastocyst in a petri dish?

That all said, I think that's important (to think and reflect on the thoughts and points of view of others) both for me, and the other readers.

Perhaps one last comment (though of course you're more than welcome to continue to post, and I've never censored content on the blog) - my "who am I to judge" has another root.

This is the second time (in more than 3000 blogs) where this topic was brought up (by me) triggered by a IWD blog post. The commentary and debate triggered both times on this sub topic (the original post referred to the topic of reproductive rights is not the main thrust of either original post) was almost completely by males (including me).

I wonder if someone did data analysis of arguments made on this topic over the years in all forms of media and looked at the sex of the source (male/female) what one might find.

I wonder if we perhaps might be missing a perspective because by definition, the circumstance we're talking about can never happen to us. Perhaps it makes the dialog analytical, not personal. That doesn't mean the opinions aren't valid - just perhaps missing important perspective.

Men - if you have a strong opinion on this, reach out to the women around you, and ask them for their point of view.

Then, reach out to people who aren't in your "inner circle" (where values tend to reinforce each other) and talk to them - just like Charlie and I have here. In general, it's a good idea to build a diverse set of points of view and arguments - and expand your thinking.

And THAT is perhaps the strongest argument for the need for more diversity in all forms. That bringing many different points of view to bear is a powerful force to getting to better answers.

I do look forward to perhaps the opportunity to talk about it F2F one of these days!

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