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Published: December 30, 2012 8:57 pm to Opinion Column

Encouraging abstinence is about truth, not judgment

I help run a couple of pro-life blogs on tumblr, and while I like to see what questions and suggestions are submitted, some of them almost make me want to pull my hair out.

Those who are using tumblr and accessing blogs that deal with the likes of pregnancy and abortion should be aware that sex can and does create babies and that sometimes birth control can fail, and thus abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy. There are a few reasons to remain abstinent, but the most obvious one is to be sure you don’t get pregnant when you’re not ready. That being said, I and others who help run these blogs like to point this out and remind any followers and viewers of the benefits of abstinence. So I’ve mentioned, in an encouraging tone, abstinence on quite a few occasions.

Except encouraging or suggesting, or even just mentioning, abstinence apparently makes me out to be someone who wants to control people’s sex lives, or dictate when it’s okay and not okay to have sex. That is not what I’m doing at all. Apparently, by stating the truth, though, I’m making judgment calls.

I like to encourage others to remain abstinent, but to help them, not to control or judge them. From my personal experiences, I do believe that abstinence will genuinely be best for someone in the long run in the emotional and spiritual sense. Could such reasons for remaining abstinent be subjective? Perhaps. Except there is another, objective reason for remaining abstinent, which is to avoid pregnancy with a 100% success rate.

I do try to see where pro-choice individuals are coming from, especially when responding to their questions and comments on tumblr. But what I have a low tolerance for is the refusal to deal with sexuality in a responsible way that acknowledges the reality of the situation. I am going to recommend abstinence, but if my recommendation is not taken, then there’s nothing I can really do about two adults consenting to have sex with each other. Sex is enjoyable for many people, and so they do have sex for reasons other than having children. No intent, though, will change the fact that children can and do come from fertile people having sex.

When I remind someone, anybody, about abstinence, I am not making a judgment call. I am simply reminding them about the truth behind sexuality and how to really be responsible. If you have sex and use birth control, then yes, you are being responsible with your sex life. You are not being fully responsible, though, until you acknowledge the reproductive nature of sex and the fact that birth control can and does fail. That is why if you wish to be as responsible and as sure as you can be, there is always abstinence.

About Rebecca Downs

Rebecca Downs graduated from Fordham University in August 2012, where she was a member of the Respect for Life club and College Republicans. After writing for Live Action News since March 2012, she is thrilled to be involved at the Live Action office. She has also written for IRD's Juicy Ecumenism, Secular Pro-Life Perspective's and C-FAM. She first became interested in the Live Action campaign at the March for Life in 2010.
View all posts by Rebecca Downs

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    Let’s call abstinence “Plan A” and let’s have back up plans for if “Plan A” fails (since it almost always does). Plan B could be pre-emptive education in responsible contraception use.

    • Basset_Hound

      Ummmm Gordon….

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been going with “Plan B” since the late 1960′s and here’s how it’s actually worked out.

      1) Out of wedlock births have risen from 5% in the 60′s to more than half today.

      2) Previously there were only two known STD’s, gonorrhea and syphilis. Now there are more than 20. Now one in five carries at least one type of STD.

      That hardly seems to be a track record to be proud of.

      As for “Plan A”….

      1) Abstinence education is effective in convincing teens to delay the onset of sexual activity until their 20′s when they are more likely to have completed enough education to become self-supporting. It has also been demonstrated that teen girls who delay sex are more likely to go to college and to have a higher level of academic achievement.

      2) People who delay the onset of sexual activity have fewer partners, and thus less risk of STD’s as well as pregnancy. They are also less likely to experience the constant “hook up and break up” cycle that makes it more difficult to form long term relational bonds and thus healthy marriages.

    • Rebecca Downs

      I’m sorry, but it is almost laughable to say that abstinence “almost always does” fail. The act of not having sexual intercourse, or outercourse, does not fail. You cannot create something out of nothing. if abstinence fails, it is because humans decide to bypass this fool proof method. So let’s blame it on human decision making then, not the practice. If you do not clarify, your statement may be incorrect and misleading. I see the benefits of both abstinence education and non planned parenthood sex education programs with opt out options. But if we say that abstinence “almost always does” fail, never mind that that statement is not even necessarily correct, it is declaring that we cannot trust teens or ourselves to have self restraint, but rather must just become slaves to sexual desires, and so we’re too sexual to trust or turn to a fool proof method in front of us, so why bother.

  • Josephine (D)

    Can you give us a link to the blogs you run on Tumblr? =)

  • Basset_Hound

    “Except encouraging or suggesting, or even just mentioning, abstinence apparently makes me out to be someone who wants to control people’s sex lives, or dictate when it’s okay and not okay to have sex. ”

    You forgot one, Rebecca. You’re also “telling poor people they shouldn’t be having sex”. The idiocy of this argument never ceases to amaze me.

    • Sorites Paradox

      Idiocy? That is exactly what you’re doing. If you think it sounds stupid to tell poor women they shouldn’t have sex, well, maybe you should stop saying it.

      “Nice try…got a dead end crappy job and no husband? How about not having sex in the first place.”

      Sound familiar? Sound like telling poor women they shouldn’t have sex? Those are YOUR words. Unbelievable.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

        I really don’t see a problem with suggesting that poor women to abstain from sex, even if they’re married. (NFP, for the win!) My husband and I are a perfect example of this, too. We are currently not able to provide for a child, as our only source of income is an E1 salary. As such, there are certain days when we practice abstinence in order to avoid pregnancy. It hasn’t killed us thus far, and I highly doubt that it is going to.

        Using the sympto-thermal method is cheap, natural, and effective. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070221065200.htm) And, we both know what is going on at all times. The teamwork, love, and commitment involved has had a profound impact on our marriage, as well. Why in Heaven’s name shouldn’t we be encouraging lower-income couples to abstain when the situation requires it?

        In the case of an unmarried woman, why wouldn’t you suggest that she abstain all together, poor or not? Sex outside of marriage results in broken families, landing the children with emotional baggage that they do not need. The mother will inevitably become overworked and thus will not be able to do her best in her professional life or her home life. I have seen this happen first hand to multiple families. It isn’t pretty. It’s messy and painful for all parties involved. Perhaps what women need is a little less superficial hand-holding and a little more honest, caring advice that takes their best interests into account, regardless of whether or not said advice provides an easy way out.

        • Sorites Paradox

          “We are currently not able to provide for a child, as our only source of income is an E1 salary.”

          I’m glad then that my tax dollars will help pay for your offspring then, if your NFP ever fails. Responsible. Or will you be giving it up for adoption?

          “In the case of an unmarried woman, why wouldn’t you suggest that she abstain all together, poor or not?….Sex outside of marriage results in broken families.”

          You mean “can” result in broken families.

          And to answer your question… even though I know you already know the answer… Because physically intimate relationships are an important part of the vast majority of adults’ lives, and with modern contraceptives women and men can enjoy this intimacy and these relationships without plunging into financial ruin. Adults take calculated risks with larger repercussions than sex all the time (hint: this is also the reason poor women, like yourself, are “allowed” to have sex).

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            Honey, are you able to read? If so, then please explain to me why you have an issue with me and my husband utilizing NFP, but apparently do not have a problem with an unmarried, lower-income woman having sex while using other forms of family planning. The link I provided clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the sympto-thermal method. We are about as likely to end up pregnant as the average couple who is using the pill. Here’s the link again: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070221065200.htm

            And, are you suggesting that if we DO end up in the 0.4% of NFP users who correctly apply the sympto-thermal method but still end up pregnant, my husband’s salary and benefits are suddenly the equivalent of welfare? Seriously?

            “Because physically intimate relationships are an important part of the
            vast majority of adults’ lives, and with modern contraceptives women and men can enjoy this intimacy and these relationships without plunging into financial ruin.” Wait, wait, wait… So, it’s not okay for a married service member to take “calculated risks” when he has sex with his wife, but it IS ok for an unmarried man and woman to take a calculated risk. A risk that could seriously harm the child that is produced, if and when the couple splits. It’s that kind of mentality that produces situations like this: http://now.msn.com/man-with-30-kids-wants-state-help-to-pay-his-child-support

            I’m sure premarital sex sounds like great fun for the two adults involved. Are you ever going to consider the children, though? According to the CDC, roughly 85% of children diagnosed with a personality order are from single-parent households. Here’s a neat little study the CDC did on children who grew up in nuclear families vs. non-nuclear families: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_246.pdf Surprise, surprise! Children who grow up without one of their parents are far more likely to have behavioral problems. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why, I’m sure. A child can only take so much stress in their family life until it starts to impact their health. And, the stressors are nearly as bad for the mothers themselves. My cousin is one of the many women who were suckered into the lie that is sexual liberation. She is now the single mother of a seven year old boy who has both ADHD and Asperger syndrome. Needless to say, she is not exactly the healthiest or happiest of women.

            The problem with the ideology that you are spouting is that it attempts to divorce sexual intercourse from it’s primary biological function. It may feel good and it may be fun, but sex exists in order to allow our species to procreate. Trying to ignore that fact can only throw a woman into emotional, financial, and spiritual ruin. Marriage is the foundation of the family. And, no child would ever want to grow up without a family. It has been repeatedly proven to be damaging to their health. Therefore, it is unfair that we, as adults, should place our own wants and desires above the welfare of our children.

          • Sorites Paradox

            “Honey, are you able to read?”

            I was using sarcasm to illustrate my point- that one’s financial situation isn’t a green light or a red light as to whether one gets to enjoy sex. Christ. Of COURSE I support you having non-procreative sex with your husband. Its your CHOICE. Just like I would support an unmarried woman’s choice. Apparently I have to go back to simpler forms of communication.

            “And, are you suggesting that if we DO end up in the 0.4% of NFP users
            who correctly apply the sympto-thermal method but still end up pregnant, my husband’s salary and benefits are suddenly the equivalent of welfare? Seriously?”

            Don’t backtrack. You were the one who said you couldn’t support a child. Not me. Ergo, welfare/ medicare, whatever.

            I’m not interested in debating the value of the traditional family with you because it will not be interesting to me. And I agree with you- in a perfect world, it would be better for kids to be born with two loving parents present in economically stable conditions. So save your hyperbole.

            But here’s a question I have for you: If the traditional family is so much better for children than single parenthood, and if we must place our children’s welfare above our own, then do you support taking the children from unmarried women and placing them for adoption with women in traditional marriages?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            “You were the one who said you couldn’t support a child.” And that automatically means that I’d turn to welfare? I am fortunate enough to come from a traditional family. My husband, my mother, and my father would rather die than watch our child go onto welfare. It’s called loyalty and pride. Once upon a time, most families had that. Now, we just throw Grannie into the nursing home and Baby into the school/daycare that may or may not be safe. Usually without a second thought. All thanks to the self-centered mentality that you are currently endorsing!

            “I’m not interested in debating the value of the traditional family with you…” So, you’re not really interested in this topic at all? The value of the traditional family is exactly why most people would advise against premarital sex, after all. Sounds like a cop out to me.

            If you’re asking whether or not I think that the children of single mothers should be kidnapped and give them to traditional families, then no. Nice attempt to demonize me, though! If a couple is willing to buy a victim of trafficking, they quite obviously are treating the child as a commodity. Their focus is not on helping another human being, but on fulfilling their own desires. Their mentality is no different than the single woman who had sex without considering the possible ramifications for her children.

            And, there is no “If the traditional family is so much better.” It is better. It has been proven, again and again.

          • Sorites Paradox

            “I am fortunate enough to come from a traditional family. My husband, my mother, and my father would rather die than watch our child go onto
            welfare. It’s called loyalty and pride.”

            Sigh. So you *can* support a child after all, if you had to. My mistake. Next time I will assume you mean the exact opposite of what you say.

            “Now, we just throw Grannie into the nursing home and Baby into the
            school/daycare that may or may not be safe. Usually without a second
            thought. All thanks to the self-centered mentality that you are
            currently endorsing!”

            I do not recall endorsing anything of the sort. All I originally suggested that people should be allowed to have responsible sex. Calm down.

            “Nice attempt to demonize me, though!”

            It was just a question. I was thinking back to the Baby Scoop Era, where this was a common “solution” for unmarried women and their babies in a society that didn’t support single parenthood. Just wondering if you concurred, because you so vehemently support the traditional family.

            Can you see now why I’m not interested in talking to you about this anymore? You’re not listening at all to what I’m saying. Have a nice evening.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            You obviously have trouble with the English language… I said that my husband and I cannot provide for a child. That does not mean that the rest of my family would be unable or unwilling to help, however. My husband and I would not plan a pregnancy if we could not pay for food and diapers on our own. We have no desire to give my parents additional financial burdens, if we can help it. Perhaps you are unable to understand because you have only been exposed to the typical “I, my, me, mine” mentality of today?

            If the mother is willing to put her child up for adoption, then it very well could be a solution. Usually, “taking” does not imply a voluntary action on both sides of the situation. If you are “taking children from unmarried women and placing them for adoption,” it gives the impression that the mother had no choice. Adoption should be about giving, not taking. Either you need help with your syntax, or you are attempting to change the meaning of your original question.

            Yes, you have been endorsing a self-centered mentality. “Because physically intimate relationships are an important part of the vast majority of adults’ lives, and with modern contraceptives women and men can enjoy this intimacy and these relationships without plunging into financial ruin. Adults take calculated risks with larger repercussions than sex all the time.” This quote implies that it is acceptable to take risks with your children’s wellbeing in order to make yourself feel good. I don’t know what could more selfish than that, really. This selfishness is the key to the majority of our problems.

          • Sorites Paradox

            “Perhaps you are unable to understand because you have only been exposed to the typical “I, my, me, mine” mentality of today?”

            Do you know the first thing about me? No. You don’t. F* off.

            Look-you sit here and talk about not being able to support a baby, oh, and then you are able too (you’d never go on welfare), but then you wouldn’t put a burden on your parents…. come on. I can’t divine your situation, you changed your story 3 times. And yet, you still aren’t even totally abstinent, so you’re not even practicing what you preach because the sympto-thermal method DOES have failure rate.

            “This quote implies that it is acceptable to take risks with your children’s wellbeing in order to make yourself feel good.”

            No “child” exists at this point in time. Besides, by that logic, you’re clearly willing to put your child at risk as well, because you’re not totally abstinent, and you can’t properly provide for your child without burdening everyone else. Sounds pretty self-centered. I’ll I’m asking you to do is quit being such a bleeping hypocrite and get your nose out of other women’s sex lives.

            I don’t even know what to do with the fact that you can’t tell that I was asking you do do a short thought experiment with the adoption question. What I asked you was whether you believed babies should be taken or not, whether through social stigma or law, as they used to be. If it is SO important for children to be with traditional families, why then, would you NOT advocate for pressuring single mothers to give up their babies? That’s the logical conclusion to your argument. I can’t believe I had to spell that out for you.

            You seem unable to answer this question or to follow that train of thought. Not my problem.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            Ahhh…. And now we get in to the typical name-calling that your kind is prone to. Knew it would happen eventually. Believe it or not, it actually puts me a little at ease.

            Ok. Let’s try this again. My personal situation is such that my husband and I are unable to provide for a child on our own. Therefore, we currently abstain from sex for two weeks out of the month in order to avoid pregnancy. (The chances of my getting pregnant are slim to none, btw. Another great thing about NFP- You dictate the level of protection that you give yourself.) If I WERE to become pregnant before we are financially stable, I know without a doubt that my family would help. However, my husband and I are not moochers. We feel no desire to have a child that we cannot feed by ourselves. In addition, he has stated that it would be an affront to his pride if anyone else had to feed and clothe his children, even his in-laws. Make sense now? Or are you so devoid of character that this eludes you? (See, I can insult people too! lol)

            The risk that my husband and I take are risks that would primarily affect us and other adults, not our children. If I happen to get pregnant (which is a slim possibility), we know for a fact that they will be fed and clothed. We may have to do without and we may have to accept the charity of my parents, but our children would not starve. And, we are *married.* We are willing and able to provide our future children with a stable home life. Unmarried couples are unable to do so; thus, it is only logical that society should discourage premarital sex.

            I do not advocate for the forcible removal of children from their single mothers because I recognize the dangers in letting the government decide who is and who is not a fit parent. My best friend studied in China for a year. I heard more than enough horror stories from her to understand that forcibly taking children from their parents (unless their parents have been deemed completely and totally unfit, as in a case that I once witnessed where a four month old tested positive for cocaine), to understand that it would inevitably lead to human trafficking. If, however, the mother knows that she cannot take care of her child, adoption is certainly a viable option. It should be encouraged, especially in cases where abuse and neglect are likely to occur. How many ways do I need to answer this question for you?

          • Basset_Hound

            The only thing I can add to your excellent posts is to say that when you DO decide to have children, the kids will be very lucky to have two well grounded, articulate parents.

          • Sorites Paradox

            Basset- “Of course, my elaborating comments were ignored by someone who is more
            interested in being a Jedi Snark Master than in having a conversation.”

            I
            have a (more than) full time job. Sorry if you’re at the bottom of my
            priority list. And here’s why: On another thread, I listed several
            concrete suggestions that would improve situations for mothers in the
            work place. These legal and policy reforms would allow more women to
            keep their babies, rather than feeling they had to abort or adopt out.
            Not a SINGLE “pro-lifer” bothered to engage with me in this discussion, or even agree with it.
            It appears as if you all are only interested in solutions that involve
            yelling at women for having sex, because it requires no effort or
            sacrifice from you other than moral outrage. The ONLY response you
            provided was to whine about the existence of anti-discrimination laws
            because they are “expensive,” call it useless, and just continue to say that women shouldn’t have sex. So I decided to quit responding to you.

            As
            to the NFP lady- you flung the first insult. But of course after
            accusing me of being “Perhaps you are unable to understand because you
            have only been exposed to the typical “I, my, me, mine” mentality of
            today” and I respond disfavorably to this kind of drivel, it’s typical
            of “my kind.” Forgive me at not leaping at the chance to engage in
            “conversation” with you, especially because you couldn’t even answer my
            questions.

            And calvin is just a little creeper who follows my
            posts around this site, looking for an excuse to call me “disturbed.” Hey, calvin, quit with the slander! And
            “Sorty”? Do you even know what the Sorites Paradox is?

          • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

            “Hey, calvin, quit with the slander!”

            Show us some reason to believe you’ve overcome your prejudices, and my currently-valid assessment of you will change to reflect your moral & intellectual growth.

            “Do you even know what the Sorites Paradox is?”

            If you think my snarky play on your screen name is seriously evidence of ignorance, than you’re even worse at this stuff than I thought.

          • Basset_Hound

            “Not a SINGLE “pro-lifer” bothered to engage with me in this discussion, or even agree with it”

            Excuse me? I remember posting a comment that I actually had a lot of respect for Feminists for Life. I also supported your assertion that pregnant women in the workplace DO face challenges and injustices in the workplace.

            However, I pointed out that anti-discrimination laws had unintended consequences. They have become so broadly misapplied that they were actually counter-productive. Employers are actually reluctant to hire women and the disabled because the laws have become so grossly misapplied that a poor work habit (such as chronic lateness, or a hair trigger temper) or even substance abuse can be classified as a “disability”. Therefore, they are faced with the choice of sucking up the costs of the loss of productivity incurred by working around an incompetent employee or the tremendous costs of litigation if they should choose to terminate them (even if they prevailed in court) Your response went something along the lines of “You disagree with me. Therefore you are stupid”. I guess I should have known better when I saw references to the “freakshows” at someone else’s blog, and to myself as the “resident Rhodes scholar”. And dare I forget..”I don’t know about you, but for a thinking woman….” Priceless.

            And as for “whining”, we have enough material from your previous post alone for a 30 minute instructional “how to” Power Point presentation.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            Thank you! It’s nice to have someone reaffirming our decisions, seeing as all of popular culture seems to be out to sabotage us. lol.

          • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

            “Do you know the first thing about me? No. You don’t. F* off.”

            Oh, you’ve given us more than enough for a reliable, if preliminary, personality sketch. It’s not flattering.

            Brittany, love your comments. Just a heads-up: Sorty’s a longtime, deeply disturbed commenter whose issues with pro-lifers run far deeper than even these screeds indicate. She’s sometimes fun to spar with for a while to tease out the various fallacies and prejudices her comments inevitably reveal, but if you’ve got better things to do, don’t expect her to come around.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            Thanks, Calvin. I don’t really debate types like her in order to convert them to my line of thinking, so it doesn’t matter if she’s intellectually dishonest. If I’m lucky, maybe someone else will read this thread and gain some insights they might not have thought of before. :) That is really the reason behind all debate, right?

          • bubbalouwee

            I agree with Brittany Baylor, as she is explaining excellent reasons as to why sexual activity needs to stay within parameters. Your reasoning, however, is seriously flawed, kind of like, well, if you want to go have sexual activity with a water buffalo, go ahead, it very well may be enjoyable and the joy of the experience exceeds all the consequences.

          • Sorites Paradox

            Idiot. It’s more like this:

            If you decide to go for a joy ride, and you get into a car accident and kill someone, you are not punished if you were not negligent. Even if you knew there was a chance of getting into an accident.

            You just had to drive to the store! Damn the consequences!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            The primary function of sex is to procreate. You do not have to have sex to survive. The primary function of a car is not to kill. If you do not have access to food and supplies elsewhere, you may have to drive to the store to survive. Your example is inherently flawed.

          • Sorites Paradox

            And yet, the “need” to drive is irrelevant to the determination of rights and liability after a car accident. Try again.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            Ok… You still make no sense. No one is making the argument that premarital sex should be outlawed, so what do “rights” have to do with it? And as for liability… If you were not negligent and you still ended up in an accident, either another party involved was negligent (and is therefore held accountable) or you were involved in some sort of freak accident. The freak accident is the equivalent of a miscarriage, if you insist on using this metaphor. Going for your “joyride” (meaning, having sex) and killing the child that is produced is much like going for an actual joyride, driving head first into a lake, then saving yourself, abandoning the other person in the car, and failing to call 911. You were behind the wheel; the other person was just along for the ride. Abandoning the victim of the accident is negligent.

          • Bubbalouwee

            Human sexuality is unitive and procreative. It binds you to your mate. It is not smart to glue two boards together and then try to tear them apart at a later date. The unitive and procreative aspects of human sexuality cannot be seperated. Thus, invitro fertilization is very wrong, as it has taken out the unitive. Children are not commodities to be traded. To ignore the unitive and procreative aspects of human sexuality is to live a lie. Jesus Christ is the answer and He can set you free.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158918569 Brittany Baylor

            May I have permission to use that in the future? I swear I nearly died laughing when I read it. xD

  • Bubbalouwee

    What is wrong with passing judgment on human actions? Sexual relations outside of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is wrong. Abstinence is good and can be practiced at times even within marriage to strengthen the bond of marriage. We are not to judge individuals, but we can judge the actions. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Sexual activity outside of marriage and taking chemicals to kill the offspring are serious sins. The blood of Jesus Christ cleans the soul and washes away sin. Our society is suffering excruciating pain because it accepts sin as normal behavior. One of the seven spiritual works of mercy is to admonish sinners and another is to instruct the ignorant. Shout the truth from the roof tops. Who cares if people think we are light headed? We should care about serving Jesus and spreading the truth and not about what others think.

    • Rebecca Downs

      Yes, I love the “love the sinner, hate the sin” comment!

  • Sorites Paradox

    “Also, the primary function of sex is to procreate. The primary function of a car is not to kill people.”

    This is ALSO irrelevant to the determination of rights and liabilities after an accident. I know that analogical reasoning is hard. That’s why they put it on the SAT and the LSAT.

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