Abortion for Convenience?

Vigilant subway riders will have spotted the “Abortion Changes You” campaign — in all its tacky instances. One example, for discussion:

One can imagine that abortion does, in fact, change you — that’s why it’s a serious choice: one not to be taken lightly, and one not to be coaxed into, or out of. Like the decision to have a child.

I stress the decisional aspect of raising a child because, in the modern era, regardless of how you feel about abortion, it is a choice. By disputing that it is a choice — and not just arguing that the exercise of the choice would be wrong — this RedState article on the subject probably gives us more information than the author ever intended. If, after all, abortion isn’t just a bad decision, but no decision at all, the minute a pregnancy occurs, the woman must carry it to term, not because there’s no moral alternative, but because that’s the way of things.

We — men — don’t often look at it this way, but, combined with the far right’s hostility to responsible sex education, this is a very deterministic way to look at a woman’s life. Under this reasoning, the world can alter a woman in a way that she cannot alter the world, and bind her, and her alone, to a future that she was, in every instance, not alone in choosing, and in which she sometimes had no choice.

Conservatives can take the position that an abortion for “convenience” (read: any reason other than grave danger to health) is an immoral act, but instead of acknowledging the difficulties it creates, they demonize women expressing valid concerns as selfish, mock those who share them, and in no way attempt to avoid the difficulty by providing meaningful pre- or post-pregnancy support structures. When was the last time you heard conservatives speak honestly about contraception, or push for incentives, whether public or private, for affordable neonatal care, or day care for working mothers? Until that happens, the anti-choice lobby — and yes, even the women who populate it — shouldn’t, and won’t, be able to avoid being characterized as anti-feminist. Maybe a fetus isn’t a “choice,” but nor is a woman a passive vessel for the state to control, and then ignore.

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94 comments

  1. It’s interesting that you find these posters ‘tacky’. I find them to be among the most tasteful (if that workd applies to this subject) anti-abortion ads I’ve ever seen. I suspect any poster advocating a conservative position falls under that label though.

  2. As for the conservative stance on abortion: It’s a ridiculous to suggest that our position isn’t acceptable without the appropriate ‘pre- or post-pregnancy support structures’. You ignore the fundamental belief among pro-life advocates that abortion is murder. Along those lines that’s like saying it’s wrong to be opposed to the murder of adults if you’re not willing to offer services that would mitigate the frequency of murder. Simply, murder is wrong. That is the baseline. Sure – we can always do more to prevent those murders, but what you are essentially saying is that without those ancillary services in place murder is the only option.

    Let’s be clear here – putting a child up for adoption is absolutely free for the mother. Additionally, pregnant women choosing that route often receive better care because the adoptive parents foot the bill.

    And abortion for convienance makes up a high % of the abortions in this country. Many, many abortions are repeat visits, meaning the mother has had a previous abortion. Given that reality, I’m not sure what policy proposal could persuade them to keep their pants on.

    1. I don’t believe abortion is murder. 90% of all abortions occur before week 11. You cannot verify or prove that a clump of growing cells at this stage has any degree of consciousness or self-awareness at this stage. There is barely a brain stem.

      Now you may believe such a clump has a soul or some sort of self-awareness, but I do not, and more importantly YOU CANNOT LEGISLATE a matter of faith and belief. I could not, for example, order you to pass up an appendectomy on the grounds that I believe your appendix has a soul.

      Human beings, on the other hand, can be demonstrably shown to think, act, and feel. Therefore, killing or damaging them is against the law.

      Now you may believe such a clump has a soul or some sort of self-awareness, but I do not, and more importantly YOU CANNOT LEGISLATE a matter of faith and belief. I could not, for example, order you to pass up an appendectomy on the grounds that I believe your appendix has a soul.

      1. Jenny – if a woman is 11 weeks pregnant and she is murdered, how many counts of murder should be placed against the killer?

        1. Of course one unless the fetus is viable on its own. Most jurisdictions (correctly) do not consider a fetus to be a person.

          1. Actually ‘most’ jurisdictions DO have fetal homicide laws. There are only 12 states that do not. Here’s your homework for tonight:

            http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14386

            “Currently, at least 38 states have fetal homicide laws. The states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

            At least 21 states have fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy (“any state of gestation,” “conception,” “fertilization” or “post-fertilization”)”

            1. They have very new and untested laws that are often not enforced and rarely brought to trial, I might have said.

              In any case, you have avoided the question I put to you about why you should be able to compel me to believe that a fetus has a soul, when this is non-verifiable by any measure.

              1. Show me an anti-murder law geared towards adults that references a soul. Homocide law is not based on the existence of a soul. So, personally, I don’t care if you believe in a fetal soul or not. It’s simply about whether or not we consider it to be a life. 38 states seem to indicate through their fetal homicide laws that they do.

                1. You are still edging out of the defining what you mean by life. A carrot plant has a “life.” By life, I suspect you mean “consciousness.” Again, a matter for faith and belief, which are private matters.

                  1. My personal definition is irrelvant. I’m telling you that the definition of ‘life’ is arbitrary from a LEGAL standpoint. The state can place the bar anywhere they want without venturing into articles of faith.

                    1. You’re exaggerating AND avoiding the question. The state could not, for example, define eating a carrot as murder. You say conservatives oppose abortion on the grounds it is the taking of a life. I’m asking you how you are defining life here.

                    2. My definition is conception. But I also recognize that is a personal opinion based on my experiences as a parent and certain issues of faith, so I am also okay with the state setting the bar at a later date. I think the start of the 2nd trimester has the best chance of legal approval, but I would obviously love to see it sooner.

                      But you were saying all this nonsense about how I have no right to tell you a soul exists, yadda yadda. I’m not, and the state wouldn’t be either if they outlawed abortion tomorrow. They would simply be stating that they believe a fetus is a life. No religious justification necessary.

                    3. The state CANNOT just arbitarily claim something to be true. There would need to be proposals, opinion, debate, etc.

                      And you are still denying that your objection to taking a “life” is rooted in anything other in your personal belief.

                    4. Of course it can. For example, the state used to say that women had less rights than they do now. Then they discovered they actually had more rights. Nothign changed about the nature of women. Society changed and re-evaluated how it though of women. The state can decide tomorrow that a fetus is a life. There’s no way to legally prove it isn’t. So it’s arbitrary.

                    5. Uh, they actually had to have many years of campaigning and public debate and legislative challenges to give women the vote. Nothing arbitrary about it. I think you don’t understand how law is made in the slightest.

                      And the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that a fetus is a life in this case, since you are seeking to establish a new precedent. You simply can’t do it without a resort to faith.

                    6. Right, many years of campaigning and then Congress made an arbitrary decision to give women the right to vote. It’s not as though the Suffragettes presented some new scientific evidence that yes, they could be reliable voters. They just persuaded Congress to change the law. At the end of the day it was still some Congressmen saying, “Y’know, I think women CAN vote and we SHOULD let them,” and then they changed the law.

                      If Congress decided unanimously tomorrow to make abortion illegal and amended the constitution to say so, that’s the end of it. There would be absolutely no need for anyone to prove anything about a fetus. And that’s my point, it doesn’t take an argument of faith to change the law. It just takes a persuasive public that forces their reps to change their mind.

                    7. It doesn’t have to be faith-based at all. If the public demands it then legislators are obligated to comply. Right now there is a heavy amount of support for further restrictions on abortion. Congress can simply say, “the public has decided that personhood begins at an earlier stage than laid out in Roe.” You have no way of arguing that it doesn’t begin sooner, because, as previously stated, personhood is not scientifically definable. It’s a matter of opinion, similar to ‘adulthood’ (18 being an arbitrary line in the sand drawn by lawmakers).

                    8. I’m tired of your being disingenuous and dishonest. You can’t admit that the only reasons you or Nat Hentoff can come up with for enacting a ban on abortion would be faith based or making the DEMONSTRABLY FALSE claim that “life” equals sentience and consciousness. You cannot impose your beliefs about life on another. I’m tired of dealing with you. Goodbye.

                  2. You still can’t face the fact that the only reason for Congress TO decide to make such a change would be faith based. Your “persuasive public” has to have a basis on which to change law, and it has none other than that it is forcing beliefs on pregnant women.

                    1. Jenny – Congress makes morality-based decisions all the time without involving faith. Because you seem to like abortion I know you think that’s the only criteria people use but many Americans oppose abortion for grounds that have absolutely nothing to do with faith. I have friends who are atheists and oppose abortion on moral grounds that are completely terrestial.

                      Here’s just one:

                      http://www.godlessprolifers.org/home.html

              2. I should also mention that you’re wrong on these laws being ‘untested.

                http://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/statechallenges.html

                10 challenges by my count that have all been unsuccessful. I think California’s law has been on the books since 1970.

                1. Untested means that there has not been time to build up a meaningful corpus of case law.

                  1. Right… the laws have been challenged and ruled constitutional. If you want to say that isn’t ‘testing’ them…sure.

                    1. I don’t think you understand how case law works.

                    2. California’s law has been in place 40 years. No testing?

                    3. 10 cases in 40 years — wow, looks like they bring that charge in a case ALL THE TIME amid the thousands and thousands of other cases during those 40 years. You clearly do not understand case law.

                    4. Look Jenny, you were wrong when you said that fetal homicide laws only exist in a few jurisdictions when they are actually in 76% of the states in this country (plus the federal law). You had your facts wrong and now you are trying to talk your way out of it.

                      There’s usually a reason when 10 challenges in a row are unsuccessful. Just admit it Jenny – fetal homicide laws have passed the test and they’re here to stay.

                    5. There IS NO CASE LAW ON THIS. There is no mass of opinions, ruling, and precedents that collectively form a basis on which to form legal decisions.

                      The charge of fetal homicide is rarely brought, and then usually as an added charge to the count of murder of the pregnant woman. Despite what you say, they have not been tested through jurisprudence.

                    6. I don’t get what the deal is. Those cases are all where the death of the fetus was wrought by someone other than the mother, thus defeating the mother’s expectancy interest in the child’s life, not the state’s.

  3. Yeah, but Mike, IF they can’t be persuaded to keep their pants on – and I would add its none of your business or mine who a woman takes her pants off to – then whether they have access to contraception, and the knowledge to use it is a very real issue. humans are, as you have alluded to many times in your marriage related posts, sexual beings, and since the “natural” outcome of sex is often conception, if we limit access to birth control, decrease or eliminate fact-based sex ed, and then prevent any abortion, what you’ve essentially created is a society where women can’t freely express their sexuality because there is a high likelihood they will become pregnant. That is a society I don’t care to live in nor raise my three daughters in, simply because they do not deserve such treatment. And many of your conservative fellow travelers want just that – a society where women can’t be sexual creatures unless they are reproducing.

    And another thing – I hear don NPR a story today where a fellow federal employee was denied coverage under her insurance for an abortion to take a fetus that was diagnosed with Anencephaly – basically the fetus had no real brain, no skull, and no connection from either to the spinal chord. Such a fetus will live only a matter of hours if carried to term – there is no hope of recovery lacking those critical elements. The reason for denial – there was no grave danger to the mother. She had the abortion anyway, because she knew there was no hope for the baby she carried, and she needed to let it go and grieve. What possible good would have been done by forcing her to carry that fetus to term, or forcing her to pay for the abortion herself? None that I can see, but that is exactly what many Conservatives advocate should be done.

    1. Phillip,

      “…if we limit access to birth control, decrease or eliminate fact-based sex ed, and then prevent any abortion, what you’ve essentially created is a society where women can’t freely express their sexuality because there is a high likelihood they will become pregnant.”

      You’re taking two separate issues and mashing them together. The first issue is sex ed, contraception. Yeah, some conservatives dropped the ball there on sex ed. I’ll accept blame for my side of the aisle if that makes you feel better. Likewise, we haven’t always made it easy for women to get birth control pills and we don’t have bowls of free condoms on the receptionist’s desk at the RNC. I’ll go ahead and take the blame for my side there as well. But let’s say, for the sake of this conversation, you and Ames can imagine a world where Republicans make contraception extremely easy to get and teach teens everything there is to know about safe sex. How much would that really affect the abortion rates in this country? 10%? 25%? What’s a realistic expectation? The claim seems to be from the Left that all these abortions happen because conservatives won’t make sex ed and contraception available. But we both know that’s not really true. A big % of abortions are repeat customers. So I’m pretty sure they figured out after the first abortion that sex can and often does = pregnancy. I realize it may be cruel to ask them to not, “…freely express their sexuality because there is a high likelihood they will become pregnant,” but I don’t think free birth control would have made a bit of a difference.

      On your other point, many conservatives accept the premise of abortions for health reasons. The health of the fetus is a tough call. I actually know of another blogger who had a very public struggle with the issue you are talking about. His child was diagnosed with, I think, the exact same problem. He and his wife chose to bring it to term and spend a few hours with it before it died. I understand this is an incredibly personal dilemma, but my gut tells me that just because we as a society have the technology to euthanize the fetus before it’s birth doesn’t necessarily mean we should. My position is that we should let nature take it’s course. You’re saying we should go ahead and kill the kid so the grieving can start. I liken that to giving Grandma a morphine overdose so we can get the cancer over with and start planning the funeral. I couldn’t do it and I don’t think that insurance companies should be forced to pay for it. If the mother wants to foot the bill and can find a willing doctor, that’s between her and her conscience and the next life.

      1. You opened the door to the contraception discussion by saying that a certain percentage of the women seeking abortions were repeaters – thus essentially using abortion in place of birth control. I just made the issue more explicit.

        And to me, abortion, birth conmtrol and sex-ed are all facets of the same issue – namely the act and expression of the sexual nature of humans. Each o fthose issues is, like it or not linked to the other – and I am sure that the more birth control there is readily available, along with better education for all women, the less need for abortion there will be.

        1. But do you really believe that better sex ed and more available contraception will realy reduce abortions to any significant degree? I know plenty of well-educated and un-poor folks who have gotten pregnant simply because they were irresponsible. There’s no public policy iniative that can mitigate that impulse.

          1. Mike, I believe that 1) adults do not need anyone telling them where, when or how they can have sex. 2) I believe that both adults and teenagers need and deserve quality sex-ed, from their schools and homes, which accurately describes all outcomes of sex, and how to prevent those outcomes, including birth control, abstinence, and abortion. 3) I believe that if a woman makes the agonizing choice to abort a pregnancy, the last thing she needs is a bunch of perhaps well intentioned people denigrating her for it. 4) I believe that, with #2 fully and properly implemented, the rate of elective (i.e. not medically necessary for the mother OR the fetus) abortion will go down. 5) I believe that abortion and infanticide (which the Right never really gets on about) have been and are parts of human nature, and will not ever completely go away.

            Shall I continue?

            1. Most conservatives don’t really have a problem with 1 & 2 and if most abortions are outlawed #3 wouldn’t be a problem.

              As for #4 I think you’re probably right that the numbers would go down but I think the number would be so small that it would be hard to even measure with most statistical tools.

              5)We could have said the same thing about a lot of things in the course of human history and then *poof* they went away.

              1. Not only were the numbers of teen pregnancies measurably going down during the Clinton admin, after almost 10 years of “faith based” abstinence-only sex ed the teen pregnancy rate is now measurably going up. Especially in the more “faith based” states.
                I Read it on the news just this week.

  4. How about,
    “My wife gets depressed around the anniversary of putting our daughter up for adoption”?
    Or,
    “My wife is constantly depressed because she never wanted our daughter”?

    1. Kris – if you want to start an anti-adoption poster campaign, be my guest.

      1. Depression is a poor excuse for being against abortion, especially considering that none of the alternatives are a walk in the park, either.

        If one supports outlawing abortion, it is for the moral reason alone. Saying abortion is a heartwrenching personal decision with lasting emotional consequences is a reason for not having one personally.

        1. I’m fairly sure the point of the ads is to point out that abortion isn’t quite the convienant institution that some believe it is.

  5. I’ve never found a convienant solution to any problem! So I’m sure they’re right on that point.

    But the reason these ads are tacky is that, aside from assaulting you in the subway, they assume a strawman. They assume women think abortions are a quick and easy way out, and that they don’t put thought into the decision, or do it casually. That’s nowhere indicated. Aside from any independent horribleness it’s paternalistic and mischaracterizes the way poeple approach it.

    1. Right..the old, “We liberals like abortion, but we promise to feel really bad about it afterwards.”

      If women DO feel bad about it afterwards, then aren’t the posters, in fact, an accurate portrayal?

      1. Shade Tail · ·

        Nice rhetorical question there. Black and white, ignoring the larger issues, and casting the advertisement as accurate regardless.

      2. Not every woman feels bad at all. Being able to care for your other children, getting a college education, leaving an abusive relationship, having a fulfilling career, and having a happy family AT A TIME YOU ARE READY for one sure does go a long way to make up for it.

  6. As to the specific poster in question, it’s actually not referring to the abortion of their daughter, but rather an abortion that their daughter had to terminate their potential granddaughter.

    I found the site for the ad campaign by googling the text from the poster.

    “My daughter has never gotten over it. Lisa never married, and now it appears that she’ll never have any children. Since Lisa is our only child, that means we’ll never have grandchildren.”

    There are 3 stories on that page, and only one is actually from a woman who herself had an abortion. She seems to take it more lightly than the others; “We love our children, and Randy is successful in his field. But there is always a void in our home and in our marriage.” And still, I’m sure she would feel the same way had she gone to term and placed the child up for adoption instead.

    1. I am very sure that I would be missing a baby that I had to give up for adoption much much more than I would a fetus.

      Think about it and be honest:

      If you were in a hospital, visiting someone, and there was a fire in the very hallway that you were in at the moment. You have only enough time to make one trip to save someone else: either a newborn that’s screaming, or a bucket of “snowflake babies”/human blastocysts ready for implantation. one or the other – no time or strength to bring both.

      If you truly believe that a blastocyst or a fetus is a full human and subject to murder, then you must take the bucket of thousands of “snowflake babies” and leave the newborn to die.

      I don’t know of anyone who would not scoop up the baby and leave the frozen goo.

  7. Harmonika Savingsbonds · ·

    Whereas I support a woman’s right for abortion simply because I cannot stand the company of children.

  8. lilorphant · ·

    Nice how many men are so concerned about the abortion issue, and call it “pro-life”. How about my sister’s life? My mother’s life? My daughter’s life? Don’t they matter? Not at all. So thanks, but no thanks for your concern. Women don’t get pregnant on their own, yet when abortion is illegal, women die, not men. And the remark about keeping your pants on is uncalled for, the poster is referring to a married couple, which is about half of abortions (with other children in the home). So the wife is to “submit”, get pregnant, and put the baby up for adoption? On the other hand if the man is feeling guilty for forcing his wife to get an abortion, which is not clear, than that’s another issue, and he should feel guilty, not her.

    1. Your facts are wrong. 2/3 of all abortions are with unmaried women.

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

      Implying that there is a large swath of women who are forced to have sex and then forced to get an abortion is beyond ridiculous. The overwhelming majority of abortions occur when a women has consensual sex (not rape, not coerced) and they aren’t careful. Guttmacher shows only 1% of abortions result from forced sex.

      Despite the claims to the contrary, there isn’t a huge majority of people who didn’t know about or have access to birth control. Guttmacher says only 8% of abortions occur with women who have never used birth control (and Phillip – if you’re reading – this is why I doubt that better sex ed and more access would have a real impact on numbers of abortions).

      So…. We have 99% of the women getting abortions engaging in consensual sex with 92% of those women aquainted with birth control at some time in their past. So yeah – it’s sort of on them. They are the gatekeeper. If they say no – they don’t get pregnant. If they say no unless contraceptin is used, few of them get pregnant. We can say it takes two parties to get pregnant, and that’s true but statistics show that in the US it only takes one to prevent it from happening.

  9. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

    I tried to comment on the Redstate page, but while there is a comment box, there’s no way to actually comment, because the required name and email fields don’t appear. When I tried to contact the webmaster to notify them of the error, the contact button returned a “not found” error. But I saw a lot of comments — the nmost recent being yesterday.

    What I would have said was:

    You don’t know a thing about why women have abortions. I had two, out of love for my existing children and my family. I had an elevated risk of dying in pregnancy. I was a married woman and became pregnant after difficult, risky, frightening pregnancies, and I made the decision that my children deserved to have a living, breathing, working and loving mother — and my husband deserved to raise his children with a living, breathing, working and loving companion. Yes, these decisions were difficult and painful. So was the miscarriage I had — they were exactly the same, emotionally and psychologically. They were profound losses. But the miscarriage was worse, because it involved no agency of mine: it wasn’t me choosing life for myself and my family, it was just a simple loss wsith no relief involved. After the abortions, I felt the loss, but I also felt optimistic about my future and my children’s future.

    Statistics show my story is really, really, really typical of women who have abortions.

    1. Lucy – I would argue that your case is atypical, not typical. Statistics show that 60% of the women having abortions are unmarried. So that right there puts you in a 40% bracket. Add on additional factors like age, income level, etc and you are probably in a single digit minority of women who are married and choose to have an abortion for health reasons.

      I would suspect you probably best fit into one of these three groups:

      33% had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy

      32% had had concerns about contraceptive methods

      26% had had unexpected sex

      1. Ugh. Jesus, Mike.

        1. Lucy shared her story to illustrate a particular low % of abortions. I’m much more interested in how she got to that point. Married women who get pregnant unintentionally, especially when they are in a high-risk group, should explain how. It’s illustrative that behavior is the most important component of this whole discussion and that is something that is very, very hard to correct via policy.

        2. This is exactly what I’m talking about! You’re more concerned whether it’s the woman’s “fault” for getting pregnant than with the actual effects of the pregnancy. Terrible, just terrible, and so not your business, or the state’s.

          Sorry Lucy.

          1. This is a really good illustration of the difference between conservatives and liberals. When a conservative hears that a married woman who was in a high-risk group gets pregnant, the first hing we ask is, “How did you allow that to happen?” We’re much, much more concerned with stoping the unwanted pregnancy from happening in the first place which is why we tend to concentrate on things like behavior and how culture affects the way people approach sex.

            On the other hand, liberals say, “Who cares how you got pregnant and how responsible you were or were not, let’s just figure out how we can make this problem go away.”

            This drives straight to the very philosophical differences between Right and Left. As a conservative I see the mistakes people make as something to be dealt with and also as a learning experience for others. Liberals tend to think of simply making the problem go away in the easiest way possible.

            Look, I’m not just judging here. I’m 34. I have a 15 year old daughter. You do the math. I screwed up. I’ve spent a decade and a half sharing my story with young men trying to persuade them to not make the same mistake. I haven’t said, “You’re entitled to express your sexuality…and when you do, there’s always abortion to fall back on.”

            1. …the differences between right & left.

              All I have to do is look at all the conservative institutions, and see all the people in them that are being outed in sex scandals. The vast majority of the conservative sex scandals are people doing exactly what they are so stridently advocating against – rape of minors, casual sex with unknowns, sex with same sex partners even when they’ve been specifically demonizing their own constituents who are LGBT. What I think of as the classic result of stifling your sex drive.

              For contrast, the left leaning scandals are mostly about cheating on their wives with other women. (which is bad enough – I’m certainly not advocating that either)

              1. I really don’t want to go down the sex scandal pissing contest road but just as an FYI – the one illegitimate kid I am aware of is from a liberal (John Edwards). Maybe liberals just don’t like birth control?

            2. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

              Mike with the big stick:

              You would like to know how I got pregnant? Okay. My husband and I had sex. Repeatedly, over years’ time. The sex was a really good thing in our lives. It felt good and helped us to feel closer to each other. I am not ashamed of having sex with my husband.

              We used birth control at all times except for the two times we got pregnant on purpose: the pill for a while (I had a lowish dose because of a tendency to high blood pressure): a diaphragm with cream and with foam: an IUD that walked away on its own: condoms . . . because of the high blood pressure I was not a candidate for implants.

              We did know how to use birth control. We had confirmation we had been doing it correctly.

              No birth control method is a hundred percent effective. I was a statistic. I was not willing to be a death statistic. I think you ought to understand that.

              I appreciate that you’ve put your own private life out in the open to be discussed as I have put mine. You’re the father of a daughter. Imagine yourself in the position that my husband was in twenty-some years ago, with two young children. Say your wife became pregnant and the chances of her dying — or simply being left with a destroyed brain and body — were significantly higher than normal. And supposing also that your wife contributed significantly to the household income, which is just enough. Would you really say this to your small children? “Yes, I thought it was necessary for your mother to take this risk. I told her that your lives were not as important as the possibility of a life inside her.”

              And how would you have felt, afterwards, with two small children to raise by yourself, possibly a third, possibly a very, very disabled third, on a bit more than half the income you’d had before?

              I wasn’t willing to do that to my children or my husband. My husband would not have been willing to do that to me.

      2. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

        Here’s the 2008 study everybody seems to be quoting these days. According to it, 33% of abortions are gotten by married women. 61% of the women already have at least one child. 57% are “economically disadvantaged” (does that mean poor, or does it mean something sort of like poor? We were pretty poor in those days).

        And:
        • The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.[

        This does not make me sound atypical, at all.

    2. Lucy,

      Wow. Thank you for sharing your story — I’m very sure that your children and husband are glad to have you around still :).

      And actually, as a guy who’s known and loved women, this is one of the ideas that really gets to me. The idea that a woman should be forced to, in a risky pregnancy, risk death or actually die for the sake of an unborn child, leaving behind a broken family that misses her dearly, strikes me as absurd, and uniquely “anti-family.” Neither I nor anyone else is fit to judge a woman’s choice in this matter… but for what it’s worth, I think you made the right decision.

  10. This is a really good illustration of the difference between conservatives and liberals. When a conservative hears that a married woman who was in a high-risk group gets pregnant, the first hing we ask is, “How did you allow that to happen?” We’re much, much more concerned with stoping the unwanted pregnancy from happening in the first place which is why we tend to concentrate on things like behavior and how culture affects the way people approach sex.

    On the other hand, liberals say, “Who cares how you got pregnant and how responsible you were or were not, let’s just figure out how we can make this problem go away.”

    This drives straight to the very philosophical differences between Right and Left. As a conservative I see the mistakes people make as something to be dealt with and also as a learning experience for others. Liberals tend to think of simply making the problem go away in the easiest way possible.

    Mike,
    You left out one other important difference – once conservatives ask “how did you let this happen, they then want to pass laws, overturn laws, or reverse court decisions so that the behavior is regulated. Let me repeat that – conservatives, while preaching to the hills about personal liberty and intrusive governments want to pass laws to regulate individual behavior – aprticulalry individula sexual behavior.

    Liberals, by contrast, do not go around pretending its our business to regulate the behavior of others – we instead focus on how to deal with the consequences in a manner that is as just and fair as possible for all parties. We also focus on whether the person really knew whatthe consequences would be, and how society might benefit from a change in resosurcse or knowledge to decrease the chances of an undesirable outcome.

    And in the case of abortion, which is a procedure performed to deal with the designed outsome of sexual activity, liberals choose to say that IF a woman makes the heart wrenching decision to terminate her pregnancy, she should be able to do in a medically safe, emotionally supportive manner. Conservatives say she has no business making that decision unless she’s about to die – and will make it illegal for her to do so subject to stiff financial penalties and jail time. Wackos hurt human blood on her.

    1. Phillip – lets not pretend that liberals take some kind of libertarian stance on personal liberties. They are more than happy to sacrafice those liberties for causes that suit them. Smoking bans, bans on saturated fats, seatbelt laws, etc are all about invading people’s personal rights. Now, I’m not saying I disagree with smoking bans because personally i like them, but it’s important to note that both sides of the aisle have their pet issues.

      As for sexual behavior, I’m aware of no serious conservatives that have suggested restricting sexual behavior. What you are actually talking about is our unwillingness to accept abortion as part of the toolkit for dealing with the outcome of that behavior.

      Most conservatives that I know, which means mainline, college-educated, non-fundamentalist conservatives, will say that if two unmarried 20-year-olds want to get out their copy of the Kama Sutra on Friday night and go at it like rabbits, more power to them. They’re young and by all means, have fun. But if they choose to do so unprotected and the girl ends up pregnant, we don’t believe the way to deal with it is to abort what we believe is a life. Period.

      The conservatives I know have no problem with personal liberties in the bedroom but we also believe in personal responsibility as well. I just don’t see that second factor on the Left.

      1. Then, Mike, with all due respect, you aren’t looking hard enough. Liberals are very much concerned with personal responsibility.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joan-williams/obamas-fathers-day-speech_b_107341.html

        http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/09/26/the_tattered_ideology_of_personal_responsibility/

        Its just that we view it as . . . personal . . . and therefore not something that can be, or should be legislated about.

        As to behavioral bans, getting rid of smoking, trans fat, and unrestrained automobile occupants has societal advantage. Getting rid of abortions has societal disadvantage – women will still seek them, and they will be unregulated, costly, and medically dangerous. Far more important me thinks then how the woman got pregnant in the first place.

        1. So I assume you also feel the same way about illegal drugs? Legalize them all so they will be safer? Afteral, people are still going to use them?

          1. Shade Tail · ·

            Can’t speak for Philip, but absolutely yes. Criminalizing recreational drugs merely puts quality control and sales strategy in the hands of the black market, which has no incentive to be safe. So if they decide that, this month, the ingredients will be arsenic and saw dust, and that they’ll be sold on the playground to 10-year-olds, then by god, those will be the ingredients and that’s where they’ll be sold.

            Legalizing recreational drugs means that they’ll be manufactured and sold by the Coors brewery, Bayer, and Tylenol, which do have an incentive to make sure their product doesn’t kill you and isn’t sold to little kids.

  11. sharonsj · ·

    I do not care what consenting adults do behind closed doors. It is none of my business. If a woman gets pregnant, the decision what to do next is hers–probably in consultation with a doctor–and is also none of my business.

    All this talk about cells, viability, morals, etc., remains babble to me. If you think abortion is murder, then get out there and start adopting those babies or take in lots of foster kids. And write checks for the next twenty years for higher taxes to build orphanages and various institutions to take care of the unwanted kids that will not have homes. If you’re not actively doing that, then shut up and mind your own business.

    1. So, if you believe murder is bad – should you become a cop? What if I believe drugs are bad? Should I go out and buy up all the drugs on the street so people can’t get them?

  12. Looking at all the back-and-forth with Mike, I wonder if there’s a communication gap because everyone’s talking about “when does life begin?” instead of the actual subject of disagreement: “when does life matter?”. We all know that biologically life begins at conception. I’ll tell you till I’m blue in the face, life doesn’t matter in terms of rights adhering to it until after consciousness and sentience have kicked in well after birth, since rights are an outgrowth of consciousness and sentience. When abortion opponents tell me life begins at conception, they’re trying to convince me of something I agree with, instead of doing what they should be doing, which is trying to convince me that it matters that life begins at conception.

    So, what I’m saying is, I think it’d be more productive for everyone instead of saying “Life begins at…” to instead say “A fetus’s life does/doesn’t matter because…”

    1. Knowing Steve’s stance on abortion I suspect this will be the last thing I agree with him on, but he’s right here. Life does begin at conception and the question is whether or not that matters. It’s really all about when we decide ‘personhood’ starts. As I stated earlier, I believe that’s largely an arbitrary line as definitions of personhood are pretty wide-ranging and diverse. The government picks one and bases law on that.

      1. And you want to change the definition of “personhood” to include fetuses, clearly. But you seem unable to state any reason for this change aside from your personal beliefs.

        1. I don’t need one. A constitutional amendment does not have to be argued before the courts. If the people demand it and their legislators support it, that’s it.

          1. You still cannot be honest about your argument about WHY such an amendment should be introduced. You’re hiding behind what “the people” want instead of admitting that you, yourself, want to change the definition of personhood for a fetus based on your own private beliefs.

      2. It’s not arbitrary in Roe, and the entire argument against abortion is premised on ignoring this simple fact. Roe recognizes the state’s interest in fetal life at the point where it actually exists — i.e., when it’s viable without the mother, who until that point, is the only cause of its continued life.

        1. Roe is a Supreme Court decision. i’m not referring to that. I’m talking about a Constitutional Amendment banning most abortions.

          1. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

            I’m glad I responded to your earlier post before I read the rest of your posts. My first response to this was so visceral that I could not have managed to be civil. (quite literally it was, “wow, this stick guy is evil. He really does want women to die in order to prove how obscenely holy he is.” But that’s not civil, so it’s not my polished response. My polished response is: the Constitution is a completely inappropriate venue for regulating medical procedures. You’d condemn countless women to death because doctors would not be able to perform life-preserving surgeries. and you wouldn’t even be sorry)

            1. Lucy, like the overwhelming majority of conservatives I fully support abortion on-demand if the mother’s health is at-risk. Knowing how easy it is to persuade doctors to write prescriptions and perform elective surgeries on even the thinnest of criteria I have no doubt at all that you would have been able to persuade someone to declare your abortion a necessity.

              1. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

                like the overwhelming majority of conservatives I fully support abortion on-demand if the mother’s health is at-risk

                No, you don’t. If you fully supported abortions on-demand when the woman’s life is at risk, you’d be much more generous with abortions than I’de ever ask you to be. Because every mother’s life is significantly at risk every time she is pregnant.

                And you’re prevaricating about what effect your proposed ammendment would actually have on the willingness of doctors — and administrators, and insurers — to provide medical relief for women facing increased risk. We already know what that kind of legislation does: we’ve lived with many variations of it in recent memory, and the effect is to shut down access, and to cause more women to die.

                Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much more I care about the lives of already-living people than the potential people who might be born if you force people into keeping problem pregnancies.

                1. Lucy, “No, you don’t. If you fully supported abortions on-demand when the woman’s life is at risk, you’d be much more generous with abortions than I’de ever ask you to be. Because every mother’s life is significantly at risk every time she is pregnant.”

                  I don’t really follow that logic. If a woman’s health is at-risk every time they are pregnant then what you are arguing for is exactly what we have now, abortions for all, anytime. What I’m saying is, if a doctor says your life is at risk, get an abortion. But I think a medical professional should make that call. Otherwise, if women have that much fear of dying from pregnancy there’s an easy way to prevent it.

                  1. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

                    You really don’t listen, do you? There are easy ways of preventing pregnancy most of the time. But not always — not without the celibacy you keep saying you don’t want to impose on anyone. (and celibacy is not perfect either: consider its failure rate, even without rape or coercion)

                    1. I’m saying that if the risk of dying is as great as you say it is then the best course of action is not to put one’s self at risk. I don’t want lung cancer so, y’know, I don’t smoke.

                      Your implication is that pregnancies are always risky so abortion needs to be available for all those people that rolled the dice and it didn’t work out for them.

        2. That’s adorable. Good luck with that.

          1. I didn’t say it was likely – i said that it would be a way to change the law without having to present any kind of faith-based argument.

            As a matter of practicality, I fully suspect there to be a restriction placed on 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions at some point due to overwhelming public demand. It will survive challenge on similar ground to the Partial Birth Ban.

          2. Those already exist. Have you read Casey? Gonzales? Anything at all like that? Or do you just ignore them becuase it’s better for your argument to pretend that it’s abortion-on-demand?

            See my published works

            http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/legislation/issues/volume12number2/ECM_PRO_064214

            1. You’re the big city lawyer Ames – explain the bans on 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions in this table please.

  13. You know, I think the guy in the poster looks a lot like Brett Favre, the filthy traitor.

  14. Jenny,

    I think maybe you’ve got your own issues that you are dumping on me. I was very, very specific (i.e. honest) about what I oppose abortion. What I also said is that it is easy and commmon for people to argue against abortion on non-secular grounds. Just take 5 minutes to Google ‘atheists against abortion’ and you’ll find plenty of people who oppose it on grounds that have nothing to do with religion. I’d be happy to read your explanation of a scientific standard for when personhood begins. In lieu of that, your like of abortion is no more solid than my dislike.

    This entire conversation has been me trying to explain the anti-abortion to you from 10 different directions and you beating the same tired drum.

    Mike: (3 paragraphas of new explanation)

    Jenny: That’s dishonest, it’s all about faith for you.

    Mike: (3 paragraphas of new explanation)

    Jenny: That’s dishonest, it’s all about faith for you.

    Mike: (3 paragraphas of new explanation)

    Jenny: That’s dishonest, it’s all about faith for you.

    Mike: (3 paragraphas of new explanation)

    Jenny: That’s dishonest, it’s all about faith for you.

    Mike: (3 paragraphas of new explanation)

    Jenny: That’s dishonest, it’s all about faith for you.

    Mike: (3 paragraphas of new explanation)

    Jenny: That’s dishonest, it’s all about faith for you.

    I think maybe you have some issues with faith and one can’t help but suspect you go down this same road when you debate conservatives on any social issue. I have no doubt in my mind that you take the same approach, for example, when discussing gay marriage with conservatives.

    You really should spend some time reading up on moral relativism.

  15. Lucy Kemnitzer · ·

    Mike: Your implication is that pregnancies are always risky so abortion needs to be available for all those people that rolled the dice and it didn’t work out for them.

    No, it’s not my implication: it’s my explicit position.

    Only one person has the right to determine whether a pregnancy is viable, and that is the pregnant person.

    1. I disagree – let’s just leave it at that.

  16. Just in case anyone was wondering what the face of abortion will look like in 10 years time if unchecked:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/04/19/abortionist-loses-license-for-killing-the-wrong-twin/

    Sweden is already allowing abortion of healthy fetuses in multiple pregnances. How long until that is available here?

    1. oneiroi · ·

      Laws have become more restrictive lately, with more pro life politicians in office, and definately on the court. So if left unchecked…we’ll probably stay about where we are or with more restrictions.

      Now I just hope we catch their socialized health care.

      1. They’ve only become restrictive in the most basic, common-sense ways. Parental notification for minors should be a no-brainer (sadly, it isn’t) and the ban on partial birth abortions only passed because of the gruesome nature of the procedure.

        I think there’s no doubt that liberals would prefer greater access to abortion and I suspect many on the Left would be completely on-board with selective termination. Commenters on this blog have stated before that Down Syndrome kids should be aborted if the parents prefer it. I can see no way legally to restrict that procedure, or the selective termination of healthy multiple pregnancies under current abortion law.

      2. oneiroi · ·

        I think that the whole Stupak shows the increasing strength of the pro-life Democrats (let alone the Repbulicans), and shows that the pro-choice liberals have slowly been losing power in this debate.

        I haven’t even seen a strong pro-choice push by any Democrats lately, they won’t touch the subject.

        1. The Stupak amendment simply held the line at no federal funding of abortion. It didn’t create new restrictions.

          As for a ‘pro-choice push’ why would that be necessary?

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