If Some Abortions Are Unsafe… Is That Reason to Ban It Altogether?

I’ve never understood why a list of health complications, or scare stories about abortions gone wrong, or unscrupulous doctors (all of the above mentioned here) state an argument about making the process illegal, rather than making it safe. Especially  the anti-choice lobby has made because abortion less safe, by banning unpopular but (at times) necessary procedures, it seems increasingly clear that the movement’s respect for life extends only as far as the fetus, with the life and health of the woman being (at best) an afterthought, and (at worst) a chit to be exploited in the operating theater of public opinion.

Libertarian regulatory wisdom — from which (I thought) the tea party draws its essence — is not to the contrary. Under that rubric, a process that can be made safe should be legal, but regulated. Plainly, if that logic does not control, we prefer potential over actual life.


  1. David Boudreau · ·

    Some cars are unsafe so lets band them all, Some roads are unsafe so band them all, Some marriges are unsafe so lets band them all, some sex is unsafe band that too, some polititions are unsafe so lets band them also !
    Yep I don’t get it eather ??????

  2. Okay, let’s agree that 1st trimester abortions are extremely safe. So, what if they were less safe? Would abortion opponents have a more persuasive argument? How unsafe would they have to be to justify banning those procedures?

    Also, can you clarify what banned procedures have made abortions less safe overall?

    1. Intact D&X.

      1. So you’re claiming that bans on partial-birth abortion (or ‘Intact Dialation and Extraction as Some Liberals prefer)make abortions less safe because why? Are your seriously contending that there are certain situations where a IDX is the safest available procedure?

      2. I would also like to hear your explanation of what rate of risk would be enough to consider a ban on abortions.

      3. I’m not. However, the American Public Health Association (among others), has.

        1. They seem to be claiming that IDX is safer than DX, which I guess is sort of true – but they are both horrible procedures and IMO should both be banned. I wonder though, how IDX stacks up to, let’s say, vaginal birth or even C-sections.

          I think it’s also important to keep in mind that IDX accounts for something like 0.17% of all abortions.

    2. So, what if they were less safe? Would abortion opponents have a more persuasive argument? How unsafe would they have to be to justify banning those procedures?

      As long as the procedure’s voluntary and the risks are explained, I don’t think safety or lack thereof of any medical procedure (not just abortion) matters. “Assumption of Risk” I believe it’s called, and I don’t think there’s any reason to go against that concept. People have a right to knowingly endanger their lives for whatever reason they want. That’s not to say anyone’s under any obligation to help them deal with the consequences of their risk-taking (“This procedure is extremely unsafe, and if things go wrong we won’t even try to stop you from dying on the operating table. Do you understand?” is fine by me), but I don’t think it’s right to prohibit behavior just because participating in it is dangerous.

      1. I think that’s a fair stance to take Steve. I’m just wondering if Ames feels the same way. Is there ever a situation (abortion or otherwise) where medical procedures have a high enough rate of complications that it justifies the government limiting or banning a procedure all together? Specifically, how unsafe would abortions have to be to make a ban wise?

      2. There’s no bar that would justify a ban on the basis of medical danger, unless Congress decides to fabricate, and the Court continues to accept, bs science from partisans.

        1. So then you seem to believe that the safety of abortion is not a governmental concern…correct?

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  4. Mike from Ottawa · ·

    I’m almost certain I can recall pro-choice folk making the argument that banning abortion leads to danger for women from backstreet abortions. Unless my recollection is wrong, and that nobody else here seems to recall such an argument being made makes me wonder, and no pro-choicers have made or make that argument, then the safety of legal abortions is a relevant factor to raise in response to that particular argument. I doubt there is enough danger to women from legal abortions to actually negate that argument, but that’s a different matter than your inability to understand why the safety of legal abortions could be relevant.

    Of course, from a political point of view, the right, where most of the pro-life folk reside, is, being given to things like creationism and AGW denialism, especially likely to take anecdotes about danger to women from legal abortions as demonstrating that legal abortions are not relatively safe.

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