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January 11, 2006

Comments

Niels: Great -- so you're against all abortion, then.

Don't be silly, Niels: no one would ever equate a fetus with a child, except someone who knew nothing about either children or fetuses. Presumably, that's you, since you're cooing and gooing over a fetus the size of a kidney bean.

A final point, I guess; your comments throughout this thread have shown real contempt for women - all women - but to me, the worst contempt is shown when you reverence an 8-week old fetus, while regarding as a mere container, whose feelings can be disregarded as unimportant, a pregnant woman.

Niels: Try telling J why it's a bit more than just "surgery" to abort a 40-week-old fetus

Try finding me an example - just one - of anyone aborting a 40-week-old fetus, Niels.

hilzoy:

Thanks; all of that makes a great deal of sense. I frequently forget that viability is not a line so much as a record that keeps getting broken and in a couple of decades might be quite different from what it is at present. The sentience thing is also somewhat deeper than people tend to treat it, as it's more a potentiality for sentience than actual sentience.

Jesurgislac, I'm a little disappointed that you've in effect declined to make any differentiation between abortions as a function of time in gestation. The alternative being that you don't see any difference at all, but I doubt that's true. If I've misunderstood, I imagine you'll be quick to correct me.

Slarti: yeah, viability is like a record. And the prognosis for kids born at, say, 24 weeks is just awful.

Real examples aren't the point. The point is, you're defending abortion up to the moment of birth. Merely "surgery," you say. Can you defend your position, rather than backing down on the grounds that it never happens anyway?

your comments throughout this thread have shown real contempt for women - all women -

What baloney. As if saying, "Don't kill your unborn baby" is a sign of disrespect, rather than a sign that I view them as adult moral agents who aren't just prisoners of economic forces, but who can do the right thing.


when you reverence an 8-week old fetus, while regarding as a mere container, whose feelings can be disregarded as unimportant, a pregnant woman.

Can you write anything without resorting to such caricatured rhetoric? Saying "don't kill the 8-week-old fetus" isn't the same thing as "reverence." That should be pretty obvious. And I don't regard pregnant women as "mere containers." I regard them as mothers. Which is what they are, biologically speaking.

If you really want to hear some contempt, ask me what I think of men who 1) refuse to wear condoms, 2) impregnate women, and 3) demand that the woman get an abortion because they're too damn lazy and irresponsible to be a father. I suspect you won't ask me that, though, because it would require admitting that abortion is really for the man's benefit in quite a substantial number of cases.

Hilzoy -- what do you think about Don Marquis's argument for "Why Abortion is Immoral"? As I recall, he points out that what really makes murder wrong is that it deprives somebody of a future. This is a reason that applies to fetuses just as much as to anyone else. Current sentience (which you cite) can't be the marker, because then it would be OK to kill someone who had been put in a coma. (If you know the person is never coming out of a coma, it might arguably be the case that letting them die is permissible. But if you knew for a fact that the person would come out of a coma in 9 months? You'd be depriving that person of a future.)

That's not necessarily an argument that abortion should be illegal. Just that it's morally wrong (which is more than a lot of people will admit).

Niels: I think it doesn't work. For one thing, I don't, as it happens, think that that's what's wrong with murder. For another, I think it's very hard to explain why his argument, were it valid, wouldn't also apply to sperm and eggs. (The response 'but they don't have a future unless you do all sorts of things to them' would plainly apply to embryos as well, so that doesn't work.)

What do you think of Judith Thompson's violinist example?

(For everyone else: Thompson says: everyone thinks that the main question in the abortion debate is whether the fetus is a person, etc. I'm not so sure. So let's suppose for the sake of argument that a fetus is a person. Does it follow that you can't abort it? Not obviously. Analogy:

Suppose you wake up one day to find yourself hooked up to a famous violinist. He has a rare disease, and needs to be hooked up to your kidneys for nine months. (Suppose you have a rare blood type, or something that means that only you can do this.) Knowing this, the Society of Music Lovers has kidnapped you, drugged you, and hooked you up to him. If you unhook yourself, he will die. Are you obliged to stay hooked up to him for the full nine months? Thompson says: no. It would be nice of you if you did, but it is not wrong of you to say: wait, I didn't ask for this, I'm sorry about the violinist's disease and all, but I am not going to stay here hooked up to him for nine months just because you hooked me up to him against my will.

An analogy only to rape cases, of course. She has other arguments, but let's leave them aside.)

Oh, and about sentience: in my original comment, I said that before sentience appears, none of the various mental capacities that figure in my view about what makes it wrong to kill someone have come into existence. sentience is the first, but it's not the only one. In the case of a comatose person, autonomy will generally have kicked in, and killing someone is depriving her of her autonomy, whether she's comatose or not. (So long as there's a chance of her coming out.)

Marquis deals with the sperm/egg objection quite handily, IMHO:

The ethics of killing in this essay would entail that contraception is wrong only if something were denied a human future of value by contraception. Nothing at all is denied such a future by contraception, however.

Candidates for a subject of harm by contraception fall into four categories: 1) some sperm or other, 2) some ovum or other, 3) a sperm and an ovum separately, and 4) a sperm and an ovum together. Assigning the harm to some sperm is utterly arbitrary, for no reason can be given for making a sperm the subject of harm rather than an ovum. Assigning the harm to some ovum is utterly arbitrary, for no reason can be given for making an ovum the subject of harm rather than a sperm. One might attempt to avoid these problems by insisting that contraception deprives both the sperm and the ovum separately of a valuable future like ours. On this alternative, too many futures are lost. Contraception was supposed to be wrong, because it deprived us of one future of value, not two. One might attempt to avoid this problem by holding that contraception deprives the combination of sperm and voum of a valuable future like ours. But here the definite article misleads. At the time of contraception, there are hundreds of millions of sperm, one (released) ovum and millions of possible combinations of all of these. There is no actual combination at all. Is the subject of the loss to be a merely possible combination? Which one? This alternative does not yield an actual subject of harm either. Accordingly, the immorality of contraception is not entailed by the loss of a future-like-ours argument simply because there is no nonarbitrarily identifiable subject of the loss in the case of contraception.

Niels: But I wasn't arguing about contraception; I was arguing that killing either sperm or eggs deprives them of a future that they could have if only they combined in some way. I don't see any reason not to say that a sperm and an egg could enjoy a future together, and thus that contraception harms two beings by depriving each of them of a future they would share. Nor do I see why my original argument is affected by this somewhat extraneous argument of Marquis'.

I appreciate the argument for the immorality of abortion made by neils. I have always thought that some of the anti-abortion folks were perfectly sincere and had no other agenda beyond their belief that abortion was the ending of a life and therefore immoral. (I object to the self-aggrandizement of calling ones's self pro-life exclusvely based on attitude toward abortion but that's another argument). BUT everyone thinks it is ok to kill other people. Why is the killing of a fetus (pre-sentient) immoral and the killing of an Iraqi child as collateral damage not immoral? I'm not trying to put Niels on the spot here. I don't know what he thinks about Iraq. My point is that everyone decides under some circumstances that the benefits of killing someone else outweighs the immorality of murder and they create exceptions to the "Thou shalt not kill" rule. Given that reality, why the overwhelming interest in protecting a being that cannot think or feel? Why not be more concerned about the suffering of those who can think and feel such as civilians in war? (again, maybe Neils is just as concerned about this.)
Society makes a number of fairly arbitrary distinctions between those that it is ok to kill and those that it isn't. The distinction i am comfortable with is between not-capable-of-sentience and sentient.To me the moral issue involved in the morning after pill or a very early abortion is nowhere as serious as the moral issue of accepting the death of the occasional innocent in order to have a death penalty or accepting the deaths of civilians in order to achieve through aggression a political goal. I guess I am conceptualizing pre-sentient beings as being pre-human rather like eggs and sperm. Therefore the debate over the morality of very early abortions seems to me to be of less importance than the debate over the Iraq war or the death penalty.

Hilzoy -- because a sperm and egg, individually, do not have any identifiable future? I thought that was the point. If you have conception -- sperm and egg together -- you can point to an intact entity that has a future. But if you have a sperm by itself, does it make sense to say, "Here's an entity that already has a future lying ahead of it"? No -- sperms never have any future whatsoever until and unless they are joined with an egg. Same goes for the egg by itself. Throughout the entire history of the universe, there has never been a solitary sperm, or a solitary egg, that had a future in and of itself. But a sperm and egg joined together -- well, that's how all of us mammals began our lives. That's where our futures began.

Slarti: Jesurgislac, I'm a little disappointed that you've in effect declined to make any differentiation between abortions as a function of time in gestation.

Slartibartfast, I'm more than a little disappointed that you ask me one question - "At what point in gestation do I consider abortion to be murder?" and then claim that because I don't consider abortion to be murder at any point, that I'm not making any differentiation between abortions as a function of time in gestation.

If you wanted to know what I think about early, mid, and late abortions, you should have asked me that question, shouldn't you?

Oh, and Niels? Just for you.

Again, the tack that this discussion has taken is proof positive of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Roe privacy based doctrine for justifying federal constitutional protection of abortion. As The Brethren noted, Justice Potter Stewart signed onto Roe (in spite of having dissented in Griswold) only after language that made clear that a fetus was not to be considered a "person" was added to the opinion. The reason he insisted on this was obvious--"privacy"--which was a shaky ground for creating a right to contraception as far as any real constitutional language was concerned--is laughably inadequate as grounds for justifying abortion *unless* you declare fetuses to be nonpeople. Jesurgislac's comments above *aren't* extreme by the standards of pro-choice activists--it's part of their basic approach to declare that a fetus is no more a person than is a hangnail. Since the public as a whole doesn't buy this, it remains an obvious vulnerable point to attack abortion rights jurisprudence with. An argument that should have been made around clear constitutional language and a reasonable balancing test has been marked by unreasonable absolutes based on incompetent constitutional arguments and a knowledge that the structure being defended is very, very vulnerable to attack: an obvious flipside to the "constitutional rights are what five Justices say they are" approach that the Left has defended for decades now is that once five conservative justices who are willing to play by those rules are on the Court, liberals will have a problem. Chickens are coming home to roost, after a long time in coming.

M. Scott: actually, it's not part of our basic approach to say that "a fetus is no more a person than is a hangnail." (Iirc, the aactual quote comes from a conservative talking about how she used to think before seeing the light, back in the early 70s.) There are lots and lots of pro-choice people (e.g., me) who don't take that view at all.

Niels: "Hilzoy -- because a sperm and egg, individually, do not have any identifiable future? I thought that was the point. If you have conception -- sperm and egg together -- you can point to an intact entity that has a future. But if you have a sperm by itself, does it make sense to say, "Here's an entity that already has a future lying ahead of it"? No -- sperms never have any future whatsoever until and unless they are joined with an egg."

-- Ok, now we get to such questions as: what do you think is involved in "having an identifiable future", or being an "intact entity"? It would be one thing to say something like: an entity with a given set of DNA must have a future as an entity with that same set of DNA. A bit morally arbitrary, but OK. However, that wasn't part of your original argument, nor was the identifiability of the future. (And how "identifiable", exactly, is the future of a human infant? There's an awful lot we don't know about that future. Almost everything, in fact.)

A sperm, or an egg, will continue to live if, and only if, it joins with (respectively) an egg or a sperm. If it continues to live, it will have a future. If not, it will die. (That it has the same future as the egg/sperm with which it joins is I think irrelevant.) If we either kill it or prevent it from joining with an egg/sperm, we deprive it of its future. If depriving a living human being -- and eggs and sperm are human (not feline, not canine, but human) beings (not fictions or imaginary objects or nonexistent things, but actual beings), and alive -- is wrong, why isn't this?

To my mind, what this shows is that "depriving something that's living and human of its future" is not wrong, at least not without a lot more clarification. But then, I wasn't relying on Marquis to start with.

Scott,
You made this specific point a while back (in a different thread) and I thought it was quite good in regards to abortion and Roe, but I wonder when you say:

an obvious flipside to the "constitutional rights are what five Justices say they are" approach that the Left has defended for decades now is that once five conservative justices who are willing to play by those rules are on the Court, liberals will have a problem.
by what mechanism(s) did those norms for any number of things in the US move/evolve/change. I don't want to put words into your mouth, but the impression I get is that you feel that the Court has been (at least under the liberal ascendancy) the main mover of these norms. I agree that Roe is not a very good decision, but not because of the outcome, but because of the reasoning. However, would you claim that the 'Left' has somehow used the Supremes as a vehicle to create social change? Or do you have something else in mind when you expand your claim?

For the record: the picture Niels linked to was an embryo: AFAIK it is a fetus only after week 8.

The first time I saw my much wanted and much loved 7 yo son he was a tiny little blob of 8 cells. There were two embryo's actually but one of them had a feeding cell and I knew that if one of the made it it would be the one who was smart enough to take a lunch bag :)

At that time I loved him for the potential of becoming a baby. When only one embryo implanted I did not feel I had lost a baby, but more like I lost a change at a twin baby. The remaining embryo's I gladly donated to research because the period they were allowed to work on them they would never be more than a clump of cells.

During the pregnancy the feeling slowly changed and the blob with potential slowly changed into the unknown baby that would be our child, but that was a process.

I had a friend who had triplets (from 2 embryo's) and when they were born their added weight was slightly more than half the weight of my 11 pound baby. The smallest one was a 730 grams tiny boy that would not fit into your handpalm. Yet all three are healthy 5 yo children now. With glasses, and one has a short attention span, but otherwise they are fine. I have friends who spent hours or even days with their premature babies (born at 22, 23 weeks gestation) before they died. Those were babies, were their beloved children, not blobs of cells.

For me at the start of pregnancy there is nothing more than a blob with potential that with a lot of good care and effort and luck can grow into a baby. During pregnancy the blob slowly becomes a human child and as such a person of its own, entitled to the protection of a society. But at the start it is the mother who will face the enormous impact that the endproduct (a child) will have on her life and she is the one who is entitled to decide about her own body and her own life.

In a perfect world there would not be a need for abortion because every pregnancy would be a wonderfull event that people chose for and are commited too. Unwanted pregnancies are a sad thing.

In real life people have sex because at least one party (and hopefully both) wanted to engage in an activity that ought to be pleasant. Babies are not a goal but a side effect (and as someone who has been through the treadmill of fertility problems I can assure you that it is much more fun if it is not aimed mainly at procreation :) ).

No matter how you feel about abortion and till which moment you think it is allowed; everybody agrees that it would be best if it was not necessary at all because there would be no unwanted pregnancies. No matter how you feel about abstinence only (I think it is bad, I wouldn't want my kids to go for it, but that is a different thread) in practise 88% of the youngsters who aim for it fail. So in practise preaching only abstinence only doesn't prevent unwanted pregnancies.

In practise making abortion illegal will not prevent many many many women from trying to abort an unwanted pregnancy. Assumptions about how men having sex will suddenly use condoms are not supported by any evidence. And even if they were: you would still make condoms available and teach people how to use them. Preaching abstinence only is not going to achieve that.

If you wanted to know what I think about early, mid, and late abortions, you should have asked me that question, shouldn't you?

And, on the other hand, if I didn't want to ask you that, I'd ask you something else. Like, for example, what I asked you.

If you think I've assumed something unwarranted in the question, have at it with brickbats.

by what mechanism(s) did those norms for any number of things in the US move/evolve/change.


In some cases the popular will was the prime mover--I'd certainly say that was the case for the civil rights movement, in spite of the major Supreme Court cases regarding school desegregation (which, IMO, merely undid a wilful misreading of the clear intent of the post-Civil War constitutional amendments). Griswold was and remains appalling constitutional writing, but it more or less reflected the popular view at the time, and as such was mostly unpopular with those who prefer Supreme Court opinions that don't resemble something one would produce under the influence of peyote. Roe bootstrapped a badly reasoned constitutional doctrine into an area where it really didn't belong, doing so by inserting another new doctrine that immediately reminded some of the most despised rhetoric in the history of the Court--arguing that "they aren't really people" has a rather dark history in US jurisprudence. In short, Roe was a naked assertion of Bill Brennan's Rule of Five--and the "evolving standards" method by which liberal majorities have been dispensing with the nasty little requirement of constitutional amendments is another. The problem with constitutional law forged in this manner--often without popular majorities to support them--is that when a new majority takes over they have little reason to pay those rulings any respect--they are castles made of sand and air which may be swept away at need.

Also, as a historical note--remember that in the early part of the 20th century, it was the conservative wing of the Supreme Court who was inclined to create doctrines out of whole cloth to subvert "progressive" legislation. The Roosevelt Court more or less brought an end to this and helped create a consensus that the federal courts shouldn't be doing that sort of thing. The Warren Court broke that agreement in the 1960's, and there has been enough of a liberal presence on the Court--in spite of Republican appointees--to keep the conservatives from playing catchup ever since. This may be about to change, and--though I'm sure to find some of the decisions that result not to my liking--I'm hard pressed to see why such changes are somehow not fair play under the system created in the last forty years.

Thanks for responding, M Scott. Obviously, there are some points that I don't agree precisely (my arc on this is much like Jackmormons), but it's good to know that you allow for the point that popular will has moved on some issues as it holds out some hope that there is some middle ground on some of these issues (but sadly, abortion is probably not one of them)

What if you came to each abortion-seeking mother and said, "Thanks to the advances of medical sciences, we can painlessly remove the fetus from your body at any stage, incubate it, and then give you your baby back in a few months." How many women would say, "Sure, I'm happy to have a new baby, I just wanted to avoid the pregnancy part?" Not many, I'd bet. What most of them want (or what most of them seek at the behest of parents or boyfriends) is for the fetus to be dead and gone.

What I find very interesting here is that the question is only put to women. Why can't men be asked if they are willing to bring up the baby?

You'd admit that it takes more than a woman to create a child. And if the woman is not needed to nurture the child for the 9 months of pregnancy, why should she have more responsibility for the child's care than the man? Try as I might, the only reason I can think of for excluding men from this science fiction scenario is that you automatically assume that women are the only ones who are supposed to bear the responsibility for bringing up a child. If there is anything else behind it, please do let me know.

Slarti: Like, for example, what I asked you.

My point is that you asked one question, got an answer, and then took as an answer to a different question, which you had chosen not to ask me.

If you think I've assumed something unwarranted in the question, have at it with brickbats.

You're assuming (unwarranted) that because at no stage do I think abortion is murder, that I make no distinction at all between early, mid, and late abortions. You appear to be assuming that the only distinction that can be made is murder/not-murder.

You're assuming (unwarranted) that because at no stage do I think abortion is murder, that I make no distinction at all between early, mid, and late abortions.

I invite you to reread what I originally asked you:

Also, is there an abrupt transition for you between not-murder and murder, or is there a continuum, or is there a series of jumps between fine but guilt-inducing to not-fine and guilt-inducing to...whatever.

I'm guessing you missed that. Probably my fault, given my earlier tendencies to caricature the opinions of others as typical of some large political group and then build a bonfire under them. Also understandable, because I may be in the lower half of the distribution as far as communication skills go. But I strive to change, so I'd like to underscore that my question was actually about how you view abortion in terms of gradation of wrongness (or rightness, if that's more applicable). I'm not at all seeking to use those opinions to play gotcha with your policy preferences. I'm so completely divided on this issue that I'm just looking at what people think about it, for the time being. Divided, in the sense that at some stage whose exact location in gestation time is unclear to me, abortion is utterly, completely wrong. Divided also because I can't see a clear path from that feeling to legislation that works, or to simply leaving things be.

If you don't want to share, fine. I understand that one's private thoughts are private. It would still be disappointing, but not in a way that reflects badly on you.

so I'd like to underscore that my question was actually about how you view abortion in terms of gradation of wrongness (or rightness, if that's more applicable).

Okay. Well, leaving aside the issue of murder, then:

During the first trimester, abortion is a simple, same-day procedure. In any developed country - that is, where resources are available, and no child should be growing up ignorant - there seems no valid reason why any woman who discovers she's pregnant and doesn't want to be shouldn't have abortion within the first trimester, just when she wants it.

During the second trimester, the procedure is a little more complicated, but there may well be good reasons why a woman didn't have the abortion during the first trimester: inability to get to a clinic in time, in the US where many states have limited access: fear/shame (especially in a young woman) or simple inexperience - a teenage girl whose periods have just started will have been told that during her first few months of menstruation, she'll have extremely irregular periods. So, while it's a more serious operation, the fetus is still not viable and not sentient, and there is no good reason to pass legislation denying women abortions in the second trimester: it's certainly a judgement call, but it's a judgement call that only the woman herself, advised by her physician, is qualified to make.

In the third trimester, as Marbel already pointed out upthread, especially as the fetus develops towards the threshold of viability, it slides more into a medical judgement call. I'd have no problem saying that, in the third trimester, a woman can only get an abortion if she and her doctor agree that she should - and if it's a matter of her health only, and the fetus is late-term enough to be viable and healthy, then if both she and her doctor concur, do an early delivery and hope.

Rights can only be granted to a fetus by removing those rights from a pregnant woman. I see no good reason to remove any rights from a pregnant woman, and good reason not to dehumanize a woman and make of her only a non-sentient container or a brood animal at any point in her pregnancy. Therefore, I am opposed to any legislation on abortion beyond that requiring medical advice.

From zero to nine months, the woman pregnant is the one most intimately concerned, and she is effectively (and morally) the one who gets to make the decisions - though, as I said, I think it would be only reasonable to make advice from her doctor strongly advised in the second trimester and mandatory in the third trimester.

I seem to have missed the passage that R quotes: the one about how most women just want the fetus dead and gone. But I think that's all wrong. If someone said that thanks to the advances of medical sciences, my (hypothetical) seven week old embryo could be brought to term outside my body, and moreover, unlike the situation for very premature infants at present, it would not have a lousy prognosis, I might or might not (at present) respond: oh great, I'd love to raise him or her. (I love kids; I'm not the least sure that my present circumstances, including my being told by doctors not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, would make it a good idea. It would need serious thought, as deciding to have a kid always does.)

Let's suppose I did not want to raise a child, however. And in line with R's very good point, suppose the hypothetical father didn't want to either. Does it follow that either of us wants it dead? No. We could ask that our child be put up for adoption. And that would be the obvious thing to do.

Not wanting to raise a kid at present does not equal wanting the kid dead. There are other options.

Jes -- my one disagreement with you is that I think it matters (when one is talking about third trimester abortions) what alternatives a woman has, and how accessible they are. Part of the reason I would be willing to ban third trimester abortions not required for the sake of the woman's health is precisely that women would still have six months in which to have an abortion if they so chose. I'd feel very differently if (say) pregnancy didn't manifest itself until the seventh month, or abortions were not feasible until that time.

I think one does get to ask: have we afforded women a reasonable chance to decide to terminate a pregnancy? And if define 'reasonable' well -- so that it doesn't require e.g. perfect organizational skills, no confusion whatsoever, etc., but actually is a reasonable chance for actual people in an actually confusing and emotionally fraught state -- then I can be comfortable with denying e.g. rights to late-term abortions, when I wouldn't be if they were womens' only option for terminating pregnancy.

(This is also yet another reason why access to abortion providers matters a lot to me. It goes hand in hand with the view I just described; and frankly, I can't imagine why anyone doesn't wish that all abortions happened as early as possible.)

Hilzoy -- I was the one who originally asked:

What if you came to each abortion-seeking mother and said, "Thanks to the advances of medical sciences, we can painlessly remove the fetus from your body at any stage, incubate it, and then give you your baby back in a few months." How many women would say, "Sure, I'm happy to have a new baby, I just wanted to avoid the pregnancy part?" Not many, I'd bet. What most of them want (or what most of them seek at the behest of parents or boyfriends) is for the fetus to be dead and gone.


R asks why this question isn't put to men. Well, it should be pretty clear from what I've said that I think an awful lot of abortions are really done for the "benefit" of men, who want to avoid the responsibility of child-rearing without curtailing their ability to sleep around.


Hilzoy's response is that maybe some people would hypothetically be glad to have a 7-week fetus removed, and then incubated and returned; or else given up for adoption. In other words, there are some people who really do have nothing in mind other than avoiding the burden of pregnancy.

Fine, but I seriously doubt that this describes the vast majority of people. Why do people get abortions? Is it really because they're just trying to avoid a few months of pregnancy? Or is it because they don't want another child to support? Particularly in the case of men (who, to repeat, support abortion to a greater extent than do women). Men have ZERO interest in avoiding the burden of pregnancy, because that doesn't affect them in the first place. And yet many of them strongly desire that their girlfriend/wife/daughter get an abortion. Why? Because they want the fetus dead and gone, obviously.

As for adoption -- well, nothing is stopping people from giving up babies for adoption right now. But if you read anything at all about abortion/adoption, you can't help seeing numerous stories where the woman said something like, "I can't imagine giving up a child for adoption, and knowing for the rest of my life that I had a child out there somewhere. I'd rather just get an abortion." Again, clearly this is not someone who is simply attempting to avoid "pregnancy." It's someone who wants NOT to have a live child.

Hilzoy: Part of the reason I would be willing to ban third trimester abortions not required for the sake of the woman's health is precisely that women would still have six months in which to have an abortion if they so chose. I'd feel very differently if (say) pregnancy didn't manifest itself until the seventh month, or abortions were not feasible until that time.

This seems to me not that much different from my suggestion that, in the third trimester, a woman can only have an abortion if she and her doctor agree she should.

One of my problems with the "pro-life" crowd is that they really appear to believe that the only reason a woman wouldn't have an abortion when she's 7 months pregnant is if there was legislation forbidding it.

Niels: the point of my saying that one can put the child up for adoption was precisely to distinguish between (a) people who want to avoid the burdens not just of pregnancy, but also of childrearing, and (b) people who want the child dead. I think a lot of people, including a lot of men, do not want to raise a(nother) child, but do not particularly want that child dead. I also think that one of the reasons to favor having abortion as an option is that the decision to have and raise a child is, and ought to be, extremely serious.

Hilzoy's response is that maybe some people would hypothetically...
followed by
In other words, there are some people

Whoa there pardner, round these parts, that is a mighty mighty leap. Hilzoy also stipulates that not only would it be possible, the prognosis must be 'not lousy' (I myself couldn't imagine it unless it were as good or better than a child brought to term in the womb), so there can not be any people who feel this way because the technology to undergird their choices does not exist.

I have little first hand experience in this, but I would imagine that people get an abortion because they feel they made a mistake, and the idea of putting the child up for the abortion probably psychologically makes it seem as if the mistake is going to live on long after (I note here that I am not calling a baby a mistake, just trying to get inside the mind of someone who, instead of bringing the baby to term and giving her up for adoption, decides to get an abortion) In fact, I was involved with someone who much earlier had gotten pregnant and gave the child up for adoption. She was rather self-destructive and one of the things she had problems with was that she had given up this baby. Now, some might suggest that any discomfort on her part was overridden by the fact that a human life was saved and at certain points in my life, I would have probably agreed with that. But it seems to me that much of the 'pro-life' push is not simply reaffirming the sanctity of life, but actively trying to stigmatize sex not within a marriage. Regardless how I personally feel about sex (I'd give it a 90, it has a good beat, but you can't really dance to it), I don't think it is possible or advisable to try and stigmatize sex in this way because you are simply going to be overwhelmed. For this reason, I am 'pro-choice' rather than 'pro-life'. As for my personal opinions about abortion, I don't think it can be determined unless you know _all_ of the factors and I don't think that you can make a blanket decision, which also leads me to a pro-choice position.

Niels: In other words, there are some people who really do have nothing in mind other than avoiding the burden of pregnancy.

FYI - this is something Hilzoy's talked about on other recent threads that I daresay you haven't read: Hilzoy needs to take regular medication that is strongly associated with birth defects. She couldn't just skip taking it for 9 months, and she couldn't change to another medication. Therefore, were it possible to remove a fetus at an early stage and incubate it outside Hilzoy, this would be necessary for the health of the future baby. Regular readers who had been following other threads would have understood this, but it's understandable that you didn't.

Particularly in the case of men (who, to repeat, support abortion to a greater extent than do women).

Actually, it would appear that many women become pro-choice, at least for themselves, when they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Often, they conceal their decision to abort from their "pro-life" friends and acquaintances. So, while you may think you know that there are more "pro-life" women than men, you actually have no idea whether a woman who is claiming that she wants abortions to be made illegal wasn't, last year or last month, in a clinic opting for her legal right to choose.

Men have ZERO interest in avoiding the burden of pregnancy, because that doesn't affect them in the first place. And yet many of them strongly desire that their girlfriend/wife/daughter get an abortion.

Not relevant - certainly not in the US, where by law any woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy must receive counselling. Any doctor told by a pregnant woman that she wanted a baby but her husband/boyfriend was "making" her have an abortion, would refuse to perform the procedure - a decision I would absolutely support. Your idea that women shouldn't be allowed to choose for themselves is, to me, the same kind of attitude: whether it's a man who wants to force women to stay pregnant against their will, or a man who wants to force a woman to have an abortion against her will, both are trying to deny a woman her right to choose for herself.

the idea of putting the child up for the abortion

a slip of the fingers, hopefully not Freudian.

up for _adoption_.

Thanks, Jesurgislac.

Just to be clear: when do we talk about abortion, how do we define the term exactly? Because the official definition is only valid when the fetus is not viable yet. But I assume that the definition most people here use would be any kind of procedure that removes the fetus from the womb and aims at it not surviving the procedure? Otherwise third term abortion only makes sence if you speak about a fetus that can not survive on it's own and you have a different discussion.

I would have a problem with free availability of third term abortion if there was nothing really wrong with the fetus. Since there still are people who kill their newly born baby I have to assume that (though rare) there are women who would choose that. As I said before, during the pregnancy the fetus slowly becomes a child for me and near the end of the pregnancy that child deserves the protection of the community. If you do not want the child and you are that far advanced in pregnancy, you have to give it up for adoption IMHO.

First trimester is not a problem for me at all, since the embro/fetus is not near enough to being a person, being a child. The right of the mother to decide about her body and her life is way more important at that stage. Again, IMHO.

Second trimester: in the Netherlands abortion is very available and is free, the methods to prevent pregnancies are very available too, so if the pregnancy has advanced to this stage I feel there should be a medical reason. The women who is too late because she has not noticed that she was pregnant till that stage (it is rare, but it happends) has bad luck, but you have to draw a line somewhere.

You can have discussions about wether the first trimester should be 10 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 16 weeks. Coming from a consensus society I'd be inclined to go for what most people feel comfortable with.

Problem in the US is that preventing unwanted pregnancies does not happen effectively at all (lot's of improvement possible here, and the best kind of abortion is the one that never has to happen). And women who have an unwanted pregnancy have a much harder time getting an abortion, so it might be really hard to obtain one in the first trimester. In those circumstances I'd be inclined to lean more towards the rights of the women (knowing what pregnancies can do to your body/life and what impact children have on your life) to choose for an abortion.

The most extreme viewpoints are on one side that the fetus isn't a baby untill it managed to get out of the womb alive, and on the other side that it is a human baby from the moment the sperm penetrates the egg (or before even, isn't that the reason some religions forbid masturbation for guys?). But as far as I can tell the majority feels that the transfer from cells to person takes place somewhere between those viewpoints and since there is not objective measurable point where the transfer is completed you have to go with what most people are comfortable with.

The argument that you can always give a child up for adoption does not work for me because the embryo might be a blob of cells in my opinion, but the endproduct is always MY child. I have no problem getting rid of the blob but once it is a child it is my responsibility.

One of my problems with the "pro-life" crowd is that they really appear to believe that the only reason a woman wouldn't have an abortion when she's 7 months pregnant is if there was legislation forbidding it.

Do laws against murder (or other crimes, for that matter) represent a mindset that the only reason that people won't kill each other is that there is a law against it--or does it reflect a judgment by society that murder is wrong and that it should therefore be prohibited and punishment provided for those who choose to commit it anyway? Some people are almost certainly deterred from committing murder by laws against it, but the vast majority of people aren't inclined to commit murder to begin with--that doesn't make laws against murder useless, much less oppressive.

J: In your retelling of Hilzoy's personal history, was there supposed to be a point?

Actually, it would appear that many women become pro-choice, at least for themselves, when they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Often, they conceal their decision to abort from their "pro-life" friends and acquaintances. So, while you may think you know that there are more "pro-life" women than men, you actually have no idea whether a woman who is claiming that she wants abortions to be made illegal wasn't, last year or last month, in a clinic opting for her legal right to choose.


Ooh, the hypocrisy charge again. Some women (and men) claim to be pro-life, but opt for abortion in their personal lives as the easy way out.

But which preference is more genuine, more rational, less driven by momentary selfishness?


I said: Men have ZERO interest in avoiding the burden of pregnancy, because that doesn't affect them in the first place. And yet many of them strongly desire that their girlfriend/wife/daughter get an abortion.

J responded: Not relevant - certainly not in the US, where by law any woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy must receive counselling.


Huh? That is completely irrelevant to anything that I said. The point is that you keep trying to claim that there is some distinction between "terminating a pregnancy" (in a manner that is designed to kill the fetus) and "killing the fetus." You apparently believe that people just want to have the pregnancy over and done with, that they don't really want the fetus dead.

My point is that while this is laughably untrue in most cases, it is particularly ridiculous in reference to men. When men support abortion, they aren't thinking, "Gee, if only I could avoid the burdens of pregnancy." They're thinking, "I don't want to have a live baby."


Niels: In your retelling of Hilzoy's personal history, was there supposed to be a point?

Yes, but if you didn't get the point when I explained it, you probably won't get it if I try to explain it again. Let it go.

momentary selfishness?

Given that all your rhetoric is about what you're willing and eager for other people to sacrifice, I think your accusing anyone of "selfishness" is ironic.

When men support abortion, they aren't thinking, "Gee, if only I could avoid the burdens of pregnancy." They're thinking, "I don't want to have a live baby."

You're missing the point. As men can't have abortions, whether a man "supports abortion" or otherwise is irrelevant. He isn't pregnant: he doesn't get to choose. It is ridiculous to bring it up, unless you've got an example of a pregnant man you'd like to share.

What matters is not whether a man "supports abortion", but whether a man is pro-choice. Whether he thinks he has the right to force pregnancy on a woman who doesn't want to be pregnant, or thinks he had the right to force an abortion on a woman who does want to be pregnant, his problem is that he hasn't accepted that it's her right to choose, not his.

Incidentally, in a recent trawl through RedState I found a post about a recent case of a Catholic schoolteacher fired from her job. Which side of the line do you come down on - she ought to have been fired, or she ought to have kept her job?

OK, let's go through this more slowly. A woman and a man have slept together. She does, in fact, become pregnant. Under the law, as you indignantly point out, it's her choice whether or not to abort the fetus. But that's not how real-life situations work, most of the time. Instead, she asks the man how he feels about having a baby. Or she asks her parents and friends what she should do.

When the man answers her question, and when the parents or friends give her advice, none of them are thinking, "Well, a baby would be fine, but I'm worried about the few months of pregnancy. I'll advise her to have an abortion, solely for the reason that I want to spare her the trouble of pregnancy." [Note: There would be an exception for women who are physically incapable of handling pregnancy, or who, as you point out, are on drugs that would severely damage the baby.]

Anyway, in almost all such situations, the man might say, "I'm not sure we can handle an extra kid," or "I'm not ready to be a father." Or the parents or friends will say, "But you're just starting out your career, don't you want to wait a few years before you have a child?" You should be able to get the point: They're not thinking about the pregnancy per se; they're thinking about how to NOT have a baby.

So it is plainly false to say that the reason for abortion is to "terminate a pregnancy" rather than "killing the fetus," as if people's motivation for supporting abortion is simply to avoid a pregnancy. Plainly, lots and lots of people don't particularly care about avoiding the pregnancy; that's not the foremost thing on their minds.

If the abortionist came out and said, "Guess what! We were able to save the baby's life! You can take her home in a few weeks," most people would be utterly dismayed and want their money back. They weren't just hoping that the pregnancy would end; they wanted to leave without a live baby. You can't seriously disagree with me here.

And why do you even want to disagree with me? Why do you insist that there is some magical distinction between "killing the fetus" and "terminating the pregnancy"? You have said that killing a fetus is the equivalent of squashing a kidney bean or putting salt on slugs. If that's the equivalent, then why on earth would you be embarrassed to admit that yes, women who get abortions do so with the primary or exclusive purpose of killing the fetus? Instead, when I point out that abortion, unlike any other "surgery," is deliberately intended to cause death, you slide into euphemisms: "Terminating a pregnancy is an operation whose sole purpose is to save a woman from an unwanted pregnancy." (Which isn't just euphemistic, but completely tautological as well.)

I don't know of anyone who's embarrassed to say, "I kill garden slugs," or who insists that "I don't intend to kill slugs, my only purpose is to raise a healthy garden." Why are you embarrassed?

Niels: But that's not how real-life situations work, most of the time. Instead, she asks the man how he feels about having a baby. Or she asks her parents and friends what she should do.

Ah. So your belief is that a woman isn't capable of making decisions once she's pregnant? Interesting, but, I can assure you, quite wrong. A woman who wants to have a baby wants to be pregnant: she may be discouraged if her boyfriend or her husband is unenthusiastic, or her parents are unsupportive, but hardly to the point of terminating a wanted pregnancy.

If the abortionist came out and said, "Guess what! We were able to save the baby's life! You can take her home in a few weeks," most people would be utterly dismayed and want their money back.

Guh...? If I were (say) 10 weeks pregnant, and went to have an abortion, and the doctor told me after the abortion "Guess what! We were able to save the baby's life! You can take her home in a few weeks!" I would be extremely panicky, because plainly this doctor is completely insane. I would be trying to catch the nurse's eye, worrying that perhaps the nurse is insane too, that they really think a fetus about an inch and a half long and weighing about a third of an ounce is a baby whose life they are trying to save. "Utterly dismayed" wouldn't be the phrase I would use: it would be scary beyond imagining to discover that the doctor in charge of the operation was a raving lunatic.

(Of course, if - in the scenario you envisage - I were waiting outside for the abortion to be over, I wouldn't be dismayed at all: I'd just assume that the doctor had misidentified me as their patient's partner, and was talking to me about a completely different situation.)

Niels, why are you so ridiculously sentimental and squeamish?

There, that's a nice loaded question, like "why are you embarrassed"?

I say "terminating a pregnancy" because it places the emphasis where I believe it belongs. The point of an abortion is to end an unwanted pregnancy. There's no shame or cause for embarrassment in that, except for the anti-choice demonstrator who wants to creep into a clinic by the back door to avoid her comrades and friends out front who are trying to stop her from getting the abortion she needs.

You say "killing the fetus" or "killing the child" for the same reason you googoo over a zygote the size of a kidney bean, or a fetus the size of a peapod, incapable of thought or pain: because you want to put the fetus first, and dehumanize a pregnant woman into a mere container for the fetus - a container incapable of independent thought, legally forbidden from making decisions, whose feelings about being a container are irrelevant to you. You use emotionally resonant language about zgotes and fetuses because you think that helps your argument: you seem to want to present yourself as a sensitive, squeamish sort of man who can't bear to think of cute little fetuses being hurt - though you cannot help also revealing yourself as a callous, unfeeling man who can easily bear to think of women suffering through nine months of unwanted pregnancy, and who is full of enthusiasm for sacrifices he expects others to make.

But yes: terminating a pregnancy does involve killing the blastocyst or the zygote or the fetus, at whatever stage of development it is. Only someone who felt women weren't fully human would see this as an unacceptable act.

The point of an abortion is to end an unwanted pregnancy.

That's bogus. The point of an abortion is to end the fetus's life. Perhaps you could respond to my question? What if the abortionist came out and said, "We saved the baby's life! You can take her home!" Would that be received as good news or as bad news by someone who was seeking an abortion? If as bad news, how come? The pregnancy had been "terminated," after all. Why wouldn't the presence of a live baby be all the better?

incapable of independent thought, legally forbidden from making decisions,

Please. We're all capable of making certain decisions. And we're all forbidden to make many decisions about our own lives and property. There are plenty of occasions where the law prevents you from harming someone else, even if you would like the freedom to make that "decision."

Niels: That's bogus.

Only because you regard a woman as an unimportant container for a fetus. As the woman's experience is unimportant to you, then obviously, you're going to think it's "bogus" that she wants to terminate her pregnancy. Nevertheless, it's true.

Perhaps you could respond to my question?

I did. Perhaps you could respond to my answer, rather than ignoring my answer and asking your question again?

Oops, wrong link. Sorry. Niels, I answered your question here.

Sorry, I didn't see that (non) answer to my question. Smart-aleckiness aside, how about answering it for real? Imagine that they really did come up with a way to let 10-week-old fetuses survive. Or imagine that you've waited until 23 weeks to have a late-term abortion, and the science has advanced just enough to let a baby survive at that point. What if the abortionist said, "Here's some great news! I didn't have to kill the fetus after all. I just removed it, and in a short time here, you'll have a perfectly normal newborn baby girl."

Seriously: Would the average woman be glad to learn of this prospect? Or would she (or her boyfriend or parents) think that the abortionist had somehow cheated them, i.e., by failing to rid their lives of a baby?

You damn well know the answer. You just won't admit it, because you're too tied to the fantasy that all abortions are somehow intended to "end the pregnancy," as if killing the fetus is just an accidental byproduct that no one even contemplates.

Only because you regard a woman as an unimportant container for a fetus. As the woman's experience is unimportant to you, then obviously, you're going to think it's "bogus" that she wants to terminate her pregnancy. Nevertheless, it's true.

Stop being obtuse. I'm not saying that it's "bogus" that women want to "terminate [a] pregnancy." I'm just saying that for the vast majority of women, "terminating the pregnancy" is the least of their concerns. What they (or the men in their lives) really want is to ensure that the fetus is dead, so that they don't have to take care of another child for the next 18+ years.

Again, why bother with euphemisms unless you know, deep down, that it's not really fine and peachy to kill a fetus?

Niels: Smart-aleckiness aside, how about answering it for real?

I did. That is really how I would react - assuming this was an abortion at 10 weeks, but you never specified when, so I picked a standard time. Neither did you specify "Supposing we lived in one of Lois McMaster Bujold's novels where a fetus can be removed and placed in an incubator tank."

Or imagine that you've waited until 23 weeks to have a late-term abortion, and the science has advanced just enough to let a baby survive at that point. What if the abortionist said, "Here's some great news! I didn't have to kill the fetus after all. I just removed it, and in a short time here, you'll have a perfectly normal newborn baby girl."

Okay, let's suppose that. The primary reason for having an abortion at 23 weeks is that the fetus isn't viable. Furthermore, 23 weeks is so premature that, supposing the abortion were taking place because the women had been advised that continuing her pregnancy would kill her, no doctor would promise "a perfectly normal newborn baby girl" - they might hope that a 23-week preemie would survive, but odds are, he or she wouldn't. Odds are, since the mreason a woman would be having an abortion at 23 weeks would be because she had been told she couldn't have a healthy newborn baby, the doctor's announcement that she would, after all, would be greeted with relief, joy, and gratitude: or, depending on the reason for the abortion - if tests had confirmed that the fetus was already dead - with fear that the doctor was insane.

Seriously: Would the average woman be glad to learn of this prospect? Or would she (or her boyfriend or parents) think that the abortionist had somehow cheated them, i.e., by failing to rid their lives of a baby?

Seriously, is this honestly your concept of women who have abortions at 23 weeks? Terminating a pregnancy at 23 weeks isn't done because the woman just decided she didn't want to be pregnant any more: it's done when doctors advise that major, serious complications mean that a termination will have to be performed in order for the woman to survive - or sometimes because the fetus is already dead or will die shortly after birth. Your idea that a woman has a termination at 23 weeks to "rid her life of a baby" is beyond absurd - it's disgusting. I'm through arguing with you.

You're not arguing in good faith, J. You're deliberately avoiding the question.

To recap: You claimed that abortion is just like any other surgery. I pointed out that no other surgery is designed for the sole purpose of killing. Then you claimed that abortion is not about killing, it is solely about "terminating a pregnancy."

To which I say: That is a dishonest euphemism. (And if you really believe that killing a fetus is on the level of killing a slug, it is an unnecessary euphemism. No one feels the need to come up with euphemisms for killing slugs.)

Nonetheless, you persist. Abortion, you still claim, is desired only because the woman wants to "terminate the pregnancy."

Thus my hypotheticals. What would happen if abortion LITERALLY consisted of "terminating the pregnancy" -- with the fetus still alive and well? Would women (and men) be pleased with that situation? Wouldn't that undermine the whole reason that 99% of them seek abortion in the first place? (I.e., because they can't/won't care for another child?)

Yet you keep avoiding the question. You say that fetuses can't survive at 10 weeks anyway. Well, no shit. Or you say that women who abort at 23 weeks do so for major health reasons. All of that is astoundingly irrelevant. The issue is not whether babies can survive at 10 weeks or why women seek late term abortions. The issue that I'm trying to get at -- and which you are 100% avoiding -- is whether most women who seek abortion are REALLY just trying to end the pregnancy experience (as you claim) or are really hoping to be rid of the baby.


* * *

So here's another hypothetical. Imagine that time travel exists. A pregnant woman comes in seeking an abortion, and the abortion clinic uses a time machine to transport her six months into the future. For all practical purposes, she has just avoided all of the burdens of pregnancy. Now, if the baby is removed, she can have a baby without having to experience pregnancy.

Would the abortion-seeking woman like that scenario? (Please focus on that question, not on irrelevant objections to time travel.) I think not, at least not in the vast majority of cases.

The point is NOT that time travel is possible. The point is to uncover the REASONS that people seek abortion. Again, you claim that they're just seeking to cut short a pregnancy. This is completely unrealistic. People don't just want pregnancy to be over; they want to go home WITHOUT a live baby kicking and squealing in the back seat. THAT is why abortion exists. Until you are willing to acknowledge this most basic fact, you're not arguing in good faith.

The issue that I'm trying to get at -- and which you are 100% avoiding -- is whether most women who seek abortion are REALLY just trying to end the pregnancy experience (as you claim) or are really hoping to be rid of the baby.

They usually try to avoid the baby to come into existens, which is why they will abort before it is a baby - usually as early as possible. Do you believe that all the women who had an abortion would kill the baby right after birth?

DM -- well, this is an issue of semantics. Would they kill right after birth? No, but that's not the relevant question. THe question is, if the baby somehow survived, would they be happy, or would they feel that they had been cheated somehow? (Actually, some people would feel happy once they saw their baby for themselves; some would feel a mix of feelings; and some people would be absolutely dismayed, because they would regret having missed a chance to kill it.)

THe question is, if the baby somehow survived, would they be happy, or would they feel that they had been cheated somehow?

That may be your question, my question is how both law and society can avoid most misery.

THe question is, if the baby somehow survived, would they be happy, or would they feel that they had been cheated somehow?

That may be your question, my question is how both law and society can avoid most misery. I agree with jesurgislac that terminology like "they would regret having missed a chance to kill it" shows that you have no idea what you are talking about and is in fact pretty disgusting.

Given that we are in a situation where:

1) The law may well change due to shifts in societal consensus and/or the makeup of appellate courts, and;

2) Changes in medical science have pushed the point of viability back somewhat, and may continue to do so,

it is reasonable to ask this question: If the law on abortion was changed to require that fetuses past the age of viability be extracted intact in an attempt to preserve their lives (unless the extraction procedure could be shown to be substantially more dangerous to the life or physical health of the mother than an abortion would be), would this somehow be an unjust change in the law?

M.Scott; If the law on abortion was changed to require that fetuses past the age of viability be extracted intact in an attempt to preserve their lives (unless the extraction procedure could be shown to be substantially more dangerous to the life or physical health of the mother than an abortion would be), would this somehow be an unjust change in the law?

What do you mean, a change in the law? That is already, as far as I'm aware, the law (or at least, it's routine medical practice) in both the UK and the US: a woman whose pregnancy needs to be terminated for her own health, but who has a healthy fetus that is far enough along to be a surviving premature baby, will have the infant delivered.

But this is a more typical late-term termination scenario. I read Gretchen Voss's account of her late-term abortion nearly two years ago: I've never forgotten it. Niels' claim that women like Voss "are really hoping to be rid of the baby" was obscene.

M. Scott Eiland: in the Netherlands you are not allowed to abort past 24 (in practise 22) weeks because after that period you will just induce labour. I am quite happy with that.

But people have pointed out to me that I cannot compare that with the situation in the US because it is much harder to get an abortion in the US if you are not rich and live in the wrong region. Many States have no abortion providers at all.

That changes the equation IMHO, and there should be more room for the rights of the pregnant women and unfortunately less for the developing baby.

Also: at that period in the pregnancy every abortion over here (and I think almost every abortion in the US too) is because of a medical reason. Something is seriously wrong with the fetus. So it is not as if a healthy child will be born: it will automatically be an handicapped child. In the American system that has quite serious consequences for parents and children, apart from the emotional burdens and the additional resources it takes.

I think you have to take these things into account.

Marbel: But people have pointed out to me that I cannot compare that with the situation in the US because it is much harder to get an abortion in the US if you are not rich and live in the wrong region. Many States have no abortion providers at all.

Even with that as a factor, the US-wide statistics for 2001 show that: 59% were performed at <8 weeks' gestation and 88% at <13 weeks. (Also: "From 1992 ... through 2001, steady increases have occurred in the percentage of abortions performed at <6 weeks' gestation.") 4.3% were performed at 16--20 weeks and 1.4% at >21 weeks.

So, even though it has been getting very difficult for low-income women living in states where there are very few abortion providers, still, the statistics suggest strongly that the only women who are having an abortion where the fetus is past the age of viability are those who have literally no alternative.

"the statistics suggest strongly that the only women who are having an abortion where the fetus is past the age of viability are those who have literally no alternative."

While I believe that most later abortions are for medical reasons (though I wouldn't venture to say "only" instead of "vast majority"), I see no reason to conclude that from the stats you cite. You have to know about the shapes of the underlying distributions to do so. There could perfectly possibly be a long tail of women making late decisions for non-medical reasons.

There could perfectly possibly be a long tail of women making late decisions for non-medical reasons.

If we count all terminations after 12 weeks as "late term abortions" - as some counters do - then this is true: there probably are.

But the 1.4% of terminations carried out after >21 weeks? Honestly, when you consider the statistics for fetal abnormalities/fetal death, it seems unlikely that there's any room in that 1.4% to account for women who are having a termination even though their fetus is perfectly healthy - even allowing for the fact that doctors are generally required, either by their medical associations or by state law, to carry out third-trimester abortions only when the mother's health is at risk or the fetus is dead or will die on delivery.

So when you say it's possible, it's possible in the sense that nothing about it is physically impossible. Like it's possible to build a spaceship that would take a human being to Mars and back: it could be done, but you cannot reason from "it could be done" to "it is being done".

I read Gretchen Voss's account of her late-term abortion nearly two years ago: I've never forgotten it.

Yesterday evening I was at a party where a 20 friend I've known for 20 years was with her 3 months old. Her fourth son and the only one living. The first one was born and died after a month; he suffered from a rare genetic disorder. They found out that they were both carriers of it so they had their next pregnancy checked for the disorder. This can only be done after the 18th week. Unfortunately the next boy suffered from it too so they had to abort at 21 weeks. Hard, but preferable above carrying the child to term and seeing another baby suffer severely for a month before it dies. Their third pregnancy was emotionally very hard, but fortunately the baby did not suffer from the disease. They slowly dared to hope for a healthy child - but at 25 weeks she went into labour. The boy didn't survive. They took two years to try to come to terms with it, and decided to try one more time.

After a very emotional and difficult pregnancy (testing, stitches to the cervix, bedrest) their lovely and wonderfull son was born.

Rilkefan: I really don't understand at all how you can think it "perfectly possible" that there is a "long tail of women making late decisions for non-medical reasons". Don't you realize how hard a late aborion is? Can't you imagine? Do you really think there are lot's of women who can do this without severe cause????

dutchmarbel, I responded above to a question of statistics, which was the basis of Jes's claim. That is, what she said should be true per se about widgets. The reasons you note are good ones, and ones which I agree suggest few post-ultrasound abortions - as I pointed out in my comment.

Jes: "Honestly, when you consider the statistics for fetal abnormalities/fetal death"

Sure, but you have to list those rates, estimating misreporting and taking any other systematic effects out of the data. You might come up with something like 0.1%+/- 0.05% of abortions being "elective" in the period you note, or 0.05% +/- 0.05%. You have to run the numbers, though - and that probably requires a sophisticated model of all the various events as a function of time to do to the above level.

Rilke: You have to run the numbers, though - and that probably requires a sophisticated model of all the various events as a function of time to do to the above level.

True. Which is why I didn't do it. But the fact that there are significant numbers of fetal abnormalities, or instances of fetal deaths - added to the human factor of the feelings of a woman who is 21+ weeks pregnant - added to the fact that it is forbidden for doctors to carry out a termination of a 21+ pregnancy without a medical reason - all of which, I assume, you were quite well aware of: means that you can look at that 1.4% figure and say that your claim that it could consist of women having abortions who just happened to wait till 21+ weeks was possible in the same sense as it is possible to make a manned flight to Mars.

I agree with jesurgislac that terminology like "they would regret having missed a chance to kill it" shows that you have no idea what you are talking about and is in fact pretty disgusting.

Yes, the fact that some people would feel that way is pretty disgusting.

Oh, wait, you were talking about me? Come again? How exactly is it disgusting to point out the glaringly obvious fact that most people have abortions precisely because they don't want to have a child? I.e., that if someone waved a magic wand and gave them a full-term baby without having had to experience pregnancy, they'd be disappointed? (Again, this is in response to J's freakin' absurd claim that the only point of abortion is to "terminate a pregnancy," as if the fetus's death is just an accidental byproduct that no one ever intends).

dutchmarbel, I responded above to a question of statistics, which was the basis of Jes's claim. That is, what she said should be true per se about widgets

It might be a language thing than, but for me "statistically probable" would've been clearer then "perfectly possible".

However I automatically translate into Dutch and that distinction might be bigger in Dutch then in English. I *was* rather suprised by your remark, glad it didn't signify that you thought it plausible.

Jes - no, you have to run the numbers to make a positive statement. I have really no way of knowing based on info in this thread whether 10% of late-term abortions are elective, or 1%, or 0.1%, or 0.001%. In any case, why are we discussing the issue, when there are surely researchers who have studied the data and done the modelling and published peer-reviewed articles?

dutchmarbel, I didn't mean "statistically possible" - I can come up with mechanisms which would lead to women having late elective abortions, from difficulty in getting access and gathering funds to partners bailing or job loss mid-term to second thoughts upon seeing their body changing. If there's a language issue, I doubt it's from your excellent command of English - it might be due to my physics-tinged statistics vocab (though I suppose I might have [redundantly] said "perfectly possible a priori"). And I'm sure plenty of things are true that I don't find plausible. The point of my first comment was just that having a feeling about the way things work is different from measuring the various effects, cross-checking to be sure you didn't miss anything due to carelessness or bias or bad luck, and reaching the statistically-justified conclusion.

Rilke: I can come up with mechanisms which would lead to women having late elective abortions, from difficulty in getting access and gathering funds to partners bailing or job loss mid-term to second thoughts upon seeing their body changing.

Difficulty in getting access? Rilke, at 21> weeks, it would be difficult to get access to a clinic willing to do an elective abortion of a healthy fetus/healthy mother no matter where this hypothetical woman lived. "Difficulty gathering funds" - if by 21> weeks the woman still can't afford it, she really can't afford it now.

to partners bailing or job loss mid-term to second thoughts upon seeing their body changing

None of these would be accepted as adequate reasons by a clinic to terminate a pregnancy at 21> weeks. (Nor, psychologically, do I think that they would seem like adequate reasons to go through the physical agony of a late-term abortion.)

If these are the only mechanisms you've come up with, they just don't work.

have acknowledged that what you said was possible - but you are trying to argue from "it's possible" to "therefore it happens", and this is a false argument, as I showed with the example of "it's possible to have a manned mission to Mars".

"None of these would be accepted as adequate reasons"

So the woman says it's earlier, or lies about the reason, or gets legitimately or otherwise emotionally upset, or you're wrong, or ... There are a multiplicity of possibilities, and it's a complex world.

"but you are trying to argue from "it's possible" to "therefore it happens""

No, I'm saying it's possible, therefore it may happen, which you agree with apparently. You're trying to argue from "I doubt this, therefore it happens at the zero percent level with zero uncertainty, or it happens at some level I can ignore without knowing what that level is". Why not just dig up the research? If it doesn't exist, then there's probably not enough data to draw conclusions; if it does exist, that's where the conversation should start from. If you can tell me from the data above what the late elective rate is and what the uncertainty on that number is, go ahead.

A. Torres and J.D. Forrest, Why Do Women Have Abortions?:

Of women who had an abortion at 16 or more weeks' gestation, 71 percent attributed their delay to not having realized they were pregnant or not having known soon enough the actual gestation of their pregnancy. Almost half were delayed because of trouble in arranging the abortion, usually because they needed time to raise money. One-third did not have an abortion earlier because they were afraid to tell their partner or parents that they were pregnant.

The Washington Post reported in 1996:

Opponents of the [partial-birth abortion] ban, including President Clinton, have used patients and data drawn chiefly from the practice of one abortion doctor to portray the procedure as an extremely rare one, used almost exclusively in cases where a woman discovers that her pregnancy threatens her own life or that the fetus is severely deformed. They also have implied that in some cases, it is the only abortion technique that can safely be used.

Interviews with physicians, as well as information gleaned from published documents and congressional testimony, paint a different picture of these late-term abortions.

It is possible — and maybe even likely — that the majority of these abortions are performed on normal fetuses, not on fetuses suffering genetic or developmental abnormalities. Furthermore, in most cases where the procedure is used, the physical health of the woman whose pregnancy is being terminated is not in jeopardy.

Likewise, the President's claim that partial-birth abortion is performed only in "compelling cases" to protect the mother from "serious injury to her health" is unsupportable. On the contrary, as abortion lobbyist Fitzsimmons admitted to the New York Times (2/26/97), in "the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus." Likewise, in his 1993 interview with American Medical News, noted previously, Dr. Haskell had stated that with respect to his practice:


"I'll be quite frank: most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range. . . . In my particular case, probably 20 percent are for genetic reasons. And the other 80 percent are purely elective. . . ."
Even the category of "non-elective abortions" is subject to qualification. In materials submitted to the House subcommittee, Dr. McMahon used a highly expansive definition for "non-elective" abortions performed up to 40 weeks' gestation (i.e., full term), including "maternal depression" and maternal youth ("pediatric indications"). The same materials indicated that half of the fetuses aborted at 26 weeks by Dr. McMahon were perfectly healthy; those which he classified as "flawed fetuses" included some with conditions compatible with long life, such as nine fetuses aborted using the partial-birth procedure because of a cleft lip.

September">https://secure9.worldaxxs.net/ssl.njrtl.org/record91596print.php+%22%27We+have+an+occasional+amnio+abnormality,+but+it%27s+a+minuscule+amount%22&hl=en">September 15, 1996 Bergen Record article which started the debate over partial birth abortion:

The Record (Bergen County, NJ), Sept 15, 1996

By RUTH PADAWER

Even by the highly emotional standards of the abortion debate, the rhetoric on so-called "partial-birth" abortions has been exceptionally intense. But while indignation has been abundant, facts have not.

Pro-choice activists insist that only 500 of the 1.5 million abortions performed each year in this country involve the partial-birth method, in which a live fetus is pulled partway into the birth canal before it is aborted. They also contend that the procedure is reserved for pregnancies gone tragically awry, when the mother's life or health is endangered, or when the fetus is so defective that it won't survive after birth anyway.

The pro-choice claim has been passed on without question in several leading newspapers and by prominent commentators and politicians, including President Clinton.

But interviews with physicians who use the method reveal that in New Jersey alone, at least 1,500 partial-birth abortions are performed each year - three times the supposed national rate. Moreover, doctors say only a "minuscule amount" are for medical reasons. [Gee, why would people who kill late-term fetuses ever minimize what they do?]

* * *

No one keeps statistics on how many partial-birth abortions are done, but pro-choice advocates have argued that intact "dilation and evacuation" - a common name for the method, for which no standard medical term exists - is very rare, "an obstetrical non-entity," as one put it. And indeed, less than 1.5 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks gestation, the earliest point at which this method can be used, according to estimates by the Alan Guttmacher Institute of New York, a respected source of data on reproductive health.

The National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers and the source of data and case histories for this pro-choice fight, estimates that the number of intact cases in the second and third trimesters is about 500 nationwide. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League says "450 to 600" are done annually.

But those estimates are belied by reports from abortion providers who use the method. Doctors at Metropolitan Medical in Englewood estimate that their clinic alone performs 3,000 abortions a year on fetuses between 20 and 24 weeks, of which at least half are by intact dilation and evacuation. They are the only physicians in the state authorized to perform abortions that late, according to the state Board of Medical Examiners, which governs physicians' practice.

The physicians' estimates jibe with state figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which collects data on the number of abortions performed.
"I always try an intact D&E first," said a Metropolitan Medical gynecologist, who, like every other provider interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. If the fetus isn't breech, or if the cervix isn't dilated enough, providers switch to traditional, or "classic," D&E - in utero dismemberment.

Another metropolitan area doctor who works outside New Jersey said he does about 260 post-20-week abortions a year, of which half are by intact D&E. The doctor, who is also a professor at two prestigious teaching hospitals, said he has been teaching intact D&E since 1981, and he said he knows of two former students on Long Island and two in New York City who use the procedure. "I do an intact D&E whenever I can, because it's far safer," he said.
The National Abortion Federation said 40 of its 300 member clinics perform abortions as late as 26 weeks, and although no one knows how many of them rely on intact D&E, the number performed nationwide is clearly more than the 500 estimated by pro-choice groups like the federation.

The federation's executive director, Vicki Saporta, said the group drew its 500-abortion estimate from the two doctors best known for using intact D&E, Dr. Martin Haskell in Ohio, who Saporta said does about 125 a year, and Dr. James McMahon in California, who did about 375 annually and has since died. Saporta said the federation has heard of more and more doctors using intact D&E, but never revised its estimate, figuring those doctors just picked up the slack following McMahon's death.
* * *

Why it's done
Abortion rights advocates have consistently argued that intact D&Es are used under only the most compelling circumstances. In 1995, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America issued a press release asserting that the procedure "is extremely rare and done only in cases when the woman's life is in danger or in cases of extreme fetal abnormality." In February, the National Abortion Federation issued a release saying, "This procedure is most often performed when women discover late in wanted pregnancies that they are carrying fetuses with anomalies incompatible with life."

Clinton offered the same message when he vetoed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in April, and surrounded himself with women who had wrenching testimony about why they needed abortions. One was an antiabortion marcher whose health was compromised by her 7-month-old fetus' neuromuscular disorder.
The woman, Coreen Costello, wanted desperately to give birth naturally, even knowing her child would not survive. But because the fetus was paralyzed, her doctors told her a live vaginal delivery was impossible. Costello had two options, they said: abortion or a type of Caesarean section that might ruin her chances of ever having another child. She chose an intact D&E.

But most intact D&E cases are not like Coreen Costello's. Although many third-trimester abortions are for heart-wrenching medical reasons, most intact D&E patients have their abortions in the middle of the second trimester. And unlike Coreen Costello, they have no medical reason for termination.

"We have an occasional amnio abnormality, but it's a minuscule amount," said one of the doctors at Metropolitan Medical, an assessment confirmed by another doctor there. "Most are Medicaid patients, black and white, and most are for elective, not medical, reasons: people who didn't realize, or didn't care, how far along they were. Most are teenagers."

The physician who teaches said: "In my private practice, 90 to 95 percent are medically indicated. Three of them today are Trisomy-21 [Down syndrome] with heart disease, and in another, the mother has brain cancer and needs chemo. But in the population I see at the teaching hospitals, which is mostly a clinic population, many, many fewer are medically indicated."
Even the Abortion Federation's two prominent providers of intact D&E have showed documents that publicly contradict the federation's claims.

In a 1992 presentation at an Abortion Federation seminar, Haskell described intact D&E in detail and said he routinely used it on patients 20 to 24 weeks pregnant. Haskell went on to tell the American Medical News, the official paper of the American Medical Association, that 80 percent of those abortions were "purely elective."

The federation's other leading provider, Dr. McMahon, released a chart to the House Judiciary Committee listing "depression" as the most common maternal reason for his late-term non-elective abortions, and listing "cleft lip" several times as the fetal indication.


You do realize that the reason NJ and NY have above national abortion rates at any trimester stage is because fewer doctors in "the heartland" are willing to put up with the harrassment, death-threats, and blockades, right? That's just to address your highlighting of a statistical point above; I don't really mean to get into any substantive conversation with you.

Niels Jackson, that's a weirdly structured article: A says this, but X, Y, Z say this. A says this, but U, V, W say this. At some point they need to have A react to the counterclaims. I got the strong impression that they had a preset viewpoint and went out looking for quotes to support it.

Also note that you've linked to a, uhh, nominally partisan report above.

JM: The point wasn't that NJ has a higher than average rate. It was that one single newspaper found one clinic performing 3000 partial birth abortions a year in NJ, even though abortion advocates had claimed that it is only performed 500 times nationwide -- TOTAL.

It would be as if a men's rights advocate said, "There are only 500 cases of rape nationwide every year." And your local newspaper said, "But we've found 3000 cases just in New Jersey." Would your response be, "Ah, well, New Jersey is above the national average"?

JM: The point wasn't that NJ has a higher than average rate. It was that one single newspaper found one clinic performing 3000 partial birth abortions a year in NJ, even though abortion advocates had claimed that it is only performed 500 times nationwide -- TOTAL.

It would be as if a men's rights advocate said, "There are only 500 cases of rape nationwide every year." And your local newspaper said, "But we've found 3000 cases just in New Jersey." Would your response be, "Ah, well, New Jersey is above the national average"?

And rilke: Actually, it's a very long article; I just quoted a portion of it. There was a response that attempted to make an excuse for the pathetically inaccurate statistics that the abortion advocates had been peddling:

"We've made umpteen phone calls [to find intact D&E practioners]," said Saporta, who said she was surprised by The Record's findings. "We've been looking for spokespeople on this issue... . People do not want to come forward [to us] because they're concerned they'll become targets of violence and harassment."
Could be, although that theory wouldn't just apply to partial-birth abortionists, but to all abortionists. A more truthful response would probably have been: "What do you expect? An accurate count? That wouldn't help our political position. We were just putting politics over accuracy, as abortionists have always done.

Rilke: Why not just dig up the research?

Mainly because I don't really care enough about convincing you I'm right to do the work, I suppose. I cannot imagine a woman who has gone through 21> weeks healthy happy pregnancy deciding to get an abortion just for the hell of it: nor can I imagine a woman who is desperate to get an abortion waiting for 21> weeks. You can imagine this, apparently, but you haven't managed to come up with any mechanism sufficient to convince me that what you have imagined is a realistic possibility.

Jes, another nice feature of having the research on hand would be to ward off Niels and his presumption of bad faith from pro-choice advocates.

Rilkefan -- let me repeat myself:

A. Torres and J.D. Forrest, Why Do Women Have Abortions?:

Of women who had an abortion at 16 or more weeks' gestation, 71 percent attributed their delay to not having realized they were pregnant or not having known soon enough the actual gestation of their pregnancy. Almost half were delayed because of trouble in arranging the abortion, usually because they needed time to raise money. One-third did not have an abortion earlier because they were afraid to tell their partner or parents that they were pregnant.
Jes can't imagine that any such people exist. Judge for yourself whether her lack of imagination is realistic.

Rilke: Jes, another nice feature of having the research on hand would be to ward off Niels and his presumption of bad faith from pro-choice advocates.

While it's been fun for a while batting Niels about, I recognize honestly that someone like Niels, who believes that women terminate pregnancies at 24> weeks because they want to get rid of the baby, is not going to be convinced or batted away by any rational means.

You, on the other hand, certainly deserve a better answer, but I confess I have at last run out of steam.

Niels, note the 16 weeks vs 21 weeks distinction. As far as I understand, 16 weeks would be somewhat early for an amnio, the results of which would likely take two weeks, then ... And perhaps the month+ would affect the procedure needed, and people's reaction to the decision.

Jes, fair enough.

Niels, note the 16 weeks vs 21 weeks distinction. As far as I understand, 16 weeks would be somewhat early for an amnio, the results of which would likely take two weeks, then ... And perhaps the month+ would affect the procedure needed, and people's reaction to the decision.

Jes, fair enough.

Typepad strikes. Oh well. t lst t ddnt dsmvwl m cmmnt.

Rilkefan: we did an evaluation of our past years, to see if we ought to change our law and why, but all research is in Dutch :)

I've had three Dutch friends recently, but they've all gone back to Europe. Now at least I don't feel bad for not picking up the language.

Cool, an abortion thread. Can I play?

First, to disagree with my usual allies. The notion that an abortion at 8+ months is just another surgery is, in my view, unsustainable. Assuming that the fetus is viable, to engage in a procedure which kills the fetus when a marginally more risky procedure (C-section) would deliver a healthy newborn is wrong. Whether or not the procedure exposes the doctor and the mother to murder charges, the procedure should be tightly regulated by the state and the woman should bear a high burden of proof that all alternatives expose her to unacceptable health risks.

Now to the other side:

1. I believe that relatively few pro-lifers hold consistent views about the nature of the fetus. Once a fetus is "alive", it cannot be killed, even it was conceived by rape or incest. Under common law, we have never allowed for the killing of an innocent third party, even under duress.

2. However, the abortion debate is filled with largely emotional arguments, so I recognize that I'm not going to persuade a lot of people about the wrongness of their pro-life views by demonstrating some logical inconsistencies.

3. As usual in the abortion debate, the two sides have rarely engaged each other directly on this thread. The pro-choice advocates have failed to respect the moral case made by the pro-life advocates. The pro-life advocates have failed to respond to both the consequential and moral arguments made by pro-choice supporters.

Here's my parting shot for a while (work calls). Pro-life advocates make much of the loss of the identified life. Fair enough. But most American women have only the total number of children that they want. By forcing a woman to bring to term an unwanted child, the pro-life movement is preventing the birth, later in the woman's life, of a wanted child.

Having read the recent discussion at Slate and elsewhere about the difference between identified lives and statistical lives (arising in the context of the removal of a respirator), I appreciate that there is a strong perception that these lives are not equally weighted. But that shouldn't necessarily be the case, especially for a strong pro-life advocate. The failure to give birth to a wanted child, due to the existence of an unwanted one, should be seen as an equal loss of life.

"First, to disagree with my usual allies."

Not disagreeing with me - you may need to pick a less extreme example to do so. I suspect that many pro-choice supporters like me accept that the question of rights changes at viability, though the mother's health comes first.

"the pro-life movement is preventing the birth, later in the woman's life, of a wanted child."

This is one of the most important points in the debate to me. I wouldn't go so far as to reach your "equal life" conclusion though - wouldn't that make any murder of a fertile person who intends to reproduce a multiple homicide?

I suspect that many pro-choice supporters like me accept that the question of rights changes at viability

Ah...but is that viability with or without the application of medical technology? And what does the mean to a health care system where standards are uneven? And what happens when the day comes that an embryo is viable outside the womb from the instant after conception to birth?

Every sperm is sacred.

"And what happens when the day comes that an embryo is viable outside the womb from the instant after conception to birth?"

We'll have to discuss the matter on the way to that point. I would likely feel that, assuming the health of the mother isn't compromised by a fetal transplant, couples willing to pay for the procedure would have a right to adopt the fetus before a woman could abort it.

I assume that at that point the computers will have taken control and the question will be moot.

I find the viability-at-conception hypotheticals unpersuasive, because so much of the argument is based on unknowables.

Can we be sure that the incubators work and that there will be an adoptive parent present when it's time for the baby to go home? How will society have changed once such technological tools are available?

And based on my conversations with women seeking access to family planning clinics during Op Rescue hits (not all of whom were there to get abortions), women get abortions for a range of reasons, but mostly coming down to: I can't deal with this now. I can't be pregnant / can't have a kid just now. It wouldn't be fair to me and it wouldn't be fair to the kid.

I never met a single person, male or female, who took the issue lightly. (Of course, with Op. Rescue around, emotions ran pretty high.) Very young or not so young, everyone understood that they were terminating a potential life, but doing so in the hope that they could have a better life, and offer a better life to their wanted children.

Parting shot for now to the pro-life community: what do you believe will be the consequences of achieving your goals? How will life change in California and Mississippi?

I find the viability-at-conception hypotheticals unpersuasive, because so much of the argument is based on unknowables.

Viability-at-conception is a hypothetical, but the question of the application of technology is here with us today. Incubators, for example, allow a fetus to survive outside the womb at a date far earlier than without. Technology advances...the date of viability will also advance.

If you are seeking to criminalize abortion, you are going to have to take that into account when you pen the law.

Another question that will have to be answered is what you will do with the lawbreakers. Is there going to be an investigation for every instance of miscarriage, just to make sure they were on the level? (Problematic, given that 1 out of 4 pregnancies results in miscarriage).

While it's been fun for a while batting Niels about, I recognize honestly that someone like Niels, who believes that women terminate pregnancies at 24> weeks because they want to get rid of the baby, is not going to be convinced or batted away by any rational means.

Jes knows damn well that my point was never to argue about particular women who have abortions at 24 weeks. My point was that by far, the majority of people have abortions NOT just to "end the pregnancy," because if the pregnancy ended but they went home with a live baby, they would most certainly not be happy at the outcome. The only reason I brought up "23 weeks" was because an earlier hypothetical (10 weeks) somehow caused Jes to run off on an irrelevant tangent.


Anyway, I'm glad it's been fun "batting" me around. Perhaps, however, Jes might want to keep in mind that she doesn't exactly help the pro-choice cause, as several of her compatriots have hinted. Here in this thread, she has argued:

1. Abortion up to the moment of birth should be allowed.

2. Abortion is just "surgery."

3. No one intends the death of the fetus in an abortion; all they intend to do is "terminate the pregnancy." They'd all be just as happy if the fetus somehow survived.

4. Rich people don't have abortions.

5. A fetus is akin to a garden slug.

6. Implicitly: Women who claim to be pro-life aren't really pro-life.

7. The best way to be pro-life is to allow abortion.

8. If abortion were made illegal, this would have zero effect on the abortion rate. (Never mind that there is no evidence for this startling view.)

9. If abortion were made illegal, there isn't one man in America who would start to think twice about wearing a condom. (Never mind the academic studies showing that abortion laws do affect people's sexual behavior. If the study was written by an economist, or someone who got his degree at the wrong place, I don't have to pay any attention to it.)

10. Implicitly, as a result of 8 and 9: The law has no effect on people's behavior. All people are utter morons.

I forgot 11: "I, Jes, believe 10 impossible things before breakfast."

Final summary.

Response there, but I won't follow the discussion - I'm sure the hating-on crowd would host one if need be.

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