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August 27, 2004

A Horrific Catalyst for Change

Whatever their immediate reaction might be, abortion activists ought to have, at the very least, extremely mixed feelings about federal judge Richard Casey's striking down of the partial-birth abortion ban:

Before anyone gets ready to picket Judge Casey's chambers, take a deep breath. Judge Casey is an honorable and humble man who understands his place in the legal cosmos. "While Congress and lower courts may disagree with the Supreme Court's constitutional decisions," he concludes, "that does not free them from their constitutional duty to obey the Supreme Court's rulings." In other words, chalk another one up to the Supreme Court. Whether he ultimately read their decisions properly or not, Judge Casey was not going to stretch their law to fit his personal convictions.

So Casey's ruling — that a morally abhorrent and gruesome method of abortion is protected by the constitution, our country's most sacred legal document — demonstrates how much ground has been lost since the Supreme Court first engrafted a right to abortion into the constitution in Roe v. Wade. And with as many as three or four current justices possibly retiring in the next presidential term, it shows how much longer the slide can be with the wrong decision in November.

As Shannen Coffin suggests, a deep breath is in order, but one during which to form a more accurate assessment of the situation and redirect the rage. Even Coffin's description of Casey's description of the procedure makes for nauseating reading, and abortion activists are tying all abortion to it, both legally and, with the emotional weapon that they're handing the other side, strategically.

Perhaps one could go further and suggest that they're exposing to attack their entire approach to construing the Constitution. "We can't even ban this?" the question will become. "Then something is wrong either with the Constitution or with the method by which it is interpreted." Oh yes, this is going back to the Supreme Court, either now or in the near future, and that gang will have either to tiptoe through a minefield of its own making in order to contradict Judge Casey's understanding of what precedent requires, or it will have to begin dismantling the precedent.

ADDENDUM:
Just an extra note, here, to shake my head and gag at the idea that some people defend this procedure. How monstrous do you have to be? (And, yes, that extends to other procedures.)

Posted by Justin Katz at August 27, 2004 12:13 PM
Abortion
Comments

In my first year of law school, I was pretty successful at staying emotionally detached from many of the cases that would ordinarily be such as to provoke strong reactions. But I couldn't do it with Stenberg. I got so upset reading the case I was crying with helpless rage. Justice Breyer made the cursory disclaimer that "our discussion may seem clinically cold or callous to some, perhaps horrifying to others." Yeah, no kidding, the dissenters said. Justice Scalia was right on, as usual, writing that the partial-birth abortion procedure "is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion." It does more than that. It shocks the conscience. For Justice O'Connor to require this effectively unlimited exception for "health" is never to allow any real restrictions at all on abortion - even though, as Congress and Judge Casey (almost) here found, there is no possible reason preserving health could ever require partial-birth abortion. One needs no medical background to grasp this point: if you're going to deliver the baby *halfway* and the woman's health is threatened, then all you have to do is *deliver the rest of the way* - there's no conceivable reason you should need to kill it at that point by collapsing the skull.

Sorry, the helpless rage is coming back again.

Posted by: Kimberly at August 27, 2004 2:49 PM

I guess we can't complain about activist judges and then demand that Judge Casey also make a decision that is not consistent with unfortunate Supreme Court decisions. This decision and the language the Judge Casey used is a two edge sword and does no favors for those who are pro-abortion.

Again the pro-abortion crowd seems to want it both ways. First they argued that PBA was extremely rare and now they want to argue that it is necessary and a safer form of abortion.

And I agree with you about gaging at those who defend this decision. My previous pro-abortion views went out with my first child and knowing that their was a human child developing and not some abstract tissue mass.

Posted by: Jeff Miller at August 28, 2004 1:37 PM

Kimberly writes:

... there is no possible reason preserving health could ever require partial-birth abortion.

You have no credible basis for this claim. As Casey notes in his ruling, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women's Association, the American Public Health Association, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the California Medical Association, and other organizations of physicians and medical professionals testified that the D&X procedure (i.e., "partial birth" abortion) has safety advantages over other procedures.

Do you have any kind of recognized medical expertise? I'm guessing the answer is no. Even if you do, I'm not sure why you think your personal opinion on this question should carry greater weight than that of the professional medical organizations I list above.

Posted by: Jon at August 28, 2004 7:08 PM

Jon,

I'm not sure if you're being deliberately obtuse, but all of medical organizations were offering their (disagreeing) opinions for safety with the presumption that the baby was to be killed. I haven't seen a single medical opinion that D&X has "safety advantages" over actual delivery, which was Kimberly's point. It certainly isn't any safer for the child.

And frankly, the alternative method, D&E, whereby the doctor tears the baby apart inside the woman is at least as monstrous and worthy of at least as much horror, disgust, and contempt for those who support it.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 28, 2004 8:26 PM

One of the primal essences of motherhood is her willingness -- even eagerness -- to sacrifice her own life to save that of her child. Hence this whole "health of the mother" is murderous hogwash, imo.

Posted by: Marty at August 28, 2004 8:27 PM

I'm not sure if you're being deliberately obtuse, but all of medical organizations were offering their (disagreeing) opinions for safety with the presumption that the baby was to be killed.

I think you're the one who's being obtuse. All abortions obviously result in the death of the fetus, regardless of the procedure used. And any pregnancy may need to be aborted to protect the life or health of the pregnant woman. The point is that the professional medical organizations I listed all agree that D&X has safety advantages over alternative abortion procedures. There is no basis for Kimberley's claim that "there is no possible reason preserving health could ever require partial-birth abortion."

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 12:28 AM

One of the primal essences of motherhood is her willingness -- even eagerness -- to sacrifice her own life to save that of her child. Hence this whole "health of the mother" is murderous hogwash, imo.

The choice of whether or not to sacrifice her own life to save the life of her fetus belongs to the pregnant woman, not to you. Hence, your whole "primal essence of motherhood" is fascist hogwash.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 12:32 AM

I haven't seen a single medical opinion that D&X has "safety advantages" over actual delivery, which was Kimberly's point.

During the second trimester, there's no such thing as "actual delivery." If the fetus is removed from the pregnant woman's uterus, it will die, regardless of the procedure used to extract it. And any pregnancy may need to be terminated, during any trimester, to protect the life or health of the pregnant woman. That is why restrictions on even third-trimester abortions are subject to exceptions to protect the pregnant woman's life or health.

And frankly, the alternative method, D&E, whereby the doctor tears the baby apart inside the woman is at least as monstrous and worthy of at least as much horror, disgust, and contempt for those who support it

No, the people who are worthy of horror, disgust and contempt are people who seek to compel women to risk their life or health to prevent the death of a fetus.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 12:42 AM

Jon said:
"No, the people who are worthy of horror, disgust and contempt are people who seek to compel women to risk their life or health to prevent the death of a fetus."

No, nobody is "worthy" of horror, disgust and contempt. Not even those ignorant enough to badger and bully and terrify women into believing their lives are in jeopardy by pregnancy in the name of "women's right to choose". Not even those people ignorant enough to badger and bully and terrify women into putting their lives in jeopardy by having an abortion all in the name of "women's reproductive rights". I pity them, just like I pity the ones who ignore the inexcusable psychological damage produced in women who are badgered and bullied and terrified into having an abortion because somebody else does not want the responsibility of raising a child.

Posted by: smmtheory at August 29, 2004 1:12 AM

No, nobody is "worthy" of horror, disgust and contempt.

Tell it to Justin Katz. He's the one who originated the "worthy of horror, disgust and contempt" attack.

Not even those ignorant enough to badger and bully and terrify women into believing their lives are in jeopardy by pregnancy in the name of "women's right to choose".

No woman should be badgered or bullied into having an abortion. Equally, no woman should be badgered or bullied into a completing a pregnancy she prefers to abort.

I pity them, just like I pity the ones who ignore the inexcusable psychological damage produced in women who are badgered and bullied and terrified into having an abortion because somebody else does not want the responsibility of raising a child.

Terrific. I assume you also pity those who ignore the inexcusable psychological damage produced in women who are badgered and bullied and terrified into completing a pregnancy that they prefer to abort.

Each pregnant woman has the right to choose for herself whether to complete or terminate her pregnancy. She should not be badgered, bullied or terrified into either completing the pregnancy, or terminating it.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 4:33 AM

Oh yes, this is going back to the Supreme Court, either now or in the near future, and that gang will have either to tiptoe through a minefield of its own making in order to contradict Judge Casey's understanding of what precedent requires, or it will have to begin dismantling the precedent.

The Supreme Court won't have to tiptoe through anything. It's covered this ground already, in Stenberg v. Carhart. If an appeal of the Casey ruling reaches the high court, it will most likely either decline to hear the case, thus letting the lower court rulings stand, or it will strike down the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in accordance with its ruling in Stenberg, which invalidated a Nebraska state law virtually identical to the federal Act. The chances of the Act being upheld, which were always low, now seem more remote than ever.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 4:46 AM

"Fascist hogwash," huh? That's an interesting turn of phrase coming from a man who defends a procedure whereby a baby is partly delivered only to have its brains sucked out and/or skull crushed (in, as Judge Casey found, prolongued and excruciating pain), or even whereby the baby is not partly delivered but is torn apart inside the womb. Here's a question for you: if it's all about the woman's choice to "terminate the pregnancy," and if a baby delivered at that stage will die, why not deliver it all the way and end its life more humanely?

Regarding the Supreme Court, what I'm suggesting is that the judges have reached the end of their cold, clinical, legalistic rope. I don't think a majority of Americans will accept that the Constitution requires them to permit the torturous slaughter of preborn human beings in the name of "choice." As with Newdow, the court is walking a fine line between not contradicting itself and sparking a backlash against itself and the agenda of the elites who populate it.

And regarding "horror, disgust, and contempt," while I note that I only meant the last of those to be directed at partial-birth abortion's supporters, I have to admit that I'm not quite at the level of grace at which such support doesn't evoke horror, disgust, and contempt before either reason or faith has had a chance to temper my reaction.

Essentially, we've got two competing assertions. Yours:

Each pregnant woman has the right to choose for herself whether to complete or terminate her pregnancy.

And mine:

No pregnant woman has the right to choose for herself to terminate her pregnancy.

As a practical matter, I'll align my prediction with the side that doesn't support procedures that rightfully induce nausea even at clinical descriptions. As a spiritual matter, I'll side with the people for whom it is at least a struggle not to have an HD&C reaction to D&X or D&E.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 29, 2004 9:18 AM

Jon said:
"Terrific. I assume you also pity those who ignore the inexcusable psychological damage produced in women who are badgered and bullied and terrified into completing a pregnancy that they prefer to abort."

I have seen much less evidence that there is psychological damage from having women complete a pregnancy they do not want than the opposite. Too many women are being denied the choice of carrying a pregnancy to term. I have seen more women traumatized by abortion than women grateful for the choice. I abhor the fact that women's rights were hijacked by deathmongers intent on keeping them enslaved to their desire to avoid the responsibility of birth control.

My daughter-in-law was badgered and bullied by her own mother into believing that her life was in danger despite what the doctor said. She had the abortion. That tore apart her marriage to my son even though my son does not practice Christianity. Her mother has absolutely no medical qualifications for having made that judgement, but it was her opinion and not the doctor's that my daughter-in-law believed.

And you are proud of this accomplishment. I pity you. I find your opinion on abortion disgusting, not the least of which is because you owe so much to the woman who gave you birth.


Posted by: smmtheory at August 29, 2004 11:56 AM

Justin Katz:

"Fascist hogwash," huh? That's an interesting turn of phrase …

Yes, just about as interesting as the “murderous hogwash” turn of phrase that it was responding to.

… coming from a man who defends a procedure whereby a baby is partly delivered only to have its brains sucked out and/or skull crushed (in, as Judge Casey found, prolongued and excruciating pain), or even whereby the baby is not partly delivered but is torn apart inside the womb.

As I have explained, and as Judge Casey himself found, the procedure may be gruesome, but it is also sometimes necessary to protect the life and health of the pregnant woman. Warfare is also often gruesome, but it is also sometimes necessary.

Here's a question for you: if it's all about the woman's choice to "terminate the pregnancy," and if a baby delivered at that stage will die, why not deliver it all the way and end its life more humanely?

Because delivering the fetus intact would endanger the health or life of the pregnant woman. And it’s not at all clear that subjecting the fetus to a slow and lingering death from lack of oxygen by delivering it would be more humane, anyway.

Regarding the Supreme Court, what I'm suggesting is that the judges have reached the end of their cold, clinical, legalistic rope. I don't think a majority of Americans will accept that the Constitution requires them to permit the torturous slaughter of preborn human beings in the name of "choice."

The anti-abortion movement’s 30+ year effort to overturn Roe v Wade has been a spectacular failure, and there’s no sign that this is likely to change. Polling data consistently shows that a majority of Americans support the right to abortion, especially in cases where it is necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant woman.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 4:04 PM

Justin Katz:

And regarding "horror, disgust, and contempt," while I note that I only meant the last of those to be directed at partial-birth abortion's supporters, I have to admit that I'm not quite at the level of grace at which such support doesn't evoke horror, disgust, and contempt before either reason or faith has had a chance to temper my reaction.

Support for laws that would compel women to complete pregnancies that threaten their life or health evoke horror, disgust and contempt in me.

As a practical matter, I'll align my prediction with the side that doesn't support procedures that rightfully induce nausea even at clinical descriptions.

I’m not sure exactly what you’re “predicting” here, but if it’s that a ban on the D&X procedure will be upheld by the high court, all the evidence is against you. As I said, the Supreme Court has already considered and rejected a state ban virtually identical to the federal one. As for “nausea,” again, a clinical description of virtually any invasive surgical procedure is likely to invoke feelings of nausea in many people. So are clinical descriptions of the consequences of war. But that doesn’t mean that surgery or war are necessarily wrong. Most people understand that moral questions are more complex than just feelings of nausea or disgust.

As a spiritual matter, I'll side with the people for whom it is at least a struggle not to have an HD&C reaction to D&X or D&E

I think most people find the D&X and D&E procedures gruesome. But gruesome doesn’t mean wrong.


Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 4:18 PM

smm:

I have seen much less evidence that there is psychological damage from having women complete a pregnancy they do not want than the opposite.

Then you have not seen a representative sample of the evidence. As noted by the American Psychological Association’s briefing paper and other medical research on the psychological effects of abortion, the psychological risks from completing an unwanted pregnancy are generally higher than those from terminating it.

Too many women are being denied the choice of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Huh? Women cannot be denied the choice to complete their pregnancy. It’s a criminal offense. If you know of a case in which this has happened I suggest you contact the authorities so that the guilty party can be prosecuted.

I have seen more women traumatized by abortion than women grateful for the choice.

Your personal experience is not a substitute for scientific research. The research shows both that most Americans suppory the right to choose abortion, and that trauma is more common in women who complete an unwanted pregnancy than in women who terminate it.

I abhor the fact that women's rights were hijacked by deathmongers intent on keeping them enslaved to their desire to avoid the responsibility of birth control.

I abhor the fact that anti-choice fascists seek to enslave women to unwanted motherhood by compelling them to complete their unwanted pregnancies.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 4:34 PM

Re: Murderous vs. Fascist Hogwash

Good debate here, let me toss this one back to Jon, if i may:

The choice of whether or not to sacrifice her own life to save the life of her fetus belongs to the pregnant woman, not to you.

Since we ARE discussion the issue of "a life for a life" here Jon, can you explain to me why the father of said fetus has no say whatsoever in this "choice" over who lives and who dies?

Posted by: Marty at August 29, 2004 4:35 PM

Well, Jon, it looks like we could go in circles on this infinitely (or at least until separated at the final judgment), so barring a clear opportunity to carry the discussion forward, this'll be it for me, for this round.

If you believe that the average American feels equivalent revulsion at the removal of a tumor (or something else) with a view toward saving a life as at the murder of a preborn child for no reason more dire than "choice," then we're not living in the same society. Heck, the same is true if you think reactions to the gruesomeness of war and the horror of abortion are at all similar in scale.

This comes around to my essential point with this post, which is that I believe extremist supporters of abortion to be overplaying their hand in the amount of agreement that they assume. Perhaps a majority of Americans supports abortion if the choice presented in the poll is all or nothing. A majority opposes partial-birth abortion. Somewhere between lies the majority opinion — somewhere between "in cases of incest, rape, and life" and "in the first two trimesters," I'd guess.

Whatever the success or failure of thirty years of pro-life advocacy, fewer and fewer people are going to consider themselves to be in your camp the clearer it becomes that being so places them in league for people who would consider an entirely born baby to be fair game for the hatchet if it represented even the most distantly theoretical of safety advantages. All it will take for my side to be seen as more reasonable, to the disinterested middle, is to confirm that, yes, when it is a choice between a life and a life, the decision ought to belong to the mother (with which I agree) and perhaps that incest and rape are permissible compromises (with which I'd agree for as long as it is necessary).

You are, of course, free to disagree, and I can't say I see any downside, for my cause, if you and yours are blind to how far from humanity your worldview has drifted.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 29, 2004 5:21 PM

Marty:

Since we ARE discussion the issue of "a life for a life" here Jon, can you explain to me why the father of said fetus has no say whatsoever in this "choice" over who lives and who dies?

I think he should have a say. His opinion should be listened to and considered. But he does not have the right to veto the choice of the pregnant woman. She is the one who must bear the burden of the pregnancy if it is to be completed, not him, so she is the one with the controlling choice. This is true not just for life-threatening pregnancies, but for all pregnancies.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 5:29 PM

Justin Katz:

If you believe that the average American feels equivalent revulsion at the removal of a tumor (or something else) with a view toward saving a life as at the murder of a preborn child for no reason more dire than "choice," then we're not living in the same society. Heck, the same is true if you think reactions to the gruesomeness of war and the horror of abortion are at all similar in scale.

As I said, most Americans support the right to abortion, so whatever revulsion they may feel about the practise, it does not rise to the level of thinking that abortion should be, in general, a criminal offense. The point about surgery is that types of surgery other than surgical abortion may also induce feelings of nausea (your word) in many people. All that blood and guts everywhere. But nausea is not reliable indicator of morality. An abortion may be gruesome. It may even be tragic. But that doesn’t mean it’s immoral, and it doesn’t mean it should be a crime.

This comes around to my essential point with this post, which is that I believe extremist supporters of abortion to be overplaying their hand in the amount of agreement that they assume. Perhaps a majority of Americans supports abortion if the choice presented in the poll is all or nothing. A majority opposes partial-birth abortion. Somewhere between lies the majority opinion — somewhere between "in cases of incest, rape, and life" and "in the first two trimesters," I'd guess.

Well, of course, you may be right that they are “overplaying their hand.” But I see no evidence to support that assumption. Yes, polls show that most Americans oppose “partial birth” abortion, but they apparently do not oppose it strongly enough for it to matter much to the outcome of elections. The “partial birth” saga goes back to the first Clinton Administration. Clinton was handily reelected despite a promise, which he subsequently followed through on, to veto a “partial birth” abortion ban. I don’t know of a single case in which a congressman has lost his seat because of his opposition to a ban on the procedure. And polling data consistently shows that voters rank other issues to be far, far more important than abortion. Only a small minority of votes are decided on the issue of abortion. So it seems to me that your assumption is unlikely to be correct.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 5:47 PM

Justin Katz:

Whatever the success or failure of thirty years of pro-life advocacy, fewer and fewer people are going to consider themselves to be in your camp the clearer it becomes that being so places them in league for people who would consider an entirely born baby to be fair game for the hatchet if it represented even the most distantly theoretical of safety advantages.

An “entirely born baby” is not fair game for the hatchet. Killing a baby is a crime, usually murder or manslaughter. An abortion is not the killing of a baby, it’s the termination of a pregnancy that results in the death of the fetus. I know you want people to think that there is no significant difference between a fetus and a baby, and no significant difference between a D&X abortion and a birth, but there significant differences between them.

All it will take for my side to be seen as more reasonable, to the disinterested middle, is to confirm that, yes, when it is a choice between a life and a life, the decision ought to belong to the mother (with which I agree) and perhaps that incest and rape are permissible compromises (with which I'd agree for as long as it is necessary).

Huh? The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act does include an exception for the life of the pregnant woman. It does not include an exception for the health of the pregnant woman. That is its downfall. Whether or not most people consider it reasonable, it is unlikely to be upheld. And, as I noted in my previous post, even though polls indicate that most people favor a ban of some kind on “partial birth” abortion, that sentiment does not seem likely to have much political impact. It’s just not an important issue for most voters.

You are, of course, free to disagree, and I can't say I see any downside, for my cause, if you and yours are blind to how far from humanity your worldview has drifted.

I think it’s you who is blind to the most important humanity involved here, the humanity of the pregnant woman.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 6:01 PM

Ugh.

I don’t know of a single case in which a congressman has lost his seat because of his opposition to a ban on the procedure. And polling data consistently shows that voters rank other issues to be far, far more important than abortion. Only a small minority of votes are decided on the issue of abortion.

But we're not talking about votes. Those congressmen who stand to lose their seats on the basis of abortion voted for the ban... and it passed. The courts have denied voters their say in the matter, and I'm suggesting that we're crossing into a realm at which it will begin to matter, because the reality is being pushed further and further along a sort of moral thought process, at the end of which is a big "NO you can't kill babies."

While I'm responding, I'll address two other points quickly:

The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act does include an exception for the life of the pregnant woman. It does not include an exception for the health of the pregnant woman. That is its downfall.

I'm going to have to return your "huh" here. As I've been saying, the fact that the legalistic "downfall" doesn't align with what would be a legislative or public-opinion "downfall" is exactly the point.

I think it's you who is blind to the most important humanity involved here, the humanity of the pregnant woman.

I'm extremely concerned with the humanity of pregnant woman, and I think it's despicable that we're allowing them to drift so far away from it in the name of "choice." It is further despicable that various parties, some with gigantic financial interests in its being so, lure them toward inhumanity.

(Tangentially: happen to catch Judge Casey's finding that woman aren't often told what their "choice" entails, at least in the case of partial-birth abortion?)

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 29, 2004 6:15 PM

Justin Katz:

But we're not talking about votes.

Well I’m not sure what you are talking about, then. Votes are how we change laws in this country. If you want to change the law on abortion, you will need to change votes. And if you want to change votes, you will need to change minds. You don’t seem to be having much success at that.

Those congressmen who stand to lose their seats on the basis of abortion voted for the ban... and it passed.

Well then. If supporting a ban on “partial birth” abortion is a political loser even at the congressional election level, it is even more unlikely that you will prevail on this issue.

The courts have denied voters their say in the matter, and I'm suggesting that we're crossing into a realm at which it will begin to matter, because the reality is being pushed further and further along a sort of moral thought process, at the end of which is a big "NO you can't kill babies."

No, the courts have not denied the voters their say. The courts have overruled the voters to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. That’s how the system is supposed to work. That’s how it was designed to work. And again, there is no evidence that “we're crossing into a realm at which it will begin to matter.” As I said, this whole “partial birth” abortion saga goes back more than a decade, and there’s no sign that it has increased support for restrictions on abortion.

I'm going to have to return your "huh" here. As I've been saying, the fact that the legalistic "downfall" doesn't align with what would be a legislative or public-opinion "downfall" is exactly the point.

Your language is a bit confusing here. I assume that by “doesn’t align with” you mean something like “is not evidence of.” Your statement seems to conflict with your earlier claim that the congressmen who stand to lose their seats over this issue are the ones who voted for the ban. If that’s true, the legal and legislative outcomes are both aligned against your position. If I’m understanding you right, your basic claim is that people are going to start saying to themselves “Oh that damn Supreme Court! This time it’s just gone too far!” and then rise up in anger to vote for presidents who will nominate justices more likely to uphold restrictions on abortion and senators more likely to confirm such nominees. As I said, you may be right. It’s possible. But there’s no evidence to suggest that you are. Polling data and election results suggest that the public just doesn’t care enough about the issue for it to matter.

I'm extremely concerned with the humanity of pregnant woman, and I think it's despicable that we're allowing them to drift so far away from it in the name of "choice."

The right to choose whether or not to terminate or complete a pregnancy is an essential component of a woman’s humanity. In failing to recognize that right, opponents of legal abortion are failing to fully recognize her humanity.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 7:05 PM

Just to clarify:

If supporting a ban on “partial birth” abortion is a political loser even at the congressional election level, it is even more unlikely that you will prevail on this issue.

No. It would have been a political loser for some congressmen to oppose partial-birth abortion. They supported it and are still in office. The fact that they supported it, in other words, is the reason that you haven't seen anybody who "lost his seat because of his opposition to a ban."

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 29, 2004 7:24 PM

Justin Katz:

No. It would have been a political loser for some congressmen to oppose partial-birth abortion. They supported it and are still in office. The fact that they supported it, in other words, is the reason that you haven't seen anybody who "lost his seat because of his opposition to a ban."

Right. That's what I said you said. You claimed that if any congressmen stand to lose their seats, it is those who voted for the ban. Opposition to a ban (i.e., support for "partial birth" abortion) is a political winner. Support for a ban (i.e., opposition to "partial birth" abortion) is a political loser. Thus, on that account, you are even more unlikely to prevail, because your position is a loser both at the judicial level and the legislative level.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 7:54 PM

Congressmen do have different constituents and different political circumstances, you know. What is a "political winner" in Texas might be a "political loser" in New York, and vice versa.

The ban passed the House 291-142, including 63 Democrats. The most you can claim is that 142 congressmen represent regions that either (1) are completely secure or (2) have political circumstances favorable to partial-birth abortion. Although I don't think it was true for all of them, therefore, of the 291 members who voted for the ban (particularly the 63 Democrats), some either had to support the ban for political reasons or calculated that it was, indeed, a political winner.

I'm not sure how many "political losers" you believe make it through Congress with a 2:1 margin of support.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 29, 2004 8:54 PM

Justin Katz:

Congressmen do have different constituents and different political circumstances, you know. What is a "political winner" in Texas might be a "political loser" in New York, and vice versa.

Well, yes, but you asserted that the only congressmen likely to lose their seats over the issue of abortion are those who voted for the ban.

The ban passed the House 291-142, including 63 Democrats. The most you can claim is that 142 congressmen represent regions that either (1) are completely secure or (2) have political circumstances favorable to partial-birth abortion. Although I don't think it was true for all of them, therefore, of the 291 members who voted for the ban (particularly the 63 Democrats), some either had to support the ban for political reasons or calculated that it was, indeed, a political winner.

Well if that is what you believe, why did you say: "Those congressmen who stand to lose their seats on the basis of abortion voted for the ban?" That statement implies that any political risk from the vote was to congressmen who voted for the ban, not to congressmen who voted against it.

I think that, given the polling data indicating that a majority of the public supports a "partial birth" abortion ban, a vote for the ban was likely to be, on average, more politically advantageous than a vote against it. But because the public is also largely indifferent to the issue of abortion, that effect is unlikely to be large enough to make a difference to the legislative outcome, and almost certainly not large enough to make a difference to the judicial outcome. As I said, the Supreme Court will most likely either decline to hear an appeal to Casey's ruling (or to those of the other federal courts that have struck down the ban), or it will strike down the ban itself on the basis of its ruling in Stenberg. And that will most likely be the end of the matter, for all practical purposes.

I also think the anti-abortion movement has done itself considerable damage by focusing so single-mindedly and for so long on this issue rather than working in other ways to reduce the number of abortions, such as by promoting the wider use of contraception, or by working to make the choice to complete an unwanted pregnancy more attractive socially and economically.

Posted by: Jon at August 29, 2004 9:35 PM

Jon said:

Then you have not seen a representative sample of the evidence. As noted by the American Psychological Association’s briefing paper and other medical research on the psychological effects of abortion, the psychological risks from completing an unwanted pregnancy are generally higher than those from terminating it.

The American Psychological Association assertions have been countered here, here, here, here, and here.

Jon also said:

Well if that is what you believe, why did you say: “Those congressmen who stand to lose their seats on the basis of abortion voted for the ban?” That statement implies that any political risk from the vote was to congressmen who voted for the ban, not to congressmen who voted against it.

It is pretty evident to me what Justin meant by that statement, and your interpretation is entirely incorrect.

Jon also said:

I also think the anti-abortion movement has done itself considerable damage by focusing so single-mindedly and for so long on this issue rather than working in other ways to reduce the number of abortions, such as by promoting the wider use of contraception, or by working to make the choice to complete an unwanted pregnancy more attractive socially and economically.

This is exactly what I meant when I said “women's rights were hijacked by deathmongers intent on keeping them enslaved to their desire to avoid the responsibility of birth control.” You all leave the entire responsibility of birth control up to women, while the secular elites who preach sexual freedom are chiding them for being concerned with it, and then when they get pregnant your kind tell them to excise it because it is “just a dangerous lump of their own flesh” under the guise of their freedom of choice.


Posted by: smmtheory at August 29, 2004 11:52 PM

Amen! smmtheory could not be more correct.

Posted by: Marty at August 30, 2004 10:03 AM

"She is the one who must bear the burden of the pregnancy if it is to be completed, not him, so she is the one with the controlling choice. This is true not just for life-threatening pregnancies, but for all pregnancies."

Why shouldn't the father bear the burden of the pregnancy?

And why can't the mother give the child up for adoption? Obviously, that entails a burden, but it seems far more humane than killing the child. How many adopted children do you know who would rather have been killed in the womb?

Posted by: Mike S. at August 30, 2004 10:09 AM

Jon is clearly a pro-abortion true believer. It's a real privilege to have him posting here, so that we can try to understand how the other side thinks.

Jon sees an enormous difference between the baby being in the womb versus outside of it--something magical happens in those few inches of movement down the birth canal. Before it moves through that canal, it's just another lump of tissue that can be destroyed by any convenient method. After it moves through that canal, killing it would be a serious crime.

Jon thinks that this makes perfect sense. I want to explore his view.

Suppose that a woman goes to a clinic for a partial birth abortion. The abortionist notes that the baby is viable, but the mother seems stressed about the possibility of having a baby. So the abortionist proclaims that the mother's health is in danger, and he will kill the baby to reduce her stress levels.

The woman pays her money, and the abortionist prepares to kill the baby. But there's a distraction during the procedure, and the abortionist turns away from the mother for a few minutes. During that time, the mother dilates, has a contraction, and out pops a baby. The magic inches have been traversed. Killing it now would be murder.

Can the mother sue the doctor for malpractice?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at August 30, 2004 11:46 AM

smmtheory:

The American Psychological Association assertions have been countered here, here, here, here, and here.

The APA briefing paper I linked to summarizes the scientific literature on the psychological effects of abortion. That literature comprises dozens of studies, conducted on thousands of women, and published in peer-reviewed professional journals. The overwhelming consensus of the literature is that the psychological risks from abortion are low, and that taking an unwanted pregnancy to term generally imposes much greater risks to a woman's mental health. The links you provide offer no serious scientific challenge to this consensus. The penultimate one is especially laughable.

Posted by: Jon at August 30, 2004 8:16 PM

Mike S:

Why shouldn't the father bear the burden of the pregnancy?

Well, perhaps he should, but unforunately the reality of human biology is that women alone bear that burden.

And why can't the mother give the child up for adoption?

In some cases she could, but that would require her to endure completing the unwanted pregnancy, which is the very burden she seeks to avoid by having an abortion.

Obviously, that entails a burden, but it seems far more humane than killing the child.

I don't think so. In most cases of unwanted pregnancy, I think that abortion is the more humane option.

How many adopted children do you know who would rather have been killed in the womb?

None. How many people do you know who would rather have never been conceived? I assume the answer is also none, or close to none. Does that mean abstaining from sex to avoid conceiving them would have been wrong?

Posted by: Jon at August 30, 2004 8:24 PM

Ben Bateman:

Jon sees an enormous difference between the baby being in the womb versus outside of it--something magical happens in those few inches of movement down the birth canal.

There's nothing "magical" about it. Birth is a physical event. There are obvious physical differences between fetuses and babies.

Before it moves through that canal, it's just another lump of tissue that can be destroyed by any convenient method.

I don't believe that a fetus is "just another lump of tissue." I do believe that a fetus is not the same thing as a baby.

Can the mother sue the doctor for malpractice?

In the scenario you described, assuming it could actually occur, probably not, no.

Posted by: Jon at August 30, 2004 8:29 PM

Why, Ben, what a silly question. Don't you realize that, in "most cases of unwanted pregnancy,... abortion is the more humane option." If it's more humane for the child to die than to be put up for adoption (whomever it might be more "humane" for), then the doctor ought to kill the thing and move on to the next patient.

More seriously: Why bother discussing this with Jon? His end is very simple; having taken the jump to what the rest of us will see as an inhuman view, he will have no problem volleying any attempts to point him toward that inhumanity. He'll simply play around with distinctions of "fetus/baby," and if he ever were to bother explaining why such and such an "obvious physical difference" is the decisive measure of value, his opinion could be entirely arbitrary with nary a blink.

Might as well try to trick a sociopath into admitting that murder is inherently wrong and oughtn't be done on that basis.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 30, 2004 8:38 PM

Justin Katz:

If it's more humane for the child to die than to be put up for adoption (whomever it might be more "humane" for), then the doctor ought to kill the thing and move on to the next patient.

I don't believe that a fetus or an embryo is a child. Except in certain limited circumstances, fetuses and embryos have never been treated as children in our law and culture.

He'll simply play around with distinctions of "fetus/baby," and if he ever were to bother explaining why such and such an "obvious physical difference" is the decisive measure of value, his opinion could be entirely arbitrary with nary a blink.

I don't know what "decisive measure of value" is supposed to mean here. As I said, fetuses have never been thought of or treated as the equivalent of babies in our law and culture, except in certain limited circumstances. Birth has always marked, and still does mark, the point at which a new person comes into existence. And birth is not an arbitrary point, it is a physical transition. You might claim that the assignment of a particular moral significance to birth is arbitrary, but that's true in the same sense of any assignment of moral significance to a physical transition, including the significance you assign to fertilization.

But my support for a broad legal right to abortion is largely independent of the moral status of the fetus, anyway. A woman has the right to choose not to use her body as a physical life-support system for a developing fetus, even if that fetus is considered to be the moral equal of a baby.

Might as well try to trick a sociopath into admitting that murder is inherently wrong and oughtn't be done on that basis.

To which I guess my response is that I might as well try to trick a fascist into admitting that forcing people to donate their organs to save the life of another person oughtn't be done for the same reason that women oughtn't be forced to complete a pregnancy.

Posted by: Jon at August 30, 2004 9:04 PM

Q.E.D.

Some might suggest that, with this:

Birth has always marked, and still does mark, the point at which a new person comes into existence. And birth is not an arbitrary point, it is a physical transition. You might claim that the assignment of a particular moral significance to birth is arbitrary, but that's true in the same sense of any assignment of moral significance to a physical transition, including the significance you assign to fertilization.

... brings us back to the matter of partial-birth abortion, with the nice added layer of your apparent rejection of biological advancement's application to the law, but what'd be the point? What'd be the point, as well, of asking what organs the mother "donates" to her children? (From my rudimentary understanding of the formation of human life, babies grow their own.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 30, 2004 9:18 PM

Justin Katz:

... brings us back to the matter of partial-birth abortion, with the nice added layer of your apparent rejection of biological advancement's application to the law

I don't understand this. What do you mean by "biological advancement's application to the law?"

What'd be the point, as well, of asking what organs the mother "donates" to her children?

She doesn't donate any organs. In completing a pregnancy, a woman donates the services of her uterus to gestate a fetus. I think that completing an unwanted pregnancy is a burden broadly comparable to that of giving up an important but non-essential organ, such as a kidney. I oppose forced completion of a pregnancy for pretty much the same reason that I oppose forced organ donation.

Posted by: Jon at August 30, 2004 9:35 PM

You know what? I would bet that Jon's arguments against the humanity of a fetus is pretty much in a similar vein as the same arguments used by slaver owners against the humanity of their slaves.

Maybe there is a correlation between the abolistionists and pro-lifers, both having to overcome the Supreme Court's fallacious misinterpretation of constitutional guarantees.

Maybe in our children's children's lifetime, the SC Justices will quit overstepping their boundaries.

Posted by: smmtheory at August 30, 2004 11:24 PM

Thinking about this, the disconnect isn't really about the baby. It's about sex.

If you listen to abortion supporters, you get the idea that sex just happens, like rain or wind. Nobody chooses to do it; it just happens on its own. Or, as a variation, people kinda choose to have sex, but their urges are so strong that we can't reasonably expect them not to resist.

That's the real divide on abortion. For abortion supporters, that view is so intuitive that they can't imagine anyone thinking otherwise. For abortion opponents, that view is so ridiculous and offensive that we can't imagine anyone taking it seriously. Therein lies the communication gap.

So here's another question, Jon:

If a man has sex with a woman, then he is taking a risk on getting clobbered with punitive child-support payments for 18 years. We don't pity him, because he chose to have sex.

If a woman has sex with a man, then she is taking a risk on getting pregnant. She is taking a risk that a baby will "use her body as a physical life-support system," as you put it. You have great pity for her, and you demand that she have the uninhibited right to stop this unwanted use of her body.

So is the worldview here that men are capable of choosing not to have sex, but women aren't?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at August 31, 2004 12:08 AM

Ben Bateman:

If you listen to abortion supporters, you get the idea that sex just happens, like rain or wind. Nobody chooses to do it; it just happens on its own. Or, as a variation, people kinda choose to have sex, but their urges are so strong that we can't reasonably expect them not to resist. That's the real divide on abortion.

Really? So all this time that abortion opponents have been telling us that it's about life, life, life, they've been lying, have they? It's really about sex, sex, sex, is it? I'm going to copy your post to show the next "pro-lifer" who tells me that he's just trying to protect the "babies" rather than control other people's sex lives.

So is the worldview here that men are capable of choosing not to have sex, but women aren't?

No, of course not. Ordinarily, both choose to have sex, and both will be legally responsible for any child that is born of that union. The woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy. That right obviously doesn't apply to the man, since men don't get pregnant.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 12:35 AM

smmtheory:

You know what? I would bet that Jon's arguments against the humanity of a fetus is pretty much in a similar vein as the same arguments used by slaver owners against the humanity of their slaves.

On the contrary, forcing a woman to complete a pregnancy against her will is a kind of slavery. That is why women have the right to abortion.

As I said in an earlier post, fetuses have never been held in our law and culture to be the equivalent of children, and your slavery analogy fails for that reason alone. But the deeper reason it's wrong is that even if fetuses were held to be persons, that would not justify compelling women to use their bodies as a physical life-support system for them. We don't compel a parent to donate blood or tissue to save the life of his child, even if there is no other match. So we certainly have no right to compel a woman to gestate a fetus.

Maybe there is a correlation between the abolistionists and pro-lifers, both having to overcome the Supreme Court's fallacious misinterpretation of constitutional guarantees.

Unfortunately for you, the historical correlation is between the abolition of slavery and the legal right to abortion. Just as slavery came to be seen over time as a profound injustice, so has compelled motherhood. The undeniable historical trend over the last several decades, not just in the United States but in the world as a whole, has been to ease legal restrictions on abortion, not increase them. A broad legal right to abortion now exists in virtually all the industrialized democracies.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 12:46 AM

On the contrary Jon, I have never denied the humanity of women or fetuses, whereas you have continually denied the humanity of fetuses. Instead, I have embraced the extended definition of life to include that unique combination of both father and mother whose chromosomes neither fully match either mother or father and can never be qualified as a lump of the woman's flesh. Furthermore, I refuse to poison women's minds with the idea that childbearing is a burden which you have continually stated in this forum.

Posted by: smmtheory at August 31, 2004 1:26 AM

Hmm.

"Negroes have never been held in our law and culture to be the equivalent of people."

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 31, 2004 7:16 AM

Jon, maybe I didn't make my question clear enough, because you didn't really respond to it:

When women have sex, aren't they consenting to become pregnant? If they give that consent, then they shouldn't be able to later complain that it happened.

BTW, this is why many Americans would allow abortion for rape but not consensual sex. In a rape, the women didn't consent to get pregnant.

Me: "If you listen to abortion supporters, you get the idea that sex just happens, like rain or wind. Nobody chooses to do it; it just happens on its own."

Jon: "So all this time that abortion opponents have been telling us that it's about life, life, life, they've been lying, have they? It's really about sex, sex, sex, is it?"

Jon, you're getting silly. Calm down. Take a few deep breaths.

What I said was that, for abortion supporters, the issue starts with the presupposition that people are incapable of controlling their sexual urges, so it's wrong to make them live with the consequences of having sex.

Abortion opponents start with the assumption that people are capable of choosing not to have sex, and therefore should be held responsible for the consequences of sex.

My theory is that those are the two fundamentally incompatible worldviews behind the abortion debate. You can't believe both. So you're in Queen of Hearts terrritory when I ask about child support compared to pregnancy (both being risks of sex) and you write:

"Ordinarily, both choose to have sex, and both will be legally responsible for any child that is born of that union. The woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy."

Which one is it? Is the woman morally responsible for choosing to have sex, or is she not? If she's responsible for having chosen to have sex, then why is it so wrong to enforce the obligation she consented to? Her actions may produce a baby, and that baby will need the use of her body for a coupole of months in order to live. She knew the risk. She did it anyway.

With partial-birth abortion, the comparison of pregnancy to a father's child support is even more obvious. With partial-birth abortion, the mother can immediately end the burdens on her body and produce a viable baby. So it obviously isn't the physical burden that you are so eager to allow her to escape. Post-viability, the point of killing the baby is that the mother doesn't want to bother raising it. And you don't think she should have to--as long as she kills it soon enough.

A great many low-life fathers caught in the gears of the child-support system feel the same way: They don't want to have to pay for the costs of raising the child they helped produce. But we have no sympathy for them: They knew the risks of sex.

Jon, your view on this seem internally inconsistent. Your rules seem to be:

1. A man who chooses to have sex can be saddled with 18 years of child support. That's OK, because the man chose to have sex.

2. A woman who chooses to have sex can also be saddled with 18 years of child-raising expenses and labor--if she fails to kill the baby before it emerges alive from her body.

3. But pregnancy is too much to ask a woman to withstand. The discomfort, inconvenience, and stress on her body is simply too much to demand. The woman has an unquestionable right to immediately end this demand on her body, even though she chose to have sex and was aware of the risk.

4. (Partial Birth) A woman can kill her baby, even though she close to have sex, and even though she could immediately end her pregnancy by giving birth to a viable baby.

Is that how you see it, Jon?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at August 31, 2004 2:22 PM

Ben Bateman:

When women have sex, aren't they consenting to become pregnant?

No.

BTW, this is why many Americans would allow abortion for rape but not consensual sex. In a rape, the women didn't consent to get pregnant.

For abortion opponents who would allow abortion in cases of rape but not in cases of consensual sex, the controlling issue is obviously not life, but sex. The life of the fetus is the same regardless of the circumstances of its conception. Denying the woman an abortion is the punishment these “pro-lifers” think she deserves to suffer for choosing to have sex and being careless or unlucky enough to become pregnant as a result of that choice. This is one reason why I and many others have concluded that the central concern of the “pro-life” movement is not to protect fetal life but to impose their preferred sexual morality on women using criminal law.

What I said was that, for abortion supporters, the issue starts with the presupposition that people are incapable of controlling their sexual urges, so it's wrong to make them live with the consequences of having sex. Abortion opponents start with the assumption that people are capable of choosing not to have sex, and therefore should be held responsible for the consequences of sex.

Yes, I know that’s what you said. So the central concern of “pro-lifers” isn’t life at all, is it? Their central concern is to force on women their view of responsible behavior following the choice to have sex. And by the way, I’ve never heard of an abortion rights supporter who believes that people are incapable of controlling their sexual urges.

So you're in Queen of Hearts terrritory when I ask about child support compared to pregnancy (both being risks of sex)

Incomprehensible.

Which one is it?

Both. A woman both has the right to abortion, and is (in most cases) legally responsible for any child that may be born as a result of her choice to have sex. You seem to be under the false impression that these two positions are somehow contradictory or conflicting.

Is the woman morally responsible for choosing to have sex, or is she not?

Yes, she is responsible for her choice to have sex, and for any child that may be born as a consequence of that choice.

If she's responsible for having chosen to have sex, then why is it so wrong to enforce the obligation she consented to?

What obligation that she consented to is that?

Her actions may produce a baby, and that baby will need the use of her body for a coupole of months in order to live.

No, if she gets pregnant and chooses to have a baby, that baby wouldn’t need the use of her body at all. Another person could take care of it. If she gets pregnant and does not wish to have a baby, she can choose to have an abortion.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 9:07 PM

Ben Bateman:

With partial-birth abortion, the comparison of pregnancy to a father's child support is even more obvious. With partial-birth abortion, the mother can immediately end the burdens on her body and produce a viable baby.

That’s only true if she is in the third trimester of her pregnancy, which is obviously not necessarily the case. And even in the third trimester, the fact that she could deliver a viable baby does not mean that she is morally obliged to do that, or that she should be compelled to do it by criminal law.

So it obviously isn't the physical burden that you are so eager to allow her to escape.

Yes it is. You’re ignoring both the fact that the D&X procedure may be used in pre-viability abortions, and that it may be necessary to prevent a significant physical burden to the woman even after viability, most obviously in cases in which it is required to protect her life or health.

Post-viability, the point of killing the baby is that the mother doesn't want to bother raising it.

No, the most common reasons for post-viability abortions, which comprise only about 1% of all abortions in America, are that continuing the pregnancy or delivering a baby would threaten the life or health of the pregnant woman and/or that the fetus is suffering from some kind of serious disease or disorder. The issue is further complicated by the fact that viability isn’t a bright line, and that any baby delivered significantly earlier than 39 weeks is at substantial additional risk of death or serious disability.

A great many low-life fathers caught in the gears of the child-support system feel the same way: They don't want to have to pay for the costs of raising the child they helped produce. But we have no sympathy for them: They knew the risks of sex.

Yes. They have a responsibility to support any child that is born as a result of their decision to have sex, unless the child is given up for adoption or to some other legal guardian. The woman has the same responsibility.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 9:23 PM

Ben Bateman:

Jon, your view on this seem internally inconsistent.

It seems that way to you because you have misunderstood my view. You have falsely assumed that I share your premise that consenting to sex is the same thing as consenting to complete the pregnancy that may result from that sex. I don’t share that premise. Neither do most other people.

Your rules seem to be: A man who chooses to have sex can be saddled with 18 years of child support. That's OK, because the man chose to have sex.

Yes.

A woman who chooses to have sex can also be saddled with 18 years of child-raising expenses and labor--if she fails to kill the baby before it emerges alive from her body.

If she fails to have an abortion, yes.

But pregnancy is too much to ask a woman to withstand.

No, you are perfectly free to ask her to complete her pregnancy and deliver a baby. She has the right to decline your request and to have an abortion instead.

The discomfort, inconvenience, and stress on her body is simply too much to demand. The woman has an unquestionable right to immediately end this demand on her body, even though she chose to have sex and was aware of the risk.

Well, you certainly have a right to “question” her right to abortion. That’s what you’re doing here. Do you also believe a parent should be compelled by law to donate blood or tissue to save the life of his child?

The right to abortion is perfectly consistent with the broader Anglo-American legal tradition regarding one's duties to others. There simply is no general duty of one person to make a significant sacrifice or endure a significant burden in order to save the life of another. Even so-called "good samaritan" laws impose only the most minimal legal duties on one person to save another.

(Partial Birth) A woman can kill her baby, even though she [chose] to have sex, and even though she could immediately end her pregnancy by giving birth to a viable baby.

She can have a third-trimester abortion (using D&X or some other procedure) if the abortion is necessary to protect her life or health, regardless of whether she chose to have sex or was forced to have it.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 9:42 PM

For the record: 1% of all abortions is about 40,000 per year for the past few years, and rapidly nearing 10,000,000 since Roe.

For Ben: But that's irrelevant, in this case, because Jon sees no practical difference between abortions on either side of the viability line, however fuzzy it may be.

For Jon: Regarding Anglo-American legal traditions with respect to obligation to others, you seem to have lost sight of historical Anglo-American legal traditions with respect to abortion.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 31, 2004 10:10 PM

Justin Katz:

For the record: 1% of all abortions is about 40,000 per year for the past few years,

Where are you getting your numbers from? Government figures place the annual number of abortions in America in recent years at around 1-1.5 million. 1% of that is 10-15,000. That's only about a quarter to a third of the number you claim above.

For Jon: Regarding Anglo-American legal traditions with respect to obligation to others, you seem to have lost sight of historical Anglo-American legal traditions with respect to abortion.

Not at all. Abortion has been broadly legal for most of Anglo-American legal history. Even during times and in places where abortion was a crime, it wasn't remotely as serious a crime as murdering a child.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 10:38 PM

Jon,

You're right on the 40,000. Doing too many things at once, I looked at the wrong column (and I should have known it was high, anyway). The nearing-10,000,000 stands, though, as does the fact's apparent irrelevance to your argument.

As for the "broadly legal" claim, I'd ask to see some sources, but again, I don't see the value of further investment of time, with you, considering your use of phrases such as, "if she fails to have an abortion." I can't help but wonder whether that particular failure is on its way to becoming a moral barrier akin to failing to successfully use birth control.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 31, 2004 10:51 PM

Justin Katz:

The nearing-10,000,000 stands, though,

Huh? How? It's been 31 years since Roe. 31 times 10,000 = 310,000. That's about 3% of the 10,000,000 figure you claim.

as does the fact's apparent irrelevance to your argument

No it isn't.

As for the "broadly legal" claim, I'd ask to see some sources,

Try Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, or Abortion in America by James Mohr. There was little legal restriction on abortion before the mid-1800s, and even after that it was typically legal until "quickening," the period during which most abortions were sought. Abortion was subject to severe restrictions for only about a century.

And as I said in a previous post, the undeniable global trend of the past several decades has been to relax abortion laws, not tighten them. A broad right to abortion now exists in virtually every industrialized democracy.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 11:12 PM

Justin Katz:

I don't see the value of further investment of time, with you, considering your use of phrases such as, "if she fails to have an abortion."

Okay, substitute "if chooses to complete the pregnancy" for "if she fails to have an abortion." It makes absolutely no difference to the point.

Posted by: Jon at August 31, 2004 11:14 PM

Ugh. What I was thinking of was the worldwide total's nearing 1 billion. (I also, in failing even to stop and think about the number, overly restricted the timeframe.)

For readers generally, I can only plea a busy schedule, a lack of sleep, and a decided lack of concern for irrelevant facts in a useless discussion with Jon. The points: the number is atrociously high, and it doesn't matter to him anyway.

For Jon, look, I can be roped into discussions easily, because I feel compelled to read everything posted on this blog. Since I've zero interest in giving your points a credence that I don't believe they deserve, I'm apt to make my points too quickly.

Considering that you've previously taken the time to explain to me (in my own comments sections) why my brand of "vanity journalism" is "bullshit," I'm not sure why you don't just slither back into whatever hole you came from and continue convincing yourself that the image of human arms and legs writhing between a woman's legs while a modern Mengele sucks the child's brains out must be ignored when assessing a woman's "right" to the maximum amount of time not to fail to kill offspring born as a direct and foreseeable consequence of her own actions.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 31, 2004 11:43 PM

Sorry, Jon, I get the last word. I've deleted your final comment and banned you. You're done here.

Make of it what you will. If you want, you're obviously free to believe that I just couldn't take your relentless light of truth. It's more the case that I just don't have the time or patience to deal with you.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 1, 2004 12:18 AM

Actually, I believe the current total of abortions in the country since Roe v. Wade is approximately 45,000,000** now so the good news is that 1% of that is only about 450,000 (which is only good news because the number is lower than 10,000,000), but the bad news is that 450,000 fetuses, that would have looked just like a normal baby (except for size) at the instant, were aborted. The abortion advocates have managed to create almost twice as many fatalities as the combined bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in that number alone.

** Only 3 European countries have a population higher than the number of aborted fetuses. If these were all Canadians, there would be nobody left north of the border.

Posted by: smmtheory at September 1, 2004 12:29 AM

I question the 1% statistic in the first place - I think the # of third-trimester abortions is considerably higher than that, and the number of abortions where the fetus could survive outside the womb larger still. The third trimester starts at ~28 weeks - many babies have been born prior to that date.

It is also flat-out false that the vast majority of those abortions are due to a physical risk to the mother.

Posted by: Mike S. at September 1, 2004 11:17 AM