One of the great things about working at Slack Tide is that we have a lean masthead – I’m it. Not only does this cut down on HR complaints and tedious editorial meetings, but if I don’t wish to write about a subject that everybody else is writing about, it’s usually as simple as having a heart-to-heart with my assignment editor (myself), who gives me permission to skip it, before we adjourn and go fishing.Nothing makes me want skip it and go fishing more than the subject of abortion. I have never done a reader survey here, but I’ll venture a guess that roughly 100 percent of you didn’t subscribe to this site to be subject to my thoughts on abortion policy. And in my experience, there’s no faster way to clear out a roomful of friends, enemies, or paying customers than to bring up the A-word, since everybody is convinced of their own righteousness, whichever way they lean, and has been since God was in short pants. I have had spirited abortion debates in the past. I consider myself a semi-convincing person when I get a full head of steam and/or tankard of Jesus Juice in me. Not to mention, when I whip out sonogram pictures (if you’re not into science denial). And yet, I don’t recall ever changing a single mind, for whatever that’s worth. Neither will I even attempt to, now.
Cards on the table to readers of all persuasions: I’m pro-life. There, I said it. My libertarian instincts make me wince at the government ever telling anybody what they must or mustn’t do with their bodies. But of course, when what someone wants to do with their body affects another body, even if it is one that lies in various stages of embryonic development on the dark side of the birth canal, well, that muddies the picture considerably.
I won’t recap the entire overturning Roe v. Wade draft opinion leakage controversy. You can read about it literally everywhere else. Here’s the Politico piece that kicked it all off. Here’s a contrarian examination of the ins-and-outs of the leakage itself by my old friend Jack Shafer. (Spoiler: Jack’s an old-school journalist, and so, is always pro-leaking.) Neither do I feel it necessary to elucidate how I think that wherever you stand on abortion, Roe v. Wade is and always was bad, extra-constitutional legislating from the bench. (Abortion is never mentioned in the Constitution, and I have a lot of pro-choice company in holding that Roe v. Wade is jurisprudential dog-turdery .)
The bottom line, of course, is that if Samuel Alito’s draft opinion and the preliminary justices headcount is a true indication of where the court will land (and as of this writing, there’s no evidence that it isn’t), Roe doesn’t look to be long for this world. This will not ban abortion outright, but will remand the issue back to the states, where, according to the New York Times, 13 states have existing trigger laws that would ban abortion immediately or quickly, five states have a pre-Roe abortion ban that could be enforced again, and 14 states might restrict abortion to 22 weeks or earlier. For the abortion-sky-is-falling types, it might be worth noting that the NYT, citing pro-choice researchers, estimates this will only represent around a 13 percent reduction in legal abortion, which hardly represents abortion extinction. Though if you’re committed to abortion rights, and are in the Biden administration, you might want to start whittling those gas prices down now, since plenty of women will be driving a lot further to get one. And if you’re a Chinese developer, hellbent on buying up America’s burgeoning hot properties, you might want to start snatching up our back-alley real estate, stat.
Not to be glib about abortion. It’s pretty serious business – literally, life and death. Which is why this new development turned my thoughts to an old profile subject of mine, Randall Terry. Almost exactly a decade ago, when I was still at The Weekly Standard, I did a lengthy profile of Terry, who was then in the middle of an election caper too complicated to recount here, but who was once known as America’s foremost pro-life agitator, having headed Operation Rescue. He’d led a movement that saw 70,000 arrests in abortion protests in what were, up until that time, the largest civil disobedience efforts since the civil rights protests of the sixties.
Terry was always a cross between an angry Old Testament prophet and a rodeo clown/court jester. His enemies – he had them on both sides – accused him of many things, but never of being too subtle. You won’t find Randall referring to abortion services as “reproductive health.” He calls it “child killing.” In protest of what he regards as millions being slaughtered, he might chain himself to an abortion clinic sink, or dump a pile of bloody baby dolls in Nancy Pelosi’s office. As a hobbyist musician, he might perform pro-life songs of his own composition, such as “Crying for You Baby,” sung in the style of his musical hero, Barry Manilow.
Why, just a few weeks ago, after progressive anti-abortion activists (yes, there are some) were indicted for a former protest, shortly after revealing they’d recently recovered 115 aborted fetuses from a medical-waste company driver - with several of the babies appearing to be very late-term and viable - there was Randall shepherding them through the media circus. And just the other night, after the Roe v. Wade news broke, there was Randall in front of the Supreme Court, getting his glasses literally punched off his face by an angry pro-choice activist, while hauling around his ukulele, and singing another of his songs, “We’re Gonna Dance on the Grave of Roe Vs. Wade.” Sample lyric: Baby don’t cry/ You’re not gonna die / Abortion will/ Be a crime. You can watch Randall get punched here. (Scroll to the 1:15 mark.)
Bottom line? Randall’s not everyone’s speed. He’s probably not yours, even if you’re pro-life. But I’ve always had grudging respect for him, and not just because I have a soft spot for eccentric screwballs. (He once filmed a music video featuring a firing squad in Obama masks executing baby dolls with paintball guns to the strains of Alice Cooper’s “Dead Babies.”) But because Randall puts his money where his mouth is: another time, he not only talked a prostitute out of having an abortion in front of an abortion clinic, but he later adopted two of her children. Love him or hate him, but the guy lives his gig.
And because he takes abortion as seriously as the rest of us often only pretend to, he frequently asks hard and uncomfortable questions. Which brings us to today’s discussion thread. I should note here that I just conducted a discussion thread in my very last piece (on Elon Musk and Twitter), and didn’t mean to repeat another right away. However, this subject is practically begging to be one. The last time, a major high-traffic aggregator generously picked us up, and so a lot of angry strangers who were itching for war came over the wall and entered our comments section, and they wanted nothing more than to turn the dump over. I had to play bouncer for about three days straight, instead of just moderating the thoughtful commenters that usually peacefully coexist here, even in disagreement. That won’t happen this time. If anyone gets abusive, even though I’m pro-life, I’ll abort them straightaway. And if many break the rules, I’ll slap a lock on this piece for paid subscribers only, which usually clears up any problems. So there’s no need for people with good manners to cower in fear, whichever side of the ball you’re on. Even if you disagree with me, I want you here.
Some conversation starters for my pro-choice readers: If abortion isn’t taking a life, what is it taking? And if it is taking life, doesn’t the right to live enjoy primacy over all other rights, no matter how inconvenient or tragic the story of the person who feels the need to have an abortion? (When women feel the need to abort, they are usually not happy stories, admittedly.) If it’s just a mass of tissue, and not a child, why did Joe Biden call it the latter? Why do we have the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recognizes a fetus or embryo in utero as a legal victim if they are injured or killed during the commission of over 60 federal crimes, but we don’t regard deliberately killing a child in utero as a crime in itself, so long as the parent wishes it to cease to exist?
For readers generally: What are the ramifications of Roe V. Wade getting overturned? Does leaking a draft opinion portend the unrepentant politicization of the Supreme Court? Is collegiality over, and will everyone on the court have to watch their backs now? Is this an overreach by the court, and will conservative politicians overreach even more by trying to legislate abortion out of existence? Did conservatives just hand liberals a midterm elections gift, since a majority of the country, according to polls, doesn’t want to see Roe V. Wade overturned?
For my pro-life readers, here, I’m handing the mic over to Randall Terry, who I asked to jot down some hard questions for those who say they want to make abortion illegal, but who often give short shrift to what it will actually mean for a society in which all those unwanted children might be born. Randall:
If you are really pro-life, would you be willing to sponsor or raise the money for an unwed pregnant teen; would you take a teen into your home – who then becomes a new teen mom? Would you take in a pregnant mother in distress, and provide her a place to stay before and after she has her baby – with or without government help – to help get and keep her on her feet? Or would that be too much inconvenient work? If we, in effect, compel pregnant women to carry their babies to term, what are we willing to do to see that the mom and child are not trapped in ignorance and poverty – the horrific twins of Scrooge’s nightmare? How dirty are you willing for your hands to get? How much mercy are you willing to show, and how much sacrifice are you willing to give, to help that mom and child? What personal sacrifice of time, money, comfort, and above all, reputation, am I willing to give? What am I willing to endure to not only make child-killing illegal, but to help the moms and children in meaningful ways if the full fruit of a political victory is realized?
I readily admit that there is something here to offend everyone. Don’t take it personally. It’s what the country is facing, and as much as I’d like to blow it all off and go fishing, we must, to some degree, face it as well. Feel free to answer my/Randall’s questions, or ignore them while going off on your own tangents. All that’s required for you to participate is that you be respectful of others, even while being pointed, and don’t hurt anybody. I will be a ruthless enforcer on that front, whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice or undecided. The world’s all stocked up on hatred, and I don’t want any more of that in my sanctuary. So be gracious, no matter what’s being discussed. Graciousness is the only bridge over irreconcilable differences.
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Here's the thing, the entire pro-life argument hinges on the idea that "life begins at conception", however, this assertion is extremely debatable, and has literally no biblical support or historical basis before the modern era.
And don't quote the "knit together in my mother's womb passage" at me, as that passage has nothing to do with the issue of abortion or the timing of when a person becomes a person. Also, have you ever seen an old woman knitting? It's a process, and sometimes even takes weeks. But I digress.
Hardly any protestants in the US were pro-life before the 70's and suddenly, not only was abortion oppostition a popular topic within protestant circles, it was sacrosanct. You can't be a Christian and not be pro-life they say. I'd say that's debatable as well.
Bascially, the political side of the pro-life movement seeks to make abortion illegal. And the justification of this is that children are being killed, so it doesn't matter what a woman wants, or even if she was raped, or even if her life is in danger. Innocent babies hang in the balance, so really, the woman can go to heck. And this is not just a restriction that should be placed on Christian women or religious women, it will be placed on all women. If you are female and you get pregnant, then your baby is the priority, and you don't have rights or choices anymore.
And I'm sorry, I'm a Christian, and I generally view abortion negatively. But I'm going to have to call BS on this whole view. There is literally no passage in the Bible directly condemning abortion (in fact there is this odd passage in Exodus where if a man thinks his wife is cheating, she has to drink a potion that will cause her womb to shrivel if she is guilty). We as Christians have no mandate to impose our view of life's beginnings on the secular population. We cannot prove that "life begins at conception" as this is a philosohpical and theological question, that is unanswerable by secular law.
Yes, abortion can be restricted. People can choose to make their own laws and they can make things illegal that they find distasteful. But do Chrisitans have a mandate to impose this on the world? No. Also, what happens when 20% of the population (conservative protestants and catholics) wants abortion to be 100% illegal, but 80% doesn't want this and mostly favors a grey area between?
Roe will be overturned, but I think pro-lifers should lower their expectations that this is some kind of step along the way to a pro-life future. Sure there are going to be some very restrictive bills passed in red state. But what happens when a bunch of young women die for want of an abortion and the media justifiably makes it a huge deal? You will see those bills reversed. Because it turns out that Americans actually like having the freedom to make decisions over their own bodies.
A few nights ago, my teenage daughter was asking some questions about all this, especially the morality issue.
I told her I was one of the few pro-choice people she'll meet that believes abortion is, in most cases, immoral but that it's worse to me that the government, especially at the behest of what mostly is a religiously based minority, would tell a woman she doesn't have the right to decide what to do with her uterus and would force women to go through pregnancy and give birth.
So yes, I think choosing abortion because it's an inconvenient time to be pregnant is immoral, but I also think that sometimes it's the right thing to do in the bigger picture, and I think it should be the woman's choice.
It does get more difficult the more a pregnancy has progressed, and it's easy to see why support drops so much for abortions in the second and third trimesters, and while it's probably healthier to seek compromise laws when it comes to those things, I personally tend to think it should be legal at any time, gruesome as that might sound. What I find compelling about that is that almost all late-term abortions are by mothers who actually do want the child, but something has gone terribly wrong. Despite what voices on Fox News might be trying to suggest, I seriously doubt there are mothers who, the day before their due date, shrug their shoulders and say, "Nah, I've changed my mind. Let's end this."
Question for pro-life people: Smoking increases miscarriage and stillbirth. Should we regulate smoking by pregnant women? Should we establish a sort of OSHA for the womb?
Most fertilized ovum (zygotes) fail to implant or are rejected. Should we consider this a medical emergency and devote enormous energy to reducing this loss of human life? Considering the vast number of yearly deaths shouldn't this trump other medical research, such as cancer research? (Let's not forget the Natural Fallacy).
The problem is the tendency to adopt extreme positions on the moral significance of zygotes and fetuses. If a zygote fails to implant does that mean a human life has ended? Biologically a strong case can be made that it has, the mistake is either to conclude the case settled, because all human lives are morally equal, or to deny anything important important happened at conception (ho hum, the DNA from to persons has knitted together and formed a new organism genetically separate from both, nothing to see here).
Consider a variation on the Trolley Problem: You are at a switch and can redirect a train about to barrel into a crowd onto either a track with a 2-year old (who will be surely killed) or another track with a tray of zygotes (they will surely be killed). What would Randall Terry do?
A morally and intellectually coherent resolution is rejected by the Democratic and Republican Parties alike, yet popular among Americans: From zygote to infant we all pass through a liminal zone where our moral importance and claim on others increases in tandem with our development and our ability to live independent of our mother.
Such a conception leads to an abortion regime widespread worldwide and supported by most Americans: low regulation on early abortion increasing to heavy regulation close to term.
Is that position pro-choice or pro-life? Both?
A practical question I have for the pro-life side: Pharmaceutical abortions are already the most common type of abortion. Abortion restrictions will accelerate the trend (check out plancpills.org), how in all practicality do you propose enforcement without resorting to a police state?
And a question for the pro-choice side: What exactly is the problem with safe, legal, and rare?
I was hoping for something more, but the approach -- questions for both sides -- is a good start.
How about this: present each side in a light that someone on the other side would find compelling. This is a strategy that good history teachers take in presenting controversial figures and movements from our past.
I should state from the beginning my own bias. I think Roe v. Wade was a sensible step -- Casey was a further step -- toward a better societal approach toward abortion. We need to move beyond Roe and Casey, not go back to before Roe and Casey. Use of the criminal sanction (i.e. "bans") to deal with abortion is societal incompetence, and an abuse of the law.
Abortion terminates life. It's wrong. I like to think that my own life began as a gleam in my parents' eyes, even before conception. I like to think that the reason for being of the entire cosmos is so that a child would be born and love its mother.
What can society do to support and encourage carrying to term life once begun? The problem is practical, not theoretical. Taking a principled view -- it's about life; it's about autonomy -- avoids the practical realities. Fundamentally, this is a human problem not a legal problem. Why does it make any sense to treat it as a legal problem, "legalize" it or make it "illegal"?
Let me take a small detour before continuing. For those who have actually read the Roe opinion, Roe did not "legalize" abortion. Roe constrained the power of the state to interfere with a pregnant woman's decision. The issue was the use (and abuse) of state power, a perspective which was lost in the hype about "legalization". The reason this perspective remains important is that there is a difference between ends and means. Making abortion "illegal" stops the conversation. Should not society carefully consider the means used to achieve the desired end of carrying life to term? Roe used a rather crude timeline to constrain the use of state power -- first trimester, nothing; second trimester, regulation of the doctor; third trimester (viability), prohibition -- so it was but a first attempt to take into account the complex reality of mother and child as one until birth.
The public discourse has essentially lost the valuable perspective taken by the Supreme Court in Roe. We have the spectacle of a myopic preoccupation with whether abortion should be "legal" or "illegal". Is that even the right question?
The complex reality of mother and child as one during pregnancy can be illustrated by imagining that they are not one. Picture this: a nursemaid is pushing a stroller. Inside the stroller is an unborn child, encased in a womb. The life and welfare of the unborn child is paramount. Out of concern that the nursemaid -- whose womb is in the stroller -- may choose an abortion, the state takes responsibility for the womb. Once conception has taken place the nursemaid is just a hireling.
A simplistic view would use this fiction to characterize the pro-choice faction as being outraged that the pregnant woman is being taken as a mere nursemaid, a hireling. But this characterization might give pause to the pro-life faction. Is it really just about the life of the child? Conversely, the image of a nursemaid as caretaker for a life not her own might give pause to the pro-choice faction. Is it really just about the woman's body?
This fictional separation might also give pause to legislators who are still thinking in terms of "legal" and "illegal". Instead of the state taking eminent domain over the womb, perhaps it makes more sense to support the caretaking role of the nursemaid. The "legality" of abortion seems an inadequate focus for legislative attention. If the legislature keeps the whole picture in full view -- which is the point of the fictional separation -- the underlying problem is no longer simple. If the problem were likened to brain surgery, dealing competently with it would require a scalpel rather than a meat cleaver. Focusing on "legality" is like using a meat cleaver for brain surgery. By comparison, Roe v. Wade used a scalpel.
Which returns me to the law, and its abuse. Using a meat cleaver in these circumstances is an abuse of the law. As a society we can do better. Rather than overturn Roe and Casey the Supreme Court should move beyond Roe and Casey. Why is a timeline (trimester or otherwise) and viability proper bases for regulating state intervention in this complex reality? Meat cleavers should be forbidden. Minimum competence for state intervention should require grasp of the whole complex reality -- nursemaid, womb, and child in one. The Mississippi statute at issue in Dobbs fails this test.
One last point. Alito's draft opinion does not portend well for the rule of law. It is not simply the spectacle of this women being treated radically differently from one state jurisdiction to another. If Alito's draft is given five votes there will be strongly reasoned dissents, and these dissents are likely to become law at some point in the future when the composition of the Court changes. It is not lost on anyone that these five votes are the product of determined politics by the pro-life movement over many decades. Good lawyers and good judges have different views on the subject. It is not a question of bias on the part of any justice. The bias lies in the political process for selecting justices.
The prospect of Dobbs itself being reversed at some point even decades or more in the future by a differently composed Court -- particularly if Dobbs cuts its own stare decisis throat by overturning a fifty year old precedent -- is surely on the minds of the present Court. For that reason I doubt that Alito's draft will become the Court's opinion.
But we will see. In the event that Alito's draft does not become the majority opinion it will be interesting to see whether the Court simply avoids expressly overturning Roe or whether it finds a way to move beyond Roe and Casey, in the direction of a better scalpel. I'm not holding my breath -- this is an exceedingly difficult problem -- but our society deserves better than the meat cleaver approach we are likely to get from state legislatures that simply want to prohibit abortion.
Love your work Matt and appreciate the courage of taking on this topic.
The topic is very emotional for all involved. And each fact pattern is unique to that situation. I've heard compelling arguments from both sides and rarely is an opinion changed. Which maybe there isn't a "right answer" other than how do we (to borrow Clinton's phrase) make abortions "safe, legal and rare". e.g. will we criminalize abortions? Even if we do, that hasn't stopped and won't stop them, just likely make them less safe, having the affect of risking the lives of pregnant women. Is that pro life?
Currently, the phrase "pro life" seems inappropriate. It seems "pro birth" is more appropriate. In addition to the list of things Randall asks, I'd add a few. None of which actually require any time or money, i.e. an even lesser commitment than Randall. Would you support laws/officials that deny expanding health care (access) to children? That deny child care credits? That don't require vaccines/masks when deemed necessary to protect the life of another? That aim to reduce legal immigration for parents seeking a better life for their children? That don't assist (in some way) in providing affordable child care so parents can work? etc...
How does Randall feel about two wrongs making a right, i.e. are rape and incest appropriate exceptions?
On a different vein, I'd also ask. If one believes this issue is best left for the states, then why is the state in a better position than the federal government to decide what's best in that situation? Conservatives believe that the best decision are made by those closest to the issue. If the state is closer to the issue than the federal government, the natural extension would seem to be isn't the family/mother/doctor closer to the issue than the state? Or why not the county/city? The fundamental legal question seems less to be is abortion OK or not, BUT WHO DECIDES? It seems disingenuous (or maybe it's just "convenient") to say "the state gets to decide" not the federal government, not the city, county or individual. Why is the state the best "decider" (to borrow a Dubya term)?
Again, thanks for the courage to add this to your repertoire of topics.
Ehhh... first, a note on tone. I typically like Matt's writing for his ability to write with lightness even when discussing dark topics. But the column above is... a bit too flip? Maybe? And I speak as a writer who gravitated toward flippers myself. Not important. That's a complaint of personal taste, but I think that opinion might influence my further words.
My position on abortion is driven by two things: my centrism, and being Canadian. We're hardly living in a snowy progressive utopia up here (Trucker Convoy, anyone?) but I tend to think we've got things right up here. "Safe, legal and rare" seems to sum it up.
It's not a fun process. I have friends who've gone through it and it is both physically and emotionally devastating. But the one thing I think we've gotten the most right is the element of democratic compromise. Nobody gets everything they want; everybody gets something.
The problem (as usual) in the American discussion is polarization. It goes hand in hand with your political system. Pro-life or Pro-choice! Team Red or Team Blue! Hockey or Football! Cake or pie! Not everything needs to be that kind of fight. You can actually meet in the middle, where nobody is happy.
Really though, I'm not trying to Both Sides this. While I can understand pro-lifers being upset at pro-choice callousness (yes, it's a baby and yes, you're taking a life; please take it seriously), there's mountains and mountains of hypocrisy to dig through from pro-lifers.
Here's what I'd need to see from the Pro-Life Movement before taking their arguments seriously:
1) Gun control advocacy. This problem isn't one of scale, but is perhaps the most visible of backward, barbaric public policies. Every other modern nation has solved this problem. Saving babies so you can arm them is ridiculous.
2) Take COVID seriously. A million dead Americans in two years. If you care about life, stop with the anti-vaxx, anti-mask, anti-Mexican (I wish I was joking) intemperate rhetoric. If you care about life, take the virus seriously.
3) Extend this stance to being anti-war. I know, I know, the only way to separate an American from their war machine is to drop it on some foreigner. But don't those lives have a right to exist?
4) Love thy Gays. Okay, so this one is obviously flip, but I'm also being serious. No unwanted pregnancies from that community! They tend to be into adoption! Pro-lifers should be *zealously* pro-gay! "The Book says No" is an insufficient excuse!
5) Anti-abortion should mean pro-contraception. And for those of you who feel like quoting this list to your friends and relatives (please don't), really crank this one up. Pro-condom! Pro-IUD! Pro-sodomy! Pro-handjob! Pro-vasectomy! Pro-porn! Pro-BJ! All of these lead to fewer pregnancies and thus fewer abortions. This seems like the easiest bit of advocacy - you're advocating stuff most people will probably want to do *anyway* (something something Market Forces) - but the vast majority of Pro-lifers won't do it. (Hypocrisy is sticky, ain't it?)
6) Be pro-Single Mom. Stop stigmatizing single mothers! Start stigmatizing men who are irresponsible impregnators or seek to exert toxic or dangerous control over women by dint of impregnating them! This does not seem like difficult moral calculus!
Well, now that I've alienated another gaggle of potential readers, have a nice Saturday. I'm going to continue worriedly watching your country from my Socialist Petrostate Ivory Tower.
Wonder what Terry’s stance is on death penalty, guns, etc.
Forcing women to birth is authoritarianism without socialism.
You proceed correctly by asking the hard questions. Thank you.
As a woman who had an abortion years ago, I asked all those questions at the time -- actually, I was forced to, by influential friends who opposed my decision & offered a modest degree of help. I am grateful for their pressure.
Later, as a Christian convert, I challenged my views, continually. They never changed: The unwanted child would have been fatherless & bi-racial, with a mother who had significant mental health problems, judgmental conservative parents thousands of miles away, a judgmental employer & no money.
I had not been protected from my mother's mental health problems, even in my intact family & I was not going to bring into the 1970's a child I could not protect, of a racial mix for which there was no adoption "demand."
It isn't a baby. It is the beginning of one, & I even had a sense of it being aware of my struggle over whether to carry it to babyhood; & understood my decision.
Did my choice culpably thwart God in an intention to bring this person to life? I don't think so. God knew my difficulties, & my intent; & He rarely presents His Will in such a neat package. It is sentimental to insist to the contrary, & outrageous to assert such a belief to force a woman to carry a pregnancy she rejects.
I don't understand how anyone can assert with a straight face that personhood, in the sense of rights, occurs at conception. That belief, too, seems to me a choice, & in common practice, an opinion that deplorably substitutes one pro-life person's judgment for what women like me feel & believe.
The Bible says nothing about this. Christian churches have "chosen life," but have often understood that the mother's life was a value too. Although to be honest, they have more often de facto decided that the value of a woman's life can righteously be set at zero when she is impregnated under bad circumstances.
If a woman intended to survive that situation, people other than the church had to help. Probably people like me, who thought, felt & believed that human life is a continuum from those first cells to actual babyhood; & the continuum can be interrupted to save a human life, the mother's.
It is certainly not true that every fertilized egg becomes a baby. There are a lot of genetic mistakes. God does indeed make mistakes, but gives us the mercy to be relieved of some by miscarriage. Perhaps a well-considered abortion is just an extension of that? I believed this, & no one who disagrees has a better right than me to the opinion, or to what I did, based on my belief. (And I fully understand that miscarriage is a tragedy in so many other situations; which demonstrates how the Will of God is much harder to discern than many glibly think!)
Counter-Arguments: There is no population problem! There's lots of resources left for every pregnancy we can force to term! THIS IS NOT TRUE.
Our Constitution enshrines "life." THIS IS NOT TRUE EITHER.
We need babies to adopt! This might be true, especially White babies, which is its own tragedy. A woman who can see the value of this, gives a great gift. But there are many stories of adoptions gone wrong, or producing life-long trauma for both mother & child. And forcing women to carry pregnancies under terrible conditions or against their will isn't going to make the stories better. Anyway, this borders on commodification of reproductIon; which is offensive.
What about the fathers? How soon after the 6 weeks does their child support start? And the rapists, stalkers & abusers -- how does a woman get free? & how much visitation, placement with the abuser's parents & child support (from the mom who gives up custody) will be compelled before she gets what's left of her life back?
These are the vile consequences that will rain down if Roe is overturned. Alito's opinion is ludicrous in the face of this hell.
We can fix all this & enter on a new age of joyful parenting! Really? You can't even confidently get righteous rape or spousal abuse convictions in most courtrooms. People with really serious health problems can't reliably get care; for years now, administrative requirements have been increased with the intention of forcing people out if these programs if they slip up. Real wages haven't risen for years, but at the slightest uptick, Fox News starts to beat the drums of fear about alleged wage inflation. We are a ongoing way from a world that doesn't warp any life afflicted by an unintended pregnancy.
And conservative people have been complaining for decades about Welfare Queens ... if we ever create meaningful financial supports for young unwed mothers, we will enable confused & immature young mothers, if they achieve nothing else in life, to at least reproduce. And the angry people will be angry about THAT.
Roe is a sad commentary, but you won't like what takes its place.
Which unborn ? The 3 beautiful children she will have with her great husband or the baby she was forced to keep from the fling with the French trumpet player with the heroin addiction & the smooth talking Macho voice .
There are three parts to my firmly pro-choice stance:
1. A fetus has the potential for life. A woman is a sentient, fully-formed human being, capable of making decisions about her health, and her future. Pregnancy is risky. Maternal death rates in the US are higher by far than in any other developed country. Women should be allowed to choose individually whether or not they will undertake that risk, not forced by the government to do so.
2. This is a discussion about who should have power over a woman's uterus; the individual, or the state? Using an argument based in religion, the GOP wants to remove the decision from the individual, and put it into the hands of the state, using state power to compel birth. China used the same state power to compel abortion. Tread lightly.
3. Raised evangelical, I watched fundamental Christian teachings used as justification for male dominance and control. A no-exceptions anti-abortion stance dovetails neatly into a worldview that challenges female autonomy in the first place. In addition, everyone I know who claims to be "pro-life" supports the death penalty and an extreme gun culture, and votes for political candidates who actively and enthusiastically remove funding for women and children in need. This is not merely anecdotal, as it shows up in poll after poll and vote after vote. It is the elephant that occupies the entire room, rendering so many of us skeptical about the motives of anti-abortionists, mostly religious, who claim to be protecting life.
I am so infuriated by the glaring hypocrisy and cruelty of "justice" Alito. He is more of a thug in a black robe. And I am a man. If I was a woman, I probably would have been jailed by now for harming a "pro-life" asshole.
I want to begin by saying that I think most people are "pro-life" in the sense that they value life, support life, are sad when they see something or someone die or be destroyed. No one, but perhaps a severely mentally ill person, enjoys aborting a baby-in-the-making. I don't even like thinning my radish rows or carrot rows. I figure I started these seeds growing and I feel sorry for the ones I have to terminate their growth because there are too many. All that said, who am I to involve myself in a woman's decision whether she terminates, aborts, ends the developing life form inside her uterus? It doesn't matter to me if you call it an embryo or a fetus or a human being or a baby. It's connected to this woman and its continuation is completely dependent upon her and what she does while she carries it. It is her creation, not mine. Maybe she'll smoke or drink alcohol or take drugs or all of the above. Maybe she'll punch herself in the abdomen over and over to try to stop this life form from growing, but is that to me? It's part of her body. It's part of her process. It's up to her to decide what she wants to do or not with this growth in her body.
Even if I think she's killing a baby which quite honestly is a debatable and deeply philosophical and religious idea, shall I tie her hands behind her back, strap her to a bed, and turn her into an incubator until that "baby" is ready to be born? It's just ridiculous when you think about the power another human being is imposing on this woman from outside of herself because s/he is convinced that developing human being has to be born. Why does it have to be born? Probably the logic is that it is a "gift from God," a "blessing," or a "potential soul in heaven." All of these ideas are religious ones. I personally believe that human beings are capable of producing human bodies, but incapable of producing human souls that inhabit these bodies. I read of a case where two twin boys, after reaching the age of speech, told their mother that they had chosen her to be their mommy, but "a bad man took us out of you. Because we loved you, we came back into you again." The woman had gotten an abortion previously and it turned out there were two babies-in-the-making. Those souls, two boys, just turned around and jumped back in to her again. At least that's what they said when they were beginning to talk. I personally don't think it's possible to kill anyone whether in utero or on the battlefields of Ukraine.
Imagine this for a moment. A woman is violently raped, a knife held to her throat, an evil hateful man tormenting this innocent woman. He leaves her naked body in her backyard shaking, sobbing, unable to speak because of her terror. She crawls across the lawn and turns on the spigot full blast inserting the end of a garden hose into her vagina hoping to watch out that God-damned son-of-a-bitch sperm from her violated body. A well-meaning white Republican senator rushes up to her, seeing what's happening and immediately turns off the water, finds a rope, and ties her knees together and tells her, "You're going to thank me someday. You've already suffered by being raped. I don't want you to suffer more by killing your unborn child." What a horrible, ridiculous, unloving and even violent act by a well-meaning conservative who is committed to his doctrine, his belief system, and blinded to the plight of this desperate woman. In Jesus' words, he is "straining out the blood in a gnat and swallowing an entire camel's worth of blood."
I would argue the same for a twelve-year-old girl who is carrying her brother's fetus or father's fetus. Even if you want to call it her brother's baby or her father's baby, show some compassion for this child. Use some common decency and stop worshipping the letter of your law and stomping all over the spirit of love of the law. I would argue the same for the woman who gets caught up in the passion of the moment and gets pregnant when she didn't want to be pregnant, who makes an error of decision like so many of us make all the time, but we don't suffer the consequences of starting a life in utero. I have no problem with the idea of using a morning-after pill that makes the uterus unwelcome to the conceptus. I personally think the sooner one terminates a pregnancy she doesn't want the better. I do not support the idea of burning a baby alive with a saline solution. Perhaps this isn't even done anymore. I don't know. I do not support the idea of what was called "partial birth abortion." What a sick man Martin Haskell is with his "intact dilation and extraction procedure!"
If I knew that any species, whether cats, dogs, mice, or hummingbirds were routinely aborting their babies in utero I would think, "What a bizarre behavior? What is wrong with those animals?" I have to ask the same question of the human species. What is so wrong with our species that we have reached a point where over a million, perhaps even a million and a half, abortions are "necessary" in this country alone? What mental illness or callousness disregard for life could cause such an epidemic? We obviously need to grow in our values of respect for each other and respect for our bodies and the bodies of others, respect for babies and respect for children and respect for our grandparents. We should be promoting self-control, expressing real love for others that results in responsible sexual behavior, real love for ourselves that results in responsible sexual behavior, easy availability of contraception so that unwanted pregnancies are a thing of the past. There should be no shame involved in being sexual people and wanting contraception. Bowls of free condoms should be available and distributed everywhere including the entrance to your place of worship.
So, I'm done. I ended up getting far more involved in this conversation than I intended. It is not an easy conversation and it should never be thought to be an easy conversation. Anyone who thinks it is simply is not capable of considering the multifaceted reality in which we live. Peace to everyone.
Please pardon my getting personal here; I generally avoid bringing emotions to logic-based discussions, but I noticed that this one, here, is nauseating me:
It was my wife you’re talking about, and it was to be our fourth child. the child was not viable, and it would have been sheer around-the-clock torture for my wife to carry our fourth child to term, at which time, God might or might not have finalized the process. Our long-time Catholic OB/GYN referred us to a non-opposed doctor. The hospital staff, especially its profoundly sympathetic nurse, who treated us as in our other pregnancies/births, was an incredible relief—given the tragedy that we were forced—arguably by God—to endure. Our final fifth or fourth child was born in excellent health and form, a year later.
I recognize a shift of topics, that seeks to treat abortion as if it is ever—ever—independent of a mother, in an active state of pregnancy—regardless whether she is a profligate harlot who may use abortion as a contraceptive—or all the other thousands of mothers, everywhere, in every condition and circumstance, who miscarries or still-births or must terminate for any number of medical/pregnancy conditions.
The preceding sentence may have grown inchoate. All who argue—not against their own potential abortions, but against those of others—speak as if the mother involved lacks Standing.
But, of course, she has Standing. She has it in the highest, primary form. I realize that Anti-Abortion (AKA euphemized as “Pro-Life”) persons, are either limited in the range of their thinking, or are else of the Nurse Ratchett variety of thinkers and feelers: those who lack genuine concern for the health and well-being of others.
Twenty-first Century America ought not to be a contemporary version of Salem, Massachusetts, witch-hunts. No American practice of religion allows Me to intercede in Your determination to sin—if sin, these medical procedures be. No conscientious, Constitution-loving American, can support the kinds of evil invasions of privacy—including legislated vigilantes and cross-state-line-incriminating laws.
The Anti-Abortion folks are either inadequate thinkers or else meddling torturers. I can not imagine using abortion as a means of birth control. We dearly love each of our four children. For you or Justice Alito or anyone else to get in the way of our health and safety—and medical privacy—in this way, is an evil far greater than even Christ would allow any of us, to judge an aborting mother on His behalf.
To me, it's like vegetarianism/veganism. You may not think eating meat or using animal products is morally justified. (For the record, I do both.) You may not think an animal has the same level of consciousness or moral value as a human or is lower on the Darwinist food chain, and that's fine, but pretty much no one denies that you're killing a living creature which does feel pain and probably would prefer to be alive. And let's be honest, no one (I hope, anyway) likes seeing videos or photographs of factory farms, killing floors, etc.
But yet plenty of us do eat animals. And we might or might not be squeamish about that.
The abortion question, for me, is fundamentally about pluralism. If we sit down to dinner and you choose not to order a cheeseburger, and I do, that's totally fine. If we want to have a polite discussion about why we choose to eat what we eat, that's cool too.
But for my fellow carnivores out there, would you find it acceptable if your dining companion started calling you a murderer, raising their voice, waving a picture of a butchered cow around? How would you feel if animal rights activists were camped out in front of a Burger King, screaming at you and calling you a murderer, insisting that they are nobly speaking on behalf of the poor animal that can't speak up for itself and is anyway way outmatched?
And for some people, certain animals are considered sacred. So eating them isn't just gross in their eyes, it's blasphemy. Does that give them the right to forbid you to eat a burger?
Now, if hypothetically PETA had a majority in Congress and decided to pass legislation to ban purchasing or consuming meat on a national basis, because of moral reasons or health reasons (no doctor, other than Dr. Feelgood, ever encouraged everyone to eat MORE red meat) or environmental ones (I'm told that less factory farms, which is where we get most our meat, pollute like crazy) how would you react?
If you don't think abortion is morally acceptable, then you can still think and act in a way that is in accordance with your beliefs in a pro-choice world. A pro-lifer isn't forced into doing anything, but in overturning Roe, they're supporting legally forcing other people NOT to do something which is morally acceptable to them ultimately because it just really bothers them a whole lot.
I don't think this logic applies to every topic, to be clear, but I think as far as abortion goes that's unfair and kind of outrageous.
And as far as state's rights are concerned, it has to be a national standard because otherwise legally you run into all sorts of problems. If an abortion is outlawed in the red state where I live, but I do it in a blue state, I find it hard to believe that anyone who is deeply opposed to abortions will leave it at that.
It reminds me a little of the controversies over things like the Fugitive Slave Law and the Missouri compromise, where the question was: what happens when the slave I legally have in my state (which is, I think it's safe to say, an objectively morally repugnant set of circumstances) escapes and makes it north? Are they therefore home free? Or are they still my property? Am I legally allowed to forcibly take them back? How far do my rights in my home state extend? This is the kind of thing that gets us into trouble.
If something's legal here then it must be legal over there, because if it's not then you've got serious lawsuits and legislation on your hands.
I also think it's worth mentioning that I don't think getting rid of all abortion rights is very popular nationally (which certainly isn't everything but is significant).
And since the Supreme Court is lopsided because of overt chicanery (Merrick Garland didn't get a hearing because it was "during an election year" while A.C. Barrett was shuffled into a lifetime position less than a month before the election) the idea of chucking Roe and whatever else might be down the line, and basically saying Nayna Nayna Boo Boo about it, really is over-the-top.
I honestly don't mean to attack anyone, but for these reasons I do think that outrage over this news really is quite justified.
I find the notion of "throwing it back to the states' elected officials" to be troubling. Gerrymandering (I live in NC - we have had some pretty funky districts!) and crazy primaries often lead to minoritarian rule. Many state legislatures are overwhelmingly white, male, and of a certain socio-economic class. I'm not sure why these district-rigged elected officials would be the proper authorities to force a pregnancy to term with no medical knowledge or personal understanding of the situation at hand. I guess they just have it on faith that an egg that has been breached by a spermatozoa is a "life" in exactly the same sense as themselves. God help the woman who has a miscarriage in the days ahead. I do hope we don't criminalize tragic situations.
Wouldn't citizenship status grant full autonomy to the woman carrying the life inside of her? Maybe the courts should grant primacy of privacy to the person already with the birth certificate in hand to make decisions.
Much of the discussion around abortion has been hijacked, or at least confused, by couching it in the high-sounding terms of “a woman’s right to choose.” For the record, I want to officially announce that I am three-fourths pro-choice! But hear me out. A woman has complete freedom to choose whether or not she associates with a man. A woman has complete freedom to choose whether or not she becomes intimate with a man. And a woman has complete freedom to choose whether she employs some means of contraception while she is being intimate with a man. To all this I say yes, amen, absolutely - in all of these situations choose! Choose wisely, choose freely, choose consistently, and choose in a timely way! However, if a woman has not chosen thusly, if she has passed on her three opportunities to choose, then it is totally hypocritical to start talking about her “right to choose” after the fact - when a child has already been conceived. (In truth, both the woman and the man have equal choice and responsibility when bringing a child into the world. But since it is the woman who is championed on the placards, I have stuck with that wording.)
Full disclosure, I lean pro-life bc I believe we are all made in the image of God from the get-go. And I hope (but am skeptical) for a day when abortion isn’t even an issue. I know many on the pro-life side who give large amounts of time & money to helping women who do not wish to have an abortion. But also, many are correct that when it comes to policy, they don’t vote towards expanding the social network. I am of the belief that Roe is unconstitutional, but also worry that if it is given to the states in this climate, the result will be “political drama” creating extreme laws. I’m not confident that compromise and understanding can occur today. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but Freakanomics had a chapter on the reduction of crime coinciding with the legalization of abortion.
For my part there are two important and diverse aspects to the abortion issue. First, what is morally right? And secondly, what, if anything, does the Constitution say about this issue?
As to the first question, I personally believe that a child developing in the womb is a human being - at whatever stage of development it may be. It follows then, that to end a pregnancy is to take a human life. I cannot possibly see this issue in no other way. So I will personally practice accordingly and do my best to encourage others to do the same.
As to the second question, I do not believe that the Constitution, or the amendments thereto, speak to this issue in any way. This issue was never near the minds of the Founding Fathers, or those who later amended the document; and they did not in any way address it. Therefore, it stands as one of many things that are reserved to the States to decide. (See the Tenth Amendment.) This is why some states have "prolife" laws and some states have "prochoice" laws. Part of the present uproar is that people have been told there is a constitutional right to abortion that, in truth, is not in the constitution. Read the underlying clauses for yourself.
At the same time, with an issue as important as this, it would be good to have a consistent national policy - rather than a patchwork quilt. A policy that was codified by a deliberate focus and a thorough debate on this specific issue - not one that rides on the coattails of an activist judicial interpretation of, at best, very ambiguous wording.
There are two ways in which this can be done. Congress could pass a law making abortion legal - or else forbidding abortion. The president signs this law, whichever way it reads, and this then becomes the law of the land. The second approach would be a constitutional amendment - either making abortion legal or forbidding abortion. When duly ratified by the states, whichever way the amendment reads, this then would become the clear law of the land.
That would solve the legal issue of abortion, but it would not really address the underlying moral issue. That requires a clear moral decree - a revelation if you will - that transcends the American political process or the opinion of fifty million Frenchmen. So whether this issue is ultimately resolved by SCOTUS, by legislation or by amendment, I shall continue to think, vote and practice "prolife" and encourage others to do the same.
At the risk of rebeating a beaten and stoned mangled subject, I offer this to those who are not persuaded that Roe v Wade is bad law. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/7/10/17553832/roe-v-wade-myths-kavanaugh-abortion-supreme-court. This piece was written by Scott Lemieux, a Professor of Political Science at University of Washington and a blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money. I found this bit helpful in understanding the legal precedent surrounding Roe v Wade.
Great article and great comments. In reading through them, unless I missed it, I haven't seen adoption mentioned as an option for a woman who doesn't want to abort her baby but also doesn't feel she can take on the--really--lifelong job of being a parent. I thank both of the birth mothers of my two adopted children for deciding to give birth to them. (One of these women I met when my son was 45 and was able to thank her in person; she told me how grateful she was to me for the love I gave our son. The birth mother of my daughter I haven't met, so I thank her in my prayers.)
On the questions--I am a follower of Christ and it makes sense to me that if we really loved our neighbor as ourselves, we would create a place to live where all parents and their children would be cared for, where there was true acceptance of adoption as a loving option for pregnant women, and not looked on as a shameful abandonment, where there was adequate sex education and access to birth control so there would be way fewer unplanned pregnancies, and where no pregnant woman and the father of her baby had to face the dread of knowing they did not have the means to care for their child.
Yes, I believe that what is inside the mother's womb is a human being and should not have his or her life taken away, but I also have enormous compassion for the women who become pregnant in this screwed up place we live, knowing that they are on their own to raise this child unless they are lucky enough to have loving families to help. I absolutely understand why some of them just can't imagine any way they could keep and raise their baby and cry for them.
More. I just read the link you sent. Should have done that first. Apologies. As I see it she simply thinks it could have been better done. OK, fair enough. She did not like having to use right to privacy as the basis for Roe thinking this neglected the real issue of a womans right to choose. Well, she is certainly right there. Still, Roe as constructed has worked perfectly well until we got a conservative court. What makes anyone think that the court as constructed would not strike down a right to abortion as uncondtitutional given its present leanings? There is no such thing as settled law.
Not bad news at all. Where do you get this? I admire her but like the opinions of other senior justices better. Read some of the stuff that does not agree with you. If it were not for the notion of the umbrella extending Constitutional notions, the Code of Federal Regulations would the size of a comic book - not the length of a football field in fine print. How does the Supreme Court legislate air travel and other technologies not extant at the time of the Constitutions creation - like machine guns and lasers and. . . Yeah, the same way they did Roe v Wade. So, rest in peace RBG, knowing I disagree with you on the validity of Roe v Wade.
I said I was recusing myself from further discussion of this. I lied. I can now be seriously considered for a position on the Bench at the Supreme Court. I failed to note how sophomoric I found Labashes depiction of the actual law, Roe v Wade. This law was passed under the notion of the penumbra of rulings made by the court that rationally extend a clearly stated constitutional foundation. Roe v Wade is not the only piece of legislation so passed. Conservatives think the laws passed that favor them under such extensions are just fine. It might be noted that the word God does not appear in the Constitution either but is plenty abundant in arguments before the Court on various subjects. Dog turdery indeed.
I realize I am late to this thread. I want to state up front I am not overly sympathetic to the pro-choice side though I generally fall in the center to left on the political spectrum. My main concern with Roe being overturned is the downstream consequences for rights decided in a similar legal vein. All of that being said I don’t know how pro-life people can be so aligned with the Republican Party. They describe poor people as “takers” and continually cut programs meant to help them. How can anyone be pro-life and not be for a robust social insurance safety net? In a way a progressive pro-life activist actually makes the most sense. I for one am willing to pay more taxes to fund these programs. Many don’t realize that the overturn of Roe will have immediate consequences for real people in need as we all (including myself) clack away on our opinions on the internet. The supposedly pro-life side has for years cut programs and stymied others at all levels and has done nothing to prepare for this moment. I say it again the word many on the right use for poor people in need is “takers” where is the compassion in that? Lest anyone think I’m a socialist I might add I’m open to any and all programs administered either federally or through the cherished federalism or public/private partnerships at the local level. I am not even religious but I want people to be taken care of and to have the opportunity for a good life, the pro-life crowd should want the same. At first I naively though this could lead to a realignment of formerly pro life people fighting for programs to help people as their main objective was achieved. Now I know it will just lead to state and federal legislative battles and no progress. People can’t see past their ideology anymore, they are just too selfish.
Randall makes some good points. I reckon, as a lukewarm moderate pro-Lifer (I’d settle for a ban after the first trimester as a political compromise), I’ve been stunned over the last few years to see how many of my more rabid friends were merely performatively pro-Life. I’ve come to the conclusion that the loudness of one’s pro-Life professions are inversely proportional to the amount of effort one would exert to actually care for a baby involved in a crisis pregnancy. In the spirit of disclosure, I’m a bad Catholic who’s just become the dad of a beautiful baby boy via IVF, after sixteen years and eight miscarriages, the last of which almost killed my wife. A lot of the laws passed in “pro-Life” states would have made the implements that saved my wife’s life illegal. And yes, we made probably a dozen non-viable souls during the IVF process. I’ve learned more about fetal development, gynecology, and obstetrics over the last fifteen years than I ever expected. My prior experience consisted of a health class at Episcopalian school where our golf coach simply asked, “Do you know how to put on a rubber, boys?” We all said yes, and for the remainder of the course we did homework for our other classes. I’ve fallen way short of where my Catholic ideals say I should be, but I have also learned a lot, realized that most pro-Lifers are grandstanding do-nothings, experienced some really weird preternatural things that aren’t explained by SCIENCE or Holy Mother Church, and now have a beautiful seven-week-old son. So maybe I’m just too emotional right now and shouldn’t have opened my mouth. I have a Pyrenees giving me the stink-eye, saying I’m three hours late on our daily Barking Time. See y’all on the flip-side.
Great article! Lots of difference between being pro-life vs. anti abortion. I especially liked, “ …who say they want to make abortion illegal, but who often give short shrift to what it will actually mean for a society in which all those unwanted children might be born. “ To me, thinking about that is the key to moving forward on this issue. Thanks for your thoughtful piece!
God is able to end a pregnancy - we don't have to aid Him! Every conception is ordained of God since He is the giver of life. He has a purpose for every life, even in the earliest embryo stage. That being said, your questions were very convicting, Matt.
In case this was missed.
Here is a link to the epidemiology of abortions. More than politics and religion, it is a health care issue. Hard truths for a difficult subject
When I read this thread (thanks Matt), it is hard to understand why everyone isn’t pro-choice. I don’t know anyone pro-abortion. If you deeply believe a human begins at conception , you would never choose abortion even if unmarried, poor, unable to care for the kids you already have, have an abusive spouse, or were raped. None of those would circumstances would matter. You would choose to be happy and grateful you have another life to raise and nurture. The perfect choice for you. However, imagine if the government was telling you, you must abort. Can you imagine how outrageous, preposterous that would be? And yet that’s where we land….the government telling a woman she must carry a child to term. Forced motherhood. In the land of freedom. Returning this to the “people” is the answer? That’s like you asking 15 strangers to tell you who you must marry, even if you don’t want to marry; that you must have 4 kids, even if you don’t want kids. Something we would never, ever think of doing. Every unplanned pregnancy is unique and the choice as to what to do is always complicated and difficult. And not every planned and wanted pregnancy goes the way we dream. There are miscarriages, fetuses die in vitro, severe life ending conditions are now routinely diagnosed, women still die in childbirth. All of these situations are heartbreaking and a challenge. I, for one, do not want anyone else, not invited, weighing in on these most personal decisions. I absolutely don’t understand how pro-choice is not the sane, middle ground where consensus lies.
I have abortion fatigue
I will not force my belief on anyone else.
I believe that ALL human eggs are human.
After reading all the comments, it seems that the answers to your questions to the pro-life side have become self-evident.
Since NO ONE has said, "Yes, I would adopt a child," "Yes, I would pay to support the mother" we can see that the clear answer is No. (Interestingly, the pro-choice side HAS answered your questions; the pro-life has not...just re-affirmed their pro-life reasoning.)
But really, you didn't even need to ask the question. We (America) have run the experiment. The results? Over the last 50 years, the GOP has derided "welfare-queens" who "just have babies to collect a welfare check." Or watched the GOP cut WIC and food stamp programs. Just last year the GOP killed the child tax provision that was providing thousands of dollars a year to families.
Sure...The pro-lifers are suddenly going to change.
No, this has always been about control. Being able to dictate one's beliefs on "the others."
As a life-long Republican (up until Trump), I thought people were honest about their beliefs about abortion, gay marriage, etc. But recent events have shown they weren't.
It's been all rank hypocrisy for the GOP. The abortion issue is no different.
Example: Roe v Wade should be overturned and the states allowed to decide. What happened the moment it leaked that RvW was going to be overturned? Yep...calls for a national law banning abortion. What happened to states deciding it?
I'll answer the questions in two parts - Pro-choice and pro-life.
For the pro-choice questions, to me, life begins when one takes its first breath. So, does that mean I think abortions should be legal right up to that moment? No. I would put the line at "capable" of taking it's first breath (and surviving). That usually falls around 24 weeks. The current "compromise" of 20 weeks seems a decent compromise.
But the counter claim that says "at inception" leads to no compromise whatsoever. Why rape and incest allowed? Isn't that still "murder?"
What about ectopic pregnancies (where the embryo embeds in tissue outside the uterus (usually a falopian tube? Untreated - meaning removing it (aka, an "abortion") - will almost certainly lead to the death of the mother. Not "possibly," not "maybe"...like 90% likely. That's ok?
Or is the removal OK, because it's in the fallopian tube, but not OK in the uterus?
The pro-life position can ONLY BE (without being intellectually dishonest) that it should be left untreated and the mother...well good luck to her.
As a solidly pro-choice person who deeply respects the other side and is in no way an expert on the issue (and who believes that 90 percent of America could agree on 90 percent of the practical aspects of the issue and save many lives without having political fights), I had one main reaction to this latest chapter: I don't see what constructive purpose was served by this leak of a draft opinion. For either side. Even though, as a working journalist like Jack Schafer, I usually reflexively argue that everything should be leaked and public all the time.
This will reveal more about me than I usually wish to have revealed. First, I am diligently not religious. Having been duly tutored in Catholicism for 17 years, it did not take. Second, I am pro choice. I do not have these scientific nightmares about life or not life. Living, developing tissue - yes - life as Elton John - no. I can whittle this much finer of course, but there is a point, well enough defined by science and just bare reason, beyond which a woman must have a stern moral discussion with herself and her doctor or whomever she trusts to be rational, before abortion. This discussion must not be had in the Supreme Court of this country. Am I interested in Amy Coney Barret and her fundamentalist blathering in tounges bunch deciding this issue? Or perhaps Mrs. Justice Thomas? Or maybe, 'Its settled law Kavanaugh'? We are the very same ilk discussing this in this forum at this moment. I hereby recuse myself and hope I set an example for the US Supreme Court.
In no particular order:
As a pro-lifer, Terry’s comments are convicting. I wish I could say more, but I would only be fooling myself.
As to the question of the beginning of life/viability of the fetus- I worked with a faith-based anti abortion group that took a non-confrontational approach with the expectant mothers. We started using a counseling model, but were later able to offer sonograms, and the number of women who initially planned to abort but then carried to term increased drastically. The mother knew instinctively she was carrying a child when she saw the image, regardless of what the courts or politicians might say about viability.
Last, I recall Bill Clinton coining the term ‘Safe, legal, and rare’ to describe his, and presumably his party’s, stance on abortion. It sounded like a somewhat moderate idea. Sadly, what was sold as moderation was in reality a coercive system that allowed clinics to use a protected status to avoid basic health safety requirements, and caused nurses to be fired for trying to offer a few minutes of basic compassion for infants who managed to survive late term abortions. I hear the examples put forth about rape, incest, mother’s health, and so on, and while those are
legitimate reasons to have these discussions, I think those are too often used as a smoke screen to hide the darker reality of unrestricted abortion on demand.
First, Matt, you are a mensch.
Not a subject I usually discuss with anyone other than my wife. But...you threw down the gauntlet, and I'm in a rather testy mood about a lot of things tonight after a full day of SUCK at work. So, I'm gonna' pick it up and throw down myself. With due respect and affection for all, and animus toward none. Except, perhaps, for those whose concern for lives other than their own ends at their front doorstep and in the delivery room with babies born into desperate circumstances pulling themselves up by the straps of their own baby booties. If they're lucky enough to have any. Not too fond of the simply pro-birth crowd, whatever their political tribe, religious leanings or lack thereof.
Like so many people, I have mixed feelings about this issue. I acknowledge the argument of " If it's not life, what is it?" cannot be dismissed out of hand, or at this time really be answered by anything other than one's own conscience. Sorry, Science, I fear your distinctions between zygotes, feti and human beings are a bit inadequate to resolve this issue, and likely will be for...ever? Or at least until the scientists laboring up one side of the Mountain of Truth run headlong into the theologians and philosophers clambering up the other side as they all scramble over the final crest, only to find themselves standing face to face in the same place. Then, perhaps, we'll have an answer satisfying to all. But until then...
I have only this to add to the discussion, since all I have to say about what I believe has been said by others over and over all over the place ad infinitum. But I don't hear this position too often, and the more I think about it, the more merit I see in it. Will probably catch flak for it. Don't care. Testiness has been duly noted.
I think it might be a good idea if all the men - and I mean ALL THE MEN - who feel compelled to be the arbiters of right and wrong on this issue shut up and let the women who have the biggest stake in it and the more valid claim to the right to sort it out...sort it out.
Sorry, boys, but our share in the procreation process from 0 to 9 months doesn't amount to much, regardless of circumstance or intent, at least not enough that I don't see male dominated decision-making institutions as stacked decks on this one. I don't think there's anything more uniquely 'female' than gestation and birth. And while I know nothing of what this is like in any meaningful way beyond trying to be a supportive husband as each of my daughters were created and brought into this world by their mother, I'm pretty sure I'd resent the bloody hell out of any man not just telling me, but deciding for me what I should or shouldn't do in this regard if I were a woman, rich or poor or of whatever circumstance, contemplating an unintended pregnancy.
Of course, there is another answer. We could actually make an effort to be a life affirming society and country with values deeper than having the largest thin screen TV on the wall or the latest go-faster laptop in our laps. Or the smartest phone or latest whatever-it-is. We could put some serious money and serious effort into creating a society in which life - all life - is a slightly higher priority than anyone's bottom line, one in which fewer and fewer women would see abortion as their only or best alternative. It would cost us all something. Nothing such as this is free. But if we were to pick up that gauntlet and run with it, the benefit to all would be incalculable, one such benefit being that perhaps abortion would become so rare that when one day someone asks Do we really have to talk about abortion?, the answer will be no. No, we don't.
But don't dash off any emails or messages to politicians demanding that they pursue this agenda. Because the only way this ever happens is if we demand it of ourselves first.
Short term reader, first time writer.
My demographic: oldish white male. Red state. Raised Catholic but not practicing ("once a Catholic, always a Catholic").
I too Matt was anti-abortion, and I guess I still am. Its depressing to me that nature's most intelligent species seeming has little qualm about terminating a life of one of it's off-spring in such a manner.
However in the real world, I have subjugated that personnel belief. Why? Because I didn't and don't like who I was standing on that side of the line with.
If it's all stopping abortion, I say we should be doing everything in our power to reduce that risk. Like sex ed. Like subsidized condoms and birth control, no questions asked. Like child care, like mom care and a full range of potential positive outcomes for the child regardless if they have 2 parents, 1 parent or no parents.
The intersection of anti-abortionists and those supporting what pro-active preventative steps to minimize the opportunities of abortion in that Venn diagram can be measured in single pixels.
No, it's about people who are all about controlling people's sex lives AND MAKING SURE IN CASE OF ERROR THOSE PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING THE CONSEQUENCES. Unless of course it is their kid in that situation in which case an exception needs to be made and will be made. Quietly of course.
Ultimately I just couldn't hang with that predominantly phony crowd. Because for the most part, they aren't pro-life, they are pro punishment - for everyone else.
What does an abortion take?
I have some sympathy with the position that, well, an early abortion doesn't really seem to be taking something much like a baby. The skin is not a baby's skin, right? The eyes are shut. The fingers are barely formed. The lips can't nurse. The proportions are different. Whatever it is, can't survive outside the womb.
But I would propose that what this means is we have a human life needing and deserving the protection of the womb until ready to live outside of it. That that is what the womb is for. That the very fact the unborn child seems so different from a born child is because the unborn child still needs the protection from light, from air, from sound, from touch that the womb affords. Not to be deprived of life, but to be protected.
No other type of clump of cells has unique human DNA and is on a straight-line trajectory to what all identify as baby-like characteristics (inside or out of the womb).
I'd like to pose a couple of questions for consideration. 1. Do you believe that the body is what creates the eternal soul within, or that the body is simply a vehicle for the soul to occupy? 2. Do you believe that if that life is cut short by abortion, whether therapeutic or spontaneous (ie, natural), that the eternal soul that was intended to occupy that body will never have another chance at a body to occupy? 3. At what point do you believe the soul enters that developing fetus? (Keep in mind that, according to the Mayo clinic, "Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy — before you might even know about a pregnancy.") So if a soul is unlucky enough to enter an embryo or fetus that then spontaneously aborts and is expelled from the uterus, (which is about a one in five change it will) is that if for the soul? Too bad, so sad, you will never have another chance to experience life? I personally think God had a better plan in mind than that. It used to be thought that "quickening" was an indication the soul had entered the body, which usually happens around the 20th week. Perhaps that should be reconsidered.
One of the reasons I tend to dread this discussion is because I find most answers lacking. There are so many good comments on here, but I still walk away feeling like we haven't said everything that needs to be said. I'm including myself when I say answers are lacking. And after reading the questions from Randall Terry, I feel like my personal response is lacking as well. In my opinion, abortion is tragic, but so are some of the circumstances that result in an abortion. I can't stand most the grandstanding and lack of humility on this issue (not talking about anyone here, mostly talking about politicians and celebrities). I'm thinking the best thing for me to do is look for the helpers, and help the helpers where I can. Otherwise, it all seems too overwhelming.
Having glanced through the comments below, I recognize that much of what I am saying is what others have already said, but FWIW:
—There are a lot of words not used in the Constitution but that courts have interpreted the words that were used to encompass (Scalia managed to read “semi-automatic rifles” into the word “arms” in Heller; others the word “wire-tap” into the phrase “search”l; as just two examples); it is one of the obligations of any judge or justice applying the Constitution. The document does not use the word “abortion “, but it does use the word “liberty”. The “Constitution does not use the word ‘abortion’” line of argument is one that, taken to its logical extreme, rewrites much of the last two centuries of Constitutional law (including Heller).
—I personally am against abortion, so in that sense am “pro-life”, but would not impose my wishes on any woman, starting with my wife and daughters (three in their 30’s), so in that sense am “pro-choice”.
—Some of the same people who are saying to leave this issue up to the states are now considering legislation making abortion illegal throughout the U.S., without exception (argument: if embryos are life, abortion is murder, and should be illegal everywhere without any exception). This was never really about federalism.
—Constitutional amendments are extraordinarily difficult to effect, purposefully so to limit the ability of simple majorities ever to change the rules for everyone else. Read The Woman’s Hour, by Elaine Weiss, about how close the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote came to never being ratified by the requisite 3/4ths of state legislatures (the last available state, Tennessee, narrowly ratifying to put it over the edge), only a little more than 100 years ago.
—Thanks, Matt, for creating a civil platform for all this airing, pro and con.
The issue of abortion is a religious, political, and a woman’s issue.
As far as the religious issue goes: I was raised Roman Catholic and abortion was a sin, as was contraception, and eating meat on fridays. So much for an institution telling me what a sin is.
In the book of Genesis, God created man out of dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils and he became a living being. Perhaps taking the first breath may be the criteria for life. This includes premise who need a ventilator to breath.
I believe the creator of the universe gave us knowledge and made us partners in creation. Perhaps in making us partners in creation, he gave us the responsibility of deciding when another human is to be born.
An embryo is part of a woman’s body until it can live outside it—it isn’t viable. It is not an independent being.
Abortion has been around for thousands of years before Christ. Jesus didn’t think it important enough to make an issue out of it.
Yes, an embryo is alive but abortion is not murder as in the sense of shooting children in school.
Why are the so-called pro-life people so concerned about embryos and not real children? What about providing food and education for them?
Abortion has become a political hot button encouraging people to vote Republican solely for that reason—no matter the corruption and lies of the party.
As a woman’s issue. The mother’s life should take precedence. Women died with self-induced abortions before Roe-vs-Wade. Pregnancy is much more risky to a woman’s health than abortion.
These new state laws are scary for women. What if a woman is raped or in case of incest? 13yr olds can become pregnant by their fathers or brothers. Are states going to force them to carry them to birth and then raise them? What about cases of rape? Some of the new state laws don’t allow abortions in those cases. If a woman is forced to carry a pregnancy to term—shouldn’t the father be forced to provide for the child to adulthood? No state laws even address that justice.
The abortion rate has been going down every year since Roe -vs-Wade. It would go down even more if birth control were accessible and affordable to every woman.
I don't want to flatter you people. Don't want it to go to your head. But so far, you've been wonderful. Even you bastards who disagree with me. (And are wrong - but I welcome your dissents.) I've only had two subs cancellations thus far, which on this topic, is something like a miracle. If we can have this many commenters on all sides of the ball on the most divisive issue of our day kind of get along, well, I don't want to say it restores my faith in our country. But it sort of does. Though I reserve the right to change that opinion. You disappointers are out there, and I don't sell you short......
Here's a link to Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life survey on abortion where 5 sociologists conducted in-depth interviews with 217 Americans from a wide range of demographic groups. Not a pick-one-of-the-following-answers type of survey. How do Americans, even individual Americans, feel about abortion? It's complicated.
Matt, thanks for having this discussion