“Good Abortions,” “Bad Abortions,” and the Battle for Truth

I was paging this morning through Megan McArdle’s blog (she’s apparently transitioning from The Daily Beast to Bloomberg View) and ran across this brief post asking “why are all of the essays on abortion so sad?” It begins:

Jessica Grose, a writer who I like very much, says that pro-choicers shouldn’t just publish essays about “good abortions”–those had by people who are very young, or clearly too financially and personally unstable to raise a child, or carrying a fetus that will not live long past birth. They’re leaving out the majority of abortions, which are not had by frightened teenagers or heartbroken mothers terminating an unviable pregnancy.

The question, of course, is whether you want to comfort the women having the abortions, or the people considering how many restrictions we want to place on abortion.  Most Americans don’t approve of having an abortion because you’re really hoping for a promotion next month, unless (maybe) that promotion is out of a minimum wage job. They don’t care if you want to travel for a few years before you settle down to raising kids. If you write essays defending choices like that, you are going to repulse some number of people who currently weakly support legal abortion.

She continues:

I’d say that on average, the American public is tacitly okay with “good abortions”.  They’re even willing to tolerate some “bad abortions”–those had for convenience, or by women who are careless with birth control–because they understand that it is impossible to completely separate the good from the bad. But they are not okay with abortion as the pro-choice movement sees it, which is that right up to the point where the baby is born, you ought to be able to terminate the pregnancy for any reason. They do not believe that this is a decision which only involves a woman and her doctor. They also care about the fetus.

While I wish the American public were more committed to life, I think McArdle is largely right. Americans tend to be reluctant to “force” women into difficult circumstances but are broadly unsympathetic to abortions for convenience — thus the backlash you often see even from pro-choice advocates when people admit, for example, to killing their child to preserve a short-lived pro volleyball career. That’s dirty laundry that simply shouldn’t be aired in public.

While of course the pro-life movement should shine sunlight on the reality of the vast majority of abortions, honesty alone simply isn’t enough.

McArdle states that it is “impossible to completely separate the good [abortions] from the bad,” and — legally — she is largely right. Government can’t possibly construct a screening mechanism that separates ”good” (i.e., publicly supported because of the mother’s acknowledged difficulties) abortions from the “bad,” nor would the pro-life movement ever support such a regime. The pro-life answer is to match our honesty about abortion with charity towards mothers in crisis, to ameliorate as best we can the pressures and difficulties that lead to the “bad” abortions.

But here’s where the extreme pro-abortion Left is perhaps most pernicious, recognizing the danger to its radical vision of sexual liberty when their opponents don’t conform to absurd caricatures of intolerant fundamentalists. The old slander — that pro-lifers only care about babies in the womb and not mothers or older children — is giving way to a frontal attack on acts of support and charity for mothers and children. At the ACLJ we’re currently defending pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers from local ordinances designed to suppress and change the centers’ pro-life message, and I’ve written recently about the emerging (and reprehensible) left-wing backlash against Evangelical adoption. In other words, we’re falsely attacked for not caring, then attacked when we do care.

The screaming “hail Satan” protesters in Texas have built an industry on a foundation of lies — lies about abortion as practiced and lies about the character and nature of their pro-life opponents. While every nation is beset by its share of deceptive extremists, the real shame is that America’s pro-abortion radicals are disproportionately clustered in the mainstream media and popular culture, giving them the power to protect their fellow citizens from dangerous truths.

This article first appeared on National Review here.

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  • linacoleman325

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  • TheodoreSeeber

    I can’t let the only response to this be a spammer.

    To me, there is an obvious answer- we need a truly pro-life political party. Not “pro life mixed with right wing greed and eliminating WIC”, and certainly not “Personally pro-life, but I can’t tell you what to do”, but actually, “The right to life is the fundamentally most important issue- nothing else matters without a universal right to life”.

  • Slow Learner

    You frame “crisis pregnancy centers”, aka Liars for Jesus as “support and charity for mothers and children”?
    How exactly is lying to and manipulating pregnant women into carrying to term “support and charity”?



    Among many others, of which I would cite more, but I don’t want to get this comment spam-trapped.

    If you are prepared to consider this sort of behaviour as support and charity, it makes it appear that either you are unaware of it, or you think Lying for Jesus is a form of charity.

  • UWIR

    Posting links you don’t like does not make someone a spammer. So that’s yet more dishonesty from the anti-choice side.

  • UWIR

    “The screaming “hail Satan” protesters in Texas have built an industry on a foundation of lies — lies about abortion as practiced and lies about the character and nature of their pro-life opponents.”

    So, any support for any of these claims? Any cite for people screaming “hail Satan”, etc.?

  • TheodoreSeeber

    “Links I don’t like” in this case (this was before anybody else posted) was an advertisement for knockoff chinese copy Nikes. I failed to see the *relevance*. I will now reply to Slow Learner.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    “support and charity”

    When they do things like this:


    Or this


    Or this


    They’ve come a LONG way since merely opposing Contraception.

  • TheodoreSeeber
  • Itsrealfunnythat

    Good Abortions, Bad Abortions, its none of your business.

  • KarenJo12

    Put your money where you mouths are. Your party opposes every advance women have made since the 19th Amendment yet you expect women to trust you with reproductive decisions. Pass laws and enforce them that guarantee that women get paid equally to men. Quit grousing about the non-existent “war on boys.” Make it illegal to fire or transfer pregnant employees and guarantee that pregnancy and childbirth will not change a woman’s career path. Quit praising homeschooling housewives and start making life easier for women with jobs. Then, and only them will I believe that you are in fact pro-life and not just anti-woman.

  • Quid

    It’s funny–I think you’re absolutely right, most Americans still favor abortions provided it’s a “good” reason, but they still always evade the fundamental question: is the child alive? It’s even in the name. The “pro choice” party doesn’t want to consider when life begins, since the answer is so staggeringly obvious.

    It’s an equivocation: Either the child is alive, in which case no abortion for any reason is ever acceptable, or it isn’t alive, in which case a mother ought to be able to justify abortion for any reason.

  • fiona64

    CPCs are nothing more than fronts for religiously-based adoption mills.

  • fiona64

    An embryo is not a child.

  • David French

    Oh no! Not an adoption mill! The horror, the unspeakable horror of saving lives and loving kids!

  • TheodoreSeeber

    And that is horrific to you why? Plus, out of the three I linked to, only one is a CPC, and all three work very hard to keep mother and child together, not just for those first 9 months of pregnancy, but on throughout childhood.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    So you are not a human. Good to know.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Women haven’t made any advances since the 19th Amendment, at all. Just retreats.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I suppose it’s an elephant.

  • fiona64

    You’ve clearly never spoken to any adoptees. If you had, you would know that *all of them* have huge abandonment issues and do not understand why their mothers didn’t love them enough to keep them around.

    The CPCs are fronts for religious organizations that seek to place the right kind* of child with the right kind** of family. They don’t care about the pregnant woman unless she is able to satisfy both of those requirements.

    What I find unspeakable is that there are 100K kids currently available for adoption in this country, the majority of whom will age out of the system without ever having permanent adoptive homes. If the “loving couples” who want to adopt got on the stick, there wouldn’t be any such number. Yet, the CPCs argue that there are not enough children* to adopt out there. It’s intellectually dishonest.

    It’s ever-so-easy to be an anti-choice male; after all, it’s never your life or health that will be endangered by a pregnancy, wanted or not. Even uncomplicated pregnancies result in permanent physiological changes to a woman’s body. But hey, who care about that, right? Because embryos are more important than born, sapient, sentient women.

    * Caucasian
    ** Christian

  • fiona64

    Well, that depends. Elephants also being viviparous vertebrates, it could very well be an elephant embryo.

    Children are born entities, Theodore.

  • fiona64

    From your posts, I rather suspect you would like to remove *that* advance as well.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    And since “children” just means “not yet an adult”, that covers back to conception, fiona. Unless of course you’re just redefining the language to hide your own genocidal mania.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Only from people who graduated with a liberal arts degree, or live east of the Rockies.

  • fiona64

    Really, one does grow weary of explaining basic biology to adults.

    The stages of development in utero are: conception, zygote, blastocyst, embryo fetus. Ex utero (after birth), you have infant, child, adolescent, adult.

    No child until a year after birth. I am glad to have rectified this unfortunate gap in your education.

  • fiona64

    Misogyny is such an ugly trait …

  • TheodoreSeeber

    REAL basic biology- once conceived, ALL of those are human beings. Not some odd species. And the term “child” covers everything before adult, unless of course you’re speaking “feminazi” genocidal maniac.

  • Valde

    You and I contain much, much more information, both
    genetic and otherwise, than a blastocyst. That’s why I can write this
    column and you can read it, whereas a blastocyst just.. .sits
    there. Indeed, that is the exactly the point of stem cell research:
    the stem cells in the blastocyst have not yet acquired the
    molecular programming required for differentiation, and so they
    remain pluripotent, awaiting the necessary molecular
    signals (the information) that will tell them whether
    to become nerve or muscle, skin or bone.

    Yes, once upon a time we were blastocysts, too. Nothing
    more than a little clump of cells, each of them a snippet of DNA
    surrounded by cytoplasm. But that DNA was later transcribed into RNA,
    and that RNA was translated into proteins. And some of those proteins
    were transcription factors that told other cells in the blastocyst
    what to do, when to divide, where to migrate. Transcription factors
    regulated the expression of still other transcription factors. Genes
    were turned on and off with clockwork precision. Some genes were
    methylated, so they could never be turned on again.

    In other words, the genome and the proteome of the blastocyst were
    changed as the embryo accumulated molecular information that the
    blastocyst did not have.

    The embryo became a fetus, with complex orientations of
    tissues–loaded with spatial, genetic, biochemical and mechanical
    information that simply did not exist in the embryo.

    The fetus became a child with a nervous system, and that nervous
    system sucked up information about the world, hard-wiring pathways
    for vision and movement, learning to make subtle distinctions between
    this and that, accumulating information that simply did not exist in
    the fetus.

    In other words, the blastocyst launched a genetic program that both
    extracted and acquired information. It didn’t start out
    as a human being. It became a human being, with a
    personality, feelings, attitudes and memories, by accumulating
    information that was not there before.

    Equating a blastocyst with a human being is like equating a brand new
    copy of an inexpensive spreadsheet program with the priceless
    databases that you’ll eventually build up with that program. It’s no
    less ridiculous than saying that a blueprint has the same value as a
    skyscraper–that it is the skycraper.

    No. They are not the same.

    -Johnathan M Sullivan MD PHD

    We can certainly grant
    that a blastocyst and a fingernail contain the same genes.
    However, in 2001 we can no longer agree with his assertion that a
    fingernail can never become a baby. Clearly, it is quite within our
    grasp now to create a blastocyst from almost any cell of the body.
    Your hair follicles contain thousands–no, millions of potential
    human lives. Every cell in your body (save the erythrocytes) contains
    a nucleus, and that nucleus could be extracted and
    processed, and it could be placed in an enucleated
    oocyte, and you could implant that oocyte in a woman
    whose endometrium might be at the right stage for
    implantation, and that woman might carry the pregnancy
    to term.

    And the term “child” covers everything before adult, unless of course you’re speaking “feminazi” genocidal maniac.

    It’s not ‘feminazi’ speak, it’s science, you misogynist creep.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I’m misogynist? It isn’t my side that killed 3000 girls last week, sister, it’s you feminazis.

    As for the additional genetic information in the adult- where did that additional genetic information come from? Oh, I know, it’s the genetic fairy!

    No, all of the additional information you’re talking about is *memory*, which is a property of the *soul*. Something your femi-science doesn’t seem to acknowledge, but that’s not surprising since you’re just a bunch of genocidal maniacs out to kill 6000 people a week.

  • Valde

    Wow Fiona, this guy is just too dumb for words.

    I really don’t know what to say.

    He looks like the kind who doesn’t get laid very often, I’ll say that much.

  • fiona64

    REAL basic biology- once conceived, ALL of those are human beings.

    Nope. Those stages apply to all viviparous vertebrates, not just H. sapiens. In fact, those stages even apply to elephants — which apparently surprises you.

    unless of course you’re speaking “feminazi” genocidal maniac

    Like I said, misogyny is an ugly trait. I’m guessing that, on your planet, “feminazi genocidal maniac” translates to “any woman smarter than Theodore Seeber.”

    Which, from where I’m sitting, is any female over the age of four. But I digress …

  • fiona64

    I’m misogynist?


    It isn’t my side that killed 3000 girls last week, sister, it’s you feminazis.

    If you know of anyone who has killed a girl, call the police at once. Infanticide is a crime.

    No, all of the additional information you’re talking about is *memory*, which is a property of the *soul*.

    Kindly prove the biological existence of a soul. I’ll wait.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Considering that you don’t even believe in the right to life for human beings, other vertebrates don’t matter.

    Oh, and genocidal maniacs are usually idiots who can’t even tell when somebody is showing them truth.

  • fiona64

    I promise, Teddy: as soon as you say anything that’s factual, I’ll be the first to acknowledge it.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Thank you for admitting that infanticide, like your hero Kermit Gosnell made a living at, is a crime.

    Time to put all you abortionists in jail.

  • fiona64

    Teddy, I’m sure that, if you exerted just a wee bit of effort, you could insert some more histrionic bullshit into your post.


    People like Gosnell can only exist in the anti-choice world that is your masturbatory fantasy. Pro-tip: “The Handmaid’s Tale” was fiction, not an instruction manual.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I’ve said plenty that is factual, but because it goes against your feminazi genocidal maniac need to eliminate pregnancy and motherhood from the planet, you’ll never even recognize that it is factual, let alone be able to acknowledge it.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Sure thing, Karpan supporter.

  • fiona64

    feminazi genocidal maniac need to eliminate pregnancy and motherhood from the planet,

    You really are full of more shit than a French goose …

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Nope, just telling the truth that YOU refuse to even recognize. Someday you’ll be old and alone with your 20 cats and a dead “partner” and wondering why all the children you aborted don’t call.

  • fiona64

    No, I’m sorry. That wasn’t nearly histrionic enough.

    You haven’t accused this married, middle-aged woman of being a worthless tramp who has abortions for fun and should have her vagina sewn shut. You have accused me of murder, and of being an obstetrician (you know, the doctors who perform abortions) … both of them without any basis whatsoever, so I figure the rest must be coming down the pike shortly.

    You’re slacking, Teddy. Pick up the pace! If you don’t hurry up, I won’t be able to fill up my anti-choicer BINGO game card.

  • Valde

    The SCIENTIFIC info I provided was from a MALE biologist btw.

    Methinks you don’t have a leg to stand on, so you keep making stuff up about how ANYONE who disagrees with you is a genocidal feminazi.

    I spend a lot of time on yahoo comments and bro…yahoo commenters are more intelligent than you.

  • fiona64

    My husband and 26-year-old son will be greatly amused to learn this …

    But I am getting closer to a blackout on my anti-choice BINGO card, Teddy. I’m this much closer to winning a new toaster because of your rantings.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    No blackout from me, though I’ll get you one step closer. Hitler never worked in the concentration camps either.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Given your rhetoric, I’m surprised you didn’t abort him.

  • fiona64

    Godwin invoked …

  • fiona64

    Time to put all you abortionists in jail.

    Just out of curiosity (aside from wondering why you think I”m an obstetrician), how long *should* women go to jail for obtaining abortions, Teddy? What’s the appropriate punishment?

  • fiona64

    What rhetoric? What part of pro-choice includes all choices is beyond you?

    Perhaps you are just not the sharpest tool in the shed. Allow me to spell it out for you, very clearly: I support all reproductive decisions: contraception use or non-use, gestation or termination, adoption or rearing with or without a partner of one’s choice. If it’s not my pregnancy, you see, it’s not my business. It’s not up to me to tell another woman what financial, physical and emotional risks she and her family should assume. I don’t know their situations, after all.

    In other words, Teddy, I lack the hubris that you display … and I think that’s a good thing.

  • Itsrealfunnythat

    And youre obviously a man.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Which is of course, a horrendously evil thing to be, and we should wipe them all out, right?

  • Itsrealfunnythat

    No, fool. Being a man makes you ignorant, your attitude makes you arrogant.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Yes, it is and you are displaying it far more than me, by supporting 3000 murdered women a week.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    On purpose.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Re-educatin camps.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    “What part of pro-choice includes all choices is beyond you?”

    The part where you actively participate in murder of your own children.

  • fiona64

    Three thousand women were murdered last week? How did this not make the news? And how am I supporting this spree-killing?

    Oh, wait … you’re being histrionic. Again.

  • fiona64

    I asked Just out of curiosity (aside from wondering why you think I”m an
    obstetrician), how long *should* women go to jail for obtaining
    abortions, Teddy? What’s the appropriate punishment?

    And Teddy responded [sic] Re-educatin camps

    I see. You know, you aren’t the first person to suggest such a thing. Look up “lebensborn.”

    i’ve got your number loud and clear, Teddy. And I pity your wife and children as a result.

  • fiona64

    You know, Teddy, you’re just going to have to try harder.

    That wasn’t nearly histrionic enough. They’re going to take away your Anti-choice armband and brown shirt if you don’t step it up, Mr. “Re-educatin” [sic] Camp Guard.