A Response to Objections on My Pro-Life Movement Post

After reading through the massive comment thread on my post on how I lost faith in the pro-life movement, I have put together a list of questions and points to be addressed. I will be writing future, more focused followup posts looking at some of these issues, but I thought I would briefly address some of questions and comments here first.

1. My current position on the morality of abortion

When I first became pro-choice I would have described myself as being pro-choice for pragmatic reasons. I was pro-choice because I became convinced that the policies associated with being pro-choice – i.e. keeping abortion legal while working to make birth control widely available and improve the social safety net so that women can afford to keep their pregnancies – would do more to reduce the number of abortions than the policies associated with being pro-life – i.e. discouraging birth control and comprehensive sex education while also working to dismantle the social safety net and thus making it harder for women to afford children.

However, in the five years since that time I have concluded, based on both philosophy and embryology, that zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are actually potential people. In other words, while they have the possibility of developing, with the aid of a woman’s body, into a woman’s body zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are not actually people with rights. Furthermore, I have also come to better understand that there are two people involved, and now feel that requiring women to remain pregnant against their wills is no more moral than forcing people to donate bone marrow or one of their kidneys. For more on my views, see my page on reproductive rights.

2. Actively Killing versus Letting die

Perhaps the biggest critique of my piece had to do with my argument that putting women on the pill, even with the small risk of it expelling some zygotes as a result, ought to be a moral obligation for those who view zygotes as people if doing so will save a much greater number of zygotes from naturally being expelled from a woman’s body. The counter argument is that actively killing a zygote, embryo, or fetus, even in order to prevent the deaths of a greater number of zygotes, embryos, or fetuses, is always wrong.

In this way we begin to get into that oft-quoted moral conundrum: If you see a train going down a track and know for sure that if nothing is changed it will run over and kill ten people, but if that you pull a lever that will shunt the train to another track where it will kill one person, what should you do? Which choice is the more moral and ethical one? If you pull the lever you are causing the death of one person, but also preventing the death of ten others. If you don’t pull the lever, are you in some way culpable for those extra deaths, since you could have prevented them? On the other hand, if you do pull the lever, are you a murderer?

But there is a second point. Scientific evidence suggests that the pill does not actually prevent implantation. When I played the numbers game with zygotes and the pill, I was using the pro-life movement’s numbers, not the numbers offered by current scientific consensus. If you look at science, what you will find is that neither the pill nor Plan B prevent zygotes from implanting. The reason that I played the numbers game at all was simply to point out that even if the pill did result in dead zygotes, opposing it was not actually so clear cut as the pro-life movement would have you believe.

3. Pro-life movement versus individual pro-lifers

In my post I continually spoke of the goals and policies of “the pro-life movement.” I do know that the pro-life movement is a diverse thing made up of diverse organizations and individuals. When I spoke of the pro-life movement as a whole, I was referring to the chief organizations, leaders, and political rhetoric. In other words, the dominant narrative. I am aware that there are both individuals and organizations who claim the title “pro-life” and yet do work to promote birth control and improve the social safety net so that every women can afford to raise children. I am also aware that there are some who call themselves “pro-life” and yet don’t want to see abortion banned. My purpose was not to speak of every person or organization claiming the title “pro-life,” but rather to indict the dominant voices, organizations, and narratives that are currently so much a part of our politics today.

If someone wants to keep the term “pro-life” and try to reclaim it from those whose policies would increase abortion rates and harm women, I have no problem with that. I would simply urge them to be aware that the term “pro-life” is today owned by those whose policies are not only counterproductive but also anything but pro-life.

4. What about Crisis Pregnancy Centers?

Another critique of my post was that there is no way I could grow up pro-life and think the movement didn’t care about helping women afford to keep their children, because nearly every town has a crisis pregnancy center, often re-branded as “pregnancy resource centers,” available to help women who choose to keep unplanned pregnancies. I probably should have mentioned these centers in my post so as to close off this avenue for criticism.

First of all, crisis pregnancy centers frequently lie to women about the health risks of abortion and engage in emotional manipulation in an effort to do anything possible to talk them out of having abortions. I attended banquets to raise money for these centers. Sure, there is talk about caring for the woman, but it is more geared toward caring about her as a sacred vessel than caring for her as an individual. The entire point of these centers is to save the lives of babies by talking women out of having abortions by any means possible. So no, I don’t count crisis pregnancy centers as evidence that the pro-life movement cares about women.

Second, giving a woman a crib and diapers is great, but that’s not the real expense involved in raising a child. I could buy a new crib every week for what I pay in daycare costs for one child. The same is true for things like healthcare and, eventually, college expenses. The claim that the the pro-life movement does care about helping women afford to have children because it hands out formula and baby clothes is absurd. Those things are helpful, but they are wholly insignificant compared to the costs of raising a child from infancy through high school.

5. Are the Studies I Used Biased?

Many commenters claimed that my mistake was in believing something I read in the New York Times, or believing research put out by the Guttmacher Institute. Why do I trust the facts these organizations put out? Well, the New York Times engages in fact checking and issues corrections when it gets something wrong. For its part, the Guttmacher Institute uses peer review and refuses to take money from organizations that would compromise their objectivity. It seems to me that the pro-life movement approaches science in much the way young earth creationists do: as though scientists are engaged in some sort of grand conspiracy and every scientific fact is somehow biased one way or another. Any time they are presented with a fact they don’t like they claim “liberal bias” as a way to get out of having to actually deal with that fact.

It seems as though both the pro-life movement and young earth creationists hold tight to pre-conceived ideas and uses cries of “liberal bias” to reject any data that contradicts these ideas. In other words, the pro-life movement starts from the assumption that abortion causes women physical harm and that the birth control pill causes zygote “abortions” and then simply rejects all evidence to the contrary. The thing is, that’s not how I roll. If you want to be right, or at least as close to right as you can come, you have to be open to changing your mind. If you start out with an assumption and then throw out everything that indicates the contrary, well, that’s a problem. In contrast, I place a great deal of value on being willing to be wrong. When I approach facts, I consciously work against my biases. If I am wrong, I want to know so that I can change my mind.

So if you have evidence that the abortion rates in the Guttmacher report are wrong, do tell. If you have evidence that widespread birth control would actually increase the abortion rate, I’m all ears. If you have evidence that making birth control affordable doesn’t decrease the rate of abortions, I’m prepared to listen. But don’t just assert to me that scientific studies are biased and therefore wrong, and then think you can leave it at that. I’m all ready to listen to contrasting arguments and look at all the evidence, but I’m not okay with starting from an assumption and then rejecting everything that contradicts it.

6. Why Do I Compare First and Third World Countries?

Several commenters took issue with me comparing abortion rates in third world countries with abortion rates in first world countries. The thing is, I was not arguing that the legality of abortion is the only variable, and I was not arguing that making abortion legal makes the number of abortions drop. Perhaps I should have been more clear. My point is simply that banning abortion is not correlated with low abortion rates. Instead, it is both accessible and widespread use of birth control and comprehensive social safety nets that are correlated with low abortion rates. These statistics on abortion rate make it clear that the pro-life movement’s argument that birth control leads to more sex and therefore more unwanted pregnancies and therefore more abortions is quite simply false. They also make it clear that the idea that simply banning abortion would somehow get rid of it is false. And finally, they suggest quite clearly that the most effective way to bring down abortion rates lies in things like widespread birth control access and comprehensive social safety nets.

7. What about the Argument that Abortion Harms Women?

One point that was made is that opposing abortion is not simply about saving babies, because women suffer from abortion too, so working to end abortion will help them as well. The trouble is that claims that abortion causes health problems or mental problems have been soundly refuted. The pro-life movement frequently cites studies that are openly acknowledged as flawed – such as those tainted by recall bias or not differentiating between causation and correlation – to back up its argument that abortion harms women while ignoring more comprehensive evidence that contradicts this idea. The problem here is much the same as in point five: the pro-life movement as a whole seems less interested in actual scientific accuracy than in proving the point it has already made up its mind on, that abortion hurts women.

But I want to point out something else. Even if the evidence showed that abortion did have harmful side effects, that would not change my position on whether it should be legal. The side effect of a pregnant woman not having an abortion is having to carry her pregnancy to term and then either raise a child she did not plan on having or give it up for adoption. Thus even if abortion did have harmful side effects, whether or not to have an abortion should still be up to the individual woman.

And finally, as for the argument that abortion harms women long-term because they live in haunted regret, well, you might want to take a look at the stories of some of the many women who are not sorry that they had abortion. Sure, we all sometimes make decisions we later regret. However, the fact that some people later regret an action is not enough of a reason to ban it. And also, it is a bit disingenuous that the pro-life movement trumpets the idea that women who have abortions live lives of guilt while simultaneously doing everything it can to induce that guilt in women who have abortions.

8. Do I want to save the Zygotes?

My discussion on zygotes raised a couple of questions. First, several commenters said that my argument was akin to saying that if we weren’t trying to cure cancer then it would be okay to kill people with cancer. That is not what I was saying. Rather, my argument was simply that if the pro-life movement was consistent, it would be concerned about the zygotes that die naturally. That it in point of fact demonstrates utterly no concern for these zygotes indicates that the pro-life movement does not actually view zygotes as people, regardless of how much they argue they do when contending against abortion and birth control. In other words, the argument has nothing to do with whether we should give zygotes the same consideration as people.

While we’re on the subject, several commenters said that it was fine that these zygotes die since they do so naturally. I find this response extremely strange given that dying from cancer is also natural, or dying from diabetes, or dying from appendicitis, and yet we work to find ways to prevent these deaths. Unless these commenters are willing to say we should suspend modern medicine because deaths that occur “naturally” are a-okay, they’re being inconsistent, applying a different standard to zygotes than they apply to people. And that, quite simply, was my point.

Third and finally, one commenter who works in embryology pointed out that the zygotes that fail to implant do so for a reason – they are not healthy zygotes. This commenter was concerned that I was actually advocating spending time and resources on saving these zygotes because even if that could successfully be done it would simply bring a lot of extremely severely disabled people into the world. I was indeed aware that these zygotes generally fail to implant because there is something wrong with them, but I don’t think that changes my argument. After all, we do what we can to help severely disabled people out of the womb, including ones that would die without modern medicine, so if pro-lifers are consistent in their claim that a zygote is a person just as much as you or I they should insist on doing the same for zygotes, even ones that suffer from abnormalities. However, because I do not view a zygote as the equivalent of you or I in any way shape or form, I do agree with this commenter that such research would be a waste of resources. My point was not to argue that we should be working to save the zygotes but rather simply that if the pro-life movement was genuine in its claim that zygotes are people like you or I, it ought to be doing so.

9. On Sex, Consequences, and Responsibility

Of all the comments on my post, the ones that I found most strange were the ones arguing that sex is about making babies, and people need to be responsible and accept the consequences of their decisions. I found these comments odd because they revealed that someone could somehow read my entire post and then make my point for me. For these commenters, being pro-life is not about saving babies, or at least not primarily about saving babies. Instead it is about making sure that sex has consequences.

But why? Why must sex have consequences? When an obese person becomes diabetic we don’t deprive him of insulin and tell him his diabetes is his own fault and he just has to deal with the consequences. Should we deprive people of coffee because if you’re tired it’s your own fault for not getting more sleep? We do things to mitigate the consequences of our actions all the time. Birth control and abortion are just one more way of doing this. If someone argues that sex must have consequences – that sex and baby making must always go hand in hand regardless of the technology we have developed to separate the two – they are simply trying to impose their personal beliefs on everyone else.

Furthermore, seeing abortion as a way for people to be irresponsible is disingenuous. When a woman finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy, she has to consider her options and choose a course of action. That is called being responsible. Having an abortion is one of those options. In other words, there is no reason abortion should be seen as an irresponsible way of handling an unplanned pregnancy, just like there is no reason having a baby should be the mandated consequence of having sex.

If you are one who believes that abortion is murder, you will probably have some problems with the two previous paragraphs. But my point is that if it is all about preventing the murder of unborn babies, well, talk of “consequences” and “responsibility” is a bit disingenuous. When you talk about how sex should have consequences or about how abortion is an irresponsible way to get out of dealing with the results of sex, well, you are moving the conversation away from saving babies and toward controlling people’s sex lives. So if it really is about saving babies, and not about pushing your sexual morality on society in general, you shouldn’t be making this sort of argument. If you’re interested, I’ve actually written about this twice, in posts called “When It Really Is about Controlling Woman” and “When you do the thing that makes babies…

10. Why I Used the Label “Pro-Life”

Several pro-choice commenters wondered why I used the term “pro-life” and “pro-life movement.” I usually try to use the term “pro-life” when I write a post I hope will gain some audience among those who oppose abortion. I do this because I remember how quickly the doors of my mind used to slam shut whenever I heard someone using one of those other labels for me. It was an immediate conversation stopper. It was the end of any productive dialogue. I didn’t want phrases like “anti-choice” to put people off my post. However, I generally have preferred the term “anti-abortion.” I’m going to write a post sometime in the future about these different labels, and as I do so I will likely further hone my own thoughts on which labels are most appropriate and in what situations.

11. There Are Huge Differences between Protestants and Catholics

One thing that was frequently pointed out to me in the comments is that I couldn’t assume all pro-lifers were the same because there are large differences between how Protestants and Catholics approach this issue. I am very aware of this. While I grew up evangelical, I actually spent a couple of years as a Catholic before leaving faith behind entirely. I think the most interesting difference, and I will discuss this further in a future post, is in the reasons for opposing birth control. Catholics oppose birth control entirely, believing that sex should not be separated from procreation. In contrast, Protestants who oppose birth control do so because they believe it causes abortions.

In other words, Catholics oppose birth control because they want others to follow their own religious and moral beliefs while Protestants oppose birth control because they believe it kills babies. Of course, Protestants also voice concerns about birth control encouraging premarital sex, which they believe as sinful. Regardless, this difference is fascinating, and indeed should not be ignored. The ways in which Catholics and Protestants have influenced each other over time on issues of abortion and birth control is also fascinating.

12. What about Natural Family Planning?

Several commenters asserted that people should stop complaining about birth control access and just use natural family planning, so I wanted to make a couple of points on that issue. First, there are a variety of different birth control methods out there and people should be allowed to pick which works best for them, not forced into using any one method because of someone else’s religious or moral beliefs. The reason the Catholic Church is okay with natural family planning is that it involves an “openness” to procreation. That fact alone should make it clear that natural family planning is not for everyone, and is perhaps most especially not for those who are not open to having children.

That said, I actually happen to know a lot about natural family planning. Before getting an IUD this past summer I actually used natural family planning as my only form of birth control. If you will remember, I spent several years as a Catholic. I will say that natural family planning worked for me, in that both of my children were indeed planned and I did not have any “oops” babies. However, keeping track of everything was extremely stressful – it is absolutely critical to get every sign correct – and the amount of abstaining we had to do took a tole on our sex life. I worried every month as I waited for my period, and every month the first sex I had after my fertile period I was tense and full of worry that I might have misread the signs and be risking pregnancy. I’m not saying it was all bad – I did enjoy learning about my body and my cycle. However, natural family planning is not some sort of easy fix to throw out there when people talk about birth control access. Given amount of time and effort it involves, natural family planning is for all intents and purposes a hobby.

13. Is Planned Parenthood Involved in Some Sort of Evil Conspiracy?

There are two issues here. The first is whether or not Planned Parenthood is engaged in some sort of conspiracy to force women to have abortions. The thing is, being pro-choice means supporting a woman’s right to choose. Pressuring woman into having abortions would be antithetical to choice. There is is not space here to get into all of the arguments I grew up seeing thrown around regarding Planned Parenthood, nor do I have time at the moment. Suffice it to say that I find the idea that that organization could be staffed by pro-choice individuals all somehow complicit in forcing women to have abortions without word leaking out. It would have to be a conspiracy on a simply massive scale. Based on what I know and have experienced, the idea that Planned Parenthood is engaged in a scheme to push women into having abortions appears ludicrous.

But that said, those who make the argument that Planned Parenthood is engaged in some sort of conspiracy seem to assume that if this was the case it would somehow be an argument for abortion. If Planned Parenthood really were trying to force women into have abortions rather than allowing women to make their own choices and supporting them in those choices, I and every other pro-choice individual I know would be horrified and work to expose the organization and bring reform and accountability. I would not, however, suddenly decide that abortion should be banned. If one health food store chain turns out to be embezzling people’s money, does that mean we should ban organic food? Um, no. Whether or not Planned Parenthood is engaged in some sort of conspiracy has no bearing on whether or not abortion should be legal.

14. Did I Become Pro-Choice So That I Could Be Promiscuous?

I saved this issue for last because I found it rather humorous. Several commenters accused me of changing my position because I wanted to have sex, and of being a swinger who is anti-monogamy. In fact, one commenter suggested that I just wanted to be able to get out of having children. The reason I find all of this so funny is that I have only ever had sex with one man, my husband, I married young, and I have two young children. Of course, I don’t see anything wrong with having multiple sex partners or with choosing not to have children at all. Even if I were sleeping around and swearing off children entirely, that would not invalidate the arguments I was making, because those arguments had nothing to do with my personal preferences. But the assertion that I, a young married mother of two, became pro-choice because I didn’t want kids and didn’t believe in monogamy? That made me laugh.

And of course, there is something else here that some commenters seemed to forget. I am a happily married mother of two, and I use birth control (an IUD in my case). Why? Because two children are all my husband and I want and can afford right now. Birth control is not something that is only used by those who are not married or those with multiple partners. We consider it normal and desirable in this day and age to be able to plan whether, when, and how many children to have, and that means birth control also for those who are married. I for one have no desire to return to the days when women spent their entire reproductive lives either pregnant or recovering from pregnancy.

15. My Commenting Policy

I know this isn’t a response to an objection, but given that the comment thread on my pro-life movement post ballooned, I think it’s a good idea to make sure everyone knows my commenting policy. If you’re knew, please read it. It’s not very long, but I do try to maintain a specific sort of tone in the comment threads on my blog.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

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  • Hedgehog

    Also natural family planing doesn’t work for every one at all. NFP to work ones body has follow “normal” patterns. My friend has very irrecular periods. She can have them from two weeks to tree months apart. My periods are regular but brake between them is too long NFP.

    • Aurora

      I was going to say the same thing. If you don’t have a regular cycle, there’s no way you can just time things right and hope it works. I have no idea what percentage of women have irregular periods, but I’m guessing it’s a lot.

      And, of course, that’s also another reason why a lot of women are on birth control in the first place, but for some reason people never seem to listen to the “it has medical benefits besides preventing pregnancy” argument.

      • Christine

        In fairness, it works just fine. It’s just that going for 2 months without sex is a bit much to ask. (If all my cycles were 75 days long it would be fine, but since anything after “shortest cycle – 20 days” is considered potentially fertile, the 33 day cycles really screw things up).

      • Anat

        To Christine: Yes, but what if the current cycle was going to be the new shortest cycle (ie a new ‘personal record’ for shortness)? Thinking your shortest cycle is, say 27 days, you consider days 1-7 to be safe, but this was going to be a 25 day cycle, so really days 6 and 7 aren’t safe, but you don’t know.

        Though you don’t have to avoid sex altogether – only the PIV kind (OK, not consistent with Catholic doctrine, but consistent with very-low-tech birth control). During the 2.5 years I was nursing my daughter I avoided hormonal birth control – we stuck to non-penetrative sex. (My daughter was over 2 when my periods returned.)

      • Maggie Fowler

        I can promise you, in all FAIRNESS it DOES NOT work just fine. I have 2 children to prove it.

      • http://www.thedrantherlair.com quietpanther

        Just FWIW there’s more than timing to NFP — there are a number of different signs to look for, including basal body temperature and cervical fluid consistency, and taken all together, these signs paint a much more accurate picture of ovulation and fertility than just counting days between periods.

        That said, my wife and I conceived our daughter while attempting NFP … now we stick to condoms or the pill.

      • Christine

        Anat – the 20 days is because it’s only about 17 or 18 days that you need to be careful for. You also need to have no detectable vaginal mucus or else it’s not a “safe” day.

        Those restrictions are why I only had 2 weeks per cycle that were “safe”. If I had tried using a method without looking at basal temperature I would have never had any “safe” days. So, for me, NFP would have been either no sex (which the Catholic church agrees is bad) or providentialism (which, given Humanae Vitae, the Catholic church should be condemning more strongly than it does, and I refuse to consider).

      • Anat

        Christine, I suppose the same options as abstinence and providentialism are the only Catholic-technically-OK for women who take a long time to have their cycles return after childbirth?

      • Christine

        Oh, no. Creighton apparently works really well with breastfeeding. Just try it as a new method after you have a baby.

        I don’t understand why anyone would expect me to trust something when I don’t know what my cycles are like for the year after giving birth (I’m hoping I’m not one of those people who takes a long time to get back to normal, although the lack of menses isn’t something to complain about). Nor do I understand why “oh, if you lose weight it’ll get better” makes sense following “It got a little better when I lost weight, but it’s still tricky”.

        In fairness, I can’t actually say that Creighton wouldn’t work for me – my baby is only 9 months, so it’s not like I’ve missed any fertile cycles yet, but the idea that someone would be trying to responsibly space and just trust a method which they had never had a chance to learn well is terrifying. (Normally you’re supposed to abstain for a cycle so that you can learn what your cycles are like, but if they expect couples who just had a baby to go 9-10 months without sex they’re more out of touch than I thought.) And it’s not like there’s a lot of good options for birth control available when you have a baby – it’s IUD, switch to formula or trust condoms. I can see the appeal of Creighton if you can make it work.

      • KC

        Christine – I started learning Creighton while postpartum and we didn’t have to abstain for 9-10 months. After learning the ‘same old, same old’ of breastfeeding (took 1-2 months), which for me means continual mucus (also not a problem for Creighton), all I did was observe each day to see if there was a difference. If there was a difference, we abstained for a few days to make sure it wasn’t my fertility returning. When menses finally returned, we threw out all the old rules and started over with tracking.

        Also on that note, there are other forms of NFP like Marquette that use other signs (hormonal levels in urine) as well.

      • The_L

        Aurora: And even if it didn’t have other medical benefits, I don’t see why it’s a bad thing to be able to choose when you have children. I also know people who, for various reasons, don’t want to have any children at all, and I believe they shouldn’t have to.

    • Eileen Marks

      Of course birthcontrol doesn’t work for everyone at all. I have gotten pregnant on the pill TWICE…yes, I took it at the same time every day and didn’t miss any. It says right in the circular included that it isn’t 100% effective. Also, before I got pregnant, I was sick as a dog every day! I HATE the pill. We next used condoms. They worked the best, but eventually, one broke and I got pregnant. We used many forms of natural birthcontrol and I got my fourth child. If you would really like to be informed on the subject, you must use many different sources for the facts and figures. Guttmacher was founded by and with Planned parenthood, they started out as biased. Planned parenthood is financially dependent on abortion. They have a financial stake in keeping it legal…so they are going to gin the numbers in their favor. They can not be your source of information either. You have many good arguments, but they stop short…you don’t fully investigate. Abortion is also not good for women. It is a violent assault on their bodies–their hearts and their minds. Check out the stats on the incidence of breast cancer, cervical cancer and infertility since 1973, in the United States. I say, if you want to decrease abortion, education is the answer…not birthcontrol. Show abortions. Give women ALL the information on associated increases in cancer, fetal development, video the actual procedure…you know, I just had a hysterectomy and I went on youtube to see it before I had one; Katy Couric showed her colonoscopy on morning television. I tried to find a video of an abortion; but there isn’t one. If it is a medical procedure, then show it. Face what you believe in. Inform girls and women what is going to happen to them and the child. What REALLY is going to happen.

      • Monimonika

        Show the sources for these associated risks of cancer and such. You can provide that, right? You can also show your sources for the percentage of money (use actual numbers!) that Planned Parenthood gets/uses for abortions, right?

        And what kind of “education” are you advocating for, especially since you’re taking birth control off the table? Don’t tell me “abstinence-only”, since that particular educational method has already been tried out and proven to NOT WORK.
        Source: http://www.moappp.org/Documents/articles/2006/SantelliAbstinenceonlyEducationReviewPaper.pdf

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        Here’s the actual facts: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives

        The pill increases risks of SOME cancers. Also DECREASES risk of other cancers. So, like most things in this world, you just have to choose how you want to die.

      • Rosie

        I can’t speak for every woman who has aborted, but for myself NOTHING in this world or out of it was about to change my mind, except to maybe suicide instead. Infertility would have been a blessed side effect for me, but I didn’t trust that it was a likely outcome so I paid full price for my sterility instead.

      • Joan

        Eileen – you should have gotten an IUD or something non-hormonal like a vasectomy for your man or tubes tied for you. Imagine how many kids you’d have if you hadn’t tried all the other methods! I always do condom and something else like diaphragm etc, never trust just one item. Well, except for my first time when I get pregnant at age 17. That kid is now 16. Learned my lesson. But years later, in between birth control methods, I got pregnant again when a condom broke (failed to follow the 2x protection rule). I was working 2 jobs 50 hours a week, my husband was working 70+, 7 days a week and we could barely afford groceries, let alone car repairs, clothes, or haircuts. Terminating that pregnancy was the best thing I ever did for my finances. We are still hard workers and saved enough money to buy a tiny condo. We will never have a fully funded retirement or afford our son’s college, but we did the responsible thing for our family.
        Off topic: don’t know if you like Pride and Prejudice, but the author, Jane Austen, wrote a lot about her nieces and friends who basically had a baby a year until they died in childbirth. It’s horribly exhausting for your body. The only reason we have her great works is because she never married. If she had, she would have been too busy to write. Us women have been in this predicament since the dawn of time. The religious solution is to tell your husband you can’t have sex or not marry.

  • Lizzy

    9 makes me so angry. I hate the implication that abortion is automatically the less responsible choice. For me, it was the responsible decision. It wasn’t easy for me to do (although there are many women who come to the choice without hardship and I absolutely respect their stories) and I still wish that I could have gone through with the pregnancy. Unfortunately, my husband and I are both students living off of one graduate stipend. We live essentially paycheck to paycheck, have no ability to provide insurance coverage for a child, and would almost certainly have relied heavily on family and government assistance. In addition, we felt that a child would make completing school more difficult and would potentially impact our future livelihoods. Last but certainly not least, we just were not ready. I don’t think it’s selfish of me to admit that I am not ready to give up the benefits of being young. I might want to be a mother someday but that day is not now.

    I know many women who had children at my age and younger and while some of them are wonderful parents, I often question if their children would not have better lives if they had waited. I know one who insists that her kids are the most important thing in her life, but she sent them to live with her parents. I know another young mother who is often so stressed out due to being a single mom in professional school that she is constantly snapping at her daughter for tiny infractions. Still others work low paying jobs with little hope for advancement just to be able to support their kids. I don’t want that kind of life for any child that I may raise. I grew up poor, the unplanned child of college students barely scrapping by with food stamps and that also is not the life that I want for my children. I made the least selfish choice that I was able to make. How is having a child that you know you cannot give the best possible life the responsible decision?

    • Tanya

      For me, it was a very easy decision. I was 18, I was very smart (though really stupid one night… oh being a teen and thinking a guy is hot… how that rots our brains), on a full scholarship, working a job I loved as a scuba diver for a biology research program at the school. And I was smart enough to get that my degree would lead to a real job, a so-called “professional job”, and having a child would lead to no degree, and therefore only “whatever job i could get”.

      The earth has 7 billion people on it. my on wanted baby does not need to add to that burden.

      • Elizabeth

        Tanya and others,
        This may sound judgmental but I don’t mean for it to be. I just want to point out something that seems obvious to me. Ultimately having an abortion is selfish, and I think you would agree with me. It is taking all of the consideration for one life and disregarding completely that of another. If I were in your shoes and I did not believe that a fetus is a person, then I would have made the same decision. But the thing is nobody knows for sure when human life begins. You have no way of knowing if your fetus had a heart beat yet or not. Or maybe you do know if you were made aware of how long your pregnancy went. If it were my baby, I would at least ask myself that very basic question, do I believe it is fully human? And if it has a heart beat or brain activity, why would I not consider it fully human? This is a very important question that most people take so lightly. If it is fully human than what makes your hopes and dreams more important than the babies future? The fetus/baby didn’t even have a chance to live and make it’s own decision, but you did, and life happened, and it wasn’t the fetus’ fault and it should not have been the one to pay for it with it’s life. I certainly don’t want to make you feel guilty, nor do I flatter myself by thinking that it would anyway. I do however want some kind of understanding towards pro-life persons such as myself. Abortion is an extremely selfish act. I am also a selfish person in many different ways. We all are. But that doesn’t make any of it right.

      • Alix

        It doesn’t matter when life begins. A fetus is effectively a parasite, and if I don’t want to sacrifice my life and well-being for another human being, I don’t have to.

      • chucklingabit

        Regarding “parasites”… You are simply assuming the case here.

        It doesn’t matter if the concept of fetus comports with one of several accepted definitions of the word “parasite.” What matters is whether the fetus really *is* a “parasite” *in the morally significant sense we usually use the term* (i.e., where some creature’s being parasitic means that it can be dealt with in any way the host sees fit).

        Of course, when we *usually* refer to “parasites”, we mean members of another species that invade the host species and use it for sustenance. But the fetus is of the *same species*, and it originates *within* the body of its “host”, rather than “invading” it. So it’s not immediately clear whether you are equivocating on the word “parasite.” Also, it’s important to point out that if you insist on using a very wide meaning of the word “parasite”, then one could choose to interpret it so widely as to include “social parasitism”, which would include most unweaned infants as well. Prematurely born infants entirely rely on the use and output of their parents organs. So in the morally relevant sense, one might consider them parasitic as well. Why is it not wrong for a young mother to “revoke consent” over the use of her productive organs once the child is born? If you want to counter that she could offer the child for adoption, you need to ask yourself whether you would grant her the right to rip her infant to shreds with surgical steel if she could not find someone to take care of her prematurely born infant, since that is the situation analogous to abortion (adoption at the moment of most abortions isn’t feasible.)

        And here’s a question for you. When we refer to other “parasites”, we say a “parasitic X.” For example: “parasitic wasp”, “parasitic worm”, “parasitic tick”, etc. So what would you call the fetus? A parasitic what? Well, it’s clear what we’d call it, *if* we were inclined to accept your dehumanizing, almost-certainly-equivocating label. We’d call it a “parasitic human.”

        So would accepting the term “parasite” end the discussion? No. One would have to *demonstrate* that a *human’s* acting qua “parasite” would deprive it of its rights. But that has merely been asserted by implication.

        I think it’s quite clear that we don’t consider the fetus, even if “parasitic” to be morally equivalent to ticks and worms and wasps. After all, we can usually act without regard to “parasites” whatsoever. That’s at least in part because the vast majority of us don’t include humans in the class “parasite.” But, with that said, would *you* support *any and all action* taken against a so called “human parasite”, no matter how gruesome or selfish?

        Let’s consider a thought experiment:

        “Let’s say a pregnant woman has intractable nausea and vomiting and insists on taking thalidomide to help her symptoms. After having been explained the horrific risks of birth defects that have arisen due to this medication, she still insists on taking it based on the ‘fact’ that the fetus is a ‘parasite’ and that she deserves relief from the symptoms it is causing. After being refused thalidomide from her physician, due to those well-established birth defects, she acquires some off the street and takes it, resulting in her child developing no arms and no legs, and later being birthed with this severe handicap. Do we really believe that she did nothing wrong?” [modified from Poupard]

        Well… do you? If the fetus were a “parasite” in the normal sense of the word, we would never condemn her or try to restrict the actions that she, the “host”, took to remove the “parasite” or to relieve the symptoms it caused. But would we accept a woman *willingly* birthing a human child with no arms and no legs, just to relieve her nausea? If the fetus is a “parasite” in the sense you mean, then you would be left congratulating this woman for seizing control of her “own health.”

        It’s important to point out that, if you’re talking about aborting a tiny member of our species that resulted from consensual sex (which account for 98%+ of abortions), then you are talking about destroying a human that *you (hypothetical “you”) caused* to take up residence in your womb, in a needy and endangered state. And at that point, you expect everyone to congratulate you for making a “responsible” choice, to then deprive that innocent human of the nutrients and shelter that you caused it to require? That doesn’t seem quite right.

        If you think that the fact that you (hypothetical “you”) didn’t “intend” to create the human matters, I think you’re clearly mistaken. Imagine a box in a room, with a button on it. Its functionality is clearly labeled. Pressing the button 99 out of 100 times generates an orgasm and a feeling of well being in the button pusher. 1 out of 100 times, it generates a fully formed newborn infant along with that orgasm. Even if the person didn’t *want* to generate the infant, the knowledge that they might be generating an infant puts the responsibility for the infant’s well being on them. No, I am not saying that that it 100% analogous to abortion. What I am saying is that it serves to show that responsibility *can* exist without specific intent.

        Thanks for reading this.

      • JCNow

        You believe that someone would have taken the time to read past the first two lines? LMAO

      • chucklingabit

        “Someone”? Yes. “Everyone”? No.

      • tsara

        So, I’m tired and the thing you wrote is long. I’m not going to respond to everything in it.

        Re: The use of the term “parasite.”
        Definitionally speaking, it is appropriate to use the word ‘parasitic’ to describe the relationship the embryo/fetus has with the person carrying it. I believe that whether or not the word is ‘morally’ appropriate depends entirely on the pregnant person. If I do not want it inside of me, feeding off of me, I can deal with it exactly as I would a wasp — and I wouldn’t feel sorry, either.
        The issue is the bodily autonomy of the pregnant person.

        Re: “to rip her infant to shreds with surgical steel.”
        This is a blatant emotional appeal and does not work in an analogy from fetus to neonate.
        1. Most abortions are actually pharmaceutical, not surgical.
        2. Surgical abortions are nearly always done for health reasons or because of ridiculous pro-life bureaucracy making it more difficult to access early abortion or because the person is exceptionally disadvantaged in some way (young, economically disadvantaged, mentally ill, mentally challenged, etc.).
        3. A lot of the reasons for later abortions are reasons that mean that the person seeking the abortion is physically more vulnerable such that if they tried to remove an intact fetus, it would likely cause serious and often permanent damage to the person (note that serious and often permanent damage is very often the result of pregnancy; it is not a minor thing.).

        Re: your thought experiment with thalidomide.
        Someone who is thinking of an embryo or fetus as a parasite will — and should — get an abortion. If abortion is not legally available where the person is, I find it impossible to condemn any actions taken against a z/e/f, against hirself (you may not have seen it, but I have said many times that I would kill myself if I became pregnant and abortion was not available), or against the symptoms of pregnancy. But if the pregnant person cares about the person the z/e/f will become, they should voluntarily be looking after its best interests. If they are observably not, as in this case, what they need is counselling, with the option of ending the pregnancy. (And I’d question why the doctor didn’t suggest some non-harmful nausea relievers, but it’s not really relevant to the question you’re asking.)

        OT-ish: I’ve found myself wanting to shout recently that women aren’t the only people who can get pregnant. It starts getting on my nerves after a while that the language people use to discuss pregnancy and abortion is so heavily gendered.

      • Cat Marcuri

        I was 19 years old. The man I adored had walked out on me (over a Loverboy song, if you will believe THAT). Then I found out I was pregnant, despite being on the pill. I had no way to reach the father, and no belief that he would want anything to do with either of us even if I could. I lived in a state where abortion was legal and available. I thought long and hard about it, and finally decided to have the baby. That was 31 years ago. We had a very difficult life, struggling to make ends meet, and never being able to afford much in the way of luxuries. I know he hated me for awhile, because we were so desperately poor. I don’t regret keeping him, even though we suffered. But because of that suffering, I would never tell a woman what was the right or wrong choice. I support legal abortion, and I support a comprehensive birth control program so that other women won’t have to go through what I did.

      • Kent Gillenwater

        There’s also more here then just the mother and the child. The US is a society with an infrastructure that is struggling to provide needs for -all- of its citizens. If you are an a financial situation making yourself incapable of meeting the needs of a child and you choose to bring that child to full term, you have to rely on outside assistance or let the child starve. That outside assistance may be adoption or financial help from the government. In either way, other people are involved. There are between 143 – 210 million orphaned children in the world, that around half the population of the US. We certainly do not need introduce more children into the adoption process then we have to. Regarding financial assistance, the US government is already cutting important healthcare and education programs. So.. Choosing not to have an abortion can be an extremely selfish decision depending on how you look at it. Each of us as individuals knows our own motives. Its not fair to cast blanket judgments.

      • chucklingabit

        Just to be clear, nearly 100% of infants offered for adoption are adopted. There is a huge and long waiting list for infant adoption. This is different than the orphan and or foster care list. But I think it’s worth pointing out that it’s rare indeed that a woman who gives her child to an adoption agency is dooming that child to suffering in foster care, etc.

      • JCNow

        That’s fine. Now whose going to compensate the woman for the use of her body for nine months. What is the value of the risk of permanent or long-term health problems, permanent stretch marks, the pain and suffering of childbirth, not to mention the cost of time away from work and medical expenses. As soon as you and other anti-choicers are willing to pay the woman the actual value of what you impose on her to satisfy your moral compass, then you have a point. Let me advise you that the answer to that question will include one number followed by at least six zeros.

      • Rosie

        All I can say for myself, Elizabeth, is that I realized some time ago that if I was going to live at all I had to be willing to sin. You can call it “wrong” or “selfish” that I want to actually live the life I already have, and not sacrifice it to some potential being or whatever, but if I try to be “right” I’ll be dead. And I spent far too much of my life compressing myself into the smallest possible space in order to be “right” to go back to that, not for my parents, not for a baby, not for anybody. I’ll suicide first because I don’t see any reason to keep breathing if I can’t be really, fully alive. I wasn’t given any choice either about being born (and I’m reasonably certain I’d have chosen differently if I had been), but I’m here and I’m going to make the best of it, and if that means aborting one or more pregnancies so be it. I’m going to live MY life, and not anybody else’s. I CAN’T live anybody else’s life. And what makes my dreams and talents any LESS important than a potential child’s or anybody else’s, anyway?

      • Anat

        No, having an abortion isn’t necessarily selfish. Having a child to whom you can’t reasonably give a good life – whether because of lack of means or not being a suitable person to be a parent – that looks pretty selfish to me. Having a child who is guaranteed to suffer severely is worse than selfish, that’s plain cruelty.

        Most abortions happen before the fetus even has the capacity for pain, let alone suffering. The fetus loses nothing by being killed at this stage, it doesn’t even know that it exists. Most women who have abortions already have at least one child, and many go on to have a child at some point. They often have an abortion in order to be able to provide for the children they already have. How is that selfish? Others aren’t ready to have a child yet. Aren’t they doing a great thing, thinking about the future, deciding they need to wait before becoming mothers?

    • Andrea M

      I am not asking this to be mean, at all, but both you and #18 below sound as if your options were 1) have the baby and keep it and raise it, or 2) abort it. Why was adoption not on the table as an option?

      • Rosie

        I would not have kept the baby to raise it. My husband was not OK with putting it up for adoption. But in any case the idea of remaining pregnant for nine months was more than I could face. To hear congratulations when I only wanted to die. To be faced with excitement from friends and family and strangers when my whole being was telling me my life was over. To not be able to go out and work in the garden, sling around 50lb feed bags, handle big sticks of lumber, fix up the house…. The whole week I knew I was pregnant was pure hell, days and days of staring at the walls, unable to motivate myself to do anything I normally enjoyed (or was necessary for survival, like cooking and eating), days and days of dreaming of, imagining, planning how to be dead. And I didn’t even tell anybody who wouldn’t understand how I felt. The only way I would have survived past the first trimester would have been in a straight-jacket in a padded room, with IV nutrition; everything I laid eyes on was starting to look like a fine way to end it all. What saved me was knowing without a doubt that I had an appointment with Planned Parenthood and that things would probably look up once I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And they did.

      • The_L

        Adoption basically is still bringing the child to term. All the sacrifice and lifestyle changes of being pregnant, without even getting to raise a baby at the end–small wonder it doesn’t occur to people!

        There’s also the fact that not everybody knows that open adoptions exist. Closed adoptions are commonly used as plot devices on TV and in novels, so many people figure that if they give a child up for adoption, they’ll never see it again anyway. Most people have trouble making that sort of decision.

        Adoption also takes a long time for paperwork and such to go through; I’ve heard of people taking 3 years from the start of the application process before they could finally take home the child they wanted! Even from the giving-up-the-child end of things, there’s no guarantee that the adoptive parents will be approved and everything will be cleared before the baby is born–which means the risk of the birth parents bonding with the child and changing their minds at the last minute.

        It’s a nice thing to do, if you’re willing, and more people should be made aware of it, but ultimately, putting the child up for adoption is a subset of the choice Not To Abort. The baby is still being born; someone is still raising that child; you’re just not involved after the initial 9 months.

      • JCNow

        How much are you willing to pay these women for carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term?

  • machintelligence

    How you found time to read 900+ comments and then write this excellent follow-up post while still having time for your family is beyond me. I envy your intestinal fortitude. However a viral blog post is a rare thing and I think it bodes well for the success of your blog. You might want to consider public speaking as a possibility in the future, although it would compromise your anonymity.
    I admit I have had a good time commenting and stomping trolls over the last three days. I need to get back to work tomorrow, so I won’t be commenting as frequently. If the commenting frequency slows down I may be able to catch up in the evening. I wish you continued success.

  • Amy B

    I’m curious to read your post about #10. I get so angry at folks who say they are pro-life, but are really only anti-abortion. They’re ok with guns and the death penalty and all. To me, pro-life means ALL life.

    Thanks for your informative posts. I’ve actually been struggling with the whole birth-control-being-abortive thing for awhile now and this puts my mind at ease.

  • Krista

    I am so glad you went viral. So, so glad. I’ve been arguing pro choice for years, and now I’ve got your blog to link as further arguments to whoever it is that I’m fighting with this time (and they always tell me they’ll pray for me, have you noticed that? lol, likewise).

    What it boils down to is this – it’s conservative Christians wanting to stop premartial sex. That’s it. They get all their support because they hide behind claiming to save babies, which we know is a lie.

    I grew up in the EF church. Let me explain the minds behind my particular sect of pro lifers -

    In their minds, the only women who get abortions are ones who are irresponsible sluts, and it serves them right for daring to have sex. You have sex when you get married, and that is it. No more abortion.

    After all, everyone knows when you get married, you’re supposed to have and want babies. You might be allowed to use birth control in some Christian sects, but if you have an accident, you keep it, because sanctity of life and marriage and that crap. You say it’s a surprise, unexpected blessing, and people shower gifts on you and you’re supposed to suck it up and say yay God, for giving me this child.

    They say adoption is the loving option, meaning that you find a Christian couple who can’t have children, and willingly hand your baby to them, ignoring what sort of hell that woman will go through in terms of pregnancy (because pregnancy sucks) and what if this woman was a Christian in a church? Forget it. Her life is over. It doesn’t matter that she’s doing the right thing, she’ll have to leave the church or face horrible judgement.

    Married couples can’t afford kids sometimes. People don’t wait for marriage to have sex (never have and never will). Also, unless the baby you’re giving up for adoption is white, they’re most likely going to foster care with the other countless million unwanted kids.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking they care about babies. They care about shoving their morals down everyone’s throats.

    I grew up in this. I can recite the doctrine in my sleep, and guess what? I had an abortion at 19 , and I have never, ever had one moment of regret. I was being quite responsible, taking the pill every single day, and still got pregnant. Obviously, this was not wanted, and therefore it was not had. I know exactly how my life would have been, keeping it or not. Had I kept it, I’d be bitter, broke and miserable, with a kid I didn’t want. Had I given it up, I’d still be bitter, broke and miserable, because my upbringing in the church meant I would have been thrown out once it was obvious, most likely to my significant other’s house since I had nowhere else to go, and his family was the sort of conservative that didn’t let you give up the kid, so then they would have thrown me out for refusing to keep it, oh and by the way, we were of Italian descent, so our kid would have been darkly tanned like us, and no one wants dark babies. Sorry. They don’t. I’m not stupid – I thought about all of it and made what I thought and still think was the right decision.

    It wasn’t long after this happened to me that I became vocal in my support of pro-choice, and I am so damn glad I found your blog. I feel like I’m alone in a town of conservatives, and now I know that I’m not.

    Had I known that I could have afforded to keep a kid, with a support system (um hello church, where are you when we need you, oh yeah, you’re not there), then I would have kept it, but I didn’t have the resources. The late comedian George Carlin, a hero of mine, gave a little speech on this, why pro-lifers are anti-woman, the reason I’m pro-choice in a nutshell. Look him up if you haven’t already. Crude, but brilliant man.

    Thank you, Libby Anne. Long live the pro-woman movement.

    • http://www.texannewyorker.com jwall915

      You hit the nail on the head! You very accurately described Christian evangelical culture and how they feel about sex and babies. You also pointed out something that doesn’t get discussed much, which is that infertile couples want white babies. Churches love to talk about the mile-long adoption list, but their logic is very disingenuous. My church while I was growing up had a saying, “There’s such a thing as an unwanted pregnancy, but no such thing as an unwanted baby.” Um… WRONG!!!!! Incredibly, incredibly wrong. I forgot the exact numbers, but I think it’s that couples are seven times more likely to want a white baby than a non-white, and that African American children are 2-3 times CHEAPER to adopt than white babies. Anyway, great take-down.

      • Joan

        #26 – you are so right. I was in a group home at age 17 when I was pregnant. Grew up Catholic praying outside Planned Parenthood. Didn’t know I could get an abortion being underage. Another girl of mixed race was in the same group home. The father was black. We were sent to the same adoption lawyer with the same criteria. She got 2 parents. I got like 50. That’s when I knew I could do a better job at age 17 then those horrible rich people who wanted a white baby. He’s now 16 and a rocking hockey player and I learned my lesson – no more kids until after I have earned $1 million! They’re too expensive!!!

    • nessa

      Say what you want but it is quite clear your concience is bothering you !! Poor little dark skinned baby :( You fell for the lie, she would have chosen life I think.

  • SophieUK

    Libby Anne, how do you manage to write so quickly?? it would have taken me weeks if not months to write something that long and articulate! And you are in grad school and have 2 young kids and a husband?! Are you in fact a team of people, all working together?? If not, have you ever considered running for president? I think you would be a good politician.

    • http://Patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I will admit that I has this post running through my head the entire time I was trick or treating with the kids, and that I did not get the sleep last night that I should have. Today is going to be a tired day. But no, it’s just me. Maybe growing up such a very large family made me good at juggling? :-P

      • http://puddinsilovemylife.blogspot.com/ Tonya Richard

        You are amazing, Libby Anne, and I would agree that growing up the oldest daughter of 12(i think I am remembering this correctly) in a quiverfull family definitely gave you extraordinary juggling skills LOL At least, that is one good thing that came from being raised in a large family. I know that having 8 children of my own has made my multi tasking skills much better. However, I could never keep up with you! I didn’t comment on the other thread, but wanted to say it was so good, and let you know that you were the final word that got me completely out of the pro-life mindset. Your arguments are so well thought out and backed up with facts. I sent the post to my very fundamental Christian mother. Havn’t heard back. Great, great job!!!

      • Liberated Liberal

        Remember, Libby Anne, you deprived yourself of sleep, therefore you don’t deserve coffee!! :)

        I agree with what everyone else said. Amazing post, amazing follow-up and an amazing woman behind it all.

  • cass_m

    Great read Libby Anne, I don’t usually write comments because you are so thoughtful and precise in your writing that I can only watch in admiration. I would just like to comment that I am pro choice and were I pro abortion as I’m accused of being I would be very admiring of the one child law in China – which I am not because again – choice.

    I hope you do a post on what you believe a true pro(human)-life world would look like. As Amy B says pro life is ALL life.

  • Christine

    Libby, one thing that you may want to address is that there are a lot of people who are pro-abortion but not pro-choice. I’m not talking about the cases where someone has an abortion because she feels it’s the only thing to do, I’m talking about the people who feel that it’s immoral to not choose abortion in some circumstances, or who judge people negatively for having a baby when they think it wasn’t a good thing to do. Addressing this will allow you to explicitly differentiate them from those who are pro-choice. Of course, given the quality of a lot of the comments, I’m not sure that all of them will note this, but it might help.

    • Anonymouse

      The distinction you fail to make is that 1) almost nobody is “pro-abortion” and absolutely nobody is forcing all women to abort through closing down all other options. Additionally, you never see people breaking into OBs offices or homes and assassinating them because they perform births.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. People who think abortion is the best choice in certain situations aren’t doing all we can to make sure abortion is the only option in those situations. Yeah, I’ll private judge the hell out of someone who chooses not to abort a fetus that is extremely unlikely to survive only a few short, very painful moments outside the womb. But I’m not trying to stop her from making that choice. It’s more analogous to people who privately think abortion should only be an option in certain cases but still let other women make their own choices, than it is to the anti-abortion movement.

      • Aurora

        The idea of “pro-life” people bombing abortion clinics or shooting doctors who perform abortions just blows my mind. I can’t even begin to imagine what those people are thinking. “Murder is wrong so I’m going to murder everyone in this building!” What the heck? Not to mention, um…if you blow up an abortion clinic…well, let’s just assume you’re rationalizing killing the doctors and nurses and other staff for being complicit in abortion, and even the women who had abortions for murdering their child, but what about the pregnant women in the clinic who either have not yet had an abortion or (since most clinics also do many other things besides providing abortions) actually WANT the baby? How many unborn babies did you kill by doing that?

        My brain, it hurts.

    • Scotlyn

      AND… you never see hordes of “pro-abortionists” picketing, shouting at, or trying to prevent pregnant women from entering ante-natal clinics – a fairly obvious target for this imaginary movement, one would think.

      This is an entirely false equivalency.

    • Ibis3

      I’m going to quote myself from a comment thread on another blog:

      I think abortions are great. I think we should encourage abortion as a moral choice for anyone who has an unwanted pregnancy–provide funding and access, so that procuring an abortion has the same level of availability as having a broken arm set, a level of social approbation similar to, say, getting a mammogram, and the full funding enjoyed by flu vaccination programs. I think that makes me pro-abortion.

      I’m also pro-choice, so no, I’m not in favour of rounding up pregnant women to force them to have abortions, any more than I’m in favour of rounding up pregnant women and forcing them to give birth.

      But I’m not anti-abortion. I’m pro-abortion. I’m also pro-contraception and pro-choice and pro-sex-education and pro-public-health-care. I’d never say I’m anti-heart-surgery or anti-insulin or anti-eye-glasses or anti-knee-replacement or anti-x-ray or anti-chemo-therapy, or anti-vaccination. Why would I say that I’m anti-abortion? If people need medical procedures, I’m all for them. Why treat abortion as some especially horrid thing to be avoided at all costs? I don’t want young women and girls pressured by society into thinking that abortion is an evil, something they ought to feel guilty about, something they ought to be ashamed of even considering. How many women ruin their opportunities and their happiness by giving birth to more children than they can afford in far from optimal circumstances because even the “pro-choice” people keep telling them that abortion should be used less? And why? What’s so bad about abortion? It’s more pleasant and less expensive than giving birth, but I don’t see a bunch of people calling for labour and c-sections to be “rare”. What do you gain by upholding the stigma?

      If a person is really concerned with invasive, expensive medical procedures that could be mitigated by better preventive care, they should devote themselves to encouraging exercise, not vilifying abortion.

      In addition, there are situations where I think abortion is the more moral choice than carrying a pregnancy to term, so in that sense I’m also pro-abortion. However, I also am against state ownership of pregnant women, so I’d never support legislating on the issue. Women are persons and can make their own reproductive choices; whether or not I agree with them is irrelevant.

    • Anat

      Hmm. I think there are situations where not aborting would be immoral, but I do not want to legislate my perception of morality. I support the law allowing people to choose for themselves, even if I can be very upset about their choices. Similarly, people who think abortions are immoral (in all or some situations) but do not wish to legislate their morality and leave the choice to each individual, as upsetting as those choices might be to them. Both are instances of being pro-choice, whatever labels people actually go under.

      • Aurora

        I agree that there are situations where it would be immoral, something that I know seems particularly strange to people who are opposed to abortion in general. But for example, what if you had tests done that showed that your baby had Tay-Sachs? If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a genetic disease that makes the body deteriorate. They’ll have nerve damage, muscle weakness, and brain problems, and they’re basically guaranteed to die by age 5. They will be unable to walk by the end, if they learn how to begin with.

        I personally think that if you know your child will have a debilitating disease that will inevitably kill them at a young age, having an abortion is the humane thing to do. What kind of horrible person would force a child to suffer for years only to die? And yet I have seen people say that to have an abortion in these circumstances is despicable and unforgivable and that you should give your child the “gift” of years of suffering, rather than “play God” and perform a mercy killing. I have tremendous sympathy for anyone who unknowingly had a kid with this disease and has to watch their child suffer and die, but I cannot fathom why anyone would do so willingly. To me, it sounds selfish.

        But while I would strongly recommend they have an abortion, if I were their doctor, I would not attempt to tell them they must. It is their choice. And if they chose to have the baby, I (still being their doctor in this hypothetical) would do everything I could to make sure the child had the best life it could with as little suffering as possible, and recommend counseling for the parents (you know, on account of the inevitable impending death and all).

    • Matthew

      Um, can you give any concrete examples of people who are pro-abortion but not prochoice? Is this possible? Well, there are people who insist the world is flat, so I guess it’s possible, but they’re so rare it’s not really necessary to point out the rest of us don’t hold those views.

      • jadehawk

        the only such situation is in authoritarian countries that practice forced abortions, such as china. but never in my life have I actually run into an individual anywhere in the West who was pro-abortion, but anti-choice.

      • Rosa

        Factory owners in places with weak worker’s rights often force abortions – it’s been documented in US Territories like the Marianas, and also in some of the special trade zones on the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border. (in the Northern Marianas the federal Department of the Interior documented sexual abuse and forced abortions, and there was political pressure from the left to raise minimum wages and have worker protections there, but no pro-life groups joined in and a circle of Republican Senators blocked all reform efforts).

      • Liberated Liberal

        Rosa – just one more nail in the Republican “pro-life” coffin of lies. They want to abolish the rights of workers, women, etc., but it is when these rights are abolished that these nightmares come true. I’m sure the owners of these factories are in bed with Republican politicians.

        There is no excuse for anything like this to ever happen. How horrendous.

      • KC

        I think there are many cases in which one is pro-abortion and not pro-choice. Anytime someone is coercing someone else to get an abortion they are pro-abortion and not pro-choice. The pro-choice crowd should rightly decry these.
        1) Boyfriend pressuring girlfriend for abortion – threatens breakup, loss of love, etc. Laugh all you want – to a 16 year old, especially if she believes she won’t find love elsewhere, there is no choice.
        2) Parents pressuring child – threatens kicking her out of the house if she keeps the baby, etc.
        3) Relative pressuring child (sometimes to cover up a crime) – threatens to ‘ruin’ her, or any other of threats against her parents and family
        4) Husband pressuring a wife – threatening divorce, withholding affection, etc.
        5) A number of the above who said the individual would be “horrible person [to] force a child to suffer” if they didn’t abort to those who would “private judge the hell out of someone” and “be very very upset” if they didn’t abort – all these can be effective coercions for someone who doesn’t have support and is relying on yours. (P.S. where exactly is the ‘tolerance’ in this? or in the words of the Black Eyed Peas “where is the love?”)

        These are the real life examples one is prone to run into. There are many more situations for women being backed against a wall and effectively having no choice, than just laws or state coercion.

    • Christine

      I’m not saying that they’re not crazy. I’m saying that Libby needs to say “they’re crazy”, so as to distance pro-choice from them.

      Alternatively, point out that the perceived societal pressure on women to have abortions under certain circumstances is due more to normative expectations than because anyone would say “oh, you should get an abortion”. (I haven’t encountered the “should have an abortion” attitude since high school, but I had assumed that was somewhat linked to getting to hang out with well-educated, scientifically literate people.)

  • http://kindminusgoodleft.blogspot.com// Janice

    Great post….with a couple of nice zingers!

  • Rachel

    I would just like to add to your #7 (Abortion Harms Women): It’s really much more scientifically supported that _pregnancy_ harms women. It’s only been in the recent past (I’m a medievalist, so my “recent” is, oh, the past 200 years or so…) that the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age was not, in fact, childbearing. And even today, when thankfully that isn’t so much the case, there are profound changes a woman’s body goes through as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, many often permanent. I’m not just talking joint damage and hemorrhoids, but things like developing significant allergies and conditions like Graves disease (both of these happened to friends of mine). Almost every mother I know happily takes these risks — but no woman should be expected to do so if she doesn’t want to.

    • Scotlyn

      I’ll have to check for the reference, but recently read a study linking pregnancy to post-traumatic stress disorder.

      Also, I recently acquired a meticulously researched copy of a personal geneological tree dating to 1640, and including over 25,000 known descendents of the original patriarch. And until the 20th century, the pattern of female ancestors dying within a month of the birth of their last child (and their husbands quickly remarrying and fathering many more), was well established. For the women who married, the target was menopause. If they survived that, then they often lived to a ripe old eighty, easy.

      Personally, I think birth control, safe clinical abortion, and other family planning and spacing technologies should be widely celebrated – we are no longer producing the number of orphans with uncertain prospects that generated a whole genre of Victorian literature, simply because so few mothers die in or of childbirth.

      Hurray!

      • Anonymouse

        “we are no longer producing the number of orphans with uncertain prospects that generated a whole genre of Victorian literature, simply because so few mothers die in or of childbirth.”

        We are also no longer producing starving orphans that can be forced to work for next-to-nothing, which is what the 1% want. Cheap servants, desperate workers who will cause no problems, refuse to stand up for themselves, work long hours for no additional cost. Children born into families that want them, love them, nurture them, and can afford to educate them become adults who fight for their rights.

      • KC

        Did you ever think Scotlyn that maybe skilled birth attendents and medical advances have more to do with women surviving child birth than birth control and abortions? After all, Michele Duggar survived 17 (?) births and is still kicking.

        Also, tell me why America has plenty of birth control and yet is ranked in the 40s of all countries for materal health outcomes?

    • Anonymous

      The other thing is that anti-choicers talk about adoption as an easy alternative for abortion, but being a birth mother (giving your kid up for adoption) has a much stronger statistical link to depression, anxiety and suicide than having an abortion does.

      • Anonymouse

        Of course it’s frightening and depressing to go through an entire pregnancy with its pains and risks, give birth, and then hand over a child like an unwanted puppy to whoever has the money to buy it from an adoption agency. There have been any number of shocking, horrifying stories of abuse, torture, and even death of adopted children.

      • Anonymous

        Well, Anonymouse, you’re using particular horrifying situations to shame adoption as a whole, and with that I don’t agree. The first part of your comment is accurate, though, about why I think women are so stressed out by adoption. When you’ve gone through the whole pregnancy and probably psychologically bonded to the fetus at some point – no matter how unwanted it was at first – and then have to give it up, that’s obviously stressful.

      • Anonymouse

        I’m not shaming adoption as a whole–just pointing out the reality that it’s not a simple thing to many women, to give up a baby they’ve risked their health or even their life to give birth to, and have no guarantees of the child’s mental and physical health. In fact, that can seem downright irresponsible to many.

    • SophieUK

      I would like to be a mother one day and I will take these risks, but I am in no way happy about having to take them. Pregnancy fills me with nothing but dread. Surely there are many like me?

      • Aurora

        Absolutely right there with you. I want kids, always have, and I’m really looking forward to the parenting part, but pregnancy TERRIFIES me. It does not help that I keep seeing random articles (or comments, like one someone posted on the previous discussion) listing all the numerous ways it can go terribly, horribly wrong (and of course–my own fault–I read all of them). I know it USUALLY works out okay, but statistics means nothing on a case-by-case basis. How do I know I won’t be one of the unlucky few? Plus some of the really common things (like incontinence) are pretty scary too.

      • jadehawk

        yup, same here. which is why, should I ever find myself with a pregnancy I decide to keep, I’m hightailing it out of the US. This is a horrible place to be pregnant. Waaay too dangerous.

      • PlanningAhead

        There are many women that do not want to be pregnant: both those who wish to parent and those who don’t. Personally, I’m planning to adopt rather than bear a child/children, and while there are several factors that inform that decision, dreading pregnancy is one of them. It would not be good for my physical or mental health.
        (Recent post in my feed that discussed this: http://offbeatmama.com/2012/10/choosing-adoption-over-pregnancy)

      • Liberated Liberal

        Yes, me, but I don’t want children, either, so it’s easier for me to deal with.

        I hope you get through your future pregnancies smoothly and beautifully! :)

    • lucrezaborgia

      Planning Ahead: It’s great that she is adopting from foster care, but infant adoption is all kinds of ‘effed up.

      http://www.babylovechild.com/2011/07/29/adoption-is-absolutely-a-feminist-issuean-issue-feminists-must-face/

  • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

    Libby Anne,
    I don’t believe your story. You write too many things that show such a huge level of ignorance that I can’t believe you were that involved in the prolife movement because anyone with the slightest interaction with prolifers wouldn’t write things you’ve written. For example, in the comments section you ludicrously claimed that second trimester abortions are generally “only allowed in case of rape, incest, life of the mother, or fetal abnormality.”

    That’s absurd. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of abortion wouldn’t believe that. About 10% of U.S. abortions are performed after 12 weeks. That’s 120,000 a year. No state has passed any law limiting second trimester abortion to that same set of circumstances or anything close. A handful of states have passed 20-week bans but even those affect only a slight % of 2nd trimester abortions. Numerous abortion clinics advertise abortion through 24 weeks.

    Your attempt to defend the AGI “study” also shows almost no knowledge of the study. How did they get their numbers for how many abortions were performed in developing countries where abortion is illegal? Do you know? Did you read that part? They basically make estimates upon estimates based on nearly nothing. The study itself says, “Where induced abortion is restricted and largely inaccessible, or legal but difficult to obtain, little information is available on abortion practice. In such circumstances, it is difficult to quantify and classify abortion. What information is available is inevitably not completely reliable.”

    So over your lunch break you changed your position on abortion based on a study which admits its information is not completely reliable?

    • chris buchholz

      evidence please, libby and others have provided plenty of evidence. You are just making assertions here. where are your facts?

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        Well, the basic fact sheet on U.S. abortion statistics from the Guttmacher Institute is here. That’s abortion 101. The fact that Libby Anne doesn’t know the basic information provided by them is rather astounding based on her other claims. It’s also astounding she ridiculously believes 2nd trimester abortions are generally only available in a small set of circumstances and can’t name a single state which has a law which matches her claim.

        Note what it says regarding the prevalence of 2nd trimester abortion providers.

        “Sixty-four percent offer at least some second-trimester abortion services (13 weeks or later), and 23% offer abortion after 20 weeks. Only 11% of all abortion providers offer abortions at 24 weeks”

    • Anonymous

      “About 10% of U.S. abortions are performed after 12 weeks….A handful of states have passed 20-week bans but even those affect only a slight % of 2nd trimester abortions. Numerous abortion clinics advertise abortion through 24 weeks.”
      Yeah none of this is even remotely true.
      Clearly, you reserve skepticism for peer-reviewed studies that don’t jive with your existing opinions, but believe wholeheartedly bullshit “studies” released by anti-choice groups. Seems like Libby’s assessment of the anti-abortion movement w/r/t you is actually, pretty damn accurate.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        And your counter evidence would be????? Which state (and please site the law) which limits second trimester abortions in the manner Libby Anne claims?

        So the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute is wrong or lying when they have a graph which shows that 11.9% of U.S. abortions are performed after the first trimester?

      • Anonymous

        It’s the person making the claims who has to verify them, not the person questioning them. Why don’t you show me the states that DON’T restrict abortions after 20 weeks?
        11.9% of abortions are not a “slight percentage” and not all of those are after 20 weeks.

        Also, like how even you seem to acknowledge that Guttmacher is more right – when it’s convenient, of course! – than just about any anti-choice source. Peer review is kind of important, yeah? Life Site News doesn’t exactly have that.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      First, let me explain what I said about second trimester abortions. Note that I referred to both second and third trimester abortions in stating that they are used for things like life of the mother and fetal abnormalities, not just second trimester abortions. A small nitpic, but I think a point worth making. Anyway, the vast, fast majority of abortions occur during the first trimester, as you state. The only reasons women wait beyond that to abort is if it is a life of the mother issue that comes up later, if an ultrasound reveals an abnormality, or if restrictions on first term abortions prevent them from aborting sooner. The idea that a woman is going to voluntarily go through the first trimester of pregnancy, which is the second hardest trimester given things like morning sickness, before aborting is silly. If you want to cut down on second and third trimester abortions, you should make first trimester abortions easier to obtain. And if you’re against first trimester abortions anyway, I’m not sure why you’re trying to make a rhetorical point of second and third trimester abortions anyway, because if you believe that first trimester abortions should be banned then for it’s clearly not about whether the zygote, embryo, or fetus resembles a baby. For more on this, see here.

      As for the Guttmacher Institute numbers, read what I said in point 5. One thing that changed between the spring of my sophomore year of college and the fall of my junior year was that I stopped seeing science as a conspiracy. Like I point out in point 5, your arguments make it quite clear that you do see science as a conspiracy. Sure, exact numbers are hard to get, but I trust that the Guttmacher Institute used what data it could find combined with a scientific method of estimating to settle on the numbers that it did. If you have a study indicating that the Guttmacher Institute’s numbers in Africa and South America are wrong, do share. I would be glad to read both and compare them. But simply proclaiming “liberal bias” to ignore scientific studies and data is silly.

      And besides, the exact number of abortions performed there is not the point. Even if the Guttmacher Institute’s numbers overshoot, the rates there are still higher than in places like western Europe, where abortion is completely legal. And given that those countries have socialized medicine and keep all sorts of records, those numbers are almost certainly essentially exact. What a comparison of abortion rates in different countries indicated to me was that it is not banning abortion that brings the rates down, it is some other factor. Birth control and a comprehensive social safety network seem to be the most likely options, and other studies have backed this up.

      You accuse me of lying and making up my story, but when I read your comments I don’t find compassion or an earnest desire to save the lives of unborn babies. If you truly wanted to increase the number of abortions, you ought to be at least open to looking at all the different options for doing so. Instead, you simply reject data you do not like and continue to harp on one thing: banning abortion. Why do you refuse to even consider other possibilities like birth control or programs to aid poor families? I don’t know what I can say to get through to you because I don’t think you are open to listening.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        The only reasons women wait beyond that to abort is if it is a life of the mother issue that comes up later, if an ultrasound reveals an abnormality, or if restrictions on first term abortions prevent them from aborting sooner.

        And your evidence (and by evidence I don’t mean your feelings) for this assertion would be? Do you really think there are 120K abortions a year for those reasons? This is another example of how I know you were never the SFL president at a university. Your assertions are the kind of thing SFL presidents shoot down on a weekly basis. The only people who believe what you do are very sheltered pro-choice people who have very little interaction with prolifers. There are numerous reasons why women delay getting second trimester abortions besides you ones you list (didn’t know they were pregnant, were ambivalent about the pregnancy, etc.)

        For example, here’s another Guttmacher study which discusses reasons why women didn’t get abortions earlier. The top reasons for women getting 2nd trimester abortions are: “took a long time to make arrangements,” “took a long time to decide,” and “took some time to know I was pregnant or how far along I was.” Fetal anomaly? 1%

        You also asserted they were generally only “allowed” for the reasons you gave. There is absolutely no state law which does this in the second trimester. Will you concede you were factually incorrect in your claim that second trimester abortions are generally only allowed for the reasons you stated?

        I don’t see science as a conspiracy. I merely pointed out how the Guttmacher/WHO paper was unscientific and they even admit it in their own paper. When did I say “liberal bias?” I didn’t. I pointed out how absurd it would be for a SFL president to change her whole worldview in a lunch hour based on a paper which notes the severity of problems with estimating abortion numbers in developing countries where abortion is illegal.

        Even if the Guttmacher Institute’s numbers overshoot, the rates there are still higher than in places like western Europe, where abortion is completely legal.

        Wrong again. Abortion is more restricted in some Western European countries than here, especially after the first trimester. Again, this is something a former SFL president would know while a sheltered pro-choicer acting like a former SFL president would ignorantly believe USA has super restrictive laws while Europe doesn’t.

        Why do you refuse to even consider other possibilities like birth control or programs to aid poor families?

        Umm…. What? When did I say I was opposed to those things?

        My point is your story doesn’t jive with reality. You seem to be completely ignorant of basic things that any SFL president and person who spent as much time in the pro-life movement as you claim you did would know. No former SFL president is going to ignorantly think (based solely on her feelings) the majority of 2nd trimester abortions are done (and only allowed) for the small set of circumstances you list.

      • jadehawk

        “Abortion is more restricted in some Western European countries than here”
        only on paper. most countries in Western Europe allow 2nd trimester abortions to preserve mental health… which is actually a blanket permission to have an abortion, unless you’re extremely unlucky and end up with a fundie referring OB-Gyn

      • jadehawk

        point being, it’s only on paper that it looks like it’s easier to get an abortion in the US than in Europe. The reality is the opposite, since even when you live in ultra-catholic countries like Poland or Ireland, the distance you need to travel and the hurdles you need to overcome to get an abortion are actually smaller than in most midwestern states. And the cost is generally lower, too, since many abortions are publicly funded, and almost all abortions for poor women are.
        And our late-term-abortion doctors don’t get murdered or harassed, meaning we still HAVE such doctors. In the US on the other hand, there are only a fery few such clinics left, for the entire country.

        Only someone who’s never actually dealt with the reality of abortion in these two places could seriously claim that the US is more permissive about abortions.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        JivinJ – My policy has long been that I say my piece, and then people can take it or leave it. If you don’t believe me, you don’t believe me, and that’s not something I can change and not something I will lose sleep over.

        Why focus on second and third trimester abortions?

        I noticed that you did not respond to my question about why you are so focused on second and third trimester abortions. One thing I DO remember from my days as president of my university’s Students for Life group is that while we emphasized things like pictures of dead fetuses and spoke of the barbarity of how late-term abortions take place, we were just as opposed to first trimester abortions. Focusing on second and third trimester abortions was a tactic. This is why those posters generally show pictures of dead second or third trimester fetuses, not, oh, six week old embryos.

        From a policy perspective, if I were to be okay with having second and third trimester abortions limited to just life of the mother or fetal abnormality, would you be okay with readily available and accessible first trimester abortion? I would be willing to make that deal. However, if you share the views I held when I was with Students for Life, I sincerely doubt that you would agree to that deal. And I highly suspect that your emphasis on second and third trimester abortions is a smokescreen.

        Yes, I misspoke

        You asked if I would concede that I was wrong to say that second and third trimester abortions are not “allowed” except for in certain cases. The answer is yes. I meant not that they are not “allowed” except for for those reasons but rather that they do not “occur” except for those reasons. The mis communication is my fault and a reminder to make sure to be as clear as possible and not generalize. Also, when I said “second and third trimester” what I was thinking in my head was “past 20 weeks.” (Remember that only 1.5% of abortions are performed past twenty weeks.) So yes, I misstated and was incorrect. I apologize and will try to be more clear in the future.

        Reasons women have second-trimester abortions

        But since you were responding to what I said and I did say “second and third trimester abortions,” let’s talk for a moment about the Guttmacher Institute study you cited, and about second trimester abortions, not just those past twenty weeks. You claim that the statistics look at “reasons why women didn’t get abortions earlier.” This is actually incorrect. It actually looks at “the percentage of women (who would have preferred to have had their abortion earlier) reporting specific reasons for the delay in obtaining an abortion.” In other words, everyone who is surveyed here says they would have preferred to have an abortion earlier. What delayed them? Let’s look.

        A full 67% said they had problems making the arrangement because they didn’t have the money, or couldn’t find a local clinic, etc. Since you are so concerned about second trimester abortions, I think it’s worth noting that making first trimester abortions more readily available would significantly decrease the number of women getting second trimester abortions – and that I also stated that one reason women have second trimester abortions is because of all of the barriers to first trimester abortions.

        In addition, 36% of women who wished they’d aborted earlier than the second trimester said it took some time before they knew they were pregnant. Guess what? Comprehensive sex education, which has my complete support, would fix this problem and thus bring down the number of second trimester abortions. When listing the reasons women have second trimester abortions, I neglected to mention this as a reason, though it should have been obvious.

        Finally, 50% of these women said it took too long to decide. This is the one place where you do have a point. It’s important, however, to note that almost a third of these women – 15% of the total sample – delayed their decision because of religious or moral concerns. In other words, if they hadn’t been taught that abortion was wrong they would not have waited so long. Thus if the goal is decreasing second trimester abortions, we should emphasis to women that first trimester abortions are morally fine.

        Finally, this graph states that 13% of all abortions occur because of fetal abnormality. Your 1% figure? That was from a sample of women who said they had wished they had gotten their abortions earlier. The discrepancy between the two numbers is likely explained by the fact that women who have abortions because of fetal abnormality know that they couldn’t and wouldn’t abort before knowing of the problem, and so weren’t included along with the women who wish they had had their abortions earlier.

        Third trimester abortions

        I want to point out that 41 states actually have banned abortion in the third trimester, except for things like life of the mother or fetal abnormality. Some of these states ban it as early as 20 weeks. So yes, most states do allow second trimester abortions, but most states do not simply allow anyone who wants to to have a third trimester abortion.

        Decreasing second trimester abortions

        I actually think all of this is a bit of a rabbit trail, though. If your emphasis on this is because you want me to admit I was wrong when I said that women aren’t allowed to have abortions in the second or third trimester except for for specific reasons, well, I admit it. I was incorrect. I misspoke. What is confusing me is the point of all this. Are you okay with first trimester abortions? If not, this focus on second trimester abortions appears to be a smokescreen.

        As the Guttmacher article states, “The clinical and financial implications of second-trimester abortion are greater than those for first-trimester patients. Our findings suggest that gestational age at abortion in the United States could be further reduced if financial barriers faced by disadvantaged groups were removed and if women, especially young women, were better educated about how to recognize pregnancy.”

        There are ways to reduce the number of second trimester abortions – namely, make first trimester abortions more readily available and affordable. If your concern is second term abortions, you should be advocating against the wealth of restrictions recently passed on first term abortions, including waiting periods and efforts to close clinics down. The only reason on that list that we can’t simply mitigate through making abortion more available and affordable is those women who say they had a hard time making up their minds.

        It is possible that if you restrict abortion to the first trimester, you might actually have women who would abort even though they weren’t sure whether they wanted the baby because they knew they wouldn’t have an option to abort later and wanted to be on the safe side. This is totally speculation, but it’s something to consider. I would also suggest that if there was a better social safety net so that women could always afford to comfortably raise children, the number of women waiting to abort until the second trimester might very well decrease. After all, some of the women aborting in the second trimester may have held out because they did want to carry to term, but then finally admitted they couldn’t afford it (75% of women who abort say they couldn’t afford the child). Finally, if we could get rid of the idea that abortion is wrong or immoral, we would also see the number of second trimester abortions decrease.

        If your goal is to decrease second trimester abortions, there are all sorts of ways to do so. Of course, if your goal is to decrease abortions in general, you should be working to make birth control and sex education more widespread. In that case, though, continually talking about the evils of second trimester abortions in particular seems disingenuous.

    • Aurora

      Even without knowing the numbers, it’s an undeniable fact that abortion STILL HAPPENS, pretty often, even when it’s not legal. Women have been having abortions for centuries. Roe v Wade would not have happened if women weren’t having abortions anyway.

      From Guttmacher: “Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis, extrapolating from data from North Carolina, concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967.
      One stark indication of the prevalence of illegal abortion was the death toll. In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women…Poor women and their families were disproportionately impacted. A study of low-income women in New York City in the 1960s found that almost one in 10 (8%) had ever attempted to terminate a pregnancy by illegal abortion…Of the low-income women in that study who said they had had an abortion, eight in 10 (77%) said that they had attempted a self-induced procedure, with only 2% saying that a physician had been involved in any way.”

      Also interesting, it’s worth noting that abortion was legal in some states pre-RvW. And women would go to great lengths to get access: “The year before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, just over 100,000 women left their own state to obtain a legal abortion in New York City. According to an analysis by The Alan Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 50,000 women traveled more than 500 miles to obtain a legal abortion in New York City; nearly 7,000 women traveled more than 1,000 miles, and some 250 traveled more than 2,000 miles, from places as far as Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.”

      “By making abortion legal nationwide, Roe v. Wade has had a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of American women. Deaths from abortion have plummeted, and are now a rarity. In addition, women have been able to have abortions earlier in pregnancy when the procedure is safest: The proportion of abortions obtained early in the first trimester has risen from 20% in 1970 to 56% in 1998.”

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/1/gr060108.html

    • Maggie Fowler

      Do you believe in the death penalty JivinJehoshaphat? Do you support governmental programs such as WIC, affordable day care, ObamaCare which provides affordable insurance to children and prevents insurance companies from denying children healthcare based on pre-existing conditions? Do you support affordable birth control? Do you support sex education in schools especially junior high and high schools? Do you support government funded college education? If you have answered no to just 2 of these questions, you are clearly not pro-life you are just anti-choice and just out to control other women. To make us adhere to your religious and spiritual view. If you have answered no to just 2 of these questions, it means you are just complicit in this war waged on women by right wing government and western religion.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        What if I answered no to just 1? LOL. Why is 2 the magic number?

        That’s an amazing number of ridiculous assertions in one paragraph. It’s funny how some people seem to think that their way to certain common goal is the only way. And if you don’t subscribe to their preferred way of getting to the common goal, you’re just out to control women.

      • KC

        Why must the government do all these things? It is possible to want these things without desiring the government to be responsible for them (private charities, individuals helping individuals, etc.).

      • smrnda

        The government should do the job since, otherwise, we have no guarantee of the job getting done, nor do we have any assurances that the help people choose to offer is actually going to meet the needs of people in our society. When it comes to important things that need to be done, leaving it up to chance isn’t a way of ensuring they get done. We don’t just figure that we don’t need a military, police force or firefighters since (theoretically) we *could* rely on volunteers for all of those things, but you have to go with what works.

        Other nations have done fairly well using government programs to solve social problems. The US remains reluctant to do so and so our social problems are going unsolved. The problem with ‘individual action’ is that it’s simply not organized enough to solve many problems, it lacks the type of organizational infrastructure that would be possible with a governmental, nation-wide program.

        The other problem is using private charities depends on whether we have a lot of people with money to donate and with time on their hands. Employers put the squeeze on workers both in terms of pay and in terms of time. Less people to donate money, less people who have time to volunteer, and an ever-increasing number of people who need assistance. Employers have been putting the squeeze on the standard of living for a long time.

        Another reason I support government programs as a solution to social problems is that we all have a say in government, and government is supposed to be accountable to its citizens. Lots of private charities offer help with the attitude of ‘our way or no help.’ I was unable to work for about 2 years because of a disability. The existence of government aid meant that I was able to get just the help I needed without anybody else trying to run my life. The other thing was I got actual help from professionals, and for some problems you need professionals who are well paid and educated and trained, not enthusiastic amateurs.

        I think the burden of proof, given that government welfare program work well in the rest of the industrialized world, should be on why we shouldn’t use government. The usual objectors are people who want the populace to stay hungry and needy, either to keep the cots of labor down, or else to keep people desperate so they’ll need to head to religious based charities.

    • The_L

      “Numerous abortion clinics?”

      There were only 3 OB/GYN clinics in the entire United States that performed 3rd-trimester abortions a few years ago. When Dr. Tiller was murdered, that number dropped to 2.

  • Anonymouse

    From Alternet:

    What Everyone Needs to Know About Second Trimester Abortions
    Women have second trimester abortions because they need to, not because they want to.
    August 1, 2010 | Like this article?Join our email list:Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
    Most of us don’t think we’ll ever have an abortion, until we become one of the half of all women in the US who has an unwanted pregnancy. And if we think about it at all, we assume we’d get an abortion pretty early in the pregnancy. While 90 percent of abortions do happen before 12 weeks, some women seek abortions later in their pregnancies.

    Most women do not try to have later abortions. In fact, in a study done by Finer et al, nearly three fifths (58 percent) of women in the survey reported that they would have preferred to have had the abortion earlier than they did. In another study done by Drey et al, 29 percent or one third of women who ended up having abortions during their second trimester were in their first trimester when they made the first call to an abortion clinic. If this is the case, what causes women to have second trimester abortions?

    First, let’s learn a bit about second trimester abortions. Drey’s study outlines the following basic information:

    •One out of every ten abortions performed in the United States happens during the second trimester
    •Second trimester abortions carry an increased risk of complications and are more expensive to obtain then first trimester abortions
    •The American public tends to favor restrictions on later termination
    These restrictions vary state by state. In some states, like California and New York, Medicaid can cover the cost of an abortion. In others, such as Pennsylvania, Medicaid funds are forbidden from covering the procedure unless the woman is a survivor of rape, incest, or has a medical condition that threatens her life. And in other states still, Medicaid and private insurance are banned from covering abortion no matter the situation. This means that if a woman doesn’t live in a progressive state and if she doesn’t have health insurance that covers an abortion, she will have to spend time raising money towards the cost of her procedure. Depending on how long this takes, the cost of the procedure could go up weekly (as it often does in the second trimester). In the world of abortion funding, this is called “chasing the fee” and is kind of a Dante-esque hell. The longer she waits to have the abortion and the more time it takes her to raise the money, the more the abortion will cost, causing her to have to raise more money and further delay the procedure.

    There are other types of anti-choice legislation that can affect a woman’s access to abortion services. She often has to jump through hoops to be able to make an appointment for the procedure. This could be anything from a 24-hour waiting period from the time she makes the appointment to the time of the procedure, getting parental consent, spousal consent, a mandatory counseling session, signed doctor’s notes, or sessions before a committee or before the police. Many women barely have time to schedule a full-day clinic visit, not to mention dozens of hours spent making sure she abides by these laws. This means taking hours or days off of work, arranging childcare, and arranging travel, not to mention other logistics.

    Who are these women who have later abortions, and why do they have them? According to Drey’s study, women who have later abortions tend to be young and of low-income status. Specifically, Dryer found that women under 18 took longer to identify pregnancy symptoms and poor women had to delay their abortion because they had to make arrangements, such as raising money, getting childcare, or transportation to the clinic.

    Finer found very similar causes of delay. Second trimester abortion patients, according to his study, were significantly more likely to say that it took them a long time to make arrangements to have the abortion. This is because there are many abortion providers who only provide abortions to 12 or 14 weeks, and the number of providers decreases further later in pregnancy. Many states have NO abortion providers after 14 or 16 weeks. In addition, second-trimester patients were significantly more likely to indicate that they were delayed because they needed time to raise money for the procedure and because it took time to talk to their parents.

    Other women have abortions in their second trimester because they need more time to make their decision. According to Finer, 60 percent of women stated that someone helped them come to their decision to have an abortion. What these women may not know is that once they go into their second trimester, the cost of an abortion usually increases every week. It is not clear that women with later pregnancies know the consequences of delaying their decision.

    The Finer study also finds that:

    “poor women took a significantly longer time from thei first attempt to obtain the abortion to actually having it. When compared to white and Hispanic women, black women reported significantly longer time periods.”

    Why might this be the case? Poor women, who are often women of color, may have to take more time to raise the money towards the costs of the procedure. The more time they take to raise the money, the further they are in the pregnancy, and the further they are in the pregnancy, the higher the cost of the procedure. Again, this is an example of “chasing the fee.”

    Another important part of the Finer study found that women with two or more children took more time to access abortion services. Why? They have to arrange childcare and have childcare-related expense. Higher-income women and women 30 years old and over reported less time between deciding to have an abortion and going through with the procedure. Why? Because these women are more likely to have access to resources (money, transportation, lodging) that erase or ease the boundaries faced by poor women.

    Finer also observed that if a woman goes to one clinic and is turned away because she is too far along in the pregnancy to have an abortion there, it may take her twice as long, on average, between initially attempting to make an appointment and having the abortion. This makes sense, as she would likely have to gather more money, take more days off work, arrange for transportation, childcare, and possibly even lodging to go to a different clinic, one that may not even be in her state.

    Perhaps a woman lives in a state where there is only one abortion provider. She then has to arrange travel and lodging at this destination, along with coming up with the cost of the procedure. A woman’s ability to take the time off required to get to the clinic, whether this means arranging for transportation, renting a car, flying out of state, arranging childcare, taking time off, arranging lodging, you get the picture. If a woman can’t afford a $350 first trimester procedure at a nearby provider and takes too much time raising that money, she then has to deal with the rising cost of the procedure AND travel and accommodations costs.

    In boils down to a few things. Women have second trimester abortions because they need to, not because they want to. Why? Because their insurance doesn’t cover abortion, because they needed time to raise money for the cost of an abortion, because they needed to arrange travel/childcare/time off of work in order to spend a full day at the clinic, because they needed time to make the decision with confidence, because they needed to make time to travel out of state to access an abortion provider.

    The Finer study concludes by stating that their findings:

    “suggest that gestational age at abortion in the US could be further reduced if financial barriers faced by disadvantaged groups were removed and if women, especially young women, were educated about how to recognize pregnancy.”

    The links between sex education and pregnancy are clear. The better women are able to identify pregnancy symptoms, the faster they will take a pregnancy test. The earlier they are in the pregnancy, the more time they have to make a decision about whether or not to carry to term without worrying about a significant rise in the cost of the procedure. A first trimester abortion is a safer and less expensive abortion. We must work to eradicate the barriers women face in abortion services. This means:

    •Ensuring that all teens have access to comprehensive sex education

    •Requiring that ALL state Medicaid to cover abortion services

    •Making sure that medical schools to include abortion care training in their curriculum so women have more providers to choose from

    •Lobbying for protections against anti-choice terrorists who endanger abortion doctors and their patients through clinic violence and threats
    We are the women who will need abortions, and we need to learn as much as we can about our bodies and about abortion services so that we can get the abortions we need as early as possible in an unwanted pregnancy. And we need to organize, to make sure that abortions are available as late as we need them.

  • Eaton

    Libby Anne,

    Thank you for writing this article. I am anti-abortion, and about as far anti-abortion as one can get, but for years I’ve been making many of the same arguments that you did above. Needless to say, the arguments often fall on deaf ears when discussed with my fellow pro-lifers. (Equally unsurprising is the unwillingness of the most pro-choicers to sincerely dialog, of course.)

    You addressed most of my rhetoric concerns in your follow-up post, and though I certainly disagree with you about a host of interpretations and even with some of your logic, you show a conspicuous empathy that, I can honestly say, I have never before witnessed on either side of the issue. Thank you so very, very much.

  • chris buchholz

    2. Actively Killing versus Letting die

    This can be thought of as the classic Trolley problem. In the West, we think actively killing is worse, but I’ve read that asking the Trolley problem of Mayans, urban Mayans think killing is worse than letting die, but rural Mayans think they are both equally bad.

    It is really a question: by saying actively kiling is worse than letting die, is that actually a GOOD moral stance to take, and something we should be proud of? Or is it something BAD, and something we should argue against, and that letting people die is just as bad as killing them.

    I think probably the latter, and the people arguing that killing is worse are arguing for evil.

    But then, it’s a huge issue that we’re not going to resolve here.

    • Aurora

      My personal opinion: If I were in the situation described, I would most likely freeze and thus inadvertently let people die. However, since that’s not the result of a choice, but rather panic, I would not consider that to be my fault (logically, though I would pretty much guarantee I’d feel guilty about it). But I think that if one does manage to actively make a decision, it seems obvious that 1 death is better than 10. Except…do we know anything about the people on the tracks, and does what we know matter? If it’s 1 child versus 10 convicted felons, does that alter the decision? How exactly does one quantify the value of a human life and weigh it against the value of others’ lives? Even if we agree that different people have different innate values (which I’m guessing most people would say they don’t believe but actually do in some way, hence why many people are more upset by the death of a child or feel nothing but contempt for a serial killer/rapist), that’s purely subjective. One person may feel that a doctor is the most valuable person, another may feel a teacher, another a child.

      If you DON’T know anything about the people on the tracks (maybe you’re on a bridge looking down and can only see that there are people?), could you live with learning about them after? What if, had you known more about the people, you would have made the opposite decision? For example, you chose to sit by and watch as five mothers and their children got ran over while the armed gunman stalking them lived (yes, I realize that’s preposterous, but so is the entire scenario). Would you feel that you made the wrong decision then?

      Most importantly: Does pulling the lever actually count as actively killing someone? I would argue that it does not. You are not responsible for the train moving, you are not responsible for its inability to stop, you are not responsible for the way the lever works, and you are not responsible for the fact that there are people on the tracks. You are likely hoping that the one person on that side sees what’s happening and manages to leave the track (something that’s far more likely from 1 person than 10, especially if the track switching gives them an extra couple seconds). In a legal sense, the person who was responsible for the runaway train would be the liable party. In a moral sense, I don’t see how it can be consider actively killing someone if you aren’t physically doing it yourself. If you shoot someone, that’s actively killing them. If they’re pointing a gun at you and you try to get the gun away from them and they shoot themselves, that’s self defense. There’s a reason our legal system has a dozen different words for “somehow caused the death of another person.” Pulling the lever would be, in my opinion, involuntary manslaughter. But not pulling it (deliberately) could easily be considered negligent homicide. (Note: I have very little knowledge of the legal system and am not claiming they would be tried under these terms, just attempting to use words that seem to fit.)

      • chris buchholz

        I was using Libby’s phrasing, which was regarding Zygots spontaneously expelled from the uterus, and ones that cannot attach becuase of something the Pill did to the uterine wall.
        In the Trolley problem, you can do nothing, or do something. Both result in death.
        It is the same with the Pill, you can do nothing, and MORE Zygotes die, or do something (take a pill), and Zygotes still die, but fewer, however they die because you took an action.

        So “actively killing” is probably bad phrasing, because it begs the question of what the trolley problem is addressing. Perhaps “taking an action” vs “inaction” is the best phrasing and lets us get to the heart of the issue: if by inaction more zygotes die than by action, and zygotes are human with a right to life, is not inaction the more immoral choice?

        In America, most people believe taking the Action is the more immoral choice, even if, as in the case of taking the pill, or pulling the track switch, fewer “people” die.

      • Monimonika

        In regards to “actively killing” vs “doing nothing”, how about the following scenario?:
        There are 10 people stuck on a train track and a runaway train is bearing down on them. You and a very large, heavyset person are on a bridge above the train track, between the train and the 10 people. You are given absolute knowledge that you can stop the train and save the 10 people by pushing the other person next to you down onto the track below, thus stopping/derailing the train but killing that person.
        The end results are the same as when you were given control of the lever in the first scenario, but something about this second scenario gives most people who would save 10 people in the first scenario (which includes me) pause (also includes me). These two scenarios were told to me together and no “correct” answer was given for either. I still can’t articulate the reasons for my potential choices. (;_;)

  • Eaton

    Libby Anne,

    There was one point that you never quite addressed. After coming to the epiphany that promoting birth control is by far the more effective means to curbing abortion, you state, “I no longer wanted to see Roe overturned or abortion banned.” Perhaps you merely meant that those were no longer your immediate goals. If you indeed rejected those goals all together, I’d be interested in your reasoning. If, at this point in your life, you still saw abortions as taking the life of another, why would you want a form of homicide to be legal? One can, as I do, be in favor of both cheap, easy access to birth control and banning abortion. I strategically prioritize those goals in time based on the immediacy and nature of their respective consequences, but I do not abandon either. That would seem, to me, the more logical conclusion given your beliefs at the time…

    That is, unless you have a severely pragmatic ethical system. (Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about the consequences of banning abortion illuminated in your original article.) If you don’t care for thought experiments, perhaps you will indulge me. If one could demonstrate statistically that spousal abuse would be more “humane” (i.e., less physically and psychologically severe) and no more common if it were made legal but highly regulated, would you be in favor of it? The same sort of question could be asked for rape, murder, etc. (If you must make it more plausible, you might imagine extreme “charges” for such transactions, for example, the torturous death of the perpetrator. However, I really mean this to be a pure and unencumbered thought experiment.) Personally, I can’t make that jump. I can’t say that the (“humane”) ends justifies the (legally tolerant) means when the ends are so morally egregious regardless. Of course, this view imposes upon law some expectation of ethical similitude in preference to strict ethical utilitarianism. This is a very common, perhaps nearly universal sentiment (even among many who would deny it), but it is not the only option, I readily admit. Since it seems so relevant to your logic, I would be interested in your views.

    • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

      What do these hypothetical have to do with a situation where you’re demanding that women give control of their bodies over to other entities?

      It is an established right that no one can use someone’s body without their permission, and here is a court case to show it: http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~ras2777/judpol/mcfall.html

      • Bobby

        I think it could be argued pretty well that the women invited the fetus into her body via the sex act. (This wouldn’t be true in the case of rape, of course. )

        Also, parents have a legal responsibility to provide for their children until 18. If the fetus is viewed as a human, I see no reason why this responsibility would extend into the womb.

      • ButchKitties

        If you read the link Nathaniel posted, you’ll see that the only reason McFall knew that Shimp was a match for bone marrow donation was that Shimp volunteered for donor testing. There are myriad reasons to consent to sex that do not involve procreation. There is no reason to be tested for bone marrow compatibility unless you intend to be a donor.

        Shimp was still allowed to back out and refuse to donate, even though he’d initially volunteered for the process, and even though McFall needed his bone marrow to live.

        If consenting to be tested bone marrow compatibility is not consent to bone marrow donation, then consent to sex is definitely not consent to pregnancy.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Good question, and you’re right, I didn’t really address it specifically. The reason is that I found that banning abortions doesn’t stop women from having them. Instead, it leads to increased maternal mortality as women seek out risky illegal abortions or try to perform abortions on themselves. I therefore came to the conclusion that banning abortion would only create further harm without doing any actual good.

      Given that this was five years ago, it’s sometimes hard to remember which thought process began exactly when, but I think that that same fall I was also becoming more aware of the fact that fetal personhood is disputed, and that banning something based on my moral views – based on my religious beliefs about the soul, for instance – would be legislating my religious beliefs on others. This idea was still a seed at the time, but given that I was opening up to considering new things in general, I was also becoming more open to the idea that the whole fetal personhood thing might be more complicated than I had always been given to believe.

      I hope that helps. :-)

      • Eaton

        Thanks for replying, Libby! Your response certainly did help.

        @Nathaniel: It is, as always with abortion, a matter of perspective. Your post doesn’t strike me as representing a conspicuous openness (unlike Libby’s), so I’ll spend only commensurate effort in responding and do not plan to continue the dialog further. Suffice it to say that every person who has ever claimed that such and such an entity is, in fact, a full-fledged human life (or equally valuable form of life) and therefore deserving of equivalent protections has been met with cries of rights violations. For example, abolitionists had to grapple with claims of property rights, and those advocating for human rights protection of highly intelligent animals (for example, dolphins) grapple with similar claims today. The pro-life perspective, as framed (but not always as practiced, of course), clearly falls into this category. No matter your side on any such issue, one can hopefully recognize that endowing rights where once there were none or far fewer is almost invariably fraught with conflicts with existing rights. Something, obviously, has to budge. Ultimately, if the claim for personhood expansion is accepted, society comes to see the old view of rights (for example, ownership of slaves) as fundamentally flawed. In other words, rights are axiomatic; they are perceived as inherently “obvious” to every culture and time despite their fluidity and variability. This nature renders them excellent springboards for all sorts of chauvinism and prejudice, which is why, in my humble opinion, both sides of the abortion issue have such a hard time communicating with one another.

      • Nathaniel

        So in other words, you have no direct response to my argument, beg the question by assuming rights that have not been established, already been refuted by my court case, and then chide me for lack of an open mind before promising not to listen to a further word I say.

        Guess that pretty much settles it.

    • Anat

      That is, unless you have a severely pragmatic ethical system.

      You know, whatever your personal ethics, social policies (and applying the power of the law is a social policies) should be about pragmaticism. Lack of pragmaticism is what gives rise to stupid wasteful policies like the ‘war on drugs’. It makes some people feel good about society doing something about a moral issue they care about while overall causing more damage than benefit. (Of course, in this case the damage is mostly to poor people and people of color, so maybe some people think that is a good thing.)

    • Rosie

      Eaton,

      Even if you consider personhood to be conferred at conception, there are some reasons to keep abortion legal.

      1. People of different religions, or even different interpretations of the same religion, disagree about when personhood is conferred. In the US, we don’t allow laws to be made for purely religious reasons, because people are allowed to practice any religion they choose, or none at all. (Given point 2 below, it’s unreasonable to suppose that personhood could be legally conferred before viability, at which point it’s at least theoretically possible to induce labor and deliver a preemie that would then become a ward of the state unless other arrangements had been made. Point 3 below illustrates some difficulties with even that earliest-of-possible scenarios, though.)

      2. Even if it were somehow scientifically proven that a zygote or embryo or fetus is a “person”, we don’t EVER force another person to provide life-support or donate organs. Even if that means the proposed recipient will die. Even if the “provider” has consented to all kinds of things that would normally lead up to such a support or donation situation. Even if the “provider” has previously consented to support or donation. We allow them to back out at any time. That’s what the McFall v. Shimp case is about.

      3. Conferring legal personhood on zygotes, embryos, and fetuses and calling abortion “homicide” would have all kinds of unintended consequences. Any woman who miscarried (and something like 80% of conceptions naturally end that way, iirc) would be guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Any woman who drank alcohol before she realized she was pregnant could be brought up on charges of criminal negligence or abuse of a minor. Any sexually active woman of childbearing age who did ANYTHING that might endanger a potential pregnancy (including taking a job in many factories that deal with dangerous chemicals) might be criminally charged for endangering a fetus even if she did not intend to be pregnant and took all reasonable measures to not become so. It would seriously curtail the rights of all women. Don’t say “oh, that would never happen”; it’s ALREADY happening. A woman in Arizona is in jail under a “crime against the unborn” law for taking drugs during her pregnancy, even though doctors believe the drugs probably did not induce the miscarriage she suffered. A pregnant girl in Utah was charged under a similar law, though I’m not sure what’s become of her case.

      In conclusion, while you certainly have every right to believe whatever you like, and apply those beliefs to your own life, turning those beliefs into laws can be a really bad idea.

    • Anat

      To Bobby:

      Even if I invite a guest into my home, if I change my mind for whatever reason, when i decide the guest is no longer invited, I can send the guest off, even evict by force. And that holds even if there is a blizzard outside or a gang fight in the street, such that the person I evict gets killed.

      Similarly I should have the right to evict a fetus from my uterus at any moment. Except for the case of fetal abnormalities, the purpose of abortion is not to kill the fetus but to end the pregnant state. The death of the fetus is a by-product of this action. Which is why if the pregnancy is close to term the recommended line of action is often to induce birth early. The main goal is achieved. Then it is a matter of further choice who raises the now born child. This is why no matter if a fetus is or isn’t a person, abortion isn’t murder.

      • Bobby

        To Anat:

        If you decide that 3 years into it, you just don’t like your kid all that much and stop providing for them, that is illegal. There are special provisions and expectations of parents for their children.

      • Chervil

        Oh I don’t know, religious parents kick their kids out all the time if it turns out they’re gay. They just keep the ones that toe the line.

      • Rosie

        Bobby, if a person decides a few years in that they can’t care for their kid, they turn it over to the foster care system or find somebody to adopt it. Would you like to adopt my 5-week-old embryo? It looks like a lizard and is about the size of a pea; I’m sure you’ll just fall in love as soon as you see it, so much that you won’t mind having it implanted in your abdomen for the next eight months.

      • Twist

        Those ‘special provisions and expectations’ don’t cross the line into violating the parents’ bodily autonomy. No parent is legally compelled to donate a kidney to their three year old, even if they are the only match and the kid will die without it. Why should women be compelled to donate their entire bodies? Do you think that blood, marrow and organ donations should be mandatory? That people should be forced to donate against their will? We don’t even harvest the organs of the dead without their express prior consent and the consent of their next of kin. Why should pregnant women be the only exception to the generally accepted rule that people should be able to decide what happens to their own bodies?

        And as others have said, an unwanted three year old can have their needs met by a person other than their biological mother. An unwanted embryo can’t.

        Even if you were to grant an embryo full human rights, that isn’t enough to outlaw abortion. The rights granted to the embryo would need to supercede those of the woman carrying it, otherwise she would be able to withdraw consent to it being in her body and evict it.

      • Anat

        To Bobby: I can’t hand my child to CPS? I’m sure I can arrange for the state to decide to terminate my parental rights if I really wanted to.

      • Doe

        @Bobby

        There are also special provisions that allow parents to relinquish unwanted children to the state without prosecution for neglect or any other charge. Start here for examples: http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/safehaven.cfm

        Regarding embryonic personhood, there are craploads of drugs that are not safe for pregnancy. Most teratogens (compounds that cause birth defects) have the greatest effect early in pregnancy. A woman won’t test positive on a urine pregnancy test until 4-6 weeks after her last period. So if embryos are people, are women of childbearing age simply not allowed to receive these drugs for fear they might become pregnant and not know until they have already committed manslaughter? Here is an example of what women of childbearing age already have to go through to receive teratogenic drugs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPLEDGE

        Do we want this for every non-Category A drug out there, plus criminal charges?

  • SAMK

    One of my problems with the Catholic church and their “Pro-life” stance is that they actively work to close the one organization that provides the best chance for pre-natal care for the women and infants most at risk Abortion is such a small part of Planned Parenthood but it is the only thing these groups focus on.

    I am anti-abortion. I think that the day that no woman has to make that horrible choice is one worth working towards and, should it ever arrive, celebrating. But to arrive there, we need to remove the real causes, not make illegal the result.

  • Lauren F

    I have nothing constructive to add. I just wanted to say that I loved this post so much, and I love the way you’re able to look back at your old beliefs and judge them false without coming across as judgmental of old Libby Anne. And I thought your explanation of your use of pro-life was interesting. Just that being able to say, “that’s where I would have come from,” and accommodate it. That’s a big one of the reasons I read here. Well done you!

  • Tara

    You ROCK!!! I have been making these arguments with people I grew up with for years. I have lost many people over it as well. I have even been told I am not a true Christian because I am not “pro-life”. That comment ended a friendship. The hypocrisy of the pro-life movement has always astounded me. I am frequently frustrated with the lack of rational thought or use of intelligent cognitive reasoning with those who identify themselves with the pro-life movement. It breaks my heart to see people I know to be intelligent using their prejudice views to justify lack of reasoning. It makes me so happy to see others out there who can see through the deceptive propaganda spread by the pro-life movement.

  • Cyn

    I loved the first article, and I loved this one. You were able to articulate clearly everything I believe is true, and you provided the facts to back it up. Thank you so much for all your writing!

  • Pingback: An past pro-lifer reflects on the pro-life movement. | UBC Psychology 350A

  • smrnda

    I think that the anti-choice (and anti-contraception) mentality of religious people also has a lot to do with their belief that they have the exact right formula s for life and relationships. Religious leaders tell their followers that if you follow the formulas, everything works great, and if you don’t, everything goes wrong. The problem is there are lots of people who reject the formulas, do things their own way, and things work out great. There are people who didn’t save sex for marriage, had casual sex, had different partners, married couples who used contraception, or had abortions, and these people are happy with their choices.

    Subconsciously, I think these people can threaten a religious person who has been taught that their view of relationships and sex is the one and only totally correct viewpoint. At some times, it may seem that the people who chose to live differently are happier. Once you’ve been taught to think you have all the answers, people who reject your answers and who are happy can create some insecurity, so people lash out at their choices.

    • Rosie

      Having been one of those people, I whole-heartedly agree!

    • thalwen

      I think you’re nailed it. And since no one can live up to their insanely high and impractical formulas, they have ample “evidence” to point out what’s wrong with the world.

  • A Reader

    I didn’t realize that post had gone viral until it floated across my Tumblr. So happy for you!! It was a really thoughtful & interesting post & so is this one.

  • lucrezaborgia
    • Anonymouse

      http://www.thenation.com/article/shotgun-adoption

      Here’s more “loving, pro-life” attitudes: When Jordan called Bethany’s statewide headquarters one night, her shepherding mother answered, responding coldly to Jordan’s lament. “You’re the one who spread your legs and got pregnant out of wedlock,” she told Jordan. “You have no right to grieve for this baby.”

  • Holly

    I have been wondering about something for years. If fetuses are innocent but people are born with original sin, doesn’t abortion prevent sin from entering the world? I am not trying to be cheeky but since I am not a Christian, I just truly don’t get it.

  • Annette

    Thank you. For this and the original post. It is truly refreshing to see such logical argument, with links to the data in question, specifically peer-reviewed studies…

  • Christian Breau

    6. Why Do I Compare First and Third World Countries?

    I thought the same thing the others who were objecting did, until I kept reading with the comparison between Eastern and Western Europe. That was you comparing “First World” countries against each other in my opinion. Kudos to you for these articles!

  • Bobby

    With regards to point 9: Sex DOES have consequences, because with the limits of current birth control, there is always a CHANCE sex could end in pregnancy. And if the fetus is as human as you and I then abortion would be murder and hence not the answer to this consequence.

    I could agree with you that the above situation is a happy circumstance for some who want to “control” the sex lives of others, but that does not mean that they created the circumstance.

    • Scotlyn

      Bobby, every human action has consequences. For a human being, the process of growing up into a mature person includes the ability and willingness to take responsibility both for one’s actions and for their consequences. For a woman who discovers she is pregnant, despite doing everything possible to prevent a pregnancy resulting from the sexual relationship she has chosen for her good reasons to engage in, abortion is one of many ways in which she might choose to take responsibility both for this action, and for this consequence. Only she knows the circumstances that will influence her choice. But whatever she chooses, she IS taking responsibility for the consequences.

      The “not taking responsibility” scenario would more likely involve complete denial of her pregnancy until an actual unplanned, unprepared for, unshopped for, unmedically supervised, unbeknownst to family & friends, birth “suddenly” occurs (a scenario that, though rare, has been known to happen – at least once to my certain knowledge).

      • Bobby

        But Scotlyn if abortion is murder, it can’t be the responsible thing to do. And there is a very logical reason to believe abortion is murder, namely that life begins at conception. Please re-read what I wrote and note the “if” in the sentence beginning “And if”

      • ButchKitties

        Life doesn’t begin at conception. For that to be true, the oocyte and sperm would have to be dead until fused together, which is empirically untrue. Life is a continuous process. It began a few billion years ago and has been ongoing ever since.

        If you want to talk in terms of murder, then you need to be concerned with when personhood begins, not when life begins. I don’t think murder is possible if there is no brain activity, just as I don’t believe it’s murder to harvest organs for donation from a brain dead body. The vast majority of abortions take place well before neocortex activity begins. No brain = no person = no murder. (It’s a myth that brain waves are detectable at 40 days gestation.)

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        Yes, that is a logical reason, if you hold that the statement “Life begins at conception” is relevant. A lot of us don’t. (And I think all of us can come up with situations where murder could be argued to be responsible, but that’s a bit beside the point.)

      • Scotlyn

        Bobby, abortion is not murder.
        It is, in principle, a refusal to provide consent for one’s body to be used by another person.
        In our society, no person has the right to the use of another’s body without their consent, not even to save one’s life.

      • Rosie

        Bobby, I just wrote in response to Eaton above, but I think it applies to your argument just as well. Please read it.

    • jadehawk

      if a fetus were a person, and the pregnancy is unwanted, then the fetus is comitting assault and expulsion would be self-defense. which is both legal and ethical.

      I’m really tired of this insistence that it matters whether the fetus is a person or not, as if all killing of humans were unethical or illegal. Amazing how on this one stance of abortion, anti-choicers suddenly become extremist pacifists.

      • Bobby

        Thank you Jayn for understanding the argument and your reply.

        To jadehawk/Scotlyn: I’ve argued above that the act of sex (does not apply to cases of rape) is invitation of the fetus into one’s body. Thus, just as neglecting a child is wrong, it is wrong to abort the fetus.

      • Rosie

        And most of us have argued until we’re blue in the face that consent to sex =/= consent to pregnancy, for various reasons. I’m not going to reiterate it all here; you seem unable to listen. See the McFall v. Shimp case, and learn a little something about what “consent” really means before you try talking about it, please. Abortion and neglect or abuse of a child are two very, very different things because of the very different relationship that exists between fetus and pregnant woman, as opposed to parent and born child.

      • Twist

        Even if consent to sex is consent to pregnancy, one of the things that make consent meaningful is the fact that it can be revoked.

        Even if I were to get pregnant on purpose and then change my mind, abortion should still be an option because my consent to having the fetus in my body can be withdrawn. Consent at one time =/= consent for the rest of the night/week/month/pregnancy/18 years.

        Unless you’re the kind of person who thinks that once a woman has consented to have sex with a man, if she then changes her mind part way through and asks him to stop, he has the right to ignore her and continue.

  • A

    Of all the comments on my post, the ones that I found most strange were the ones arguing that sex is about making babies, and people need to be responsible and accept the consequences of their decisions. I found these comments odd because they revealed that someone could somehow read my entire post and then make my point for me.

    OK, let’s apply your logic to child support.

    Of all the comments on my post, the ones that I found most strange were the ones arguing that sex is about making babies, and people need to be responsible and accept the consequences of their decisions. I found these comments odd because they revealed that someone could somehow read my entire post and then make my point for me.

    For these commenters, being pro-child-support is not about helping babies, or at least not primarily about helping babies. Instead it is about making sure that sex has consequences.

    But why? Why must sex have consequences? When an obese person becomes diabetic we don’t deprive him of insulin and tell him his diabetes is his own fault and he just has to deal with the consequences. Should we deprive people of coffee because if you’re tired it’s your own fault for not getting more sleep? We do things to mitigate the consequences of our actions all the time. Birth control and evading paying child support are just one more way of doing this. If someone argues that sex must have consequences – that sex and baby making must always go hand in hand regardless of the technology we have developed to separate the two – they are simply trying to impose their personal beliefs on everyone else.

    Furthermore, seeing avoiding paying child support as a way for people to be irresponsible is disingenuous. When a man finds himself with an unplanned child, he has to consider his options and choose a course of action. That is called being responsible. Evading child support is one of those options. In other words, there is no reason evading child support should be seen as an irresponsible way of handling an unplanned child, just like there is no reason having a baby should be the mandated consequence of having sex.
    If you are one who believes that evading child support makes you a dead-beat dad, you will probably have some problems with the two previous paragraphs. But my point is that if it is all about helping babies, well, talk of “consequences” and “responsibility” is a bit disingenuous. When you talk about how sex should have consequences or about how evading child support is an irresponsible way to get out of dealing with the results of sex, well, you are moving the conversation away from helping babies and toward controlling people’s sex lives. So if it really is about helping babies, and not about pushing your sexual morality on society in general, you shouldn’t be making this sort of argument.

    • Bobby

      powerful post!

    • Hannahbanana

      Unfortunately for you, critiquing someone’s logic doesn’t mean you can erase their main posit (abortion) and add your own (evading child support), and WHAM BAM call it a critique. Abortion is a responsible way to subvert the consequences of sex, one of those consequences being child support. Saying that abortion (the fix) and “avoiding child support” (a consequence) are arguably the same thing, therefore implying that abortion is irresponsible, DOES NOT FOLLOW. Whether the “non child raising” person can afford to pay child support is something that unmarried or separated couples need to consider when deciding what to do with an unplanned pregnancy. If the simple financial cost of raising a child from pre-natal care through 18 years cannot be afforded, abortion is the logical choice.

      • Bobby

        As far as I’m aware a man can’t force a women to have an abortion. And so, for a man, even under current law, paying child support is an unavoidable (since birth control is not 100% effective) possible consequence of sex.

        And the point is men who don’t pay child support are rightfully looked down upon in almost every social circle.

      • A

        Abortion is a responsible way to subvert the consequences of sex, one of those consequences being child support. Saying that abortion (the fix) and “avoiding child support” (a consequence) are arguably the same thing, therefore implying that abortion is irresponsible, DOES NOT FOLLOW.
        Avoiding child support isn’t the consequence. Losing money is. Since avoiding child support prevents the consequence of losing money, your analysis is faulty.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Wow, this has got to be one of the weirdest things I’ve read in a long time.

      How on earth do you figure that being pro-child support can be about anything BUT helping babies? Child support is about making sure existing children are supported. Birth control and abortion are about making sure you don’t end up with children to support! Being pro-child support is based on the idea that parents have responsibilities to ensure their children’s wellbeing. Being anti-birth control or anti-abortion “because it avoids responsibility,” is based on the idea that people shouldn’t be able to have sex unless they want to become parents. Those are two VERY different premises there, dude.

      It’s true that the responsibilities of parenthood do place restrictions on people and you could call that “control.” But being pro-choice is not about being categorically opposed to all restrictions on people’s behavior. Restrictions on the behavior of parents–like having to allocate their money towards the material support of their children instead of towards, say, a lot of bar tabs and lap dances–serve the purpose of ensuring the wellbeing of born children. Restrictions on sexual behavior (and on abortion, when the “responsibility” argument is invoked) serve no purpose except to try to make sure that people don’t have sex in any way or at any time that violates some peoples’ personal ideologies. Do you really think these purposes are equivalent?

      We’re not in favor of everyone doing exactly what they want to do all the time. We just happen to think that if you’re going to STOP somebody from doing something they want to do (like skip out on supporting your children), you have to have a good reason to do so, like a demonstrated harm to another sentient being. Something besides “It pisses off my God” which is generally about all sex-is-for-procreation-only types can ever come up with.

      • Bobby

        Precisely the point PP. “A” simply rewrote what Libby wrote above with a few key words changes (mainly pro-life to pro-child-support)

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Um, yes, Bobby, I picked up on what “A” did, which I’m sure he thinks is oh-so-clever. You, on the other hand, apparently didn’t pick up much if you think that the point I was making was the same as his. The purpose of my comment was to point out why A’s analogy was completely ridiculous.

      • A

        Child support is about making sure existing children are supported. Birth control and abortion are about making sure you don’t end up with children to support! Being pro-child support is based on the idea that parents have responsibilities to ensure their children’s wellbeing. Being anti-birth control or anti-abortion “because it avoids responsibility,” is based on the idea that people shouldn’t be able to have sex unless they want to become parents. Those are two VERY different premises there, dude.
        Whoa! You REALLY don’t get the “responsibility” argument, do you? You aren’t morally required to pay for someone’s broken vase unless you are responsible for breaking it. Likewise, you aren’t morally required to donate a kidney to someone unless you are responsible for damaging that person’s kidney. If you cause a traffic accident, and someone needs a new kidney as a result, the law should compel you to donate your kidney because it’s YOUR FAULT! After all, you have to pay money for damaged property if you’re to blame. Why should organ donation be any different?
        Likewise, if you choose to have sex and become pregnant as a result, it’s your fault and your partner’s fault. Yes, the fetus is living off your body without your permission, but since that dependency is your fault, you are morally required to go along with it (barring some exceptional circumstances).

        Restrictions on sexual behavior (and on abortion, when the “responsibility” argument is invoked) serve no purpose except to try to make sure that people don’t have sex in any way or at any time that violates some peoples’ personal ideologies. Do you really think these purposes are equivalent?
        No one’s proposing restrictions on consensual sexual behavior (or at least I’m not).

        We’re not in favor of everyone doing exactly what they want to do all the time. We just happen to think that if you’re going to STOP somebody from doing something they want to do (like skip out on supporting your children), you have to have a good reason to do so, like a demonstrated harm to another sentient being.
        EXACTLY! If the fetus has higher functioning brain waves and is capable of suffering, aborting it is doing demonstrable harm to it.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        “Likewise, you aren’t morally required to donate a kidney to someone unless you are responsible for damaging that person’s kidney. If you cause a traffic accident, and someone needs a new kidney as a result, the law should compel you to donate your kidney because it’s YOUR FAULT! After all, you have to pay money for damaged property if you’re to blame. Why should organ donation be any different?”

        Um, because it’s YOUR BODY, not an external possession. Because it requires major, invasive surgery–always risky–with possible complications? Because if we set a legal precedent of people having a “right” other people’s organs just because those people may have played some role in damaging them (and who gets to decide when that role is significant enough for them to be owing?) that could go to some seriously dark places. If I’m a dumb teenager who unintentionally blinds somebody in an accident, do I have to give them my corneas? Look, dude, if you don’t believe in bodily autonomy, that’s your business but…wow.

        Also, your proposal is ridiculous. You can’t just go cutting out people’s kidneys and sticking them in other people willy-nilly because a person “owes” another person a kidney. Ever heard of donor matches? Not so easy. And not everybody is healthy enough to even be an eligible donor. I mean, really.

        “Likewise, if you choose to have sex and become pregnant as a result, it’s your fault and your partner’s fault. Yes, the fetus is living off your body without your permission, but since that dependency is your fault, you are morally required to go along with it (barring some exceptional circumstances).”

        On what basis am I morally required to “go along with it” if no person is harmed by me choosing not to? I do not believe that an embryo is a person so an abortion harms nobody. And if a person is arguing from a “sex should have consequences” standpoint, they are not truly basing their position on the personhood of the fetus either, because, if they were, the supposed necessity of “consequences” for sex would be irrelevant. If someone really believes that abortion is murder, no other justification for opposition is necessary. Yet, the fact that so many “pro-lifers” constantly harp on how women should have to take the consequences of their slutty, slutty behavior betrays their true motives. It is this is the argument that is being addressed here.

        Whatever your reasons for opposition to abortion are, you cannot expect your child support analogy to pass muster with people who fundamentally reject the premise that a fetus is a person in the same way that a born child is. You anti-abortion folks seem to have a hard time with this one–you simply CANNOT ACCEPT that pro-choicers really are arguing from a different set of premises, that we REALLY DON’T BELIEVE that abortion is murder.

        Also, those “exceptional circumstances” you speak of are really not so exceptional. Rape is extremely common. Coercion to have sex due to abuse, control, and power imbalances in relationships is common too. Many, many more women than you seem to realize do not have much choice about when and how they have sex, whether that is a result of straight-up rape or of women making the “choice” to have sex that is extremely bounded and under some form of duress.

        “No one’s proposing restrictions on consensual sexual behavior (or at least I’m not).”

        Plenty of others are, even if you are not. Do you support cheap and widely available birth control for all, along with comprehensive sex education? Good for you, if so! But, as Libby has explained, opposition to birth control and opposition to abortion are often of a piece in the “pro-life” movement and this is just one reason why she, I, and many others argue that the movement is far more interested in controlling sexuality than in “saving babies.” It’s actually not all about you. Really.

        “If the fetus has higher functioning brain waves and is capable of suffering, aborting it is doing demonstrable harm to it.”

        Um, okay, but it doesn’t and it’s not so…yeah. Certainly not in the embryonic stage when most abortions are performed. As for late-term abortions, where there is possibly more ambiguity, those have been addressed exhaustively in this thread.

      • Doe

        Everything PP said, with one addition: Legal requirements are different than moral requirements. You may think it’s the morally right thing to do to donate your kidney to someone whose kidney you damaged in a car accident that was your fault (I will ignore the plethora of medical problems with that statement) but it’s not a legal requirement. Never will be and never should be.

      • plutosdad

        A, you realize you can’t ban sex, right? Churches have been trying for 2 thousand years, saying sex is dirty and evil, women are dirty and evil, and they have never succeeded. In fact, many of the most vocal leaders in the anti-sex anti-woman movement are the ones guilty of sexual “sins” themselves. There is absolutely no point to make it harder for people who do not follow your religion to have sex. There is also no point to trying to make it harder for people who do follow your religion to have sex.

        BTW, I suppose you are admitting with your response that it truly is all about keeping women from having sex, not about saving lives.

        Saying you won’t help young poor children because it’s the mother’s “FAULT” is saying you will punish the children for the mother having sex.

        Saying “we are going to make it as hard as possible on mothers and children” instead of helping them, is not spreading love, making society better, it’s jumping into the front of the line to cast the first stone.

        Finally, what being forced to donate a kidney? No, for the same reasons, it’s your body. At most a civil trial will force you to pay for dialysis and a transplant, but no one can force you to donate a kidney yourself. seriously, wow

      • A

        Um, because it’s YOUR BODY, not an external possession.
        So? Why should that matter?
        Because it requires major, invasive surgery–always risky–with possible complications?
        Well, the defendant should have thought that before causing bodily injury to someone else- accidentally or otherwise.
        Because if we set a legal precedent of people having a “right” other people’s organs just because those people may have played some role in damaging them (and who gets to decide when that role is significant enough for them to be owing?) that could go to some seriously dark places. If I’m a dumb teenager who unintentionally blinds somebody in an accident, do I have to give them my corneas?
        Well, if the cornea fits and would be functional in the other person’s eye socket, and it’s a match, YES!
        Look, dude, if you don’t believe in bodily autonomy, that’s your business but…wow.
        I DO believe in bodily autonomy. I just don’t think the right to bodily autonomy is absolute. Even the right to LIFE isn’t absolute. If you try to murder someone, the target has a right to kill you in self defense if necessary. BTW, that actually entails violating your bodily autonomy. A bullet through your heart causes that organ to fail for instance.

        Also, your proposal is ridiculous. You can’t just go cutting out people’s kidneys and sticking them in other people willy-nilly because a person “owes” another person a kidney. Ever heard of donor matches?
        Well, OF COURSE, it would have to be a match. I thought that assumption was understood. If there were no match, the victim would have to find a willing donor then.

        And not everybody is healthy enough to even be an eligible donor.
        Well, if the organ donation caused the wrong doer to die, it would be justified provided that the victim would have died without the donation.

        On what basis am I morally required to “go along with it” if no person is harmed by me choosing not to?
        Read the last argument of mine you quote for the answer.
        I do not believe that an embryo is a person so an abortion harms nobody.
        I am in complete agreement with you that an embryo is not a person, so aborting it does no harm and is A-OK.

        And if a person is arguing from a “sex should have consequences” standpoint, they are not truly basing their position on the personhood of the fetus either, because, if they were, the supposed necessity of “consequences” for sex would be irrelevant. If someone really believes that abortion is murder, no other justification for opposition is necessary.
        That’s like saying that if you think the father should be compelled to pay child support if he tries to get out of it, then, in order to be consistent, you have to believe that ANY man should be compelled to pay support for the child even if he’s not the father because the child’s needs are the same in any event.

        Yet, the fact that so many “pro-lifers” constantly harp on how women should have to take the consequences of their slutty, slutty behavior betrays their true motives. It is this is the argument that is being addressed here.
        Well, if that is the case, then I misunderstood.

        Whatever your reasons for opposition to abortion are … you simply CANNOT ACCEPT that pro-choicers really are arguing from a different set of premises, that we REALLY DON’T BELIEVE that abortion is murder.
        Well, if you’re arguing from a different set of premises, that should become evident as the debate develops.

        Also, those “exceptional circumstances” you speak of are really not so exceptional. Rape is extremely common. Coercion to have sex due to abuse, control, and power imbalances in relationships is common too. Many, many more women than you seem to realize do not have much choice about when and how they have sex, whether that is a result of straight-up rape or of women making the “choice” to have sex that is extremely bounded and under some form of duress.
        Actually, I was thinking of situations in which having an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother. Of course, the woman has the right to an abortion in the case of rape since she isn’t at fault. The rapist is. I’m also well aware that rape is common in the US.

        Do you support cheap and widely available birth control for all, along with comprehensive sex education? Good for you, if so! But, as Libby has explained, opposition to birth control and opposition to abortion are often of a piece in the “pro-life” movement and this is just one reason why she, I, and many others argue that the movement is far more interested in controlling sexuality than in “saving babies.” It’s actually not all about you.
        I do support contraception and birth control and comprehensive sex education. And I know this isn’t about me. I just saw flaw in #9. Then people directed their responses to me, so naturally, I felt compelled to defend my position.

        Um, okay, but it doesn’t [have higher mental functions] and it’s not so…yeah. Certainly not in the embryonic stage when most abortions are performed.
        I don’t have a problem with abortions done at the embryonic stage.

        As for late-term abortions, where there is possibly more ambiguity, those have been addressed exhaustively in this thread.
        Are you referring to the responses to Libby’s article “A Response to Objections on My Pro-Life Movement Post”? If so, I’ll have to go over them again because I didn’t notice anything like that.

      • A

        “Legal requirements are different than moral requirements. You may think it’s the morally right thing to do to donate your kidney to someone whose kidney you damaged in a car accident that was your fault (I will ignore the plethora of medical problems with that statement) but it’s not a legal requirement. Never will be and never should be.”
        Well, I know legal requirements are often different from moral ones, but I still don’t see why the law shouldn’t be rewritten to require forced organ donation in the situation I described assuming there’s a match of course. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

      • A

        “A, you realize you can’t ban sex, right?”
        What makes you think I want to?

        “There is absolutely no point to make it harder for people who do not follow your religion to have sex. There is also no point to trying to make it harder for people who do follow your religion to have sex.”
        I have no religion. And what make you think I want to make having sex harder for anyone?

        “BTW, I suppose you are admitting with your response that it truly is all about keeping women from having sex, not about saving lives.”
        Your supposition is presumptuous.

        “Saying you won’t help young poor children because it’s the mother’s “FAULT” is saying you will punish the children for the mother having sex.”
        “Young poor children” as opposed to OLD, poor children? Where do you get the idea I’m against helping “young poor children”? How in the world you arrived at the conclusion I’m for punishing the children is a mystery to me.

        “Saying “we are going to make it as hard as possible on mothers and children” instead of helping them, is not spreading love, making society better, it’s jumping into the front of the line to cast the first stone.”
        I’m all for social safety nets

        “Finally, what being forced to donate a kidney? No, for the same reasons, it’s your body. ”
        So? Why should that matter?

        “At most a civil trial will force you to pay for dialysis and a transplant, but no one can force you to donate a kidney yourself. seriously, wow”
        Well, the law should be rewritten then.

    • jadehawk

      unless you store your walled somewhere internal to your body, child support is not analogous to abortion since it doesn’t deal with issues of bodily autonomy. no one is forcing you to sell your kidneys to pay for child support, after all.

      • A

        Well, jadehawk, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    • Flora Poste

      A, thank you for pointing out that, in order to require a woman to unwillingly carry a fetus to term, we would have to completely obliterate our current understanding of human rights and the law, and go back to something like the medieval concept of human rights and bodily autonomy.

      • A

        I fail to see what’s so medieval about what I’ve said. Organ donation didn’t even exist back then.

  • smrnda

    I too get puzzled by the idea of ‘sex is for making babies.’ Things are useful for lots of things, both human made things and natural artifacts. Sometimes one use is better than another one – if we are growing corn to eat, we will care how it tastes. If we want corn for ethanol, then we might genetically engineer some horrible tasting corn that works better for that purpose. Sex is the same way – sex can be for pleasure, bonding, reproduction among other things. We might use technology to make sure we get the thing we want and not the thing we don’t want, and these might even be different for one person at several points in time. When nature isn’t giving is the results we want, we find ways to manipulate nature.

    • Cat Marcuri

      If sex was ONLY for making babies, it wouldn’t be fun. Sex evolved as a way to create a pairbond that was best suited for raising children who would take years to mature into taking care of themselves. Look at animal species. How many of them actually ENJOY sex? Only one: the bonobo chimpanzees. Every other species, EVERY other species, only has sex when the female is in heat and ready to ovulate. Sex is enjoyable for humans because it gives us an emotional rush that keeps us together. That’s ALL. And in a world as overpopulated as ours already is, WHY would we need to “be fruitful and multiply”??

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        *raises hand* Point of order! Pigs also have sex for pleasure.

      • Cat Marcuri

        lol, picky, picky. Ok, fine, TWO other species, out of what? Over FOUR THOUSAND?? Chair recognizes pigs as sexual beings…wait, that sounds AWFUL!! lolol Man, I don’t wanna know where my bacon was before it was bacon! :P

  • Godlesspanther

    One thing that I would like to comment on is point #13. Presenting Planned Parenthood as some sort of conspiracy to force abortions.

    The religious right is very alien to me. I have never been religious at all. They seem to have a very binary way of viewing things, such that, they understand ‘mandatory,’ they understand ‘forbidden,’ but it appears that they have no comprehension of ‘optional.’ Legal abortion, to them, means that all women are required to have at least one abortion. Legal same sex marriage is treated the same way — they seem to think that it means everyone would be required to marry a person of the same sex.

    Do they think that Planned Parenthood is going door-to-door, seeking out pregnant women, and forcing every one of them to have an abortion? Yes, some of them actually do think that.

    Those who are immersed in a strict authoritarian construct seem, from my point of view, afraid to make decisions for themselves.

    • Rosie

      Having been religious (though I no longer am), I agree that the binary viewpoint is common. I didn’t begin to understand “optional” until I was in my late 20s, some years AFTER I left the religion. On some levels, I’m not sure I understand it still. And yes, the religion I was raised in was pretty authoritarian. My personality encouraged me to embrace the authoritarianism rather than the opposite, and even though I now know it’s no good for me (or anybody else) I still sometimes feel the fear of making my own decisions.

  • smrnda

    I think A was making a standard MRA talking point that it’s so unfair that a woman can choose to have sex, and that if she finds she is pregnant and is financially unable to support the child, she can have an abortion, but that the man who had sex, and didn’t want a child, is going to be stuck with whatever decision the woman has made. It’s the usual ‘the poor man doesn’t have a choice and the woman gets to have consequence free sex and the man doesn’t!”

    My take is that those two contributions are not equivalent. Many relationships are not equivalent. If I make some projections of earnings for my business and they don’t pan out, investors might lose money, it’s part of the deal they get, HOWEVER, if I’m not making much money I still have to pay my employees their wages since their contributions are active, and not passive.

    Plus, the consequences are very different – the man doesn’t have to actually HAVE the baby. To me, this is a pretty huge difference. Last I checked couples worked issues like this out together.

    • A

      Well, if you damage someone’s car, you are legally bound to pay for the damage, so if you damage someone’s kidney, why shouldn’t you be legally bound to donate a kidney?

      • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

        The argument is about child support, not donating kidneys. Besides, you seem to be assuming Libby Anne (and the rest of us who agree with her) are against ensuring there’s adequate child support. And I know in my case that isn’t true, and I’m pretty certain Libby Anne would want to make sure there’s adequate child support, especially from the man.

      • lucrezaborgia

        Because that isn’t how the law works?

      • A

        Well, Christine, smrnda seems to be arguing that financial obligation and having the baby are not equivalent. Usually, the argument is that one just concerns money, and the other concerns bodily autonomy. The follow up is that you aren’t required to donate any of your organs, so I proposed a scenario where you should be compelled to. And what makes you think I assume you, Libby, et al are against ensuring adequate child support?

      • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

        You were the one who who replaced Libby Ann’s abortion with “child support.” I took that to mean you think we should be advocating child support rather than abortion, and I think you will find most people who are pro-choice feel the man who provided the sperm should always own up to this fact, and so many don’t.

        And please read smrnda’s last paragraph – the man doesn’t actually have to HAVE the baby. He doesn’t have to carry the child for nine months and then go through the trauma of child birth, then have all the post birth body changes to look forward to.

        And to bring in your whole donating organs thing, there are many, many reasons why a person wouldn’t be able to donate organs. I have a whole bunch of medical conditions that mean I can’t donate blood even though I would like to. These same reasons would likely mean any organs I want to donate would be rejected, even though I’m on the organ donor registry.

        Equally, there are a lot of women who abort because it’s simply too dangerous for them to proceed with the pregnancy. If by some miracle (and that’s what it would take with me) I did get pregnant, I would fall into this “too dangerous” category. This is why for me, abortion is a very personal issue, because I want to be certain that I’d be able to have an abortion if it would save my life. And if that makes me selfish, so be it, because hey, if I was dead, there’d be a child with no mother.

      • Silentbob

        Well, if you damage someone’s car, you are legally bound to pay for the damage, so if you damage someone’s kidney, why shouldn’t you be legally bound to donate a kidney?

        If you damage someone’s car you are not legally bound to take a course in panel beating and spray painting and fix the car yourself. Nor to give them your car. You only have to compensate them for the financial loss. If you damage someone’s kidney they can sue for damages. They can’t sue for your kidney. There’s no inconsistency here. What’s your point?

      • jadehawk

        because bodily autonomy is a basic human right, whereas there is no such basic human right to not have to part with some cash.

        your callousness on this topic has been noted, btw. good to know you think slavery is the same as a fine.

      • A

        “You were the one who who replaced Libby Ann’s abortion with ‘child support.’ I took that to mean you think we should be advocating child support rather than abortion”
        Your analysis is accurate although I don’t have any problem with aborting zygotes or embryos, something I probably should have made clearer.

        “And please read smrnda’s last paragraph – the man doesn’t actually have to HAVE the baby. He doesn’t have to carry the child for nine months and then go through the trauma of child birth, then have all the post birth body changes to look forward to.”
        Yeah, I got that. And your point is?

        “And to bring in your whole donating organs thing, there are many, many reasons why a person wouldn’t be able to donate organs. I have a whole bunch of medical conditions that mean I can’t donate blood even though I would like to. These same reasons would likely mean any organs I want to donate would be rejected, even though I’m on the organ donor registry.”
        Well, minutiae like that could be sorted out under any reasonable law. After all, people can’t always pay fees, fines, debts, etc. We have ways of dealing with that.

        “Equally, there are a lot of women who abort because it’s simply too dangerous for them to proceed with the pregnancy. If by some miracle (and that’s what it would take with me) I did get pregnant, I would fall into this ‘too dangerous’ category. ”
        Well, I have no problem with women like that getting abortions. That’s a good example of the “exceptional circumstances” I mentioned earlier.

      • A

        “If you damage someone’s car you are not legally bound to take a course in panel beating and spray painting and fix the car yourself. Nor to give them your car. You only have to compensate them for the financial loss. ”
        That’s because
        A) There are professionals who can do a much better job of fixing up the car than some Joe Blow could
        AND
        B) Cars are more or less interchangeable, so you could easily use the financial compensation to buy something comparable under any just insurance system.
        BTW, repairing someone else’s car yourself isn’t analogous to donating a kidney. It’s analogous to performing the implant. which should be done by a qualified surgeon just as the car repair should be done by some qualified mechanic.

        “If you damage someone’s kidney they can sue for damages. They can’t sue for your kidney. There’s no inconsistency here. What’s your point?”
        Well, if suing for damages somehow results in getting the badly need organ ethically, then I have no problem with that. For instance, if vital organs like kidneys, hearts, and lungs could be grown in a lab and obtained for a price, I wouldn’t have a problem with merely suing to collect the money need to buy such an organ. However, that’s currently the stuff of science fiction. We have to make do with what we have right now. My point is that people with damaged organs sometimes die because the wrong doer can’t be forced to save that person’s life by giving up his or her corresponding organ. That’s not fair! That’s not just! Why should I have to die because of someone ELSE’S maliciousness, incompetence, or lack of concern?

      • A

        “because bodily autonomy is a basic human right, whereas there is no such basic human right to not have to part with some cash.”
        I agree bodily autonomy is basic human right, but NO right is absolute. My right to free speech doesn’t entitle me to commit libel or copyright infringement. My right to be free ends if I’m convicted of something like bank robbery. The state then has the right to imprison me. My right to religious liberty doesn’t give me the right to kill people and collect their heads even if I belong to a religion that says the way to get ahead is to get a head. Even the right to LIFE, the right on which all other rights depend, isn’t absolute. If I tried to murder you, you’d have the right to kill me in self defense if necessary. BTW, that would also entail violating my right to bodily autonomy since there can be no death without organ failure whether it comes in the form of stabbing my heart, shooting my lungs, or some other way.

        “your callousness on this topic has been noted, btw. ”
        Callousness? What’s so callous about wanting justice for victims? If anything, you seem to be the callous one. “Oh, what’s that? Suzy has mortally wounded you in the heart? And you need her to give you her heart because it’s a match, and the waiting list for hearts is too long? Well, that’s too bad. Even though Suzy is at fault, you’re just going to have to DIE!”

        “good to know you think slavery is the same as a fine.”
        WTF?! Since when have I made any mention of slavery?!

      • phantomreader42

        Because, as desperate as you are to deny this, your wallet is not a part of your body.

      • Anat

        Because nobody has the right to your body, not even someone you harmed. There was a time when a large sector of the people living in the US had others controlling their bodies. It was called slavery. We have recognized slavery to be immoral. Therefore we shouldn’t enslave women for their uteri, nor should we enslave people for their organs. A woman forced to remain pregnant against her wishes is being enslaved.

      • A

        “Because nobody has the right to your body, not even someone you harmed.”
        Well, I think that if I damage someone’s vital organ, and the victim needs that organ replaced in order to live, and there’s no way to replace it non-coersively, then he/she has a right to mine because I”m at fault. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t agree.

        “There was a time when a large sector of the people living in the US had others controlling their bodies. It was called slavery. We have recognized slavery to be immoral.”
        Slavery is forced labor. Slavery was immoral because the Africans hadn’t done anything to warrant being punished by being forced to work. They also hadn’t done anything to deserve being treated like property.

        “Therefore we shouldn’t enslave women for their uteri, nor should we enslave people for their organs. A woman forced to remain pregnant against her wishes is being enslaved.”
        That was one massive non-sequitur. If the woman is at fault for creating the dependency the fetus has on her and if the fetus is capable of suffering, then she is morally required to see it through just as someone who’s damaged a vital organ of yours is morally required to donate his/her corresponding organ if there’s isn’t some better way to save you. That’s not slavery. That’s justice! Besides, you actually CAN be forced to do labor as punishment if you’ve been duly convicted of committing certain crimes.

      • Anat

        Slavery is forced labor.

        Ahem. And carrying a fetus to term and giving birth to it against one’s wishes isn’t forced labor (pun noticed)? But no, forced labor is one possible expression of slavery but isn’t its essence. The essence of slavery is that an external agency controls your use of your body against your consent. When the control is for the purpose of forced labor it is obvious to most people, but that isn’t the only way a slave’s body can be controlled.

        So if I invite you to my house and later regret the invitation I can’t turn you out into the blizzard? Of course I can. If you stay you are violating my home. If the fetus is a person, if it stays where it is not wanted it violates the woman’s body. The scenarios you brought up are not consistent with any practice of judgment in western tradition that I know of. Restorative justice is great, but it takes the form of monetary compensation, not the direct use of one’s organs by another.

    • lucrezaborgia

      Call me crazy, but don’t most courts now allow for 50/50 placement? Or even *gasp* full-custody and placement over the mother.

      • Cat Marcuri

        No. Only SOME states have that sort of arrangement possible. In the state of Ohio, for example, even when the mother is doing drugs, verified by the COURT, and has been in and out of jail, they will give the child to the mother’s parents OVER the father, regardless. There is NO uniformity in the courts on the issue of custodial rights, and this varies wildly from state to state, and even from county to county within the SAME state.

    • Rosie

      As I understand it, a man can be shut of his financial obligations to his offspring by completely giving up his parental rights. A woman can choose this option also after the child is born; it’s called “adoption”. And it’s a completely different ballgame from pregnancy and abortion.

      • A

        But, Rosie, if the woman wants to keep the child, and the man doesn’t, he’s still on the hook for child support. His choice to be shut of his financial obligations is contingent upon the woman’s choice.

      • Cat Marcuri

        I would also like to point out that it doesn’t MATTER if the man wants to be a parent or not, in most states the woman can decide to keep the baby AND force the man to pay child support for a child he didn’t want to have to begin with. A lot of states don’t ALLOW the man to give up his “parental rights”, they just blindly go after him for the money. I believe that this is a WRONG attitude, and that such a decision should be resolved BEFORE the child is born. If a man and woman have casual sex, and the woman becomes pregnant as a result of it, WHY does the man have to pay for a child that was NOT expected, or planned, or wanted? If the birth control did not work, or if the woman claimed birth control and was NOT on it, then why is the man held responsible? Having the baby becomes the WOMAN’S choice, and should not necessarily be binding upon the MAN. We need to find a way to respect BOTH parties’ rights in this issue. What a Gordian knot that will be to untangle!

      • Rosie

        Or he could, you know, get a vasectomy so he’s never in that position to begin with. It’s not like he’s powerless in the situation, which seems to be what you’re trying to prove for some reason. And I still hold that *even if she keeps the baby*, if he does not want to have any rights or responsibilities toward it, he can find some way to get CPS to terminate his parental rights and responsibilities.

    • A

      phantomreader42, I’ve never denied your wallet isn’t part of your body. I just don’t why that should matter.

      • phantomreader42

        So, either you are too stupid to tell the difference between money and a part of your body, or you are PRETENDING to be that stupid (that is, LYING) to score some kind of bizarre rhetorical point. Either way, you’re full of shit and have nothing worthwhile to contribute on this or any other issue.

    • Nick Gotts

      A,

      Well, I think that if I damage someone’s vital organ, and the victim needs that organ replaced in order to live, and there’s no way to replace it non-coersively, then he/she has a right to mine because I”m at fault. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t agree.

      Possibly because you haven’t actually thought this silly debating point through, while other have. First, it is not remotely medically practicable, as patient and donor must be matched; in most cases, there would be no such match. Second this means that the recompense demanded in cases where there was and was not a match would be grossly disproportionate. Third, no medical professional is allowed, legally or morally, to operate on a person without consent, or to their known detriment. Even if you changed the law, the vast majority would refuse to do so, and there would be a fundamental split in the medical profession. Fourth, consider the case where operating on a potential donor would kill them, while the recipient would not die without the organ, but only suffer some loss of function: you are then imposing the death penalty, without saving a life, for what might be no more than carelessness.

      Finally, because state mutilation and killing of individuals is, to any decent person, simply repugnant.

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  • Bethany

    I just wanted to say thank you. I didn’t grow up Quiverfull but Roman Catholic and so much of your original essay reflected by own changes (it was the same NYT article that made me decide that making abortion illegal wasn’t the answer). There were so many sections of that and this that I wanted to quote and highlight and share with people. Thank you for writing.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

    Feministing listed your original post! Well, they actually linked to a Reality Check article about your post, which is a little weird of them, but it’s awesome on both counts!

  • Abi

    Godlesspanther #85: That reminds me of a survey (American) I took a while ago about whether abortion should be allowed; the answers were something like “yes/no/should be up to the government/up to the doctor/up to the woman”. I would have thought that “yes” and “up to the woman” meant the same thing but apparently there are some people who really think that America’s just one step away from “abortions for all!”

  • Brad

    “For its part, the Guttmacher Institute uses peer review and refuses to take money from organizations that would compromise their objectivity.” The GI says on their website “The Institute works to protect, expand and equalize universal access to information, services and rights that will enable women and men to…exercise the right to legal and safe abortions.” Help me understand, how does that mission statement sound like they are objective to you?

    Oh and this statement “Catholics oppose birth control because they want others to follow their own religious and moral beliefs.” Is there a scientific study that concludes this through a survey of Catholics or is this just your own stereotype you have created in your mind to coincide with your beliefs?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Two things. First, National Right to Life does sometimes criticize the Guttmacher Institute’s numbers in specific instances, but other times – quite frequently actually – it itself uses the Guttmacher’s Institute’s numbers. I actually did go looking for National Right to Life’s numbers on abortion worldwide, and I found nothing. Nada. If you have a link where they offer numbers, I’d be interested. But part of what’s going on here is what I said – I don’t view science, and scientific studies, as a conspiracy. If the Guttmacher Institute were making up numbers, they would be caught. Second, are you not aware that the Catholic Church opposes birth control for moral and religious reasons? This is not a stereotype. It is fact. It is also fact, not stereotype, that the Catholic Church opposes the birth control mandate because they don’t want their employees to receive birth control coverage. Why? Because they believe that birth control is against their moral and religious beliefs. I’m confused as to how any of this is a “stereotype.”

  • Brad

    Since you believe in “zygotes” and as such, were once yourself a “zygote,” can you please explain when you turned into a human?

    • RowanVT

      Zygotes are a *potential* human being. Many things can go wrong that prevent it from becoming a human being. There are plenty of congenital screw ups that result in non-viable fetuses. Sometimes the body just plain rejects the fetus. This is why miscarriages are not that uncommon.

      For myself, my mother wanted me and planned for me. She and Dad were financially and emotionally stable enough to add a second child to their family. They had waited 7 1/2 years before doing so. Because I did not have any gross abnormalities I was carried to term. I was genetically human the whole time, and a viable fetus, and a neonate once I was born. But if something had happened to Dad that made it so Mom would not be able to have me… I would not begrudge her the option of abortion. I wouldn’t have been aware of anything anyway, but as a conscious individual at this point the thought of it doesn’t bother me in the least.

    • Maggie Fowler

      Brad do you think that a sperm and eggs should never be allowed to die either because they have the potential to become a baby too? In fact, in following your logic, a man must never use a condom or good forbid masturbate because they could be interfering with “gods plan” to have that sperm join with one egg to create a baby? To paraphrase, you were asking when does a human begin. Once you start asking that question it is never ending. One will never get to the end of the beginning. You argument is unreasonable.

    • victoria

      According to my beliefs, when I developed the brain structures necessary to be capable of independent thought, so somewhere in the 20-26 weeks of gestation period. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that all abortions after that point are unethical — just that before that point, I had no compelling interest in anything at all; afterwards, my interests would’ve needed to have been balanced with those of my mother.

      • Nick Gotts

        Actually, there’s absolutely no reason to believe the fetus is conscious of anything, or capable of any thought, before birth: levels of oxygen perfusion in the fetal brain, even just before birth, are incompatible with consciousness in babies (or older people). This changes when the neonate starts to breathe.

    • Rosie

      My personal belief is that I didn’t become a “person” until I was around a year old, or maybe some months later. My earliest memories are from somewhat after that time. But I don’t expect laws to be made on the basis of that belief; I don’t have anything other than my own convictions and memories to support it.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      1. Zygotes are a thing. You don’t get to believe in them or not believe in them. I mean, I guess you could say “Since you believe in ‘infants’ and as such, were once yourself an ‘infant,’ can you please explain when you turned into a human?” but it’d sound pretty stupid.

      2. Personhood is a legal and philosophical designation, not a biological one. The fact that human zygotes are human is indisputable. And canine zygotes are canine, feline zygotes are feline, bovine zygotes are bovine, etc. What’s being debated here is whether these human zygotes are persons with all the rights thereof, and if they are, whether those rights supersede the rights of the human whose body is hosting them. My arm is human, but it’s not a separate person from me. If I had a conjoined twin, she would be a separate person from me. What’s being argued here is whether a human life form in the neonatal stages of development is more legally/ethically/morally akin to my arm or to my hypothetical conjoined twin.

    • Anat

      Wikipedia to the rescue:
      Zygote. The word may be unfamiliar to you, but it’s a technical embryology term.

      I was a zygote, then a morula, then a blastula, then a gastrula, then an embryo undergoing organogenesis (sorry, no cool name for this stage), then a fetus, then a neonate, then an infant, then a toddler, and so forth.

      I became deserving of rights when I was born. When did I become a person is a matter of debate, but I have seen convincing arguments for assorted times, from late second trimester to late infancy.

      • Rosie

        It’s also worth noting that, as was pointed out on the other thread, people acquire various rights as they age. An infant does not have the same rights as an adult. Nor does a child of 10 years, or even a teen of 17 years. Parents make choices for their children all the time; they have to. It doesn’t make sense to conclude that a fetus, which is younger even than an infant, should be given “all the same rights” as an adult just because it has the potential to become one someday.

  • Brad

    “The claim that the the pro-life movement does care about helping women afford to have children because it hands out formula and baby clothes is absurd. Those things are helpful, but they are wholly insignificant compared to the costs of raising a child from infancy through high school.” What is absurd is why do you think women should be giving everything for free if they have a child? Why should a “social safety net” include society paying for 9 months of pregnancy and 18 years of a child’s life? Giving something is better than giving nothing. Just because it’s not enough to raise a child doesn’t mean it’s not an effort. It appears that’s just another one of your biases to degrade the pro-life movement. And what’s the difference if a parent has a child, then realizes they can’t afford the child. Is it okay then to “terminate the zygote?” After all, a 6 month old child would not survive on its own outside of someone’s care, just like your argument of a baby inside of a woman is not a person because it can’t survive on its own. (What happens when technology is able to keep babies alive 1 month into pregnancies?)

    • Rosa

      You do realize that a 6 month old can go to another responsible adult – often the other parent, sometimes grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, or even, through adoption, a complete stranger. So killing it is not the other option to parenting it.

      When technology is able to gestate 4 week embryos, then it will be taxpayers and hospitals choosing not to take on the burden, instead of individual women. RIGHT THIS MINUTE there are un-implanted fertilized eggs out there – some people call them “snowflake babies” that you could host, if you have the right equipment. And yet, almost nobody does. People only want to enforce someone else being pregnant to save the babies, not do it themselves.

    • plutosdad

      Zygote is a specific term with a meaning. If you want to argue, please try to argue genuinely, not make snarky comments that add nothing.

    • Maggie Fowler

      And furthermore Brad, you comment of “What is absurd is why do you think women should be giving everything for free if they have a child? Why should a “social safety net” include society paying for 9 months of pregnancy and 18 years of a child’s life?” clearly demonstrates that you are not involved in this discussion because you care for human life. You just want to force women to have babies regardless if they can take care of them and then when the babies are alive with their mothers you propose leaving them without a social safety net so the “already born babies” can die of starvation due to lack of food, die of exposure due to lack of shelter, die of disease due to lack of health care, and die of neglect because mothers need to work outside the home yet, have no access to affordable child care. OR- you just have an issue with paying child support. I think it is a little of both. You have a deep resentment towards all women and want to control them and make them suffer, I also think you want to avoid paying child support.

    • jadehawk

      ” And what’s the difference if a parent has a child, then realizes they can’t afford the child.”
      tediously obviously, the difference is that if you realize you can’t take care for a child, removing it from your care means it goes to CPR; because it’s not physically attached to you anymore.

      d’uh.

    • jadehawk

      “Why should a “social safety net” include society paying for 9 months of pregnancy and 18 years of a child’s life? ”

      because that’s how you create equality of opportunity: you give every child the same opportunities. again, d’uh.

    • Anat

      One does not terminate a zygote (or an embryo, or a fetus), one terminates a pregnancy. Except for the case of fetal abnormalities, the death of the embryo or fetus is a side-effect of terminating a pregnancy before the embryo or fetus can survive outside the womb. If the pregnancy is close to term a pregnancy can be terminated by inducing birth early. This is likely result in a live child from a terminated pregnancy.

  • Carys Birch

    Nitpick: Obesity is correlated with diabetes, but isn’t shown to actually cause it (lack of sleep DOES cause tiredness, sex DOES cause pregnancy). Which makes your analogy shaky, considering you complain about other people confusing correlation and cause.

    From the American Diabetes Association: “Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

    Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.” http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-myths/

    That said, I read both posts and agree with just about everything beyond that one nitpick! Well done!

    • Doe

      All clinical studies are correlational. The correlation of obesity with diabetes is similar to the correlation of sex with pregnancy, in that obesity can increase your risk of diabetes in the presence of certain other factors (genetic predisposition, composition of diet, cholesterol/triglycerides, omental adiposity). Sex also increases your risk of pregnancy with the addition of certain factors (ovulation, condition of reproductive tract, condition of sperm). The counterpoint to the ADA myth you have stated would be “Myth: If you have sex, you will eventually get pregnant.”

      Anyway, I certainly agree with you and Libby that the post is awesome. And no one should ever mistake obesity or sexual activity for some kind of moral pronouncement a la number 9 up there.

      • Carys Birch

        Fair enough, re: sex causing pregnancy. “If you have enough sex you will eventually become pregnant” IS a myth, just having sex is neither necessary (as it’s possible to get pregnant without having penetrative sex in any number of ways) nor sufficient to cause pregnancy. Having sperm too close to your ova causes pregnancy? lol

        But I think the point stands, the example conflates cause and correlation more than I’m comfortable with (on a subject I’m touchy about, as it happens, obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, but insulin resistance is often followed by rapid weight gain, so the cause-effect relationship is REAL tricky) in an article that points out how dangerous it is to correlate cause and effect.

      • Doe

        Now you’ve got me thinking about all the ways fat-shaming and slut-shaming are similar. I’ve definitely heard people complain about insurance/Medicaid/their money paying for people’s insulin and meds the same way they complain about paying for people’s birth control. It seems like certain people believe that everything pleasurable (like eating and sex) has to have horrible consequences or society will crumble into hedonism.

      • Rosie

        Doe, I think it’s the remains of Puritanism in the culture. After all, the Puritans left Europe for America so they could be MORE crazy-religious, not less. And they did indeed view the enjoyment of anything (even food) as bad, bad, bad.

  • DavidM

    Okay, Libby Anne, let’s follow your logic to it’s bitter end: If we are really about saving babies, you argue, then the more women on the pill, the better: that way fewer babies will be conceived, and accordingly fewer babies will die (whether from natural causes or from being carved up by a scalpel). Next step: If we are really about saving babies, then we should all stop having sex, or all women should get their ovaries removed or all men should get vasectomies: that way NO babies will be conceived and NO babies will die! Brilliant reasoning, my dear oh-so-reformed dupe. (Not so clear-cut, indeed.) – The reality is, you were a dupe before. You were a ‘pro-lifer’ who didn’t understand the pro-life position. Now you are a ‘pro-abortioner’ who doesn’t understand the pro-life position – so still a dupe, seems to me.

    • jadehawk

      I’m sure you think this is some sort of very clever reductio at absurdum… but really, there’s nothing incorrect or ethically wrong with the statement that the only way to completely prevent the destruction of all these zygotes is to stop the production of zygotes altogether.

      • plch

        thank you! I’m too tired (I’m pregnant…) and I wasn’t able to come up with a better answer than ‘you are not making much sense’ which I posted to the copy of this commented in the original thread.

  • ScottInOH

    As on the original post, comments are being added here faster than I can refresh my page, so some of this is probably covered elsewhere, but I wanted to get back to the “train/trolley dilemma.” As you say

    The counter argument [to supporting widespread birth control to reduce the number of abortions] is that actively killing a zygote, embryo, or fetus, even in order to prevent the deaths of a greater number of zygotes, embryos, or fetuses, is always wrong.

    I really don’t think these are parallel, because BC is not “actively killing” in the way the counter-argument seems to mean it. In the divert-the-train scenario, it is assumed you are nearly certain that someone will die when you send the train to the other track. The point of BC is to radically reduce the chance that there will be someone there at all.

    That is, even granting the assertions that a zygote (1) is a fully fledged human being and (2) has the right to demand life support from a person who doesn’t want to give it, BC is not about killing someone to save someone else. It is about creating a context in which fewer people die.

    That means that people who see abortion (both spontaneous and induced) as a holocaust should support BC. The fact that so many don’t–and this was, I think, the fundamental point of your original post–should cause one to examine more closely the movement’s claims about its motivation.

  • Nurse Bee

    You do have to take into account your past history: probably why you see more of the crazy side of the pro-life movement (and the side that tends to make headlines). But that doesn’t mean the majority of the movement is the crazies.

    I would agree with you on NFP. I used FAM (the protestant version of NFP) for several years (no moral objections to birth control, just didn’t like it for me) until I accidently got pregnant…(and yes, I have the baby to show for it),

  • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

    Libby Anne,
    My main issue/point is I believe you are a fraud. Your complete ignorance about 2nd trimester abortions until I provided information to you indicates to me you are a sheltered pro-choicer. I find it unbelievable that someone who grew up in the prolife movement, was a SFL president at a university, and went to numerous prolife dinners and still has family members who are prolife wouldn’t be so incredibly ignorant about abortion. To me that indicates, you have had almost no interaction with prolife people.

    Can you explain that to me? How were you the SFL president if you know next to nothing about 2nd trimester abortions?

    I would think someone who was so highly versed in the prolife movement would at least know basic stuff like this. Wouldn’t a former SFL president who turned pro-choice, be much more knowledgeable than you are? Instead, you seem versed in the pro-choice worldview (and how pro-choice people view prolifers) and consistently make simple pro-choice arguments which prolifers deal with every day.

    • victoria

      Is this the first thing you’ve read by Libby Anne? Because speaking as a longtime reader (I started reading her blog months before she moved to FTB, then to Patheos), that would be a pretty elaborate hoax.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I do believe that I explained what I meant when I said what I did about second trimester abortions. I’m not sure what else I can say to convince you that my story is true. Feel free to believe what you like. But while you continue to emphasize your claim that I am a hoax, I think it’s important to note that you never actually responded to anything I wrote in my response to your comment re. second trimester abortions.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        Yeah, you equated 2nd trimester abortions with abortions after 20 weeks. Again that’s something no person with the background you claim to have would do. This is another reason not to believe your story. That’s the type of thing a sheltered pro-choicer can get away with. It’s not something someone who interacts with people in the prolife movement can. Notice how no one here but me caught your ridiculous assertions about reasons behind and frequency of 2nd trimester abortions? Your false assertions would stand out immediately to people in the prolife movement.

        Can you name the university you were SFL president at? Was it a large university or a small college? What did your group do besides displaying photos of aborted children (again to me that sounds like something a sheltered pro-choicer would assert)? Most groups I’m familiar with do educational tables, try to organize debates, volunteer at a local CPC, have a display of crosses, write editorials, etc.

        I didn’t respond to the other stuff because it was an attempt to change the subject. You still haven’t provided any reasoning for how a former SFL president could be so ignorant.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        The fact that you feel so bound to disprove my story rather than actually engage any of the points I made in my post is puzzling. I mean, even if I were a hoax, that wouldn’t make any of the points I make suddenly cease to exist. So why the fascination? Why not address my actual arguments instead of grousing about my authenticity?

        As for your request that I tell you exactly which school I was at and exactly what I did as president of my university’s Students for Life Group, I’m sorry but I don’t somehow owe you any of that information. I blog under a pseudonym, not under my real name, so I’m certainly not going to say what university it was. As for what all my group did, I have a future post planned discussing my involvement in the pro-life movement, from when I was a child through my tenure as president of my university’s Students for Life group. If you want to stick around for that and then argue that no Students for Life group would ever do anything I describe, feel free! :-P

    • Flora Poste

      JivinJ:

      “Notice how no one here but me caught your ridiculous assertions about reasons behind and frequency of 2nd trimester abortions? Your false assertions would stand out immediately to people in the prolife movement.”
      There were plenty of pro-life people weighing in on that thread, why were you the only one if it would “stand out immediately?” to anyone from the pro-life people. Anyway, your refusal to accept that it was a mis-statement,, is just you trying to change the subject. It’s an admission that you can’t really address the arguments she’s making. The original statement was made in the context of talking about both second and third trimester abortions, Libby’s statement was true for 3rd trimester abortions. And in a comment made on the fly, not a blog post.
      I’d also like to point out that you’re very disingenuously trying to smuggle in an assertion that LibbyAnne was wrong about the “frequency” of second trimester abortions. The overwhelming majority of abortions happen in the first trimester. That’s just a fact. In addition, many policies promoted by the “pro-life” movement work to make 2nd trimester abortions MORE rather than less likely, and it is that point that you’re trying to avoid by making these accusations.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        Probably because I’m the only prolife person who has been as immersed in the prolife movement as Libby Anne claims she was. Or maybe I was the only prolifer to catch that comment in a huge comment thread.

        Well, she said it more than once so it’s a little more than a misstatement. Here’s what she said to me in response after I noted her incorrect statement from the huge comment thread.

        The only reasons women wait beyond to abort is if it is a life of the mother issue that comes up later, if an ultrasound reveals an abnormality, or if restrictions on first term abortions prevent them from aborting sooner. The idea that a woman is going to voluntarily go through the first trimester of pregnancy, which is the second hardest trimester given things like morning sickness, before aborting is silly.

        This is the perspective of someone who is completely clueless regarding second trimester abortions and why women have them. No one who spent as much time in the prolife movement as Libby Anne claims to have would think like this. Even pro-choicers who have spent a lot of time on the subject aren’t going to say something like this. It’s just absurd.

        What arguments is she making that I can’t address? She showed she was completely ignorant about 2nd trimester abortions and astoundingly ignorant about Obamacare (you have to be delusional or know next to nothing about abortion to think there’s going to be a 75% drop in abortions) yet you think she has some argument I’m not familiar with.

        The argument Libby Anne can’t address is why she (a purported former SFL president and person who went to prolife dinner after prolife dinner) didn’t know any about second trimester abortions? She thought they were only performed in a miniscule set of circumstances, then ignorantly believed women who are past the first trimester would never wait that long to have an abortion. Or why she changed her worldview on abortion over lunch before talking to any of her prolife friends? The story doesn’t ring true. It rings like something a sheltered pro-choicer would make up.

        I never said that overwhelming majority of abortions weren’t performed in the first trimester. In fact I believe I noted that around 10% of abortions are performed after the 1st trimester, meaning around 90% would be in the first. She’s wrong about the frequency because she claimed they were generally only “allowed” (which I believe she then changed to perform) to a very small set of circumstances. It wasn’t until I provided the Guttmacher study until she realized she had no clue what she was talking about and backtracked.

    • Liberated Liberal

      What is fascinating to me is that you’re willing to call her a hoax based on the simple fact that perhaps she didn’t know one single piece of information that you did. Shocking. You know nothing else about her, probably haven’t read a single other piece she’s written, and yet you know better than anyone that she is obviously faking it. She was the head of a student group in college years ago, and she didn’t know the exact same information that you did right now? Seriously? You’re basing an assertion like yours on THAT?? Does every single person in the pro-life movement know exactly the same pieces of information? In any movement? In any country-wide group? I’d love to see you prove that they do – or even claim it.

      As far as I’m concerned, she did an extraordinary job interpreting the data – something you did not do.

      You may not want to believe that somebody who was pro-life came to entirely different conclusions, but it happens all of the time. Get over it.

      • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

        It wasn’t just one piece of information. The original story is completely phony. Over lunch a SFL president completely changes her worldview about abortion based on the guessestimates of the Guttmacher Institute before ever consulting her family, her prolife friends, and others in the prolife movement? That’s a bridge too far. Now maybe Libby Anne was somewhat prolife at one point in her life but she certainly wasn’t as immersed in the prolife movement as she claims because she would have heard all those arguments and claims before. She would have actually known something about 2nd trimester abortions. The prolife movement spends a good deal of time discussing pro-choice arguments and refuting them. If she was to dinner after dinner, going to LifeChains, being a SFL president – she would have come across these claims before.

        This is type of stuff partisans love. That’s why Dick Morris has a job. It’s not because he has anything new or useful to say. It’s because people on one side love it when someone on the other side comes to their side. The problem is Libby Anne doesn’t know the things someone who was in the prolife movement for so long would know.

      • Chervil

        It’s so amusing to watch you gleefully worrying at these nitpicky issues like a dog gnarling a bone. You don’t believe Libby Anne because you don’t want to. period. You’re not going to sway anyone with your point scoring, so save it because anyone who has been paying attention to the blowhards with the megaphones from the so called pro life movement in politics these days can hear for themselves loud and clear the exact points that Libby Anne is making. And that is why this blog post went viral, it hit home for many.

        You want to believe her chapter of SFL or whatever it is was inauthentic or not deeply rooted in the proliferation movement as yours? Fine, if it makes you feel better, measure your weenies, go ahead. You win. A hollow victory, but go ahead, take it, your complaints are clogging up the comments.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        JivinJ – I’ve been thinking about your accusations and one realization I’ve just had is that what you are describing is not how things were in my Students for Life Chapter. You see, we weren’t fixated on second trimester abortions the way you are, because we believed that all abortions were wrong, including first trimester ones. We did talk a lot about fetal development, and when the heartbeat starts, etc., but that was to try to talk pregnant women out of having abortions whatever trimester they were in. We didn’t spend a lot of time – or any time, actually – parsing out how many abortions are second or third trimester or why those ones occurred. Not any. You know why? Because we believed that first trimester abortions were just as wrong. We believed that all abortions were wrong. Now yes, we talked about how barbaric late term abortions were (and that is the term we used – “late term,” not second trimester or third trimester or past 20 weeks, “late term”), with fetuses being ripped limb from limb, etc, but I never first trimester abortions as somehow less bad or less worthy of our attention, and that discussion never centered on things like the reasons women have those abortions. I’m sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out what kind of pro-life groups you have been involved in where the sole focus is on second trimester abortions. Because for me, it never was. The number of abortions in each trimester didn’t matter. Abortion was murder. Period.

        As for your statement that people always love people who have jumped from the other side, this is true. In fact, one woman who was pro-choice and has since become pro-life wrote a parallel article in response to mine. And you know what? Your side loves her. Are you going to call her story fake? Somehow I doubt it. I read her story and I’m confused as to how she came to the conclusions she did, because the pro-choice movement she describes seems foreign to me. I’m not, however, going to accuse her of being a fake. Her journey is her journey. Instead, I would simply defend the pro-choice movement against some of the misrepresentations she makes. Why don’t you focus on things you feel I got wrong or didn’t understand about the pro-life movement instead of spending all your time calling me a fake?

        I’ll finish by saying a word about your skepticism that I could have changed my mind over one lunch and one set of numbers. I don’t think I’ll change your mind (your mind sounds pretty well made up), but others may find some more detail interesting.

        I had spent my entire life working to ban abortion. Overturning Roe was my goal. Yes, we worked to raise money for the local Crisis Pregnancy Center, but I had always seen overturning Roe and banning abortion held up as the goal. And believe it or not, I had never actually seen numbers on abortion rates in other countries. Never. The only times we discussed abortion globally was to condemn the World Health Organization for funding abortions in other countries and to support the Mexico City Policy prohibiting US money from being used to fund overseas abortions, and also to condemn China’s policy of forced abortions. That was it. I had never seen numbers comparing rates in the various countries, discussing the restrictiveness of the laws, etc. In fact, I assumed that western Europe would probably have a really high abortion rate given the openness of their laws (I knew abortion was legal there because it was one of the problems my parents discussed about western Europe – the sex, the abortion, the socialized medicine, etc.).

        Added to this, I had literally thought that the most effective way of decreasing the number of abortions that take place was to ban the practice. I was always read in pro-life literature that the numbers of illegal abortions before Roe were grossly overestimated, for example. Banning Roe would work.

        And so when I looked at the numbers globally, I realized that the view I had been given – the focus on banning abortion – was overly simplistic and even short sighted. I realized that there were clearly other critical factors at work. Western Europe’s statistics were especially surprising, given that it is so sexually liberal. I knew that Western Europe offered parents things like paid parental leave, socialized daycare, and in some cases parenting allowances. I also found that birth control is extremely widespread there. In contrast, I knew that Africa and South America had a lot of poverty and thus didn’t have the same support systems for raising children that Western Europe did, and also that birth control was much less common in those regions, especially the Catholic countries of South America.

        In other words, I sat there over lunch wondering what strategies really were the most effective in bringing down abortion rates, and realizing that the focus on banning abortion ignored the fact that dealing with the reasons women have abortions would clearly do a lot in reducing the abortion rate. To be honest, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this before, because once realized it seemed obvious. For example, one statistic I read at that time was that 75% of women in the U.S. who have abortions say they cannot afford a child. I don’t know if I had read that statistic before, but I do know I had never really realized its implications. I had never actually thought about why women had abortions, because the focus was rather on how wrong abortions were and on restricting and banning them. All I knew about why women had abortions was the line that “many women use abortion as birth control.”

        So I really don’t find it so surprising that reading about worldwide abortion rates could make me have a sudden epiphany that banning abortion might not be the only or even the most effective way to decrease the number of abortions that took place. That, quite simply, was the realization I had that day, and the more I read the more I questioned the tactics I had been taught – the emphasis on overturning Roe, for instance. I couldn’t understand the lack of emphasis on things like birth control or a good social safety network. And yes, I had been told during my time with the pro-life movement that birth control actually increases the number of abortions. But when I saw the stats in Western Europe I knew that could not be true.

        I just perused the website for Right to Life wondering if I had had to be blind to miss the country-by-country numbers for abortion, and the country-by-country legal restrictions on abortion, etc. I couldn’t find that data anywhere on the site (do let me know if I overlooked it). I have to wonder why that information is not more widely distributed. If it were, I can’t help but think that more pro-lifers would realize that there is more to decreasing the number of abortions than banning the procedure.

  • Desdemona

    These are wonderful posts. Thank you for sharing your experience! My question has to do with your willingness to take on the pro-choice label. As is demonstrated by at least a couple comments, there are some in the pro-choice movement who show utter contempt for anyone suggesting we should be making efforts to reduce the abortion rate. This makes me uncomfortable and I believe it only harms abortion rights efforts, and so I do not call myself pro-choice. If anyone asks, I say I am pro-compassion. As someone who has had medical problems forcing me into those stirrups to have foreign objects inserted inside me far too often, I would never wish that on anyone! The most compassionate approach is to keep abortion safe and legal while fighting for policies that will reduce the abortion rate: free contraception for all women and a strong social safety net. I think it would behoove the pro-choice movement to do away with the abortion on demand rhetoric and embrace the fact that reducing the need and desire for abortions is a worthy goal.

    • Bobby

      Amen! The pro-choice movement use to be about “safe, legal and rare” abortions.

      With the abortion/pregnancy rate at over 1/5 it is far from rare. If you go to places like Jezebel today abortion is celebrated. Just disgusting….

    • Monimonika

      Bobby’s reply to you may be coloring my interpretation of your intent, but I am getting the impression that you (and Bobby) want abortion to be viewed as an INHERENTLY bad thing by all people. I’m detecting that you (or maybe just Bobby) feel that women who do not regret their abortions, or are even very happy about having had an abortion, ought to be looked upon as being heartless and really should be feeling somewhat guilty instead. “Pro-compassion” is not what I would describe this view as being, so I hope that it’s only just Bobby that has this view here.

  • Luke-O

    A new one I’ve heard is “since the baby is totally dependent on one person’s body then it’s okay to killl the baby.”

    So what if a woman delivers alone, can she kill it after a few hours? The baby is TOTALLY dependent one only ONE person’s body… so thus, it has no rights.

    • Anat

      How far is she from civilization and medical aid? She has just given birth, lost blood and what not. She may not be able to survive if she tends to the baby. She may have to abandon hir in order to survive. In that case, killing hir would be more humane. But if her isolation is reasonably temporary (she expects to have help very soon) then if she does not wish to be the parent of the baby she can sign away her relationship with the baby soon enough.

  • http://www.insertcleverlinkhere.com Kelly L

    “I for one have no desire to return to the days when women spent their entire reproductive lives either pregnant or recovering from pregnancy.” AMEN.

  • Michel Accad

    Dear Libby,
    I am glad that your first listed point is the point about the morality of abortion, and in particular the question of the personhood of the fetus. Compared to this question, all the other points seem like “noise.”
    I look forward to your promised detailed discussion of this subject. I hope you will keep an open mind on this difficult philosophical and anthropological question and that you will give the opposing arguments due consideration.
    Sincerely,
    M. Accad

    • Anat

      Interestingly, once I realized the implications to the personhood of the woman I arrived at the conclusion that the personhood of the fetus is ‘noise’. I don’t care when human entities become persons, whether before or after birth, as long as we agree that the pregnant human is a person. from there, the right to abort any pregnancy she no longer wishes to carry is straightforward.

      • Bobby

        B/c the fetus just appeared in the women through no acts of her own right?

      • Michel Accad

        Dear Anat,
        The point of defining personhood is to avoid rationalizing. Otherwise, it is remarkably easy to come up with reasons to mistreat other human beings. Dehumanizing is remarkably common in human history regardless of faith (or lack thereof). So anyone serious about justifying a certain behavior toward another should be prepared to examine whether that behavior is based on dehumanization or not. I agree that a pregnant human is a person…I’m concerned about your position that you “don’t care when human entities become persons, whether before or after birth.” I suspect you are not really serious about this or have not given it enough thought.
        M. Accad

      • Anat

        Irrelevant. I am allowed to change my mind about any other sacrifice I take upon myself voluntarily, even if it results in the death of a person. I should be allowed to change my mind about whether i want to continue a pregnancy.

      • Anat

        Michel, I have no idea which one of them is more correct, and I don’t think the answer is important. I sidestep the question by agreeing to grant the rights of personhood to anyone who managed to get born. Singer does so too, for the most part, BTW. He says that infants that have yet to reach personhood should still be protected from being killed because even if their parents do not want them someone else likely does. But he did argue at some point for the right of parents to kill born disabled infants as long as they have yet to attain personhood – in acknowledgement of the fact that such children, if given up for adoption rarely get adopted. Park’s essay (‘When is a Person?’) focuses more on the loss of personhood as a result of disease or physical trauma and applies the attainment of personhood by analogy.

        Singer’s reasoning is rather easy to understand: What does death deprive one of? It deprives one of a future. Can a future be deprived of a being that isn’t aware of the flow of time, of cause leading to effect? No. Therefore this is his criterion for who should be protected from being killed (regardless of species, BTW – Singer would protect an intelligent non-human displaying such thought over a human who does not).

    • Anat

      No I am very serious. I have given the question so much thought that I can see way too many answers that make sense. James Park bases his concept of personhood on language, memory and autonomy. Before acquiring these a child is a pre-person. After losing these (such as in the case of severe stroke or neurodegenerative illness) one becomes a post-person, whose choices are relegated to a representative, preferably one preselected while the post-person was still a person.

      IIRC Peter Singer bases his concept of personhood on ability to perceive a future. When an infant acts in ways that show s/he expects a certain outcome the infant shows awareness that reality isn’t static, therefore it would be wrong to take future away from hir.

      Probably the most extreme view is that one’s life becomes worthy of protection when one can view it as such. When one can formulate the thought ‘I don’t want to die’. That would preclude the personhood of most toddlers.

      Since we are not mind readers we might miss the internal development of an infant. We might mistakenly think s/he is not quite there yet when s/he really is. So I am willing to extend some protections to infant who are very likely not yet persons according to these definitions, just to be safe. But not at the expense of an adult human’s bodily autonomy.

      Conversely, I consider the termination of a pregnancy permissible even if it results in the death of a person. Because we accept that people have the right to cause the death of a person by not placing their bodies at the person’s use (as in the case of organ donations) or otherwise withdrawing support that was previously willingly given (eviction of a no-longer wanted guest).

      So the bottom line is that whether one believes personhood is acquired early or late, it has no relevance to my position on abortion. I’m willing to have the law protect the rights of a born human, whether that human is a person or pre-person, but not those of a fetus, whether the fetus is a person or a pre-person.

      • Michel Accad

        Anat,
        Between Park’s and Singer’s, which is the correct definition? By what moral reasoning have they arrived at these different conclusions?

      • Rosie

        It’s interesting to note that by the “extreme position” of the being thinking “I don’t want to die” in order for it to be a person, many adult animals (including some roosters I’ve butchered) probably qualify. That is, the first one comes with me willingly enough, but if the others can see or hear what’s going on they fight me after that, so it seems they have enough cognition to have a will to self-preservation and to understand their end is imminent.

      • Rosie

        Michel Accad, I think you missed the point. What I get from Anat’s post is that there is NO clear “correct” definition, and people will always disagree. And it’s irrelevant to the argument besides, unless you mean to argue somehow that women are not people.

  • Dana K

    You are amazing. Thank you so much for writing these responses and the original article. I am forwarding it to everyone I know. Your original article, so well researched and written, should be required reading for everyone of voting age.

  • Will

    Hi Libby, thanks for your articles. I read both with great interest.

    Are you familiar with J. K. Rowling’s books? In the last chapter of the Deathly Hallows, Molly is dueling with Bellatrix. The latter screams out, “What will happen to your children when I’ve killed you – when Mummy’s gone the same way as Freddie?” Molly responds, “You will never touch our children again!” and kills her. These are the last words the two characters speak in the series. They represent Rowling’s fierce pride in being a mother herself and having raised her child in less than ideal circumstances (of course, before her books made her wealthy).

    Bellatrix is not an evil character because she’s a childless woman. She is an evil character because she attacks all women – represented by Molly – for the very act of being mothers and loving their children. She does not understand maternal love and treats it as a weakness, while Molly treats it as a strength that has helped her overcome poverty.

    I understand that literary characters do not correspond to women’s exact real-life situations, so let me explain the relevance. I see a significant number of comments on this article come asserting that abortion was the ONLY responsible or moral choice in a certain situation. The justification for these assertions seems to be that, had a woman had a baby in these situations, she would have been financially insecure and therefore less capable of raising a child. Undoubtedly that is true – to a point. Yet there are hundreds of millions of women in the world who have raised children under far more dire circumstances than almost anyone in the United States faces.

    Saying that abortion is the responsible choice amounts to saying that women make a different choice are irresponsible. It degrades the stories of many struggling mothers, both inside and outside the U.S., and the children they have successfully raised (our president being an example). And it is most certainly not “pro-choice”, because a true pro-choice stance would support a woman in whatever decision she makes about whether and when to be a mother. It is attacking mothers for being mothers, i.e., the defining characteristic of Bellatrix.

    Now, I have many of the same qualms about the pro-life movement that you do. My experience with pro-life people is perhaps more positive, but I recognize the truth of what you say about “the chief organizations, leaders, and political rhetoric”. But if we cannot have a “pro-life” regime without attacking women for having sex, do you think we can have a “pro-choice” regime without attacking women for being mothers?

    • machintelligence

      Speaking only for myself here, but I think my sentiments are widely held:

      Saying that abortion is the responsible choice amounts to saying that women make a different choice are irresponsible.

      But if we cannot have a “pro-life” regime without attacking women for having sex, do you think we can have a “pro-choice” regime without attacking women for being mothers?

      Pointing out that someone has made an irresponsible choice is a far cry from making them a criminal. If criticism were all that the pro-life folks were doing to those who choose abortion, they would not be viewed as dangerous. Annoying, perhaps, but easily ignored.

    • Chervil

      I think that once again, you’re proving Libby Anne’s point. We need to ensure that women have the support they need to make the choices they want. The so called pro life side wants to shame women and make supporting children as difficult as possible. The pro choice side wants to build the support structure women need to care for their children, if they choose to keep their pregnancy. Once a woman delivers, the so called pro life folks couldn’t care less, as long as the state forces women into births, thry’re happy. You want to talk about books? Charlie Fuqua just wrote one that celebrates the biblical notion of executing rebellious children. That’s how much the so called pro life side cares. This is the face if your movement, the people who care so much about life, they advocate biblical executions of children.

      Once abortion is banned, then what. Are you planning on executing girls who seek out an abortion? In your mind, abortion is murder after all. The state calls for life in prison or the death penalty in murder cases, so how do you see this playing out, if you really put your money where your mouth is. How many mothers, sisters, daughters would you like to see prosecuted, how much are you willing to pay for their prosecution and imprisonment? More than the amount it would take to actually provide for caring for the infrastructure women need now. It will cost more and you’ll gladly pay it, as long as you’re doing something to someone instead of for someone, no price is too high.

      • Will

        At no time in that post did I say that I was part of the pro-life movement, which I am not, and even if I was, I would certainly not support imprisoning or executing women who get abortions. That is crazy talk. No mainstream pro-life organization wants to prosecute mothers – they want to prosecute doctors who perform abortions.

        Moreover, nothing in your comment addresses anything I said in my post. If you’d read it through, you’d notice it was very much against “shaming” women or making it difficult to raise children. It appears that you simply noticed that I was expressing mild disagreement with something a pro-choicer said and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was a hardcore pro-lifer who wants to execute mothers.

      • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

        “No mainstream pro-life organization wants to prosecute mothers – they want to prosecute doctors who perform abortions.”

        And I’ve yet to hear a good response why that is so.

      • Chervil

        Will, which is why I said you proved Libby Anne’s point. There wasn’t too much else to say about a comment about Harry Potter. Other than the fact that you stated that commenter’s positions was that abortion is the ONLY responsible choice, which is ridiculous. That’s how you choose to read into it, so, too bad if I don’t make distinctions on your behalf.

        What makes you think that prosecuting women is crazy talk, if they are murderers, or conspiring to murder, they should be prosecuted. There should be no exceptions, if the pro life movement really believes that, why wouldn’t they? Just the fact that you consider the thought crazy shows me the whole movement is comprised of hypocrites.

      • Niemand

        I would certainly not support imprisoning or executing women who get abortions. That is crazy talk.

        So either you don’t really believe embryos are children and abortion is murder or you’re fine with at least some murderers walking away from their crime without consequences.

    • chervil

      Will, you claim you aren’t a pro lifer, but your use of a children’s book to fetishize motherhood and then claim that pro choicer’s are attacking “mothers for being mothers” and then claiming the whole pro choice movement “attacks women for being mothers” betrays you. You claim to have “qualms” about the pro life movement, but then say your experience with the organization is “positive”. Considering you’re saying that the pro choice movement is all in against motherhood altogether, which is a common myth perpetrated by the pro life movement, then too bad, you’ll just have to accept being lumped in with the pro life movement.

      The pro life movement is pushing the whole personhood concept, a fertilized egg is a person, with the exact same rights as a living, breathing on their own, person. This is what the pro life movement is about. The kinds of people who get elected to represent the pro life movement are pushing these bills, this is the leadership of the movement and the direction of the movement that you feel so positive about. Your so called “qualms” just help you sleep at night.

      Unless you’re fighting it, well, as far as anyone else can tell, you’re all for it. This will be legal law. How is it crazy then, under the law, if a woman murders someone, she should what, walk away? If a fertilized egg is a legal person, with full legal rights, unless the woman who seeks an abortion is prosecuted to the fullest extent under her state’s law, then the whole concept of “personhood” is a lie.

    • Rosie

      Will, I think the difficulty you’re having may be in a tendency to see the world in absolutes: right/wrong, black/white. Most pro-choicers don’t see things that way at all; most pro-lifers do. So when someone who is pro-choice says, “sometimes aborting IS the responsible thing to do”, you might be hearing, “everyone in this situation SHOULD abort”, which is not what was meant at all. Because no one who is not in the situation can possibly know all the details of it, and besides the same situation never exactly repeats itself twice anyhow. What we mean to say is that sometimes aborting is the responsible thing to do, and *we can’t know when that is or isn’t the case because we’re on the outside*, so it’s best left up to the woman in the situation. Most pro-choicers are also in favor of a generous social safety net, which would allow those women who wish to keep their pregnancies and babies the financial ability to do so, without sacrificing their entire future and hopes and dreams. Because we believe in making options available, not telling people what they should be doing or not doing.

  • Michelle

    On the issue of the pill or the IUD causing an embryo not to implant, if you read the product literature, written BY THE MANUFACTURER, it is pretty clear that at times both the IUD and hormonal birth control do prevent implantation. I don’t see how you can get around this fact–it seems pretty clear in the product literature. Hormonal birth control and IUDs are NOT contraception–they do not prevent conception. They are birth control, in that they prevent pregnancy/implantation. Just google and read any package insert for any hormonal birth control out there, and that should provide scientific evidence based on the manufacturer’s own studies.

    • Shayna

      Actually, the product literature generally states that it is POSSIBLE the product COULD prevent an implantation. Current research indicates that emergency contraception and hormonal birth control DO NOT prevent implantation. There is a recent NY Times article that references several studies involved.

      The primary function of hormonal birth control is to prevent ovulation, which does in fact prevent conception, making the Pill – yes indeed – a contraceptive.

  • Dave Rabinowitz

    A friend once told me he had worked at a company that was planning to introduce a product to help women who were using the rhythm method as natural birth control, but before they invested in the project they wanted to be sure the rhythm method worked. They did a study and discovered that it worked pretty well in all but one population of women: practicing Catholics, the group that made the most use of this method. The explanation was that the rhythm method relies on the fact that most women have regular menstrual periods, so you could reliably predict when ovulation would occur and avoid sex when pregnancy was possible. However, not all women are regular, and the irregularity is inherited. If a group of women practice the rhythm method, the small number of women with irregular periods will end up having more children, since they will not accurately predict when they are not fertile, and since irregular periods are inherited, a larger fraction of this group will be irregular each generation. Among practicing Catholics, the fraction of the population with irregular, unpredictable, periods has grown large enough that the rhythm method can no longer be considered reliable within the group. In other words, the rhythm method of birth control is not reliable and becomes less reliable the more it’s used. In addition to pointing out a major problem with this birth control method, this story also shows that evolution happens, whether you believe in it or not.

    • machintelligence

      I’m not sure we have seen enough generations of women practicing the rhythm method for evolution by natural selection to be significant, but I like your analysis.

      • Barbara Hanson

        This wouldn’t have been natural selection, it would have been artificial selection. It occurs rapidly.

    • Liberated Liberal

      Is there any way to contact this company to access their study? I mean, it makes sense to me, but it would be extraordinarily useful to have a study in hand. There haven’t been enough studies done on NFP, particularly that aren’t completely biased, to discuss it thoroughly, and it would be wonderful to start seeing some.

  • Simon S.

    Re “natural family planning” – for a richly amusing, but rather sad, account of just how stressful and perilous it is to rely on this method for preventing pregnancy in a normal married couple – the amount of fuss required to keep track of it, the constant fear of its failure – see David Lodge’s novel “The British Museum Is Falling Down.” Which was published in the mid 1960s, so this realization is nothing new.

  • Diana

    Not everyone who has an abortion is a slut or an idiot, which a lot of people against it don’t realize. I had an abortion. At the time I got pregnant, I was still nursing my nine-month-old son and on low-dose birth control pill. My cycles hadn’t even started again and I had no idea that I was pregnant until I started throwing up. I was still recovering from a difficult pregnancy, in a new job that only paid 1/3 salary for maternity leave during the first year of employment, my husband was retraining – there was no way we could have afforded another child, health-wise or financially. It was the responsible choice for us, and two years later we had our daughter when we were ready for it. If it hadn’t been legal in our state, I would have gone to a state where it was.

  • Darren

    Heh, heh… We call our Natural Family Planning “William”… :)

    My wife was meticulous about charting her rythyms, but, really, you only have to be off a couple of days, one time, and there you go.

    The thing is, we homeschool, and the typical secular homeschooling family in our area has three children. It is amusing that, without fail, the third child was the “bonus baby” after a stint of NFP and before the vasectomy…

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  • Charlie

    Abortion is still murder. God does not like it. No person can cover up these facts. Man’s so called wisdom is folly to The Lord. If you don’t want a baby don’t have intercourse. Sin is sin, no matter what the Godless think!

    • CherylAu

      Actually you just proved Libby Anne’s point. You are not concerned with saving babies lives you just want to control women’s sexual activity.

    • Beutelratti

      This also fits in really well with all the Bible passages where god smites even the unborn. God is the biggest abortionist.

    • Alix

      Dude, not everyone’s Christian. So why on earth should the Christian view of things get privileged over everyone else’s?

      I don’t give a crap what your god thinks, and I sure as hell don’t trust your ability to speak for him. After all, man’s so-called wisdom is folly, and you’re a man.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Michaux/1471255189 Aaron Michaux

      Charlie, God doesn’t think for you. When you read the bible, your understanding is *in your brain*. And you are a man. That is a man’s understanding, not the lords. Who are you to claim to know the mind of God?

  • C.L.

    Another difference between Catholics and Evangelicals (like the kind that you grew up with) is the fact that Catholics support a social safety that would allow pregnant women to afford all of their children. So the Catholic position is in this sense less hypocritical. I will not sugar coat the Catholic Church though Although I love my Catholic faith, I am frequently frustrated to tears that we not only prohibit contraception, but actually promote gender determinism (JPII’s horrible Theology of the Body- possibly the only book I would ever consider burning).

  • Chuck

    Hi Libby,

    Yesterday I commented on the original article, saying I’d love to see you write about the issue of sexual oppression, which I suspect is actually the bigger problem looming behind the abortion issue for a great many people. Today I see you have done a little of that in point 9 above. I’m fascinated by the relationship between sexual repression/oppression and misogyny, heterosexism, and other gender and sexual bigotries. I think you could to the topic justice.

  • Bev

    You are so articulate and logical…. Thank you. Many friends and I have shared the original post far and wide. And, thank you for the term “sacred vessel”. It DOES sound much nicer than “incubator”.

    Signed,
    A moral, educated and thoughtful woman in Texas who really DOES care about saving lives

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