Bridging the Abortion Divide, in conversation with Ellen Painter Dollar

Last week I wrote for her.meneutics about the woman with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome who decided to carry her pregnancy to term after a priest intervened and offered to find adoptive parents for the child (A Real Happily-Ever-After for Babies with Down Syndrome). In my post, I critiqued the website Jezebel, and with it many voices within the pro-choice movement, for a derogatory attitude toward everyone involved in this story:
This attitude extends beyond one post or one site. It serves as a prime example of the pro-choice movement becoming increasingly blinded by ideology. Years ago, perhaps this case could be one that both sides would have applauded: a mother retaining her right to choose and even being presented with another option, adoption, through the priest. Yet the tone turns defensive, as the writer assumes the woman has succumbed to social or religious pressure. Certainly we aren’t going to be so dismissive of women’s agency to think that this woman didn’t have any say in the matter just because a priest reached out to her?
It seems in the contemporary, pro-choice mindset, there was no choice other than abortion.
My friend Ellen Painter Dollar responded to my post with her own: I am Pro-Choice, But Jezebel Does Not Speak For Me. Ellen adds her voice to my critique of Jezebel’s attitude toward this situation, but she also challenges my argument that this post represents a larger problem within the pro-choice movement:

Perhaps Ms. Baker’s extreme, factually inaccurate views on abortion, choice, and Down syndrome are representative of some in the pro-choice community. But they are not representative of my views. So as much as I appreciated Amy Julia’s telling both her own family’s story and that of the baby in Virginia, I worry that her inclusion of the Jezebel post will serve to further entrench the two sides in the abortion debate (I told her as much, and she read this piece before I posted it). I imagine Christianity Today’s largely pro-life audience patting themselves on the back for holding the obvious moral high ground in contrast to those evil pro-choicers so blinded by their godless ideology that they can’t see the good in a woman choosing adoption over abortion. Amy Julia included the Jezebel post as an example of the “contemporary pro-choice mindset,” but it doesn’t at all reflect my mindset, or that of most pro-choice people, including those who are Christians.

The contemporary pro-choice movement writ large is certainly guilty of, at times, favoring ideology and rhetoric over thoughtful, fact-based discourse that respects the other side in this debate and values practical solutions more than political point scoring. But so is the contemporary pro-life movement, such as when they portray pro-choice voters as murderers, or caricature women seeking abortions as bimbos who just want to have lots and lots of sex with no consequences. But research consistently shows that most Americans are somewhere in the middle on abortion, rather than in agreement with these and other extreme arguments made on both the pro-choice and pro-life sides.

I agree with Ellen that most pro-choicers I know would be as appalled as she was with the Jezebel perspective. In that sense, my sentence about the “contemporary, pro-choice mindset” was inaccurate. But the public representatives of the pro-choice movement tend to talk in extremes and refuse to entertain ethical concerns. The politicians who gain media support and attention are those who advocate for abortion rights that most Americans (even pro-choice ones) abhor, as Kirsten Powers has written (I Don’t Stand with Wendy Davis). In this sense, I do believe that Katie Baker’s rant for Jezebel was representative of the pro-choice movement more generally, even if not of most pro-choice individuals.

With that said, Ellen is right that the same accusation can be lobbied against the pro-life movement, with politicians making ignorant and insensitive statements about “legitimate rape.”  I was with two pro-life friends over the weekend. When we discussed abortion in the case of saving a mother’s life, both agreed that the abortion was a tragic but necessary option that needed to be left to the woman and her doctors. Yes, it gets ethically murky very quickly. But individual pro-lifers tend to live in those murky waters and hopefully recognize that wisdom requires moral discernment rather than a list of rules or set of regulations to govern every possible instance.

Although I defend my assertion that the Jezebel perspective goes beyond this individual writer to the larger pro-choice movement, I regret any implication that pro-choice individuals would categorically agree with this perspective. Perhaps what the media calls pro-choice really is pro-abortion, but most pro-choice Americans are not pro-abortion? And perhaps what the media calls pro-life is really idolatrous of life (or some other catchy label?) while most pro-life Americans are not? As I said in the piece, I think this is a case in which pro-choice and pro-life could rejoice together: mother and baby both live with apparent positive outcomes for everyone involved. I hope the her.meneutics audience sees this not as a political victory but instead as a victory for a mother and her child, for both of the vulnerable individuals involved in a scary and urgent decision.

So here’s the challenge–if most of us are somewhere in between what the media calls pro-life and pro-choice, how can we have a conversation about abortion that goes past legislative battles and political ideology and actually does some work to care for women and children?
About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).


  1. Kubricks_Rube says:

    how can we have a conversation about abortion that goes past legislative battles and political ideology and actually does some work to care for women and children?

    Given that your side is currently winning the legislative battle this seems a bit like begging the question, and I’m not sure how to separate the two.

    Until recently I would have argued that there is a vast potential for common ground between pro-lifers and pro-choicers in reducing the demand for abortion rather than focusing so fully on the supply side.

    Pro-choicers tend to support all sorts of programs that reduce unwanted/unplanned pregnancies and that aid women and families in all sorts of ways that maximize a woman’s likelihood of choosing to carry a pregnancy to term. (See my comment on Ellen’s post for a partial list.) Pro-lifers, focused so on limiting access to abortion, tend to vote for candidates who support few if any of these measures. For a long time this was merely counterproductive, as most measures to limit abortion did so around the edges- a little shame here, a longer drive there, a longer wait here, some micromanaging doctors there, etc.

    But in recent years (and especially months), pro-life legislators have had so much success in passing laws that will severly limit access to abortion- all while continuing to ignore all the things that lead women to choose abortion in the first place- that I fear any hope of compromise is dead. If the supply-side strategy is working, what does it matter how many unplanned/unwanted pregancies there are or whether women have access to health care or child care or can aford to feed another mouth? And on the other side, why should pro-choicers give an inch if they’ve already lost the mile?

    This last question might actually get at a possible answer. As a pro-choice liberal, I’ve always thought in terms of what my side has to offer- “here’s things we believe in for reasons of morality and utility that we think will also limit abortion; consider them and we’ll have less reason to fight you on mid-term abortions and parental notification and stuff like that.” But perhaps the shoe is on the other foot now and pro-lifers can make the offer- “we’ll stop cutting SNAP and turning down Medicaid expansions since women who would choose abortion are going to be less able to do so and those babies did nothing to deserve this situation.”

    Just some thoughts. I apologize if any of that came across too harsh.

    • TheodoreSeeber says:

      I’m sad that anybody thinks that there is a possibility, in this day and age, of an unplanned pregnancy.

      It goes to show just how bad the propaganda about birth control, vs the scientific fact that sex can cause pregnancy, has gotten.

      Even sadder still is the concept of the unwanted pregnancy- where a family’s material wealth is considered so important that they’re willing to kill to avoid having to ask for help.

      And I do agree with you that any politician who votes down SNAP and WIC dollars, while claiming to be pro-life by passing a bill that makes it perfectly legal to kill any fetus as long as you anesthetize it first, is not pro-life. Or at least, not my variety- which insists that human life is to be protected from conception until natural death regardless of cost to anybody else.

      • I’m sad that anybody thinks that there is a possibility, in this day and age, of an unplanned pregnancy.

        All forms of contraception, up to and including surgical sterilization, have known failure rates.

        Even sadder still is the concept of the unwanted pregnancy

        So, you really think that the only reason someone would not want children has to do with money? Wow.

        • TheodoreSeeber says:

          All the more reason to expect pregnancy after sex- because you never know if the contraception is going to fail. The idea that pregnancy after sex is some kind of great surprise, just speaks to the utter stupidity of the era.

          Yes, to me the only reason to NOT to want to eagerly anticipate new human beings, is because our culture has moved children from the ASSET column to the LIABILITY column. Agricultural communities know the value of a new child joining the family, urban communities see them as just another mouth to feed. Used to be “Be kind to them, they’ll be choosing which nursing home to put you in”, as well as how to pay for it, and now it’s “let’s have as few of them as possible so that we can have more resources for ourselves”, and that’s been going on for 40 years.

          • So … you think that women should be forced to have unwanted children.

            Because unwanted children are too stupid to realize that the are unwanted?

            Got it.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            No, I think that anybody who believes in “unwanted children” is not taking the natural survival instincts of the *child* into account, which isn’t surprising from a woman who thinks a fetus is an elephant.

          • What a completely asinine statement to make … all of it.

            You are the one who enjoyed equating an embyro to a child. When I pointed out that you were wrong, *you* brought up the elephant.

            I’m sorry you missed the day in which comparative biology was taught WRT viviparous vertebrates, but that really is not my fault, now, is it?

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            And you’re the one who fails to understand that you were once a fetus, and that to oppose fetal right to life is to oppose the right to life for human beings.

            But I don’t expect much from you at all. You’re just another victim of the sex trafficking pro-death society in which we all live.

          • that to oppose fetal right to life is to oppose the right to life for human beings.

            Rights accrue with birth (really, did you miss civics class as well as biology?). However, let’s pretend for just one moment that feti have a right to life. What about the pregnant woman’s right to personal liberty? If you afford rights to a fetus (a potential person, and that’s all it is … potential), you necessarily abrogate the rights of an actual person — the woman. In short, reduce her to the status of a slave.

            I suspect that this does not bother you in the slightest, to be honest; after all, you’ve already opined that women should not have the right to vote.

            I have noticed over the course of time that it’s very easy to be an anti-choice male. You can just sit there in the privileged position of someone who will never have life or limb affected by pregnancy and wave your misogynistic and in the air about “murdering” tramps, etc., without having the slightest recognition of what it is that you *truly* advocate.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Rights are assigned by God, not government, unless genocidal maniacs like yourself get in the way claiming “personal liberty” to murder people.

          • Specific groups of people are targeted for ‘genocide’.

            Embryos and fetus are not targeted for ‘extermination’. A woman has the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The point is not to ‘kill all fetuses’ you twit – it’s to end a pregnancy.

            And btw, your ‘god’ loved to order his people to commit genocide on a massive scale – which included the skewering of pregnant women (right in the belly) and the bashing of infant heads against rocks.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Yep, specific groups like the unborn, thanks to feminazis like you who want to “end all pregnancy”.

          • Psst, Theodore? All pregnancies end, one way or another.

            You’re welcome.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Yes, but only those of feminazis end in murder.

          • Actually, large #s of Christian women – republican, catholic, and protestant, procure abortions.

            You should read ‘the only moral abortion is my abortion’

            You might learn something.

            Even your pro-life ladies have abortions.

          • to both Valde and Theodore, I encourage you to try to talk to each other instead of past each other. The purpose of this post was to try to figure out if there are any points we have in common, any ways that pro-life and pro-choice can together work for the good of women and children. You can argue all you want, but please try to do so with respect for each other and keeping in mind that we are trying to find common ground, not increase the canyon between two sides.

          • He’s also been insulting fiona.

          • I thank you for this post. Theodore has been providing nothing but insults and accusations my way; I will presume that you are likewise concerned with that …

          • If you know of anyone who has committed murder, call the police.

          • Wrong again.

            anti-natalists want to stop people from breeding.

            pro-choicers will stand up for a woman’s right to have a child when people or laws would force her not to

            pro-choicers oppose china’s force d abortion laws

            and again, because you are not very bright, I will repeat: Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, Caste, religious, or national group”/

            Fetuses are NOT TARGETED because of what they are. There is no grand conspiracy to kill all fetuses and take their money and land. Women have the right not to be pregnant. That’s it. It’s pretty simple for even a twit such as yourself to understand.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            The Genocide convention prohibits measures intended to prevent births of a protected group, so it does protect targeted foetuses. The Down syndrome community is one that is universally targeted for birth on the basis of its genetic identification. They were also the first of 6 conditions listed in the T4 programme for killing, a crime that was found to be a crime against humanity at the Doctors trial in Nuremberg. The Nuremberg trials lead to the Genocide convention which was adopted the day before the Universal Deceleration of Human Rights and seeks to prevent such crimes as was historically carried out against vulnerable minority groups like the Down syndrome community. A crime against humanity that continues today under a targeted birth prevention programme. Which of course was the subject in hand that the Jezebel post tried, and failed, to defend.

            So, to summarise, there is no right for a women to prevent the birth of her child because it has Down syndrome. It Is prohibited under the Genocide convention, and for very good reasons.

          • The Down syndrome community is one that is universally targeted for birth on the basis of its genetic identification

            Women are *permitted* to carry a DS baby to term. There are no laws forcing women to get abortions if they have a DS baby.

          • Thank you. He seems to think that women who learn they are carrying a Down syndrome infant are forced to terminate … merely because it’s mentioned as an option as part of informed consent. Wow.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            So what? It is a structured programme to prevent births. That is the intent of the screening programmes, and that is the outcome. The genocide convention doesn’t require “forcing”, just intent and consequence.

          • It’s not genocide.

            In 1948, the United Nations gave it a legal definition: “… genocide
            means any of [a list of specific] acts committed with intent to destroy,
            in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

            Genocide cannot be applied to fetuses. Fetuses are not people, fetuses are not an ethnic racial or religious group.

            Down’s Syndrome fetuses are not linked genetically. They do not share the same third 21st chromosome. If they did, they would be genetically linked, but they don’t share it.

            Ethnic – People who have downs syndrome do not share a common culture. They are part of many different cultures.

            Racial – People who have downs syndrome do not share a common genetic history . They occur in every racial group.

            What you are trying to argue is like arguing that Albinos are a different race. People with downs syndrome are members of the racial groups of their parents, not anther race. Theyjust have an extra chromosome from one of those races. They do not share a chromosome in common with other downs syndrome people except if they are siblings, then they may have very similar extra chromosomes. But then of course they are of the same race groups as their parents andsiblings.

            And families have the right to decide whether or not they want to bring a disabled child into the world.

            Did it ever dawn on you that to some people, creating something that will suffer is cruel and inhumane?

            If you would not walk up to a healthy normal child and inject them with something that would give them DS, then why bring a baby to term with DS?

            You cannot speak for every family, and it is not YOUR decision to make. Just because having a DS child was a wonderful experience for you and that child, does not necessarily mean it will be wonderful for all families.

            And again, I must remind you – if it was GENOCIDE all DS children, and fetuses, would be targeted by governments and wiped off the face of the earth. THEY ARE NOT. No one is forcing death on those with DS across the board.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Articles 6d and 7(1)(h) and 7(2)(d) if you want to inform yourself, otherwise study the drafting history and Nuremberg trials. And the “in part” bit which you quoted yourself.

            As to your discriminatory bias against those with Down syndrome “creating something that will suffer” just reflects your own bigotry attitude towards the disabled. It says nothing about those inherent dignity. But sure, carry on, and display the very point that is being made in this blog.

          • As to your discriminatory bias against those with Down syndrome
            “creating something that will suffer” just reflects your own bigotry
            attitude towards the disabled

            No, it shows compassion.

            Clearly, something you lack.

            It says nothing about those inherent dignity.

            Sounds to me like you have fetishized the disability for your own ends. Smells like exploitation to me.

          • His compassion doesn’t extend to the born, Valde … just feti.

          • I was reading some of his comments on another article on this blog, and it would seem that he views DS not as a disability, but as a mere ‘genetic variance’. Like, blue or brown eyes, or red or brown hair.


          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Yeah, disability is a label.

          • /facepalm

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Where did I say that. Ad Homein attacks discredit your position.

          • I’m not sure what “Ad Homein attacks” are. Did you perhaps mean ad hominem? Well if that’s the case, your accusation is pretty ridiculous.

            You have made it very clear that you don’t care about the born … with every dismissive remark you make about pregnant women who examine their options and choose termination as the best option for them and their families.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Ask my daughter.

          • Which god? There are a great many of them.

            You quite clearly approve of the idea of women being slaves …


          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Everybody is a slave, there is no freedom.

          • That doesn’t mean it’s right to force even more people into slavery.

            Or let me are one of those cretins who believes that Antebellum slavery was a ‘good’ thing for African Americans.

            Your bible also supported slavery, so big surprise there.

          • He’s already opined that women should not be permitted to vote.

            He also probably thinks we shouldn’t be permitted to have shoes.

          • Jason Douglas Greene says:

            and you sir are the reason that people like me (who do not believe in abortion as birth control) have left the “pro-life movement”… not too bright…

          • an embryo doesn’t have ‘natural survival instincts’ – being mere genetic blueprints after all

          • There was an interesting article in the New York Times about women who were denied abortion: Most of them, the vast majority, are glad that they were denied the abortion. It is possible to not want a child and then be glad you had that child after all. (Of course the opposite may also be true.)

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Certainly the many women who have post abortive trauma often regret having abortions. I met several a few weeks ago and the pain they carry is very real.

          • C. Everett Koop was tasked by the notoriously anti-choice former president Reagan to find evidence of “post-abortion stress syndrome.” He couldn’t … because there is no such thing. The only women who carry “post-abortive trauma” are women who did not want to terminate their pregnancies in the first place.

            Quote from article: Koop reviewed the scientific and medical literature and consulted with a wide range of experts and advocacy groups on both sides of the issue.
            Yet, after 15 months, no report was forthcoming. Rather, on January 9, 1989, Koop wrote a letter to the president explaining that he would not be issuing a report at all because “the scientific studies do not provide conclusive data about the health effects of abortion on women.”
            Koop apparently was referring to the effects of abortion on mental health, because his letter essentially dismissed any doubts about the physical safety of the procedure.

          • There are people who regret having all sorts of surgery and feel that it destroyed their lives.

            So what.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            I’m just telling you that I know women who regret having their abortions. It has caused them great pain, and it concerns me that women are harmed in this way.

          • What you are doing is trying to couch your opposition to abortion in terms of ‘caring’ for women.

            See, you can’t just come right out and say that women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen – so you have to use weasel words to get around that.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Actually, the issue is around disability rights for the Down syndrome community.

          • The choice to abort a DS embryo/fetus is in no way removing rights from the living, sentient DS community.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Your discriminatory attitudes towards them does.

          • It isn’t discriminatory.

            People have the RIGHT to decide whether or not they will bring a disabled child into this world.

            You can’t force that on anyone.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            And yet, it’s what has convinced me that pro-choicers are against women and mothers, and humanity in general.

          • it’s what has convinced me that pro anti-choicers are against women and mothers, and humanity in general.

            There. I fixed it for you.

            Why? Because anti-choicers don’t think women are smart enough to make their own medical decisions, based on what is right for their families.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Invasive elective procedures aren’t medical decisions. I’m equally against boob jobs.

          • Any medical procedure that is not an emergency is elective — which merely means that it is scheduled as opposed to being urgent/emergent. Any surgical procedure is invasive. Are you equally against wisdom teeth being extracted?

          • TheodoreSeeber says:


          • Well, then, please feel free to expire of dental problems; it’s your choice. Other people need not make it.

            I’m guessing you’re also anti-vax and in favor of religiously-based homeschooling … but that is entirely speculative, and solely based on your comments here.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            If you have impacted wisdom teeth, Teddy, what exactly do you propose in lieu of extraction?

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            I find Peppermint Schnapps works dandy, even for the extraction, without bothering with a dentist.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Right. I think you’re trying to be humorous/facetious, but you should know that it just comes across as lame. And if that’s the most intelligent thing you have to offer than it’s the end of our discussion.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            You wouldn’t recognize intelligence if you saw it. I’m just dumbing my message down to the audience who can’t seem to conceive of a life without abortion.

            As for the Peppermint Schnapps comment, that really occurred. You see, I have Asperger’s. One of my main symptoms is a phobia of dentistry. Last year I probably needed a root canal for a tooth that was disintegrating, it had become abscessed, but I couldn’t work through my fear.

            A quart of Hood River Distillery Monarch Peppermint Schnapps, and a pair of pliers took care of the problem just fine, no dentist required. I may one day get a false tooth to fill the hole, but the pain is gone.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Right. Well I don’t happen to share your phobia of dentistry and will continue to be sensible, go to actual doctors, and not drink to excess. Thanks for playing.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Too bad you can’t grant an aborted child the same respect.

          • Too bad that a fellow who claims to be so brilliant and intelligent cannot differentiate between a zygote and an actual child.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Why? Because I don’t drink to excess and have a need to reenact scenes from The Marathon Man on myself like you do? Or is it that because, unlike yourself, I think the person most qualified to make decisions about a pregnancy is the person who’s actually pregnant?

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Because, phobia or no, I don’t understand how someone who’s supposedly so intelligent would think that getting yourself soused to the gills and attacking your mouth with a pair of sharp objects, risking numerous bacterial infections and possibly even tetanus and god knows what else, is a fine alternative to going to a qualified medical professional. It strikes me as being foolhardy and extremely stupid.

          • You see, I have Asperger’s.

            A diagnosis is not an excuse for assholery. Assuming, of course, that you’re not self-diagnosed and playing for sympathy … and it wouldn’t be the first time I’d seen that.

            You wouldn’t recognize intelligence if you saw it..

            Actually, Teddy, I do. And, as I already promised: I will acknowledge it the moment you display some.

          • TheodoreSeeber says:

            Neither. I may have Asperger’s, but fiona, you’re just a pawn of the baby boomer generation.

          • Considering that I am part of the baby-boomer generation, you’ve just gone even further down the road to laughable.

          • They don’t like your facts and figures, so Teddy and Esther are trying really hard to discredit you.

          • Just shows their level of desperation. The anti-choice always claim to be using “real science,” but when presented with actual facts and data, they run away like cockroaches when a light is turned on in a cheap motel.

          • And I know women who are sorry they had kids …

            You don’t care about those alleged regretful women one bit … except as a tool to shame the pro-choice.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Really? That’s an interesting position to take.

          • Then why do you take it?

            You’ve made it quite clear that you think a woman should not be permitted to to make her own reproductive decisions. I have no reasons whatsoever to find your blog honest; for all I know, you made up every one of those tales to try to shame women who were not in the least sorry that they terminated pregnancies.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Sure, thats how you respect the experience of other women.

          • When you cite *your own blog* as a source, you lose credibility. ::shrug:: I have no reason to believe that the anonymous quotes are anything but made up from whole cloth.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Their flattered that you hold other women in such esteem, I am sure.

          • *They’re* (note spelling) fictitious, so they don’t care about anything.

          • Sure, it’s possible. Just about anything is. However .. Ann Landers did an (admittedly unscientific, due to self-selection) study in the 1970s in which she asked parents in her readership to send in a postcard answering one question: “If you had it to do over again, would you still have kids?” An overwhelming majority (70 percent) of respondents said they would not. Dr. Phil did a more scientific study and found that 40 percent of parents would not have kids if they could do it over. Dear Abby did an updated study in 2011, with a 22% “no way, Jose” response. (All three studies are discussed here:

            The simple truth is that it’s a big risk to take, assuming that someone who doesn’t want kids will be magically transformed by having one.

            I lack the hubris to tell some other woman what her reproductive decisions should be … and expect the same courtesy in return.

          • Kubricks_Rube says:

            This is a well-written and thought provoking article. It made the rounds on the liberal blogs back in June, with a focus on the “more significant negative outcomes” in the “physical health and economic stability” of those denied abortion:

            But women in the turnaway group suffered more ill effects, including higher rates of hypertension and chronic pelvic pain (though Foster cannot say whether turnaways face greater risk from pregnancy than an average woman)…

            Economically, the results are even more striking. Adjusting for any previous differences between the two groups, women denied abortion were three times as likely to end up below the federal poverty line two years later. Having a child is expensive, and many mothers have trouble holding down a job while caring for an infant. Had the turnaways not had access to public assistance for women with newborns, Foster says, they would have experienced greater hardship.

            This all underscores my original comment about the moral imperative of embracing increased social/economic support for women and families, especially if also supporting limits on reproductive freedom.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Huh? The point being made was that an unwanted pregnancy is avoided by not having sex. It’s a basic fact. It has nothing to do with abortion.

          • Oh, so couples (married or not) who do not want children should remain celibate on the chance that their contraception will fail?

            Yeah, that’s not happening.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            What? Its just a statement of biological fact.

          • Abstinence only fails. People will have sex whether you want them to or not.

          • Mike Sullivan says:


          • Being deliberately disingenuous does not become you.

            Consenting to sex is not the same as consenting to pregnancy. Just so you know.

  2. I so appreciate this ongoing conversation. I agree with much of what Kubricks_Rube says about a need to look at abortion on a policy level, and that those on the truly pro-choice side might be more willing to concede some reasonable limits on abortion if the pro-life side would support things like widespread affordable contraception and economic supports that have been shown to reduce abortion rates. I will also share that one reaction I received to my post from other pro-choicers was, “Yes, the Jezebel piece was poorly argued and not representative. But given that the anti-choice movement is scoring some serious legislative victories right now, perhaps extremist language should be expected from the side that is, at the moment, being trounced.” While I don’t agree with the latter part of that sentiment (I think the Jezebel piece was terribly argued and did more harm to the pro-choice movement than good, period), I do agree that it is a frustrating time to be pro-choice. Part of that frustration stems from feeling that our more reasonable arguments and positions are being steamrolled by a countermovement built on a deeply flawed ideology that is less “pro-life” in a broad sense than it is “anti-choice” and that, yes, has made the defeat of abortion choice an idol.

    • Kubricks_Rube says:

      I think it’s important to note that part of the frustration comes from overreach by pro-life legislators. The recent anti-abortion bills in Texas and North Carolina may have some elements that people broadly support, but as a package deal these bills are not supported by a majority of the states’ voters.

      • Mike Sullivan says:

        And the pro-abortionists who cite Down syndrome as a reason for legal late term abortion because of their own negative discriminatory bias against our community. Pro choice has become pro selection and the real debate will now be around eugenic selection under the guise of reproductive choice.

        • citation needed.

          • He’ll cite his own blog articles again, Valde. Just to let you know.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Yeah, it’s easier than writing all the mothers testimonies again. Do you think it’a OK for pro choice doctors to pressure women to have abortions for Down’s syndrome?. Because it happens all the time. I know because they share their stories in our community. It’s all underpinned by the same bias shown by the Jezebel rant.

          • They aren’t forcing it on people so your point is moot.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            So you consider pressuring women to have abortions is respecting choice?

          • Citing your own blog is not the same thing as citing a source.

            Not even a high school debate coach would accept that kind of nonsense as valid.

            Once again … presenting an option is not the same as “pressure.”

    • Mike Sullivan says:

      Reproductive choice has now entered the arena of eugenic reproductive selection of the type of child. A position that is pretty much universally supported by the pro choice movement with a corresponding devastating impact on the Down syndrome community, not only in rapid population decline but reinforcement of discriminatory attitudes against our community. It is really disappointing to see some Christian advocates supporting reproductive selection and contributing toward this harm. But off course the pro-choice position doesn’t allow for condemnation of disability and sex selective abortion and so their discrimination against the basic dignity of all human life just perpetuates itself.

  3. Mark Leach says:

    Amy Julia and Ellen I appreciate your efforts to figure out a way to address abortion through reasonable discourse. Unfortunately, because prenatal testing for Down syndrome (my particular issue) and abortion are intertwined, the often unreasonable nature of the level of discussion about abortion can spill over to the discussion about the ethical administration of prenatal testing for certain conditions. I do find hope in those measures where individuals across the spectrum of the abortion issue reach common ground. The Kennedy-Brownback Act (as initially introduced) and the recent laws passed in Massachusetts and in my home state of Kentucky that require the provision of medically-reviewed, accurate information about Down syndrome and the contact information for support organizations with each prenatal test result shows that this can happen. Perhaps we can build from there on further measures where there is agreement.

    • LeticiaVelasquez says:

      But the $5 million of Kennedy-Brownback funding was never put in place, so the law is useless. I understand that is in the hands of Kathleen Sibelius, HHS Secretary. Surely she as a pro-choicer appreciates the importance of informed consent before a woman makes a life altering decision after a prenatal diagnosis?

  4. JezabelleDisreali says:

    As a lover and reader of Jezebel, I am caught in the middle. I share the concern that while the woman certainly choose to give the child up for adoption and that is wonderful; I have also seen the potential for coercive power that Christianity can have.

    I don’t know the woman, nor do I know the pastor. But from my understanding, the pastor put out the “looking for parents” ad before consulting the biological mother. I would call that an attempt at coercion if a person showed up on my doorstep saying “I know you didn’t ask for my help, and it really is none of my business, but I found a set of parents for your child”. How do you tell the prospective adoptive parents that you want an abortion? How do you graciously turn down the pastor? Emily Post has no response for this. It might be easier to just go along with it, rather than make an already difficult decision worse by being surrounded by more than necessary negativity.

    That is my concern from the pro-choice side of things. If, for whatever reason, when I decided to have an abortion someone tried to swoop in and help when they weren’t asked. I also can’t help but see it as a political move. Why try to help this one fetus in a dramatic publicized move, when there are people who are living with disabilities and misery now?

    • Mike Sullivan says:

      And the pro-choice Doctors who advise women with planned and wanted preganices to have an abortion when Down syndrome is diagnosed? Or Jezebel bloggers who reinforce discrimination against the Down syndrome because they think their choice is the right one? Or people who describe living with disabilities as being miserable?

      • JezabelleDisreali says:

        The difference is that the doctor didn’t get her prepped to have an abortion, merely suggested it. That’s not coercion, that’s presenting an option. And I highly doubt that Jezebel bloggers are really that influential in the decision making process of having an abortion. None of them show up at the doorstep with the car running ready to take her to the clinic. The pastor, at least to me, clearly overstepped his responsibilities. His responsibilities should be to those who are not blessed to have good homes or loving families. Not those who are yet to be born, or to interfere when not asked in anyone’s choices.

        • Mike Sullivan says:

          What his responsibilities are, are not for you to judge. He presented an option. Funny how the Jezebel folk are upset that someone took a choice that doesn’t suit their own bias.

          • Pro-choice means supporting *all* choices, including gestation if that is what the woman wants.

            Funny how the anti-choice don’t understand that … and ironic, given all of the shaming that comes from you folks if someone makes a choice that doesn’t suit *your* bias.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            He presented an option, a choice. Jezebel slammed him for doing so. That’s it.

          • He fucking showed up with potential adoptive parents in tow, without ever consulting the pregnant woman. That is beyond the pale.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            If they had wanted to adopt they would’ve sought out an adoption agency themselves. This man had no right to insert himself into a private family matter. And what’s more, he was dishonest in doing it. And showing up with potential adoptive parents to beg and plead amounts to coercion and emotional blackmail. I agree with Fiona. It was beyond the pale.

          • JezabelleDisreali says:

            His responsibilities are not to those whom he does not know. If they were any flavor of religious or spiritual, then it was the responsibility of their religious leader to advise them. Not the pastor. His responsibilities are to those who are already living in deplorable conditions, not to those who are unborn and not part of his flock.

            I repeat again, if she chose of her own volition, then that was the mothers choice and not for us to judge. HOWEVER. The mother HAD NOT looked to an adoption agency, WAS NOT part of the pastors church, and DID NOT ask for his help or advice. And that is the problem, the precedent that this sets is precarious and dangerous; even if you willingly choose not to see it.

      • The only person who has a say on how much risk a given pregnant woman should be willing to assume is said pregnant woman.

        • Mike Sullivan says:

          It was a wanted pregnancy. A child with Down syndrome doesn’t present any risks to the mother.

          • I am not just talking about physical health risks, Mike. There are other types — including financial. And I am not going to tell another woman what risks *of any sort* she should assume. She’s the only one who knows her situation.

          • I always find it curious that forced birthers state that ‘finance’s is a poor reason to abort, or not to breed, or whatever.

            HOWEVER, in the REAL world, finances DO matter. If you cannot afford to raise a disabled child, why would you bring one into the world? If you lack the funds to give the child a proper quality of life, WHY MAKE IT SUFFER?

            Oh, right, I keep forgetting. They think suffering is noble, and that imposing suffering helpless children who did not consent to be born is even more noble.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Who’s talking about finances? But again, here is the biased attitude against the disabled. Showing your discrimination against our people.

          • Finances matter.

            Not every family can afford millions of dollars in medical bills, you might want to consider that.

          • I was; I specifically mentioned financial risk. But, hey, money is no object, right? The stuff just grows on trees.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Can’t say I’ve ever found money growing in trees.

          • Well, then, you understand why it is inappropriate to demand that a woman take on millions in medical bills that she cannot afford. *That* is what financial risk means, Mike. You insist that a given woman continue a pregnancy even when she recognizes that she cannot afford to deal with the medical complications that she has just learned of.

            I guess that a homeless woman, who has experienced a medical bankruptcy, is no big deal to you — so long as she gestates the pregnancy as you insist.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            It’s a discredit to women to suggest they can’t mother a child with Down syndrome. They have the strength when they need it. Here at least, there is excellent support as well, there is no need to act out of fear or ignorance. Life with a child with Down syndrome is good.

          • In YOUR experience.

            Life for me with an Abyssinian kitty is wonderful – but some people might hate it, so I won’t be forcing Abyssinian kitties on anyone anytime soon.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            So anyway, we have established that you hold discriminatory attitudes towards those with Down syndrome, and think it is OK to pressure women to have abortions as long as they are not actually forced to have abortions.

          • No, unlike you, I have compassion for families and those who suffer and realise that it is not always right to create something that will suffer in life.

            Clearly, you believe DS people exist to be exploited for your own political ends.

          • Once again, for the deliberately obtuse, citing abortion as an option is not “pressuring” someone to have one.

            A pastor showing up unannounced at the door with a pair of strangers demanding to “take the baby,” on the other hand, *is* pressuring someone. And it is tantamount to human trafficking. There has been no screening by a qualified agency … nothing. Just an anti-choice minister and a pair of people who can’t be bothered to adopt any of the hundreds of thousands of children *already* awaiting homes.

          • Well, everywhere is not *there,* Mike … which is beside the point of “you don’t get to decide how much risk (financial, physical, emotional, etc.) some other individual is to assume. You do not know the circumstances that exist in their lives already. You, therefore, are acting out of ignorance as well when you insist that any woman, anywhere, should be forced to continue a given pregnancy if she determines that it is not feasible … for whatever reason.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            None of that has anything to do with having a child with Down syndrome. You seem to have some type of view that they are some sort of disadvantage.

          • It has *everything* to do with having a disabled child. If someone is not prepared financially, emotionally and physically to deal with it, forcing them to do so is not an advantage to the child. Unlike New Zealand, the United States does not have universal health care. While insurance can no longer turn down coverage for a pre-existing condition (like Down syndrome), that is a relatively recent development here — and insurance can still charge more for a policy, and cap services. So, once again, you are demanding that a given family be forced to assume risks *that you do not have to* in order to satisfy your personal political agenda.

            I’m kind of embarrassed that you use Down syndrome kids a tools to further your anti-choice agenda, to be honest.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            I advocate for people with Down syndromes and oppose discrimination and eugenics through targeted Down syndrome selective abortion. And we have made many great in roads.

    • @jezabelledisreali:disqus I agree with @disqus_08Q1tFakn3:disqus here… both parties involved – the doctor and the priest – gave advice or suggestions on how to proceed. Just because you supported the doctor’s opinion more than the priest’s doesn’t make one more-or-less “invasive”.
      You might say the priest overstepped his boundaries but I find that an insult to this woman to assume she was brow-beat into a decision. Lets assume she was a confident, capable woman who made her own choice, just not the choice you agreed with. I’m happy that unlike most women, she was presented an option other than abortion.

      • JezabelleDisreali says:

        It is a complicated issue. She could be a confident capable woman, she could want the child but not be able to take care of it like it should be. She made her choice, but the issue isn’t whether I would do it in her place, it is that someone in this very delicate and difficult decision process overstepped.

        The doctor gave an option. The pastor showed up with adoptive parents. The offer was not only unsolicited, but the couple themselves hadn’t reached out to an adoption agency to begin with. A pastor, if they feel religiously obligated to, should recommend adoption. Not show up with a set of parents in tow.

        While it is horrible if she was coerced, if she wasn’t that’s great. That was her choice. But this sets a horrendous precedent. It is a public display of unsolicited, and potentially undesired, help. It can be used to pressure women who don’t want to carry the fetus to term. It could put an adoptive couple through a roller coaster of emotions.

        Women are presented with other options, Planned Parenthood does suggest adoption as an alternative to abortion. It’s not like women who have them are ignorant.

        • Mike Sullivan says:

          Most Doctors encourage abortion when there is a diagnosis of Down syndrome. That’s coercion.

          • Most Doctors encourage abortion when there is a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

            Citation needed. Thanks in advance. Why? Because citing something as an option is not “encouraging” it.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            There is a bias towards the choice of abortion. It was displayed in the original post by Jezebel, who made discriminatory comments about people with Down syndrome. The authors shared the same bias against those with disabilities that many Doctors have.

          • Once again, presenting abortion as option is part of informed consent. Informed consent =/= advocacy.

            And seriously, you just cited your own blog articles? Hardly unbiased.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            The testimony of women who have been told to have abortions for Down syndrome is based on their experience.

          • You *claim* that the testimony is real, but I have no reason to believe it. If you have nothing but your own blog to cite, suffice it to say that I’m dismissing it out of hand. If you can’t cite something from the actual media, or from peer review, it may as well be made up from whole cloth.

          • What a life you must lead, requiring anything that is told to you to be backed by the media or peer review! How can you so freely trust the media? You are in dire need of some healthy imagination, Fi!

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            I once had someone who tried to tell me that it didn’t matter whether a story was true or false as long as it ‘touched your heart’ or had a ‘good message’. I’m sorry, but I disagree–if you say something is true, it needs to be true. And when you make the claim that people are being coerced into abortions for Down Syndrome, you need to have actual real proof, not stuff that sounds like it’s been passed around in church pamphlets or chain emails.

          • Exactly. In fact, some religious individuals advocate that truth shouldn’t be told because it isn’t “faith-promoting.”

            “Some things that are true are not very useful.” – Boyd K. Packer, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

            “I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth.” – ibid.

          • “Faith is a virtue.”

            I believe in unicorns, does that mean I am a morally righteous being?


          • When it comes to facts and figures, asking for references and citations is the order of the day. Mike made a statement of fact, and then used his *blog* as a reference. Not even a high school debate coach would accept anonymous “quotes” in a personal blog as adequate evidence.

            Unlike you, I’m not into making shit up.

          • I trust the rainbow unicorns in my head.

            They told me that abortion was ok.

            I’m right and you’re wrong – my rainbow unicorns have the inside track on what ‘truth’ is unlike your fake skydaddy.

          • Mike Sullivan says:
          • Fiona, Fiona, Fiona, actually, I have a friend who was pregnant, after age 35, with her third child. Due to her maternal age, her obstetrician ordered an amniocentesis. It was determined that her unborn child had Down Syndrome, and she was advised by her doctor, as well as the rest of the all-wise professionals in the teaching hospital, to abort. My friend and her husband were definitely not in agreement with their pro-death recommendation and told him so. They were adamant about continuing the pregnancy through to it’s rightful conclusion. However, the experts at the major teaching hospital where she was preparing to deliver were not satisfied with their decision, refusing to accept it. They thought they knew better than my friends what would be best for them. She received numerous phone calls, from the medical facility throughout the remaining months of her pregnancy, pressuring her to abort. She and her husband remained firm in their decision to embrace the life of their unborn babe. Guess what? When their son was born, he was a full-term normal, healthy baby! HE DID NOT HAVE DOWN SYNDROME! Today, he is a responsible, caring, productive man in his twenties, doing all he can in service to others.

            How many times, HOW MANY TIMES does this sort of evil coercion occur in medical facilities all across our nation?

          • ::pats Ginny on the head:: I’ve noticed over the course of time that you have a great many friends who have defied medical advice … and experienced “miracles” that you use to try to demonstrate how stupid physicians must be.

            One begins to suspect that these friends are wholly imaginary after a while.

          • I don’t recall mentioning the possibility of a miracle taking place in the TRUE story above, Fi. Since you brought it up, it could have been, or it simply could have been medical incompetency or even something more diabolical, couldn’t it? Physicians are mere humans, just like the rest of us. They are still just practicing medicine the last I heard. Please refresh my memory as to what friends of mine have defied medical advice. I am exceedingly blessed to believe in, as well as have witnessed and read about, miracles, both in my life as well as in the lives of others. I don’t use Thomas Jefferson’s Bible, even though I hail from Charlottesville. It’s your loss that you have chosen not to believe in Jesus, miracles, the Bible or the TRUE stories I tell about lives that have been blessedly rearranged by Jesus. Good day, Fi!

          • . It’s your loss that you have chosen not to believe in Jesus, miracles, the Bible

            Don’t give up your day job to become a psychic …

            or the TRUE stories I tell about lives that have been blessedly rearranged by Jesus.

            Just because you say something is so, doesn’t make it so. Your claims in re: science have been disproven many times with actual facts, figures and references; thus, I have no cause to believe that your anecdotes are anything but made up from whole cloth.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            I’m sorry I’m not buying this. My aunt and uncle were told they were carrying a child with Down Syndrome and chose to carry and give birth and raise their child–my now nineteen-year-old cousin. Abortion was mentioned as an option, which they refused. No one called them back, or tried to pressure them or anything. In fact, I would think that anyone constantly calling and trying to pressure someone into an abortion would be good grounds for a lawsuit.

          • Ginny has a rather fanciful imagination.

          • Yes, I do have a healthy imagination, much like AnnE of Green Gables. :) However, the TRUE story I told here has nothing to do with that imagination.

          • You’re right; your fiction here has nothing to do with the writings of L.M. Montgomery.

          • You don’t need to buy the TRUE story, Jen. Fortunately, that it actually happened doesn’t hinge upon you believing it. For you not to believe it doesn’t make it any less TRUE!

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Putting it in all caps doesn’t make it TRUE either. As I said, my aunt was told that abortion was an option and she decided against it and that was that. No one ever called her back, tried to change her mind, or anything. She knew what she was getting into and she made a free choice. But if this story of yours was in fact true–again, it would’ve been good grounds for a lawsuit, because that would be harassment. Did they sue? Because if it was me, I sure as hell would’ve at least threatened it.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Children with Down Syndrome can be wonderful in many ways. My cousin is wonderful, albeit bossy, hard-headed and ornery , but wonderful. She graduated from high school this year and is looking at continuing education and life skills classes. Thankfully she has no heart issues, though some digestive problems that she takes medication for. She needed physical therapy and speech therapy and constant supervision, particularly when she was young and was a little escape artist–gave us some scares there. Thankfully, my aunt and uncle both had good jobs, good health insurance plans and the means for employ a quality live-in caregiver for a good many years before my uncle decided to stay at home. Again, she is wonderful. But it was a lot of work, a lot of time and luckily my aunt and uncle have had the means and ability to provide all that–and have even set up things for the future to provide for her if something should happen to them . Not everyone has that. It’s a lot to take on, and I don’t believe that anyone should be forced into it. And the best people to make the decisions about what’s best and what risks they are willing to assume is the pregnant woman and her family. Not a third party.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Exactly. I have a close friend who was even screened without consent.

          • You are a liar. All medical testing involves consent, because there are risks to the tests themselves at times.

          • JezabelleDisreali says:

            If she was “screened without consent” that may be because she didn’t read the paperwork provided and simply signed. This is actually fairly common, and the fault lies fully with your friend. Anecdata has no place here.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Being offered something as an option is not coercion. My aunt was told that abortion was an option when she found out she was carrying a child with Down Syndrome, but she freely chose to carry to term There was no coercion involved.

          • How is telling someone they are free to kill their own flesh and blood ever a viable option???

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            That’s the decision of the person who’s actually pregnant. All that I said was that offering it as an option does not amount to coercion.

          • Ginny doesn’t know how to respond to anything without histrionics.

          • haha!

            I followed a link from RHRC to a ‘’ article – some crazy ass libertarian site – and every time I produce facts or figures or science one poster routinely replies with ‘you are crazy and soaked with blood’ ‘go sacrifice more babies to Moloch you sick liberal baby killer’ etc.

            This one really puts Ginny to shame. Ginny should try harder.

          • Wait until she starts dragging out quotes from the men whom she always refers to as “the exemplary” so-and-so … like Chuck Colson (known for his anti-gay hate speech), Tony Perkins (ditto) and James Dobson (known for promoting religiously motivated child and animal abuse).

            Her credibility as anything other than someone whom I pity is nil.

          • Fifi cannot respond to anything with wisdom and right thinking for she is not afforded such. She suffers from mental WILLness.

          • You suffer from the wish to force everyone to conform to your will. Sure sounds narcissistic to me!

          • Suggesting abortion is an option amounts to great evil, that’s what. Choosing abortion is offering one’s baby on the altar to narcissism. Our society is breeding psychopaths at an alarming rate due to our looking out for numero uno thinking.

          • Forcing pregnancy on women = slavery.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            Oh yes. So evil to provide a woman with all her options and then allow her to freely make up her own mind and decide what’s best for her and her family–just pure evil. What’s next? Treating women like they might be actual people instead of walking incubators? Oh, the horror!/snark.

        • The pastor showed up with adoptive parents. The offer was not only
          unsolicited, but the couple themselves hadn’t reached out to an adoption
          agency to begin with.

          Definitely inappropriate.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Is an unsolicited offer of an abortion following a diagnosis of Down syndrome inappropriate then? You said below that offering an abortion is part of informed consent. Now you are saying that an unsolicited offer of adoption is inappropriate. So which is it? An unsolicited offer is part of informed consent, or an unsolicited offer is inappropriate? Or does it depend on which choice is offered?

          • A pastor is not qualified to offer medical informed consent, so your straw man is dismissed.

            What the pastor did was completely inappropriate, showing up at the door with a couple of strangers saying “I’ll take your baby.”

            In some places, this might be called human trafficking.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            Being informed, means being informed of all options, including non medical. You haven’t addressed the question.

          • Do you think that the physician does not mention gestation in in formed consent discussions? How ridiculous. *Of course* that is discussed. Any other option happens *after* gestation.

            A *pastor* is not qualified to discuss medical informed consent.

          • JezabelleDisreali says:

            The doctor didn’t plop her on a table, tell her to spread them, and then offer abortion. Saying an abortion is an option is advice, not solicitation. The difference is that the pastor showed up with adoptive parents he solicited on Facebook, which firstly is hardly a good screening process for finding good adoptive parents and secondly is an unsolicited offer of adoption with out knowing the parents or their religious, medical or socio-economic position.

        • Mike Sullivan says:

          It’s not complicated. The women had a wanted pregnancy, that became unwanted after a diagnosis of Down syndrome. This had nothing to do with the dignity of the unborn child, which didn’t change after the diagnosis. The Pastor offered to support the mother and child by offering adoption, which is a compassionate response to support what “was” a wanted pregnancy. Enter the Jezebel poster, who has a bias against those with Down syndrome and took exception to one choice being taken over another because of their own bias. And then proceeded to rant against people with Down syndrome and Christianity in general, making all sorts of ill informed judgemental comments about how other people support those with Down syndrome in our community. Which says a lot about the people involved and nothing about the inherent dignity of those with Down syndrome who rock the extra chromosome!

          • The women had a wanted pregnancy, that became unwanted after a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

            She has a right to determine how much risk she is willing to assume, Mike.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            What risk?

          • Pregnancy is not benign.

          • Well, it is if you’re an anti-choice male …

          • Pregnancy is not a state of wellness. As previously outlined, there are financial and psychological risks as well.

            And it is not up to you to make determinations for anyone other than yourself what risks are to be assumed.

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            What risk is there from having a child with Down syndrome?

          • There is financial and emotional risk in addition to physical, as I have already outlined. And you are not qualified to tell any woman how much risk of any sort she should assume.

            Why do you insist on asking the same question that has been answered repeatedly?

          • Mike Sullivan says:

            There’s no risk, to the mother or child.

          • So, money grows on trees, then? And there are no physiological problems attendant with Down syndrome that could result in catastrophic medical bills — despite evidence to the contrary, which has already been posted? Once again, not everyone lives where there is universal health care.

            At this point, you’re moving from mere intellectual dishonesty to flat-out lies.

          • JezabelleDisreali says:

            The pastor was out of line, and behaved in a highly inappropriate manner. There isn’t a bias against downs, but an understanding that abortions do happen based on that information. As for Christianity, if Christians continue to behave in an inappropriate manner in the news, fully expect there to be a rant about it. It shouldn’t be taken personally, because the only time a religion really makes the news is when someone misbehaves horribly. And recently, some Christians have behaved abominably.

            There may be dignity to those with Downs. My experience with developmental disorders comes from my niece. I have the utmost respect for those who do support those who have Downs and other disorders. However, I can also understand why a parent may want to abort a fetus with Downs or other disorder. Not everyone has the back bone, or financial means to have such a child. Some don’t want the burden of care to be on their other children when they pass. These are all logical and acceptable reasons to abort. If the pastor really cared about children with Downs, then he would focus on those who are abused or are in bad conditions rather than interfering with a couples right to choose in a completely inappropriate way.

          • Are you kidding me? Babies can be completely normal before birth and during birth become disabled for life, such as my cousin who has lived with a severe case of CP for over 30 years. During the birth process, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and she was without oxygen for six minutes. She is a delightful person, one who has brought much love and joy to many. Any one of us can be injured or become ill at any time with a permanently debilitating condition. Life is fragile and uncertain for one and all. How can you say a baby with Down Syndrome is not just as worthy of life as any one else on our privileged planet??? When a mother goes against her natural inclination to nurture and protect the growing life within her, and, instead, rips her own flesh and blood from his/her safest haven on earth, she commits the most unnatural of acts.

          • How can you say a baby with Down Syndrome is not just as worthy of life as any one else on our privileged planet???

            Gin-bottle, how can you say that a given family is incapable of assessing how much risk (including financial) they are able to assume? Talk about disrespecting women … you presume that a pregnant woman is too damned dumb to be able to do this, but you want to force her to gestate a potentially doomed pregnancy against her will?

            Things that may or may not happen ex utero are irrelevant to this discussion.

          • Who died and put you on the throne, fi-fie-fo-fum?

          • You are the one who believes she is on a throne, advocating FORCED PREGNANCY.

          • When a mother goes against her natural inclination to nurture and protect the growing life within her

            You assume that ‘nurturing motherhood’ is a trait that all pregnant women should have in common.

            You would be wrong.

            Pregnancy = a biological process. Nothing more. A woman is not a mother unless she wants to be.

          • What a sad way to view pregnancy. What a meaningless worldview you have.

          • Biology doesn’t care about your feelings.

            And by your logic, every rape victim should be overjoyed with a rape pregnancy after a brutal rape.

      • The priest showed up with potential adoptive parents in tow, without having been consulted about the matter. The couple had not reached out to any agencies; this means there was no screening process. Just some couple who wanted to adopt, but couldn’t be bothered to go through the screening process to adopt one of the 100K children currently available for adoption in the US (per AFCARS statistics).

        This is tantamount to human trafficking, IMO … and beyond the pale.

  5. Heather Bradley says:

    I think it is possible to make a definite distinction between termination of an unwanted pregnancy versus terminating a much wanted pregnancy due to Down syndrome. Unfortunately, many women making this difficult choice are not armed with all of the up-to-date information about Down syndrome. In some instances, the parents are pressured to terminate from their doctors. I think both sides would agree that an “informed” choice is best but how can that happen when some physicians are biased and ill informed? I agree with Mark Leach, that more states need to pass “informed consent” laws like MA and KY, requiring that doctors present the diagnosis in an unbiased, accurate way.
    To respond to the Jezebel reader: It is quite possible that the priest in this case may have overstepped in his attempts to prevent the couple from going forward with an abortion. Obviously he had a bias, although I would argue it came more from having a brother with Down syndrome than from his position in the church. The fact is, we all have biases. At least with a church their bias is obviously known. When the couple went to the church they knew what response they would get. This is not the case with physicians. We expect unbiased facts. Unfortunately for some parents receiving a prenatal diagnosis this is not happening.

  6. Susan_G1 says:

    “In some instances, the parents are pressured to terminate from their doctors… (who) are biased and ill informed”

    I’m not an obstetrician, but a Family Practitioner, and my obstetrical days are far behind me. When I was doing obstetrics, however, I was in a 5-person FP group, all of whom were doing obstetrics. And I did train in a tertiary care facility, so in my residency did high-risk OB and worked in a NICU, where we did take care of not only premature babies, but others with multiple birth defects. I was not trained that way!

    The behavior described below is surprising to me. Has anyone here actually had the experience of having their obstetrician (alone) advise an abortion for T21?

    I would not in my wildest dreams do that; it not only flies in the face of medical ethics, but also is against the Hippocratic Oath (which I do not place above my obedience to God, but it’s a pretty solid foundation which has guided the medical community for centuries). If I had a patient who proved to have T21 (or any other abnormality), I would have referred her to specialists – a genetic counselor, an OB GYN, and a therapist. My partners would do some version of the same. Abortion is a last resort! Adoption is always welcome over abortion. Weighing the moral rights of the child against the mother’s, 9 months in utero is a relatively small price to pay for the life of a child wanted by someone. I would have no moral difficulty advocating for this choice. Ultimately, however, it is the patient’s body and the patient’s choice, always.

    Fortunately for me, of the 100 or so babies I delivered and took care of (a notably small number, but obstetrics was not my favorite activity), not a single one had a genetic abnormality, so I never had to act on my beliefs. But, really, how often does this surprising event occur? I mean, there are always bad doctors. Gosnell existed, and there are others. But I hear commenters mention it as if it were a common practice.

    • Heather Bradley says:

      Susan – Recently there was a discussion on BabyCenter’s Down syndrome pregnancy board discussing this very topic.

      While I do not think “pressuring” is a common occurrence, it does happen. You can also see the statistics in this 2009 study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

      Just the way a doctor delivers a diagnosis, can have a HUGE impact on the patient. When we received our child’s birth diagnosis, the doctor delivered the news in a way that suggested he was “Sorry”.

      • Susan_G1 says:

        The article was, sadly, enlightening. I was shocked to discover that 23% of the OBs surveyed (it was a small survey, however) deliver the news in a manner emphasizing the negative with a bias toward termination. That is mind blowing to me. I have difficulty imagining such unethical behavior.

        I did notice two things, though. First is the emphasis on asking the question before offering prenatal testing: what will you do with this information? This is, I presume, what Amy Julia’s book is about, and something I always did. It also seems that as of 2009, the option not to undergo prenatal testing is still as valid as when I practiced obstetrics. Second, I can tell you as a physician, there is very little likelihood that a woman will be given the news in the ideal manner described. To have an OB and a geneticist deliver the news together – that will be the exception rather than the rule in medicine today. But the rest can be implemented.

        Thanks for the informative article and for a very unexpected answer.

    • Mike Sullivan says:
  7. Alarms & Discursions says:

    It’s strange that pro-choice people seem so blithely unaware that Planned Parenthood was founded by a eugenicist for the purpose of eugenics, and that that has ALWAYS been part of the pro-choice side. I am bemused by people who, when confronted by the racism and eugenics of the pioneers of “family planning,” say that no such motives exist today, even as, for example, black babies are aborted some five times more often than white babies and babies with discernible birth defects are aborted at higher and higher rates, and with more and more encouragement (to the point of intimidation) by the culture. But I guess the fact that abortion stats mirror perfectly the racist and eugenic program of people like Margaret Sanger is just a coincidence.

    • black babies are aborted some five times more often than white babies

      so you think that black women are too stupid to make their own reproductive choices?

      how magnanimous of you!

      • To say nothing of it being a lie …

        • Alarms & Discursions says:

          Here’s that racist right wing site Black Entertainment Television: “abortion rates among Black women are much higher than we thought: They are four times the rate of white women. The report found that on average, 41 in 1,000 pregnancies among Black women (ages 15-19) are terminated compared to 10 among white women and 20 among Latinas.” Enjoy your racist genocide.

          • 1) Researchers do admit that these numbers might be flawed. They wrote in
            the report that most states don’t have abortion rate data based on
            race/ethnicity, citing that only 27 states offer info on Black teens


            They also admit that this report doesn’t answer why these rates are so high.
            Rachel Jones, from the Guttmacher Institute, told The Daily Caller,
            “There’s no definitive research that’s actually been able to answer
            that question.” She added, “We just do know that African-American women,
            including African-American teenagers, just have more pregnancies.”


            Forty-eight percent of Black female teens have been diagnosed with an STD; Black women ages 15 to 19 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea and we are also 20 times more likely to have HIV than our white female counterparts.

            So it’s pretty obvious that abortion rates would be disproportionately high as well.

            And so if we want to lessen these racial reproductive health
            disparities, we have to stop thinking that abstinence-only is the

            4) poverty and a lack of attention given to teenagers at high risk for
            teen pregnancy could be potential causes for the high abortion rates
            among African-American teens.


            Cheryl L. Somers, associate professor and director of the School
            & Community Psychology program at Wayne State University agrees, and
            argues that data on abortion rates cannot be counted unless it factors
            in teen pregnancy rates as a whole.

            “The [studies] on abortion are missing a key piece on information and
            that is the raw difference in pregnancy rates,” Somers told The
            Huffington Post. “Per capita, there are going to be more abortions,
            because we know that African Americans have a high teen pregnancy rate.
            So this doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s almost irresponsible, because
            it misleads the public… and it really perpetuates racial bias,” she

          • If you don’t have a link so that the information may be reviewed in situ, you don’t have a source.

            Thanks for playing “Anti-choicers don’t understand evidence.” We have some lovely parting gifts for you backstage.

          • Yep and I went to the study he was referencing, and lo and behold, there is more to it than he let on. Points 1 through 5 listed below give a thorough explanation.

          • Intellectual dishonesty from an anti-choicer? Why, I *never* saw that coming … /sarcasm

          • And here is another thing sweetie.



            Noun : The deliberate killing of a large group of people, esp. those of a particular ethnic group or nation.


            Black women and teens *choose* to use contraception and to get abortions.

            So, by your logic, these black women are purposely trying to wipe black people out of existence by making their own reproductive health decisions?

            Why, oh why, do black women want to commit genocide on black people? Please, enlighten us.

          • Alarms & Discursions says:

            Why do you?

          • Why do you support gestational slavery of black women? Do you want to see them living in poverty, forced to have a kid every time they have sex?

          • Alarms & Discursions says:

            Unlike Valde, I think black women could be intelligent enough to control their reproduction through foresight and contraception. Valde thinks they’re just fornicating rabbits who can’t control themselves.

          • Black women are intelligent enough to control their own reproduction through foresight and contraception.

            However, contraception still fails. And black women are also intelligent enough to get an abortion when that happens.

            No one is forcing abortions on black women – they freely choose it, just as they choose contraception.

            Stop treating black women like genocidal maniacs if they choose abortion, Alarms.

          • Jennifer Starr says:

            I don’t see how a black woman making an individual decision is somehow committing genocide. Unless you’re going to opine that you don’t consider black women smart enough to make their own reproductive choices, which would be a racist thing to say.

      • Alarms & Discursions says:

        Valde, you seem glad black babies are being killed at such a high rate. How racist.

        • Alarms, you sound like a rapist!!

          See, I can pull stupid stuff out of my ass too!

          Grow up.

          • Alarms & Discursions says:

            Yet you still support the black genocide. Your vulgarity does nothing to undo that, killer.

          • I support a black woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices.

            You support gestational slavery for black women, in order to keep them in poverty.

  8. I am at a loss to come up with a legitimate reason why Amy included neither a link to the Jezebel article, nor any quotes that exhibit the alleged “derogatory attitude”, and the absence is a sad commentary on the state of blogging standards.

  9. ” The politicians who gain media support and attention are those who advocate for abortion rights that most Americans (even pro-choice ones) abhor, as Kirsten Powers has written (I Don’t Stand with Wendy Davis). ”

    According to that article, 50% support a ban after 20 weeks. Supporting a ban is hardly the same thing as “abhoring” abortion after that, and if 50% support the ban, it is basic common sense that much less than “most” pro-choice people support it. Moreover, Powers focuses on the 20 week ban, and doesn’t even mention what the other restrictions in bill are. She merely alludes to them, deep in the article, and does so after dishonestly linking these measure to Gosnell. She claims that the Texas restrictions are “similar” to the ones in Pennsylvania, but provides no support for that claim. And then she engages in some rhetorical BS to accuse human rights activists of hypocrisy by sidestepping the central issue, namely whether fetuses are human beings, and pretending that pro-choicers are claiming that women are “voiceless”. What a dishonest article.

  10. Mike Sullivan says:

    Well, it’s been an illuminating discussion. On the matter of a pregnancy involving Down syndrome, we have established from a number of “pro choice” posters here that:

    1. They hold deeply held discriminatory attitudes about the Down syndrome community;
    2. They believe that it is acceptable to pressure a women into an abortion;
    3. That an unsolicited offer of an abortion is part of an informed choice; and
    4. That an unsolicited offer of an adoption would be unacceptable.

    Which pretty much reinforces the point made in the blog.

    • JezabelleDisreali says:

      1. Not all of us are capable of raising a Downs child. This is a fact, and being sympathetic to this fact does not make us discriminatory.
      2. No one pressured her into an abortion. Offering medical options to the mother is good medical practice. Anyone who hounds a mother to make a different choice, is at the least guilty of harassment and at the most medical malpractice. This is not acceptable, and shows your lack of understanding.
      3. Mentioning the option of abortion is part of an informed choice. Many doctors, and Planned Parenthood, also offer adoption as an option. Some even offer to connect a mother to an adoption agency. This is informed choice and acceptable.
      4. Mentioning adoption as an option: acceptable. Bringing adoptive parents, found on Facebook not through an adoption agency, when you have neither a full understanding of adoption laws and processes or a medical background, when you do not know the parents or their religious, medical or socio-ecomonic background, and you are not even tangental to their support system is completely unacceptable and inexcusable. THE. END. unacceptable.

  11. Esther O'Reilly says:

    For God’s sake, everyone, STOP TRYING TO DEBATE WITH FIONA64. He (or she) has “I am an Internet troll” tattooed on his/her forehead. Don’t feed the trolls folks.

    • Really? I suggest that you read my comment history, and look at the fact that I post facts, figures and sources before accusing me of trolling.

      Unless, of course, in your mind presenting an actual argument instead of hyperemotional bullshit equates to trolling.

      And yes, I am female.

    • It is really weak to claim that someone is a troll just because they hold an opposing viewpoint.

      Grow up.

      • Esther O'Reilly says:

        Takes one to know one I guess. FYI Valde, I’ve had many a civil, cordial conversation with people who held opposing viewpoints from me. However, fiona has a fundamentally broken moral compass and is smugly unaware of this (rather obvious) fact, using morally bankrupt soundbytes to defend his (her?) position. That’s what makes him/her a troll.

        • However, fiona has a fundamentally broken moral compass and is smugly
          unaware of this (rather obvious) fact, using morally bankrupt soundbytes
          to defend his (her?) position. That’s what makes him/her a troll.

          Thank you for confirming what we all said about you. Fiona is a ‘troll’ because she happens to have views that do not align with yours.

          Like I said, grow up. Not everyone is going to agree with you on moral matters all of the time. That’s reality. Stop crying about it and trying to present your opponent as some sort of evil troll.

          • Esther O'Reilly says:

            The only tears I’m shedding are tears of grief for a nation that can produce people like fiona who coldly speak of the necessity of murdering children in the womb, without even pretending it’s not murder. That’s the truly terrifying part. It’s bad enough when you try to argue it’s not a baby (though laughable scientifically). But when you can look me in the eye and say “Yes, it’s murder. Murder is sometimes okay,” what more is there to say?

          • A fetus isn’t a child.

            And science does not consider fetii to be babies – it considers them to be fetii, or embryos, or zygotes.

            < But when you can look me in the eye and say "Yes, it's murder. Murder is sometimes okay," what more is there to say?

            And no one says this. And Fiona certainly hasn’t. So there you go, making stuff up again.

            I predict that she will mock you for your histrionics.

          • Esther O'Reilly says:

            Kind of strange how a fetus can have fingers, toes, and eyelashes and not be a tiny human person, but have it your way.

            And, you are wrong. Many have unashamedly defended it as justifiable murder and continue to do so. I spoke with a group of pro-choice advocates at my university who said that very thing.

          • Kind of strange how a fetus can have fingers, toes, and eyelashes and not be a tiny human person, but have it your way.

            A clinically braindead corpse on life support can have fingers, toes, and eyelashes – but they are no longer a person because there is no ‘consciousness’ there.

            Without sentience, you have nothing but an empty shell.

            Fetii are not sentient.

            Many have unashamedly defended it as justifiable murder and continue to
            do so. I spoke with a group of pro-choice advocates at my university who
            said that very thing.

            Yeah. Suuuure.

          • How much do you want to bet that she’s another one who knows someone who heard of someone who was told that their anencephalic fetus would not survive ex utero … and it was born perfectly healthy, and is now a PhD working on curing cancer?

          • Kind of strange how a fetus can have fingers, toes, and eyelashes and not be a tiny human person, but have it your way.

            It takes one helluva lot more than that to be a person. Dolls have all of those things, just for example.

            Personhood and its attendant rights accrue at birth. Period.

          • What would be your explanation for my daughter being given a birth certificate for her full-term, stillborn daughter, Fi? Are birth certificates given for non-persons?

          • She didn’t get a birth certificate; that’s a certificate of live birth. Stillborns are given certification of birth resulting in stillbirth. Not the same thing at all, and had she miscarried earlier in pregnancy, she wouldn’t have been given anything. A stillborn fetus is not a person, no matter how much you try to make it one — and how much your daughter gets paid to talk about how she made her choice and doesn’t want others to have the same right, and uses that stillborn fetus as a tool in the process.

          • Abortion is not murder. Murder is the unlawful (illegal) taking of a person’s life with malice aforethought. Abortion is a legal medical procedure. That which is legal cannot simultaneously be unlawful, so your definition fails prima facie, without me having to even bother pointing out that a fetus is not a person.

          • Just because something might be legal does not necessarily make it right, Fi. We have many ridiculous laws, sadly.

          • Well, Gin (since we’re being all pals-y and overly familiar), the law is very simple: women have a right to privacy where medical decisions are concerned. It’s pretty simple; I’m sorry you think that’s “ridiculous.”

            In brief: keep your nose out of other women’s uteruses, Gin-bottle. If it’s not your pregnancy, it’s none of your damned business.

          • Ella Warnock says:

            So, you’d be more comfortable if she “pretended” that it was murder. I guess you have a point. I know a few people who would be happier if I pretended that I thought the way they do. They don’t have a great appreciation for reality, of course.

          • She’s just pissed because I use science and data instead of histrionic nonsense.

            After all, the only thing the anti-choice really have to support their position is histrionic nonsense, so they cling to it and get mad when other people don’t buy it.

            I actually feel sorry for her. It must be very difficult going through life choosing ignorance at every turn.

          • I would be rich now if I had a penny for every time I have heard an anti-choicer use the phrase ‘scissors through the back of a baby’s skull’

          • Or “If you don’t want a baby, keep your legs shut.”

        • fiona has a fundamentally broken moral compass and is smugly unaware of
          this (rather obvious) fact, using morally bankrupt soundbytes to defend
          his (her?) position.

          I’ve already told you that I’m female. Do you have reading comprehension problems?

          How is my moral compass broken? Because I think that the pregnant woman has a right to make her own reproductive decisions? Quelle horreur!

          And the anti-choice wonder why I find them so laughable. I’m so embarrassed that I was *ever* part of the anti-choice movement … in no small part because it is populated with science deniers like Esther.

    • Jennifer Starr says:

      Disagreeing with your point of view does not a troll make.

  12. Heather Bradley says:

    In reading these comments, it is clear that bridging the abortion divide is not likely. Very sad. I would hope those in the pro-choice and pro-life camps would be willing to support informed consent laws in states that require physicians to give unbiased, accurate information in presenting a diagnosis. As I indicated in another comment, besides the many personal testimonies, there is evidence proving this is not happening now. If nothing else, can we not compromise on “informed choice”?

    link to research:

  13. This conversation has devolved and doesn’t seem to be doing anything to build bridges between the opposing sides in the abortion debate, so I am going to suspend the comments. Thanks.