not in Primary anymore

let’s talk about abortion: a letter to pro-lifers

Author’s Note:

Writing this post was a very interesting experience. Because of the sensitivity of the topic, I sent drafts to several friends for feedback, intentionally choosing people from a variety of religious and political backgrounds. Unsurprisingly, everyone had criticisms, for which I was grateful. But what did take me aback was how widely their suggestions for improving the piece varied. The lawyer wanted more evidence. The social scientist wanted more analysis. The activist wanted more fire. The pacifist thought I should tone it down. Whatever each person saw missing in this discussion connected directly to his or her personal life, and each needed something different to make it more compelling or more clear. Often I find myself as interested in the dynamics of a debate as I am in its substance, and with abortion this is definitely the case. Few issues are discussed with greater passion, and few discussions are as unproductive. Ultimately, I decided to maintain my original angle, an attempt at a moderate but still pro-choice argument that focuses on macro-level factors. Whatever your position, I appreciate your interest and thank you for reading.

Dear pro-lifers,

I know this topic instantly makes people angry, on both sides. Whatever your reaction to what I have to say, know in advance that it’s not my intent to enrage or offend you, to violate things you hold sacred, or in any way to increase divisiveness on a topic that already sends people to opposite ends of the earth. My hope is to honestly express my opinions in a way that fosters healthy discussion and perhaps even a little sympathy between differing positions.

Where I’m Coming From

First, a brief note about me as it pertains to the topic of abortion. I belong to a faith that strongly discourages abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is endangered. It’s a taboo topic in Mormonism as it is in many other circles. I have never heard it discussed in a church meeting, but I know many Mormons hold strong feelings against abortion.

As a teenager, I remember reaching simple conclusions on my own. At 16, I didn’t think abortion was universally bad, and I was far from developing any sort of political opinion on it, but I decided for myself that it wasn’t something I would do. I decided around that age that if I became pregnant, I would carry the baby and give it up for adoption. Then around 19 or 20, still feeling that I would not want an abortion for myself, I decided that if I became pregnant outside of marriage—despite my suspicion that religious leaders would pressure me to give the baby up—I would keep it.

[*PRIVILEGE CHECK* I want to acknowledge the privilege inherent in my ability to make the above choices for myself. First, a privilege of safety: I have never had to worry about becoming pregnant because of rape. Second, an economic privilege: I have always had access to good health care, and my decision to keep any children that came along was backed, if subconsciously, by the knowledge that I would have the means to safely carry and deliver a child. Many, many women in the world face such decisions without these privileges supporting them. Let’s continue.]

So that’s it. I’ve never become pregnant. I’ve never had to make this choice. Today, I’m 25 and unmarried, and I maintain the position that if I become pregnant before marriage, I’ll keep the baby. However, as a feminist with generally moderate political views, I am opposed to legislation of any kind which blocks women’s access to abortion.

Here’s What We Have in Common

But here’s what I really want you to know, pro-lifers. Regardless of whatever personal experience, religious background, or political leanings shape your own feelings on this topic, you and I aren’t so different.

The truth underlying all of this nasty debate is this: we both want a world where there is no abortion.

Did you know I felt that way?

Best case scenario: no abortion. Anywhere.

A World without Abortion

Let’s envision together what kind of world that would be, a world where the only people who became pregnant and had children did so because they wanted to.

What would that world look like? Here’s what I see:

A world without abortion would have absolutely no rape. All across the globe, women would have sex because they wanted to, and when they didn’t want to, their decision would be respected.

A world without abortion would be one where everyone had access to the medical care required to safely carry, deliver, and raise a child. Everyone who became pregnant would have the security of those resources backing their decision.

A world without abortion would be one where everyone had access to contraception, empowering those women who did not want to become pregnant with reasonable means to prevent it from happening.

A world without abortion would have responsible sex education—be it through a school program or in the home—for all of its teenagers, such that every young person became empowered with the knowledge of how a woman becomes pregnant and how to safely avoid pregnancy. Further, those who are sexually active have access to the above-mentioned contraception.

And lastly, a world without abortion is one where women’s intimate partners are fully committed and do not abandon them in the event of a pregnancy.

Who wouldn’t want to live in that world?

Here’s Where We Disagree

Now here, pro-lifers, is where we part ways, not on what we want but how we go about making it happen. Because of your belief, one that I agree with, that it is morally wrong to abort a pregnancy, you want to legislate a short-cut to the world I just described. Your strategy to creating a world where there is no abortion is to outlaw legal access to abortion.

But here’s the problem.

You want to force abortion out of the world by decreasing the supply, by blocking legal means of accessing this procedure. But this does nothing to decrease the demand.

We still have women who are not safe, who become pregnant because of rape.

We still have women who do not have medical care, who become pregnant without the means to safely carry, deliver, and raise their babies.

We still have women who become pregnant because they do not have access to contraception.

We still have women who become pregnant because they and their partners were not properly educated about sex, pregnancy, and pregnancy prevention.

We still have women who become pregnant and are then abandoned by their partners.

So long as these problems persist, you will still have women who become pregnant against their will. You’ll still have women who become pregnant without the physical and emotional resources to safely complete a pregnancy. You will still have women who believe that they absolutely cannot stay pregnant. Outlawing abortion does nothing to prevent any of these problems.

And here’s another issue.

When you lower the supply of something in demand, you raise the value of the remaining supply and also the desperation of demanders. You force remaining supply into underground markets, where access becomes more expensive and more dangerous. Further, when you raise the value of something, you incentivize more people to become suppliers of that good.

In short, your proposed short-cut to the dream world actually pushes us away from it. Outlawing abortion encourages more people to provide illegal abortions, and it completely ignores so many of the problems that make women feel the need to have an abortion in the first place.

What Do We Need?

What we need is a holistic approach that decreases not the supply of abortions available but the demand for them.

We need a world where women do not fear rape.

We need a world where women have the resources to safely carry, deliver, and raise children, as well as resources to prevent pregnancy if they do not wish to become a parent.

We need a world where all people are adequately educated on sex, pregnancy, and pregnancy prevention.

And we need a world where people enjoy healthy, committed relationships, with supportive partners who do not run away when things get serious.

Abortion is a sad, sad thing. So help me make a world where no one needs it.

Sincerely,

A Reluctant Pro-Choicer

Erin is originally from Simi Valley, California and studies international affairs and Arabic at the University of Utah. She loves any combination of writing, movies, politics, friends, and food.

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46 Responses to “let’s talk about abortion: a letter to pro-lifers”

  1. Locke

    I agree that we should decrease the demand for abortions. But the harms of banning abortion (dirty needles, untrained abortionists, expense, etc.) cannot justify us tolerating the harms of abortion itself (death).

    Following that logic, Islamic states would be justified in allowing FGM so long as it was done by health care professionals. After all, banning FGM would only cause women more harm: it would go to underground markets where untrained persons would perform the procedure with dirty knives. Like abortion, the harms of banning FGM cannot justify us tolerating the harms of FGM itself.

    Why can we not simply ban abortion while at the same time decrease the demand for it?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Are you really comparing FGM to abortion? There’s one word that separates the two: choice.

      Reply
      • Locke

        So you can explain how that difference answers my questions below, right?

      • Justin

        No, not really. The child has no choice in abortion. So, yes FGM and abortion are perfectly comparable.

  2. amy

    Locke, no. You cannot simultaneously do that because despite your best efforts, you cannot decrease the demand overnight the way you can institute a ban overnight.

    I was in a conversation just today about this with a friend today who is in my ward. We live in Canada but I have lived most of my life in the US. I have had a baby under each of these health care systems and have watched others under the maternal care in each system. When she was approaching the conversation about abortion, she had no idea how expensive maternal care was in the US. She was working through her Canadian paradigm–a country that has half of the abortions per capita as the US despite there being absolutely no legal restrictions on when an abortion can take place in the first two trimesters and despite the fact that Canada has far more atheists per capita (and less of a moral objection to abortion in general). Why is it so much lower? it’s because Canada has helped to address some of the issues Erin mentioned in her post–they have social programs to help women who become pregnant while under financial duress and they have quality maternal care that is universally available to all residents. We still have not addressed many of the other issues and I believe we would drastically reduce the number of abortions should we focus on these other areas of need.

    Reply
    • Locke

      Amy,

      The difference between Canada and the United States is interesting. But how does that support tolerating abortion itself?

      As I see it, we are dealing with two separate issues: (1) how to reduce abortions (legal or otherwise), and (2) how to deal with those who engage in abortions. I am on board with you on the first point. Let’s reduce abortions. But what does that have to do with the second point?

      I think FGM is bad too. We should do everything we can to reduce the demand for it (i.e. education, changing the culture’s view on women, etc.). But that still leaves open the question of whether we should punish those who engage in FGM. Do you support keeping FGM legal until the demand can be reduced? Even though that demand will not be reduced overnight (and will likely take decades to change)?

      Even if we institute all of the things that Erin mentioned, a demand for abortion will still exist. In Canada, 1.4% of women have an abortion every year (as compared to 2% in the US). What should Canada do about that 1.4%? If the US implements Erin’s suggestions and reduced the demand to 1%, what should be done about that 1%?

      Statistics from http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/dont-need-abortion-law.html

      Reply
  3. Quernlucy

    Even with universal access to good medical care there is no way to eradicate the need for abortions entirely. There are women for whom pregnancy posses a real and immediate danger.

    Reply
    • erinmoore

      Good point. I guess in my mind I differentiate between medically necessary and unnecessary abortions, but for some people even an endangered mother is not justification for abortion. But you’re absolutely right. Thank you, Quernlucy, for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  4. Katherine

    A woman who was raped should not abort. Yes, I understand that might be considered quite a radical statement, but why is the life of a child conceived in rape less valuable than one conceived in love? (Hint: it’s not). We never are to punish a child for the crimes/ sins of its father.

    The violence of a rape should not be compounded by the violence of an abortion.

    Reply
    • Duerma

      Wow, this is the most callous thing I’ve read on the internet today. I sincerely hope that behind your statement is the unsaid “I fully believe in and support welfare and fully government-subsidized health and child care.” Otherwise, in addition to saying “I believe the best way to treat trauma is 9 more months of trauma” and “I believe potential human beings deserve more rights and sympathy than actual existing human beings,” you are also saying “I think that victims should have to pay thousands of dollars for their perpetrator’s crimes” and “It doesn’t matter to me if victims lose their job as a result of crimes enacted against them” and “I just want there to be more people in this world, I don’t care if they can actually survive.” Please have some empathy for the woman being forced to suffer health problems and watch her body mutate as a result of violence rather than love.

      Reply
      • Katherine

        What leads you to believe that I am not empathetic to women in tough situations?

        Hardship does not justify homicide. As to your point about the money needed to raise a child, Christian run CPCs do a world of good to help women in trouble.

        What makes you believe that I’m saying a woman’s health is second to that of her unborn child? They both are human. They both are crucial.

        Who has lost her job because she was pregnant? And even if that were to happen, why do you blame me as a pro-lifer instead of her employer? VICTIM BLAMING!

        Watch her body mutate? So, you’re saying pregnancy is mutation?

        Could you look a person in the eye who was conceived in rape and tell him/ her that his/ her life doesn’t matter? That if his/her mother chose to abort, it would have been okay?

        Pregnancy is trauma, huh? Is that what your mother experienced when she was pregnant with you?

        I’ll say it again, because it cannot be said enough:

        Hardship does not justify homicide.

      • Duerma

        For some women, pregnancy is totally manageable, but for other women, it can be a medical nightmare, and you have no idea what you are going to get until you are experiencing it.

        I have no idea about my mother’s pregnancy, but MY pregnancy was traumatic. My hyperemesis caused me to lose 15 pounds in the first trimester and to require IV fluids to stay alive. I was put on bedrest and was constantly taking meds and receiving shots to stop labor. They eventually stopped working and I had to have a c-section, after which I hemorrhaged and nearly died. I suffered PTSD and PPD, and was in therapy for some time after the pregnancy concluded – and I WANTED it. I cannot even fathom going through all that if it was unwanted and forced upon me.

        Who has lost her job because she was pregnant? Me. While my employer was very nice, he couldn’t keep my position open for months on end of me being unable to go to work. It was a tremendous struggle trying to make ends meet without me being able to work. Thank goodness I had a husband to support me – I can’t imagine trying to care for myself and my unborn while single. (I’m not sure where you get “blaming the pro-lifer” and “victim blaming” from my previous statement.)

        My pregnancy was also fabulously expensive. Between all my prenatal care and the baby in the NICU, bills came to over $100,000. Thank goodness we qualified for Medicaid – there’s absolutely no way we could have paid that on our own. I can’t imagine being faced with that kind of bill when I didn’t even want the baby in the first place.

        And – surprise – the pregnancy turned out to be twins. Twice the diapers, twice the carseats, twice the clothing, twice the expenses. As it turns out, I couldn’t go back to work because the cost of daycare was astronomical for two infants. I didn’t have family around to care for them, and friends turned out to be unreliable. Again, thank goodness I have a husband to support me, or else I would have been one of those people that conservatives like to shake fingers at, someone receiving welfare while not working, some idiot who shouldn’t have had more kids than she could afford (because I obviously should have known I would conceive twins after 1 month of trying despite no family history of them).

        I recognize that my experience is not typical of most women’s pregnancies. However, I am not so naive to think that my experience is wholly unique, either. This can be and is the reality for some women, many of whom are far less equipped to deal with it than I was. To make someone suffer all this, any of this, when it was forced upon her is cruel.

        “Hardship does not justify homicide.” I would agree with this statement, However, I disagree that abortion is the same as homicide. The fetus cannot exist outside its mother. It cannot reproduce. It cannot metabolize without its mother’s help. It does not have memory or experiences or familial attachments that make homicides so horrifying. A fetus has the POTENTIAL to eventually do all that, but to say abortion is equivalent to homicide is like saying a destroying blank canvas is the same as destroying a Van Gogh painting.

      • Katherine

        I see. Well, I am sorry you had a traumatic pregnancy, and I am certainly glad for the help and support (financial and otherwise) that you received from your husband and others to bring your twins into the world.

        To say a fetus is not a human being is incorrect. By reproduction, we mean the cells are reproducing. A born person cannot reproduce until they have hit puberty. Does that mean they are not a full person yet? Of course not.

        You also mention functions that a fetus cannot carry out without its mother. So you’re then saying that if a person needs assistance, it’s alright to abort? If a human being (with a beating heart, full genetic makeup in place) cannot survive on its own, then we can end it’s life? That’s a dangerous and misguided philosophy.

        I would pose the question to you: at what point in pregnancy do you believe it’s no longer acceptable to abort? When does a fetus become a person to you? Going along with your Van Gogh analogy (which you won’t be surprised to learn that I find nonsensical), when does something become valuable enough that it becomes unethical to kill it?

        Abortion is agism. It’s saying that a human being’s worth and ability to survive is dependent upon on how physically developed it is.
        What if I arbitrarily choose 3 weeks old to classify as a human being. Would it then be alright for me to kill a 2 week old baby? Of course not. That’s the danger of drawing arbitrary lines.

    • Anonymous

      Katherine, simply repeating the claim “abortion is homicide” does not make it so. You must have evidence. There is none, so if you want to continue to engage in discussions about abortion, you will need to develop a more nuanced argument. Otherwise, there is nothing to discuss.

      Reply
      • Katherine

        What evidence would you like? From the moment of conception, a fetus has a unique genetic makeup. The four criteria for life 1) ability to reproduce 2) response to stimuli 3) growth, and 4) metabolism. A fetus is all those things. A fetus is a human being. And homicide is the killing of a human being. It’s really all there is.

        I’d be interested to know what kind of response you have to that (if you have one).

      • P1

        Under the legal definition of homicide, yes, abortion does qualify. However, not all homicide is illegal. Therefore, arguing that “abortion is homicide” is not a good argument to legally ban it.

        Murder, a form of homicide which is illegal, is defined as the unauthorized killing of one human being by another. Abortion is a medical procedure done with the consent of the sentient human being whom it affects (the pregnant person). The right to bodily autonomy, the same principle that demands blood and organ donations be voluntary, guarantees that no one can use someone else’s body without that person’s consent. Fetuses are not autonomous, so they don’t have the legal right to bodily autonomy.

      • Patricia Maldonado

        Suffering makes us stronger ladys i got raped once when i was 13 by a boy friend who seemed “lovely” of course i never told my parents about him he was 3 years older than i. Well thanks to God i didnt turn out pregnant. But i do look back and wonder what i would have done? I would of kept it because a baby is a baby and if we do not understand this then we are dead . Maybe we are afraid of what happens next? My family doesn’t support me? Thry would freak out! Well i told my mom about what happened and she cried with me and she was sorry she never talked to me about how men were and there intentions. Once we walked into that health care center to see if i was or not pregnant the doc called us up and she was also pregnant at the time. She says so do you want to keep it if you are pregnant? It was an offensive question comming from a pregnant lady.any way i wasnt pregnant and that “guy” when i would see him places ,would just act as if nothing had happened. Well praying helped me a lot going to a group at church (Catholic) did too . Jesus is here and i said to him Jesus help me forgive this person and i am still working on it .i have so much faith i love Jesus.we suffer because he has a plan for us all. Going back to abortion. Well its just horrible how are we fighting for others countries rights when we are not giving even the right to live here. These abortioned humans i say human not fetus common its a stage in time we all where in you can call me a fetus if you want and abort what i say. This stage in time im called an adult 22 years of age. Any how the DEMAND is for scientists to discover new ways to cure the live ones that are suffering . Unbelievable right take an innocent who has no voice but a beating heart and attack it sell $ the parts you can make creams yo make old woman who act like teenagers look younger do it. Keep discovering lets see how far you go. You know the one thing enjoying this is the devil you are making him happy. And how come we hear more about other causes that the baby is deformed .i dont want it change the eye color . What what what comes next. My sister Martha has cerbal palsy and my mom didnt give up on her and she is the nicest person and strongest its because of her too i have so much faith Jesus used her as an instrument of love to call me. We just want to live in an unbreakable world.

  5. Melany

    Katherine- a fetus is a life just as much as a parasite is. It cannot survive without depleting resources from its host (mother) until many weeks after conception. It is alive, yes, but it is not a self-sustaining life. Therefore it should be the carrier’s decision whether or not she wants to continue the pregnancy.

    Reply
    • Katherine

      I find it quite disturbing that you compare a human fetus to a parasite. I think you should re-examine that belief of yours.

      A day old baby left alone would die quite soon if left alone. It depends on its mother and others for nutrients. Is it alright to kill or abandon a day old child? Of course not. It is likewise unconscionable to end the life of an unborn child simply because it is dependent.

      Reply
  6. Katherine

    Erin, I realize that I’ve been on this thread quite a bit already, so I won’t keep going on forever, but I do have a question about your line:
    “I am opposed to legislation of any kind which blocks women’s access to abortion.”

    I wonder how do you think we are to prevent another case of Kermit Gosnell from happening with zero restrictions on abortion? How are we to protect women from such monsters as Steven Brigham or LeRoy Carhart?

    The truth is that while ALL abortion is wrong, late-term abortions are infamous for hurting women, with death not being uncommon. That was the rationale behind all the legislation in Texas that has been closing abortions clinics left and right.

    Just one more question: are you opposed to legislation that says abortion clinics must have hospital admitting privileges or be within a certain radius from a medical facility?

    Reply
  7. Cassidy

    This is an amazing article, I feel almost exactly the same things you feel Erin! I find that I never doubt the spirit as much as I doubt mankind. People do some really horrible things to women and I know our Father would never support that behavior. What’s even sadder to me is when women don’t defend other women, I 110% respect a woman’s choice to go through an abortion if she feels it is necessary. It is an act that requires a lot of thought and I never assume to know someone else’s life so much that I could make the decision for them. I do only disagree with getting an abortion in the third trimester as it is very dangerous to the mother and the fetus (call it a parasite, call it a baby, whatever). If the mom-to-be hasn’t made her mind up in 6 months I think it’s probably in the best interest of the government to assist her in all ways possible as she carries it to term and decide what to do then.

    I find the only crime in abortions is regret; that is regretting getting one, or regretting not getting one. Imagine a world where every baby is WANTED. I don’t think the importance lies in how the baby was conceived, but more in how the baby will live. No child deserves to live in a world where it is unloved or unwanted, rape baby or not. If a middle class mother doesn’t want her child I find that infinitely sadder than a mother who was abused but loves her little baby to the moon and back.

    Reply
    • Katherine

      A child born into poverty unfortunately probably has a very sad life ahead of him/her. Does that mean we should that child early on before he/she experiences sadness and hardship? Of course not. We look for ways to help the child AND the mother. We do not turn to death to solve our problems.

      Reply
  8. Joan Williams-Okon

    Your argument as a pro-abortionist reminds me of the argument people gave for doing nothing to erasdicate slavery, which went; “i personally would never own a slave, but I see nothing wrong with other people’s right to own them.” If something is morally reprehensible everything, including making laws , should be done to stop it.
    Take also the case with segregation; those who sat on the sidelines and watched marchers said, “I would never segregate myself from black people, but I don’t think it is right to block others from doing it.”
    Your logic is flawed . Making laws against an evil is one way to help erase its power, that will never change.

    Reply
    • New Iconoclast

      Did you not read the OP? Here’s a few quotes to help you with some of the concepts you must have missed:

      “we both want a world where there is no abortion.”
      “Best case scenario: no abortion. Anywhere.”
      “Abortion is a sad, sad thing. So help me make a world where no one needs it.”
      “What we need is a holistic approach that decreases not the supply of abortions available but the demand for them.”

      Got it so far? Good. That takes care of your opening snark, “pro-abortionist.”

      To expand: Your analogy to slavery is flawed but let’s see how it really plays out. The OP is not saying she “personally would never own a slave, but [sees] nothing wrong with other people’s right to own them.” She’s saying that slavery will exist whether we like it or not until we work together to reduce or eliminate the incentive to enslave others.

      You, on the other hand, are saying, in effect, that you’re willing to see people enslaved all over the place as long as they’re not legally enslaved so that you can claim the moral high ground without having to do any of the actual work involved in eliminating the real conditions that lead to slavery.

      I offer a conditional, moderate apology for the level of, um, pointedness in this reply, but it seems as though some straight talk is needed on this topic. I’ve been listening to people pontificate on this issue for decades without making a lick of sense, and if we’re going to fix things, that’s got to change. Be an agent of change, Joan.

      Reply
      • Joan Williams-Okon

        You have deliberately misconstrued everything I said. If someone is not willing to work toward legislation to end abortion, or voice their opposition to it, they are pro-abortion. I

      • New Iconoclast

        Joan, I assume that you cut your reply off in mid-sentence because you actually read the OP and noted the places in which Erin clearly “voices [her] opposition to abortion.”

      • Katherine

        Why is it an all-or nothing game for you? We work to eliminate abortion. That means we work to eliminate the demand AND the supply for it. And a great part of limiting the supply is passing laws to restrict it. It’s all done to build what we call a culture of life.

        I will ask you the same question I asked the author of this article. Do you support laws that giving abortion clinics hospital admitting privileges? (ps: that’s the reason why the TX laws are closing clinics left and right) If not, how do you suppose we stop women from getting hurt/ dying in abortion clinics?

  9. New Iconoclast

    I see the usual collection of people who haven’t bothered to actually read what you wrote, or for whom the notion that abortion is murder overrides any other consideration. However, I think you’ve laid out a very good case for which abortion should, at the very least as a medical necessity, remain legal and available.

    Perhaps these are even some of the reasons why a church with a noted conservative orientation still doesn’t take a hard-line stance on the issue of abortion, does not regard it as equivalent to murder in all cases, and explicitly states that it may be repented for (i.e., it’s not the taking of innocent life). At least, that would be my interpretation. No, I can pretty much dismiss the “ban at all costs” crowd with the rest of the blood-throwers and fetal-photo banner-wavers.

    The folks who really baffle me are the ones like the first commenter, who wonder why we can’t ban it (reduce supply) while at the same time reducing demand – without suggesting any mechanism by which we might reduce demand. Pass a law that says “Demand shall be reduced by 65%, beginning on 1 Feb 2015”? Your whole post was essentially about our society’s unwillingness to reduce demand – an unwillingness that crosses party and ideological lines – which leaves us with nothing but an increase in supply of an unpleasant solution. It would be good if we could all agree, as you state clearly, that: 1) we all want a world with fewer abortions; 2) we’re probably never going to have a world with none; and 3) we can work together to find ways to reduce the number radically.

    But as you know, there’s no room for a voice of reason in abortion politics.

    A key thing to remember, for people like Locke (and Katherine and Joan W-O and a few others) is that banning the abortion supply never did eliminate it. It just went underground and became less safe and more expensive. Katherine asks how we prevent another Kermit Gosnell with no restrictions on abortion (something I note that you didn’t advocate); I would point out that there were one heck of a lot more Kermit Gosnells before Roe v. Wade than there are now.

    I’m also surprised that no one has called out Locke on (his?) silly analogy to female genital mutilation. Last I checked, very few women were looking to have that performed on themselves and asking for a safe, medically credible facility for it. It’s ludicrous to suggest that if we legalized it, it would suddenly become popular.

    Reply
    • Locke

      New Iconoclast:

      You claim my analogy is “silly” because (1) it’s “ludicrous” that if we legalized FGM it would become popular, and (2) few women want “safe” FGM.

      First, when did I suggest that legalized FGM would become popular? Not only that. When did I suggest legalizing FGM? I specifically referenced “Islamic states” (i.e. Egypt) where the practice is already legal. To quote you, maybe you didn’t “bother[] to actually read what [I] wrote.” (Although interestingly, FGM may be on the rise in the US despite FGM being illegal. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/horrific-taboo-female-circumcision-rise-u-s-n66226).

      Second, I agree that few women are asking for “safe” FGM. But how does that make my analogy “silly”? The medical community and public health organizations are seriously considering “safe” FGM. (See for example this paper file:///C:/Users/home/Downloads/00b7d5230e45ec1c91000000.pdf). In some countries, “safe” or “medicalized” FGM is already being practiced. (See for example Kenya http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/medicalization_fgm_kenya/en/). Even some US hospitals have approved lighter forms of FGM. (See this article from the Twin Cities http://www.mndaily.com/2010/09/20/cut-divides).

      Of course, if my analogy is so “silly,” you must have an easy answer to my questions, right? Should public health organizations (and African and Middle Eastern nations) support “safe” or medicalized FGM until the day it can be made illegal or should they take what you call the “ban at all costs” approach?

      Reply
      • Locke

        And since you seem more open to answering my comments than Amy, what’s your answer on my last question to her?

        Even if we do everything we can to reduce the demand for abortion, some demand will always exist. At that point, would you support banning abortion? Or would would the harm of forcing some abortions underground always outweigh the harm of abortion itself?

        And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we then support medicalized FGM here in US? Doesn’t the harm of forcing FGM underground in the US outweigh the harm of FGM itself?

    • Katherine

      Iconoclast, I would encourage you to read up on the work of Bernard Nathanson. He was a former prominent member of NARAL who later become pro-life. He exposed how those of the pro-choice camp VASTLY overrated the number of women who died in back-alley abortions.

      If the truth threatens your agenda, then your agenda sucks.

      You say that there were a heck of a lot more Kermit Gosnells before Roe v. Wade. What is your evidence of that? What is your proof?

      Reply
      • Katherine

        Sorry, meant to say overrepresented (rather than overrated). They fudged the numbers to fit their narrative. They LIED to us. But that’s to be expected from the Pro-“Choice” movement.

      • New Iconoclast

        Katherine, it’s not a black and white question. You say some number of comments ago, “That means we work to eliminate the demand AND the supply for it.” Yet the OP’s point (and it’s a good one, it was well-supported, and it’s been consistently dodged by the ban-at-all-costs commenters) is that the pro-life movement does essentially nothing to reduce or eliminate demand. So pony up, pro-lifers. What’s the plan to reduce demand?

        Locke, I would never support a blanket ban on abortion, since I think there will always be medical judgment calls that are none of government’s business. That is an unequivocal “never.” There’s no magic tipping point of reduced demand, even assuming the majority of anti-abortion activists in the US were working toward such a goal, which they are not.

        Your follow-up questions on FGM stats are irrelevant, because the two practices are not analogous in any way.

        Look, in a lot of ways it comes down to body count. If abortion is absolutely under all circumstances murder, then one is too many. But we have no reason to believe that’s the case and many reasons to believe that it is not. Abortion as a form of retroactive birth control, as an abrogation of responsibility, to escape the consequences of one’s hasty, unthinking actions, is reprehensible. But it is also reprehensible to pretend that all abortions fall into that category.

      • Locke

        New Iconoclast:

        The claim that abortion and FGM “are not analogous in any way” is simply false. They are analogous in significant ways, especially in relation to this discussion, namely:

        (1) Both abortion and FGM are harmful, AND
        (2) Some people believe the harms of banning abortion and FGM outweigh the harms of abortion and FGM themselves

        Now, you may disagree with a premise of the analogy or believe a significant difference needs to be considered. But neither you nor anyone else has named what premise is false or what significant difference needs consideration.

        I think most pro-choice advocates would say the first premise is false: abortion is not harmful, it is just a bunch of cells and is the same as using birth control. That’s a defensible position. If abortion is not harmful, then of course we shouldn’t impose the harms caused by banning abortion.

        But you and the OP do not fall in that camp. You claim that abortion (in at least some cases) is “reprehensible.” Likewise, the OP claims that “{a]bortion is a sad, sad thing” and that she would never personally abort. But you both justify not banning abortion because the harms caused by banning abortion outweigh the harm of abortion itself. So why doesn’t that same logic follow on FGM?

        Do you think a significant difference that needs consideration is that the harms of abortion are less than the harms of FGM? What about abortion makes you think that at least in some cases, it is reprehensible? What do you think is the harm of abortion?

    • Anonymous

      What is your evidence that there were more Kermit Gosnells before Roe vs. Wade?

      Reply
      • New Iconoclast

        Prior to Roe v Wade, Gosnell – the rushed, careless, black-market style abortion – was all you had. John Irving’s Homer Wells was the exception, not the rule.

  10. autumn

    kathrine you are awesome thank you for talking some sense about the evil of abortion. I to feel theres really not any reason to abort.

    Reply
  11. Lorrie

    I’ve held, listened to (and wept with and prayed for) countless women who wished with all of their hearts that they could go back and re-choose; un-do their abortions, avoiding all of the emotional trauma and guilt that trailed in the wake of that choice. I’ve spent countless hours affirming Jesus’ love and forgiveness for them; asking God for the wisdom and words to help move them to a place of healing.

    I’ve also held the hands and absorbed the tears and rage of women as they’ve talked through their stories of repeated raping by their own fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins–women who were childhood and teen-aged victims of ritual abuse–women who chose abortion instead of bearing children born of the violence perpetrated upon their bodies and fragile psyches. Dealing with the aftermath of someone else’ choice to harm them has taken all of their strength and consumed their lives; enduring a pregnancy would be unfathomable.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my job is to listen, pray, and work towards a world where (among other things) we love and respect one another, so that these things never happen. Until that day though, I’d rather not have the responsibility of determining who is wrong, and who is right.

    Reply
  12. Justine

    Erin, you say the following in the beginning of your article:

    “The truth underlying all of this nasty debate is this: we both want a world where there is no abortion.”

    Why is that? Why do you want a world without abortion?

    Reply
  13. Patricia Maldonado

    Those stories of fathers and family members harming a child is terrible. We should also take a stand for them if we think a child is being harmed lets be their voices to o. Don’t be afraid .

    Reply
  14. Justin

    Yes, outlawing abortions will drive it to the black market, but it will not increase the demand for abortion it will decrease it. It will increase prices and decrease quality and abundance of the service. Yes, some women might perform abortions in back ally ways with clothes hangers, and get infections and possibly die, but they deserve the fate they get. Abortion is murder, you can’t make murder legal to make it more safe for the murderer. That is ludicrous. Abortion is immoral. Women will not be afraid of being raped just because abortion is illegal. You honestly think that allowing abortions to be legal makes women unafraid of rape? That is just dumb.
    “A world without abortion will have no rape”? Uhhh, and how do you propose to create that world? If you believe that you can “teach men not to rape”, then you are delusional. Male rapists don’t rape because they thought it was “ok” to do. That is an incredibly sexist thing to think. Rapist rape because… get this… they WANT TO AND DON’T CARE WHAT THE LAWS SAYS. Rapist don’t care about morals or laws. They do it anyway. They do it because women make themselves vulnerable to it. The only way to prevent rape is to teach women how to protect themselves from the evil rapists out there. Not to mention abortions from rape makes up less than 1% of abortions. The vast majority of abortions happen because the mother thought birthing their child was “inconvenient” so they thought they would end his/her life. How much more selfish can you get? Not much. Maybe Hitler was more selfish… maybe. “I am sorry your life is kinda killing my social life right now, so I am going to have to kill you.” … Yeah that’s is pretty freaking selfish.

    On top of this, your proposal to end abortions included promoting contraceptives. First of all, when you promote contraceptives you are basically promoting sex outside of marriage, which goes directly against the commandments of God. I don’t care if these people are not members, you shouldn’t be promoting sin. Secondly, contraceptives are not 100% effective. Condoms are only about 82% effective and birth control pills are only about 91%. So that means that for every 100,000 people having sex with a condom about 18,000 of them are getting pregnant unexpectedly and possibly having abortions. There are about 7 Billion in the world. Let’s pretend half of them are adults having sex regularly. 3 billion people using condoms would have 540 Million getting pregnant. All of those would be unexpected pregnancies. Of course I know that is a over-inflated number but you get the picture. No contraceptive is perfect except abstinence.

    “And lastly, a world without abortion is one where women’s intimate partners are fully committed and do not abandon them in the event of a pregnancy.” Again, how do you expect to make this a reality? Sounds like a pipe dream to me. It is time to wake up from your fairy tale socialist utopia. It doesn’t exist and it never will. This is an imperfect world full of imperfect people and always will be, even after Christ comes again. The only system that will be even close to perfect will be when Christ is King, and I am 110% sure that his world will look nothing like the one that you described.

    Lastly, you asked: “Who wouldn’t want to live in that world?” Uhh.. ME! Oooh ooh me, pick me! That world would be a world where sexual immorality runs rampant and the government make me pay for it. Not only is that world not even remotely possible but civilization would dwindle and die off. I guess the only benefit to living in that world would be that the members of the church would be having children like crazy and the atheists, liberals and such would become an extinct bunch of people. The only people that would give us a run for our money would be the Muslims who multiply like rabbits.

    I just don’t understand how any self professed Mormon could support any of these ideas. The are diametrically opposed to the gospel of Christ. If you really want a more perfect, happy, enjoyable world then you need to do what you can to support and promote the spread of the truths of the gospel of Christ and not this liberal pipe dream. Spend your energy spreading the truths of God, abstinence til marriage, chastity, modesty, and morality not immorality.

    Reply

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