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3 Answers on Abortion

In reaction to my earlier post on the stupid pro-abortion protester. Tas has said I need to address 3 issues.

1) Abortions have been practiced for centuries

So has murder and slavery. You arguing for them too?

2) Like anything that has been practiced for centuries, abortions will continue to be practiced whether or not the procedure is illegal

So has murder and slavery. You arguing for them too?

3) Making the procedure of abortion illegal will only led to more unsafe abortions being performed, which then leads to more innocent adult women being injured and killed

He wants me to address a hypothetical he can not. He offers no evidence of any kind the scope of his hypothetical problem. He doesn't even address the number of women killed (not including the babies) by legal abortions every year. No cost benefit analysis can be done devoid of both cost and benefits.

This argument is about as meaningless and #1 and #2.

Then he sort of offers a 4th point:

If you wish to enforce you morals upon America and make abortion illegal, then what's your plan to reduce the number of women who die because of your actions?

"Enforcing morality" is such a stupid argument it hardly is worth debating... so I'll do it quickly. All laws enforce morality. Does Tas want us to get rid of murder, rape, age of consent, fraud, blackmail, et al laws? It makes for great hyperbole but not much better than "Well they've done abortions for years."

Slavery, for many centuries, enjoyed far more public popularity than abortion has today. There were down sides to abolishing slavery too. (like 650,000 people dead for starters.*) Using Tas' arguments (if you can call them that) we should have kept slavery too.

So the sum total of tas' arguments are that abortion has been around a long time and something bad might happen if we stop doing them.

Can anyone on the left make an intelligent argument today?

Quick Update For the record my initial post was not about abortion as much as it was the stupidity of the protester. And in reality this post is not about abortion as much as it is nuking goofy arguments. I could (if forced) make far better arguments FOR abortion than tas has. I can't (well won't) stop people from arguing abortion in the comments but this really has nothing to do with it.

* Assuming the conventional wisdom that the civil war was fought over slavery. But that's another post for another day.


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Comments (37)

There is no intelligent arg... (Below threshold)

There is no intelligent argument in favor of elective abortion. If there were, we'd have heard it by now.

Your argument #3 can somewh... (Below threshold)

Your argument #3 can somewhat be addressed by looking at the rates prior to abortion's prevailance.

The problem with looking at rates is that you inevitably get a comparison between deathrates from the abortion procedure and deathrates from childbirth.

This is a meaningless comparison. There is far more unwanted pregancies today because abortion is legal than there would be if it was illegal.

I don't usually get involve... (Below threshold)

I don't usually get involved in abortion, er, discussions, but what the hell.

I'm going to put aside the questions of individual morality and personal responsibility for a moment and ask whether abortion bans in some states, which I think all can agree would be the likely outcome if Roe were overturned (how many states and which ones is another question), would be good for the country.

I think we can safely presume that in the states that would ban abortion, women who want an abortion and have the means and opportunity would be able to travel to another state and get a legal one. Those without the means would be forced to either carry the child to term or get an illegal abortion. What would the consequences of this be? I would imagine that there would be an increase in so-called "backroom abortions" and all that goes along with that, but I doubt that would be too widespread. What I think we would have, is even more unwanted children being born into poverty, and there is good reason to believe that this would have a detrimental effect on say, crime rates and the economy.

I anticipate protests concerning the morality of sacrificing potential human lives for the sake of greater societal well-being, which are valid, but I think we should consider what the greater consequences of these hypothetical state abortion bans that would surely follow an overturning of Roe.

For the record, I don't agree with Roe (or Casey) in a legal sense; I think it was a terrible precedent and there are other ways to make abortion legal without making shit up like nonexistent penumbras and vague "undue burdens". I find myself in a somewhat untenable position in that I want abortion to be legal for the sake of society, but not by perverting the constitution, but I also kind of like the idea that we have a reasonable expectation of privacy and I don't want to lose that.

Torn between my libertarian leanings and my desire for the Constitution to be correctly interpreted, I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with social conservatives, legally. But at the same time the pragmatist in me disagrees. This is why I don't get involved in abortion debates.

Also from tas' post:<... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Also from tas' post:

After all, abortions are still legal in South Dakota but there's a catch: only one clinic in the whole state will perform abortions. So it kind of leaves a woman who needs one shit out of luck.

My God, they can't actually walk around the corner to get an abortion? How horrible! I suppose they don't have those things called cars, buses and airplanes in South Dakota. They're still relying on covered wagons to get to and from the store, barber shop, clinic, etc.

WTF? LOL. Now that's the epitome of a dumb argument!

The issue at stake here is ... (Below threshold)

The issue at stake here is abortion, but the my issue with Roe is NOT about abortion (much like Mantis). This is an issue that SHOULD be decided BY THE VOTERS of each state. The U.S. Constitution CLEARLY states that any powers NOT EXPRESSLY delegated to the federal government ARE RESERVED FOR THE STATE. For this to work, SCOTUS needs to stay out of it. Much like gay marriage, if a majority of the voters in a state support the issue or not should determine the outcome.

Example - The voters of Texas voted to NOT allow gay marriage in last November's election. SCOTX and SCOTUS, therefore, have no reason to get involved, as the voters spoke. I personally voted with the majority, but had the vote gone the other way I would not have sued to change it, I would have simply made sure to voice my opinions, as is my right.

Reminds me of the ultimate ... (Below threshold)

Reminds me of the ultimate argument, which may actually be true: "...but ALL the kids at school are doing it!"

This whole discussion has no logical conclusion and is so polarized that no good can come from it. People seem to either vehemently believe in or vehemently oppose abortion, and few people are willing to consider the opposing view.

Personally, I can't get past the contradiction that we're supposed to oppose capital punishment, but support abortion. Something doesn't add up for me.

One thing always left out o... (Below threshold)

One thing always left out of the abortion debate is that we're talking about a million of them a year. I did the math one day using the U.S.'s birth rate and multiplying it by the population to get 3 million babys born a year, meaning any child concieved in the U.S. has a 25% chance of being aborted! That's not women in tough situations excercising a constitutional right to privacy, that's genocide.

I was of child-bearing age ... (Below threshold)

I was of child-bearing age before Roe, and after. Before Roe, it sure made you think twice before having sex (birth control pills were not available then).

I read the other day that 47 million abortions have been performed in the US since Roe. Just think how those 47 million taxpayers would have benefited Social Security.

There is not much excuse for an unwanted pregnancy these days. Some women use abortion as birth control because they are too irresponsible to take the necessary precations.

The really interesting stat... (Below threshold)

The really interesting statistic is this. Since most of the people who vehemently support abortion tend to vote Dem these days, just how many voters have the Dems allowed to be killed?

Do not confuse me with T... (Below threshold)

Do not confuse me with Tas

The really interesting s... (Below threshold)

The really interesting statistic is this. Since most of the people who vehemently support abortion tend to vote Dem these days, just how many voters have the Dems allowed to be killed?

This point touches on the reason why I, a card-carrying member of the eeeeevil Religious Right (and you know it's evil because the NY Times says so), see the abortion issue as basically a self-correcting problem. That is, those that support abortion will have them, and those that do not will not. Generally. Yes, I know there will be exceptions, but the rules holds in the large. So, over time, the pro-abortion side will breed itself into insignificance.

James Taranto over at OpinionJournal.com calls this the "Roe Effect." That's an apt name.

I think tas commited a fall... (Below threshold)

I think tas commited a fallacy of traditional wisdom. Paul, nevertheless, rejected the argument without proving whether the premises of the argument were true or false (I think the first two are acceptable but the third is questionable). Is this even an argument? WHATEVA. I GOTTA GO.

But, the "Roe Effect" will ... (Below threshold)

But, the "Roe Effect" will do more than dwindle the numbers of the pro-abortion arguments, but also the anti-war, anti-gun, and general moon-bat sides too. So, by the time I am out of law school (about another 5 years), I see the right having more people than the left, anyone want to bet that the left begins to oppose abortion once it's too late?

All laws enforce morali... (Below threshold)

All laws enforce morality.

Errr... minor quibble, Paul, but that's not true. Plenty of laws exist that have no moral import to them: stop at red lights, stay off the grass, pay your taxes, keep the grass trimmed along the city-owned alley that's behind your fence (almost got fined for that one), the vice-president will succeed the president should the latter die, etc.

While experts and political philosophers disagree, I think some laws can and do enforce morality (or at least that's their attempt), while many others merely enforce a desirable behavior.

>while many others merely e... (Below threshold)

>while many others merely enforce a desirable behavior.

What makes them "desirable?"

Um yes all laws do.<p... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Um yes all laws do.

stop at red lights, moral principle is safety and concern for others.
stay off the grass, moral principle is to respect others property, and concern for others. pay your taxes, moral principle is respect for authority and being a good citizen.
keep the grass trimmed along the city-owned alley that's behind your fence Once again respect for others.
the vice-president will succeed the president should the latter die, etc. This one is probably the iffiest, but then ask yourself why is the law in place, and you realize it is there, in order to establish good order, so that civil war doesn't break out, which has behind it the moral principle once again for respect/care for others.

Some moral principles are more obvious, but in reality every law has some moral principle as the underlying foundation.

As for abortion-the one fallacy I think the pro choice side tends to front is the idea that all these women who currently get abortions would get them illegally. I think the reality is that a lot of women get abortions, because they are legal, but would never dream of getting one, if procuring the abortion would violate the law. It is the fact that they are legally available that makes them consider the option, not the outright determination to end the pregnancy anyway possible.

I suspect there won't be a huge demand for back alley abortionists with coat hangers, if some states were to opt for very strict restrictions on the procedure. I also think strict restrictions would cause women to be more careful about who, when and how they choose to have sex, but with birth control so easily and readily available, there really isn't much excuse for getting pregnant.

Whenever men get together a... (Below threshold)

Whenever men get together and try to decide what women "ought" to do, I just have to shake my head wondering how you've gone this long knowing so little about women.

It's not my body, I don't get to decide, neither do you.

Which part of your body are you willing to give the government control over?

That's the issue you keep ignoring.

Paul, you made the slavery ... (Below threshold)

Paul, you made the slavery argument, but isn't forcing a woman to become a mother -- say a rape or incest victim for instance -- against her will, particularly with all of the legal and financial burdens that accrue with that child over some 20 or more years, tantamount to slavery?

It's the converse of the Chinese system, really, where the state forces women NOT to bear children. Either way, this forced motherhood thing sounds more totalitarian than libertarian...

so how does one distinguish... (Below threshold)

so how does one distinguish between desired behaviour and morality?

and one more problem with y... (Below threshold)

and one more problem with your argument, Paul --"all laws enforce morality?" not true. What about the law of eminent domain? Where is the morality in that law? Or the recent Medicaid law that prohibits states from negotiating bulk agreements with pharmaceutical companies and creates a funding "doughnut" and essentially pushes seniors to dispose of their assets in order to qualify as indigents? No morality there, either. Bankruptcy law that doesn't prohibit predatory lending? Don't look for that in the Beattitudes...

What laws do is regulate behavior, mostly by prohibiting it and creating sanctions for violating the prohibition. The "Roe" case really did the opposite -- asserting a right of privacy that PERMITS rather than prohibits termination of pregnancy.

Anyway, I think you could make the argument that in a free society, government can prevent you from doing almost anything, but (other than the wartime military draft or other state emergencies) shouldn't be able to COMPEL you to act (i.e, to become a parent).

Likewise, the arguments in this thread about the good old days before Roe leave out the fact that what was customarily done in those days was for the unfortunate girl to be shipped off to the country somewhere and then forcibly separated from her newborn via private adoption. Not such good old days, I'd say... however, Paul, you're right about the "back alley death" statistics being inflated by the pro-choice side (http://www.factcheck.org/article336.html)

I think that's the best argument for legalized abortion. Should there be regulations to prevent abortion being used as birth control or to allow parents to be notified, etc.? Sure. But I would like to meet the winger who could look a rape victim in the eye and tell her she has to give birht. And these cases aren't theoretical. We had two cases in Florida of mentally retarded teenagers who were abused by employees at two separate group homes triggering a massive battle betwen Jeb Bush and the girls' guardians over whether their pregnancies could be terminated.

And the number of abortions will necessarily decline over time, Roe or no Roe. Reason why? Birth control, which right to lifers also oppose...

anyway, enough insomnia. Reid out!

Now it's getting interestin... (Below threshold)

Now it's getting interesting here.

With so many cheaper and he... (Below threshold)

With so many cheaper and healthier options for birth control available now, if a woman wants to exercise her "right to choose", she should bloody well start choosing before conception, not 6 months later. Save abortions for cases of extreme medical necessity or rape, not cases of convenience.

Rape and incest and mentall... (Below threshold)

Rape and incest and mentally retarded girls getting pregnant may not be theoretical cases but they also don't account for more than 1 million cases a year. Are you suggesting that about 25% of pregnancies in the U.S. involve rape or incest or mentally retarded girls?

I'm both reluctantly pro-ch... (Below threshold)

I'm both reluctantly pro-choice, and not an Ann Coulter fan; however, she is spot-on with her observation of laissez-faire abortion

the right for women to have unprotected sex with any man they think so little of they’d never dream of having children with
Reidblog you say
What laws do is regulate behavior
Yet seem not to realize that morality is the practical measure by which we decide what is or is not desireable behavior based on values. There is no question that law is based on a moral code, the question then becomes whose moral code based on whose values. Eminent domain? Based on the value that at times the individual may have to yield to the community but will be justly compensated. The things you subsequently cite dealing with property rights and the obligations of those that will be living off the earnings of others and the obligations of those that voluntarily take on debt to repay such debts.

All value based. You are free to argue those values, to persuade your fellow citizens to reconsider them or adopt others. Just don't try and say the values don't exist.

And where do you get that "right-wingers" are anti-birth control? WHERE? Or that all right-wingers would deny a rape or incest victim an abortion?

This country hasn't even followed the guidelines of the original Roe decision...what we have today is a whole abortion industry supporting abortion on demand at ALL stages of pregnancy for females of all ages, no questions asked.

Personally, I believe it is prudent - sad but prudent - to allow an adult woman, of sound mind the opportunity to have an abortion within the first trimester. The vast majority of these abortions will be immoral, but I don't believe they need to be illegal. There are a lot of immoral behaviors that are not the proper province of the law and that is one of them. However, outside those parameters the law can and should step in to protect the increasing rights of the nascent human life.

Oh..btw Timmer?Bef... (Below threshold)

Oh..btw Timmer?

Before you sign on to the "my body" fallacy argument, understand that a fetus is biologically NOT part of a woman's body. Even the placenta is not formed by, or out of the woman's body but is actually formed by the blastocyst.

Geez, did no one take high school biology?

You and my Medical Ethics p... (Below threshold)

You and my Medical Ethics professor, a Jesuit and MD, would have had a long argument about that one Darleen.

His argument as I remember it, was that it WAS a woman's body and that the decision to abort for no other reason than birth control, made it the most selfish of sins.

It's free will taken to it's most basic. Do I do what's best for another life or do I do what's best for mine?

TimmerActually Tim... (Below threshold)


Actually Timmer I come to the same conclusion as your Jesuit because I believe the fetus is a separate entity and the woman is the host and caretaker for only a relatively short time.

The vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester for no other reason than the convenience of the woman. That makes those abortions immoral even if we can debate the practicality of making them illegal.

Paul, what makes the behavi... (Below threshold)

Paul, what makes the behavior desirable is that it serves some social function or protects another's interests (usually property). So when Just Me contests my examples, he has to stretch it out and make them somehow second- or third-hand derivations of morals. If you're convinced there is a moral principle somewhere there, you can surely keep digging and digging and find one (as he did with presidential succession) even though the answer is not intuitive, obvious, or sensible.

Really, keeping the alley-grass behind my house trimmed has nothing to do with morality, it's because the city workers have trouble reading the meters back there otherwise and they cannot perform their job. I need to keep it short not out of respect for them, but because an important social function cannot be performed. Laws telling me to pay my taxes aren't moral; they're in place because the government couldn't function if taxes weren't paid. There are an inordinate number of laws on the books (think especially of how many minor laws there are) that don't have a thing to do with morality.

While I don't go this far, others make very good arguments that even laws that seem explicitly moral are merely social constructs. The laws against murder and stealing are not to enforce morality, but rather to preserve order since a society in which both are permissible is likely to be chaotic and a complete failure.

Plus, you need to define what you mean. You say that all laws enforce morality. I'm assuming you don't mean real morality since there have clearly been laws that were immoral, e.g. those allowing slavery or Nazi laws against Jews. Rather, what you probably meant is that laws enforce what the lawmakers believe to be moral. But this too seems troubling. In a legislature, a person could vote for a law he thinks is immoral but he supports it for political reasons. Also, surely not everybody who voted for it, if their vote was morally-based, had the same moral precepts in mind, so which one is right? That is, say that 300 legislators voted for the law each with the intent that it would enforce one particular moral rule. It turns out, however, that among them, they had 20 different moral rules they wanted to enforce. Which particular moral rule should be enforced? Then there are laws they vote for purely in their own self-interest, e.g. pork barrel, with no morals in mind.

Furthermore, if laws enforce morality, then it seems that judges should apply a moral interpretation when interpreting laws. Which moral system should be used? Should it be left up to that one judge's idea of morality? As I noted above, it's problematic to relate back to the legislative intentions since they're many and varied.

And... ok, this is long enough.

Sorry for the long post... ... (Below threshold)

Sorry for the long post... feel free to skim.

I've never heard of a serious political group that thinks abortions shouldn't be available in the cases of rape, incest, life of the mother in danger, etc., so all the pro-abortion folks should quit beating that strawman. I think we can all agree that the vast majority of abortions aren't being performed for those reasons.

People keep on mentioning all the forms of birth control out there and how women should be using them instead of having abortions. I just wanted to remind everyone that no form of birth control is 100%. I can see how a left-thinking woman who was using BC pills perfectly as prescribed would be upset and want an abortion if she got pregnant in spite of the pills. Though again, I think we can agree that the vast majority of abortions aren't being performed on women who were using some form of 99% effective birth control as prescribed.

Darleen makes the interesting point contra the "my-body-my-choice" argument that a fetus technically isn't part of a woman's body. However, a uterus is part of her body and a fetus is pretty much the same thing as a parasite in function. When a woman gets pregnant she's literally subletting her uterus to another tenant, a tenant who will take what it wants and needs from the woman without asking. So in that context I understand the left's "my-body-my-choice" mantra.

What I don't understand is why on earth any woman would have sex with a man when she isn't willing to accept the possibly, however remote, that she might wind up with a little piece of him growing inside of her as a consequence. And I can't understand why a man would have sex with a woman when he's not willing to accept the possibility that at the very least, he could wind up making child support payments for the next 20 years of his life. The law can't force him to be a part of the woman and child's life, but it can force him to do that.

So, my own thoughts on what should be "done" about abortion:

1) I'm with Ann Coulter. Why in the hell was an issue that (by its own admission) concerns the bodies of women directly decided by "seven male justices and their mostly male law clerks"? People should be allowed to vote on abortion so that women can finally have a say on this "women's issue." Leaving it for the people of each individual state to decide would go best with what was outlined in the constitution.

2) I'd be all for outlawing it by the second and third trimesters, save for the usual exceptions. I'm not sure I'd be for outlawing it altogether. Yes, a woman should be more careful about sex and should make the "choice" long before she knows she's pregnant, but still... people make mistakes. I'd have a hard time telling a 16 year-old girl that she has to let a parasite live in her body for nine months just because of one isolated bad choice.

3) But if it were outlawed altogether (with the usual exceptions), it's hard to say what the effects would be. Sure, some women would be more careful with sex and some would seek illegal abortions from dangerous sources. But if abortion starts counting as murder, will smoking and drinking alcohol while pregnant count as reckless endangerment? If a woman has a high-risk pregnancy and is ordered to not have sex or stay in bed by her doctor, but doesn't listen and has a miscarriage/stillbirth as a result... will that be manslaughter?

I just think there could be a lot of legal side effects to outlawing abortion altogether, and that's why I think outlawing it by the second trimester is the best course of action.

Anyways, my thoughts, feel free to shred 'em.

A comment was made that "fo... (Below threshold)

A comment was made that "forcing women (rape or incest victims) to bear the child(ren)" is akin to slavery, but you see, Roe was NOT looking at these situations. Roe was about a woman who CHOSE to have sex, and CHOSE not to use any birth control, and then CHOSE that she wanted to not be pregnant, so she wanted to kill the child.

Here's a GREAT question. If abortion is not a moral issue, and is not an issue of anything other than a woman's right to choose, why is it that greater than NINETY PERCENT OF ALL DOCTORS IN AMERICA will NOT perform them? You see, before Roe, there were Doctors who would terminate a woman's pregnancy in case of rape or incest, but after Roe, the number of those doctors declined, simply because of the almost overnight abundance of other Dr's who would aboort a CHILD for any reason.

One other question, WHO SAID ALITO WOULD MAKE ABORTION ILLEGAL? Overturning Roe WOULD NOT DO THAT, but (as said MANY TIMES above), it would give the states the decision, as they should have been given in the first place!

Why is it always the same? ... (Below threshold)

Why is it always the same? Those who demand that we put an end to the LEGAL execution of felons convicted of murder turn around and demand the right to murder the pure and innocent unborn child of a woman who finds the pregnancy INCONVENIENT?

The effort to take precautions to prevent pregnancy or to refrain from intercourse is unreasonable, but the termination of the life of an unborn child is a "simple medical procedure". The unborn child is not responsible for the acts that led to his/her existence, but according to those who want "abortion on demand" that uborn child is the only one required to "pay the ultimate price". The doctor collects his fee, the woman is relieved of responsibility and the unborn child becomes a terminated and discarded fetus.

Dangerous Dan-just a note-I... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Dangerous Dan-just a note-I am not a male, but female.

And from that I have to admit I hate the whole "men can't have a position on Roe, because they are men blah blah blah" This is along the same lines of "only veterans can have an opinion on war, Chicken Hawk blah blah blah"

Frankly-abortion affects more than just the woman-it involves the fetus-that doesn't have any voice, and whose life is forfeit for any reason just because the mother doesn't want it, and of course as much as we don't want to consider that it takes two to make a baby-there are fathers involved-sometimes they push for the abortion, and other times they don't want it to happen-but their opinion amounts to naught.

In the end-abortion is much more than some woman's body, and frankly in this day and age, with very reliable birth control available, there shouldn't be a need for abortion.

The Drug Wars have brought ... (Below threshold)

The Drug Wars have brought us drug police and no knock warrants and pretext searches and urine tests - purity of essence is now the law.

An abortion war will bring vagina police. I am against it unless I get to be Chief Inspector.

Besides we already have a drugs black market do we need an abortion one too? Haven't we had enough Republican Socialism? You know. Price Supports for Criminals.

The way to end abortion is ... (Below threshold)

The way to end abortion is to make child raising very profitable.

Say $100,000 a year for the first child and $50,000 for every one after that. Up to age 22 say.

The problem is that the anti-abortion folks want to do it on the cheap and just hire men with guns to intimidate. Think of how much nicer it would be to make doing right attractive.

What say we subsidize pover... (Below threshold)

What say we subsidize poverty, ignorance and abortion. That should speak to our greatness as a Society, no?

You forget, we (as a societ... (Below threshold)

You forget, we (as a society) already are subsidizing poverty and ignorance, as well as having kids. The welfare state (or welfare TRAP) pays people NOT to work, and for every child the woman has, she gets more money (unless she is married, then that would ASSUME the husband would work to support his family).

Do you feel taking the morn... (Below threshold)

Do you feel taking the morning after pill is the same as killing a new born baby?

If so, do you think a loved one of yours should spend the rest of their life in jail for taking the morning after pill?

What punishment is appropriate for someone that takes the morning after pill?






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