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Pro-life progressives? Why not

Amid calls for accepting pro-life liberals [1], the Democratic Party faces a summer of soul-searching that will determine what room the party has, if any, for progressives who value unborn human life and set the table for the 2018 midterms.

Beginning shortly after President Trump’s surprise victory, pro-life progressives began calling on the party [2] to moderate its tone on social issues, in particular abortion. This spring, pro-choice progressives drew swords [3] to demand ideological conformity on abortion, arguing [4] that abortion is necessary so women can escape poverty. In response, Democratic leaders have at least stated publicly [5] there was room in the party for pro-lifers.

Time will tell if Democrats in Congress will provide anything more than lip service to pro-lifers.  But initial results are not promising, as anything that hints of a pro-life perspective is labeled as anti-choice and vilified.  

Consider my colleague, Lori Szala, who recently wrote [6] about her experience growing up in a working-class, single-parent family and finding herself pregnant in high school.  Szala scheduled an abortion, but cancelled the appointment at the last minute. Despite leaving college, she ultimately succeeded without an abortion, and holds that society should engage in the difficult but critical task of supporting women like her rather than leaving them to feel they must abort.  

Despite its moderate tone and focus on the needs of serving women in crisis, Szala’s piece generated outrage on the political Left [7]. Her crime? She works for Human Coalition, a pro-life organization. The New York Observer complains [8] the organization is “far from impartial when it comes to abortion.” Media Matters dismisses [9] Szala’s arguments as “denouncing abortion access” and Human Coalition’s work as “misleading people.”

One of the most substantive responses, and representative of the prevailing critique of pro-life work, comes from the American Civil Liberties Union [10]. The ACLU agrees that support should exist for women who want to keep their children, but it dismissively states “it would be easier to take her argument seriously if Ms. Szala didn’t work for an organization whose mission is to outlaw abortion.”

To belittle Szala’s argument because she is pro-life completely misses the point. Cataloging a parade of horribles that might result from an unplanned pregnancy, the ACLU fails to consider the unborn child who will be aborted. Central to the ACLU’s position is the belief that a pregnant woman has an absolute right to end the life of her preborn child if that’s what she wants to do.

This is a position for which there can be no common political ground, because a worldview that values the life of the unborn cannot subordinate that child’s right to life to the mother’s economic interest, no matter how important. The argument treats other humans – distinct [11], living persons, just like [12]us – as an economic commodity whose life depends on a cost-benefit analysis. Many Americans agree that children’s lives cannot and should not be measured in dollars and cents – though perhaps not the ACLU.  

The argument also places an unreasonable and unjustified degree of hope in abortion as a benefit to humanity. At Human Coalition, where we work with hundreds of abortion-seeking women every month, we find that nearly four out of five of the clients we have seen this year state they would prefer to keep their children if their circumstances would allow it.  But abortion clinics make no pretense of addressing these underlying issues.

The ACLU’s argument reinforces the false narrative that a woman facing a crisis pregnancy must choose between poverty and childbearing. Even beyond choosing adoption, economic challenges amplified by pregnancy can be mitigated — albeit with great effort.   Conversely, every abortion takes a life that will never return.

It is unsurprising that efforts like Human Coalition’s, to provide women with material help and the practical ability to choose life, are met with scorn by the pro-abortion political class. The abortion movement has to trivialize abortion and ensure that abortion is both legal and common in its attempt to silence opposition to the practice.

This mindset is fundamentally at odds with helping women find solutions other than abortion.  Because of the abortion lobby’s intimate ties with the Democratic Party, progressive support for life-affirming policies is virtually nonexistent. That is why Hillary Clinton notably dropped “rare” from her slogan that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Acknowledging that abortion should be rare admits that abortion is not a good thing and raises unsettling questions that suggest progressive politicians should try to reduce abortion.

The tragic irony of the abortion movement is that free abortion access facilitates rather than limits systemic injustice. By proposing a quick and cheap solution to unplanned pregnancy, abortion implicitly pressures women to bear the entire burden themselves and allows partners, families, and communities to sidestep their obligations to these mothers.

The data counterintuitively suggest abortion may limit economic mobility. It has long been noted [13] that the rise in abortion produced a rise in out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families. The changing mores surrounding childbirth and marriage mean that women who refuse to abort are left to go it alone. But as University of Virginia sociologist Bradford Wilcox explains [14], children are more likely to escape poverty if they live with two married parents, and they’re even more likely to escape poverty if they live in a community with a higher percentage of married parents.

How to best help women with unplanned pregnancies overcome the economic challenges they face is a complex issue with no easy answers. Because unborn children are innately valuable, pro-lifers cannot overlook the need to rescue children. But programs explicitly designed to help women avoid abortions they do not want is an effort on which progressives and conservatives can and should find some common ground. Abortion is usually the last resort of women who believe that they have no choice. We must work together to give them better options.

Colin LeCroy is associate general counsel at Human Coalition [15], one of the nation’s largest pro-life nonprofits, which utilizes a metrics-focused, technology-driven method to serve families and save children from abortion.

37 Comments (Open | Close)

37 Comments To "Pro-life progressives? Why not"

#1 Comment By T.Franken On June 18, 2017 @ 9:57 pm

Please stop using the term “pro-life” to describe people who are simply anti-abortion. It’s a fictional moral high-ground given to people who are not ethically consistent. Daniel Berrigan, one of the few truly pro-life activists, made it clear years ago that one could not be pro-life AND pro-war, of any kind, or pro-death penalty, or anti-environment, or anti-medicaid, or anti-welfare.

Honestly, if I blame anyone for spreading this false perception, it’s the liberal and mainstream media who never pushed back against a term which is patently false.

#2 Comment By Whine Merchant On June 18, 2017 @ 10:07 pm

I sometimes wonder if the strident requirement that all supporters must conform to the party line on terminations is secretly promoted by ant-choice moles in the midst of progressives’ blogosphere, to keep a potentially huge voting block alienated.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 19, 2017 @ 2:33 am

All that will happen to those who identify with core principles about economic justice for workers and unions that a long ago Democratic Party once held, who are pro-life, is that it will be made starkly clear to them that they are entirely unwelcome.

In a political duopoly in which neither party cares much about issues their big donors don’t, the only choice is to be genuinely independent.

#4 Comment By Kevin On June 19, 2017 @ 9:52 am

“Democratic Party, progressive support for life-affirming policies is virtually nonexistent.”

Maybe, and just hear me out , pro life progressives shouldn’t lie about their ostensible coalition partners?

#5 Comment By mrscracker On June 19, 2017 @ 10:20 am

Yup. A child in the womb is just in one stage of its development. As we all are. It’s a continuum.
The real issue is whether human life, in all its stages, is sacred. Otherwise all the rest falls apart.
It’s not about poverty, it’s about human rights. You don’t fix poverty by killing the poor.

#6 Comment By Nancy E. Head On June 19, 2017 @ 10:21 am

The Democratic party welcomed pro-life candidates in ’08 to help Obama win. But then they undercut them in Obamacare. Remember Bart Stupak? He wanted to maintain his integrity on that issue. He declined to run again.

I remember a truly pro-life Democrat. Governor Bob Casey of my home state of Pennsylvania. There was a pro-life man. As a sitting governor, he refused to campaign for his own lieutenant governor and the party’s US Senate candidate–both pro-aborts.

We are afflicted by his son in that office today. The elder Bob Casey was a friend of life. We knew that Bob Casey. And his son is no Bob Casey.

Abortion IS a social justice issue–not just a religious issue. Much of my conviction on the issue stems from my understanding of life as sacred. But seeing it from a social justice standpoint illustrates how abortion numbers are declining in America even though the numbers of us who call ourselves people of faith are declining too.

#7 Comment By Karen On June 19, 2017 @ 11:12 am

Men sidestepped responsibility for pregnancy before Roe, continue doing so now, and will do so forever, because they can. There is no force on Earth that can make a man help a woman care for children, even his own children, if he doesn’t want to do so. He might manage to go through the motions, resentfully, for a little while, but if he decides he’s tired of it, he will check out, either completely by leaving or by spending all of his time watching TV. That’s why abortion and birth control are so necessary for women.

#8 Comment By RA On June 19, 2017 @ 11:55 am

Ah, pro-life: because the USA and the world are so desperately short of people in general, and unwanted children in particular.

When it comes to the future, the pro-life Right and the pro-immigration Left share the same vision: a world desperately crowded, filthy, and poor, with all but a tiny elite subsisting on insect burgers and gruel. Of course, that doesn’t much bother the elites who control the political system.

#9 Comment By Lindsay On June 19, 2017 @ 12:14 pm

Liberal democrat lesbian here.

Listen, I’d hop on the pro-life bandwagon if you all would stop punishing women for having sex. That’s essentially how we perceive the pro-life platform. You had sex? You have to have the baby. Oh, you want money from the man who got you pregnant? Sorry, you spread your legs so it’s your fault. Oh, you don’t want your rapist to have paternal rights? Too bad, he’s the father so he gets a say in how you raise your baby.

There is no onus on the man who gets a woman pregnant. He can walk away without a care in the world. The woman is 100% responsible for a pregnancy despite the fact that it takes both a man and a woman to make a baby. Worse, male rapists can sue for rights to a child. That is absolutely unacceptable.

When conservatives start supporting access to birth control and fight to hold men accountable for unwanted pregnancies, I’ll join you. I saw my baby’s heartbeat at 5 weeks and he’s been my son since conception. A great many of us think elective abortion is wrong and I would love to see more support for women who can make an unexpected pregnancy work. My brother in law’s girlfriend kept threatening abortion and it broke my heart. To terminate a healthy pregnancy is a tragedy in my eyes, especially with so many families wanting to adopt newborn babies.

But imposing draconian laws that harm women in crisis (i.e. banning D&E which saves women’s lives when a pregnancy is no longer viable) will not do ANYTHING to solve the problem. We need comprehensive sex education, cheap and easy access to birth control, and yes, stronger programs to help women keep their babies when they have an unintended pregnancy and are scared/poor. Why can’t we unite on this issue?

#10 Comment By grumpy realist On June 19, 2017 @ 12:15 pm

You pro-lifers might want to first making sure that pregnancy and childbirth is covered under all health insurance plans. One of the things that the new Republican healthcare plan is getting rid of. If it’s optional, then it’s going to end up being awfully expensive.

And no, support during pregnancy and childbirth is going to have to be more than a Bible and a pack of Pampers.

#11 Comment By Ted On June 19, 2017 @ 12:54 pm

The alternative to legal abortion is not no abortion. It’s unsafe, illegal abortions. Abortion wasn’t made legal out of concerns for family planning, it was made legal because every newspaper had a news item every few weeks, “Girl bleeds out on surgeons table” “Girl pushed down flight of stairs” “14 year old killed in botched abortion” and that wears on you.

If abortion were made illegal half the country would immediately be energized, while the anti-abortion crowd would immediately lose all energy. Those news stories would start piling up. People would remember the reason legal abortion is legal and they would vote based on the subject. A dead 16 year old is a lot more visible than a dead fetus. Eventually abortion would be made legal again in much of the country.

The best cure for abortion is to tackle the source of the problem: teen pregnancy. We have the technology, we have the experience. We need true sex education and readily available, cheap IUD contraceptives. When the number of pregnant teens is low, the number of abortions will similarly plummet.

#12 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 19, 2017 @ 12:59 pm

@ Karen, who wrote: “Men sidestepped responsibility for pregnancy before Roe, continue doing so now, and will do so forever, because they can.”

On the contrary, Karen, before 1970 it was very difficult for most American men to escape responsibility for pregnancy because, “Until the early 1970s, shotgun marriage was the norm in premarital sexual relations.”’

That quote is taken from a Brookings Institution article — “New Mothers, Not Married: Technology shock, the demise of shotgun marriage, and the increase in out-of-wedlock births” – written by George A. Akerlof (2001 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics and Prof. Emeritus of Economics at Cal Berkeley) and his wife Janet L. Yellen (who is now chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board):

“In the late 1960s and very early 1970s (well before Roe v. Wade in January 1973) many major states, including New York and California, liberalized their abortion laws. At about the same time it became easier for unmarried people to get contraceptives. In July 1970 the Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people was declared unconstitutional. We have found that this sudden increase in the availability of both abortion and contraception — we call it a reproductive technology shock — is deeply implicated in the increase in out-of-wedlock births. Although many observers expected liberalized abortion and contraception to lead to fewer out-of-wedlock births, the opposite happened–because of the erosion in the custom of shotgun marriages. Until the early 1970s, shotgun marriage was the norm in premarital sexual relations. The custom was succinctly stated by one San Francisco resident in the late 1960s: If a girl gets pregnant you married her. There was no choice. So I married her. Since 1969, however, the tradition of shotgun marriage has seriously eroded (see table 1 for the trend from 1965 through 1984). For whites, in particular, the shotgun marriage rate began its decline at almost the same time as the reproductive technology shock. And the decline in shotgun marriages has contributed heavily to the rise in the out-of-wedlock birth rate for both white and black women. In fact, about 75 percent of the increase in the white out-of-wedlock first-birth rate, and about 60 percent of the black increase, between 1965 and 1990 is directly attributable to the decline in shotgun marriages. If the shotgun marriage rate had remained steady from 1965 to 1990, white out-of-wedlock births would have risen only 25 percent as much as they have. Black out-of-wedlock births would have increased only 40 percent as much. What links liberalized contraception and abortion with the declining shotgun marriage rate? Before 1970, the stigma of unwed motherhood was so great that few women were willing to bear children outside of marriage. The only circumstance that would cause women to engage in sexual activity was a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. Men were willing to make (and keep) that promise for they knew that in leaving one woman they would be unlikely to meet another who would not make the same demand. Even women who would be willing to bear children out-of-wedlock could demand a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. The increased availability of contraception and abortion made shotgun weddings a thing of the past. Women who were willing to get an abortion or who reliably used contraception no longer found it necessary to condition sexual relations on a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. But women who wanted children, who objected to abortion for moral or religious reasons, or who were unreliable in their use of contraception found themselves pressured to participate in premarital sexual relations without being able to exact a promise of marriage in case of pregnancy. These women feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they risked losing their partners. Sexual activity without commitment was increasingly expected in premarital relationships. Advances in reproductive technology eroded the custom of shotgun marriage in another way. Before the sexual revolution, women had less freedom, but men were expected to assume responsibility for their welfare. Today women are more– free to choose, but men have afforded themselves the comparable option. If she is not willing to have an abortion or use contraception, the man can reason, why should I sacrifice myself to get married? By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.”

[16]

Also by Yellen and Akerlof – dealing with the same topic:

[17]

#13 Comment By Rabiner On June 19, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

Wanting access for abortion and wanting more abortions to be performed are not the same thing. Conflating the two is wrong. Democrats support access to abortion and policies that reduce the need for them. Republicans oppose access to abortion and policies that would reduce them. Give me the former to the latter every time.

#14 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 19, 2017 @ 1:22 pm

T.Franken says (9:57 p.m.): “Please stop using the term ‘pro-life’ to describe people who are simply anti-abortion.”

As a lifelong pro-life supporter, I think you make a valid point, T. Franken. “Seamless garment” – sometimes called “consistent ethic of life” — supporters make the same point: That if a person is “pro-life” with respect to abortion, but favors capital punishment, or war, or assisted suicide, or euthanasia, it is not accurate to say that such a person is “pro-life.” It would be more accurate to say that they are “pro-life with respect to abortion” or that they are “anti-abortion.”

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 19, 2017 @ 1:48 pm

I’m constitutionally pro-choice. That means, I believe the real moral issues are beyond the capacity of the blunt instrument of state power and the police to impact with more beneficial than harmful results. I also believe that our constitution was created in part with the idea that people have, in significant spheres of their life, the right to be left alone, and a decision about early stage pregnancy falls into that zone. Finally, I do not recognize a zygote, a blastocyst, or many stages of fetal development, as a person entitled to full legal protection.

That said, I agree with the general thrust of the article. Lori Szala offers a legitimate contribution to a public debate badly in need of thoughtful analysis. IF the organization she works with is seeking to restore criminal sanctions for abortion, that is a strike against her sincerity, but it doesn’t make everything she says wrong.

People opposed to abortion call themselves pro-life. Many sincerely mean it. Others are blatantly inconsistent. There are hypocrites and crazies in all walks of life, and in every movement. They have chosen the label pro-life, let them keep it. It doesn’t give them the last word on public policy.

There is no reason an organization should be “impartial” on the subject of abortion. Few who bother to speak about it are impartial. Arguments should be evaluated based on factual integrity. Of course there will be value judgments. That’s one reason constitutional jurisprudence keeps this out of the legislative arena — there are too many diametrically opposed value judgments held by too many different people to sustain a framework of statutory prohibition.

I support strong constitutional protection for women to make a difficult choice, whether that choice is to abort or not to abort. But with that in place, there are profound reasons a women might choose to carry her pregnancy to term, and its none of the business of the ACLU or Media Matters or the NY Observer to deny her that choice.

#16 Comment By Troy On June 19, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

The author says that, in his organization’s experience, 4 out of 5 women considering abortion would prefer to keep the baby, if circumstances allowed it. If that’s the case, then making it as easy as possible for women to keep their baby would be the most effective way to decrease abortions. So what would that take? Well, mother and baby will both need healthcare that doesn’t depend on a job and that doesn’t have deductibles that keep them from using it. That means we’d need a well-funded single payer system like Canada’s. We’d need good wages for the mom so she could support the child – at least $15/hour to be realistic. We’d need strong and ubiquitous unions to be sure the company she worked for was giving her a full-time job instead of 20 hours a week on a variable schedule with shifts cancellable without notice. We’d need either free daycare for preschool kids or a payment to the mother that meets all her needs while she raises the child to school age without working, and we’d need free after-school daycare for grade-school children. We’d need free, high-quality education all the way through college for the child so that he’d have a decent chance to pursue his calling. As a bonus, these policies would also be a tremendous help for two-parent working-class families who are raising children. If you’re pro-life but you don’t back these kinds of policies, then you’re not actually trying to eliminate abortions, you’re just trying to make them illegal, kind of like drugs are illegal now. And what’s the point of that?

#17 Comment By Dennis Tuchler On June 19, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

Abortion is a social justice issue, as well as a social values issue — protecting the pro-life norm that undergirds the idea of the value of the individual and hence individual liberty. BUT the social justice issue looks both ways — the woman’s claims are real and deserve respect. That is why the issue, when and whether to allow abortion, is ideally suited to political compromise. Each side seems frozen in its absoluteness perhaps because openness to compromise on one side loses the argument (war) to the other. Lefties who favor the life of the fetus and conservatives who have concern for the claims of the mother are valuable because they can push their own “side” for compromise and deal with each other for a settlement, if only pro tempore.

#18 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 19, 2017 @ 5:07 pm

I’m trying again. I’m re-submitting this comment with the quote from the vitally important Yellen-Akerlof (Brookings) paper cut by half:

@ Karen, who wrote: “Men sidestepped responsibility for pregnancy before Roe, continue doing so now, and will do so forever, because they can.”

On the contrary, Karen, before 1970 it was very difficult for most American men to escape responsibility for pregnancy because, “Until the early 1970s, shotgun marriage was the norm in premarital sexual relations.”’

That quote is taken from a Brookings Institution article — “New Mothers, Not Married: Technology shock, the demise of shotgun marriage, and the increase in out-of-wedlock births” – written by George A. Akerlof (2001 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics and Prof. Emeritus of Economics at Cal Berkeley) and his wife Janet L. Yellen (who is now chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board):

“Until the early 1970s, shotgun marriage was the norm in premarital sexual relations. The custom was succinctly stated by one San Francisco resident in the late 1960s: If a girl gets pregnant you married her. There was no choice. So I married her. Since 1969, however, the tradition of shotgun marriage has seriously eroded (see table 1 for the trend from 1965 through 1984…And the decline in shotgun marriages has contributed heavily to the rise in the out-of-wedlock birth rate for both white and black women…What links liberalized contraception and abortion with the declining shotgun marriage rate? Before 1970, the stigma of unwed motherhood was so great that few women were willing to bear children outside of marriage. The only circumstance that would cause women to engage in sexual activity was a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. Men were willing to make (and keep) that promise for they knew that in leaving one woman they would be unlikely to meet another who would not make the same demand. Even women who would be willing to bear children out-of-wedlock could demand a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. The increased availability of contraception and abortion made shotgun weddings a thing of the past. Women who were willing to get an abortion or who reliably used contraception no longer found it necessary to condition sexual relations on a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. But women who wanted children, who objected to abortion for moral or religious reasons, or who were unreliable in their use of contraception found themselves pressured to participate in premarital sexual relations without being able to exact a promise of marriage in case of pregnancy. These women feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they risked losing their partners. Sexual activity without commitment was increasingly expected in premarital relationships. Advances in reproductive technology eroded the custom of shotgun marriage in another way. Before the sexual revolution, women had less freedom, but men were expected to assume responsibility for their welfare. Today women are more– free to choose, but men have afforded themselves the comparable option. If she is not willing to have an abortion or use contraception, the man can reason, why should I sacrifice myself to get married? By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.”

[16]

#19 Comment By Kalmia On June 19, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

In many respects it should be easier for Democrats to come up with a coherent pro-life agenda, since being for comprehensive health insurance, a living wage, ease of access to contraception, daycare, proper sex education, antidiscrimination laws that protect pregnant women, etc, all fit a lot more comfortably with a left-ish Democrat outlook. Basically, an old-fashioned working class Catholic view I suppose really.

A just society would not treat pregnancy as either a punishment for having sex or a curse from which women must be relieved if they are to have a fulfilling life.

I don’t think either Democrats or Republicans are likely to deliver anything like that though. It just seems to be one of those political viewpoints that has fallen through the cracks.

#20 Comment By PacNW On June 19, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

I am left of center and I am opposed to making the innocent, defenseless suffer. When it can be shown that a fetus is at a stage where is capable of experiencing suffering, I would be opposed to aborting it, unless the pregnant woman whose body it is in would suffer more by not having an abortion (threat to her life/health etc.).

When a being is sentient and is defenseless, it is immoral to impose suffering upon that individual for one’s own purposes. That is also why I never eat or wear animal products: that would be obviously immoral.

I call this position “anti-abuse,” but others may call it “pro-life.” It is a consistent position.

#21 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 19, 2017 @ 11:09 pm

Thanking Kurt for his comment efforts.

#22 Comment By Adriana I Pena On June 19, 2017 @ 11:14 pm

In theory it should be easy for liberals and conservatives to collaborate in this. Alas, they do not trust each other. Conservatives think of liberals as shameless libertines. And liberals think of conservatives as hypocrites who get mushy over the fetus, and then cut the food stamps for the child once it is born.

When people do not trust each other, no collaboration is possible.

#23 Comment By collin On June 20, 2017 @ 9:37 am

How to best help women with unplanned pregnancies overcome the economic challenges they face is a complex issue with no easy answers.

And you hit the nail on the head of why most young women 18 -35 tend to support abortion rights. Because society trashes and leaves them behind for poor choices. If anti-abortion supporters really wanted to stop this, then they would solve this problem.

#24 Comment By nominus On June 20, 2017 @ 10:41 am

The Democratic Party has no truck with “pro-life” vs “pro-choice” because most of us recognized long ago that the right was trying to frame the debate dishonestly. If the right cared about life as much as they say they do, they wouldn’t keep trying to stop policies that have been proven to lower unwanted pregnancies. They wouldn’t keep trying to limit women’s access to affordable healthcare. They wouldn’t enact policies like they have in Texas that increased maternal mortality rates. The right seems to just want to label anyone who isn’t in favor of outlawing abortion a murderer and then stop the discussion. So we’re done with that. Let’s talk about reducing the demand for abortion any way possible, let’s try any and all possible policies we can, instead of sticking to the dogmatic argument that outlawing something will fix the problem.

#25 Comment By mrscracker On June 20, 2017 @ 3:55 pm

Kurt Gayle,
Thank you for your comments
It’s not a popular thought, but I don’t think shotgun weddings were always a bad thing & I’ve known a few that worked out well.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 20, 2017 @ 11:22 pm

nominus is addicted to stereotypes, which could run us into a whole new discussion on nominalism.

The Democratic Party is millions of people who have a variety of opinions on what to have truck with, much less which side of the truck to kick. “The right” isn’t a coherent entity either, and “pro-life” is neither coterminous with “the right” or “the left.” Read Erin Manning’s introduction to her Red Cardigan blog sometime… the difference between Republican and conservative, f’rinstance.

There are pro-life campaigners who are utter hypocrites. There are pro-life activists who are entirely sincere and consistent in their ethics. There is no “They” who are totally consistent about being for or against abortion, for or against criminal penalties for abortion, for or against access to affordable health care. “We” are not “done” with much of anything… lots of variables to work through, lot’s of solutions to try out. Of course I think mine is the most balanced and in the long term most likely to succeed.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 21, 2017 @ 1:41 am

“Please stop using the term “pro-life” to describe people who are simply anti-abortion. It’s a fictional moral high-ground given to people who are not ethically consistent. Daniel Berrigan, one of the few truly pro-life activists, made it clear years ago that one could not be pro-life AND pro-war, of any kind, or pro-death penalty, or anti-environment, or anti-medicaid, or anti-welfare.”

As someone doggedly pro-life, do tell what my moral inconsistencies are.

#28 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 21, 2017 @ 1:24 pm

@ Ted, who wrote: “The alternative to legal abortion is not no abortion. It’s unsafe, illegal abortions. Abortion wasn’t made legal out of concerns for family planning, it was made legal because every newspaper had a news item every few weeks, ‘Girl bleeds out on surgeons table’ ‘Girl pushed down flight of stairs’ ‘14 year old killed in botched abortion’ and that wears on you.”

According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the legalization of abortion was not responsible for reducing abortion-related deaths. The discovery of antibiotics in the 1940’s caused abortion-related deaths to drop dramatically by providing effective treatment for infections. Statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics show that after penicillin became available to control infections during WW2, the number of deaths from illegal abortion fell sharply, as shown in this graph based upon NCHS statistics – “Women Who Died from Illegal Abortions”:

[18]

By 1972 the year before the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision allowing legal abortions in all fifty states, deaths from illegal abortions had fallen to 24 (with 25 additional deaths as a result of legal abortions). In 1974 the first year after Roe vs. Wade, abortion-related deaths in the US were 26. In 1975, 29.

#29 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 21, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

@ Ted: The number of women who died from illegal abortions before Roe was greatly exaggerated: Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist who performed tens of thousands of abortions and was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), admitted that before
Roe he and other NARAL members regularly used to claim that 5,000 to 10,000 women died each year from illegal abortions. Those figures — prepared by Dr. Nathanson and others at NARAL – were presented to the US Supreme Court during the arguments preceding Roe vs. Wade. Dr. Nathanson later admitted that he knew the statistic to be “totally false . . . But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?”

#30 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 21, 2017 @ 10:00 pm

Dr. Nathanson later admitted that he knew the statistic to be “totally false . . . But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?”

Although I would want to do some research before I affirmed a figure like 5000 to 10,000 women dying each year from abortions… Dr. Nathanson’s testimony raises the age-old question, “Were you lying then, or are you lying now?” He could be telling the truth. But he is now just as committed a culture warrior as he was before, only for the other side. Thus, he has every motive to stretch the truth the other way, and denounce himself in a manner worthy of a Stalinist show trial.

I don’t think he’s gone that far either. And certainly if he did it was voluntary, “for the cause,” not under duress. I just don’t find these true confessions particularly credible.

#31 Comment By Thrice A Viking On June 22, 2017 @ 9:47 am

T. Franken and nominus, while pro-life may not be totally accurate, neither is pro-choice. The teachers’ unions see to it that no choice can be introduced to education if the Democratic Party can help it, for one. And there are a variety of other ways that the Dems, by and large, don’t want you to have a choice. No one has the choice to not wear a seat belt or motorcycle helmet when driving or riding a truck, car, or bike, and these measures were largely introduced by Ds. So much for a woman’s control over her own body.

#32 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 22, 2017 @ 12:25 pm

Siarlys Jenkins writes: “Although I would want to do some research before I affirmed a figure like 5000 to 10,000 women dying each year from abortions… Dr. Nathanson’s testimony raises the age-old question, ‘Were you lying then, or are you lying now?’”

Research is indeed the key. The question of the number of women dying from illegal abortions before Roe vs. Wade (1973) is hardly, Mr. Jenkins, a question of what you think of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s credibility. On the contrary, it’s a matter of examining the facts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a strong advocate of legalized abortion – confirms that “in 1972 [the last year before the Roe vs. Wade decision], 24 women died from causes associated with legal abortion, and 39 women died from illegal abortions.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Reproductive Health, Lisa Koonin, et.al. “Abortion Surveillance; United States, 1996,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48 (1999).

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#33 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 22, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

Why did so many Americans come to believe the wildly exaggerated claims concerning the number of women dying from illegal abortion?

As I indicated in comments above and by the linked graph above, with the increasing availability of the sulfa drugs, penicillin, and increasingly potent antibiotics, the number of women dying from illegal abortions fell dramatically after WW2. Yet many Americans remained susceptible to exaggerated claims about the number of deaths from abortion.

Why were we so susceptible? One reason is the claim repeated by pro-legalization advocates and the media that most illegal abortions were being done by unlicensed, unskilled, “back alley” hacks.

In fact, prior to legalization, and estimated 90 percent of illegal abortions were performed by physicians. (My step-grandfather, a physician licensed by the State of Virginia, performed illegal abortions in southeast Virginia during the 1920s and 1930s.) After physicians, most of the remainder of illegal abortions were done by nurses, midwives or others with at least some medical training. Thus, the term “back alley” referred not to where abortions were performed, but to how women were told to enter the doctor’s office after hours, through the back alley (in my grandfather’s case, through a street-level side door that faced on the back yard), to avoid arousing neighbors’ suspicions.

Mary Calderone (then Medical Director of Planned Parenthood) and Nancy Howell Lee (a pro-choice researcher) were good sources of information about who provided illegal abortions. Both investigated the practice of criminal abortion in the pre-legalization era. Calderone estimated that 90% of all illegal abortions in the early 1960s were being done by physicians. Calderone further estimated that 8% were self-induced and that 2% were induced by someone other than the woman or a doctor. (Mary Calderone, “Illegal abortion as a public health issue,” American Journal of Public Health, July 1960) Lee estimated that 89% of pre-legalization abortions were done by physicians, an additional 5% by nurses or others with some medical training, and 6% were done by non-medical persons or the woman herself. (Nancy Howell Lee, The Search for an Abortionist, University of Chicago Press, 1969)

#34 Comment By MM On June 22, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

Nat Hentoff, may he rest in peace.

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Because of his position on this issue, Iraq, and Israel, he was ostracized on the left.

Shame.

#35 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 22, 2017 @ 5:10 pm

You’re so right, MM. Nat Hentoff, may he rest in peace, was a man of principle and integrity. He had the courage to make moral decisions and to stick by them even though many on the liberal/left made him pay a price for his anti-abortion convictions.

Nat Hentoff spoke at a pro-life (or should I say anti-abortion) banquet I attended in 1992. I actually got to shake his hand in a pre-dinner receiving line. After dinner at the head table Nat introduced a dear friend of his, the keynote speaker, Cardinal O’Connor of New York. Nat showed his wit and wry sense of humor and soon had all of us laughing. Some people were surprised to learn that Nat was Cardinal O’Connor’s offical biographer.

Whenever I meet someone on the liberal/left struggling over what do about the abortion issue without dynamiting their career on the political left, I would mention the example of Nat Hentoff. But Nat was a hard act to follow.

#36 Comment By Michael Honohan On June 22, 2017 @ 9:27 pm

Why not? Sure. However, this is a social issue, not a government issue. In the Libertarian party, you can be pro-choice or pro-life. No one cares. We are libertarians, you have the right to believe what it is you believe. Some issues in life literally have two sides. I would love to sit both sides down and come to an accord, a compromise.

I do like to say, we are all pro-life. We all just drawn the line at a different point. However, some folks draw the line before masterbation. Some against contraception. Some want to protect the zygote, others the fetus and at the other end are those who want to protect the newly born.

The problem with religion is that it causes folks to dictated what they KNOW “God” said. The very notion that some Republican politicians hears the very words from God’s mouth is the absurdity.

You want to save unborn life? Then work hard to create a society that values life. Laws to not create morality.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 22, 2017 @ 10:41 pm

“in 1972 [the last year before the Roe vs. Wade decision], 24 women died from causes associated with legal abortion, and 39 women died from illegal abortions.”

This assumes that all abortion providers scrupulously reported every death resulting from an abortion to the CDC, and identified that this was the context in which the death occured.

There is no question that people with strong emotional commitments to an ideological position lie or exaggerate… But how does a given published source KNOW what they are talking about? On much less controversial matters, I’ve gotten to the point that in my own writing, if I have a reputable source for a fact, I look at that source’s footnote, and sometimes at THAT source’s footnote, and then THAT source’s footnote.

The following was published by the Guttmacher Institute, hardly an objective or disinterested objective source, but it exemplifies how uncertain the numbers really are:

“Before the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, data on abortion in the United States were scarce. In 1955, experts had estimated, on the basis of qualitative assumptions, that 200,000-1,200,000 illegal abortions were performed each year.1 Despite its wide range, this estimate remained the most reliable indicator of the magnitude of induced abortion for many years. In 1967, researchers confirmed this estimate by extrapolating data from a randomized-response survey conducted in North Carolina: They concluded that a total of 800,000 induced (mostly illegal) abortions were performed nationally each year.”

(Footnote: Abernathy JR, Greenberg BG and Horvitz DG, Estimates of induced abortion in urban North Carolina, Demography, 1970, 7(1):19-29.)

I did however find in a JAMA article from 1992 the following numbers: “Deaths from legal abortion declined fivefold between 1973 and 1985 (from 3.3 deaths to 0.4 death per 100,000 procedures), reflecting increased physician education and skills, improvements in medical technology, and, notably, the earlier termination of pregnancy.”

That decline is not nothing, and it would not be unreasonable to expect that the pre-1973 numbers were greater than 3.3 per 100,000. However, it is true that even at, say 10/100,000 and 1,200,000 illegal abortions per year, that would be 120 deaths per year, not 5000. It must also be considered that the most horrific deaths were probably those NOT reported, and performed on populations least likely to raise an issue.

I did not look at the article from the Huffington Post a google search turned up. We need not even consider that.

Has anyone considered that if 90 percent of illegal abortions were performed by a doctor, then there was some sound medical judgment going into these illegal decisions? Or that the actual number of “murdered babies” per year is not actually so different in magnitude than it was before Roe?