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Democratic Abortion Fanaticism

Strong column by David Brooks this morning, [1]pointing out how fanatical the Democratic Party is in its commitment to preserving abortion rights at all costs. He writes in the voice of a fictional Democratic consultant who is trying to convince the party to moderate its stance. Excerpts:

I understand that our donors (though not necessarily our voters) want to preserve a woman’s right to choose through all nine months of her pregnancy. But do we want late-term abortion so much that we are willing to tolerate President Trump? Do we want it so much that we give up our chance at congressional majorities? Do we want it so much that we see our agendas on poverty, immigration, income equality and racial justice thwarted and defeated?

Let’s try to imagine what would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The abortion issue would go back to the states. The Center for Reproductive Rights estimates that roughly 21 states would outlaw abortion. Abortion would remain legal in probably 20 others. There’s a good chance that a lot of states would hammer out the sort of compromise the European nations have — legal in the first months, difficult after that. That’s what most Americans support.

The pro-life movement would turn its attention away from national elections. Single-issue anti-abortion voters would no longer be automatic Republicans. The abortion debate would no longer be an absolutist position on one side against an absolutist position on the other.

Did you know that godless, secular Europe actually has abortion laws that are significantly stricter than our own? And that the only nations with abortion laws as liberal as ours are China, North Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Vietnam?

More Brooks:

We need to acknowledge our vulnerability here. Democrats support the right to choose throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy. But babies are now viable outside the womb at 22 weeks. As Emma Green wrote [2] in The Atlantic, scientific advances “fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion.” Parents can see their babies’ faces earlier and earlier.

We’re learning how cognitively active fetuses are. A researcher from Britain recently found that fetuses prefer to look at face-like images while in the womb. Early in the pregnancy they can recognize and distinguish between tastes. Late in the term they can recognize words, tunes, languages. They seem to begin crying, for example, by the 28th week. It could be that one of the current behaviors that future generations will regard as most barbaric is our treatment of fetuses.

Brooks also talks about how Millennial voters are far less supportive of maximal abortion rights than people their age were a generation ago — and how pro-choice Millennials are not nearly as fired up about the issue as pro-life ones.

Great ending:

I’m asking us to rethink our priorities. What does America need most right now? One of our talking points is that late-term abortions are extremely rare. If they are extremely rare, why are we giving them priority over all of our other issues combined?

Read the whole thing.  [1] There’s lots more good stuff in it, including a recollection of how Democrats used to champion the rights of the unborn.

Seriously, whatever your politics, imagine how the landscape would change if abortion rights ceased to be a national political issue, and instead became a state one. Brooks is right: for a lot of us conservative voters, it becomes thinkable to vote Democratic in national elections. I’d love to see a poll asking that question, but intuitively, at least, it seems to me that the Democrats would instantly become competitive with enough voters to make a difference. It’s hard to quantify these things, but I’d estimate that I would be 50 percent more likely to consider voting for a Democratic candidate if abortion was off the table (and 100 percent more likely to consider voting Democratic if the Democrat was strong on religious liberty).

Note well Brooks’s point: most Americans want greater restrictions on abortion. The Democratic Party’s position is extreme. It is not unusual for a political party to take the views of its donors over its voters. In recent years, for example, polls have shown that grassroots Republicans have been much more moderate on economic matters than the Washington party establishment. The value in what Brooks proposes is in thinking how profoundly overturning Roe and (therefore) returning abortion to the states to regulate would shake up US politics. My guess is that most strongly pro-life voters would still stick with Republicans, but with things so evenly divided, Democrats would have a better chance at pulling enough pro-lifers away to make a difference, or at least depriving the GOP of a core source of activist strength.

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146 Comments To "Democratic Abortion Fanaticism"

#1 Comment By Nelson On February 2, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

I agree and I’ve been saying as much for a long time. It would do wonders for our political system if Democratic candidates could be pro-life.

Now’s as good a time as any to plug Democrats for Life. Pro-life for the whole life. [3]

#2 Comment By sjb On February 2, 2018 @ 8:40 pm

RD, in case you haven’t seen it, I wanted to offer a 6 minute video in which Jordan Peterson gives an astute answer to a secular audience on why abortion is wrong and the problem underlying it. It’s encouraging to think how many may start to deeply consider what he’s saying.

Jordan Peterson – Abortion
[4]

#3 Comment By Heidi On February 2, 2018 @ 8:59 pm

“Abortion is legal in Canada until the child has proceeded fully from the birth canal. Access is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act and is an insured and funded service.”
Perdition. Seriously. So, a child is about to be born, mom is in transition and the doc says, “wait, my goodness! We’ve missed something and your child actually has a malformation that will require you to restructure your lives substantially and might cost you a great deal of money!” Mother says, “ABORT!” And Canada says…okay?!?!?! Murder paid for by Health Canada. Am I the only one smelling sulfur here?

#4 Comment By CMPT On February 2, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

Rod: “It’s hard to quantify these things, but I’d estimate that I would be 50 percent more likely to consider voting for a Democratic candidate if abortion was off the table (and 100 percent more likely to consider voting Democratic if the Democrat was strong on religious liberty).”

That’s okay, stay where you. The last thing I and most other Democrats want is a Democratic president who feels politically indebted to people who opposed civil unions, oppose the legalization of SSM, muster only tepid, inconsequential support for laws that ban discrimination against LGBTs, believe some undefined person or thing other than the individual should define his/her personal concept of existence and meaning, and apparently has no problem denying immigration to an individual based on national origin and not personal qualities.

In any event, I sincerely doubt you are a single or double-issue voter. Most likely, there are quite a few reasons other than abortion and religious “liberty” for your support of GOP candidates. The GOP is the most natural fit for you, as a conservative. Sure, you’d like a candidate that is both socially conservative and supportive of policies that benefit low and middle income people, but you’ve frequently claimed Democratic policies are no better for those folks than the Republican policies. If you think that, it’s most likely because you believe conservative economic policies are as good or better than liberal and neo-liberal economic policies.

On the other hand, if you now believe Democratic policies are better for middle and low income people, you should say so, and you should encourage GOP voters and politicians to move in the Democrats’ direction on those issues. You should also be honest and admit that you’re willing to pay the price of harmful, certain consequences of GOP policies in exchange for the hope that maybe, one day in the future, enough justices who have pre-determined they will overturn Roe v. Wade will get appointed to the Supreme Court.

#5 Comment By Thaomas On February 2, 2018 @ 9:19 pm

Before posing a “Why is X the case?” question it is generally a good idea to show that X IS the case.

#6 Comment By at the soundcheck On February 2, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

I think since women get pregnant, they should be allowed to commit murder. Wait, read: I think the language we currently use confuses everything. If we could just stick a pin in the problem that we can’t agree whether it’s a life, what kind of life, or whether it’s a clump of cells, as significant as a chicken, a human, a stove, what could it possibly be?… Women should be allowed to commit murder so long as it’s in their own body. It’s also legal to have a medical assist in the murder. I think that’s the only way to have an honest discussion and get at the truth and solve the matter. Then we should have a vote. If majority votes to continue to allow women to commit murder, then everyone has to accept it.

I’ve been tossing this idea around for a few years. Is it nuts? Not like it would ever happen. (I mean, it Is happening, the language is just different.) Maybe I just want to get the thing solved. And so much of the talk that is used around this debate sounds like lies or denial.

#7 Comment By Thaomas On February 2, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

BTW I agree that more candidates (ideally Republicans as well as Democrats) would adapt a “seamless garment” strategy of trying to minimize the circumstances in which women are tempted to chose abortion — increased use of “foolproof” contraceptive methods, more willing adoptive parents and ways of making adoption easier and cheaper, better support for single- and two-parent families in caring for children like a much more generous child tax credit.

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 2, 2018 @ 10:49 pm

…and an equivalent, if not larger slice, of the Democrats’ activist base would loudly–perhaps even violently–revolt.

Where will they go? Will the vote GOP? They may be loud, but they are not nearly so numerous as they have convinced themselves they are. Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere…

So a man who has never had to deal with a pregnancy is quoting another man who has never had to deal with pregnancy…

Strange as it may seem, being a man does not deprive one of either moral agency or freedom of speech. I have said many times that if I were married and my wife were pregnant, I would have to ultimately respect her decision EITHER to have an abortion I did not want her to have, OR to carry a pregnancy to term that I believed there was good reason to abort. Because ultimately, she is the one who would pay the negative prices for doing either one. But, that doesn’t mean, if I sincerely believe ‘that is a human being’ from the moment of conception, I am deprived of all right to say so. After all, similar percentages of women and men believe exactly that. And if true, that does change the moral calculus. I happen to believe it is false, but that’s my opinion, and I happen to be male.

The “Leave it to the States” canard was drained of all meaning under FDR

You haven’t read Lopez v. United States have you? Striking down the federal Gun Free Schools Act on the ground that while states have every power to ban guns in the vicinity of schools, it lies outside the jurisdiction of congress. How about the Brzonkala case — striking down a law providing rape victims a right to sue in federal court?

It was one of the better things they Rehnquist court did, paring back the unlimited scope congress tended to give to the Interstate Commerce Clause. Those decisions are still on the books.

And when there is no empirical truth, only “my” truth, we’re sliding down the slippery slope at 60 mph.

But there IS empirical truth. Unfortunately there are also a lot of people who take the attitude my fourth grade teacher summed up in the words “My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

#9 Comment By Robert E. On February 2, 2018 @ 11:33 pm

I’ll leave the Brooks bit alone, since most here have taken apart the problems with that argument, but there is one actually good argument in this piece, which is Emma Green’s about technology.

That certainly rings true. By extending viability, the moral calculus continues to change, just as the moral calculus changed from back in the bad old days when people would leave their infants out for exposure because poor material conditions made them chose between their infants and their children or themselves. In some of China’s worst periods, cannibalism was even widespread!

Technology will change the moral calculus further too. All a procedure has to do is be safer than actual pregnancy and giving birth (Or safer than an early term abortion, which is a harder prospect), and all the technology has to do is provide an artificial womb that works from the point of conception, and all of a sudden there is no real reason to have abortions at any point, because there is no longer any real burden to the woman.

But freeing a woman like that with technology will change society in ways that Rod probably doesn’t want to think about. I wonder if he’d rather have a world with abortion as a somewhat common procedure, or a world where women no longer have to suffer the inconvenience of pregnancy to even have children? The technology coming down the pipe must be a SoCon’s worst nightmare, and yet as they take the hardcore stance of arguing against abortions, they won’t be able to also effectively argue that this great new technology that makes abortion and live childbirth unnecessary shouldn’t be adopted without it looking like all the stereotypes us liberals have about their views of women are true.

#10 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On February 3, 2018 @ 1:06 am

[NFR: You’re making this stuff up. There is no Republican position to ban birth control. Contraception is perfectly acceptable to almost all Evangelicals and a strong majority of Catholics. — RD]

Now you are being silly or arguing in bad faith. Republicans keep trying to pass (often successfully) legislation restricting access to contraception. The fact that they support contraception for their own families is just as irrelevant as the fact that they support abortion for their own families and just as irrelevant as the fact that many Democrats don’t like the idea of late term abortions. What matters is the policy they push.

There is no compromise to be had on abortion because even if things returned to the states the religious right would still be just determined to permenantly outlaw all abortion nationally and the women’s rights left would still be just as determined to permenantly allow free access to all. The non-absolutists on both sides are already not single issue voters for the most part.

#11 Comment By galanx On February 3, 2018 @ 1:11 am

In the context of Republicans trying to pass a federal law restricting abortions, David Brooks assures that if the Supreme Court invalidated Roe v. Wade Republicans wouldn’t try to pass a federal law restricting abortions.

#12 Comment By grumpy realist On February 3, 2018 @ 9:03 am

Rod–I notice that the image you have chosen continues the fallacy that the fetus is floating out there in the middle of nowhere, with nothing required to maintain it except for an umbilical cord heading off to the left like some cosmic gas pump.

So the woman is not in the picture.

I think someone is being left out of this discussion.

(This is why I want uterine replicators to be developed. My suspicion is that so-called “pro-lifers” will find a whole host of reasons as to why the technology should not be developed or used, even though it is the most logical way out of the situation.)

#13 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On February 3, 2018 @ 9:29 am

You know, I’m just saying, but abortion laws in a lot of those “sh*t hole* countries are a lot better than they are in America. (At least from my perspective, and from Rod’s too). I remember talking with a woman in Madagascar when I worked there (she was a nearly landless peasant in the poorest of the country’s six provinces, and this was in a country about as developed as Senegal at last glance) telling her that her country’s conservative abortion laws were something they should be proud of, in contradistinction to America.

Maybe we could, I dunno, learn something from the sh*t hole denizens. Maybe we could even learn that they aren’t actually sh*t holes.

#14 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On February 3, 2018 @ 9:30 am

“You know, I’m just saying, but abortion laws in a lot of those “sh*t hole* countries are a lot better than they are in America”

for “a lot”, read “nearly all”.

#15 Comment By Joan from Michigan On February 3, 2018 @ 9:34 am

It seems that by “shaking up politics” you just mean altering voting patterns in national elections. The shaking up I’d foresee would be the rise of an underground network dedicated to providing safe, affordable illegal abortions (along with an introduction to radical feminist ideas) in states that outlaw it. I have heard rumors — such things are hard to document — about a plan to do just that in the years leading up to the Roe vs. Wade decision, and that Roe vs. Wade was decided as it was specifically to stop this plan. The powers that be feared it as a potential recruiting tool.

Things would be different in the age of the Internet, of course, but the effort to re-acquire lost abortion rights and to make up for their loss with underground efforts would certainly suck away a lot of energy currently going into other feminist causes.

#16 Comment By at the soundcheck On February 3, 2018 @ 11:17 am

I retract my previous proposal/comment. I think calling it murder instead of abortion would not make women better at contraception, but it would put more women in danger of being murdered by the babies’fetuses’ fathers. So the term “abortion” is probably a life-saver, if you are a woman. I wouldn’t want anyone to be born to a mother who doesn’t want them. I think pro-lifers should be required to adopt one unwanted child, and/OR at the least, give into the pre-22 weeks option. Even though democrats are not going to stop pushing it farther. For the Biblically concerned, God may destroy entire cities, but ultimately we are not responsible for the actions of our neighbors.

I think someone reminded all that it’s about the right to privacy.

Also, imo, it should go to the states, but I don’t think it will.

#17 Comment By Concerned Citizen On February 3, 2018 @ 11:44 am

Forgive me for seeming crass in bringing financial viability up. Several people have made the comment that the point of viability of a fetus keeps going down to an earlier and earlier week of pregnancy. But at what cost? These babies cost enormous amounts of money, and in many cases, the parents are reduced to a lifetime of go-fund-me status.

Maybe some people think that monetary considerations shouldn’t even enter into such a decision, but seems to me that millions of dollars are required to keep one severely compromised newborn alive. Since healthcare funds are not limitless, expenditures such as this may be preventing expenditures to help thousands of children overcome diseases such as pneumonia, influenza (see the current “flunami”), treatable cancers, and the like.

Before anyone accuses me of being heartless, I’m bringing this up because no one else has made the point thus far in this dialogue.

#18 Comment By WorkingClass On February 3, 2018 @ 2:15 pm

I would be fine with sending abortion back to the states. But I am not a woman of child bearing age.

When I was a man of military age I was conscripted into the Army. Most of the people who supported the draft knew they would never be drafted.

#19 Comment By Altair IV On February 3, 2018 @ 2:18 pm

There are millions of men and women whose position on abortion is informed by the simple notion that whether a fetus is carried to term is entirely up to the person who is carrying and nurturing the fetus.
Then there are millions of men and women who believe that it is a woman’s duty to always carry a fetus to term.

These 2 points of view are diametrically opposed to one another. They are not reconcilable.

The 20 week gestation issue is a matter of optics, a public relations matter if you will. If you believe that a woman should always bring a fetus to term, then whether the fetus is 20, 10 or 5 weeks old doesn’t matter. From that perspective, the fetus is always, and at any point during gestation, an unborn baby. If you want to compare abortion to slavery, then allowing individual states to allow or only marginally restrict abortion rights is morally indefensible. The only logical endpoint of the anti abortion position is a total and complete ban.

If one believes that female autonomy and an anti abortion political stance are incompatible, then compromising away a woman’s bodily autonomy is, from the Pro choice position, a political non starter. You may find that conclusion unacceptable, but neither the fetus or a woman’s body belongs to you, and in my ideal world, only she gets to choose.

#20 Comment By Olga On February 3, 2018 @ 3:34 pm

Actually I grew up in the Midwest and considered myself pro-life, but thought the Republicans were too concerned about making abortion illegal, rather than enacting policies to make them less desired.

In Latin America abortion is illegal, but there are more abortions there than in the US. Canada and much of Europe have more permissive abortion laws and a much lower rate of abortion than we do. So what works to reduce abortions?
1) Medically accurate sex education
2) Subsidizing long-term contraception like IUDs. Pills and condoms can be effective, but human error results in a lot of accidents.
3) Provide paid maternity leave and affordable childcare to all women and families. Provide other subsidies to poor women.

If you did the above, the number of women seeking abortions would drop to near zero. Women get elective abortions primarily because they can’t afford to be mothers or because they are in an abusive relationship and they don’t want to be forever tied to an abuser.

Later term abortions are very rare and it is already illegal to have an elective late term abortion. If a woman is getting an abortion after 20 weeks, something horrible has occurred. Things like — 1) The baby has already died in-utero. The abortion spares the woman from having to carry and give birth to a baby she knows is already dead. 2) The baby has severe deformities such as organs that formed outside the body. 3) The woman can not safely continue the pregnancy without risking her own death. Some women choose a late-term abortion because they learn their child has serious health problems, but not fatale problems. While some people think that is wrong, as long as we put all of the expense for caring for children on the shoulders of parents, then parents get to decide what they can handle and what they can afford. I think we all agree that most of the above reasons for getting an abortion are valid. Sadly, most women often don’t know about the above issues until late in the pregnancy.

I feel the Republican position is about punishing women for having sex and not preserving life. If you cared about life, why are there over 350,000 foster children in the United States available for adoption? If you are pro-life, adopt a foster child.

#21 Comment By Just Another Bystander On February 3, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

I have a few questions for the pro-life community.

(1) Do you believe that abortion is something liberals concocted in the 20th century? Or do you accept that it is something that has been done for thousands of years in one form or another?

(2) Do you understand that making abortion illegal will not stop them from being performed any more than it did pre-1973?

Do you understand that you are not going to create an abortion-free utopia? You are simply going to return us to the world where the daughters and wives of the wealthy could go to discrete private clinics while less-privileged women bled to death in motel rooms and black market clinics.

(3) Why is abortion the evil that trumps all others to you? Why does it bother you more for a woman to ingest a pill that will cause her uterine wall to expel a three-week old embryo, than it does for a man to rampage through a school or a movie theater murdering six year-old children or grown adults? Why are you willing to support politicians who commit fraud, sexual assault and rape simply because they oppose that single evil of abortion?

Why do you hold the unborn and the dead in higher esteem than the born and the living?

Why is it unacceptable to ask people to give up some of their rights to own guns in order to save a few born people, but it is perfectly fine to demand women give up some of their rights to save a few unborn?

Why are you more bothered by that than you are by women dying in childbirth at rates higher than any other developed country?

#22 Comment By JCM On February 3, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

It was learned after his death that Senator Eagleton, McGovern’s running mate for a short period, came up with the phrase “amnesty, abortion and acid” aimed at McGovern! Agnew loved alliterations but that was not one of his. Not everything can be blamed on the Nixon administration.

#23 Comment By Pat On February 3, 2018 @ 6:29 pm

I wish the dems were less doctrinaire about abortion rights, but I don’t believe in all these republican voters just panting to be able to morally vote democratic. That sounds like a rerun of Clinton’s push to pick up suburban republicans in the last election, and we know how that turned out.

People who really wanted the other 90% of the democratic platform wouldn’t be letting abortion keep them from trying to get involved with those issues. So where were the republican voters and pro-life feminists in the women’s march? I saw reports of one (1) of each.

My prediction is that if democrats dropped abortion rights, Brooks and all his pals would find that there was just one more issue that would sway republican voters if only the dems were willing to drop it, and so on, and so on. Because these articles are just concern trolling.

#24 Comment By Carlo On February 3, 2018 @ 6:31 pm

zach said:

“It doesn’t matter. Ensuring access to legal and safe abortion for all american women is a core feature of ensuring that women are understood as equally human. Forcing human beings to be pregnant is entirely, fundamentally illiberal, and ought to never be compromised on by a party that, at least purportedly, believes women are fully autonomous, human agents….”

That’s sooooo weird and illogical. The first thing that makes me recognize somebody as human is that he/she is a free, responsible agent who can be held accountable for his/her actions. Including unintended consequences.

#25 Comment By Tim On February 3, 2018 @ 10:21 pm

Gretchen will keep telling you that most late term abortions are for medical reasons–fetal abnormalities, etc. And she will be keeping misleading people along the way.

Actual late-term abortionists have acknowledged that most late-term abortions are elective. We had this same back-and-forth during the partial-birth abortion debate. The Left was lying back then too.

[5]

The Alan Guttmacher Institute has conducted several surveys of women who have had late-term abortions, and invariably most of them admit that their abortions were not because of medical reasons. Katha Pollitt of the Nation Magazine wrote an article in 2003 admitting as much.

That’s why Gretchen will post anecdotes, but not actual evidence. She has none.

#26 Comment By Ain’t Ben On February 3, 2018 @ 11:11 pm

Democrats won’t give an inch because they know perfectly well that the anti-abortion diehards won’t stop until they get the whole mile.

I happen to share the most common position on abortion – that it ought to be legal and available up until the fetus becomes viable outside the womb. I’d prefer less abortion via accurate, universal sex education and widely-available, free contraception… but the anti-abortion folks fight tooth and nail against those abortion-reducing policies. The more cynical among us might even suspect that the anti-abortion crowd hates the concept of women having sex without consequences even more than they hate abortion. I’d never suggest such a thing myself, of course.

At any rate, I’d never support increased restrictions on abortion because I’ve seen the right wing fanaticism on the issue my whole life and know perfectly well that extremists will just keep pushing until they’ve managed to ban it entirely, in all cases. As it is, they’ll try any underhanded, sneaky, vicious, nasty, quasi-legal tactic they can get away with to make abortions hard for (poor) women to come by.

There’s no compromise to be had, and the reason isn’t simply Democratic intransigence. It’s also Republicans that won’t accept or honor any compromise.

#27 Comment By redfish On February 4, 2018 @ 2:08 pm

“Note well Brooks’s point: most Americans want greater restrictions on abortion.”

I would rephrase this as “most Americans would support greater restrictions on abortion.” Poll most Americans, and abortion is very low on their priority list. A minor point, byt I think its important to keep the political discussion objective.

I agree with Brooks though. I’d also say, on a separate note, ballot access reform and viable third parties would likely give conservatives more influence in blue states and liberals more influence in red states. Like I said, separate issue, but the common thread is partisan politics often gets in the way of political interests.

#28 Comment By connecticut farmer On February 4, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

Prior to “Roe” in 1973 at least twenty states permitted abortions. The criteria varied among the states but, still, it was more or less assumed that abortion would be state-regulated and was not under the jurisdiction of the Federal judiciary. Along came “Roe” and now look what we have. Face it, “Roe” has been a disaster and should have been left alone by the SCOTUS (even Alan Dershowitz, no conservative he, has acknowledged this). We have no way of knowing how this issue would have played out in the various state legislatures had the SCOTUS refused to hear the case. All other things being equal, it’s possible that they would have liberalized the laws or, in the case of those states which outlawed abortion, made it legal albeit with restrictions. No matter because now we may never know. One of the contributors above wrote that the SCOTUS won’t overturn “Roe”. I believe he is right.

And so we are left with going on and on and on about an issue for which there is no real solution.

#29 Comment By MJ On February 4, 2018 @ 5:43 pm

There definitely are plenty in the Democratic base that have little issue with restrictions on late term abortions, myself included. But we look at the worsening attacks on ACCESS to abortion and see it as just another way to prevent women from GETTING abortions, most especially poor or very young women that can’t easily travel long distances to one of the few remaining abortion clinics. When they have to often make multiple trips before they can even GET the abortion, the chances that they will miss the deadline increases greatly. This is a big part of why many that do believe in women having access to safe abortions are so leery about compromising on the date issue…. because there are far too many ways that the pro-life people have shown they can put barricades up to access in the first place.

#30 Comment By grumpy realist On February 4, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

One of the reasons many women say they’re having to have abortions is financial difficulties.

So let’s first of all make all medical costs associated with pregnancy and birth totally free–even better, let’s have all medical costs for children waived as well. If the child has any syndrome like Downs’, we should be providing free support for the parents as well. And let’s provide a moderate financial assistance to parents of newborns (up to one year.)

THEN let’s see what happens to the abortion rate, hmmm?

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 4, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The criteria varied among the states but, still, it was more or less assumed that abortion would be state-regulated and was not under the jurisdiction of the Federal judiciary. Along came “Roe” and now look what we have. Face it, “Roe” has been a disaster and should have been left alone by the SCOTUS (even Alan Dershowitz, no conservative he, has acknowledged this).

Abortion was not placed “under the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary.” The judiciary merely noted that a woman has a private right to make decisions about pregnancy in consultation with her doctor, without interference from the police or the district attorney. Simple.

Alan Dershowitz is a pragmatic opportunist who has little sense of enduring constitutional principles. Thus, he analyzes the question manipulatively, not as a matter of the constitution meaning what it says.

That sounds like a rerun of Clinton’s push to pick up suburban republicans in the last election, and we know how that turned out.

It worked pretty well for her. But she lost ground in other areas, notably rural communities that had backed Barack Obama. But then, anyone remember who was Obama’s primary rival for the Democratic nomination?

It was learned after his death that Senator Eagleton, McGovern’s running mate for a short period, came up with the phrase “amnesty, abortion and acid” aimed at McGovern!

Eagleton may have employed the phrase, but it was first enunciated by Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania. (Some of us are old enough to remember that election.) Eagleton was McGovern’s first choice for veep because, although committed to Edmund Muskie, he had the sense of principle to oppose last-minute changes in the California delegation that would have taken votes away from McGovern.

Several people have made the comment that the point of viability of a fetus keeps going down to an earlier and earlier week of pregnancy. But at what cost?

It would be fairly simple to keep the boundary at the point where a fetus is able to survive outside the womb, unaided by artificial machinery. (A woman still has the right to choose to employ such means if she delivers prematurely).

#32 Comment By RR On February 4, 2018 @ 9:41 pm

quote: “Why is abortion the evil that trumps all others to you? Why does it bother you more for a woman to ingest a pill that will cause her uterine wall to expel a three-week old embryo, than it does for a man to rampage through a school or a movie theater murdering six year-old children or grown adults?”

Because abortion is a form of murder in which unborn children are often literally torn limb from limb. And there have been tens of millions of abortions since 1973. This is mass killing on the scale of a world war. As for the mass shootings you refer to, yes, they are horrible as well. But all of the deaths in mass shootings in all of American history probably amount to a slow month at Planned Parenthood.

Let all of this sink in for a minute. If you really believed abortion was as grotesquely evil as I have described in above, would you not see abortion as the evil that trumps all other evils? I side with the Democrats on many issues, especially economic, environmental and even to a degree with gun control. But I don’t vote for them in national elections because their position on abortion is so utterly barbaric.

#33 Comment By Noah172 On February 4, 2018 @ 11:10 pm

Just Another Bystander wrote:

Do you believe that abortion is something liberals concocted in the 20th century? Or do you accept that it is something that has been done for thousands of years in one form or another?

Lots of things have been done since time immemorial. Doesn’t necessarily make it right. Were people wrong to ban slavery despite its ancient pedigree?

Do you understand that making abortion illegal will not stop them from being performed any more than it did pre-1973?

All laws get broken. Doesn’t mean necessarily we give up and legalize the proscribed activity. There would certainly be fewer abortions than occur now, although not no abortions, if they were subject to greater legal restriction. You could say the same about any other banned or restricted activity. How many more drunken drivers would be on the roads if there were no criminal penalty attached to driving above a given level of intoxication?

Why is abortion the evil that trumps all others to you?

Abortion isn’t quite a deal-breaker to me the way it is to many others (although there are scarcely any pro-choicers I would vote for because they are almost always awful on all my other priorities), but if I may presume to speak for these others, I would say their answer is that a child in the womb is the most defenseless, vulnerable form of human life, such that its destruction is particularly cruel and morally unjustified.

Why does it bother you more for a woman to ingest a pill that will cause her uterine wall to expel a three-week old embryo, than it does for a man to rampage through a school or a movie theater murdering six year-old children or grown adults?

Nobody supports mass shooters. Put your strawman back in the cornfield. People have good faith disagreements about the efficacy of gun control measures, and concerns that such measures may inhibit law-abiding citizens from obtaining and using firearms for lawful self-defense.

Why are you willing to support politicians who commit fraud, sexual assault and rape simply because they oppose that single evil of abortion?

If you are talking about Donald Trump and Roy Moore, maybe it’s because their supporters do not accept the veracity of those allegations? Flip the question back at you: Why have choicers like you overlooked accusations against Bill Clinton and Edward “Ted” Kennedy? Your answer is either, “The allegations were false,” or “The right to choose is more important to me than whether or not this or that Democratic politician committed grave misdeeds behind closed doors.”

Are you aware, Bystander, that Senator Thomas Carper of Delaware, a pro-choice Democrat, admitted in a press interview that he had assaulted his wife years ago? And that Carper is standing for reelection this year, and is certain to win? And nobody cares?

Why is it unacceptable to ask people to give up some of their rights to own guns in order to save a few born people, but it is perfectly fine to demand women give up some of their rights to save a few unborn?

Most conservative gun control opponents support background checks (and concomitant prohibitions on felons and the mentally ill from purchasing weapons) and the 1934 ban on fully automatic weapons (note: none of the mass shooters of the past generation, not even Vegas guy, had full auto). They disagree about the efficacy of some of the other enacted and proposed restrictions.

As for abortion being a “right,” that is a disputable premise to say the least. Before you give me, “The Supreme Court hath spoken,” I reply to you preemptively that the Court hath also spoken on gun control in District of Columbia v. Heller. I take it you don’t agree with that precedent, do you, Bystander? (I don’t think it’s perfect myself, FWIW.)

Why are you more bothered by that than you are by women dying in childbirth at rates higher than any other developed country?

Maybe because one happens far more frequently than the other? Maternal deaths in and shortly after childbirth in the US run under a thousand on an annual basis; abortions, more than a million annually. Abortion is also a deliberate act of terminating a human life, whereas a maternal death is a tragedy which nobody intended to cause.

#34 Comment By Good Reason On February 5, 2018 @ 7:58 am

You can’t address the issue of abortion unless you address the men–yes, the men–who drive it. This great article by a man explains the point nicely:
[6]

#35 Comment By kgasmart On February 5, 2018 @ 9:41 am

Why do you hold the unborn and the dead in higher esteem than the born and the living?

This is not correct, but it is true to say the pro-life side holds the unborn in high esteem – much higher than the left.

But it all comes back to a pretty fundamental question. We talk about rights.

Does a person have a right to be born?

We say everyone has a right to life, liberty and happiness; aren’t all other rights subordinate to the right of every man and woman to exist in the first place?

#36 Comment By JonF On February 5, 2018 @ 1:12 pm

Re: Actual late-term abortionists have acknowledged that most late-term abortions are elective.

Well, pretty much all abortions are elective: women are not dragooned into having them. There’s no aposition between an abortion being conditioned by some medical situation and a woman choosing to have it done.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 5, 2018 @ 2:35 pm

What makes the abortion debate so intractable, and obstructs the ability to hold a mutually respectful conversation between people of opposing viewpoints, is that one one side people have the premise, this is a human person entitled to full legal protection, and on the other, people have the premise that it most certainly is not.

There are a few caveats… a few pro-choice people openly affirm “I know its a baby dear, and I don’t want it, so I’m killing it.” A few pro-life people will be moved to make an exception in case of rape, because somehow its just too much to ask a woman to carry a pregnancy resulting from rape to term for nine months. But mostly, the dividing line is, this is a person, no its not.

I am probably one of the pro-choice people most empathetic to the pro-life position, not because I agree with their premise, but because I know why “Be reasonable, see it my way” just isn’t going to fly.

I have a morally compromised position to offer. Since a substantial majority of your fellow citizens do not agree that this is a human person from the moment of conception, draconian criminal penalties are not likely to end well. So let’s talk about what’s the best you’re likely to get, in terms of legal boundaries, and you can be about your work persuading women, who have a constitutional right to “choose life,” to do so.

Carrie Nation wasn’t wrong about the evils of demon rum… but Prohibition was much worse.

And if someone wants to raise the moral issue of slavery as an analogy… it is a plain fact that so long as those enslaved were a disarmed minority, and the majority of citizens didn’t much care, slavery would continue to be legally enforced, albeit a resistance movement could have some impact for some individuals.

There is, in my view of the morality, another difference or two. Slaves did not inhabit the bodies of their masters. The same human being could as easily be a slave, or not, depending on the law. And a fetus does not, until about week 20 or 22, have any real self awareness as an independent organism. I’m quite willing to compromise at about that line.

#38 Comment By Zgler On February 5, 2018 @ 2:55 pm

“Democrats support the right to choose throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy.”

This is a lie. Roe v. Wade protects abortion pre-viability. That was 24 weeks and may be 22 weeks now. However it’s not “40 weeks”.

As a woman, the problem I see with most of the “20 week” legislation for abortion restrictions is that it doesn’t protect the health of the mother. Some of them protect against “imminent thread of death” but when death is imminent there’s high chance it’s too late. Trust the doctors and give women’s health and life a priority over the life of a fetus. Women aren’t just incubators. Some conditions that can kill a woman:

Preeclampsia
Eclampsia
Sepsis
Placenta Previa
Placental Abruption

#39 Comment By RR On February 5, 2018 @ 8:41 pm

Siarlys,

I’m pro-life, and to your dividing line question firmly believe that a fetus is a person and that abortion is murder. I don’t find any pro-choice arguments to the contrary remotely convincing, and indeed think the pro-choice side denies a lot of basic biological science and empirically verifiable information. Bluntly speaking, the pro-choice position on what abortion does is about as credible to me as young earth creationism. I’m not interested in arguing about this as it seems so self-evident.

With all that said, the best case in my view for the pro-choice position is what you mentioned, namely that making abortion completely illegal may be as hard to enforce as Prohibition was in the 1920s. After all, these days there are probably guides on how to give yourself an abortion or give someone else an abortion online. Abortion is murder, but it is killing someone who the rest of the world probably doesn’t even know exists. Thus, it is easy to cover up.

So wouldn’t the best compromise from the pro-choice side be to return to the old “Safe, Legal and Rare” argument, but to really mean the rare part this time? I would absolutely love for a pro-choice Democrat to make the argument in a campaign that his or her policies with regard to healthcare, parental leave, etc. would result in fewer abortions than his or her Republican opponent. As it stands now, pro-choice Democrats don’t see to care a whit if abortion rates go down or not. I imagine a lot of pro-lifers such as myself are pragmatic, i.e. at the end of the day, we want to see as few abortions as possible, irrespective of what the laws about abortion say. I would really seriously consider voting for a pro-choice Democratic if I thought he or she was genuinely interested in purposefully pursuing policies that would lower the abortion rate.

As I mentioned upthread, however, I highly doubt this would happen because the abortion lobby won’t tolerate any implications that abortion is a negative thing. The fanatics that want women to brag about their abortions (“shout your abortion”) aren’t about to favor a “Safe, Legal and Rare” policy that if it were genuine, would probably capture the sentiments of the majority of the nation that doesn’t like abortion, but is wary of totally outlawing it. So yes, to Rod’s point, the Democratic Party is beholden to a bunch of fanatics (Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, Emily’s List, etc.) when it comes to abortion. It’s strangely similar to the NRA and the Republicans. And it’s the pro-abortion fanatics element within the Democratic Party that makes the Democrats so repulsive to folks such as me.

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 5, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

RR, I know you don’t find any pro-choice arguments convincing. And I don’t find the argument that a single cell or even eight cells is a person biologically or morally convincing. So there we are.

I agree that one problem with the “abortion lobby” is that they have built up a substantial industry delivering a product, and like the private prison industry, they don’t want to see a decrease in demand.

My sister, a doctor who is more militantly pro-choice than I am, points out, accurately enough, that one reason there are clinics specializing in abortion is that most medical practices and many hospitals don’t offer the service, to avoid controversy. While I think that Operation Rescue and Planned Parenthood share responsibility for this unfortunate state of affairs, its is a far cry from the terms of Justice Blackmun’s opinion, that an individual woman should make the decision privately in consultation with her physician.

Safe, legal and rare is fine by me. But, there is that element of individual choice. I can’t ask any given individual woman to forego an abortion she believes she should have, to improve the statistical rarity. Making it rare is a combination of being able to make a coherent case for less promiscuity, more careful use of contraception (yes, both), better economic and social support for women who bring their pregnancies to term, and perhaps expanded options for women with abusive boyfriends would help too.

Bluntly speaking, if 90 percent of the American voters agreed with you that all abortion is murder, there would be little option to avoid that becoming the law of the land. Justice Blackmun was quite explicit that IF a zygote is legally a person, THEN Roe’s claim would necessarily fail. He just couldn’t find the slightest support for it in the entire history of western law or English Common Law. While Catholic and Orthodox theologians never condoned abortion, the concept that an independent life existed starting with “quickening” had a very long pedigree. (Orthodox Jews consider abortion to be “bloodshed” but not murder). And a substantial majority of Americans do not agree with you, thus, your sincere, heart-felt conviction is a poor basis for criminal law, or even civil restrictions.

We can agree I think that for some time prior to delivery, what is in the womb is in fact a baby, and if it can be removed intact without killing the mother, the action is a delivery, not an abortion.

#41 Comment By Jeff Clothier On February 6, 2018 @ 7:04 am

Democrats’ connection to reproductive rights is similar to the GOP position on gun ownership. Perhaps if the conservative party were equally reasonable around the majority desire for rational gun control, the lack of which causes numerous retroactive abortions each year, a useful discussion along the lines of this article could be had.

#42 Comment By Tim On February 6, 2018 @ 11:06 pm

JonF,

Stop being obtuse. Many, like Gretchen above, claim that women seek late-term abortions because the fetus has severe abnormalities or because of a severe threat to the mother’s health. That’s just not true. “Elective” in this case means not medically necessary, but you knew that.

#43 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 7, 2018 @ 1:48 pm

That’s just not true. “Elective” in this case means not medically necessary, but you knew that.

Could you elucidate on that? Your flat denial assumes facts not in evidence.

Trying to summarize a variety of reading for the narrow confines of a blog comment, I am familiar with the assertion that the standard “life or health of the mother” is being manipulated to rationalize late term abortions that are not medically necessary. One caricature is the doctor asking “Are you having suicidal thought?” and the pregnancy woman being sort of caught be surprise, then saying “Oh, uh, yeah, suicidal.” Thus, an abortion becomes “necessary” to save the woman’s life.

I find such assertions plausible, and worth some even-handed investigation. However, I have also read of the more predominant motive for late-terms abortions being, that one of several medical conditions actually does threaten the life of the mother — generally a woman who wanted and looked forward to the birth of this baby. I’ve also read of women whose pro-life convictions motivated them to take their chances… some lived, some died. They, like all women, have the right to choose.

Your denial does not hold water, until you can provide more factual evidence. And last I checked, late term abortions are about one percent of the total… if you have credible evidence for a larger number, by all means tell us what it is.

#44 Comment By GManon On June 5, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

Yes, Democrats are lying over the pregnancy crisis clinics. It’s like an obsession to kill the fetus.

This is so wrong. They seem to want to continue with Trump. Many mothers, me included definitely do not support the abortion laws when a teen can have an abortion without consulting her parents.

That is outrageous!

Not only that, we the Marijuana legalization being passed right now under Trump, conservatives are trapped again.

I like many Democratic principles of giving a chance to the under-represented, helping the third world nations, claiming equal rights for all. But, they just make it too difficult to be either Democrat or Republican.

#45 Comment By Nancy On July 12, 2018 @ 11:30 am

When it comes to the essence of being a son or daughter of a human person, viability, like location, is a nonsequitur.

The right to be permitted to come forth from the womb, alive, is not a States right issue, it is a human rights issue. It is not necessary or proper for a mother to intentionally withold adequate shelter, nutrition, and healthcare from their son or daughter, regardless of location or viability.

#46 Comment By Nancy On July 12, 2018 @ 11:34 am

When it comes to the essence of being a son or daughter of a human person, viability, like location, is a nonsequitur.

The right to be permitted to come forth from the womb, alive, is not a States right issue, it is a human rights issue. It is not necessary or proper for a mother to intentionally withold adequate shelter, nutrition, and healthcare from their son or daughter, regardless of location or viability.

“No man is an island onto himself”, for, “Each man’s life touches so many others”.