Pro-Life: A Fiercely Held Moderate Position

The Legal Status of Abortion, Revisited

I’ve talked to Terryl Givens (my dad) a few times since his article on abortion for Public Square came out. Both of us are disappointed, but not at all surprised, by some of the reactions from fellow Latter-day Saints. I’ll dive into one such response–a post from Sam Brunson at By Common Consent–but only after taking a minute to underscore the difference between an extreme position and a fiercely-held moderate position.

There’s a reason why the first section in Terryl’s piece is an explanation of the current legal status of abortion in the United States. Unlike many other developed nations, where abortion laws were gradually liberalized through democratic means, the democratic process in the United States was short-circuited by the Roe vs. Wade decision (along with Doe vs. Bolton). As Terryl explained, American abortion law since Roe is an extreme outlier: “America is one of very few countries in the world that permit abortion through the 9th month of pregnancy.”

If the spectrum of possible abortion laws runs from “never and under no circumstances” to “always and under any circumstances,” our present situation is very close to the “any circumstances” extreme.

In his rejoinder, Sam rightly points out that Roe is not the last word on the legality of abortion in the United States. Decades of laws and court cases–including return trips to the Supreme Court–have created an extremely complex legal landscape full of technicalities, ambiguities, and contradictions.

But the bottom line to the question of the legal status of abortion in the United States doesn’t require sophisticated legal analysis if we can answer a much simpler set of questions instead. Is it true that there are a large number of late-term abortions in the United States that are elective (i.e. not medically necessary or the result of rape) and legal? That’s the fundamental question, and it’s one Terryl unambiguously asked and answered in his piece (with sources):

Current numbers are between 10,000 and 15,000 late-term abortions performed per year… “[M]ost late-term abortions are elective, done on healthy women with healthy fetuses, and for the same reasons given by women experiencing first-trimester abortions.”

Thus, the key question of the current legal status of abortion in the United States is irrefutably answered. We live in a country where late-term, elective abortions are legal, and we’re one of the only countries in the world with such a radical and extreme position.

This radical position is not at all  popular with Americans, as countless polling demonstrates. Here’s Gallup:

It is possible to quibble about whether the current regime is logically identical to “legal under any circumstances.” No matter, the present state of abortion legality is so incredibly extreme that we can afford to be very generous in our analysis. Here are more detailed poll numbers:

American abortion law is more extreme than “legal under most circumstances” but even if we grant that we still find that combined support for the status quo is just 38% while the vast majority would prefer abortion laws stricter than what we have now. And stricter than what we can have, as long as the root of the tree (Roe) is left intact.

How Does A Radical, Unpopular Position Endure?

These opinions have been roughly stable, and so you might reasonably wonder: how is it possible for such an unpopular state of affairs to last for so long? One reason is structural. Because Roe short-circuited the democratic, legislative process the issue is largely out of the hands of (more responsive) state and federal legislatures. Individual states can, and have, passed laws to restrict abortion around the margins, but the kind of simple, “No abortion in the third trimester except for these narrow exceptions” law that they would accurately reflect popular sentiment would inevitably run up against the Supreme Court where either the restriction or Roe would have to be overturned. (The matter is especially complicated when you consider that pro-life activists strategically avoid passing laws like this as long as they know that the Supreme Court would overturn the law and thus even more deeply entrench Roe as precedent.)

As long as Roe is in place, it’s impossible to limit abortion laws. And yet support for overturning Roe, perversely, is very low. Here’s a recent NBC poll:

Here we have a contradiction. Most Americans want abortion to be limited to only a few, exceptional cases. But this is impossible without overturning Roe. And most Americans don’t want to overturn Roe.

This is the fundamental contradiction that has perpetuated an extremist, unpopular abortion status quo for so long.

The most straightforward explanation is that Americans support Roe while at the same time supporting the kinds of laws that Roe precludes because they don’t understand Roe. And this is where we get to the heart of the responses to Terryl’s piece (and many, many more like his). The only way to convince Americans to support Roe (even though it goes counter to their actual preferences) is to convince them that Roe is the moderate position and that it is the pro-life side that is radical and extreme.

This involves two crucial myths:

  1. Elective, late-term abortions do not take place, or only take place for exceptional reasons
  2. The only alternative to Roe is a blanket ban on all abortions

If Americans understood that elective, late-term abortions are legal and do, in fact, take place in great numbers and if they understood that they only way to change this state of affairs would be to repeal Roe, then support for Roe would plummet. Thus, for those who wish to support the present situation, the agenda is clear: the status quo can only survive as long as the pro-life position is misrepresented as the extreme one.

The Violence of Abortion Protects Abortion

With tragic irony, the indefensibleness of elective abortion makes this task much easier. Abortion is an act of horrific violence against a tiny human being. It is impossible to contemplate this reality and not be traumatized. This is why pro-life activists suffer from burn-out.

It is not just pro-life activists who are traumatized by the violence of abortion, however. The most deeply traumatized are the ones most frequently and closely exposed to the violence of abortion: the abortionists themselves. This is what led Lisa Harris to write “Second Trimester Abortion Provision: Breaking the Silence and Changing the Discourse.” She reports how the advent of second-trimester D&E abortions, which entail the manual dismemberment of the unborn human, led to profound psychological consequences for practitioners when they became common in the late 1970s:

As D&E became increasingly accepted as a superior means of accomplishing second trimester abortion… a small amount of research on provider perspectives on D&E resulted. Kaltreider et al found that some doctors who provided D&E had ‘‘disquieting’’ dreams and strong emotional reactions. Hern found that D&E was ‘‘qualitatively a different procedure – both medically and emotionally – than early abortion’’. Many of his staff members reported: ‘‘. . .serious emotional reactions that produced physiological symptoms, sleep disturbances (including disturbing dreams), effects on interpersonal relationships and moral anguish.’’

This is the perspective from an abortionist, not some pro-life activist. In fact, Lisa describes performing an abortion herself while she was pregnant:

When I was a little over 18 weeks pregnant with my now pre-school child, I did a second trimester abortion for a patient who was also a little over 18 weeks pregnant. As I reviewed her chart I realised that I was more interested than usual in seeing the fetal parts when I was done, since they would so closely resemble those of my own fetus. I went about doing the procedure as usual, removed the laminaria I had placed earlier and confirmed I had adequate dilation. I used electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position – it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier. With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery ‘‘thump, thump’’ in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a ‘‘thump, thump’’ in my abdomen. Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes – without me – meaning my conscious brain – even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life. Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.

This is hard to read. Harder to witness. Harder still to perform. That’s Lisa’s point. “There is violence in abortion,” she plainly states, and the point of her paper is that abortionists, like her, need support to psychologically withstand the trauma of perpetrating that violence on tiny human beings again and again and again. (Although many, like other doctors quoted in the article, simply refuse to do the procedures at all. The real limits of abortion in the United States are not legal, they are that so few people are morally or psychologically capable of tearing apart tiny human beings.)

Thus, pro-lifers find themselves in a Catch-22 position. If we do nothing, or soft-peddle the true state of affairs, then the pro-choice myths remain uncontested, and misuided public opinion keeps Roe–and elective abortion at any point–safe.

But if we do describe the true nature of abortion then our audience recoils in shock. Ordinary Americans living their ordinary lives are unprepared for the horror going on all around them, and they are overwhelmed. They desperately want this not to be true. They don’t even want to think about it.

If you tell someone that your neighbor screams at his kids, they will be sad. If you say your neighbor hits his kids, they will urge you to call the police or contact social services. If you say your neighbor is murdering his children one by one and burying them in the backyard, they will probably stop talking to you and maybe even call the cops on you. Sometimes, the worse a problem is the harder it is to get anyone to look at it. That is the case with abortion.

Terryl’s piece was a moderate position strongly argued. He is taking literally the most common position in America: that abortion should be illegal in all but a few circumstances (but that it should be legal in those circumstances). He never stated or even implied that other, ancillary efforts should not be tried (such as birth control).

Abortion is a large, complex issue and there are a lot of ambiguous aspects to it. But not every single aspect is ambiguous. Some really are clear cut. Such as the fact that it should not be legal to get a late-term abortion for elective reasons. Virtually all Americans assent to this. Why, then, was Terryl’s essay so utterly rejected by some fellow Latter-day Saints?

On Sam Brunson and Abortion

As I mentioned earlier, Sam’s response to Terryl is the first extended one I’ve seen and is pretty representative of the kinds of arguments that are typical in response to pro-life positions. It is a great way to see the factors I’ve described above–the myth-protecting and the violence-denial–put into practice.

Bad Faith

Terryl’s piece includes this line in the first paragraph:

I taught in a private liberal arts college for three decades, where, as is typical in higher education, political views are as diverse as in the North Korean parliament.

This is what is colloquially referred to by most people as: “a joke,” but Sam sees it as an opening to impugn Terryl’s motives:

Moreover, bringing up North Korea—an authoritarian dictatorship where dissent can lead to execution—strongly hints that he’s creating a straw opponent, not engaging in good-faith discourse.

Is a humorous line at the expense of North Korea really a violation of “good-faith discourse”? Did he really not recognize that this line was written humorously? I suppose it’s possible, since he seemed to think the BCC audience wouldn’t know North Korea was an authoritarian dictatorship without being told. Also, he is a tax attorney. (This is also a joke.)

Still, it seems awfully convenient to fail to recognize humor in such a way that lets you invent some kind of nefarious, implied straw-man argument.

It almost seems like bad faith.

Facts and the Law

This is the section where the first of the two core objectives (defend the myths) is undertaken. Sam characterizes Terryl’s piece as “deeply misleading” and specifically refers to “big [legal] problems,” yet his rejoinder is curiously devoid of substance to validate these claims. For example:

And, in fact, just last week the Sixth Circuit upheld a Kentucky law requiring that abortion clinics have a hospital transfer agreement. So the idea that abortion regulation always fails in the courts is absolutely absurd.

So Terryl says elective abortions are generally legal at any time and the reply is, well those clinics that can provide the abortion at any time for any reason may be required to “have a hospital transfer agreement”. In what way is this in any sense a refutation of the point at hand?

It’s like I said, “buying a light bulb is generally legal at any time for any reason” and you said, “well, yeah, but hardware stores can be required to follow safety regulations.”

… OK?

None of the legal analysis in this section gets to the core fact: are late-term abortions frequently conducted in the United States for elective reasons and are they legal? If that is the case, then no amount of legal analysis can obfuscate the bottom line: yes, abortions are legal for basically any reason at basically any time. There’s room to quibble or qualify, but–so long as that central fact stands–not to fundamentally rebut the assertion.

Sam never even tries.

That’s because, as we covered above, the facts are unimpeachable. Terryl’s source is the Guttmacher Institute, which is the research arm of the nation’s most prolific abortion provider. It’s an objective fact that elective, late-term abortions are legal in the United States as a result of the legal and policy ecosystem descending from the Roe and Doe decisions. Instead of a strong rebuttal of this claim, as we were promised, all we get are glancing irrelevancies.

Moral Repugnance

Having attempted to defend the myth that late-term abortions are illegal, in this section Sam turns to the next objective: leveraging the violence of abortion to deflect attention from the violence of abortion. (Not a typo.)

He begins by citing Terryl:

I am not personally opposed to abortion because of religious commitment or precept, because of some abstract principle of “the sanctity of life.” I am personally opposed because my heart and mind, my basic core humanity revolts at the thought of a living sensate human being undergoing vivisection in the womb, being vacuum evacuated, subjected to a salt bath, or, in the “late-term” procedure, having its skull pierced and brain vacuumed out.

Then he presents his own pararaphse: “[Terryl] finds abortion physically disgusting and, at least partly in consequence of that disgust, finds it morally repugnant.”

This is an egregious mischaracterization. I understand that the clause “at least partly” offers a kind of fig leaf so that Sam can say–when pressed–that he’s not actually substituting Terryl’s moral revulsion for a mere gag reflex, but since the rest of the piece exclusively focuses on the straw-man version of Terryl’s argument, that is in fact what he is doing. Tenuous, preemptive plausible deniability excuses can’t hide that.

To say that the horror of tiny arms and legs being ripped away from a little, living body is the same species of disgust as watching a gall bladder operation is an act of stunning moral deadness.

I understand that urge to look away from abortion. I wish I had never heard of it. And, as we covered above, even a staunch pro-choice feminist and abortionist like Lisa not only admits that abortion is intrinsically violent, but insists that this violence causes a psychological trauma that merits sympathy and support for abortionists who subject themselves to it. She is not the only one, by the way. Another paper, Dangertalk: Voices of abortion providers, includes many additional examples of the way that abortionists frankly discuss abortion in terms of violence, killing, and war when they are away from public view. “It’s like a slaughterhouse–it’s like–line ’em up and kill ’em and then go on to the next one — I feel like that sometimes,” said one. “[Abortion work] feels like being in a war,” said another, “I think about what soldiers feel like when they kill.”

Given this, Sam’s substitution from moral revulsion at an act of violence to physical revulsion at blood and guts is unmasked for what it truly is: a deflection. Abortion is very, very hard to look at. And that’s convenient for pro-choicers, because they don’t want you to see it.

The reset of this section is largely a continuation of the deflection.

  • “Why no support for, for example, free access to high-quality contraception?”
  • “[Y]ou know what I consider disgusting? Unnecessary maternal death.”
  • “You know what else I consider morally repugnant? Racial inequality.”

I do not wish to sound remotely dismissive of these entirely valid statements. Each of them is legitimate and worthy of consideration. Nothing in Terryl’s piece or in my position contradicts any of them. Let us have high-quality contraception, high-quality maternal care, and a commitment to ending racial inequality.

But we do not have to stint on our dedication to any of those policies or causes to note that–separate and independent from these considerations–elective, late-term abortions are horrifically violent and fundamentally indefensible.

These are serious considerations, and they deserve to be treated as more than mere padding to create psychological distance from the trauma of abortion. Just as women, too, deserve a better solution for the hardship of an unplanned pregnancy than abortion.

To the Latter-day Saints?

Sam writes that, “Although he claims to be making a Latter-day Saint defense of the unborn, his argumentation is almost entirely devoid of Latter-day Saint content.” Here, at least, he is basically correct. Not that he’s made some insightful observation, of course. He’s just repeating Terryl’s words from the prior quote: “I am not personally opposed to abortion because of religious commitment or precept.”

In this section, which I find the least objectionable, Sam tries to carve out space for Latter-day Saints to be personally pro-life and publicly pro-choice, including a few half-hearted references to General Authorities and Latter-day Saint theology. I say “half-hearted” because I suspect Sam knows as well as I do that President Nelson and President Oaks, to name just two, have spoken forcefully and clearly in direct contradiction to Latter-day Saint attempts to find some kind of wiggle room around “free agency” or to view the lives of unborn human beings as anything less than equal with the lives of born human beings.

No one should countenance the legality of elective abortion at all, but Latter-day Saints especially so.

The Moral Imagination

In the final section, Sam circles back to the myth-defending. The first myth to defend is that elective, late-term abortions do not take place in the United States, which is just a detailed way of saying that the pro-choice side seeks to conceal the radicalism of our current laws.

The second myth to defend, which occupies this section, is the myth that any alternative to our current laws must be the truly extreme option.

So in this section we encounter new straw-men such as: “it’s not worth pursuing other routes to reduce the prevalence of abortion.” Terryl never says that, nothing in his article logically entails that, and I know he does not believe that. One can say, for example, “theft ought to be illegal” and also support anti-poverty measures, after-school programs, and free alarm systems to reduce theft. Much the same is true here: one can support banning elective abortion and support a whole range of additional policies to lower the demand for abortion.

Similarly, he writes that “I find abortion troubling as, I believe, most people do. But I also find a world without legal abortion troubling.” That sounds modest and reasonable enough, but it’s another straw-man. The Church, as he noted in the previous section, “has no issue with abortion” in exceptional cases. Neither does Terryl. So the issue is not “a world without legal abortion” because no one has argued for that position. The issue is “a world without legal elective abortion”. Omitting that word is another great example of a straw-man argument.

By making it appear as though Terryl wishes to ban all abortions and refuses to consider any alternative policies to reduce abortions, Sam creates the impression that Terryl is the one with the radical proposal. Except, as I’ve noted, neither of those assertions is grounded in anything other than an attempt to preserve vital myths.

Wrap-up

I echo what Terryl originally said: “I do not see reproductive rights and female autonomy as simple black and white issues.” Abortion as a whole is very, very complicated issue legally, scientifically, and morally. There is ample room for nuanced discussion, policy compromise, and common ground.

But for us to have that kind of a conversation, we have to start with honesty. That means dispensing with the myths that American abortion law is moderate or that abortion is anything other than deeply and intrinsically violent. And it means allowing pro-lifers to speak for themselves, rather than substituting extremist views for their actual positions.

Because abortion is so horrific, pro-lifers face a tough, up-hill slog. But because it is so horrific, we can’t abandon the calling. We will continue to seek out the best ways to boldly stand for the innocent who have no voice, to balance the competing and essential welfare needs of women with the right to life of unborn children, and to advance our modest positions as effectively as possible.


Notes:

  1. I originally posted this on my personal blog, but I’ve copy-pasted it here for wider distribution.
  2. I’m not going to be able to monitor comments for the next hour or two, but I’m very inclined to turn them off entirely at the first sign of bad behavior.

56 comments for “Pro-Life: A Fiercely Held Moderate Position

  1. Being a moderate is a hard place to be, but it’s an honest stance. I don’t have to lie to myself about the horrible reality of systemic racism, the cruelty of family separation at the border, the misguided mutilation of children in the name of transgender ideology, or as this post demonstrates, the monstrous practice of elective abortion.
    What’s disheartening is when we, ostensibly as people of faith, engage in the most strenuous obfuscation to avoid acknowledging simple moral realities. I don’t think Terryl’s post taught us anything new. But what the responses have revealed about our capacity to avoid reality, has been deeply depressing.

  2. It’s wrong and extreme to use abortion as birth control. Period. My understanding is that it needs to be kept legal
    to use it in rare circumstances such as the mother’s life. Am I mistaken? Democrats keep it all legal. The Republicans want it illegal with no exceptions. Both extremes aren’t supported by our church. It’s violent and horrific. IF it has to be done, can’t it be rare and done humanely? If it’s made illegal, does that mean a doctor can’t use it to save a mother if necessary?

  3. I was disappointed to read the article by Terryl Givens. After reading and enjoying any of the books by the Givens I was under the impression that they were nuanced in their approach to the gospel and was disappointed in their lack of seeing a very complicated subject such as abortion in such a black and white approach.

    I would be more impressed if he wrote an article articulating what he would do help prevent abortions. I feel like a lot of LDS in particular think they can just vote no to abortions and make them illegal, but I think personally when I return back to God he will be more impressed on how I helped prevent them rather than just voting no.

    Still a fan of the Givens, but have him come back and write an article articulating what he is personally doing to help prevent them and I will be much more impressed.

  4. Mez,

    Not quite right. That’s the narrative spun by pro-abortion advocates, but it’s not true. The best polling shows the vast majority of Republicans and pro-life advocates want it to be legal in a variety of exceptions too.

    It’s not necessary to keep elective abortions legal in order to make room for the exceptions. You can of course make elective abortions illegal while making exceptions for medical necessity and rape.

    For example, you don’t have to ban self-defense to ban killing for other reasons. Laws make these distinctions all the time.

  5. Here’s the fascinating thing: go through and look at what obgyns and even former abortionists-turned-pro-life say about abortion: it’s never medically necessary to end the life of a baby in the womb and then deliver a dead baby. Never. What they all are saying is that if the life of the mother is at risk, this is the time for medical care for both patients by delivering the baby early. If the baby passes away due to medical complications or not having fully developed lungs, for heavens sake at least the baby wasn’t killed unnecessarily inside the womb by lethal injection, suction or dismembering.

    Recall that a failed abortion is really just failure to deliver a dead baby. Killing a baby in the womb is never medically necessary. Deliver the baby early. Deliver the baby.

  6. Were abortion to be outlawed, except in limited cases. How exactly would one carve out an exception for cases of rape or incest? Would the word of a woman be sufficient? Or would women somehow have to prove that their pregnancy was the result of rape? If the latter, what would constitute sufficient proof?

  7. Great post, Nathaniel. Keep up the good fight.

    Marc,

    Would this structure work for the rape exception?

    – require the woman seeking abortion due to rape to give sworn testimony
    – permit the abortion
    – test the baby’s paternity
    – with paternity test and woman’s testimony, file two charges against father: rape, and causing abortion

  8. Matt,
    No, I don’t think that would work for a variety of reasons. What if the woman was raped by her boyfriend? What if the woman was raped by her husband? What if by reporting a rape, the woman was putting her own life in danger? What if a woman is raped by her boss? Or a pimp? Or a gang member in her neighborhood where there would be retaliation against her if she reported it? There are reasons why many, many women never report rape–because the consequences of doing so compound the trauma that a woman experiences, and in some cases actually endangers her life.

    I work in the mental health field. I have seen every one of those situations, and some a few times over. Honestly, when people talk about rape/incest exceptions, I do not think most of them think through what this actually means. My personal opinion is that I don’t think anyone’s decision should supersede the woman’s in these scenarios.

  9. Unlike many other developed nations, where abortion laws were gradually liberalized through democratic means, the democratic process in the United States was short-circuited by the Roe vs. Wade decision (along with Doe vs. Bolton). As Terryl explained, American abortion law since Roe is an extreme outlier: “America is one of very few countries in the world that permit abortion through the 9th month of pregnancy.”

    Nathaniel, how do you square this notion that SCOTUS imposed abortion on demand through 40 weeks on the nation against its will, with the fact that 43 of 50 states restrict abortion by gestational age, and 19 states limit it to 20 weeks? It is demonstrably true that the democratic process in the US has sometimes (7 states) decided to liberalize to 40 weeks, and other times (43 states) decided not to liberalize to 40 weeks.

    So the only reason our nation is “one of the very few countries” on the list you mention is because we have liberalized through a democratic process.

    Now, would some states have dropped lower than 20 weeks if not for Roe (and subsequent Casey etc)? Certainly. And some have tried but were overruled. But it’s an extremely misleading sleight of hand to say that the courts “short-circuited” democracy and the go right to the quote about the 9th month.

  10. Matt, that would not work at all. What it was very sincerely a forcible rape, but there was also very sincerely absolutely zero evidence of that other than her word? So the police investigate, there’s nothing to substantiate it, now what? Would she be punished in some way by the law for making an unsubstantiated report? That’s horrifying, because it could be unsubstantiated and absolutely true! Would there be no consequence at all, to the man or woman? That basically voids the entire honesty-enforcement mechanism of your entire procedure.

    And that’s just looking at the legal effectiveness of your proposed mechanism. There are also the threats to the safety and wellbeing of the woman from the fallout of such a procedure, as Michelle outlined.

  11. Here’s the fascinating thing: go through and look at what obgyns and even former abortionists-turned-pro-life say about abortion: it’s never medically necessary to end the life of a baby in the womb and then deliver a dead baby. Never.

    It’s offensive to hear this kind of thing when women have actually died after having been refused pregnancy terminations (in countries that don’t permit it, or in the US in Catholic-owned hospitals). Here’s one famous example from Ireland. The mom was over the moon excited about this very wanted pregnancy, but there was a complication, she requested doctors end the pregnancy, but was denied because doctors still detected a fetal heartbeat. She died.

  12. Not sure you proposition that Americas abortion laws are more extreme than others. In my state a woman has to have the support of 2 doctors to have an abortion after 22 week, only one doctor required in America? Not sure which givens expressed disgust at NY celebrating. .” The New York law allows for women after 24 weeks of pregnancy to get an abortion if “there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

    Most of your arguments seem to be against late term abortions, (after 20 weeks) but you seem to be wanting to make all abortions illegal, is this so? Abortions after 20 weeks are 1.3% of abortions.

    If abortion were made illegal, do you think there would be more or less abortions?

    Is this appearing 2 weeks before an election, in a country where abortion is politicised?

    Practically if you want to reduce abortions vote democrat, because under democrat presidents affordable birth control, is funded, which reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies, and consequently abortions reduced by half. Republican presidents are anti abortion, but also defund birth control, both in america and to NGOs that provide health services in the third world. So in America no reduction in abortion under republicans.

    In the third world 2.7 million abortions when Democrat president, 4.6 million when Republican, also 47,000 maternal deaths extra.

  13. You know what else is violent? Childbirth. All of us arrived on this planet through violent means, some more violent than others. Hundreds of thousands of women die EACH YEAR from childbirth or childbirth-related complications. Any discussion of the violence of abortion should also acknowledge the violence that inevitably happens to a woman who carries that life inside her for several months. I hate discussions of abortion by men who don’t acknowledge this and who ignore the very complicated choices that a pregnant woman might face.

  14. What bothers me about Sam’s post is that he appears to primarily be concerned with Terryl’s alleged failure to take the other side seriously. But when challenged on the morally and legally significant differences between a 9-month fetus and a 1-hour baby, he offered this:

    “Dsc, what register do you want this in? Legal? One is eligible for a social security number. The other is not.

    Religious? Under church policy, one is eligible to be sealed to its family, recorded on the records of the church, and have temple ordinances performed on its behalf. The other is not.

    Biological? One breathes oxygen on its own. The other does not.

    So please don’t play the facile and false game of “We can’t differentiate the two.” We differentiate the two for various reasons all the time.”

    This strikes me as remarkably flippant (or, alternatively, facile). It’s easy to point out differences, but evidently much harder to point out significant differences. Undocumented aliens are also ineligible for a social security number; that doesn’t mean the state can’t protect their lives. People on ventilators cannot breathe oxygen on their own, but there’s no question they are entitled to legal protections.

    If Sam wants others to take the opposing argument seriously, he should get his own house in order.

  15. Dsc, Because it’s a rediculous question. There are no women who carry a child for 9 months then opt to have a voluntary abortion. It would not be an abortion but a delivery.

    He answered your question, because of your point of view, you think you are making a meaningfull point. Your point is meaningless. There are no abortions at 9 month unless the health of the mother or child is at stake.

  16. Regarding that “fundamental question” that Terryl asks and answers (with sources!): Not a single source he quotes actually provides any data whatsoever that actually substantiate the claim that anywhere near a majority of “late-term” abortions are elective. The claim you quoted comes from James Studnicki, who does not provide any actual data whatsoever, but simply cites two sources himself:

    Finer, LB, Frohwirth, LF, Dauphinee, LA, Singh, S, Moore, AM. Reasons U.S. women have abortions: quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2005;37(3):110–118.

    Foster, DG, Kimport, K. Who seeks abortions at or after 20 weeks? Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2013;45(4):210–218.

    The first article does not address abortions occurring after 20 weeks *at all*. It addresses general reasons for abortions, with the main division between “earlier” and “later” abortions being 13 weeks. 85% of respondents had their abortions before 13 weeks They also made clear only 58% of people approached even responded to the survey at all.

    The second article also doesn’t help at all, since it explicitly states it is only looking at post-20-week abortions for reasons *other than* fetal anomalies or life endangerment: “The current study addresses this question by analyzing data on women who sought and received an abortion at or after 20 weeks’ gestation for reasons other than fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” It never provides a single datum about why women get abortions after 20 weeks. Like the initial article, it does *assert* that “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment,” and it cites two additional articles (see below), but it also seems to describe “later terminations” as anything second trimester or later, not necessarily after 20 weeks, or after 24 weeks, which would be a more critical threshold. I also have no idea why it cited the articles that it did:

    Jones RK and Kooistra K, Abortion incidence and access to services in the United States, 2008, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2011, 43(1):41–50.

    Foster DG et al., Attitudes and decision making among women seeking abortions at one U.S. clinic, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2012, 44(2):117–124.

    Guess what? Neither of these articles addresses reasons for abortions after 20 weeks in any way whatsoever. The first addresses the higher cost of abortions at 20 weeks, and states that only 24% of facilities offer abortions after 20 weeks (and only 11% after 24 weeks), but it says absolutely nothing at all about why women seek them that late. The second article addresses first- and second-trimester abortions, and while it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to say about post-20 week or third-trimester abortions or their reasons, it did point out that it seems to have undercounted fetal anomalies: “The total number of fetal anomalies was less than a separate clinic inventory of fetal anomalies cases.” Not hugely relevant, though, since they didn’t address reasons women sought abortions after 20 weeks anyway.

    Additionally, “late-term” is being used rather fuzzily by Terryl. What little research actually addresses why women get abortions after 20 weeks focuses on weeks 21–24, which is arguably not even “late-term” according to most uses of the phrase I’ve seen (there is no clear standard). It is where the vast majority of abortions after week 20 take place, though. The research Terryl provides also shows that those abortions that are elective primarily take place because women didn’t find out they were pregnant until much later in their pregnancy, had to travel greater distances to access abortion, or couldn’t immediately afford the procedure.

    Now, the survey you’ve posted is also cherry-picking fuzzy data in order to misrepresent public opinion. Your ostensible “contradiction” is just a result of you injecting assumptions into that fuzziness about what people mean by “restrictions.” That’s why you had to editorialize by adding “exceptional” to the phrase “few circumstances,” and have to continually call these positions “extreme,” despite the fact that they’ve been the majority view for decades. Just look at other surveys from the last year from Pew and Marist:

    https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/08/29/u-s-public-continues-to-favor-legal-abortion-oppose-overturning-roe-v-wade/

    http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/NPR_PBS-NewsHour_Marist-Poll_USA-NOS-and-Tables-on-Abortion_1906051428_FINAL.pdf#page=3

    Gallup also ran the same survey this year, and the numbers have changed a bit there, too. Whereas in your 2019 poll, it was 38% to 39% in favor of “a few” circumstances (you editorialized by adding “exceptional”), now the plurality wants abortion to be legal under “all” or “most” circumstances (43% to 35%):

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

    I think y’all are letting your identity politics get the best of your critical thinking.

  17. Geoff, You’re missing the point. If a 9-month fetus has the same moral value as a 1-hour baby, then what’s the moral difference between 9 months and 8? Or 7? Or 6? And so on.

  18. Dsc- viability is one, although I’m not sure I find that entirely satisfying. Development of the fetus beyond something that is tissue and cells (no one calls having your appendix removed a form of violence). For me, the abortion argument (especially when trying to say one is taking a moderate stance) has to consider pre-20(?ish) week and post-20(?ish) week abortions differently. To lump them together just muddles the conversion.

    I’d be interested in the statistics from a reputable source of non-necesity abortions that occur in the 3rd trimester. Or for that matter the 9th month. While those are by far the horror stories (and *should* be illegal outside of necesity), my guess is that they are statistically insignificant. But arguing over 16 week tissue isn’t as satisfying, I suppose. (All of which I say as a woman who has 7 first trimester miscarriages. You’re just not going to convince me that what my body rejected was the same thing as a baby.)

  19. lehcarjt, But why 20(ish)? Why is viability a morally significant milestone? Beside being a notoriously fuzzy term, I don’t see why the ability to survive without assistance should dictate whether that thing may be killed. We don’t think it’s ok to euthanize people on ventilators, despite the fact that they cannot presently survive without significant help. The best arguments for a post-conception line have to do with “brain birth” and neural activity. The problem with the “brain birth” argument is that that milestone is after viability, implying that some premature infants would lack rights because they have not yet developed consciousness. In the case of neural activity, that appears to be far earlier than most people who support abortion are willing to draw the line (about 3 weeks).

    As for late term abortion statistics, about 1.2% of abortions are 21 weeks or later. The Guttmacher Institute (a pro-choice organization) found that the people who get these abortions do so for the same reasons as those who get earlier aboritions.

  20. Dsc, That’s the whole thing though, isn’t it? There are no hard and fast lines. 20ish weeks is what I’m comfortable with but not others. There isn’t a moment when we can say, Yes for Absolute Certain ‘this is now a human versus being tissue’. There is ambiguity (like so many moral questions). And since science can’t tell us (nor religion or at least not in any way that the multitude of religions universally agree), each woman has to make up her own mind. Decide for herself what she thinks is right. What she believes. What she can live with doing and can not. How do we legislate abortion in a way that allows her to do that? (honest question)

    Thank you for the info on abortion stats. It’s one of those things that I keep meaning to put time into and (when I get some free time… Ugh), I’ll follow up on the Guttmacher Institution.

  21. lehcarjt, When the question is the potential life or death of a human being, why would we leave that choice up to individuals? There is sometimes a fuzzy line between appropriate discipline of a child and abuse of a child. The difficulty in drawing that line does not and should not prevent government from acting on the matter. When there is potential harm to an innocent human being, it is an abdication of the government’s responsibility to leave it up to individuals. If there is one responsibility of government that is almost universally accepted, it is that government is established to protect innocent people from harm.

    Government can legislate this by either establishing bright line rules or establishing factual standards to be met. Most governments do the former, banning abortion after some arbitrary gestational age. Other attempts to legislate include things like whether a heartbeat can be detected, whether there is neural activity, or some other observable attribute. I personally don’t think there is any line that justifies an elective abortion at any stage (without other extraordinary circumstances), but I recognize that there are lines that can be rationally drawn.

  22. “When the question is the potential life or death of a human being, why would we leave that choice up to individuals?”

    I don’t see ‘life or death of a human being’ as the central question to 1st & (some of) 2nd trimester abortion morality. I see the central question as ‘when is a human being a human being and not tissue.’ And as long as the answer is ambiguous, it should be left to individuals to make their own moral determinations.

  23. My comment has largely been made by others above, but I did want to emphasize a point. It is difficult to read the entire first section of your essay with any seriousness. Although it appears to advocate a “moderate” approach to abortion based on two primary points: (1) the extreme nature of American abortion law, and (2) public sentiment and popularity; it fails to grasp the nature of the legality issue.

    The problem here is that you take what appears on the surface to be a fairly detailed approach of the subject, but you fail to explain or even mention one of the most important aspects of “Abortion Law” in the United States: there is no national abortion law, other than a hard floor at viability (with a standard of review set for regulations prior to that moment). Everything after that, has largely been up to the fifty separate states without almost any interference at all; and everything before that is up for judicial scrutiny. Consequently, one cannot say hardly anything about the state of abortion legality and access in the United States, unless you are talking about a specific state. When you make the assertion that “this or that” is either legal or even possible, you fail to indicate in ___ number of states. Otherwise, most of what you say in the first section about late-term abortions simply isn’t true at all, in almost every state. As Cynthia L. points out above, 43 states all have a ban on abortion at some point during pregnancy (leaving a paltry 7 states where that isn’t true). And of those 43, 22 states–almost half–ban most abortions during 13-24 weeks of pregnancy. 20 states ban abortion at viability. It seems irresponsible to talk about “abortion” in the US, when what you may really be talking about is, “abortion in a small sliver of the country” (Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont–not even the most populous states).

    And this leads to the second problem, if abortion law should correspond to popular sentiment and opinion–as an indication of a “moderate’s” approach as the beginning of your piece appears to suggest–you should then look at state-by-state public sentiment. Because I can guarantee the popular opinion regarding abortion is much different in New Hampshire and Vermont than it is in Louisiana and Alabama.

  24. Dsc,  I personally don’t think there is any line that justifies an elective abortion at any stage (without other extraordinary circumstances), but I recognize that there are lines that can be rationally drawn.

    So if voting Republican will result in over 2 million more abortions and 47000 maternal deaths, than voting Democrat. Which do you advocate?

    Or do you contest these figures? Or still contest what late term means?

    The countries with lowest number of abortions (one third of US rate) respect women, and provide them with the resources to impliment their decisions, including, sex education, affordable birth control, and legal abortion. Agency.

  25. My comment has largely been made by others above, but I did want to emphasize a point. It is difficult to read the entire first section of your essay with any seriousness. Although it appears to advocate a “moderate” approach to abortion based on two primary points: (1) the extreme nature of American abortion law, and (2) public sentiment and popularity; it fails to grasp the nature of the legality issue.

    The problem here is that you take what appears on the surface to be a fairly detailed approach of the subject, but you fail to explain or even mention one of the most important aspects of “Abortion Law” in the United States: there is no national abortion law, other than a hard floor at viability (with a standard of review set for regulations prior to that moment). Everything after that, has largely been up to the fifty separate states without almost any interference at all; and everything before that is up for judicial scrutiny. Consequently, one cannot say hardly anything about the state of abortion legality and access in the United States, unless you are talking about a specific state. When you make the assertion that “this or that” is either legal or even possible, you fail to indicate in ___ number of states. Otherwise, most of what you say in the first section about late-term abortions simply isn’t true at all, in almost every state. As Cynthia L. points out above, 43 states all have a ban on abortion at some point during pregnancy (leaving a paltry 7 states where that isn’t true). And of those 43, 22 states–almost half–ban most abortions during 13-24 weeks of pregnancy. 20 states ban abortion at viability. It seems irresponsible to talk about “abortion” in the US, when what you may really be talking about is, “abortion in a small sliver of the country” (Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont–not even the most populous states).

    And this leads to the second problem, if abortion law should correspond to popular sentiment and opinion–as an indication of a “moderate’s” approach as the beginning of your piece appears to suggest–you should then look at state-by-state public sentiment. Because I can guarantee the popular opinion regarding abortion is much different in New Hampshire and Vermont than it is in Louisiana and Alabama.

  26. Geoff,

    You have a tendency to post dubious figures, and these are definitely dubious. More importantly, as Nathaniel has taken pains to point out, one can simultaneously support policies to reduce the need for abortion and the prohibition of abortion.

    As for partisan politics, I’m voting a split ticket. Your constant “Democrats good, republicans bad” is getting old.

  27. DSC, your comment “As for late term abortion statistics, about 1.2% of abortions are 21 weeks or later. The Guttmacher Institute (a pro-choice organization) found that the people who get these abortions do so for the same reasons as those who get earlier aboritions.” is directly contradicted by Dan McClellan’s comment above yours. Do you have a source? I looked on Guttmacher’s website and found no reasons given for abortions after 21 weeks. It seems that part of Given’s argument is unsupported.

  28. If pro life advocates were also advocating sex education, and affordable birth control, they might be able to claim they support the measures that reduce abortions, as Dsc claims above. I don’t hear that.

    The last, or perhaps first, of this list is respect for women, and the pro life position is that male legislators know better than the woman who says she needs an abortion. So not enough respect for women to provide the resources she needs to control her situation.

    The figures I quoted above take into account Republican presidents cutting overseas aid for health services that even advise abortion as an option. Which mean 40% (1.9 million more) abortions when Republican presidents. Now if Republicans succeeded in making abortion illegal in America, along with defunding womens health services, the 600,000 abortions in America would also increase.

    If it weren’t for the suffering it would produce, it would be worth making abortion illegal to destroy the Republican lie. Better to get a more universal health service which should reduce the number of abortions too.

    75% of abortions are for women living below the poverty line. So reducing/eradicating poverty would also be a great way to reduce abortions, and help in so many other ways.

  29. Geoff,

    Where are you getting that 40% figure? You’re pulling numbers out of thin air based on your own assumptions (as always). There is no evidence that making abortion illegal increases the number of abortions or maternal deaths (see Chile and Ireland as examples).

    Ryan,

    The 1.3% figure comes from a 2014 report from the CDC (the most recent data I could find). For the claim that women seeking later abortions do so for the same reasons as earlier abortions, see Diana Greene Foster, “Who Seeks Abortion After 20 Weeks” (2013).

  30. I’m curious about the number of elective late-term abortions that are occurring because of the apparatus of various states that make it difficult to get a timely abortion in the first trimester when they are being sought.

  31. “The figures I quoted above take into account Republican presidents cutting overseas aid for health services that even advise abortion as an option. Which mean 40% (1.9 million more) abortions when Republican presidents.”

    Geoff, here’s an idea for you. Instead of harping and obsessing about a country that is 10,000km from you, if you are so concerned about overseas health aid why don’t you work in your own country with your own government to increase Australian overseas health aid? Think of how many lives you can save, and when you accomplish this think of how much more you can instruct us in the glories of Australia. Get to it man, stop wasting all of your energy chatting with foreigners on the internet and start saving lives.

  32. Dsc,

    I read the 2013 Foster paper you cite. It doesn’t support that claim that more post-20 week abortions are elective than non-elective (i.e. motivated by fetal anomalies and life endangerment). To do so, it would need to evaluate the number of post-20 week abortions that were non-elective and those that were elective, and show that the number in the latter category is greater than the number in the first category. But it doesn’t count the number that were motivated by fetal anomalies or life endangerment *at all*. It simply looks at 272 women who received a post-20 week abortion in 2008-2010 for reasons other than fetal anomalies or life endangerment and compared their responses to 169 women who received a first-trimester abortion also for reasons other than fetal anomalies or life endangerment. All we can say for certain then is that 300 of the approximately 40,000 post-20 week abortions performed in the US from 2008-2010 were for not motivated by fetal anomalies or life endangerment. The reasons for the other 39,700 procedures remains unknown.

  33. DSC,

    Oh, it looks like the authors of the 2013 Foster paper were made aware that one sentence of their paper was being misinterpreted. They have published a correction:

    “One sentence on page 210 in the introduction of the article has been misinterpreted. We say “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” The sentence is about abortions performed from 20 weeks to the end of the second trimester, and it has no relevance to abortions in the third trimester. Only about one percent of abortions occur in the second half of pregnancy (at or beyond 20 weeks) and the vast majority of these occur close to 20 weeks. Our article, which focuses on women seeking abortions from 20 weeks to the end of the second trimester (about 28 weeks), therefore captures most of the women having abortions after 20 weeks. Little is known about the relatively few abortions occurring in the third trimester, although late detection of fetal anomaly [1], [2] and increasing incidence of maternal health complications with advanced gestation [3] suggest that reasons for abortion in the third trimester may differ from those in the second.”

  34. Ryan,

    Perhaps I had misunderstood that study (it has been years since I read it). What seems to be the case, based on what you’ve said, is that there is no data on why women get abortions post-20 weeks. That would make the frequently-made claim that most late-term abortions are for serious problems with fetal development or medical necessity equally unsupported.

    All of which is irrelevant to deciding to what extent abortion should be regulated. Murder by poison is really rare. That doesn’t mean that laws treating murder by poisoning as first-degree murder are somehow unjust. The rarity of an immoral act is completely irrelevant to determining whether it should be prohibited by law.

    In other words, if late-term elective abortion just doesn’t happen, then women won’t be harmed by regulating it: the rare cases in which it happens would be covered by an exception.

  35. KLC-
    I’m not going to wade into the larger debate here, but it’s pretty crummy to suggest that Geoff only focus on issues in his own region. You can engage with his comments, charitably, but you don’t get to dismiss them, or him, simply because he may live somewhere else. Not cool.

  36. DSC,

    “That would make the frequently-made claim that most late-term abortions are for serious problems with fetal development or medical necessity equally unsupported.” Yes, I agree. The lack of data cuts both ways.

    “In other words, if late-term elective abortion just doesn’t happen, then women won’t be harmed by regulating it: the rare cases in which it happens would be covered by an exception.” If I had complete confidence in my legislators to predict and describe the kinds of exceptions that would be needed, I would agree with you. I don’t have that kind of confidence in my legislators, however. So when I do the mental calculus weighing the needs of real women who have pregnancy complications that require abortive medical intervention versus the phantom of women who are having third-trimester elective abortions, I come down in support of giving women the flexibility to navigate the necessary medical decisions without legislative restrictions. I understand that this is a complex topic, so I have no expectation that you will weigh all the variables similarly as I have.

    “The rarity of an immoral act is completely irrelevant to determining whether it should be prohibited by law.” I can’t say that I agree. Writing, passing, and enforcing laws has a cost. If that cost outweighs the benefit, as it might if the action being targeted is rare, then the rarity is relevant. Phrased another way, I can imagine lots of immoral actions which are not yet prohibited by law. Just because I can imagine them doesn’t necessitate writing, passing, and hiring person’s to enforce laws preventing these imaginations.

  37. I can not now find the article that quoted the figures above, but here are some similar.

    https://theconversation.com/abortions-rise-worldwide-when-us-cuts-funding-to-womens-health-clinics-study-finds-112491

    https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2020/04/unprecedented-expansion-global-gag-rule-trampling-rights-health-and-free-speech

    https://ghrp.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41256-019-0113-3

    Thanks for the defence Mack.

    Abortion is legal in Australia, and our aid is not tied to anti abortion ideology. Our rate of abortion is two thirds Americas.

  38. An old and repeated science fiction concept is a civilization-controlling computer that is commissioned to reduce human suffering. At some point its machine logic concludes that human suffering will be reduced to zero when there are no humans. No humans, no human suffering. No births, no deaths. No marriages, no divorces. No pregnancies, no abortions. Nothing attempted, nothing failed at.

  39. In his conclusion Nathaniel writes:

    “But for us to have that kind of a conversation, we have to start with honesty. That means dispensing with the myths that American abortion law is moderate or that abortion is anything other than deeply and intrinsically violent. ”

    Based on my own understanding of the issue, and the comments by Dan McClellan and Ian Thomson, I must conclude that it is Terryl who has embraced myth and dispensed with honesty. He has eloquently painted a picture of abortion in America that is simply not accurate and then uses that false picture to condemn those who might say “I am personally opposed but…?”

    Terryl seems to tolerate abortion in instances of rape but how is that even remotely logical if abortion is to be viewed as the killing of another human being? In what other instance would we allow Person A to kill person B because person C robed person A of their choice? Clearly abortion isn’t a black an white issue. Terryl and Nathaniel passingly acknowledge this ambiguity without ever trying to deal with it. Where would Terryl draw the lines, he doesn’t say. Neither does Nathaniel. But that doesn’t stop them from looking down on us who dare think that if anyone has a right to deal with the inherent ambiguity it is the pregnant woman to whom the fetus is attached.

  40. Dsc,

    “In other words, if late-term elective abortion just doesn’t happen, then women won’t be harmed by regulating it: the rare cases in which it happens would be covered by an exception.”

    43 out of 50 states ALREADY regulate it. You might have know that if Terryl and Nathaniel’s articles weren’t both so egregiously misleading on this exact point. See my above comment for more detail.

  41. Cynthia,

    I know that. But that means there are 7 states that DON’T regulate it. And it’s also why it baffles me that people are out to defend it.

  42. My understanding is that we in the Church believe in the dualism of body and spirit. I would be interested in knowing when the joining of the spirit and body occurs. I doubt it’s at conception. Until there is a pronouncement on the joining, it seems like any abortion discussion is meaningless.

    The Church policy toward abortion is just that policy. And the Church’s policies on social issues are continually evolving. Who knows what the policy toward abortion will be in the future?

    In the meantime, I would hope that the Church leadership would concentrate on programs to make abortion unnecessary. Sex education, birth control, family planning, etc. Making it illegal only exacerbates the problem.

  43. Nathaniel, could you please have your dad write a response to the irresponsible ejaculation argument (https://www.designmom.com/twitter-thread-abortion/) under which men should be the focus of the coercive power of the state in protecting the unborn? It seems to me his argument is largely a pro-accountability position rather than pro-life per se, and his focus is on making it possible for the state to force women to “live with the consequences” of sexual activity, rather than forcing men to allow the state to violate their bodily inhhhtegrity in order to prevent pregnancy and thus protect the unborn. Thanks.

  44. So we are back to conservatives arguing for restrictions on abortion, and progressives arguing for various reasons that that is not good.

    I have not yet got an answer to what those who advocate making abortion illegal, expect that would do to the number of abortions? There are studies, but none are pretty for women, and none result in reduced abortions.

    These who want to ban abortions, also ban birth control, and sex education, so reducing abortions may not be the main ideology. Leaving that motivation open.

    I have come up with another solution reading this blog and comments. It seems that 80% of male children in America are circumcised. How about 100% of males are given a vasectomy either at birth, or perhaps before school. Problem solved no unwanted pregnancies, so no abortions. They can be reversed.

    This next bit by it’s self is a reason to not vote Republican if you are a woman or like them.

    As I have said earlier when Republicans are in power they apply “the global gag rule” when democrats in they restore funding to NGO providing family planning and healthcare services in much of the third world. This article explains some of the consequences, but with out abortion numbers. https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2020/04/unprecedented-expansion-global-gag-rule-trampling-rights-health-and-free-speech. From it this example.
    In Nepal, women who had abortions—and survived—were routinely sentenced to long prison terms. In one infamous case, a 13-year-old girl was raped by a relative and made pregnant. Another relative took her for an illegal abortion. Yet another relative reported her to the authorities, and the girl was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Family Planning Association of Nepal advocated releasing her and other women imprisoned under the abortion law and worked with the Nepalese government, at the government’s request, to legalize abortion in Nepal. Under the Global Gag Rule, these actions disqualify the agency from receiving U.S. family planning aid.

    This study is beyond me but is clear there is a 40% increase in abortions when Republican administrations. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(19)30267-0/fulltext
    So how many abortions are we talking about? https://now.org/resource/abortion-around-the-world-an-overview/ this article says 36 million abortions in Africa, South America, and poor asia. Lets say half this and assume it is when Republicans are in. So 18 million when republicans in and 11 million when democrats in. 7 million extra for Republicans(the anti abortion party). I have seen figures for maternal deaths because of this policy between 47,000 and 70,000 extra.

    I am being a bit long winded here and citing studies, because Dsc has accused me of making up figures. The figures I was quoting then were 1.9 million more abortions because of Republican policy. Looks like it could be over 7 million. There are about 600,000 abortions in America, 75% for women below the poverty line.
    All reductions in American abortions have been under Democrat Presidents. https://qz.com/857273/the-sharpest-drops-in-abortion-rates-in-america-have-been-under-democratic-presidents/

  45. Geoff,

    You continue to make up numbers. You continually say “let’s assume”, and you point to articles from pro-abortion special interest groups. There are no studies that demonstrate that abortions are not reduced when abortion is made illegal or that women die at higher rates. The Guttmacher institute has tried to show this, but has succeeded only in showing that poor countries tend to have stricter abortion laws and that poor countries also tend to have higher maternal mortality rates. This isn’t surprising due to the lack of health care.

    In the United States, maternal mortality rates were trending downward long before abortion was made widely legal, and Roe v Wade had no effect on that. What Roe v Wade did do, however, was lead to a dramatic increase in the abortion rate.

    When Chile implemented extreme anti-abortion laws (much stricter than is proposed here), it had no effect on the maternal mortality rate. It did, however, reduce the number of abortions (though not by much).

    In Ireland, women had excellent health outcomes when abortion was illegal. Since abortion laws were liberalized, the abortion rate has surged. It’s not conclusive, but that seems like a pretty clear indication that in developed countries, legalizing abortion increases the abortion rate.

    As for Democratic presidents leading to fewer abortions, this claim has been repeatedly debunked. Snopes and Politifact, for example, have excellent explanations for why you can’t conclude that what party is in power in the White House has any effect on the abortion rate.

  46. DSC,

    “What Roe v Wade did do, however, was lead to a dramatic increase in the abortion rate.” This claim requires reliable abortion rates pre Roe v Wade. Are those available?

    “As for Democratic presidents leading to fewer abortions, this claim has been repeatedly debunked.” Debunked is an overreach. What Politifact and Snopes found was that they couldn’t prove causality, and while they posed possible alternate explanations, the causality of those possibilities was not proven either. As a result, instead of rating this claim False (ie debunking it), Snopes marked it as Mixture, explaining “The reasons behind differing rates of decline in the abortion rate cannot be definitively tied to actions undertaken by the administrations of different political parties.”

  47. Ryan,

    In 1976, the CDC estimated that before Roe, there were roughly 130,000 illegal abortions performed per year during the three years before Roe, which declined to 17,000 by 1976. In 1970 (when states started liberalizing abortion laws), 193,000 abortions were reported to the CDC, which means that roughly 323,000 abortions were performed, assuming that no illegal abortions were reported to the CDC. By 1976, the CDC reported 988,000 abortions, which, when you add the 17,000 illegal abortions, tops 1 million abortions. When adding the illegal abortions, the abortion rate in 1970 was at most about 100 per 1,000 live births, while by 1976, it reached 312 per 1,000 live births.

    Even if the CDC’s estimates of illegal abortions are low, it’s crystal clear that the overall number of abortions dramatically increased when abortion laws liberalized.

  48. Ryan,

    Perhaps more tellingly, the legalization of abortion led to a dramatic drop in the birthrate. Birthrates had been dropping throughout the 60s (almost certainly due to broader access to contraceptives), but there was a steep drop that coincided exactly with the liberalization of abortion laws.

    https://econofact.org/the-impact-of-roe-v-wade-on-american-fertility#:~:text=The%20legalization%20of%20abortion%20reduced,born%20after%20abortion%20became%20legal.

  49. The misconception that late term abortions do not occur in the USA is facile. Our son and daughter-in-law adopted a baby whose birth mother was offered an abortion at 34 weeks by her OBGYN because the baby has Down Syndrome. Yes, 34 weeks. (I taught children in school that were born much earlier than that.)They were not desperate for a child, they have seven others; two of the seven also adopted. They maintain a relationship with birth mother, birth siblings and birth grandmother. One of their other adopted child’s birth mother also refused an abortion. They also maintain a relationship with her and her extended family. Neither of these birth mothers are LDS . We are very grateful to them for choosing life. Terryl Givens excellent article should perhaps be reread after a prayer of understanding .

  50. I agree with Sam Brunson’s on perhaps one point, that Terryl’s article would be more accurately titled, A Latter-day Saint’s Defense of the Unborn.

    To claim that “killing is wrong” is to make a universally agreed upon statement. To claim that “killing is wrong in all possible circumstances” is to lack moral imagination. To claim that “in the case of abortion, killing is wrong,” is not to lack moral imagination, but simply to disagree on the severity of the circumstances.

    Brunson, in suggesting that Terryl lacks moral imagination for disagreeing that the circumstances that surround elective abortion warrant the destruction of the fetus, argues in bad faith.

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