Patterico's Pontifications

11/9/2006

Would a Loss in the Partial-Birth Abortion Case Benefit the Pro-Life Movement?

Filed under: Abortion,General — Patterico @ 6:52 am



I’m always disgusted with those who want to keep the abortion issue alive as a political issue to benefit Republicans. I’ve long suspected that the Karl Roves of the world don’t really want Roe v. Wade to be overturned for that reason. This is cynicism at its worst. The abortion issue is important and should be discussed on its own merits.

But I don’t think it’s cynical to ask whether it would benefit the pro-life movement to lose the partial-birth abortion cases.

Keep in mind: this is a debate over a procedure. Banning partial-birth abortion will not save a single fetus. It will just change the way in which the fetus is killed.

Isn’t it better to have this front-and-center in Americans’ minds? The availability of partial-birth abortion means that, in Americans’ imaginations, the butchery of an abortion sometimes takes place outside the womb. In reality, D&E and D&X are both gruesome procedures, but for some reason Americans are particularly disturbed by the partial-birth abortion procedure.

If the Supreme Court continues to insist that it must be available, that gives the pro-life movement a powerful political issue to use to persuade Americans about abortion and the unreasonableness of the Supreme Court.

Legally, it would be good for the pro-life movement to win the case. Winning would mean a judicial acceptance of more restrictions on abortion, and a higher judicial value placed on fetal life.

But the more reasonable Supreme Court precedent seems to the average American, the less incentive he feels to change that precedent.

Legally, it would be good for the pro-life movement to win these cases. But politically, it may be better to lose.

UPDATE: “Lower” changed to “higher” in the third-to-last paragraph; thanks to a commenter for noting the error.

32 Responses to “Would a Loss in the Partial-Birth Abortion Case Benefit the Pro-Life Movement?”

  1. It is true that the grisly nature of partial-birth abortion is a great club to use on pro-choicers, but the other ugly truth about this procedure (as well as others) is that it can make it much more difficult for a woman to become pregnant again…presumably when she wants the baby that time. That is a “health” concern that I rarely hear talked about by the pro-choice community.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  2. you asked an intriguing question and arrived at what i thought was a sound conclusion. there’s another, bigger question you may have overlooked:
    if roe v. wade gets overturned, what will happen to your movement?
    part of me hopes this will happen. you’ve never seen backlash before. you’ve never seen gender gap before. tens of millions of women, currently complacent in the status quo, and their male supporters will rise up against your party in an awesome political tsunami. let’s get it on!

    [Why do you think I overlooked it? It’s about the first thing I alluded to. Also, I don’t think it would be so bad once people realized that abortion would still be legal. — P]

    assistant devil's advocate (c4769b)

  3. If I am following your previous post correctly, your point seems to be that the Court would only be upholding a ban on D&X, and D&E would continue to be legal. Even if the Court continues to insist on a right to D&X, I don’t see that as being any kind of public relations benefit for the pro-life movement. The immediate goal of pro-lifers is and ought to be a ban on all third-trimester abortions (as they do in most “progressive” European countries), so a loss in this case would continue to make such a ban impossible.

    JVW (28703a)

  4. You might as well argue that Roe v. Wade is the best thing that ever happened to the pro-life movement. The losers are always more fired up than the winners, so in a political world where no loss is ever permanent, you can always find a silver lining in a loss. But you’re kind of stating a truism.

    By the same token, there’s a school of thought on the other side that says Republicans don’t really want to overturn Roe v. Wade, because being able to campaign on the issue is a reliable source of electoral juice. Who knows? I’m sure some are sincere and others aren’t.

    Steve (43f553)

  5. What is legal is not always necessarily honorable.
    Kill is the operative word. If a woman feels she doesn’t want to conceive, there are so many ways to prevent it, stop it as in the “day after” pill, just quit using it as a method of birth control.

    When the women of this country, the politicians and the courts understand that murder is wrong in every way, then maybe we can all be truly equal and have a shot at becoming real citizens.

    Sue (b04f75)

  6. isn’t it odd that so many people who profess to be anti-abortion are also anti-contraception? if the “day after” pill were more readily available, it stands to reason that there would be fewer “partial-birth abortions”. maybe they’re just using “pro-life” as a smokescreen for anti-sex and female empowerment.

    assistant devil's advocate (c4769b)

  7. Shame. All Americans stand in shame because of partial birth abortions. It is shockingly shameful to all Americans that our Supreme Court would, and does, approve a process where a viable baby is murdered while being born. Some sweet world.

    RJN (e12f22)

  8. The day after pill is an abortifacient, not a contraceptive. That’s the objection.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  9. Winning would mean a judicial acceptance of more restrictions on abortion, and a lower judicial value placed on fetal life.

    I don’t understsand this sentence. Did you mean to say “higher”?

    [Yes, thanks. I’ll fix it. — P]

    dicentra (4dbb9e)

  10. [M]aybe they’re just using “pro-life” as a smokescreen for anti-sex and [anti-] female empowerment.

    Explain to me how no-strings-attached sex is a boon to women. In romantic relationships, men primarily want sex, women primarily want committment. In our current any-sex-anytime culture, men get what they want, but women? Maybe. If you don’t have sex until the day you’re married, both the man and the woman get what they want at the same time.

    So yeah, we’re all about empowering women by fulfilling male fantasies at the expense of the woman’s.

    dicentra (4dbb9e)

  11. The day after pill is an abortifacient, not a contraceptive.

    But it’s not. Plan B prevents ovulation, just like a birth control pill. In fact, it’s the exact same hormone.

    Steve (43f553)

  12. ADA,

    A couple of responses …

    “… if roe v. wade gets overturned, what will happen to your movement?”

    Then we start the State-by-State referendums on the issue that Roe denied us. What did you think would happen – we would go away?

    ” … will rise up against your party in an awesome political tsunami.”

    I think it’s far past the time we had an extended national conversation about what abortion really means, who it harms and what the medical and ethical implications truly are. And by “national conversation” I don’t have in mind scenes of “The View” gals filibustering to a like-minded studio audience.

    If the advocates of abortion as a legal, non-critical medical procedure can still support it after that, then sure, let them tsunam to their heart’s content. I hope the (now) governing party of Congress and their supporters will be up to that challenge.

    “let’s get it on!”

    OK.

    Abraxas (2f586f)

  13. No. It’s easier to change the mind of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court itself than to change the Constitution. Much more preferrable as well.

    nk (4cd0c2)

  14. I can see people in the future reading these legal arguments in horror, as we would read arguments from the 19th century about the disposal of human property.

    I don’t think this is an example of a denial of human life that is obviously human and obviously alive as much as it is an example of a disregard for inconvenient and powerless human life. The legal rationalizations that are necessary to sustain this travesty of justice are just pathetic.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  15. Pull it halfway out, hand a nail-gun to the woman, and say, “Go to it.”

    Dan Collins (b6ac5d)

  16. I say let’s win anywhere and anytime we can. A Supreme Court agreement to ban can’t possibly hurt in the “long run”. Damn, we need to start a daily/year to date/legal to date count and get it in front of everybody…some how… Maybe a comparison with Islamic births would be meaningful. Ha, I bet we’re winning that count!

    krusher (199ded)

  17. Life begins at erection.

    steve (a6a64b)

  18. World estimations of the number of terminations carried out each year is somewhere between 20 and 88 million.

    3,500 per day / 1.3 million per year in America alone.

    50% of that 1.3 million claimed failed birth control was to blame.

    A further 48% had failed to use any birth control at all.

    And 2% had medical reasons.

    That means a stagering 98% may have been avoided had an effective birth control been used.

    I am a 98% pro-lifer, 2% Pro-choicer, who has no religious convictions at all . I didn’t need the fear of god or anything else to come to my decision, just a good sense of what is right and wrong.
    You see we were all once a fetus. Is it beyond the realm of possibilities that when your mother first learned she was carrying you, she may have considered her options? What if she had decided to terminate? Would that have been OK?
    You would not exist, if you have children they would not exist, and your (husband or wife) would be married to someone else. You would have been deprived of all your experiences and memories. In this day and age with terminations being so readily available and so many being carried out, if you make it to full term you can consider yourself lucky.
    Lucky you had a mother that made the choice of life for you.

    Don’t you think they all deserve the same basic human right, LIFE?

    At the point of conception is when life began for you. This was the start of your existence. Your own personal big bang. Three weeks after conception heart started to beat. First brain waves recorded at six weeks after conception. Seen sucking thumb at seven weeks after conception.

    Though it pains me to say it , there may always be a need for the 2% medical reasons and such, but that’s all.

    So how do we get the other 98% to be responsible……………….

    How do we get them to be honest with themselves, about when life begins.

    Everyone knows life begins at conception, egg+sperm = human being

    Sadly many prefer an occasional abortion, over using birth control, they have all kinds of reasons, each of them selfish.

    Then there’s the christian impossition,(all a bit talibanish), and their men in high places.(church and state should never entwine) their stance against b/c has only added to the numbers.

    Sanity must provale, abortions should remain available and safe to the 2% and the rest need to have a good look at themselves and get their act together.

    I’d like to see effective birth control made available to all who can’t afford it.

    People have to stop using abortion as birth control….

    ausblog (e22d80)

  19. Patterico, well if the loss is due to Roberts or Alito I think that would be very demoralizing for the anti-abortion movement.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  20. Nah. It will be Kennedy.

    Patterico (de0616)

  21. Patterico: “But I don’t think it’s cynical to ask whether it would benefit the pro-life movement to lose the partial-birth abortion cases.”

    I agree.

    But I think the main risk is that people will decide the issue is utterly settled. If no number of Republican appointed judges affects things, if the ruling is always that any form of abortion must be legal, then the view that open-slather abortion must be a civil right for a proper democracy has to be correct, right?

    In practice, if any highly qualified panel of judges always decides the matter the same, pro-choice way, just as any qualified panel of mathematicians will settle a problem the same way, the matter will have been settled, to the satisfaction of people educated in neither law nor mathematics.

    So any win is a good win, to keep up a perception that abortion is still a genuinely contested issue.

    David Blue (a66103)

  22. *OFF TOPIC COMMENT*

    To all the men that have worn the Globe and Anchor, all the men who will so do in the future and most importantly to those giving their lives for freedom

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    “…First to fight for right and freedom…”
    Gung Ho!

    An old exJarhead

    Rod Stanton (7655b5)

  23. The late term abortions, if D&X were banned except for life of the mother, would be births and hopefully adoptions. These are women too stupid or too careless to get the abortion before the third trimester. This procedure is banned in every other country except China.

    As far as Roe v Wade, abortion was legal in California before it was decided and would be if it was overturned. The tsunami would be a wavelet. I don’t think it will be overturned because of stare decisis but the reasoning, penumbra and all, has given us some bad law, such as Kelo.

    Mike K (416363)

  24. Our esteemed host wrote:

    Keep in mind: this is a debate over a procedure. Banning partial-birth abortion will not save a single fetus. It will just change the way in which the fetus is killed.

    With your own words, you concede to the pro-abortionists their point. No one is interested in saving a “fetus;” we want to save unborn children!

    Arguments are framed by words. When we use terms like fetus, we are conceding to the pro-abortionists half of the argument. When we use the pronoun “it” instead of the animate “he,” we are denying life.

    They already have the law on their side; don’t concede the language to them as well.

    Dana (3e4784)

  25. Dana, I don’t think the term “fetus” is a pro-abortion term. It’s a neutral term, which in this instance is the best the pro-abortionists can do. If there were some term that meant “fetus” but had the connotation that suggested it ought to be killed, I have no doubt the pro-abortionists would adopt that term instead. But they don’t have any such term available, so they adopt the neutral term instead.

    Regardless, Patterico’s point stands no matter whose terminology you use. He might just as well have said this:

    Keep in mind: this is a debate over a procedure. Banning partial-birth abortion will not save a single unborn child. It will just change the way in which the unborn child is killed.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  26. Every anti-abortion law which is upheld is an argument for overturning Roe v. Wade under the “evolving societal standards/living constitution” reasoning. Since this is a federal law it is a weak argument but better than nothing. I think we lost our chance to get a fifth anti-Roe vote on the Supreme Court for a long time yet to come but … who knows?

    Also, from an emotional point of view 1) it’s good to say “f-you” to the pro-abortion crowd once in a while and 2) to keep up the morale of the pro-life movement with even small victories.

    Moreover, it is a disgusting procedure. It pollutes our country. Even if babies continue to die, they should not die this way. (To whatever extent the death penalty may be analogous, remember that hanging and the elecric chair were abandoned in favor of lethal injection and now there are court cases that say that in some circumstances even that procedure is so painful as to be cruel and unusual punishment. The next pro-life law may forbid ripping the baby to pieces and vacuuming it out and may be upheld.)

    nk (former fetus) (ca8012)

  27. The late term abortions, if D&X were banned except for life of the mother, would be births and hopefully adoptions.

    No, they’d be D&Es.

    Patterico (de0616)

  28. Fetus is a medical term, which is why the pro-choice side likes it. It sounds clinical and sounds less like a person.

    After 3 kids, I can declare that I never once called any of my babies-in-womb a “fetus.” It was always “the baby.” That’s why I always call ’em babies.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  29. Good for you Sharon:)

    If conception is NOT when life begins,and a clump of cells is just that and not a living human being.
    Then at least concider this-

    Soon after you were conceived you were no more than a clump of cells.
    This clump of cells was you at your earliest stage, you had plenty of growing to do but this clump of cells was you none the less. Think about it.
    Aren’t you glad you were left unhindered to develope further.
    Safe inside your mother until you were born.

    ausblog (fe1de4)

  30. I was struck by the comment in the original post that said banning partial birth abortion puts a higher value on fetal life. Hogwash!

    Currently it is (and I am glad for it) illegal to turn Patterico upside down, insert a pair of scissors in the back of his head, suck his brains out and then throw him in the trash. This is true from a federal law stand point even if sayyyy, Iowa, decides they don’t mind it happening in their jurisdiction. If it occurs in Florida, then there is the question of whether he is to be tried in federal court rather than state court.

    Banning this procedure federally simply brings those children forceably removed from the womb and still having their head undelivered up to the same legal protections as Patterico.

    Life does not begin at conception. It is passed on from parent to child AT conception. At that point, conception, any purposeful disruption is an end to a protected life. Abortion IS murder. It should be prosecuted as such and without another name. Let the SCOTUS hear it from that angle. Roe-v-Wade was bad law. It should be gone.

    ChrisStevens (fb246d)

  31. My statement was actually that winning would mean a “higher judicial value placed on fetal life.” It was cryptic, but the intent was to note that in all these cases, the courts balance the state interest in life against the alleged privacy interest of the woman. A win would be an indication that the courts are assigning a higher value to the former: the state’s interest in life.

    Patterico (de0616)

  32. Don’t you mean the “alleged” state interest in life?

    At best what the state has is “powers.”

    While that may sound like an argument over words, I think that it is important to bound state authority and not apply “personalized” terms like “interests” and “rights” to the state.

    Horace (cbe5f9)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2529 secs.