Patterico's Pontifications

3/25/2006

Questions for Those Who Support Partial-Birth Abortion

Filed under: Abortion,General — Patterico @ 10:08 pm



I have some questions for the pro-abortion crowd here. More precisely, the questions are directed to those who support partial-birth abortion. (I hinted at this the other day, but buried it deep in the post. I’d like to bring it to the fore now.)

Here are the questions:

1) If you can do a partial-birth abortion, then it would certainly be possible to complete the birth — correct?

2) Once the baby is partially born, it would be safer to the mother to deliver the remainder of the baby than to stick a sharp object into the mother to kill the baby — correct?

3) So, partial-birth abortion is more about killing the baby than about a) freeing the mother of the burdens of pregnancy or b) the mother’s health — correct?

Tell me where I have gone wrong in this analysis.

P.S. If the assumptions of my questions above are correct, then the partial-birth abortion debate pits the right of the baby to live against the right of the mother to see her baby dead. And this hypothetical strips away the usual crutches of those who support abortion: arguments concerning the mother’s health or her need to unburden her body of the pregnancy.

After all, there are hospitals where babies are being aborted in one room, and doctors are successfully saving the lives of younger babies in another.

There’s a deeper question here, too: if partial-birth abortion is safer than other forms of abortion, and if delivery is safer than partial-birth abortion . . . then delivery is the safest way of all to allow the mother to end the pregnancy. If that is right, then why can’t the State require a woman seeking a late-term abortion to simply have the baby?

P.P.S. Let me put the same thoughts a different way. When analyzing the morality and/or the legality of partial-birth abortion, should we look to whether it is safer than other abortion procedures — or whether it is safer than any medical procedure for ending the pregnancy, including delivery of the child?

P.P.P.S. Let’s say that a doctor were to opine that compressing the head is somewhat safer because it requires less cervical dilation and thus the fetus can be extracted more quickly. Then the question is not as simple, but still poses a fairly stark moral question: for a viable fetus, is the added safety for the mother involved in collapsing the fetus’s head justified when compared to the baby’s right to life?

112 Responses to “Questions for Those Who Support Partial-Birth Abortion”

  1. Yes, yes and yes.

    I first read about D&X years ago in the old LA Sunday Times magazine. The doctor they interviewed was the “inventor” of the procedure and he was surprisingly candid. He said that some women lied about their gestational age of pregnancy and sometimes that meant the doctor was unpleasantly surprised with a “live” birth after a saline abortion. Partial-birth abortion, with the sucking out of the brains of the infant, saved doctors that moment of “embarrassment.”

    He was asked if he ever did this procedure on healthy, viable unborn … he was unconcerned saying that if the woman wanted the procedure who was he to question why.

    I was so thoroughly shocked by the article, it has stayed with me all these years.

    Darleen (f20213)

  2. Do remember that partial-birth abortion is occasionally done when the fetus is already dead, or when its brain is developing outside its skull due to a birth defect, and it cannot survive. Banning the procedure would occasionally require women to carry corpses inside them for weeks or months. This causes difficulties for claim (3), at least. (I think it is possible to write a partial-birth abortion ban that I would find morally acceptable — just make sure that all the special situations are dealt with.)

    I don’t know if (2) is correct. Really, we need a doctor to settle this issue.

    I also wanted to mention that I respond to one of your previous posts on abortion at Ezra Klein’s blog.

    [The premise of your response is that adoption is more “gut-wrenching” than killing the baby. Not buying it. Sorry. — Patterico]

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf (9696af)

  3. Partial birth abortion also relieves the mother of the responsibility of caring for and raising a child. Contrast and compare with the response of women’s groups to men who want to avoid that responsibility. At least in the cases of paternity fraud and adultery there is a firm moral foundation for relieving men of that responsibility.

    Bob Smith (d57802)

  4. I agree with Neil that input from medical sources would be helpful although I don’t think it will settle the issue. Doctors don’t completely agree on this subject either. Nevertheless, if the baby is dead in utero there is a medical issue (to identify the safest, most appropriate medical procedure to remove the fetus and protect the mother’s life), but there is no ethical issue because the only life at risk is the mother’s.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  5. Perhaps I should add a concluding sentence (or two) to my last comment, although I think my point was clear.

    If the only life at risk is the mother’s, then the only consideration is to protect the mother’s life. There is no ethical dilemma because the baby is already dead.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  6. Do remember that partial-birth abortion is occasionally done when the fetus is already dead, or when its brain is developing outside its skull due to a birth defect, and it cannot survive. Banning the procedure would occasionally require women to carry corpses inside them for weeks or months. This causes difficulties for claim (3), at least. (I think it is possible to write a partial-birth abortion ban that I would find morally acceptable — just make sure that all the special situations are dealt with.)

    Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. That is a circumstance that I don’t even know has ever occurred. There is no evidence that the so-called health of the mother has ever been a factor in partial-birth abortion. Do the research.

    CraigC (4525c5)

  7. You people are sick.

    CraigC (4525c5)

  8. CraigC: I hope you are not including me in your diagnosis because I don’t like partial birth abortion at all. My comments are directed solely at Neil’s hypothetical where a baby is already dead in utero prior to a partial birth procedure. In that one situation, there is no ethical dilemma.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  9. Tell me where I have gone wrong in this analysis.

    It’s not analysis. It’s a discussion cul-du-sac.

    [Well, then: drive on in and stay awhile! But try to say something meaningful while you’re here. — Patterico]

    steve (1c66cc)

  10. I said in the other thread I gave POA the same analysis Patterico did back when the original bills were being debated in Congress. It is the discussion which forced me to become pro-life, since I could no longer sugarcoat the real reasons women have abortions (or, as my law professor told me, why Roe v. Wade was important): abortion “equalizes” the consequences of sex.

    sharon (fecb65)

  11. Re’
    Partial birth abortion for a dead baby still in the womb.
    If the fetus is dead in utero:
    A)The body will try to “expel” the dead tissue
    B)If that doesn’t work a pitocin drip is started for uterine contractions to expel the body.
    C)If that doesn’t work,you may have to put forceps on.
    I can’t envision having to collapse a head to deliver a dead fetus.
    And,yes I’m an MD and have done the above.
    An addendum.At a cocktail party ,I observed a hs teacher disputing my father and his partner-who’d done about 15,ooo- That’s Thousand-deliveries betwen them that there were times the PBA was done to save the mother’s life.Their expertise meant nothing to him.

    Lincoln (f854eb)

  12. Lincoln

    Years ago my best friend carried twins into her eigth month when they died in utero. She delivered them and her and her husband took some time in holding them and saying goodbye.

    How could a couple go through a grieving process if the infant is destroyed?

    BTW, IIRC not one doctor at the Congressional hearings on D&X ever presented any evidence where the procedure was used to save the life of a woman.

    That is what stood out for me.

    Darleen (f20213)

  13. eigth = eighth

    sheesh

    more.coffee.

    Darleen (f20213)

  14. Neil

    Understand I’m a reluctant pro-choice, but I really object to the whole “pro-lifers aren’t really interested in babies, they are just interested in punishing women for having sex” line of argument. It’s vastly insulting because what you are doing is dismissing any pro-life argument as being made in bad faith.

    It is akin to any view I present that is pro-Israel. I get responses that I only hold that position because I’m either Jewish or I’m a Christian secretly anticipating The End Times when Jews will be destroyed.

    Such arguments are not for the purpose of legitimate debate, but a tactic to dismiss the person as holding illegitimate motives and unworthy of discussion.

    You are usually fairer than that. I’m sorry to see you seduced into such a misbegotten meme.

    Darleen (f20213)

  15. If prematurely born babies can survive at 25 weeks, besides the repugnance of the partial birth procedure, the arbitrary second vs. third trimester cutoff of Roe vs. Wade is also in question. Contrasting it to women with cervical insufficiency who will get themselves sewn up and spend three months in bed in order to deliver a full term baby, the coldness of heart in a procedure designed to foreclose any possibility of live birth is inhuman.

    nk (5e5670)

  16. Is mandating a live birth, and subsequent adoption, cruel and unusual punishment for a sexual indiscretion?

    paul (464e99)

  17. Paul, suppose a mother accidentally steps on her cat while holding her baby and in the resulting fall, the baby becomes severely brain-damaged. The law doesn’t allow the mother to kill the baby in order to avoid raising a severely brain-damaged child.

    So, is raising a severely brain-damaged child and spending your retirement years caring for a brain-damaged adult cruel and unusual punishment for accidentally stepping on a cat?

    Actions create responsibilities to others. Forcing someone to live up to their responsibilities to others is not punishment, it is civil society.

    Doc Rampage (f06a6e)

  18. I agree with Patterico’s analysis of partial birth abortion (PBA). However, since few/no pro-choice supporters have commented yet, may I temporarily play the role of devil’s advocate on this issue? I see at least two subsets of thought on this issue from a pro-choice viewpoint:

    1. Some pro-choice advocates might agree with your premise but nevertheless disagree with your conclusion since they believe that the mother’s/woman’s rights are paramount to the rights of the baby. (Actually, they believe the baby has no rights and that’s why they call it a fetus.) Therefore, if a woman wants to kill her baby, then it should be killed. PBA does that without the messy complication of a live birth. There are extreme versions of this subset, such as Peter Singer, who believe the baby can be killed even after birth. In my view, this subset of pro-choice believers treat PBA as a legal and political issue rather than a medical issue, although they use medicine to accomplish their legal and political goals.

    2. Other pro-choice supporters believe that PBA is a tool that doctors need to use in caring for pregnant women, even though it may be rarely used. If only a few doctors say they need PBA as a tool to treat pregnant women, then these pro-choice advocates do not want to see it banned as a procedure. Such pro-choice believers might even prefer that PBA is rarely used, but they support it because they believe doctors need it and because they view attempts to eliminate it as backhanded methods of chipping away at and eventually eliminating abortion itself. This subset treats PBA as both a medical and a political issue.

    I’m sure there are variations on the above subsets and there can certainly be other subsets of people that support PBA that I haven’t thought of. I think that Patterico’s argument might resonate with people in subset 2 but would be rejected categorically by people in subset 1.

    I like these discussions because they advance the dialogue on this issue and make me think. Are you sure you aren’t a law school professor on the side, Patterico?

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  19. Paul

    Isn’t imposed death cruel and unusual punishment for someone else’s sexual indiscretion?

    Darleen (f20213)

  20. Is mandating a live birth, and subsequent adoption, cruel and unusual punishment for a sexual indiscretion?

    Paul:

    Don’t muddy the issue. The state is not mandating the pregnancy. Pregnancy is (sometimes) nature’s response to a sexual indiscretion. The question is how to deal with it.

    My question is simply this: if a woman is pregnant, I thought that the arguments for partial-birth abortion were (1) she shouldn’t be burdened with having to carry the baby, and (2) partial-birth abortion might be safer than other forms of abortion. But a live delivery would unburden her of the pregnancy, and (it seems to me) would likely be as safe or safer than partial-birth abortion, which requires sticking a sharp instrument into the mother.

    Again, I’d like to hear from the doctors, but once you get the point where all you have left to deliver is the head, I have a hard time understanding how it could be much safer to stick a sharp instrument into the mother than it would be to simply deliver the head.

    So that leaves only the mother’s “right” to see the baby dead vs. the right of the baby to live.

    And I see no argument for the mother’s “right” to see her baby dead. What is the argument? She should be allowed to kill the kid so she needn’t deal with the awful emotional agony of putting her child up for adoption?

    If that’s the argument, it is utterly unconvincing. What of the emotional agony she at least *ought* to feel in killing the kid? Is the agony of adoption so much worse? And even if it is, why should society care?

    Patterico (de0616)

  21. Abortion rights will wither if the Supreme Court makes “undue burden” something abortion ban challengers have to prove – not just show as plausible. Roe itself wouldn’t need to be overturned to make abortion all-but inaccessible in perhaps 40 states. Many abortion laws that can’t now survive court scrutiny would be validated.

    The federal late-term abortion ban being argued this fall could be the undoing of “undue burden.”

    I gather I’m the only one who winces at loaded phrases like “supporters of partial-birth abortion.” Are there tons of supporters of the “morning-after” pill close aboard? Made available OTC without prescription?

    The elephant in the room is the political reality of Roe’s overturning on the GOP. They’d be blown away in suburbs without abortion as the bedrock ballyhoo. As the Dem’s embrace of civil rights lost them the South in the 60’s.

    steve (1c66cc)

  22. I’ll respond to the two arguments:

    Some pro-choice advocates might agree with your premise but nevertheless disagree with your conclusion since they believe that the mother’s/woman’s rights are paramount to the rights of the baby. (Actually, they believe the baby has no rights and that’s why they call it a fetus.) Therefore, if a woman wants to kill her baby, then it should be killed.

    For partial-birth abortion, the issue is this: once you get to the point where you have the baby delivered all the way except for the head, what is the moral and legal argument for saying the woman has the right to kill the baby by ordering a doctor to stab it in the head, as opposed to letting it live by delivering the head?

    Other pro-choice supporters believe that PBA is a tool that doctors need to use in caring for pregnant women, even though it may be rarely used.

    Well, again, is it truly safer to stick a sharp instrument into the woman than it is to deliver the head? I bet you could find a doctor who will say it is, but would you find such a medical opinion believable?

    Patterico (de0616)

  23. steve,

    I’m fine with the morning-after pill. Over the counter is fine with me too.

    But you’re not responding to the questions I posed in this post. Are they too uncomfortable for an abortion-rights supporter like yourself to deal with?

    Patterico (de0616)

  24. Just to be clear, Darleen, I think a lot of abortion opponents hold their position purely out of their moral concern for fetal life. I think many of these people are misled by biological errors that cause them to think first-trimester fetuses can feel pain. They are still good people, and I wish their concern for the suffering of the innocent would find a more appropriate object.

    There are also abortion opponents who want to punish women who have premarital sex. In the past, I didn’t believe that there were people like this. The strong support among anti-abortion groups for Missouri’s elimination of state funding for poor women’s birth control pills (among other events) has convinced me otherwise. If you take fetal life seriously, you’ll want birth control all over the place, and unless you’re a serious libertarian, you won’t mind government money being spent on it. But “pro-life” groups came down solidly against birth control, and they won.

    I don’t know how the percentages break down here, but I see both kinds of people. I respect the former (though I think they’re confused); I hate the latter more than I hate anybody in domestic politics.

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf (c3bed0)

  25. I have added the following P.P.P.S. to the post, to address the possibility that a doctor might say that partial-birth abortion is in fact safer than delivery:

    Let’s say that a doctor were to opine that compressing the head is somewhat safer because it requires less cervical dilation and thus the fetus can be extracted more quickly. Then the question is not as simple, but still poses a fairly stark moral question: for a viable fetus, is the added safety for the mother involved in collapsing the fetus’s head justified when compared to the baby’s right to life?

    Patterico (de0616)

  26. Where precisely is your comfort zone on terminating pregnancies if the morning-after pill is “fine?”

    Let’s stop assuming things like commenters are offhandedly divisible into abortion supporters and opponents.

    steve (1c66cc)

  27. steve,

    I recognize that it’s tough to be precise. I had a whole series of posts on this topic. (Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six).

    In those posts, which you must have missed, I show a recognition of the gray areas involved.

    Now, how’s about you answer my questions? Those would be the ones in this post.

    Patterico (de0616)

  28. Okay, and I’ll respond back:

    DRJ: Some pro-choice advocates might agree with your premise but nevertheless disagree with your conclusion since they believe that the mother’s/woman’s rights are paramount to the rights of the baby. (Actually, they believe the baby has no rights and that’s why they call it a fetus.) Therefore, if a woman wants to kill her baby, then it should be killed.

    Patterico: For partial-birth abortion, the issue is this: once you get to the point where you have the baby delivered all the way except for the head, what is the moral and legal argument for saying the woman has the right to kill the baby by ordering a doctor to stab it in the head, as opposed to letting it live by delivering the head?

    DRJ: Because the woman’s right to live her life exactly as she wants (childless until she chooses, without the burden of dealing with raising or adopting a child) is paramount. The idea is for women to have complete control over whether they have a child. Your scenario takes away that right (admittedly at the last moment). Taking away the right to choose at any point means that there are limits on the right, a possibility that is anathema to most pro-choice advocates.

    DRJ: Other pro-choice supporters believe that PBA is a tool that doctors need to use in caring for pregnant women, even though it may be rarely used.

    Patterico: Well, again, is it truly safer to stick a sharp instrument into the woman than it is to deliver the head? I bet you could find a doctor who will say it is, but would you find such a medical opinion believable?

    DRJ: I agree with you on this one. I think these people would be more amenable to your argument. Their qualms about permitting restrictions on abortion are not as great as their revulsion to the PBA procedure. Thus, for this subset, providing information on what the PBA procedure entails can be effective.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  29. Since you’ve edited my comment to put in a response, let me respond to that too. A first trimester abortion should be less gut-wrenching than adoption, since there simply isn’t any person being affected. The fetus’ brain hasn’t developed to the point that there is a person there yet. To someone who sees things rightly, it should be a much easier decision than adoption. It’s no different than the fat cells that get killed in liposuction — no mind, no problem.

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf (c3bed0)

  30. I make these comments not as somone who supports partial birth abortion, because I find it abhorrent. But, I think you’re missing the point a little. Partial birth abortions are done late in the pregnancy, but not at full term. Despite the dramatic improvements in medical technology, there are still many risks involved in premature birth. No doctor would consider inducing a birth at that early stage (6-7 months) unless it was absolutely medically necessary if their goal was to promote the health of the baby.

    So, I think the question then is, if you oppose partial birth abortion would you be willing to allow women to induce labor at 6-7 months (when they choose), giving birth to an extremely premature baby? If so, then there would also have to be a system in place to pay for the medical care which can often run in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and to provide adoption etc.

    If you wouldn’t allow a woman to induce labor early, then it gets back to the same old abortion debate of a woman’s right to control her body versus the baby’s right to life and health. I think the partial birth abortion was designed to get rid of these ethical problems. You don’t have to deal with any of that if the baby is dead.

    Personally, I’m not sure it’s much better to allow a woman to deliver a premature, and possibly (likely?) unhealthy, child than to kill it. Why tell a woman she can’t abort, but then allow her to do something that is likely to leave her child mentally retarded and/or handicapped? I’d much prefer they carry it to term and proceed with adoption. But, that’s how I feel about most abortions. Again we come back to the same old debate. At what point is the difficulty placed on the mother of carrying a pregnancy to term outweighed by the rights of the developing fetus? I’m not sure that this discussion of partial birth abortion in particular will change that.

    Adam (1a1d06)

  31. Let me also say that this business of responding to people’s comments in-comment rather than with your own comment strikes me as a bit odd. Certainly, it’s your blog and you can do as you like, but why not just post a comment of your own?

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf (c3bed0)

  32. Sometimes I must use a Treo, which I am unable to use to post an independent comment, but which I can use to edit comments. Something to do with Javascript and the WordPress requirements for comments.

    Patterico (de0616)

  33. A first trimester abortion should be less gut-wrenching than adoption, since there simply isn’t any person being affected.

    Partial-birth abortions are typically done in late-term abortions. My comments are directed to those, and particularly to post-viability abortions.

    Patterico (de0616)

  34. I make these comments not as somone who supports partial birth abortion, because I find it abhorrent. But, I think you’re missing the point a little. Partial birth abortions are done late in the pregnancy, but not at full term. Despite the dramatic improvements in medical technology, there are still many risks involved in premature birth. No doctor would consider inducing a birth at that early stage (6-7 months) unless it was absolutely medically necessary if their goal was to promote the health of the baby.

    Of course there are risks associated with premature births. I read an entire book about premature babies (Baby E.R. by Ed Humes — great book, btw). My sister’s twins were very premature. I understand the issues.

    But I’d prefer to have been delivered prematurely if the alternative were being murdered in the womb.

    So, I think the question then is, if you oppose partial birth abortion would you be willing to allow women to induce labor at 6-7 months (when they choose), giving birth to an extremely premature baby? If so, then there would also have to be a system in place to pay for the medical care which can often run in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and to provide adoption etc.

    I’d much prefer to see babies carried to full term too. But with the current state of the law, mothers are allowed to have late-term abortions. My question is: why? And wouldn’t premature births be better than late-term abortions?

    If the justification for partial-birth is not the mother’s health or the need to unburden her of the pregnancy, then what is it?

    If the answer is: it’s just too expensive to let the baby be born prematurely . . . well, then, let people make that argument forthrightly. And why is the solution to that argument to kill the baby, rather than mitigate the expense by forcing the mother to carry the baby to full term?

    Again, these arguments are more effective for viable fetuses. The mother has *already* waited months, so the burden to her of waiting another 18 weeks at most, when she has already gone 22 weeks, is not as great as the burden of making someone go another 36 weeks, when they want to have the abortion at 4 weeks.

    And if the baby can already be delivered and saved without significant harm to the mother, then the question is who should bear the consequences of the fact that a premature birth would cost money. Society? Or the mother, who chose to have sex and wait at least 22 weeks to have an abortion?

    To me, that’s an easy answer — and that’s the debate that my questions raise.

    Patterico (de0616)

  35. From Adam’s comment: “Partial birth abortions are done late in the pregnancy, but not at full term.” The NIH website MedlinePlus returns the following definition for “partial-birth abortion”:

    “Main Entry: dilation and extraction
    Function: noun
    : a surgical abortion that is typically performed during the third trimester or later part of the second trimester of pregnancy and in which the uterine cervix is dilated and death of the fetus is induced after it has passed partway through the birth canal — called also D&X, partial-birth abortion”

    It is not clear whether a partial-birth abortion is a type of D&C or an equivalent, but I suspect it is a late-term form of D&C. This is why having a doctor comment would be helpful. Lincoln?

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  36. “A recognition of the gray areas involved.”

    Diggin’ the all-purpose finesse. Have the class dive into 6 prior threads to see if any straightforward question inconveniently posed might have been dealt with earlier.

    Alas, there are “gray areas” in the abortion debate!

    The oft-described procedure is horrific and there’s every possibility the fetus can feel pain weeks earlier. Obvious questions straddling a quasi-legal, quasi-biological, quasi-moral realm. Distilling any meaningful consensus is impossible.

    This all may be moot by year’s end. The Court is primed to revisit “undue burden” in the federal late-term ban case, a standard lower courts called “out of control.”

    Republicans should thank their lucky stars they’ve had Roe this long. A sleeping giant will be aroused if it is effectively annulled. Take away something that people have taken for granted, they will rise to defend it.

    steve (1c66cc)

  37. Diggin’ the all-purpose finesse. Have the class dive into 6 prior threads to see if any straightforward question inconveniently posed might have been dealt with earlier.

    I’ll make it simple for you, steve: I don’t have a precise answer to where my “comfort zone” is on terminating pregnancies. I simply think that in this country we allow it too late, for reasons that are too trivial.

    That is a straightforward answer to your question.

    Now see if you can give straightforward answers to mine.

    If you don’t, I will assume that they are too uncomfortable for an abortion-rights supporter like you to answer. This is a debate that you are scared to engage in. Right?

    I await your snippy non-answer, which will prove my point.

    Patterico (de0616)

  38. I think that people would not allow a woman to induce at 6 months for convenience sake. No doctor would. However, they might do an abortion. If a doctor is performing an abortion, then he is working solely for the mother’s health. If he’s inducing, then he’s working for both mother and baby, and if he wants a healthy baby, inducing early is not the way to go.

    Practically speaking (and this includes considerations of expense) it is much ‘easier’ to simply abort. And, in terms of current abortion practice, practical concerns rule the day. People tend to prefer simple, easier solutions even when more complex answers would be ethically superior.

    Finally, where is the cutoff in terms of burden to the mother? Is asking her to wait 24 weeks that much more than 8 weeks? And if you make the woman pay for the expenses, etc, of a premature birth are you then unfairly punishing her (she wanted to do something that was cheap and simple, even if barbaric)?

    Adam (1a1d06)

  39. I think that people would not allow a woman to induce at 6 months for convenience sake. No doctor would. However, they might do an abortion. If a doctor is performing an abortion, then he is working solely for the mother’s health. If he’s inducing, then he’s working for both mother and baby, and if he wants a healthy baby, inducing early is not the way to go.

    But — assuming that full delivery is as safe as partial delivery and then murdering the fetus — your logic is flawed, because you are not analyzing the same issues for both procedures.

    The issues don’t change.

    For the mother, the concerns include 1) health, 2) ending the pregnancy, and 3) not wanting to have to care for a baby.

    For the fetus, the concerns are simple: health and life.

    If delivery is just as safe as partial-birth abortion, then issues 1 and 2 are moot for the mother. Only issue 3 becomes an argument — and I think most people would consider that argument trivial as compared with a human life.

    Clearly, for the fetus, delivery is superior. The viable fetus at least gets a chance at life.

    Patterico (de0616)

  40. Premies playing.

    Born at 34 weeks. Were they ‘rightless’ fetuses or infants?

    Neil

    Isn’t this what you’re really saying?:

    To someone who sees things rightly my way, it should be a much easier decision than adoption.

    While a 9 week gestational fetus is not a full term infant, it is nascent and unique human life. It is not “fat cells”. It’s dna is related but unique from either it’s mother or father and will never be repeated.

    Darleen (f20213)

  41. DRJ: Full term is 36-38 weeks. I don’t think they perform abortions at that point. I’m a medical student (not a full blow doctor yet), but I’ve never heard of an abortion at that late a date.

    D&X is dilation and extraction. D&C (curretage) is generally not performed after 15 weeks. In those cases, a D&X is done. They both involve dilating the cervix and using various tools (hence the differing names) to remove the fetus.

    Adam (1a1d06)

  42. Patterico:

    I’m not making a logical argument. I’m trying to explain why things are the way they are. We hardly live in a world dominated by logic. I already stated my own personal preferences in my first post. My point is simply that if you follow the logic you end up in a very complex situation, practially speaking. People tend to avoid that. I don’t think you can just say, we’ll allow partial birth abortions except that instead of killing the fetus we will allow it to be born at that point. Because that creates a whole set of sticky practical issues.

    If you force a woman to wait an extra 8 weeks or make her pay the medical expenses then you end up at the same old abortion debate. How much burden can you place on a woman? Strict pro-choice advocates would say, none. The real debate lies on what tradeoff you’re willing to make in terms of fetal life versus a mother’s burden. That basic debate doesn’t change with the particulars of partial birth abortion.

    Adam (1a1d06)

  43. “Is mandating a live birth, and subsequent adoption, cruel and unusual punishment for a sexual indiscretion?”

    In what jurisdiction is sexual indiscretion criminalized, and thus subject to constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment? You show much confusion here.

    Federal Dog (43c7eb)

  44. You nailed it, Patterico. Partial birth abortion pits the right of the baby to live against the desire of the mother to kill it.

    RJN (c3a4a3)

  45. Adam

    We have these debates (and make policy) vis a via “tradeoffs” all the time.

    See “Safe Haven Laws”.

    Darleen (f20213)

  46. Darleen:

    Absolutely. But, it’s a debate that needs to take place across the whole range of abortion (ie, Patterico’s previous 6-part series). As much as we may individually find partial birth abortion abhorrent it doesn’t change the fundamental questions at stake in this debate. That’s all.

    Adam (1a1d06)

  47. Adam, thank you for the information. In considering the frequency of late-term abortions, this pro-choice website estimates there are 400-700 late-term abortions a year (scroll about half-way down, although the entire discussion is interesting). The CDC website does not provide clear statistics for late-term abortions, but instead lumps together all abortions at or after 21 weeks gestation. Nevertheless, the CDC statistics appear consistent with the pro-choice website estimate.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  48. I don’t have a precise answer to where my “comfort zone” is on terminating pregnancies.

    Nor do I.

    I would have voted to support the late-term procedure ban. In this respect, we’re keeping company with Hillary Clinton, though the “protecting the life of the mother” escape clause is impossibly vague. Roe established a right to abortion through the end of the second trimester. The Court – correct me if I’m wrong – scuttled the trimester framework putting Roe on a “collision course with itself,” to quote Justice O’Connor.

    Sonograms and embryology have made people aware of how well developed fetuses are while still legally vulnerable to abortion.

    All that said, the Court in months could elevate the “undue burden” standard high enough to foreclose abortion rights in many or most places.

    Conservatives are already fighting early abortion pills, morning-after pills, sex education and birth control. They’re on a collision course with themselves.

    steve (65ab6c)

  49. You’re just not going to answer the questions from the post, are you?

    Patterico (de0616)

  50. Adam

    There should come a point in the debate in which people of goodwill on all sides can say “here is the point where the life of a viable, healthy fetus takes precedence over the inconvenience (not life) of the mother.”

    We start at the assumption that parents will care for their children at a minimal level. When we find out they don’t we call in the government to monitor or even remove the children from a harmful environment. Outside of that, it is societal norms that “enforce” a certain level of parenting through education, peer pressure, etc. IMHO I see approaching abortion in a similar manner. Protecting a viable healthy fetus from harm, including its own mother, by law and government while taking a ‘hands off’ legislative approach when we are talking about adult women in the first trimester (8-10 weeks depending on whose gestation calendar we’re using). I’d leave those early abortions, majority of them tragic and immoral, to be discouraged by the persuasiveness of education, peers, etc.

    Darleen (f20213)

  51. That pro-choice web site describes three sad situations and says:

    Every one of the 400-700 abortions performed in the third trimester are as devastating, tragic, and painful as these three.

    False.

    As I described in this post, the Washington Post has reported:

    It is possible — and maybe even likely — that the majority of these [late-term] abortions are performed on normal fetuses, not on fetuses suffering genetic or developmental abnormalities. Furthermore, in most cases where the procedure is used, the physical health of the woman whose pregnancy is being terminated is not in jeopardy.

    Beware the pap dished out on pro-choice websites. It is often as dishonest as it gets.

    Patterico (de0616)

  52. Steve, I am a conservative who is pro-life but I’m neither a fundamentalist Christian nor particularly zealous on the issue. Even if what you say is true, I don’t really care if this issue puts the Republican party on a collision course with itself because it’s the right thing to do. We conservatives are constantly shooting outselves in the foot out of principle. Resolving the abortion debate may be a political negative in the short-term and perhaps even in the long-run, but if we don’t have principles and act on them, what’s the point?

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  53. Beware the pap dished out on pro-choice websites. It is often as dishonest as it gets.

    Agreed, but my point was that even pro-choice advocates believe there are 400-700 of these abortions happening every year.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  54. I don’t see how anyone can claim to have an informed opinion about this horrible procedure without first identifying when or if the abortion is needed to save the life of the mother. If different doctors have different opinions about it, that’s no excuse to ignore the question. If doctors disagree, let both sides make their case.

    Also, is this a “slippery slope initiative” that will, in effect, ban all abortions? Some think so: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/echochamber/32691/.

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  55. If the doctor is going to act as judge, jury, and executioner, make him justify his actions. There should be medical/legal guidelines defining what comprises a danger to the mother’s health.
    The problem is that [potential] psychological trauma may be raised as a danger to health. Try to quantify that…
    On the other hand (and I’ve raised a handful of children, purely for the purpose of having grandchildren), psychological trauma applies to the father as well.

    great unknown (9f37aa)

  56. Psy, I believe the AMA is on line as being of the opinion that PBA is never necessary to save the life of the mother. I’ll look for links but perhaps others of you may already know the AMA position better than I or can provide appropriate links.

    IIRC, all of the testimony on this issue before congress indicated the same: the procedure is not necessary to save the life of the mother.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  57. Patterico, I’ll bite. Simply let me preface by saying that I believe that your premises are far too vague to amount to provide for a fair debate of what pro-choice people really think about partial-birth abortion.

    1) If you can do a partial-birth abortion, then it would certainly be possible to complete the birth — correct?

    As above posters have pointed out, that certainly depends on issues that are specific to case-by-case scenarios. I, having never seen a partial-birth abortion nor had this conversation with a doctor who performs this procedure, frankly have no idea. Maybe yes, maybe not. In any case, this question doesn’t have much to do with my feelings about partial birth abortion.

    2) Once the baby is partially born, it would be safer to the mother to deliver the remainder of the baby than to stick a sharp object into the mother to kill the baby — correct?

    Here again, this totally depends on context that we do not have at our disposal. This premise assumes that it is inherently safer for the mother to deliver the fetus than to use a medical procedure to abort it. I am unwilling to meet you with that assumption.

    For comparison, consider that doctors engage in preventative surgery all the time: heart surgery, tumor removal, etc. On one given day, would it not be “safer” to let the tumor run its natural course and potentially become malignant than for a doctor to “stick a sharp object into the [patient]”? Well, that surely depends on the context of that situation, doesn’t it? With your question too, I believe that context must be established first, and that it must be done on a case by case situation. This is why you’ll often hear us maintain that this question, as with open heart surgery, ought to be between the patient and her doctor, and not subject to sweeping legislation that doesn’t account for the individual problems which may arise.

    3) So, partial-birth abortion is more about killing the baby than about a) freeing the mother of the burdens of pregnancy or b) the mother’s health — correct?

    Not at all. From my vantage point, you have not managed to prove this, for reasons that I stated above.

    -Tom

    Tom (764816)

  58. Tom

    Apart from the rather strained analogy of a fetus to a malignant tumor (in the course of things, fetuses become separate from their hosts, tumors doen’t spontaneously migrate out of the body)… there are many instances of doctors leaving well enough alone and NOT being medically aggressive until nothing else can be done.

    IE annuerysms monitored, sometimes for months, until surgery is necessary.

    And there are also many instances in which we do NOT allow doctors and patients to make “their own decision” in a vacuum.

    Darleen (f20213)

  59. Graph via CDC on abortions done past 21 weeks gestation broken down by age of mother.

    Majority of these late term abortions are done on women under 20 y/o — NOT the demographic of females prone to either birth defects or health problems related to pregnancy.

    Darleen (f20213)

  60. Tom,

    Let’s talk theory.

    1. Do you agree that the relevant question should not be

    Is partial-birth abortion safer than other abortion methods?

    but rather

    Is partial-birth abortion safer than other methods of ending the pregnancy, including delivery?

    2. *If* my assumptions are correct, and delivery is just as safe as any abortion in a particular case, is there any argument against the State’s mandating delivery instead of abortion?

    Patterico (de0616)

  61. As a final post script: I think that the issue of partial birth abortion has been blown waaaay out of context for political reasons. How many of us ever even heard of it prior to it becoming a hot-botton political issue? Not me, and I’m willing to bet, not most of us.

    According to Wikipedia, partial birth abortions account for only 0.2% of all abortions annually (as of 2000, using data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute). Here’s my question:

    Is this a real, viable flaw of legalized abortion that must be erradicated with one broad legislative stroke of the pen, or is it more the perfect excuse to allow the pro-lifers to paint the pro-choicers as monsters for defending this scary-sounding abortion procedure? In short: while this may seem ‘real’ for the masses, is there anything behind the curtain, or is it just a political smokescreen? Given the apparent rarity of this procedure, and the case-by-case, content-specific nature of its application, I’m not sure this emperor has any clothes.

    (Can I mix any more metaphors?)

    Tom (764816)

  62. Yeah, but can you answer my questions?

    I think they have wide-ranging implications for abortion generally.

    Patterico (de0616)

  63. Damn. That last sentence should read:

    Given the apparent rarity of this procedure, and the case-by-case, context-specific nature of its application, I’m not sure this emperor has any clothes.

    Tom (fefa50)

  64. Fair enough about the Treo. BTW, Patterico, I think there has been some confusion about my discussing first-trimester abortion in the partial-birth thread. Please understand that my arguments there deal with the first trimester — that should give me a response to your objection to the post at Ezra’s.

    Since Darleen brought it up, I have an extended defense of the view that it’s right to not have any worries about first-trimester abortion. I argue that having a mind, rather than having the potential to become a unique intelligent being, is really at the foundations of our moral obligations to other creatures. I invite you to come over and discuss it — we have comments, and I don’t want to hijack the partial-birth thead any further.

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf (c3bed0)

  65. Neil,

    Can you answer my questions posed in comment 60, since Tom appears to be dodging them?

    Patterico (de0616)

  66. Patterico, if it can be proven that delivery is always safer than partial-birth abortion, then perhaps your argument could me made. But I don’t think we can assume this.

    Warning: I will appear monstrous to some of you in the next paragraph.

    If partial birth abortion were to ONLY amount to a way for doctors to conveniently dispose of a fetus rather than deliver it, then I agree that law should be modified thusly: if the safest way to have the abortion in that case would be to extract the fetus and then kill it, that’s how it should be done, since it is already legal for the mother to have the abortion in the first place. It doesn’t make a difference to me if it is performed inside or outside of the mother.

    But allow me to clarify: I do not believe that abortions should be performed at all, inside or outside the mother, after the fetus has developed a certain amount of brainwave activity (aphrael discussed this on one perhaps the first of your abortion threads). I would make an exception that protects the life of the mother beyond that, but this change would seem to factor that in.

    If this isn’t clear, I’m happy to clarify.

    Tom (764816)

  67. Patience, P…I can only type so fast!

    Tom (fefa50)

  68. P.S. I can’t access Neil’s blog, but it appears that we’re on the same page. Please take my #66 in that sense.

    Tom (15e81e)

  69. Wait. My question related to viable fetuses. Are you saying you would be okay with completely delivering them and then killing them, rather than delivering them and fighting for their lives?

    Really?

    Patterico, if it can be proven that delivery is always safer than partial-birth abortion, then perhaps your argument could me made.

    How about just as safe? And why “always”?

    Here’s my proposition: In every case where delivery is just as safe, the State can mandate delivery — agree or disagree?

    Patterico (de0616)

  70. P,
    Just at first blush re your #60, I’d have to guess [before I delve into cdc website etc] that during PBA the mother gets a General Anesthestic [more often than not] which increases the risk right there. Not to say that deliveries are don without it, but great care is taken to reduce insult to the infant.
    You refer many times to ‘sticking a sharp instrument into the fetus’ as if that is the main risk to the procedure, it is not. Not to say it is not a risk, but probably not the largest one.
    As for medical reasons to do a PBA? I am sure sometime in the course of modern medical history there has been a few times, just not in my limited experience. I just don’t know as a fact how many of these procedures are performed to remove or terminate an inconvienent pregnancy.
    But all three of your original questions answer themselves. Yes, Yes and yes. But sad to say it is all about the interest of the Mother. There exists TONS of people who don’t carry our moral disgust at that. Just like there are people who don’t see a problem with murder.
    If the Mother doesn’t want the pregnancy bad enough she’ll do what she damn well pleases. Now does THAT make her a criminal worthy or constitutional protection?

    paul (464e99)

  71. To answer your question with integrity, I need more information in the following areas:

    1. How are you defining “viable fetus”?

    2. Under what circumstances are “viable fetuses” presently aborted (a) at all and (b) via PBA? An opinion or general sense here will suffice.

    I’m leaving the house now, so when I don’t respond again within 12 minutes, please don’t assume that I’m “dodging” your questions. 🙂

    Tom (764816)

  72. Tom said: According to Wikipedia, partial birth abortions account for only 0.2% of all abortions annually (as of 2000, using data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute)

    But Tom, that 0.2% represents around 10,000 abortions a year, of which at least 400-700 of those were viable babies. Abortions after 21 weeks gestation may be rare compared to all abortions, but I wouldn’t call it rare to kill 400-700 viable babies a year. Cruel and inhuman, but not rare.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  73. Tom,

    I was pimping you about dodging the questions.

    But you’re already dodging my latest ones.

    I’m talking theory right now. Philosophy.

    Pick your own definition of viable, ignore what actually happens, and answer the questions. I want to know where your head is at.

    And please do clarify that nonsense about killing born babies.

    Patterico (de0616)

  74. And Tom,

    I take it you concede my first question: that we should look at all ways of ending the pregnancy, not just those that kill the fetus?

    Patterico (de0616)

  75. I’m still here.

    DRJ: actually, that number represents approximately 2500-3000 abortions, according to that same Wikipedia source above.

    Patterico: Come off the high horse, por favor. Actually, I’m doing my best to answer your questions with integrity, which to me means I must first understand precisely what you’re asking, where you’re coming from, before offering an uninformed response that allows me to be pigeonholed by your dichotomies. I’m not trying to dodge any of your questions, and I’d appreciate some generosity of spirit on your part.

    Clarifying “killing born babies” (if in fact I was that unclear): For purposes of this post, I define “viable” as “having a mind,” as described by Neil. Therefore, I am not ok with killing a viable fetus inside, or outside, the mother. If it would be safer to kill a non-viable fetus outside the mother rather than inside, I’m ok with that. It’s when the development of their brains transform them from “non-viable fetuses” into “viable babies” that I start drawing lines.

    Now: in cases where delivery of a viable fetus is as safe as terminating the pregnancy via PBA, go right ahead and mandate delivery. No problem there, so long as the mother’s responsibility for the resultant child ends upon its birth. If it’s legal for Mom to terminate the pregnancy, then she ought not to be legally responsible beyond that point. I assume you’d agree with this.

    Tom (764816)

  76. Tom,

    You’re answering the questions now, but I did sense a reluctance on your part to answer them before, probably for the reason you just articulated: you don’t want to get boxed in. But that’s not a good reason to dodge a question.

    Now that you’re answering them, I’ll show that generosity of spirit — but if I sense you’re dodging questions in the future, I’ll call you on it again.

    How many other pro-choice folks agree with Tom that it would be morally acceptable to completely deliver a non-viable fetus and kill it after the delivery? I find that an extraordinary position, but I wonder how widely it is held by pro-choicers.

    Tom: do you have any sense of when in a pregnancy a fetus becomes viable within your definition?

    Patterico (de0616)

  77. Patterico, my answers to your questions in 60 are:

    1. Yes
    2. Yes, but the ‘if’ is big.

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf (c3bed0)

  78. “No problem there, so long as the mother’s responsibility for the resultant child ends upon its birth. If it’s legal for Mom to terminate the pregnancy, then she ought not to be legally responsible beyond that point.”

    And this is not the least bit evil? Kill a baby or throw away a baby {ok, not throw away, walk away from)?

    nk (32c481)

  79. Here is my “defense” of partial-birth abortion, and I’m giving it as one of the lefties kicked out of the Democrats for being a right winger.

    That line above that said “Warning: I will appear monstrous to some of you in the next paragraph.” is probably appropriate for me as well. Probably more so than it was for the guy above.

    It has to do with the concept of what “illegal” really means. What I see contained in the definition of “illegal” is “the state will send men with guns to your house to take you from your home and place you in prison for anywhere from a few months to the rest of your life. If you try to run or fight these men, they will shoot you without consequence.”

    I do not see the prevention of partial birth abortion as a good use for this particular power of the state. (But, then again, neither do I see “marijuana prevention” as an appropriate use for that power so take all that for what it’s worth.)

    Jaybird (5843b3)

  80. Jaybird,

    What about just lifting the medical license? (Admittedly, nullifying 25 to 30 years’ education to become a doctor). It would satisfy me. But only as a deterrent. As a punishment …? My ideas of punishment for those hurt children make the Taliban look good.

    nk (32c481)

  81. Patterico, I don’t have time to properly join the debate, but I’ve been wondering the same thing for years. Some questions just seem to never get asked.

    A live baby is just not an option.

    Amphipolis (346a88)

  82. Patterico: sadly I was unable to give your previous abortion thread sufficient attention, as things became unusually busy at work at about the time those threads started.

    I think there is an ambiguity in your question. If you are asking whether or not I believe that it is morally acceptable to completely deliver a fetus which can be kept alive to the point of viability by external mechanical means, then the answer is no. However, such a fetus is arguably viable; “artificially viable” perhaps, but still viable.

    However, when it comes to a fetus which cannot be kept alive through external intervention , I don’t see a moral distinction between killing it in the womb and then extracting it and extracting it and then killing it (or extracting it, not killing it, and letting it die wihout further intervention); they strike me as being the same act. So for those cases, I would say yes, it is morally acceptable to do …. if it is morally acceptable to perform the abortion in the first place.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  83. DRJ (comment 4) even if the fetus is dead there are still potentially ethical issues because you can never know for certain that the fetus is dead just as you can never know for certain that someone being legally executed is guilty. I believe that before Roe vrs Wade deliberate misdiagnosis was one way doctors evaded the laws against abortion.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  84. Patterico (comment 34) I have no personal experience in the matter but I would expect the physical burdens of pregnancy on the mother are much greater in the latter stages than in the earlier stages so your comment that after 22 weeks the mother only has 18 weeks to go is not persuasive.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  85. That was not my comment. My comment was:

    [T]he burden to her of waiting another 18 weeks at most, when she has already gone 22 weeks, is not as great as the burden of making someone go another 36 weeks, when they want to have the abortion at 4 weeks.

    That is persuasive because it is undeniable.

    Patterico (de0616)

  86. Patterico (comment 85), let me rephrase. I am not convinced the burden of waiting 18 weeks is substantially less than the burden of waiting 36 weeks for the reason I gave.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  87. Patterico, regarding your three questions, questions 1 and 2 require medical knowledge I do not have. I am not convinced the answers are always yes even if they are usually yes. I also believe killing the fetus will be substantially cheaper than delivering it and that this is relevant.

    Regarding the question three I believe most abortions are about killing the fetus. When a woman has an abortion it is because she does not want the burden of bearing and raising a child. I believe raising the child is generally the greater part of this burden.

    Some late term abortions are performed because the mother learns the fetus is damaged and she does not want the burden of a damaged child although she would have born and raised a normal child. Such abortions are clearly performed to kill the fetus.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  88. Patterico, (comment 39), being delivered is clearly superior for the fetus only if it can expect a normal life. If it is severely damaged it might be better dead.

    Note genes which cause a fetus to induce a miscarriage if it is severely damaged will be adaptive in an evolutionary sense.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  89. Here is the AMA position on Late Term Pregnancy Termination.

    I trust I am not out of context to quote the following from the citation:

    2) According to the scientific literature, there does not appear to be any identified situation in which intact D&X is the only appropriate procedure to induce abortion, and ethical concerns have been raised about intact D&X. The AMA recommends that the procedure not be used unless alternative procedures pose materially greater risk to the woman. The physician must, however, retain the discretion to make that judgment, acting within standards of good medical practice and in the best interest of the patient.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  90. For comparison, consider that doctors engage in preventative surgery all the time: heart surgery, tumor removal, etc. On one given day, would it not be “safer” to let the tumor run its natural course and potentially become malignant than for a doctor to “stick a sharp object into the [patient]”? Well, that surely depends on the context of that situation, doesn’t it? With your question too, I believe that context must be established first, and that it must be done on a case by case situation. This is why you’ll often hear us maintain that this question, as with open heart surgery, ought to be between the patient and her doctor, and not subject to sweeping legislation that doesn’t account for the individual problems which may arise.

    Tom, I realize that no metaphor is perfect, but I think you’d probably agree that the difference here is that this is a medical procedure that has its own context in that there is at least some level of probability that we are dealing with two persons. Depending on when the fetus attains “personhood”, I would suggest that at some point there is a compelling state interest in intervening to speak for the life of the second “person” involved.

    This is why I believe the preponderance of the “Pro-life” vs “Pro-choice” argument is wrongly focused. In my opinion the real argument ought to be over when the fetus is a “human” and the extent of the human rights thereupon attendant.

    Sorry for straying from the topic ever so slightly.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  91. “What about just lifting the medical license?”

    Want me to start in on my theories of whether The Federal Government is the best judge of who is qualified to practice medicine?

    Jaybird (dc3645)

  92. Jb, I’d argue that this, as well as abortion in general, belongs in the states. I’m not sure I’d want to leave this up to appointed judges either, as we have essentially done since Roe. I’d much rather the state legislatures, who are much closer to those they represent, take this on in the political realm.

    I do agree that the Federal Government is probably not well suited to make the “license call.”

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  93. Some additional food for thought from the cited AMA position:

    (4) In recognition of the constitutional principles regarding the right to an abortion articulated by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, and in keeping with the science and values of medicine, the AMA recommends that abortions not be performed in the third trimester except in cases of serious fetal anomalies incompatible with life. Although third-trimester abortions can be performed to preserve the life or health of the mother, they are, in fact, generally not necessary for those purposes. Except in extraordinary circumstances, maternal health factors which demand termination of the pregnancy can be accommodated without sacrifice of the fetus, and the near certainty of the independent viability of the fetus argues for ending the pregnancy by appropriate delivery.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  94. Just a comment to add to the discussion of the inherent problems with adoption: A few years ago I had a client (I am a psychotherapist), a UCLA student who was unhappily and inconveniently pregnant. Despite having a sister who was able to have only one child and would have gladly raised the baby in peril of being killed by abortion, the mother-to-be was unmoved. The sister even promised to sign anything legal to give the baby back anytime the pregnant woman/sister wanted. Even so, the pregnant sister and the father refused to allow this baby to live, still wanted to abort the child. This belies a selfishness that defies all rationality. This couple actually preferred to KILL the nascient life within rather than accept the sister’s most generous, sincere offer. To this day I am astonished by this couple’s complete lack of any moral compass. (Although I suppose there are those who would say in this thread that the child was better off dead than with such immature imbeciles for parents.)

    In light of this, no decisions pregnant women make surprise me, in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Something is very wrong, ill, perhaps even demonic, here, and no amount of “debate” and discussion seem to change this for me. That women find adoption repugnant in general just speaks to an excess of selfishness, period. If there was not enough generosity in their hearts to let the child live, why would they allow any one else to raise the baby? No, a clean start is better…although, is there ever a “clean start” after killing an unborn child? Having this child was just too inconvenient, too much a speedbump in the plans of this coed’s future. Her complicity in evil, given her sister’s offer, is just too enormous for contemplation.

    I know what the choice was…it was expedient and it was cruel (especially with the options proffered), and it was murder. The mother and father’s emotional and moral culpability was staggering, period.

    Marybel (744905)

  95. Here are some facts for the pro-abortion/culture of death folks here.

    1. All human beings begin as a single cell (zygote = fertilized egg).
    2. Death is the irreversible cessation of metabolism, brain function or other pathologies have nothing to do with its definition!
    3. Late term abortions, AMA weasel words aside, are never necessary. If the life of the mother is at stake, deliver the baby, since even the most damaged child in-utero has life and the right to same until it dies on its own (even with medical care)! No one, especially the mother, has the right to kill anyone, including a child at any stage of development on a whim. This was my beef with Terri Schiavo’s situation. Unlike the death penalty, where there has been a trial by jury, conviction, and numerous habeas corpus appeals before the State kills a human being; Terri Schiavo didn’t get the lengthy appellate judicial review. She was simply post-natally aborted because she was an inconvenience to her estranged husband.

    Charles D. Quarles (df82ab)

  96. This was my beef with Terri Schiavo’s situation. Unlike the death penalty, where there has been a trial by jury, conviction, and numerous habeas corpus appeals before the State kills a human being; Terri Schiavo didn’t get the lengthy appellate judicial review. She was simply post-natally aborted because she was an inconvenience to her estranged husband.

    I guess nine years of review by the State and courts wasn’t enough? Nevermind the numerous reviews by medical experts who stated she was pvs and the fact that HALF OF HER BRAIN was atrophied. Please.

    paul (464e99)

  97. >>1) If you can do a partial-birth abortion, then it would certainly be possible to complete the birth — correct?>2) Once the baby is partially born, it would be safer to the mother to deliver the remainder of the baby than to stick a sharp object into the mother to kill the baby — correct?>3) So, partial-birth abortion is more about killing the baby than about a) freeing the mother of the burdens of pregnancy or b) the mother’s health — correct?>Tell me where I have gone wrong in this analysis.

    P.S. If the assumptions of my questions above are correct, then the partial-birth abortion debate pits the right of the baby to live against the right of the mother to see her baby dead. And this hypothetical strips away the usual crutches of those who support abortion: arguments concerning the mother’s health or her need to unburden her body of the pregnancy.>After all, there are hospitals where babies are being aborted in one room, and doctors are successfully saving the lives of younger babies in another.>There’s a deeper question here, too: if partial-birth abortion is safer than other forms of abortion, and if delivery is safer than partial-birth abortion . . . then delivery is the safest way of all to allow the mother to end the pregnancy. If that is right, then why can’t the State require a woman seeking a late-term abortion to simply have the baby?>P.P.S. Let me put the same thoughts a different way. When analyzing the morality and/or the legality of partial-birth abortion, should we look to whether it is safer than other abortion procedures — or whether it is safer than any medical procedure for ending the pregnancy, including delivery of the child?>P.P.P.S. Let’s say that a doctor were to opine that compressing the head is somewhat safer because it requires less cervical dilation and thus the fetus can be extracted more quickly. Then the question is not as simple, but still poses a fairly stark moral question: for a viable fetus, is the added safety for the mother involved in collapsing the fetus’s head justified when compared to the baby’s right to life?

    Doug (71415b)

  98. Except in very, very rare cases when a pregnancy has to be ended, where abortion is safer for the woman than inducing birth, C-section, etc., an abortion is not going to be done if the fetus is viable. It is not really just between the right of the baby to live and anything else.

    Doug

    Doug (9f37aa)

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  100. Strange isnt it the same ones with SAVE THE RAINFORESTS,SAVE THE REDWOODS,SAVE THE WHALE,SAVE THE SPOTTED OWL bumper stickers on their cars are the same ones who support abortion

    krazy kagu (0a3548)

  101. No, it’s not strange. Redwoods and some whales and owls are endangered. We are rapidly running out of rainforest. We’re not rapidly running out of people. Just the opposite, in fact.

    Doug

    Doug (71415b)

  102. […] When I asked the question before, I got 101 comments. Virtually nobody answered the question; most abortion supporters blew smoke. Which, frankly, is what I expect again — because it’s a tough question to answer. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Question for Supporters of Partial-Birth Abortion (421107)

  103. I think those who have expressed support for late-term abortion have missed the point here. I guess for all purposes, it’s inescapable to delve into obscenely cold, legal arguments when standing before the Supreme Court…however, it is inescapable that human beings are being murdered…yes I said it…MURDERED for mere convenience of the mother and financial enrichment of the Abortionists. Example, “Dr.” Tiller in Wichita. He is KILLING babies, whether viable, inviable, or “defective” weeks or even DAYS before their due dates for the ambiguous reason of Depression of the mother, which is at its core, an ambiguous catch-all condition that is essentially impossible to prove clinically. It’s one thing to abort a baby to save the LIFE of the mother, the constitutionality of which is still arguable, as well. However, late-term abortion for the HEALTH of the mother is too open to interpretation and therefore, to abuse.

    Late-term abortions (and by this, I mean after 12 weeks gestation) are an aberration against humanity, and should be stopped cold in their tracks. We fail to do this at the peril of the fiber of our core and constitutional beliefs…the right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Should this barberic practice be allowed to continue, it won’t be long before children are reduced to mere chattel and parents are allowed to murder them up to the age of 18, which would be the end of their “burden of raising and supporting them financially”.

    Wake up, people, this next step is poised to seal the fate of the “culture” of this nation to final annihilation.

    michelle (a706ad)

  104. I think that aborton is wrong and if you didnt want a baby you should have used protection the child didnt ask to be here. Every life you make should have a chance to live. At least if you cant take care of it let it be adopted.

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  107. >>Late-term abortions (and by this, I mean after 12 weeks gestation) are an aberration against humanity, and should be stopped cold in their tracks. We fail to do this at the peril of the fiber of our core and constitutional beliefs…the right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Should this barberic practice be allowed to continue, it won’t be long before children are reduced to mere chattel and parents are allowed to murder them up to the age of 18, which would be the end of their “burden of raising and supporting them financially”.

    Doug (a90377)

  108. “Late-term” is obviously at least 20 or more weeks into gestation. More usually, it’s the third trimester or after viability, i.e. 24+ weeks.

    This comes down to the desire of those who would ban or further restrict abortion versus the desire of the woman who is actually pregnant. In no way do we need to take away the freedom women have in this matter.

    Doug

    Doug (a90377)

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  111. I think the fetus should not have a heartbeat and then the abortion would be a Still Birth Abortion. I think they could OD the baby with narcotics first since the child is malformed or unwanted and it would be more humane at this later stage.
    I was unfortunate enough to be battered during my last pregnancy and I was completely alone.My bigoted family had decided that unwed motherhood should be punished and people’s attitudes were that I was very stupid and had deserved whatever I got. The father of this child had thought that I couldn’t leave him once I became pregnant and then he could do as he pleased which was drink and drug to my surprise. I didn’t know he was a drug user only that he drank until I told him I wouldn’t be with him if he wanted to drink. He sabotage the birth control method we were using. He admitted this to me. I couldn’t harm the bay. I wanted to protect her.
    I went through complete hell to bring my daughter safely into the world My health has been damaged but has improved over the last 11 years.
    That was my choice. I slept with the wrong guy.
    I can’t see not giving the women the choice of which suffering to bear.
    My situation was terrible later in my pregnancy. We came close to dying but I somehow made it and had a healthy baby although I almost died of anemia and she could have had brain damage but I just thought those poor and sick women and children were surviving all over the world and God just takes care of them. Some women survive on a bowl of rice even pregnant and have healthy babies. I couldn’t digest much so I pretended I was Vegan.I suffered so much but it was my choice. I can’t see women doing it and it not be their choice.

    Flip Side True Story (6ecf67)

  112. And another thing.. I have seen women use late term abortion for birth control. That is a sick and sad fact. I am better at choosing my friends and mates but I was given the gruesome details of a late term abortion that was done at the latest allowed time by one of my friends in Texas in the mid to late 1990’s. These bad experiences and what I saw women go through with poorly or unplanned pregnancies has made me extremely cautious about sex. Some men abandon women half way through the pregnancy after insisting that they wanted the pregnancy. I am glad I don’t live in Texas any more.

    Flip Side True Story (6ecf67)


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