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This why the Federal Government has more than one branch
March 13, 2003 9:30 AM   Subscribe

The Senate bans "partial birth" abortions, but a similar law was struck down in Stenberg v. Carhart . Memo to Mr. Bush: there are other branches of the U.S. Federal Government.
posted by Bag Man (65 comments total)

 
I find it rather interesting that a president who has been pushing so hard for war should be so concerned about an abortion procedure which is very uncommon and nearly always medically-prescribed... does George find it morally better to have both mother and child die during birth?

I've given up on finding any logic behind the actions of this administration. I guess it was my bad to assume that logic was ever involved in the first place.
posted by clevershark at 9:43 AM on March 13, 2003


Most important excerpt:

"Today's action is an important step toward building a culture of life in America." -GWBush

We do all know what this means, don't we? It's red meat for the fundies too!
posted by nofundy at 9:54 AM on March 13, 2003


More ridiculously, they're claiming they have the right to ban it under Article I, Section 8, particularly that congress has the ability to pass laws to "To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;".

So, while perhaps the nascent Native American abortion industry ought to be worried, I'd be surprised if this law lasts.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:59 AM on March 13, 2003


From the Washington Post:

The vote was 64-33, with 16 Democrats joining 48 Republicans in support of the bill and 29 Democrats, three Republicans and one independent opposing it.

Nice try on the attempt to slam Bush on this issue, but it looks like this bill has relatively broad support from both Republicans and Democrats. This bill passed both Houses before by wide margins, only to be vetoed by Clinton. Why is anyone surpised that the bill is advancing now that Clinton is gone and the Democrats no longer control the Senate?
posted by Durwood at 10:01 AM on March 13, 2003


We do not hearken to the term "partial birth abortion" in my state because [applause] because partial birth abortion is like the word quota. The President used it six times last night. It's a code word. It's designed to appeal to people's fears, to divisiveness. Partial birth abortion is the same thing. [cheers, applause].
The truth is I went and checked and tried to figure out, because I was running against a conservative person the last two times I ran. I checked, because I knew this would come up, how many late, third trimester abortions had been done in the state of Vermont in the last four years. The number was--. Zero.
This is an issue about nothing; it's an issue about extremism; it's an issue about appealing to people's fears. It is the wrong thing to do and people who use the term partial birth abortion are leading an America in a bad place. [applause]. They are trying to divide us people of conscience; it is the wrong thing to do.


Howard Dean
NARAL Pro-Choice America Dinner
Washington, DC
January 21, 2003

posted by matteo at 10:03 AM on March 13, 2003


Thanks for the Howard Dean quote, matteo. This guy makes so much sense to me. I wish more people would start listening to what he has to say.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 10:26 AM on March 13, 2003


researchers have determined the D&X procedure amounts to less than 0.05 percent of all abortions in 1996, a total of about 650 of the 1.37 million abortions performed. It is estimated that only 14 facilities nationwide perform the procedure.
posted by machaus at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2003


Wow, this is an issue I've never even heard about. Seems like it only exists in America, or at least the debate is only American.

From what I've read of the procedure, it seems like fertile ground on both sides of the debate (the choice and the murder perspective).

My question is, why would GWB want to pour salt into a wound that, quite honestly, really doesn't exist?

I'm anti-abortion, but this just seems silly, to outlaw a procedure that isn't even done anymore.

BTW: With quotes like this:

The practice of medicine is none of the government's business and they ought to stay out of it.

Howard Dean comes off as a nut as much as GWB. Would you rather visit a government regulated physician, or one at a street corner that made their own diploma using a box of crayons?

So, honestly, both sides are extremists. What does one do when surrounded by nuts? Make a peanut buster parfait?

I hope that he doesn't speak for all abortionists...

If you become pregnant unexpectedly and it's an unwanted pregnancy, you have three choices. And you have to live with those choices for the rest of your life. You can give that baby up for adoption, and you can talk to women who have done that and they wonder for the rest of their lives what, where that child might be and what might have become of that child. You can have the baby and keep that child. Sometimes that works out. Sometimes with 14- and 15-year olds it doesn't work out very well. A teenager who has a child below the age of 18 has an 80 percent chance of being on welfare for the forseeable future. We can do better than that. [applause].

And the last choice is to have an abortion. And for those who have had abortions that is also a very difficult decision, and also a decision that you will wonder about for the rest of your life. This is an extraordinarily difficult decision; it's certainly a decision that has to be lived with by the patient for the rest of your life, and what in the world can the government be thinking about for the president of the United States and nine old folks on the Supreme Court, five of whom are so far to the right that we can't see them any more [cheers], what in the world, what in the world can they be thinking that they have the right to decide the life a young woman who has the choice of adopting, keeping or aborting. They have to live with that decision for the rest of their life. President Bush can go cut brush on his ranch in Crawford and not give it a second thought. [cheers, applause].


Say what now? So wait a minute, abortion is used as an avoidance to either the pain and suffering of brining up a child to early in your life (okay, that makes some sense) or it is used to aleve worry about what an adopted child might be like in the future?

That last part makes no sense whatsoever. Does a mother not think of what their dead child might have been? Perhaps it could have been a Doctor, or the next MLK? I am quite confused at Dean's statements on tihs. It seems to suggest that people don't care at all about others once they're dead.
posted by shepd at 10:52 AM on March 13, 2003


Thanks Durwood for the stats... While bush may be in favor of the ban, he can't single handedly cause it to happen.. that's what the congress is for. But he can probably single handedly start a small war... that's what scares me.
posted by woil at 10:55 AM on March 13, 2003


So, honestly, both sides are extremists.

I wouldn't call Dean an extremist. The key issue here is whether this legislation would provide protection for the welfare of the mother. To date, I believe that not one proposal that has offered to protect a woman's health has passed. Frankly, I'd be fine with any legislation that protected the mother from intervention into what is essentially a decision between a woman and her doctor, but you really have to ask whether legislating such a rare, primarily medical procedure is really in the best interest of nation with much bigger issues to tackle. The whole Fetus Uber Alles aspect to this drains away any credibility.
posted by machaus at 11:04 AM on March 13, 2003


i love how we can spend all this money on banning abortion and not as much on, you know, EDUCATION. funny how as soon as those babies come out of the mother they're worth nothing. great doctors and humanitarians are not created in a vacuum, you know.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:08 AM on March 13, 2003


>Frankly, I'd be fine with any legislation that protected the mother from intervention into what is essentially a decision between a woman and her doctor

Don't take it personally, but this is why a lot of pro-choice activists get labelled as extremeists (not that I don't believe most activist pro-lifers are also extremists).

They profess to be protecting the welfare of the mother, but then sidetrack the issue to protecting the right of the mother to make a choice. Which is it? Protecting the welfare of the mother, or her "rights"?

I do agree, this legislation is a waste of paper and effort. The president should be spending his time on more worthwhile problems than trying to divide America further on what is, essentially, a non-issue.

But hey, what can one expect from a president who is already doing his best to divide world opinion on America?

What's unfortunate is that neither side makes a cogent argument either way. They've both got more holes in them than a moth-eaten cheesecloth.

IMHO, both sides of the debate have a long way to go before I want to identify personally with them. 'Till then, I have my own reasons for why I believe what I do.
posted by shepd at 11:14 AM on March 13, 2003


shepd, read this part:

"And for those who have had abortions that is also a very difficult decision, and also a decision that you will wonder about for the rest of your life"

also, what machaus said

the whole point of "partial birth" is, it's a cynical, statistically non-existent bullshit issue dreamed up by the more extremist Fetus Folk to rally the troops.
As Gov. Dean pointed out, it's "about appealing to people's fears". Morally, it makes the NRA look good
posted by matteo at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2003


And actually why this bill is likely to be struck down in the Supreme Court like the Nebraska law already struck down one of the key reasons for the decision was:

"The Nebraska statute lacks the requisite exception "for the preservation of the ... health of the mother." Casey, supra, at 879 (joint opinion). The State may promote but not endanger a woman's health when it regulates the methods of abortion. Pp. 11-19."

The bill just passed also lacks this exception. It makes me wonder why congress would pass a law that in essence may kill or injure mothers (which is pretty much the only time this procedure is used).
posted by aaronscool at 11:21 AM on March 13, 2003


They profess to be protecting the welfare of the mother, but then sidetrack the issue to protecting the right of the mother to make a choice. Which is it? Protecting the welfare of the mother, or her "rights"?

I was referring the the right of a woman to choose what is best for her safety, not the word "choice" in the tired slogan sense. The notion that a woman should be forbidden from aborting an anacephalic baby that will die shortly after birth when it jeopardizes her own life is ludicrous.
posted by machaus at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2003


Perhaps it would be useful to shepd if I point out that Dean IS a doctor and we have no "government regulated physician's" in the strict sense. Doctors in the US are more or less self-regulating.
posted by nofundy at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2003


My question is, why would GWB want to pour salt into a wound that, quite honestly, really doesn't exist?

Aside from being a bone tossed to the pro-life constituency, it's a legal foot in the door, I assume. If they can successfully assert their right to regulate this kind of abortion, then they've given themseves a good precedent by which to regulate other kinds of abortion.
posted by ook at 11:40 AM on March 13, 2003


Which is it? Protecting the welfare of the mother, or her "rights"?

I don't see why this need be a contradiction.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:44 AM on March 13, 2003


Woah there, machaus. If you were referring to the exception where abortions are provided to protect the life of the mother, I'm 100% with you on that. I'll also mention that I consider euthanasia a reasonable alternative to a very short lived, painful life with no hope. Apart from these reasons, abortion should be considered as a last resort, only to be provided when a doctor indicates it is medically necessary.

That is one of the main reasons why I can't side with anyone on this issue. My opinions on it really don't match either side. Pro-lifers would call me crazy for letting a mother "murder" her baby no matter what the reason, whereas pro-choicers would consider my limiting the "rights" of the mother in any case fascist.

That's why I always feel uncomfortable in these debates. No group seems to recognize any of these ideas. They all seem to think it's either 100% wrong or 100% right. And that's just not how life works.

matteo, I'm only referring to the fact that it certainly seems wrong to impose a life of grief on a mother if that greif will be compounded by having to worry about a dead baby. It's a non-argument for either side, and that's why I'm saying Dean is being extremist, just like GWB is being extremist by bringing up this non-issue.

I'd also like to say that I consider using the idea that limiting the rights of the mother is a violation of her civil rights is nothing more than appealing to people's fears of a big brother government. And that's just as bad as what Dean points out about the other side.

The debate isn't about bra burning -- having a child is already a choice. The debate is about wether a mother needs to live with the consequences of that choice or not.

>Perhaps it would be useful to shepd if I point out that Dean IS a doctor and we have no "government regulated physician's" in the strict sense. Doctors in the US are more or less self-regulating.

I always thought it was illegal to call yourself a doctor if you don't have a license to practice. But the US may be different on this. I don't know. I'm too far North to notice these issues. ;-)

>I don't see why this need be a contradiction.

We regularly strip rights from others to protect them from themselves. For exmaple, look at the fact there are special laws just to deal with insane people in most every country...
posted by shepd at 11:46 AM on March 13, 2003


If they can successfully assert their right to regulate this kind of abortion, then they've given themseves a good precedent by which to regulate other kinds of abortion.


They wish. Playing it both ways never hurts when it comes to the base, hence all the Apocalypso Now Bible Code being currently transmitted--you lose, you keep the base. You win, well, ums, OK, as long as everyone understands the owners have different rules. I'm not crazy about abortion--but when the redhots will not simply consider meeting halfway in any way that would seriously reduce the number done per capita--well, I have to stand with the side of Liberty. I'm not happy about it, though.
posted by y2karl at 11:53 AM on March 13, 2003


y2karl, you lost me. Bible code? base? owners? Huh? Maybe you could dumb it down a little, please, so I can figure out what the heck you're talking about?

For example, look at the fact there are special laws just to deal with insane people in most every country... [shepd]

That is a truly regrettable analogy.
posted by ook at 12:42 PM on March 13, 2003


Disclaimer: I'm anti-abortion. A couple things I'd like to toss in are

1. A woman (or a man for that matter) doesn't have a right to do whatever they want with their body, at least in the US. If you're shooting up with drugs, walking down the street naked, selling your body on the corner you'll be arrested (for the most part). Our society goes through a democratic process to determine which actions we believe will hurt our society. So the argument of choice doesn't work. None of us has 100% choice (legally). A recent poll showed that 70% of Americans are in favor of resotring protection to unborn children

2. If there is a silver lining in all this (and it could explain why we're swaying back to conservatism in the US) perhaps it's the 40 million abortions that have happened since 1973 (rowe vs wade) have made for a lot less liberals? I know it's a cold statement to make, but I would venture to guess that more liberal women have abortions than do conservatives.

3. Could abortions be the reason we have problems with social security and medicare? After all, when you have 40 million less taxpayers, there's going to be shortfall.

I look forward to your slamming of my views :)
posted by stormy at 12:53 PM on March 13, 2003


stormy -- you've sourced a poll in The Washington Times (DCs conservative response to the Post) that reports on a poll run by "pro-life groups." Basically, it's all completely worthless; you really wouldn't expect pro-life people to come out and say America overwhelmingly supports the right to choose, would you?

On a side note, if, as the (Washington) Times says, the American people are truly standing with Faith2Action, can I move to France?
posted by hummus at 1:10 PM on March 13, 2003


That's fewer stormy, not less.

Your overly broad generalizations are specious at best.

Population control is another very important issue but should perhaps be another thread.

Many would object to the term "unborn children" for fetuses as it is a recent "focus group" creation.

The Moonie Times poll link gives penalty points for the credibility of any argument.

Use of the term "conservative" to characterize those opposing abortion is easily challenged.

No one "likes" abortion, that is, until it's their sweet-innocent-little girl that gets knocked up by some ne'er-do-well bad boy, and then it's OK just this one time.

No slam, you were civil and I attempted to be also.

This bill is little more than red meat to the fundies and the camel's nose in the tent.
posted by nofundy at 1:14 PM on March 13, 2003


Gee, if you hadn't included that disclaimer, we never would've guessed your views.

Your first point: valid. I have to grant you that; we do currently have legal restrictions on what you can do to your own body. (The poll link, as noted by others is irrelevant, and just distracts from your point. Of course they got that result; they primed the pump: "...in light of medical advances that reveal the unborn child's body and facial features in detail...") I personally don't think we should have those other restrictions, but that's a whole other conversation.

Your second point: Well, if you really want to be that way, then shouldn't you be in favor of abortion if it means there are fewer pesky liberals to deal with? Seriously, other than as a gruesome jab at the left, I don't see what you're getting at with this.

Your third point: economics is not my field (nor yours, I suspect). But I have a feeling that the aging baby boomer generation is just a bit more relevant to social security and medicare than is the relatively small loss of tax base (occuring in primarily lower-income families, no less) caused by abortion.
posted by ook at 1:31 PM on March 13, 2003


nofundy - Yes, it should have been fewer :P. English is my second language after java ;) As for the poll, I just took it at random from a google search. An LA Times poll showed a similar trend. (the LA Times hasn't recently become conservative has it?) I think the fact that a majority of the country has a view does matter and is relevant. Thank you for being civil :)

Hummus - yes you can move to France thanks to our freedoms ;)

ook - I called my second point a silver lining - you know looking for the best in a bad situation. My point was that if it could be proven that "winning" the right to abortion now means less liberals (and again, I don't claim to have proof) well, I guess I would find the karma payback interesting. However, nofundy pointed out that the "conservative" characterization could be challenged and I hoped it would be - thus my reason for tossing it out there.
posted by stormy at 1:48 PM on March 13, 2003


um, the washington post poll was run by an organization founded by a close associate of former president ronald reagan. the la times is taking their sweet time with my registration confirm, so would you be a dear and post a link to the group who ran the poll that they published, too? thanks.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:38 PM on March 13, 2003


I always thought it was illegal to call yourself a doctor if you don't have a license to practice. But the US may be different on this

Doctors in the United States are licensed by the American Medical Association (a private organization), not by the government.

having a child is already a choice. The debate is about wether a mother needs to live with the consequences of that choice or not

I don't think this is necessarily true. Having sex is a choice, in most cases, and having a child is a consequence of that; it's an important distinction. There's also the debate over where life begins.

For exmaple, look at the fact there are special laws just to deal with insane people in most every country...

Bad analogy, I think. We take away freedoms from people not in full control of their mental facilities; I doubt you'd find an abortion doctor willing to give an operation to a mentally unstable patient. And if they do it's grounds for malpractice, as with any major surgery, as I understand it.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:39 PM on March 13, 2003


Howard Dean never fails to amaze me that a politician can make so much sense.
posted by CrazyJub at 3:02 PM on March 13, 2003


pxe2000 - Sorry I can't post a link directly to the poll without registration (I guess they don't allow google to cache the page). Anyhow, the group that ran the poll is the Los Angeles Times Poll. (Note: no registration required for this and it this is their own internal polling department).
posted by stormy at 3:26 PM on March 13, 2003


ook, all I'm saying is that if you choose (and in America, unless you're raped, it is a woman's choice) to have a child, but then want to avoid the consequences, well, maybe you're not exactly insane, but you certainly haven't a full grasp of reality.

Usually when people haven't a grasp of reality the government steps in to help, especially when the life of another being becomes directly involved in the situation.

Sorta see what I mean there? Perhaps not the best analogy... as usual, I'm speaking off the cuff. :-)
posted by shepd at 3:52 PM on March 13, 2003


can we make boobjobs illegal? they have proven unsafe, they are a bigger culprit for malpractice cost increases than most individual procedures, and they are unneccessary. while we're at it, let's deface those giant buddhas over there. awesome.

i love the juxtaposition of war-fervor with unborn-baby protecting. everyone in the world but fetuses must die. birth is the real original sin!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:32 PM on March 13, 2003


Ah yes, more "gateway" legislation and code-words. Now that the GOP is running the show expect more shot-down legislation to suddenly spring-forth from committee and into the president's waiting arms.

Hey look, the RAVE act is back! With a vengeance!
posted by skallas at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2003


I'd just like to mention that the abortion rate has been on the decline for the past decade, even as access to abortions became easier.

The answer lies not in criminalizing abortions.

It lies in education and support.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2003


shepd, your first couple posts were pretty reasonable, until you got to the offensive equation of, say, a sixteen-year-old girl who made a mistake, with the clinically insane.

You're right, it's not the best analogy. It's a godawful, crappy, misogynist analogy.

And your statement about "it's a woman's choice" just makes me sad. The guy, of course, had nothing at all to do with it; it's all her choice. And none of us were ever teenagers, or can at all remember what it was like to be young and horny and stupid. No guy ever told his girlfriend "don't worry, I'll pull out in time." No, in America, it's all the woman's choice. Right.

Being against abortion because you think it's unethical or immoral, fine, I can understand that even if I disagree with it. But you seem to be against it because you think the woman involved is guilty of something and needs to "face the consequences". That I just don't get.

[On preview] five fresh fish, that, I get. Right on.
posted by ook at 5:18 PM on March 13, 2003


Just out of curiosity, does anyone have a reliable link on what is actually defined as a "partial birth" abortion? The only pages I can find that discuss it seem somewhat hyperbolic, invoking images of deranged abortionists jamming scissors into half-born babies' skulls out of sheer love of death (or else they talk about the notorious Chinese method, which I'm hoping is not practiced over here). What constitutes a "partial birth" abortion, and when is it performed? How does it differ from the normal method?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:20 PM on March 13, 2003


does anyone have a reliable link on what is actually defined as a "partial birth" abortion?

The Journal of the American Medical Association describes intact D&X (aka partial birth abortion) like this:

The intact D&X procedure involves literally delivering the fetus so that only the head remains within the cervix. At this juncture, the fetus is merely inches from being delivered and obtaining full legal rights of personhood under the US Constitution. What happens when, as must occasionally occur during the performance of an intact D&X, the fetal head inadvertently slips out of the mother and a live infant is fully delivered? For this reason, many otherwise prochoice individuals have found intact D&X too close to infanticide to ethically justify its continued use."

Last I checked, the AMA recommends banning the procedure.

In partial birth abortion, then, the doctor terminates a child that would have been fully viable had it been allowed to move a few inches outside of the womb of the mother. Are those few inches the basis of personhood?
posted by gd779 at 6:40 PM on March 13, 2003


gd779's reference explains your question, Pseudo. A "reliable" source won't use the term "partial-birth" abortion because the term doesn't exist. It's a term literally created at meetings to use as a talking point in the debate, the same way we're supposed to call them "homicide bombers," the same way it's called "the death tax." It's why you "put your dog to sleep" instead of euthanizing him. These terms don't legally exist.

Ironically, the ultra-right is now abandoning its own term, believing that "partial-birth abortion" should now be called "infanticide." Likewise, this has no legal or medical merit whatsoever. It's called D&X abortion and in some cases third-trimester abortion. That's it.

gd779: considering how few D&X abortion occur, I doubt a high frequency of these operations leading to an accidentally delivered viable fetus- even the article you linked to mentions it as a "what-if" concept. Though I'm sure it's possible, I doubt the times this has actually happened (if at all) is great, and doubtful is the risk of this overwhelming against the need for the procedure in regards to the mother's health.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:52 PM on March 13, 2003


I doubt a high frequency of these operations leading to an accidentally delivered viable fetus... doubtful is the risk of this overwhelming against the need for the procedure in regards to the mother's health.

First, the point isn't the number of "accidental deliveries"; that hypothetical is designed to point out that two inches of air is all that separates the woman's sacred right to choose from cold-blooded murder. Is that really a significant distinction?

Second, according to American Medical News:

Doctors who use the technique acknowledged doing thousands of such procedures a year. They also said the majority are done on healthy fetuses and healthy women.

One of the doctors was quoted as saying, "We have an occasional amnio abnormality, but it's a minuscule amount. Most are Medicaid patients and most are for elective, not medical reasons: people who didn't realize, or didn't care, how far along they were."

A Washington Post investigation turned up similar findings.


Even Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, found in 1997 that the vast majority were done in the 20-plus week range, not in response to extreme medical conditions, but on healthy mothers and healthy fetuses. "The abortion rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else," he said.

The JAMA article I cited above points out that the reason abortion activists are able to claim such low numbers of partial birth abortion is that the CDC's data collection procedures on this are grossly inadequate, so hard numbers are often not available.

These accounts indicate that the estimates of performing intact D&X have been grossly understated. The absence of accurate data is at least partly due to the erratic nature of the data collection process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Ga, collects annual abortion data, but these data are incomplete for several reasons. First, all states do not provide abortion-related information to the CDC. Second, data gathered vary widely from state to state, with some states lacking information on as many as 40% to 50% of abortions performed within their jurisdictions. Third, the categories CDC uses to report the method of abortion do not differentiate between dilation and evacuation (D&E) and intact D&X.
posted by gd779 at 7:11 PM on March 13, 2003


You are dancing around the issue, gd779. Do you believe that there should protections in place for the health of the mother or not?
posted by machaus at 8:15 PM on March 13, 2003


Just for the record, gd779

Description of the D&X Procedure:
These are generally called:

"D&X" procedures, an abbreviation of "dilate and extract," or
"Intact D&E," or
"Intrauterine Cranial Decompression" abortions.

The terms "Partial Birth Abortion" and "D&X" were recently created by pro-life groups when the procedure became actively discussed at a political and religious level. We will use the medical term in this essay.

The procedure is performed during the fifth month of gestation or later. The woman's cervix is dilated, and the fetus is partially removed from the womb, feet first. The surgeon inserts a sharp object into the back of the fetus' head, removes it, and inserts a vacuum tube through which the brains are extracted. The head of the fetus contracts at this point and allows the fetus to be more easily removed from the womb.

The exact number of D&Xs performed is impossible to estimate with accuracy. Many states do not have strict reporting regulations.

One often quoted figure was that over 1000 D&Xs had been performed annually in New Jersey. From this number, many inflated national totals were estimated. But the New Jersey figure appears to be an anomaly. A single physician in a single NJ hospital had been ignoring the regulations of the state medical association and performing D&Xs in cases not involving the potential death or serious disability of the woman.
Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, estimated (Nightline program, 1997-FEB-26) a total of 3,000 to 4,000 annually in the US -- about ten a day.
Pro-life groups uncovered an internal memo by Planned Parenthood which estimated that up to 60 (0.24%) of the more than 25,000 abortions performed annually in Virginia were D&Xs. 1 If this figure is accurate nationally, then there would be up to 2,880 D&X procedures per year in the U.S.



Why Are D&X Procedures Performed?
This is a topic that is rarely discussed:

1st Trimester: D&Xs are not performed during the first three months of pregnancy, because there are better ways to perform abortions. Also, there is no need to follow a D&X procedure, because the fetus' head quite small at this stage of gestation and can be quite easily removed from the woman's uterus.
2nd Trimester: D&Xs are very rarely performed in the late second trimester at a time in the pregnancy before the fetus is viable. These, like most abortions, are performed for a variety of reasons, including: She is not ready to have a baby for whatever reason and has delayed her decision to have an abortion into the second trimester. As mentioned above, 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester.
There are mental or physical health problems.
The fetus has been found to be dead, badly malformed, or suffering from a very serious genetic defect. This is often only detectable late in the second trimester

3rd Trimester: They are also performed in late pregnancy. The most common justifications at that time are: The fetus is dead.
The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman's life in severe danger.
The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman's health and/or disable her.
The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed hydrocephalus.

In addition, some physicians violate their state Medical Association's regulations and perform elective D&X procedures - primarily on women who are suicidally depressed.

There appears to be no reliable data available on how many D&X procedures are performed for each of the above reasons.

The physician is faced with two main alternatives at this late point in pregnancy:

a hysterotomy, which is similar to a Cesarean section, or
a D&X procedure

A midwifery web site quotes Dr. William F. Harrison, a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2 He wrote that "approximately 1 in 2000 fetuses develop hydrocephalus while in the womb." About 5000 fetuses develop hydrocephalus each year. This is not usually discovered until late in the second trimester. Some cases are not severe. A pre-natal method of removing the excess fluid on the fetal brain is being experimentally evaluated. However, some cases are much more serious. "It is not unusual for the fetal head to be as large as 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches) in diameter and may contain...close to two gallons of cerebrospinal fluid." In comparison, the average adult skull is about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. A fetus with severe hydrocephalus is alive, but as a newborn cannot live for long; it cannot achieve consciousness. The physician may elect to perform a D&X by draining off the fluid from the brain area, collapsing the fetal skull and withdrawing the dead fetus. Or, he might elect to perform a type of caesarian section. The former kills a fetus before birth; the latter allows the newborn to die after birth, on its own. A caesarian section is a major operation. It does expose the woman to a greatly increased chance of infection. It "poses its own dangers to a woman and any future pregnancies." 2 Allowing a woman to continue in labor with a severely hydrocephalic fetus is not an option; attempted birth would kill her.

There is evidence that the procedure is sometimes performed for other reasons: in the case of a very young pregnant woman, or a pregnancy which resulted from a rape or incest. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has stated that no competent physician with state-of-the-art skill in the management of high-risk pregnancies needs to perform a D&X. Of course, many physicians lack this level of skill, and so need to resort to the D&X procedure. And, even in the United States, not all women have access to good quality pre-natal care. Many pregnant women first seek medical attention when they are about to deliver.

A committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) thoroughly studied D&X procedures in 1996. They reported: "A select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which this procedure...would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." They also determined that "an intact D&X, however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman, and only the doctor, in consultation with the patient, based upon the woman's particular circumstances can make this decision." Their statement was approved by the ACOG executive board on 1997-JAN-12. Unfortunately, the ACOG web site does not contain a copy of this statement that is accessible to the public.

posted by y2karl at 8:16 PM on March 13, 2003


You are dancing around the issue, gd779. Do you believe that there should protections in place for the health of the mother or not?

Of course there should be protections for the health of the mother.

Well, let me qualify that. Without question, there should be protections in place to protect the life of the mother. If two people are on a lifeboat built for one, then one must die so that the other may live. But there is no clear moral imperative about which one should die for the other, and life is often complicated and messy and decisions like that are not at all the legitimate domain of the state - the choice of the mother should be respected.

On the other hand, minor health issues, like depression, are clearly not sufficient justification for a partial birth abortion. The trouble is, that's a fuzzy line. So where there is legitimate doubt the choice of the mother should take precedence.

But, again, that's not why the vast majority of partial birth abortions occur.
posted by gd779 at 9:23 PM on March 13, 2003


Thanks all.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:46 PM on March 13, 2003


It bothers me that there are people who hold such a low opinion of women that they figure abortions -- let alone D-X procedures -- are being done routinely and for no important reason.

There is a casual disrespect for women. They can not be trusted to choose what's best. They must be protected from themselves.

It's very sad. Women are still chattel.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:34 PM on March 13, 2003


Not that anyone asked, but I don't think abortions are right, and I wish that far fewer people would elect for them.

However, I also don't think it's my call...nor do I think it's the government's call. I don't have a say in what you do with your womb, and that's exactly as it should be.

I only bring this up because I see so much of the debate focusing on what's "right" or "wrong" -- when it really seems to be more of a control issue than an ethical/moral one.
posted by Vidiot at 11:51 PM on March 13, 2003


I'm glad someone else feels that way as well, fff. I feel that anger equally whenever someone tells me that I'm "pro-abortion." As if I enjoy abortion. As if I jump up and down at the thought that women do this. As if women are giddy with glee and joy that they're terminating a pregnancy.

And it's also why abortion is as much a privacy issue as a personal liberties issue. Women have the right to do what they want with their bodies without, for an honest example, a message board discussion about whether or not it's right for her (or if it's her right) to do so.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:56 PM on March 13, 2003


Just correcting misinformation:

nofundy: [...] we have no "government regulated physician's" in the strict sense. Doctors in the US are more or less self-regulating.

HIPAA, DEA, CLIA, EMTALA, among other acts and agencies, say you're wrong.

Yelling At Nothing: Doctors in the United States are licensed by the American Medical Association (a private organization), not by the government.

The State Medical Board of Pennsylvania, an agency of state government, would take issue with that. As would the state boards of other states. Only about 40% of US physicians even belong to the AMA.

The training, certification, licensing, and regulation of physicians and health care institutions, including the interaction of NGO's (ABMS, JCAHO), federal and state regulatory agencies, and third-party payors (most prominently Medicare) is complex. Please do due diligence before you sound off on it. (Best idea, don't sound off: it's not really germane to this thread, anyway.)

gd779: The Journal of the American Medical Association describes intact D&X (aka partial birth abortion) like this:

No, the authors of the article, M. LeRoy Sprang, MD; Mark G. Neerhof, DO, describe it like that. Scientific journals aren't like newspapers and magazines: they don't employ or control or have authority over the people who write for them. The editors do their best to make sure the articles they publish are scientifically accurate, but the views expressed in the article are those of the authors, not necessarily those of the journal. In fact, journals frequently run articles with contrasting views. Articles in scientific journals should be attributed to the authors, not to the journal. You might say something like, "An article in JAMA by M. LeRoy Sprang, MD; Mark G. Neerhof, DO described intact D&X like this:" instead.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:22 AM on March 14, 2003


You might say something like, "An article in JAMA by M. LeRoy Sprang, MD; Mark G. Neerhof, DO described intact D&X like this:" instead.

Point taken - thank you.
posted by gd779 at 12:46 AM on March 14, 2003


ook, I say it's the womans choice because it's the woman's job to bear children (oh I feel the flames coming in now -- I mean in the physically possible realm, not the defined roles realm!). It's also a man's choice, but since the man doesn't directly bear the consequences of childbirth, there's a lot less reasons for a man to avoid sex. [Personally, I think that's a problem with society and I do think than men should be required to help raise the resulting child, but that's a different issue.]

>But you seem to be against it because you think the woman involved is guilty of something and needs to "face the consequences". That I just don't get.

I wouldn't say they're guilty of something, per se, except for poor judgement. The fact is, though, that childbirth physically affects the woman more than the man. Considering the amount of education on sex available in America, I just don't see how a woman can make the excuse that they didn't understand that getting knocked up would result in a child unless they are extremely ignorant, or they are going to a rock-bottom school. And, just like in law, ignorance isn't an excuse, however I'd make exceptions if one can prove the school is that pathetic. However, I'd need to see some heads roll at that school at the same time, though.

If you have any intentions, young ladies, of being sexually active, condoms aren't difficult to find, they're often free, not to mention there's always "the pill" and the "morning after" pill.

And some of you might suggest that religion causes the lack of education -- It's my experience that you're wrong. I went to an Anglican private school, and I can tell you we were barely in grade 7 before we learned about contraception methods. I suppose there are some schools that are repressed. Well, like every rule, there's always exceptions.

It's my overall opinion that to a certain degree abortion is something that a doctor and patient should make the final decision on, but at the same time, it should be considered as the very last option, as it would seem to encourage women to ignore the consequences of getting pregnant if they can simply erase the "mistake" at will. That doesn't mean I would particularly outlaw it, but I think raising the requirements past "Bearing this child would inconvenience me for the next 9 months" is necessary. Those who think that makes women nothing more than chattel should consider the many other cases where you become personally responsible for other choices, such as becoming a landlord, getting a mortgage, signing a binding contract, or giving out power of attorney. Fortunately for women, childbirth is a very short process compared to the preceeding, and society is more than willing to help you through the process (Maternity leave, for example).

Just like those things, getting pregnant isn't a necessity, it is a personal choice, and therefore it should be treated as such. And that's why the Doctor and Patient get the final say on the issue BUT I strongly hope that the Doctor is qualified enough to recognize when the woman wants the abortion just to avoid inconvenience and when the woman wants the abortion for a much more concrete and serious reason. Unfortunately, I know of cases where doctors have given abortion for nothing more than invonvenience reasons, and I also know the resulting stress in the woman's life for making such a willy-nilly choice is enough that some of them commit suicide. Two lives given just to avoid inconvenience is an insane descision, and it's unfortunate that the doctor wasn't stripped of his medical practice for letting such an unconscionable thing happen.

If only it were as easy as getting an abortion to get out of a mortgage. Lifetime commitments need to be treated with much more zeal than they seem to be today.

And yes, I'm personally involved in this. I'll lay it out on the table for you all, and perhaps you'll understand better why I'm such an advocate against abortion: I'm adopted. And, whomever it was that gave me life, I'd just like to thank her. You made the right choice.

I hope that clears it all up. :-)
posted by shepd at 2:49 AM on March 14, 2003


Slithy_Tove,
Thanks for the correction. Notice I couched my statement in "general" terms. You are correct in the licensing issue but once licensed the AMA is the primary regulatory body with exceptions for malpractice and such in much the same way the ABA is the self-regulatory body for lawyers.

On the political front of the debate I get a little confused.

Are the people advocating this bill not couching it in terms of the "sacredness of life?"
Are not these same people the same ones advocating the attack upon other countries regardless of the number of innocent lives lost (shock and awe)?
Are not these the same political creatures who advocate for less government instead of more?

Does anyone else see the dissonance here?
posted by nofundy at 5:24 AM on March 14, 2003


Okay, that longer explanation was much clearer, shepd -- and kudos for keeping a cooler head than others in the debate. Like, for instance, me. Apologies.

I still feel you place far too much of the responsibility on the woman, and too little on the man, but at least I better understand your reasoning now. I do think you're a bit quick to write off pregnancy as nothing more than nine months of inconvenience, and that you're unbelievably overoptimistic in saying that "society is more than willing to help you through the process" -- a full-term pregnancy is a life-changing proposition any way you look at it. Society is improving in this direction -- the phrase "unwed mother" doesn't carry the taint it used to -- but we're not anywhere near the level of enlightenment you imply.

Your anecdote about the woman who committed suicide because of the stress caused by an abortion, while tragic, is still an anecdote; I strongly dispute your assumption that an abortion is innately more stressful or damaging than an unwanted pregnancy and the social opprobrium that so often goes along with it.

Interestingly, that very anecdote undermines your assertion that abortion is a way to "avoid the consequences" of pregnancy. An abortion is a consequence, or one possible one, anyway. None of the options are pleasant; arguing that one side of the equation can have tragic results doesn't negate the other side.

I'm with you that abortion should not be a contraceptive of convenience. Absolutely. But abortions aren't convenient; they're scary and painful and no fun at all. It's difficult to imagine anyone using any form of abortion as a convenience; for the case of a D&X, it's extraordinarily difficult for me to imagine. Someone would go through six or seven months of pregnancy and then decide for an abortion, just because it's just too inconvenient to continue? No. Basically, what five fresh fish said.

I don't find the "consequences of pregnancy" as black-and-white as you seem to. There is a whole spectrum of options, which are going to be right or wrong in different situations for different people. The question of where to draw the line is a difficult one, and I don't feel the government is qualified to draw that line, or should have the right to. I don't think I am qualified to draw that line, or should have the right to. If, as you argue, the woman bears the responsibility, then the woman should also bear the choice of what to do with that responsibility.

One end of the spectrum, RU-486, I personally have little problem with; arguing that that tiny collection of cells will someday be a person seems awfully close to needing "every sperm is sacred" sung as accompaniment. A woman who realizes she's not financially, or emotionally, or physically ready to have a child, and takes action while it's still little more than a fertilized egg -- I'd think she had made the responsible choice given the situation. But I recognize that others might have a different and yet perfectly valid opinion in that situation. Which is exactly the point.

The other end of the spectrum, the D&X covered by this law, I would personally have a great deal of trouble with if it's not medically necessary to save the woman's life. (And as we've already seen, that is what it's almost always used for.) If I could see this law as anything more than a foot in the door towards banning abortion completely, I could almost support it. Almost. But again, others will differ, and I think they should be allowed to; the decision should be up to the people involved.

Everybody's going to fall somewhere different in that spectrum, of what they find moral or ethically acceptable. I don't think government does ethics very well; that's not what it's designed for. For the same reason that we have a separation of church and state, we should have a separation of morality and state. That's poorly phrased but you probably see what I'm getting at. Legislating what is or isn't moral just seems like the wrong area for government to be working in. Outlawing abortion -- and clearly this law is nothing more than an attempt to step in that direction -- wouldn't change people's morals, it would just drive the activity underground and make it even more dangerous and unpleasant than it already is.
posted by ook at 8:58 AM on March 14, 2003


"...at the same time, it should be considered as the very last option, as it would seem to encourage women to ignore the consequences of getting pregnant..."

See, this is what I was talking about in my last post.

Shep, how on earth can you suggest that access to abortion encourages women to casually disregard their decisions?

That is such distorted, misogynistic thinking. As if any sane woman is going to run about rutting like a rabbit, aborting babies every three months because, hey, the procedure is so accessible and easy and pleasant, and ever-so-much easier than using contraceptives.

Abortion has always been the least-desired, most-difficult birth control decision. Women do not want abortions. They do not make the decision lightly. It has never been treated as inconsequential. And it has certainly never been encouraging of casual disregard for contraceptives.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 AM on March 14, 2003


Outlawing abortion -- and clearly this law is nothing more than an attempt to step in that direction -- wouldn't change people's morals, it would just drive the activity underground and make it even more dangerous and unpleasant than it already is.

Very apt statement. The double standard still exists for socioeconomic discrimination. Rich little girls who "made a mistake" have always been able to get safe abortions with no consequence from government interference whereas poor women had a choice of birth or the coat hanger quack abortion. Let's not start down the road back to there.
posted by nofundy at 9:36 AM on March 14, 2003


As a side issue, I'd like to point out that many, and probably most, anti-abortionists use The Pill for contraception. The Pill works, in part, as an abortifacient. If its primary mode fails (repressing release of an ova), it will inhibit the embryo (zygote stage) from emplanting. If this secondary mode fails, the "week off" stage of the cycle stands a good chance of forcing menustration.

You can not be an anti-abortionist and use The Pill without being one hell of a hypocrite.

This could derail the thread, which I think would be misfortunate. Those of you who are against abortion, though, will do well to reasearch your choice of contraceptive. What you learn may change your choice.

posted by five fresh fish at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2003


>You can not be an anti-abortionist and use The Pill without being one hell of a hypocrite.

I know what you're talking about, but putting aside my morals that simply say that abortion isn't right, I see "the pill" as a preferrable option that both sides can support. Plus it doesn't have that side effect that you don't seem to agree with me on -- that being that I consider that abortion is being used by some as a convenience measure, rather than a safety measure.

And since when did individuals make the best choices for others? And that's what this is, a choice you are making for another human being.

Perhaps I've just seen too many pregnant mothers smoking and drinking to believe that individuals can make the best decisions for others. Now, making decisions for themselves, that would be fine. But that's not what abortion is... it's a decision you, as a mother, make for two.

And if that makes you feel that I have a low opinion of women, perhaps I simply can't put them on a pedestal that I myself am unlikely to reach because I myself, as an individual, won't make decisions for others. Now, as a group of people, I feel much more confident doing such a thing if a majority of people agree with me. But as an individual I don't feel I have the right to make a decision for another -- not unless I've spent a good chunk of time learning how to do that (ie: Studying to become a doctor/psychologist). Now, the women you would suggest I consider as chattel generally have no more education on making decisions for others than I. So why should they be given special rights I wouldn't give myself?

Anyways, I always have a problem with being lumped in with the nuts on either side. One side says abortion is wrong no matter what damn the measures necessary to make that happen, the other side says that a baby isn't a human, and doesn't even get the basic rights we give to animals until its head appears. I've said before, both sides are just way off the mark. There's a good middle ground, and unfortunately the president isn't (and far too many others) on it.

Now, if you, fff, can show me the numbers with reasons for abortion, and if a large majority of them are done for medical, rather than just personal, reasons, I'll eat my words and won't speak of this again. But I have a sick feeling that that isn't how the data is going to come out.

I'm trying to be as reasonable on this issue as possible, but as you've seen my personal reasons, I'll never be able to support abortion for anything but good, solid, medical reasons. Hopefully you can understand why. And hopefully you don't think everyone who's been adopted is required to have a low opinion of women, because it simply isn't true.
posted by shepd at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2003


Your logic is internally inconsistent, Shep.

You say you can not support abortion except for medical reasons. Yet you support the use of The Pill, which causes abortions, albeit at a very early stage of development. The pill is the very definition of a "convienent method of abortion".

You say you won't make decisions for others, yet you wish to decide for women that they can't get an abortion except under circumstances which you -- or a doctor-substitute that thinks like you -- approve.

I have no idea where on earth your adoption comment came from. Why on earth would you suspect me of being biased against the adopted? It's a freaky non-sequitor, and I'm very puzzled by it.

Anyway, your statements are self-contradictory, and I don't think that's viable on an issue like this.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:35 PM on March 14, 2003


the D&X covered by this law, I would personally have a great deal of trouble with if it's not medically necessary to save the woman's life. (And as we've already seen, that is what it's almost always used for.)

The Washington Post, American Medical News, and the former Executive Director of the National National Coalition of Abortion Providers have all found that the "vast majority" of D&X procedures are performed on healthy mothers and healthy fetuses. That's a far cry from "almost always used to save the life of the mother".
posted by gd779 at 8:18 PM on March 14, 2003


>I have no idea where on earth your adoption comment came from. Why on earth would you suspect me of being biased against the adopted? It's a freaky non-sequitor, and I'm very puzzled by it.

Easy. Think about it for a moment. If abortion is used as the casual way to avoid birth, adoptions of young children no longer exist. Ergo, I don't. Therefore I can't support the use of abortion for this purpose, lest I decide my life is worth nothing. And, according to you...

There is a casual disrespect for women. They can not be trusted to choose what's best. They must be protected from themselves.

It's very sad. Women are still chattel.


Meaning that anyone, such as myself, who suggests that abortion shouldn't always be an option for the mother must consider women chattel. Which brings us full swing into the resolution that most adopted children have a lack of respect for women. I heartily disagree with this.

I do understand that when you said that comment you probably weren't thinking of my case, but pro-choicers need to consider what they are saying if they decide there are to be no exceptions to the rules. I honestly hope that they would consider cases such as mine exceptions, but from experience, pro-choices don't. That's either because they're being fundamentalists, or because they just don't understand things from my point of view. It's the old "Walk a mile in my shoes" problem.

Not that I'm accusing you of being on any certain side, though.

>You say you can not support abortion except for medical reasons. Yet you support the use of The Pill, which causes abortions, albeit at a very early stage of development. The pill is the very definition of a "convienent method of abortion".

Hey, I can't say my reasoning is perfect -- I try to bring a resolution to the table that both parties seem happy to agree with. If that's hypocrisy, so be it. I'd rather be a hypocrite in a harmonious society than perfectly right in a dissonant society.

>You say you won't make decisions for others, yet you wish to decide for women that they can't get an abortion except under circumstances which you -- or a doctor-substitute that thinks like you -- approve.

No, I say that as an individual I will not force my decisions on others. I will disapprove and detest those that make the worst of the worst choices. And, as part of a large group/majority, I think people can come to a decision that may force their decisions on others. Mob rule, really, which is what democracy is, when you get down to the heart of it.

Of course, those laws implemented by mob rule must be softened by human rights, and that's why many countries (such as America) have a basic set of rights that no democratic decision may overrule. As far as I can see, there is no section of the American constitution that outlaws abortion, so that makes it a topic up for vote.
posted by shepd at 7:16 AM on March 15, 2003


Shep, you are suffering distorted thinking. Nothing I said had anything to do with your adoption, adoption in general, or the attitudes of adopted people.

I withdraw from this conversation. It is no longer within the realm of rational.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:49 PM on March 15, 2003


>I withdraw from this conversation. It is no longer within the realm of rational.

Then I second that notion. We will both simply agree to disagree.

You clearly think I think women are chattel, and I think you're way off base and don't want to refute my accusations of bigotry, so let's just leave it at that.

Thread bookmarked for future discussions, and closed.

TTFN.
posted by shepd at 3:58 AM on March 16, 2003


Coming back within the realm of the rational, I think that many view this procedure with suspicion (at best) because it is completely puzzling. It might not be so easily vilified if someone could explain its necessity, particularly in cases not involving cranial deformity, and especially since medical authorities in the know (the AMA and ACOG particularly) have indicated that the life and health of the mother can be preserved in other ways.

If this procedure is being used in non-cranial deformity cases, it would be a significant boon to the anti-ban position to present an explanation of how and why, exactly, the delivery of the entire body of a fetus can be safely performed but the delivery of the head is so very life-threatening that it's better to aspirate the fetus's brain out of its skull. What is it about a non-deformed skull which makes it so terribly lethal? If it isn't lethal, then how can the procedure be justified in those cases, given that it truly is a matter of inches between medical procedure and homicide?

I would imagine that if advocates for the continued legality of this procedure -- on the whole, not simply in cranial deformity cases, though I admit that it's a distinction rarely if ever heard -- could offer any explanation of this, there would likely be far less support for these banning efforts from both elected officials and the 70-85% of the general public who currently support them.
posted by Dreama at 5:29 AM on March 16, 2003


shepd, you can be adopted and support abortion at the same time! Keeping abortion legal in no way requires women to elect the procedure. People still give children up for adoption. There are all sorts of things that could have gotten in the way of your existence - your mom could have chosen not to have had you, or she could have decided she wasn't in the mood that particular night and half of "you" could've ended up on a maxi pad. Reminds me of that scene from storytelling:
kid (at dinner table, to mom): so if it hadn't been for the war, your family wouldn't have had to come to america, and you never would have met dad, so in a way, if it weren't for Hitler, we'd never have been born.
dad: (pause) go to your room!

some
previous
threads
on topic
posted by mdn at 8:55 AM on March 16, 2003


mdn, as I've said, this is one of those things where you likely have to be adopted to understand. This isn't a unique feeling -- from my experience, many adopted people have the same conclusion.

What it comes down to is that normally all adopted children were unwanted by their natural parents in some way (usually a convenience issue). This means that if the numbers for abortion tend to sway towards it being mainly used as a convenience measure, it endangers the life of adoptable kids. Worse than that, it also endangers the ability of caring parents who actually want children (but can't have them naturally) from being able to acquire them. So, by increasing the choices of mothers that have a mistaken pregnancy, you decrease the choices for willing parents who are unable to to have children. Of course, pro-choicers hate that debate, because it shows that by increasing choice for one set of people, you decrease it for others. My parents explained to me that when they adopted me (which was during a time when abortions were few and far between) they met soon-to-be parents that had literally waited years before they could adopt.

A lot of people would say "them's the breaks", but why is that? Why is it that one person, who has already made a conscious choice to have a child (they don't just pop in there magically!) gets a second chance, whereas the other group doesn't even get a chance to make a first choice?

I know it's hard to understand if you're not adopted, and perhaps there's other adopted children on metafilter, and some of them may disagree, but my experience has been that the majority of adopted children simply cannot support full-out abortion for those reasons I've stated.

Things like war, not being "in the mood", etc. don't seem to come into the argument because they aren't influencable things, and are generally pretty random, and, besides, are valid choices. However, the issue of abortion is directly connected because a mother who is carrying a baby whom they don't want to raise only has two major choices: adoption or abortion.

I think it would make a _very_ interesting study to compare a sample of adopted children's responses to the abortion debate against a sample of everybody's responses. I'd love to see just how normal (or not) my experience on this is.

Just my two cents, and it only comes up because certain people here decide to make sweeping generalizations on what my opinions on women are.
posted by shepd at 2:26 AM on March 17, 2003


To clarify, that quote above was from the movie Storytelling (in case you thought I was somehow using that as a generic noun)

mdn, as I've said, this is one of those things where you likely have to be adopted to understand.

I understand where your opinion comes from, but I just don't think it's reasonable - you're retroactively worrying. People who don't exist, don't exist - whether their existence was impeded by a headache, a condom or an abortion, many potential people never made it to existence.

Worse than that, it also endangers the ability of caring parents who actually want children

Are you suggesting it's the duty of fertile people to supply children to the infertile? It's true that middle class white babies are not all that easy to come by, and I guess that's sad for infertile middle class white people, but I don't see why women should be expected to go through the intense difficulties and strains of pregnancy, birth, and post-partum issues for their sake.

Why is it that one person, who has already made a conscious choice to have a child (they don't just pop in there magically!) gets a second chance,

It is obviously not a conscious choice to have a child if they decide to have an abortion. The most you can claim is a conscious choice to have sex, but people may not even make a particularly conscious choice there - hormones can be pretty powerful and people may do stupid things without much consideration (you're out of condoms?! oh no... well, maybe this once...) under the influence of a sexy naked person. I agree it's stupid. I disagree that the woman should be punished for it.

whereas the other group doesn't even get a chance to make a first choice?

the other group can only blame biology or god, whichever they turn to, for the state of their reproductive capacity.

Things like war, not being "in the mood", etc. don't seem to come into the argument because they aren't influencable things, and are generally pretty random, and, besides, are valid choices.

Yeah, it's generally pretty random. It's statistically practically impossible that any of us exist :) - in the sense that being able to predict that that particular sperm & particular egg would meet even just from 100 years back, would be practically impossible. Who gets born is random. Be happy you were born, and stop worrying about how you might not have ever been. That's true of everyone, whether or not their parents ever considered abortion.

However, the issue of abortion is directly connected because a mother who is carrying a baby whom they don't want to raise only has two major choices: adoption or abortion.

That's true, but I think you're mistaken to take it personally. What about her earlier choice, the one which you considered so important and conscious just a couple paragraphs ago? She had two major choices then, too - to engage in unprotected sex, or not. Had she chosen not to, you would also have been denied existence. Would you consider it her duty to engage in unprotected sex so more children can be adopted?

I think it would make a _very_ interesting study to compare a sample of adopted children's responses to the abortion debate against a sample of everybody's responses.

I only know two people that I'm aware are adopted, but they're both pro-choice - not that that means much, but thought I'd share. Again, I see where you derive this stance from, but I don't think it makes sense, unless you start from a position that a fetus is a person already.
posted by mdn at 9:13 AM on March 17, 2003


There are approximately a half-million children sitting in orphanages and foster care homes in America. Most will never be adopted. They are unwanted.

Banning abortion would add two million more unwanted children every year in America alone.

You gonna find a home for a couple million unwanted children every year, Shep? Better add an extra room to your house.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 AM on March 17, 2003


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