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The Last Abortion Doctor
August 6, 2009 5:06 PM   Subscribe

For thirty-six years, Warren Hern has been one of the few doctors in America to specialize in late abortions. George Tiller was another. And when Dr. Tiller was murdered that Sunday in church, Warren Hern became the only one left.
posted by SkylitDrawl (146 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great article, even if the use of the word 'abortionist' to describe a doctor who performs late-term abortions made me bristle and wonder if Esquire isn't trying to skew the article a certain way.

Please, hive mind, don't let this post become the shit fit that the last thread about abortion was.
posted by kldickson at 5:24 PM on August 6, 2009


I agree about the use of the term 'abortionist', kldickson. It made me a little uncomfortable and unsure at points with where Richardson was going. Still, at the end, I felt very moved and thought it was a piece definitely worth sharing with the group.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:29 PM on August 6, 2009


The author addresses the language:

"By the way, he hates the word abortionist. Though it is a simple descriptive term like "podiatrist," the opponents of abortion have turned it into a degrading and demeaning word that has the same negative connotations as the most despicable racial epithet. All the same, it is the right word, an accurate word, and our discomfort with it is but a measure of how poisoned the language of abortion has become."

I see the point, but maybe it should have come a page earlier ...
posted by feckless at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2009


You may find the second-person usage a little awkward, but press on and you will find a genuinely thoughtful, talented doctor doing the best he can.
posted by heeeraldo at 5:33 PM on August 6, 2009


Holy crap, that was really good.
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:35 PM on August 6, 2009


What about Carhart?
posted by RavinDave at 5:39 PM on August 6, 2009


Hadn't heard much about Carhart until now, when I just Googled him. But here is a Huffington Post link about him if anyone would like more information.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:56 PM on August 6, 2009


I think this pretty much sums up both the article and the man:
But you're seventy. You have ideas for a dozen books. Why not retire?

I have work to do here. I have important work to do here.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:07 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What an evil, evil man.
posted by jock@law at 6:10 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


8 posts before shitfest begins. Have we set a record?
posted by kldickson at 6:13 PM on August 6, 2009


Evil? I just don't see it. Someone needs to explain this to me. No shitfest parade please. Just real talk.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:16 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


SkylitDrawl, unfortunately, I think by asking that question you're going to unintentionally trigger a shitfest.
posted by kldickson at 6:22 PM on August 6, 2009


What an evil, evil man.

check it out: there's no such thing as "evil." did i just blow your mind?

as for this doctor: for any person to be so dedicated to their work that they're willing to do it in the face of a very real threat of being murdered is always some part admirable and some part insane, i think. and they might be the same part. incidentally, regardless of why he continues to practice, this society needs him.

this has been my opinion.
posted by i'm offended you're offended at 6:28 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


How many children died because we bombed Iraq? That's ACTUAL CHILDREN, not potential children. Let's worry about some children who have actually been born, ok?
posted by Huck500 at 6:28 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


What an evil, evil man.
Yes, I thought the writing was terrible too: contrived and distracting, loaded language and cod psychology; but it seems a bit harsh to call the journalist evil. After all, he's chosen to profile a brave and decent doctor providing vital medical care.
posted by Abiezer at 6:32 PM on August 6, 2009 [51 favorites]


Let's worry about all children instead of fetishizing the OMGMagicalVaginaLipsofLifeBeginning!!!!

Neurological stimulus response begins at 14 weeks, and develops rapidly after that. By the time of the third trimester, there is no scientific basis for distinguishing the fetus's personhood from an infant's personhood. They are mentally, cognitively identical. They have equal capacity for pain.

Late-term abortions are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.
posted by jock@law at 6:35 PM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Late-term abortions are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.

Yet sometimes necessary, due to the complicated nature of the world.
posted by padraigin at 6:36 PM on August 6, 2009 [36 favorites]


WOW.
posted by gman at 6:37 PM on August 6, 2009


Late-term abortions are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.
Do they really let you practice the law with such a nugatory comprehension of the human condition?
posted by Abiezer at 6:38 PM on August 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


Holy crap, that was amazing. All hail Dr. Hern. While I think I know why the writer chose the second person for emphasis, and quotation marks don't quite work with that, I did spend the entire article thinking italics aren't "quotation marks."

But God help us what happens when Dr. Hern, like, dies? Even if the whackos don't get him the dude is seventy.
posted by localroger at 6:38 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd wondered how many were left. I can't believe he's the only one. It's the kind of thing that makes one wish they'd gone into medicine, or knew someone going into medicine whom they could convince to do this. And it makes me wonder: Where are all the new, young doctors while this is happening? Why is no one stepping up? Yes, the risks are obvious, but many people are willing to put their lives on the line for far lesser causes. Why not for this?
posted by limeonaire at 6:40 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forgive me...but....

Metafilter: nugatory comprehension of the human condition.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:42 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


jock@law, an anecephalic fetus will never have any neurological stimulus. Such fetuses rarely survive for more than a few minutes after birth because their brains are so undeveloped that not only can't they think, they can't regulate their own bodies. But their fate is quite mild compared to the other one specific malady mentioned in the article, "we're not talking about cleft palate here, we're talking about cleft face, basically the baby would have no face..." That baby would probably die too, but probably worse if it didn't. If you feel otherwise, get fucking help.
posted by localroger at 6:43 PM on August 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Neurological stimulus response begins at 14 weeks

That is so vague as to be misleading. Neuron cells start developing, it's true, but the brain is not 'wired up' yet. For example, fetuses cannot feel pain until about 28 weeks because, although the sensory neurons have started developing, the wiring doesn't reach the parts of the brain responsible for the sensation of pain.

They are mentally, cognitively identical.

What about a fetus with anencephaly? Those are plainly not mentally and cognitively identical to a neurotypical infant.

But the statement is false for neurotypical fetuses, as well. For one thing, a fetus in the womb lacks any meaningful memory and lacks all experience of the outside world. In a very real sense, even if a fetus were fully cognitively aware, a fetus 'doesn't know what it's missing.' If it is terminated it is, quite literally, as though it had never been born.

Late-term abortions are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.

Anyway, what about a fetus that would certainly die in terrible pain immediately after birth? Surely it is better to have the choice to end its existence calmly and with as little pain and danger as possible for both the fetus and the mother than to put both through the agony and danger of labor, knowing full well that the child will die shortly thereafter?
posted by jedicus at 6:47 PM on August 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm kind of appalled that the anti-choice crowd is so one-track in their thinking that they don't even stop to consider the fact that not every fetus emerges as a neurologically normal baby.

Because a whole shitload of them don't.

I mean, whether abortion is okay or not is a whole 'nother discussion. At the same time, dude, it's a LOT more complex than most anti-choicers think.
posted by kldickson at 6:49 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


About younger doctors: "Sometimes the young ones ask to come in for an afternoon so they can learn to make a little money while their careers get started — they think it's as simple as changing a tire. There's no sense that this is an important operation that has to be done well, that a person's life depends on it. But let's face it, abortion is the lowest-status activity in medicine. That's why they always call their clinics Family Planning Centers or Women's Wellness Facilities or some crap like that."


Hell, even Carhart is 68! Geez. Things are lookin' bleak.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:50 PM on August 6, 2009


Late-term abortions are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.

Yes, because Mommy should die or lose the ability to reproduce instead.
posted by rtha at 6:55 PM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why is no one stepping up? Yes, the risks are obvious, but many people are willing to put their lives on the line for far lesser causes. Why not for this?

One reason is that medical school is difficult to get into, expensive, and being an abortionist requires an ob/gyn specialization. That's something like 6 years of education and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of education and training, between out of pocket expenses and subsidies. If, after all that, the would-be abortionist then goes and gets shot, all of that time, effort, and expense has been wasted. There is an essentially fixed number of medical school admissions and residency slots available in the country, so it truly would be a waste.

Why risk wasting such a valuable investment when so much good can be done while still 'playing it safe'? I'm not saying it's the morally best decision, and I'm certainly opposed to the circumstances surrounding it, but one can see the rationality of it.

And if he or she doesn't get shot? Then he or she has won the privilege of facing protesters, death threats, and social stigma all the while contending with byzantine legal requirements in exchange for a fairly modest income as these things go.

An example of the byzantine requirements: In Missouri, for example, abortion providers must perform abortions in a clinic at least so far removed from a hospital. But they must also have hospital privileges at a nearby hospital, at which they must spend at least so many hours a week working. This imposes an additional expense and burden upon the practitioner, prevents them from focusing on their specialty, and means that many medical emergencies will require an ambulance instead of being treated on site, which endangers the patients.

As for modest incomes: Apart from the higher costs due to security and the burdensome legal requirements, virtually no insurance or state government will pay for abortions. This, combined with the fact that many of the patients are not exactly rich, means that the doctors can only charge so much. Many Planned Parenthood clinics, for example, basically provide abortions at cost.
posted by jedicus at 7:01 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Did you read the part where... no, you know what? I'm not even going to get invested in this. You're a troll. You might believe what you're typing but you're still a troll. You know it'll get a reaction, you know it'll start a fight and you LIKE IT. You sit there at your screen and somewhere deep inside you KNOW what kind of reaction you will get and you are enjoying every second of it.

I'm gonna go get tacos. Who's with me?
posted by FritoKAL at 7:05 PM on August 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


Agreed FritoKAL. Life must be easy for jocklaw with such a narrow view of the world.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:08 PM on August 6, 2009


I could go for some tacos.
posted by booknerd at 7:08 PM on August 6, 2009


Can I get nachos instead?
posted by kldickson at 7:10 PM on August 6, 2009


Thought that was a really good article.
posted by newper at 7:11 PM on August 6, 2009


Late-term abortions are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.

A woman who chooses to abort rather than give birth to a baby with no brain, should she get life in prison, or the death penalty?
posted by dirigibleman at 7:11 PM on August 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


I used to not have any opinion about late term abortion.

But then I was exposed to the first person accounts of women and families who have had to make this choice through the Kansas Stories website.

Suddenly, I understood why these women made the choices they did, and how difficult the entire experience was for them. It was not a casual thing, it wasn't like they were at the farmer's market and they suddenly said "You know, as I purchase these strawberries, I realize that I don't want this child which has been growing within me for the past 8 months and I now want to dispose of it as if it were simple waste product". It was a long, difficult decision which sprang from devastating medical news about their gestating child. It sometimes was a decision made in order to allow themselves the possibility of attempting another conception. It was a horrific experience, made gentle and healing only by the staff at the clinic they went to.

Of course, the Kansas clinic has now been closed. The terrorists have just about won, and there is only one place for women and families who find themselves with a pregnancy which will never amount to anything more than a vegetative mass (at best) can go to avoid the horror of birthing a child who will never be a child.

Anyone who thinks late term abortions are a casual choice of a selfish female is sorely lacking in education of the true facts. I don't know how to counteract that mindset other than putting forward this website. I hope someone reads it and has their worldview changed like I did.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on August 6, 2009 [38 favorites]


Nachos are incontrovertibly, indubitably, unarguably evil.

See, that makes about as much sense as what jock@law just wrote. And who actually uses the word "indubitably"? Seriously?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:17 PM on August 6, 2009


Tacos! I need them or I will explode... that happens to me sometimes!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:20 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


On why younger doctors aren't taking the place of older abortion doctors: I wonder if OB/GYN's of the earlier generation actually treated women, early in their careers, who were the victims of botched abortions. That might have imbued them with the kind of commitment that could carry them through the challenges of Hern's work.
posted by palliser at 7:20 PM on August 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


What an evil, evil man.

Yes, the right-wing racist zealot who murdered George Tiller while he was in his own house of worship is most certainly an evil man, but he's not the topic of conversation here. This thread is in regards to a heroic doctor who faces death threats every day simply to provide a legal medical service to women facing more desperate, tragic circumstances than the arrogant, tiny-minded among us can even begin to comprehend. Try to keep up, champ.
posted by scody at 7:22 PM on August 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


virtually no insurance or state government will pay for abortions

Many private insurers will pay for abortions. It's a lot cheaper than maternity care and birth, and particularly when something is amiss with the baby.

This is a real crisis for access, though. The insurers can cover it, but if no one can provide it, many women will suffer.
posted by jeoc at 7:23 PM on August 6, 2009


two with catastrophic fetal abnormalities and a fifteen-year-old who was raped

perhaps a reconsideration of the definition of evil...?
posted by supermedusa at 7:24 PM on August 6, 2009


should she get life in prison, or the death penalty?

I was just thinking it's about time we had some false dichotomies in this thread. Thanks for that.
posted by dhammond at 7:24 PM on August 6, 2009


Man, TheWhiteSkull, fuck you man! You're an anti-nachoist!
posted by kldickson at 7:25 PM on August 6, 2009


i had to look up nugatory...

this, and jock@law's comments have reminded me of something i often forget: that when that particular word describes the totality of my comprehension on a given issue, i should keep my fucking mouth shut.

that's all.
posted by klanawa at 7:25 PM on August 6, 2009


Totally! tacos for some, little American flags for others. And we'll all have a beer, and raise it to Dr. Hern.

In the topic at hand, apparently part of the problem with replacing Dr. Hern is that there is not enough good abortion training in the U.S. Those of you who feel strongly about this but are not going to train to be doctors can always donate to the Abortion Access Project. If you know someone rich and itching to give away money to a good cause, they could always fund scholarships for OBs willing to learn at a local med school.

And of course it doesn't hurt to post stories of actual women and their families who ended up with late term abortions, for, you know, people who are interested.

But on to the tacos!
posted by emjaybee at 7:29 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I was just thinking it's about time we had some false dichotomies in this thread.

L?
posted by dirigibleman at 7:31 PM on August 6, 2009


all this time, I had thought that nougatory was "related to the making the center of a Mars Bar".
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: can you please not use tinyurl for the posting of your links? I am sure I am not the only one who prefers to mouseover without clicking and looking at the URL first. Plus, there have been accounts of URL shortening services being used for nefarious purposes.
posted by hippybear at 7:37 PM on August 6, 2009


Agreed about the tinyurl thing, and I've changed the links. Not a great big deal, but there's no benefit to it here and url shortners have direct and indirect negatives.

I appreciate most folks making an effort not to turn this into a flaming pile. Rock on with your nachos.
posted by cortex at 7:41 PM on August 6, 2009


It was not a casual thing, it wasn't like they were at the farmer's market and they suddenly said "You know, as I purchase these strawberries, I realize that I don't want this child which has been growing within me for the past 8 months and I now want to dispose of it as if it were simple waste product".

There was, however, in the story linked here, the anecdote of an abortion Hern refused to perform: a 35-week pregnancy, with a healthy fetus, where the woman's reason for wanting the abortion was that she had been raped. He said he was sympathetic, but wasn't going to risk his medical license for someone who took 8 months to make this decision.

So, no, it's not that she was walking through the farmer's market and suddenly decided that she didn't want her baby. But it sure seems that, left to her own conscience, she was willing to wait until she was 8 months along with a healthy fetus and then terminate, based on information she had at the beginning of the pregnancy.

I do wonder how legal restrictions, pregnant women's preferences, and abortion doctors' scruples work together to produce the system we have -- almost all abortions being very early in pregnancy.
posted by palliser at 7:47 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can only say to Hern in that situation, bravo for not performing that 8th month abortion for a women who suddenly found it inconvenient to have a child conceived through rape. There was, indeed plenty of time for her to have reached that decision before that point. I haven't reached that anecdote in the article yet, but that sounds like a reasoned decision on behalf of the doctor, not the mother.

Again, I refer to Kansas Stories. Those are the instances which move me. Simply wanting to get rid of the child because the pregnancy is making you pee more often than you wish, or whatever, that's a level of callous which I cannot endorse..

(At the same time, I would not deny a woman the right to have that procedure done if she wants. I'm not "man enough" to draw a line like that. My concept of the Universe and Existence is far too small to make those decisions for others.)
posted by hippybear at 7:54 PM on August 6, 2009


Yes, I should have added: I'm with Hern on that one, as with the others described in this story and in Kansas Stories.

His description of his difficulty with the procedure itself -- understandable, given that an abnormal fetus would still feel like a baby, through the instruments, as he describes -- is another window into his essential decency.
posted by palliser at 8:14 PM on August 6, 2009


Inconvenient? Or that she was scared, didn't know her options and maybe got the nerve up too late.

Rape is a terrible scary thing that causes many people to do very very irrational things. You don't get the right to say WHY she waited. You only get to know that she did.

The tacos were delicious.
posted by FritoKAL at 8:15 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The arguments I see being made here are the same ones I always see in these threads. It makes me think the right are not the only ones in an echo chamber. I learned this fact last year: There are about 800,000 abortions a year in this country. Right or wrong, that number is appalling to me.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:17 PM on August 6, 2009


In Missouri, for example, abortion providers must perform abortions in a clinic at least so far removed from a hospital.

what

That is unreal. Do you happen to know what the stated rationale is for this? Just out of curiosity as to how anyone could possibly justify this.
posted by palliser at 8:18 PM on August 6, 2009


atchafalaya: is there a citation for that statistic you can share with us?
posted by hippybear at 8:19 PM on August 6, 2009


atchafalaya: are you referring to this? I only skimmed this article, so I'm not sure WHERE they're getting 800,000, but okay.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:24 PM on August 6, 2009


From the article: "We aren't here to judge you."

From here: "We have several reasons for doing it. Of course our main reason would be shame, restigmatation -- restigmatizing of abortion and the women that get abortions, because shame is a powerful tool."

From the article: "Only fourteen, she came with her mother. What brings you here? he asked. I have to have an abortion. Why? I'm not old enough to have a baby. But you told the counselor we should all be killed? Yes, you should all be killed. Why? Because you do abortions. Me too? Yes, you should be killed too. Do you want me killed before or after I do your abortion? Before.

He told her to leave. Her mother was very upset. But he isn't an abortion-dispensing machine. He's a physician. He's a person."

Holy shit.

Abortioncams: threats or free speech?

I think I'd go with threats.

atchafalaya: why?


Oooo! Tacos?
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 8:25 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


actually, we like to think of thursdays as burrito night around here...and they were VERY good!!!
posted by supermedusa at 8:31 PM on August 6, 2009


Wow. By page 8, that article transcends mere journalism to become a statement about sensitivity about reporting in a dangerous world. It's obvious that the reporter is a bit taken aback at how much must be held back, and has been deeply affected by what was witnessed during the time in Hern's office.

I was adopted in Jan 1968, well before RoeWade was decided. I don't know anything about my birth parents, but I figure I was some poor girls' Spring Break fling right before the Summer Of Love. After reading more than a few accounts about how difficult it can be for birth mothers who gave up children for adoption, I have registered with the state of my birth saying that it is okay with me if either of my birth parents wish to contact me.

But for myself, I would not want to contact either of them myself. I don't know if the birth father ever knew I even existed, and the birth mother made one of the most difficult choices I could imagine a woman making. For me to suddenly impose myself into either of their lives feels very intrusive to me. I'm glad to be here, and acknowledge that if I'd been conceived a decade later, I might not have been born. But along those lines of reasoning lie madness, as potential never had worth until it is proven. From what I understand, a woman swallowing cum while giving a blow job late in pregnancy can induce a miscarriage. But I don't see too many laws on the books about women sucking dick if they're pregnant.

Again, I cannot make the call for others. And I don't want to.
posted by hippybear at 8:43 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was just thinking it's about time we had some false dichotomies in this thread.

That's the point of the question. Life in jail or the death penalty are the typical punishments for premeditated murder. Because abortion is murder, according to the fundies. Therefore a consistent world view would require treating the conspirators in an abortion the same as you would treat the conspirators in a premeditated murder. But when you present this question to the fundies they almost invariably never support any sort of prison sentence for the mother who gets an abortion, which just goes to show that they really don't think it's murder after all, even though they sure do like saying so.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:46 PM on August 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


That was quite possibly the most terribly-written article I've ever read, but despite that ended up being completely worth my time. Great find.

(But seriously, the second-person stuff, and the constant use of "abortionist"? What the hell was the writer thinking? I can almost imagine him writing an article on sex workers and starting every third paragraph with "The whore...")
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:46 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you happen to know what the stated rationale is for [requiring abortions to be performed in a clinic and not a hospital]? Just out of curiosity as to how anyone could possibly justify this.

I have no idea what the alleged rationale is. I'll tell you what I think the real reason is, though: to make it easier to protest the clinics and terrorize patients.

If abortions were performed in hospitals it would be almost impossible to determine which patients and doctors to heckle. Even the obviously pregnant ones could simply be going in for a checkup or even induced labor. Furthermore, most hospitals are fairly large complexes with multiple entrances, so even indirect protest would be difficult as the protesters would be spread thin. And only the most utterly unhinged anti-choice person would bomb a hospital.

Personally I think it would solve a lot of problems if abortions were routinely performed in hospitals instead of being relegated to the ghetto of besieged abortion clinics.
posted by jedicus at 8:54 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Life in jail or the death penalty are the typical punishments for premeditated murder.

Well, to be fair, it appears from my half-assed research that smothering your baby gets you something like a decade or two in prison.

So I guess I should really ask, how many decades in prison should a woman get if she aborts a fetus that developed no brain?
posted by dirigibleman at 9:03 PM on August 6, 2009


Honestly, I think it would be more insecure in a hospital. There's the article the doctor wrote about the effect of late term abortions on the medical staff, and the ostracism he gets from fellow doctors. That would be exacerbated in a hospital setting.

Plus there's the increased danger of infiltrators and saboteurs.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 9:34 PM on August 6, 2009


Great post. Thanks for the link.

-----

There are about 800,000 abortions a year in this country. Right or wrong, that number is appalling to me.

In 2005, the number was 1.2 million.

I find it appalling as well. And while I might find many individual decisions to be questionable at best, there doesn't seem to be any better way to legislate this issue except to leave the decision up to the potential mother. From what I have read, these late term abortions are the last ones I would criticize. It speaks very poorly of the pro-life movement that they have brought such pressure to bear on this set of cases, when they know these patients are driven by necessity more than any other group.

-----

Where are all the new, young doctors while this is happening? Why is no one stepping up? Yes, the risks are obvious, but many people are willing to put their lives on the line for far lesser causes. Why not for this?

This isn't like joining the military. There's no anonymity. I don't think anyone expects this issue to go away in a few years. Taking on this job is taking a highly visible, front line position, indefinitely. And also bringing some of that stress to your family, indefinitely. I admire the people who are willing to do it, and it's no mystery why replacements have been slow to appear.
posted by BigSky at 9:46 PM on August 6, 2009


atchafalaya: I think you've fallen for the lie that's implicit in that statistic, which is that if abortions were illegal abortions wouldn't still happen nearly as often. The reality is that the majority of those abortions would still happen, but they'd be performed illegally, and for those too poor and too poorly connected to find a bribeable or idealistic doctor, unsafely.

The choice is between a society where abortions occur safely, or where abortions occur and occasionally mutilate women.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:50 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]




The reality is that the majority of those abortions would still happen, but they'd be performed illegally, and for those too poor and too poorly connected to find a bribeable or idealistic doctor, unsafely.

That's absolutely right. As I said when Tiller was murdered, we already know what happens when countries outlaw abortion. Strange how the self-righteous anti-choicers who think that the Tillers and Herns of the world are evil and who claim to profess such love of life and concern for women always become peculiarly silent in the face of desperately scared women and girls scraping out their uteruses with glass or throwing themselves down stairs or taking poison or agreeing to be raped in order to terminate their pregnancies.

So yeah; if the topic is "evil," then let's talk about some serious fucking evil.
posted by scody at 11:03 PM on August 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


Studies have found a correlation between areas with realistic sex ed classes and easy access to birth control with fewer numbers of abortions. So, if we are to reduce that 800k number we need to first reverse the insanity created by the GOP with their abstinence only education bullshit and open a few more Planned Parenthood locations in the bible belt. In my mind this is just more evidence that the right wing has zero actual concern for preventing unborn children from being aborted and lots of concern for labeling those who get knocked up as immoral sluts. If those anti-choice people really wanted to make a difference they would be standing on every street corner handing out free condoms and IUD pamphlets.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:05 PM on August 6, 2009 [23 favorites]


Dr. Hern has a website.

Links to his publications on the murder of Dr. Tiller, and a PBS special on abortion providers.

Pdfs of the two articles he suggested the journalist read:

What about us? Staff reactions to D & E

Administrative Incongruence and Authority Conflict in Four Abortion Clinics
posted by BigSky at 11:40 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thanks, BigSky.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:50 PM on August 6, 2009


I've been thinking about this for the last ten minutes or so, and have decided that women should be able to either abort or even murder their children at any age up to 2 years old. I am confident that people who are pro-choice will agree with me on this.

1) Self awareness doesn't kick in until children are 2 or so.
2) It happens in nature all the time.
3) Who are we to tell mothers what they should and should not do with the babies they put so much effort into.

What say you?
posted by seanyboy at 12:31 AM on August 7, 2009


seanyboy: *raised eyebrow* Really?
posted by hippybear at 12:35 AM on August 7, 2009


It sounds pretty horrific, and I imagine that people would be against it and everything, but it does sort of make sense.

Plus - no mother's ever going to kill their own child unless there's a really good reason. Not that that's anybody elses business.
posted by seanyboy at 12:39 AM on August 7, 2009


I know I'm slipping off on a tangent, but this wikipedia entry on infanticide is really interesting.
posted by seanyboy at 12:53 AM on August 7, 2009


I am confident that people who are pro-choice will agree with me on this.

Way to ignore (to go with the most charitable interpretation) the many complex and thoughtful pro-choice analyses laid out in the any of the last several hundred Metafilter abortion threads.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:59 AM on August 7, 2009


1. It's not that complex.
2. The analysis (for the most part) is not that thoughtful.
posted by seanyboy at 1:03 AM on August 7, 2009


Sure, I'd suffocate an infant if it was going to die slowly and painfully anyway, or if letting it live even a moment longer was going to markedly increase the probabilities of an older child dying. That kind of moral calculus is hardly unfamiliar to human beings, although the dire situations where it comes into play are hopefully becoming rarer.
posted by Ritchie at 1:40 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


From what I understand, a woman swallowing cum while giving a blow job late in pregnancy can induce a miscarriage

Really?!
posted by onya at 2:23 AM on August 7, 2009


seanyboy, you do realise that in some cases of severe illness and the like in newborns and infants care is withdrawn and they are allowed to die? Article here is behind a paywall, but you should get the drift from the abstract. Those situations are far more relevant to late-term abortions than your trite and frankly stupid posit.

Life's nasty, and sometimes we have to make nasty decisions. Least worst is sometimes the best you can hope for, and that's something that anti-abortion bastards will never get into their thick heads.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:36 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


3) Who are we to tell mothers what they should and should not do with the babies they put so much effort into.

Children are humans, not property. We've set up social mores and government groups like Child Protective Services to enforce this viewpoint. Your logic does not hold up, because there is a vast difference between a fetus that is not fully developed and dependent upon the mother for sustenance, and a baby that can be given up for adoption and sustained by any person.

Attitudes such as "it's MY child, I can do what I want" leads down the road to all sorts of problems, including unvaccinated children, and genuine child abuse by well-intentioned but truly misguided parents. People mistake the "my" in "my child" for the possessive similar to "my chair" or "my wallet," but it's really closer to "my father" or "my sister," in which the possessive grammatical structure is correct, but ownership is not an actuality.
posted by explosion at 4:22 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


What say you?

I say your comment was pretty fucking stupid. Hope that helps.
posted by cmonkey at 4:24 AM on August 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sure, seanyboy, that will make sense just as soon as they develop an artificial uterus that you can drop the 8-week-old embryo into outside the firehouse door, like you can an 8-week-old infant.
posted by palliser at 5:15 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


What say you?

Your modest proposal is already covered, but not by mothers.

Not everything is black/white, easy/hard, no matter how hard you wish.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 5:27 AM on August 7, 2009


Sorry dirigibleman. I didn't see your question.
So I guess I should really ask, how many decades in prison should a woman get if she aborts a fetus that developed no brain?
My answer is no decades. She should spend no decades in prison.
posted by seanyboy at 6:33 AM on August 7, 2009


I've been thinking about this for the last ten minutes or so, and have decided that women should be able to either abort or even murder their children at any age up to 2 years old. I am confident that people who are pro-choice will agree with me on this.

1) Self awareness doesn't kick in until children are 2 or so.
2) It happens in nature all the time.
3) Who are we to tell mothers what they should and should not do with the babies they put so much effort into.

What say you?
Ten whole minutes, huh?
posted by Flunkie at 6:41 AM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would also love to legislate my own morality, but I'm afraid all the right-wing nutjobs would be completely fucked.
posted by tr33hggr at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2009


It's an honest question. What exactly were you expecting peoples' reaction to be? What was the real reason behind this whole exercise?

Oh, and did you read the blog?
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 6:45 AM on August 7, 2009


Nobody has ever compared abortion to infanticide ever, nor the the murder of healthy infants to the ending of the life that never started of an acephalic fetus, or the saving of a woman's life from a medical condition that could imminently kill her. These arguments have never been had on the internet or in shouting matches on the street. Good job raising the level of discourse.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:52 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


What exactly were you expecting peoples' reaction to be?

I thought it might possibly piss some people off, but not to such a degree. I didn't expect to be called out as anti-choice. I can understand the logic, but it's a paranoid "this guy must be trying to attack me. What parts of this are potential attacks" logic. I did want to take my crazy idea and float it out into the world to see how crazy it was. See what people said about it.

There was no reason behind the exercise. I thought something and I said that thing.

I haven't read the blog because it looks wordy and I suspect it's just going to reinforce current belief system by telling me stuff I already know.
posted by seanyboy at 6:58 AM on August 7, 2009


From no, that other sockpuppet 's link:

A 17-month-old deaf, blind and terminally ill child on life support is the latest focus in an emotional fight against a Texas law that allows hospitals to withdraw care when a patient's ongoing treatment is declared "medically futile."
...

"I just want to spend time with my son. . . . I want to let him die naturally without someone coming up and saying we're going to cut off on a certain day."
[emphasis mine]


Sigh.

Not to get into the rest of this article, this kid hasn't been able to breathe without a respirator for at least 5 months and possibly since birth (the article was not entirely clear). What part of that is striking this woman as 'natural'?

I'm mostly just pissy because she was trying to get her child to a different hospital that would agree to take them and 31 had said no because all of the procedures they'd have to do to prolong his life would cause pain. I guess I'll have to look into a followup story, but to be perfectly honest, I hope they let the kid die.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:00 AM on August 7, 2009


You might yet learn something from the blog, wordy though it is. It talks very plainly about the stigmatization campaign that's been going on for thirty years. It would go a long way toward explaining why the reactions here were so extreme.

Is it really paranoia if they're really out to get you?
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 7:04 AM on August 7, 2009


If you only read one post, make it this one.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 7:06 AM on August 7, 2009


Nobody has ever compared abortion to infanticide ever

That's not where I'm driving at. My concern isn't that abortion is or is not infanticide - I'm just curious why one is bad and one is OK. I'm curious to why I feel that one is wrong and one is right.

You can talk about acephalic foetuses and saving lives, but to my mind - these issues just reinforce the notion that abortion is wrong. It's the "You should only do it when you have to... because otherwise it's wrong" argument, and it plays right into the hands of the pro-lifers. I've a more liberal view, and to be honest - I don't really have any objections to late term abortions for non-medical reasons.

So - One is wrong and one is right. This hasn't always been the case, and it's not the case all over the world. For example - and here in Europe - it looks like a filial infanticide where the child is less than a year old is treated as manslaughter instead of murder. I don't know about the US, but I suspect that you'd be more willing to (wrongly) go down the murder road.
posted by seanyboy at 7:10 AM on August 7, 2009


I think someone touched lightly upon that distinction in another thread. It's not something that's been well thought out, mainly because the "debate" is so polarized.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 7:18 AM on August 7, 2009


People don't get it, he says. After eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, 406 death threats, 179 assaults, and four kidnappings, people are still in denial. They say, Well, this was just some wingnut guy who just decided to go blow up somebody. Wrong. This was a cold-blooded, brutal, political assassination that is the logical consequence of thirty-five years of hate speech and incitement to violence by people from the highest levels of American society, including but in no way limited to George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Bill O'Reilly, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Reagan may not have been a fascist, but he was a tool of the fascists. George W. Bush was most certainly a tool of the fascists. They use this issue to get power. They seem civilized but underneath you have this seething mass of angry, rabid anger and hatred of freedom that is really frightening, and they support people like the guy who shot George — they're all pretending to be upset, issuing statements about how much they deplore violence, but it's just bullshit. This is exactly what they wanted to happen.

And we allow these people to call themselves "Pro-life" and let them dominate any discussion of the issue, including here at Metafilter.

You can fuck right the fuck off.
posted by threeturtles at 7:19 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


seanyboy - you seek black and white in a grey area. We can't define 'life' to the satisfaction of everyone (not even in abortion arguments, in arguments among biologists); we have no straightforward answer as to when removing treatment is murder, and when it is justified to prevent suffering. You're not talking about a fetus alone, you're talking about something that is entirely dependent on another human being; another human being whose life is (at least some degree) risked by carrying that fetus. Those things cannot be truly separated (and there is some good debate that the reason they are separated is due to fetal imaging like ultrasound that lets the woman carrying the fetus be conveniently ignored).

You're looking for a simple answer. You're not going to find one. Life's like that.
posted by Coobeastie at 7:21 AM on August 7, 2009


And for what it's worth, I am uncomfortable with what some people call convenience abortions after viability is achieved. There are laws that restrict that kind of termination already, but again, the freedom to chose what you do with your own body is a human right.

The problem is with the anti-choicer's .... choosing to equate early term with late term abortions.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 7:23 AM on August 7, 2009


A few comments removed.

There was no reason behind the exercise. I thought something and I said that thing.

seanyboy, please don't start by chucking out intentionally provocative shit and then commence complaining that someone else's bad reaction is the reason we can't have a civil discussion about the topic. I'm not sure why you chose to jump into this in quite the way you did, and I guess it sounds like you don't know why either, but there's got to be a better way for you to do it in the future.
posted by cortex at 7:26 AM on August 7, 2009


Sorry if the tinyurl thing is a no-no (did I miss that Mefi rule? Quite possibly). Twittering all day puts you in the habit. Thanks for changing the links.

Why is it appalling that there are a million abortions in the US each year, may I ask? Would it be less appalling for a million children to be born unwanted, into poverty or unstable family situations? For a million women to be unable to feed their existing children, leave their abusive partner, keep their job, finish their education, or even just not be a parent right now because they know they won't be a good one?

Almost all women who get abortions either already have children or will eventually have children. Having an abortion is being responsible. If a women doesn't feel like she's ready to be a parent, then that's a pretty fucking good indication she shouldn't be a parent; you're not doing her potential child any favors by forcing her to carry it to term.

And I should also point out that at least some fraction of those abortions are not just "personal choices" but medically necessary, as in, the mother could die or be seriously injured if she carries the pregnancy to term.

Felt the need to call that out; even liberals get sucked into "of course we want to reduce abortions" and well, the only reason I want to do so is not because they're "appalling" but because it's less of a stressor on a woman's body and state of mind to have her birth control take care of it earlier on. But when that fails or doesn't happen for whatever reason, and she can get an abortion, that's not appalling, that's a blessing.

Having a baby in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can ruin your life. We don't want to say that, but it's true. It can even kill you or cripple you. Women know this, and they take the steps they need to take, because they...not their husbands or the male leaders of "pro-life" groups or whoever else is pontificating about them...are the ones taking all the risks, paying the costs, and they are the only ones qualified to say whether that is something they are able to do.

And yeah; sometimes we disagree with their reasons. Fair enough. It's still not us who are going to have to deal with the consequences of an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy, and it's still not us who get to make that call.
posted by emjaybee at 7:35 AM on August 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


I've been thinking about this for the last ten minutes or so, and have decided that women should be able to either abort or even murder their children at any age up to 2 years old. I am confident that people who are pro-choice will agree with me on this.

1) Self awareness doesn't kick in until children are 2 or so.
2) It happens in nature all the time.
3) Who are we to tell mothers what they should and should not do with the babies they put so much effort into.

What say you?


I'd say you're betraying your false premises, particularly here: "the babies they put so much effort into".
Setting that aside (which does of course mean we're not even debating the rights and wrongs of abortion any more), where the situations could have some similarities, that people choose to end a child's life as an act of compassion, then certainly it's not necessarily wrong. Just as euthanasia is a good thing.
There are clearly times when a fully grown adult with a whole complex of relationships and things to lose can be legitimately killed for the greater good, of course. Unless you are arguing for some quasi-magical beliefs about what human life is, I'm not sure what your point is.
posted by Abiezer at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2009


Sorry if the tinyurl thing is a no-no (did I miss that Mefi rule? Quite possibly).

Not really a rule so much as an emerging anti-convention, and, again, no biggie. I change 'em when I see 'em.
posted by cortex at 7:52 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


What an evil, evil man.

Hey Lois! Lois! There's another dog in that car! Hey, hey! Hey! Hey! There's another dog in that car! Hey! Are you seeing that?! Hey! Hey! Hey! Other dog! Fuck you!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:01 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do people really believe that abortions will stop just because they are outlawed? My great aunt died in the 1930's from an abortion done in a Dr's office somewhere. Abortions have been going on for thousands of years. Laws will not make women stop trying to have control over their own bodies.
posted by brneyedgrl at 8:22 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know it's pointless to introduce actual facts to a debate like this, but I'm wacky like that.

Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide:

• The lowest abortion rate in the world is in Western Europe (12 per 1,000 women aged 15–44). The rate is 17 in Northern Europe and 21 in Northern America (Canada and the United States of America).[1]

• Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence. For example, the abortion rate is 29 in Africa, where abortion is illegal in many circumstances in most countries, and it is 28 in Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. The lowest rates in the world are in Western and Northern Europe, where abortion is accessible with few restrictions. [1]

• Where abortion is legal and permitted on broad grounds, it is generally safe, and where it is illegal in many circumstances, it is often unsafe. For example, in South Africa, the incidence of infection resulting from abortion decreased by 52% after the abortion law was liberalized in 1996. [3]

• Worldwide, 48% of all induced abortions are unsafe. However, in developed regions, nearly all abortions (92%) are safe, whereas in developing countries, more than half (55%) are unsafe.[1]

• More than 95% of abortions in Africa and Latin America are performed under unsafe circumstances, as are about 60% of abortions in Asia (excluding Eastern Asia).[1]

• The worldwide unsafe abortion rate was essentially unchanged between 1995 and 2003 (15 and 14 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44, respectively). Because the overall abortion rate declined during this period, the proportion of all abortions that are unsafe increased from 44% to 47%.[1], [2]

CONSEQUENCES OF UNSAFE ABORTION

• Worldwide, an estimated five million women are hospitalized each year for treatment of abortion-related complications, such as hemorrhage and sepsis.[5]

• Complications due to unsafe abortion procedures account for an estimated 13% of maternal deaths worldwide, or 67,000 per year.[6]

• Almost all abortion-related deaths occur in developing countries. They are highest in Africa, where there were an estimated 650 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions in 2003, compared with 10 per 100,000 in developed regions.[6]

• Approximately 220,000 children worldwide lose their mothers every year from abortion-related deaths.[7]

• Additional consequences of unsafe abortion include loss of productivity, economic burden on public health systems, stigma and long-term health problems, such as infertility.[7]
posted by rtha at 8:40 AM on August 7, 2009 [32 favorites]


My concern isn't that abortion is or is not infanticide - I'm just curious why one is bad and one is OK. I'm curious to why I feel that one is wrong and one is right.

Because an embryo or fetus is inside a woman, sucking food from her and depositing its waste back into her, while squishing her organs and possibly permanently damaging her health, while an infant or child can be handed to someone else to raise. Any discussion of the difference between fetuses and babies that ignores the physical location and life support systems known as women is missing the point.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:51 AM on August 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


Or what rtha said with numbers to back it up.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2009


rtha, very useful (well, at least to those of us who actually care about facts and live in the real world, as opposed to Candyland). Thanks.
posted by scody at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2009


Why is no one stepping up?
The prestige and pay are low. Nutjobs stalk, sue, and harass you. Legislatures continually change the rules to screw with you. Lots of hospitals don't provide training in it. Pro-choice groups recruit at my med school, trying to get more people to learn how and be willing to do it. I don't think that they're particularly successful, but it may be to early to tell.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:05 AM on August 7, 2009


If I had the money, I'd totally donate to one of those abortion boat things the way the Dutch have.
posted by kldickson at 9:07 AM on August 7, 2009


Of course, the problem with most of the anti-choicers, if not all of them, is that their morals are being dictated to them and they don't get them on their own.

I think I mentioned in another thread that we're going to have to deal with the bullshit from organized religion to really nip anti-choice fucktardery in the bud.
posted by kldickson at 9:13 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing somethign here, but why don't the few late term abortion doctors base themselves out of blue-state areas like NYC, California, Boston, etc.? Many of Dr. Tiller's patients flew out of state to see him anyways, so I'm confused why--outside of stubborn love for one's hometown or the desire to make a stronger statement about the overall issue--he would purposely choose to live in the "lion's den," so to speak.

Not to say harassment wouldn't have followed him to NYC, but I'd think it'd be an order of magnitude less.
posted by chalbe at 9:17 AM on August 7, 2009


There are about 800,000 abortions a year in this country. Right or wrong, that number is appalling to me.

Huh. It's not at all appalling to me. Not in the slightest.
posted by Skot at 9:39 AM on August 7, 2009


"My concern isn't that abortion is or is not infanticide - I'm just curious why one is bad and one is OK. I'm curious to why I feel that one is wrong and one is right."

Because an embryo or fetus is inside a woman, sucking food from her and depositing its waste back into her, while squishing her organs and possibly permanently damaging her health, while an infant or child can be handed to someone else to raise.


That's not a very good argument, because that would mean that once technology got to the point where we could keep a fetus of any age alive, you'd never be able to destroy a fetus, ever.

The real response is of course, "OF COURSE this is a slippery slope." Only a tiny number of (crazy) people think that using a condom is murder; only a tiny number of (crazy) people think that killing a healthy infant at birth is not murder.

There is no clear dividing line; there isn't a edge between black and white. To claim otherwise is foolish.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:43 AM on August 7, 2009


There is no clear dividing line; there isn't a edge between black and white.

I agree with that, but to go down that road implies to me that there's a societal choice as to where the dividing line is and it's in the best interest of the people who care about this to push that line as close to their own preference as possible.

Which would explain why everyone gets so angry about it, but nobody makes any sense.
posted by seanyboy at 9:57 AM on August 7, 2009


I agree with that, but to go down that road implies to me that there's a societal choice as to where the dividing line is and it's in the best interest of the people who care about this to push that line as close to their own preference as possible.

That's true of ALL moral issues, isn't it?

Which would explain why everyone gets so angry about it, but nobody makes any sense.

No, the reason is that a group of zealots on the so-called "right" have inflamed a large number of small-minded people to insanity. There are countless "anti-abortion extremists" - there are no pro-abortion extremists. It's compounded by the fact that many of the most vocal elements are also against birth control and sex education.

I'm sure the pro-choice people would simply love to sit down and have a nice chat with the anti-side. But the fact is that their very lives would be in danger from violence if they did so.

There aren't other Western countries where abortion has provoked a fraction of this extremism. I repeat, it's a small group of individuals who have provoked the fairly large section of the mentally-ill right wing to hatred and violence - it simply isn't true that "both sides are to blame".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:15 AM on August 7, 2009


That's not a very good argument, because that would mean that once technology got to the point where we could keep a fetus of any age alive, you'd never be able to destroy a fetus, ever.

No, it really doesn't. It means we don't need to even address the moral worth of the fetus in itself at a stage when the human rights of the woman are infringed in order to maintain it. If we achieve technology which would allow for the fetus to be maintained without any infringement on a woman, then we can address the inherent value of doing so. But at this point, we can't, and the only method for maintaining the fetus is detrimental to the woman, so she gets to make the decision.
posted by mdn at 10:25 AM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Which would explain why everyone gets so angry about it, but nobody makes any sense.

There are lots of folks who manage to not publicly get angry about it and who manage to develop careful, nuanced positions on the subject. Claiming otherwise makes for a great excuse for bad behavior but discredits the considerable effort that non-hardliners have made to approach a difficult subject with care, compassion, and a degree of empathy for those who disagree with their respective positions.
posted by cortex at 10:29 AM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Because an embryo or fetus is inside a woman, sucking food from her and depositing its waste back into her, while squishing her organs and possibly permanently damaging her health, while an infant or child can be handed to someone else to raise.

That's not a very good argument, because that would mean that once technology got to the point where we could keep a fetus of any age alive, you'd never be able to destroy a fetus, ever.


How does this make it not a very good argument? You're using the implicit premise that current laws have to account for hypothetical future technologies, which is an impossibility. Right now, just like for all of human existence, fetuses depend on women for survival. Whether or not that will someday change has no bearing on the current situation.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:30 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are about 800,000 abortions a year in this country. Right or wrong, that number is appalling to me.

Huh. It's not at all appalling to me. Not in the slightest.


Me neither, really. I suppose yes, it's undesirable, but if you're going to forego sex education and easily available contraception for young men and women, it's a likely outcome.

What is interesting about that number, however, is that it means there are literally millions of women in the United States who have had abortions and who are not talking about it, or who are keeping it secret. I read somewhere once that nearly one out of four American women will have an abortion at some point in her reproductive life. And that inevitably includes a lot of women who consider themselves 'pro-life', too.
posted by jokeefe at 10:37 AM on August 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Of course, the problem with most of the anti-choicers, if not all of them, is that their morals are being dictated to them and they don't get them on their own.

Because surely it's impossible for a person to independently consider an issue and come to a conclusion that you happen to disagree with?
posted by chos at 10:39 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


chos, I'm a lot less inclined to think a religious person's got much in the way of independence in the formation of their morals than a nonreligious person does.

I can't get inside their brain, of course, so.
posted by kldickson at 10:48 AM on August 7, 2009


MeTa.
posted by rtha at 11:13 AM on August 7, 2009


I agree about the use of the term 'abortionist', kldickson.

Here, we call them 'gynecologists'. The doctors who perform abortions are the same doctors who deliver babies. I don't know if it's still true, but certainly when I was young enough to be fathering children, women having terminations and women giving birth were often housed on the same ward. You sometimes got a bit of grumbling from women who were struggling to conceive or who'd lost children to multiple miscarriages, but I don't recall anybody being rude enough to make a sufficiently vocal fuss to upset the young women who were having the termination -- generally because if you were having a termination on the NHS, then there were usually very compelling social or medical reasons for doing so.

Simple elective abortions tended to be carried out in the private sector on an out-patient basis.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:24 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Plus - no mother's ever going to kill their own child unless there's a really good reason.

That's why we rarely dole out custodial sentences in the UK for infanticide. Because the reality is, it's so counter to all our instincts that mothers who do do it tend to be suffering from severe post-partum depression or some other psychiatric illness.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:36 PM on August 7, 2009


Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence.

While this may be true in the statistical sense, there are exceptions.

My mother made it very plain that had abortion been legal, I would more likely not be here. She was 17 and her father had been abusing her. People in her situation are not made up strawmen.
posted by No1UKnow at 1:20 PM on August 7, 2009


I'm kind of appalled that the anti-choice crowd is so one-track in their thinking that they don't even stop to consider the fact that not every fetus emerges as a neurologically normal baby.

Because a whole shitload of them don't.


Shitload? I'm seeing 2% on wikipedia, my friend.
posted by gushn at 1:52 PM on August 7, 2009


gushn: "I'm seeing 2% on wikipedia, my friend."

2% of a lot > shitload.

If pregnancy and birth were an industrial process, someone would probably get sacked for that sort of defect rate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:59 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


There aren't other Western countries where abortion has provoked a fraction of this extremism

Yeah there is - Australia, home to the only abortion clinic murder outside the US, but at least their quasi-socialised health care system pays for a large proportion of the cost of abortion (and all if you're on a low income). Better higher legal abortion rates than high rates of births of unviable babies and the terrible effect that has on the families who have to live through that (and women who can't afford or don't want or are too young for children, and women who have been raped, etc etc).

Thanks for the article. It is terribly sad - I hope that some young American doctors rising through the ranks have the balls (or ovaries) to do what Hern does and what Tiller did. They were brave men doing what they do and did in America. Late-term abortions are performed in hospitals here in the UK, are fully funded though the NHS and I'm not aware of protesters of such (although the Marie Stopes clinic up the road gets a handful of Catholic, elderly protestors on a Saturday morning; it's a much easier target than a hospital and early-term - they're not sadistic enough to protest late-term abortions as they're only performed when necessary, and are sad for everyone involved).

My mother made it very plain that had abortion been legal, I would more likely not be here. She was 17 and her father had been abusing her. People in her situation are not made up strawmen.

Shit dude - are you seriously saying that your father is your grandfather (which is how your comment reads, please excuse me if I've totally misinterpreted), and that's an argument against legal abortion? I really feel for you (and frankly, more so for your mother), but this is not a good argument. If your mother suffered incest and became pregnant as a result she should have the option of a stigma-free abortion, whether you think it's a strawman or not.
posted by goo at 7:14 PM on August 7, 2009


Sigh.
posted by agregoli at 6:28 AM on August 8, 2009


"Abortionist" is not the right word, to me. Doctor works just fine.
posted by agregoli at 6:52 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I mentioned in another thread that we're going to have to deal with the bullshit from organized religion to really nip anti-choice fucktardery in the bud.

Hi, I'm aggressively and passionately pro-choice and religious. My denomination takes a somewhat more conservative, but still pro-choice, view but it's not in any way doctrine, because that's not how Reformed churches work.

I guess there's now a whole Metatalk thread about this, but alienating your allies is a pretty bad idea. I'm not going to run off and change my belief system just because you don't like it. I think arguing from a position of love and empathy for those around me is more powerful than sticking 'tard' into words a lot.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:16 AM on August 8, 2009


No, the reason is that a group of zealots on the so-called "right" have inflamed a large number of small-minded people to insanity. There are countless "anti-abortion extremists" - there are no pro-abortion extremists.

I dunno--part of that might be that there are fewer obvious targets for pro-choice zealots, but I do think they exist. An acquaintance of mine chose to carry a baby to term that had no chance of surviving for more than a few hours past birth, and during this difficult, painful time she was repeatedly verbally attacked by "pro-choice" women for making that decision. Pro-choice rhetoric always says, "We're not pro-abortion, we're pro-choice," but the reactions to my acquaintance's decision give the lie to that, for at least some subset of the "pro-choice."

I suspect that if pro-lifers had an equivalent target to a clinic, we'd find that there are in face pro-choice zealots and they are just as nasty as the pro-lifers.

FWIW, I support legal abortion but do not think of myself as "pro-choice" because, like so many political categories, claiming that name allies me with people whose rhetoric, tactics, lack of compassion, and lack of nuanced thinking I abhor.
posted by not that girl at 3:37 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


not that girl: An acquaintance of mine chose to carry a baby to term that had no chance of surviving for more than a few hours past birth, and during this difficult, painful time she was repeatedly verbally attacked by "pro-choice" women for making that decision.

I suspect that's because it was a stupid decision. Really. She risked her health for what she knew was nothing at all. Abortion advocates want abortion to be available precisely so that women don't have to do stupid shit like that. And doing stupid shit like that when you don't have to isn't noble, it's stupid.

I am no zealot myself; I would not be caught dead at a public demonstration. But I think you are quite wrong about the difference between the pro- and anti-abortion crowds. The latter have a subset that really is fucking crazy, with even their public figures equating their opponents to Nazis, death camps, and calling down the fire of G-d. The former mostly just want women to have an opt-out if something tragic happens. One can get quite passionate about that when one thinks that a lot of senseless injury and injustice has occurred, but it's still very tame compared to the burning your enemies in effigy type stuff that we see on the other side.
posted by localroger at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2009


Scott Roeder may have been affiliated with the Army of God, probably the most violent anti-abortion group.

---HBO's 2001 documentary on the Army of God has been posted to YouTube.

teaser quote: I've been vaginally defeated all my life.

Part 1 of 7, the remainder are linked.

---Army of God response to the documentary.

teaser quote: Johnny said he used to use a "crazy" persona to great advantage. When prolifers were harassed by pro-death protesters, he would pull out his ski mask and just point at them, and they would just leave. Even the police!

Link.

---Esquire article profiling the same men featured in the documentary.

teaser quote: "When I was young, anything that gave me penile friction I'd engage in," he'd told him. "Men, mules, I'd fuck anything."

Link.

If you're tempted to check out the Army of God website, know that it features a number of graphic photos of fetus remains.

Also, the same site hosting the Army of God response hosts a document from Life Dynamics describing their strategy for reducing access to abortion. The first couple of chapters have numerous quotes from pro-life advocates discussing the lack of new doctors.
posted by BigSky at 10:09 PM on August 8, 2009


So what you're saying localroger is you're not really pro-choice, just pro-choice-I-don't-think-is-stupid? Because it sounds like you're quite okay with that acquaintance of not that girl being verbally attacked, for her choice. I'm not okay with that. No matter how stupid I think it is. Yes, we all know there are pro-lifers who are bumbfuck crazy. There is no a crazier than thou competition, or is there?
posted by ZeroAmbition at 12:08 AM on August 9, 2009


No, he is pro-choice, but that doesn't mean he can't think something is stupid and say so. He can think and say whatever he wants. The moment when he starts agitating to pass laws to force abortions on women with non-viable fetuses? That's when you get to say he's not really pro-choice.
posted by Ritchie at 4:20 AM on August 9, 2009


I agree with Ritchie. I'm pro-free-speech, but I still think plenty of speech is stupid and I wish people wouldn't say it.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:08 AM on August 9, 2009


I suspect that if pro-lifers had an equivalent target to a clinic, we'd find that there are in face pro-choice zealots and they are just as nasty as the pro-lifers.

The pro-lifers do, actually. They're generally listed in the Yellow Pages under anything related to 'pregnancy.' They're faux medical centers, and offer pregnancy testing—typically nothing more than you can get at a drugstore—in order to get women in and feed them pro-life propaganda and, perhaps more importantly, keep women from going into someplace like Planned Parenthood where they'll hear all their options. The concept is vile, and preys on people at a vulnerable time in order to push a political/moral agenda.

Aside from trying to educate women from going into one by accident, I haven't heard of a lot of violent protests or clinic bombings at them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:00 PM on August 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Dr. Carhart lost his federal marshal protection two weeks ago, much to the alarm of pro-choice leaders..."

From the comments:

"I spoke with an attorney at the DOJ a day or two before Marshal protection was removed. The DOJ and Marhals service were apparently not happy with the way Dr. Hern and Dr. Carhart were making themselves targets in the media."
posted by BigSky at 8:57 PM on August 9, 2009


Sorry. Wrong link.
posted by BigSky at 8:58 PM on August 9, 2009


Harassment by pro-choicers does exist; a good friend of mine is a daughter of strict Catholic parents who have been actively involved in picketing and praying at clinics for decades, and she has many, many stories of receiving threatening phone calls at home, seeing flyers distributed with her family's address on it, receiving bomb threats, etc.

But this same friend (who, as an adult, is now fully pro-choice albeit highly sympathetic to the anti-abortion movement) will be the first to say that the stuff aimed at her parents pales in comparison to the tactics openly discussed and employed by people who shared her parents' beliefs.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:48 AM on August 10, 2009






Long story about Dr. Hern and a stalker in 1997.

Link.
posted by BigSky at 10:58 AM on September 5, 2009


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