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The Girl's Guide to Having an Abortion
January 16, 2011 10:39 PM   Subscribe

"Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.... At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion." Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures in the U.S., but it can be very difficult to get unbiased information about the procedure. From Jezebel: The Girl's Guide to Having an Abortion.
posted by jokeefe (104 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Abortion is fine by me, but Jezebel gives me the willies.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:11 PM on January 16, 2011 [19 favorites]


I guess you take your advice where you can fine it.
posted by londonmark at 11:16 PM on January 16, 2011


Great resource, I'm glad this exists. The mix of medical information with level-headed patient testimonials was a good choice.

It could probably use some more details to help out young teens who don't even know how to schedule a doctor appointment in normal circumstances. Like giving better instructions on how to "call around" and find out if a doctor is pro-choice.

Hell of a headline image though, those set-ups always give me the willies.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:29 PM on January 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Jezebel's awful.

You know those sites where they pay you something like 85¢ to write a "helpful" article, so impoverished would-be writers churn out about forty of them a day, in order to pay their share of the rent . . . and then when you read those articles they're laughable pointless, full of poorly-worded "common sense" stuff thrown together in a way that allows you to see that the writer was attempting to do just enough of what was required to get that 85 cents?

This article reads exactly like one of those. The way that the author dwelled on the way one might feel on learning of an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy (which should be pretty obvious to anyone with even less-than-normal imagination) . . . that made me laugh, because you can write that crap a lot faster than actually dealing with statistics or tricky technical stuff.

Like Paisley, I want to add that abortion is fine by me.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:31 PM on January 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended
Ask Natalie Portman.

Thank you, I'll be here all night.
posted by CarlRossi at 11:46 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone give me some reference for those stats? I seem to think that those numbers are awfully high, or taken out of context via the magic of sham statistics...
posted by hal_c_on at 12:00 AM on January 17, 2011


Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended

Ask Natalie Portman.


I think you meant to ask Natalie Portman's mom.

Thank you, thank you.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:02 AM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


If half of American women will experience an unplanned pregnancy, and four in ten of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion, how can 1/3 of American women have an abortion by age 45? Even if we assume (falsely) that the terminations are spread evenly among the population of women, if 50% of women experience an unplanned pregnancy and 40% of those woman terminate (as opposed to fewer then 40% of women terminating but some women terminating multiple times), that's only 20% of women having an abortion. At most.

How do you get 1/3 out of that? There's no way that 40% of women having abortions are having abortions for planned pregnancies which is about the only way of massaging the data to get 1/3 I can see.

Is 20% being rounded to 33% or something?
posted by Justinian at 12:08 AM on January 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


hal_c_on: The reference appears to be this site which provides links. The stats probably seem awfully high to you because there is a large disparity in rates depending on things like race, socio-economic class, education, and so on. The cadres to which members of Metafilter are far more likely to belong are also the groups which have the lowest rates.
posted by Justinian at 12:12 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that mystifies me:

In the 38 years since abortion was legalized everywhere in America, there have been about 50 million abortions.

Given the tens of millions of women (and their partners, and their families) for whom the right to a legal and safe abortion in NOT AT ALL HYPOTHETICAL - - How does the anti-abortion position remain politically viable?

Every year, roughly two million young women grow up and join the ranks of potential voters - and every year, roughly one million women actually have an abortion. After a couple of generations of this going on year after year, one would think that fully half of the country would be personally vested in preserving the right to access to abortion services.

(This is basically only a rhetorical question - I guess I sort of understand the political dynamic - and I have no desire to start the 'abortion' flamewar in this thread....)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 12:16 AM on January 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


The wife tells me that for late term miscarriages they have to D&C also. That sucks :(.

Good write up though.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 12:16 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


How does the anti-abortion position remain politically viable?

Perhaps the women who have had them were so scarred by the process (like thistle) that they figure adoption or other methods should be forced over having the abortion option.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 12:19 AM on January 17, 2011


If half of American women will experience an unplanned pregnancy

That's not what the article said though. It said "Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended". I have no idea if the statistic is correct.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:22 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If half of American women will experience an unplanned pregnancy, and four in ten of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion, how can 1/3 of American women have an abortion by age 45?

Not only unplanned pregnancies are aborted. It is not uncommon to abort when one finds out that the fetus has a serious disease or genetic defect, or if the mother's life is in danger for some unexpected reason. Women get diagnosed with cancer while pregnant and have to choose between chemo and continuing the pregnancy. Higher-order multiples (increasingly common now with fertility treatment) sometimes undergo "selective reduction" in order to decrease the risk to the remaining fetuses and to the mother. I expect all of these circumstances are more common than we think.

Then there are probably couples who split up early in the pregnancy and decide they can't solo parent.
posted by lollusc at 12:23 AM on January 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


If half of American women will experience an unplanned pregnancy, and four in ten of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion, how can 1/3 of American women have an abortion by age 45? Even if we assume (falsely) that the terminations are spread evenly among the population of women, if 50% of women experience an unplanned pregnancy and 40% of those woman terminate (as opposed to fewer then 40% of women terminating but some women terminating multiple times), that's only 20% of women having an abortion. At most.

Could the numbers be skewed by multiple pregnancies with multiple outcomes? If a woman has an unplanned pregnancy and gives birth, then later has a second unplanned pregnancy and opts to terminate (as is apparently a common scenario), then that would count in the statistics as one unplanned pregnancy carried to term, one terminated, and one woman who has had an abortion.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 12:23 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please be careful projecting the opinions or actions of other members. Thistle was brave enough to say she had regrets, lets not read any more into it.

There are anti-choice women who get abortions. Hypocrisy is not a rare beastie.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:24 AM on January 17, 2011 [43 favorites]


Perhaps the women who have had them were so scarred by the process (like thistle) that they figure adoption or other methods should be forced over having the abortion option.

It's an interesting thought experiment to wonder why the women scarred by adoption aren't clamouring to force others to undergo abortions instead.

(I do have a great deal of sympathy for Thistle and others - but I have also seen (first hand) the incredible amount of pain that can result from adoption.)
posted by lollusc at 12:26 AM on January 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


This data (from 2005) is interesting to sort through. NY appears to be leading abortions-per-1000-live-birth, Vermont leads for mature women, and Mississippi - despite having one of the lowest overall abortions-per-1000-live-birth - leads abortions in under-15-year olds. I remember reading in the same datablog a stat about the (large!) number of women who have abortions who a) are already mothers or b) go on to be mothers later in life, but damned if I can find it.
posted by jaynewould at 12:30 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not only unplanned pregnancies are aborted.

I know, I mentioned this possibility in my comment. But for the numbers to come out, something like 40% of abortions would have to be for planned pregnancies. That number seems pretty unlikely and, in any case, you'd have to add in the fact that some women have multiple abortions which would lower the fraction of all women who have had abortions since the number of women and number of abortions are held constant.
posted by Justinian at 12:30 AM on January 17, 2011


AndrewKemendo wrote: "Perhaps the women who have had them were so scarred by the process (like thistle) that they figure adoption or other methods should be forced over having the abortion option."

Talk about reading what you want to read and not what's on the page. Your interpretation is one of many possible interpretations of thistle's words. My point being that you ought not attempt to use other people's experiences in that way if you don't actually know what that experience is. (I'm assuming you don't actually know thistle. If you do, sorry for making my own assumption)

Anyway, the anti-abortion position remains politically viable mainly because people who have abortions don't advertise that fact and because religion drives much of the anti-abortion lobby. This is how you'll see people who actually have had abortions and would not think twice about doing it again in the same circumstances speaking out against it or lobbying against it or voting against it. Social pressure is very powerful. As long as abortion remains shameful (for all sorts of fucked up reasons, IMO) in some circles, that social dynamic will not change.
posted by wierdo at 12:32 AM on January 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also wanted to add that, irritating as Jezebel often is (there was a hilarious I CHOSE NOT TO VACCINATE MY BEHBEH DON'T JUDGE ME I'M A WOMYN outburst recently), articles like these are brilliant. The comments were also interesting. I genuinely didn't know a lot of this stuff, and I'm in a relatively abortion-friendly (despite the archaic laws in some states) country. I can imagine this would be really useful for girls growing up in a rabidly anti-abortion environment who don't have access to sane, realistic information about what the procedures entail
posted by jaynewould at 12:36 AM on January 17, 2011


AsYouKnow Bob writes "Given the tens of millions of women (and their partners, and their families) for whom the right to a legal and safe abortion in NOT AT ALL HYPOTHETICAL - - How does the anti-abortion position remain politically viable? "

Cognitive Dissonance. People will support laws for the general public that they themselves are willing to break; often with a rationalization of how their situation is different or special and therefor worthy of rule breaking.

Also a certain amount of lesser of two evils (stuff like have an abortion or live in a box under the bridge for the next ten years). And despite the bright line nature of the public face of the debate people's support of abortion is a nuanced continuum with anti plan B or even anti birth control pill (because of it potential abortifcant properties) at one end and pro infanticide at the other with most people some where in the middle. Where the line should be drawn is the nexus of the debate.
posted by Mitheral at 12:36 AM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cognitive Dissonance. People will support laws for the general public that they themselves are willing to break; often with a rationalization of how their situation is different or special and therefor worthy of rule breaking.

See also: astonishing number of politicians caught in gay sex scandals who present a staunchly homophobic public face.
posted by jaynewould at 12:48 AM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


A while ago, I read an interesting article "The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion: When the Anti-Choice Choose"

My favourite part of the article was probably "I've had several cases over the years in which the anti-abortion patient had rationalized in one way or another that her case was the only exception, but the one that really made an impression was the college senior who was the president of her campus Right-to-Life organization, meaning that she had worked very hard in that organization for several years. As I was completing her procedure, I asked what she planned to do about her high office in the RTL organization. Her response was a wide-eyed, 'You're not going to tell them, are you!?' When assured that I was not, she breathed a sigh of relief, explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn't want this to interfere with it." (Physician, Texas)"

(yes, I'm firmly pro-choice. My body, my choice.)
posted by with the singing green stars as our guide at 12:57 AM on January 17, 2011 [38 favorites]


Perhaps the women who have had them were so scarred by the process (like thistle) that they figure adoption or other methods should be forced over having the abortion option.

More likely it's got more to do with those men who would seek to speak for them rather than allowing them to speak for themselves, wishing to control and determine women's choices in much the same way that they always have.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:10 AM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


A while ago, I read an interesting article "The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion: When the Anti-Choice Choose"

That article was the subject of a MetaFilter thread too.
posted by amyms at 1:21 AM on January 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I had an abortion in 2004. If I had to, I would have an abortion again in a heartbeat.

I don't regret it in the slightest.

Things that I do regret?

Not pushing my gynaecologist harder when he told me that I was too young for sterilisation, even though I was 100% certain that I didn't ever want kids, 28 years old, and had already tried and been unable to tolerate oral contraceptives, Implanon, and IUDs.

That arrogant, 'I know better than you' gynaecologist told me to come back in six months, and we'd talk about sterilisation again then.

In that six months, despite scrupulous care, I had a condom break, so I had to have an abortion.

I did finally get my much-demanded sterilisation, but only after so much stress, cost, and physical pain that was completely avoidable if the damned gynaecologist had just booked me in for a sterilisation when I had first asked him to, rather than insisting "You will change your mind when you turn 30."
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 1:22 AM on January 17, 2011 [37 favorites]


Can anyone find any good HONEST data on the subject?

I thought the guardian data was good...because its the Guardian.

Then I went over to the census bureau, and their data on this is all different.

I know there isn't any PERFECT data regarding this subject, but is there any generally accepted data about it?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:39 AM on January 17, 2011


It's weird that they don't match, because both sets of data say they come from the CDC. I'm not sure where to find "perfect" stats, but because the UK funds abortions through their health system they probably have an easier time collecting statistics (these are for England and Wales), so theirs might be more accurate (for the UK, of course).
posted by jaynewould at 1:59 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to add that abortion is fine by me.

As long as it's fine by the law, that's the really important one.

Damn, I despise the "pro-life" brigade. If abortion isn't fine by you, don't have one. But don't you dare tell other women they can't.
posted by Decani at 2:11 AM on January 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Damn, I despise the "pro-life" brigade. If abortion isn't fine by you, don't have one. But don't you dare tell other women they can't.

That makes about as much sense from a pro-life angle as "Damn, I despise the "anti-slavery" brigade. If slave owning isn't fine by you, don't own one. But don't you dare tell other adults they can't."

For the record I'm pro-choice and consider anyone who would try to ban what is regrettably often a medically necessary procedure to be barbarians. But there is nothing that gives me more sympathy with the pro-life camp than the rhetoric of the pro-choice camp that indicates that we shouldn't care what anyone else does to someone else because we aren't the ones doing it. And then I listen to the pro-life camp and watch the wildly inconsistent line taken on contraception and sex-ed by their leaders* and realise that I may dislike the pro-choice rhetoric I dislike the pro-life camp a whole lot more. And ultimately I'm neither a woman nor a doctor so am unlikely to be directly involved in an abortion.

Back on topic, good information is always good.

* If they were really about abortion then they would be in favour of universal distribution of The Pill and thorough and comprehensive sex-ed for all.
posted by Francis at 3:26 AM on January 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I just watched Lake of Fire, which is v. good, but has an actual footage of an aboriton, from the waiting room, to the various counslears, to the actual procedure. I have been in the waiting room with my friends and I have taken late night phone calls, put some money in when they couldn't afford it, i have never gotten a woman pregnant, but I wonder...in the actual procedure room, do they still ask the invasisve and morally blackmailing quesitons that were in the doc?
posted by PinkMoose at 3:59 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Abortion is fine by me, but Jezebel gives me the willies.

What the hell do you want fetal willies for?
posted by srboisvert at 4:07 AM on January 17, 2011


Francis: "Damn, I despise the "pro-life" brigade. If abortion isn't fine by you, don't have one. But don't you dare tell other women they can't.

That makes about as much sense from a pro-life angle as "Damn, I despise the "anti-slavery" brigade. If slave owning isn't fine by you, don't own one. But don't you dare tell other adults they can't."

For the record I'm pro-choice and consider anyone who would try to ban what is regrettably often a medically necessary procedure to be barbarians. But there is nothing that gives me more sympathy with the pro-life camp than the rhetoric of the pro-choice camp that indicates that we shouldn't care what anyone else does to someone else because we aren't the ones doing it.
"

The difference between abortion and slavery is that the former is a question of what people do with their own bodies, while the latter pertains to the bodies of others. This is what's galling about the pro-life movement, and why comparing it to slavery is way off base, your pro-choice position aside.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:47 AM on January 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


Thistle, I am sorry for your pain and regret about your abortion. For some women it is no easy thing. I have never had an abortion, but did give a child up for adoption, born in 1968, and while I am glad he is alive and well today, and never wanted an abortion, surrendering a child has caused me and many other mothers a great deal of pain. I am fortunate in having found and reunited with my son, but that does not erase years of fear for what had happened to him, and shame that was enforced by society just as much on surrendering mothers as those who have had abortions.

There is no simple, pain-free answer to what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. I am old enough to remember when very few pregnancies were "planned", they just happened as a consequence of sex, in and out of marriage. Unplanned does not always mean "unwanted" in the long run.

This is not about abortion politics, but about how women really feel about their own lives and experiences. It bothers me that both pro-choice and right to life zealots dismiss the experiences of those that do not fit their agenda. Right to life plays up the feelings of those like you who regret abortion, but are silent and dismissive of the pain inherent in adoption. Pro-choice ignores and dismisses women like Thistle who truly regret and have difficulty with their abortion choice as atypical or mistaken. I would not join either group.

I would like to see more compassion for all women faced with a crisis pregnancy that includes real help with whatever choice they make, including the one almost never mentioned, the choice to keep and raise their child. Adoption/abortion are not the only choices, and no choice should ever be forced on a pregnant woman, nor her feeling about her choice silenced and denied, whether it fits anyone's political agenda or not.
posted by mermayd at 5:23 AM on January 17, 2011 [22 favorites]


The difference between abortion and slavery is that the former is a question of what people do with their own bodies
Well, obviously anti-choicers would tell you that they believe that fetuses are people, and that it actually is a question about what happens to the body of others. That's not what I'm saying, I'm just pointing out how they would respond to that.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 AM on January 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


And I'm sure a Holocaust reference for good measure, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:58 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part of the issue is the rhetoric which leads anybody who gives it some thought to believe that the pro-lifers don't really believe their own rhetoric. If you honestly believed that there was a place in your town- or even several places- where children are taken to be murdered, and worse, this is perfectly acceptable to the law, and is happening all over the country, and more than four times as many children have been killed as died in the Holocaust, well, shit, you wouldn't draw a picture of a dead fetus on a sign and picket it any more than you'd picket a concentration camp.

Anyway, we can argue all kinds of fine points about abortion, but there's ultimately one singular question which is important, and it's for this reason that framing it in terms of choice and not in terms of life is appropriate: who chooses whether an abortion takes place? If you said anybody other than the pregnant woman, you're anti-choice or pro-life or whatever you want to call yourself. If you said "the pregnant woman", you're pro-choice. That's it. That's all that's really important.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:07 AM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Even if you equate a fetus to a person, abortion isn't analogous to slavery

It's not analogous in the actual content of the actions, the analogy is meant to be between our reacton to slavery and their reaction to abortion. Any bad thing would have made the same point - murder, theft, adultery, etc.

The point was that nobody is ok with "if you don't like [a terribly wrong thing], don't do [a terribly wrong thing].". To people that really believe abortion is murder I imagine "If abortion isn't fine by you, don't have one." just sounds really clueless.
posted by cdward at 6:23 AM on January 17, 2011


Ah, sorry delmoi. I thought the same person posted Francis's (icky) "anti-slavery" comment above and yours below. And together, they sounded like a really familiar "let's explain the pro-life position to the abortion-rights crowd," as if we're really stupid and we've never heard it all before.

And I can assure you, we have heard it all before. All of it. And I get really sick of the idea that arguing that I'm a fully-rights-bearing human, with the same right to bodily autonomy as any man, somehow gives men a pass to declare "sympathy for the pro-life camp". I'm equally irked by the idea that the people who fight to deny me bodily autonomy are akin to the people who fought to earn other people bodily autonomy. It's stupid and it's tired.
posted by craichead at 6:25 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The point was that nobody is ok with "if you don't like [a terribly wrong thing], don't do [a terribly wrong thing].". To people that really believe abortion is murder I imagine "If abortion isn't fine by you, don't have one." just sounds really clueless.
And yet people never say "theft" or "adultery." Because that doesn't have the awesome rhetorical power of taking a woman with three kids, one of whom is disabled, who doesn't think she can handle another newborn while her husband is deployed and turning that woman into Simon LeGree. An awful lot of people recognize shades of gray in theft and even adultery. We wouldn't condemn Jean Valjean for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children. Slavery is seen as an absolutely evil, which is why people analogize abortion to slavery and not to theft.
posted by craichead at 6:32 AM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dude, do I get some sort of prize for most random literary references in a post about abortion?
posted by craichead at 6:37 AM on January 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


AsYouKnow Bob: " Given the tens of millions of women (and their partners, and their families) for whom the right to a legal and safe abortion in NOT AT ALL HYPOTHETICAL - - How does the anti-abortion position remain politically viable? "

Religious groups, lobbying for political change. Specifically, dominionist Christian groups, including clergy who preach pro-life political activism from the pulpit. Catholics and conservative Christians have been a primary motivating force behind the pro-life movement's anti-abortion lobby since Roe vs. Wade. American Catholic clergy were a large part of the movement's initial push in the 70's, through the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Family Life Bureau. Catholics continue that tradition today. See statements here. From the NPR Council and Operation Rescue to Survivors and Christian Soldiers, the pro-life movement is filled with Christians who believe they have a religious obligation to stop everyone, not just other Christians, from having abortions.
posted by zarq at 7:08 AM on January 17, 2011


I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread. Some really facinating reading and intriguing thoughts. Good post.
posted by Senator at 7:15 AM on January 17, 2011


These statistics seem rather shocking to me, notably that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Is access to birth control really that bad? And if so, why? I think the tragedy here is that so many women are being forced to make such difficult decisions when getting pregnant unintentionally is so easily avoided (in most cases). The huge variation in teenage pregnancy rates among industrialized countries seems to indicate that something is seriously wrong with sex education and birth control availability in a lot of places. I will defend to the death a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body, but I find it very sad that so many have to make that choice in the first place. We should be able to do better.
posted by Go Banana at 7:15 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread.

And I'm glad my parents decided to reproduce specifically with each other!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:23 AM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I actually have had some interesting online discussions with people who professed that they were "pro-life" that have lead me to believe that they actually think "pro-choice" means something else.

Often, they would say that they were pro-life and believed "life begins at conception" and the like -- but then went on to say that "but I don't think it's the government's business." I would then point out that, "that's...actually what 'pro-choice' means, that each individual should have the right to decide whether this is right for them." And this information shocked them -- they had had an idea in their heads that the pro-choice movement was all about encouraging people to have abortions as a viable form of birth control, and promoting the idea that it was about "aboriton on demand at any point you want".

There are people who do believe that that's the case, yes. But for the most part, I explained, the "pro-choice" movement is about precisely that -- choice. It is about how the question of "when does life begin" has so many different answers, based on medical science, religion, society, and so many other factors, that it makes much more sense to allow each individual to set that Rubicon for themselves, and make their own painful decision accordingly. The people I spoke to still said that they may try to persuade a friend or loved one to keep their baby, but then said "but ultimately it would be her decision." And again, I said, "then, yeah, you're pro-choice."

I think this has become such a polarizing debate that people who all think the same thing have decided that they DON'T, and are arguing at each other rather than realizing "wait, we actually agree about this."

But....that seems to be par for the course in this country.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on January 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


And I'm glad that my parents went away for the weekend and forgot to bring the diaphragm!
These statistics seem rather shocking to me, notably that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
The thing is, when people think about unplanned pregnancy, they tend to picture a sixteen-year-old. But lots of unplanned pregnancies are more along the lines of "well, my husband and I planned to wait another year before we had another kid, but since it happened now, I guess that will be ok." There's a lot of variation in that 60 percent who don't choose to abort, and that includes some people who might not experience unplanned parenthood as a huge trauma. If you're in a stable relationship and you were planning to have kids at some point anyway, you might not rush out for the morning after pill if a condom breaks.
posted by craichead at 7:42 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Go Banana, guess what? Birth control is not 100% effective, and many women get pregnant while on it. It's not always a result of people not using it, as your post implies.
posted by agregoli at 7:42 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I applaud the effort to provide resources like this for women; I think it's really valuable and really important. But I have to say until recently I never though much about how this is all loaded on the women -- the decision itself, which is hard enough, then a medical procedure that's disturbing no matter what you think (I mean really, I don't care what it's doing to you, if you have to listen to a vacuum doing anything to your body you're likely to freak out), then the emotional aftermath -- whatever it is. There doesn't seem to be a lot of effort to educate men about what they can do other than not argue. Last year I dated a guy with whom I had the good responsible "what if, on the outside chance everything went wrong, I ended up pregnant" talk and I said something like "Yeah, well, I know where the closest Planned Parenthood is, don't worry," and he responded "And if you had to go, I'd be there to hold your hand." That was the first time any guy had ever responded to a conversation like that with something other than slightly uncomfortable indifference. I won't say it was the most romantic thing anyone had ever said to me, but it sure did (unexpectedly) mean a lot.

So, moral of that story: I wish that in addition to empowering women with knowledge about their options, the procedure, and their rights, there was also an serious effort to let men know that they can and should support their partners. I imagine it's a scary enough experience as it is -- any serious medical procedure is -- and while it is a woman's decision, it shouldn't be her burden alone.

One step at a time, though, I guess.
posted by olinerd at 7:48 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is 20% being rounded to 33% or something?

Justinian, your math is bad, or just applied inappropriately. The stat was that "nearly 50% of pregnancies are unintended" without any further elaboration on how the distribution works. It could be anywhere from perfectly even (EVERY American woman is guaranteed 1 or 2 unintended pregnancies) to highly concentrated.

Assuming a perfectly even distribution (terrible assumption), then the following statistic (40% of those pregnancies lead to abortion) would suggest that at least 40% of American women has had an abortion, because, for instance, a woman could abort one pregnancy, carry another to term, and still count as a "woman who had an abortion."

The fact of the matter is that there are some women who can't have an "unintended pregnancy" because their faith or philosophy make it line up such that if they're having sex, they're open to the notion of conception. There are others who are so diligent about birth control, and lucky enough to not hit that "perfect-use failure rate" anti-lottery, so they too won't have an "unintended pregnancy." It ends up that about 33% of women will have an abortion, which is well within the tolerances of the limited information we're drawing from.

The high end is >40%, as I explained above. The lower limit is actually <20%, as there could be a theoretical cohort of women who have repeated unintended-but-aborted pregnancies such that they quickly account for the 40% rate of abortion while a larger theoretical cohort could have singular unintended-but-carried-to-term pregnancies.
posted by explosion at 7:48 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


[while "jezebel talks about political issues" isn't always great as a jumping off point, we can do better. Please keep the nastiness down to a dull roar and don't turn this into your own personal grargrargrar soapbox. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread."

Chances are, several (possibly many) of everyone's mothers commenting here did choose to have abortions at some point in their lives... having an abortion does not mean you are anti-children or even anti children of your own. It just means they could not handle that pregnancy at that time. Having wanted children makes all the difference.
posted by Mchelly at 8:00 AM on January 17, 2011 [27 favorites]


Go Banana:
These statistics seem rather shocking to me, notably that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Is access to birth control really that bad? And if so, why?


One reason is that the same assholes who want to outlaw abortion also act like any form of contraception is super evil, so when their kids inevitably have sex, well, lots of unplanned pregnancies.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:11 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread.

I am really happy that I live in a place where it is a choice.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:15 AM on January 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Everyone is quoting one part of they see fit to quote. Quote the whole comment. Typical.
posted by Senator at 8:20 AM on January 17, 2011


Senator: "Everyone is quoting one part of they see fit to quote. Quote the whole comment. Typical."

The other sentences in your comment didn't negate the first sentence. Nor did they modify it enough to make the resulting responses to it invalid.
posted by zarq at 8:26 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one that thought at first glance that this had something to do with Girl Guides having abortions?
posted by Kabanos at 8:33 AM on January 17, 2011


I was an unplanned pregnancy. As in, 'you need to stop taking the pill for one month before we can sterilize you, but you shouldn't get pregnant after years on it.' My mum got used to it, and she never made me feel like a mistake, if you see what I mean.

I'm still pro-choice. In fact, I'd say that over in the UK, where the lobby is more of a 'group of people singing hymns outside newly-opened centres', it's easier to presume everyone is, or if they aren't, then they're pro-life in a personal way. (It's so little a purely political issue that we've had to import 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' over from the US - it's usually discussed as 'for/against abortion', as a moral rather than legal debate.)
posted by mippy at 8:42 AM on January 17, 2011


The difference between abortion and slavery is that the former is a question of what people do with their own bodies, while the latter pertains to the bodies of others. This is what's galling about the pro-life movement, and why comparing it to slavery is way off base, your pro-choice position aside.

And yet if you listen to the pro-life movement, slavery is the struggle they compare it to right down to the comparisons with Wilberforce - which is why I used that example. In part to make a point - old analogies that are not accepted by the other side are very likely to not win any ground.

who chooses whether an abortion takes place? If you said anybody other than the pregnant woman, you're anti-choice or pro-life or whatever you want to call yourself. If you said "the pregnant woman", you're pro-choice. That's it. That's all that's really important.

Can you correct that to "who should choose"? Because the scumbag who martyred Dr Tiller chose whether women had abortions. That does not make it right.

And yet people never say "theft" or "adultery." Because that doesn't have the awesome rhetorical power of taking a woman with three kids, one of whom is disabled, who doesn't think she can handle another newborn while her husband is deployed and turning that woman into Simon LeGree. An awful lot of people recognize shades of gray in theft and even adultery. We wouldn't condemn Jean Valjean for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children. Slavery is seen as an absolutely evil, which is why people analogize abortion to slavery and not to theft.

I think you misunderstand the other side here. Murder is used because it is closest to what they think is going on and is quite damning enough on its own to allow the pro-life lobby to dust off their anti-kitten burning credentials. And Slavery is used not primarily for the emotional impact on the perpetrators, but because the political heart of the pro-life movement is Dominionist Evangelical Christians - and abolitionism was probably the high point of Evangelical political involvement (especially as the Dominionists are right wing and historical evangelicals have generally been left wing pro-poor. It crops up repeatedly because the Evangelicals want to think they are abolitionists.

I think this has become such a polarizing debate that people who all think the same thing have decided that they DON'T, and are arguing at each other rather than realizing "wait, we actually agree about this."

To me (I'm not American), there's a vast rhetorical gap between the spokesfigures for the two sides - and the Lifers have far the more effective rhetoric until you pick it apart. Part of this is the term 'Pro-Choice' - choice is something I get in a supermarket. A lot of it is that the pro-Lifers start out with a huge advantage rhetorically; you only need to make a few well-chosen simplifications to the world for their side to be solid. And the righteous wrath approach has always been more attractive than the "The purpose of civilisation is to be less unforgiving than nature". Also a part of it is IMO levels of dishonesty; I'm not aware of anyone traumatised by pro-choice videos of abortions mixed with screaming children.
posted by Francis at 8:46 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like What To Expect When You're Aborting better. Though this one's a bit more practical.
posted by NoraReed at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chances are, several (possibly many) of everyone's mothers commenting here did choose to have abortions at some point in their lives.

Yep. In the early years of my parents' marriage, my mom had an IUD. After feeling ill for several days in the late 70s, she went to the doctor, who put her on a high dose of a teratogenic antibiotic. Several weeks later, after my mom had finished her course of the medicine, they realized she was not sick, but pregnant.

Fortunately, she had safe access to a sterile abortion. Which she had, and about which she has no regrets. Funny thing is, if she hadn't had access to a said abortion, there's a good chance that, between medical complications or raising a child with potentially severe birth defects, my (planned) birth wouldn't have happened just a couple years later.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:54 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended

Ask Natalie Portman.

I think you meant to ask Natalie Portman's mom.

Thank you, thank you.


I must be a humorless feminist, but joking that people were "accidents" is not particularly funny or kind.
posted by liketitanic at 8:58 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why did Jezebel have to get all cute with calling it "A Girl's Guide"? I sincerely doubt that their readership includes many high school girls or even younger. The information is fine, but Jezebel never misses a chance to annoy/alienate.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:00 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing it's irony cf. The Girl's Guide To Hunting and Fishing.
posted by mippy at 9:30 AM on January 17, 2011


And Slavery is used not primarily for the emotional impact on the perpetrators, but because the political heart of the pro-life movement is Dominionist Evangelical Christians - and abolitionism was probably the high point of Evangelical political involvement
Yeah, I'm not buying it. Anti-choice American Catholics are as likely to use the slavery metaphor as anti-choice Evangelicals, and the American Catholic church was pro-slavery (or at least anti-abolition.) I think it's just a cheap emotional points-scoring thing.
posted by craichead at 9:30 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


AsYouKnow Bob: “Given the tens of millions of women (and their partners, and their families) for whom the right to a legal and safe abortion in NOT AT ALL HYPOTHETICAL - - How does the anti-abortion position remain politically viable?”

Mitheral: “Cognitive Dissonance. People will support laws for the general public that they themselves are willing to break; often with a rationalization of how their situation is different or special and therefor worthy of rule breaking.”

jaynewould: “See also: astonishing number of politicians caught in gay sex scandals who present a staunchly homophobic public face.”

It's more than that, I think. AndrewKemendo sort of caught this a bit, but I think it deserves more discussion; abortion is remarkably unpleasant. In some ways, it is even more unpleasant now than it was in the 80s.

People have lots of confusions about morality. One of them is categorizing painful things morally. It's always been relatively tough for young women to get abortions; it's never been something they look back on with fondness, anyway. And it's normal for people to become a little more conservative as they get older. So I think there were a lot of women in my parents' generation (baby boomers) who just classified their abortions as "mistakes I made when I was younger," and vowed that they wouldn't let others make those mistakes. We humans are creatures of shame, so it's common for people who have unpleasant experiences to convince themselves that those experiences were their fault. The secret thought process is: 'I really hated going through that. It was hard for me. It must have been punishment because I did something wrong; it's horrifying, but I must be a babykiller. I deserve what I got and more.'

What's really unfortunate in my mind, and bitterly ironical, is the fact that it appears that the pro-life movement is made up of two sorts of people: those who are woefully naive, and those who suffer with secret pain. The former are generally men, while the latter are almost always women. Many pro-life men believe not only that abortion is murder, but that abortion is easy, and you'll often hear the more clueless among them keening loudly about just how easily all these women commit murder, just how simple it is and how painless to do such moral wrongs. Pro-life women – particularly those who've had abortions, of whom I suspect there are a large number – know better; they know very well how hard it was for them. But they've often convinced themselves that they deserved it. They believe it should have been even more painful, even more difficult, and they think that, by making it more so for young women today, maybe they can prevent that pain.

The result is that the pro-life movement exists largely as a mechanism to make abortions more difficult and more painful for women. And the result of that is that more and more women end up feeling that abortion must be wrong, and that they themselves are terrible people for choosing it.

My mom was one of those people – before she had me, she had several abortions. She didn't tell me this until I was past 25, but still she wept bitterly speaking about it, and told me she didn't want anybody ever to "make that mistake." I love you, mom, but you're wrong; you did nothing terrible, and you never, never need to feel that way. And I wish no woman ever had to feel that way ever again.
posted by koeselitz at 9:53 AM on January 17, 2011 [25 favorites]


This Jezebel resource is short and trite and seems to be for show more than anything else. It rushes through the abortion procedure and comes off as flippant - it could have been helpful to women, but really just provides a snapshot more than a guide.
posted by analog at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My mom was one of those people – before she had me, she had several abortions.

Mine had one, before access to abortion was legal and I only heard second-hand about it from my sister. She's never talked to me about it. It was available to her as someone with some money and some connections but the entire atmosphere from her partner to her doctor was one of not only shame but "Shame on YOU." As she's aged she's definitely a bit more swayed by the anti-abortion rhetoric but I think it's because, ultimately, her abortion was safe [if morally problematized] because she had resources. People have a lot of different barriers in the US to getting good medical care generally, much less procedures like these in the tighly-wound battleground that the US is becoming.

Good on Jezebel for telling it straight.
posted by jessamyn at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2011


Ideefix: Why did Jezebel have to get all cute with calling it "A Girl's Guide"? I sincerely doubt that their readership includes many high school girls or even younger. The information is fine, but Jezebel never misses a chance to annoy/alienate.

I gotta be honest: I haven't read the fucking link, since the title is so cutesy (and I find Jezebel's other advice-type columns, like Social Mindfield and the dressing ones, a little condescending and seeminly geared toward 17 year olds). Is the link actually worth checking out?

Anyway, if I'm a one issue poster, you know it's abortion. I've had two: one was absolutely 100% the right decision for me, no question. The other one? Knowing what I know now, I don't think I would go through it. But, at the time, without the benefit of the past 2 years knowledge and experience, I think I made the right decision. I think. But that doesn't mean I think abortion should be legal, or that I killed a baby.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 10:36 AM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re: slaves vs. fetuses

This is such an erroneous analogy I don't know where to begin. Even if you assume that fetuses are full-fledged people with all the attendant rights (an absurdity already, since we stage the granting of rights by age just about everywhere in the world), they are then people that have taken up residence in a woman's uterus. If somebody whose kidneys had failed sneaked into my bedroom at night and hooked herself up to my kidneys to preserve her life, I would be quite angry with someone who suggested I do not have the right to eject her from my room. I'm not sure this quite captures the feelings of a woman who is told by someone else she can't have an abortion, but it's the closest I can come.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


. . . But that doesn't mean I think abortion should be legal, or that I killed a baby.

Illegal, that is. I mean--that's obvious, right?
posted by Ideal Impulse at 11:44 AM on January 17, 2011


I must be a humorless feminist, but joking that people were "accidents" is not particularly funny or kind.

The first crack was about Natalie Portman's pregnancy, which all gossip rags are calling accidental.

The second was just a reference to Black Swan.
posted by graventy at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Jezebel article sucks. NoraReed linked a decent one, though.

My choice was either abort or spend 9 months on a psych ward. I had been getting progressively more suicidal for weeks leading up to discovering the pregnancy. When I tested positive, all hell broke lose. I won't mention the absolute lack of psych meds you can take while pregnant.

At the time, I was living in an ultra-conservative, mostly-Catholic area. Planned Parenthood referred me to the ONE clinic in town that could/would perform an abortion. This was a crappy little building, right at the edge of the ghetto. There were bars over the windows, and to get into the building, you had to use an intercom system, confirming that you had an appointment. The staff confirmed that the line of pro-life picketers on the sidewalk outside were there all day, every day.

I was lucky to have my mother (a nurse, who would've never made this decision for herself) with me. She had a few choice words for one pro-lifer who tried to harass me. My boyfriend at the time was there, but not really the most supportive.

From reading these articles, it seems the usual case that women are given anesthesia and/or pain killers before the surgical procedure. I was given a Valium and time in the waiting room for it to kick in. This still stands as the most painful medical procedure I've ever experienced. I was thankful for the "recovery room" with comfy couches and the lights turned down low. Someone brought me some Advil, but after about 20minutes listening to the other patients converse about how this was their 2nd, 3rd, or whatever abortion, I had to get out. I managed to talk a nurse into helping me back to the waiting room and letting my mother take me home, where I slept for about 12 hours.

This was about 7 years ago, and I have no regrets. I firmly believe I wouldn't have survived the 9 months. I remember, though, feeling confused/awkward by the fact that I didn't regret it. It wasn't an agonizing decision; I didn't spend hours/days mulling over what I was going to do (before the procedure) or what I had done (after). Due to, I guess, lots of propaganda shoved down my throat, I felt bad that I *didn't* feel bad. I'm long over that now, but wish that others didn't have to feel the same way.
posted by MuChao at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Senator wrote: "I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread."

For the record, my biological mother chose adoption because there were people prepared to adopt me at birth. Not that I would have in any way begrudged her the choice of abortion. After all, I wouldn't be here to complain, and it was and still is her body.

Go Banana wrote: "The huge variation in teenage pregnancy rates among industrialized countries seems to indicate that something is seriously wrong with sex education and birth control availability in a lot of places."

There is a wide variation in teen pregnancy just in the US. In larger cities and among the middle and upper classes, it's relatively rare. Among poor and/or rural people, it's incredibly common. Nearly universal, even. To the point that the women who didn't get pregnant in high school consider themselves one of the lucky few.

It has to do both with lack of access to birth control, the fact that there's nothing to do, so fucking is what the kids do for fun, and the fact that said premarital fucking is seen as shameful despite being something everyone does. Thus, nobody wants to go to the grocery store and buy condoms, because then everyone in town will know for sure that sex is being had. And that just won't do.
posted by wierdo at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Francias: Part of this is the term 'Pro-Choice' - choice is something I get in a supermarket. A lot of it is that the pro-Lifers start out with a huge advantage rhetorically

I've started using "forced birthers" instead of "pro-lifers."

Also, I've had an abortion. The process of making that decision was a journey from "Meh, it's a clump of cells" to "Goodbye, you little bundle of potential, thanks for choosing us but right now our situation's too unstable. I invite you to come back if and when we decide parenthood's for us" and sending it back to the universe with loving kindness.

I didn't regret it then. I continue to be happy about that choice, and that I was legally free to make that choice.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread.

You have no way of knowing whose mother has had an abortion. My mother had multiple abortions, and I believe her life was better for it. Sixty-one percent of women who get abortions are mothers already. Presumably they are more invested in caring for their existing children than in giving birth to child they cannot support.
posted by stinker at 12:16 PM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Help fund abortion. Especially consider funding organizations like the Haven Coalition that make later-term abortions more accessible and humane.

I can't imagine how horrible it would be to need a second-term abortion in an area where it's difficult to get one. I'm lucky to live in NYC, where abortion is available, and where people actually travel in order to get abortions that they can't get at home.

So please, if you have the resources, consider donating to make it easier for women who lack easy access to abortion.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I had an abortion. I don't regret it at all. It was uncomfortable for a few hours, but less so than the monthly horror show that was my period. Much better than being pregnant, which had me constantly dehydrated, queasy, and vomiting. Or sleeping.

I was so excited that I could eat a normal meal! People talk about the difficulty of the abortion, not as much about the difficulty of early pregnancy.

A friend had a medical abortion which lasted a couple horrible days. Mine took 3-4 hours total from arriving in the waiting room to being done and pretty much pain-free. Pregnancy symptoms completely gone that night, if I remember correctly. Normal food. I could eat normal food!

So my suggestion is go for the surgical procedure.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:32 PM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


You have no way of knowing whose mother has had an abortion. My mother had multiple abortions, and I believe her life was better for it. Sixty-one percent of women who get abortions are mothers already. Presumably they are more invested in caring for their existing children than in giving birth to child they cannot support.


I am just thankful, really, that I can read your words and that you are here to teach me.
posted by Senator at 12:36 PM on January 17, 2011


Senator: “I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread.”

Some people might take offense to this comment, Senator; it sounds distinctly like a condescending implication that anyone who supports abortion is a hypocrite because they weren't aborted themselves. Maybe it'd be better to talk about it directly. Do you believe that abortion is wrong?
posted by koeselitz at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


How does the anti-abortion position remain politically viable?

nthing cognitive dissonance. Mrs. werkzeuger and I terminated a pregnancy, a story which appears elsewhere on MeFi and I won't repeat. My mother, when told that we would have to travel to Dr. Tiller in Kansas (from Minnesota) because of MN state law, excalimed "it's none of their business!" Upon returning, she told me (with my wife sitting right there) "well, I know you've always really been pro life!"

Sheer, jaw-dropping cognitive dissonance. Hurtful, myopic, beyond reasoning. Jesus. I can't even bear to think how she votes.
posted by werkzeuger at 1:56 PM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Often, they would say that they were pro-life and believed "life begins at conception" and the like -- but then went on to say that "but I don't think it's the government's business." I would then point out that, "that's...actually what 'pro-choice' means, that each individual should have the right to decide whether this is right for them." And this information shocked them
-Empress Callipygos

This has been my experience in talking to students. A surprising number of them are "pro-life" because they don't think they would ever choose abortion, and they believe that "pro-choicers" are bad in some nebulous way, but they also believe that it should be legal to choose to have an abortion. In other words, they just are pro-choicers, full stop, but they don't realize the term applies to them. I am starting to assign sides in class debates over abortion just in terms of "should it be legal for a woman to have an abortion?" (there are the "never" and the "sometimes/always" sides) rather than "pro-life" vs "pro-choice" because the labels are too distracting.

(Same phenomenon for feminism, incidentally. Students including many/most female students will say they're not feminists, but if you list off key commitments of feminism, they agree with all of them.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some people might take offense to this comment, Senator; it sounds distinctly like a condescending implication that anyone who supports abortion is a hypocrite because they weren't aborted themselves.
It's also just kind of a weird, jarring thing to say. It's as if the topic being discussed had to do with sex, and we were all talking about sex, and someone popped in and said "I've learned so much from you guys. I'm glad all of your parents had sex!" Um, ok. So am I, I guess. But what a weird, sightly icky thing to say.

So either you're playing gotcha or you're making a kind of creepy, inappropriate comment. I'm not sure it's all that socially acceptable to bring up the conditions of people's conception and gestation in casual conversation!
posted by craichead at 2:04 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe it'd be better to talk about it directly.

To what end? It seems likely that any answer given other than "I'm pro choice," is likely to result in a massive, angry pile-on.
posted by zarq at 2:20 PM on January 17, 2011


To what end? It seems likely that any answer given other than "I'm pro choice," is likely to result in a massive, angry pile-on.

Snarking in a "I just might be pro-life" way is a great way to get people agitated about what they think you think without coming out and saying it. This is, in almost all respects, worse than someone saying what they sincerely believe in a non-fighty way. We've really tried to curtail the "one member gets piled on and interrogated for their unpoular beliefs" syndrome through mod activity and user education, but any sort of "oh shit, this is really going to get all fucked up if X says Y" situation [whether correct or not] is less good than actual people talking about actual things.

Senator: if you're not making a sideways pro-life snark, I'd encourage you to join the discussion. Your comments are not clear on what you're trying to say and in some ways look like trolling. If this is not what you're doing, good news, it's pretty easy to correct others' misapprehensions. If this is what you're doing, you've done it and now maybe it's time to give it a rest.
posted by jessamyn at 2:40 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: slaves vs. fetuses [*]

Now available in the iPhone AppStore.
posted by rh at 2:42 PM on January 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some people might take offense to this comment, Senator; it sounds distinctly like a condescending implication that anyone who supports abortion is a hypocrite because they weren't aborted themselves.

Whenever someone pops up with the question:

Well, what if you were aborted? Did you ever think about that?

I always picture them lamenting every seminal emission that didn't find a fertile womb.

Oh my god, someone jerked off in a trash can. Quick, get that semen off that Kleenex and into a vagina, STAT! C'mon people that's baby batter going to waste — lovable, lovable babies! You don't want some mystery semen inside of you? What, do you hate babies? C'mon, they're babies, you have to love them and have them and hold them! You just have to.

Oh never mind, it was some leftover mayo from someone's lunch.

posted by BrotherCaine at 2:48 PM on January 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am really happy and glad that everyone's mother did not choose to have an abortion who contributed to this thread.

And I'm glad my parents decided to reproduce specifically with each other!


And I'm glad my parents accidentally got pregnant when they were 15 years old, and that my mother had to quit school despite being really smart and never got any qualifications and ended up working part time menial jobs with a violent alcoholic husband because that's a sort of situation that girls who have babies at 16 find it harder to get out of.

Oh wait, no I'm not. But that doesn't mean I'm not glad to be alive.

The world is complicated sometimes.
posted by lollusc at 4:45 PM on January 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


I apologize to all those people who have never been born because their mothers kept their current pregnancy and so were infertile when that sperm and that egg that would have led to their creation were produced. Too bad. They may have been geniuses who could have cured cancer and unlocked the secrets of the universe.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:58 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The pro-life position is a lot more reasonable than many in this thread seem to want to admit.

If you believe in a universal rule of morality (defined by whatever you'd like; karma, religion, whatever), and you believe that taking a human life goes against that morality, then you have to decide what level of risk you're willing to assume. You then have to ask whether or not it's okay to stand by and watch others violate that rule, and what level of risk you're comfortable with them assuming.

Lots of people in this world seem to believe that a) it's wrong to take another human life, b) they're uncomfortable gambling on when that human life begins, c) they believe it's wrong to sit quiet while others aid in the taking of those lives. Many don't arrive at these feelings until they have children of their own and become fascinated by the "miracle of life."

Disagree with the pro-life position if you'd like, but there isn't any sense in trivializing it. It seems to me that if the stereo-type wasn't of people with mean spirited signs throwing pipe bombs at clinics, it'd likely be much more accepted by left leaning folks.
posted by rulethirty at 7:39 PM on January 17, 2011


Disagree with the pro-life position if you'd like, but there isn't any sense in trivializing it.

By the same token, there isn't any sense in "trivializing" the pro-choice position either.

Lots of people in this world seem to believe that a) it's wrong to take another human life, b) they're uncomfortable gambling on when that human life begins, c) they believe it's wrong to sit quiet while others aid in the taking of those lives. Many don't arrive at these feelings until they have children of their own and become fascinated by the "miracle of life."

By the same token, lots of people in this world seem to believe that a) it's wrong to prevent a human woman and her doctor from having the final authority on what is medically best for her body, b) they're uncomfortable with the thought of "one-size-fits-all" legislation governing a biological process that is unique to each individual who experiences it, and c) they believe that it's wrong to go back to being quiet about some women taking matters into their own hands and killing themselves in the process because they had no other choice. Many don't arrive at these feelings untll they have been confronted with an unplanned pregnancy, or a planned pregnancy that suddenly and irreversably became unviable, or a planned pregnancy in which the mother's life was suddenly at risk because of that pregnancy.

I remember, when I was ten, listening to my mother and some of her friends having a discussion (when they thought I wasn't listening) about a woman they knew who was pregnant and suddenly and inexplicably, in her fourth month, developed an actual allergy to her unborn child. Carrying through with the pregnancy would have sent her in to ancephelactic shock. If you are faced with a situation like that, you have to ask whether or not it's okay to stand by and watch that woman die simply because it was against the law to terminate the life of her unborn child -- or whether her doctor should have the leeway to save the life of an already born person in the most effective way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


BUT MY POLITICS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN PEOPLE
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:25 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Abortion should be legal and without stigma. It also costs a little bit of life. Not a whole life, not a roaring fire of life, but perhaps a little spark. Not nothing. And that abortion can be a really good choice.

In the context of a legal battle to abolish abortion, both sides end up rounding off their positions way past a margin of error that I'm comfortable with for something so important. When I hear these shouting matches, I always wonder where the grey area went.
posted by windowbr8r at 11:19 PM on January 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think abortion should be legal, easily accessible, and free.

No grey area. You know why? People want to outlaw abortion. They've partially succeeded. It's already difficult to get abortions for many women in the US. A theoretical debate about the grey areas of morality is not important when compared to the actual issue of abortion access.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:55 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]



If you believe in a universal rule of morality (defined by whatever you'd like; karma, religion, whatever), and you believe that taking a human life goes against that morality, then you have to decide what level of risk you're willing to assume. You then have to ask whether or not it's okay to stand by and watch others violate that rule, and what level of risk you're comfortable with them assuming.


Oh, no, no, no. An embryo or young fetus is no more a human than a pile of steel and plastic is a car. The matter of when it becomes human is a question of faith and risk that ONLY the pregnant woman needs to wrestle with. You let HER deal with that question, and until it is scientifically proven that a clump of cells the size of my thumbnail is fully conscious and aware, you continue to stay out of her way.

If you can't trust a woman to make that choice, then how can you expect her to raise a child?

If you're really worried about taking human life per se, go fight the death penalty. Thank you.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:51 AM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


An embryo or young fetus is no more a human than a pile of steel and plastic is a car.

jfwlucy, I agree with everything you said, except for this over-the-top statement. And statements like this, while I understand your motivation for making it and the analogy you draw, it works against the arguments of prochoice by dismissing entirely the fact that the woman in question is in the process of creating a full-fledged human being. The crux, as I see it, is in the rest of your comment: it's her choice, she is the maker and eventual caretaker for the potential child and if you don't trust her to make the decision to continue the pregnancy, how can you trust her to nurture what grows in her womb? Anti-choice (we're all pro-life, assholes) leads to tyranny inexorably.

One other argument often missed:. ALL pregnancies brought to term significantly raise the risk of mortality for the mother. When a woman elects to take her pregnancy to term, she is taking on an additional risk of death in exchange for the hope of a new life. This is, to borrow religious terminology, is a holy and sacred choice that needs to reside firmly and finally in the woman herself. Those intending to make this choice for her have the luxury of not considering their own mortality in the ethical tradeoff. They should stay the hell out.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:18 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Badly edited, but I hope you get my gist.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2011


There's no way that 40% of women having abortions are having abortions for planned pregnancies which is about the only way of massaging the data to get 1/3 I can see.

You kidding? Us liberals love abortions so much that we plan ahead for them. Abortions get me psyched!
posted by FatherDagon at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2011


Mental Wimp: "jfwlucy, I agree with everything you said, except for this over-the-top statement. And statements like this, while I understand your motivation for making it and the analogy you draw, it works against the arguments of prochoice by dismissing entirely the fact that the woman in question is in the process of creating a full-fledged human being. "

Which may or may not become one, if left to nature. Studies have shown that somewhere between 10% and 25% of pregnancies miscarry in the first trimester due to natural causes -- such as implantation problems, chromosomal or uterine abnormalities, hormonal issues or others.

The pro-life movement's party line insists that every embryo, every fetus is a life, i.e. a fully-realized person and that aborting them is murder. Many pro-choice advocates, (including myself,) simply state the obvious: an embryo or fetus in the first and second trimesters is not a fully-realized person. It can't exist outside the womb. Even in the third trimester, the earlier a baby is born, the less likely it will be to survive without extraordinary outside measures.

The mother in your hypothetical is in the process of creating a life. But until she does it's a potential life, not an actualized one. Abortion isn't murder any more than wasted semen emission through masturbation or egg loss during menstruation or a miscarriage is murder.
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


zarq, I think we're violently agreeing here.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:51 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mental Wimp: "zarq, I think we're violently agreeing here."

Heh. Yeah, probably. :)
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sixty-one percent of women who get abortions are mothers already. Presumably they are more invested in caring for their existing children than in giving birth to child they cannot support.

My mother had an abortion when I was a kid for this very reason. She already had me and her partner was off in China when she found out she was pregnant, so she would have had to go through the birth and newborn phases on her own with a pre-existing kid in tow. She decided that she just couldn't do that. I suppose it's too bad that it didn't work out for her to then have a planned pregnancy later, but the timing was just wrong for her when that pregnancy happened.

I was also unplanned, but the timing was very different - my mom had a partner who was NOT literally on the other side of the planet, a stable job, and no other kids to take care of. So, yeah, same woman faced with two unplanned pregnancies makes two different choices and chooses an abortion the second time to take care of the kid she already had.

Whenever someone pops up with the question:

Well, what if you were aborted? Did you ever think about that?


It's pretty easy. I wouldn't be here to have an opinion. Or this sandwich. And, having never been born, I don't think I'd care that much. Or exist. Existing is a pretty basic pre-requisite to caring. So, I pretty much don't think about it because it's a moot point.

Other ways to blow yr mind: "What if I had been the other gender? Would I still be me if a different sperm fertilized the egg? HOLY COW LIFE IN AND OF ITSELF IS A COMPLETE FREAK ACCIDENT."


If you believe in a universal rule of morality (defined by whatever you'd like; karma, religion, whatever), and you believe that taking a human life goes against that morality, then you have to decide what level of risk you're willing to assume.


I believe strongly in karma and in not taking - or even intentionally harming - another human life. I also believe VERY strongly, even stronglier if that's possible (though admittedly not an actual *word*), that each person has free will. I'm not in the habit of telling people how to deal with their own karma, or even convince them that they have it. We're all on our own journeys, man. Kumba-fucking-ya and all that. I can't imagine the situation that would have to exist for me to have an abortion, but I can't possibly imagine making that decision for someone else either.

I know several women who have made that choice and I absolutely 100% do not think any less of them for it. Sure, they have to deal with the repercussions, but they would have had to deal with the repercussions of having a baby if they hadn't. There are very, very few choices in life that are actually consequence free - and anything involving pregnancy certainly doesn't fall into that category.

As to "when life starts"... I'm currently pregnant now - very, VERY planned (possibly over-planned, but that's neither here nor there) and while of course I love my unborn babby and whatnot - that thing that I saw on the 7 week ultrasound was not a baby. It was a potential baby, sure, but it was absolutely a clump of cells resembling a sea monkey. Now that I'm in my 3rd trimester, I absolutely feel like there's a real human in there, but that's over the course of a whole pregnancy, not the result of the moment of conception. And if I had miscarried? That's a whole different ball of wax (to me) than losing an already-born child. It would have sucked and been awful to lose that potential baby, but I absolutely can't bring myself - even while growing a whole fetus over here - to see a first trimester embryo in the same light as a viable fetus that could survive outside the womb.

I feel so differently about my "baby" now than I did at 7 or 12 or even 16 weeks. At 32 weeks gestation, he really could survive if he was born and he already has preferences and a personality. He's most active when I lie on my right side. He spends most of his time with his butt wedged into my liver. He gets the hiccups when I eat something really sweet. He falls asleep when I take a shower. This is so, so different for me than "I guess there's something growing in there" which was my general feeling up until about 28 weeks when I really could gauge how he was interacting with his environment. So, yeah, I can totally grok how a woman could abort in the first - or even early second - trimester. Absolutely. I wouldn't make that decision myself unless it was medically necessary, but I really truly understand that an embryo is not a baby.
posted by sonika at 1:21 PM on January 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


My mother was very pro-life growing up and voted based on this position. When I was 20 I was sure I was pregnant (turned out not to be true). She yelled at me and told me I better go get an abortion. I bet she'd still say she was pro-life. Many women are unless its their body or their daughter's.
posted by idle at 6:02 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


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