I just ran across an excellent opinion piece from Newsweek about the abortion debate.   The author, Anna Quindlen, says that the dialogue between the two sides has been lacking, and that the reproductive rights advocates need to take the initiative in remedying the situation:

Those of us who support reproductive rights like to say that polls show many Americans are on our side. The truth is that they are on our side, but. But they are troubled by what they’ve heard about certain methods. But they’re concerned about what they can see on the sonogram. How come, they ask, an unaccompanied 14-year-old can’t get a tattoo but can get an abortion? How come when you want it it’s called a baby and when you don’t it’s called a fetus? And how come they’re made to feel unreasonable and ignorant when they ask such questions? How come we don’t call it as they feel it?

She brings up some points that have long bothered me. Ultimately, my opinion doesn’t matter, because as man it’s a decision I’ll never have to face. But as one of many politically pro-choice, but morally and emotionally conflicted bystanders to the conflict, I wish I felt that I could discuss things like post-abortion depression and medical complications without fearing being accused of spreading propaganda for the other side. To be honest, the impression I’ve gotten from a lot of pro-choice activists is that they think abortion is always OK, that it should be no more morally or philosophically troubling than having a mole removed; that up till it’s born into the world a fetus is just a “blob of flesh”; and that any questioning of the above means you’re with the other side. 

As a former blob of flesh who has shaken hands with a former aborted baby, things are not as black and white from my point of view.  And I want to be able to talk about that.  I want to be able to talk about things like depression and medical complications, and how often they really occur.  I want to be able to ask why records are not kept on those outcomes.  I want to know the real stats on third-trimester abortions, and whether it’s true that it’s a rare procedure that’s only used when it’s a medical necessity.  I want to know how much, if any, of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from the abortion business, and if so whether it is really the interests of women that they put first.

Basically, I have concerns, and I would like to put them to rest, or at least feel like they have been addressed.  But as it is I don’t feel comfortable talking about them.  I’m nervous writing this, in fact.  Maybe I’m just paranoid from years of hanging out with pro-lifers.  I’d like my fears to be proven groundless.

EDIT: Oops, forgot to include a link to the article.

View All


  1. I’ve given this issue a lot of thought. I’m a reformed pro-lifer. As a teenager I protested abortion clinics, and abhored the idea, largely because I was moved with the fairly brutal pro-life propoganda. Also as a teenager, I had an abortion. I conceieved despite precautions and although I do feel like I was pressured into terminating the pregnancy, I’m at peace with my choice. It was the right decision for me and I don’t regret it.

    That said, I am pro-choice not because I favor a woman’s right to choose or think it’s an issue of rights at all, merely because I don’t think the government should be in the business of legislating ethics. Personally, I oppose second trimester abortions and am repulsed at the concept of third trimester terminiations. There is a point during any pregnancy in which the fetus becomes capable of sustaining its own life and at that point I believe it has its own claim to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Perhaps legislation (if this issue has to have any at all) should allow any woman who has decided after this point of viability (call it just shy of 7 months pregnant) to voluntarily undergo induction and sign away her rights to the baby. It would be massively expensive to care for these premature infants, but they would have a fair shot at survival, even without crippling brain damage these days. It probably sounds cold, but the alternative (abortion) involves a much worse fate for the child.

    Anyway, this was a whole lot of babbling to say that I think the government should stay out of it and that it’s not a voting issue for me either way as it’s not something I will ever face again.

    1. Also,

      All laws break down to ethical and moral decisions. Our tax code, our laws on abortion, on euthanasia, or on punishments for crimes are all based on an understanding of what “the good” is. Saying that law shouldn’t dictate and legislate ethics is like saying farmers shouldn’t grow crops. That’s what farmers do. Its also what laws do.

      We have a structure of law in place that permits a certain degree of leeway, in many cases, about what “good” is–but the distinctions exist between “good” and “not-good’.

      1. I’m not going to argue this point. Sure, everything is ethical and emotional. Let’s just say that I don’t think the governement should directly have a say in social issues. But I don’t think there should be many laws at all. Or taxes. Or crimes. Wait, what was your point anyway? I went back and read your comment like three times and I have no idea what you were trying to tell me. I’m having one of those kinds of days.

        1. But I don’t think there should be many laws at all. Or taxes. Or crimes.

          Heh. My kinda gal.

          And I suspect you have more in common with than it may seem at first. It’s just a matter of terminology.

        2. Matrixx,

          Ok, let me try to clarify here.
          I apologize if I came off a bit snarky before–I was in a rough mood.

          My point is this:

          You state that you don’t think the government should be in the business of legislating ethics. On one level, I very much agree with this statement. On another, however, its important to realize that any legal framework for any nation, city, or town presupposes that said laws (if freely enacted and not dictatorially imposed) are created out of a common conception of “the good”.

          Simple example: Traffic laws.

          Whether you feel the federal government should make such laws or not, I doubt you’d disagree that on the state, regional, or local level, at some point, the residents of an area have the right to determine the safe velocity through which one may travel through it. These speeds (one assumes) are set from a knowledge of general road conditions as well as an eye towards the speeds the road is capable of sustaining.

          The goal of such speed restrictions (other than to prevent costly maintenance from occuring more often than is necessary) is to save lives and prevent needless accidents. Thus we see an ethical / moral concern (the value of life and the “good” of saving it) in even a relatively dry area of modern law.

          If I had to put the point in a single sentence it would be this:

          All laws are based on ethical principles and reflect that in their legislation. The degree to which people are sensitive to this fact coresponds strongly to the degree that they disagree with the law or statute.

          1. Acutally, I disagree with speed limit laws and believe its purpose is more to raise funds than to save lives. Ideally, we would live in a society where common sense (i.e. not driving 50 miles an hour down a residential block) governed our actions rather than a threatening body of legislation, be it local, state or federal.

            But that’s just me being obtuse. Let’s pick something we’d most likely agree on, such as the necessity of stop signs. We can all agree that this is a practical matter neccesary to facilitate the flow of traffic. We AGREE that this is needed, otherwise we would all surely suffer loss at the chaos of intersections. Why, then, should the government have to enforce the validity of stop signs? Why not simply have a law, if you must have a law at all, that says, “You will be held financially responsible if you hit another person’s vehicle”?

            And, more to the point, why is this an ethical question at all? Probably most of us don’t actually want to cause traffic accidents or kill babies. Do we really need the government looking over our shoulders and saying what is right and what is wrong?

          2. I agree with that even stop sign laws are ultimately grounded in ethics, and I agree with you that a civil society shouldn’t need them. He may, as well, I’m not sure how libertarian he swings.

            If I may, I think what he’s trying to say is that when a society enacts laws, it justifies ALL of them, ultimately, in ethical terms. E.g. “stop signs must be enforced, otherwise there would be chaos in ths streets, and children would be killed, and killing children is BAD”. That’s the logic behind it. Or: “damages for reckless behaviour (e.g. running a stop sign and hitting someone) must be awarded, else there would be no disincentive for running stop signs, and there would be chaos in the streets, and children would be killed, etc”. We justify rules ethically. I’m with you in thinking that we don’t need government around in order to to make, or perhaps even to enforce, the rules. But even my libertarian notions of what rules a society should observe are ultimately grounded in the moral judgement that the survival of the human species, and the happiness of individual humans, is a GOOD thing.

          3. Okay, but back to my original reply… What the hell does ANY of that have to do with abortion? You still haven’t made any distinction as to whether it’s a greater moral affront to tell a woman that she cannot kill a fetus which she has concieved or to actually kill the fetus. If we as individuals can’t figure this out, why should we expect or allow the government to do so?

      2. Technically, I agree with you. But I understand what is saying, too.

        All laws are moral laws. What most people mean when they say “I don’t think the government should legislate morality” is “I don’t think the government should legislate private acts conducted by consenting adults”.

        Of course, whether consentnig adults are the only persons concerned where abortion is concerned is the big question behind the debate.

  2. I want to know why everyone buys the bullshit idea that because we’re men, our opinions don’t matter.

    Excuse me? What? No. Abso-fucking-lutely yes they do.

    Now, legally, maybe not. I can’t make a woman have (or not have) a baby. I understand that, since any other position opens up the door for massive abuse.

    But on a moral, ethical, and principled level, my opinion counts so long as I’m willing to jointly assume responsibility for the consequences of the decision.

    1. My opinion doesn’t matter because there’s only one person reading this in whose decision I might rightfully take joint responsibility – and I’m not in any doubt as to which decision she would make. My opinion rightfully doesn’t matter to any other women faced with that decision.

      1. *poke* “might”???

      2. Avdi,

        Ok, I slightly misunderstood you. I can see why Woman X (of no relation or inherent concern to you) does not care what YOU think of her having an abortion or not having one. I can also see where she might care slightly more about Woman Y’s opinion since Wo-Y is a female who has possibly gone through either childbirth or abortion and has information to share from the female perspective on either or both.

        My comments were considered in a relationship context. I loathe the idea that my girlfriend or wife might choose to abort OUR child with no input from me. Its a concept I only barely tolerate ethically because opening the door on it would lead to tremendous abuse.

        Regarding the questions you raise, I think these are excellent. You rarely see them mentioned (if ever) and as a hardware reviewer and analyst, I’m never going to argue someone wanting more data.

  3. I am a bit confused by the references to complications and post-abortion depression because I fail to see how that would make any difference since both of those are also common to giving birth to and raising children anyway?

    1. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask how common they are. Do they occur at a similar rate as with pregnancies which are brought to term? Are they more or less severe, on average? It’s normal with most medical procedures for statistics on that kind of thing to be kept, but it’s my understanding that with abortions, at least those done at private clinics, no such records are kept. And the only discussion of negative side effects seems to occur on the anti- side of the fence – which makes it difficult to get an objective idea of the risks involved.

      1. Hmmm… Which “anti-” side? “Anti-abortion” or “anti-choice”? Or is this an example that encompases both?

        1. I meant “anti-abortion” in that context. Sorry.

    2. D&C abortion is a procedure wherein complications are nothing like those of full-term labor and delivery.

Comments are closed.