Sex Selective Abortions

After getting my kids off to college this weekend, I actually sat back and read the newspaper!  Thumbing through the New York Times, I came across an article about a new medical test that would help couples identify the sex of their unborn baby much earlier in the pregnancy.  Today, you have to wait until about 15 weeks or so to get a definitive answer.

This is a great scientific advancement so, of course, the pro-life groups are up in arms and expressing grave concern.  That’s because they think that women will start aborting fetuses because they wanted a boy instead of a girl or they already had three girls and were hoping to mix it up a bit.  And, of course, if the male has anything to say about it, he would abort that silly little girl over the next Derek Jeter.

Let’s all acknowledge that in certain cultures boys are preferred over girls and the practice of sex selection abortions is rather common in some of those cultures.  And, to be honest, while the idea of aborting a fetus because of its sex feels rather strange to me, I still have to support the woman on this one.  As I have always said, up until the point of viability the women should be able to abort no matter what the reason, no matter how uncomfortable it might be for others.  That’s because, if you start carving out exceptions such as sex selection, then you’re on a slippery slope and our lawmakers would soon be looking at other exceptions.

Of course, those who were raised in other cultures wind up coming to the United States so it is quite possible that a woman, for example, from India might want an abortion here in the U.S. because she knows she’s having a girl.  This new test will allow her to identify the sex much earlier which would allow her to have an abortion earlier in her pregnancy.  And, if you are going to have an abortion, earlier is always better than later, no?

So, yes, this new test might “encourage” a woman, particularly one from the East, to have an abortion for purposes of sex selection.  But let’s be real about this.

The fact is that when a woman goes into an abortion facility, after signing the paperwork, getting some medical tests, etc. she is then seen by a counselor.  The counselor discusses with her the abortion process, she reviews her other options, she talk about birth control and, well, sometimes they just plain talk.  But in the vast majority of reputable abortion clinics, the counselor does not ask why the woman is having the abortion.  There is no reason to know.  It would not change the abortion process.  That issue is left to the woman and anyone else she wishes to have involved in the decision.  Sure, a woman might just voluntarily offer why she was having the abortion but that question is not on the counselor’s “must ask” list.

So, in the future if a woman takes this new test and it indicates she is having a girl and she decides she does not want a girl, she may abort.  Personally, I think that would be a rare circumstance, i.e., to abort just because of the sex.  Even if you prefer a boy, when you learn that it’s a girl you perspective can change rather rapidly.  But if she wants to abort for that reason, no one is gonna know unless she decides to voluntarily talk about it.

Meanwhile, however, pro-life legislators have already indicated that they will be introducing measures prohibiting sex selection abortions.  I say go for it boys.  I think it’s a waste of time but if that’s where you want to spend your resources, go knock yourself out.  That’s because the reality is that, if you pass a bill prohibiting sex selection abortions, a woman will simply go to the clinic and, in the very unlikely event that she is asked why she is having an abortion, she’ll just make up another reason.

Duh…….

Emotional Terrorists

It seems that every once in a while, we get a new, energized abortion rights advocate who starts screaming about how every pro-lifer is a “terrorist.”  They usually also add how the Catholic Church has murdered more people than any other religion in the world, but I don’t have the time or energy to research what the Catholic Church has done over the centuries so I don’t opine on those comments.  However, I do have some experience in the world of abortion, so I would like to chat a little about whether or not all pro-lifers are “terrorists.”

I guess the first thing one needs to do is define “terrorist.”  In my head, the true terrorists are, of course, the folks who fly crowded airplanes into buildings, who blow themselves up in crowded market squares and who plot the death of innocent civilians or government workers.  You know who I am talking about:  Bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, and that nut ball up in Norway who recently killed all of those kids.   Then there are the Micheal Griffins, James Kopps and Paul Hills of the world.  True terrorists, they.

But then, way on the other end of the spectrum, are those pro-lifers who just sit in their house, avoiding all demonstrations and who rarely opine about their position on the abortion issue.  They might pray at home or in church for an end in abortion and send some money to their local pro-life organization, but I have a very tough time calling them “terrorists” and I suspect that most pro-choicers would also be reluctant to affix that label to them.

Where I get stuck is when I think of those folks who go to their local abortion clinic on a regular basis and publicly demonstrate.  Are they “terrorists?”  Let’s talk about their motivations and their actions.

I guess your average protestorgoes to the  clinic in the hopes of stopping an abortion, whether it is by engaging in prayer (don’t even ask me how that would work) or, if they chance, talking one on one with the women as they approach the

Angry Protestors = Terrorism?

abortion facility.  Once they identify the woman, they might start screaming at them.  Some even resort to the use of a bullhorn.  Now, a woman who has made an appointment for an abortion usually is warned by clinic staff that there may be protestors outside so when she sees the anti-abortion folks out front, she knows they smell blood.  Then scream at her that she is “killing your baby!”  They may make a crying baby sound and shriek “Mommy, don’t let them pull my legs off!”  Sometimes it is just a simple “Murderer!”  The woman may have been warned, she may have seen demonstrations on television, but she is rarely prepared for this scene.  And, to top it off, she doesn’t want to be at the clinic in the first place.

Over the years, I have seen this scenario played out in the front of many clinics.  The unique perspective that I have, however, is that on a number of occasions, I have walked with the women passed the protestors into the actual clinic.  Some gave me permission to accompany them through the entire abortion process.  I have seen (and the protestors haven’t) how upset the women are when they sign in, whose blood pressure has risen because they are so angry at these strangers outside the clinic who don’t know her or anything about her personal situation.  I’ve seen women who have already shed a few tears as she contemplated her decision shed even more tears in the waiting room.  And then, after all of the theatrics outside, I’ve then seen them have their abortion.

Not all pro-lifers are terrorists.  That’s a silly statement.  But I would conclude that to the women who walked the anti-abortion gauntlet, who could feel the hatred, who heard the screaming, who would prefer to be just with alone with their loved ones – I would say that those particular women were indeed “terrorized.”

Pro Life Bumper Stickers

Like most Americans (the sane ones, at least), I watched in horror as our elected officials almost brought our country to the economic brink a few weeks ago with their outright silliness over legislation to raise the debt ceiling.  Despite the fact that every Congress has gone through this drill many times (including under Reagan and Bush), this time around the young Tea Partyers decided it was time to draw the line in the sand – the economy be damned.

They cried that they had been sent to the Congress to send the message that we needed to get control of the “reckless” spending that was running rampant in our federal agencies.  So, screw your silly debt ceiling, they shouted!  I don’t care, Mr. President, if you are cutting a few trillion dollars in spending.  It’s not enough!  And, while you’re at it, don’t even think about raising any taxes, even on the billionaires who could care less if they had another $1,000 or so taken out of their paycheck.   There will be no compromise – and let the chips fall where they may!

What a friggin mess.  It was a game of machismo and Obama, because he actually believes in governing this country, had to blink.

And so it is with the debate over abortion.  As followers of this award-winning blog have seen in the past, the “debate,” and I use that term loosely, generally boils down to a cyberspace shouting match where no one gives any ground, where no one dares say “hey, you got a point there,” lest they be accused of treason.  Yes, there are some who have a bottom line but at times do show that they are at least hearing the other side.  But, for the most part, it is dueling academic reports and quotations.

So, for example, a pro-lifer will make their argument invoking Genesis (“and Adam begat Cain who then begat Tommy after he smote his bro Abel all the while declaring that there shall be no abortion”) or St. Luke the Meek (“ye shall never abort a possible Savior”).  They will spend hours insisting that their book is the only one worth shit, that it is the all knowing edition that lays out everything that must be obeyed – even if you wear a turban.  It is the WORD of the munificent and compassionate God, pure and simple and, if you stray from his oh-so-loving WORD, you will spend ETERNITY SURROUNDED BY FLAMES IN HELL.  Sorry, but those are the rules.

Then there are the pro-choicers who quote their own Gods or, to be more exact, Goddesses.  Steinem, Abzug, Friedan, Madonna.  Theirs is the word, the woman’s body is sacrosanct, it’s our way or the highway.  They believe that every anti-abortion person is a true nut ball or, worse, a terrorist.  The crisis pregnancy centers are all run by freak-a-zoids who don’t give a crap about women and who, once they talk that woman into having the baby, will disappear forever.  Adios, mama, you’re on your own!  Meanwhile, the pro-choicers will insist that that damned thing floating around in there is a fetus.  It ain’t a baby you idiot!   It doesn’t matter that the mother calls it a baby when that eight week fetus is wanted.  Nope, when we’re contemplating abortion, it’s a fetus, pure and simple.

The problem in this country is that we live in a bumper sticker world where no one dares to give ground any more.  I am right and you are wrong.  End of story.  Indeed, when was the last time you ever heard anyone say “hey, you got a point there, I wanna think about that.”  OMG!  Hey, we got a wimp over here folks!  A flip flopper!  Off with her head!

So, much like we saw in Congress, the abortion debate has become one intractable mess.

Well, I’m sorry but no one has the monopoly on wisdom on this or any other issue.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle.  To be sure, I am totally pro-choice but, damn it, at 24 weeks it sure looks like a baby to me.  And while I still support the right to abort it, it pains me to see it happen.  On the other hand, to the pro-lifers out there, you are never gonna convince me that a 6 week fetus is a baby or a “person” as some of you would suggest.  Get real.

I say we toss aside the bumper stickers for a bit.

Let’s start thinking and actually TALKING for a change.

Stop Bullying Women

For many years, anti-abortion activists have lobbied their state legislatures to pass laws that require abortion clinics to share certain information with their patients.  These so-called “Right to Know” laws take many forms:  giving the patient a brochure that shows the stages of fetal development, taking an ultrasound and showing it to the woman, reciting a script to the patient that is a litany of things that can go wrong with an abortion, etc., etc.

Although the pro-choice movement regularly opposes these laws, I have written in the past about how the affect of these laws on the woman is rather minimal.  For example, most women casually look at the brochures, if at all, then toss them into

the garbage.  I’ve been in the rooms with woman as they observed their ultrasound, asked questions about the fetus then proceeded to have the abortion.  It’s all a rather big waste of time if you ask me, but if the anti-abortion movement wants to spend their time on this kind of stuff, go for it.  And, after all, it’s all well-intentioned, isn’t it?  Sure, they would prefer to make that woman’s act totally illegal, but since they can’t do that they want to make sure that a woman is making an informed choice.  How compassionate of them, huh?

Meanwhile, up in New York City, the City Council has taken a great interest in the activities of a number of “crisis pregnancy centers” that, according to testimony provided in a hearing, are engaging in “deceptive” practices designed to convince the woman that they are actually medical facilities.  It seems that the staff in some of these cpcs a

Ultrasound Before Abortion Procedure

re doing some interesting things.  For some reason, they are collecting personal and insurance information in the waiting room, the consultations are taking place on examination tables with the woman in the stirrups and “scrub suited consultants” are giving free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.   On its face, it sounds a little deceptive to me but I’m sure these reports are not accurate because we’ve been told so many times that cpcs do not engage in this kind of behavior.

Still, this crazy ole City Council is concerned about this alleged behavior so they passed a law requiring the cpcs to post signs saying they have no doctors on site and don’t’ give advice about abortions or birth control.  Sounds kind of like the “Right to Know” laws that are being imposed on abortion clinics.

But, lo and behold, here comes the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian advocacy group, and they challenge the law, saying it would have violated the center’s right to free speech.  And, recently, a local judge agreed with them and slapped an injunction on the new law.

Putting aside all the legal mumbo-jumbo and the current status of the law, what I cannot sort out is why anti-abortion advocates want abortion clinics to inform women of everything but the kitchen sink, but when the NY City Council wants to ask them to give out just a little information about their centers, they balk at the idea?

Somebody help me here, please!

Protesters Holding Images of Aborted Fetuses

The images are disgusting, frightening, gross and, once exposed to them, forever etched in your mind.  I am referring to the graphic pictures of aborted fetuses that you regularly see on display in front of your local abortion clinic.

Anyone who has ever entered an abortion facility (or just driven by one for that matter) knows exactly what I am talking about.  Heck, you don’t really have to be anywhere in the vicinity of an abortion clinic to see them.  Some anti-abortion activists put the pictures on the back of their pick-up trucks and just cruise around the neighborhood.  Or, trying to save gas in these harsh economic times, they’ll just park the same truck in as visible a spot as possible to catch folk’s attention as they are going to Home Depot or the Little League field.   Not to mention that the pictures are available all over the Internet.

There are probably hundreds of variations of these pictures floating around.  One thing I do know, however, is that the VAST majority are rather dated pictures.  I don’t know exactly where they came from, although many pro-choicers claim they are pictures of miscarriages that occurred in Canada.  But, I am confident that they are old pictures because the remains of an abortion are now considered “medical waste” and are disposed of accordingly, so it’s virtually impossible to photograph the results.  And, to be perfectly honest, no abortion provider in their right mind would ever dump a semi-intact fetus or fetus parts into a pail for the whole world to see.  Indeed, every abortion provider in the country knows that they are being watched very, very carefully by anti-abortion activists with way too much time on their hands, so why the hell would they give them more “ammunition” by tossing out a fetus or two into the outside garbage pail?

But let’s forget about how old the pictures are and where they came from.  The fact is that many of those pictures generally are an accurate representation of the results of a LATE TERM abortion.  And everyone needs to remember that the VAST majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester.  So, the pictures slant things a little but if I were anti-abortion, I’d be doing the same thing.

The bottom line is that, if there is no intervention, the fetus will continue to develop in utero and when the abortion takes place at some point the fetus will have developed to the point where there are identifable fetal parts.  Indeed, after a LATE TERM abortion the physician must insure that all the parts have been recovered to avoid any infections.  So, my point is that some of these pictures (discounting some that might be of a miscarriage at 31 weeks) do depict the results of an actual abortion.

Abortion Pictures

Abortion Pictures

Now, before the pro-choice movement starts making that noose for my public lynching…

On the other hand, the pro-choice movement has always had a similar sensationalistic opportunity to catch the eye of the public – they could show the hundreds of pictures of women lying on their bathroom floor in a pool of blood, dead from a self-induced abortion.  They could show the inside of the room of an unqualified illegal “abortionist.”  These pictures could be used to remind the public that, when abortion was illegal, women desperate to terminate their pregnancy often tried to do it on their own or resorted to back-alley abortions, often with disastrous consequences.  Law enforcement officials arriving on the scene often took photographs of the results of these attempted abortions.  I’ve seen the pictures and they are just as shocking as the “dead fetus” pictures, if not more so.

Indoctrination and Brain washing of children by Pro Lifers

Indoctrination and Brain washing of children by Pro Lifers

Years ago, leaders of the pro-choice movement had a serious internal debate about whether or not to use these graphic pictures in the same way the antis used the pictures of the aborted fetuses.  For the most part, the groups decided that they would not use them because they were so graphic.  Yes, some pictures of the dead women leaked out but for the most part the pro-choice organizations never resorted to that tactic.  Indeed, it’s a rare site these days when you see the old image of the coat hanger, one of the instruments used for a self-induced abortion.

Pictures do speak a thousand words.  The only difference is the anti-abortion movement has decided it doesn’t care if they shock little seven year old children who happen to be passing by.  The pro-choice movement, meanwhile, has taken the high road.

Price of Abortion

Making Money from Abortion

For as long as I can remember, anti-abortion advocates have screamed about how the owners of the abortion clinics and the doctors who work in them have made tons of money off the “killing of babies.”  I have always found it interesting that these mostly conservative, Republican, business-oriented folks have taken such an anti-capitalist point of view, but that’s beside the point.

What also interested me was how the anti-abortion crowd could make such statements when I am confident that they probably do not know any of the doctors or owners personally, but why should that stop them from taking one (possibly true) anecdote and making such broad generalizations?   On the other hand, my comments are based on my extensive, personal interactions with hundreds of these folks – and when I say “personal” I mean that I have spent times in their homes, have gotten to know their families and, thus, have gotten a very good sense of the kind of money they make.

Years ago, when abortion first became legal, the owners and doctors made a significant amount of money.  And that was because in the very beginning there just weren’t that many clinics.  Women were travelling hundreds of miles to get to a state like New York that had a clinic or two.  There were charter planes bringing women to those facilities in NY, California and Colorado.  So, those clinics were filled with hundreds of women each week.  The average price for a first trimester abortion was $250 in the early days, so you do the math.  They made a lot of money because of the high demand and the relatively few facilities.

Over the years, however, more and more clinics opened up their doors and the patients started to spread out to take advantage of a clinic that was closer to their home.  Thus, the number of patients going to those large clinics in New York and the other states started to shrink.  Then, sometime in the 1980’s or so, the number of clinics exploded in certain states.  In cities like Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, they were all over the place.  The competition for the patients became intense.

Now, I will tell you that I have visited some very nice homes over the years, that’s for sure.  But, for the most part the owners of the abortion clinics live in middle-upper middle class neighborhoods, as do the doctors. I have no idea what the salary was (or is) for the average doctor but I can tell you in many cases it was just about what any ob-gyn would get per year.  I mean, after all, they are doctors.

On the other hand, I also stayed on the couches of several owners who had some very modest homes.    After the “old boys” of the early days started to die out or move aside, a new cadre or owners, particularly young women, took over and their life styles were nothing like their predecessors.  Indeed, I recall two or three owners who actually lived in the basement of their clinics.

Today, the average cost of an abortion is about $400.  If inflation were taken into account, the cost should be more like $1,000.  But the price of an abortion has been kept artificially low because there are many owners who want to keep the procedure accessible for those in need and, yes, because of competition.   At the same time, I have seen many instances where the doctor performed an abortion for free or at a reduced priced if the patient was in very dire circumstances.  Remember, while these folks are businesspeople, they are also good bleeding heart liberals who want to help those in need.

I guess for me the bottom line is that abortion is a business that was created because women demanded the services.  And it’s a medical business that requires the purchase of medical equipment, security cameras, malpractice insurance and the payment of staff salaries.  So, I hate to disappoint the anti-abortion crowd but this true medical procedure requires that the doctors charge something to make it available to the next woman.   And, please, before anyone who works at a crisis pregnancy center tells me that they work for free and charge nothing for their “services,” spare me the comparison.  Talking to a woman about abortion in a small room CAN be done for free (which makes me wonder why many of the cpcs need government grants).  When they start having a need for a physician who will perform a medical procedure, then we can compare notes.

New York Times on Abortion

New York Times Abortion Article

In 1997, I told a reporter with the New York Times that I thought abortion was a “form of killing.”  I said it in the context of a story he was writing about the “partial birth abortion” procedure.  The quote wound up at the bottom of the story on page 17.  In other words, it did not create headlines and millions of women who had had abortions in the past did not come forward to demand their money back from the abortion clinics because they were snookered.  I got a total of one email from a clinic owner who was upset at my quote.  Never heard a word from the pro-choice groups.

Of course, we all know that the anti-abortion movement wants to make the procedure illegal because they also believe that abortion is not only killing, but murder.  When that doctor performs that abortion, he or she is “killing a baby,” pure and simple.  That’s where the line is drawn.  Indeed, a few have gone so far as to kill a (already alive with a family) doctor who performs abortions.

And now here comes Mitt Romney, a Republican candidate for President who years ago used to be pro-choice when he was Governor of (the liberal state of) Massachusetts.  At some magical moment, Romney got “educated” on the issue, coincidentally at the time when he was seeking the nomination in a process that is dominated by pro-life advocates.

Suddenly, Mitt Romney became pro-life!   Today, Romney believes that abortion should be “limited to only instances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”

Mitt Romny and abortion

Mitt Romney and Abortion

Hmmmmm.

First of all, kudos to this compassionate man who cares so much about women that he would grant them the ability of have an abortion as long as they can prove that they would DIE if they didn’t have one.  Good for you, Mitt!  Bravo!

But he would also allow the abortion if the woman were raped or a victim of incest.

So, what am I missing here?   What happened to the focus on that little 7 week “baby?”  Aren’t we supposed to STOP THE KILLING as the posters say outside the abortion facilities?  No matter what you call it, that entity that is inside the woman is alive, right?    And, if not aborted, it will continue to grow, right?  And the woman is going to the doctor to stop that process, right?

So, what’s with the rape and incest exception?    Killing is killing is killing, is it not?   Does it matter how that poor little ole baby, floating around serenely in the uterus, was conceived or by whom?  Doesn’t the anti-abortion movement want to protect that “baby?”

Of course, the answer is politics.  It’s a way for Romney (and other pro-lifers) to try to appear compassionate and moderate.  He’s trying to have it both ways.   And I suggest that it is the height of hypocrisy.

For many years, the Congress, led by the late Congressman Henry Hyde, passed a rider to an annual spending bill prohibiting federal Medicaid dollars from being used for abortions unless the woman’s life was endangered.   Then, in the 1980’s, after an intense lobbying effort, they added the rape and incest exceptions.  To me, that was also a hypocritical vote, a welcome one nonetheless.  While we were lobbying for the additional exception, it was clear that a number of heretofore “pro-life” members of Congress were uncomfortable and it because a very political vote.  Personally, I admired more those pro-life Congressmen who voted against the rape and incest exceptions.  At least they were being consistent.

So, Mitt Romney is trying to have it both ways.  We’ll see if his strategy works.

My last few blogs have generated a lot of interesting discussions. I love a good, hearty debate so I want to thank everyone for chiming in and for keeping it (relatively) civil. Abortion is obviously an emotional and controversial issue that, as far as I am concerned, will never really be “resolved” because it is just not as black and white as some of our national organizations would have us think.

The last post discussed the efforts of some anti-abortion groups to declare the fetus as a “person” from a legal sense and it generated a rather lengthy thread. We got reams of information about the humanity of the fetus-baby, when it starts breathing, how it can feel pain, how it can hear music, when it starts to fart, etc. It was all very fascinating. No, that’s not true. I gotta admit that it was totally boring to me. After a few posts, I stopped reading most of the scientific information that was shared with us, especially the footnotes and citations by supposedly objective authors. At some point, I just started to tune it all out because to me it was just becoming an academic exercise that had no relation to the real world.

Maybe I’m just too simple. Every time I would see the paragraphs going on and on and on, I would just think of that 21 year old girl living in subsidized housing in the South Bronx who made a mistake. She had unprotected sex with that boy who

abortion stress

Abortion "Stressfull Decision"

has been destined for Riker’s Island since he was in elementary school. And she got pregnant. And, instead of playing the poverty card, I would also think of the 45 year old woman in Beverly Hills who thought she was incapable of getting pregnant anymore and whose marriage is a shambles. I just wondered how both of these women would have reacted if they were reading these regurgitations of the scientific literature? C’mon, folks, let’s get real. They wouldn’t have read any of it. Do you really think these women care that the fetus at 8 weeks has fingers, or a lung or whatever they have at 8 weeks?

Well, maybe they do care a little or are at least interested but do pro-lifers really think that all of the scientific “evidence” of “life” is going to make a difference that much of a difference? No way. Indeed, I can prove it. In a number of states the abortion clinics are required to show women pictures of how the fetus will develop, what it has at what stage. And, if you talk to clinics you will learn that it is extremely rare – I mean extremely – when a woman sees the pictures and is so shocked that she cancels the abortion. One clinic owner told me how they had to get extra trash cans because all of the (taxpayer paid) brochures wound up being thrown out.

Sure, it will be sad experience in some way. The woman may think about how, had she not had the abortion, she would have had a child. But, to her, it was the decision that she had to make at that time. It’s the same process that so many pro-lifers went through when they had their abortion. The only difference is now those pro-lifers are admitting that they now “regret” their abortion or that they were snookered, they didn’t know it had fingers or they didn’t know they could have put it up for adoption. And now they are saying that others can’t have the abortion because they know better.

Bolderdash!!

I appreciate how some want to pass on their “wisdom” and share their experiences to help those coming after them. But it is the height of obnoxiousness and somewhat hypocritical to say that, while you had the chance to have your abortion, you now know better so no one else should have one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I trust women. I trust that they will talk to whoever they want to talk to, they will process the decision as well as they can, they will try to find a reputable clinic with good counseling and they will do what they think is best for THEM at that moment.

For the most part, none of them will be persuaded by the scientific facts. Women already know that the fetus is alive with, at some point, human characteristics. And they don’t want that fetus to grow into a baby that they will have to raise. That’s why they have the abortion.

By now, you have seen the reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that cell phones “may” cause cancer.  Of course, those who have been warning against cell phone use and opposing the construction of cell phone towers in residential neighborhoods now have another argument, another sound bite.

What most folks will miss, however, is that the WHO did not conduct its own study.  It simply reviewed all the previous literature and the other studies and, because ONE of those studies suggested that phones MAY cause cancer, the WHO is suggesting that maybe we need to study the issue again!

This whole thing makes me think about how arguments are presented in the abortion debate, how the participants usually cite individual anecdotes to make their point.

Late Dr. Bernard Nathanson

For example, when the pro-choice movement cites how thousands of women died from illegal abortions, the pro-life movement will immediately refer to Doctor Bernard Nathanson.  Doctor Nathanson performed thousands of abortions each year at a clinic in New York City and he was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League.  At some point, Doctor Nathanson switched over to the pro-life side and he became a national spokesman for their cause.  At one point, he said that, when he was at NARAL, they simply “made up” the number of women who had died from illegal abortions.  He suggested they just exaggerated the numbers to bolster their case for keeping abortion legal.  And today, when a pro-choicer talks about how women died from illegal abortions, they scoff and say that the numbers can’t be trusted because the one and only Bernie Nathanson said those numbers were made up.

What’s missing here is that, since he had converted to the pro-life movement, could his “correction” about the numbers be trusted?  After all, wouldn’t you expect him to come out after his conversion and debunk any of the arguments for legal abortion that he had originally espoused?

What I’m suggesting is that, when debating an issue, shouldn’t one look at the entire scope of the literature, at all of the testimony before the Congress and the state legislatures, at all of the reports from other doctors who saw women entering the emergency rooms after a botched or self-induced abortion?

The same thing occurred with Norma McCorvey, the “Roe” in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in this country in 1973.  Norma was one of thousands of potential plaintiffs in that famous case but, because she signed the paperwork, she was

Norma McCorvey Transition

the one who ultimately became famous.  Ultimately, she became a symbol for the pro-choice movement and specifically for the tens of thousands of women who were being denied access to abortions services at the time.

Then, several years ago Norma McCorvey announced she was pro-life.  She had been lobbied heavily for years by Flip Benham, the head of Operation Rescue, and he successfully convinced her that abortion was wrong.  She made a big public statement announcing her conversion and soon became active in the pro-life movement.   Understandably, the pro-life movement made as much hay out of this “conversion” as possible.  I would have done the same thing.  They suggested that because one of our pro-choicer “leaders” had converted, it was evidence that our arguments were spurious and not credible.

But because one individual like Norma changed her mind, should that reflect on the arguments of the entire pro-choice movement?  Now, if the Pope came out tomorrow and said same-sex marriage was okay, then that would be a big deal and would be taken very, very seriously.  But because one doctor who happened to be on the board of NARAL or one plaintiff in a lawsuit changed their minds, should that be given a lot of weight?

But this is the world we live in.  This happens in all movements, in Congress, on a school board.    Someone finds one thing out of the ordinary, a chink in the armor and they pound away.  President Ronald Reagan learned years ago that some woman who bought vodka with her food stamps and for the next year he insisted that ALL food stamps needed to be cut because people were cheating the system.  We see a politician do a stupid thing, make a mistake and, if they are on the other side, we try to bring ‘em down.  We no longer look at the body of work, at the history of the causes.  We just sit back for the “gotcha” moment and run with it – because it’s the easy thing to do.

But is it the right thing to do?

Anybody?

For many years, my colleagues in the pro-choice movement have made a big deal out of the fact that “87 percent of the counties in the United States do not have an abortion provider.”   They have used that statistic to raise money and to try to raise awareness of the problems posed by the “abortion provider shortage.”

There is no arguing that in some parts of the country, abortion doctors are a scarce commodity.  But let’s delve a little into how bad things really are.

The reality is that abortion is a very specialized form of medicine.  Contrary to what the pro-life moment thinks, women who suddenly find themselves pregnant just don’t run down to the ole abortion clinic and – wham bam thank you m’am – have an abortion..  In several states, they have to go to the clinic and check in to start that absurd 24 hour waiting period clock that does absolutely nothing to enhance the decision making process.  Sorry folks, but they’ve already thought about it prior to their visit.  In rural areas, this waiting period does one thing – it makes the process more expensive and, thus, might be a deterrent which, of course, is the real purpose of these laws.  When they are ultimately ready to begin the abortion process, they undergo some form of counseling, oftentimes they have to listen to some gobblygook mandated by the state, they may ultimately get the abortion.  If it is a late term abortion, the process could be three days.  After the abortion, they may have either physical or emotional issues afterwards that the clinic will try to address.  And if the woman is using the abortion pill, there are other factors to consider.

The point is that, unless you are dealing with a sleaze ball abortion doctor, the process is more complicated than getting a root canal or even knee surgery.   And that’s why I would suggest abortion is a “specialized” form of medicine that needs specially trained staff.

So, the fact that abortion doctors are not on every corner in the country is no surprise to me.  Indeed, I am not sure if I would want too many out there because it might lower the standard of care.  Also, I can say from the experience that there are a number of doctors or clinic owners who at times were not thrilled if another doctor moved into their neighborhood.  After all, this is – YES I’LL SAY IT – a profit making venture so who in their right minds would want someone to move in who will take away some of your business?

Now, when we get to states like North Dakota and Idaho, getting an abortion might be more of a chore because of the distances one has to travel.  But a woman seeking an abortion will find that clinic and, yes, she will have to travel a great distance.  And, if there is a 24 hour waiting period, that makes the process all that more difficult.  But when you are seeking some “rare” kind of surgery, you often have to travel great distances to find that specialist.  Just look at how many people fly to the Mayo clinic to treat a rare form of cancer or some other disease.

I remember years ago when the feminist movement was so excited that the “abortion pill” was coming onto the market.   They predicted that doctors would come out of the woodwork to offer this “simple” alternative to surgical abortions.  And while the doctors already practicing publicly applauded its introduction, privately they were very nervous that all of these new doctors would be competing with them.

So, when the pro-choice movement starts talking how so many counties don’t have abortion doctors, I have an interesting reaction.  Sure, in North Dakota we could use another clinic on the western part of the state.  But, then, on the other hand, in places like New York or Detroit, there is practically an abortion provider on almost every corner…