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After reading this article I was finally able to somewhat more compile my thoughts on abortion. I wrote in response to the article's writer. It's word for word what I wrote in specific response to the article, but the ideas are still there. Read? Comment?

I was directed to your article by my older sister (Vivi Abrams, I
believe you know her). I believe myself to be just "pro-choice"
enough to not be "pro-life" -- but because I consider myself to be for
choice, I make myself visible at abortion advocacy type events, such
as a candlelight vigil held in front of the Governor's mansion on
Sunday night. There, about thirty of us discussed abortion ad
nauseam, specifically having the right to make a choice for our own
bodies. It was mostly political. "Stop Alito" and the like. We didn't
discuss when life begins, we didn't talk about individual reproductive
decisions, and we didn't talk about doctors, and their part in all of
this, except to talk about "way back when" before doctors could
perform such surgeries and there were coat-hanger instances.

In was interesting and even somewhat enlightening reading about the
doctor's place in all of this. It reminded me of the Sex and the City
episode where Miranda decides to have an abortion, is told her doctor
doesn't perform them, but, "No judgement!" I think if I ever were to
be a doctor (not going to happen, I hate blood), I wouldn't perform
them. Still with no judgement, and I'd recommend places where it could
be done. Not because I think it shouldn't be done-- there are certain
instances where I think abortions are for the better-- but because I'd
hate to have that responsibility of changing someone's life so much
(and I speak of the mother's life, not the childs) when it could
possibly be the wrong decision. Having that moral conflict on my
shoulders seems like quite a load to bear. If I were to perform them,
there would need to be some sort of informative class. Maybe not for
the woman whose condom broke or the one who missed a day of her pills,
but for the woman who has been in several times and seems to be using
abortion as back-track birth control.

One of the things you mentioned in your article, a quote actually,
reminded me of a discussion I had several weeks ago.

"If you're an abortion provider, and someone comes back for a seventh
one, is that different than someone who comes and weeps on your
doorstep, who says, 'This is the absolute worst thing that has
happened, and I'll never do it again'?"

The discussion was about welfare. Specifically about having too many
children to care for and relying on the government to pay for your

As a reporter, you try to remain objective, but as my sister's friend
who has researched the issue, what are society's (and your) thoughts
on sterilization? At the beginning of this discussion I was
completely against it. But what happens when that woman is in for her
seventh abortion? Is she directed to a class about birth control?
given free birth control (not like condoms aren't handed out like
candy)? At what point does one have to think that perhaps
sterilization is an issue that needs to be discussed? After how many
abortions? After how many children with different last names that
cannot be provided for by the parent(s)?

If you have time to reply to this, I'd really appreciate your thoughts
on the subject. At any rate, thanks for reading.



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
cool, let me know if you hear back from Erin.

On sterilization, I think that it has to be left up to the woman as well. If you're talking about whether you should discuss it with her or not, then I think yes, it would belong in a conversation about types of birth control.

I don't know what type of statistics there are on the 7-abortion welfare mom and if she exists and how many there are. But I would think as the morning-after pill becomes more prevalent, abortion-as-birth control will drop. And it frustrates me that the people who seem to be pro-mandatory sterilization are the same ones who would deny these women education about birth control to start with and would limit access to the morning-after pill.

Have you seen the Everwood episode about this subject? I think it may be the best episode ever of the show, which is saying a lot. It's episode #20 of the first season. Mom has it on DVD, or you can read the script here.
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
--but I would really try to watch rather than read because it is amazingly acted by Tom Amandes and Treat Williams.
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'll watch mom's copy on dvd, I can't find a torrent online for it.
Jan. 24th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
I agree it's a really good article.

I used to be thoroughly pro-choice, but I think I've moved to a more intermediate position. I'm not sure whether a fetus is a person or not, and I don't like the idea of killing something that _might_ be a person.

if a fetus is a person, then both the one-time and the seven-time abortion patient are making a cruel and selfish choice. If a fetus isn't a person, then neither patient is morally wrong, but the seven-time patient is really stupid and wasteful for getting yet another operation rather than just using birth control.

I don't like the viability test, it's way too technology-dependent. Seriously premature babies have a better survival rate now than thirty years ago. Thirty years from now, with better incubators and artificial wombs, a just-fertilized egg might be viable, given nine expensive months in a high-tech hospital.

In the society we have now, I grudgingly fall on the pro-choice side of the line; but I would definitely favor lots and lots of education, free birth control, etc. I'd also like to see more consideration for the rights of potential fathers. If men have an obligation to support a child, then they should have some say in whether a pregnancy is aborted or not.
Jan. 24th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
I agree it seems unfair to men. I assume that you are talking about a case in which the man wants the baby and the woman does not, because I can't fathom that you would think that a man should be able to force a woman to get an abortion just because he doesn't want a baby/to pay child support. It is the man's responsibility to use birth control too if he doesn't want the baby.
But do you really think it's fair that a woman could be forced to have a baby that she doesn't want? What if it's rape or incest? And how do you prove that? What if it was rape but the woman doesn't want to report it to the police and so there's no official record? What if it would ruin the woman's career (or life in some other way ) to be pregnant --let's say it was infidelity-- but the man would not face the same consequences? How much say is "some say"? Should his vote really get the same weight?

If the answer is no, what the woman thinks should count for more, then the legal decision always has to be left to the woman, because it's an up-or-down vote. The only exception to that should be if the woman is incapacitated in some way. Then I think her family and physician should decide and try to keep both alive if possible.

If it's a healthy relationship then of course both parties should try to come to a decision together. But I still say the final decision HAS to be the woman's.
Jan. 25th, 2006 04:37 am (UTC)
I agree it's an up or down decision, and the woman should get the final say, because after all it's her body that's carrying the kid. Here's what I propose:

If a prospective mother should be able to decide whether she wants to have a child, then the prospective father should have the same right.

A man should be able to go before a judge and say "I had sex and got this woman pregnant. I know I should have used birth control, I screwed up. But becoming a father would ruin me financially or otherwise mess up my life. Therefore I want to abort my parental rights and duties toward this pregnancy. He'd give up any claim to custody, and wouldn't have to pay any child support if the woman decided to have the baby.

Going a little further; suppose a woman wants to abort her viable, 7-month fetus. If the prospective father says he wants the child to live, maybe she should be allowed to medically induce labor, but not abort, and he gets full responsibility and custody of the new baby.

I'm not sure whether a woman should be required to notify and discuss with the prospective father if she decides to have an abortion. I like the idea, but I can see how it could cause a lot of domestic violence and other problems.
Jan. 25th, 2006 04:54 am (UTC)
I wrote a big long reply to this and somehow lost it.

The man screwed up as much as the woman (assuming no foul play with birth control), but a man never has to go through the surgery of abortion or the 9 month pregnancy.

Until a man can carry a baby for nine months, he should not have the same rights as the woman.

And yes, a woman notifying the father of the child of an abortion could cause domestic violence, ESPECIALLY in cases where the baby's father is the mother's father, or other incestual situations, or rape situations. One would hope that if the man and the woman have a healthy relationship, she would choose to tell him and discuss the matter with him. If the man and woman do not have a healthy relationship, then more times than not, I'd think it would be the father not wanting a child more than the mother not wanting him or her.
Jan. 25th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
I'm not saying the man should be able to decide whether the fetus is aborted. The woman has the huge responsibility and health risks of pregnancy, or the pain and hazard of abortion surgery, so her rights come first. But the man's rights and his responsibilities should match up as well. Right now the man has _no_ rights, and plenty of obligations.

The woman can decide to have an abortion, even if the guy wants to raise the child.

The woman can decide to raise the child, and force the man to pay child support, even though he never wanted a kid, would suffer financially, would have his life ruined by an adultery scandal, etc (which would all be legitimate grounds for a woman to have an abortion).

The woman can move out of state, name somebody else as the father on the birth certificate, and generally legally kidnap the child from the father at any time up to and including birth.

To sum up, if women want men to help pay for prenatal care, support the family while the woman is incapacitated by late pregancy, and help raise children, they should give men some say in whether a pregnacy produces a child or not. If women demand full control over the fetus, then men should be able to walk away from a pregnancy with no strings attached.
Jan. 25th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
I don't think the father has no rights whatsoever... there have been cases I'm sure where the father was allowed to give up parental responsibility (especially if the woman wanted this too). And I think there have been cases like you mentioned where the woman gives up parental responsibility too.

But yeah, women do hold most of the cards here... in this one aspect of life. In the U.S. Sometimes. There are still cases in the world where women get raped and then are stoned for being unpure. In the grand scheme of things, men still have it a lot better, and you have a LOT more cases of men not wanting to pay child support and children going hungry ("oh, well I wanted her to have an abortion so I shouldn't have to pay") then you do of men altruistically wanting to raise the child by themselves when the woman wants to abort it.

In childbirth, men get the benefits -- if they want-- and women get the consequences. So you have to have laws that protect the woman.

And I think, as long as there are condoms (and now the male birth control pill), that a man should in no case be excused from paying child support unless the woman agrees to it. I don't think a man opting out of fatherhood is equal to a woman having an abortion.

Once the kid is already born, the woman is not allowed to adopt it out unless the father agrees. (except in special cases where the father is unacceptable as ruled by a judge). So the father DOES have rights. It's just that for those nine months while the woman is carrying the baby, she is in charge.
Jan. 25th, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC)
"But yeah, women do hold most of the cards here... in this one aspect of life. In the U.S. Sometimes. There are still cases in the world where women get raped and then are stoned for being unpure."

You've got a point here. There are huge chunks of the world (Islam comes to mind particularly) where women are horribly discriminated against when it comes to civil rights, to a degree that makes US laws look downright heavenly. This is awful, a disgrace to the modern world, and must be fought against with all our vigor and intelligence.

This doesn't mean that we should be unfair to men here to somehow balance the misery. Maybe it does mean that stopping honor killings in Pakistan and supporting freedom to work and education in Arabia are more critical causes for women's rights than fiddling with the legal minutiae of Roe vs. Wade. Is NOW fighting the wrong battle?

I agree also that there are lots of cases of men being unwilling to pay child support. And a lot of these guys wanted a kid, got a kid, and now don't want to support them. I have little sympathy for them. On the other hand, there are surely men out there who never wanted the kid. Teenage fathers? Pro ballplayers? Married adulterers? Not exactly praiseworthy figures, but if they were women, they'd have the option to get an abortion and go on with their lives. As men, they're stuck with Hester Prynne consequences at the whim of the mother.

I don't know all the details on birth custody rules. I do know one guy who we met at the county clerk's office in Meriden (when we were going in for our wedding license) who was desperately trying to maintain contact with his son. He claimed that the mother (his girlfriend) had lied to him and written some other man's name on the birth certificate, and so he, who had spent years raising the kid while they were all together, was now screwed. He didn't look like he had much money for DNA tests and lawyers to contest the point.
Jan. 24th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC)
Also, I don't think the fetus is either a 'person' or 'not-a-person.' It's a pre-person. I think that the measure should be, when is its brain developed enough to have thoughts and feelings? Before that it's just in a great abyss... it's a potential just like all the other eggs and sperm.
Jan. 25th, 2006 04:45 am (UTC)
I guess I'm ok with the "thoughts and feelings" test of person-ness in principle, and you might be able to figure out the right age with some fMRI or other brain scans.

It still allows for some creepiness. Assuming the necessary womb-vat was available, suppose you grow an embryo for a month or two, then deliberately damage its brain so it never passes the thoughts and feelings test. Is it then permanently property, to be used for spare organs and whatnot?
Jan. 25th, 2006 01:45 am (UTC)
I found it very enlightening to realize that abortion is forbidden by the Hippocratic Oath. Turns out NO doctor should perform them.

Just so it's clear that I'm not making it up (not that you think that, but someone else might), here are links to several different translations of the Oath and how they say it.

And likewise I will not give a woman a destructive pessary.
Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.
and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.
Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.

While most doctors obviously no longer feel bound to this portion of the Oath, I STILL find it interesting that some would ignore a part of an oath that is supposed to represent their fundamental beliefs concerning medicine.

Jan. 25th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
Yes. People should own slaves, too, because circumstances never ever change.
Jan. 25th, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)
Funny...I don't see anything in the Hippocratic Oath that condones slavery.

Back then, a doctor didn't think it was right to kill that which was alive. Makes me wonder what changed.
Jan. 25th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Looking at it again after your brother agreed with your slavery comment, there is a mention of slavery. However, it does not say it is right or wrong, just mentions its existance. It definitely says abortion is wrong. But since we're such an advanced society, so much more advanced than those backwater Greeks, we've learned that killing a living biological organism is okay.

Because, ya know, we've come SO far and all.
Jan. 25th, 2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
its now possible to save a woman who would have died in childbirth. thats an advancement in medicine that keeps people alive.
Jan. 25th, 2006 04:54 am (UTC)
I tend to agree with Melissa. The Hippocratic Oath is a beautiful and historic tradition, but it's not holy writ (except, maybe, if you still worship Apollo and the other Greek gods...no?)

Nothing says you can't update the Oath to fit the changing morals of the modern age, (As Melissa notes, the Oath implicitly assumes the existence of slavery).

Jan. 25th, 2006 08:19 am (UTC)
You know...I could kind of challenge you on that, since the part about slavery comes right after entering a house and committing wrong doing.

But it's a tenuous position, so I stick to this.

The Oath does not speak to the morality of slavery one way or another. It simply states they exist. It does speak of abortion, and seems to pretty strongly indicate it's wrong.

But it's right to kill the fetus now, since we are so "advanced".
Jan. 25th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC)
Ancients also believed sneezing could cause abortion, so I don't think we should take all our medical advice from them.

The Oath is not indicative of all Greek thoughts on the subject, since they practiced abortion. Pliny the Elder mentions silphium, a type of fennel from the Cyrene area. This plant was used for birth control and to cause abortions, and is actually extinct, probably because it was so in demand.
Jan. 25th, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
I agree that the Oath doesn't support slavery, it just kind of mentions it in passing. My point is that it was designed for a very different world, one with no modern antibiotics or understanding of germ theory, one with a much lower population, and (most importantly) one where morals were very different. Just because the ancient Greeks believed that something was wrong or unhealthy doesn't mean we have to believe the same thing. I imagine very few pro-life activists promote the Greek model of gay love, enslavement of foreigners, oppression of women, regular sacrifices to the gods, infanticide(possibly safer for the mother than abortion in a pre-soap society), etc.

If abortion is murder, it's wrong, period. Ancient Greek texts are beside the point. Likewise, if abortion is morally ok, then Hippocrates' opinion on the subject isn't any more useful than his opinion on how to treat a brain tumor.
Jan. 25th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
my .02
you know, i've always been on the fence about this. i can usually argue both sides but end up on the choice thing. i agree with you totally that education is extremely important. at my high school (back THEN) sex ed was required. but in the 12th grade. and lots of the kids in that class already had their own kids. what's up with that? that's the part that makes me angry.

and your mention of the lady that is having the 7th abortion? yeah, take her uterus away. and even if we never get to that with our laws, let her have the abortion. do we really want this kind of stupid, lazy person continuously bringing children into the world? with the killer parenting skills i'm sure she'd have. yeesh. and i assume that her pregnancies keep happening due to her laziness and not outside forces beyond her control.

these are only a couple of points i wanted to contribute (i didn't even get to read anyone's comments yet). i have more. but i also have to get back to work.

abortion is a tough subject. i can't imgaine having to make that decision. i don't want to. but i do believe in the choice.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


Much like pineapples, I am hardcore.

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