Alabama’s odious abortion bill

May 15, 2019 • 8:20 am

Most Americans have already heard this, so I’m just giving the news to those who haven’t, complaining about what happened, and offering you a chance to comment.

What happened, as the New York Times reports (click on screenshot below), is that the Alabama legislature passed a law that effectively ends all abortions in that state save in pregnancies that endanger the life of the mother. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest must still be carried to term—a horrible stipulation.

From the paper:

The Alabama Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest — a subject of fierce debate among lawmakers in recent days.

The House approved the measure — the most far-reaching effort in the nation this year to curb abortion rights — last month. It now moves to the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican. Although the governor has not publicly committed to signing the legislation, many Republican lawmakers expect her support.

This is part of a wider national movement energized by the election of Trump, which empowered conservatives and right-wing Christians:

Other state measures to restrict abortion rights have advanced in the South and the Midwest this year and invited legal fights. Already, the governors of Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have signed fetal heartbeat bills. [JAC: those are bills prohibiting abortion after the time when a fetal heartbeat appears.] And Arkansas moved up the cutoff point for legal abortions to 18 weeks of pregnancy, from 20 weeks.

CNN adds information about the vote, which was lopsided, even on the rape/incest stipulation:

After more than four hours of debate, the Republican-led Senate voted 25-6 to pass HB 314, which would slap doctors with up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The Alabama House passed the bill earlier this month.
The law only allows exceptions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” Democrats re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.
Even for a conservative Republican state in the South, this is a reprehensible move. It is, of course, designed to be challenged, and it will be a brave Alabama doctor who will challenge it by performing an abortion in that state, risking life in prison if the Supreme Court upholds the law. For—make no mistake about it—this state law will go to the Supreme Court, who may affirm it, overturning Roe v. Wade. Then states will be free to make their own laws, and you know what that will do, especially in the South. Although that Court doesn’t like to reverse its previous decisions, this is one case where it may, for the Court is packed with conservative justices.
My own view, which I’ve expressed before, is that any woman who wants an abortion, right up to birth, should be permitted to have one, though that goes beyond the ruling of Roe v. Wade and its subsequent interpretation by courts. But in supporting Roe v. Wade, I’m on board with the majority of the American public, 73% of whom say that they don’t want that decision overturned. 

Grania points out that the decision, at least in Alabama, doesn’t seem to be so much a men vs. women issue (as is often claimed) rather than one of conservatives versus liberals:

And Matthew adds that the Alabama law is basically the same as the one holding sway in Northern Ireland, where abortions for rape and incest are also illegal, as well as every other abortion save those in which the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.

I’ve always thought that yes, Trump will go away (perhaps next year), but his influence on the Supreme Court (and that of the Republican Senate) will remain for decades, with a conservative court that will interpret the law for ages to come. Let us hope that stare decisis will hold this time.

217 thoughts on “Alabama’s odious abortion bill

  1. I was going to mention Northern Ireland – but I do not suppose anyone would get 99 years in prison there, & if anything, I reckon such a case would encourage a change in the law.

    It does not help that it is a devolved issue for some reason, & that there is no devolved Northern Irish government (because they hate each other so much?) … If Paisley & McGuinness could talk, why not the present lot…?

    1. Nobody would get 99 years for *anything* in Northern Ireland.

      Although probably the most benighted part of the United Kingdom and/or Europe, it is still the case that American jail terms would be regarded as obscenely long by any European standards.


      1. Nobody would get 99 years for *anything* in Northern Ireland.
        […] American jail terms would be regarded as obscenely long by any European standards.

        Which is why the DUP (hawk, spit) are really keen on getting away from the contagion of civilisation.

  2. The law in N Ireland is worse. Both women having an abortion are also prosecuted (in Alabama it’s just the doctors).

  3. I doubt it will get to the Supreme court but we will see. A lower court could overturn and then the Supreme court could refuse to hear it.

    But I think everyone should go to the Alabama legislature and state government for their health decisions. Why not? Who needs a doctor in Alabama anyway. Insurance is for those rich folks up north. Alabama, the home of George Wallace and pedophiles for State Supreme Court justices. Another state that never got over the civil war.

    1. In some ways, I think the South, by passing laws like this are actually engaging in a type of civil war. Laws like this, if passed Federally, could disrupt the fabric of America. Especially considering 73% of Americans support a woman’s right to an abortion.

      I also wonder what would happen to Alabama’s horrible economy if they pass this law. Would this also cause an exodus? It’s all very surreal.

  4. I don’t think we need to bring religion into this discussion. Let’s just consider the “no harm” principle coupled with a basic principle of justice, i.e., it is wrong to harm the innocent. When we apply that to abortion, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that abortion is the single greatest atrocity in human history in terms of a)the innocence of its victims and b) the sheer magnitude of the carnage.

    1. You make a number of unstated assumptions here, including that fetuses are “innocent human beings”. And why that principle of justice versus the harm of bringing an unwanted child into the world to a mother who doesn’t want it. I gather, from your comment, that you also oppose abortion in cases of rape and incest, since that also violates your “no harm” principle? And if not, why not, for in the case of rape, at least, the mother didn’t want the child and that outweights its “right” to be born.

      1. Well, the no-harm principle isn’t “my” principle. It is the basic principle upon which justice and ethics is founded. You raise two good points, however. First, it is always easier to slaughter another person if we dehumanize them and call them things like “enemy of the state”, or “fetus”, or (other terms I shall not mention that history used to kill Jewish people and African American people). Second, you mention “unwanted” as if that is sufficient reason to eliminate another human being. Under atheism, however, it is as good as any other reason … the planet only holds so many people so why not eliminate the “unwanted”.

        1. Sorry, the principle is “minimize harm” not “no harm”. And fetuses are not like adults or even children in an important way: they are not sentient. My view is based on doing what increases general well being.
          Enough with your implications that I’m in league with the Nazis and lynchers.

          And you completely misconstrue secular “atheistic ethics”, which does not say that “anything goes.” You are remarkably ignorant in your comments, so please go away.

      2. I actually agree that fetuses are “innocent human being”. But I think that they, similarly to other innocent human beings, have NO right to exist by using the body of a non-consenting human being.

    2. What you are saying is a few cells (because most abortions occur when there isn’t even a fetus yet but a few cells) trump the woman and it is okay to harm the woman. You seem to feel the woman is guilty of something by contrasting her unborn’s “innocence”. As Jerry said, you’re making a lot of assumptions.

      As for religion, this is a religiously motivated move that contravenes science and ethics. A decision to abort a pregnancy should be made between the woman and her physician not the state.

      1. You seem to feel the woman is guilty of something by contrasting her unborn’s “innocence”.

        “Original sin”, thank Augustine “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet” of Hippo. Another vile example of religion.

      2. I personally do not believe that the physician needs to be part of the decision making process. This decision is the sole prerogative of the pregnant woman. Yes, the physician can help with medical considerations but the discussion regarding physicians and their “right” to refuse to refer a woman seeking an abortion to a different physician because of their personal beliefs is a hot topic currently in Canada.
        My opinion of doctors is that they are body mechanics, some excellent body engineers / scientists and I am not particularly interested in their personal beliefs except of course where they try and influence decision making because of these.

        1. THe physician isn’t playing the part of pri st or ethicist. The physician is playing the part of medical doctor. That is what they are needed to make the decision on in this instance. They are necessary in the decision making process. Any other opinions given by the physician requires them to step out of their role as physician and their opinion as non physician is not needed.

    3. “I don’t think we need to bring religion into this discussion”

      Yeah, who cares what motivates 90% of the anti-abortion activism around the world.

    4. If this is the case, why don’t these “innocent” zygotes stand up for themselves and fight for their own rights? Zygotes of the world unite! If they’re people then they can speak for themselves, instead of letting male chauvinists paternalistically speak for them. Godfrey Elfwick must weigh in on this.

      1. “Zygotes of the world unite!”

        Isn’t that the last line from the Blastocyst Manifesto? 🙂

        1. That has a nice ring to it; and “blastocyst’ is a word that’s fun to say. It has linguistic mouthfeel.

    5. … it is hard to avoid the conclusion that abortion is the single greatest atrocity in human history in terms of a)the innocence of its victims and b) the sheer magnitude of the carnage.

      I’d go with dragnet fishing, but hey.

      1. I’d go with misgendering (as worst atrocity), which is apparently all that matters regarding this bill with certain activists.

    6. You have to bring religion into this, since religious people don’t see women as human beings. We are livestock, nothing more.

      And, your simplistic take on this issue is a result of religious thinking. Complexity is something religion rejects.

      If you’re so into protecting the fetus, why are you down on prenatal care? The US has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, and it’s going UP, not down.
      Too expensive?

      What should happen after you force a twelve-ear-old incest victim to give birth? You going to yank the kid out of her arms because she’s an “unfit” mother? Where is she going to go when her family doesn’t want her back because she “tempted” her stepfather?

      If the fetus is deformed to the point where it’s not going to survive, and the few days it might live it will be in screaming pain, why do you want to force the mother to carry to term? What’s the point in that?

      Why are the proponents of this nonsense down on birth control? Birth control is the best way to reduce abortions.

      Your position is internally inconsistent. In your mind, the fetus is a person, and the woman is this really inconvenient piece of meat surrounding the fetus.

      And, once you get the kid here, it all of a sudden goes from being in need of protection to being a parasite, to be abandoned by conservatives as a “burden” to society.

      Also, as an aside, if you force rape victims to carry to term and deliver, should the fathers then have parental rights?

      Your “no harm” paradigm just doesn’t hold up under any of these circumstances.


    7. Would you say that it is to be regretted that males cannot conceive and have to go through the ordeal of childbirth, and deal with those who wish to control the bodies of others?

      Just congenially curious, do you hold that women should be subordinate to men in every domain of life?

      Also, what do you say is the age of the Earth, and on what basis?

    8. Innocent what?
      Your implication is the most simple minded thing I have ever heard. Really.

      Really, you are trying to claim that something that has no relationship to person hood has an entitlement of innocence.

      Well I am not so sure about this innocence for a start, but let’s go straight to the harm part.
      It can not be harmed.
      Nor is it innocent. It is a parasite and will do harm to the person hosting it.
      If it is unwanted it is harm. Simple.
      And even if I grant that some harm could be suffered it is countered by the far greater harm suffered by some thing that can actually suffer.

      A far greater atrocity is commuted by people forcing women either to breed and have their bodies commandeered when they don’t want it or have to suffer terrible consequences of illegal abortion.

  5. Supreme Court conservatives might all support this awful bill. If this occurs, large higher technology companies may find it hard to hire workers in these backward southern and western states and move north, further depressing the economies of backward states. Might this eventually help change southern honor culture misogyny?
    Hopefully, Roberts wont support this bill since it would further greatly degrade the legitimacy of the Court in the eyes of half of Americans.

    1. Yes, I do not think the court, regardless of how bad it is, will do this. They know what is left of the supreme court will be shit.

    2. Huntsville, AL (aka “Rocket City”) is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal.

      Let’s see if they start howling when a boycott bleeds off some of their braintrust.

    3. I think the SC will refuse to hear the case if they can do so. Eg, if a lower court rejects the legislation.
      They recently did precisely that about a rejected Kansas law defunding Planned Parenthood, -rejected by a lower court. And the vote was 3 to 6. Both Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh voted against hearing it.

  6. In Canada, our equivalent odious law was turned over (after Roe v Wade existed in the US for what it’s worth – Canadian women often went to the US and paid for an abortion), when the courts ruled that that section of the Criminal Code violated a constitutional right – in this case Security of the Person. Does the US have any such equivalent?

    This is just wretched. It really bothers me that the US is becoming so retrograde and I really hope things can be reversed. It’s like the Handmaid’s Tale.

      1. I didn’t know that.
        It is unconscionable, it is generally the poorest women who are in direst need.

  7. It’s time for Georgia to be visited by the “abortion ship,” which plies the waves in international waters and provides abortions to women in countries that ban abortions

    On another note, a Texas rep knows just how to counter these anti-abortion bills with restrictive laws regarding men’s reproductive abilities. As Monty Python sing in the video posted by Rickflick yesterday, “Every Sperm is Sacred” and so I say, introduce bills like this in every state that bans abortion. Men who refuse to comply will suffer dire consequences.

      1. Of course, it’s a satirical riposte but she did introduce the bill.

        Actually, I wish it weren’t satire; these jerk(off)s should be given a dose of their own medicine.

        1. For satire to work, it needs to be clever. While forcing pro-lifers to explain why gametes and zygotes fundamentally differ is an useful tactic, Farrar’s mock equation of the two neglects the fact that ovulating women also ‘murder’ a gamete once a month.

          1. I get your point and it’s a cogent one. There are other inconsistencies in the bill which vitiate its satirical thrust. Nonetheless, despite the inconsistencies, it works for me on a surface level, and perhaps the humor will spur at least a few to contemplate the absurdity by way of these tit-for-tat implications.

            Maybe “burlesque” or “lampoon” are better descriptors than satire (which should be held to a higher standard). Also “mock” as in “mock equation,” which can be understood as bogus; and “mock” as in “making fun of”.

          2. I recall when it made the news I watched a video of her presenting it. For me, it fell flat: it seemed needlessly antagonistic in pitting men vs. women, and her presentation had an aggressive, unfunny edge to it.

          3. Scrambled egg for breakfast this morning. What was I thinking of?

        2. I like it. Mockery is a perfectly warranted response in my opinion.

          Perhaps these anti-abortion laws should also require the father go to jail for 99 years when a woman gets an abortion.

          1. Particularly when, as often happens, HE has been the one wanting the abortion. I have read that Trump has himself pressed various his partners to abort, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

      2. I consider the original (sin) and most egregious stupidity to lie in the brains of those who proposed the original bill.

  8. There are rumblings in Canada about abortion too with my odious MPP joining a pro-life rally in Toronto recently. The one main attraction MPP is a 20 something elected with the support of his church and family. The good thing is even our Trumpesque Premier stated, when pressed on the issue, that there is no intention to open the abortion debate….its a federal issue anyway AFAIK so the whole thing is moot but it does strike fear into people who don’t want a retrograde movement infecting politics like we see happening in the US>=.

    1. On the other hand, Ford did refuse to answer questions about it in the legislature, which is somewhat distressing.

      Also, apparently, as usual the kids from Catholic schools were recently bused to Ottawa to protest … (partially at public expense)

  9. Well, at least Alabama pro-lifers are attempting to be consistent. After all, whether conception is a result of incest or rape is not the fault of a resulting child, which is what pro-lifers care about.

    Except pro-lifers don’t give a shit about infants and children, do they?

    If they did, pregnant women’s, infants’ and children’s healthcare, child care and education would be the best in the world. And free.

    Likewise, pro-lifers would be on the front lines, tearing the White House apart over their forced parent/child separation policies, and caging immigrant children.

    What these lying hypocrites actually care about is regulating women’s sexuality, and taking away their power to “kill”.

    1. Can we stop calling it “pro-life” and start calling it what it actually is “pro-birth”

  10. From the point of view of raw politics, this incident could be a godsend for Democrats. The culture wars continue unabated. Republicans and the religious (that greatly overlap) relentlessly attempt to impose their religiously based values on an ever growing secular society. Highly motivated to vote by their religious zeal, they turn out at the polls in great numbers. Now, Democrats and liberals may respond in kind. In my analysis, cultural rather than economic issues get people excited. So, even if the economy is good in November 2020, it will not help Trump very much. Also, I believe that Trump’s support peaked in 2016. Four years later, more of his older supporters will have died off than replaced by younger ones. This can be very important in the battleground states. Trump voters may be highly motivated, but regardless of the degree of enthusiasm, their votes only count one each. Younger voters will be more likely to support the Democratic candidate. So, I think things look up for the Democrats in 2020. I realize nothing is certain and whom the Democrats nominate will play a big role in determining how people will vote as well as voter suppression and Russian interference.

    1. I agree this insanity in Alabama and other states could be very good for democrats and they will need all the help they can get. The women of this country, most of them, are in revolt to this Trump anyway. All they need to do is vote. Once some of these court delayed issues with Trump break lose, he will be in deep trouble anyway. I have to wonder who is paying all the legal fees for him, but somehow it is probably us.

    2. The religious right screams “persecution!” anytime in can’t get its way in foisting its sectarian views on government entities.

      Saw a great new documentary a couple days ago, Hail Satan?, about the Satanic Temple’s battles to keep prayer out of government meetings and concrete Decalogues off of government property.

    3. I tend to agree, BUT (the feared but), little has been done to counter counting fraud (as happened in all probability in NC, PA, WI and FL, if the exit polls are anything to go by, swinging the results in Mr Trump’s favour in the EC). Little has been achieved in countering voter disenfranchisement. And little has been done about Russian interference and their massive social media campaigns.
      It could happen again.

  11. “Right up to birth” is insane. As is no exception for incest/rape. I think abortion should be available, if only for the pragmatic reason that women are going to get them anyway, and they should be safe and legal. But really, right up to birth? There is some line beyond which abortion should be illegal, and no, I’m not sure what that line is. It keeps moving; preemies can be kept alive and can survive to adult hood at earlier and earlier points. And the absolute intolerance for people with a sincere religious belief that abortion is murder is a dick move.

    1. I have an absolute intolerance for allowing someone’s religious belief, whether “sincere” or not (how do you tell?), to drive public policy.

      If there’s a “dick move”, it is pushing your “sincerely held” religious belief on to people who don’t share it.

      1. someone’s religious belief, whether “sincere” or not (how do you tell?)

        Their lips are moving – in the same way that you can tell when a politician is being honest.
        But only when the Moon is in Ursa Minor.

    2. Sorry, but I am not insane and you are banned for violating the rules. Unborn fetuses of any age are not sentient. Any line is arbitrary, but I take birth as as good a line as any. At some point we’ll be able to keep zygotes alive in vitro, so should abortion then be banned completely.

      Anyway, you could have made your post without insulting the host, and for your incivility you will be posting here no more.

    3. “And the absolute intolerance for people with a sincere religious belief that abortion is murder is a dick move.”

      Oh really? “The absolute intolerance for people with a sincere religious belief that all unbelievers should be killed is a dick move.”

      There, ftfy.

      My point? Oh yeah, a sincere religious belief doesn’t justify squat.


    4. It simply should be a decision between the woman and her physician if and when she should get an abortion. This is a medical procedure and a medical decision.

    5. There’s a squick factor involved in abortion, and the later an abortion is in a woman’s pregnancy, the squickier it is.

      The vast majority of abortions occur during a woman’s first trimester. I’m confident women are not delaying their abortions until the third trimester so that they can enjoy the pleasures of pregnancy for a few months longer, and that their doctors are not counseling them to do so. In almost all cases of third-trimester abortions, they are performed because of some deformity making the fetus non-viable, or because of some serious risk to the woman’s health, or because a underage girl or mentally challenged woman didn’t initially realize she was pregnant, or was too afraid to confide in her parents or guardians, until the pregnancy became obvious to all.

      Under these circumstances, I seen no need for criminal laws prohibiting women from obtaining abortions at any time during their pregnancies. Nonetheless, I have no objection to the professional regulatory boards governing OBGYN practice keeping track of late-term abortions and — if it turns out doctors are performing late-term abortions purely as a matter of convenience — that those boards take some disciplinary action regarding those doctors’ licenses to practice medicine.

      1. It’s difficult to imagine that more than a handful (if that) of late-term abortions would occur for no good reason. Though I would accept some oversight by professional boards.

    6. I disagree too with ‘right up to birth’ , it should need some qualifying.
      Right up to birth if the fetus is so deformed or suffering from life-incompatible conditions after a short while, or if the mother’s life is in danger, only.
      I mean, is it so difficult to get some reasonable process in place?
      Most developed countries do. Abortion on demand up to (say) 12 weeks, abortion up to (say) 18 weeks for socioeconomic and psychological problems, and up to (say) 20 or 22 weeks in case of rape or incest (which often is a kind of rape anyway). And after that only for the conditions mentioned above.

      1. I mean, it has the great advantage of considering that a pregnancy, a developing foetus, is a process, it takes into account that a foetus becomes more and more of a human being with the passing of time. From a clump of cells to a little human, and hence the reasons for terminating should become more stringent over time.
        [Also note that the overwhelming number of abortions take place rather early, before 12 weeks.]

      2. When I was pregnant, the test didn’t show a definite positive until the 12-week point, so I think 12 weeks is early. Also, as Dr. Tiller said, “Trust women.” Regulations like you’re proposing are insulting and degrading, IMO.

  12. Not that it’s of direct relevance, but just to note that there are some enlightened spots in Alabama. Specifically, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a spectacular genomics institute in Huntsville that I had the pleasure of visiting this past fall, where genomic sequencing is practiced on a massive scale toward a myriad of projects. More importantly to the intellectual climate of the state, they offer educational workshops intended to bring high school teachers up to speed with molecular biology, with sessions for both beginners and those that have taken the initial workshop.

    They have a FB page, and if you Like it, you periodically get news on this or that significant outcome from data that they’ve generated.

  13. Grania points out that the decision, at least in Alabama, doesn’t seem to be so much a men vs. women issue (as is often claimed) rather than one of conservatives versus liberals …

    Hell, credibly accused kiddie-diddler Roy Moore won the 2017 special election to fill Jeff Sessions’s seat in the Senate by 29 points, 63% to 34% among white women (and by 50% among non-college-educated white women).

    There’s something funky going down with the sisterhood in ol’ Alabamy.

    1. I saw a guy on TV this morning and he was discussing Alabama as a resident. He said that some were saying Alabama is better than this and his reply was – No we’re not. We have proven time and time again, Alabama is not better.

      1. No we’re not. We have proven time and time again, Alabama is not better.

        Such unpatriotic (statriotic? Is there a word for patriotism to a sub-nation entity?) thoughts would get him hung from a tree in a place without the long history of rationality and tolerance for which Alabama is justly famed.
        This sarcasm, it erodes the keyboard.

    2. My eyes are playing tricks on me. At first I read “Hell, credibly accused kiddie-diddler Roy Moore won the 2017 special erection to fill Jeff Sessions Seat in the Senate…”

        1. I suggest it be named the Membrum Virile award. Don’t ask what the trophy looks like. 🙂

  14. I believe the extremes are pretty clear: a blastocyst of 100-200 cells is not a sentient human being and it’s preposterous to suggest it should be conferred civil rights despite all the tortured “reasoning” of the conservatives on this point.

    But a 40-week fetus, 10 minutes from birth is a human being and does deserve that status despite still being attached to its mother. I’m with Hitch on this one.

    The BIG QUESTION of course is “where do we draw the line?” A heartbeat is a terrible indicator to use: it appears far too early. I would suggest using the medically agreed-upon line for viability. Yes, this keeps moving, but let the doctors decide where it is every few years: probably about 28 weeks right now. If a fetus could feasibly survive outside the womb (with medical support) then it seems to me terminating the pregnancy is morally problematic. Prior to that, its dependence on the mother makes it the mother’s choice.

    1. The BIG QUESTION of course is “where do we draw the line?”

      Indeed. The difficulty here is drawing a hard before/after line on what is a slow transformation. We must do it, but should not fool ourselves that a true black/white differentiation exists.

      Viability cut-off is currently staked at 23-24 weeks, but all that really means is the preemie can be temporarily kept alive with massive intervention. Long-term survivability is practically nil. The term could be better defined, but even as is, it’s a reasonably good working solution, seeing as 99% of abortions occur within the first few weeks.

      Carl Sagan proposed the presence of brain waves as a line, which would also serve adequately, as certainly no pain can be experienced before.

      Presence of a heartbeat begins before a brain or nervous system have formed, and no rationale has been given for why a heartbeat makes for a ‘person’.

      ‘Sentience’ is not workable: how can a fetus one minute before birth not be sentient, yet a baby one minute after, be?

      Arguments for unrestricted abortion based on ‘a woman’s bodily autonomy’ ignore very real scientific fact about gestation.

      Also faulty are arguments for complete bans based on muddled concepts of ‘genetic uniqueness’ of the zygote or specious Wortspiele on the theme of ‘human being’, which also ignore scientific fact and are in most instances veiled ways of saying ‘God gave babby soul.’

      1. Viability cut-off is currently staked at 23-24 weeks, but all that really means is the preemie can be temporarily kept alive with massive intervention. Long-term survivability is practically nil.

        And that survivability has a long and bad association with significant brain injury. But they don’t like to talk about that because that raises the whole question of child health and welfare, and how to profit from it.

        1. I had a client who was a NICU nurse, and she had this quirk of referring to her preemie charges as “fetuses”. She may have had a point.

          1. I wonder if it was because of their notably different appearance compared to a typical full term baby. Our twins were born 2 months premature and their appearance was striking. No baby fat whatsoever. They were like tiny body builders in that you could see every muscle striation. From my experience in the NICU this was typical of preemies.

          2. That does sound much more likely. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do that kind of work for very long.

          3. I also had a friend who was a nurse at SFSU’s pediatric ward, where experimental treatments were tried on kids with pessimistic prognoses. She had a cork board in her kitchen filled with snapshots of patients she’d gotten attached to but who’d died. It was rough.

            My good friend is a live-in caregiver for seniors. She gets very attached to each of her clients, and the outcome is inevitable. She sees this as her calling and she has a huge positive impact in their lives and the families’.

          4. It’s hard to think of any greater examples of compassion than your friends and others like them. We were very lucky in that the doctor and nurses that cared for our twins while they were in the NICU seemed to be much like your friends.

    2. “If a fetus could feasibly survive outside the womb (with medical support)…”
      Example: a fetus with significant and known deformities, who could survive a couple weeks hooked up to a heart/lung machine, in constant pain and unable to sleep, and then die. That fetus should trump the rights of the woman?

      Realistically, you are suggesting that when the mother and doctor discuss the situation of a fetus diagnosed to die shortly after birth, they should immediately contact a lawyer to open court proceedings to find out if a judge (who may very well be religiously motivated) agrees with the medical diagnosis and approves the procedure – hopefully within a few weeks of the original diagnosis. Lets force the woman who is likely traumatized because the hoped for child has been diagnosed to die, to testify in court!

      I, for one, believe that legal step is intrusive, unnecessary, and incredibly burdensome.

      Alternatively, you are suggesting that she and her doctor go forward with the medical procedure in a timely fashion, and then have to justify the decision in court afterwards, during potential postpartum depression, with the possibility the jury convicts and she and the doctor will spend e.g. 99 years in prison.

      Sure, it is easy to say it is ‘morally problematic’, but think through the consequences. The only reasonable way is to allow the doctor and woman to decide.

      Note: Such a medical procedure is not medically ‘an abortion’, but I use the term here to avoid confusion.

    3. You may want to take a look at Canada. We don’t actually draw a line. Late term abortions are very rare as they are dangerous so the only time a doctor would do one would be for dire circumstances. This is why babies are carried to term that are already dead – think of how awful that is for the mother and yet this happens because late term abortions are dangerous. I think considering where “the line” is is a distraction. Instead, it should be a discussion between the woman and her physician and no state should draw a line.

      1. I second Darrelle. That’s entirely sensible and reasonable, and thus has no chance of happening in the US in the foreseeable future.

      2. “Between a woman and her doctor” has been used for decades now, and I get it. But I don’t like using this as a moral standard given the diversity of doctors out there (a very religious doctor may be willing to do less than a secular doctor, for example).

        This whole conversation makes me sad. Especially, as Jerry points out, that a 16 yr old in Alabama, raped by her father, cannot get an abortion unless her doctor is willing to risk life in prison. What have we become?

        Safe, legal, and rare. Please for the love of god.

        1. It’s not a moral standard. It’s a medical standard as as such includes biomedical ethics dicta must adhere too. It’s no different than any other dealing with your doctor.

  15. It’s a sad rolling back of the clock, then, in part of the USA!

    That said, whenever a pro choice advocate (and I’m one!) intones with horror “they won’t even allow abortion for Rape or Incest!!!”

    …it strikes me as a red herring.

    Anti-abortionists want abortion outlawed or restricted because they take abortion to be wrong, and a form of murder. That’s the dispute at the center of the abortion debate: whether a fetus ought to be seen as already a human being or person whose right to live needs protecting.

    IF they are right, then a fetus has rights or a humanity that must be protected; killing a fetus is a form of murder. And if that’s right, surely the provenance of this “person” in the womb can’t matter in terms of their rights to live! We don’t think it right to go kill children or adults who happened to have been the result of rape or incest, to put them out of their misery or whatever. Why? Because we consider them human beings with a right to live just like us.

    So it seems silly to expect the pro-lifer to make this exception if she really believes a fetus is a person with a right to live.

    And conversely, it seems inconsistent on the pro-choice side to make a similar division: “well…we shouldn’t allow abortions at *this* stage, UNLESS it’s from a rape or incest!” Well, if there was a basis for why it was wrong at one stage, presumably some form of concern for the fetus, why remove that concern for a fetus who had no more “choice” in how it was conceived?

    It seems to me the debate has to come down to what we consider a “person” or “human” and at what point we say we grant this stage the right to live, and for it’s life to be protected. The provenance of how that person came to be shouldn’t be relevant.

    I’m pro choice, so if a woman desires an abortion in the case of rape or incest then she should have that choice, as she should no matter how the child was conceived.

    (Though I certainly don’t find the abortion question an easy one, including defining when exactly the cut-off point should be).

    1. Possibly it would be an easier choice for you if you started from a different view. Say the view of a woman and erase that “man” view. After all, it should not be your call whether a woman should go to the doctor for any particular medical issue and so it should be the same for a pregnant woman. Even if you were the guy who got the woman pregnant, why should what she does about it be your choice. You are not having the baby and you are not taking any risk. So instead of getting all wrapped up in the specific biology of the matter, let the woman and her doctor take care of things.

      1. Randall,

        But that just avoids the point.

        IF the abortion dispute revolves around whether abortion is a form of murder, it doesn’t matter which “view” you take, man or woman’s, abortion would be “murder” in either case, where the fetus “has the right to life, which is to be protected.”

        IF that view is sound, then we wouldn’t let a woman who was raped kill the fetus any more than we would let her kill a 4 year old child who was born of a rape.

        This is why the debate really has to come down to arguments over the status of a fetus, it’s rights, etc.

        1. Again, the male view or I say more correctly the religious view. I will go with science and female. “We won’t let a woman who is raped kill the fetus”. Who’s view is that. Will we let a fetus make a will? Put a fetus into our legal arrangements and have voting rights. You can screw the morally around all you want but again – a man’s view. Let’s all agree, a man’s view is not what we need here. Abortion is only murder if the law says it is. Not a bunch of bible punchers in Alabama. Any judge that is worth a damn, looks for the law in a law book, not a bible.

          1. Ant,


            (Though it’s not only the religious who are anti-abortion).

            We can’t beg the question against the anti-abortion side of the debate. If we want to say “but you should AT least recognize the woman’s right to abortion in the case of rape or incest” then we have misunderstood their argument, which has to do with the status of the fetus as a “human being/person” deserving of protection. It wouldn’t make sense for them to make exceptions given their position of abortion-is-murder, any more than it would make sense for them to make an exception for killing a child of incest/rape after it was born.

          2. “Abortion is only murder if the law says it is.”

            Now, there’s a slippery slope if ever I slipped on one. Are you telling me that you’d accept abortion as murder if the law were changed to say it is? The law once said that slavery was OK, that sodomy was a crime, that insulting the U.S. govt could land you in prison (Sedition Act of 1918), that the Indian Removal Act was justified, etc. I have as much respect for the law as the next person but I balk at enshrining it as an infallible arbiter on any issue whatsoever.

    2. And of course our acceptance of personhood of a cytoplast, zygote, or fetus is informed by either science or religion. Religion tells us that the soul enters the cells at conception therefore a human. This is false and this wrong thinking leads to wrong conclusions. This is an issue with sloppy religious thinking informing ethical decisions. We should reject that thinking and accept the scientific provable facts that the cytoplast, zygote, fetus is not sentient and late term abortion discussions are red-herrings as they are extremely dangerous and therefore extremely rare.

      1. ‘This is an issue with sloppy religious thinking informing ethical decisions.’

        However, is it worse that just sloppy thinking? Do they spread disinformation? Do they mislead people about issues regarding safety?

        1. Huh? Are you just joining us? They make laws that prevent women from getting abortions based on their sloppy religious thinking. They make life unpleasant for all those that law touches.

          1. ” They make life unpleasant for all those that law touches.”

            I understand.

            I wanted to find out if anti abortion people deliberately spread disinformation about abortion. Do they link it to diseases without any evidence etc.

          2. Some do yes. They show images of babies supposedly aborted that in no way look like a full grown baby image they show. They say it leads to breast cancer. I regularly see, on the odious social media platform (OSMP) Facebook images of babies aborted at a few weeks when the baby is not at all like that.

      2. ‘It seems to me the debate has to come down to what we consider a “person” or “human” and at what point we say we grant this stage the right to live, and for it’s life to be protected.’

        Note that it is also dependent on the mother in a way a child is not. Even if we consider it to be person, there is a dependence that we cannot ignore. That may be a reason to favour the mother’s decision.

      3. The notion that ‘ensoulment’ occurs at conception is a pretty recent one, I think (the concept may be older, but it’s general acceptance among the religious is quite recent). Traditionally ‘ensoulment’ occurred at the ‘quickening’, the moment the woman could feel the fetus move.
        I fully agree that late term abortions are red herrings.

        1. Sadly it’s stated in the mandatory pamphlets women are forced to take at abortion clinics in Missouri.

          1. Are the women allowed to rip them up and throw them in the bin?


    3. ‘It seems to me the debate has to come down to what we consider a “person” or “human” and at what point we say we grant this stage the right to live, and for it’s life to be protected.’

      Note that it is also dependent on the mother in a way a child is not. Even if we consider it to be person, there is a dependence that we cannot ignore. That may be a reason to favour the mother’s decision.

    4. “So it seems silly to expect the pro-lifer to make this exception if she really believes a fetus is a person with a right to live.”

      Well put. This is an excellent, and rare, example of getting inside an opponent’s head and seeing what an issue looks like from their point of view. So kudos for that.

    5. All of that assumes a level of philosophical and scientific consistency on the part of pro-lifers that is not generally apparent in discussions with them.

      Sure they say ‘it’s MURDER’, but drone striking some poor fucker because he happened to be in the vicinity of a jihadi is simply ‘unfortunate’. Ditto the numerous cases of innocent people who are executed by the government simply because they had shitty/overworked/thick lawyers and a judge who hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

      1. Or shooting a doctor as he has breakfast at his home with his family as happened in Canada by a pro-lifer.

      2. Are there abortion advocates who call the drone killings murder as well? If there are, then your statement only serves to eliminate a subset of abortion advocates.

  16. For—make no mistake about it—this state law will go to the Supreme Court, who may affirm it, overturning Roe v. Wade.

    The fate of women’s reproductive freedom nationwide may well rest upon the narrow but well-exercised shoulders of this nation’s 86-year-old bubbe, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    I would gladly move to DC and cook her chicken soup according to her late husband’s famous recipe every day, if that’s what it takes to keep her healthy and at the top of her game. And, if that’s what it takes, were she to need an organ, and it was an organ I’ve got two of, I’d gladly give her one of mine.

  17. Such horrible laws are pushed and funded by powerful backers not because they care a lot, but because they know it’s a divisive issue that keeps a certain demographic voting Republican, while the donors steal their assets, dismantle public institutions and enrich themselves through corporate wellfare. Well, it works.

    1. Isn’t the US is focusing on other countries as well? I read somewhere that the US is making foreign aid contingent upon the abortion policy of the those receiving aid.

      1. I read somewhere that the US is making foreign aid contingent upon the abortion policy of the those receiving aid.

        They certainly have done that in the past, and I’d be astonished if the current incumbents weren’t using the opportunity as soon as they spot something their PR people figure will get them votes.

      2. What would the U.S. do beyond that – impose economic sanctions?

        Arrest executives of foreign corporations? (By what legal warrant, by the way?)

  18. One of my friends who had been brainwashed by the Russian trolls infiltrating the Sanders campaign called abortion & the supreme court a “wedge issue.”

    I mean, ex-friend.

  19. TL,DR, and I fear I may be breaking da roolz by posting such a long post, but I need to ask these questions. I hope you’ll forgive me for this.

    We have a hot-button issue here, it seems to me. Abortion right up to birth. I’d like to take a non-religious, non-insulting, non-emotional, non-attacking, non-accusing look at abortion up to birth and understand what we’re talking about. What is it that we favor about abortion up to birth, and what do we mean?

    Often, maybe pretty much always, these very late term abortions are of a baby that someone really wants, but the fetus has some sort of horrible defect that will doom it to pointless suffering with no hope of having anything like a good life, and chaining the unfortunate parents to exhausting caregiving until the child finally dies. Abortion makes good sense in situations like this.

    (Caregiving is not something to take lightly. Many caregivers (Harvard says 40%) die of stress-induced disease. I know this, because I’m a caregiver, not of a permanently defective child, but of an old man. The stress can be hideous. And yes, I acknowledge that there are people who will contradict me and tell me how enriching their lives are by being permanent caregivers. I’m glad for them. But once my partner went to the nursing home it took me two years to regain my health. I was on the way out, and the doctor got him into the nursing home as much for me as for him. I was circling the drain. Now I share responsibility with the nursing home.)

    But suppose it’s a woman who did not and does not want to have a baby. I’d think such a woman would have gone for an abortion earlier in the pregnancy and not wait until the end, when the baby is due to be born in a week or so.

    Now what about a woman who did not get the abortion because when she first became pregnant she either wanted the baby or was at least okay with the situation. But suppose this woman’s circumstances suddenly changed drastically and she realized that she could not manage to care for a baby and could not be saddled for the next eighteen years at least with a situation she simply could not cope with at all.

    What are we actually talking about when we talk about abortion up to birth in this situation? The fetus is close enough to birth that it is entirely viable and is healthy, let’s say.

    Giving birth is no walk in the park (and I know there are women out there who will contradict me and say that birth was a joyful and wonderful experience). For me it was the most hideous pain I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I have only one child. No way was I ever gonna do that again!! I got my tubes tied when I could no longer use birth control pills (and that’s a story in itself. The doctor treated me like I was an incompetent child who could not make a decision or have a rational choice). I can understand that such a woman would prefer an abortion to labor and birth.

    So what happens in this case? The question is, is a viable healthy fetus/baby to be killed? I suspect that this is the heart of the matter.

    Or is the woman given a C-section and is the baby given away for adoption?

    I’m in favor of the latter. Remove the fetus (which is close enough to birth to be considered an infant and a baby) and give it up for adoption. No problem with late abortion of that sort. But I’m not sure about out-and-out killing a healthy viable newborn/newly C-sectioned infant.

    I’m not looking to start a fight or put anyone down. Rather I’d like for all of us to understand what we’re talking about.

    1. “What is it that we favor about abortion up to birth…”

      You frame things wrong. Nobody “favors abortion up to birth”. You’re asking the wrong question.

      As has been pointed out upstream, any line is arbitrary. Because it is, and because the drawing of lines based on religious believe is unacceptable, no line should be drawn, leaving it up to women and their doctors to grapple with. There is simply no good reason to insert your particular preferred line into the situation.

      1. Re-read Jerry’s post:

        “My own view, which I’ve expressed before, is that any woman who wants an abortion, right up to birth, should be permitted to have one…”

        Abortion up to birth is the topic of this essay.

        I’m trying to clarify what is involved in abortion right up to birth. I want to know what we’re talking about.

        “There is simply no good reason to insert your particular preferred line into the situation.”

        My “particular preferred line”?

        Okay! Let’s delete the sentence, “I’m in favor of the latter.” Maybe I can edit my post. And remove the sentence, “No problem with late abortion of that sort.”

        Will that be acceptable?

        But my question remains, what is it that we’re talking about?

        1. I don’t need to re-read, thanks.

          I’m wondering if you can’t tell the difference between a third party (like Jerry) recommending abortion (at any stage of pregnancy) and his advocacy for a woman and her doctor to be allowed to decide when it is “too late”.

          1. Yes, James..I can “tell the difference between a third party (like Jerry) recommending abortion (at any stage of pregnancy) and his advocacy for a woman and her doctor to be allowed to decide when it is “too late”.”

            Can you tell the difference between Jerry’s advocacy of abortion right up to birth, which you clearly missed – ‘Nobody “favors abortion up to birth”’, as you wrote – and my asking what is understood by and involved in abortion up to birth?

          2. You clearly don’t get it. Jerry advocated for the right of a woman to decide up until the moment of birth. You don’t know any more than I do what Jerry would do if he was a pregnant woman.

            I am willing to advocate for your right to walk in front of a locomotive if you like. I don’t think walking in front of locomotives is something anyone should actually do. Get the difference?

            (PS. I am not “James”)

          3. Also, I assumed when you said ‘no one favours…’ you meant it in the sense that no-one thinks it’s a good thing. I thought that was straightforward.

        2. The point was that no-one ‘favours’ it. No-one, with the exception of the most performatively extreme feminist activists, thinks it’s a positive thing. It just happens to be the least shit solution.

    2. Doctors typically don’t abort fetuses close to birth. It’s too dangerous. This focus on this fringe case is a red herring. In Canada, there is no line when you cannot get an abortion. However, doctors do not perform unsafe procedures and besides all the reasons you gave for women not getting abortions in late pregnancy (I mean really, as if women whimsically think, “hey, I don’t think I want this kid anymore I think I’ll abort it” is risible), late term abortions are very rare. It’s why unfortunate women carry to term dead fetuses.

    3. Thanks for your comment, and I largely agree with you. Still, I don’t think a woman, or her doctor, should ever face criminal penalties such as imprisonment for an abortion performed at any stage of a pregnancy.

      If late-term abortions of viable fetuses are to be prohibited, they should be prohibited by the board regulating OBGYN practice, and be enforced through professional disciplinary action against the doctor.

  20. This Alabama law will never be enforced as written. Never. Even were the Supreme Court to overrule Roe outright, there are other constitutional infirmities in it, including under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    If this bill is signed into law, it may put the Supreme Court on a sticky wicket. The law will undoubtedly be invalidated and stayed by the three federal district courts in Alabama, a stay that will be affirmed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, since the law as written plainly violates binding Supreme Court precedent.

    The state of Alabama will equally undoubtedly seek review of those decisions in the Supreme Court. It takes the votes of just four SCOTUS justices to grant certiorari to review a case — but five votes (assuming a full compliment of nine SCOTUS justices) to form a majority to decide a case.

    There appear to be four votes on the Court at present to overrule Roe — Thomas and Alito, almost certainly, and quite probably the two Trump appointees, Gorsuch and Bart O’Kegstand (ok, Brett Kavanaugh). The question mark is Chief Justice John Roberts.

    It’s possible (though I don’t believe likely) that at least one of the four justices in favor of overruling Roe would beat a strategic retreat, out of fear they won’t have Roberts’s vote to carry a majority, by voting not to grant cert, in the hope of later gaining a solid fifth vote, and not wanting to create a recent precedent affirming Roe‘s essential holding, which would make it that much harder to overrule Roe later.

    If one of the four anti-abortion justices were to vote to deny cert, the evangelicals will go freakin’ nuts, especially if it were to be Gorsuch or Kavanaugh, since the evangelicals struck a Faustian bargain to vote for Trump in exchange for his appointing anti-abortion judges. And I don’t think any of the four will be able to resist taking on the issue while there is a five-justice conservative majority on the Court, since, if RBG outlives the Trump administration and a Democrat is elected president in 2020, such a chance may never pass their way again.

    1. “if RBG outlives the Trump administration and a Democrat is elected president in 2020”

      This depends also on whether Republicans control the Senate. As we have seen, only Republican presidents are allowed to nominate Supreme Court justices when Republicans control the Senate.

      1. True, and Mitch has gotta go-go. (Yertle is up for reelection this year, and his approval rating in Kentucky is only in the thirties, so he may be vulnerable). In any event, having a Democratic president would certainly keep another hard-right conservative from being appointed to the Court.

        If the Dems regain control of the senate and the White House, you suppose the Republicans will rue the day the filibuster went fini?

      2. It also depends if America keeps functioning as a normal democracy where there is peaceful transition of power. Few people in the media, understandably, want to mention the orange elephant in the room, but I don’t find it at all difficult to imagine Trump losing in 2020, and still turning around and saying ‘fuck you; fake news’.
        Of course, in the run up he will have sown enough loathing and hatred and suspicion and untruths that his 40%ers will be with him ’til the end, and probably prepared to shut down the country on his behalf. Speak to enough of them and the phrases ‘civil war’ and ‘we’ve got the guns’ become thematically noticeable. By the point that he loses(if he even loses of course) he will have legitimised the idea of the election being stolen from him.

        Confusion, confusion, enough of it that the abstract principles that keep America functioning start to seem vague and arcane. People start to question whether due process and equal rights and secularism are really that necessary after all. What’s the point if they get in the way? Trump doesn’t care about them. Why should anyone else?

        Everything else he’s said and done has been irrelevant by comparison: Trump’s most dangerous talent by far is his ability to dismiss with a wave of the hand and a smirk the legitimacy of America’s founding ideals, the legitimacy of democracy full stop. Democracies are bootstrapped up from chaos by the good faith of the people involved.
        Once enough people of bad faith realise that the foundations aren’t bricks and mortar, rather they are good will, trust and hope, then the whole thing becomes dangerously vulnerable.

        1. I wouldn’t expect to find the Donald acting the role of gracious exiting incumbent (as all of his predecessors have done) at his successor’s inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2021.

          1. So what do you do in that situation? I’m worried for America. I can’t think of a modern precedent for this. I think this is the most dangerous moment in western postwar history.

          2. Yep, I’ve felt for some time now that we’re headed for a shots-fired-at-Fort-Sumter level constitutional crisis. Our system wasn’t designed to countenance a president who has contempt for our norms and traditions and for the rule of law itself.

            The courts (probably winding up with SCOTUS) are going to rule that the Trump administration must turn Donald Trump’s tax returns over the House Ways & Means committee, and that the Trump administration cannot ignore congressional subpoenas. What happens if Trump finds some numbskull to tell him that Marbury v. Madison</a. was wrongly decided and the courts have no power to tell the president what the law is? What if Trump calls out the military to set up a cordon sanitaire around the White House so as to prevent the US Marshals from serving him with process?

            Fasten your seat-belts; we’re in for a bumpy ride.

          3. Well if so I hope like hell the American meltdown happens before tRump declares war on some unfortunate country like Iran.

            I don’t see why Iranians** should suffer and die for American political dysfunction. They’re not the ones who let tRump steal the presidency. They didn’t get a vote.

            They’ve got their own Ayatollahs to worry about; they shouldn’t be made to suffer for Americans’ inability to run their own country.

            **or any other country that tRump might find it convenient to invade.


            (Of course it would be preferable if neither of those things happened. I know what would be the most preferred event in my view, but our host might take a dim view if I expressed it. G*d rarely smites the right people).

    2. the evangelicals will go freakin’ nuts

      Go? That would be a short journey. Fractional Planck lengths, and I’m not sure that is actually possible.

    3. I think Justice Kavanaugh has shown where he stands: He did vote not to hear the Kansas defunding of Planned Parenthood case (hence prohibiting the defunding).
      I suspect that now that he’s got ‘tenure’ Justice Kavanaugh doesn’t give shit about overturning R vs W, he’s a free agent now. (And by supporting R vs W he might fend off all moves to impeach him)
      Beers for Brett!

  21. What are the common reasons for abortions in the US? Would someone point me to place that has that information?

    1. I have a question for you. Are you a woman or a man. My guess is – Man. I say that because I don’t think a woman would need to ask such a question.

    2. What are the common reasons for abortions in the US?

      Men who didn’t have a vasectomy.

    3. Just for fun. Women like to have them from time to time, it keeps their uteruses in ship shape order. And of course some of them do it out of spite, or because they’re bored, or they’re cultural Marxists.

      They might say that they’ve agonised over it, and that having an abortion is a traumatic experience that no woman considers lightly, but this is PC nonsense. They’re just cruel leftist feminazi SJW antifa hipster student millennials. I would never dream of having an abortion, never, and you can hold me to that too. Sure I’m a man, but that’s besides the point. Just trust me that women who have abortions do it all the time because they’re selfish.

  22. I hail from the most anti-abortion state in the US (according to Pew, at least), and I certainly have family back home who are adamantly against abortion. They are sweet people who genuinely see it as a matter of, as they would phrase it, “saving babies”, and don’t, that I can tell, want to control women, keep them out of the workplace, etc. I have no problem with such a stance when it is consistent – my issue is that I think such stances are more often than not ideologically based, even if people don’t realize it. If a person trends towards something like a Jainist philosophy across the board (whether labeled in that way or not,) then ok. (And I do know people who, to my mind, more or less take that stance.) But, if they turn a blind eye to war, animal welfare, extreme poverty, gun crime, etc., then to my mind they should pause and reflect on whether or not it’s really preserving life at all costs that they care about, or if they have been unconsciously influenced by partisan tribalism and are simply joining in their tribe’s chosen cause of the moment.

    A part of me thinks maybe it’s better to let people just build the house they want to live in, make the bed they want to lie in, etc. I feel like abortion laws have become sort of a Holy Grail in very conservative circles – paradise is just beyond the horizon, if only these evil liberals would get out of the way. So maybe the best thing is to stop framing it as a partisan power struggle – step back and let them people their own choices and then reflect on what they think of the resulting reality. I think as long as conservative men and women see it as a righteous crusade against The Other, their views will be shaped more by that than anything else.

    As a point of interest, some Pew poll statistics regarding attitudes about abortion in Alabama. Can’t locate a date on the page but as it references Millennials I assume it was fairly recent.

    1. This is the first comment which actually tries to understand why people oppose abortion. Well done.

      1. I don’t think so. Most pro-choice people understand quite well enough why anti-abortion people oppose abortion. They simply disagree with them and think most of their reasons are bunk.

        1. The vitriol in this comment thread seem to point otherwise:
          “What these lying hypocrites actually care about is regulating women’s sexuality”,
          “sloppy religious thinking”,
          “drone striking some poor fucker because he happened to be in the vicinity of a jihadi is simply ‘unfortunate’.”,
          “Women are now worse off in your benighted hell-hole of religious fundamentalism than they are in Iran.”,
          “I mean, ex-friend.”

          1. I don’t see it. These are all impolite but they are valid criticisms of what many anti-abortion people argue / claim. It may be that what you really mean to criticize is impoliteness, ridicule, mockery and the like rather than a lack of understanding or effort to understand.

          2. I could pluck out this comment of yours…

            “I am very pro-abortion but I respect its opponents. They are not anti-women. They are not evil. ”

            …and round on you in sanctimonious fashion for implicitly defending people who murder abortion doctors, for blanket declaring that some of the most egregiously misogynistic human beings on the face of the earth are “not anti-women”. But I wouldn’t dream of doing so 🙂

            As for my statement – are you telling me that the conservative attitude to drone strike casualties isn’t pretty much as I described?

          3. To equate two groups of people with some overlap (anti-abortion and pro-drone strike) is absurd. It would equivalent to me saying pro-choice people are socialists who support Maduro. To effectively disagree with anti-abortionists, you should disagree with their views on abortion.

            BTW, pretending that I said anything that implies support for killing abortionists is so ridiculous that it discredits you without having any effect on me.

          4. You’ve made up the category of “pro-drone strike conservative”. I obviously never mentioned such a person, nor claimed such a person existed. What I did mention was conservatives who react with tame euphemisms when confronted with civilian casualties in drone strikes. It is simply inarguable that many conservatives react that way when military drone strike casualties come up in conversation. You’ve simply avoided the issue and invented an argument that I didn’t make.

            As for the rest – my point was that you treated every single quotation in your original comment entirely at face value without a shred of good faith. My point in return was that I could do exactly the same with you. Which is what I did:

            You did not claim any exceptions in your defense of anti-abortionists, you simply stated that anti-abortionists are “not anti-women”. If you want people like me to simply assume that you meant “they are not (ALL) anti-women” then you would have to demonstrate some good faith yourself. As I said, two can play that pointless little game.

          5. ‘The vitriol in this comment thread seem to point otherwise’

            Why do you think that is? Do you think people are trying to bully others because of the subjective nature of this moral debate?

            Do you think they are insecure in their own convictions?

          6. Sloppy religious thinking isn’t vitriol. It’s fact. The thinking is flawed and sloppy and based on the religious concept of a soul entering a being at conception. Don’t believe me? Read the mandatory pamphlets women are handed in abortion clinics where these odious bills exist.

          7. I have argued personally with many anti abortion types and sooner or later most come around to women not being responsible, having sex, being sluts.
            One way or the other.
            A lot.

      2. I think people’s personal experience likely has a lot to do with how they view the two sides in this debate. I don’t doubt that there are people who are bullies and misogynists on the topic, but I’ve been lucky enough not to really interact with those people personally. I know there are also people who run clinics to support expectant mothers in difficult circumstances, adopt special needs children who otherwise would have been aborted, and in general express their beliefs in a positive, prosocial way. I don’t fault those people for simply having different beliefs, that’s what this country is all about after all. I do find it upsetting when people go the route of tyrannical judgement and shock-mongering – hell houses where teenagers are asked to dress up in blood and gore; booths where pictures of dismembered fetuses are shoved in people’s faces; men who want to frame it as being about “a woman’s place”, etc. I don’t support groups like PETA engaging in those shenanigans either, throwing blood on people in fur coats and whatnot. Such topics can easily become about lording it over others with self-righteous vs. actual concern for people.

    2. ‘I have no problem with such a stance when it is consistent’

      I think they prioritize the issues and cast the ‘unborn baby’ as the most vulnerable. So they make up the rules for consistency.

  23. When the Trump SCOTUS retracts Roe v. Wade, it will probably be in a decision about this law restricting abortion in AL, or its counterparts in GA, and MS. Laws like these, among other things, remind us that the maintenance of the Union, by the North’s victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War, was perhaps not an unmixed blessing.

    Quite aside from the abortion issue, this was immediately apparent from legislation which was enacted during and shortly after the Civil War as a direct result of the absence of legislators from the South. These enactments included the following.

    (1) The Land-Grant College Act of 1862, or Morrill Act, that provided grants of land to states to finance the establishment of colleges specializing in “agriculture and the mechanic arts”, thus creating the USA’s state university system; (2) the Homestead Act (1862) which allowed any American, including freed slaves, to put in a claim for up to 160 free acres of federal land, thus creating the class of independent farmers who underpinned the Populist Party a generation later; (3) the Pacific Railroad Act (1862) which promoted the construction of a “transcontinental railroad” (the Pacific Railroad) through government bonds and the grants of land to railroad companies; (4) the 13th amendment to the constitution (1864, 65); (4) and, finally, the 14th amendment, passed after the Civil War but before Southern legislators were allowed back in Congress, and which finally began to be enforced 100 years later.

    1. A big part of the problem here is the devil’s deal Northern Republicans cut to end Reconstruction prematurely in exchange for three Southern states throwing their electoral votes to Rutherford Hayes in the 1876 presidential election.

    2. Actually, the split today is as much a urban/rural thing as a north/south thing. States all the way up through the Midwest are much like the south (rural). All the way to North Dakota, and that is not south.

  24. Do you feel a certain squickiness when abortion is mentioned? Would you like to reduce abortion? Do you think woman who have an abortion should have counseling after the fact? If you say yes to any of these, then you think there is something wrong with abortion. You may be pro-abortion but you agree with anti-abortionists in some way.

    Normally, I say try to find common ground with your opponents but in this case I do not think it is possible. There is a basic difference in moral values which I do not think is bridgeable.

    Some good people have concerns for the fetus and its (IMO non-existant) soul. Other good people have concern for the woman. Many have concern for both.

    I am very pro-abortion but I respect its opponents. They are not anti-women. They are not evil. They have a reasonable moral philosophy which disagree with most leftists.

    1. I’ve dined with people who “feel a certain squickiness” while watching me down a dozen raw oysters. I appreciate how they feel and try not to do too much slurping (although it sure as the hell doesn’t stop me from eating and enjoying raw shellfish). Does that make me agree with the anti-oysterists “in some way”?

      I would never try to force (or even to try to convince) a woman who was opposed to abortion to have one. By the same token, the anti-abortion crowd has no right to foist its metaphysical presuppositions about fetuses upon those of us who don’t share those beliefs.

      Each to her own, is how I look at it.

      1. Yes, this happened to my sister-in-law. It is why my wife is anti-abortion in a general (not legal) sense. She hates it when being anti-abortion is called being anti-woman.

      2. Depends what is meant by ‘counseling’. If it was the sort of ‘counseling’ mandated by the religious ‘pro-life’ lobby it is likely to be pure malicious evil.

        ‘Counseling’ (of the right sort) or support should certainly be available for anyone feeling depression, post-abortion or not, if they need it and ask for it.

        I guess I’m just too suspicious of the anti-abortion propaganda forced on pregnant women in backward religious regimes like, say, the southern States.


    2. “… I respect its opponents. They are not anti-women. They are not evil. They have a reasonable moral philosophy which disagree with most leftists.”

      I think that’s by-and-large true of the people who say in questionnaires that they are opposed to abortion. But I think there’s a misogynistic, anti-sex element on the most rabid front-lines of the so-called “pro-life” movement, especially among some of the men — the ones who confront women and doctors on the street outside clinics, for example. They want women who have sex outside wedlock to be punished by being forced to carry their pregnancies to term.

      1. Yes, there are rabid wackos on the extremes of every issue.

        Some people (not you) are insinuating that rabid wackos are the mainstream in this case. It’s not true and does not help foster debate.

  25. What everyone should respect in the 21st century is this does not belong in government. There are things for govt. to be involved in and things they should not be involved in. That is why they call for freedom and the pursuit of happiness in this country, or use to. The decision to get pregnant and the decision to end pregnancy belongs to the woman. That is the moral high ground everyone should be on today. Not what the bible says, or some judge says or what poll you take on any given day. Our govt. can’t take care of kids after they are born or be trusted to do the right thing regarding children anywhere, including down at the boarder. So lets just take this decision to screw people away from them and give it to the person who should have it.

  26. What everyone should respect in the 21st century is this does not belong in government. There are things for govt. to be involved in and things they should not be involved in. That is why they call for freedom and the pursuit of happiness in this country, or use to. The decision to get pregnant and the decision to end pregnancy belongs to the woman. That is the moral high ground everyone should be on today. Not what the bible says, or some judge says or what poll you take on any given day. Our govt. can’t take care of kids after they are born or be trusted to do the right thing regarding children anywhere, including down at the boarder. So lets just take this decision to screw people away from them and give it to the person who should have it.

    1. +1 the irony with autocrats is that they are often conservatives who believe in limiting government but then want the government to make proclamations in certain areas. Usually those areas involve who is screwing who in a way they don’t approve.

  27. The thing not mentioned yet:
    If you want to reduce the number of abortions, you need to concentrate on sexual education and availability of contraceptives, the only way known to actually do that.
    Draconian anti-abortion laws have shown not to do that, but only to increase the no of backstreet abortions, with it’s concomitant morbidity and mortality.
    The fact that the so called ‘pro-lifers’ are not interested in promoting sexual education and availability of contraceptives, gives us reason to think their prime interest is not to reduce the no of abortions. There must be another motive, any guesses?

    1. I thought that the Catholic stance was that even contraceptives are bad because of something or the other. So, for such Catholics, the abortion ban is vacuous because they don’t want abortions anyway; and they do not use birth control. So this is an effort to control other people.

      – It could be that many of them genuinely think that abortion is tantamount to murder. But because contraception is not an option, then try to ban abortion. I don’t know about the sex education thing though — I don’t know why they would be against general sex education.

      – Maybe it is a spiteful campaign against a demographic they don’t like.

      – Maybe it is politically driven — the more people that believe this the more support a political part can get.

      – (This guess is funny but unkind to Catholics, and I don’t want to get into trouble.)

      – …

      1. The official Church position among Catholics is that all forms of birth control are prohibited save for the rhythm method and abstinence — or “Rhythm & Blues,” as they were called in the Catholic neighborhood where I grew up. 🙂

        Nevertheless, the use of contraception is widespread among the Catholic rank-and-file, often with sub silentio approval of their benignly intentioned parish priests.

  28. I would like to recommend 2 excellent books about the Supreme Court. They are both written by Erwin Chemerinsky.
    “The Conservative Assault on the Constitution “ published in 2010
    “The Case Against the Supreme Court “ published in 2014

  29. My own view, which I’ve expressed before, is that any woman who wants an abortion, right up to birth, should be permitted to have one

    Humans continue their development long after birth, into adulthood, and humans can be supported and nurtured through medicine. It can thus only be called “abortion” when the development is ended prematurely before it reaches a stage where it can live without the mother’s womb, and before it could continue to develop healthily independent of her. Otherwise, the act of ending a pregnancy of a “developed enough” unborn is called “birth”. Thus your proposal amounts to “giving birth, then kill”, i.e. infanticide.

    In my view, abortions need to be like going to a dentist, especially the earlier versions. The pregnant needs to have time to notice her pregnancy and time to consider whether she “accepts” it. I am against the hoops they have to jump through. It should be “no questions asked” and a normal procedure. However, at some point it can be expected of her to cast a decision and stick with it, like with everything.

    I’d prefer speedy, widespread and good access to actual abortion over the “infanticide” option, because that puts a lot of burden onto the medical community who have to kill and depose of newborns, which will likely limit the service to a few “clinics” which would be constantly embattled. The pregnant would have to run a gauntlet. I am not categorically against late term abortion, however, and would allow it under special circumstances.

  30. To force women to bear children against their will. His Orangeness feels that’s not only an appropriate, but also a righteous cause…a “right” given to our government by its own and guarded fiercely by its menfolk.
    The church and other authoritative institutions including organized religion may issue whatever misogynistic commands they choose…but The State? How did we get back here? And when do fear and disgust begin to turn to hatred? Because I’m getting there with this new wave of Trumpian Oppression…

  31. Great post, this was very informative about the new law. I didn’t realise that this was such a politically savvy move. However, I’m unsure about why you’re opposed to abortion. You take a much more radical view on it than most. To me, abortion is really a debate about whether the fetus is worthy of moral consideration. This could come from many things: sentience, viability, conception… I’ve explained my ideas more in the article below, what do you think about it?


    1. You didn’t even read the damned article, did you? It’s clear I am firmly pro-choice. This was just an opportunity for you to tout your own website and your own article, but I eliminated your links since you are anonymous on your site. What a coward!

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