“Letter to My Fiercest Abortion Opponent”

Yves here. This personal abortion account is from a known reader and is accurate.

By Jane Doe

Dear person who believes abortion is murder,

I write to explain why I don’t, hoping you will listen and understand. I accept I cannot persuade you. I understand your beliefs; I want you to understand mine.

We Americans must try harder to understand each other, even as we disagree. Abortion discourse became slogan screaming long ago, and I do not have confidence you understand my position.

Please, do me the courtesy of hearing me out.

I had a first trimester abortion in my late 20s because the pregnancy was accidental and the
father, my boyfriend, was a substance abusing pathological liar. I had not yet earned the
degree that led to my career; I was adrift, working a meaningless subsistence job while
auditing classes at UC Berkeley to audition potential degrees, figuring out what I wanted to
study. Tethering myself to that man, and centering our child in my life, would have permanently set my life in a mold crafted by my worst mistake.

(No, I could not have given our baby up for adoption. People can, and do, and that’s great. I

Today I’m very happily married and we have two kids we love desperately. I have a job I love that enables me to help support my family. My life was shaped by my best decision, to become a mother with a great father in the 2000s, after I got my head straight, instead of in the 90s at the nadir of my life, partnered with the antithesis of my husband.

But for my abortion, my two children would not have been born. I’d have had one kid I could
not provide for with a bad dad.

In fact, had my mother not had a pre-Roe abortion during her first marriage, I would not have been born, nor my brother, because she would never have married my father.

For that matter, my brother would not be happily married, raising two beloved children, with a successful career, if one of his pre-degree girlfriends hadn’t chosen abortion (not the woman who became his wife a decade later). Our mother’s pre-Roe abortion led to six well loved, well cared for children.

Women take their autonomy as seriously as men do. We try to live the life we want, despite the obstacles and in spite of the odds. As a result, as many have said: you cannot stop abortion, only safe abortions.

Roe drew the correct federal constitutional right boundary at viability, because a life in the parasite stage of human development—a nascent human inside a woman’s body, feeding on
her to survive and develop—is not equal to the fully autonomous woman.

Although I believe that personhood begins at birth, I can live in a country with states that limit my freedom to have an abortion once the nascent human is viable. I recognize that for a
substantial number of people, probably including you, the nascent human is a person from

That said, my body didn’t grow a button I could push to remove the nascent human from my
womb at viability. The two times I chose to be a mother, I welcomed the connection, choosing
what I put in my body for the good of my nascent human. But my loving attention doesn’t
make the connection any less parasitical.

As to after viability, well, as a woman who carried to term two children, I cannot imagine having a late term abortion. Which means, to me, that any woman who has one has a very good
reason. That reason is none of my business, but I’m sure she has one. Unsurprisingly, late term abortions are very rare.

In short, I believe that all women have the right to choose to abortion up to viability without justifying that choice to anyone, not even her doctor. We have that right because women are people, and nascent humans living inside our bodies, feeding off us, are not.

Because I believe a pregnant woman is only one person, I do not believe abortion is murder.

Because you believe abortion is murder, I am willing to accept abortion restrictions at a
nascent human’s viability as the federal constitutional guaranty of my autonomy. No state in
America should be allowed to offer less, because anything less substantially impairs my
personhood relative to all non-fertile female or male Americans.

Without Roe, I as a fertile woman do not have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I do not have the same Freedom of Association.

I am Pro Choice, pro- women choosing if and when they will become mothers.

I accept that you believe abortion is murder, and that when you see a pregnant woman, you see two people. Now I ask you: Please own the logic of your belief that abortion is murder.

You name both me and my mother murderers.

The people who helped us were merely accessories; we chose to have the abortions. Stop infantilizing us; the doctors were our agents. If abortion is murder, then my mother and I are murderers.

You name my brother an accessory to murder or perhaps a murderer.

My brother supported his girlfriend in her decision to have an abortion; he wasn’t ready to be dad just as much as she wasn’t ready to be mom.

Murderers are imprisoned for life and/or executed. Sometimes accessories too.

Call abortion evil, a mortal sin, an abomination, or any other immorality you like. Try to
persuade women to choose not to have one. Work to support women with accidental
pregnancies, both during her pregnancy and after—after is much more expensive. Morally motivated people can be compassionate and problem solving; most religious leaders don’t jail
people for sins.

(Though they should help jail people for their crimes, like all the raping and sexually assaulting religious leaders who were hidden and protected instead.)

You call abortion murder. So stand up straight, and look me and my mother in the eye, and say
that you believe we should be locked up for life, and/or executed. Say it in front of my children and my brother and his children. Say it in front of everyone, loud and clear. Unless you can do that, stop calling abortion murder. You can’t have it both ways.


Jane Doe

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  1. CarlosBarleycorn

    As far as Biology 101 goes, I’m not sure that most pro-lifers would be much convinced by the parasite argument presented above. I also don’t believe that most pro-choice types would call themselves “pro-abortion” either. Wading into the ‘when does life begin ‘ question seems like a philosophical conundrum that the devil himself may have concocted as an ingenious way to prevent a political system from functioning.

    Sorry but calling an unborn fetus a parasite sounds like an attempt to morally distance ourselves from the reality of abortion—it is not an easy choice. Having been there (as a man who accepted that I had an opinion but ultimately could not make the choice for my girlfriend at the time) I wouldn’t say that abortion is something to feel good about. It might even be killing. But so is eating. In a weird way, abstinence and birth control are ways of ‘stopping life’ as well. We don’t know where life begins. The left is hiding behind women and the sanctity of women’s rights—identity politics as usual—when we know the issue is much more complex. Why do we keep reducing the problem in this way? Maybe it’s ok to finally admit that we don’t actually have much scientific or moral ground to stand on…only the practical experience of thousands of years of human societies functioning better when children are properly raised and limited in numbers. We also know that women bear the larger burdens in pregnancy and child-rearing, and therefore they should have the ability to control their own destinies and in some sense the destinies of our societies. But can we say for sure what the ‘right thing to do’ is? We can’t. It’s an ugly reality of our existence that, gasp, may not have a moral solution, only a practical one.

    1. Carolinian

      I agree that it’s more complicated as a moral question and the driver of the opposition is not just religious indoctrination or patriarchy but also the universal maternal instinct that causes some opponents to see themselves as protecting babies more than judging the potential mothers. Which is say many of the opponents are women.

      But as a rational question, a legal and practical question, abortion should obviously be legal and as articles here have recently pointed out the current abortion drugs mean there’s not much that can be done to stop it anyway. IMO the pro choice side should accept the above premises and not reduce the question to yet another Manichean Handmaid’s Tail narrative where all the country’s problems are the fault of those social reactionaries.By making the abortion question a proxy for the culture war the pro side merely fuels the opponents who may really be angry about something else. Their lives have failed to have a middle class happy ending–babies or no–and by treating them as enemies the choice-ers get what they were asking for.

      Which is to say reason must rule if we are to have a functioning society and perhaps, someday, a federal legalization law will happen. But it’s hard to take lectures on rationality from people like Pelosi or Biden who seem much more wedded to hysteria on all questions.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        How do you reason with anti-reasonable people? You don’t. You either submit to them or you crush them.

        Reason will have nothing to do with whether abortion becomes legal in “more” states, ” fewer” states, or no states at all. Pure power, and which side has more of it, and which side can excercise it more totalistically and ruthlessly against the other side, will determine where or even whether abortion remains legal or becomes legal again.

        But you don’t have to believe me. Give reason a try yourself and see where it gets you. If it gets you “somewhere” , then I am wrong in this case.

    2. Steve

      Great comment. One of your points we never hear about is that eating involves killing to a large extent as well, and it’s the pro life side that is more ardent in defense of eating meat.

    3. mikkel

      Or maybe it really is just simple.

      Everyone I know who has had an abortion has had a positive, even joyous experience. Yes joyous.

      Some had been raped. Others simply just not ready. For all, “parasite” was not a rhetorical flourish but literal sensory experience.

      Early on in our relationship my wife became pregnant. She knew immediately on implantation and her body tried desperately to reject it. Ironically here in New Zealand it is illegal to have an abortion *before* fetal heartbeat is detected, so we had to wait several weeks for the first ultrasound.

      My wife was miserable. I often held her as she cried. We got the ultrasound and the embryo was developing far slower than it should have been – the doctor said in most cases it would be miscarried, but hers was not.

      More misery. A week later we got another ultrasound and were desperate to see the “heartbeat”. Fortunately it was there.

      My wife got the pills and while she was waiting, we ate cake and played games. It was a celebration, a celebration of life and autonomy restored. It was not hard.

      When my wife was young she was not only raped but then publicly shamed throughout her whole teenage years until she escaped her town. She had severe sexual trauma, which was contributing to general life trauma and we got pregnant just at the beginning of her recovery. A time when her body was beginning to learn sex could be pleasurable and safe; that she has bodily autonomy and can assert her personhood.

      If she had been forced to carry to term, we believe it would have been devastating. Her recovery would be severely delayed or lost forever and the world would remain a terrifying place to her body on a molecular level.

      Years later she is now largely healed and has joy in life. We are now trying to have a child and often talk about how grateful we are for the abortion. To allow her to heal, to allow our relationship to mature to the level of our love. To have confidence in our capacity to be there for our child, if it so arises.

      It is not ugly. It is beautiful. It’s that simple. And no abstract pontificating can ever change that.

    4. hk

      I don’t think it makes any sense for pro-abortion (which person appears to be, as opposed to “pro-choice”) advocates to attempt morally justifying the argument like this. People don’t change their morality because someone lectures at them–heck, they tend to harden the other side’s convictions. But to believe that abortion is “murder” does not systematically make it illegal or even “net immoral”: “justified homicides” of all sorts are legally acknowledged, after all, and many people who have qualms about abortion in principle are willing to go that far under varying conditions, I’ve always found. Contrary to popular belief, I tend to think, “but” is a very valuable tool for persuadion–“I share your broad moral views, but what about conditions X, Y, and Z?”

    5. Hickory

      I agree. I really like Louis CK’s perspective in his comedy skit (look it up on YouTube, it’s funny): abortion is totally killing an unborn child, and women should have the ability to do that. Acknowledge the terribleness, and take responsibility for making the often hard but right decision.

      1. ChiGal

        yes, I think that’s right. I came up in the 70s and saw the issue entirely as being about women’s rights. My mom was an early activist with NOW (I didn’t know it at the time but she went to England for an abortion when I was in jr hs).

        I myself had an abortion in my teens frankly because of being careless about birth control. I don’t much judge my adolescent self for this, but later in life I had another, pretty much for the same reason (had been using an IUD for years and during the replacement procedure the doc triggered a seizure and I high-tailed it out of there). when I got pregnant my then bf suggested getting married but I didn’t want to bring a much younger child into the world at a time when my jr hs age son had already experienced so much loss around the divorce from his father.

        I KNOW NO OTHER WOMAN WHO DID THIS AS LIGHTLY AS I DID, though I know many who have had abortions.

        not sure when, but at some point I came to realize that it is about more than women’s reproductive rights. I came to feel that it is a dodge not to consider that the foetus is after all at least a potential child.

        I cannot say I have regrets because if I hadn’t had the early abortion I wouldn’t have had my son and he is (was) my whole treasure. I do sometimes think of the fact that he died tragically at 19 leaving me childless, never to have grandchildren or anyone to pass on family heirlooms and memories too as pretty ironic.

        In my worst moments it feels like a judgement.

  2. jackiebass63

    This in my opinion is a personal decision that should be made by the woman. She is the one that must decide what is best for her well being.

    1. Louis Fyne

      no way that I can prove this, but IMO, vax mandates were the straw that broke the Roe back when it comes to people’s opinions….

      in the sense that, IMO, pre-Covid 51% to 59% of people essentially agree with some variant of “my body, my choice.” The vax mandates destroyed that.

      And in the post-vax wreckage IMO people who were agnostic towards or weakly against Roe in the pre-Covid times reasoned (rightly or wrongly) well that if vax mandates are “right” so is repealing Roe.


      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I would disagree that this has anything to do with changing public opinion, or unchanging public opinion for that matter. The religious fanatics on the Supreme Court could care less about public opinion.

        1. Louis Fyne

          They are not religious fanatics. They are straight up doctrinal religious. full stop.

          Supreme Court cares about public opinion because in the end without the consent of the governed the Supreme Court loses legitimacy.

          And guess what….partly thanks to vax mandates (the government reaching into your body while the media cheers) 51% of the populace are OK w/abortion being sent to the states.

          The “fanatics” label has been tossed around so much in the internet age that it has lost all meaning. And continuously relying on the “they are fanatics, we must stop them” argument is a losers’ game.

          No one agnostic about issue X, Y, Z cares anymore if Side A calls Side B fanatics. It has become white noise.

          I’m just the messenger, don’t flame me. Flame the useless advocacy groups and Dems who have been grifting/milking Roe donations for 50 years.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I can’t find any evidence to support your 51% claim – a quick g00gle search suggests a clear majority of the public opposes the ruling – nor any evidence to suggest public opinion re abortion has changed over the Covid era.

            I agree that no one cares if I call them fanatics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t. Nor does it conflict with your “straight up doctrinal religious. full stop.” Doctrinal Catholicism of the Alito, Thomas, Coney Barrett sort may not be uncommon among Catholics – though none of the Catholics I know subscribe to it – but it is certainly a fringe position (to say the least) among the US citizenry as a whole, which I think is what is supposed to matter in a democratic country with separation of church and state.

            1. flora

              I’ve wondered if maybe 2 or 3 conservative Catholic Justices are members of Opus Dei when I look at their rulings and rationales. No way to know.

                  1. flora

                    I’d like Chris Hedges to do investigative reporting about this wing of Catholic dominionists just as he did with the Protestant wing.

                    I’m trying to imagine a Court composed of Mike Pence types for an Evangelical equivalent.

                    1. JBird4049

                      >>>I’m trying to imagine a Court composed of Mike Pence types for an Evangelical equivalent.

                      I think in roughly a generation or less there would be no legitimacy to the court, which would mean the end of the Supreme Court; in general, the court follows the opinions of the nation, eventually, but of course, it is allowed to rule whatever it wants. Just look at the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford and the words of opinion’s writer, Chief Justice Taney.

                      Of course, the Civil War, ultimately, put paid to all that. Not sure anyone had planned on a four year war that caused a million plus dead and wounded, plus shattered states, or the such things like the destruction of the American whaling fleet, to determine slavery’s fate.

                    2. JBird4049

                      I should restate and say more clearly what I meant to say. It is true that the American courts, governments, and other bodies usually with some kind of diktat by the elites generally decide things. It is not true that they have the final say. Among other things, the system was designed to allow some input by the Founders. Then consider that those societies that prevent change especially those that would help improve the wellbeing of the majority eventually explode. Just look at the Roman Republic, whose history, the Founders were very knowledgeable about.

                      What the more extreme of both sides of this issue along with the ruling elites forget or choose to not learn is that ramming change or stasis from the top is much more likely to fail than encouraging change from below. Also, if the propaganda becomes too contradictory to reality it also will fail. People might be convinced for a while that the warm “rain” is rain falling into their heads but eventually they will change their minds no matter how loud others are.

                      The courts, governments, and the various well funded foundations, charities, churches, lobbying groups, and other NGOs are all saying that it is rain falling because they say so. It does not matter what party it is or what is their supposed. And much like before the American Civil War, a lot of violence, corruption, law making, court rulings, and general BS was used to keep slavery going. It worked for a few generations, until it did not.

                      I am not saying that abortion is on the same level as the Peculiar Institution. I am saying that it is rhyming along with history and in tune with all other issues of ours that are also rhyming.

      2. marym

        The anti-abortion movement, including electing anti-abortion candidates and appointing an anti-Roe judiciary, has been going on for 50 years. The participants in that movement are responsible for this decision. They don’t get to blame it on proponents of vaccine mandates, whatever else one may think about that issue.

        1. IM Doc

          I am so sorry – but one of the most important aspects of medical ethics is that the principle in question must be universal in its usage and understanding. A principle of medical ethics simply cannot be applied to one issue and then not another. The resulting moral chaos will become destructive very quickly. This is just the way it is.

          One side can simply not vehemently use medical ethics principles on its pet issues and then ignore the same on those they oppose.. That would make them moral morons as is being evidenced today. The hypocrisy from the very same politicians is just overwhelming. They look life fools.

          I do not think anyone is blaming the loss of Roe vs Wade on the proponents of vaccine mandates. I think they are rightly pointing out that the hypocrisy on display is revealing to all involved that ignoring ethical principles in critical medical issues in our society that they have screamed from the rooftops for years really makes them look like zeroes. I will assume from this day forward that someone like Elizabeth Warren is a moral zero until proven otherwise. She clearly is unable to rationally parse through an ethical dilemma. It pains me to say that. But she has been proving this with so many other issues over the past two years that this seems like nothing. The same can be said for many others I used to respect.

          Since both abortion and vaccine mandates of a non-proven, no-safety record substance are both medical issues – both must be evaluated on medical ethics in exactly the same way. You simply do not get to be ethical on one issue and not the other. Unless, of course, your name is Joseph Mengele or many others throughout history who have – and we all know the consequences.

          This is absolutely fundamental to medical ethics.

          The issue of “my body, my choice” goes right to the heart of medical autonomy – one of the most important medical ethics principles there are. It is absolutely relevant to abortion – but equally relevant to the mandate issue as well. Again – the fact that this has rightly been used for generations now for the abortion issue – and then tossed out the window in a heart beat for the other side speaks volumes in the hypocrisy for the side doing it.

          The big bugaboo with medical autonomy in the hundreds of debates I have been witness to over my life – is what about the autonomy of the fetus?…..When does a fetus have autonomy?

          The other issue that gets less press but is equally important – is “this decision is between a woman and her doctor”. That issue goes right to the heart of medical privacy – another ethical issue that was tossed right out the window by the mandate crowd – the same ones who have been chanting it for decades. I would love for you to come and talk to a patient of mine – a young woman with a clotting disorder – who came to me to discuss her options with the vaccine mandate at her work. Together ( a woman and her doctor) came up with the decision that these were not a good idea for her. I filled out a medical exemption. It was summarily dismissed by the employer. She got the shot – and 2 days later had a massive PE. Thankfully did not die. But the same people who are now screaming about this issue with abortion were all over her facebook feed demonizing her for even thinking about getting a medical exemption – she showed it to me – tears in eyes – “these people are my friends.”

          Sorry – there is no other way. Medical ethics are non-negotiable. They are not for some issues and not others. Failure to understand this is why we are in the mess we are today. The few medical ethicists that came out to support these mandates were simply unable to make their case. And as is always the case with the truth – it will eventually come to light.

          I struggle with the abortion issue mightily. I read posts like the one above – and I get it. I have had decades as an instructor in medical ethics to go over this in my mind and soul. But what has happened in the past year has demonstrated to many people that the moral and ethical fiber in this country is very thin indeed.

          1. marym

            I’m pro-reproductive-choice, and, in principle, pro-public health mandates. I did question whether I was being consistent in my initial opinion on the controversial pandemic mandates.

            I opposed a vaccine mandate (based on a citizen’s opinion of right or wrong, not a qualified medical or legal understanding) due to the still experimental status, known side effects from the beginning, and emerging questions about efficacy.

            However, I questioned credibility of those who claimed “my body my choice” regarding masks, a public health mandate with which I would agree.

            I thought the comment to which I responded did attribute some opposition Roe to attitudes supporting vaccine mandates. That would be as hypocritical as claiming that “my body my choice” is as acceptable an explanation for not wearing a mask as for abortions.


            “the hypocrisy on display is revealing to all involved that ignoring ethical principles in critical medical issues in our society that they have screamed from the rooftops for years really makes them look like zeroes”

            applies both to those who are pro-abortion and those who are anti-vaccine, but don’t acknowledge the autonomy argument on the “other” side, then I agree.

          2. Left in Wisconsin

            So I presume you are holding those who are inconsistent in the other direction – yes choice on whether or not to vaccinate but no choice on whether or not to abort – to the same standard.

          3. JustTheFacts

            I absolutely agree: if you are not struggling with this, then you’re not actually treating it with the full seriousness it deserves.

            Another remark: I find it quite ridiculous that this country has been unable to come to a consensus and legislate it, the way countries in Europe, even religious ones like Ireland, have done. Instead it has relied on a dubious legal ruling for 50 years. Legislation could easily have been introduced at various times over the last half century, but wasn’t, in my opinion, for political gain: a sword of Damocles over people’s heads — vote for us or you might lose Roe v Wade / vote for us and we’ll appoint supreme justices to get rid of Roe V Wade. Again, this is not what serious people do, which only increases my contempt for politicians of both parties.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I’ve repeatedly ranted about the failure of the feminist movement to codify abortion rights in law. Instead they wasted the decade plus fundraising for an Equal Rights Amendment which was never gonna become law….aside from the fact that an ERA would not cover abortion rights, that being a gender-specific issue.

      3. hk

        I think you are right. Not only mandating “medical treatment” on people, but justifying it on “moral” basis is bound to have consequences. It could have been framed more narrowly, on purely “public health” grounds (it still would have had hard time being accepted, not without some good reasons, given both scientific and other issues) but we seem to have trouble doing things without moralizing and, well, moralizing always backfires on controversial issues–the other side believes stuff for their moral reasons, too, which, in their view, is better than your morality.

  3. Geo

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Sadly, some will have no problem persecuting the women*, but most will deflect and prosecute doctors, I guess because the optics aren’t as barbaric maybe? Can’t think of a logical reason for why doctors will be prosecuted and not the women.

    Been seeing a lot of commentary with the “make better choices” type moralizing about ending hookup culture, monogamy, purity, etc. The sanitized view so many have of what life is for others is amazing to me. Would love to see these lives where there were no obstacles or mistakes made. I grew up in the church. My small parochial school class had 24 kids. By graduation four of the girls had babies, one of the guys was in prison, two were in rehab, and one had police surveillance on him because he was a drug dealer. We had prayer in class, were taught “values”, and all that. Yet, it didn’t lead to smooth lives of “better choices”. As this writer shares, many people need time to get their lives right many never are able to. Seems the “pro-life” movement is more interested in punishing lives than on providing life affirming systems.

    *Article on women jailed for miscarriages: https://www.11alive.com/amp/article/news/national/miscarriages-are-already-criminalized-roe-v-wade/85-7e78facf-b673-4775-8a09-9a45e3a794b2

  4. John Anthony La Pietra

    “Women have the right to choose abortion; they also need the health care and practical ability to make choice real.”

    Part of my own personal platform, which I helped write into my party’s platform as well.

  5. Larry

    The people who impose this on you don’t value your autonomy. They only value control. A zealous religious minority has imposed their form of control over the plurality of people. Appeals to them are of no use. Defeating them with a concerted campaign is the only path to restore rights.

  6. CanCyn

    This is well written and I have no doubt that many could share similar anecdotes. I suppose we have to convince people that abortion is not murder. But I would suggest that arguing that 6 healthy children were born because 3 others weren’t isn’t going to convince any anti-abortion* advocates any time soon. Their simple retort would be, “So, murdering 3 people is OK if you save 6 others?”

    *I use the term anti-abortion rather than pro-life because it seems to me that most people who call themselves pro-life are not particularly supportive of life at any other stage.

    Over the past few days there has been much commentary here on NC – two stand out for me. Katniss Everdeen’s simple statement that the state recognizes citizens at birth – not before. And, sorry I can’t remember the handle, but another who suggested that going with the pro-choice label and being seemingly afraid of the word abortion has harmed the ‘pro-choice’ movement. As someone who counts Henry Morgentaler, Canada’s abortion pioneer, as one of her absolute heros for his sacrifice and bravery, I am not afraid of the word abortion.

    In the end, it is about a woman’s right to healthcare and it is about all peoples’ right to quality of life – something that this essay proves includes legal abortions.

    In case you don’t know about Dr. Morgentaler, here is his Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morgentaler

  7. Julian

    Anti abortion crowd is not about unborn lives, it’s about control. Like almost every other movement on extreme left or extreme right.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It is like one half of people will not be happy until the other half are following the same code of morals they themselves – mostly – practices. As in ‘I believe in this and even though you do not, I demand that you follow that belief that I have.’

      1. Julian

        Most people preach their moral codes. But rarely do follow through when they have to incur costs to themselves. That is what makes me even more angry about them. Hypocrisy…

    2. Pelham

      The same could be said about the pro-choice crowd: It’s about controlling the ability of an unborn child to have a life. BTW, the supposedly undecidable debate over when a recognizably human life begins has actually been decided in countries that are far more knowledgeable and democratic than ours, and that’s generally in the range of 12 to 15 weeks.

      1. aj

        “The same could be said about the pro-choice crowd: It’s about controlling the ability of an unborn child to have a life.”

        That’s not the same thing and you know it.

      2. sharonsj

        1. I don’t care what other countries have decided. A 12 to 15 week fetus is not viable outside the womb, therefore the woman should have the final say.
        2. Religions other than Christian allow and even call for abortions depending on the circumstance. And, other than Catholics who are taught abortion is a sin, there isn’t a single word in the New Testament about abortion. The Old Testament says you are not alive until you are born AND you take your first breath.
        3. If you do not have bodily autonomy, then you are a slave.

      3. Julian

        It is about controling the well being of the woman, life and death of an unborn child is a consequence of the choice of the woman in regards to her well-being (and reasons here are myriad).

        Human life begins at fertilization. There is no other starting point. Although first 70% doesn’t live past first two weeks afterwards. Then some additional 20 – 30% dies in the remainder of the first 3 months. And then a little bit more goes to a “happy farm” during the remaining six months.

        A few percent more due to abortion won’t make a difference.

  8. Eclair

    Our society punishes women for their sex lives. Only look at the number of words that denigrate sexually active women: slut, whore, c**t, floozie, tramp, tart …… on and on. Sexually active males? Stud, macho, virile …..whoa! Those are good things!/s

    Being a woman, being female, is a powerful state. We bring forth new life. We protect and sustain and nurture it with our bodies for nine months and, then, for months or years afterward by with milk produced by our bodies. Pretty amazing!

    Really, after that initial deposit of sperm from a male, women don’t need them, biologically speaking. Societies of females could simply keep a stable of males, or simply one pure bred virile stud. Ouch! No wonder men (and their indoctrinated females) become touchy and feel the need to control women by language, by culture, by laws. And by turning women, particularly poor, marginalized and women of color, into potential felons during the entirety of their child-bearing years.

    I am feeling particularly ‘Swiftian’ this morning but will shortly return to carrying gallon jugs of ‘gray’ water down to the the veggie garden. And to the newly planted trees. Chautauqua County has had little rain during this beautiful Summer Solstice season.

    1. hk

      I think the idea that “men” are primary opponents of abortion is misguided. The most passionate opponents of abortion have always been women. Men may have whatever opinions they have, but they don’t care too much about it, because, as the saying goes, it’s not their bodies. This is, I think, where pro-choice argument starts faltering–they don’t bother trying to persuade their main “opponents.”. Heck, they don’t even recognize who their main adversaries are. I figure that “persuading” men is, in fact, relatively easy precisely because men dot care much about abortion much either way. But if so, this sets up a weird spectacle where some women try to browbeat other women on a sensitive issue by enlisting men.

      1. Eclair

        “The most passionate opponents of abortion have always been women.” That’s a pretty sweeping statement, hk. Any facts to back it up?

        As for men not caring too much about it because ‘it’s not their bodies,’ that in itself bolsters the argument that the criminalization of abortion is an attempt to gain control of women. Men’s bodies just can’t reproduce. A woman can propagate the species with any brand of bottled viable sperm. A man needs an enslaved female (or a small herd) to produce progeny. The institution of marriage can be viewed as a legal instrument to tie females to a male, who can then control their sexual activity.

  9. Tom Stone

    Very well written,thank you.
    If the State mandates that every Woman carry every pregnancy to term doesn’t the State have a moral responsibility to ensure that both mother and child recieve both medical care and adequate financial support?

  10. anon y'mouse

    i hate to rain on something that was thoughtfully written with the best of intentions, but THEY ARE NOT LISTENING.

    they are not going to listen.

    there isn’t any reasoning that will work with the opposite side.

    i would save my breath for defining personhood around already existing autonomous persons and not nebulous maybe-someday persons. same argument, different grounds for the battle.

    perhaps we can get the corporate personhood taken away as well. nah, that will never happen.

    in the meantime, baring one’s soul with heartfelt stories does almost nothing for anyone. the only thing that does tend to work is directly experiencing or being a direct bystander to someone that needs to make such a difficult choice, and even some of those are ok with the outcome (“let God decide” or bringing a baby to term suffering birth defects is servicing “life”). although i wouldn’t necessarily shut up about the abortion stuff either. i’m all for stating why and when it was done, and that the woman was satisfied with the outcome, and NEVER ASHAMED.

    i was part of the clinical trials for pharmaceutical abortion in the 90s. i don’t regret that. it was the right choice for me at the time. birth control that i was using had failed. i don’t need to engage in the agony of the decision as theatre for someone else who definitely won’t appreciate it because these people have no empathy for that—they have NO EMPATHY FOR YOU as a human being. only your womb as grounds for making another human being or catering to their religious delusions. i have listened in on young ladies on the phone talk to their (presumably) pro-life girlfriends and be utterly shamed, chastised and reduced to tears simply for having suggested they were going to Planned Parenthood. these people don’t even have empathy for the women they KNOW personally, whose life will be diverted forever by such a choice. so why waste one’s past tears and dilemmas ripping your heart open for someone who looks on uncaringly and coldly says “you could have done otherwise”. their judgement has already been made before you open your mouth, or start typing. you are nothing to them. the “lost baby” is all.

    the truth is that they don’t want poor women having sex with whomever they choose under the conditions they choose without negative consequences. it has little or nothing to do with “life” and more with making poor women suffer until they live nearly celibate and joyless lives, or tie themselves to marriage. this is an element of control the rich have had over the poor for ages. the rich have always planned their births, and generally had smaller families as much as they could, even considering the high mortality. they view us lessers as being beasts rutting and out of control, and birth control/contraception allows us to engage in that without the negative consequences. for our beastliness, we are supposed to be relegated to poverty. “lay in the bed you have made”.

    within a few degrees of separation in my social circle, i have met someone whose mother tried to abort before Roe was legal and almost died. you see, she had 9 kids already and they were too poor to feed the ones they had. she couldn’t countenance telling her working-himself-to-death husband that another was coming. she almost bled out and died, and almost left the 9 children motherless entirely. but “pro lifers” (we really need a more accurate term, since they couldn’t give a crap about existing life) would look on her horrible dilemma and say “well, you could have given the last one up for adoption”. or some other cold response negating one’s choice. get it—they don’t CARE about existing human beings.

    tl/dr: never share your personal stories with uncaring, unfeeling and never to be swayed audience. it does neither party any good at all. the attitudes won’t soften.

    1. mikkel

      I learned early on that the point of debate isn’t to persuade my opponent but to sway the audience on the sidelines. I have confidence that this bearing of soul will be immensely positive, not because it will convince the determined but because it turns abstraction into flesh and blood.

      A vast majority of the population already believes abortion should be legal in at least some instances. The more that autonomy is colored out, that suffering and joy, shame and pride do not fit in little boxes; the more that happens a lot of people who defend the right in the abstract might just be willing to hit the barricades for it.

      Because ultimately that is what will be needed. And as I see all these stories flood out I increasingly believe that this might be another Prohibition…so many decades of activism lost so quickly once the reality was lived.

      Whether this will happen within the current system or not I cannot say. But great storms are building.

    2. rob

      since “pro-life” certainly doesn’t describe anyone against people having a choice as to their own future, I always try to refer to them as “anti-choice” people…..with a “pro-birth” in there somewhere…

      since , only one side of the issue, has envisioned “their” feelings are good enough for everyone else to have.
      and whether they oppose healthcare for all, or think guns are gonna solve something.. ;or have a fridge full of formerly living beings…… they certainly aren’t pro-life…

  11. Left in Wisconsin

    That is a beautiful letter but, as a political matter, the issue isn’t convincing thoughtful abortion opponents that abortion is sometimes a good thing. The vast majority of USAmericans already support abortion (within reasonable limits) and in a functioning democracy that would be enough.The issue is that a handful of crazy-religious goons who are representative of a small fraction of the US population now control the Supreme Court (and many other political jurisdictions). Contraception is/will be the proof. Any thoughtful abortion opponent would be all for expanded access to contraception and family planning. Crazy-religious goons will not stand for this, as they are understood as other mechanisms for interfering with the will of their “God.”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The vast majority of USAmericans already support abortion (within reasonable limits) and in a functioning democracy that would be enough.

      That really is the crux of the matter.

      It is well-known that for the last 50 years, a maniacally obsessed minority has been engineering and re-engineering court “challenges” to the “law” in an effort to impose its will on an entire population. That the stars finally aligned to manipulate governance of an entire country to reflect the will of a relatively few fanatics is an indictment of the entire idea of democratic “self-government” as practiced in the most wonderful country ever invented in the history of the galaxy.

  12. flora

    Thanks for this post.

    Women have always made a choice. Women will always make a choice.
    Once the choice is made, what safe, legal options are there? This is what Roe was about.
    Stories from pre-Roe:

    Rita Moreno Recalls Her Near-Death Experience From a Botched Abortion Before Roe v. Wade: ‘What a Dreadful Mess’



    A doctor who treated botched abortions pre-Roe looks back: ‘A matter of life and death’


    Hush, we don’t talk about that.

  13. Reishi

    This is well written but as other commenters have pointed out, they are not listening. I personally know a Catholic couple who are pro-life (at least in public) even though they chose to have an abortion once. The foetus was not viable so they did not want to carry to term. Many pro-lifers oppose such abortions.

    Twitter has been abound with stories from health care workers who have given abortions to pro-life women who apparently think their own abortions don’t count.

    1. sharonsj

      Focus on the Family says 54% of women who had abortions are Christian (25% of those were Catholic).

  14. jake

    If the idea is really to persuade, or at least make a show of trying, rather than address the choir, this letter is painful to read; the writer is unaware of how steeped she is in a jargon offensive to all of the right and much of the left (“center”, “own”, “infantalizing”, “supported his girlfriend in her decision”, etc.).

    And there’s that liberal bicoastal privilege despised by much of the country (“auditing classes at UC Berkeley to audition potential degrees, figuring out what I wanted to study….”) which will instantly put up the backs of the persons she purports to address — and more so to the extent they’re not people gainfully employed, one way or another, in the anti-abortion movement.

  15. dcblogger

    a friend of mine had an abortion after she was married. She was still in college and her husband had a poor paying job. Because of that abortion they were able to put off having children until they were in a position to care for them. As a result they have had great lives, and raise 2 children they adore. They now have 5 grandchildren. The best reason to have an abortion is that you don’t want to carry the child to term. No other reason is needed.

  16. Rmander

    From Everlast’s “What it’s Like” 1998

    Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom that said he was in love
    He said, “Don’t worry about a thing, baby doll I’m the man you’ve been dreaming of”
    But three months later he say he won’t date her or return her calls
    And she swear, “Goddamn, if I find that man I’m cuttin’ off his balls”
    And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walking through the door
    They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner and they call her a whore
    God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
    ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose

  17. Mike

    I watched my cousin in law give birth to a baby that had only been cooking for 5 months. Now the kid is 3 years old and happy as a clam… That shifted my views on abortions a bit since here in Colorado you can have late term abortions.

    That said my personal views on the matter are trumped by my societal view that it is an effective form of population control. Clearly we have too many people on the planet and we are outstripping our resources. There is a case to be made that we should promote abortions everywhere so as to soften the landing when we start to feel the effects of overshoot.

  18. super extra

    The wearisome thing about discussions based on one’s personal experience in this topic is that it is completely missing the point as far as what can actually be done to stop the legal and governmental capture by the religious zealots who took money from oligarch interests and used it to manipulate government at state and federal levels to accomplish specific social, labor, and tax goals. If the issue wasn’t abortion it would be gay rights or trans children or homeless in a neighborhood with a valuable school district and high housing costs. And it is going to be those issues over the next years based on what zip code you live in and moneyed interest you live under. As long as people persist in making it about the personal suffering experienced by the impact of the zealots, instead of removing the corruption they installed to enact their agendas, they will not stop this or make things any better.

  19. Dave in Austin

    It took a long time, but abortion has finally landed at Naked Capitalism, which proves that the issue is now officially everywhere.

    Anybody who claims to be an absolutist on this subject is either a fool or a liar and yet both absolutist positions make eminently good sense in a human sort of way. The good news is that 90% of the public isn’t absolutist. And Jane Doe is the perfect example, an intelligent, thoughtful woman who’s had one abortion and made two babies.

    She even drops into the pit of biased language from both absolutist positions when she speaks of “the parasitic stage of human development” and “once the nascent human is viable”. Note that I said she “made two babies” Women don’t “make an abortion and have two babies.” We are all bathing in a sea of propagandistic language and, as they say, “Struggling.”

    The attempt by the Supreme Court to square the circle using “viability” was a good try. But it reminds me of King Solomon who, when confronted with two women each claiming to be a baby’s mother, offered to cut the baby in half. Since we get nine legalistic Americans and not a Jewish king who speaks to God, the Supreme Court said “Well, in the first three months of life, we’ll offer to cut the baby in half. After one year we will only cut off one leg and determine who gets which part based on a coin flip. And in between we’ll let each of the ten tribes decide.” Nice try but it didn’t work.

    I’m in general agreement with the Supreme Court’s “trimester” rough estimate. But I will note that “viability” is rooted in technology and science and that has “moved on”. A totally non-viable 1970 fetus is often now 95.725% likely to be viable. So, if viability is the issue, it will slowly creep down until we are arguing about something happening in a Petri Dish, which I think is ridiculous.

    I believe as a legal matter Roe was a mistake. In a democratic republic such messy morality-laden decisions should be made by the elected representatives of the voters. And in the medium-term I’m fairly sure this will go the way of marijuana as an issue; the left/liberal side will prevail because the public will not want to endanger their own kids. And my money, as a vaguely liberal-but-libertarian Texan, will go with the liberals.

  20. David in Santa Cruz

    So stand up straight, and look me and my mother in the eye, and say
    that you believe we should be locked up for life, and/or executed.

    I believe that Mr. Alito did just that. As always in America, The Cruelty is the Point.

    We live in a merciless and violent country. Our culture is obsessed with power and hate for our fellow human beings. Turn on your television and see a steady stream of abuse passed-off as comedy, with gun-play, fear, and suffering passed-off as entertainment. American weapons kill and maim other human beings daily all over the world.

    Americans profess concern for certain parasitic bundles of cells only because it is a means of inflicting cruelty and suffering on the women forced to carry them.

  21. Pelham

    Re this pro-choice Jane Doe: Apparently she chose to have sex with a “substance abusing pathological liar.” And then she also would have chosen not to give the resulting baby up for adoption.

    Except in the case of rape, women face a string of choices when it comes to the potential for reproduction. We can all agree on those, so it can’t fairly be said that we’re not also pro-choice. It’s just the final one at which women insist on the choice of aborting a separate human life that some of us would like to draw the line.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This amounts to “it’s all the woman’s fault” which is nonsense.

      And you have the choice issue wrong. Some women are low fertility and get away with not being as careful with sex as others have to be. As you surely must know, some women are so low fertility that they have to go to fertility clinics to get medical help with having their own children and even then it may not work.

      And you appear to assume she wasn’t taking precautions with this guy. No birth control method aside from permanent ones like tubal ligation is 100%.

      Plus realizations like “pathological liar” generally occur during the breakup. Pathological liars are often very charming and persuasive. The use of such strong pejorative language suggests he was lying about other women and/or the degree of his substance abuse. I’ve known women who were involved with users of illegal drugs where the man swore up and down the drug paraphernalia she found (in a old piece of furniture) was from decades ago, when his friends sniggered he was currently using and she was dumb to believe him. And I don’t mean marijuana, BTW.

      This suggests that she might also have also been coerced into sex or had sex when she wasn’t keen, particularly if they were living together. It’s hard to say no to sex if you have no where else to go. Men are typically bigger and more muscular than women. Women are acculturated from early childhood to be submissive and pleasing because standing up to a man runs the risk of getting punched out or worse. And even if you aren’t physically afraid, giving in to demands for sex reduces the number of arguments.

  22. Gulag

    Is abortion still a fundamental class issue?

    Are pro-choice women better educated with a tendency to make more money than their counter-parts in the anti-abortion movement?

    Is it still the case that lower-middle-class culture is organized around the family, church and neighborhood and that such culture tends to value community continuity (getting by) rather than individual competitive advancement–a desire to preserve a way of life rather than a desire to climb the social later. Are anti-abortion activists more often housewives from large families that are primarily Catholic? And are most pro-choice women more often working in professional, managerial or entrepreneurial sectors of the economy?

    Are we still talking about differences between 2 social classes, each with its own view of the world–one dedicated to rising expectations and the other to a last-ditch defense of the “forgotten America.”

    1. flora

      It was poor women, especially poor Black and Latina women who suffered the most from botched abortions before Roe. Also Native American women. They were too poor to travel very far and too poor to pay a licensed doctor large sums for a then illegal abortion. The middle classes and up could usually find the money and make the right connections. All very hush hush. Maybe the middle classes and up had enough social standing to make public pro choice statements without fearing consequences, the media coverage of mostly white, middle class and up pro choice voices is what makes it look like a white, middle class issue. It’s especially a poor woman’s issue. The poor are ignored by the MSM.

      1. flora

        edit typo: poor Black and Latina women

        adding: Rito Moreno tells she and Marlon Brando had to find $500 for what they thought was a safe abortion sometime around 1960 or so. The minimum wage in 1960 was $1 an hour. Many people in domestic service and field work made less that that. Imagine how long it would take someone to save $500 working for $1/hr or less.

  23. Tim

    Still too black and white of an arguement, but getting closer to a fair point of compromise.

    Saying that prior to viability the fetus is not a real person and therefore has zero rights relative to the mother is as extreme as saying abortion of a non viable fetus is murder.

    I can understand these trains of thought originating because the act of abortion itself is binary. Life is terminated or it is not terminated, making it difficult to come up with reasonable detailed ground-rules for when it is appropriate vs when it is not.

    If a non-viable maturity fetus will kill the mother, then it makes sense that the mother takes precedence, but does that automatically imply that if a mother has legitimate fears about having the not yet viable fetus be born into a situation that is not up to her “standards” (very arbitrary-maybe she doesn’t like the fact that having a baby devalues her to prospective mates relative to her unencumbered peers) that is justification to kill the fetus prior to viability? I believe the answer is no, it does not automatically confer to any and all rationales.

    Certainly if pro-life want to reduce abortions they need to provide better state funded options/safety nets to make adoption easier, make day 1 welfare/childcare support significant enough that it can prevent the child from completely derailing their future of the mother.

    Like I say it’s difficult to deal with a binary choice in a complicated context, but we need to try and find more nuanced solutions to an intractable issue.

    1. Andrew Watts

      You can throw rationality and compromise right out the window. This is politics we’re talking about. The extremist position isn’t allowing abortions without any arbitrary time limit by the way. People forget that ardent anti-Catholicism is only one generation away. There are people who wouldn’t vote for Kennedy and still have reservations about a Catholic president. I can’t say they’re unjustified considering how flaccid the response has been to all this from a Democratic Party led by Catholics.

      It’s very easy to imagine a demagogue of the liberal/left exploiting this by taunting the evangelicals with the fact they’re going to hell for submitting to Popery. While telling the Catholics that Roman Catholicism is incompatible with American democracy. This rhetoric being followed by accidentally re-founding the Know Nothing Party in the course of purging pro-life Democrats from the party.

      “Ladies, your liberties, indeed your very lives, are being threatened by a foreign power whose agents wear the vestments of priests.” See how easy that is? The anger has only just begun to blowback on the Democratic Party.

    2. sharonsjs

      Actually, I’m sick and tired of arguing about science, religion, viability, etc. It still boils down to some stranger (a religious nut, a politician, your next-door neighbor) controlling your life and your body–and making decisions that should be made in consultation with a doctor, your partner and your family. No abortions for you. You can’t pull the plug on your vegetative granny (remember Terry Schiavo and the Bushes?). You can’t help a desperately ill friend commit suicide or, like Dr. Kevorkian, you’ll go to jail forever. Too many people–particularly elected reps–just don’t know how to mind their own damn business.

      1. rob

        And isn’t it even funnier, that usually those republican politicians who go around saying “gov’t needs to stay out of our lives, always behind some national disgrace ,like this, putting their 2 cents in where it doesn’t belong…. and worse, making “the machine” of gov’t forever “in our business”. If this farce wasn’t such a tragedy, it would be comical.

  24. synoia

    Seems simple to me. Women need to be supported with money from taxes and with housing from the moment pregnancy is diagnosed, until the child or children have graduated from University.

    Consider this an investment.

    If one is to compel women to be mothers, them mothers deserve complete support, financial and moraal.

    I notice the supremes did not appear to consider and rule the how these compelled mothers should be support mothers and their children,

  25. Steve B

    Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs Wade decision stems from ‘heartbeat bills’ proposed in various state legislatures since 2011. The idea that human life begins with the fetal heartbeat is a Christian dominionist idea pitched at a mid-point between Catholicism (life begins at conception) and Judaism (life begins at first breath). Even so, it’s based on a misreading of ultrasound technology, mistaking the flickering of the equipment for the sign of a heartbeat:

    1. super extra

      Citizen’s United ruling came down in 2010. Prior to that there were regional and religious organizations that were able to coordinate between the churches and the business interests to build ‘support’ at the state and regional level. Citizen’s United allowed the orgs – lots of them were backed by the Koch’s but I am sure there were more oligarchs involved – to take the scam national. And it is a scam, because it relies on the use of an ‘inciting issue’ that pisses people off enough to continually turn out and vote on it, because that issue is then treated as an entire business prospect for lawyers to figure out how to manipulate into legal changes, which keeps the base involved and allows political character actors to be created who will act as fronts for the business prospect (again, backed by oligarch money and their legal attack dogs). And when those political fronts are elected into office on the base of the passion for the inciting issue, their role is to pass legislation favorable to the oligarch who funded them, be that tax, labor or social related.

      1. Steve B

        Thanks, super extra. I take your point that if the inciting issue for legislative change in a particular state is not abortion, then it’s trans kids or homelessness. Let’s remember that all these issues and more are seen by Christian dominionists (such as Janet Porter, who sponsored the first ‘heartbeat bill’) as legitimate matters of regulation in service of the return of Christ.

        Texas Senator Ted Cruz looks like he’s a dominionist:

        But who are the oligarchs supplying the money for this religious activity?

        1. super extra

          > But who are the oligarchs supplying the money for this religious activity?

          The Koch brothers.

          I think the focus on specific branches of loonies like the Dominionists misses the reality, these little splinter groups aren’t big enough to manage this on their own nor are they inclined to form alliances to accomplish big goals like this. The Kochs had the money and time and when the tea party did their damage to the GOP, that network suddenly became necessary for the old guard that remained in power. McConnell took advantage of it, was likely a conspirator (whether for financial or religious reasons who can know, the guy seems like a greedy cynic so I suspect the former), and helped get the legalized bribery of Citizen’s United through, then all the judges.

            1. Steve B

              Thanks, super extra.

              So, not just the Koch brothers, but also the Mercer family, the Uihlein family, George Strake Jr and others. Looks like these oligarchs are all Republican libertarians in favour of low taxes and privatisation of government. Their funding of anti-abortion campaigns appears tactical, designed to exhaust the political resources of their Democratic opponents.

            2. rob

              and lets not forget,
              when sen. Whitehouse of RI… got his five minutes to speak at the Kavenaughh hearings,
              He pointed out an 80-0 voting record, where these corporate protections/anti-tax/anti-regulation decisions… are what these industrialists/corporatists get for their money….
              and the schtik of anti abortion( really can’t call any of this pro-life)…just lets the team have something to ra-ra about.
              After all- the gangs of catholics, need money too… for their own personal “scandal to be announced later”… but for now… it’s paying well.

    2. JustTheFacts

      In Buddhism life begins at conception which seems to me to be a pretty obvious place for it to start.

      We kill lives every day. We walk on ants. Even if we are vegetarian, insects and worms die in the production of food. That’s not good. If we eat meat, we obviously kill animals for that. That’s not good either. Neither is killing a zygote good. But one might be balancing other harms, which might be worse. That’s why it’s a difficult question with no simple answer. In fact, I’m rather doubtful this is an ethical question that really can be answered by universal rules.

      I find arguments, such as it’s just “women’s healthcare”, or it’s a “woman’s personal decision” far too simplistic. Women are not magically better at making ethical decisions than anyone else. What they do know better is their own particular situation, and what is possible and what is simply more convenient. But there are 2 other people involved: the child and the father. Before the days of easily accessible contraception, many men would feel honor bound to propose marriage if they got someone pregnant, which was not necessarily convenient either. That is probably still true for many.

      Clearly making contraception and abortion easily available has had obvious social impacts. However hormonal contraception has other less obvious effects, which can be read up in “Psychobehavioral Effects of Hormonal Contraceptive Use” by Lisa L.M. Welling. I wonder whether other side effects on society will be discovered for abortion.

      Of course the law requires universal rules, so one has to make do with some sort of first order approximation. That is what allowing abortion only in the 1st trimester, as is done in most European countries, is. But that doesn’t make it ethical. It only makes it a compromise most people can, perhaps begrudgingly, agree to.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, the father’s involvement is optional. He is not involved unless he wants to be and he can check out at any time. And that includes not paying or underpaying on child support.

        And I hate to seem rude, but the father’s role does not being to compare to the physical costs and risks of giving birth, let along raising the child. I have a friend who nearly died from preeclampsia. She was bleeding out, the ER was clueless (this in NYC!!! At one of the supposedly better hospitals). She attributed her survival solely to her OB/GYN being reachable.

        And giving birth has other costs. You reduce your sexual attractiveness via vaginal birth (it gets stretched out, so male partners won’t have as gratifying an experience unless you and they are willing to engage in anal sex or you have restorative surgery) and breast feeding (I know quite a few women who lament how breast feeding ruined their boobs). C-sections have other costs, your stomach muscles are never the same, often resulting in back issues (women I barely know at the gym have asked me for tips, since I look like a trainer).

        The mother is always the party seen as responsible. In custody disputes, the mother has to be a train wreck for the father to be awarded custody.

        More than 30 percent of child support payments aren’t made, and less than half are paid in full


        And that’s assuming the arrangements got formalized.

  26. CostcoPizza

    Thank you for your time and story. But it uses a lot of the same hypothetical “What-ifs” that Pro-Life people like to use.

    You have no way of knowing what life would’ve been like had you continued with that pregnancy, nor your mom’s. A pro-choice person would predict that it would be an unknown negative, a pro-life person would see it as an unknown positive.

    This is likely the minority opinion around these parts, but I think it’s just as silly for you to think your life would’ve been ruined, as a pro-life person would think that your potential child could’ve been the one to cure cancer.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I disagree. Having a child is the most cruel thing humans do on a routine basis. The foundation of all major religions is to reconcile people to the inevitability of suffering and death. I’ve had a very privileged life and I still wouldn’t wish being me on my worst enemy.

  27. Traveller5678

    The biggest issue is the the politicians are listening to extremists on both sides of the issue and are unwilling to put them in their place to craft a middle of the road proposal akin to policies in other countries. Pick any other country and copy the law.

    I believe if I’m not mistaken that the bill that was recently passed in the house to legalize it had zero restrictions on when an abortion can be done up to the moment of birth. This personally i cannot support. I also cannot support the people and groups who want to normalize it and even celebrate the practice. It’s abhorrent.

    As someone who personally is against abortion but also realizes there are extenuating circumstances in which it needs to be done, a discussion needs to be had on when it can be done. I don’t care – pick a number of weeks whether it be 12, 15, 20, 24. Put in exceptions for medical complications such as ectopic pregnancies, incest, rape, health of the mother and be done with it.

    Legally i think the ruling was correct -however morally and politically it’s a nightmare due to the current political makeup of the states in question , gerrymandering of districts , etc. However if state referendums were all conducted simultaneously and 60-70 percent of people in certain states voted against legalizing abortion – who am I in a state where it’s currently legal to say that those people are backwards ignorant fools. That’s the height of arrogance.

  28. scott s.

    Thanks Jane Doe
    I read your post and find it unpersuasive. I also do not think you understand my beliefs as you claim to. In particular I don’t think we would agree on the concept of “autonomy”.

  29. boz

    Thank you for your story.

    Points of agreement:
    1) Crisis pregnancy can be a very daunting place to be, with few/no good options available
    2) The glib ‘make better choices’ is unhelpful when there are significant factors that lead to crisis pregnancy in the first place
    3) More compassion is badly needed.
    4) Maternal healthcare can always be improved.

    Points of disagreement:
    1) Emotivism (look at the great life I had after I did x) is not just bad argumentation, it’s a terrible basis for making law. Ends do not justify the means.
    2) The ‘abortion is not murder’ meme is poor. It ultimately rests personhood on a woman’s preferences at the time of fetal death (compare violent assault on a pregnant woman vs elective abortion). That is an unsatisfactory basis on which to qualify the rights of any members of society. If fetal protection is warranted in some cases, why not others?
    3) The logical extension of abortion is post-natal abortion. Depending on your preferences, you could set personhood at a variety of stages: onset of self-propelled growth (conception), fetal heartbeat, viability (reduces as technology improves), birth (the magical birth canal/operating table), sensitivity to pain (fails the disabled/paralysed), age of reason (fails the disabled), puberty, age of majority, etc. At least those arguing for full term abortion / post natal abortion are candid and coherent, but it is murder, and it is not a society I would want to live in.

    On that final note, a society that we would want to live in, requires bumping along with those who we disagree with. A Dr friend of mine said we should have legal abortion so that people can see the horror and change their ways. It was a compelling point, but ultimately I’m not convinced. The point of laws is that they should guide us to higher and better behaviours, even we collectively fail every day. We can always mix compassion into sentencing as needed.

  30. ex-PFC Chuck

    I never knew my maternal grandmother, Christina. In February 1906 at age 27 she hemorrhaged and bled out in her central Minnesota farm home, having developed preeclampsia in the seventh month of her fourth pregnancy. The girl child she was carrying was stillborn and buried in her arms. Many decades ago my mother told me the name she was given but shamefully I don’t now remember it. Christina left behind two daughters and a son, and also two step children by her husband’s first wife, Axelina, who had died of postpartum infection a few days after the birth of her second daughter in 1896. And of course her devastated husband Carl, for whom her death was the third strike that must have convinced him he was near the top of God’s **** list.* During Christina’s last minutes the four children living at the farm (Axelina’s younger daughter was being raised mainly by her maternal grandparents about 25 miles away) were brought into the room where Christina, gasping her last breaths, commended the care of the two youngest children to her 12 year old stepdaughter and her own eldest, who 33 years later became my mother.
    Sixty five years later to the month I learned about preeclampsia first hand when my wife developed it about ten days before the projected due date of our first child. Her obstetrician sent her to the hospital immediately and induced labor as soon as practicable. Our elder daughter was safely born, although not without a long, difficult and medically complicated labor. Among what I learned about the condition, and this was half a century ago now so hopefully more recent information is available, is the only sure way to get the blood pressure et al back to normal is to bring the pregnancy to an end. Ideally with the birth of a healthy child whose mother is still with us and in good condition. Thus if the mother is withing a few weeks of full term, labor is induced ASAP as was the case with my wife. But if there is a month or more to go reduced activity and close monitoring of vital signs are in order, if need be in hospital. But if hemorrhaging does begin, depending on the specifics of the situation, the mother, the partner, and the medical people may have only minutes, or even seconds to make life and death decisions regarding the mother and infant.
    I believe the interests of the already born and growing children in the family should be taken into consideration when such decisions are necessary, because the consequences they have for them are profound, and they extend beyond that generation to the next as I can attest. In a country where most (all?) county prosecutors are elected, and where that office is frequently regarded as a stepping stone to greater things, it’s not farfetched to envision a scenario wherein an ambitious, cynical prosecutor goes after an obstetrician whose patient and family made the tough either/or call to preserve the mother’s life at the expense of the child’s. In other words he performed a late term abortion. From that day forward obstetricians and midwives, etc. will be looking over their shoulders whenever such situations arise, and it can’t help but affect the assessments and advice they’re asked to give during the extremely stressful minutes when such decisions have to be made.

    * In about 1890 Carl enrolled in college planning to become a Lutheran minister, but six weeks later a telegram arrived telling him his father had collapsed with a stroke or whatever and he was needed at home to bring in the harvest. Johan lived another fifteen years but was never able to resume the rigors of farming. Carl was a farmer for the rest of his life, but the one positive outcome of his college experience was meeting Axelina.

    1. WalterM

      This is likely the best comment of all. A powerfully emotional event described in prose that is not emotional. About perfect, and makes the point.

      1. Eclair

        WalterM, try walking a mile in a young woman’s shoes.

        On the one hand, imbedded in a society that constantly promotes sexuality, even in ads for cars and beer, for pete’s sake. On the other hand, being subtly put down for giving in to those raging hormones and engaging in sexual activity. As well as constantly being warned of the dangers attendant to being a nubile female, dangers that include harassment (lewd comments, whistles, unwanted touching, etc.) and the awful physical and emotional violence of rape.

        Add in the inconvenience and cost (sometimes prohibitive) of learning about birth control methods and then of obtaining the means of birth control in our society.

        Factor in the constant stress engendered by the fear of discovering oneself to be pregnant, to know the social and material costs of bearing a child without the support of the father. And realizing that today in many states, a young woman choosing to terminate a pregnancy might result in her criminal prosecution.

        It’s very very difficult to remain detached enough to be ‘unemotional.’

        Ex-PFC Chuck’s comment is compelling and well-written, as have been so many of his comments here in the past. But, he is (well, I assume he is) male. And well removed from the heart-breaking, and unnecessary, premature death of a grandmother he never knew.

        1. WalterM

          I made a short comment praising Chuck’s style. He “walked in the shoes of” or at least thought deeply about the walk of pregnant women and doctors through difficult conditions. And made a great observation about the potential intimidation of health care providers by the legal system.

          In our media, we mostly prefer expressions of emotion over thought. Sometimes it is manipulative, and always aimed at attracting attention, usually to make money. Look where it gets us—well, nowhere really. It feels, to me, like saying “Yeah, well, women just received another blow, but at least I got to cry, scream, shame or throw crockery one more time.” Chuck’s stories, about a very limited aspect of reproductive health care, acknowledge the trauma and emotion gently, and their restraint makes them more effective. You are correct that it is difficult to be unemotional, and that is one more reason to praise his effort. It works better.

          I hope the shoes you are wearing are suitable to the game you’re playing.

  31. Pilar

    Abortion is not something that should be commended which is why it’s difficult to defend in a positive way. I’ve had an abortion and would not have it if the father wanted to help raise the kid. There is something called the real world – women have always sought some way to have abortions based on their life circumstances, health and relationship with the father. Why not do it safely. Being pregnant and having a child is a miracle and is not easy. The number of women I know who have experienced danger to themselves and their child during pregnancy and childbirth is more than not. I wish people would respect women’s bodies and women’s very difficult decisions. And would also fight for parental leave, healthcare (my hospital bill after my son’s very normal birth was over $30k), affordable childcare and more funding for public schools. Also create a society where women are respected by men and not expected to act like disposable porn stars.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you want people to respect women’s bodies and women’s very difficult decisions, you will have to use effective overwhelming power to force them into doing so. Asking them nicely to do so won’t work.

      It calls to mind Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s statement from a totally different context . . . ” Hug-a-nazi make-a-liberal just doesn’t work.”

      The material things you ask for would be good to have, and will also have to be tortured and beaten out of an unwilling Oligarchy, either politically or literally.

      Perhaps a new political party-movement linking legal abortion and new deal could be formed, to run on both at once and neither without the other.
      It could call itself the Legal Abortion New Deal Party ( LAND Party). Would that be a memorable enough name to catch on and take hold?

      “This LAND is our LAND”.

    2. Soredemos

      I unironically feel ‘safe, legal, and rare’ was a good rule of thumb. An ideal to strive for. Abortion isn’t commendable. It’s sometimes needed, but it isn’t a pleasant thing. Ideally, abortions would be rare because plenty of other options would be readily available so that the extreme option of abortion was seldom needed.

      Of course, anyone who wants to ban abortion, but then refuses to support any of the other safe sex options has zero legs to stand on.

        1. Soredemos

          I’m not saying the procedure itself is physically unpleasant. I’m saying the concept of what is being done isn’t pleasant.

  32. Soredemos

    Jane’s argument is essentially ad hoc nonsense. She basically justifies it by saying that aborting one kid in bad circumstances enabled a better future life for two other kids. It did (I have no reason to doubt her version of events), but it’s also irrelevant to the issue of the fetus in question at the time of the abortion. Unless she had access to a crystal ball and could see possible future timelines, future events had no bearing on the decision when it was made. You could argue that ultimately things more than balanced out for her, but that wasn’t a guaranteed outcome. Her life could just as easily have gotten worse from that point on. Maybe she never would have had any future children. Lots of scenarios are possible.

    The parasite line of argumentation is ludicrously bad, and I’m always baffled when I see it used. By that logic, someone on an oxygen tank doesn’t enjoy full rights either.

    The actually good argument is the brain one: a young fetus doesn’t even have a brainstem, much less a full brain. It isn’t a person. It’s a collection of human cells. At some point it will become a person. When is that point? Who knows; it’s doubtful there can be any consistent demarcation point. This is where the legal fiction of trimesters comes in useful.

    I can’t bring myself to support late-term abortions, except to save the life of the mother. Jane says she believes personhood begins at birth. How, exactly? Because to me it’s seems like, past a certain point, you’re just arguing geography. To rephrase; at a certain point the ‘fetus’ becomes a ‘baby’. Are we going to pretend that it’s just a fetus even right up to just before birth, but thirty seconds later it’s a baby and a person?

    If the life of the mother is at issue, she should take priority. But barring that scenario, at some point (and again, the legal fiction of trimesters becomes useful) it isn’t just mom; there are two (or more) people involved in the equation. ‘Well, their rights shouldn’t take priority over her bodily autonomy.’ Says who? No, seriously, says who? If her probable death isn’t a factor, which party we prioritize the bodily rights of is pretty arbitrary. Arguments can be made either way. It’s an ugly, unpleasant question.

  33. Sibiryak

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday shrugged off condemnation from Republicans over the guidance she’s offered to her millions of social media followers in recent days, explaining how to procure abortion pills and protect their digital privacy in the event that they need abortion care.
    * * * *
    On her Instagram account, Ocasio-Cortez shared several posts—now permanently saved in a highlight reel for anyone who needs information about abortion access and rights—explaining pregnant people’s options now that the Supreme Court has overruled Roe


  34. Ned

    It’s all too easy to discuss abortion in abstract terms. My mother was born in an unwed mother’s hospital in 1928. The product of date rape that my 17 year old grandmother, being a good Catholic, embraced wholeheartedly. Her parents threw her out of the house and after the stint at the unwed mother’s hospital she and my mother went to go live with a kind aunt until their fortunes improved and she met and married a widower who had a young child. And here I am, almost 100 years later, watching a free nation meltdown over Roe being overturned that (clearly!) was going to happen eventually. SCOTUS rulings are not laws.

    Despite my family history, I am pro choice. With assorted limits and protections. But make no mistake: a fetus/parasite/whatever you may call it, is no abstraction. And neither is living in a Democratic Constitutional Republic for that matter. Elected officials are supposed to make laws in the US, not judges. So much of the reaction to Roe being overturned looks to me like Fear of Democracy. So your preferred authoritarian diktat (that wiped out democratically determined state laws BTW) was overturned for not being Constitutional? Oh well! Don’t sit there crying in your Cosmo. Or waste your time with rioting and vandalism. Get to work. Organize, agitate, and make it a real law. Or amend the Constitution. You do know that you can do that here in the US, right?

  35. rob

    While roe has been overturned, here we are.
    Before the congress enacts a law to “make abortion guaranteed again”
    we should discuss the costs.

    How will those corporatist funders of this Sh**show, feel when “the people” decide to make the logical extensions of these actions, in the states, that abortion is illegal… and to the corporations who employ people in these states.. and the insurance companies of the people who live in these states..;must pay for the costs incurred by THEIR decisions.

    do insurance companies need to collect higher premiums to companies whose employees may be having more children now… not just the delivery… but bigger families? long term?

    will men in these states be forced into being financially responsible for these children, the state has decided will be born? until the child is 18. How about genetic testing to prove paternity?

    do companies need to update their maternity leave options, now that the state is making the decision for the women? Should the state pay for these additions?

    How many other financial decisions are made by the political one? and who is going to pay for it?

    Then we will see how people really feel.

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