Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vacuuming Up the Baby from Mommy’s Tummy

When I was six years old, in Southern California in 1974, I remember quite clearly a conversation I had with a classmate of mine. I don’t remember the boy’s name, but I remember his face, and the expression he had—he was lording it over me and the other boys listening to him in a semi-circle in our first-grade homeroom class, confident in his superior knowledge, yet at the same time hiding a tinge of worry, as he was deploying this superior knowledge without really understanding it.

He was telling us a new development in what had heretofore been a rather boring saga. Previously, he had told us—casually and not particularly interestedly—that he was going to have a baby brother or a baby sister: A perfectly common occurrence among our six-year-old set. In fact a few months before, I myself had told my clique of friends that my mom was going to have a baby, and had gotten an earful of varying opinions about having young siblings—usually negative if it was a girl, but slightly less negative if it was a boy.

But then my friend gathered us all around him with a new piece of startling news: He wasn’t going to get a baby brother or a baby sister after all—and the phrase he used to explain this new development is a phrase I have remembered quite clearly all these years later: He explained that they had “vacuumed up the baby from mommy’s tummy.”

Who “they” were was left indeterminate, but didn’t need to be defined. Like all children subject to the power of grown-ups, “they” were these lumbering adults who did inscrutable things for inscrutable reasons—who “they” were was irrelevant: They were grown-ups. And the fact that he referred to his mother as “mommy” was also perfectly natural to all of us boys, all of us at that prime Oedipal age when Mommy is the be-all end-all.

What was startling was the idea that a vacuum—one of our mommys’ indispensable domestic tools—was going to be inverted, and deployed on her. It was as weird a notion as saying, “The car is going to drive daddy to work.”

After the shock of this wickedly novel inversion had worn off, the next thing on my mind was, How could this have possibly been achieved? How had this “vacuuming” proceeded—through the belly button? (I remember quite clearly how the idea of the vagina never even occurred to me. As any pre-pubescent boy, I knew what a girl’s pudenda was from countless games of Doctor. But though I had seen it, in my imagination it was as useless as, well, a belly-button.) The what that would be vacuumed I never even considered, at the time: As a six year-old, raised on Disney, Schoolhouse Rock and Saturday morning cartoons, I was simply too young to have the imaginative raw materials for my mind’s eye to picture possibilities: So the what that would be vacuumed wasn’t even considered, like a blind spot that is ignored.

What captured my imagination was the sentence itself—“vacuuming up the baby from mommy’s tummy”. And the question that kept bobbling up in my young mind was, Why? Not the “why” of the moral sense, but the “why” of the practical, hard-headed six year-old’s sense: Why would it be necessary to vaccum up a baby brother or a baby sister from mommy’s tummy?

What would be gained?

Thirty-five years later, I think about this issue often. In fact, I think it’s the most important question of them all, regarding abortion.

I don’t think about abortion because it affects me personally: It doesn’t, for the obvious reason that I am a male. It’s fairly certain that I won’t ever get pregnant. (And if I ever did get pregnant, I would definitely not have an abortion: I’d be too curious to see how the pregnancy would come to term.)

And I don’t dwell on abortion in a moral sense: To me, there’s no moral dilemma about the issue. As I’ve argued elsewhere, I think abortion is simply reproductive violence, which—because of the ease of life we presently enjoy—has no place in our current society. Were our society a subsistence-level community, where one more mouth to feed might well bring about the collapse of the tribe, then I actually would be in favor of abortion. But since a pregnancy today is easy and causes only minor, easily surmountable inconvenience, there’s really no moral problem. To pretend otherwise is not only silly, but deceptive, self and otherwise.

Rather, whenever I think about abortion, I circle back to the question I first asked myself back in 1974 as a six year-old. Like all the best questions, it’s very simple yet very ruthless—it cuts to the heart of the matter. Indeed, it’s a question I suspect pro-abortion people rarely ask themselves, likely because they’re afraid of the answer: 

Why are abortions necessary? What—exactly—is gained by abortion?

People might claim abortion is necessary for a woman’s health—

—but of the 22% of all pregnancies that end in abortion in the United States, only 1% are ectopic. The other 21% are abortions carried out for reasons other than the immediate health of the mother, as strictly defined (source here). And not even the hardest core anti-abortion people—not even the Catholic Church—prohibits abortion in the case of ectopic pregnancies. So this really isn’t an answer to the question of abortion’s necessity and utility: Abortions are not necessary for the health of the vast majority of pregant women.

(Parenthetically—and just to put away one particularly foolish fallacy: The “psychological health” of the mother is not a health reason that justifies abortion—or that justifies much of anything, really. First of all, “psychological health” is a meaningless standard, with an infinite bandwidth of definitions. Second, if “psychological health” means “absence of mental stress and strain”—a reasonable albeit arbitrary definition—then I could argue that life itself damages my “psychological health”: Therefore, I should take hemlock right this second, in order to preserve my “psychological health”, and thereby keep it from further harm. Right? Wrong—dong!)

People might claim abortion is necessary for “a woman’s freedom”—

—but freedom to do what?

That’s the real question—that’s the nub of the issue: Of what practical use was the freedom women gained by abortion?

Was it freedom in order to rise in a career? Climb some corporate ladder? “Find” herself? Get out of an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage? Not have to spend limited earnings on another mouth to feed?

It seems that all the things that could be achieved by this sort of freedom are mere selfish pursuits—the “freedom” that comes from being unencumbered by other people. If you think about it, that’s what abortion is—the jettisoning of another person. In point of fact, it might be the easiest way to unencumber yourself of someone else. It’s certainly the most final.

Was that the purpose of abortion? To be unencumbered by other people, so as to find personal satisfaction? Because if it was, then that’s a weird way to find fulfillment: Most people would agree that the greatest sense of satisfaction and fulfillment human beings achieve is through the human bonds, friendships and connections they make with one another—and what bond could be deeper than the connection between a parent and a child?

Was that the purpose of abortion? So that women could free themselves from human connection? And are women who have severed such a human connection happier? More at peace? Better?

As I grow older, I see things on a much longer scale—because I can see the effects of things over a wider span of time. My sister—who was born in 1974—is now a 36 year old woman. She is married, with two children of her own, and her life has indisputably made the lives of everyone around her richer, more satisfying, more meaningful. Certainly my own mother’s life is filled with more joy because of my sister’s existence—and I don’t have to ask her, to know the answer: Every time I see my mother’s face whenever she catches sight of my sister, it snaps on like a streetlight against the dark.

It makes me wonder, about my friend’s mother. You see, the six year-old boy who was my friend back in 1974? He’s a 42 year-old man today. If his mother is alive today, she’s probably in her late sixties, maybe her early seventies.

I wonder if she asks herself these very questions: I wonder if she asks herself, What did I gain, by my abortion in 1974? Does she have regrets?

I think she does—in fact I’m certain of it, though I have no idea who she is, or where she is now. But I know she regrets her abortion in 1974, for the simple reason that—if she is alive today—she knows her days are short.

As your life nears the end, you don’t regret the things you did—you regret what you didn’t do: The trips you didn’t take. The friendships you didn’t keep up. The family you didn’t have.

See also Rape, Abortion and Reproductive Violence.


  1. After reading this post and connected posts I have decided to stop reading what you write.

  2. To tdm (Jan. 16, 8:36am), who has decided to stop reading what I write:

    I assume you made this decision because you don't like the ideas I express in my writing, and not because of the writing itself.

    Refusing to even listen to ideas you do not like is the surest way to imperil yourself—it's like walking through a cage filled with hungry lions, while covering your eyes with your hands.

    In my own case, I make it a point to read ideas I disagree with. That way, I can put those ideas and arguments against my ideas and arguments, and see which is the truth. Because I don't care about ideas—I care about what's true.

    The truth is never afraid of the wrong idea. If anyone is so worried about the ideas they hold in their head that they decide to simply not read someone or other, then maybe, just maybe, they're holding on to the wrong ideas.

    Just a thought.

    Go in peace, tdm.


  3. Liberals don't want to hear the other side. They just say "Shut up!" Good bye tdm.

  4. This is a very thoughtful piece on a sensitive subject. I've always been prochoice because sovereignty over one's body is a human right, yet could never make the choice to abort. When I became pregnant with my second son, I was exhausted from the first who, as a busy and budding 19 month old, was still nursing. I hadn't planned the pregnancy and was extremely depressed about the prospect of bringing another child into the world, particularly under such difficult economic and societal conditions. Now I have two beautiful little boys, aged nearly three and five months. I don't regret my choice to continue the pregnancy, even though we are suffering in the current economic climate. I can't imagine telling my two year old that he was going to have a baby brother or sister and then explaining it away in this manner. Having said that, I've always felt hideous when hearing about abortions and have asked myself how I can justify being prochoice, when I am profoundly against the act of abortion. In the end, it's God's job to guide and judge each soul, not mine. I've experienced the joy of carrying two lives within my body and hope that each woman who decides to carry her pregnancy to term, even though it wasn't planned, will experience the joy of holding her baby in her arms and savouring the love in his tiny eyes. Peace from Paris

  5. I, for one, will continue to read what you write. (Seriously, what is wrong with people who can't consider ideas at variance with their own? I'd rather read thoughtful writing then the drivel of others whose ideas more closely match my own in all areas.)

    While I do appreciate your point, and am horrified by any parent who would tell a child in such graphic terms that his mother has had an abortion, I have to disagree with your swift dismissal of the objections of people whose psychological issues are a barrier to successful child-rearing. Child abuse and neglect are serious problems. While abortion is no answer, that parents would willingly harm a child is a reason for them not to reproduce. Don't confuse people who watch Dr. Phil and decide they're depressive with the millions of people who are only marginally psychologically equipped to take care of themselves, let alone a child. Based on your typically jaundiced view of humanity, I'm surprised to find you so in favor of ad hoc procreation amongst the general population.

  6. I am a devourt Catholic but respect a women's right to choose. However, I'm afraid that many folks who have aborted a fetus regret it later in life. I believe that abortions should be limited to the first trimester.

    We should also try to discourage pre-marital sex among teenagers. That requires that we provide parents the option of using their local tax dollars to send their kids to Christian schools rather than the local secular (valueless) public school. This objective of radically reducing teenage pregnancy would also require Hollywood and the MSM to radically change.

  7. "Were our society a subsistence-level community, where one more mouth to feed might well bring about the collapse of the tribe, then I actually would be in favor of abortion. But since a pregnancy today is easy and causes only minor, easily surmountable inconvenience, there’s really no moral problem. To pretend otherwise is not only silly, but deceptive, self and otherwise."
    A truly sustainable existance on earth would necessitate a severe depopulation. It should be clear to everyone that the planet cannot support 7 billion people.It would be easier to question those that contribute to continued growth rather than the morals of those that choose not to for whatever their reason. You may call me "silly" and "self deceptive" but I feel by restricting your view to the capacity of your own particular tribe totally misses the bigger issue.

  8. I've had some problems with some of your recent stuff, but this is a beautiful home run. I live in Israel, and unfortunately there are a LOT of abortions here too. Someone seeking abortion must get approval from a hospital committee, but that is mostly a mere formality, with about 20,000 abortions done every year, the vast majority for economic reasons. It's a colossal and preventable tragedy.

  9. grady8: The overpopulation canard has been brought up for centuries. Even today, the entire population of the world could fit in the state of Texas, with around 1200 sq. ft. per person.

  10. You say you only want the truth. Fair enough, but I ask if it is true that life itself is a miracle and somewhat sacred? Are we as the "adults" somewhat responsible for the weak and small among us? Aren't we compelled by our very souls to protect those around us that are less able? I say that if you aren't concerned about the ones in society that don't have a voice (it isn't just babies that don't have a voice, and if you don't believe that try your hand at persuading a politician that makes rules that govern you)you may have seperated to some extent from your own source of life. That love of life that a child has. That passion to enjoy all that is before us and to share it with those that come behind us. Personally, the unborn have a right to life just as much as we "adults" do. You do have a right as an "adult" to choose not to get pregnant (sex does not make a relationship, it is for reproduction) but if you do use it for "fun", you should at least try to prevent the pregnancy if in fact you don't want the responsibility of having a child. If you do get pregnanat, don't dodge the responsibililty, WANT to share this wonderful life with that baby (not fetus). If you are more worried about your own "self involved" existence more than you are concerned about new life, than you are probably already dead. So go on, live in your misery.
    By the way, your comment about morality was what turned tdm off to you. Tdm probably loves life the right way (from within). One can't blame tdm for not wanting to see the ugly in life, tdm still loves the beauty.
    In all you superior thinking, you forget that some of us don't want to walk through the den of lions. We are humans, we should enjoy other humans, not animals. Animals do exist, as some humans choose to live like animals. As others read your points and choose to side with you on the "ugly" ones, we will surely become more like animals till at some point we loose our inner ability to see clearly and love life. This is when society implodes and we will need handlers to tell us how to live, we will no longer be able to make our own decisions unless they have been approved by our new owners and leaders.
    We only need one leader, our conscience. The more we lose our conscience, the more we need a man-made replacement, government.
    Keep fooling yourself while you feed your ego with the illusion that you see clearly. You obviously need some more "garden" time (since you will probably say WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, it means you need to do some soul searching) learn to love life like a child, quit working the way the masters want you to, find out what it means to

  11. The question is, how much violence you're going to use to stop people from getting abortions, and how you justify the violence.

  12. And how many children do you have?
    And how many children could you have had?
    Each time you've had sex GL, have you been considering the possibility that a human being might result from that? That you might need to change your life? Move? Change jobs? Get up in the middle of the night for years? Pay child support?

    THIS: "I don’t think about abortion because it affects me personally: It doesn’t, for the obvious reason that I am a male. It’s fairly certain that I won’t ever get pregnant." THIS is exactly the male arrogance speaking & this right here voids your opinions.

    You have NO clue what losses a woman suffers when she has a child. You just see the Norman Rockwell/Catholic Madonna vision of wonderful motherhood. Again, this just shows how little you know about rearing children.

    BS that abortions don't affect you personally. Are you really saying that IF you wanted a woman to carry the offspring of your sexual intercourse to term, and she refused - that wouldn't affect you?

    I'd venture to say that most often when women choose to have abortions it's that they've realized the other chromosome donor is a deadbeat who is shrugging his shoulders and saying, hey, it's not my problem.

    & yeah, before you start, contraception can fail.

    I've read many good arguments against abortion - though ultimately they fail to convince me. Your post is abysmally bad.

    ~ happy mother of two

  13. Carlos
    If you are going to pretend to be a devout Catholic, you should learn what the Church teaches. What part of "Thou shall not kill" don't you understand. At some point in a women's life that has had an abortion she will surely regret it. You will never hear women say they regret having a child.

  14. Cuidado con la hoguera que enciendas ... no sea que te chamusque a tí mismo.

  15. We define death as the absence of brain activity and a heartbeat. Logically, the presence of both would constitute a living person with the same creator-endowed rights as everyone else. I'm an agnostic regarding abortion as long as the procedure is carried out before either of those two conditions is present. Unfortunately, by the time most women realize that they are pregnant, those two conditions are present.If the heart is beating and the brain is active what is being performed is not an abortion - it's the clinical murder of a human being. Sorry, but there it is . . .

  16. @Shimshon:

    The population issue isn't a matter of real estate. Populations depend on a vast array of resources, of which land is only one. Would you really claim that there is enough water in Texas to support 6 billion people at an American standard of living? (Not by a country mile!)

  17. My primary problem with abortion as it exists in the U.S. is that the Supreme Court acted unconstitutionally. I believe that at that time some states were in the process of making abortion a legal procedure and I believe that would have been a constitutional viable way to handle the abortion issue. There is of course a moral issue anyone who denies that is simply too biased to speak the truth. But my problem with the issue is that our Supreme Court violated their oath and now it seems more acceptable to more and more people that they should do it more often.

  18. You have minimized the aspect of a womens right to choose with this piece but simply the ability for a women to not be able to continue her education or be unable to continue her work are choices she should be able to make for herself. Mistakes happen this viewpoint is startlingly chauvinistic. If you were in a woman's shoes would you be as willing to leave your work, or end your schooling? What effect would a pregnancy have had on your life if you had been forced away from pursuing your dreams by a situation that you had attempted to prevent.

    Carrying a baby to term is one of the most dangerous to health activities that a women can preform she is literally risking her life to have this child and you are advocating that she no longer have a choice in whether she risks her life?

    I regularly enjoy your writings and believe that your economic pieces are masterpieces however I find this piece to have wandered into a substantially inconsiderate and chauvinistic view point.

    I believe that you havent put enough time into truly evaluating what choice you would want if you were a woman.

  19. The arguments about abortion pro or con all seem pedestrian. There must be too much inner reinforcement of ones outlook to allow clear thinking.
    Its an incredible debate with players not suited to the discussion.
    And, since I am as average as the next guy, I am not up to the debate either.
    But..., lets remove a few confounding issues, God, god or dog, not relevant to the discussion, unless you want to be fouled from the start. Unsuitability of the partner's genes, I doubt it. More likely, threat to ones own future. Or more precisely to ones imagined future. Could it be a selfish instinct for betterment that clouds the mind. How does one argue against that, excepting religion, it just isn't in our societies purview.
    Afraid abortion is as basic as parts of a populace wanting, one way or another, rain. It really should be better than that. But then there are parts of life that should be better than they are. Less suffering, less pain, less hardships. Some have them some do not. Not every life is or brings happiness.
    Life is part failure, but thankfully we survive, we exist, should we discard that for some? Who knows, who decides what should be?

    So we are animals with the possibility to worry, little more. In our world failures should teach, not clone.

  20. Forgive me for throwing this in ... what about a case like Octoskank who, being neither a sane or healthy parent, decided that adding another eight to the six kids she already had was no big deal?

  21. Gonzalo,

    I second the first poster. The issue is not that you are a Chilean Thatcherite: I am OK with reading fascists. The problem is that you add nothing new. To read a repeat of arguments (left, right or whatever) is a waste of time.

    I read, e.g., Karl Denninger . He is a conservative (contrary to you, he is of democratic persuasion), but has new ideas and cool insights.

    When I read you (which I will stop) I see Pinochet/Franco reloaded. Nothing more (not even a new intellectual perspective - that would be worthwhile).

    Your problem is not fascism, I could stomach that (even from the perspective of understanding the enemy): It is being boring from an historical perspective.

  22. Reproduction is something modern society has not come to terms with even though it is the most important element in our lives. From it determines every aspect of our society yet we make less of an effort to manage human reproduction than we do our pets and certainly our barnyard animals. It is entirely unregulated despite this having enormous costs.

    We allow people with absolutely no ability to raise children to have as many as they choose. OTOH we make the cost of raising children for those who wish to do it well inordinately expensive. Thus we create a dysgenic tendency in the populations of welfare states.

    My guess is the first nation to manage human reproduction as carefully as farmers manage their livestocks ( and for the same reason) will eclipse every other nation on the planet within a generation or two.

  23. Abortion is a thorny subject, to say the least, but as for myself, and after much inner debate and reflection, my response to the question(s) surrounding abortion is "I don't know". In cases of rape, incest, a threat to the woman's life or where it is know that the child will be severely deformed, then the answer is "yes". Beyond these conditions, I just don't know. But I am thrilled by what you said about love, friendship and the connection with others being the most rewarding aspect of our lives here on Earth. With that I can agree 1000%.

  24. So GL is opposed to abortion. Big -ing deal. You all knew he was a conservative Catholic by now. He still writes damn good blogs and I for one, an atheist and a Libertarian, am going to keep reading his writings and looking forward to them, especially as "Da Hourly G Show" means I get to see them more often. People have different views to yourself. Deal with it. At least he doesn't think the GFC is caused by a secret Jewish banking cartel, or giant shape-shifting flesh-eating lizards! Keep 'em coming GL, even the ones I don't agree with.

  25. Doug,

    I don't know what your problem is, but everyone KNOWS that the the Global Financial Crisis WAS caused by giant shape-shifting felsh eating iguanas!!

    Not lizards, as you claim!! Iguanas!!!! Iguanas, you fool!!!!


  26. that was a beautiful story. thankyou.

  27. Your friend's family holds the answer to the truth that you allude to. A woman's decision or couple's decision to have an abortion is very personal and the truth kept from outsiders. One will never know until in the situation and therefore all else is gibberish.

  28. There could be a million reasons why women and couples decide on an abortion...they may not be morally acceptable to you...but people dont live for satisfying the moral requirements of others.

    I don't agree with you. Ofcourse, you are entitled to your views, just as we are to ours....

  29. 28 comments, 28 lines:

    tdm: you are wrong, for the reasons expained by GL, below

    GL: you are right, at least on that matter...

    anonymous 9.58: I don't think this has anything to do with liberals...

    anonymous 10.02: what about those who abort in countries, like Thailand, where there is no God? Who will judge them?

    ACM: I am surprised too by GL's position

    Carlos: I am not a Catholic, but I agree with some of your ideas

    Grady 8: I agree with you

    Shimshon: I am not sure Israel needs more colonists and I am sure that Texas couldn't support 7 billion people; even the whole Earth couldn't if we were to remove the poisonous fertilizers

    Dwight5: sorry, it's a bit long and confusing...

    And I am already getting tired...

    This kind of debate is of little interest, since there can be no winner and since too many people are entrenched in their position.

    But I must say that GL shows some guts by wandering outside the PC (polically correct) landscape.

    What about a future post on marriage... gay marriage?

    Just make sure your sanctuary in the Andes is well protected and defended, before publishing!

    Click on my name to visit my blog.

  30. GL,

    Thanks for this.

    The following is perhaps the most rational view on the subject I've ever seen:

    "To me, there’s no moral dilemma about the issue. As I’ve argued elsewhere, I think abortion is simply reproductive violence, which—because of the ease of life we presently enjoy—has no place in our current society. Were our society a subsistence-level community, where one more mouth to feed might well bring about the collapse of the tribe, then I actually would be in favor of abortion. But since a pregnancy today is easy and causes only minor, easily surmountable inconvenience, there’s really no moral problem."

    Anyway, I enjoy the blog, even when I disagree with you. I don't care to taxonomize you or your motivations. I enjoy your writing, I enjoy some of your views, I glean the truth I see, consider the ideas, and couldn't care less about our differences.

    Keep on doing what you do.

  31. I am not interested in your opinion about abortion. I'm not interested in discussion about about abortion. I didn't read the whole article for the above reasons and although I respect your opinion and your right to express it I would appreciate it if you did it elsewhere. Create another blog... Post on other sites... I read this blog for the economic discussion and would be saddened to see it devolve into one of the many useless sites dedicated to flame wars and other useless conversation

  32. I applaud your article Gonzalo. It unfortunately takes guts to stand up for what is natural: life. As the Pope has boldly claimed, ours is a "culture of death". I always found it interesting that the mark of the devil always seems about devaluing human life: slavery, eugenics, genocide, euthanasia, abortion, etc. It is obvious that choosing for someone else whether they get to live or not is called murder. Isn't this what abortion is? And how can one claim they are personally against abortion, but cannot deny this for someone else? Isn't murder evil no matter what? We sense that ending a human life would be the sin of murder for us, but somehow not for others? It took photographs of whip marks on the backs of slaves to illustrate to the public about the horrors of slavery. Are we now blind to the pictures of chopped up little feet and heads? Are these really bags of biological nothingness when at the same time we go to great lengths to protect sea turtle eggs found in nests along the beach?

    We must remember that God is the One who makes the sun rise and set each day. Evil may look the more powerful, but in the end, we know that Truth, Goodness and Beauty prevail. When we look at history, we wonder how could people be so callous to allow the evil of slavery to exist. History will also judge us on the issue of abortion. Life will prevail and we must choose which side we will champion! Courage!

  33. Being in near-total control of the first eighteen years of a citizen of the United States is not a responsibility to take lightly. If someone is not ready for said responsibility and knows it, locking her into that path for the rest of her life seems to be an unwise decision, as a society.

    Once society stops banning it, it becomes more of a personal choice, in which case your opinion is one of many, and not one that I happen to agree with.

  34. I became pregnant at the age of 24, I went on to have my child sacrificing my home because I refused to abort (my family wanted an abortion for me since I was still in college) I moved into a catholic group home for a year until I got on my feet. I can honestly say I made the right choice. Prior to getting pregnant I was neither prochoice nor prolife. But once confronted with the choice I knew I couldn't have lived with myself had I chosen to abort. I have not regrets and currently live with the father of my baby and have had another child since. I don't buy the argument that one sacrifices their career and or schooling because the choose to have a baby. I've witnessed way to many women finish their degrees and have fulfilling careers and yet are mothers at the same time. I also don't buy the argument that one has the right to choose to murder an innocent life and psychologically one actually gets more negative effects in the long run due to a guilty conscience. I see no benefits from abortion other than helping the globalists kills us all slowly specially African American and Hispanic babies which have the higher instances of abortion in the US (I myself am black Hispanic)

    I enjoyed your piece immensely and I thought it was a witty perspective on such a delicate subject however I did find fault with the following quote "I don’t think about abortion because it affects me personally: It doesn’t, for the obvious reason that I am a male."

    I think it most certainly affects males directly this abortion issue after all it takes two to tango and in part I think right there is the crux of the problem. All the unaccountable males that think it's not their place or their problem to talk about the abortion issue. After all the child does not father itself!!!

    I have another bone to pick about your article... You seem to assume that your friend's mother aborted by choice but what if she was one of those few that had to abort for health reasons? When I turned nine I received similar news from my aunt (who adopted and raised me) about there being being a baby sibling for me. But the Dr.'s gave her bad news, the baby had severe heart problems and would most likely not survive and she chose to terminate the pregnancy rather than risk her health. My aunt had the decency to explain it to me in better terms and being nine I understood that it was either the baby or my aunt, so it had to go. My aunt went on to having two girls after that and I don't think she regrets making the choice she made.

  35. Godzalo: YOU are one gutsy fellow!

    You should be congratulated for having the courage to express the convictions of your heart on this very divisive issue of literally life and death.

    That first comment is very interesting to say the least. It is akin to Bush Jr.'s infantile sophism: "You are either with us or you are (a terrorist) against us!"

    The issue of abortion is truly about CHOICE, but not the Madison Avenue version of "choice" that is marketed in the lamestream media, but REAL choice based on FACTS and SCIENCE.

    In the end, we are all, male and female, karmically responsible for our actions, whether they are acts of commission (on the part of the woman committing the abortion) or acts of omission (on the part of the man for having failed to support his impregnated partner).

    I would like to suggest to your readers, whether they are for abortion or against it, to watch the following video in its entirety and then decide for themselves whether they are truly for or against the practice of abortion:

  36. I'm too lazy to sign me

    colossally narcissistic piece. you would likely be a colossal hypocrite like countless other anti-abortion blowhards, if of course it affected you or your sex partner's lives in a negative way.

    get off your high horse.

    but whatever, it's brings out debate and interesting points to think about.

    looking forward to your next post: Why I Hate Women.

  37. Weak, GL. You must have had a big lull in readership to resort to this. Spare everyone your moral righteousness, lay off freedoms that many hold sacrosanct, and mind your own business. In this increasingly tyrannical world, minds as intrepid as yours should avoid freedom bashing.

  38. GL,

    A technical issue with your piece.

    Most Catholics say any abortion is sin, even in cases of ectopic pregnancies.

    From there ethicists get into arguments about double effect, medical actions performed on the mother that may result in the death of the child versus abortions done directly to the fetus which are illicit.

    Also in exceedingly rare cases there have been instances of ectopic pregnancies being carried to term. These are so rare I don't see them entering into the discussion though.

    From an US citizen I greatly enjoy your writing, your view of the US from the outside, and your ability to speak in a manner Americans understand, and your knowledge of South American history that is so absent with many Americans. In response to the other commenters you can not artificially separate economics and morality.

    Economics is the study of how man acts. "Economics" literally means from Greek "house laws."

  39. If you wrote the piece, "Why I Hate Women," I would defend it. Freakin' women...

  40. wmrs526,

    Amazing story and think what you have done is the courageous thing. Well done. However, in regards to the baby with a heart condition, I would ask myself which is the more beautiful thing: Ending the life of another (even if the other is crippled or lame in some way) so that I may live or sacrificing myself so that the other person might live...even if for a short time. Also, I'd really like to know how a baby's heart condition required an abortion or endangered the mother in any way.

    Lastly, for the isn't hypocritical or self righteous to defend innocent human life. In fact, it is normal for human beings to live in a society and enact laws against things like murder or theft. The real scare comes when a civilization starts calling to end the lives of the mentally handicapped, elderly or ill because they are no longer have any dignity or value left as human persons.

    It is also a PRO-WOMAN position when women are supported in giving birth and raising their children. Talk to the women who have had abortions and you will see the tremendous anguish they suffer after the procedure. No matter what their abortion doctor says, they know instinctively what has happened. It is also why so many abortion mill workers don't stay in the business too long. Many are now pro-life. Abortion HARMS women.

    I would ask that you abandon such a position and instead join the side of life.

  41. The LAST thing I think of when I read your stuff is Pinochet/Franco, contrary to an earlier poster.

  42. You clearly have not thought through this issue as evidenced here:

    "I think abortion is simply reproductive violence, which—because of the ease of life we presently enjoy—has no place in our current society."

    Your blog is about economic issues so I find that comment surprising.

    I have a blog DEVOTED to the difficulties of raising children due to inadequate economic systems dreamed up by men who are currently sucking dry resources for children and constantly laying down a framework for wars and famine.

    GL, you are clearly a worldly person but I have to believe that your college threesomes left only a smile on your face and not a worry about impending fatherhood.

    Because it's a woman's problem/responsibility/fault when the act delivers a pregnant result, right? If you have had alot of lovers, you may have a long line of aborted babies that didn't pose an interruption to your freedoms, like so many men.

    But a woman gets to be a mom in a man's world. Of course you are okay with that. It's your world.

    But, if god entrusted women with the power over life, then I think we can all entrust her to make the right decisions for herself. In this way, to trust her is to trust god.

    Economies today create mother dependency and then punish them for that dependency. I'm one of the lucky few with the time to read this blog and comment on this article's hypocracy.

    I wrote about the population problem as it relates to the people in charge of putting people on the planet -- mothers -- called:

    Awards 2010: Achievements In Over-populating the Planet

    Check it out. You should be able to shift your point of view, too. Women who have babies must be able to provide for them independently (in case of war, divorce, abandonment, death -- it happens!) within an economic structure you support. Any new ideas?

  43. GL,

    1. I enjoy reading all of your pieces. Please continue being you.

    2. From a pure science perspective, it is 100% clear that the embryo is a distinctly UNIQUE human, since the embryo's DNA does not match the DNA of either parent. The legal and moral arguments should only begin after acknowledging that point.

    3. I will support my wife 100%, in any choice she makes on any weighty life decision. That being said, she would also deeply consider my input.

    4. No human should be killed based on a state mandate (such as the forced abortions in China).


  44. "As I’ve argued elsewhere"

    I went back and read that. With respect, I found the bases for the arguments presented in that post (lions=humans, motivations for rape and car theft) nothing less than imbocilic. In light of that I shouldn't be surprised at the obvious lack of experience with pregnancies and not-so-easily-surmountable-inconveniences, both short- and long-term brought about from one, that erode the arguments in this post.

    I've enjoyed everything else I've read though.

  45. I think there's a subtle (and IMO a more broadly interesting) issue underlying this discussion. While it is easy to take a position on either side of this issue, the question in my mind is: How do your reconcile your position with that of people on the other side?

    It is easy to say the other side is wrong. But, an honest evaluation of well-reasoned arguments would not discount them entirely - there are valid moral and philosophical underpinnings for (some) arguments on either side. Unfortunately in a debate on a topic like this, I frequently find that one side's counter-arguments rarely address the core arguments the other side made and are frequently just a louder recitation of their original argument.

    If we are in a moral/philosophical stalemate, how does one apply rules to society that can be respectful of the valid arguments of both sides?

  46. This is probably the best pro-life stance I've read, but it hasn't swayed me. I thank Lord Xenu every day for the fact that my ex had an abortion.

    When we met she seemed great, but by the end her personality flaws began to show. She was bi-polar and borderline, frequently got violent and abusive with me (throwing bottles, burning me with cigarettes), faked several suicide attempts, damaged our property, and when I finally gave up and told her to move out she phoned the police and lied about me abusing her. My freedom cost me $10 000 despite a complete lack of evidence or plausibility (the cop even noted while talking to her that she seemed untrustworthy, and reported as much on the stand).

    [Then why did they prosecute me? Because A) All Men Are Abusers, and B) I lived in a poor neighbourhood, and they figured I'd take the slap-on-the-wrist plea bargain - they just wanted my name in the system.]

    Stuck with her in my life permanently, because she came over once when I was drunk and she was ovulating?

    Abortion's just as much about protecting the Man's reproductive rights, as it is the woman's. And that's not even getting into the fact that it's morally identical to using a condom.

  47. @Anonymous, 01/17/11 4:31PM

    Perhaps then, in these stalemates, the state cannot make a law limiting the freedom to choose between the two options.

    I also think there's a pretty standard misconception with the anti-abortion and pro-choice arguments: they're not dichotomous. Otherwise, one would be anti-abortion and the other would be pro-abortion. I doubt most of the pro-choice group actually wants abortions to occur, they merely want to preserve the option for the mother.

    Yes, you might consider this an Orwellian doublethink, but upon close inspection I don't think the two concepts are necessarily mutually exclusive.

  48. GL, I appreciate how this phrase prompted your reflections in this posting. However, there is another possible interpretation for “vacuumed up the baby from mommy’s tummy.” This may well have been how the parents chose to explain a failed pregnancy followed by a D&C (dilation and curettage, often termed "dusting and cleaning"). I've experienced this twice, once to stop uncontrolled bleeding following an incomplete miscarriage, and once after the incipient pregnancy expired without being expelled. In either case, clinical detail would have been inappropriate as an explanation to a six-year-old.

  49. It should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that one person's opinion is as valid as another's.

    It has been well documented that abortion does long-term psychological damage to a woman. And while I haven't heard any studies published on the issue, I'll bet that children whose mothers abort... but even more pointedly... children whose mothers are activists in support of abortion on demand... have deep psychological issues of their own.

    I am in agreement with the poster who referenced brain and heart activity. If we define death as the absence of either, then let us be consistent and define life as the presence of both.

    I am amazed at some of the vitriol directed at you because you don't adhere to the modern liberal position.

    It's only a short ethical leap from advocating abortion to prevent a birth that may result in poverty, crime, etc.... to advocating euthanasia for economic reasons:

    "Grandma our family will be economically destroyed by the care your recent stroke will require, so we've had a meeting, and come to a decision... here, drink this."

  50. Wow Gonzalo,, that's the way to swat the hornet's nest. When I was younger, I was more liberal and was all for abortion rights for women. At I enter my 40's, I see it as a supremely selfish act of supremely selfish woman. Being single and in my 40s, I've come across dozens of single women my age who are without kids, and a healthy majority have real trouble talking about things other than themselves and what they want. The sacrifices I made for my kids and grandkids was, for me, very much worth the effort. I'll continue to glory in my grandkids as I enter the autumn of my life and would spend all my days doing just this if I could financially afford to do so.

  51. Mike @ January 17, 2011 5:13 PM:

    Saying that the state cannot limit the right to choose between the two options is a bit of a cop-out in that one side's is arguing that there should be no "right" to choose. May I suggest that a reasonable goal would be the elimination of terminated pregnancies by choice -- that is that circumstances are such as GL postulates and that the decision to not terminate is as easy as he claims it is? (In my mind it's not a matter of theory, but rather an issue of practical political decisions -- social spending, safe-sex education policies...)

    Your double-think comment makes me realize that we have a lot of that going around. (How many "pro-life" supporters also support the death penalty as well as oppose a robust social safety net?)

    Doublethink makes my brain hurt; I'm not good at it.

    I think the best we can do is to minimize this issue; which means that society should strive to make the decision to not terminate a pregnancy as non-consequential as possible, and the circumstances when such a decision is to be contemplated as rare as possible.

    Anyone holding a pro-life position should be able to agree to that - fewer terminated pregnancies should be better, even if the number is not zero (which is the ideal). Unfortunately the reality (in the US) is that those who oppose broader social spending and safe-sex (non-abstinence) education in schools seem to overlap greatly those who support "anti-choice" policies.

    I think it's a shame that the reality, the contradictions of American right-wing weaken the position in political discourse, when perhaps it should be a winning moral and philosophical argument.

  52. I agree with every word you said....
    I also have a sister that was born in 1974....
    keep up the good work GL

  53. Abortions, in America at least, are performed disproportionately in poor/minority communities. In NYC, 41% of all pregnancies end in abortion, and in minority communities that figure is 60%.

    Would you like to know what NYC would look like without all those terminated pregnancies of unwanted, and largely unsupportable (except through public assistance) children? Reference the 1970's.

    No thank you.

    Until all the millions of existing unwanted orphans are adopted by all these god-fearing christian folk I don't want to hear about "reproductive violence".

    I'd rather have irresponsible/unprepared and mostly poor impregnated women committing reproductive violence against themselves now than have their unwanted, poor, ignorant offspring committing violence of the "gimme yo f*ckin wallet" variety 16 years down the line.

    If that is selfish, I invite you to visit your local impoverished ghetto and imagine it with more than twice as many young, uneducated, poor, and violent youths, and then tell me if that seems like a great idea.



  54. Abortion is the ending of life...the very idea of pro-choice is a cover up to what is really going on. Selfishness, as you propose is certainly a major factor in why an individual chooses to take the life of their child; However the laws that permit life to be extinguished simply out of convenience should be overturned...I believe that how you (general term you) or someone in power respects life speaks volumes in who they are as a is an article on this topic -->

    Thanks for your post and bringing th issue up...

  55. "But since a pregnancy today is easy and causes only minor, easily surmountable inconvenience, there’s really no moral problem. To pretend otherwise is not only silly, but deceptive, self and otherwise."

    Wow, you really fell flat on your face with this post. The fact is, as a man, you have NO IDEA what burdens pregnancy imposes. And apparently you've never been a father either, so you have no idea of the responsibilities of parenthood.

    Please stick to subjects about which you have at least minimal comprehension.

  56. i don't know what it's like to have to face this issue, because i've never made enough bad decisions to have to face this issue

    the idea that sex can be a liability is nothing new, but i'm not surprised to know that that's still a problem

    i'm looking forward to once again reading posts about the less-predictable behaviors of humans, like those involving politics and the economy

    j.j. from pittsburgh

  57. I am pro-choice but it is hard to find fault with what you said. The ideas you present should be amoung the thoughts to be considered when making such a serious decision. If my daughters were pregnant and considering an abortion I would definitely want them to read what you wrote before deciding.

  58. Perhaps it wasn't an abortion, but a miscarriage of an incomplete fetus that was not able to grow to term. After the miscarriage, the mother needed a D&C to ensure that everything was tidied up to hope for a future normal pregnancy.

    This actually happened to a friend of mine in the mid-70s. It was a planned pregnancy and something wasn't right that caused the failure. She had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital where she was 'vacummed and cleaned up'. She was devastated to lose the baby.

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. Anonymous @ January 17, 2011 7:01 PM:

    Those who attempt to argue moral theory simply based on logic frequently fail to understand the scope of contradiction and hypocrisy. It is so common, it is ubiquitous, to believe one thing and to do quite another. Even if the belief and action are complete opposites.

    I do not agree with GL’s assertion that not terminating a child is easy. It’s quite short-sighted. Dismissing psychological damage as merely an arbitrary made up human construct is equal to dismissing a stab wound as an imaginary phenomenon. Only, we’ve got a lot of great mechanisms in place to treat stab wounds, external to the body (medicine, technology) and internal to the body (cell repair). Not so true with mental illness.

    Which brings me to NrYC @ January 18, 2011 12:25 AM:

    I agree with your stance, in a different way. Where you insist on perpetuating silly, elitist visions of “uneducated, poor, and violent youths” in “your local impoverished ghetto” (as if it’s some sort of zoo), I’ll present your approach in a different way.

    GL, you’re not entirely taking into account the child here. There are clearly a lot of unplanned pregnancies occurring in poverty. Many of the children would be either sent to adoption or kept in a relatively unstable environment in poverty. We’ve got a lot of information out there about the severe psychological impact an unstable parental environment has upon the child. I’m not saying you can deny a child the chance of breaking out of the cycle. But it’s another factor.
    Maybe we should focus all of the energy fueling the heated moral exchange and focus on the structural violence pushing the people at the bottom tier of our nation’s people into the ground.

    Maybe we can take your fantastical idea of the “ease” of keeping the child, and make it real?

  61. To me, if I supported abortion, I would be saying that I support the idea of killing someone because they might inconvenience me in some way, or interfere with big plans that I had for myself in this life, or prevent me from going out on the town as often as I would like, or cause me a fair amount of emotional stress, or cause me to have psychological issues due to my inability to deal with the problems they may cause for me, or cause me to be less desireable as a sexual partner. After considering this, I realize that I don't believe it's OK to kill someone for these reasons. However, there is a way to deal with people like this. Getting away from them. Removing them physically from your sphere of existence. If the person in question is an infant, then adoption is clearly the answer. I personally know some adopted folks who grew up to be wonderful, intelligent, hard working people. I'm glad they weren't vaccumed out of their mommy's tummy.

  62. Hang in there GL...there are alot of people who would otherwise read your blog that wont now that you gone on record with moral common sense. Dont let that bother you in the least.

    Youre spot on right, and women that think they have a right to glad that neither sex has the right to kill you without your consent. Laws that protect the living should legally extend to those in the womb, and morally, they already do. To those that believe abortion is ok, a womans right, not the govt business, blah will continue to follow this illogic right to the point you're dead, and then you are judged by the God you say doesnt exist. As you start your hate-filled reply, remember to gulp and file away this moment. You'll need it when you're judged.

    Admittedly this response to this post will bring out the dead, but needs to be said. I guess if you dont agree GL you'll delete the post.

    GL, I appreciate very much your courage to write on this historically controversial but morally uncontroversial subject. Keep it up!

  63. Gonzalo, I wonder why you felt the need to write a piece like that.

    Is it a case where religious indoctrination triumphs over rational and intelligent thinking?

    You have made many fine observations on your blog, but this piece I can not agree with.

    One of the problems in the world is that to many people want to impose their dogmas on to others. Personal freedom should be cherished and protected, including the woman's right to make a personal choice wether to cary on with a pregnancy or not.

    It is not for you nor I to impose our views on to another person as how they should live their lives.

    Respectfully yours

    Martin Schmidt

  64. Pagans have always sacrificed their children.

  65. Abortion is murder.

    Every person that ever lived, every person that is living, every person that will live must pass through the same development process. You can not have life without conception. Life starts at conception. Remove conception and you remove the person. Remove the person and you have no life.

    To every abortion supporter please answer this question:

    Can a person exist without conception?

    It doesn't matter if the conception was done inside or outside of the woman's body. Conception is life.

  66. WRITERS NOTE: I attempted to post this as one post, but it exceeds the maximum ammt of characters (4,096) so I will post in blocks. I do not intend to take up more of board than is necessary to get my thought out.

    I wonder about the parenthetical area of your comment:

    "(Parenthetically—and just to put away one particularly foolish fallacy: The “psychological health” of the mother is not a health reason that justifies abortion—or that justifies much of anything, really. First of all, “psychological health” is a meaningless standard, with an infinite bandwidth of definitions. Second, if “psychological health” means “absence of mental stress and strain”—a reasonable albeit arbitrary definition—then I could argue that life itself damages my “psychological health”: Therefore, I should take hemlock right this second, in order to preserve my “psychological health”, and thereby keep it from further harm. Right? Wrong—dong!)"

    I have not taken the time to read the comments on this page, so if my following comments have been made previously or if any following questions have been asked/answered previously, I am the fool for not taking said time.

    Mr. GL, you make the comment that the preservation of "psychological health" is no excuse for a woman to proceed with an abortion. That taking another life, that of the human-to-be, is unjustifiable if it is a means to live as one wishes (though that "one" may have no clue what way of life to wish for). And you "argue that life itself damages [your] 'psychological health'" and conclude, to an exaggerated extreme, that taking hemlock would thus end your suffering.

    What of those who suffered and took the "hemlock"? I myself have not contemplated suicide, but I wonder if you have considered the weakness in your argument, and I refer strictly to the parenthetical, not that of pro/anti abortion. There are many who have felt that life itself has damaged their 'psychological health' (and in some cases this foolish fallacy applies to those who have suffered severe physical traumas, been afflicted with PTSD, repressed terrible memories) and then proceed to take their own lives.

    I understand that area of your comment to support only your argument against using psychological discomfort as an excuse for abortion. However, you draw said support from slandering an extensive study into the human psyche. Is all psychology, in your eyes, "reasonably albeit arbitrarily" explained?

    -- CONT'D BELOW --

  67. -- CONT'D FROM ABOVE --

    If a person can develop an internal issue to the point of suicide (and I call that an affliction to "psychological health") and then take their own life, why can't a woman wanting to use the excuse/explanation that having a child will cause her "psychological health" to be afflicted? Is this because she's taking the life of another?

    I do not believe that a woman who wishes to abort her child is more or less prone to suicidal thoughts or actions than any other human being. I do, however, believe that some percentage of woman who follow through with abortions do not want their embryo to evolve. What right do they have to prevent that human-to-be from growing up? Maybe none, but what good is a mother (or father, or family) who in fact resent their child (or human-to-be, to stay consistent) in rearing? Why should that person be subjected to a life of suffering only because we can say that all we truly know is that we know nothing and who can say what will become of this person?

    I don't know what the right answer is. I don't know if there is a right answer, or a wrong answer, or anything more than a perception of what is right and what is wrong that is constantly in conflict because of the endless perceptions we conjure as a planet with nearly 7 billion living humans.

    I know that I am glad to know those I do, and they have been born. Had they been aborted as fetuses (or died of SIDS, or been killed in a drunk driving accident as teens, of murdered as adults, or died of natural causes at any point in during their lives) I would not know them and I would not have the fond memories we created together.

    I also know that hundreds (thousands? I only assume, but I have no clue) of pairs of lungs breath their first breath of air each day and when they are old enough they too will have perceptions of their own. Some may conflict with mine, some may support. But the right to choose what to believe makes us who we are, which ever side we stand on. Therefor taking any stance against any personal choice which does not affect you (unless you find someway to go through with that pregnancy :) ) seems manipulative to me. Especially when you go to such extremes as to denounce "psychological health" as a fallacy because you yourself do not wish (sarcasm excluded) to take the "hemlock".

    You are well written and that scares me. What I fear I cannot know. I write you this response in an attempt to face that fear and get to know it, not to conquer you, Mr. GL, but to do my part in understanding you and reach toward an assimilation of progressive consciousness.

    I wish you well.


  68. You can't be a "devout" Catholic and also support first trimester abortions.

  69. Courageous, and well written.
    I even like how you responded to the first jerk, TDM, who could not handle reading something that they did not agree with. Those people are cowards of thought and they are usually insecure in their beliefs: something the human experience should always try to avoid.

  70. TDM was probably bored. Neither GL nor any of the other anti-abortionists here have handled any of the political issues in what is (here) a political question. You seldom find one who does; it's usually (as here) all sentimentality and superstition -- the same old same old all the way. Once in a while you all ought to come up with some actual thinking.

    First it was the fatuous, confused, empirically false thing about how democracies inevitably empty the treasury, and now this. But I can get dumb right-wing stuff anywhere.

  71. 'Chilean Thatcherite'

    This is why I read this blog, even the comments. I learn new things and new terms everyday, even from those I disagree with. Still, the term is absolutely hilarious.

  72. What I would give for a baby and there are so many being destroyed. There are a lot of good families just waiting for the opportunity to adopt. There are so many desperate women who find themselves pregnant and I say "Thank you to all the women who give their baby the gift of life and a very excited family the gift of family.
    le in Tulsa

  73. Life happens and for some it is long and happy for others it is a train wreck, car crash falling off a ladder for others it being born in a poor country with 5 brothers and sisters. The religious people need to understand that what they "THINK/Believe" is only in THEIR minds.Life is a process that some get to live. Some don't.. plenty in Iraq and Afghanistan can testify to that. All the people that the Romans invaded or the mongols or the isn't that special or we wouldn't still be doing the war thing or letting several million a day die while we raise corn to put in our SUV's so we don't have to walk a single extra step. Get a sense of perspective people .

  74. GL

    This is a boring topic. People can go 1000 other places on the web and argue abortion and religion.

    No one needs another venue and doubtful anyone intelligent enough to understand your economic views will be swayed from the position they already have adopted as their own.

  75. Sister, ex-wife and current S/O had abortions for whatever reasons. (And many other women I know did the same). What I think is irrelevant - it's what they think. [Nearly] all are ardently pro-choice (so am I, but I used to vote pro-life conservative Republican, even though the last thing I wanted was Roe v. Wade to be over-turned).

    As I said, what I think is irrelevant, but I will make this provisional statement based upon my observations: inconsolable regret seems far more common than not. "One killed, one maimed," may be a bumper sticker, but it seems more factually accurate regarding the psychological consequences than "a medical procedure that removes a clump of cells." Again, what I believe is irrelevant. I'm just saying. I'm not the one crying uncontrollably.

    I already regret responding to this, in a way. I could care less about judging someone for her choice, or about persuading someone about the ethics thereof, although I do strongly favor keeping politics out of the discussion. On the other hand, I do believe in compassion and understanding. It just doesn't seem to do much good here.

    Abortion policy is one area of fairly extreme deference to personal choice and is peculiarly untethered to all sorts of other personal choices which we effectively interefere with. Having suffered an extended period of chronic pain (which thankfully resolved after 8 years), I can see how humiliated women must have felt in seeking medical services for their perceived needs (if a woman perceives that she needs an abortion, I'm OK with that, even if I do agree with GL's basic point). The BS the authoritarian medical system put me through made me hyper-sympathetic to the view that wherever possible, practical and not a threat to public health, patient wishes should be nearly inviolate.* Concretely, this means "give me the prescription for oxycontin, help me manage the dosage subject to periodic review for saftey, and keep your f'in opinions to yourself about how I should live my life," particularly in light of you - the medical profession - not being able to offer clearly safer alternatives (NSAIDs, steroids, surgery were hardly safer alternatives then or now). As Dr. House says, "maybe so many people are depressed because they're in pain." Maybe self-medication is a problem largely because getting help is such a hassle.

    My feelings are so strong on this that I support suspending licenses of conscientous objectors for pharmacists refusing to fill RU86 prescriptions and doctors unwilling to perform abortions according to the wishes of the mother. I am generally in favor of conscientous objecter exceptions, but this is not a simple issue. Medical professionals have a public trust, just as attorneys who can be called on as officers of the court to represent a particularly despicable client, without necessarily being paid for it.

    To the extent the medical profession sets itself up as an exclusive gatekeeper (and it did a long time ago), it should be subject to democratic control and mandates. Although pain management treatment seems to have come a long way, it still appears to be a needlessly time-consuming, expensive and authoritarian sector of medicine (and suspiciously regarded, as well).

    So, while my own private "ethical" analysis (not so much private anymore as of this writing) is pretty close to GL's, I have a common cause with the pro-choice side in matters of medical choice. I should be able to choose between opiate dependence (which is not a terribly serious problem, btw) and risky surgery (what was recommended has about a 50% success rate), ungodly expensive and potentially stroke-inducing proprietary NSAIDs.

    *The public health rationale for controlling prescriptions for anti-biotics, on the other hand, seems pretty strong.

  76. Dude, I am very disappointed with your lack of thoughfulness and analysis---I expected a little more.

    You have this ladies man swagger---how many lovers have you had? Did you protect yourself with each and every one? Come on---be truthful.

    And you are harping up right when this "austerity" is gaining full steam. Yes, don't you just LOVE the way parents turn their kids out to the streets in the 3rd world? Uh, duh...let me make this CLEAR---

    Every child brought into this world NEEDS TO BE WANTED. If a woman and her partner can't "man up"---what make you think that she will take care of herself in a way that benefits a child?

    Do we want severely obese, alcoholic, mentally ill, pill popping women (uh, that makes up a large part there) with dwindling health care access and no partner be forced to carry to term? I mean people are stupid, Gonzalo, what make you think there would be universal wisdom?

    That was a plain dumb, not well thought out. I thought we were hot and sexy because you "thought" I think you are a dumbass.

  77. GL, As a woman and a mother I really appreciate this article. When I became pregnant with my first child I considered aborting because my fiance was planning a career change. Thank God he wouldn't hear of it. I noticed at the time that because I had decided to "keep" the baby, the doctors, nurses, etc referred to it as a baby. Had I decided to abort, it would have been referred to as, merely, a fetus. I realized there was no real difference, a baby is a baby, but my "right to choose" would have given me license to murder. What is more horrible than a tiny baby being sucked out of its mother's womb, the very place which is meant to nurture and protect it as it develops?
    You are absloutely correct in stating that the only reasons for abortion are selfish ones and I challenge your critics to name one selfless reason to justify it. It's too bad motherhood is no longer respected, it is the most important job in the world, because it is a mother's choices which will determine whether her children become functional or dysfunctional members of society.
    It is now 20 years and 5 children later. And I am a happy woman. I had lived the liberal version of life and it was disgusting. I encourage all women to look at the Blessed Mother as the greatest role model ever.

  78. Writing about abortion is like hunting sharks. One only needs to throw the chum into the water. Let the feeding frenzy begin regardless of the type of bloody bait. Love your thought, GL.

  79. Probably your weakest post so far...
    Like Hornblower said:
    And how many children do you have?
    And how many children could you have had?
    Each time you've had sex GL, have you been considering the possibility that a human being might result from that? That you might need to change your life? Move? Change jobs? Get up in the middle of the night for years? Pay child support?

    You need to have some kids, get divorced(let's hope you won't have to do that one, though the statistical odds are not in your favor) and get older. Then you'll know. The question is too big to answer from an intellectual standpoint(which is what you are trying to do). It's one you have to live/suffer through to understand. Some things you cannot read or learn from books, they have to be experienced, it's the only way to learn..

  80. I'm a 54 year old man whose "girl friends" had abortions in the 1970's.As I realize the horror of what actually happened I will say the abortions were an indescribable tragedy. Please do not go down that path.

  81. What a woman gains is not "satisfaction," but the right to control the qualify of life for her children. That's the point of reproductive freedom. Abortion is a method - defined as an outrage by some, and a non-issue by others. There is, of course, no absolute, irrefutable, scientific way to define a moral issue.

    Many in the USA suggest intrusion into this issue by the state. How well does that usually work out?

  82. You want facts? I'm a doctor. Fact: someone dies when an abortion is committed. Chopping up and disposing of a human baby is murder.


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