Jailtime for “Murder” Moms?

August 1, 2007 | 57 comments
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Pro-lifers generally aren’t interested in throwing women in jail for having abortions. Ana Quindlen believes they should be, if they want to be consistent.

I’ve encountered many pro-choice people who believe some variation of the same thing. If you think abortion should usually be illegal you must think women who have abortions are murder moms, and if you think someone is a murder mom, you must want them punished as a murderer. If you don’t, your views are in contradiction.

Various pro-lifers have responded to Quindlen here at NRO. See also here for a Mirror of Justice response. On the other hand, on the sidebar Dave Banack links to a Mirror of Justice pro-lifer who reluctantly argues that treating women who get abortions as less than murderers means treating unborn children as less than fully human.

I can think of several reasons why someone could want to penalize doctors who perform abortions but not penalize the women they perform abortions on.

Perhaps some pro-lifers think the unborn baby is morally important but not actually a person for moral purposes. That might justify legal efforts to protect its existence while not treating everyone involved as a murderer.

Pro-lifers who think the unborn baby is a person morally speaking still might have different aims. One aim is to protect the lives of the unborn. Another is to have the law recognize the value of the lives of the unborn. Another might be to punish those who are guilty of harming the lives of the unborn. A pro-lifer might legitimately sacrifice their concern for punishing the guilty if it makes legislation that protects the lives of the unborn more likely to pass.

Pro-lifers who think that the unborn baby is a person morally speaking still might not think that killing the baby is subjectively murder. Dead is dead, but the law recognizes that some types of killing are worse than others. I have made this argument before.

I am interested in the views of anyone who accepts any kind of legal restriction on abortion–anything from a partial-birth abortion ban to parental restrictions to a complete prohibition on any kind of abortion whatsoever. Do you advocate applying the same penalties to mothers as you would to anyone else involved, and why?
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57 Responses to Jailtime for “Murder” Moms?

  1. danithew on August 1, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Adam, do you ever have other issues or topics besides abortion on your mind?

  2. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Danithew, is that really fair? Look at my last 25 posts and tell me how many deal with abortion.

    It does seem like today is Abortion Wednesday here at T&S, but its actually a whaddyacall, a concatenation of circumstances.

    Anyway, any thoughts on the topic?

  3. Matt Evans on August 1, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    I think abortion, from the perspective of the mother, is more analogous to child neglect resulting in death than it is to murder. The baby dies from abortion because the mother refuses to care for it, not necessarily because the mother wants the child to die. Of course, many mothers get abortions precisely because they do want the child to die — if the abortionist handed them a bouncing baby they’d sue him for malpractice. All we know for sure is that her daughter died because she refused to care for it.

    I use my “Stranded in a Freezing Wilderness” hypothetical to help me sort through these issues. I consider how we would treat a parent who failed to carry their child from a freezing wilderness. (Parents have affirmative duties to care for their children.) Some of their reasons for leaving the child are acceptable (necessary to survival), others are not (I don’t want a child; she had Down syndrome).

    This perspective also accounts for my defense of the rape exception — we shouldn’t impose parental duties on those not responsible for creating the child. (People who consent to sex assume the risk that, whatever precautions they take to avoid creating a baby, they may create a baby. That’s why we impose child support even on fathers who used birth control and didn’t want a baby. All that matters for imposing this affirmative parental duty on them is their consent to the sex.)

  4. danithew on August 1, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Adam, I knew the question was pointed – I’m just surprised to see two posts dealing with the same topic in one day.

    In general, though I follow the official Church position on abortion (which allows for some abortions in exceptional circumstances) – I think the key strategy to stopping abortion would be to focus heavy penalties on the doctors who perform them.

    At the same time, I think a mother usually bears the significant responsibility in making that decision and it would seem unjust to focus solely on doctors if this was going to become a punishable crime.

    The more late-term the abortion is performed, the more it is an act akin to murder. I can say that another way. The earlier the abortion is performed, the less the act is akin to murder. It’s still a very serious thing to contemplate.

  5. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Adam, I knew the question was pointed – I’m just surprised to see two posts dealing with the same topic in one day.

    I wasn’t planning on either one, until I saw the Quindlen article. I had this post mostly drafted when the brou-ha-ha in KLS’s thread intervened, so I hurriedly put up another post to avoid a threadjack. That’s how the cat got into the concatenation.

    At the same time, I think a mother usually bears the significant responsibility in making that decision and it would seem unjust to focus solely on doctors if this was going to become a punishable crime.

    If you want to extend the net that way, I think you’d also want to include whatever the term would be for people who pressure a woman to have an abortion, drive her to the clinic, pay for it, etc. I’ve seen some studies suggesting that many women who have abortions were ambivalent about it but their boyfriend or their parents pushed them hard.

    The more late-term the abortion is performed, the more it is an act akin to murder. I can say that another way. The earlier the abortion is performed, the less the act is akin to murder. It’s still a very serious thing to contemplate.

    I agree. The closer the child is to full-term, the more the mindset of those involved in killing it approximates the mindset of those involved in infanticide or other forms of murder. The farther the child is from full-term, the less.

  6. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    If abortion were illegal, I would not want to impose jail time or other punishment on women who obtained them. I would want doctors punished. But I doubt my reasons would hold up in a legal argument.

    Doctors capitalize on abortions; patients do not. In drug abuse situations, law enforcement wisely focuses on kingpins and other providers, not individual users. I would want a similar approach to abortion, although I still don’t have a good reason why women should be excused across-the-board.

    Women obtaining illegal abortions in times past were often subjected to procedures that were punishment enough for their crime. If abortion were outlawed tomorrow, it’s more likely that women could obtain a physically safe and painless abortion, so I don’t know that this point has any merit anymore.

    I believe a fetus is “morally important but not actually a person for moral purposes”–so does the Church. Even so, I share each of these aims:

    One aim is to protect the lives of the unborn. Another is to have the law recognize the value of the lives of the unborn. Another might be to punish those who are guilty of harming the lives of the unborn. A pro-lifer might legitimately sacrifice their concern for punishing the guilty if it makes legislation that protects the lives of the unborn more likely to pass.

  7. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I think a mother usually bears the significant responsibility in making that decision

    I couldn’t disagree more.

  8. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    It is true, KLS, that many abortions are performed in specialized abortion centers that are quite profitable. I disagree that accepting the Church’s views on abortion requires accepting that the unborn child is not a person, morally speaking, but it is consonant with that.

  9. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Danithew, your remark I referenced helped me to understand why I’m so reluctant to see women punished for abortions. Again, I don’t see how my thinking could translate into anything usable in legal situations, but this is my view:

    Many, many factors can contribute to the situation of a woman with an unwanted pregnancy, and some of these are not of the woman’s making. This is a basic reason why feminists advocate abortion rights: they think women should have the option of ending a pregnancy that society and other individuals precipitated. (An extreme take on the view that a raped woman shouldn’t have to carry the baby if she doesn’t want to). I don’t share that extreme view, but I do think that women are not often solely responsible for their unwanted pregnancies.

    Adam, you’re right, the Church hasn’t made a statement whether, say, a 12-week embryo or even a 20-week fetus is morally a person. But pregnancies that spontaneously end at this point are clearly not viewed by the Church as the loss of a soul-endowed human life. These embryos and fetuses not named on church records, listed on family group sheets, or given status of any kind. And those who purposefully abort them are not treated as murderers of human life.

  10. danithew on August 1, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I wrote: I think a mother usually bears the significant responsibility in making that decision.

    I’m cognizant of the fact that there are women who are pressured into having abortions. I didn’t mean to say that doesn’t happen. If there is research or statistics suggesting that the majority of abortions happen under conditions of external pressure (from the father, relatives, whoever) then I’d certainly be ready to listen.

    My impression though is that there are many women who consciously and sanely choose to undergo abortion procedures – women who chose to do so as a matter of unconstrained free will. Those are the cases in which I think the woman bears significant responsibility.

  11. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Whoops, I should’ve said “spirit-endowed,” not “soul-endowed.”

  12. danithew on August 1, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    By the way Kathryn, nice looking WordPress blog you’ve got there. I’ve added it to my RSS reader.

  13. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    These embryos and fetuses not named on church records, listed on family group sheets, or given status of any kind. And those who purposefully abort them are not treated as murderers of human life.

    This could just reflect uncertainty about the moral status of the unborn.

  14. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    *smile* thanks, danithew! My blogging energy is just about spent, but I should be back in the fray before long.

    Adam, you’re right–and that’s a better description of my own perspective too.

  15. Matt Evans on August 1, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    “The closer the child is to full-term, the more the mindset of those involved in killing it approximates the mindset of those involved in infanticide or other forms of murder.”

    Adam, what is your theory of fetal or human rights that allows this distinction? To me it seems analogous to your agreeing that the greater the whiteness in a black man, the worse it is for the KKK to kill them, because the mindset of the klansman knows it is closer to murder. I wouldn’t go softer on a woman-killer because he thinks women are the moral equivalent of rats.

  16. Matt Evans on August 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    The church’s position on ensoulment simply says there is no “direct” revelation on the issue. It doesn’t say that the unborn do not have spirits, only that it has not been revealed.

  17. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    At the request of a coblogger, your Dean has put some punctuation in the title to better reflect the contents of the post.

  18. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Adam, what is your theory of fetal or human rights that allows this distinction?

    Matt E., I don’t really base punishments on a theory of rights, but on a theory of guilt. Guilt in my mind is subjective, taking into account the knowledge and state of mind of the guilty person. The less obviously an unborn child appears to be a person to the senses, the less culpable a state of mind is needed to kill it.

  19. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    (16) Yes, but in the meantime the Church approaches embryos and fetuses as something different than you and me.

    Thanks for those quote marks, Adam.

  20. greenfrog on August 1, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    For my qualifications to comment on this thread: I’m one who thinks there’s nothing morally wrong (malum in se — I recognize that the Church has authority within its jurisdiction to declare it malum prohibitum) with aborting a two-week old embryo, but who thinks that aborting an eight-month fetus is not materially different than infanticide. In light of the topic of this thread, I won’t belabor the distinctions I see between those two cases unless someone wants to hear them.

    If we’re going to construct criminal laws to prohibit abortion (I’m not at all sure that’s a good idea, despite my views of the immorality of the latter case), I can’t imagine prosecuting only those who perform the abortions, and not prosecuting those who instigate the crime, conspire to arrange the crime, and pay others to perform the crime. We don’t make that kind of carve-out exception to any other crimes I know of. (Contrary to KLS’s comment #6, I think the fact is that we do prosecute drug users for their crimes — the prisons are full of people convicted of illegal drug use — not just those to sell the drugs to the users.)

    I don’t find the “they’ve suffered enough by having the procedure” line of argument particularly persuasive, either. If we’re going to criminalize aborting a fetus, we’ve already decided that the pain and suffering of the woman who chooses to instigate the crime is not enough to deter her from the action — that’s why we have criminal law. I can’t bring myself to accept the argument that the woman’s choice should be ignored. On that score, I think Quindlen is exactly right (Justice Ginsburg, too) — women, including those who are pregnant, are competent moral actors whose actions should be valued and evaluated exactly the same way that decisions by male actors should be valued and evaluated.

  21. Lupita on August 1, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Anna Quindlen has no intention of arguing for jail time for women who abort. She is staunchly pro-choice and defends abortion in several venues. She does not want to see abortion criminalized, and therefore would not argue that women who do abort are actual criminals in the face of the law. She would never use a term like “murder mom”. I just wanted to make that clear in case anyone really thinks that she is advocating such a thing.

    I completely agree with the idea that a woman is responsible for her choices as long as they are 100% her own. Rape, incest, and other forms of emotional abuse, etc. call for different measures and I am grateful for competent and compassionate Church leaders who recognize that fact and do their best to alleviate the suffering for all involved. I certainly hope that we are as willing to work towards eliminating the conditions that lead to unwanted pregnancies as we are to demonize those who do abort.

  22. KMW on August 1, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Why are we wasting our time with Ana Quindlen anyway? She and her radical-left views are the sole reason I did not renew a subscription to Newsweek I had held for 15 years.
    I was so tired of the rants and the hand-wringing…

  23. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    If we’re going to construct criminal laws to prohibit abortion (I’m not at all sure that’s a good idea, despite my views of the immorality of the latter case),

    I would prefer to reserve this thread for people discussing laws that they do think are a good idea. Is there any abortion restriction that you would favor? If so, how would you enforce that restriction and if the restriction applies differently to the women who have the abortions, how would you justify that?

  24. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    I was so tired of the rants and the hand-wringing…

    I’ll try to avoid handwringing then. I don’t want to drive you away. (Grins).

  25. Ray on August 1, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    My moral view of abortion and my legal views on abortion are quite different. From a moral standpoint, I approve of the exceptions outlined in the Church’s official position. From a legal standpoint, I am opposed to criminal charges for abortion IF there are exceptions that include health and/or rape. I don’t have enough time and space here to explain fully why I feel this way, but suffice it to say that the legal complications of either waiting to abort until after a guilty rape verdict or allowing abortion on the basis of a rape charge alone keep me from being able to support punishment outside of this type of exception.

    In my mind, abortion should be legal or illegal – or illegal with very clear exceptions that are almost impossible to obscure and can be determined very quickly with minimal doubt. If legal decisions could be rendered within the first trimester, I would reconsider, but as our legal system stands now . . .

  26. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Folks, lets try to get back to the topic at hand, which is: for those abortion restrictions that you do accept, should the penalties for violating them apply to the women who had the abortion or just to the doctors, etc., and why?

  27. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I certainly hope that we are as willing to work towards eliminating the conditions that lead to unwanted pregnancies as we are to demonize those who do abort.

    WOOP WOOP! Thank you, Lupita!

    greenfrog, it’s true that there are lots of people convicted for drug possession, but from what I’ve gathered, a great deal of these convictions occur in conjunction with other crimes, such as DUI, battery, robbery, etc etc. It seems that drug use is more of a factor when the use has harmed someone other than the user. But I could be wrong. And in the case of abortion, obviously the “use” does harm other than to the “user.”

    I could argue that in many abortion cases, the woman has been harmed herself, directly or indirectly, but I have nothing to support that statement other than my own experience.

    Like I said before, I have no objective leg to stand on. But my subjective views remain my views. Adam, thanks for letting me indulge.

  28. Ray on August 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Both, IF it is a crime. We punish people all the time for committing a crime, for conspiracy, for conspiracy after the fact, for facilitation – for being involved in any way in the commission of a crime. The only exception for me is if coercion (including intentional and egregious mis-information) in the decision / action can be proven.

  29. Dave on August 1, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Yikes! I just noticed my name in the body of the post so I’d like to make a couple of quick points. First, I knew the MoJ post would be of interest to T&S readers, but I was not really endorsing the views floated there. Second, I agree with the thrust of Adam’s post that the moral and legal questions regarding abortion are certainly more complex than most public discussion allows for. The fact that LDS Church policy now openly recognizes some circumstances where abortion is pemitted supports the idea that this is a complex question that turns (in any given case) on the circumstances. Finally, I note that there are millions of women who have had abortions performed. Some of them will join the Church someday. I hope they are not called murderers when they walk through the front door. That seems both unfair and inaccurate.

  30. MikeInWeHo on August 1, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    re: 22 You canceled your Newsweek subscription over Ana Quindlen??! Oy. Didn’t George Will’s weeks cleanse your palate somewhat? She is hardly a radical leftist. I believe she’s a semi-active Catholic and fiercely devoted mother. She’d probably fit in very well in the Bloggernacle! : )

    But on topic: “…The closer the child is to full-term, the more the mindset of those involved in killing it approximates the mindset of those involved in infanticide or other forms of murder. The farther the child is from full-term, the less…”

    That statement reminds me of the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s trimester system which developed with Roe v. Wade. Basically, the earlier the pregnancy the less interest the government has in protecting the developing child.

    The YouTube video that AQ points her readers to is definitely worth a watch:

  31. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t see much comparison, sir. There’s lots and lots of things short of first-degree murder that the government has a legitimate interest in, and, frankly, it was none of the Court’s business in the first place. In any case, Roe v. Wade’s trimester system was a sham, since it allowed late-term abortions where ‘health’ was at issue, and the companion Doe case held that health was at issue whenever a doctor was willing to say it was. There’s an abortionist in Kansas whose business is performing late-term abortions from all over the country who’s willing to say that carrying a child to birth when the woman wants to abort it endangers her mental health. New York City also does lots of late-term abortions from around the country, often with ‘mental health’ justifications.

  32. Starfoxy on August 1, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I would sooner punish the women than the doctors. For one, an abortion is a medical proceedure that doctors need to be able to perform freely. There are situations that legitimately call for an abortion proceedure that are not part of the discussion over the morality of abortion (miscarriage and ectopic pregnany). When the doctors hands are tied by laws regulating those proceedures then the doctor will be unable or unwilling to provide the best care possible to the patients.

    Second, if the disincentive to abortion rests only on doctors and not on the women seeking them- then women will continue to get abortions from whoever is willing to provide them- which will be people without proper equipment, training, or regulations. This will do little to nothing to reduce the number of abortions, but will siginificantly increase the dangers involved.

    Third- Refusing to punish women for their actions denies their agency. When they are legal adults acting under their own free will and they commit what is defined as a crime then they should be puninshed.

  33. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I know two women whose OBs offered to get them set up with Kansas doctors–one for a mid-term (past the patient’s home state’s deadline), and one for a late-term abortion.

  34. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, Starfoxy, for your contribution.

    Your second and third points are good ones that I had not considered. I think your first point could probably be solved by crafting laws that do not prohibit abortion in cases of miscarriage (i.e., where the child has already died) or in cases of ectopic pregnancy (i.e., where the abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life and the child will die anyway).

  35. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 1, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Starfoxy:

    #1 You’re focusing on the one kind of pregnancy termination that is not part of the political debate–termination in the case of ectopic pregnancies. D&Cs after miscarriage are not abortions–there’s nothing to abort. It’s already happened naturally.

    #2–If abortion were outlawed tomorrow, there would be plenty of competent doctors doing them under the table for big bucks.

    #3–I maintain that some women (maybe not most, and certainly not all) who get abortions don’t act “under their own free will.”

  36. Adam Greenwood on August 1, 2007 at 5:27 pm
  37. greenfrog on August 1, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    In response to Adam’s request in #23, I’ll abstain from further participation on this thread. As I indicated, I’m not at all convinced that criminalizing even the abortions I believe to be morally wrong would be a good idea.

  38. Jeremy on August 1, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Adam,

    I don’t think the NRO response to the video in question comes anywhere close to identifying it as a “fraud.” All it does is correct some rather peripheral information about the video’s context. The point of the video remains quite strong: a number of people who feel strongly enough about abortion to publicly protest against it, using graphic posters of aborted fetuses, seem to have never considered the question of whether women who make the decision to have an abortion should be considered criminals.

    You and others have offered arguable positions about this issue, which I fully respect. The point of the video, and of Quindlin’s argument, seems to be that many other people who use abortion as their voting-booth litmus test have not thought as many steps beyond their vote as you have.

  39. Jeremy on August 1, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    A correction: in my last paragraph I didn’t mean to suggest, Adam, that you use abortion as a litmus test, only that many people who do seem not to have considered the issues raised by the video and Quindlin’s article at all, let alone the arguments you offer in response to them.

  40. Sarah on August 1, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    For the first trimester: I’m not sure I support anything beyond a revocation of a license (or maybe even just government funding) for doctors performing these abortions, given what a a grey area it already is. And since I already have reservations about licensing doctors, and am predictably opposed to licensing parents (and giving them subsidies,) I’m going to say that I think the results should be the same for both mothers and doctors, but that they should be essentially meaningless.

    For the third trimester: I’m not sure I see a material difference between infanticide and abortion at that stage. The penalties for all concerned in the procedure should be the same.

    But I’m sufficiently unsure of my position that there’s no way I’d promote myself into a position where I’d be making such calls.

  41. Ray on August 1, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    I already addressed the question at the end of the post, but there is one central assertion that has not been addressed. It is: “If you think abortion should usually be illegal you must think women who have abortions are murder moms.”

    No, that conclusion is not requisite – not if you don’t classify all abortion as murder. That is why the latest comments concerning how far along the pregnancy is are relevant – since abortion does not equate automatically with murder – or at least not in any but the most narrow interpretation.

  42. Wacky Hermit on August 1, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    I’ll chime in on partial birth abortion (the D&X procedure) and late term abortion in general. I think it should be illegal, with an exception for pregnancies that pose a significant risk to the mother’s health, in which case I see a late-term abortion as a self-defense killing. I have heard of at least one such situation, where the baby has hydrocephalus and will not live more than a few minutes past a birth that, because of the inflated head, will be extremely risky for the mother. Other than in cases like that, my understanding is that a late term abortion carries approximately the same risk or greater risk than carrying the pregnancy to term. (If I am wrong please correct me.)

    My dad was an OB-GYN. He used to get letters from people who were looking for children to adopt. They would send a letter to every OB in the country asking them to please, if they had a patient who didn’t want the baby, to put them in contact as they would gladly pay expenses and adopt the baby. People are so desperate to adopt that I’d bet a goodly portion of them would adopt a baby intentionally delivered alive and premature. If the mother would rather be relieved of the baby, these people would gladly take the baby off her hands. It could be whisked away into an isolette. While I wouldn’t think very much of a woman who would deliberately subject a perfectly healthy child to the risks of a premature birth, I’d think a lot better of her than I would if she just killed the child because she couldn’t stand another eight weeks of pregnancy after she’d already done 32 weeks.

  43. Julie M. Smith on August 1, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    At the risk of revealing my ignorance in a blogfull of lawyers, can someone answer this question for me: In what situations (besides abortion) is there an illegal transaction (for want of a better term) where only one of the parties consenting to the transaction is punished? I’m just wondering what kinds of precedents (if any) there are for this type of asymmetry.

  44. greenfrog on August 1, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Julie,

    The only ones that come to my mind are those where the transaction involves someone who lacks the capacity to consent — minors (for sales of controlled substances such as alcohol or tobacco). (Does this count as non-conforming participation on this thread? I hope not.)

  45. Matt Evans on August 1, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Julie, the first one that comes to mind is statutory rape. In some states its okay for a 17-year-old to have sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, but after his birthday sex becomes a crime for him but not for her.

  46. Kaimi Wenger on August 1, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Kathryn (35),

    You’re right that D&X after miscarriage is not the same as abortion. It’s a very similar procedure, though, in many ways — using instruments to extract portions of the fetus, of course with the important difference that the fetus is already deceased.

    Because of the similarity in procedure, laws against D&X abortion can have the effect of limiting access to D&X for miscarriage situations. There was a widely-discussed article about this effect, a few years ago, written by a mother in that very situation.

  47. Kaimi Wenger on August 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Kathryn,

    The article is at http://www.msmagazine.com/summer2004/womanandherdoctor.asp . It’s an eye-opener about the difficulty of getting a D&E (the safest option) in an entirely legitimate, miscarriage situation.

    A quote:

    Legally, a doctor can still surgically take a dead body out of a pregnant woman. But in reality, the years of angry debate that led to the law’s passage, restrictive state laws and the violence targeting physicians have reduced the number of hospitals and doctors willing to do dilations and evacuations (D&Es) and dilations and extractions (intact D&Es), which involve removing a larger fetus, sometimes in pieces, from the womb.

    At the same time, fewer medical schools are training doctors to do these procedures. After all, why spend time training for a surgery that’s likely to be made illegal?

    At this point, 74 percent of obstetrics and gynecology residency programs do not train all residents in abortion procedures, according to reproductive health researchers at the National Abortion Federation. Those that do usually teach only the more routine dilation and curettage — D&C, the 15-minute uterine scraping used for abortions of fetuses under 13 weeks old.

    Fewer than 7 percent of obstetricians are trained to do D&Es, the procedure used on fetuses from about 13 to 19 weeks. Almost all the doctors doing them are over 50 years old.

    The whole article — like I said, discussing the difficulty of getting a D&E in miscarriage, not abortion — is very good.

  48. AHLDuke on August 1, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    As to abortion generally, I am of a Clintonite persuasion- it should be “safe, legal, and rare.” We should treat drugs the same way- a demand-side solution. I think that demand-side solutions are a more Zionlike solution- rather than eliminating the possibility of evil, and therefore making agency meaningless, we should do away with the desire to do evil. I do however oppose partial-birth or late-term abortion because I think it bears a serious resemblence to infanticide in a way that aborting a early-term fetus or simply taking the morning-after pill does not.

    However, as I would support criminal sanctions on partial-birth abortions, I would support some form of criminal actions against the mothers who obtain one. I do not think they should be of the same magnitude as for abortionists, simply because most mothers do not obtain abortions with the frequency that doctors perform them. I do not agree with the argument that aborting mothers do not profit from abortion. Clearly they do, even if only in a non-economic way (i.e. having more time without having to care for a child). But women’s earning power is significantly enhanced by not having children (or additional children) at home that need care or even just material sustenance. How then can she not profit from having an abortion? But judgment in these cases should be done on an ad hoc basis- there will be cases where the mothers are the primary “seekers” of the abortion. In other cases, the doctors will be the one who encourages an uncertain woman to have an unnecessary abortion. And in a third set of circumstances, the genetic father, husband, or boyfriend may be the cheerleader in the matter-he too should be punished.

  49. Brian on August 2, 2007 at 3:31 am

    In response to yuor post, AHLDuke, if you get into “agency” being taken away, why not make murder legal, too?- because it being illegal takes one’s “agency” away.
    If a baby is a baby at 8 months old, is it not a baby at 8 days old? When do you think the spirit enters the child?
    And as far as making “certain circumstance abortion” permissable, the medical profession will be abuse that exception to no end for those who want to have an abortion.
    And I know it has not been mentioned here, but some people want this to go back to the states, and become a state matter. That worked so very well for slavery and civil rights, did it not?
    I do agree that those who are guilty of conspiracy should be punished for such.

  50. Adam Greenwood on August 2, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Brian, et al.,
    beware the threadjack. I’m going to start removing comments after this.

    AHLDuke,

    I do not think they should be of the same magnitude as for abortionists, simply because most mothers do not obtain abortions with the frequency that doctors perform them.

    That is an extremely interesting argument that I’ve never seen elsewhere. I think I’m persuaded by it. If we have evidence that Dr. X performed an illegal abortion in Case Y with woman Z, the odds that Dr. X has performed other illegal abortions that he didn’t get caught for are higher than that woman Z has done so. This won’t always be true, but it seems like it would be true enough of the time to justify making the penalties stiffer for abortion docs.

  51. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 2, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Kaimi (47), thanks for that info. I will read it with great interest. Note, however, that ectopic pregnancies, which I was specifically referring to, happen early in pregnancy, and wouldn’t require a D&E –or even a D&C, for that matter–rather, an injection to allow the body to reabsorb the embryonic material, or a laproscopic procedure.

    annegb:

    I would always recommend against abortion, but no woman is going to take flack from me on this issue. She’ll suffer enough anyway.

    Amen, and amen.

  52. Adam Greenwood on August 2, 2007 at 11:59 am

    I know people want to talk about abortion in general, so I’ve created a thread for that kind of talk. Further discussion of whether abortion restrictions are appropriate at all, and ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage discussion, should take place there.

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4001

    Alternatively, you can email me at adam at times and seasons dot org if there’s a topic you’d like to see discussed, and maybe that will happen some time in the future.

    So lets restrict our talk in this thread to the following: for abortion restrictions THAT YOU SUPPORT, do you think the penalties for violating them should apply equally to women and doctors, and why? Do the reasons that others have advanced for treating women equal to doctors (or not) make sense?

    I will construe posting off-topic comments as permission to move them to the other thread. Thanks for your cooperation.

  53. Brian on August 2, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Sorry, Adam. If I had a direct response to the thread, it would be YES- most definitely.

  54. Kathryn Lynard Soper on August 2, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    I support penalties for doctors and women and anybody else involved for late-term abortion. There’s absolutely no excuse for this.

  55. Brian on August 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    And if you criminalize abortion, most doctors would not dare put their medical license at risk, let alone the legal ramifications beyond that.

  56. Adam Greenwood on August 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Brian,

    is your notion that abortion restrictions won’t work unless there are penalties for everyone involved? Is that why you think the penalties should apply to everyone?

  57. Brian on August 2, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    No. There should be penalties for everyone involved because they all have a hand in murdering an innocent baby, therefore they all deserve to be held accountable. After all, if there is a bank robbery, everyone gets charged- no matter if you were in the bank, driving the car, or helping with the planning.

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