The Tebows and Other Good Omens

February 3, 2010 | 92 comments
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Baby_Insight_Week_12I never expected to see the day that Kate Michelman, past president of NARAL, would write, “all sorts of well-educated and progressive people are comfortable calling themselves pro-life.”

Michelman’s opinion piece in the Washington Post is fascinating not only for her openly acknowledging the eroding support for her movement (she says recent polls shows 51% of Americans identify with the label “pro-life” and only 44% with “pro-choice”; the pro-life number would be a historical high), but by how hamstrung she feels defending abortion.

She attributes the shift in public opinion primarily to technological progress: “[s]cience played a big role, making the fetus more visible. Today, the first picture in most baby books is the 12-week 3D ultrasound, and Grandma and Grandpa have that photo posted on the fridge.” Read that again. Michelman acknowledges that support for the pro-choice movement benefited from people’s ignorance of human development and the reality of the preborn person. This admission could scarcely be more heartening to those of us working for fetal rights. I’ve observed the phenomenon she mentions first-hand, and it is real. On two separate occasions at our former fetal imaging studio, Baby Insight, men who appeared to be in their 60s, who I assumed to be grandfathers of the new baby, came out of the studio where they’d spent 30 minutes watching their new grandbaby on a 70″ projection screen, and say to no one in particular, “Well, it really is a baby.” From the context it was clear they were speaking private thoughts out loud. They’d known there was controversy about exactly what is in a woman’s womb, and now they’d seen for themselves and were beginning to internalize the new knowledge. These comments confirmed one of our key objectives in starting Baby Insight, and encouraging mothers and fathers to celebrate their babies before they were born: to chip at the powerful cultural paradigm that our real lives begin at birth.

I suppose Michelman doesn’t believe her laugher, referring to the Tebow ad, that “abortion is as tough and courageous a decision as is the decision to continue a pregnancy,” or she’d be proposing ads like the Tebows’ that highlight how courageous a particular mother was to let her child die. Presumably Michelman includes this absurd fabrication to bolster the spirits of her most loyal donors who, because of their personal history, are emotionally invested in viewing abortion as a noble act. Not that I have any desires for abortion apologists save their utter failure, but women who have aborted probably do listen to Michelman, and I believe that women who have aborted are better served by messages like Naomi Wolf’s, that characterize abortion as a necessary evil, but a real evil nevertheless. That perspective resonates more genuinely with women struggling with their abortion, and that is most of them. Most women who have undergone abortions know the date of the abortion and the baby’s due date. Framing abortion as an heroic choice may have resonated as an act of female empowerment in the bra-burning 70s, but with all of the stories and surveys of women who have chosen abortion that we’ve heard since, we know the women believe differently. They perceive their abortion as an evil act that circumstances left them no options but doing. They certainly don’t want to trumpet their abortion as an example of courage to a Super Bowl audience.

Even though it’s been yet another horrific week for human fetuses in America, around 20,000 of them starting the week with beautiful beating hearts but dead by Sunday, it signals hope for the fetal rights movement (the term I continue to believe pro-lifers should insist the media use for the movement, rather than anti-abortion, as abortion is only the best known issue of concern to those who believe the preborn are equal members of the human family). Tim and Pam Tebow are telling a billion people that they’re glad Pam didn’t abandon Tim when he needed her most, the VP of NOW plays right into the media hype by going unhinged and calling the Tebows’ message one of hate, and now Kate Michelman’s gone on record saying that science is turning the tables against abortion apologists.

The drum beats as America continues its long march toward its founding ideal: to recognize the self-evident truth that all men are created equal.

92 Responses to The Tebows and Other Good Omens

  1. Kaimi on February 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Matt writes:

    I suppose Michelman doesn’t believe her laugher, referring to the Tebow ad, that “abortion is as tough and courageous a decision as is the decision to continue a pregnancy,” or she’d be proposing ads like the Tebows’ that highlight how courageous a particular mother was to let her child die. Presumably Michelman includes this absurd fabrication to bolster the spirits of her most loyal donors who, because of their personal history, are emotionally invested in viewing abortion as a noble act.

    Wow, Matt.

    You seem to be making three arguments here:

    1. Abortion is very easy, and that making that decision — often in contravention to family norms, community norms, screaming picketers — requires no courage.

    2. The measure of any particular decision’s toughness and courageousness can be measured by that decision’s ability to create effective 30-second soundbites.

    3. Michelman is personally convinced that abortion is easy and gutless, but has decided to lie to others about that personal belief.

    Come on, Matt. To adapt a line, “I suppose Evans doesn’t believe his laugher.”

  2. bbell on February 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Amen Matt.

  3. Kaimi on February 3, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    To clarify: I think that there’s a lot of good discussion, and Matt is making interesting points in the first three paragraphs. I may have quibbles with characterizations here or there, but that’s generally a thoughtful bit of analysis.

    It’s in paragraph four where Matt’s desire to throw as many rocks as possible at people he doesn’t like causes him to become unhinged. I think that all three of the claims that I highlight in comment #1 are way off base.

    1a. For many women, having an abortion is not easy. It’s a physically and emotionally difficult process; Matt’s own follow up comments in the post go into detail about the emotional difficulty involved.

    1b. Choosing to have an abortion does require courage on the part of many women. This doesn’t mean that Matt, or anyone else, needs to think that this decision was right, or a good idea. The Zulu charges at Rourke’s drift were a terrible idea, destroying the army involved. These still absolutely required courage. Courage is choosing to take an action despite fear, risk, or intimidation. It’s very clear that many women are afraid of the consequences of abortion; many women are intimidated; and the action is clearly risky.

    2. Obviously, some stories tell better for audiences in 30 second soundbites. The idea that the Tebows have the better argument or that Michelman is lying because otherwise Michelman would be buying 30 second commercials of her own is silly, and you know it.

    3. The oddest part of your odd set of assertions is your insinuation that Michelman is lying. So she’s really a fake pro-choicer? Why on earth would anyone dedicate the amount of time that she has to a cause if she didn’t believe in it? Non-profits aren’t big moneymakers. Michelman is like many people in politics, extremely zealous in her dedication to her particular cause.

    You think she’s lying? I’d say that that would be an extreme shock. Whatever you think about abortions toughness or courageousness, Michelman clearly believes in her own message. Your insinuations otherwise are just bizarre.

    I might as well say, Matt doesn’t really believe in fetal rights, he’s just lying to us all about it, for some unfathomable and illogical reason.

  4. Kristine on February 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Matt, it must feel great to see your personal work validated in this way. Congratulations on being so effective. A little less Schadenfreude about the (perceived) failures of those who disagree with you would probably be more seemly, and more appropriate to the complexity of the questions involved.

    Also, I’d really like it if we revised the statement of our founding ideals to hold that all men and women are created equal (and if we believed it so thoroughly that updating the archaic usage would be as natural as correcting 18th-century spelling where necessary).

  5. scw on February 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    You certainly have an idealized view, or at least an infantile view of fetal development. “20,000 beautiful beating hearts?” Really? They would all come to term if they weren’t so callously destroyed? Tone down the rhetoric.

  6. Mark B. on February 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    One does not have to be an advocate of unlimited abortion on demand to disagree with your assertion that fetuses have (or ought to have) the same rights as human beings who have been born. In fact, one can consider Roe v. Wade to be bad law from virtually any aspect, and disagree with Kaimi’s apparent contention that the decision to terminate another’s life (or prospective life, if you will), in the face of possible physical or emotional distress, constitutes courage and yet still disagree with your assertion as to the rights of fetuses.

  7. Chris Henrichsen on February 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    “I suppose Michelman doesn’t believe her laugher, referring to the Tebow ad, that “abortion is as tough and courageous a decision as is the decision to continue a pregnancy,” or she’d be proposing ads like the Tebows’ that highlight how courageous a particular mother was to let her child die.”

    My guess is that she has the decency to not put somebody like this out to be submitted to the wrath of someone like you. Good call on her part.

  8. Mathew on February 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Attention pro-choice folks: before commenting read Michelman’s piece. Most of the commenters up to this point have done a very poor job of articulating the pro-choice position which is exactly the point that Michelman was speaking to. I always come across as angry so that is pretty normal, but Chris Henrichsen usually seems poised and full of good arguments. I’ve seen Kristine comment very intelligently on this very issue circa 2004. Kaimi is commenting as usual–which is to say predictably but better than the average commenter in the bloggernacle. scw–I don’t know who that is–didn’t exactly hit it out of the park. I’m always a fan of Mark B.’s comments. Still, by far the most interesting thing here is written by Matt Evans who every single comment thus far has disagreed with but none of whom have done a very good job of rebutting. Come on pro-choicers, give people a reason to rally to your flag.

    (sorry b bell, affirmations don’t really count as comments in my admittedly idiosyncratic world)

  9. Chris Henrichsen on February 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    “…but Chris Henrichsen usually seem poised and full of good arguments.”

    Most have me confused with somebody else. :)

  10. Kristine on February 3, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Mat, I’m not especially interested in getting into a defense of a pro-choice position in any (virtual) room where Matt Evans is hanging out. It’s futile and painful, especially since I adore Matt except when he’s talking about this.

  11. z on February 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Calm yourself, Matt, and recall the Church’s official position on abortion, perhaps.

    Also, what’s up with speaking for all women– “we know the women believe differently”? That’s just bizarre.

  12. Ardis Parshall on February 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Matthew, the general point of comments so far has not been to rebut Matt or give people “a reason to rally to [the pro-life] flag,” but merely to reject Matt’s outrageous rhetoric. While I disapprove and mourn the number of abortions that are performed, I’m not about to sign on to Matt’s brand of pro-life politics. He’s such an extremist that he makes me want to go out and have an abortion myself this week just to bring balance back to the universe.

  13. CatherineWO on February 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I am in agreement with Mark B. (#6). There is a proposal coming up here in Montana this next year that would give equal human rights to unborn children. I presume, Matt, from what you have said that you would support such legislation. I consider myself to be pro-life and have spent many hours in volunteer service to the pro-life cause. However, this type of retoric is frightening to me and is not LDS Church doctrine. The truth is that there are circumstances which may deem abortion necessary, when a mother’s life must be given priority over the life of an unborn child. I had just such a pregnancy almost thirty years ago. Through the help of an exceptional doctor I was able to survive the pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby girl, but I recognize that the outcome could have been very different and I (and my husband) would have chosen abortion over the loss of my life. I have the deepest sympathy for women (and their partners) who must deal with such heart-wrenching decisions. They must be the ones to make these decisions, not legislators.

  14. CatherineWO on February 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you, Ardis. You always bring balance to the blog universe.

  15. Ziff on February 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    It’s an intriguing possibility that simple technology–access to a view of a fetus that makes its features more clear–might reduce women’s willingness to get an abortion. Once you see a life as human, you’re less willing to end it.

    But I think there’s a corresponding argument to be made from the pro-choice side. I suspect men (I’m sure myself included) generally fail to appreciate women’s experience with sex, and the varying levels of coercion and access to birth control involved (among many other factors), and would perhaps be more sympathetic to keeping the door open for legal abortion if we did. So what technology would allow for men to better appreciate women’s experience?

  16. z on February 3, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Temporary gender reassignment technology! But something tells me Matt wouldn’t approve of that either.

  17. gst on February 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Nice post, Matt. I, for one, appreciate your rhetoric. And I agree with your position, and share your cheer.

  18. Mathew on February 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Ardis,

    One post and 16 comments in, Matt is still the only person who has said anything that I didn’t already know. The rest of this thread reads like the script that it is. I am particularly surprised at the ad hominem attacks directed at Matt so early on (except z’s since that appears to be her instinctual reaction anytime she encounters an idea she doesn’t agree with). Usually it takes 87 comments before things start getting good, or 54 since this is an abortion thread.

    Kristine,

    Are we to interpret your first comment, then, as reflexive token resistance? I’m good with that!

  19. gst on February 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Oh yeah, Matt, I too wish you’d stop quoting the Declaration of Independence, you cursed misogynist.

  20. z on February 3, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Are you surprised by Matt’s bizarre ad hominem attack on Kate Michelman?

    I just don’t think anyone on either side sees this as a productive forum for a calm and reasoned debate. That was Matt’s decision when he chose inflammatory rhetoric. Better luck next time?

  21. danithew on February 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I think the technology is a wonderful thing. If a person makes the decision to abort, that person should know what is being done and to what exactly (fetus/baby) it is being done. Seeing a beating heart and limbs and a discernible head, etc. … that should give anyone pause. Human life is sacred. No doubt about it. If that impacts the pro-choice movement, does damage to their cause, so be it.

    At the same time, there are sometimes horrible, horrible circumstances in which babies are conceived and in at least some of those circumstances the woman should have the right/option to terminate the life inside of her. Incest. Rape.

    Anyway, this issue has already been beaten to death. Over and over again. However, the technology angle is worth talking about. It brings a new level of insight and appreciation into what is happening inside the womb – and that is something that should be noted and even celebrated.

  22. gst on February 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks everyone for participating. Comments are now closed.

  23. Steve Evans on February 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    What is that horrible alien-looking mutant picture doing in a post about babies??

  24. Kathryn Soper on February 3, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    This is good news, Matt. Thanks for the heads up. Since first-trimester testing for genetic abnormalities has become standard, I hope early fetal imaging does as well. It’s the least we can do to aid parents facing a life-or-not decision at 10 or 12 weeks gestation.

  25. Chris Henrichsen on February 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Mathew,

    Mhy guest is that we are really not all that interested in impressing you.

  26. Chris Henrichsen on February 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    My guess…

  27. scw on February 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Babies are a renewable resource, Mothers aren’t. Matt doesn’t care about the health of the mother, of which this Tebow case, despite being used for right wing propaganda, is a perfect example of.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2243218/

  28. Womb with a View on February 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I credit this development with the pro-life surge:

    “New Law Requires Women to Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion”
    http://www.theonion.com/content/video/new_law_requires_women_to_name

  29. queuno on February 3, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Too bad they couldn’t find a relevant football player to highlight the issue.

  30. Liz on February 3, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    “Most women who have undergone abortions know the date of the abortion and the baby’s due date.”

    Please provide a source.

  31. mraynes on February 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm
  32. djinn on February 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    To quote Matt Evans: “The drum beats as America continues its long march toward its founding ideal: to recognize the self-evident truth that all men are created equal.” Women, not so much. Maybe if just girls were aborted you’d be totally fine?

  33. Dan on February 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Tim and Pam Tebow are telling a billion people that they’re glad Pam didn’t abandon Tim when he needed her most

    Because all women in at risk pregnancies pop out MVP quarterbacks.

    The case of Pam Tebow is unique and not a common example among women who perform abortions. She was at risk of losing her life. If one thing went wrong, she would have died, Tim would have died with her, Pam’s husband would have lost a wife and a possible son, and any other kids Pam had would have lost their mother. She took a risk and came out on top. Good for her.

    You seem to be more familiar with this world than I am, so I’m sure you are aware of the thousands of mothers who do die because they refuse to abort a pregnancy that ended up killing them. I know someone who had an ectopic pregnancy. If she carried it through it would have killed her and her husband would have lost both the baby and her. That family decided to end that pregnancy and save the life of the already living.

    I’m with Kaimi in that I think you brush to harshly against those who you disagree with on this topic. I understand it is a very emotional topic. But I figured you’d also realize it is far more complex than political issue groups tend to make it seem.

  34. djinn on February 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Plus, what about a hint as to the current standard of the land, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which states that after even a hint of viability, there is a balancing test between the rights of the fetus and the rights of the living, breathing female, who, ***shock*** may even have other children that rely on her.

    But, of course, for you a dead woman (because she couldn’t get an abortion in a life-threatening pregnancy) is just fine, because no one will talk about such at church.

  35. djinn on February 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Besides, as females don’t hold the priesthood, they don’t count; except as object lessons when things go YOUR WAY; which at least implies that there is the potential for the opposite outcome.

  36. Dan on February 3, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    I think God needs to intervene, give men the ability to get pregnant and the women to go around like the men and act as they please. Let’s just see how many men will think twice about what it means to be pregnant.

  37. Dan on February 3, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    the link scw provides in comment #27 says it best:

    Pam’s story certainly is moving. But as a guide to making abortion decisions, it’s misleading. Doctors are right to worry about continuing pregnancies like hers. Placental abruption has killed thousands of women and fetuses. No doubt some of these women trusted in God and said no to abortion, as she did. But they didn’t end up with Heisman-winning sons. They ended up dead.

    Being dead is just the first problem with dying in pregnancy. Another problem is that the fetus you were trying to save dies with you. A third problem is that your existing kids lose their mother. A fourth problem is that if you had aborted the pregnancy, you might have gotten pregnant again and brought a new baby into the world, but now you can’t. And now the Tebows have exposed a fifth problem: You can’t make a TV ad.

  38. Ardis Parshall on February 3, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Okay, I don’t feel the need to have an abortion anymore. djinn’s extremism is plenty to balance out Matt’s.

    Honesty, do either of you expect to persuade anyone to move toward your position by use of such rhetoric? If not, why say it?

  39. Kathryn Soper on February 3, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    scw, you win today’s crassness award.

  40. Alison Moore Smith on February 3, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I knew I shouldn’t have read the comments.

    Good on you, Matt. I’m still trying to figure out what part or your hateful, crazed rhetoric is objectionable. But I’m funny that way.

    Ardis, let us know how your weekly to-do list goes.

  41. queuno on February 3, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    mraynes – You probably missed the snark in my tone.

    (I’m just desperate for Tebow to move on into his next career, professional missionary work. I can’t stand him, and I root for his failure in the NFL. But I’m one of those cranky sports fans who hates good stories. Like the Saints, the Cubs, and the Red Sox. Oh well, I can have 2 of 3. Go Colts!)

  42. mraynes on February 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I knew you were being snarky, queuno, I just couldn’t resist linking to the one football story I have read in my entire life. :) And even though I know nothing about football, I’ll root with you for the downfall of Tebow and a Colt victory.

  43. Ardis Parshall on February 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Alison, my to-do list doesn’t have to include supporting T&S — but you-all need all the help you can get these days, even from negative comments.

  44. Rosalynde on February 3, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Ouch, Ardis!

    Setting aside the particular issue of abortion, I find the notion that technology informs our moral intuition fascinating and a little frightening. For one thing, it casts serious doubt on the moral legitimacy of private conscience; if the conscience is basically an internalized enforcer of social convention—shaped, of course, by technology and culture—then it doesn’t have any special authority against external claims.

    And while this case breaks in a way that matches my own views, there is lots of biotechnology promoting an instrumental view of human identity that I find abhorrent. I’m not thrilled about the possibility that future generations’ conscience will reflect the assumptions of the next gadget coming out of the laboratory.

  45. WJ on February 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    “1a. For many women, having an abortion is not easy. It’s a physically and emotionally difficult process; Matt’s own follow up comments in the post go into detail about the emotional difficulty involved…. Courage is choosing to take an action despite fear, risk, or intimidation. It’s very clear that many women are afraid of the consequences of abortion; many women are intimidated; and the action is clearly risky.”

    Kaimi, I think you are failing to distinguish between qualitative differences in various acts of “courage.” For instance, it takes a lot of courage to rob a bank. But do you find that type of courage admirable? Should we strive for the courage to make bad decisions?

    “2. Obviously, some stories tell better for audiences in 30 second soundbites. The idea that the Tebows have the better argument or that Michelman is lying because otherwise Michelman would be buying 30 second commercials of her own is silly, and you know it.”

    I do not think Matt is arguing that because the Tebows can pack an ad into a 30-second spot, the pro-life position is therefore better. My guess is the reason Michelman is not buying a commercial slot is because the image of a woman portraying her decision to abort a baby/fetus/organism as heroic would be unpalatable to most Americans. Going back to my prior point, it is not an enviable kind of courage, but one that smacks of selfishness, particularly in contrast to the Tebow message of selflessness and hope. Its not the time of the ad that is significant, it is the message itself that is the difference.

    What I do not understand about the Michelman/NOW point of view, is if they are truly pro-choice, what is the problem with an ad that celebrates the consequences of a choice that a particular woman made? Why do they appear to be so threatened by this spot? Are there reasonable grounds to believe this ad will somehow endanger a woman’s right to choose? I find it hard to believe.

    And to those who have a laser-like focus on health of the mother exceptions, lets maintain perspective here and not let the exception swallow the rule. The vast majority of abortions have nothing to do with this issue.

    The predominant reasons cited for abortion:

    “Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”

    Raise your hand if you think these reasons are courageous.

  46. Marc Bohn on February 4, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Planned Parenthood has released an ad in response to the Tebow ad. No indication that they’ll be trying to air it on Super Bowl Sunday though.

  47. Hunter on February 4, 2010 at 3:19 am

    So, how ashamed should I be that I’ve found this thread to be the most entertaining at T&S in a long time? Ardis offers to go get an abortion . . . Allison Moore Smith encourages her along . . . I mean, this subject matter is not funny, so why am I over here laughing?

    And then Rosalynde has to come in and get all rational and reasonable and stuff. Ruins all the fun.

  48. Kaimi Wenger on February 4, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Alison writes,

    Good on you, Matt. I’m still trying to figure out what part or your hateful, crazed rhetoric is objectionable. But I’m funny that way.

    Why is it that abortion threads always bring out the escalation?

    Let’s clarify: Your comment (mocking Matt’s critics) is the only comment on this thread that has used the term hateful, or crazed.

    None of Matt’s critics on this thread have characterized him as either hateful or crazed.

    I’ll state affirmatively (and I think most or all Matt’s other critics would agree): I affirmatively *don’t* think that Matt’s post was either hateful or crazed.

    I do, however, think that portions of it were excessive and inaccurate, such as Matt’s claim that Michelman doesn’t believe her own statements.

  49. Kaimi Wenger on February 4, 2010 at 5:06 am

    I should point out that I think that many of the negative reactions to the Tebow ad are also very over-the-top and excessive. I’m personally in agreement with Sally Jenkins (linked on the T&S sidebar, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020102067.html ). I think the ad is a perfectly reasonable contribution to the ongoing discussion of abortion. Good for Tebow and his family to choose to participate in a friendly, unusual, and thought provoking ad. Whatever one thinks of the merits of his position, this is exactly the kind of thoughtful and non-attacking sort of approach which should be widely emulated on both sides.

  50. Geoff B on February 4, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Matt, how dare you defend defenseless human life!!!!

    But I do agree that, based on five years of experience on Mormon blogs, such rhetoric is not likely to persuade anybody. I’ve had some interesting conversations with young people on the subject of abortion, and what has persuaded them is the realization that these fetuses really are at least the potential of human life and that the decision to abort such life is much more complex and heart-wrenching than it might seem. So, there is hope, as Matt points out.

  51. DeeAnn on February 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

    WJ – nice comment. Thanks!

    Question for those who support abortion rights: If the issue, as it seems to be here, is allowing women to have abortions when their life is in danger, then if we changed the abortions laws to restrict abortions except in such cases ( and I’ll even throw in exceptions for rape and incest) Would you support such a law? If not, why not? If so, why?

    I consider myself pro-life, but I cannot see anti-abortion laws without the health exception included and I’m even open to the rape and incest exceptions, giving wide latitude to the mothers and doctors to make that determination. I have a hard time coming up with another exception, though, that would justify the killing of a fetus.

  52. Adam Greenwood on February 4, 2010 at 10:01 am

    This is hateful rhetoric? Folks, you ain’t seen nothing. Matt E. could have called Kate M. an aging harpy vacuously bewildered among the heaps of tiny limbs, but he didn’t. If opposition to your mealy-mouthed half-advocacy for the hecatombs of the unborn is hatefulness, so be it.

    Anyway, I’m glad that none of Matt E.’s critics have used extreme and divisive terms like “hateful.” Calling him an “unhinged” guy who “throws as many rocks as possible at people he doesn’t like” is practically sweetness and light. Presumably the rocks were thrown lovingly?

  53. Stephanie on February 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Is terminating an ectopic pregnancy really considered abortion? Was that illegal before Roe vs. Wade?

  54. Adam Greenwood on February 4, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Rosalynde,
    you are admirably standing on the wrong side of history, but I’m afraid its not going to stop. Technology will increasingly define when life begins, and when it ends:

    Nightmare Fodder (@ JG)

  55. document on February 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    “Question for those who support abortion rights: If the issue, as it seems to be here, is allowing women to have abortions when their life is in danger, then if we changed the abortions laws to restrict abortions except in such cases ( and I’ll even throw in exceptions for rape and incest) Would you support such a law? If not, why not? If so, why?”

    Further explanation of such a law is required before a decision for support can be made. Who makes the judgment call? Is it based on the honor system? Does the woman have to appear before a judge? Can the competency of doctors be called into question? Who advocates for the mother? Who advocates for the fetus? Is it a referral (much like medicinal marijuana) or a prescription from a doctor?

    In the case of rape, the determination of rape currently takes place in a court of law (if it even gets that far). The alleged rapist is innocent until proven guilty. Would this have an impact on the decision to terminate a pregnancy based upon an allegation of rape, a process that can take months and even years? Again, would it be based upon the honor system?

    These are valid questions that must be answered before a blanket “yes, I would support such a law” could be provided. I would take a similar stance upon all laws.

  56. Jay on February 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    The sad thing about this is that once again we see this issue presented in black and white only. The mainline anti-abortion religious folks who want to abolish abortion want no abortion notime, nowhere under no circumstances. That does not seem to allow any room for an LDS woman who needs one and is permitted to do under the position of the LDS church on abortion. If the anti-abortion crowd gets their way, we would not be able to make decisions that our faith permits us to make. How many of us would be willing to force a young girl who had been raped to carry that child full-term? How many of us would be willing to force someone whose physical health would be seriously imperiled by carrying to full-term? What we need is not the abolition of abortion, but some rationality, some allowance for those who need an abortion.

  57. Kaimi Wenger on February 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Now your cruel ageist speciesist agenda becomes clear, Adam G.

    Aging harpies tend to suffer from all manner of painful back injuries, (osteoporosis combined with the wings and talons) and it’s virtually impossible for many of them to find a sturdy and comfortable resting surface. And now you’re begrudging them their heaps of tiny limbs.

  58. Adam Greenwood on February 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Quit throwing rocks at me, you unhinged hater.

  59. Rosalynde on February 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I wanted to respond to Ziff’s good comment way upthread, #15:
    “But I think there’s a corresponding argument to be made from the pro-choice side. I suspect men (I’m sure myself included) generally fail to appreciate women’s experience with sex, and the varying levels of coercion and access to birth control involved (among many other factors), and would perhaps be more sympathetic to keeping the door open for legal abortion if we did. So what technology would allow for men to better appreciate women’s experience?”

    If men could fully appreciate women’s experience with sex, pregnancy and childbirth, then yes, they would understand coercion, fear, pain and helplessness. But they would also understand something very different that women experience during pregnancy and childbirth: the awesome, fearsome reality of the person within. We experience a unity and intimacy with the baby, yes, which is joyful for some women and stifling for others, but always a deep sense of its otherness, its vitality, and its relentless drive to live. I think this is one reason why women are actually MORE likely to support abortion restrictions than men—our bodies provide a moral wisdom about the fetus that is only partly available to men before the baby’s birth.

  60. Mark Brown on February 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Does anybody intend to give an answer to Stephanie’s question in # 53?

  61. Adam Greenwood on February 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Does anybody know the answer? I’d be curious.

  62. Ardis Parshall on February 4, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    It’s just wikipedia, and it’s the specialized case of Catholic moral teaching, but this article explains, using Catholic sources, why the termination of an ectopic pregnancy is acceptable even within the strict views of Catholicism.

    I haven’t yet been able to narrow down the search enough to find an answer in civil law.

  63. Ardis Parshall on February 4, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Again it’s wikipedia, and a specialized case (Chile, where abortion is illegal), and adequate citations are wanting, but apparently it is illegal there to abort even an ectopic pregnancy until so late in a pregnancy that the mother’s life is at risk with or without the abortion.

  64. Dan on February 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Stephanie,

    I don’t know the legality of ectopic pregnancies before Roe V Wade, but the only difference between an ectopic pregnancy and a regular pregnancy is where the egg happens to be. Everything else about that fertilized egg is the same as any regular pregnancy, thus if you remove that egg from the tube, you are effectively aborting that newly fertilized egg. I can’t see how one would not call it an abortion. Ardis’ link states that the Catholic Church considers it an “indirect abortion.” We need to be sensitive about that label though because I don’t think women who have ectopic pregnancies and terminate that pregnancy don’t really want the stigma of having “aborted” a child. The person I know who had an ectopic pregnancy doesn’t really want to talk about it that much. An abortion is a termination of a pregnancy, and if you terminate a pregnancy in the ectopic, you are performing an abortion. I cannot see how it could be labeled something else.

  65. Ardis Parshall on February 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Ohio’s restrictions on state reimbursement of expenses for reproductive care allow reimbursement for some abortions and deny it for others. They *do* reimburse for abortive treatment of ectopic pregnancy.

    Not a perfect, clear-cut answer to Stephanie’s question in #53, but close enough? I can keep going, but these multiple short comments are opening me up to all kinds of snark that I’d prefer not to be subjected to when I’m only trying to help.

  66. Raymond Takashi Swenson on February 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    For the commenter concerned about abortion and women’s equality before the law, might we consider the fact that in China and other nations, the selective abortion of female babies has created a generation in which men outnumber women drastically but, rather than increasing the rights of the fewer women who remain, they are being abused as commodities by their parents and by the men who cannot find a wife.

    It seems to me that the process of abortion for any reason whatsoever (the vast majority of them) invites the creation of enmity between a woman and her own son or daughter. We recognize now that slavery not only destroyed and harmed the slaves, it corrupted the moral character of the slave holders. That moral distortion persisted during a century of open racial bigotry. What is the effect on a woman who achieves material success by sacrificing the life of her own child? Doesn’t casual resort to abortion harm women as well as children?

  67. danithew on February 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Responding to Dan’s comment #36 … I am SO glad God isn’t listening to your advice.

  68. Chadwick on February 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    To respond to DeeAnn above, I just don’t see a world wherein abortion can be made illegal. I think document does a fine job of noting why it needs to be legal. There are valid reasons for an abortion, and a woman should not have to prove herself worthy of one of those exceptions (ie rape, life in danger, etc). The legalese of doing so would basically have her giving birth before she could legally be granted the right to abort.

    Does that swing open the door wide for abuse? Sure. But what in life doesn’t? We have welfare in our country, and for good reason, though most of us can recall many stories wherein people abused the system. Same goes for underage drinking, gun control, etc.

    But the abuse is between the abuser and the Lord. Though it may seem unjust at times, that’s good enough for me. And also appears to be good enough for the Church, as they don’t seem to be stepping into the legal arena on this issue.

  69. Dan on February 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Raymond,

    That speaks more to the culture of those societies where they prefer sons rather than daughters. Before ultrasound, they would essentially commit infanticide. Not sure how your comment relates to a discussion of abortion politics here in America, as people here don’t perform selective abortions.

  70. Researcher on February 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Selective abortion is not practiced in the United States? Says who?

  71. msg on February 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    This topic reminds me–would anyone know of where I could find a good transcript of an argument disputing the idea that the world is heading for overpopulation and won’t be able to sustain all the babies being born so people should stop having children?

  72. Kaimi Wenger on February 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Err, Saturday’s Warrior?

  73. Stephanie on February 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Yes, selective abortion is practiced in the U.S. http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=387600

  74. Stephanie on February 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Although a bill has been introduced to stop selective abortion in the U.S. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1822/text

    It doesn’t appear to have gone anywhere except to a committee in the past year, though.

    Thank you for the answers on ectopic pregnancy. I have two LDS friends who had to have ectopic pregnancies terminated. It never would have occurred to me to consider those abortion.

    I read this OP and thread yesterday and agree with whoever called abortion a “necessary evil”. I can think of too many situations that would harm a woman if someone else got to make the call. However, I also think that we just don’t repect and value life enough.

  75. Stephanie on February 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    And, just to be clear, I don’t consider ectopic pregnancy to be abortion. That would just be a death sentence.

  76. Stephanie on February 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    msg, how about Demographic Winter?
    http://www.demographicwinter.com/index.html

  77. Mark B. on February 4, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    First of all, “ectopic” is an adjective. Anyone using it as a noun should be banned.

    Second, it makes no sense to say that “ectopic pregnancy [is not] abortion.” Of course it isn’t. I suspect what you mean is that terminating an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion.

    But that doesn’t make any sense either. Because of course it’s an abortion. Does calling it that make it evil? And what then should we do with “spontaneous abortion”? Throw out that term? Or should we simply brand all those women who have had one? (Maybe a scarlet “A” would do the job.)

    Third, if ectopic pregnancies could be made illegal, that would certainly be a blessing for the women who have suffered their consequences. And for the fetuses who were never born as a result. But somehow I think it would be more helpful to make cancer illegal instead. Or maybe heart disease. They affect a much larger number of people.

  78. Stephanie on February 4, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Pardon me, Mark B, for forgetting to include a “terminating” in one of three sentences in which I referred to terminating ectopic pregnancy. It definitely deserved a four paragraph rebuttal.

  79. Mark B. on February 4, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I’ll also pardon you for thinking that all four paragraphs were about your comments. I believe that a careful reading of my comment might lead you to a different conclusion.

    And I’ll pardon you for completely failing to understand what I wrote. If I were only pointing out a simple instance of sloppy writing, I think you’d be justified in being miffed.

  80. Kaimi Wenger on February 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Don’t worry about Mark B., Stephanie. He practices law for a living, and that would be enough to make anyone a curmudgeon. :)

  81. Geoff-QLD on February 5, 2010 at 8:43 am

    To me there seems some uncertainty in church policy about abortion. It is not generally acceptable except for rape, incest etc. So if we equate abortion to murder, are there occasions when it is acceptable? War is the only exception and perhaps capital punishment in US.
    We do not provide funerals for still born or spontaneously aborted fetus. So we do not recognise them as individuals which seems to be the contention of the pro lifers.
    In Australia whether a woman has an abortion is between herself, her partner and her doctor. No major political parties get involved in abortion politics like you do in US.
    Again the question is whether we are entitled to impose our views on others whe do not share them? I think the arguments above show there is no recognisition of fetuses as individuals so the mutder comparison is weak, so then it becomes an issue for the woman.

  82. document on February 5, 2010 at 10:34 am

    “We do not provide funerals for still born or spontaneously aborted fetus.”

    Not necessarily true. The two women I know that had still born babies all had funerals for their children. They were both held in an LDS chapel, help was provided by the relief society, and both were conducted by the bishop.

  83. ganzo on February 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Just a hypothetical for everyone out there:
    What would the likelihood of dying during pregnancy have to be before you personally would consider an abortion (for yourself or your spouse).

    Based on what I have read about placental abruptions (which is the condition that Mrs. Tebow was facing), the risk of maternal death goes up to about 3%-4% (it is well below 1% for healthy women in developed countries).

    I guess my broader question for pro-life advocates would be whether abortion should be a legal option for someone in Mrs. Tebow’s situation.

  84. Julie M. Smith on February 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    “Based on what I have read about placental abruptions (which is the condition that Mrs. Tebow was facing), the risk of maternal death goes up to about 3%-4% ”

    In the Philippines, in the 80s, it might have been several times that. We don’t really have good data for that situation, however.

  85. anon on February 7, 2010 at 12:02 am

    “Based on what I have read about placental abruptions…”

    You haven’t read enough.

  86. Jack Mormon on February 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Matt – Appreciate your powerful and proactive stand on behalf of life. Don’t let the naysayers in the proverbial great and spacious building bring you down; hold onto the iron rod of truth. Note that the naysayers, for the most part, just indulge in an orgy of name-calling; they don’t bother to specifically rebut your points.

  87. Kaimi on February 7, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Err, like the detailed rebuttals in #1 and #3?

    (I’d post more, but I’ve got to go clean the third maid’s room. Great and spacious building maintenance keeps a guy hopping, I tell you.)

  88. Carl Youngblood on February 8, 2010 at 3:14 am

    “And while this case breaks in a way that matches my own views, there is lots of biotechnology promoting an instrumental view of human identity that I find abhorrent. I’m not thrilled about the possibility that future generations’ conscience will reflect the assumptions of the next gadget coming out of the laboratory.”

    Rosalynde, you imply that such gadgets almost have a consciousness of their own or that the information they provide us with is somehow untrustworthy. While technology always has limitations, I would prefer to look at it as giving us access to previous unobservable points of view. I have faith that new sources of information like these will ultimately lead us to more charitable behavior, despite the occasional uneasiness that they may cause us.

  89. Dan on February 8, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Jack Mormon,

    #86,

    I disagree with Matt’s position, but I didn’t name call. I wonder why you are hoisting up the victim canard. Matt’s no victim here.

  90. Raymond Takashi Swenson on February 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    To Geoff-QLD: Justifiable homicide in defense of one’s self or of other people is a basic part of the common law and has been carried over into criminal codes. It is justifiable in the law to take the life of a person who is threatening your life or threatening great physical suffering or bodily harm. It is also justifiable homicide for a law enforcement officer to take the life of a person whom he reasonably believes to have committed a violent felony and is attempting to escape arrest.

    The exceptions in LDS Church policy that allow for abortion are comparable to these common law doctrines of self-defense. In the case of threat to the life or serious threat to the health of the mother, we are in classic self-defense territory. In the case of rape or the type of rape called incest, bearing the child of the rapist is tied to the physical and emotional injury inflicted on the victim. Taking the life of a rapist during an attack is justifiable homicide.

    Obviously the child in each of these cases is itself innocent. It is the unwitting instrument of harm to its mother. It is itself a victim, either of disease or medical condition, or of the rapist. That is the reason that the Church policy includes an admonition to counsel with one’s ecclesiastical leaders and seek one’s own guidance from the Holy Spirit about this momentous decision.

    The fact that this policy would allow the taking of the innocent life does not deny the humanity of the child, but only recognizes the difficult choices forced on us when there are two innocent victims of disease or evil men.

    In the absence of exceptional, compelling circumstances like those cited in the Church policy, there is no justification for taking the life of the innocent child, just as there is no justification in the life of a mother of a born child to take its life.

    Treating not-yet-born children as solely property of the mother, to be kept or discarded at will, is akin to slavery, in which the life and death of a slave was at the discretion if his owner. It took a century after slavery was ended to overcome the prejudices that let some men think they were entitled to own the lives of other men. For a mother to treat her own child as a slave is objectionable for all the reasons that slavery is objectionable.

  91. Dan on February 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Raymond,

    It’s not slavery. To say otherwise denigrates the mother. It’s not property either. Until the baby is out of the womb, that baby is a part of the mother, and not an independent being. It is literally tied to the mother. That’s not slavery and that’s not property. You do a disservice to the debate on the rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn by introducing those terms into the debate.

  92. Jamie S on February 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I’d consider myself pro-choice, but this idea really caught me:

    “…are better served by messages like Naomi Wolf’s, that characterize abortion as a necessary evil, but a real evil nevertheless.”

    That’s something I feel like I believe, but have never really thought about. Very interesting piece, thanks for posting it.