Treat Mothers-To-Be With the Same Legally Mandated Loving Care as Women Seeking Abortions - It's Only Fair

Crying BabyCredit: Kiep: Dreamstimein the Sunday Washington Post University of Wisconsin bioethicist R. Alta Charo solicitously suggests that legislators who have passed laws regulating abortion services out of their deep concern for the medical and psychological consequences of abortion should turn their attention to women who choose to carry their babies to term. She notes:

Having an abortion is a momentous decision. And a growing number of states are expressing concern for women who are contemplating that choice.

Last month, Virginia — obviously in the interest of making abortion as safe as possible — required abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals, even though that might put most of the state's clinics out of business. Meanwhile, Kansas — to ensure that women have full information — enhanced its abortion-counseling requirements to include warnings about even disproven risks of abortion, such as breast cancer. Elsewhere, protections have come in the form of extended waiting periods, mandatory interviews seeking evidence of coercion, and laws requiring women to have an ultrasound, and in some cases view or hear a description of the imagery, before they can have an abortion.

But while states give such solicitous attention to women planning to have an abortion, they ignore the needs of women planning to give birth. Bringing a child into the world is also a life-changing decision. Too many women have to make that choice without similar protections. It is time to demand equality and tell our legislatures to enact the Defense of Motherhood Act (DOMA).

Charo recommends, among other things, that legislators enact such DOMA provisions as:

In the interest of safety, DOMA would insist that all prenatal care be provided by licensed physicians (not nurses or midwives) in medical offices fully equipped to handle obstetric emergencies — even if that means having to wait longer for appointments, pay more or drive for hours.

To ensure that the decision to go through with a pregnancy is fully considered, there would be a 72-hour waiting period between the time a pregnant woman first sees a doctor and the time she can get prenatal care.

Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness. They would also have to emphasize that working women in the United States can expect to see their wages drop 9 percent to 16 percent for each child and that having a child makes it significantly less likely that an unmarried woman will ever marry.

To ensure that women are not being coerced by partners, family members or clergy into bearing a child, DOMA would require that all women be interviewed about the circumstances of conception and their motives for continuing with pregnancy. Did a husband sabotage birth control? Was a woman unable to afford contraception because her employer refused to comply with the Affordable Care Act?

Simple fairness, argues Charo, demands that legislators enact such additional protections as mandating that would-be mothers-to-be watch a two hour video featuring colicky babies and sulky teenagers before being given access to prenatal care. Futhermore, since many states have passed laws empowering parents to decide if their minor daughters can have an abortion, surely they should be legally required to acknowledge in writing the limited income and career prospects of teen mothers.

Whole Charo op-ed is worth contemplating. For more background see ReasonTV's recent, "Abortion & Libertarians" debate featuring Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Mollie Hemingway, and me below:

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  • John||

    Wow an ethicist is pro abortion. What a surprise. Amazing how the term "ethicist" has morphed into "advocates the death of the defenseless, sick and unwanted". See e.g. "ethicist" Peter Singer.

  • SusanM||

    Unlike deeply committed Christian Conservatives who want to wait till they're born before they start killing them.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Unlike deeply committed Christian Conservatives who want to wait till they're born before they start killing them.

    Huh? This is incoherent, even for you.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I figured it's about the death penalty maybe? Or warfare?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    No, no, no. It's the lack of free shit.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Trying to repeal PPACA? That could be it.

  • CE||

    We were for the sequester, after all.

  • tarran||

    I think it's an oblique reference to the death penalty.

    Sadly it's not the cutting blow that progressives think it is.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Hrm, kill an unrepentant bastard for actions they took, versus kill someone who has yet to be allowed to take actions.

    Different leagues of arguments there. You can have your morality debate on each level, but they don't even come close to each other.

  • John||

    Christian conservatives advocate infanticide Susan? That will be big news if it is true. Do you have a citation for that beyond your own projection or the voices in your head?

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

    I would also note that Singer advocates infanticide up to the age of three and many environmental groups advocate mandatory population control. So all of the support from infanticide I can see seems to be coming from the Left. Feel free to fill us in on that support from the Right.

  • wareagle||

    ah, yes; Susan deploys the Obama approach - attack the argument that no one is making. And as a bonus, in a place where no one is making it.

  • Paul.||

    Unlike deeply committed Christian Conservatives who want to wait till they're born before they start killing them.

    Libertarians want them alive. Those monocoles don't polish themselves, you know.

  • SusanM||

    Oi! Tough crowd today. I was making the point that that CCs generally lose that "sanctity of life" attitude once it interferes with their "control everything" agenda. No better or worse than the Obamabots to be sure, but still it's the sanctimony that bothers me.

    And, yes, they do - even if indirectly. Certainly the value of human life seems to drop steeply if those lives just might be in a country that we're fighting terrorism in. And before you say it: No, I don't think any Federal Politician's hands are clean on that score.

    Nor do I think that there are any politicians free from bullshit sanctimony.

  • Paul.||

    Oi! Tough crowd today. I was making the point that that CCs generally lose that "sanctity of life" attitude once it interferes with their "control everything" agenda.

    Wait a sec... I was just making jokes because I didn't really care about the topic.

    But Republicans corner the market on "control everything"? Madam, you're not paying attention.

  • Bean Counter||

    So, suggesting that women be given information about the consequences of their actions is "pro abortion"? In my view of a perfect world, doctors who perform abortions would acknowledge to the prospective patient that abortion results in the death of an infant that would likely been born relatively healthy and women seeking to maintain their pregnancy through delivery would be exposed to consequences of their decisions. Oh, an everybody would have to pay their own way regardless of the decision.

  • BarryD||

    Wait... She actually acknowledged that gratuitous government regulation would result in high costs and long waits?

    And yet, I suspect she supports Obamacare, without perceiving the slightest bit of cognitive dissonance ringing in her brain.

  • Ron Bailey||

    BD: Alas, likely so. Who knew that regulations can be used to force your values on others?

  • BarryD||

    Even more fundamental, though, is that she acknowledges that government mandates and excessive licensing requirements actually increase costs and reduce quality of service.

    This is a big deal.

    Before she can object to this use of regulations to force one's values on another, she has to admit that, in fact, regulations have this effect. If regulations were all unicorns and rainbows like the Obamacare supporters were selling a few years ago (and still are) then there would be no basis for her objection.

  • Marshall Gill||

    there would be no basis for her objection.

    Don't you mean no logical reason for her objection? She is a "bio ethicist" dammit not a logician!

  • BarryD||

    LOL

    So her moral framework is based on Star Trek!

  • Paul.||

    Wait... She actually acknowledged that gratuitous government regulation would result in high costs and long waits?

    I believe that this has been discussed at length by the commenters here touched on. The esteemed Robert Clayton pointed out his Iron Lorez in regards to this.

    But yeah, it's all 'down with deregulation' until it touches abortion, then suddenly they have this clarity of thought about how regulation stifles innovation, is used as a bludgeon against unfavorable industries... it's just annoying.

  • John||

    And if there is no special need to regulate abortion clinics, why was making it illegal so dangerous? I thought the whole point of legalizing it was so that it would be safe and regulated. We don't regulate births as closely because women have been giving birth since the dawn of time without a lot of help in many instances. But the story is that abortions are very different than births and are dangerous if they are not done by a regulated health professional. Right?

  • tarran||

    John, it's not regulation that made Gin safe. It was prohibition that made it unsafe.

    Don't go all MNG on us.

  • John||

    If she actually thought that was true in any other context, that might be a fair point for her to make. But she doesn't, so while you might be able to make the point, she can't. And more over, it would seem judging from the cases in Philadelphia and now Texas that perhaps abortion is not very safe even when it is legal.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Gosnell happened because over-regulation only left people who were seedy and willing to overlook not only regulation but good practice. Like all statists, anti-choicers create regulations that create disasters that justify their call for more regulation.

    Abortion is perfectly safe.

  • John||

    So you think good doctors only choose not to do abortions because of "over regulation"? You don't think maybe moral objection has anything to do with it?

    And how exactly did the over regulation produce this? And since medicine is probably the most over regulated field in America, how are there any competent doctors in any field? That makes no sense.

    You are pounding a square peg into your round ideological hole. Over regulation is certainly a bad thing. But it is not responsible for every bad thing. At most the Gosnell case shows the futility of regulation. We had regulation and the harm it was supposed to prevent still occurred. But I have a hard time seeing how regulation caused Gossnell rather than just failed to prevent it.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Strawmen, strawmen everywhere.

    Pennsylvania and other states have been ramping up the hassle and bullshit in getting an abortion for a while now and it's driving good abortionists away. You probably won't find these problems so much in pro-choice states.

    And since medicine is probably the most over regulated field in America, how are there any competent doctors in any field?

    There aren't enough that's part of the US healthcare problem.

  • John||

    Pennsylvania and other states have been ramping up the hassle and bullshit in getting an abortion for a while now and it's driving good abortionists away. You probably won't find these problems so much in pro-choice states.

    And that is not a strawman? Show me some evidence of that. And maybe you missed it, but Philadelphia is across the river from New Jersey, a very pro choice state. Gosnell was in Philadelphia. You mean to tell me that if Philadelphia passed laws making abortion unsafe, people wouldn't just go across the river? Bullshit. That is a total straw man myth and talking point. So me hard facts of how the number of unsafe abortions went up beyond Gosnell being a sociopath.

    Sorry, you are going to have to come up with some facts and not just NARAL talking points.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    What overregulation? The Pennsylvania authorities decided not to have regular inspections of abortion clinics, the sort of inspections which would have disclosed the problems at the Gosnell clinic. The problems were only uncovered because the feds were doing a pill-mill investigation.

    It's bizarre that a situation resulting from a lack of government supervision gets blamed on too much regulation.

    And before you go all libertarian on me, we're talking about a topic on which libertarians are actually divided - unless you're PB, in which case there's Only One Right Answer for libertarians to have to the abortion question.

  • John||

    There aren't enough that's part of the US healthcare problem.

    Then abortion is no different than any other area of health care. In which case, what is your bitch here? You are claiming it isn't and clearly it is not. In fact it seems to be subject to little oversight compared to the rest of the industry. Show me a case of a doctor in another field allowed to go on as long and doing as much harm as Gosnell did?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Gosnell happened because over-regulation only left people who were seedy and willing to overlook not only regulation but good practice.

    That is factually incorrect. The reality is the PA government chose to stop inspecting abortion clinics, and Gosnell was in the phone book and received referrals. There was hardly a lack of available light - it just wasn't shone there for political reasons.

  • robc||

    so while you might be able to make the point, she can't.

    The validity of a point does not depend on the source.

    You can use her argument on this against her on other issues, that is fair game.

  • AuH20||

    No, abortions were also performed since the dawn of time. It's just that now, we can do them far more safely than before with far less risks for death, etc.

    Just like with birth. And yet, with one, we force people to take completely unnecessary services in the name of their "health"(Translation: We don't like abortion but the Supremes won't let us get away with banning it so let's just go all sour grapes on this)

  • John||

    So abortion would be just fine as long as it is legal and no one tries to regulate it at all? The Gosnell case and the other cases of women being maimed by incompetent abortion providers seems to say otherwise.

    I understand your objection to regulation as a whole. And I am sympathetic to it. But the government regulates the living hell out of every other health procedure. But abortion gets almost no oversight. That is not because of anti-abortion people. That is because pro abortion people are terrified of what information actual oversight might let out.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The Gosnell case and the other cases of women being maimed by incompetent abortion providers seems to say otherwise.

    No see above.

    But abortion gets almost no oversight.

    No wrong. States are waging an insidious backdoor war against abortion providers by beauracracy.

  • John||

    No wrong. States are waging an insidious backdoor war against abortion providers by beauracracy.

    Citation please? There are well over a million abortions done in this country every year. This war you are so worried about doesn't seem to have affected the bottom line very much.

    Have you ever thought that maybe ripping a five month old fetus out of its mother and sucking its brain out might not be the safest medical procedure for mother or child?

  • Cytotoxic||

    1) Citation? RTFA. Pennsylvania has all these conditions, ND is about to all but ban the practice.

    2) No you provide the GD citation to back up your claims of 'danger' John.

  • John||

    My claims of danger are in the Gosnell case. And the claims in the article are no more backed up than yours. And they don't explain why, if abortions are so unsafe in PA, people don't just go to New York or New Jersey.

    However it was regulated in PA, it clearly failed. Gosnell was butchering women and no one noticed. Why? because people like this writer would have a political stroke if anyone ever looked into an abortion clinic and saw what actually is going on.

    What we really need in this country is a reality show about an abortion clinic. Let people watch abortions and understand what they are and debase them of their belief that they are just a few cells being sucked out of the mother.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    If you agree to do the same thing with slaughterhouses and other ag practices ill agree to the abortion one.

  • Tonio||

    Cyto, read you well my comments to John below. He's not an honest debater, more of a sticky trap. Your choice if you want to waste your time arguing with him, but he doesn't argue in good faith.

  • John||

    Sure Tonio. I don't argue in good faith. Either that or you keep losing the argument and don't like it.

  • Ted S.||

    Thanks for finally admitting it. ;-)

  • wareagle||

    cyto,
    how is a "backdoor war" the same as oversight? Oversight presumes some advisory role in an ongoing practice, not an effort to stop the practice.

  • InlineSkate||

    There's a difference between regulation to make a procedure safer and regulation for the sole purpose of making something unavailable and expensive.

    It's disingenuous to say that this regulation is designed for anything but the latter. Especially when physicians are required to make the situation extremely uncomfortable and lie in an attempt to coerce the women out of getting an abortion. Among a myriad of other unnecessary requirements.

    You really are using the same rationalization for regulation that statists use day to day. It's a procedure you don't support therefore government should make rules and laws forcing people to comply with your views.

    No one is forcing anyone to get an abortion, but you seem to want to make sure that its damn near impossible for anyone making the choice to have the procedure.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "we can do [abortions] far more safely than before with far less risks for death, etc."

    Do you hear yourself? Far less risk of death? Really?

  • robc||

    I think abortions average slightly over 1 death each.

  • AuH20||

    Hell, I'd settle for a lecture about not having kids you can't fucking afford to raise. Because for all the concern about paying for the abortions of others (which I share), I'm getting a bit pissed that because some other asshole was irresponsible that I have to care for their kid for the next 18 years.

  • Bean Counter||

    Lecture, Hell!! I would go a little farther - Tell them that the welfare train is derailed and they will be paying ALL expenses of keeping the kid. The real danger with welfare is not that some women will be stupid enough to have kids so they can live off welfare, but that there is no strong disincentive to having kids you can't support.

  • wareagle||

    The real danger with welfare is not that some women will be stupid enough to have kids so they can live off welfare, but that there is no strong disincentivea built-in incentive to having kids you can't support.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I'd settle for a lecture about not having kids you can't fucking afford to raise.

    There you go, bringing actual ethics into a bioethicist's rant.

  • tarran||

    I think this is some funny trolling that exposes the "we aren't *opposed* to abortion, we just regulate it out of existence so it's safe" crowd's lack of belief in their claims adequately.

    I give it a C+.

  • John||

    Just like gun control advocates are not opposed to guns...

    Somehow I doubt she sees the logic in other areas. And that being said, since when did the danger of over regulating something become such a big concern for liberals?

  • Smells Like Tom Skerritt||

    Give me a fucking break. The health department went FUCKING YEARS AT A TIME not checking out the conditions at Gosnell's clinic.

    FUCKING. YEARS.

    Your point about PA and ND legislative actions, while certainly true is not germane to the regulatory discussion.

  • ||

    I get (and somewhat agree with) what she's saying. My response though is that taking a pregnancy to term is the biological default and abortion is the elective alternative, therefore it makes sense that abortion is the one that comes with warnings and alternatives.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Since I'm traveling backward in time, my comment actually came first.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    Can I borrow that contraption when you're done?

  • ||

    ...warnings and alternatives regulation

    FTFM

  • AuH20||

    But... it isn't the biological default. Miscarriages do occur, and to hand wave them away as something unnatural or whatever because it doesn't fit your argument is just dishonest.

  • Ron Bailey||

    A: Perhaps as high as 80 percent loss of fertilized human eggs. From
    From 2006 Vitzthum et al. in Fertility & Sterility:

    Early pregnancy loss (EPL) in humans is common [reviewed in Roberts and Lowe (1), Leslie et al. (2), Regan and Rai (3), Holman and Wood (4), and Macklon et al. (5)]. Several large prospective studies that relied on sensitive tests for detecting urinary human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in women attempting natural conception have reported similar EPL rates (about 25%–30%) despite different study populations and some differences in the frequency of urine sampling, the criteria for recognizing conception and loss, and the precise definition of EPL (6–10). Because preimplantation loss is not readily detectable, these estimates of EPL are necessarily minimums; the actual rate may be as high as 80% of all fertilized ova (1–5).

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Thomas A. Edison ...[and] Alexander Graham Bell...were both triumphant over the dangerously high Infant mortality rates of their time. A harsh world took the lives of nearly 25% of all infants born during this period."

    http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/pr.....ealth.html

    So infanticide is no big deal, or wasn't back then.

  • wareagle||

    who is saying anything about miscarriages? The fruition of pregnancy is birth; that is the biological endgame. Sometimes, nature intervenes and the end is not reached but that's not elective.

  • Dweebston||

    Strip mining and fracking are man-made perturbations of the natural order of things. They should be curtailed to the greatest extent possible, either by prohibiting them outright or responsibly regulating those industries.

    I find the human rights inhere at the moment of conception argument much more compelling than pregnancies naturally come to term.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Miscarriage is a natural process, unlike abortion; that's like equating fucking with having an embryo implanted.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Do any of you understand just how retarded you look suggesting that taking a pregnancy to term isn't the biological default?

    If it weren't, we wouldn't be.

  • Invisible Finger||

    taking a pregnancy to term is the biological default

    It night be the narrow biological majority outcome for homo sapiens, but calling it a default overstates the odds quite a bit.

  • Bee Tagger||

    On some level, is this implying that both aborting and giving birth are decisions to be made? Giving birth doesn't seem to be a decision since it's the result of not making a decision to abort. I suppose tying this to pre-natal care may get around that by showing a decision to want to have a healthy or successful birth.

  • AuH20||

    I think the tying to prenatal care is key. I mean, its still legal to chuck yourself down the stairs to abort a fetus... just not recommended. Just like you can be pregnant and never go see a doctor about it... but once again, not recommended.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So, the response to stupid laws in opposition to abortion is to draw a stupid comparison to laws against motherhood. Once upon a time ethicists were people we relied upon for thoughtful and considered views on the ethical implications of matters. Now, they're just another group palming off retarded bumper sticker slogans.

  • Ron Bailey||

    BD: She's just pointing out wink-wink-nudge-nudge hypocrisy.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Then it's pretty much a trivial point. I mean, is there anyone out there who doesn't think that the motivation for these laws is to discourage abortion (okay, anyone who isn't an idiot)? But, if good motives don't justify bad laws, bad motives don't invalidate good laws.

  • robc||

    With her own hypocrisy?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That's likely, she's probably not opposed to regulations per se.

  • AuH20||

    So, I like how, already, people are casting aspersions on the author of this piece. Because if there is one thing we've learned around these parts, it is far more important WHO is making the argument, and what their other beliefs may or may not be, than the CONTENT of the argument itself.

  • Cytotoxic||

    It's all the anti-choicers have.

  • John||

    I would say they have a lot. They have DNA. They have the fact that children born at four months are viable now. They have science that says children in the womb start learning language, reacting to pain and exhibiting all signs of life at three and four months.

    What do you have beyond "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" bullshit faux religious based arguments about "personhood" whatever the fuck that is. It is funny, whenever I talk to a pro life person, all I hear is scientific facts. Whenever I talk to a pro choice person, all I here are bullshit values arguments and arbitrary philosophical definitions. But it is the pro choice people who are the religious fanatics.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Now now, John, don't mess with the narrative.

  • ||

    Whenever I talk to a pro choice person, all I here are bullshit values arguments and arbitrary philosophical definitions. But it is the pro choice people who are the religious fanatics.

    This is my general observance as well. See Cyto's assertion that a fetus is no more human than his dog. That is obviously incorrect scientifically.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Ditto this.

  • Tonio||

    Whenever I talk to a pro choice person, all I here are bullshit values arguments and arbitrary philosophical definitions.

    Bullshit.

  • John||

    Oh really, then give them to me. Make a pro choice argument that doesn't involve personhood or some arbitrary philosophical definition of a human being. Make a scientific argument for it. And I will even make it easy for you and grant you that there is one before viability. We will avoid the man in a coma argument and say that before viability it is not a human being.

    Now tell me why a fetus is not a human being after viability without resorting to bullshit personhood arguments.

    Sorry Tonio, calling bullshit without giving the argument is not good enough. You should know that. And you are certainly not getting away with it.

  • Tonio||

    bullshit personhood arguments

    IOW, prove that the Earth revolves around the Sun using only arguments from inerrant scripture; ignoring those inconvenient observations.

  • John||

    Quick look over there, squirrel. Who said anything about the Bible? Scientifically it looks to me like a fetus is a full human being by any objective definition I can see by at least four months and maybe sooner.

    In contrast, what is the term "person hood" other than a bullshit arbitrary definition? You say it is not a person. I say it is. What is the difference beyond your definition is convenient?

    I am not interested in bullshit philosophy or religious arguments. I am interested in scientific fact. I am interested in what we know about a fetus and how that knowledge translates into a rational argument that birth is some kind of a meaningful dividing line between life and not life. I have given you several arguments above why it is not a meaningful dividing line. And further, you have yet to give me a single argument why it should be.

    So, think again and try harder or just run away from this thread when confronted with arguments you don't have an answer to like you usually do.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Make a pro choice argument that doesn't involve personhood or some arbitrary philosophical definition of a human being.

    The problem really boils down to the ethics being somewhat arbitrary. The existence of government and society being the first two arbitrary ethics. You want to pick and choose the arbitrary ethics that are valid and invalid for your own convenience of argument.

  • John||

    And you are the person who in a thread a few weeks ago was reduced to arguing that a fetus wasn't a human being even though it could feel pain and could understand its native language because your dog could do that.

    Well that is true. But so can a new born and not much else. By your definition no one is a human until they are around two or three years old.

    So again, give me the scientific argument as to why a fetus one day a lump of cells and the next, by virtue of a trip down the birth canal a full human being. What happens in that trip that transforms the fetus to make it a human being? Why is the trip down the birth canal the crucial dividing line? What scientific fact can you point to that makes the trip down the canal a crucial dividing line?

  • Tonio||

    And you are the person who in a thread a few weeks ago was reduced to arguing that a fetus wasn't a human being even though it could feel pain and could understand its native language because your dog could do that.

    Uh, no, I'm not that person. Good luck with that strawman, though.

  • John||

    Oh yes you are. I remember it distinctly. It was one of those scientific arguments you don't seem to want to repeat.

  • Tonio||

    John, I have made actual science arguments to you countless times. To do so again would only be a waste of my time as you neither respond to my points when I make them, nor acknowledge after the fact that they've been made.

    No longer engaging you other than to call bullshit.

  • John||

    John, I have made actual science arguments to you countless times.

    But can't give even a one sentence summary of them now much less a link to these arguments. Sure Tonio, you have made lots of them you just don't feel like making them now. You really think anyone here believes that?

    And again, answer the simple question, what scientifically is it about the trip down the birth canal that makes a fetus in one moment a clump of cells entitled to no rights and the next moment a full human being entitled to all rights? What about that entity changes to make the trip down the birth canal such a defining line?

    I will be waiting for your answer.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except it's a stupid argument. Period. Either the laws restricting abortion access are bad ideas (they are) or they're not. Saying "prohibiting X would be really stupid, so prohibiting Y is really stupid" is something I'd expect someone who's taken a basic logic class, let alone a bioethicist, to understand as a fallacy. As many here have noted, there's a few distinctions between giving birth and having an abortion.

  • robc||

    I think her big mistake was leaving the phrase "a modest proposal" out of her piece.

  • UneasyRider||

    This is fair, but I think that she should take this further. Mothers of toddlers should be forced to watch videos of sulky teenagers to see if they want to murder their kids before they get to this point. Or perhaps, the children of the elderly should be forced to watch videos of people wasting away from the effects of Alzheimer's and other horrible diseases to determine if they simply want to kill their parents to keep them from this horrible fate. Seriously though, this lady is completely missing the point. The point of the pre-abortion counselling isn't to scare parents into keeping their baby. Clearly, killing the baby is the easier path. The point is to make parents keenly aware that what they are proposing to do is end to the life of a living human being.

  • Jgalt1975||

    The point of the pre-abortion counselling isn't to scare parents into keeping their baby. . . . The point is to make parents keenly aware that what they are proposing to do is end to the life of a living human being.

    Thank you, I needed a dose of insanely over-the-top humor this morning. Reason needs to award some sort of special recognition for comedic genius like this.

  • Tonio||

    I think that poster is a handle-shifting Troll who is known to us as "American." He's a Bircher crank.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    She's trying to make two things "equal" that aren't on the same field. If you did nothing, the baby would likely be born. So birth is the default. Abortion is a deviance from the default. Choosing life is only a choice if you're considering choosing death. She's using the progressive trick of defining something she likes (abortion) and equivocating something other people want (birth) as just the inverse result of what she likes.

  • Ron Bailey||

    BoI: In the modern world, some would argue that reproductive choice has become the "default," not just going along with Mother Nature.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Aren't you more searching for "the Norm"? The default strikes me as something that happens sans intervention. In this case, I'd say birth fits that bill.

  • BarryD||

    Dude, Norm owes me money. That's why.

  • Ron Bailey||

    BoI: And why is going along with Mother Nature the "right thing" to do in any case? See Appeal to Nature.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    It isn't the right thing to do in any case, but it changes the considerations. There are plenty of biological functions that most people wouldn't consider ceasing, and there's no reason to treat the option to cease it as being equal. It's a silly and extreme example, but when I was 13, I never thought "I don't like the way things are going with my voice. I should consider this whole puberty thing." Obviously a sex change requires greater resource and leads to greater consequence than an abortion, but it's still a major biological change, yet most people don't look at it as a benchmark requiring a decision. I guess ideally I'd want the couple to consider the consequences of their actions before going at it.

  • Brett L||

    Are you only answering commentors whose handles start with 'B' today?

  • Ron Bailey||

    BL: Apparently

  • BarryD||

    And natural childbirth is not the default, either.

    Neither is "died in childbirth" such a common phrase, when it was once ALMOST the biological default, at least eventually, with enough births.

    We have meddled with biology a lot. I'm glad we have. One can't base a whole framework of ethics on the false premise that we haven't. :)

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Ummm...actually, natural childbirth IS the default. Absent intervention, it's how a child is born.

  • BarryD||

    Absent intervention, the mother would have starved to death long before getting pregnant.

    RB is right. Appeals to Nature are logical fallacies. That's the point.

    We do very little if anything, voluntarily, that is the biological default, from birth to death, but then in one particular case, we pretend as if we do? Doesn't hold water.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except it's not an appeal to nature per se. It's more a semantic point. The default of pregnancy is a birth. It may not be the optimal, or even desirable outcome, but it is the default outcome. If a woman gets pregnant and everyone decides to do nothing about it, the end result, barring her death, will most likely be a baby. The decision to have an abortion is a decision to actively intervene in the course of events. It may be justifiable. It may be her right. But, it most certainly isn't the default.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    But that's like creating a fork-in-the-road when there isn't one. It's like if you're driving down the highway, and a small country road intersects the highway. Do you make a choice to keep going straight? Kind of, but you don't need to perform an action to keep on the path in which you're going. Defining reproductive choice as the norm is like sticking a three-way stop on the same road and forcing someone to consider both potential paths. Maybe that's a good idea, but it doesn't naturally follow that it should be done because they're "equal" or because there should be parity in the consideration of the two. I guess maybe if the county road gets developed and built up and there become traffic problems, then maybe it makes sense to create a choice.

    And I would say that calling the activity through which human life is sustained as "going along with Mother Nature" is maybe under-doing it.

  • Azathoth!!||

    No.

    There is no such thing as 'reproductive choice' other than the basic choosing to reproduce or not

    Nature, like it or not, defines 'choosing to reproduce' as having sex--getting the sperm in a position to fertilize the egg.

    Humans interfere after the act and redefine 'choice' into whether to interfere with what would happen absent interference or not.

    This does not change the default as the rest of the animal kingdom is still working with that default and they outnumber humans.

  • Bean Counter||

    The default is to not fuck around unless you're prepared to deal with the consequences. I'm amazed that so many people take pregnancy as a given, as if it was caused by demons entering a woman's body.

  • Bean Counter||

    Clarification for Tony's benefit - pregnancy is caused by sex, usually unprotected sex. Demons cause homosexuality and ruined crops.

  • Brett L||

    One of my exes worked as a case manager for whatever the state of Florida called its "assistance for indigent mothers" program. After about 2 years of it, she had an epic rant about "cousins living at grandma's house... too fucking broke to do anything else, and too fucking stupid to understand the simple cause and effect of 'fucking leads to babies', which means to stupid to get a job even if they did get up off their dead asses" being the root of the problem. And she had been a single, teenage mom (was still a single mom when I knew her) without any race prejudice. She just hated poor people who thought they could have unprotected sex without making babies.

  • wareagle||

    she missed the point, it seems.
    She just hated poor people who thought they could have unprotected sex without making babies.

    People know full well what a potential consequence of unprotected sex is; they count on it. That housefull of cousins is money. They are taking advantage of a system that, in the long run, punishes them but they see the checks and benefits instead of the larger ramifications. In that regard, they may be stupid but not re: the sex part.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    She just hated poor people who thought they could have unprotected sex without making babies.

    No. They have babies because they want babies. I've heard young girls, fourteen, fifteen, talking about how they want to have a baby.

  • Smells Like Tom Skerritt||

    ^^THIS^^

    I have worked with teen moms who say, "I'm ready to have another one." Part of it is because they got so much attention when they were pregnant and when the kid was a baby, but now that the kid is a 2-year-old and running all over the place and no one is fawning over the mother anymore as they did when she was pregnant and with an infant.

  • Brett L||

    If they want the babies so much, why don't they do simple things like bathe the foreskin of their male children often enough to prevent infection or actually pick their children up for longer than the time it takes to move them from crib to carrier. Its not about welfare or wanting. Its about people who think the miracle of child creation through fucking is going to skip them because condoms don't feel good and female birth controls requires remembering to take a pill every day/get a shot every month.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Just because girls want to be mothers, doesn't mean that they are going to be good mothers.

  • Tonio||

    They don't want to be mothers per se, they just want the attention and benefits that come with being pregnant and being a mother, particularly an indigent one.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Abject human misery was our default not so long ago. Being forced to carry something inside you to term was part of that misery. And no it's not a human being anymore than my dog is.

  • Bean Counter||

    UH....WHAT??? I'm pretty sure that no matter how long we wait, your dog won't develop a 100 point IQ and get a job. You leave a fetus alone and wait 15 or 20 years and he will develop an average IQ and maybe even get a job.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I'm not talking about 'the future' I'm talking about what it is now.

  • BarryD||

    If you leave a fetus alone, he or she will be dead really soon.

  • sarcasmic||

    You leave a fetus alone and wait 15 or 20 years and he will develop an average IQ and maybe even get a job.

    Yeah. However a fetus to which he donated genetic material isn't going to reach average IQ. Not if IQ is hereditary.

  • Bean Counter||

    AHH! Good point! Your are truly well named.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Strictly speaking, abject human misery still is the default. Unless a person acts (or gets someone else t0 act) to prevent that outcome, that's what they'll be faced with.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Pregnancy is not misery unless there's something really wrong.

    Carrying something inside them is what mammilian females are for. It is their purpose.

    And males exist to provide the catalyst, the sperm, that will allow the female to accomplish this.

    Everything else is window dressing--nice, but ultimately not needed.

    That we have forged civilization, thought, and greatness from that window dressing does not change that.

    In fact, it may harm it.

    How many people here are intending to have no children? And how many are smart, witty and quick--the exact sort of people we need?

    And how many of those can use smart, witty and quick explanation to rationalize the red X at the end of their genetic line?

    What defect has been introduced that humanity can tell itself that it is better to seek extinction rather than seeking dominance over everything it can see?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yes, this bioethicist's arguments make perfect sense once you accept the perfectly ethical assumption that abortion and childbirth are morally equivalent. Then everything else follows inevitably!

  • ||

    Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness.

    I've been arguing for this for years!

  • ||

    But it is just a utilitarian argument. Either it is ok to kill it or it's not.

    They would have to note that childbirth rasing children, compared with abortion going child free, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness.

    No one would use that as an argument for post birth infanticide.

  • ||

    I'm not using it as an argument for or against abortion. I just think motherhood is unfortunately romanticized. I would actually like to see this as more of a scared-straight PSA campaign.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    And I'm sure it would work just as well as those campaigns usually do.

  • Brett L||

    If it was a miracle some meth freak in a trailer park wouldn't be popping them out like candy.

  • ||

    That's what I'm saying.

  • T||

    Peter Singer did, didn't he?

  • ||

    That's not his argument, so no.

  • wareagle||

    isn't informing what OB-GYNs do as a matter of course? I don't recall either doc we dealt with blowing off any potential risks; both were clear about things that could harm the baby, even things not meant to cause problems.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    "Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness."

    Perhaps early in the first trimester that is the case but in the 13-15 week window the mortality rate is 14.7/100000, which is worse than carrying to term and it gets much worse every few weeks after that.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15051566

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Have professional ethicists actually contributed to the growth of ethics? Because half the time, when I hear about one of them spouting off, it's to promote the Culture of Death.

  • Number 2||

    Correction:

    Have professional ethicists actually contributed to anything?

    This column isn't ethics. It's being snarky. The typical Reason commentator could do just as well, for less than half of what the University of Washington is paying this "bioethicist."

  • CE||

    He makes some good points about teaching young women what motherhood means, but none of them excuse the killing of innocents.

  • SeaCaptain(Yokeltarian)||

    Bingo.

  • Dweebston||

    Either abortion threads bring out the h&r irregulars, or regular posters use sockpuppet accounts for abortion threads.

  • Hyperion||

    Legally mandated loving care

    Good grief, cannot everyone see the stoopid in that?, it hurts to think about it. Only a proglodyte could conceive something so fucking insane.

  • Hyperion||

    This article reminds me of reading a recent headline from China about a newborn being rescued from a toilet drain pipe after being flushed.

    It caused 'liberal outrage'. You know those liberals, they are so funny. They are 'outraged' about one unwanted Chinese baby being flushed, but when abortion doctors here twist the heads off of live born babies, they look the other way, no comment.

  • SeaCaptain(Yokeltarian)||

    ^This

  • BarryD||

    Well, you know, that's DIFFERENT.

    Somehow.

    Yeah.

  • Paul.||

    Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood.

    There's a treasure trove of 'A' material one-liners here. I'll check the threads to see if anyone in the commentariat has stepped forward.

  • Acosmist||

    Here's an idea - stop murdering children.

  • Sigivald||

    So far, the heuristic "if someone styled a bioethicist says it, it's achingly stupid" continues at very nearly 100% accuracy.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Bio-ethicist has to be the new, definitive, oxymoron, right?

    I mean, by contrast, military intelligence almost seems like a redundant-matched pair.

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