"My Kid Is Pregnant. What Does HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Have to Say About This?"

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NARAL finds what it calls "politically biased information" on the Department of Health and Human Services website for parents, 4parents.gov:

Some teen mothers decide to continue their pregnancy and then choose adoption for their baby. Adoption may be the best choice for the baby and the teen parents. There are many adoption agencies and types of adoption…

Some teen pregnancies end in abortion. Abortions can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: some women say that they feel sad and some use more alcohol or drugs than before.

No doubt true! The site's primary function seems to be baiting groups like NARAL, and I doubt there are legions of worried parents seeking advice from a Cabinet-level department on these matters. But given the almost limitless array of clauses that might have followed "some women say," it's telling that some HHS employee thought consumption of drugs and alcohol relevant to parents. That HHS bureaucrats assume the threat of teen alcohol consumption will factor into a parent's decision on whether to force a teen to carry a pregnancy to term–an option with a mortality rate many times that of surgical abortion–is pretty bizarre. Not necessarily wrong, given the depth of fear over Bacardi Breezer intake, but suggestive of some truly sorry priorities.

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  1. Adoptions can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well

  2. most of them become serial killers.

  3. Not that I am out of touch with reality, or anything, but I find it hard to believe it would ever occur to anybody to check a government web site for useful advice on anything.

  4. Kerry, come seriously on with the “abortion is safer than childbirth” line. Deaths in either case are extremely rare. It’s like commenting that Americans are ten times more likely to be hit by lightning than win a state lottery.

  5. That is, deaths of the mother are exceedingly rare in abortion. Obviously, death of the unborn child is not.

  6. Just have abortion be legal for ten years after life begins (birth that is, not forty). So this way we can get around all those pesky details.

  7. Once again, the gub’ment has it all wrong.

    Teen pregnancy doesn’t lead to alcohol consumption.

    Teen alcohol consumption leads to pregnancy.

  8. Crimethink,

    No one is saying that childbirth is a deathtrap, but to focus primarily on the dangers of induced abortion is to fail to consider the relevant alternative–actually giving birth. Even if you consider the risks roughly equivalent (which is perfectly reasonable) you should be able to see that portraying abortion as uniquely dangerous to the mother is at best misleading.

  9. Aren’t there enough (Lifetime) movies out there to indicate that adoption can also cause “complications” “emotional consequences” and “some women say[ing] that they feel sad and some us[ing] more alcohol or drugs than before”?

  10. Kerry Howley said: “Crimethink,

    No one is saying that childbirth is a deathtrap, but to focus primarily on the dangers of induced abortion is to fail to consider the relevant alternative–actually giving birth. Even if you consider the risks roughly equivalent (which is perfectly reasonable) you should be able to see that portraying abortion as uniquely dangerous to the mother is at best misleading.”

    But pro-aborts love to throw out the mis-information that childbirth is 10 times more dangerous than abortion, as Howley just did. Crimethink accurately pointed out how misleading this is in light of the fact that deaths from abortion and from childbirth are both extremely rare. In contrast, breast cancer is the leading cause of death among middle-aged women (or it was just a few years ago), and a 1994 epidemiological study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that women who had abortions before age 18 more than doubled their risk of this already common and deadly disease. Of course, there are a lot more studies out there. I recommend this Wisconsin Law Review article for the full legal picture: “The Fit Between the Elements for an Informed Consent Cause of Action and the Scientific Evidence Linking Induced Abortion with Increased Breast Cancer Risk,” http://www.proinformation.net. This lengthy thread on Volokh Conspiracy also debates many of the issues: http://volokh.com/posts/1164052564.shtml

  11. … and sam, there are enough “very special” episodes out there that show that teens are more likely to engage in exchange of euphemisms than ever before!

  12. What’s the difference between a truckload of watermelons and a truckload of dead babies?…

  13. URKOBOLD PLACED AN ORDER FOR THE LATTER.

    NEXT QUESTION.

  14. Minion of URKOBOLD,

    Good, because you can’t use a pitchfork to unload the watermelons.

  15. I think I’ve figured it out. URKOBOLD is really Alice Cooper.

  16. Taktix,

    I heard that one before, but it was dead kittens.

    What’s the difference between a red Corvette and a pile of dead kittens?

  17. Not that I am out of touch with reality, or anything, but I find it hard to believe it would ever occur to anybody to check a government web site for useful advice on anything.

    Someone should do a study comparing wikipedia to gov’t websites wrt to info accuracy.

  18. YOU DO NOT USE A PITCHFORK. YOU TILT THE CONTENTS OF THE TRUCK INTO THE URKOBOLD (brand) BLENDER.

    YOU THEN FOLLOW YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE FOR HAGGIS.

  19. The best place on the web for scientific information about the abortion-breast cancer link is the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, at http://www.bcpinstitute.org. Of particular note for those inclined to give governmental pronouncements on scientific and medical issues more weight than they deserve is the fact sheet at http://www.bcpinstitute.org/abc_nci.htm

  20. Kerry Howley,

    Well, my position on abortion is not based on health concerns, and indeed, I have a gripe of my own with pro-lifers who overstate the health risks of abortion to the pregnant woman, diluting our case with easily disproved arguments.

    But, I took your statement as saying that even if there were a significantly increased chance of teen alcohol abuse due to abortions, the difference in mortality rates should automatically trump that.

  21. Crimethink,

    I’ve heard a few versions myself, and although it is somewhat of an old joke, what better to liven up an abortion debate than dead baby jokes?

  22. Oh yeah, I don’t have a red Corvette in my garage.

    Taktix, if abortion weren’t a sad reality then I probably would find dead baby jokes even more funny.

  23. Not that I am out of touch with reality, or anything, but I find it hard to believe it would ever occur to anybody to check a government web site for useful advice on anything.

    Reminds me of a pamphlet I have stashed away from college. I said something to the tune of:

    “Young people these days are taking tobacco cigars and using them to make marijuana cigarettes, which they call ‘blunts.’ When consumed with a 40-ounce malt beverage, it is commonly referred to as a ‘B-40.'”

    I have have consumed the aforementioned combination, and if I had said to my friends: “Hey guys, let’s get a B-40,” I would have been smacked like the bitch I would have been.

    But that’s just how we roll…

  24. The site’s primary functions seems to be baiting groups like NARAL, and I doubt there are legions of worried parents seeking advice from a Cabinet-level department on these matters

    Actually, I think the site’s primary function is to provide ammunition / talking points (and to give the talking points credibility/legitimacy) to pro-life pundits out there.

    Once it’s on an official government site, then the pundit can confidently go on the TEE-VEE (or pen an OP/ED) and reference this site while putting forth all the dangers of abortion.

  25. Hasn’t the abortion/breast cancer link already been debunked?

    And even assuming birth and abortion were equally dangerous to the mother, it’s pretty goddamned sleazy for a government website that’s theoretically supposed to give out neutral information to talk only about the wonderful potential consequences of giving birth and the nasty potential consequences of having an abortion.

  26. John Kindley,
    Jennifer is right. You’re a little outdated at this point. In 2003 the national cancer institute held a workshop to evaluate breast cancer risk. One of their findings was that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. I do encourage you to read their other findings as well.

    I find your point deceptive as well as incorrect, because it implies that since breast cancer is a signficant killer of women, that anything that increases breast cancer – as you assert, abortion – must also be a signficant killer of women. Induced abortion was never thought to be a major risk factor for developing breast cancer, or a major contributor to breast cancer mortality. The whole thing is a tempest in an epidemiological teacup ginned up by people whose motivation is less to reduce breast cancer than to scare people away from abortion with half-truths.

  27. YOU DO NOT USE A PITCHFORK. YOU TILT THE CONTENTS OF THE TRUCK INTO THE URKOBOLD (brand) BLENDER.

    Yes, but, Will it Blend?

  28. Hasn’t the abortion/breast cancer link already been debunked?

    Yes.

  29. “””My Kid Is Pregnant. What Does HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Have to Say About This?””

    He says, “I didn’t do it”

  30. “Hasn’t the abortion/breast cancer link already been debunked?”

    The abortion-breast cancer link is politically radioactive on a nuclear scale. If it ever became common knowledge, thousands of women who have been deceived about the “safety” of abortion would have potential causes of action, and the ensuing litigation could dwarf the asbestos and tobacco litigation. Even a certain stripe (i.e. yellow) of conservative has reason to be concerned about that.

    The debates about the abortion-breast cancer link have been politically super-charged. All I can suggest is that the sources I’ve cited be compared with the sources purporting to “debunk” the abortion-breast cancer link for logical consistency and integrity. It’s not as hard as people assume and not above the capacity of intelligent laypeople to sort out the relevant arguments. Two lawsuits premised on the abortion-breast cancer link have been successfully settled on behalf of the plaintiff. Another lawsuit, which did not seek damages but rather an injunction preventing untrue statements by an abortion clinic re: the abortion-breast cancer link, went to the North Dakota Supreme Court, where it lost not on the merits but on the basis of a judicial re-interpretation of the standing provisions in North Dakota’s false advertising statute. The briefs in the case nevertheless have an extensive discussion of the scientific merits. The case was titled Kjolsrud v. MKB Management and the briefs can be found by doing a search for that case on the North Dakota Supreme Court website.

  31. And if NARAL had anything to say about the message would be more to your liking although it would not be apolitical.

    it’s pretty goddamned sleazy for a government website that’s……

    I’d say it’s pretty goddamned sleazy that my tax dollars are being spent to give medical advice to people who should be getting it from the doctor.

    How about we skip arguing about the nuances of abortion/adoption and abolish the entire HHS altogether.

    Or is that too libertarian an idea?

  32. Tacos mmm . . .

    Interesting that you cite the NCI workshop when my earlier post suggested that interested parties should check out the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute fact sheet on this very workshop.

    This discussion will be totally unproductive and go no where if scoffers don’t bother to look at the sources I’ve cited and insist on taking the pronouncements of government agencies to be the gospel truth.

  33. “How about we skip arguing about the nuances of abortion/adoption and abolish the entire HHS altogether.”

    I absolutely agree with that suggestion.

  34. At a government-sponsored workshop ending Wednesday, researchers concluded that scientific evidence does not support the notion that having an abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer later in life.

    Yes, and second hand smoke causes cancer and the war in Iraq is going well.

    Government says so.

    Which time is the government wrong? All? None? One or more? The time that fits our bias? The time that fits the other people’s bias?

    Shrugs.

    Never accept anything at face value that includes the words government-sponsored workshop.

  35. Thanks John, I appreciate that.

  36. How about we skip arguing about the nuances of abortion/adoption and abolish the entire HHS altogether.

    I’ll toast to that.

    Also, every time I read a post by Tacos mmm…, I get a hankering for Mexican food.

  37. Although I’m a little testy about government websites I do love a good dead baby joke. Even if it is older than dirt it still makes me LOL.

    And this……

    URKOBOLD PLACED AN ORDER FOR THE LATTER.

    ..was priceless. 🙂

    Onward.

    Recipe for a Dead Baby Float

    Carefully place two scoops of dead baby into a mug of root beer, preferably A&W Draft (not canned or bottled).

    TWC

  38. Also, every time I read a post by Tacos mmm…, I get a hankering for Mexican food.

    I know man, I do too. Isn’t that weird?

    Tacos mmmmm! What a great handle. Is that the right term? Handle? Or is that term pretty archaic and more relevant to CB radio?

  39. John Kindley and Crimethink say pointing out that a woman is less likely to die from having an abortion than by giving birth is some sort of propaganda used by “pro-aborts,” as if mentioning this fact is some sort of strategy to encourage abortion. But notice that this is only brought up in the context of refuting the statement that abortion is especially dangerous. The fact that both are extremely rare is neither here nor there; if anti-choicers are going to pull the “abortion kills women” card, or even any vague implications thereof, pointing out “uh, not as many as childbirth” seems like a pretty reasonable defense?

  40. Hey Yellow Color, do you hold comments for approval on your blog? Or am I just not doing something right? Or maybe I’m just banned because my ISP sucks. That happens sometimes. 🙂

  41. The debates about the abortion-breast cancer link have been politically super-charged. All I can suggest is that the sources I’ve cited be compared with the sources purporting to “debunk” the abortion-breast cancer link for logical consistency and integrity.

    If by other sources, you mean recent research, then yes, do compare, although for strength of evidence, the 2003 NCI conclusion is currently supported by the best evidence and subsequent meta-analysis in 2004.

    Although you say that the issue is “nuclear” in important, HRT is much more strongly linked to breast cancer, and was much more common than abortion, and it hasn’t “blown up” as a liability issue. The abortion/breast cancer link, if it even existed (currently a proprosition with less support)

  42. Oops. Hit submit early. Just wanted to add that if a link existed, it would be too small to be significant to an individual woman. The reason that some people run the science on this issue through a microscope is likely the reason that some people care intensely about inexplicable peculiarties in evolutionary theory and insist that alternative evidence be examined, while ignoring the gaping holes in modern physics.

  43. This discussion will be totally unproductive and go no where if scoffers don’t bother to look at the sources I’ve cited and insist on taking the pronouncements of government agencies to be the gospel truth.

    I use pubmed. The abstracts are out there for anyone to find. I certainly don’t think that the government is any more reliable than the gospel.

  44. elyabethe,

    I didn’t say what you claim I did. In fact, I criticized pro-lifers who present dubious arguments about the dangers of abortion. My stance on abortion is framed purely as a human rights issue, not a public health one.

  45. What Seitz said.

    Media – woo hoo!

    (continues contemptuous scoffing at anti abortion people who want to force their beliefs on everybody else)

  46. ” to carry a pregnancy to term–an option with a mortality rate many times that of surgical abortion”

    Isn’t the entire abortion debate centered around the philosophical question of whether the surgical abortion mortality rate is .0001 or 1.0001?

    “continues contemptuous scoffing at anti abortion people who want to force their beliefs on everybody else”

    Just like your “forcing your belief” that it is wrong to shoot your mother on me, right? Or how you are “forcing your belief” that a fetus is a hunk-of-meat upon the fetus, stripping it of all rights?

    Silly rhetoric is for kids. The abortion debate is outside of the libertarian’s core principles, which do not in any way address what entities deserve to be protected by its principles.

  47. Just like your “forcing your belief” that it is wrong to shoot your mother on me, right? Or how you are “forcing your belief” that a fetus is a hunk-of-meat upon the fetus, stripping it of all rights?

    I’m pretty sure VM was talking about forcing your belief upon a pregnant woman that she has to carry the baby around for the next nine months whether she wants to or not.

    But you’d rather pretend that telling me “No, you are not allowed to pay for and receive this medical procedure” is no different from telling me “No, you cannot murder my mother.”

    Silly rhetoric is for kids. The abortion debate is outside of the libertarian’s core principles, which do not in any way address what entities deserve to be protected by its principles.

    So “women” are not necessrily entities to be protected by libertarian principles, and it is open for debate whether the state can force them into a form of temporary slavery by requiring her to carry a pregnancy to term against her will, I take it.

  48. Tacos mmm . . .

    You can’t just go by the abstracts on pubmed. You have to also take into account the logical criticisms of the methods used by certain studies. Such criticisms of the methods used by the 2004 meta-analysis you cite, e.g., are to be found on the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute website. I personally had the opportunity to cross-examine some of the authors of these studies in Kjolsrud v. MKB Management, and some of the most salient testimony exposing their mistakes and dissembling are cited in the briefs to the North Dakota Supreme Court (You can be confident that the brief’s quotation of this testimony is accurate because if it wasn’t the defendant’s brief certainly would have called us on it).

    HRT hasn’t blown up as a liability issue because, in contrast to the abortion-breast cancer link, users and prospective users of HRT were generally informed about its potential link with breast cancer. As far as the risk increase if it exists being too small to be significant to an individual woman, that is false. The legal standard is “materiality,” and the Wisconsin Law Review article I cite analyzes the evidence in terms of this standard and demonstrates that the evidence meets this standard and therefore that there is a legal obligation to disclose the risk (or “potential risk,” if you prefer) to women considering abortion. Moreover, one of the MKB Management’s own hired experts admitted on the stand that if it were established that the 30% average risk increase reported by the 1996 Brind meta-analysis were real that women considering abortion should certainly be informed about it. It’s a no-brainer.

  49. According to crimethink, a collection of cells in a petri dish has more human rights then a living, breathing, gay person. This tells you all you need to know.

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