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Hot Topic: Response to Comments on the Amy Richards Story

I'm not too thrilled about starting off a Monday morning blogging about abortion, but in light of some of the comments on this post, I think it's in order.

A few commenters took issue with the fact that people who define themselves as pro-choice were distressed over the story of Amy Richards, who underwent "selective reduction" to kill two of her unborn triplets as a matter of convenience.

Pro-choice does not necessarily mean pro-abortion. There are so many mitigating factors that lie within my stance on abortion that I honestly don't know what to call myself anymore.

The issue of abortion is something I've struggled with for a long time. I've gone back and forth, hanging out on both sides of the fence. Yet for all my fence jumping, I always end up back in the middle, still fighting myself to define my views either way.

On a personal level, I think abortion is a terrible thing and not something I would choose for myself. I think too many people use abortion as a form of after-the-fact birth control.

My views have been colored somewhat by my life. Perhaps one, back in high school, I had a hardline pro-choice stance. Women's body, etc., etc.

I had a friend who had two abortions before she graduated high school (we'll call her T.) When she called me from college to ask if I would drive her to have yet another abortion (and admitting that she had a third at the beginning of the semester, so this would make it her fourth), I lectured her on personal responsibility, hung up on her and never spoke to her again.

My hardline stance wavered. While I still thought women had a right to make choices about their own bodies, I wondered what kind of door that opened. When you end up with people like T., who had four abortions by the age of 19, that's not a door I would care to look into.

Then there was the issue of life. When does it begin? Conception? A certain date marker? When the brain was fully formed? At birth? No matter who you talked to, you would hear a different explanation.

At some point I thought, well why do I have to make a stance either way? I don't have to have a clearly defined stand on every issue.

In 1989, I became pregnant with my first child. I had problems during the first three months and it was touch and go for a bit. As I sat at home following every doctor's instruction carefully - feet up, plenty of rest, no heavy lifting - I thought of T. Here I was struggling to hold this baby inside me when T. willingly had four babies expelled from her.

Babies. There, I said it. I called my fetus a baby.

A few years later, I was pregnant again. I found out pretty early, just two weeks in. I took my maternity clothes out of the attic. I started eating healthier. Took my pre-natal vitamins. I thought about names and imagined what Nat would be like as an older sister.

Six weeks in I had a miscarriage. It was devastating. In my eyes, that bundle inside me was a baby. Not a fetus, not a thing. Yet the attitude of some of my family was astounding. It was only six weeks. It wasn't even a baby yet. It was just a thing. What are you so upset about, it was only blood and tissue? Even my then husband joined the chorus of people who thought I should just grin and bear it.

Again, my stand on abortion changed further. It was obvious that I could no longer distinguish between fetus and baby, which is pretty important to a pro-choice person.

So what was I? Damned if I know. Damned if I know now. But I know what I am not. I am not a person who believes that any abortion, any time should be legal. I do not believe in abortion as a means of birth control. I believe in personal responsibility and responsibility to the life you make.

Perhaps my ideals are also colored by the fact that I know so many people, my sister among them, who cannot have children of their own. I see a young girl walking into a clinic and it makes me want to cry. Why not have the baby and give it up for adoption? There are so many families out there who would take that beautiful baby from you. But who am I to tell this girl to go ahead and carry the baby around for nine months? Then again, perhaps she should have thought about that before having unprotected sex.

But I have issues that force me to fence sit. I think a 16 year old who was raped should be able to choose to not have the rapist's baby. And I readily admit that flies in the face of my "life begins at conception" idea that all fetuses are children. But I also can't imagine forcing a young girl to endure carrying around the baby of the man who violently forced himself on her for nine months and delivering that child to the world.

I believe that when a mother's health is in grave danger, she should be allowed to abort. I can't imagine that one would choose the life of an unborn baby over the life of a women with a family, maybe a husband and other kids who she would leave behind.

I think late trimester abortions are reprehensible. At some point, you have to acknowledge that there is a baby, not a fetus, living inside you. Moving hands and feet, strong heartbeat, maybe even a little thumb sucking. I can't understand how even the most strident pro-choice backers can't acknowledge that a fetus at that stage in the game is a viable, living, breathing person.

I contradict myself at every turn on this issue. I can't reconcile one thought with another. It's a very complicated, oft times confusing manner.

I know abortion would never be the right choice for me. I'm just not sure if I have the right to tell you what do if you are in a situation that calls for a choice.

As for the topic of last night, I call BS on those who think that just because someone is pro-choice, they have no right to be horrified at the choice Amy Richards made. While abortion is never a 100% good choice, I think there's a vast difference between, say, someone who didn't intend to get pregnant (think broken condom) and is agonizing over their decision and someone who willfully went off the pill and cavalierly discarded two of three babies when a multiple pregnancy ensued. It's her attitude that kills me. It's the fact that she sold this story to the New York Times and that the NYT saw it fit to print. Amy Richards is no different than my old friend T., who probably had a frequent visitor's discount card for the clinic. I find them both reprehensible for different, yet similar reasons.

And as for the people who think that I've had this attitude that abortion was just fine and dandy right up until I read the NYT article, you couldn't be more wrong. Just because you have clearly defined lines on an issue does not mean people who don't see those lines are engaging in some kind of false emotion for dancing between them.

I see that writing this out has not only not clarified the issue for me, but has further confused me.

I know there are many people who are sitting here in the middle with me, unsure of which side they fall on. Perhaps we are being dishonest by calling ourselves pro-choice, just as our detractors are being dishonest by calling us pro-death.

So if I'm not completely pro-choice, and I'm not entirely pro-life (which is also a dishonest term), then what am I? And why do I feel the need to define who or what I am on this issue?

Damned if I know.

[I'm going to take a risk here and leave comments open on this post. But be forewarned, if the comments derail into any kind of fire and brimstone finger pointing or righteous name calling I will close them. If you have something to add to the topic, that's great. Please do not preach. That goes for both sides of the fence.]


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Hot Topic: Response to Comments on the Amy Richards Story:

» abortion from Auterrific
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» One out of Three is bad from Mark Time
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» The Abortion Brou-haha from L'Ombre de l'Olivier
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» The A-word from Electronic Chickens
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Veering away from my usual non-serious blogging, here are some items of interest: 1. Blogger Mark O'Brien wishes to enlist the blogosphere in hunting down his son's killer. 2. Interesting discussions about abortion, 'selective reduction', etc. went on ... [Read More]

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It's a lot simpler than you think M. You're a situationalist. You can see when a situation is messed up, and that bothers you. Either way that messed up may be.

All part and parcel with not being a regurgibot...symptom of the same condition

I was surprised the other day when a neighbor said that she had "children in heaven". What she meant, of course, was that she'd suffered miscarriages before successfully carrying her two kids to term. Her reaction would be to Amy Richard's story would also not be pleasant.

I can't help clarify things for you, Michele. I have friends who've had abortions and I can't bring myself to be angry with them. But somewhere between "choice" and "life" there's a line that has to be defined and recognized for purposes of the law. This country has made this sort of contentious decision before. We can do it again.

There's also, properly, an element of societal pressure that should strongly discourage people from getting too close to that line. If the law is a cliff, societal norms are the voices that say "No, don't jump" when we wander too close to the edge.

It is a lot simpler than that, as Wind Rider says. There's no reason you can't support something being legal, at least in some circumstances, but criticize the way someone exercises that right. If the issue were a less emotional one, almost no one would even think to question that or call hypocrisy on it.

Michele, I understand your confusion.

I can understand why reasonable people's opinions differ so much on this issue. To me, the unsurmountable obstacle is that there is no conclusive way to absolutely determine when "life" begins.

I understand that there are some feelings I don't have access to because I'm a man, but as soon as I saw my first child on an early ultrasound, I knew what my personal belief would be. In my personal sphere, abortion isn't an option.

Yet, I can't automatically proceed to the next step of saying that's what the law should be. There are not only different situations, but I also understand that my belief with respect to when life begins is basically a matter of faith, in that you could not present me with "information" that would dissuade me from my opinion.

I'm so sorry about your miscarriage. Two years after our daughter was born, my wife became pregnant with twins. She went into labor way too early, and had to be shocked out of it with a toxin at the hospital. It was touch and go for a long time. I don't think I've ever felt terror like that before or since.

Happy ending.

I am with you M. I think windrider sas it best; I am a situationalist. I also think my approach is different; not through law but through science and social effort, end the need and desire for abortion.

I guess I am slos an idealist as I feel these things can be ended, all these evils can.

I applaud you for having the courage to put your feelings on the matter "out there" for public discussion.

This is such a polorizing issue. 99.44% of people i know either have an absolute "yes" or "no" on the issue. It's tough for them to understand the people who have a "maybe/depends" opinion about abortion.

The older I become, the more I am against abortion. However, I do think there are times when an abortion should be allowed (Rape,incest,health,etc), but even those reasons at times conflicts with my religious views.

I am not a person who has many "maybe/depends" issues. The world in my eyes is generally black and white with few shades of gray. This is a gray subject that troubles my soul.

I'm with you, Michele, and I honestly think most people are, whether they realize it. I think there's about 10% of the population on either side that sees the abortion issue as a completely black or white issue, and for the other 80%... it's complicated.

But the fanatics insist it's not, and can't be complicated. "Black!" shrieks one side. "White!" shrieks the other, uncomprehending of the idea that anyone would view it otherwise.

I tend to think that the issue of rape or incest (which is the ultimate fall back position for pro-abortion activists) is an incredibly small percentage of abortions that occur. As is the "life of the mother" exemption.

What I see as the danger in the "rape/incest" argument is what I'll call the "Kobe Bryant factor." What happens when a woman has sex with a man, gets pregnant and then decides she doesn't want his child? She can claim she was raped. I know, you think it's far fetched, but I personally would think it pretty far fetched that a woman would abort two out of three kids.

At some point, medical science may advance to the point where a baby can be extracted at an early stage and implanted in another woman, therefore satisfying both the woman who doesn't want to have the rapist's child, and someone who is desperately seeking to have a child yet unable to fertilize.

Like I said in my post, I can almost understand how a woman would react to circumstances by choosing abortion. I don't agree with it. I think it's morally wrong, and I have no problem writing laws to make it as rare as possible (we legislate morality all the time). But I can see how the confluence of circumstances would cause a woman to choose such an option.

But the case cited last night is inexcusable. I pray for her son.

I think it's just another sign of our times is that we seem to substitute the law for morality. There are many behaviors that are rephrehensible and worthy of societal condemnation that the state really has no business taking a stance on. Adultery and fornication comes to mind.

Amy Richards and her fellow feministas look at abortion as a confirmation of her gender-feminist bona fides. Both the NY Times article and the one in the Nation confirm that pro-abortion zealotry. And it flies in the face of what most women, indeed most American citizens, believe. We do not want to see the tragic, sorrowful abortions that take place because of rape, health, life, or fetal abnormalities become the province of a judge and jury. We find we cannot go back to the horrors of illegal abortionists by a blanket ban even in the first trimester. However, we must, must, as members of society not be silent on the fact that when one is having an abortion for lifestyle choices, it is an immoral choice regardless of illegality and challenge the huge disservice groups like NARAL and NOW do to women and society as a whole.

Regarding the rape/incest argument: I'm not sure compounding the guilt and pain of rape with the extra guilt and pain of an abortion is, psychologically, the best thing for a victim. I like bryan's suggestion; I think the last thing we should do is allow a rape to claim two victims instead of one. IMHO, of course.

However, we must, must, as members of society not be silent on the fact that when one is having an abortion for lifestyle choices, it is an immoral choice regardless of illegality.

Once again Darleen, I love you. :)

This is a little off topic, but, why do you suppose we didn't get any legislation in the past 3 1/2 years with the Republicans in majority?

Abortion is a complicated issue -- though in this particular event it seems a lot less complicated; in this case I'd say it was just pretty darn nasty. It sounds like you might enjoy reading an essay about the "Magic Doorway."

My wife and I had a discussion much along the lines of this topic yesterday on our LONG ride home from Atlantic City. We just happened upon the topic for no particular reason, and my wife, pro-choice, and myself, not som uch anti-abortion as much like you, think there is a larger view, where there are qualifiers.

As a Male, I have always been marginalized by the view that it is "a womans body, and her right to do with it as she pleases." Yesterday however, it wasn't that simple.

As we discussed, I really thought about it deeply when my wife stated the it is a woman's body, and her right to do with it as she pleases. I came to the conclusion that this is a cop-out. I asked my wife why it is that she felt that the fetus is a part of the womans body... no answer. Then I related it to this: I may have the right to take out my appendix if I am so interested, and or have a sickness. Afterall, it is MY appendix, MY body. Outside of my body, my appendix holds no intrinsic value or chance of being a viable entity (this is true even in the body).

The idea that by aborting a fetus that a woman is simply doing something to "Her body" is an excuse to de-humanize the viable living entity within that womans body. it is not parasite, or an extension of that woman alone, but the outcome of two adult humans (responsable or otherwise) entering into a union of flesh.

I am not going to debate the qualifications of an abortion in my own mind. For the most part, they follow along the same lines as you have already written. good topic, so long as it does not get shrouded by the passionate arguments on the far left or right of this issue...

I've always considered myself pro-life. Funny, 'cause it sounds like my
feelings are pretty close to yours.

I know abortion would never be the right choice for me. I'm just not sure if I have the right to tell you what do if you are in a situation that
calls for a choice.

To me, that perfectly encapsulates the dilemma we all face in political/moral decisions. We all know there are things that are right and wrong, and we hope
other people will govern their own actions the same way. But what obligation do
we have when individuals choose differently? We make laws to prohibit murder,
assault, rape, and theft, because we agree that these things are wrong. But what
do we do when there is no clear consensus, when there are actions that may be
morally bankrupt in some cases, and merely heart-wrenching in others?

I think abortion as a form of birth control is sickening. I can understand abortion in the case of rape, incest, or to preserve the life of the mother,
though I'd never want to be faced with that choice. (It seems a little like the
choice to unplug life support when a loved one is lingering.) I wish everyone
who had the decision to make would consider it as deeply and honestly as you're

On the abortion issue I am in the middle, I do not support abortion but if a female must have an abortion I do not wish to place female lives at risk by forcing them to go underground in order to get an abortion.

Without risking fire-and-brimstone comments, after thirty years of questioning the issue I have found the entire abortion issue to be a barbaric form of female empowerment.

I am disturbed that females are using abortion as a means in which to yield feminist political, social and financial power.

Politically, NOW uses abortion as the only issue females must consider when determining voting decisions.

Socially, the feminists movement has completely overpowered the males decision on abortion despite the fact that males are half the equation. Feminists have created an environment in which males have absolutely no rights nor voice in the decision.

Financially, abortion is today a billion dollar industry. NOW relies heavily on money procured from the abortion issue, as does Planned Parenthood. My personal feeling is that as soon as embryonic stem cell research becomes acceptable, abortion's billion dollar industry will quadruple.

Once upon a time, the power to procreate was the females greatest asset, males worshipped our ability to give life. Now, because of the myoptic stance perpetuated by the feminist movement over the past thirty years onto modern women, like Amy Richards, procreation has become a problematic inconvenience.

We are told that the power to abort is a far greater power than the power to procreate. We are told that the burden of reproductive responsibilities lies entirely on the female's shoulders (it's our bodies so birth-control is our responsibility) while males have absolutely no place in reproductive responsibilty. We are told that systematic infanticide is a right females must protect at all cost.

For these reason and a few others, the idea that females are given the 'right to choose' abortion as a tool through which we can empower ourselves is barbaric in my opinion.

The attitude represented by Amy Richards shows me that females are conveniently developing into legalize 'goddesses' who have the power to determine who lives and who dies.

People who insist on completely unrestricted choice are supporting the right of women to do this.
Being surprised is silly. It's happened before. The only difference is the bitch's attitude got national play because she is so inhuman as to think it made a good story.
This is unrestricted choice. You want it. You got it.
Quit complaining.
You can be a situationalist, but if you support unrestricted choice, this is your idea. You can claim you don't want it to happen, or you are horrified, or something else. But if you support unrestricted choice, you support this.
Being horrified is irrelevant.

I think you have hit the nail on the head and demonstrated why this is such a difficult and controversial subject. Personal responsibility has become politically incorrect in our society that is always looking for someone to blame. This is a shame because I believe morality(right ve. wrong) goes hand in hand with taking responsibility for your actions.

Keep up the good work.

There are many points where law and morality diverge. Think prohibition and driving drunk. We have decided we don't much like either.
My son, who thinks more deeply on social issues than I do, has said, when asked about his position on abortion, that he is pro-death. That answer says both what he thinks of absolute prohibition of abortion and how comfortable he is with his position.
The nation is torn on this issue, and anyone who thinks deeply on it should also be torn.

Well, I'm one of those who in the other thread was characterized as having a black/white view of abortion. Call me pro-life, or whatever.

Michelle, I can understand that yes, "it's her attitude that kills" you. But to me, that's a distinction without a difference. I think that in cases like these, the logical conclusion of the abortion is evident. When you're in the business of killing babies, don't be surprised if a cavalier attitude about the thing manifests: it's a defense mechanism against rational guilt.

I suppose it's necessary to compromise: only abortion in the cases of incest, rape, or the PHYSICAL health of the mother should be allowed under the law.

And as for having no remorse: it's not my position, it's theirs: the uber-feminists. Follow their argument to the logical conclusion and that's what you get. If revulsion exists instead, it's a pretty good indication that the argument is a loser. If I were as conflicted as you, I'd probably just give the pro-choice argument up, since there's really nothing left to hold on to anyway.

I would still argue she was right for doing it. Better to get the selective abortion than her to be abusive and/or neglectful of the children.

I shudder to think that if forced to bring the other two fetuses to term, she might turn them into a "Child Called It" situation.

In a perfect world, things like this would never happen. But given how imperfect of a world it is, sometimes things like this happen.

I think all decent people are both pro-choice and pro-life at heart, i.e., we don't want to tell women what to do with their own bodies, but we also don't want to see millions of developing babies being slaughtered so that feminist lecturers won't have to go on bed rest for a few months or - horror of all horrors - move to Staten Island and shop at Costco. So naturally, we should - and, for the most part, do - feel conflicted on issues like abortion, which force us to choose between choice and life.

Given the inherent conflict between life and liberty, and the somtimes impossible desire to protect both, I don't fault anybody for being wishy-washy on the abortion issue. In fact, I fault those who are NOT wishy-washy. If you are comfortable in your pro-life position, it suggests that you think an unwanted pregnancy is no big deal. And if you are comfortably pro-choice, it suggests that like Amy Richards, you don't give a rip about human life.

Let's hear it for wishy-washy! In this context, nothing else makes sense.

I have briefly looked at a few posts and comments threads on this story. My view is somewhat different from what I have seen, and probably will not be shared by too many.

Let me start out by saying that I vehemently oppose late term abortions and fail to see any constituional right to abortion - - I must have been sleeping through my constitutional law class.

After years of trying, my wife got pregnant in early 2001. On August 15, 2001, our daughter was born at 31 weeks, 3 lbs. 5 oz. and she lived for 15 days.

My wife and I subsequently went through some support group meetings and most of the people in those groups had some horrible stories. I met two women who did not follow their doctors' advice and refused to reduce. In both instances, the triplets were born prematurely and died within a day or two.

The story everyone is linking to does not appear to implicate the woman's ability to hold the three babies (yes, babies, not fetuses) to term, but that may be an issue at times.

My wife and I were so desperate to have another baby that we started IVF in 2003. We did not want to face the decision of whether to reduce, so we were hesitant about transplanting multiple embryos. Luckily, only one stuck (on our second attempt) and after ebing on bed rest and thrice a week monitoring, we had a beautiful baby. But given our history with our first daughter and our doctor's serious concern about my wife's ability to hold on even to one baby, I don't think the choice is always so clear. I'm glad we were not forced to make it. Sorry for the length of this comment.

I support precripction drug use and get mad at people who use the drugs for their enjoyment. (Rush)

I support the right to have a drink (anytime I please) but hate folks who don't know when to stop. (Teddy K.)

I support legal abortion because I think the alternative is cruel. I hate the women who abuse legal abortion.

Abortion should be like a gun in the house. It is good to know it is there but you hope to God that you never have to use it or even end up in a situation where you have to consider it.

Ciaochow: Your's is one of the reasons that selective reduction was developed. In that case, horrible as it should be to kill a baby, if carrying all of them is essentially a guarantee that all will die, then, much as I hate abortion, I would never disagree with the choice, and would support those who make it. It is my hope that someday, infertility treatments will advance to the point where they do not have to implant multiple embryos in the hope that one will stick, leading to some couples having to make these choices.

But this woman never says that the doctors recommended it for that reason, or that they feared for her health. The only reason she gives is that it would change her lifestyle. She doesn't seem to have noticed that if you're parenting properly, even one child will change your lifestyle pretty drastically. I know it did mine. 8)

If she had described the choice to "selectively reduce" as one made to save the life of at least one of her babies or because her doctors didn't think she'd survive, I doubt that these blogosphere conversations wouldn't be taking place, and for that matter, I doubt she would have even bothered to write the article.

And belated congratulations on the birth of your second child!

What I don't understand is why she wanted a kid in the first place. It's not to secure her feminista creds.

Geez, she's supposed to be an educated elitist. She can't count? She's a writer, she can't read biology books?

And why didn't she want to have her tubes tied?

Or force him to have his?

I'll say it again, if your body, then Choose not to get pregnant. It's not like there's no options to help you.

Oh, but that's responsibility, isn't it?

"What I don't understand is why she wanted a kid in the first place. It's not to secure her feminista creds."

Oh, but a baby is the latest thing for stylish accessorization! Retro chic, don'cha know. Oh, they do get rather passť after a year or two, but I have people for that. Or I'll just have it put down, like Mindy did with that little Scottie she used to have, until she discovered that BUSH had one. Then, well, sacrifices must be made....

I'll briefly share a story similar to Ciaochow's.

After trying repeatedly to conceive, a relative's fertility treatments eventually resulted in four fetuses being implanted. Given the medical history, her doctors informed her that if reduction was not performed, the chance of any of them surviving was essentially zero. So the difficult decision was reached to abort two, and fast-forwarding to the present, the remaining two survived, barely, and thrive today.

It strikes me that there's an ethical difficulty in that situation regardless of one's stand on abortion. I reject the argument that the original fertility treatment should not have been allowed, since I have two new relatives who otherwise wouldn't exist.

Still, it raises a lot of questions.

It's one thing when a doctor recommends sacraficing one or more babies to save the rest; however, in Amy Richards case, none of the babies were struggling or were there any indications she wouldn't be able to bring them to term. Yes, triplets IS a much higher risk pregnancy than singletons. Even twins are risky. But it doesn't detract from the lifestyle choice Amy made.

Oh, btw, Sydney?

Don't you believe if the baby is so malformed, or is diagnosed with a syndrome that dooms them to early (and painful) death (ie Tach-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis), that is also an ethical and moral reason to allow abortion, even into the second trimester?

And, I'm revolted by many behaviors I find reprehensible. I don't believe that revulsion, in and of itself, is reason enough for legislation. Is my refusal to legislate against such behavior an indication my position is a "loser argument"?

I also feel the way you do. I think of my self as pro-life with certain conditions. I also do not believe a 16 year old should have to carry a rapist's baby for 9 months. I have 3 sons and I had a miscarriage when my first son was a year old. I was in about the 6th week of this pregnancy. This was 37 years ago and I still think of this baby. I wonder if it was a girl? What would she be like? What it would be like to have a daughter? I was 19 when I had this miscarriage and the truth be known, I have quilt, just because I did not want another baby so close to my first one, and it was like I wished it to happen. But I really didn't. I wonder what your friend is thinking today about those lost babies. How is her state of mind?

Bless you, Michele. Honest reflection is the only way one can work through an issue that's this critical, and it takes real courage to do that in public.

My wife was a surrogate mother for a couple who could not have a baby due to the fact that the woman's uterus had been removed. My wife is now in the process of offering to be a surrogate again for another couple who may need this service.

But we've had difficulty finding a couple, because we had stated that we believe a child is a gift of God and would not abort or reduce. (To help keep us from that potential, we also state that no more than 3 eggs may be implanted).

Upon thinking this through a little more, however, we decided we needed to change that to 'will not abort or reduce unless the doctors determine that failing to do so will result in the death of the other babies, or my wife.'

But I am ambivalent - or perhaps as confused as you are - as to whether this should be a law that applies to all. I lean toward saying that it should not be law.

Yet at the same time, I have to ask myself, if I truly believe that life begins at conception, which I do (and which John Kerry recently said he also believes) then how can I sit back as children are murdered? I would not do so if 3 year olds were frequently and convienently 'disposed of' if they became a burden to a woman's life style.

Somehow, however, I can't go to that extreme. I don't participate in anti-abortion demonstrations; yet I'm glad to see that some do. I would counsel my daughter not to have an abortion; yet would love her and support her should she make such a decision.

I think it has to be a change of heart, not changed legislation.

But the question remains: if you believe it is a life - a baby - then what do you call the taking of that life?

I am anti-abortion. I am pro-life, and no it is not a dishonest term, especially in light of the noncritical way in which the term "pro-choice" is never challenged for "dishonesty."

This is a hot topic for me, so just some declarations here, and no argument.

1. My mind is made up on this issue. It is officially closed. Nothing anyone can say ever will change my mind. Whoever doesn't like that, well, that won't change my mind either.

2. I will never, ever, vote for a person who is a pro-abortion. I don't care what else they are right on. Again, whoever doesn't like that, read #1.

3. Sorry if "pro-death" hurts, but maybe if the "pro-death" side didn't slander the anti-abortion side with "anti-choice" (which is dishonest, because choice is what we are all about, for mother and baby), maybe the rhetoric wouldn't be so pointed.

Enough said. As a child of a 17 year old mother back in the 50s, I'm damn glad Roe v. Wade wasn't the law of the land then.

Damn glad.

I have tried to examine abortion from every possible angle, and, while I admit that there are circumstances under which the motivations for having an abortion are less morally ambiguous than others, I cannot get around the fact that an abortion, no matter when it takes place, necessarily ends a human life.

This doesn't leave me much fudge room in having a 'nuanced' view of abortion. I suppose I could think up a number of 'theoretical' circumstances in which tkaking the life of the child would 'mathematically' make more sense than the alternative, but I find the real reasons for abortion to be glaringly insufficient to justify killing a baby, however young.

Most abortions are acts of convenience. Most do not occur in cases of rape or incest; a tiny percentage of pregnancies actually threaten the life of the mother. These fact that these 'loopholes', implemented for the best of reasons, exist, means that there is little to nothing stopping a woman from having an abortion in this country.

Like Ed Falkner, I cannot vote for a pro-choice politician if there is any chance that they could enact or perpetuate legislation that made abortions easier to have. It is unfortunately as simple as that. Damn every other issue until some other issue involves the deaths of more than 1 million disenfranchised citizens. To me, there is nothing more important than that.

I consider myself a reasonable person. There are a lot of conservatives who would consider some of my views to be 'liberal', and vice versa. But to me, this isn't about politics, this is about what's right and wrong, and, for the life of me, I couldn't escape that if I tried.

I don't think there's anything the least bit inconsistent with being pro-choice and being horrified at the article. Even the Clintonian "safe, legal, and rare" mantra is based on the idea that abortion, even if sometimes necessary, is wrong. I'm a pro-choice absolutist, but that doesn't mean I approve of abortions. I just approve of people making their own choices on the matter.

It's not illegal to spit on a grave, but that doesn't mean it's not wrong.

At the end, you just have to sigh and recognize that this is one of those mercifully few instances where our idea of freedom and our idea of morality are in direct conflict. There will never be a solution that is morally and/or politically adequate for everyone.

"Don't you believe if the baby is so malformed, or is diagnosed with a syndrome that dooms them to early (and painful) death (ie Tach-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis), that is also an ethical and moral reason to allow abortion, even into the second trimester?"

No, because such thinking is the beginning of judging people by their genetic worth. I believe that the 20th century has experienced enough of that. People should be valued for their intrinsic worth as humans. All children, even those who are sick and deformed, should be loved and valued. To go down the road of killing an innocent child because he or she isn't "normal" is a road that leads to disaster.

Honestly, eugenics is the last argument pro-choicers want to start making.

I have to second Sydney's response to Darleen, at least in regard to CF. Medicine and science are doing wonders for that horrible thing, plus lung transplants work pretty well. Of course, like getting foster parents, organ donors are pretty damn scarce.

Michele, I'm glad we agree on more than the importance of Guinness.

Here's my Modest Proposal for abortion law: make the pill an over-the-counter medicine (it allows women control over their bodies, except those women, such as my wife, who don't respond well to hormonal birth control), make unmarried men in no way responsible for child support (it strengthens marriage!) beyond the cost of an abortion, and put some responsibility alongside that right (if an unmarried woman wants to have a child, then she's responsible for it). It'll never happen, but it's nice to dream.

Also, has anyone heard how those septuplets in Iowa are doing? What about a follow-up on the woman who was carrying eight? I thought she lost them all, but am unsure.

I hope the fake ad on SNL (Teeny Weenies? something like that--sample dialogue involved a mother saying "Most are messed up, but a few turned out sort of okay") wasn't a portent of things to come. I'm a bit allied with the Vatican in regards to fertility drugs: God didn't want women having litters of children. Too bad I don't believe in God, or I might get preachy on that point.

The thing that troubles me about this, above and beyond the points that have been brought up already, is that I'm appalled that any doctor would agree to perform the procedure. We're not talking about a "lifeboat ethics" situation where if some of the fetuses aren't removed, all will die or be horribly damaged. We're not talking about someone deciding not to be a mother at all. This situation involves someone having three healthy fetuses and saying "OK, let's get rid of two of them and keep the third, because having three babies would be just too inconvenient." I mean, does this sort of thing bother doctors at all? The fact that there are demonstrably doctors out there who are willing to perform procedures like this is why I have no problem with strong legal oversight on third-trimester abortions--with doctors having to meticulously justify their actions and not being permitted to proceed except to protect the life of the mother or to prevent the mother from suffering severe physical harm. If doctors will countenance the type of procedure Ms. Richards underwent, I'm not going to take their word that they have a good reason for wanting to terminate a third-trimester pregnancy--they're going to have to prove it.

It's clear that life begins at conception. The new embryo is indeed alive.

But is it a person?

Because you can morally kill most forms of life with impunity. You just can't kill people except in certain exceptional circumstances (self-defense, defense of innocents, defense of nation, ...), and any decent society forbids, by force of law, the killing of people except in those exceptional circumstances.

So is there a person in there? Just the fact that it's got human DNA doesn't tell you anything; a spacefaring alien, assuming any exist, would be a person. (How smart does he have to be? Ask me again when we find some... but if he shows up here of his own volition, he's pretty much got to be a person)

I think one exclusionary rule we can count on is this: if it hasn't got a brain, it isn't a person. In fact, I would go further and say that the human brain is the person; the rest of the body is there to feed him nutrients and data and carry out his intended actions. So an embryo that hasn't yet developed a brain is not a person and can be discarded or used in research or medical treatments without any moral wrong being committed. Conversely, once the brain, no matter how small, is present, a person may be present and it should be illegal to kill it except in self-defense.

By this standard, birth control pills and "morning after" pills are kosher, since they only affect embryos that clearly lack even rudimentary brains. Also, stem cells from such embryos can be harvested and used with impunity, and attempts to prevent the use of stem cells from embryos without brains are themselves immoral, since they prevent the cure of someone who could be saved if not for such misguided interference.

I, too... don't understand why you aren't willing to call yourself pro-life. That is what I consider myself, and my views are VERY similar to yours. The only cases I am at all "uncertain" about are those of CLEAR rape, non-consensual incest (which is, after all, rape anyway), and maybe the clear and present danger to the woman if that danger did not come because of a choice she made (Such as to have 3+ eggs implanted at once... Seems to me if you want to be certain that you don't get too many multiples, you have a choice in implanting.) (Yes, I know that triplets happen in other circumstances. But that is even rarer than the fertility method mentioned here.) And I'm perfectly comfortable needing judicial oversight for those.

My husband and I have discussed the issue. And if we have fertility problems, we won't go into any that have high probability of multiples just to avoid this problem entirely. We'll adopt. We may adopt anyway.

My friend has a daughter (unplanned) that she was on bed rest for the last three months of the pregnancy. The Doctor's told her that the girl would have Down's Syndrome, and perhaps multiple sclerosis. And urged her to "terminate the pregnancy" She refused.

There is nothing wrong with the beautiful 8-year old daughter that was born a few weeks early. -- Doctors make mistakes like that all the time.

Another friend had twins born at 6 months. One didn't survive (but God made the decision to take him, not any doctors.), but the other did and is a quite happy 6 year old. His parents are inordinately pleased of him.

As for those septuplets, here's a webpage:
And here's the Ladies' Home Journal page for them:

They seem to be growing up quite well.

Look at Drudge right now. Quadruplets for that "father"?

Well, at least they're wanted.

I've always been 'pro-choice'.

I do not condone abortion. The idea of late-term abortion is appalling to me. However, as a single female, who has never been married, never been pregnant, and never tried to get pregnant, I simply feel that I am inherently UNqualified to judge what is the right course of action for anyone but myself.

I had a friend in college who, due to endocrine problems, could not take birth control pills. She relied on condoms and used them faithfully, but somehow ended up pregnant twice, and subsequently aborted both times. Was she irresponsible and using abortion as birth control? Obviously whatever she was, she was incredibly unlucky.

I have friends with mentally disabled siblings, and a couple of others who have/had children with debilitating diseases. While I respect Sydney's stance above about the value of a human life and the maligned path leading to eugenics, there remains the fact that not everyone is emotionally or physically equipped or capable of caring for a "special" child. I was a volunteer for the Special Olympics for several years, and I've seen the worth of these children. But who are we to dictate to anyone else what they should do in these instances?

My religious beliefs, my moral and ethical beliefs - none of these make me an authority on telling anyone else what is right for them. I will never be able to reconcile that "God" chose for them to have such children, or that if the fetus is deformed, it has to be the mother's fault.

When jewish people get married, they're tested for Tay Sachs, yet children are still born with the disease. There is no cure. The child will die. It's inevitable. Demanding that parents knowingly deliver such a child may be good for the child, but it's also cruel to the parents, don't you think? Some people choose to bring such a child into the world. Some don't. I can and do praise those who have the strength to do so, but I cannot condemn those who don't.

The only way I can think of halt the abuse of abortion (and yes, I firmly believe MANY people abuse it) is through education - and not educational propaganda by either belief camp.

Every high school (or even younger, apparently - junior high? That's scary to think of, but sadly necessary) should have a human sexuality class that teaches student about ALL aspects of sexuality - from abstinence to birth control to STD's to abortion. Knowledge about these things does not make kids go out and have sex. It helps them make smarter choices. It makes them think. Ignorance breeds ignorance. And it frightens me when I read about 12 year olds having sexual intercourse regularly.

And Michele - there is absolutely nothing wrong with being of two minds about this issue. Our personal experiences always shape our perceptions. This probably the grayest issue I know of, and there are countless shades of it - and all of us who commented here are living proof of that.

I must be part of a small group. I'm not left-wing, and I honestly couldn't care less how many abortions happens every year. It's not murder. Period.

For your edification: this little bit of irony overload.

Why not have the baby and give it up for adoption?

I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but still: because women are not cows, happily munching grass while they gestate in the field, and if you take away the offspring right after birth they forget it existed. Pregnancy and birth are a burden. They are a joyful burden to most women, but they are a burden--and sometimes dangerously so. Adoption is difficult. You may argue that it is a better choice than abortion, perhaps, but to suggest that it's simpler to simply carry to term and give a child up for adoption is specious.

One can choose to be horrified by this, but I cannot fathom why this should affect anyone's stance on the legality of abortion. I am horrified by women who starve themselves or get breast implants to please a boyfriend, but I do not believe Atkins diets or breast implants should be forbidden. I am horrified by women who get pregnant because they believe that will save a floundering marriage, but I don't think they should go to jail for that bad choice.

Then again, perhaps she should have thought about that before having unprotected sex.

Why assume she deliberately had unprotected sex, and why cut the father out of the scenario?

Please understand I am not minimizing the pain you went through (and telling a woman who has had a miscarriage to stop fussing is reprehensible) or that of women who cannot have babies. But the real core of your post was your observation: who am I to tell somebody else she has to go through pregnancy and birth?

Here's what we have:
New York Times article (please recall the WMD articles that they later had to apologize for)
LIberal Feminist Aborts 2 Babies - Heart of Ice and/or Evil

Ok, if this article has pro-choicers reconsidering their opinion on upholding Roe vs. Wade, if it has most readers apalled at the callousness, the selfishness of this liberal activist, who do you think this serves? Our current administration maybe?

I am not surprised at all by the article, hoax or not, I'm not surprised at the reaction, I am surprised that no one has written in to say that the media in this country has been known to serve the interests of Bush administration, and perhaps it is doing so again.

Hello. If you are owner of this site, delete this message, please.