by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
I have a big problem with Jill Filipovic's response to Saletan. Admittedly, I'm pro-life, so I'm a little bit more sensitive to it, but my problem has to do with the way discourse tends to go between me and my pro-choice friends, not with abortion itself (that's another topic). Basically Jill's argument says this: "Forget about these cases on the margins. That has nothing to do with the basic issue of the right to have an abortion. Cases on the margins should not matter regarding one's stance with abortion. These cases distract us from the important questions, like all the good abortion-seeking women who want to have abortions early and who face problems in doing the responsible thing."
I'm sorry, but that's bullshit.
And the reason is this: every time I get into a debate about abortion with my pro-choice friends, I hear sob story after sob story about - you guessed it - awful cases on the margins that are supposed to justify abortions. You know, the poor teenager raped by her abusive step-father, or the woman who is in the throes of poverty and already has 11 kids, or this blog's "It's So Personal" series. All of these scenarios are supposed to distract me from the act of taking the life of a defenseless embryo and then, by some magic, get extended to the majority of cases to justify abortion on demand.
But what about all the women who have abortions because they don't want to move out of their rent-controlled third-story walk-up in Manhattan and can't imagine carrying a baby up a flight of stairs, or the couple who decides that they want to wait for kids because they enjoy traveling too much, or the woman who just finds a pregnancy inconvenient? I know women like this: they talk freely and openly about their abortions. It's harder to argue for a justification of abortion for those more common cases, so instead I get to hear heart-wrenching stories (and they are heart-wrenching) about women in really awful circumstances to try to convince me that it's moral to abort. But in the US or in Europe, how common are those marginal cases?
In other words: if you're pro-choice, play fair. I don't shove pictures of aborted fetuses in people's faces (it's true that some pro-lifers do at times, and that's not fair). But if, as a pro-lifer, I'm supposed to defend the embryo in cases where it looks "moral" to abort, then pro-choicers should also defend abortion in the hardest cases. Those include partial-birth abortions for purposes not of health but of convenience or simply late decisions, a point from Saletan's column that Jill conveniently ignores. From Saletan:
We don't have solid data on elective abortions late in the second trimester, much less the third, but we do have well-informed estimates concerning so-called "partial-birth" abortions. I'm one of many journalists who bought the initial pro-choice claim that these abortions were mostly for medical reasons. Investigative reports subsequently debunked this claim and corroborated the confession of Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, that "in the vast majority of cases" the patient was "a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along."