He writes:

It's beyond the pale - and frankly, pretty vile of you -- to claim that I've said Bristol Palin should abort her baby. If anyone here wants to dictate reproductive choices to women, it's you. I believe that members of the Palin family, like the rest of us, should be able to decide what to do with their bodies themselves. As to what I take to be your larger point - pfff. Teen pregnancy rates have been falling since 1990, for a variety of reasons. Fewer teen pregnancies have led to fewer births and to fewer abortions. But this has all happened while abortion has remained legal. There's no logical inference to be drawn that banning abortion wouldn't result in more out-of-wedlock births. Speaking of simplistic models of human behavior, do you really think that banning abortion would cause American teenagers to revert en masse to 1950s morality and stop having pre-marital sex? Some might, but illegitimacy rates will surely be higher than otherwise if you deny girls who aren't ready to run families (or who have been raped, or are victims of incest) the last-resort option of an abortion. I don't advocate abortion for anyone - safe, legal and rare describes my position. I simply recognize that there are moral trade-offs here, and wish intellectually honest conservatives like you, Ross, would face them more squarely.

I don't recall claiming that "banning abortion would cause American teenagers to revert en masse to 1950s morality and stop having pre-marital sex." It was Weisberg who was advancing a specific claim - namely, that the goal of reducing teen and out-of-wedlock births is inherently in tension with the goal of ending abortion. In response, I argued that the evidence doesn't really support that claim at all. It doesn't support a simplistic "ban abortion and everyone will stay a virgin till marriage" theory, either, but I never said it did. All I said was that the evidence is a lot more murky than his overly simplistic model would suggest, and that there's at least some evidence that legalized abortion had the opposite impact on out-of-wedlock birth rates that Weisberg's theory would lead one to expect.

As for my "pretty vile" suggestion that Weisberg's piece was making an implicit case that Bristol Palin should have aborted her fetus instead of carrying it to term - well, read the piece and judge for yourself. Writing in the context of Palin's much-publicized pregnancy, and the supportive response from social conservatives to her decision to have the child, Weisberg makes the following claims: that "the availability of legal abortion supports the kind of family structure that conservatives once felt so strongly about: two parents raising children in a stable relationship"; that "teenagers who carry their pregnancies to term drastically diminish their chances of living out the conservative, or the American, dream"; that "the Bristol Palin option [marrying the baby's father] doesn't promote family happiness, stability, or traditional structure, either"; that by allowing "a pregnant, unmarried 17-year-old and her boyfriend ... onstage in St. Paul" conservatives were privileging their "pro-life absolutism" over real family values; and that those conservatives who would praise teen and unwed mothers for choosing life, rather than just condemning them for embarking childrearing in less-than-ideal circumstances, are being "morally irresponsible." It's true that nowhere does he explicitly say: Conservatives should have encouraged Bristol Palin to get an abortion. But I think it's quite fair, and not at all "vile" or irresponsible, to draw that implication from his argument.

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