Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New York Times on Uterine Transplants

Roni Rabin of the New York Times (Jan. 30) writes:

The telephone calls and e-mail messages started streaming in just hours after the first news articles reported that a uterine transplant might be in the works. One caller was a 25-year-old Alabama woman who was born without a uterus. Another was a 33-year-old Illinois woman who had a hysterectomy at 24. All of the women, desperate to carry a child of their own, had heard that doctors at New York Downtown Hospital had harvested wombs from eight brain-dead human donors, laying the groundwork for the first human uterine transplant in the Western world. They wanted to be candidates for transplants. (One caller even offered to be a living donor, saying she had already had children and no longer needed her uterus.)

The hospital has no immediate plans for a uterine transplant, but even the possibility has been greeted with opprobrium by many medical ethicists, fertility doctors and patient advocates. They said that a uterine transplant is a radical and potentially dangerous solution to a problem that is not life-threatening and that can be resolved in other ways, like using a surrogate. The risks, they said, extend not only to the mother but also to the unborn child.

When and where an actual transplant of a uterus might take place is anyone’s guess. Dr. Bruce D. Logan, the president of New York Downtown Hospital, said the hospital was supportive of the research but did not expect to perform a uterine transplant “any time in the foreseeable future.”  The only human uterine transplant to date was carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2000 and used an organ from a live donor, which is not being considered by the New York researchers, but the uterus failed after three months and had to be removed.

Read Prospect of Womb Transplant Raises Hopes and Red Flags.

January 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nineteen Years of Reproductive Freedom in Canada

From the National Abortion Federation Blog (Saporta Reporter):
Sunday marked the 19th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada case that struck down Canada’s abortion law as unconstitutional, and made Canada one of the few countries without a law restricting abortion. The Chronicle Herald featured a profile of NAF member Dr. Henry Morgentaler and his involvement with this landmark case.

Abortion is among the health services guaranteed by the Canada Health Act and is funded under provincial and territorial health plans. However, access is variable across the country and women in New Brunswick lack the same access to publicly funded abortion care as women in the rest of Canada. NAF has been actively working in New Brunswick to improve women’s access to reproductive health care services.

>Learn more about
access to abortion in Canada.

January 31, 2007 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Massachusetts Teenager Imprisoned for Self-Induced Abortion

Abortion may be legal in the United States, but the myriad restrictions placed upon its access, and the culture of shame surrounding abortion that the anti-choice movement has so successfully promoted, weigh most heavily upon poor women and teenagers.  Here is a stark illustration.  Eileen McNamara writes in Sunday's Boston Globe:

The one, certain place Amber Abreu did not belong while prosecutors decide whether the Lawrence teenager's self-induced abortion amounts to manslaughter is the state's maximum-security prison for women.  Framingham state prison is where this teenager was incarcerated after her arrest last week on the archaic-sounding charge of "procuring miscarriage." It is where she spent three nights until her family was able to borrow $15,000 for bail, an amount inconceivable to a young woman whose Dominican street remedy for ending an unwanted pregnancy collided with American ambivalence about abortion.

What Amber did -- swallow pills marketed to prevent ulcers but known to induce abortion -- is a crime in the United States but commonplace in the Dominican Republic where misoprostol is available over the counter and where abortion is both illegal and widely practiced. . . .

What is clear is that an inner-city teenager who is still studying English made a desperate choice when a safe and legal one proved inaccessible. Amber knew abortion was legal in the United States. Her family had raised the money for her to undergo the procedure a year ago. Whether from shame or fear, Amber said , she could not ask her mother to help her again. She turned to the cheap home remedy that landed her in Lawrence District Court last week in shackles.

The law is a tool, not a cudgel. It is to be used with discretion by those who wield it. This tragedy -- and it is a tragedy -- is less a measure of one teenager's bad choices than it is an indictment of a culture that tells all women abortion is their legal, constitutionally protected right, but tolerates a lack of access for the neediest women. A well-heeled suburban 18-year-old who chooses to terminate a pregnancy need only write a check. . . .  Beyond the challenge of access is the question of education. How comprehensive could Amber's understanding be of contraception if she faced her second unwanted pregnancy in a year?

Read Bad Choices All Around.

January 30, 2007 in Abortion, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Workshop on Reproductive Medicine and Law

Aals_logo_13 The AALS and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine are holding a joint Workshop on Reproductive Medicine and Law in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 20-22, 2007.  Here is the conference description:Asrmlogo_80

After more than two decades, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) coupled with increasingly sophisticated prenatal diagnostic techniques still raise a host of vexing questions for families, scholars, and legal and medical practitioners. Who gets access to these technologies, and why? Money is important as well as all sorts of judgments about who is “fit” to parent, whether on the basis of age, race, marital status or sexual orientation. Scholars from a variety of cross cultural, feminist, religious, and race perspectives have explored the social implications of the increasing array of choices. Questions increasingly arise about the role of state and professional regulation of these practices, and different countries have taken dramatically different approaches. The implications of ART and its use and control are far broader, shedding important light on views of the families, the practice of medicine, and the roles of different perspectives and beliefs in our society and our world. All these issues will be discussed during the workshop. 

January 30, 2007 in Assisted Reproduction, Conferences and Symposia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 29, 2007

South Dakota Redux?

From the Associated Press tonight:

Abortion opponents, hoping to get around voters' objections to a previous measure, announced a bill Monday that would ban the procedure in the state except in limited instances. . . .

State lawmakers approved a bill last year that would have permitted abortions only when women's lives were in danger, but a petition campaign put the issue on the ballot. Voters rejected the proposal in November by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

The latest legislation is designed to appeal to voters who oppose abortion but feel there should be exceptions in cases of rape, incest and serious endangerment of a woman's health. Last year's measure did not contain those exclusions.

Read S.D. Lawmakers Prepare Abortion Measure

January 29, 2007 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


Robin Toner writes in today's New York Times:

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas announced Sunday that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, mounting an underdog campaign for the Republican nomination with “a message of hope and optimism for restoring America.” . . .

He also spoke about his staunch opposition to abortion rights, saying, “I always am going to err on the side of life.” But the anti-abortion movement, he said, has to do “some growing and expanding.”

“We have to remind people that life, where we believe it begins at conception, it doesn’t end at birth,” Mr. Huckabee added. “And if we’re really pro-life, we have to be concerned about more than the gestation period.”

See Ex-Arkansas Governor Joins Race for G.O.P. Nomination.  Huckabee has a point.  In 2000, Jean Reith Schroedel, a political science professor, published Is the Fetus a Person: A Comparison of Policies Across the Fifty States.  Schroedel hypothesized that, if true to their rhetoric, "pro-life" states (meaning those that had the most restrictive abortion laws) would spend more than other states do on needy children.  She found the opposite: states with the strongest antiabortion laws provided less funding than strongly pro-choice states for children in foster care, parents of adopted children with special needs, and poor women with dependent children.

January 29, 2007 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Texas Court Affirms Life Sentence for Feticide

Stockxpertcom_id620710_size1_496e5771250 My Jan. 26 post, Gee, thanks!, focused on whether abortion providers in Texas should get the death penalty for violating the state's parental consent law.  Continuing on the theme of fetal rights in Texas, see the Volokh Conspiracy post, Murder of Unborn Children as Capital Crime? (Jan. 26), about Flores v. State, in which a Texas appeals court upheld a life sentence for a man who caused the death of his girlfriend's unborn twins.  Flores had admitted that he stepped on his girlfriend's stomach twice in the week before the fetuses were stillborn. Like the issue raised in my post, this case highlights the difficulties that arise when state laws define a fetus as a person.  Can a law make a third party's killing of a fetus capital murder, while exempting abortion (or other conduct by the pregnant woman)? (Note: It's important to remember that at least as to viable fetuses exemptions for the pregnant woman herself only reach so far: Roe v. Wade does not protect a woman's right to abort a viable fetus unless her own life or health is at risk.)

The difficulty can be avoided, however, if laws instead punish third-party harm to a pregnant woman.  In most feticide cases (including the famous Laci Peterson case), the woman is carrying a wanted pregnancy.  Some of the comments to Volokh's post defend exempting abortion from feticide laws based on the woman's right to make autonomous decisions about her body.  A law that punishes "harm to a pregnant woman" as a distinct crime, with a punishment exceeding that for the mere assault of the woman, is consistent with this view.  Pregnant women in wanted pregnancies suffer a loss greater than the physical harm caused to their own bodies.  This approach also avoids the apparent inconsistency in treating fetuses as persons in some contexts but not in others. 

The Flores case is especially tricky because Flores's girlfriend apparently testified that she told Flores she wanted to end the pregnancy and asked him to step on her stomach.  If this is true, does it make sense to sentence Flores to life in prison while exempting his girlfriend?  It's hard to know, though, from the opinion's brief description what was really going on in this case.  Flores admitted that the two had argued and that he had struck her.  Moreover, his girlfriend not only had "massive bruises" on her abdomen, but her arms and face were bruised.  Was she trying to protect her boyfriend from a possible death sentence by claiming that she asked him to help end her pregnancy?  Regardless, unless and until we are prepared to treat fetuses as persons in all contexts -- and the general public clearly is not, as evidenced by the failed South Dakota abortion ban -- the far better course is to avoid legislation that defines fetuses as persons, and instead focuses on harm caused to pregnant women.  (For an example of this kind of law, see N.C. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14-18.2.)

January 28, 2007 in Fetal Rights, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

National Women's Law Center Guide on Pharmacy Refusals

NwlclogoforwebThe National Women's Law Center has updated its guide on pharmacist refusals, Don't Take "No" for an Answer.  From the Introduction:

Do patients have the right to receive lawfully prescribed medication without delay or humiliation from their pharmacist or pharmacy? Do pharmacists or pharmacies have the right to refuse to dispense lawfully prescribed medication based on their religious, moral or personal beliefs? While in many states, state laws and regulations do not explicitly address the issue, as discussed below, there is much support for the legal duty of pharmacists to dispense medication without regard to their personal beliefs.

Permissible justifications for pharmacist refusals, such as evidence of forgery, abuse, mistaken dosage, or contraindication, are very different from a growing number of occurrences of pharmacists who refuse to fill valid prescriptions simply because the pharmacist disapproves. The legally permissible reasons for a pharmacist or pharmacy to refuse to dispense a medication is based on what is medically in the interest of the patient, as judged by the professional training of the pharmacist, not on his or her personal beliefs.

Despite legal and professional obligations, there have been many incidents of pharmacists and pharmacies refusing to fill women’s birth control prescriptions. These refusals can have devastating consequences for women’s health. Access to contraception is critical to preventing unintended pregnancies, to enabling women to control the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, and to protecting women’s health and their ability to bear healthy children.

The guide includes an overview of laws and regulations that govern the dispensing of prescription medications.  Read about the NWLC's Pharmacy Refusal Project.

January 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Conference on The Implications of Reproductive Technologies on Parenthood

Stockxpertcom_id89693_size1_496e57712502 An international conference on The Implications of Reproductive Technologies on Parenthood at the Beginning of the 21st Century will be held on June 11- 13, 2007, in Netanya, Israel.  The conference is being by the Center for Law and Medicine at the Netanya Academic College School of Law.  Here is the conference description:

Originally developed as treatment for infertility reproductive technologies are now offered as commercial services for clients who are not necessarily infertile and for purposes other than reproduction. Expanding the use of these technologies has changed society’s perception of parenthood and family life, and more generally re-examined the notion of procreative liberty and its social effects. The conference will address the legal and ethical issues surrounding these changes and examine their implications on the broader concerns occupying anyone who is interested in the ethics of reproductive technology.    

The deadline for abstracts is January 31.  For more information, visit the conference website.

January 27, 2007 in Assisted Reproduction, Conferences and Symposia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gee, thanks!

It's nice to know that, in the Texas Attorney General's opinion, abortion providers should not be eligible for the death penalty for providing abortions in violation of the state's parental consent law.  The opinion states that they are, however, subject to a maximum penalty of a third-degree felony, which carries a possible sentence of up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine.  This illustrates the kind of confusion and uncertainty that arises when states enact laws that define a fetus as a person.  Read the story in the Dallas Morning News: AG: No death penalty in abortion cases.  Read more about fetal protection laws:

January 26, 2007 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brief of Constitutional Law Professors as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents in Gonzales v. Carhart

David L. Faigman, Ashutosh A. Bhagwat, and Kathryn M. Davis have posted their Brief of Constitutional Law Professors as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents in Gonzales v. Carhart (the challenge to the federal abortion ban pending in the Supreme Court) on SSRN.  The brief will be published in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly.  Here is the abstract:

This is a published brief, which was submitted by a group of constitutional law professors as amici curiae to the United States Supreme Court in the Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood cases (i.e., the partial birth abortion cases) during the October, 2006 Term. The brief, along with an accompanying introduction, will be published shortly in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. The question the brief addresses is whether the Supreme Court should defer to congressional findings of fact, when the factual questions at issue help to determine the scope of a basic, constitutional right.

The argument presented in the brief is as follows:

The question of what level of deference is owed legislative findings of fact (whether made by Congress or by state legislatures) in constitutional litigation is not a new one. It divided the Supreme Court in First Amendment cases in the 1920s, and again arose in the 1940s in the Japanese-American Internment case. In the modern era, however, and contrary to the position Solicitor General advanced in the above cases, the Supreme Court has consistently refused to defer to legislative findings regarding facts and mixed questions of law and fact where, as here, the resolution of such questions serves to define the scope of a fundamental constitutional right. Put differently, when legislation is subject to heightened scrutiny because it burdens a basic right, the Supreme Court has always engaged in a searching, independent review of constitutionally relevant factual findings and conclusions. This is not to say that legislatures may not make factual findings that affect the scope of rights, or that courts should ignore such findings when they exist. To the contrary, legislatures should be encouraged to make such findings, and when courts are faced with the obligation to determine constitutional facts upon which legislative findings are based, they should accord due respect to the legislature's work. But judicial determinations of such facts should not be wholly deferential to legislative findings, nor are courts limited in their review to a record compiled by legislative bodies. Rather, courts must conduct an independent judicial review of legislative facts in constitutional cases and must remain free to gather and evaluate additional relevant facts, where they exist. A contrary rule would permit legislative bodies to evade and effectively overrule, through the guise of “fact-finding,” the most critical decisions of the Supreme Court, thereby undermining the Court's preeminent role in constitutional interpretation mandated by Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803).

Read the other briefs in Gonzales v. Carhart.
Read the briefs in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood.

Continue reading

January 26, 2007 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Must We Say What We Mean?

On the Senate floor yesterday, John Kerry announced that he will not run for President in 2008.  For a Catholic pro-choice politician, the abortion issue was especially treacherous ground in the 2004 campaign.  In the second presidential debate in 2004, Kerry was asked what he would say to a voter who believed abortion is murder.  Kerry said that he would give this response: "I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I'm a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today. But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that."  [Read the entire debate transcript.]

Although Kerry is often ridiculed for his opaque and byzantine answers, the position he expressed is a common approach among pro-choice Catholic politicians and neatly fits the liberal model of addressing the abortion conundrum.  As Thomas Nagel puts it, "Liberals propose to 'bracket,' or set aside, the question whether abortion is morally wrong, and to defend the legal right to abortion on the ground that women's liberty in a personal matter of this kind may not be overruled simply because of the religious convictions of the majority." In the debate, Kerry did not say whether he himself accepts the Catholic position, but whether he does is irrelevant: Kerry's answer attempts to "bracket" the question in the exact way that Nagel describes.

Michael Sandel, on the other hand, argues that "liberals cannot defend the right to abortion without implicitly denying that the fetus is a person." To adopt a pro-choice stance is to deny the validity of the Catholic position, for if Catholic doctrine were correct that the fetus is a person, one could not morally permit abortions to occur.  Viewed from this perspective, Kerry's attempt to bracket the question fails.  As Amy Sullivan puts it in her November article in the New Republic, Life Term: "What [voters] likely heard in Kerry's convoluted abortion explanation was that he wanted credit for being opposed to abortion, but he wasn't so Catholic that it meant anything to him."

Is there any way out of this bind for pro-choice Catholic politicians?  It would surely be a political death knell for any such candidate to dismiss outright the religious belief that life begins at conception, and just as fatal to embrace it.  Whether one agrees with Nagel or Sandel on the merits, it seems that pragmatic pro-choice politicians have no choice but to adopt Nagel's approach, deflecting what is in one sense the crucial issue of abortion.  You can read an exchange between Sandel and Nagel (both of whom, incidentally, are pro-choice) on this topic in the New York Review of Books.

January 25, 2007 in Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Portugal's Upcoming Referendum on Abortion

PortugalsFrom Women's eNews: Portugal Tests European Stance on Abortion, by Meghan Sapp:

Voters in Portugal will cast their ballots Feb. 11 on a referendum to legalize abortions during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The vote is part of a controversy also building in Ireland, Poland and Malta, the three other countries in the 27-member European Union that ban abortion. In addition to legislative initiatives such as referenda, advocates are also tussling with governments in national and international courts.

In Portugal, a woman can be prosecuted for obtaining an illegal abortion.  Anti-choice advocates in the United States typically do not call for the prosecution of women who seek abortion, thus undermining their own assertion that the fetus is a person.  But while Portugal's stance may be more consistent in this regard, its law has an exception for rape, which is also incompatible with the position that a fetus is a person.  Read more about Portugal's abortion laws at Women on Waves.

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.

January 24, 2007 in Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Guess who said it:

(1) "In all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors."

(2) "[T]he attending physician, in consultation with his patient, is free to determine, without regulation by the State, that, in his medical judgment, the patient's pregnancy should be terminated."

Continue reading

January 24, 2007 in Abortion, Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

NAF Releases 2006 Legislative Report

Naf_logo_1 The National Abortion Federation has released its 2006 legislative report.  From the report:

While abortion rights remained under attack in 2006, there were several notable victories at the federal and state levels that could lay the groundwork for future pro-choice legislative initiatives. The year began with the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito and continued with the introduction of sweeping abortion bans in several states, successful campaigns against restrictive state ballot initiatives, the enactment of protective measures for abortion providers, and the defeat of anti-abortion legislation on Capitol Hill. The year concluded with the fall 2006 elections, which yielded numerous victories for pro-choice candidates.

Read the full report.

January 24, 2007 in Congress, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

National Advocates for Pregnant Women Summit Concludes

Napw_logo_1 The National Advocates for Pregnant Women's National Summit to Ensure the Health & Humanity of Pregnant and Birthing Women concluded on Sunday 1/21.  View the conference program and read bloggers' reports on the Summit.

January 23, 2007 in Conferences and Symposia, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reva Siegel on Woman-Centered Anti-Choice Advocacy

Siegel_reva Reva Siegel's The New Politics of Abortion: An Equality-Based Analysis of Woman-Protective Abortion Restrictions, mentioned in Emily Bazelon's recent NYT Magazine article, is now posted on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

With the abortion debate in stalemate over the last several decades, the antiabortion movement has become increasingly concerned to speak to voters concerned about protecting women as well as the unborn. Prohibiting abortion, the movement now emphasizes, protects women's health and choices as mothers. The abortion ban defeated in South Dakota last November reflected this shift from fetal-focused to gender-based justifications for abortion restrictions. Woman-protective antiabortion argument now plays an important part in legislation and litigation across the nation.

Drawing on the South Dakota record, this lecture offers a first constitutional analysis of the new woman-protective justification for restricting abortion. This lecture analyzes the state interest in protecting women from abortion asserted in the South Dakota statute and legislative history, and shows that the state's reasoning rests on gender stereotypes about women's capacity and women's roles.

Continue reading

January 23, 2007 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Susan Frelich Appleton on "Roe's End"

Appletons Susan Frelich Appleton has posted Gender, Abortion, and Travel After Roe's End on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This essay responds to Professor Richard Fallon's 2006 Childress Lecture at St. Louis University School of Law, If Roe Were Overruled: Abortion and the Constitution in a Post-Roe World. Professor Fallon's paper exposes as fallacies four popular beliefs about the legal landscape after Roe's end, including the belief that states restricting abortion will and can reach conduct only within their territorial boundaries. As he persuasively explains, criminal authority probably extends beyond state lines, and the outer limits of a state's criminal legislative jurisdiction pose a host of contested issues, including the tension between national and state citizenship.

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January 23, 2007 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Nan Hunter on Justice Blackmun, abortion, and law and medicine

Nhuntersmall Nan Hunter (Brooklyn) has posted Justice Blackmun, Abortion, and the Myth of Medical Independence on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article uses Justice Blackmun's personal papers and other primary sources to argue for a re-interpretation of how the relationship between law and medicine affected the Supreme Court's treatment of abortion. The conventional wisdom has been that Blackmun framed the abortion right in Roe v Wade as belonging as much to the physician as to the pregnant woman largely because of his close personal identification with doctors, growing out of his experiences as resident counsel at the Mayo Clinic.

I argue that this widely-held belief has hidden a richer and more complex relationship between legal and medical discourse. Both in Roe and in the earlier case of United States v. Vuitch, the Court constructed medicine as a mythically independent, parallel realm to the state. In the early abortion cases, the Court was engaged in a delegation of power, a move designed not so much to shield physicians from prosecution as to enlist them in regulation.

Continue reading

January 22, 2007 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why I'm Pro-Choice

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

In celebration of the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I join pro-choice bloggers in writing about why I am pro-choice.  Becoming a pro-choice advocate was, for me, a natural extension of being a feminist and believing in women's rights.  A woman who cannot control her own reproduction can never achieve full equality and autonomy.  More than a third of all women in the United States will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Some of these women will terminate wanted pregnancies, because their own life or health is at risk. because of a grave fetal anomaly, or because they cannot afford another child.  Most, however, will find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.  It has become in vogue among even pro-choice politicians to talk about abortion as a tragedy.  Certainly, unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy.  Ideally, all unwanted pregnancies would be prevented through contraception or abstinence.  Abortion is often the result of tragic events -- including rape -- and misguided policies -- including the failure to ensure adequate access to contraception and to provide sufficient financial support to poor women who want to bear children.  But abortion will always be needed. Contraception will fail, women will be raped, awkward teenagers new to sex and lovers in the heat of passion will forgo a condom.   

In all likelihood, you know a woman who has had an abortion.  Women who decide what to do about an unwanted pregnancy make weighty moral decisions.  They bear the responsibility for those decisions.  As pro-choice people, we do no good by talking about abortion as shameful and wrong.  Instead, we should recognize women's autonomy in making this fraught, moral decision, just as we recognize the autonomy of people to make equally weighty decisions in countless other situations.  In 2003, in commemoration of Roe's 30th anniversary, I wrote a moral defense of abortion, in an article that remains just as relevant today.  You can read it at: Caitlin Borgmann & Catherine Weiss, Beyond Acopalypse & Apology, A Moral Defense of Abortion, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 35, p. 40 (Jan./Feb. 2003).

January 22, 2007 in Abortion, Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)