Abortion Restrictions Up Substantially in 2011

It's interesting to me that the states continue to push this point, since SCOTUS has so often attempted to assert that almost no restrictions are acceptable.  Nevertheless, I suppose every time you pass a law, someone has to go to the trouble of challenging it in court; perhaps over time they expect to convince the federal courts that an unrestricted access to abortion is not acceptable to the people of many states within the United States.

Also, some of these "restrictions" are just restrictions on who has to pay for abortions.  Given the deep moral issues involved, it is surely reasonable to say that no one should be forced to contribute to abortion against their will.  That means no taxpayer funding, and it also means that conscience exceptions ought to be thought reasonable.  We often hear from the pro-choice party that a woman's right to make a decision on the morality of abortion for herself ought to be respected; but surely we ought also to respect the moral choices of others who are horrified by the practice, and not force them to enable, participate in, or fund what they regard as a killing of an innocent.

Of course, it's also problematic to suggest that a woman's right to choose should be unilateral; it runs up against the common sense notion that it is not wise to allow someone to be the judge in their own case.  It is not that people mean to be unfair, or even think that they are judging unfairly; it is just that we all have unconscious tendencies to over-emphasize our interests when we are judging in our own cases.  This is a well-known fact of human nature that applies to all people at all times; naturally it applies here as well.

Thus, even though I am sure that most women who go through this decision believe they are carefully judging the matter, it should neither be surprising nor controversial to suggest that these sub-conscious processes lead them to judge their own interests above those of the father or those of the child.  The father may or may not want the child, but the child's interest will surely often be best served by being born even if it is then given up for adoption.  Sadly, we find that all these new restrictions occur in a context in which too often abortion numbers remain at near record highs, and adoption referrals decline.

14 comments:

Cass said...

Thus, even though I am sure that most women who go through this decision believe they are carefully judging the matter, it should neither be surprising nor controversial to suggest that these sub-conscious processes lead them to judge their own interests above those of the father or those of the child.

I'm not sure I agree with this, Grim.

Having been in this position myself, I remember quite well what went through my mind, and I quite carefully considered not only my unborn child's interests but those of my then boyfriend and now husband.

I did so to the point of telling him that regardless of what decision he made about the future of our relationship, he would always be the father of my child and I would always do my utmost to allow him a place in the child's life, though of course any romantic relationship would terminate.

A couple are either in it for good or ill or not, and I had no interest in being a doormat. Still, I can honestly say that it never occurred to me to put my interest above his. It *did* occur to me to have an abortion to protect him, but in the end I couldn't bring myself to do that because the child had an interest, too. Looking at him (my son) now, I can't ever regret that choice, no matter how painful it was at the time to give up my hopes and plans.

Texan99 said...

To be fair, when Grim says "most," he can't be describing our Cassandra, exceptional in so many ways. I suspect Grim has identified a mindset that's common enough to be a legitimate guide to public policy.

Cass, I admire your performance in youth precisely because it's somewhat unusual: grace under enormous pressure. You faced facts and kept firmly in mind what your own duties were, regardless of what other people did and what was happening to you. And your kids got two great parents out of the bargain. What's more, though you had to give up all kinds of plans re education and the like, which makes me sad, the fact remains that nothing could really keep a lid on your restless and inquisitive mind. Dang, I wish you'd start up your blog again. I miss your voice.

Cass said...

*blush*

Thank you for the kind words, T99, but I wonder how different I was? As a freshman in college, one of my friends told me that she had gotten pregnant her senior year. She dropped out of school, had the baby and gave her up for adoption, then had to go back to HS and finish up.

That is courage.

She didn't have strong religious convictions - she just found herself unable to end the life growing inside of her. I still remember the day I got my pregnancy test results from the doctor. I had no reason to be happy about that, but something changed in my heart. It is hard to describe.

Probably sounds stupid, but that's how it felt. I still get teary when I think about it. I am a very flawed person and have done many things of which I am not proud in my life. I hope I've learned some humility from my mistakes, though.

I am so very grateful for the great writing here at the hall and was overjoyed when you started posting here. I know I don't comment much anymore - today I'm sick as a dog and am taking the rest of the day off to sleep so I have a little time. But the lack of commenting doesn't mean I don't appreciate all of you.

Dad29 said...

More here:

http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2012/taking-rites-seriously-political-liberalism-and-the-problem-of-marriage.html

Addresses what Grim brought up from another angle.

rcl said...

Cass' and Tex' comments describe heroic pro-life moms.

Dad's link gets more to the point of how pro-choice middle class women and men think. I'm not talking high school kids but college educated young adults. That includes the journalists and authors chronicling our culture's modern norms.

...a person is a being who has the present capacity to exercise certain person-making functions like self-consciousness, rationality, the ability to communicate and have desires, and so forth. Because the fetus for most of its gestation lacks these functions, it is not a person and thus it is permissible to abort it.

Frequently we're talking about savvy girls who catch it early and opt for a menstrual extraction or now days an abortion pill. "It's just a small non-viable" mass of cells. "Even the Founding Fathers allowed abortion until 'The Quickening'."

Ultrasound monitors are quite effective in changing minds. That "mass of cells" is recognizable much sooner than most people realize. The Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative has spent around $3 million on units for clinics across the country so young moms can meet their babies before it's too late.

Cass said...

rcl:

The term 'heroic' is a poor fit for me. As I've said, my actions over my lifetime (most especially in my youth) have been anything but admirable. Stupid, pig headed, selfish, reckless.... those are all words that would aptly describe me as a teen and even a young woman.

The only thing that changed my heart was parenthood. That brought home to me that my actions affected others - helpless ones who depended upon me for everything: even life itself.

Moreover, I was not in any sense pro-life as a young woman. I grew up reading how the Romans exposed children they didn't want - left them on a hilltop to die or be eaten by wolves and that seemed to me, in my youthful ignorance, eminently practical. I know you know there are many parallels in history. I was quite liberal as a girl, mostly (I'd like to think) from lack of experience given the turn in my thinking once life began to bring the notion of consequences home to me in a particularly compelling fashion.

I do agree that not everyone reacts the same to an unwanted pregnancy. I only meant to suggest that we can never know what will change the human heart :) For me, it was the realization that I had this power, the wonder of which is hard to describe.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Cass, you are different, statistically from most women who have abortions. Not unique, but not near the norm. Nearly half of abortions are performed on women who have previously had one. What's that tell you?

E Hines said...

Stupid, pig headed, selfish, reckless.... those are all words that would aptly describe me as a teen and even a young woman.

That describes most all of us. Only some of us change away from that. That's the heroic part. Recognizing, admitting, and actually correcting error.

I was quite liberal as a girl, [then] the turn in my thinking once life began to bring the notion of consequences home to me....

Mugged by reality. How terrible.

Eric Hines

Cass said...

Cass, you are different, statistically from most women who have abortions. Not unique, but not near the norm.

Well AVI, I won't argue with that :) I want to address your points from a woman's perspective, because we do have a very different perspective in many cases.

I was raised in a stable, two parent home and had a mother who thought it was her job to teach us to think about right and wrong. Aside from that, I'm not sure how different I am.

And I instructed my sons repeatedly to take care with sex because if an unplanned pregnancy took place, it would affect the young lady's life far more than it would affect either of my sons. I am proud to say that they seem to have paid attention.

In my small, very upper crust prep school I can think of at least 3 girls who had abortions. One of them had an abortion in the 8th grade. In my freshman year of college I can recall a like number in my small circle of friends who had had abortions.

This is something I'm not sure a lot of men really understand on a gut level. In the vast majority of these cases, pregnancy was a "problem" taken care of by the woman/girl, with or without the assistance and knowledge of her parents. In several of the cases, the father didn't even know.

What does that say to you? I suspect that it will seem unfair to you (to the fathers) and I have some sympathy for this view since it informed my own response when faced with the same situation. But I also remember thinking, "Gee - it took two people to make this happen but only one has to deal with the fallout. The other can just walk away."

If we're talking about "typical" behavior, I have to say that I believe it's far more typical for young men not to want to be bothered with an unplanned pregnancy than for them to demonstrate by their decisions and behavior that they could be trusted to do the right thing. My husband did, so I'm hardly insensible to the existence of good men. But I would argue that he is, if anything, even more atypical than I :p

Nearly half of abortions are performed on women who have previously had one. What's that tell you?

Several things, I think:

1. Contraception is not a responsibility that can be delegated. Ever. It's fairly simple to track how many women fail to do what is needed to prevent repeated unplanned pregnancies. It's difficult if not impossible to track how many boys/men fail to do what is needed to prevent repeated unplanned pregnancies. I doubt many of them even know. Of the ones who did know, I recall several who openly bragged about the number of illegitimate kids they'd fathered.

Society has a tendency to focus on the women because they are left "holding the bag", as it were. But it takes two.

I'd like to add that I suspect (both from personal experience and talking with other women) that if more men took their sexual responsibilities seriously, there would be a LOT fewer abortions: both because there would be fewer pregnancies and because when an unplanned pregnancy DOES happen, guys are not generally willing to assume responsibility for the lives they've created.

What does that tell you?

It tells me that when it comes to sex, even supposedly "mature" adults are neither rational nor responsible.

Cass said...

... it's also problematic to suggest that a woman's right to choose should be unilateral; it runs up against the common sense notion that it is not wise to allow someone to be the judge in their own case.

It would be problematic to suggest that a father's "right to choose" (either way) should be unilateral as well, and any statute that required the consent of both father or mother will inevitably cause situations where the father can force a woman to bear a child against her will.

Should a father's consent be required for an abortion even if he is unwilling to support or parent the child?

I can easily see how such a power could be used maliciously (i.e., with no thought of the child's interest whatsoever).

This is why, though I see people act as though abortion is a simple question, it in fact is not. When you start to play out all the permutations of human behavior, it gets ugly fast.

Grim said...

I wasn't intending to propose replacing one situation in which someone serves as a judge in their own case with another situation of the same type! The problem you cite re: the (occasionally malicious) permutations of human nature is quite real, and is going to occur whichever party to the dispute is given sole authority.

Also of concern to me is that the child's interests are represented in either model only by the single deciding parent -- perhaps they will put the child's interests foremost, and perhaps not. My original point about "unconscious tendencies" is that they are indeed unconscious. It's very hard to judge whether you have been fair, if you are judging a case in which you are also interested.

In game theory we often see examples of this. Those games in which one party is given power to divide spoils without a veto from the other party tend to lead to quite unequal distributions; because the other party is powerless, the human mind often feels it is being fair if it tosses the other party any sort of bone. In games where the second party can reject the offer (causing both parties to receive nothing), we see that instead human minds tend toward more even distributions. Yet the conscious experience of the first game is unlikely to be, "Oh, what fun to screw my partner!"; they are likely to feel they've made a fair offer, because they are making a sacrifice that no one has a power to require of them.

These things play out in our broader relationships also, with the additional problem that sometimes we have maliciousness or bitterness or even just anger toward those with whom we are emotionally involved. Those things can further interfere with our judgment without us necessarily being conscious of the effects.

I think the best model for resolving these sticky issues would be one in which there is some sort of independent evaluation of the claims of the three interested parties (mother, father, child). This would tend to limit the probability of maliciousness or unconscious bias by avoiding the problem of making a party to the dispute the judge in their own case. Nevertheless, that is not the system we have.

Cass said...

I would not be in favor of such a model for several reasons:

1. It's not always apparent who the father is when a child is conceived. Requiring a woman to track down the father of her child and get permission from him before ending a pregnancy strikes me as not just unduly burdensome but actively offensive.

2. I do think it makes sense to require consent if the woman seeking the abortion is married. Possibly there could be an exception if she can demonstrate that the father has been abusive or has threatened her, but I'd require more than an uncorroborated allegation to waive consent. In this case, the man has made a commitment to her (at least on paper) and he is held to a higher legal standard than the One Night Stand father so he ought to have more of a say-so.

3. For single women, carrying a child to term involves not only physical risk but also considerable financial risk. If a father is allowed a say, he should have to share the cost of the pregnancy - up to and including lost or diminished income.

As much as I dislike the notion of abortion, I dislike even more the idea of a supposedly disinterested court or arbitrator (neither of which will have to bear the cost of the decision) deciding to make someone bear a child they don't want on a case by case basis. I trust their objectivity no more than I trust the interested parties' - less, in fact.

I think it would be better to reverse Roe entirely than have such a situation.

Texan99 said...

That's a good balance between the parents, but it leaves the baby a little short.

Cass said...

Yes, but think the baby's interest is pretty much a constant across cases - the baby has an interest in not being killed.

The problem with this interest has always been, "OK - is that interest to be treated as equally important as the parents' interests?"

That is really the crux of the controversy over abortion and it's not an easy question. If we treat the baby's interest as strictly equal and neither parent wants the child (or is willing to incur the expense and risk of a pregnancy) the baby will be outvoted every time.

If we elevate the baby's interest over that of both parents (as a repeal of Roe does), I think it would be best done on an impartial basis rather than a case by case one.

I also think this is an area that the law (as blunt instrument) is poorly suited to bringing about good outcomes.