Thursday, December 11, 2008

Abortion and childbirth

I had the pleasure of dealing with a troll today who freely posted, in response to numerous blog posts, all about the lamentatious childbirth deaths that supposedly make abortion so worthwhile. This is a point that needs to be addressed.

Let's address the real issues:

1. Women don't have abortions to save their lives from childbirth deaths. I wrote a post about this. The main points are that there is no maternal condition for which the standard (or even a recommended) treatment is abortion; most childbirth deaths are due to problems that abortion would not resolve safely.

2. We don't know how many women die from abortions. Therefore any attempt to compare abortion risks to childbirth risks is based on assumptions, not science. The data collection for abortion mortality is so slipshod, one might as well stick a box in the middle of an orchard, count all the apples that fall into it, and assume that one has successfully counted all the apples that fell in the entire orchard. And if you don't know what X actually is (the risk of death from abortion), then you can't compare X to Y or Z or anything else.

3. Even if it turned out that abortion was actually less risky than carrying to term, it would be irrelevant. Flying is safer than driving, but that doesn't mean that we don't take steps to prevent fatal airline crashes. Likewise, whatever the comparative risks of abortion versus childbirth, promoting abortion will not make childbirth safer. Yes, do whatever we can to reduce maternal mortality (Which we have done pretty successfully in the West). But remember that while these steps will also reduce abortion deaths, abortion will not reduce maternal mortality

ADDED:

4. Chanting "Safe and legal!" does nothing to prevent deaths from either abortion or from childbirth. It's just a variation on this:



The only people impressed by it are other people who have nothing more substantial to add than other bumper-sticker slogans.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:



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28 comments:

SoMG said...

Hi. Some RTLs think I'm a troll but I'm not; I'm very blunt but very well-informed with among other things personal experience and very honest. And trying to be benevolent against all odds. So I'll address your "real issues" with you.

1. True, women don't have abortions to save their lives from childbirth deaths, but in order to avoid other undesirable aspects of pregnancy and/or childbirth. So what? That's good preventative medicine. Generally for any physical question, childbirth is about eleven times worse than early abortion. Risk of death, damage to any particular organ, long-term detectable trauma, hospitalizations, transfusions, risk to future fertility, whatever, exacerbation of mental illness. That's the rule of thumb they teach in med school, if your supervisor starts "pimping" you on the subject, say "eleven" until (s)he shuts up. Or changes the subject. Some, like risk of death, or risk to future fertility, are still very small but the risk from early aborton is even smaller. About eleven-fold smaller!

You wrote: "there is no maternal condition for which the standard (or even a recommended) treatment is abortion"

Two words: tubal pregnancy.

You wrote "most childbirth deaths are due to problems that abortion would not resolve safely". Sure but they are ALL due to problems that EARLY abortion would have prevented. By definition of "childbirth death".

2. You wrote: "We don't know how many women die from abortions."

We have a pretty good idea. The frequency is within a fold or two of the frequency of patients who die from anaphylactic shock when you inject them with penicillin. One per hundred thousand. The measurements of this are better than most attempts to measure this sort of thing. If it were illegal, however, you'd be right. There'd be absolutely no way to measure. The professionals would have to talk about "minimum believable guesses". Like in the Philippines. No one says they know how many abortions. They all say "at least [number]." They all seem to agree that it's at least the same as the USA's measured abortion rate. Per reproductive-age woman. Including groups like Physicians for Life.

You wrote: "Therefore any attempt to compare abortion risks to childbirth risks is based on assumptions, not science."

Sorry but that's dumb. ALL science is itself based on assumptions. You make assumptions, calculate the predictions that follow, compare to measured outcomes, and refine the assumptions. And every measurement you make includes its own assumptions. You build them in when you design and calibrate your instruments or questionaire or choice of which statistics to compare or whatever.

You wrote: "The data collection for abortion mortality is ... slipshod,"

Nope. This may have been true in the 1970s but it's not true now. All but a few states report this stuff and data collection is if anything better and more carefully processed and examined than other less hot-button issues. If anything abortion is overstudied. More research money gets wasted confirming and reconfirming obvious facts like that certified physicians' assistants can be trained in a week to do first-trimester manual-suction abortions just as well as their supervising docs, than on other questions of greater importance. If you're a grant writer in an Epidemiology department you grab every chance to relate your proposals to abortion. Guaranteed increase in fundability. Opens up a universe of specialized sources.

You wrote: "3. Even if it turned out that abortion was actually less risky than carrying to term, it would be irrelevant."

Irrelevant to what? It's certainly relevant when right-to-lifers yammer about the "dangers" of abortion and how they should be able to force their children to grow and pass babies in order to "protect" them from the eleven-times-smaller "dangers" of abortion.

You wrote: "Flying is safer than driving, but that doesn't mean that we don't take steps to prevent fatal airline crashes."

Maybe we should take steps to make it easier for people to choose air travel (safer) rather than driving (more dangerous). At least until someone's sure they're ready to drive.

You wrote: "Likewise, whatever the comparative risks of abortion versus childbirth, promoting abortion will not make childbirth safer."

True! Similarly, giving Parkinson's Disease patients Sinemet, which restores their balance and prevents falls, doesn't make the falls any less bad when they do happen. Still just as many broken bones per fall. Does that mean Sinemet isn't worth the money? Hint: If you said it's not, you're too dumb to understand any medical question. Or how about giving insulin to diabetics? Doesn't make it any easier for the ones who lose their legs anyway. So no good? Hello? It's called Preventative Medicine.

You seem to be playing conceptual slight-of-hand. Making wrong arguments as if in the hope they won't be read carefully. That's bad strategy. You should ADMIT the (obvious) benefits of abortion--of choosing it and of allowing it--and address yourself to convincing people that it shouldn't be allowed (or shouldn't be chosen) ANYWAY.

But I agree in the end it's irrelevant. Even if they were equally harmful, that still wouldn't be a good reason to force pregnant women to grow their pregnancies. You want to know what else is irrelevant? Fetal personhood. If something's inside my body, I'm entitled to have it killed no matter what it is. If all the human beings in the world except me, all three-to-four billion, were assembled somewhere inside my body, along with Smilin' Baby Jesus, Almighty God, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I'd be entitled to holocaust 'em any time. Because it's MY body.

"We will all bake together when we bake,
There'll be nobody present at the wake,
With complete participation in the grand incineration
More than three billion hunks of well-done steak!"

Anonymous said...

1. Women have abortions because they don't want another child at the time.

2. Yes, we do know how many women die from abortions.

3. Nobody promotes abortion. And you surely are not doing anything to reduce deaths. By advocating for a return to illegal abortion, you are attempting to make abortion and pregnancy more deadly.

Joe said...

SoMG's comment contains numerous abotionist fallacies. Regardless of how "safe" for the mother criminal abortion is, it is always deadly to the child and for that reason alone should be legally prohibited. The arguments about back alleys are all completely irrelevant. If an activity is a crime, it should be prohibited even if there is a back alley problem. If not a crime, it should be allowed even if there is NOT a back alley problem.

If you think something should be allowed because of back alley injuries and deaths, please call for the legalization of murder, rape and armed robbery, all of which have back alley problems. Of course, they should not be legalized regardless because they are CRIMES, which is the ONLY consideration. If people freely choose to commite crimes and injure or kill themselves in the process, that is NOT an argument in favor of allowing the crime. Crimes still have to be prohibited. The only rational argument here is that crimes must be prohibited.

If you want to argue that abortion crime is not crime, go ahead. This is the ONLY argument that any abortion crime advocate should ever make.

GrannyGrump said...

Anon, how can you claim "Nobody promotes abortion" when SoMG just posted a response promoting abortion?

And SoMG, as hard as this is for you to grasp, A LOT OF WOMEN ACTUALLY PREFER LIVE BABIES TO DEAD ONES. Wrap your mind around that. I know it's hard, when you see babies as vermin. I know I might as well be telling you some people enjoy having head lice. But a lot of us really are irrational and stupid and like our children alive and in one piece, foolish as that may see to you and others like you.

SoMG said...

GrannyGrump, would you like to see the Federal Government protect women from coerced abortion? If yes, then you should support FOCA.

SoMG said...

GrannyGrump, would you like to see the Federal Government protect women from coerced abortion? If yes, then you should support FOCA.

Kathy said...

SoMG -- how would that work?

SoMG said...

Kathy, have you READ the text of FOCA??? EVERY sentence and clause in it which protects, or even mentions, the right to choose abortion--every single one--also explicitly protects the right to keep a pregnancy, bear a child, and be free from coerced abortion. These are NOT currently Federal or Constitutional rights, and they will be increasingly important as we move to National health care and the Government gets a stronger financial interest in aborting problem pregnancies.

Sorry for my earlier double post.

GrannyGrump said...

SoMG, you need to understand how case law works. There is a lot of leeway for how laws are enforced and interpreted. Given the state of case law in the US, I've not seen a lot of evidence that the courts even recognize a right to avoid abortion.

In theory, the laws already exist to protect women from being forced or coerced into abortion. Technically performing an abortion on a woman who has revoked her consent is assault. I've seen a lot of civil cases in which the woman argued assault, but never a single case in which the facility was prosecuted for the assault.

If I'm wrong, cite some cases for me.

SoMG said...

First of all, GG, as I understand it doing a procedure without consent is not as you say "assault"; it's battery.

Touching someone against their will is battery. Threatening battery is assault.

Getting back to FOCA, I'm talking about Federal protection from a possible future law requiring some pregnancies to be aborted. Like, if you give birth to this pregnancy you go to jail. I wasn't thinking so much of a criminal strapping a woman down and aborting her pregnancy against her will. (But you'll get enhanced protection from that too. FOCA states that it is US policy that you have a right to bear your child. Another charge to bring besides battery. An extra justification for higher damages in a civil suit--the defendant violated TWO Federal laws, your honor.) Without FOCA it's very easy to imagine an attempt to criminalize growing, say, a CF pregnancy or a Prader-Willi pregnancy. (I'm almost totally pro-reproductive-freedom but I would at least listen sympathetically to a proposal for requiring abortions of Prader-Willis. Or at least: if you want to grow one, you should have to fast totally (pure water and one vitamin pill per day and nothing else) for two days, then run twenty miles uphill, then continue fasting for one additional day after running, and decide at the end of that day, before eating. Because your child will feel just that hungry from about age twelve until death, no matter how much (s)he eats. Some things you're not really informed about unless you have experienced at least an approximation. Fortunately it's rare.)

Anyway, GG, your comment about case law just reinforces the need for a Federal guarantee of the right to bear your child. In other words, FOCA.

Right-to-lifers opposed FACE too, very bitterly, back in 1992-3, yapped endlessly about free speech and criminalizing Christianity and called Big Bill "The Abortion President" for signing it. Now they're grateful for its protections for churches against vandalism, blockade, theft, and terror. (Remember those pink-masked guys who invaded a church and shouted down a priest just after the election? Any Federal money to investigate that will come via FACE.) And for the reduction in anti-abortion terror which was the number-one public-relations problem for RTLs before FACE.

In the end the unborn will benefit from FOCA. Criminalizing abortion is a very poor strategy for preventing abortions AND for making each pregnancy less likely to be aborted (two different things although they overlap some). Among other defects it makes it absolutely impossible to measure its own success or non-success. Would you like to buy some land? I'll sell it to you cheap provided you don't go there or make any effort to verify it's really there.

The Ban-Abortion Movement is a scam. Killing it will free up money for something more serious.

Kathy said...

SoMG,

You can read my response about FOCA on my blog -- I decided it was too long to post as a comment here. You can respond to it either here or there.

GrannyGrump said...

Gosh, SoMG, and I guess that the DEA is likely to mandate heroin use next.

You remind me of my son-in-law. He's bright enough but missing key logic circuits. But as muddled as he is he can still grasp such basic ideas as "Live baby good, dead baby bad" and that people who oppose a practice are the last people on earth who would try to mandate it.

SoMG said...

Re: "Live baby good, dead baby bad"

Suppose my baby needs a kidney transplant but none is available. Should I take one from an unwilling donor, by force? According to "LBG,DBB", yes I should.

Some things you're not allowed to do EVEN in order to save a baby's life. One of those things is forcing a pregnant woman to grow her pregnancy and endure childbirth. Sorry but that's where we draw the line.

SoMG said...

PS. Before you start yammering about how different the transplant question is from the abortion question, and how important it is that in one case you're letting someone die and in the other case you're directly killing, or whetever else, remember I raised the transplant issue ONLY to illustrate that there are some things you're not allowed to do even in order to save a baby's life. I'm not saying the two situations are the same or that one implies anything about the other or anything like that.

What did you mean about mandating heroin use??? Are you saying the government isn't gonna try to mandate abortions? We'll see. As we continue our conversion-in-process to National health care, the government acquires a greater interest in aborting problem pregnancies to save money.

Thought for the day: Blagojevich is a Slavic name and should be pronounced "Blah-guh-YEH-vitch". Similarly, Terri Schiavo's name is Italian and should be pronounced "SKYAH-vo".

GrannyGrump said...

Suppose my baby needs a kidney transplant but none is available. Should I take one from an unwilling donor, by force?

Unlike a kidney transplant, pregnancy is a NATURAL process which the woman's body participates in all without any interference from anybody.

You might just as well complain that eating disorder clinics are forcing patients to metabolize food.

Abortion is taking an action to thwart a natural biological process in order to achieve the death of an innocent human being.

GrannyGrump said...

Are you saying the government isn't gonna try to mandate abortions? We'll see. As we continue our conversion-in-process to National health care, the government acquires a greater interest in aborting problem pregnancies to save money.

You do have a point there that the government might try to mandate abortions. HillaryCare would have effectively mandated abortions, as well as infanticide. But you're gravely mistaken if you think that ANYTHING the abortion lobby supports would be able to provide any woman with leverage to avoid these mandated abortions. They consistently either back the party pursuing the abortion (as in when somebody is choosing abortion for an incapacitated party) or tsk-tsk about how abortions ideally are freely chosen but about how you can't mandate protections against unwanted abortions because to do so might also constitute a barrier to abortion in some way.

The abortion lobby exists to protect the interests of people who have something to gain from abortion:

* Population control advocates who wish to prevent births by any means necessary.

* Eugenecists who wish to prevent the birth of people they consider "defective" by any means necessary.

* Social engineers who wish to control the population of groups they consider undesirable.

* Abortion businesses

* Abortion advocacy groups that rely on a high abortion rate in order to maintain political viability and therefore their jobs

If we want protection from mandated or coerced abortions, the fact that a law protects a right to REJECT abortion must be very clearly and unambiguously spelled out. And FOCA does not do that. It throws a bone to "choosing birth" in an ineffectual manner that current courts would never enforce.

SoMG said...

GG, I specifically said I WASN'T saying that abortion and transplants were the same or anything like that. So what did you do? You started pointing out differences. Leading me to wonder, do you READ comments before you reply to them???

Anyway, like many right-to-lifers, you harp on the "natural"ness of pregnancy (excuse me, "NATURAL"ness). Newsflash: "natural" does not mean "good for you". Cancer is natural. The surgery that cures cancer is unnnatural.

Your comments about the "abortion lobby" are silly. You might just as well say the American Heart Association exists to help cardiologists not patients. Silly. And FOCA SPECIFICALLY SAYS the right to choose non-abortion is protected. Read the text (if you can).

SoMG said...

Oh, and abortion on demand is not "eugenic". Not unless it's selectively provided for people with undesired heritable traits.

You are not helping the RTL movement by misusing words like that. "Genocide" is another one. It does NOT mean killing a large number of people. In fact you can commit genocide without killing anyone. Sterilize 'em.

SoMG said...

Oh, and how and on whom would Hillarycare have "mandated abortions"? I must have missed that part.

Kathy said...

SoMG,

Everybody understands that there are some things one is not allowed to do even in order to save another's life. You are stretching something easily understandable until you make it into a farce of itself -- and you are doing this willfully and then pretend you thereby nullify the original argument.

SoMG said...

Kathy, you wrote: "Everybody understands that there are some things one is not allowed to do even in order to save another's life."

That's great! Glad to hear it. Now all you need to understand is: forcing a pregnant woman to grow her pregnancy and endure childbirth is one of those things.

I can see your intelligence improving by leaps and bounds. You are rising like the Sun.

GrannyGrump said...

SoMG, you're never going to "enlighten" Kathy or me into agreeing that a dead baby is a boon to a mother. Do you really think words you post in a blog are enough to overcome mother love?

SoMG said...

GG, you wrote: "SoMG, you're never going to "enlighten" Kathy or me into agreeing that a dead baby is a boon to a mother."

Fortunately, I'm not trying to do that. The boon to the mother is avoiding full-term pregnancy and childbirth. The dead baby is a byproduct.

You wrote: "Do you really think words you post in a blog are enough to overcome mother love?"

I sure hope not. But you remind me of a song I learned as a kid:

"There once lived a man named Oedipus Rex;
You may have heard about his odd complex;
His name appears in Freud's index
'Cos he loved his mother.

His rivals used to say quite a bit
That as a monarch he was most unfit,
But still and all they had to admit
That he loved his mother.

He loved his mother like no other,
His daughter was his sister and his son was his brother;
One thing on which you can depend is
He sure knew who a boy's best friend is!

When he learned what he had done
He tore his eyes out one by one!
A tragic end for a loyal son who loved his mother!

So be sweet and kind to Mother, now and then have a chat
Buy her candy or some flowers or a brand new hat
But maybe you had better let it go at that
Or you may find yourself with a quite complex complex
And you might end up like Oedipus
(I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus)
Than end up like old Oedipus Rex!"

Kathy said...

SoMG,

No, a woman gets pregnant by an act of consensual sex; abortion is the deliberate act of taking the life that was willingly (though probably mistakenly) created. There is a vast difference between the deliberate taking of a life and being unable to save a person who would otherwise die.

It's similar to standing by and seeing somebody be hit by a bus (when it may or may not have been in your power to push him out of the way), and actually pushing the person in front of the bus. The first is not an act of murder; the second is.

Kathy said...

SoMG,

Well, I'm glad to see you finally admit that what happens in an abortion is that a baby is killed. Not "the pregnancy is killed" or "the pregnancy is terminated" but that the end product of an abortion is a dead baby. I think of my two children and all the babies I have known, and I imagine them dead by abortion when I see people like you promote abortion -- that they were killed legally before birth. You see, when you personalize it, and imagine the face of a person you know on the dead body of a baby that has just been ripped to pieces and sucked out of the mother's womb, it makes a difference, compared to just thinking about abortion in the abstract. A baby is killed. A baby dies. A baby is deliberately murdered. At least we agree on that.

SoMG said...

Kathy, you wrote: "Well, I'm glad to see you finally admit that what happens in an abortion is that a baby is killed."

What do you mean "finally"? I've been saying for many years, fetuses are persons, and abortions are homicides. If the abortion is done at the request of the pregnant woman it's JUSTIFIABLE homicide; otherwise it's murder.

You wrote: "I think of my two children and all the babies I have known..."

"Known" in the Biblical sense?

"..., and I imagine them dead by abortion when I see people like you promote abortion -- that they were killed legally before birth. You see, when you personalize it, and imagine the face of a person you know on the dead body of a baby that has just been ripped to pieces and sucked out of the mother's womb, it makes a difference, compared to just thinking about abortion in the abstract."

Try actually watching or assisting some procedures. You'll learn a lot more than you ever will with your feeble imagination.

You wrote: "A baby is killed."

Yep.

"... A baby dies."

Uh-huh.

"...A baby is deliberately murdered."

Nope. Killed, yes, but not murdered.

Earlier you wrote about the difference between "killing" and "allowing to die". Two points. First, you're talking about what the abortion patient is doing. I'm more interested in what YOU are doing. Which is, trying to force pregnant women to grow their pregnancies and endure childbirth against their wills. That's morally worse than anything the woman does to someone who is located inside her body.

Second, if the distinction between killing and allowing to die is so important to you, then you should be shouting prayers of thanks for abortifacient medicines, which work by attacking the placenta or utero-placental interface, not the embryo/fetus, which is ALLOWED TO DIE OF POISONING BY ITS OWN METABOLIC END-PRODUCTS when maternal life-support is stopped. No killing, just allowing to die.

Kathy said...

SoMG -- this will be the last reply I give to you; I've spammed you on my blog for insulting my mother, and will no longer waste my time on you.

Taking an abortifacient medicine is killing the baby just as surely as a D&C; I might say that it isn't murder to starve you to death, because it isn't a direct action like shooting or stabbing you, but indirect action of cutting off your food supply so that you die by natural causes.

Killing an innocent person -- which you rightly admit abortion to be -- is murder, not justifiable homicide. It is akin to inviting someone into your home (having consensual sex, which creates the baby) and then killing them for trespassing.

I have refrained from insulting you, although I could have done so numerous times. I have refrained, not because I did not have the capabilities of doing so, but because I have a bit of common decency. I hope you can find some.

SoMG said...

Kathy, you wrote: "this will be the last reply I give to you;..."

Suit yourself, it's your brain.

"... I've spammed you on my blog for insulting my mother,"

I didn't insult her. What insults her is her own ignorance of music, which insults both her and the institution that awarded her her masters degree. I just point it out. You are killing the messenger for the content of the message.

Come on, admit it. The real reason you ban me and decline to debate is you know I'm right.

You wrote: "Taking an abortifacient medicine is killing the baby just as surely as a D&C; I might say that it isn't murder to starve you to death, because it isn't a direct action like shooting or stabbing you, but indirect action of cutting off your food supply so that you die by natural causes."

Yes I agree with you pretty much on this, that's why the distinction between killing and allowing-to-die seems so artificial to me. But some right-to-lifers, mostly Catholics, seem to take it very seriously. It's OK, they say, to cause another person to die by withholding a needed organ donation, for reasons of mere convenience, because that's letting-die. But not ok to do an abortion because that's killing. Seems like mealy-mouthed waffle to me. I'm pretty sure the guy who's dying because you keep both your kidneys isn't thinking about how grateful he is to you for not stabbing him to death.

You wrote: "Killing an innocent person -- which you rightly admit abortion to be -- is murder, not justifiable homicide. "

Two points. First of all, no it's not, not always. If someone is innocent when he comes at me with a carving knife, for instance innocent by reason of insanity, it's still justifiable homicide when I shoot them in order to avoid being stabbed. Innocent or not. Secondly, the word "innocent" literally means "not harmful" from the same root as "noxious". In this sense, the unborn are most definitely not innocent. The entire obstetrical branch of medicine exists to deal with the harm they cause.

You wrote: "It is akin to inviting someone into your home (having consensual sex, which creates the baby) and then killing them for trespassing."

Nope. Well, OK, the word "akin" can mean many things and you could argue that any pair of things or ideas are akin to each other in SOME sense. But conception followed by abortion is very different from inviting followed by killing for trespassing. When you invite someone into your home and then kill them, you have deprived them of something they had before you got involved: life. In contrast, before conception, the unborn has nothing to deprive it of. The unborn you conceive and then abort gets to enjoy a short intrauterine life, for which it should be grateful. Allowing you a short life inside my body does NOT obligate me to allow you a longer one. Just as donating blood does not obligate you to also donate the next transfusion the patient may need. Another way to say this is: when you invite someone into your home, you're implicitly promising to give him a chance to leave before killing him for trespassing. Having sex makes no such promise to the fetus. The promise you make to the fetus by having sex is: if you form in my uterus, you get to live there for as long as it takes me to find out and get you aborted. Longer only if I so choose. Take it or leave it.

Maybe it had some kind of proto-religious experience during that short intrauterine life. Maybe it clasped its little fetal hands together and prayed to Baby Jesus. Oops--can't do it--arms too short.