Iowa passes heartbeat bill; abortion industry responds with desperation and lies

Last Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed historic legislation to prohibit abortions where the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. The law includes exceptions for medical necessity, rape, and incest.

The heartbeat law will not immediately confer protection on any Iowa children. There will be a legal challenge, and the law will almost certainly be enjoined while the case is pending. And the abortion industry plaintiffs will succeed in the lower courts, which have no power to deviate from unjust precedents set by higher courts. Iowa lawmakers knew all of this when they cast their votes. This is a long-term strategy; it will take a couple of years for the law to reach the Supreme Court, by which time they hope that one or more of the older pro-abortion Justices will have been replaced with a pro-life Justice. If they’re right, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Justice Kennedy, who has long provided the decisive fifth vote condemning preborn children to death, has been the subject of retirement rumors for years. He is 81 years old. The oldest member of the Court is 85-year-old Justice Ginsburg, a strong abortion advocate who will surely refuse to retire if there is any chance her replacement will recognize the right to life. Justice Breyer, also a reliable vote against pro-life legislation, is 79.

Even if the heartbeat law is ultimately killed by the courts, however, it still has some value as an educational tool. Recall that the pro-life movement pursued a ban on partial-birth abortion for well over a decade before it was finally upheld by the Supreme Court; during those years, partial-birth abortion was frequently in the news and the public was informed about the brutality of abortion methods. In the case of the heartbeat bill, we’re educating the public about prenatal development. The heartbeat bill has forced abortion advocates to adopt the talking point that the heartbeat begins “around six weeks, before some women even know they’re pregnant.” It’s impossible to reconcile that statement with the ignorant clump-of-cells view of abortion, or with prior pro-abortion obfuscation about when the heartbeat begins.

Abortion industry groups are caught off balance, as demonstrated by this unintentionally hilarious quote by a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate:

“The bill weaponizes fetal heartbeat, which is by all accounts an arbitrary standard that bans abortion long before the point of fetal viability,” Lee said in an email to Reuters.

You guys. They think that heartbeats are “arbitrary” and that fetal viability isn’t! I actually laughed out loud when I read that.

Another response from the abortion industry has been much less amusing. They’ve resorted to fearmongering, falsely telling Iowans that medical schools are required to teach abortions, and therefore the heartbeat law will cause the state’s only ob/gyn residency program to lose its accreditation, and therefore the state’s ob/gyn shortage will get worse.

Wait a second, you might be thinking. If every medical school has to do abortion training to be accredited, how are Catholic medical schools a thing? Right you are. There is a federal law that addresses this very issue: if an accrediting body penalizes a school for not teaching abortions, the school is deemed accredited anyway. But that fact didn’t stop the Iowa City Press-Citizen from running an entire article based on the premise that the heartbeat bill could “effectively kill the only obstetrics and gynecology residency program in the state.”

I brought this up with Robin Marty, who is one of the most honest pro-abortion journalists out there. You can read our twitter conversation here. Suffice to say, the article is indefensible and its authors, Aimee Breaux and Will Greenberg, should be ashamed of themselves.

Iowa passes heartbeat bill; abortion industry responds with desperation and lies

Last Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed historic legislation to prohibit abortions where the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. The law includes exceptions for medical necessity, rape, and incest.

The heartbeat law will not immediately confer protection on any Iowa children. There will be a legal challenge, and the law will almost certainly be enjoined while the case is pending. And the abortion industry plaintiffs will succeed in the lower courts, which have no power to deviate from unjust precedents set by higher courts. Iowa lawmakers knew all of this when they cast their votes. This is a long-term strategy; it will take a couple of years for the law to reach the Supreme Court, by which time they hope that one or more of the older pro-abortion Justices will have been replaced with a pro-life Justice. If they’re right, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Justice Kennedy, who has long provided the decisive fifth vote condemning preborn children to death, has been the subject of retirement rumors for years. He is 81 years old. The oldest member of the Court is 85-year-old Justice Ginsburg, a strong abortion advocate who will surely refuse to retire if there is any chance her replacement will recognize the right to life. Justice Breyer, also a reliable vote against pro-life legislation, is 79.

Even if the heartbeat law is ultimately killed by the courts, however, it still has some value as an educational tool. Recall that the pro-life movement pursued a ban on partial-birth abortion for well over a decade before it was finally upheld by the Supreme Court; during those years, partial-birth abortion was frequently in the news and the public was informed about the brutality of abortion methods. In the case of the heartbeat bill, we’re educating the public about prenatal development. The heartbeat bill has forced abortion advocates to adopt the talking point that the heartbeat begins “around six weeks, before some women even know they’re pregnant.” It’s impossible to reconcile that statement with the ignorant clump-of-cells view of abortion, or with prior pro-abortion obfuscation about when the heartbeat begins.

Abortion industry groups are caught off balance, as demonstrated by this unintentionally hilarious quote by a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate:

“The bill weaponizes fetal heartbeat, which is by all accounts an arbitrary standard that bans abortion long before the point of fetal viability,” Lee said in an email to Reuters.

You guys. They think that heartbeats are “arbitrary” and that fetal viability isn’t! I actually laughed out loud when I read that.

Another response from the abortion industry has been much less amusing. They’ve resorted to fearmongering, falsely telling Iowans that medical schools are required to teach abortions, and therefore the heartbeat law will cause the state’s only ob/gyn residency program to lose its accreditation, and therefore the state’s ob/gyn shortage will get worse.

Wait a second, you might be thinking. If every medical school has to do abortion training to be accredited, how are Catholic medical schools a thing? Right you are. There is a federal law that addresses this very issue: if an accrediting body penalizes a school for not teaching abortions, the school is deemed accredited anyway. But that fact didn’t stop the Iowa City Press-Citizen from running an entire article based on the premise that the heartbeat bill could “effectively kill the only obstetrics and gynecology residency program in the state.”

I brought this up with Robin Marty, who is one of the most honest pro-abortion journalists out there. You can read our twitter conversation here. Suffice to say, the article is indefensible and its authors, Aimee Breaux and Will Greenberg, should be ashamed of themselves.

Abortion “counseling” is really a sales pitch

[Today’s blog post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com.]

Nurse Brenda Pratt-Shafer worked for three days at a late-term abortion center that did partial-birth abortions. Although pro-choice when she was hired, she was so horrified by the graphic nature of the abortion procedures she witnessed that she went on to testify before Congress in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban. Partial-birth abortions were banned nationwide in 2003; the Supreme Court initially struck down the ban, only to reverse itself in 2007.

The procedure consisted of first delivering a late second trimester or early third trimester preborn baby partially out of the mother’s womb. Then, when only the head was left inside, the abortionist punctured the skull and drained out the brain matter, finally removing the dead child with a crushed head from the woman’s body.

Witnessing several of these abortions was enough to turn Brenda-Pratt Shafer into a pro-lifer. In her book, What the Nurse Saw, she describes in detail both partial-birth abortions and D&E (dismemberment) abortions that she saw.

But another thing Pratt-Shafer discussed in her book was the way abortion clinic workers were told to interact with women coming in for abortions. They were supposed to validate the woman’s reasons for wanting an abortion, regardless of what they were. The abortion facility wanted everything to run smoothly; the abortionist did not want women to change their minds at the last minute. Therefore, he instructed Pratt-Shafer and his other clinic workers to emphasize the choice of abortion and encourage women to go through with it.
Pratt-Shafer says:

I was told in no uncertain terms to always validate the mother’s reasons for having the abortion.

If the mother was still in school, we’d tell her she didn’t need to be a mother right now; rather she needed to finish school and then start her family. If she was having financial problems, we would not offer her other solutions; we would just tell her that she could not afford a baby and that she was doing the best thing. If she was young, we would tell her she was too young to have a baby and it would probably ruin her life. Having this abortion was the right thing to do; then she could get on with the rest of her life. We also told the women that abortion was a simple procedure, and it was the answer to their problems and that they would be relieved afterward. After all, this abortion clinic was in the business to make money from abortions, not to offer solutions for crisis pregnancies. Any excuse the mother had to want an abortion, we were in agreement and supportive of that reason.

The clinic workers were also under strict orders not to promote abortion alternatives or tell women the details of the abortion procedures:

Options like adoption or even carrying the baby to full-term were never discussed. … I was told if they asked me if it was a baby to tell them no, that it was just a mass of tissue and at this stage, it was not a baby. Many women that came in those three days were already showing at the time. But we still continued to tell these lies the entire time I was there. It was just part of how business was conducted.

Women who did not already know the facts of fetal development would not learn them at the abortion facility. Rather, they would be encouraged to abort, and told that their preborn baby was not developed. Those running the abortion center knew that if women were told their babies had arms, legs, fingers and toes, and that by the late second trimester babies reacted to pain, some of them would back out. This would decrease clinic revenue and slow things down.

A woman who was having an abortion out of fear would have her fear reinforced. Even if the woman was reluctant to go through with her abortion, the clinic workers would not offer her other options. While some women no doubt came to the clinic with their minds firmly made up, dedicated to having an abortion, others may not have been so sure.

David Reardon conducted a study where he interviewed women who regretted their abortions. He determined that 44% of the women he interviewed had been “actively hoping to find an option other than abortion” when they arrived at the clinic. 66% of these women said that their abortion counselor was biased in favor of abortion, and 90% said they did not receive enough information to make an informed decision.

If such a large of the women in David Reardon’s sample came to abortion clinics hoping for a better answer, the fact that abortion counselors do not explore options and give unbiased information could definitely sway them towards having an abortion.

Of course, the 44% statistic comes from a group of women who regretted their abortions, and might not be representative of all women seeking abortion. But other abortion workers have revealed that some women change their minds about having abortions, even at the last minute. For example, in a May 2000 piece for the Ottawa Star, Leonard Stern interviewed an abortion center director who stated that 20% of women scheduled for abortions at her location did not show up for their appointments. Another abortion counselor told an interviewer:

Maybe 30 percent [of the women] are kind of talking through doubts, maybe 5 percent go away. 

Another abortionist, who complained about having to give women state-mandated information about fetal development and abortion’s risks, told the New York Times in that one in 10 women left the clinic without aborting after receiving the information. And in yet another article, in the Christian Science Monitor, an abortionist also discussed the phenomenon of women turning away from abortion after watching an educational video that the abortion clinic was forced to show by law.

So some women do change their minds. Even if women willing to change their minds and consider options are in the minority, lives could’ve been saved if the abortion workers had told the truth. Of course, this would work against the clinic’s bottom line.

As more abortion workers come forward with their stories, there are more examples of biased or dishonest abortion counseling. There are many similar stories from abortion workers, as well as testimonies from women about this that can be found here. Until abortion workers are willing to be honest, pro-lifers need to spread the truth about abortion so that women know exactly what will happen to them and their preborn babies if they abort. The abortion businesses cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, and pro-lifers need to step into the gap and educate the public about abortion.

Abortion “counseling” is really a sales pitch

[Today’s blog post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program. Sarah is a pro-life atheist, a frequent contributor to Live Action News, a board member of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and the force behind ClinicQuotes.com.]

Nurse Brenda Pratt-Shafer worked for three days at a late-term abortion center that did partial-birth abortions. Although pro-choice when she was hired, she was so horrified by the graphic nature of the abortion procedures she witnessed that she went on to testify before Congress in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban. Partial-birth abortions were banned nationwide in 2003; the Supreme Court initially struck down the ban, only to reverse itself in 2007.

The procedure consisted of first delivering a late second trimester or early third trimester preborn baby partially out of the mother’s womb. Then, when only the head was left inside, the abortionist punctured the skull and drained out the brain matter, finally removing the dead child with a crushed head from the woman’s body.

Witnessing several of these abortions was enough to turn Brenda-Pratt Shafer into a pro-lifer. In her book, What the Nurse Saw, she describes in detail both partial-birth abortions and D&E (dismemberment) abortions that she saw.

But another thing Pratt-Shafer discussed in her book was the way abortion clinic workers were told to interact with women coming in for abortions. They were supposed to validate the woman’s reasons for wanting an abortion, regardless of what they were. The abortion facility wanted everything to run smoothly; the abortionist did not want women to change their minds at the last minute. Therefore, he instructed Pratt-Shafer and his other clinic workers to emphasize the choice of abortion and encourage women to go through with it.
Pratt-Shafer says:

I was told in no uncertain terms to always validate the mother’s reasons for having the abortion.

If the mother was still in school, we’d tell her she didn’t need to be a mother right now; rather she needed to finish school and then start her family. If she was having financial problems, we would not offer her other solutions; we would just tell her that she could not afford a baby and that she was doing the best thing. If she was young, we would tell her she was too young to have a baby and it would probably ruin her life. Having this abortion was the right thing to do; then she could get on with the rest of her life. We also told the women that abortion was a simple procedure, and it was the answer to their problems and that they would be relieved afterward. After all, this abortion clinic was in the business to make money from abortions, not to offer solutions for crisis pregnancies. Any excuse the mother had to want an abortion, we were in agreement and supportive of that reason.

The clinic workers were also under strict orders not to promote abortion alternatives or tell women the details of the abortion procedures:

Options like adoption or even carrying the baby to full-term were never discussed. … I was told if they asked me if it was a baby to tell them no, that it was just a mass of tissue and at this stage, it was not a baby. Many women that came in those three days were already showing at the time. But we still continued to tell these lies the entire time I was there. It was just part of how business was conducted.

Women who did not already know the facts of fetal development would not learn them at the abortion facility. Rather, they would be encouraged to abort, and told that their preborn baby was not developed. Those running the abortion center knew that if women were told their babies had arms, legs, fingers and toes, and that by the late second trimester babies reacted to pain, some of them would back out. This would decrease clinic revenue and slow things down.

A woman who was having an abortion out of fear would have her fear reinforced. Even if the woman was reluctant to go through with her abortion, the clinic workers would not offer her other options. While some women no doubt came to the clinic with their minds firmly made up, dedicated to having an abortion, others may not have been so sure.

David Reardon conducted a study where he interviewed women who regretted their abortions. He determined that 44% of the women he interviewed had been “actively hoping to find an option other than abortion” when they arrived at the clinic. 66% of these women said that their abortion counselor was biased in favor of abortion, and 90% said they did not receive enough information to make an informed decision.

If such a large of the women in David Reardon’s sample came to abortion clinics hoping for a better answer, the fact that abortion counselors do not explore options and give unbiased information could definitely sway them towards having an abortion.

Of course, the 44% statistic comes from a group of women who regretted their abortions, and might not be representative of all women seeking abortion. But other abortion workers have revealed that some women change their minds about having abortions, even at the last minute. For example, in a May 2000 piece for the Ottawa Star, Leonard Stern interviewed an abortion center director who stated that 20% of women scheduled for abortions at her location did not show up for their appointments. Another abortion counselor told an interviewer:

Maybe 30 percent [of the women] are kind of talking through doubts, maybe 5 percent go away. 

Another abortionist, who complained about having to give women state-mandated information about fetal development and abortion’s risks, told the New York Times in that one in 10 women left the clinic without aborting after receiving the information. And in yet another article, in the Christian Science Monitor, an abortionist also discussed the phenomenon of women turning away from abortion after watching an educational video that the abortion clinic was forced to show by law.

So some women do change their minds. Even if women willing to change their minds and consider options are in the minority, lives could’ve been saved if the abortion workers had told the truth. Of course, this would work against the clinic’s bottom line.

As more abortion workers come forward with their stories, there are more examples of biased or dishonest abortion counseling. There are many similar stories from abortion workers, as well as testimonies from women about this that can be found here. Until abortion workers are willing to be honest, pro-lifers need to spread the truth about abortion so that women know exactly what will happen to them and their preborn babies if they abort. The abortion businesses cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, and pro-lifers need to step into the gap and educate the public about abortion.

BREAKING: Planned Parenthood uses partial-birth abortions to harvest fetal organs for sale

Above: People who have no idea what they’re really standing for

This is probably the most gut-wrenching story I have ever had to report on in my eight years of pro-life advocacy. It is not for anyone with a weak stomach. If you choose not to read any further, know that it is worse than you think.

A three-year undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress reveals that Planned Parenthood is selling organs from late-term babies to medical researchers. And to get the best “product” possible, Planned Parenthood abortionists are putting targeted unborn children in a breech position—the hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion method.

Back when partial-birth abortion was front and center in the right-to-life debate, abortion advocates swore that the method could in some cases be the safest for women. But it’s not women’s needs that are dictating the method; it’s medical research companies’ needs. These organs are pre-ordered, and it is not until later that Planned Parenthood sells the abortions and kills the children for their parts.

As Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the head of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Services division and herself a late-term abortionist, says in the undercover video (thinking that she is talking to buyers from a medical biologics firm):

I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.

The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is calvarium. Calvarium—the head—is basically the biggest part. …

We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex. …

So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.

By “calvarium,” she means the helpless child’s skull. And just in case you thought it couldn’t get creepier, she says all of this while she’s eating.

You can verify Nucatola’s comments by watching the initial video footage at CenterForMedicalProgress.org. I understand there will be more videos and documentation released in the near future.

Nucatola is no outlier. She is a top Planned Parenthood official, praised by CEO Cecile Richards herself. There is no possible way that the entire Planned Parenthood enterprise isn’t complicit.

Your tax dollars are propping up this horror, to the tune of $536 million a year.

BREAKING: Planned Parenthood uses partial-birth abortions to harvest fetal organs for sale

Above: People who have no idea what they’re really standing for

This is probably the most gut-wrenching story I have ever had to report on in my eight years of pro-life advocacy. It is not for anyone with a weak stomach. If you choose not to read any further, know that it is worse than you think.

A three-year undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress reveals that Planned Parenthood is selling organs from late-term babies to medical researchers. And to get the best “product” possible, Planned Parenthood abortionists are putting targeted unborn children in a breech position—the hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion method.

Back when partial-birth abortion was front and center in the right-to-life debate, abortion advocates swore that the method could in some cases be the safest for women. But it’s not women’s needs that are dictating the method; it’s medical research companies’ needs. These organs are pre-ordered, and it is not until later that Planned Parenthood sells the abortions and kills the children for their parts.

As Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the head of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Services division and herself a late-term abortionist, says in the undercover video (thinking that she is talking to buyers from a medical biologics firm):

I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.

The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is calvarium. Calvarium—the head—is basically the biggest part. …

We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex. …

So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.

By “calvarium,” she means the helpless child’s skull. And just in case you thought it couldn’t get creepier, she says all of this while she’s eating.

You can verify Nucatola’s comments by watching the initial video footage at CenterForMedicalProgress.org. I understand there will be more videos and documentation released in the near future.

Nucatola is no outlier. She is a top Planned Parenthood official, praised by CEO Cecile Richards herself. There is no possible way that the entire Planned Parenthood enterprise isn’t complicit.

Your tax dollars are propping up this horror, to the tune of $536 million a year.

Doe takes Roe from Bad to Worse

[Today’s guest post by Chris Rostenberg is part of our paid blogging program.]

When I first heard, in the 1990’s, that abortion was legal through all nine months of pregnancy, I couldn’t believe it. If that were true, why would it not be common knowledge? Why would there be debate over where life began?

I had just abandoned the pro-choice movement and was researching the pro-life position. I was finding most of what they said quite persuasive. But how could abortion be legal until birth? Many other people who I have spoken to also could not believe the law could be so extreme. So I snuck into a local law library and read Roe vs. Wade—and, importantly, I also read its companion case, Doe vs. Bolton. I discovered that the pro-lifers were telling the truth: abortion really is legal through all nine months, in every state, for any reason, and has been since 1973.

Either by design or by accident (and my vote is for the former), our law is confusing in the extreme. The Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade made it seem as if only early abortion was legal, saying that the states, if they wished, could make late abortion illegal. They can’t. The moderate-sounding threads of the Roe opinion are completely unraveled in Doe.

The details are important. Roe said the states could make third trimester abortion illegal unless the woman’s “life or health” was endangered. (We should already be suspicious; why mention “life” if “health” is enough to get a third trimester abortion? If a woman’s life is endangered, surely her health is too.) The Roe opinion says that it should be “read together” with Doe—and in Doe, the Supreme Court defined “health” as “all factors, physical, emotional, psychological and familial,” including the woman’s marital status and age.

So to recap, the states can prohibit late abortion… except when one of “all factors” comes to pass. Which is a really convoluted way of saying that the states cannot prohibit late abortion.

The Justices did not need to write their opinions in such a confusing way, of course. The whole thing could have been resolved by including the definition of “health” within the main Roe opinion. The only reason to go about it the way they did is to make it easier for the abortion movement, and its allies in the media, to conceal how extreme the law is.

To take but one example: in his presidential debate with Senator McCain, then-Senator Obama said, “I am completely supportive of a ban on late term abortion … as long as there’s an exception for the woman’s health and life.” As a former law professor, Obama knew exactly what that really meant. But McCain had trouble explaining the health loophole, because it’s too complicated to fit into a 15-second sound bite.

The Supreme Court backed off slightly in Gonzales v. Carhart, the partial-birth abortion case, but for all other abortion methods the “health” loophole remains wide enough to drive trucks through. We’ll soon find out whether or not the current Court is committed to keeping up the charade. In recent years, several states, working together with pro-life legal scholars, have passed laws banning abortions after 20 weeks. One or more of those laws will surely find its way to the High Court, and when it does, we must take full advantage of the opportunity to educate the public. Because for over 40 years, the media has consistently failed to accurately report on the reality of American abortion law. If it had, people would know that Doe instituted legal abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. As it stands, many Americans have never even heard of Doe!

Doe takes Roe from Bad to Worse

[Today’s guest post by Chris Rostenberg is part of our paid blogging program.]

When I first heard, in the 1990’s, that abortion was legal through all nine months of pregnancy, I couldn’t believe it. If that were true, why would it not be common knowledge? Why would there be debate over where life began?

I had just abandoned the pro-choice movement and was researching the pro-life position. I was finding most of what they said quite persuasive. But how could abortion be legal until birth? Many other people who I have spoken to also could not believe the law could be so extreme. So I snuck into a local law library and read Roe vs. Wade—and, importantly, I also read its companion case, Doe vs. Bolton. I discovered that the pro-lifers were telling the truth: abortion really is legal through all nine months, in every state, for any reason, and has been since 1973.

Either by design or by accident (and my vote is for the former), our law is confusing in the extreme. The Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade made it seem as if only early abortion was legal, saying that the states, if they wished, could make late abortion illegal. They can’t. The moderate-sounding threads of the Roe opinion are completely unraveled in Doe.

The details are important. Roe said the states could make third trimester abortion illegal unless the woman’s “life or health” was endangered. (We should already be suspicious; why mention “life” if “health” is enough to get a third trimester abortion? If a woman’s life is endangered, surely her health is too.) The Roe opinion says that it should be “read together” with Doe—and in Doe, the Supreme Court defined “health” as “all factors, physical, emotional, psychological and familial,” including the woman’s marital status and age.

So to recap, the states can prohibit late abortion… except when one of “all factors” comes to pass. Which is a really convoluted way of saying that the states cannot prohibit late abortion.

The Justices did not need to write their opinions in such a confusing way, of course. The whole thing could have been resolved by including the definition of “health” within the main Roe opinion. The only reason to go about it the way they did is to make it easier for the abortion movement, and its allies in the media, to conceal how extreme the law is.

To take but one example: in his presidential debate with Senator McCain, then-Senator Obama said, “I am completely supportive of a ban on late term abortion … as long as there’s an exception for the woman’s health and life.” As a former law professor, Obama knew exactly what that really meant. But McCain had trouble explaining the health loophole, because it’s too complicated to fit into a 15-second sound bite.

The Supreme Court backed off slightly in Gonzales v. Carhart, the partial-birth abortion case, but for all other abortion methods the “health” loophole remains wide enough to drive trucks through. We’ll soon find out whether or not the current Court is committed to keeping up the charade. In recent years, several states, working together with pro-life legal scholars, have passed laws banning abortions after 20 weeks. One or more of those laws will surely find its way to the High Court, and when it does, we must take full advantage of the opportunity to educate the public. Because for over 40 years, the media has consistently failed to accurately report on the reality of American abortion law. If it had, people would know that Doe instituted legal abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. As it stands, many Americans have never even heard of Doe!

A Simple Way to Seek Common Ground

[Today’s guest post is by K. M. Misener.]

Far too many abortion debates are framed in the most simple, black and white terms: “Are you for abortion or against it?” However, there are many shades of gray between the two extremes of an absolute ban on abortion from the moment of fertilization vs. abortion on demand up until birth for any reason. For that reason, I have started to make a very simple request to abortion advocates in discussions: Please spell out for me exactly when you believe abortion should be legal, and when it should not be legal.

While that may seem like a very basic starting point, I think simply making sure we clearly understand where exactly our opponent stands can make discussion far more productive than if we just try to debate the issue in a general way.

We have plenty of real-world examples of situations where abortion has been restricted while not being outright banned. In many European countries, abortion is restricted after the first trimester, while in the United States, abortion advocacy groups fight hard against late-term abortion bans. Some readers may be too young to remember the long and difficult fight in America to ban intact dilation and extraction abortion (a.k.a. Partial Birth Abortion or PBA), but I remember that fight well. Once the partial birth abortion ban finally was upheld by the Supreme Court, abortion advocates quietly let their defense of PBA drop after a while. Despite dire predictions at the time that banning partial birth abortion would “undoubtedly harm the future reproductive health of some American women,” nowadays you generally do not see people arguing that partial birth abortions need to make a comeback. The partial birth abortion ban shows the value of looking at abortion in terms of a spectrum, rather than pure black and white. Even many people who might have considered themselves pro-choice recognized partial birth abortion as too extreme to justify or defend.

We know from Gallup polling that even though a bit less than half of Americans identify as pro-choice, only about 26% of responders believe that abortion should be “Legal in all circumstances.” There are many scenarios that frequently make even pro-choice people uncomfortable:

  • Abortion for so-called “convenience” or “birth control” reasons. 
  • Sex selection abortion (aborting a female fetus for being female, as is commonly practiced in some cultures). 
  • Late term abortions that are clearly for elective reasons.
  • The same woman having multiple abortions. It has been my experience that most abortion advocates are not aware that about half of women who have abortions have already had a previous abortion 

Since many pro-choice people tend to bring up rape and incest when debating pro-lifers (even though rape and incest only account for about 1% of abortions), I think it is completely valid for us to try to understand their stances on situations such as the above cases.

I am reminded of a quote that is very popular among atheists with respect to monotheistic religious adherents:
“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Similarly, I say to those who oppose abortion in at least some cases:

“I contend we are both against abortion. I just oppose abortion in more situations than you do. When you consider why you oppose these abortions, then perhaps you will understand that I am not your enemy simply because I draw the line in more cases or a bit earlier in pregnancy than you do.”

We are used to thinking of abortion as a polarized, black and white issue. But I believe in many, many cases our disagreement is actually just about where to draw the line and matters of degree.

Now, what about abortion advocates who truly do believe abortion is a valid choice right up until the moment of birth? Finding out that someone takes that stance offers a great opportunity to discuss with that person what rational basis there is to abort a third trimester fetus yet protect the life of a newborn infant. Starting at the point where you can both agree that there is a life worth protecting
and working backwards from there may be more productive than trying to convince someone who does not see even a third trimester fetus as a “person” that a newly formed zygote deserves to live.

In the effort to change minds and reach people, I think it is very helpful to try to find some form of common ground and use that as a foundation to build on. We need to look for opportunities to meet people at whatever point they are at along the spectrum of abortion beliefs.

A Simple Way to Seek Common Ground

[Today’s guest post is by K. M. Misener.]

Far too many abortion debates are framed in the most simple, black and white terms: “Are you for abortion or against it?” However, there are many shades of gray between the two extremes of an absolute ban on abortion from the moment of fertilization vs. abortion on demand up until birth for any reason. For that reason, I have started to make a very simple request to abortion advocates in discussions: Please spell out for me exactly when you believe abortion should be legal, and when it should not be legal.

While that may seem like a very basic starting point, I think simply making sure we clearly understand where exactly our opponent stands can make discussion far more productive than if we just try to debate the issue in a general way.

We have plenty of real-world examples of situations where abortion has been restricted while not being outright banned. In many European countries, abortion is restricted after the first trimester, while in the United States, abortion advocacy groups fight hard against late-term abortion bans. Some readers may be too young to remember the long and difficult fight in America to ban intact dilation and extraction abortion (a.k.a. Partial Birth Abortion or PBA), but I remember that fight well. Once the partial birth abortion ban finally was upheld by the Supreme Court, abortion advocates quietly let their defense of PBA drop after a while. Despite dire predictions at the time that banning partial birth abortion would “undoubtedly harm the future reproductive health of some American women,” nowadays you generally do not see people arguing that partial birth abortions need to make a comeback. The partial birth abortion ban shows the value of looking at abortion in terms of a spectrum, rather than pure black and white. Even many people who might have considered themselves pro-choice recognized partial birth abortion as too extreme to justify or defend.

We know from Gallup polling that even though a bit less than half of Americans identify as pro-choice, only about 26% of responders believe that abortion should be “Legal in all circumstances.” There are many scenarios that frequently make even pro-choice people uncomfortable:

  • Abortion for so-called “convenience” or “birth control” reasons. 
  • Sex selection abortion (aborting a female fetus for being female, as is commonly practiced in some cultures). 
  • Late term abortions that are clearly for elective reasons.
  • The same woman having multiple abortions. It has been my experience that most abortion advocates are not aware that about half of women who have abortions have already had a previous abortion 

Since many pro-choice people tend to bring up rape and incest when debating pro-lifers (even though rape and incest only account for about 1% of abortions), I think it is completely valid for us to try to understand their stances on situations such as the above cases.

I am reminded of a quote that is very popular among atheists with respect to monotheistic religious adherents:
“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Similarly, I say to those who oppose abortion in at least some cases:

“I contend we are both against abortion. I just oppose abortion in more situations than you do. When you consider why you oppose these abortions, then perhaps you will understand that I am not your enemy simply because I draw the line in more cases or a bit earlier in pregnancy than you do.”

We are used to thinking of abortion as a polarized, black and white issue. But I believe in many, many cases our disagreement is actually just about where to draw the line and matters of degree.

Now, what about abortion advocates who truly do believe abortion is a valid choice right up until the moment of birth? Finding out that someone takes that stance offers a great opportunity to discuss with that person what rational basis there is to abort a third trimester fetus yet protect the life of a newborn infant. Starting at the point where you can both agree that there is a life worth protecting
and working backwards from there may be more productive than trying to convince someone who does not see even a third trimester fetus as a “person” that a newly formed zygote deserves to live.

In the effort to change minds and reach people, I think it is very helpful to try to find some form of common ground and use that as a foundation to build on. We need to look for opportunities to meet people at whatever point they are at along the spectrum of abortion beliefs.