Friday, May 04, 2007

Motherhood Statements

The history of abortion is a history of stories, and the ones that took place before Roe v. Wade are oftentimes so pitiable and heartbreaking that one of the most powerful tools of pro-choice advocates is simply telling them. The Choices We Made is a compendium of such stories, and while you could read it in an afternoon, you should not make the decision to do so lightly: It will trouble you for a long time afterward. In it, women whom we know for the large space they occupy in the world—writers Grace Paley, Linda Ellerbee, and Ursula K. Le Guin, and actresses Polly Bergen and Rita Moreno among them—tell us about a time in their lives when they were reduced to begging for a simple medical procedure that, because of the circumstances in which it was performed, almost killed several of them and left at least one infertile. Abortionists in those days included a handful of merciful and scrupulous doctors willing to risk prison, and more than a few monsters who considered groping or sexually assaulting their patients a droit du seigneur.


- Caitlin Flanagan in the May issue of the Atlantic.

In her thought-provoking if somewhat incoherent quasi-review [1] of The Choice We Made, Ms. Flanagan argues that the conditions the book describes - from a time before abortions were made legal - would not be replicated today. The social stigma around unwed pregnancy, she argues, is (at least in the US) a thing of the past, adoption procedures have improved, medical procedures have become both safer and simpler. These are heart-breaking stories, but they ought, in Ms. Flanagan's view, "to have little role in shaping today's public policy".

I disagree. I would argue that these stories are extremely relevant to the debate on abortion, because they underscore the terrible dangers of forcing an important activity underground. Making abortion illegal, these stories suggest, denies women access to appropriate medical facilities, and leaves them at the mercy of whatever scoundrel or quack they can find to do the deed. Medical science may have made great leaps forward in improving the technology of abortion (progress made possible, of course, by the fact that abortion was legal), but who's to say these advances will remain available to women if abortion is banned? Isn't it more likely that underground abortions will revert to primitive, even barbaric means? After all, it's not as though the horrifying procedures Ms. Flanagan describes in her article represented the state of the art at the time - they were simply the best the person performing them could manage, given the legal constraints.

Okay, so unwed pregnancies aren't as much of a social black mark as they used to be. Okay, so some women are even choosing to have their babies that way. How is that relevant to the question of abortion? Presumably women who are choosing to be single mothers are not the ones demanding abortions in the first place. Greater social acceptance may mean that the demand for abortions has gone down over time, with women who would have had abortions because it would ruin their 'reputations' no longer doing so, but social censure is hardly the only reason women seek abortions, and the fact that the demand for abortions may have gone down only means that the 'cost' of making abortions legal is lower today than in the time of Roe vs. Wade. All the more reason to keep abortions legal.

More importantly, though, this is all a little besides the point. The heart of the pro-choice argument is not a competition of suffering - to compare the damage done on one side vs. the damage done on the other. 'Pro-choice' is not a euphemism for pro-abortion, it is a fundamental belief in the individual's right to self-determination. No one is saying that women should terminate pregnancies, only that women should have the right to make that decision (and a difficult decision it is [2]) for themselves.

That society - or its agent, the state - should have the right to control what a woman does with her own body is troubling for two reasons. First, because it subordinates individual identity to an abstract principle, justifies human suffering in the name of social or religious good, is an act of tyranny in the name of piety or social order. You may think that abortion is wrong, and you're welcome to that view, but in a pluralistic society there's no reason why you should (or should be able to) impose your view on others, restrict their choices based on your beliefs.

The second difficulty I have with making abortion illegal is the way it implicitly gives primacy to a woman's biological role. If a woman is to be expected to sacrifice any and all other opportunities in order to be a mother, this can only be because being a mother is her primary function in the world. Motherhood, then is more important than adulthood, than independence. And since the key role that women play in society is to produce children, why should society not commandeer their bodies for its own purpose, never mind their feelings or opinions in the matter. [3]

The point is that making abortions illegal, or granting the state control over them, is an insult and an injury to women everywhere. It is to use biology as a way of making women second class citizens, denying them their right to self-determination. Certainly, there is a practical cost to making abortions illegal - in that it exposes women to unnecessary hazard - and that is a point worth keeping in mind in the abortion debate. But it is, in the end, a secondary point. Abortions should be legal because women have the right to make their own choices, not because making them illegal would be victimising women more than necessary.

Towards the end of her article Ms. Flanagan writes:

But my sympathy for the beliefs of people who oppose abortion is enormous, and it grows almost by the day. An ultrasound image taken surprisingly early in pregnancy can stop me in my tracks....The demands pro-life advocates make of pregnant women are modest: All they want is a little bit of time. All they are asking, in a societal climate in which out-of-wedlock pregnancy is without stigma, is that pregnant women give the tiny bodies growing inside of them a few months, until the little creatures are large enough to be on their way, to loving homes.
The key word here is demand. Because demand can be both a plea and an order, and it is only the latter that the pro-choice argument is opposed to. There is certainly much to be said against abortions, and those who oppose abortions are welcome to say it. Let us, by all means, minimise the cost of not terminating a pregnancy - by ensuring that unwed mothers get greater social acceptance, by ensuring proper counselling and adoption services. Let us, by whatever means possible, using whatever arguments or propaganda we see fit, try to convince women not to go through with abortions; let us ensure that women everywhere consider abortion, if at all, only as an extreme last resort. All of this, I, as someone who is clearly pro-choice, have no problems with. My only concern is that the right to make the decision on whether or not to carry the pregnancy through to term, remain with pregnant women herself.

Notes

[1] In which Ms. Flanagan also indulges in some immensely silly stereo-typing. Women, it seems, have sex because they feelings, while men have sex because they are horny. Oh, please.

[2] What would be interesting, I think, is a book about how emotionally traumatic having an abortion is even after the procedure has been made legal. To hear the pro-life folks tell it, women have abortions with the same blithe readiness with which they order frappucinos. I somehow doubt that's true. And even if there are women like that do we really want them to be mothers?

[3] There is also, of course, a patriarchal undercurrent - the idea that women with unwanted pregnancies are 'loose' women who ought to be punished. An attitude best exemplified by a particularly cretinous classmate of mine who, in a discussion on abortion, said (I paraphrase): "It's her fault, so why shouldn't she have to pay for it?" - as though men, of course, never had anything to do with pregnancies.

40 comments:

Revealed said...

Immaculate conception I suppose! Pshaw.

But I think the heart of the matter is a direct struggle for basic rights between the host and the parasite (which in the end is what it comes down to). The question is which overrides the other, because obviously a choice has to be made. As you said, it is probably the hardest choice a woman has to make and why people would assume it's easy I really cannot fathom. Is there a chance perhaps that the easier it is to do, the more desensitized people will get to doing it?

Someone once told me that the easiest way to resolve the abortion issue is to determine when exactly the foetus becomes a living entity. If *that* is the *easiest* way.........

Falstaff said...

revealed:

"the easiest way to resolve the abortion issue is to determine when exactly the foetus becomes a living entity"

Agreed. And for me, personally, the answer is very clear. The foetus becomes an 'entity' when it can survive outside its mother. If it can't be removed from its mother and remain alive it's not an independent entity but a part of its mother's body and therefore hers to do with as she likes.

As for making it easier - not everything that's legal is easy. Flanagan herself claims that the 'maternal instinct' is the most powerful emotion she has ever known. Surely that instinct is not going to go away simply because abortion is legal. Are women in countries where abortion is allowed less 'maternal' than those elsewhere. I don't think so.

Brown Magic said...

I agree entirely.

As for determing when life begins -I guess everyone is free to determine when that is for themselves. If you think it starts at conception, then by all means carry it to term. If you think the foetus is a living entity only in the third trimester, then let that guide your choice.

Mostly pro-lifers ignore the cost of the choice. My practising catholic friend chose an abortion. She considers herself a sinner and describes herself as feeling 'hollow'. she also believes it was the right thing to do. They have consequences - the choices, and you abide them. I am not sure how anyone can honestly believe they don't, that it would be easy.

sa re ga ma said...

"If a woman is to be expected to sacrifice any and all other opportunities in order to be a mother, this can only be because being a mother is her primary function in the world."

By taking away the rights to abortion, there is also an implication that women need to have sex only to bear babies! That women might like to have sex, enjoy it, the emancipation provided by the pill - All these factors are buried and laid to rest...

Anonymous said...

mmm...has there been ANY rational,logical argument made by pro-lifers so far?None that
I have come across so for..though admittedly limited though my reading has been on the topic.

But then considering the various parameters that has to be taken into consideration ( not the least of them being the cultural,religious and societal factors ) can we reasonably expect people to see reason?

On a not so unrelated note...would your stance be different if we had lived in a Spartanesque society?

On a possibly unrelated note how do you reconcile this with Determinism?

Anonymous said...

...and doesnt it get a bit complicated if the man involved doesnt want the abortion but the woman involved does? How much "right" does the man have in the matter?

Revealed said...

The foetus becomes an 'entity' when it can survive outside its mother.

Technological reality very soon is going to include means for a foetus to be brought to term outside a womb completely independent of the mother. Where does that leave us then?

None of the answers seem very simple or clear to me.

Falstaff said...

brown magic: Yes, that's pretty much what being able to make your own choices is about.

sa re ga ma: Yes. Which is another thing about the Flanagan article I find annoying. She's actively making the argument that women take the risk of getting pregnant because sexual desire is a strong force for them as well, then goes off into her whole 'women have sex for feelings, men have sex for sex' routine.

anonymous: No, my stance wouldn't be different. Though, of course, in a Spartan society I'd have a lot of other things to worry about. And I'm not sure what determinism has to do with this. Personally, I find discussions on determinism fairly pointless. It's not so much that I don't believe the argument, it's more that I don't see how it matters either way.

revealed: Yes, but when that happens we don't have a problem anymore, do we? if the foetus could be seperated from the mother then there would be no issue - unwanted pregnancies could just be removed from their mother's womb and maintained in pre-natal orphanages by the state. That way, women would still get control over their own bodies and pro-lifers could live happy in the knowledge that children weren't being killed. There is no argument for terminating a foetus if it can be removed from your body - that really would be murder. The point is that women should have the right to refuse their bodies being involved in any way if they want to.

Anonymous said...

@Falstaff : I think it is not that easy in a Spartanesque society...the dynamics that has to be taken into consideration will be largely different...
Yes even I find discussions about Determinism ( a posteriori ) pointless..but thinking about it the idea of "laws" seem largely pointless as well...

and what about the right of "man" ? you never got around to answer that...is the foetus the exclusive right of the woman? What about the man?

Revealed said...

I suppose we aren't considering genetically/congenitally defective offspring then. This is purely about out-of-wedlock/socially stigmatized abortions?

Heh Heh said...

@anony
mmm...has there been ANY rational,logical argument made by pro-lifers so far?

Actually there are several rational, logical arguments to be made, depending on your premise about when life starts, when a living entity is entitled its rights.. and all that.

It is easy to get rhetorical and hyperbolic about the women's right to choose - pro-lifers just get rhetorical about the fetus's right to live. I don't see what is so completely irrational about that.

I agree with the point revealed and falstaff make - about technology becoming a determining factor. If a fetus can technically survive outside the womb after the second trimester, then third trimester abortions are wrong, and if not made illegal, should at least be subjected to intense scrutiny. But this is just a technical distinction, and I would not consider someone who believes that life begins at conception and hence opposes abortion to be 'irrational'.

For that matter, it is not even clear to my why *birth* should be such an important distinguishing point - pro-choicers inherently believe that birth is when the baby is endowed with the right to live. The mother spends huge amounts of resources during the first few months of infancy, and the baby is almost completely dependent on her. Why should she not be entitled to choose to 'abort' the baby after birth?

Or, for that matter, why should we not allow care-givers to mentally-challenged people who are totally dependent on others the right to 'abort' them?

For surely, if you apply a certain kind of reasoning to the issue of abortion, you should apply similar reasoning to these issues also. Either that, or you are not a believer in consistency, and there is not point to this debate.

Falstaff said...

anonymous: Yes, they would. I guess my point is that defining what my point of view would be in a spartanesque society means first thinking through an entire set of assumptions around what that social system might look like. so there's no easy or obvious answer to that question.

on the rights of 'man': I think the question isn't who has rights over the foetus, but who has rights over the mother's body. As I've suggested in my initial response to revealed's comment, I think the fundamental problem is the inseparability of the foetus from the mother's body - and as long as that inseparability lasts I don't acknowledge the existence of the foetus as an independent entity.

Men, therefore, don't get de facto rights over the foetus in much the same way as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice doesn't get the right to his pound of flesh. They're certainly welcome to an equal say in the fate of the foetus, and may claim it as their own so long as they can separate it from its mother's body and keep it alive. What they don't have a right to do is force a woman to do something with her body that she doesn't want to. This sounds like sophistry, I know, but it's the reason why speaking of the foetus as an entity when it can't survive independent of its mother's body is meaningless.

revealed: See above. It doesn't really matter what kind of offspring we're talking about. Once the foetus is separable from the mother, society is free to do whatever it wants with it independent of the mother's wishes. If society feels that all life is sacred, it can keep all unwanted babies alive. If it feels that only healthy babies who could grow up to contribute to society are worth protecting, it could let the others die.

Abortion as a social issue exists only so far as there's a conflict between society's interest in the foetus and the individual's interest in her own body - because the two can't be separated. And I'm saying that as long as the conflict exists the individual's right over her own body takes precedence over the supposed rights of the foetus.

Revealed said...

Society's rights can't override the mother's rights. That's tending towards fascism. The family unit should still have a say in the matter. If the foetus isn't solely dependent on the mother, I'd say the mother and father gain equal rights over the fate of the foetus. How does society become the responsible party by default?

Secondly, since society is made up of individuals, when it comes to a right of one individual vs right of another individual debate, society can never have a clear cut opinon on it. Which basically means that abortion will pretty much always be a social issue unless there is unanimous agreement as to what constitutes life. Which is a whole other debate.

Heh Heh said...

Are women in countries where abortion is allowed less 'maternal' than those elsewhere. I don't think so.

That is definitely something that can be contested and I don't know what gives you that level of conviction. If a declining birth rate is taken as a metric for for whether a society encourages motherhood or not (has women that are more or less 'maternal'), it would be interesting to see how abortion figures into the picture once obvious socio-economic differences are taken care of.

My gut feel is that it would show that ceteris paribus, societies where access to abortion is easier would have lower birth rates (and not solely in a purely mechanical way because of the number of fetuses that are being aborted)

Revealed said...

Or, for that matter, why should we not allow care-givers to mentally-challenged people who are totally dependent on others the right to 'abort' them?

In my opinion, a very valid point. And as crucial if not more so to the debate as the mother's right to her body.

Also, the correlation between intensity of maternal feelings and abortion is, as heh heh says definitely ambiguous and worthy of consideration. Another indicator could be the age at which a mother has her first child.

Ricercar said...

i agree with all your points. i am pro choice, too. however, having seen the how abortions work in the usa, i feel they are way too easy. easy enough that kids are less careful because they know how easy it is.

Falstaff said...

heh heh: Of course, correlation is not causality. To really study this, you'd need to control for education levels, income levels, % of women in the workforce, etc.

It wouldn't surprise me if countries where abortion was legal had lower birth rates. That doesn't mean abortion makes women less maternal. It simply means that in societies that respect women's rights and provide more equitable opportunities for personal growth, women choose to have fewer babies / fewer women have babies. And that, to me, is a good thing.

What I'm unconvinced about is the idea that a woman who, given a good education and equitable opportunities, chooses to have a baby, would be less likely to have that baby if abortion were legal. I can't prove that that isn't true, of course, but I find it hard to believe.

Space Bar said...

To hear the pro-life folks tell it, women have abortions with the same blithe readiness with which they order frappucinos. I somehow doubt that's true. And even if there are women like that do we really want them to be mothers?

Excellent post, but I'm surprised by the judgemental note in the last statement. Why can women not be callous about their own bodies out of ignorance and carelessness? I can believe that there are women who have abortions and who never regret it ever, or get nightmares about what it might have meant to take the pregnancy to term.
So what? Does that take away their right to an abortion? Are only responsible mothers allowed to become parents? What about all those terrible mothers who, in Larkin's words, fuck their children up along with the fathers? i'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say, do we really want them to be mothers.

Falstaff said...

space bar: The point of that statement is simply that if someone genuinely has so little interest in having a child that they see terminating a pregnancy as a decision to be made casually then I can't help feeling that's it's in everyone's benefit that they be allowed to do so. I don't see the point of forcing someone who has so little interest in or affection for a child to become a parent against their will.

Obviously these hypothetical people should have the right to have abortions / have children just like everyone else. My whole point is that parenthood is an individual choice that we have no right to regulate. And if making abortion legal means that a small handful of uninterested mothers end up casually aborting their foetuses, I don't see that as a calamity.

erimentha said...

It's rather silly to assume that comparing the birth rates in countries where abortion is legal and where it's not will tell us something about maternal instinct, isn't it? If statistics are going to be used to prove anything, look at maternal mortality in countries where abortion is legal and where it's not (see the maps):

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/04/22/kenyan-hospitals-overwhelmed-by-women-injured-by-illegal-abortion-thank-a-pro-lifer/

And for a beautiful post on how difficult it is to make the decision to abort, from a man, no less:

http://disgustedbeyondbelief.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-views-on-abortion.html

erimentha said...

Sorry, I'm technologically challenged! Here:

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/04/22/ke
nyan-hospitals-overwhelmed-by-women-injured-by-ille
gal-abortion-thank-a-pro-lifer/

and

http://disgustedbeyondbelief.blogspot.com/2007/04/my
-views-on-abortion.html

Heh Heh said...

erimentha:
All that the first link shows is that economically underdeveloped countries tend to have more restrictive abortion laws *and* higher maternal mortality. As a statistical argument, it is not valid and that picture comparison is designed to mislead. Notice that my argument was after controlling for development indicators. You conveniently ignored that part when you dismissed it as 'silly'.
What is interesting for me is a comparison between a comparison between, for instance, portugal and spain - two culturally and economically similar societies with vastly different abortion laws.

And falstaff why is not birth rate/age at which first child is born *not* an indicator of how much society encourages motherhood? Why is it necessarily a *good* thing that women choose to have fewer babies? And as far as this is concerned:

What I'm unconvinced about is the idea that a woman who, given a good education and equitable opportunities, chooses to have a baby, would be less likely to have that baby if abortion were legal.

Let me rephrase the same idea in a way that places it in a social context. This is obviously putting a spin on the issue, but you will see where I am coming from:

Is a woman belonging to a social system that provides for free access to abortion more or less likely to have a certain number of children than a woman with the same socioeconomic status in a society that restricts abortion?

Heh Heh said...

By the way you said this:

What I'm unconvinced about is the idea that a woman who, given a good education and equitable opportunities, chooses to have a baby, would be less likely to have that baby if abortion were legal.

I assumed you meant this:
What I'm unconvinced about is the idea that a woman who, given a good education and equitable opportunities would be less likely to have a baby if abortion were legal.

For if the woman has already chosen to have the baby, it is a moot point.

Falstaff said...

heh heh: It is not necessarily a good thing if women have fewer babies. It is a good thing if they have fewer babies because they have opportunities to be something other than baby producing machines. If they are given the opportunity to grow as individuals intellectually, emotionally and professionally. The age at which a woman has her first child may well be an indicator of how much society "encourages" motherhood, but it obscures what form that encouragement takes - if women are 'encouraged' to have babies because they don't have other opportunities, that's not, in my books, a good thing.

The larger point is that there's no reason to believe that a higher birth rate and / or women having babies earlier is a good thing. So maybe the legalisation of abortion is correlated with (though not a cause of) a lower social emphasis on maternity. So what?

As to your rephrased question - notice that you're still mixing correlation and causality. My gut feel is that the answer depends on what socio-economic status we're talking about. I'm saying for women with high socio-economic status there is no difference between living in a country where abortion is legal and one where it is not. For women with poor socio-economic status, the birth rate in countries where abortion is legal is probably lower, but that's a reflection of the fact that opportunities for women have and awareness of gender rights has permeated further in these countries - which is why abortion is legal there.

Falstaff said...

And what I really meant was, "the woman is less likely to choose to have that baby".

Here's what I find ridiculous: there's a woman who, given a reasonable education and reasonable access to economic opportunity, wants, of her own free will, to have a baby. Then one day abortion is made legal. And the fact that abortion is now allowed makes the idea of having a baby less attractive to her - to the point where she changes her mind and decides not to have it. And this happens not in a few isolated / idiosyncratic cases, but in a widespread enough way to make a significant difference at a national level.

Szerelem said...

Women, it seems, have sex because they feelings, while men have sex because they are horny.

Wait. It doesn't work like that? Heh.

As usual, I agree with you :)

Tabula Rasa said...

szerelem, falsie:
i beg to differ. may i present the anecdotal and statistically insignificant insight that while there exists a famous landmark by the name of horniman circle, to the best of my knowledge there's nothing at all dedicated to feelingwoman (except a handful of pointers to porn sites via google... which reinforces the point about horniness).

participants in this discussion may also find some recent research on sexual economics to their interest.

Big Wave said...

All they (pro-lifers) are asking....is that pregnant women give the tiny bodies growing inside of them a few months, until the little creatures are large enough to be on their way, to loving homes.

What irritates me the most is women's uteri being reduced to modes of public transport.

Ricercar said...

well you are perhaps right, but i cant really agree. i think there should atleast be a minimum age below which you should atleast need your parents consent, or for them to be informed. i am not saying that the link is causal, but the ability of at 15 or 16 year old being able to breeze in and out of a an abortion facility no questions asked will definitely have an effect on the mindset of kids that age - who for the most part do not know what they are doing (if indeed any of us really do) ...

Once a child gets pregnant I do agree she should be able to abort it. At the same time she should not have a pre conceived notion of how easy it is colouring her attitude towards birth control and relationships.

I agree with you in that just having the choice will not make older educated women with resources not have babies, or have less of them. But I feel thats besides the point. Those women, going by the profile projected, would make sure usually that they did not get pregnant in the first place. there will be exceptions, but we are talking majorities.

what is important is there are many babies who should not have been born because of the situations of their birth and of those the mothers who realise that and are ready to try and abort them should be allowed to go ahead.

if you start thinking of an unborn baby as a life, then at which point will you stop, going back ... that way you could say one cell is a life too.

funny world that allows wars and stops abortions.

Falstaff said...

szerelem: not in my circle anyway.

TR: Nice. Once, just once, I'd like to write a paper with an abstract like that.

big wave: yes, exactly.

ricercar: Fair enough, though I think you're overstating the cluelessness of 16 year olds. They may be confused and immature, but I doubt any of them would take an abortion that lightly. On the whole , though, I don't have much of an issue with under-16 mothers having to get their parent's consent for the procedure. That's very different from the government making abortions illegal.

Aishwarya said...

Gak. Brain still isn't working post-finals. Er. I agree with Falstaff.

confused said...

Spacebar,

Abortion should never be illegal because as Falstaff has pointed out, it is a function of the right to self-determination.

But yes, once a child is born, no parent has the right to fuck him/her up and if that happens, the state has every right to intervene and take the baby away. Simple because you are the parents of the child, you don't ''own'' him.

dazedandconfused said...

Falstaff, you write well and all, but frankly, I prefer Chris Rock's take on this issue-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjW4i67YC04

Space Bar said...

Confused: I wasn't suggesting that abortion should be made illegal; on the contrary, I am unequivocally in favour of a woman deciding what to do with her own body, regardless of how you apportion life within it.

I was taking (mild) exception to Falstaff's statement that we might not want women who have abortions as casually as they would order a frappucino, to really be mothers.

Space Bar said...

Confused: One more thing. You say, "But yes, once a child is born, no parent has the right to fuck him/her up and if that happens, the state has every right to intervene and take the baby away."

The most well-intentioned parent can fuck their children up without knowing it. I'm assuming that you mean the really big stuff - rape, abuse, the kind of stuff that makes it on to videos that fathers returning from Iraq can view.

I'm uncomfortable with the idea of the State being called in to set right everything, but yes, I can see how a minor who is terribly abused must be removed from the 'care' of such parents.

In such a case, we'd have a large number of orphaned children in India, because the unreported abuse that children face is enormous. How do you think the state would handle it?

(Sorry Falstaff - that kind of takes the subject elsewhere).

Falstaff said...

Aishwarya: Congratulations on being done with finals. Good to know you agree - though I kind of thought you would.

Confused / Space Bar: I think what it comes down to is the State (and hence society) putting its money where its mouth is. It's easy to pass a legislation banning abortion and leaving it to the individual to sort out the consequences of that. It's a whole other thing setting up the infrastructure to adequately care for unwanted / abused children. Theoretically, I agree that the state should have the right to take away children that are being abused by their parents in order to protect them from harm. But that assumes that the state has the facilities to provide a more nurturing environment for the child, and that, I suspect, doesn't exist in many cases

Ricercar said...

yup totally different issue. about the insulation of 16 year olds ... no ... i have seen too many going through the procedure to be persuaded otherwise. it doesnt even hit them, what they are doing, till they are half way through it - which isnt a long time, actually, considering you just pop a pill.

sowmya rao said...

"To hear the pro-life folks tell it, women have abortions with the same blithe readiness with which they order frappucinos. I somehow doubt that's true. And even if there are women like that do we really want them to be mothers?"

why do you say this?

sowmya rao said...

To clarify, why do you say that women like that aren't the kind of mothers society would want?

Falstaff said...

sowmya: see reply to space bar above. To put it simply - why would you want someone who has absolutely no concern for / interest in a child to be a mother?