Saturday, May 01, 2004

Notes on the Last Post

First off, I was impressed with the level of comments-box discourse; I've seen other such debates get personal very quickly. I appreciate all the points, statistics and comments, and I have just a few things to say myself.

First off, I don't believe I'm here making the strongest case I possibly can on any of these points. If my idea were to convert today those who disagree with me, I'd instead be stealing the famous arguments of other people. Instead, what I'm doing on this blog, on a number of issues, is further honing my thought, trying to find a consistent and compelling way to understand all the complexity of political life, among other things. For example, I haven't dropped my thoughts on same-sex marriage; that topic's on the back burner as I ponder what it means that many marriages today (marriages later in life, or second or third marriages) aren't geared towards raising kids.

So I appreciate all you continue to say about this topic.

Let me remark, first, that the last post garnered some remarks on the issue of immediately criminalizing abortion. I thought I was trying to make clear that even if you don't favor that at all, or if you have doubts (as I do) that it would be prudent in the near future (because of comparably high rates of illicit abortions), you ought still to consider that it's not a healthy society that has 4,000 abortions per day. I want to know what you think would be good and reasonable methods for changing that.

That being said, I have some individual responses...


As regards the "taking care of the homeless" thought experiment, it sounds a lot like Judith Jarvis Thompson's The Violinist analogy justifying abortion. Have you read it?

Anyway, where I think it falls apart is this: refusing to take care of a person against your will is one thing, killing them directly is quite another. You may be justified in forcing a homeless person to leave your home and try to find shelter elsewhere, but you are not justified in shooting him or her in the head to "solve" that problem.


True, I'd just heard the figure "one in four" bandied about. However, the quotes I found (from pro-abortion* sources) claim that it's even higher:

"The chances are high that a woman will have more than one unplanned pregnancy in the course of her lifetime. Nearly half of all U.S. women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old."

Source: Planned Parenthood Website

"On the basis of current abortion rates, one in three American women will have had an abortion by age 45."

Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute, quoted here.


We agree that there are problems with the adoption system in the United States (one of the institutions I think ought to be fixed immediately). But some of your points are off, I think.

The median age of children entering foster case is 9 years. While I can't find the exact statistics, foster care is primarily the domain of children taken from abusive or otherwise incapable families, and does not have a great number of children originally given up for adoption. That's a side issue to adoption at birth.

Source: Health and Human Services

"Since the end of World War II, interest in adoption primarily has focused on healthy, young infants. By the mid-1950's, the demand for healthy infants grew so significantly that it exceeded the number of children available for adoption, a trend that has accelerated with each passing decade.

"According to the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth, there are an estimated 3.3 adoption seekers for every actual adoption."

Source: Health and Human Services


You'll find no disagreement from me that Christians ought to promote, through their daily lives, a society welcoming of life. However, I know that you also believe social ills can be ameliorated by proper political action as well as individual witness. Calling abortion a problem which can solely be addressed on the individual level appears to be a way of washing one's hands of it.


"If the options were better, I'd be willing to wager that 1.3 million would be a number of the past."

Exactly what I meant. How do we make the options better as a society?

Last Thoughts

My post could have been boiled down to one statement. "If you're pro-choice*, if you think that abortion is an ugly thing that has to be allowed as a last resort for certain societal problems, I want you to put your money where your mouth is. I want you to also work to directly confront those problems. Yes, pro-lifers should work as well to alleviate social ills. But so should you."

Below are some stats which don't surprise me. The question "what can we do?" has some answers here, I think. Teenage pregnancy rates often indicate statutory rape or other things we ought to combat... adoption can be made a truly feasible option for those who cannot afford a child... pregnancy ought not end a woman's education or career. What do you think?

Reasons Women Choose Abortion (U.S.)

Wants to postpone childbearing: 25.5%
Wants no (more) children: 7.9%
Cannot afford a baby: 21.3%
Having a child will disrupt education or job: 10.8%
Has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy: 14.1%
Too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to pregnancy: 12.2%
Risk to maternal health: 2.8%
Risk to fetal health: 3.3%
Other: 2.1%

Source: Bankole, Akinrinola; Singh, Susheela; Haas, Taylor. Reasons Why Women Have Induced Abortions: Evidence from 27 Countries. International Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 24(3):117–127 & 152 As reported by: The Alan Guttmacher Institute Online:

*From what you say, I trust that you are not pro-abortion but think it's a necessary evil. So I'll call you "pro-choice" as you would prefer to be called. However, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, etc, have been so senseless in their lobbying, in my opinion, that I'd almost believe they would be disgusted with a society that didn't choose abortion. Hence the "pro-abortion" epithet for them.

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