The Battle Lines Of The Culture Wars

Ramesh Ponnuru makes plain how they have and haven’t shifted:

On same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana, public attitudes have, in fact, changed. A majority has gone from opposing to supporting both of them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that opposing them is going to hurt Republicans: It depends on, among other things, whether there’s a large pool of voters who would be open to Republican candidates if only they supported gay marriage. It does, however, mean that Republicans are going to talk less about these issues.

On the other hand, the public has not shifted on abortion, which has been a politically important social issue for much longer than same-sex marriage or legal pot have been. When pollsters for CBS ask people whether abortion should be “generally available,” or Gallup asks whether it should be “legal only under certain circumstances,” the answers look nearly identical to what they were a decade ago. The same is true when Gallup asks whether people consider themselves “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”

Isn’t it obvious why? Marriage equality and legal cannabis cannot plausibly be described as harming anyone. They’re both classically libertarian, live-and-let-live initiatives. But abortion touches on something very different. Many people believe (and I am one of them) that abortion doesn’t just affect another human life, but ends it. The individual liberty argument – so potent with marriage and cannabis – is checked by a legitimate concern for the unborn child. That’s why the younger generation is close to unanimous on cannabis and marriage but still divided over abortion. Kevin Williamson is in agreement:

What conservatives often fail to emphasize, I think, is that abortion is simply in a different category of issues than is gay marriage or marijuana legalization.

Not that those latter issues are not important — they certainly are — but they are not life-and-death issues. The marijuana debate is about how much we think it is worth intervening in other people’s lives to police the use of a relatively mild intoxicant; the abortion debate is about what it means to be a human being. To that extent, the entire idea of “the social issues” is probably more harmful than helpful. Abortion and gay marriage are not even roughly comparable.

Putting abortion aside, Reihan argues “that Republicans are, in theory at least, in a stronger position than Democrats on a variety of other social issues.” For instance, he urges conservatives to take the lead on drug policy:

One can easily imagine conservatives arguing that the chief federal concern in regulating cannabis and other controlled substances is in containing the negative interstate spillovers associated with their use, and so if states succeed in containing these spillovers, they ought to be given wide berth to craft their own regulatory regimes — an argument I’ve gleaned from Mark Kleiman of UCLA and Will Baude of the University of Chicago Law School, in somewhat different forms. Similarly, conservatives might try experimenting with, say, empowering states to lower the drinking age, provided (again) they make a convincing case that they can contain negative spillovers. For example, a state might lower its drinking age while also increasing its taxes on alcohol in an effort to control binge use.

I can’t confidently say that being the first mover on one of these issues would necessarily redound to the GOP’s advantage. But it would certainly change the conversation, and break the GOP out of its defensive crouch.

I can’t say I’m very hopeful on that score. The Puritans remain very strong in the base of that party.

The Red Tape Around Abortion

Elizabeth Nolan Brown discusses the significance of a 72-hour waiting period for abortion:

In effect, waiting-period rules like the one Missouri Republicans are pushing just make it logistically harder for women to exercise their right to an abortion. Yesterday I wrote about a Pennsylvania woman who ordered the abortion pill illegally online because the nearest clinic was more than 70 miles away. Some on social media scoffed at the idea that 70 miles was too far to travel—but because of mandatory waiting periods and other bureaucratic nonsense, what could be a one- or two-visit procedure actually requires three or four separate visits.

This is why it’s such bullshit when anti-abortion types talk about how it’s just an extra day or two wait; it’s just a requirement that only a physician can physically hand a woman the abortion pill; it’s just one or two clinics that will close down due to hospitals refusing admitting-privileges to abortion doctors… Taken individually, none of the restrictions may seem that nefarious. But these restrictions don’t exist in a vacuum. And the cumulative effect is absolutely to create a climate where the time and capital required to terminate a pregnancy becomes prohibitive for large numbers of women.

Emily Shire, meanwhile, is uncomfortable with differentiating between “good” and “bad” abortions:

When female politicians like Davis describe their abortions, they generally fit this narrative: a tortured, loving mother acting out of almost pure medical necessity. After Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) revealed on the House floor that she’d had an abortion, she made it abundantly clear that it was due to the fact the fetus “could not survive.” Her candor was a purposeful rebuke to Republican accusations that abortion is “a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly, or done without any thought,” she said. Her speech was powerful—and it also conveyed the attitude that abortion wasn’t a real choice for her. In fact, following her speech, Speier released a press statement to dispel any accusations that she wanted to have an abortion: “Today some news reports are implying that I wanted my pregnancy to end, but that is simply not true. I lost my baby.”

It is this kind of abortion narrative that is easiest for people to digest, and there are many cases like this. They are as emotionally-wrought and heartbreaking as Davis describes. But there are also many reasons for having abortions that generate far more judgment and stigma.

Recent Dish on Wendy Davis’ abortion revelation here.

It’s So Personal: Wendy Davis

A reader writes:

No doubt I’m not the first of your readers to bring your attention to this story, but just in case: Democratic candidate for Texas governor Wendy Davis has revealed that she had two abortions for medical reasons. I thought you all might be interested because of your previous coverage of late-term abortion.

Aman Batheja and Jay Root have details:

[Davis’s new book] reveals that Davis terminated a pregnancy in 1997 during the second trimester due to the fetus having an acute brain abnormality after Davis received multiple medical opinions suggesting that the baby would not survive. Davis describes in heart-wrenching detail how the experience crushed her. “I couldn’t breathe. I literally couldn’t catch my breath,” Davis wrote of her reaction when she first learned the diagnosis. “I don’t remember much else about that day other than calling [husband] Jeff, trying to contain my hysterical crying. The rest of it is a shocked, haze-filled blur.”

The doctor said that the baby wouldn’t survive to full term, and if she did, she would suffer and probably not survive delivery. “We had been told that even if she did survive, she would probably be deaf, blind, and in a permanent vegetative state,” Davis wrote.

Jessica Valenti praises Davis’s candor but defends women who stay quiet about abortions:

[W]omen’s abortions are none of your business – not even those of a public figure, not even one who became an international figure because of abortion rights. We shouldn’t have to explain ourselves or justify our life decisions: our abortions are ours alone.

Research shows that talking with people about issues like abortion helps to lessen stigma around terminating a pregnancy. But why must women splay their most intimate moments out into the world in order for people to understand how basic and necessary abortion rights really are?

And Sarah Kliff reminds us that Davis, while her situation was more extreme than most, is far from unusual for having terminated pregnancies:

Talking about abortion is rare — but the actual experience isn’t. More than one in every five pregnancies —  21 percent, excluding miscarriages —  are terminated, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit research organization that supports abortion rights. Each year, 1.7 percent of American women between 15 and 44 have an abortion.

Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute published separate research in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, estimating that if the abortion rate from 2008 held, 30 percent of American women would have obtained an abortion by time they turned 45. One in 12 women, at the 2008 rate, would have had an abortion by age 20, and a quarter of all women under 30 would have terminated a pregnancy.

Update from a reader:

Wendy Davis is disingenuous, or is it disingenuous liberal media? The two abortions Davis revealed that she had would NOT have been prohibited by the Texas abortion bill she filibustered. An ectopic pregnancy can be considered life threatening or at least a severe medical complication and, in any event, typically is discovered well before the 20 week limit of the bill.  Her second aborted pregnancy, “during the second trimester” anywhere from week 14 to week 26, (a) may not have been prohibited as prior to 20 weeks; and (b) as a severe and irremediable fetal defect would not have been prohibited by the bill.

Not to mention that, as a gubernatorial candidate, she went back on her opposition, claiming now to be for a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, subject to, provided that, blah, blah, blah … causing the left to explode.


Your update from a reader has a spurious line of reasoning. HB2 doesn’t just ban abortions after 20 weeks – that may be its least controversial aspect! It temporarily (and possibly permanently) closed more than half of the abortion clinics in the state because of restrictions meant to do just that. In its most restrictive interpretation it will leave 13 million Texas women with 7 clinics to serve their needs, down from 42 before it passed.

Sometimes I wonder if casual anti-choicers understand that you cannot get any kind of abortion in a regular OB/GYN practice, even if your abortion is perfectly legal and intended to save your life. Her opposition to the bill is because it restricts access to a basic medical procedure for all women who need it, no matter their reason. If Wendy Davis in 1997 was not able to physically get to a clinic for treatment, she would have had to continue with that pregnancy for who knows how long – one she knew to be doomed. Living every day in torture. This is what your reader wants? Her story and her opposition to the law strike at the heart of the It’s So Personal series.

Reproductive Rights, Texas Style

by Dish Staff

Emily Bazelon analyzes a recent abortion ruling in Texas:

Judge Lee Yeakel struck down the state’s “brutally effective system of abortion regulation,” as he put it, saying it was not likely to improve women’s health, would impact poor women the most, and “would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.” The judge was clear and convincing on these essential points. But his ruling, as well as another one over the weekend that’s keeping clinics open in Louisiana, may well be in danger on appeal.

The case centers on a 2013 Texas law that “required all clinics to be outfitted as ambulatory surgical centers,” one example of the “far-reaching regulations that are enacted in the name of protecting women’s health and result in shutting down clinics”:

[T]he underlying legal question—how far a state can go to restrict access without crossing the constitutional line into saddling women with an “undue burden,” in the Supreme Court’s magical mystery words—remains unresolved. Yeakel took a crack by finding that in combination, the constellation of provisions in the 2013 Texas law creates “unreasonable obstacles” that have “reached a tipping point.”

Ramesh Ponnuru accuses Bazelon of ignoring constitutionality:

At no point in the article’s discussion of the Texas law does the article mention the Constitution it supposedly violates. … To come up with a clear rule distinguishing permissible from impermissible abortion regulations, the Court would have to be willing to limit its own discretion, and to sustain the pretense that this rule has something to do with the Constitution. So far it has balked.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, meanwhile, gives an overview:

[I]n general TRAP (“targeted regulation of abortion providers”) laws haven’t fared so well in the Southern states lately. In early August, a federal district judge ordered Alabama legislators to reconsider a requirement that abortion-clinic doctors have hospital admitting privileges. And in July, the notoriously-conservative 5th Circuit court ruled that Mississippi’s admitting-privileges law—which would have forced the state’s one remaining abortion clinic to close—was unconstitutional.

Prenatal Complexity

by Dish Staff

Ananda Rose presents real-life examples of the two opposite ends of the abortion debate. First, she tells the story of a woman, whom she calls Julie Smith (name changed), who carried a fetus with severe abnormalities:

Her first choice, she says, was to give birth at a hospital but not to offer medical interventions such as feeding tubes, ventilators, or resuscitative measures, and to let nature take its course; without such intervention, Alice would likely die shortly after birth, if she was not stillborn, which was also a possibility. But, as Smith explains, the law requires feeding tubes for non-responsive infants, which would have kept Alice alive, but in a way that seemed “wreckless and cruel.” She could not imagine watching her daughter suffer in that way. The only other option that she and her husband considered “was going off the grid,” because, Smith says, even with a home birth state workers would most likely have intervened. But Smith feared that if they “just disappeared” to have the baby somewhere in peace and quiet, and if Alice died as predicted, they could be charged with homicide.

Given these realities, Smith chose what she believed was the most compassionate option: to terminate the pregnancy. “I am a mother, and I would do anything in my power to save my child,” she wrote on her blog. “That’s how the most difficult situation I’ve ever faced, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, was also the clearest choice.”

Rose then turns to evangelical Christian Maria Lancaster, and to the world of embryo adoption, “which is when unused embryos from a couple’s fertility treatments are donated to another couple”:

After four years of being frozen at -200 degrees, the two embryos, which Lancaster marveled at through a microscope, were implanted into her uterus. While one of the embryos did not make it, the other grew into what Lancaster calls her “child of destiny.”  … Lancaster also co-founded her own embryo adoption agency along with Dr. Joseph Fuiten, senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Issaquah. For several years now she has been connecting families who have remaining embryos after fertility treatments with those unable to conceive. Lancaster says that she “prays over the files” that come to her, trying to create the best match. She pairs couples in terms of race, religion, and ethnicity, “like God does it,” so that the child “will feel a real part of the pack,” adding that her efforts have only confirmed her belief that “rescuing these unseen lives from the freezer” is her moral duty.

Forced To Bear Her Rapist’s Child

by Dish Staff

Kitty Holland and Ruadhán Mac Cormaic report on the latest abortion controversy in Ireland:

The young woman who was refused an abortion and later had her pregnancy delivered by Caesarean section, has spoken of her attempt to take her own life when she was 16 weeks pregnant. She says she was a victim of rape before she came to Ireland earlier this year and she found out she was pregnant during a medical check soon after. In an interview with The Irish Times she says she immediately expressed her desire to die rather than bear her rapist’s child, when she was eight weeks and four days pregnant. … The section was performed on her earlier this month. She was discharged a week later and is receiving psychiatric care in the community. The baby, whom she has not had contact with, remains in hospital.

Amanda Marcotte blames anti-abortion legislation:

The situation perfectly encapsulates how abortion bans work in the real world: The most vulnerable women are harmed, while more privileged women find ways to get abortions. In Ireland, women who can afford to travel simply go to England to get abortions, meaning that poor and immigrant women under travel restrictions are out of luck. A young immigrant rape victim has now been put through an entirely unnecessary horror show, but hey, at least Irish politicians can preen about how “pro-life” they are.

Sarah Ditum voices her outrage:

As an onlooker to this case, what strikes me is the constant traffic of foreign objects through this woman’s body, imposing foreign wills. The penis of the rapist who forced himself into her. The nasogastric tube stuck into her nostril and down against her resisting throat. The scalpel of the doctors who cut her open, their hands in her belly, the moving horror of another body within your restrained flesh. The unbelievable awfulness of being compelled to provide life to the child of the man who raped you.

A Threat To Abortion Clinics Outside The South

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Lebanon Road Surgery Center,So far, the inane battle over whether abortion-clinic doctors must have admitting privileges at a local hospital has largely been clustered in Southern states. In Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, the needless regulatory requirement would force some or all abortion clinics to shut down; clinics have been fighting back, with some recent encouraging successes in the courts. But unconstitutional abortion restrictions are like whack-a-moles – strike one down in some state and three more states will pass them in its place.

Which brings us to Ohio. This is my home state, and an abortion clinic a few miles from where I grew up is currently suing it. Thank goodness. Take a look at the absurd scheme the state has enacted to force clinics into closing, via the Cincinnati Enquirer (emphasis mine):

The health department ordered the (Lebanon Road Surgery Center) closed, declining to grant an exception to a state rule that all outpatient surgery centers must have an agreement that allows it to transfer patients to a local hospital. The state prohibits abortion clinics from forming those agreements with public hospitals. Plus, many private hospitals, in part facing political pressure brought by abortion opponents, no longer grant abortion clinics a transfer agreement. Without it, the clinics are in violation of state rules and must be closed unless they get a variance from the health department. The Sharonville clinic had such a variance, but the health department decided in 2012 to deny it, requiring the clinic to get a hospital transfer agreement or close.

This is slightly different than the situations in Alabama, etc., where the fight is over doctors getting admitting privileges at a local hospital. The Ohio rule requires clinics to have a relationship with a hospital, in what is known as a transfer agreement. But the same Catch-22 applies to both situations, with the state effectively saying to clinics, hey, just jump through this hoop and you can stay open – oh, but p.s., jumping is illegal and we’re out of hoops.

In Ohio, all outpatient surgery centers are required to have hospital transfer agreements, but only abortion clinics are barred from seeking them with public hospitals. This is thanks to a law passed by Republican legislators last year. And don’t think they didn’t know that getting a transfer agreement from a private hospital would be virtually impossible for abortion clinics: The private system in Ohio is composed largely of religiously-affiliated hospitals. In Cincinnati, where Lebanon Road Surgery Center is located, the market is dominated by a Catholic health system that won’t even cover birth control in employee health plans.

Some insisted this whole thing was no big deal because clinics could simply seek an exemption—which the state is now refusing to grant. Emails uncovered by the Enquirer show the Governor’s office and Ohio Right to Life corresponding with health department officials about how it should reject the clinic’s exemption request. This is despite the fact that the clinic has several doctors who do have admitting privileges at several area hospitals, so clinic patients are perfectly poised to get hospital care should an emergency arise.

According to the Enquirer, two of Ohio’s 14 abortion clinics closed last year; two are in the midst of court battles over being ordered to close; and two are trying to get reprieve from the health department from the transfer-agreement rule. Can we hear again how this isn’t about banning abortion but protecting women’s health?

(Photo of Cincinnati clinic from

“How Miscarriage Deepened My Thoughts On Abortion” Ctd

A fair number of readers are pushing back against the one who wrote, “If you could ban bodies from terminating pregnancies, banning doctors from terminating them might make a tiny bit more sense, at least intellectually. But you can’t, and it doesn’t.” One argues:

We can’t ban bodies from miscarriages any more than we can ban anyone from dying. Miscarriages are natural, as is death. But I don’t think the fact of my inevitable death should excuse anyone from killing me today. The issue isn’t whether miscarriages are natural, but whether it is moral to force a death where none would have otherwise occurred.

Another charges the reader with failing to make “a significant distinction”:

The great majority of miscarriages occur because the embryonic makeup was not consistent with life. In other words, nature selected the embryo for termination. With abortions, it’s not as clear.

While there are certainly many fetuses that are aborted which would have miscarried anyway, there are many (perhaps most?) that would have survived to full term and enjoyed lives as healthy and full as have you and I. In other words, nature did not select them for termination. Rather, a human being – usually the mother– decided not to give the fetus the chance to become fully human. That difference should give us all great pause.

By the way, I am pro-choice (albeit by default). But to say, “Nature terminates pregnancies; why shouldn’t we?” isn’t a very compelling case for the pro-choice movement. Nature does a lot of things that we as human beings feel morally obligated to transcend.


I nodded along in recognition as I read your reader’s email. Like her, my husband and I have suffered through a miscarriage (in our case at 10 weeks) and also, horrifyingly, a stillbirth at 24 weeks. However, when I reached the last paragraph, I was taken aback:

After I came back to work after being in the hospital, I told my boss I was doing okay, and that it’s such a common thing – a fact known almost exclusively to only two groups of people: doctors, and people who have had miscarriages. And she said, “No. It’s a big deal.” And I’m like, who the hell are you to tell me whether it’s a big deal or not? I feel the exact way about people who want to ban abortions.

I respect your reader’s viewpoint, and I’m not interested in telling other people how they should feel about a miscarriage or an abortion. For me, the fact that miscarriages are common (absolutely true) does not make them any less of a big deal; mine was a huge deal for us.  I can both see a 20-day embryo as a fragile clump of cells, and still mourn the potential, the hopes, the dreams, the life that it represents.

Another shares similar sentiments:

I have thought a lot about this subject over the past several years. Both my sister and I have had early miscarriages. She has had three (that I know of) and I have had two. My sister and her husband are conservative evangelicals, while my wife and I are pretty firmly pro-choice.

Make no mistake, having an early miscarriage is a terrible thing, particularly your first, when you have no idea how common they are. My sister, her husband, my wife, and myself all went through periods of horrible grief and a sense of loss after each miscarriage.

That being said, I think my sister has taken these losses much worse than my wife and I. If you asked her I think she would consider the miscarriages to be children that died. I can’t help but think she feels this way in large part because she hears over and over again that life begins at conception.

After our first miscarriage, my wife and I struggled to put into words what we felt like we had lost. It certainly was not a child. But just a grouping of cells seemed not quite right either. Eventually we came to think of it as promise, or hope of a child that had been taken from us. Painful, absolutely, but not on par with losing a child.

My wife is now six months pregnant with our first child. At this point if we were to lose her, I would feel that I have lost a child. I am not sure when that switch happens, but it absolutely on a continuum. A mass of cells does not seem to be a person, but a two-pound fetus that I have seen on a sonogram, and whom I have felt kick, most certainly is. I guess that goes to show you that this is a really complicated subject and not one that lends itself to a black-and-white interpretation of when life begins.

A word of thanks: Your Misery of Miscarriage series, as well as the It’s So Personal series on late-term abortions, really helped me put my own thoughts in order.  I don’t know where else you would find that variety of viewpoints on subjects that are generally so taboo.

“How Miscarriage Deepened My Thoughts On Abortion”

A reader opens up:

Once I became pregnant, and even more after I miscarried at six weeks, my pro-choice position deepened that much further. If there’s one message I have, it’s this:

The capriciousness of miscarriage lays bare the tenuousness of life at that stage of development. It’s extremely hard to express just how dehumanizing it is to ban the loss of a pregnancy only if the person actually going through the pregnancy has any say in the process.

Something like 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage (so says the Mayo Clinic), and possibly 50% of undiagnosed pregnancies (according to the March of Dimes). The body rejects an embryo early if something is wrong. Why, when it’s so easy for the body to reject a zygote or embryo, should women be forbidden from jump-starting a process that the body so often does simply as a matter of course?

Why should it be strictly up to the vagaries of chemistry and biology to decide that an embryo, or the environment it would come into, is unfit? Nature’s capable enough to make this decision, but a human being isn’t?

A miscarriage, AKA spontaneous abortion, is both the most natural thing and an incredible betrayal from your own body, in large part because you have no control over it. If you could ban bodies from terminating pregnancies, banning doctors from terminating them might make a tiny bit more sense, at least intellectually. But you can’t, and it doesn’t.

I saw the embryo after it passed. And at that stage, it does not even look like a proto-person. Saying my miscarriage “ended human life” is a big stretch – and I’m the one it unwillingly happened to! I was sad, obviously. But having seen what an embryo looks like at that stage, and how fragile and non-human it is at six weeks, the thought of anyone valuing a reticulated clump of tissue over the experience of an actual living, breathing person infuriates me. At my miscarriage, it was only two steps past ovulation. Some pregnancies are lost so early that a miscarriage is mistaken for a period. People don’t mourn over a lost egg. Mourning the loss of something one or two steps past that so intently that you want to ban anything that induces it is just ludicrous.

After I came back to work after being in the hospital, I told my boss I was doing okay, and that it’s such a common thing – a fact known almost exclusively to only two groups of people: doctors, and people who have had miscarriages. And she said, “No. It’s a big deal.” And I’m like, who the hell are you to tell me whether it’s a big deal or not? I feel the exact way about people who want to ban abortions.

Many more reader experiences in our long-running thread, “The Misery Of Miscarriage“.

Dissents Of The Day, Ctd

A reader scratches her head:

Wait, what? Am I missing something? You wrote:

What I’m saying is that it is not self-evident that an abortion has the same moral weight as a root canal. They may be equally legal, but they are not self-evidently equally moral. It is reasonable to treat it differently as a medical procedure for those reasons alone.

As others have repeatedly pointed out to you, no one advancing “admitting privilege” laws claims they’re doing so because of the “moral weight” of abortion. They say it’s about health and safety. Why is it wrong to take action to expose the falseness of this position? If it’s valid to “treat [abortion] differently as a medical procedure” because of its moral weight, then the advocates of these laws should stand on that terra firma.

It’s clearly a way to provide some sort of speed bump before human life is taken. Yes, you can argue that it’s disingenuous in its aims. And I take that point. But the proposed remedy is also a little disingenuous – dentists are not going to be forced to recite the same precautions that an abortionist does. The proposal is primarily a rhetorical point to argue that these delaying procedures for abortions should be removed entirely. What I objected to – and all this sturm and drang comes from two sentences – was the assumption that abortion should never be treated as different from other medical procedures.  And although I can full sympathize with my readers’ frustration and anger, I find the easy and glib equation of abortion with a visit to the dentist – which is the rhetorical force of Marcotte’s argument – the kind of absolutist position I’d rather avoid. And look: we didn’t have to air the idea at all. But we did so fully, with a caveat from me so that readers would not infer that I have no moral qualms about abortion, when I very much do. Another reader nods:

How does one read this: “Want to force abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards and abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges? Well, dentists will have to meet the same standards before they can drill a tooth,” and come up with a comment like yours without deliberate obtuseness? What does making abortion providers having to meet higher medical requirements have to do with a moral issue regarding abortion?

Then you go on to defend your comment with this:

“I was objecting to the breezy dismissal of any moral conundrum at all.” Which would be a reasonable thing to object to except that there was no such breezy dismissal. Rather, it was a discussion about specific laws that force people to present factually incorrect information and requiring doctors to meet higher medical standards if they are performing abortions than other doctors providing equally complex medical procedures.

But the point is not the complexity of the procedures, but their very nature. Abortions end human life. If a dentist ended a human life, he’d be disbarred. Another argues:

It is one thing to argue morally that abortion is murder and fight the case that therefore Roe (and Casey) should be overturned. It is another to publicly claim a different rationale and use that rationale to make abortion impossible because you cannot make it illegal.

Who is making abortion impossible? And it is not necessary to believe that abortion is “murder” to believe it is the taking of human life. Meanwhile, another considers the response to the reader who shared her story of ending a pregnancy:

Sometimes I wonder if you read the reader’s comment before you respond when you talk about abortion. You have comfortably settled into your “I think abortions before 20 weeks should be safe, legal, and rare.” But then, you defend yourself against readers who point out what that means in real lives and say, “But taking my HIV meds does not end human life, something that abortion as a medical procedure almost uniquely does.” Your reader’s entire story was about a specific situation, with a pregnancy which could not come to term (or would not last long if it did), and the entire informed consent script did not apply to her situation. As I read that, you value a dying fetus more than a grown woman, her health and her family.

Sigh. The Dish has long addressed the agonizing and highly sympathetic situations of women facing late-term abortions, namely the long-running “It’s So Personal” series. But, look, in a spirited debate, I understand I can sometimes come off as dismissive of the genuine concerns of my readers, and I was too curt in my response to my reader’s anguished email. I apologize for that. I do not apologize for my belief that that there is a genuine moral issue with abortion – the fate of human life – that a fair argument would acknowledge rather than dismiss as self-evidently untrue.