Stepping in the Minefield of Abortion

At the risk of stepping into a minefield–oh hell who am I kidding I love stepping into minefields–I would like to set the record straight on the New York legislation regarding late-term abortions.

I was struck by the words of Timothy Cardinal Dolan (the archbishop of New York and member in good standing of the Catholic Church, one of the most disingenuous and corrupt organizations ever conceived by man, even if many of its members are good and kind people) who said the Reproductive Health Act of New York was a “ghoulish, grisly, gruesome,” practice.


It started the usual social media debate. At first, I thought to let it pass. But, alas, I could not.

Here’s that actual language from the statute.

“According to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” (

The Reproductive Health Act will permit abortions after 24 weeks in cases where a woman’s life or health would be threatened by continuing the pregnancy. It also allows licensed nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide abortion services and decriminalizes abortion.

It is a pre-emptive strike against any Supreme Court reversal of the well-established, yet misunderstood, Roe V. Wade decision. The movement to overturn Roe, almost exclusively funded and driven by religious fundamentalism, poses a grave danger to women’s rights.

Their efforts have not been without success.

Several states passed what is known as “heartbeat” restrictions, limiting abortions once the heartbeat begins. These statutes artfully dodge the fact that most women do not even know they are pregnant at that point.

These states’ highways and byways are oft adorned with myriad Come to Jesus signs and the legislatures routinely try to circumvent the Separation Clause. States where science carries less respect than NASCAR, conspiracy theories, and Bigfoot are the point of the fundamentalist spear.

Scattered throughout these same states, are billboards with a smiling baby and the ominous words, “A baby’s heartbeat starts at 21 Days!” (it is actually 22 days, and the fetus bears little resemblance to a recognizable human form.) It is about the size of a poppy seed. About the size of the period at the end of this sentence. In numbers, the size of a three-week fetus is LENGTH: 0.03 in / 0.08 cm WEIGHT: 0.002 oz / 0.06 g. (Growth Chart)

It would be nice if we put as much care and consideration into those children living in deplorable and desperate conditions as we are wont to do for those not yet born. It would seem our concern ends at birth.

I am always struck by the conservative opposition to abortion based on the “sanctity” of life, while many embrace the death penalty. As they often do, they turn to the ultimate authority (nope, not Google) but the original source of all knowledge, the Bible.

“Thus says the Lord God… “Will you profane Me… killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live…?” -Ezekiel 13:18-19

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. -Proverbs 17:15 (Italics the author. Me, not the original. No one knows who that is.)

Here’s the problem. God may be infallible, the American Justice system is not.

I am struck by the number of men who see themselves as the ultimate arbiters of morality, primarily in others. While many women oppose abortion, men seem particularly fervent in their opposition. One cannot help but wonder if this is as much a sense of loss of control as it is a genuinely sincere position.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, in the year before he authored the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade opinion (which was passed by the Republican majority court), wrote in a 1972 death penalty case of his “excruciating agony of the spirit. I yield to no one in the depth of my distaste, antipathy, and, indeed, abhorrence, for the death penalty… It is antagonistic to any sense of ‘reverence for life.'”

The conflict between the two conservative positions on abortion and the death penalty cannot be starker.

Until we come to terms with the dichotomy of our willingness to risk killing an innocent person who was wrongfully convicted yet deny women the right to make their own choice, I think it best we stay away from legislating morality.

Leave women their right to choose and do not deny them the opportunity to save their lives whenever it is medically necessary. Leave medical decisions to professionals and the individuals forced to deal with them.

If you oppose abortion, don’t have one.

17 thoughts on “Stepping in the Minefield of Abortion

  1. The actual dichotomy is the Lefts’ eagerness to kill an innocent person while decrying the execution of a criminal.

    As for legislating morality – the Left has always engaged in it. Every single bit of “civil rights” law was merely legislating morality. So really, you just can’t morality when it conflicts were your desires.

    1. The issue is not “killing” a criminal. The issue is the risk of killing an innocent person over a wrongful conviction. The number of death row inmates exonerated is staggering with the advent of DNA and other technologies.

      That a society would seek to interfere with the personal decision of a woman bearing the pregnancy at every stage yet accept the possibility of executing an innocent person is the issue.
      Civil rights legislation is hardly setting moral standards, it is righting a gross immorality

      1. And yet, every child killed through abortion was innocent of all crimes, whereas the criminals were convicted and went through the appeals process multiple times before being executed for their crimes, leaving a vanishingly few who were wrongfully convicted.

        BTW, 362 total since 1989 is hardly hardly staggering and this is the number of death row inmates exonerated through DNA. That is 2/10ths of 1% of the average per year death row population.

        Oh, and there is no objective difference between setting moral standards and “righting a gross immorality.” Again, it merely comes down to your preferences being offended.

      2. It is if you are innocent. And you are assuming we managed to identify all the innocent ones on death row. You may find comfort in our being almost always right, I am not.

      3. And you utterly ignore the fact that EVERY child aborted was an innocent that was killed without even the benefit of a trial.

      4. A 21-day old fetus is not a child. a 60-day fetus is not a child. A child is a living human being post birth. Not even the greatest philosophers, scientists, or religious thinkers have been able to define when “life” begins. I certainly don’t presume to know such things.

      5. I think of abortion as murder, actual homicide. Therefor, any circumstance where homicide would be narrowly considered as justified or where the statute couldn’t be applied, e.g., the unborn child is already dead, would be times when I have no problem with abortion.

        In fact, I’m almost sanguine about aborting children who cannot live significantly post birth, thinking of it more as removing life support – again an act with an existing legal framework. I’d be more sanguine if people weren’t so eager for the killing of “defective” babies – to the point of lambasting Gov Palin for not killing her Downs Syndrome child before birth.

      6. I suppose my main argument is as a man how do I understand such a choice. Selective abortions are problematic but the slippery slope of legislating morality by a majority is dangerous. It is the most difficult, and therefore personal, decision any woman can make. I defer to their judgment

  2. BTW – lead with the unborn infants aren’t persons argument. It’s a legitimate one – though I disagree – and will shorten otherwise lengthy and fruitless arguments.

      1. No. A very, very simple issue with few non-controversial solutions.

        Simply put –

        If one considers the unborn child to be a person, then women cannot be allowed to make that difficult personal decision anymore than I can be allowed to make the difficult and personal decision to kill someone who’s interfering with my life and lifestyle.

        If one considers the unborn child to be NOT a person, then this is a matter of the woman’s personal autonomy and dealing with- or disposing of her “property.”

        One thing to consider – The last time the US had a serious argument over personhood or property, 500,000+ people died and the final result was personhood.

  3. As a woman let me remind you that I have the to ghost r of sovereignty over my body. Just as men do. This is a healthcare issue about women and their choices . No woman gleefully becomes pregnant to abort it. I live. In a state that is one vote away from a heartbeat bill, and has stripped away many social nets for women and children. And no, the GOP tax break isn’t creating jobs to support these women.
    My now unemployed state Rep brought her infant sons to the floor when she proposed the Heartbeat bill, announcing it was women’s duty to carry through term.
    Even through rape
    So how about this-The single cause of pregnancy is sperm, what if all boys received a vasectomy when they are circumcised? Then when they are in a committed Christian marriage, the procedure can be reversed?
    Think this is outrageous? It’s exactly how I feel when men get holier than thou about my body.
    Joe’s column is correct. You dont have a vagina so you don’t need to worry.

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