January 22nd, 2015

The fog of GOP war: the late-term abortion bill

What to make of all of this?

I wake up to a huge brouhaha about the report that a bill banning late-term abortion—a bill that’s hugely popular with the American people when polled, and which President Obama swears he’ll veto if passed—has been shelved for the moment over the objections of several female Republican representatives who object to the wording of a rape reporting provision.

In article after article and comment after comment from the right, I read that this is just another awful betrayal by the awful GOP, who are liars and false promisers and who have no cojones and no plan and no this and no that.

Until this morning, I’d never even heard of this bill, although I’ve certainly heard of the problem of late-term abortions and the campaign to ban them. But I wonder whether this latest sequence of events isn’t just another issue on which the right is being played by the media and being whipped up into an angry frenzy over something that is a minor speed bump that will be resolved in short time. I wonder whether this isn’t just a case of legislation being pulled temporarily in order to iron out some controversial language so that more people will get on board.

Now, I’m well aware that this might be wrong. I’m well aware that the GOP often does not keep its promises, and often shows an extreme lack of intestinal fortitude. But I’m also aware that the right carries a huge sack of free-floating rage at the GOP and is ready to activate it at the slightest suggestion of betrayal (although I also understand that there are some very good historical reasons for that).

And it is also clear to me that the only people who benefit from these tendencies on the right are those on the left.

Note the inflammatory word “dropped” in the WaPo headline of the article about it, “Abortion bill dropped amid concerns of female GOP lawmakers.” Note the lede:

House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned…

Abruptly dropped. Makes it sound like it’s curtains for the bill. But if you stick with the article), there’s this:

A senior GOP aide said that concerns had been raised “by men and women Members that still need to be worked out.” The aide, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the plans, said in an e-mail that Thursday’s vote will help “advance the pro-life cause” and that GOP leaders “remain committed to continue working through the process [on the Pain Capable bill] to make sure it too is successful.”

So, what is it? Permanent shelving, or postponement? And if the latter, is it still such a big deal? The disagreement appears to be over a controversial reporting requirement. It appears that, to qualify for a late-term abortion through a rape exception, a woman would have had to have reported the abortion to authorities earlier, a requirement meant to insure that the pregnancy really did result from rape.

But the larger controversy is really this:

A broader cross-section of Republican members also questioned why the House was spending time on legislation that was unlikely to overcome the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, let alone be signed into law by the president.

The divide over the abortion legislation marks a broader disagreement within the Republican Party that has been raging for the last several years. Now that Republicans have an expanded majority, conservatives want to flex their legislative muscles and dare the president to use his veto pen. Meanwhile, moderates want to use the opportunity to tackle less controversial measures.

How about this: do some of each, but stop ripping each other apart?

[NOTE: Renee Ellmers, the main objector to the reporting requirement, explains herself here:

“It’s unfortunate the way it played out,” Ellmers, a Republican from North Carolina, told reporters Thursday morning. “I think we’re all just going through some growing pains.”

Ellmers supports banning abortion past the midway point of pregnancy — which is what the bill the House originally planned to pass Thursday would have done. But she wants it tweaked so that women who have been raped don’t have to report it to law enforcement before they can obtain an abortion.

The measure, which leadership still intends to bring for a vote at some point, would ban abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy unless a woman has been raped or her life is in danger…

Ellmers has already voted for the bill before, when the House passed it in June 2013. She dismissed that vote, saying she didn’t realize at the time that it contained the reporting requirement because it “wasn’t evident in the base language of the bill.”]

53 Responses to “The fog of GOP war: the late-term abortion bill”

  1. Ann Says:

    The timing is crazy — they pulled it the night before the annual March for Life?

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann:

    What’s crazy about it? The original plan was to pass it in time for the march, and then they hit the snafu.

    You might say they should have ironed it out before that—and if you said that I’d agree with you—but they didn’t have much time, since they’ve only been in session a very short while (two weeks, if I’m not mistaken). I don’t think they anticipated the disagreement over that provision, so it came unexpectedly.

  3. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Ellmers has already voted for the bill before, when the House passed it in June 2013. She dismissed that vote, saying she didn’t realize at the time that it contained the reporting requirement because it “wasn’t evident in the base language of the bill.”

    Do I understand correctly, then, that she’s claiming her first vote doesn’t count because she didn’t read the bill thoroughly enough before voting on it?

    If so, you get no sympathy from me, lady. We send you to Washington, and you get paid quite a lot to do relatively little. But one of the things you are expected to do is to vote, and to vote intelligently, i.e. after understanding what it is you’re voting on. That’s partly why Nancy Pelosi’s “We have to pass the bill first to find out what’s in it” was so offensive; it amounted to dereliction of responsibility by the entire House of Representatives, en masse.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Daniel in Brookline:

    I agree that she should have known what was in the bill last time. However, I’d have to see the language to understand just how hard it was to tell what was in it.

  5. Ann Says:

    According to this piece in National Journal, this disagreement has been simmering for at least a little while.

    Seems to me they could have made the move at least not just the night before the march. That begs for huge media attention.

  6. Ann Says:

    About the new bill changing fron the 2013 bill — from the Weekly Standard:

    Ellmers is incorrect. The text of the bill that she voted for on June 18, 2013 (you can read it here) included the reporting requirement that she now opposes. Democrats did not make an issue of the reporting requirement in 2013 or during the 2014 elections. In 2014, the issue of late-term abortion actually hurt Democratic Senate candidates.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann:

    It sounds to me as though the Weekly Standard is incorrect. Ellmers doesn’t say the original bill didn’t contain the provision, so what’s their point in saying it did? She said the provision hadn’t been clear to her, not that it wasn’t in the bill.

  8. Alan F Says:

    I think this is the most important point in this discussion:

    … a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation’s restrictive language would once again spoil the party’s chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.”

    I think these “female GOP lawmakers” are correct. The details of this disagreement aren’t important to millions of low information voters. The GOP just being vaguely associated with efforts to restrict abortion is a big negative for them. These voters might disapprove of late-term abortion, but would still fear the abortion-restriction movement. Abortion is a losing issue for the GOP. There is no way the anti abortionist will jump to the Democrats, but it is easy to lose potential women and younger voters to them.

  9. expat Says:

    Ann,
    But now the Dems will play it because rape is such a big issue. I wish the issue would quiet down a bit. When it is too much in the news, people tend to choose sides before you can make your case to them. It’s encouraging that abortion rates are going down and that fewer people like it. I hope that is being accompanied by more girls and women who understand the importance of establishing a family to raise the children.

  10. Dennis Says:

    expat Says:

    “But now the Dems will play it because rape is such a big issue. I wish the issue would quiet down a bit.”

    Rape is a big issue with many conservative voters too. Ronald Reagan made exceptions for rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger. Radicals who try to force women to carry a baby which is a product of rape are insane.

  11. Ann Says:

    Neo, you’re right that the Weekly Standard didn’t report Ellmers’ comment correctly. Still, it’s hard to accept that she didn’t understand the wording in the 2013 bill regarding reporting, which is this:

    [the proscription against abortion does not hold if] the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.

    Seems very clear to me.

  12. jon baker Says:

    Meanwhile, In Texas, the pro abortion Wendy Davis-famous for her stand for “choice”, is replaced by a pro-life rep wearing pro-life boots. http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/01/13/konni-burton-takes-wendy-davis-seat-in-pro-life-boots/

  13. jon baker Says:

    Make that Texas Senate, not House Rep….

  14. Dennis Says:

    Here’s Reagan’s explanation why women who have been raped shouldn’t be forced to carry the product of that rape:
    “In our Judeo-Christian religion we recognize the right to take life in defense of our own. Therefore an abortion is justified when done in self-defense. My belief is that a woman has the right to protect her own life and health against even her own unborn child. I believe also that, just as she has the right to defend herself against a rape, she should not be made to bear a child resulting from that violation of her person, and therefore abortion is an act of self-defense [in that circumstance].”
    http://concurringopinions.com/archives/2012/10/ronald-reagan-on-abortion-and-rape.html

  15. George Pal Says:

    “Abortion is a losing issue for the GOP”

    GOP Political Rule #1:
    No moral injunction shall darken hallowed GOP precincts that is not a winning issue.

    I take this as moral failure squared. Ask not why the Right hates the GOP, ask why not?

  16. n.n Says:

    As more Americans reject the numerous and diverse rationalizations of elective abortion, including spontaneous conception, it has become necessary to exploit the morally ambiguous rape and incest loopholes. This is why there is an effort to paint men as rapists and establish a perception of a “rape culture”. Ellmers’s statement confirms that the narrative is changing to reflect a changing American religion or moral philosophy — less libertine. The pseudo-scientific justification, legally convoluted, and morally bigoted right to grant women an exclusive right to terminate a [wholly] innocent human life does not pass even casual scrutiny.

    The open question is: When and by whose choice does a human life acquire and retain value?

    The simple answer establishes a selective or pro-choice policy that reduce human life to a commodity, subject to casual liquidation (i.e. lethal injection, decapitation, dismemberment) when deemed unwanted or inconvenient to dreams of power, money, sex, ego, and leisure. Or, as “virtuous” second and thirld-world nations have opined, is subject to export — out of sight and out of mind.

    As for a losing issue, of course it is. A majority of women and men follow their profits of power, money, sex, ego, and leisure. The State’s compelling interest is to secure taxable assets and reduce the problem set. The Democrat Party sells indulgences, as well as provides opiates (e.g. dissociation of risk), to secure democratic leverage. How can anyone or anything compete with this juvenile fantasy?

  17. expat Says:

    Dennis,
    It’s about whether the rape must have been reported to the police. I can think of some instances where this might be very difficult for a woman to do, but I can also think of some women making it up to get a late-term abortion. There aren’t easy answers. It would certainly be great if lawmakers would discuss these issues themselves so they agree to the reasons for the law instead of exploding it in the press.

  18. vanderleun Says:

    Can we please wrap this wrangle up and get back to discussing the Patriots’ soft balls? Thanks.

  19. Ann Says:

    Why Everyone Should Be Terrified By The GOP’s Abortion Bill Debacle:

    It’s hard to tell exactly what caused the breakdown but it’s easy to see the leadership had no coherent strategy for passing this legislation. I don’t care if the folks who fought the bill at the last minute were inventing excuses, had completely legitimate grievances, or were just bored. At some point, it’s the job of leadership to not have hugely embarrassing debacles that destroy goodwill between key constituents and lawmakers. At some point leadership shouldn’t reveal to the world that it couldn’t organize a shoe closet.

    The job of leadership is to make sure disasters like this don’t happen. If they let it happen on easy legislation that is broadly popular (outside of American newsrooms, at least), what are they going to do when they need to really whip a vote on something unpopular in member districts?

    If leadership isn’t giving female legislators the authority and influence they seek on this issue, rectify that. But everyone needs to get their act together and to get it together quickly. If this really was just a completely botched power play at the expense of unborn children and their supporters, the people responsible should pay consequences. Names should top a short list of incompetent politicians who should be kindly asked not to run for any office ever again. Those on the short list should be given the full understanding that failure to heed this warning will result in a vigorous primary fight.

    The leadership needs to fix their internal and external communications and do some remedial training for members who need basic advice such as, “do not shoot yourself in the foot,” and “do not needlessly anger the one group of Americans not livid with us at the moment.” Maybe even, “learn how to do a power play that doesn’t take down your whole party with you.”

    The full piece is worth a read.

  20. Clarityseeker Says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. Especially this part:

    “But I’m also aware that the right carries a huge sack of free-floating rage at the GOP and is ready to activate it at the slightest suggestion of betrayal (although I also understand that there are some very good historical reasons for that).”

    As for the aforementioned abortion “bill”? I too was unaware that it was coming through—-this quickly. It was projected to be one of those the new congress would generate.
    I do understand that there were MANY in congress who were concerned about it being among the first bills put forward; so very controversial.
    It will be put up again, albeit in a modified form. And I do welcome it. My moral compass is atwitter over it.
    Thank you, again, neo, for the good read.

  21. Clarityseeker Says:

    footnote:
    I, like vanderleun, was hoping that neo would start a thread on, Bill Belicheat.
    With all of the “I know nothing about this”, and, “I know nothing about that”, there remains this:
    1.) Eleven of twelve balls which were on the Pats sidelines (and approved by game officials) were deflated by 2 lbs./psi, and, under the 12.5 lbs./psi lower acceptable parameters as set forth by NFL game RULES.
    2.) Belicheat has been found, two previous times, to be a——-CHEATER. Pathetic.
    What I find to be very curious is that as of 5PM EST the NFL officials had not spoken with or questioned Tom Brady. On Monday, they announced that they were involved in an investigation. After their pathetic showing in the Ray Rice ordeal, one would think they’d be more buttoned up on this one. Some have suspected they would drag their feet until after the Super Bowl. Okay. But, that should seemingly not preclude them from having spoken with the quarterback who is very much at the center of this brouhaha.
    Bill Belicheat? He’s a cheater. Proven. ‘Nuff said.
    (that’s why my New York Giants asked him to leave way back when. Said tongue-in-cheek)

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann:

    I read Hemingway’s piece (the one you link to and quote) before I even wrote my post. I think Hemingway is wrong, and I think that she’s wrong in a way that reflects one of the things that is wrong with the Republican Party today.

    She’s right that Republican leadership is lacking, especially in planning for these things. But she is holding them to totally unrealistic standards when she writes this:

    At some point, it’s the job of leadership to not have hugely embarrassing debacles that destroy goodwill between key constituents and lawmakers. At some point leadership shouldn’t reveal to the world that it couldn’t organize a shoe closet.

    Oh, really? I’d like to see Hemingway try to get the widely disparate Republican legislators organized and in agreement on everything so that no debacles occur. Ever hear the expression “it’s like herding cats”? That’s what it’s like.

    Right now there IS no “goodwill between key constituents and lawmakers.” For the past few years I’ve been very impressed not only by the lack of good leadership (and the lack of perfect organizational skills) of the Republicans in Congress, but I’ve been even more impressed by the unrealistic perfection demanded by their conservative constituents, who seem to have little practical sense of how difficult the task is, and who have a propensity to whine and grumble and act entitled whenever they are disappointed that things don’t go their way.

    The fault is on both sides, but I think the leaders in Congress have an incredibly tough task, and people like Ellmer threw them for a loop because her objections came out of the blue, over language that had been in previous bills and that she hadn’t objected to.

    I usually like Mollie Hemingway’s work,but I strongly disagree with what she wrote in that piece.

  23. parker Says:

    Abortion and access to firearms are red hot social issues. Only one is protected by the Constitution. I think we all have our own feelings about these two issues. I am willing to compromise on abortion during the first trimester, I am not willing to compromise on the 2nd.

  24. n.n Says:

    neo-neocon:

    I respect Republicans for addressing perhaps the most controversial issue. I will congratulate them when they reach a reconcilable resolution. I am not so naive to believe that a war can be won without fighting battles and suffering casualties. It is a choice of lesser evils until something good is realized.

    Good luck to women and men seeking a rational and amiable reconciliation of individual dignity and intrinsic value. The former favors the individual. While the latter favors general Welfare and Posterity, one of two protected classes in the Constitution.

  25. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation’s restrictive language would once again spoil the party’s chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.”

    I agree with Alan F that this is the most important point. It’s a simple political calculation. The GOP cannot win the Presidency without a greater share of the single female vote. It’s certain that this was the primary rationale for Joni Ernst’s handling the GOP response to Obama’s SOTU address. By that calculus, a revolt by female GOP lawmakers, voting against a basic ‘woman’s issue’ bill, would be politically disastrous.

  26. n.n Says:

    parker:

    The Constitution acknowledges two classes of people in its Preamble: “We the People” and “Posterity”. The Constitution grants the government a legal right and establishes a mandate to secure the rights of “We the People” and “Posterity”. “Posterity” is the children of “We the People”.

    Under the Constitution, children enjoy an equal right to life. If women and men don’t want a Posterity, then they should prevent conception. The morally ambiguous exceptions, including rape and incest, should be addressed separately from the general policy. The only legal and moral justification for the exceptions is if they are carried out in self-defense.

    In the Constitution’s context, elective abortion is separate and apart from other acts of premeditated murder. It violates the basic rights of one of two protected classes.

    I don’t think this issue is settled on either scientific grounds, since it is self-evident that human life begins at conception; or Constitutional grounds, since the Constitution explicitly recognizes the rights of Posterity. Our society needs to review what led to the demand and popularity of elective abortions. It needs to review how normalization was hijacked to realize a clearly dysfunctional end. It needs to make a moral judgment and answer: When and by whose choice does a human life acquire and retain value? The current answer (i.e. pro-choice or individual faith) is selective and capricious.

  27. parker Says:

    nn,

    Perhaps I was not clear or you are not familiar with previous statements I have made on this forum. I view abortion as a homicide. I can not accept abortion beyond the 1st trimester except in exceedingly rare circumstances where the actual life of the woman is in jeopardy. Thus, I am willing to compromise on allowing abortion in the 1st trimester.

  28. Don Carlos Says:

    Pandering to the electorate or some subset thereof is leading from behind.
    Ellmers is a relatively stupid woman, in her 2nd term, I believe.

    All this stuff about rape plays right into the Demagogues’ hands, the Take Back the Night, Campus Rapes are an Epidemic crowd. The brainless, basically. You’ve got to have abortions because there is rape. Right. But most all rapes are not rape, they are regret.

  29. Dennis Says:

    expat Says:

    “Dennis,
    It’s about whether the rape must have been reported to the police. I can think of some instances where this might be very difficult for a woman to do, but I can also think of some women making it up to get a late-term abortion.”

    In my opinion we should err on the side of the woman. If a woman says she was raped even if she hasn’t reported it to the police we should leave it to her and her doctor to work out.

    Neo said:

    “…but I’ve been even more impressed by the unrealistic perfection demanded by their conservative constituents…”

    Amen and amen.
    I tend to attribute those unrealistic expectations to the conservative’s on sense of impotence because they and their elected representatives don’t have the power to block the left’s agenda. It is much easier to rail at your own people who have been losing because they are outnumbered and outgunned than to admit that the left really does have more political power than the conservatives.

  30. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    n.n.,

    The term posterity, as used by the founders, refers to future generations, not our children, who are part of “We the People”.

    “it is self-evident that human life begins at conception”

    It is ‘self-evident’ that life begins at conception.

    When human life begins hinges upon whether one posits the existence of a soul, otherwise there is no unique characteristic separating humanity from the animal kingdom. Thus, human life would begin at birth.

    If one accepts the existence of the soul, then demonstrate both its existence and when it enters the body, otherwise one is imposing one’s unproven religious belief upon non-believers.

    Limiting abortion is an attempt at compromise.

  31. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Dennis,

    I agree, we should err on the side of the woman. There is no solution that protects against all concerns.

    However, IMO it is not “unrealistic expectations” but betrayal of the principles and assurances that got them elected, that account for conservative’s outrage at the GOP. Outnumbered and outgunned means you fight smarter and harder. With the GOP majority in both chambers funding both ObamaCare and Obama’s executive amnesty, the excuses have evaporated and the betrayal has reached new heights.

  32. Dennis Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    “With the GOP majority in both chambers funding both ObamaCare and Obama’s executive amnesty, the excuses have evaporated and the betrayal has reached new heights.”

    I haven’t given up on them yet.

  33. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    That is of course your right, just out of curiosity, what would it take for you to arrive at that point?

  34. KLSmith Says:

    Well, at least it will be fun watching Mitt Romney lose to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

  35. Dennis Says:

    I take the long view. We have the present congress for two years so they have some time. Obama is just getting warmed up in his efforts to destroy this country so there will be many struggles to come. Without any Democrat support the Republicans are still limited in what they can realistically accomplish. To be effective they need to be very careful and to preserve political capital for future struggles.

    Much of what the Republican Congress accomplishes will be below the radar – the proverbial dog which did not bark. Their major accomplishment will be what they don’t take up like the massive tax increases Obama has proposed or all the freebies. Or the anti-gun legislation which they won’t propose. Or the activist lefty or Muslim judges which Obama won’t even try to appoint because he knows they can’t get through. Or the bad treaties helping our enemies and hurting our friends.

  36. Anna Says:

    A woman who gets pregnant as a result of rape is in a no-win situation.

    Option 1 – She carries the pregnancy to term, accepts upon herself all of the immediate risks associated with it (including the one of dying in labor – rare as it may be, it still happens), accepts any long-term health consequences (the bodily damage is not only an aesthetic problem; she may end up harmed to the point of needing future medical care – which also implies future expenses she may not be able to bear), goes through torture (she had not signed up voluntarily) for or has a major surgery in order for the child to be born, and then even if she gives up the said child for adoption, she has to LIVE knowing that she has a child somewhere out there, and thinking and worrying about the said child, and thinking about how the child is also the rapist’s, and getting unstable over all the conflicting emotions – not quite a light experience, even if luck spares her most of the physical consequences.

    Option 2 – She has an abortion, assumes all of the immediate risks and damage associated with it, assumes all of the post-abortion psychological consequences and greater future health risks (the body reacts differently to spontaneous miscarriage and to induced abortion, the latter has a real potential to mess you up hormonally, increase your chances of various cancers, future pregnancy complications etc.), and has to LIVE knowing that she terminated the life of what was, ultimately, HER own child too. Not quite a light experience.

    Rape is rare, pregnancy as a consequence of rape even more so, but it happens. So does she have ways of reasonably protecting herself? Sure – oral contraceptives. Which may mess her hormonal cycle, set her at greater risks for different sorts of cancers, favor the development of other illnesses she may already have greater predispositions for, and which are overall a VERY mixed bag, to take with much greater caution and discernment than is usually done. What if she is not sexually active, should she overmedicate her body “preventively” to avoid the however tiny, but still real possibility of finding herself having to choose between options 1 and 2? An absurd question, but that is where you get when you start from a tacit (and factualy incorrect) premise that all women are sexually active and are already taking oral contraceptives on THAT account, so “women have ways of protecting themselves”. Sure, but at what costs? And do they not potentially outweigh the risk of rape pregnancy?

    So, a woman who is reluctant to use oral contraceptives, or has a reasonable knowledge of the risks associated with them, but understands they may prevent her from having to choose between 1 and 2 is ALSO in a no-win situation.

    To conclude, you have this sword above your head on a mere account of being a biologically functional woman, there ARE NO “good solutions” in either of the two dilemmas related to it. No man can relate to your experience and, however well meaning, for him it remains largely a game of intellectual consistency either way he argues, as he *cannot* be put in the same situation due to the biological difference… and he has exactly the same say in any potential legislation as you do. Women who can relate to your experience are often the “dictatorial” type aiming push THEIR choice in the matter onto you if they legally CAN (backed up by their worldview or not)… or, to the contrary, the libertine-’68-interdit d’interdire type who may be enthusiastic about keeping the abortion as available as possible, but for all the morally wrong reasons, leading to its normalization.

    Whatever the woman chooses in such a situation, it is going to have a dark side to it for her physical and mental health. The very least that can be pretended is that she be GIVEN that choice. That is why a rape exception MUST remain in any pro-life legislation, and where one has to err, it should be on the side of the woman.

  37. n.n Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Posterity has a literal meaning which refers to children, including unborn children. We the People refers to existing generations, including immigrants who are naturalized citizens. And only those people subject to the jurisdiction of the Constitution.

    Human life does indeed begin at conception. It is a continuous physical process that begins at conception (i.e. source) and ends with a natural, accidental, or premeditated death (i.e. sink). Any choice to abort the process is a premeditated act to terminate the human life.

    That said, the moral question is: When and by whose choice does a human life acquire and retain value? The Judeo-Christian faith is that a spirit is present from conception or “begetting”. The secular faith is that human life is a commodity with variable value throughout its evolution from conception to death. Both are articles of faith. The pseudo-scientific faith is that humanity is an expression of the brain or body generally, despite our inability to distinguish between expression and origin.

    What we know is that human life is not the product of spontaneous conception, and that arguments with articles of faith and pseudo-science (i.e. outside of the scientific domain) do not change that fact. If you terminate the process following conception then you are terminating a human life. You are denying a coherent, emergent entity its basic right to life.

    Limiting elective abortions is procrastination or avoidance of the issue. Liberal society does not have a taste to consider issues that deprive it of pleasure and leisure.

  38. n.n Says:

    Anna:

    A rape exception is worth considering, but not without addressing the religious (i.e. moral), economic, and cultural changes that increase its occurrence. Also, there is an incentive to exploit this rape loophole in lieu of an increasingly pro-human rights society. This is why allegations of rape must be investigated, and either the woman should be convicted for false testimony, or the man for committing a transgression against an individual and society. It is noted that a woman following a rape may not be in sufficient possession of her faculties to make an informed decision whether her baby should live or die. Finally, elective abortion is of a wholly innocent human life, and that factual characterization must be noted and addressed during public conversations and private contemplation.

  39. Anna Says:

    n.n :

    Remember to take into account that, when we talk of rape, the elements of the crime and the nature of potential proofs are such that it is extremely difficult to positively prove, in many cases impossible. The same is true for false allegations: an absence of proof that a crime took place does not automatically imply the factual falsity or the bad faith of the allegation. So in very many cases, if you are sufficiently stringent to wish to maximally protect the accused against unreasonable standards of proof as a general principle, you are neither going to be able to positively prove a rape NOR the positive falsity of the allegation. It will boil down to a “he said, she said”, both as regards the question of whether the alleged rape took place (or whether what took place was coerced) and as regards the question whether the accuser testifies in good faith. Very often the either-or situation you propose (either she is demonstrably lying or he is demonstrably guilty) is not applicable. So what are we to do with such cases, on what side to err in pregnancies for which the woman claims are a result of rape, but they may not be demonstrably so (which, I repeat, does not necessarily mean she is lying – only that the veracity of the claim cannot be demonstrated)? Some extent of flexibility must exist; but the same extent of flexibility opens doors for potential manipulations. It truly is very difficult question.

  40. n.n Says:

    There are clearly many issues that need to be addressed in order to optimally reconcile individual dignity and intrinsic value. I don’t suggest proscriptive and punitive measures; but rather a reversal of the degenerative process that normalized conscience-free abortion. This begins with assessing the value of human life apart from articles of faith (e.g. spontaneous conception) and pseudo-scientific measures (e.g. viability and origination), and acknowledging the reasons for supply and demand of abortion services.

  41. Dennis Says:

    As I recall before Roe vs. Wade the women were almost never prosecuted. I believe we discussed this topic previously at this site. Since Neo has had training in law she would know the answer and in fact come to think about it, I believe she provided us a reference on this very point. It was the abortionist who was prosecuted back then not the woman having the abortion. People who are proposing legal sanctions against women who ask for an abortion on the basis of rape but who do not have evidence to prove that rape are making the abortion laws more punitive that they were prior to Roe vs. Wade.

  42. wGraves Says:

    So we’re going to require the ‘rape’ be reported? In other words, we’re going to incentivize Emma Sulkowicz and ‘Jackie’ to get even with some poor fool and skate themselves an abortion in one nicely tied up package? Nice. What happens if the police refuse to prosecute because, say, the accused is, maybe dead, or in prison in Algeria? Does the report still count for the abortion. Or are we going to investigate the case for two years while the abortion is denied? The devil is in the details, and the law of unintended consequences will win. We have plenty of stupid unenforceable laws without letting fools dream up new ones.

  43. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Anna,

    Thank you for the most informative and articulate description that I have ever read of the situation, choices and potential consequences a woman pregnant from a rape faces.

    That said, I would only disagree on one point; nothing you described is inherently beyond the ability of a man to understand.

  44. fiona Says:

    IF a rape is reported, cannot the “morning after” pill be administered? Isn’t a D&C usually done as part of the process. Here understand that a good part of the Gosnell clientele were YOUNG teenage black girls who had more or less willing sex with slightly older guys and were afraid to tell their mothers when they turned out pregnant, or hoped to secure the attention of their baby daddies. Can we stop assuming that all abortions are performed for middle and upper class white women?

  45. Sharon W Says:

    We are discussing abortions after 20 weeks gestation. Am I to believe that a rape victim carries a child 20 weeks and then seeks an abortion? We have the most liberal abortion laws in the western world. I’ve marveled reading among these comments the concern about GOP leadership and appeal to “women” and the “young”. Ignorant and immoral would be a better description. It’s time to uncover the deception regarding the practice of late term abortion. They are dangerous procedures. When I suffered a miscarriage at 20 weeks I couldn’t find a qualified doctor to perform the D&C as it was considered dangerous. I had to go home and wait for natural expulsion to occur. I challenge any one here taking the position of wanting to leave a loophole for this procedure to actually read about how the abortion is performed. Oh and also make the case for waiting 20 weeks to decide!! No excuses in this day of technology. The Hippocratic Oath forbade abortificients as in “first do no harm”. In this case the Ancient Greeks possessed more wisdom than our nihilistic culture.

  46. ArmyMom Says:

    Well said Sharon W! As an adopted child I am so glad that my birth mother chose life. My parents who were unable to have children raised 2 adopted children and never let us feel as if we were not their natural children. I asked for information on my birth mother a while back and found out that she was very young and did know who my birth father was but that the father wanted nothing to do with a baby. I do not think my bmom was raped. I have 3 children who would have not been here had my bmom aborted me. One son served in the Army protecting us all, my second son is deeply religious and is a counselor for people who are addicted and my daughter is working with wildlife. I now have a beautiful granddaughter who continues the wonderful legacy of my parents and yes my bmom. Every time I think of someone aborting a child I think that this is what they are cutting themselves off from.

    It is strange to me that in todays world that if my bmom had chosen to kill me even late term that there are many who think of themselves as pro-life that would approve. After all, I am sure that my bmom was traumatized when she found out she was pregnant and likely was pressured by her friends to “get rid of it”.

    I also think it is interesting that so much attention is focused on some of the negatives of carrying a baby to term as if when raped one is more likely to have those negatives occur. I would say that women who have abortions in general have just as many negative health issues and many times have great difficulty having children later on.

    And if a woman becomes pregnant after being raped the innocent baby is treated as “a thing” more so then in all other cases even though the baby deserves life as much as the raped woman deserves counseling and healing. To condone late term abortion after 20 weeks is just wrong to me especially since in our kill happy culture there are sadly ample opportunities to abort a baby well before that.

    Raped or not, if you become pregnant there is a life growing in a woman. If an abortion is performed there is death. A raped woman will heal with much care and love. An aborted baby is just dead. And before anyone gets on their high horse and asks if I would take that view with my own daughter or granddaughter if they were raped my answer is Yes. I have spoken with my daughter about this very thing and we are in agreement about it.

  47. Glen H Says:

    So I can understand the arguments for a rape exception to a blanket ban on abortion. But I don’t understand why this bill needs any language on rape. It bans an abortion after 20 weeks. Is there seriously a woman anywhere that would proceed five months into a pregnancy, and only then decide she needs an abortion because she was raped?

  48. Anna Says:

    Just to clarify, my comments were in response to a more general discussion regarding abortion as such, i.e. not specifically concerning late term abortions.

  49. Factchecker Says:

    “It appears that, to qualify for a late-term abortion through a rape exception, a woman would have had to have reported the abortion to authorities earlier, a requirement meant to insure that the pregnancy really did result from rape.”

    Isn’t it the rape that is supposed to be reported earlier? That’s what it says in the later passage you quoted.

  50. Anna Says:

    ArmyMom:

    It is one thing to assume the negatives of carrying the child to term as a result of a personal decision to engage in the activities that may lead to it – being legally forced to go through a process that will cause irreversible body damage and jeopardize the woman’s health and her life only adds insult to the injury and completely devalues any consideration that a *woman*, too, might have a legitimate claim to want to prevent that process and those risks, if she can, in a situation she did not choose it. It is true, however, that having an abortion carries its own set of risks, which may in many cases outweigh the ones associated with the pregnancy. As I said, it is a no-win situation, but that is the one situation in which I hold that the woman should have the right to choose (while keeping the discussion intellectually honest: it IS taking an innocent life no less, and it IS a dangerous procedure with its own set of risks – but it must be offered as an option within a limited time frame).

    To be honest, I get somewhat distrubed whenever the discussion is framed ONLY in terms of the interests of the child. I do agree that women have a moral responsibility towards children conceived under ordinary circumstances, which implies assuming the risks and the consequences, but pregnancy and childbirth are no joke (and THAT, too, is something young people should be taught, including all of the things that may go wrong and with what probability, so they can make an informed decision in the matter) and it seems to me very cruel to legally force them upon somebody in that situation, like the El Salvador model.

    Personally, I urge for only two exceptions: mother’s life or health endangered by the continuation of pregnancy (no strict time limit) and rape (strict time limit).

  51. Sharon W Says:

    ArmyMom–The most moving testimony I ever heard personally was given by a speaker that had been raped (and was a virgin), 1950’s, and had the child and gave her up for adoption. Her daughter, in adulthood, made contact with her and she was met at the airport by the daughter and her husband, whose first words were, “thank you for not aborting my wife”. At the end of the first trimester, that is a baby, with distinct fingerprints. If unbelievers want their abortions, have it before 3 months and certainly don’t make the taxpayer participate in the death of a baby. In 1981, I gave birth to our daughter, social disapproval alive and well and long before the commonality of single-women having children. My husband and I married when she was 18 months old, having been together since I was 17. So I know personally the stress of finding out your pregnant when YOU have other plans. The tenant of legal abortion being “safe and rare” turned out to be just more liberal nonsense. By and large the stigma of unwed birth is gone, and we all know the “welfare safety net” is available and bloated, but abortion is anything but rare. In fact it is BIG BUSINESS! And to boot, we have myriad children being born to single woman, no father in the picture. What a mess! I just read that 27 late-term abortions are performed in this country every day. Absolutely abhorrent!

  52. Anna Says:

    Geoffrey:

    I did not argue (but perhaps it was not sufficiently clear) that men cannot intellectually appreciate the discussion on abortion to the same extent as women can; rather, I pointed out the impossibility for men (as a function of the biological difference between men and women) to find themselves pregnant after a rape, i.e. to experience the situation directly.

    It is a separate question whether or not the fact that their physiology shields men from that particular threat ought to be a factor in how much weight we attribute to their opinions when a change of legislation is discussed, particularly of a kind that would potentially pose more stringent claims upon other people’s bodies but would never apply to theirs’. This may strike a nerve with some women, even when faced with an intellectually honest, well-disposed interlocutor. I am not sure what to make of it, it may be understandable as an emotional reaction, but the issue is perhaps too grave to be written off as a “woman’s issue” and not addressed, on some level, by the whole of society.

  53. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left is killing Western culture and people are still arguing about laws and politics. The focus is a bit outdated by now and strategically misplaced.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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