Capital Punishment And Abortion, An Argument From Doubt

I think we all have, if we are fortunate, a few good friends with religious and political viewpoints very different from our own with whom we regularly hold long discussions. For me, one of these is an uncle of mine. My mom is the oldest of seven, so this uncle is actually only fifteen years older than I am. He’s a long lapsed Catholic (he describes himself as believing in God but having no religion), a comic book and movie buff, an independent rocker, and someone who thinks a lot about the meaning of life, though he does so from a very different perspective than I do.

A few months back, my uncle was telling me about how he’d recently become pro-life (or anti-abortion, for those who ride the hobby horse of not being willing to accept the common use of the term.) His reason, he said, was basically the same as the reason he’d come to oppose capital punishment a few years before.

With capital punishment, although he thought it completely justified to execute someone who really was guilty of murder, he’d decided that the possible injustice of executing someone who was innocent outweighed the need of society for capital punishment to punish crime. Because he thought people were wrongly convicted a realistic percentage of the time, he’d come to oppose capital punishment completely. After all, if you have someone serving a life sentence, you can always let him out if he’s cleared. But if you’ve already executed him, it’s too late.

His conversion on the abortion issue was when he realized that it was a similar situation of doubt. In the past, he’d supported abortion rights on the theory that he didn’t know if the fetus was a “real human being” or not, and so it seemed fair to give the woman legal “control over her body”. However, then he’d come to think: if I don’t know if the fetus is a “real human being” or not, shouldn’t I presume life just like with capital punishment? Having come to presume on the side of life in the case of capital punishment, he decided he should presume on the side of life with abortion as well.

This was interesting to me, because I’d always been perplexed by people who told me that one should always oppose capital punishment as a first step to opposing abortion. “Why should one protect guilty life over innocent life?” seems the obvious question to me. However, if one’s viewpoint is that the humanity of the unborn child is in doubt, then the analogy makes a lot of sense.

I don’t agree with this thought progression, because I don’t share the doubt as to the humanity of the unborn child, but it does make sense to me now.

24 Responses to Capital Punishment And Abortion, An Argument From Doubt

  1. RR says:

    This is a particularly useful approach for Protestants who believe scripture is silent on abortion and euthanasia. As capital-punishment-lover President Bush said “government should err on the side of life.”

  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    The only good argument as far as I am concerned against the death penalty is the risk of wrongful conviction. I am all too aware that courts and juries are quite capable of making dreadful mistakes. I agree with your uncle on this point. Having said that, I am still in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes. It is, however, not a hot-button issue for me. If a state wishes to abolish the death penalty it will not raise a protest from me. My concern in regard to abortion is the protection of innocent human life, but if the polity wishes to extend this protection to convicted murderers, I may regard this as soft-headed, but I can understand the desire to protect all human life.

    I can understand someone who is pro-abortion also being in favor of the death penalty. If the right to life of a child in the womb means nothing, how much less the claim to life possessed by a convicted murderer.

    What I cannot understand are the huge number of people who simultaneously believe that the life of the child in the womb is worth nothing, if the mother desires to end that life, while simultaneously holding sacred the life of those convicted of heinous crimes.

  3. bearing says:

    As someone who was anti-capital-punishment before I became anti-abortion, I can personally attest that it’s very difficult to hold that combination of views without major cognitive dissonance. Something had to give eventually, and I’m glad that it did.

    Rather than discredit, attack, or mock people who are anti-capital-punishment but pro-abortion, I think the best approach is to praise them for the instinct of mercy, and just suggest — suggest — that the unborn deserve that mercy, too. I think there’s a great potential for a seed to be planted. Even if you are yourself not against capital punishment, I hope that an instinct to err on the side of mercy is something that you can praise, and use to gently suggest that we should also err on the side of mercy toward the unborn.

  4. Der Wolfanwalt says:

    I tend to agree with Bearing. I’m curious though, Mr. McClarey, if you don’t see the possibility of conversion – of giving a criminal the full opportunity of repentance – as being perhaps a worthy motive in avoiding the use of capital punishment when possible.

    For my part, I think that the only things that should be immediately eligible for capital punishment are those crimes the continuous commission of which would undermine the stability of society. For example, the intentional killing of a police officer is, in my view (and subject to certain requisite determinations), a crime that would automatically invoke execution as a punishment. I can think of others, but not that fit my premise as well (by which I mean they do not compel me to demand the death penalty as stridently as does cop-killing).

  5. bearing says:

    Yes, DW. I should add by the way that I continue to be anti-capital-punishment in the United States. I’ve always acknowledged that it’s not inherently evil and that it’s appropriate and even necessary in certain circumstances, but (a) I don’t think those circumstances exist in the US and (b) I think that mercy is a greater witness to the sacredness of life than is retribution. And I think we could use more witnesses to the sacredness of life.

    Personally, I am very frustrated by the power of the argument “you people love death when it comes to criminals, how pro-life can you be?” I wish that more pro-lifers agreed with me, because (whether WE like it or not) that argument is very convincing to people for whom the humanity of the unborn is not obvious. Since few people argue that guilty criminals are not human, it means that pro-death-penalty, anti-abortion people appear to be supporting the death of clearly-human beings while claiming moral high ground for supporting only “maybe”-human beings at great cost to other clearly human beings.

    Darwin, I’m just curious. How does being anti-abortion correlate with being anti-death-penalty? Do you know?

  6. Jay Anderson says:

    I oppose capital punishment, but I have always thought the “repentance and conversion” argument was one of the weaker points in opposition to the death penalty. In fact, I think the imminence of one’s death probably focuses the mind on the hereafter and thus serves as a catalyst toward repentance.

    Bearing describes my reasons for opposing the death penalty in the second paragraph of his second comment.

  7. Tom says:

    Not to be overly pedantic, but St. Thomas Aquinas has addressed this issue of conversion of the convicted murderer, and here’s his thought:

    The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.

    We see this routinely in actual practice, where lifers continue to kill and maim in prison, escape and do harm, or are pardoned or paroled by a new governor. We also routinely see condemned men reconciling with God at their execution. Sr. Prejean, the anti-death penalty activist, has personally witnessed this happen and written about it.

    At any rate, in this country, where we have probably the most searching and exacting rule of law in human history, and very restrictive capital statutes, it doesn’t seem to be a realistic risk that any innocent person will be executed. There has in fact been not one indisputable case of this, despite the exhaustive efforts for over 30 years of many lobbying groups to find that one “poster” case.

    On the other hand we have hundreds of examples of life imprisonment failing to protect innocent people. If we can’t effectively render these offenders harmless, the state has a right, and probably a duty, to execute them.

  8. Mike Petrik says:

    I oppose the death penalty in the US, at least generally, and have for many years, even though I concede that prison murders or murders ordered from prison may present special cases. That said, I question the appropriateness of applying the “instinct of mercy” to abortion. While mercy may be a fair description of what Christ calls us to do in our treatment of a convicted murderer, it is not what is owed to the unborn. What is owed to the unborn is simple justice. The innocents have done nothing to warrant mercy. The all too common conflation of mercy, charity, and justice makes thinking clearly about these very different virtues more difficult.

  9. Gabriel Austin says:

    I believe there is some confusion about the morality of abortion as against the morality of the death penalty. That confusion arises from the failure to distinguish about the doer of the deed.
    It is not the state which commits the abortion; it a [nowadays] a doctor commissioned by the mother. Both are equally guilty of the sin as are participators such as Unplanned Parenthood. These are personal choices.

    The death penalty is a difficult matter; it may be an error but it is not a sin. A state cannot sin.

  10. bearing says:

    You are correct, Mike, but remember I am trying to meet pro-abortion people where they are. It’s common rhetoric to classify the unborn as a “parasite,” “invader,” or “aggressor,” or to identify children conceived in rape with the aggressor who begat them. When people feel as if the unborn is an aggressor, even when they feel that incorrectly, mercy is indeed the instinct that needs to be awakened.

    Gabriel, the state cannot sin, but *if* the death penalty is wrong, then a prosecutor sins in asking for it, a jury sins in applying it, a governor sins in withholding clemency, and executioners (and all involved in the process) sin in carrying out the execution.

  11. Mike Petrik says:

    As to your first point, as disgusting as it is, I agree. The notion that holy innocents should be regarded as “parasites” is beyond my understanding, but I appreciate your point nonetheless.
    As to your second point, I’m not so sure. I think that the responsiblity rests largely with the legislators who design the “rules of engagement” that prosecutors, juries, and governors must apply. The prudential decision as to whether the state can “effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it” is a charism and responsiblilty assigned primarily to legislators, not judges, juries, and governors who must abide by the legal standards promulgated by such lawmakers. Under ordinary circumstances I would think that such parties have a right to assume that the legislators have exercised their prudential responsibilities appropriately. I certainly do not think that one can presume “sin” absence special circumstances.

  12. David Harley says:

    The notion that there are large numbers of “pro-abortion” campaigners is a misleading one. Such identity politics dehumanizes the opposition and pretends that there is only one possible moral stance involved. As the Catholic Church itself did not declare authoritatively that ensouled life began at conception until the 19th century, it is evident that not everyone will share this view.

    Most “pro-choice” people would not regard abortion as a good option, and would wish to see its incidence drastically reduced. The question is, how is this desirable outcome to be achieved?

    Whether abortion is legal or illegal appears to make little or no difference to the incidence of abortion. This can be seen from the US before WW2 — contemporary estimates put the rate far, far higher during the Depression than today’s rate — and from countries where the law has changed recently.

    It only makes a difference to the number of legal abortions, and to the circumstances under which the procedure occurs. I do not think any of us would want to see a return to backstreet abortions, or to self-induced abortions. The death rate would be appalling. We surely need to address the desperate demand for any kind of abortion, no matter how dangerous, rather than trying to make the supply of safe abortion illegal.

    So, what would actually reduce the incidence of abortion? Here, we can contrast the low rates seen in most of Western Europe and the astonishingly high rates seen in Eastern Europe.

    What makes the difference? Education; social attitudes towards illegitimacy; the financial and medical circumstances of young mothers.

    Most of the women who have abortions in the US already have children. Indeed, if my memory serves, most are married. When asked, what do they say is the reason for having an abortion? It’s their inability to feed and clothe their children. Much the same applies to young mothers.

    This society may bewail the resort to abortion, usually an agonizing choice for the pregnant woman, but it does nothing much to make the life of a woman who gives birth any easier. Indeed, by comparison with most developed countries, the United States punishes mothers, as soon as they have given birth.

    Where is their paid leave? Where are their benefit payments? Where is their free medical care? How do they buy diapers if they are surviving on food stamps?

    Where is the public transport for them to visit their doctor? A Mississippi Delta mother on Medicaid may be faced with a 60-mile round trip.

    Most of the measures needed to reduce the incidence of abortion could be supported both by secular liberals and by all but the most savagely punitive Catholics and evangelicals. We need to get past this debate if we are going to find some common ground about policies upon which all well-intentioned people can agree.

    Changing the law is not one of them. Believing that it is the only measure required is a magical view that just gratifies the self-righteousness of people who do little or nothing to ease the situation of mothers and children, and especially poor families. Indeed, there are many prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier.

    We need a pro-children movement, a pro-mothers movement, a pro-poor movement. That would begin to reduce the incidence of abortion, as the politics of gesture would not.

  13. Der Wolfanwalt says:

    @ Mike:

    I’ll confess, I find the suggestion that our legal system prevents the execution of innocents (or at least mitigates it) un-compelling. I’ve read far too many cases regarding criminal constitutional law to believe anything other than Justice Holmes’ aphoristic observation that he sat in a court of law, not of justice – drawing a thick line of demarcation between the two.

    I should also warn you that I put a lot less stock in Aquinas than I did when I was younger. I’m far more Platonic in my theology, and I think that his observations regarding the repentance of condemned criminals might have carried more weight when they were facing death by boiling in oil. When I think of modern executions, I think of Timothy McVeigh.

    As to the fact that lifers are violent, I think that the problem is less with the punishment as much as it is with the system. We quite frankly have created a penal Frankenstein that turns inmates into tribalists.

    Would you rather just execute all the lifetime prisoners?

  14. Mike Petrik says:

    Der Wolfanwalt,

    I am mostly at a loss as to how to respond since though your post is addressed to me it is not germane to anything I wrote.

    I would add though that while our prison system is certainly imperfect, my nephew the prison guard would find your thesis blaming bad prisoner behavior on our penal system both naive and amusing.

  15. David Harley,

    While the notion that there are large numbers of “pro-abortion” campaigners may be inaccurate, the notion that there are none is even more inaccurate. Reading a good dose of 60s through 90s feminist literature makes it clear there are a number of people who think abortion is just swell, and they happen to be some of the same people running NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood.

    On your international abortion stats argument, your argument does little to account for the fact that abortion laws are in fact much more restrictive in Europe than in the US, and reached even their current levels of liberatity much later than in the US. Because abortion was totally legalized in a very spectacular way only a decade after birth control became mainstream, the US developed a highly abortive culture (like Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union) while Western Europe which legalized gradually and with more restrictions developed a highly contraceptive culture.

    Also, note that contries that have near total bans in Europe (Ireland and Poland) do indeed have _much_ lower abortion rates than the rest of Europe. Clearly the law _does_ make a big difference.

    This is not to say that there’s no value in programs to help single and poor mothers (your stat on the majority of abortions being procured by married women is wrong) but the legal and medical availability of abortion is clearly one of the largest determining factors.

  16. Gabriel Austin says:

    Bearing writes:
    “Gabriel, the state cannot sin, but *if* the death penalty is wrong, then a prosecutor sins in asking for it, a jury sins in applying it, a governor sins in withholding clemency, and executioners (and all involved in the process) sin in carrying out the execution”.

    The matter revolves around “if the death penalty is wrong” [i.e., sinful]. Alas, the numerous instances in the Bible indicate that it may not be sinful.

    There are two prongs to this discussion:
    1. Death sends the executed to his final judgment. It is not the end of his existence. Nor is killing the worst of sins.
    2. It is difficult to decide what, in effect, is a matter of prudence. The Holy Father has written that while the death penalty is not sinful, there seem to be few [or no] occasions for its application.

  17. Gabriel Austin says:

    David Harley Says:
    Monday, May 4, 2009

    A large number of weary undocumentable cliches, especially the number of abortions before the Supreme Court legalized abortion.
    One has but to consider the large number of employees at Planned Unparenthood to recognise the error in the statement that there are no large number of pro-abortion advocates. That’s how they make their living.
    Plus such of the feminist groups as NOW, and the like.

    The statistics from Europe are easily misleading [although 200,000 abortions in Britain cannot be called minor]. That country has ended with a large number of women no longer fertile.

    The undocumentable fiction of back-street abortions is yet another cliche.

    But most vicious is the suggestion that pro-life people do little for the unwed mothers, or the unplanned pregnancies [how do you get pregnant without a partner?]

    “As the Catholic Church itself did not declare authoritatively that ensouled life began at conception until the 19th century, it is evident that not everyone will share this view”.

    Where did you come up with this bit of unhistorical nonsense? The Church has condemned abortion from the very beginning.

    “the self-righteousness of people who do little or nothing to ease the situation of mothers and children, and especially poor families. Indeed, there are many prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier.
    “We need a pro-children movement, a pro-mothers movement, a pro-poor movement. That would begin to reduce the incidence of abortion, as the politics of gesture would not”.

    I do not know any prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier. Perhaps you could give some references.

    All of your suggestions – pro-children, pro-mothers, pro-poor – have been the standards of the Church since the beginning. Why else should the Church be running orphanages, hospitals, clinics to a far greater number than any other organization?

  18. David Harley says:

    If I antagonized posters, I did not mean to do so, and I apologize. As I wrote spontaneously, rather than as an expert, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of all my remarks, and should withdraw or qualify some, on reflection, and so I accept most of the criticisms above.

    I will try to limit myself to statements that rest on well-documented research, or which can be checked from the academic literature. I apologize for being prolix.

    On American abortions in earlier times.
    Frederick Taussig’s estimates of the death rates from criminal abortions have been much challenged, and I do not want to debate them. The court cases I have seen from states such as Nebraska and Oklahoma indicate that it was doctors and midwives who performed the abortions, and that was the case in Eastern cities in the 19th century, during the Madam Restell scandal. One would not expect many to be botched to a fatal extent.

    As I recall, however, he estimated an incidence rate of 1 abortion per 2.5 pregnancies in cities and 1 per 5 in rural areas. Statisticians in the 1950s came up with figures ranging from 200,000 per year to 1,200,000 per year.

    To some extent, the impact of Roe v. Wade was to publicize the availability of abortion, which would increase demand. In like manner, publicity about contraception increased demand even before the arrival of the pill. The key issue, as in earlier times was family limitation strategies.

    If one believes that families should continue to increase in size until menopause, as the Quiverful movement does, one would have no sympathy for this desire to limit families. However, Catholic women use all the available methods, other than the few who try rhythm, as frequently as other American women.

    The so-called Sexual Revolution did increase the level of pre-marital sex, but age at marriage also increased, and it seems that couples who had sex before marriage have been more stable than those that did not. This appears evident from the divorce rates among Southern Baptists.

    I may well have misspoken, through carelessness or ignorance, about aspects of the US situation. Perhaps I should focus instead on international comparisons, at this time rather than across periods for which statistics are hard to come by.

    The situation abroad
    About 3 out of every 4 abortions worldwide occur in countries where abortion is illegal, as far as can be estimated from obviously problematic statistics. However, it does seem reasonably certain that about 1,500,000 women die as a result of unplanned pregnancies.

    There are countries where abortion is illegal or very severely restricted, but the incidence is higher than in the US. Examples include Chile, Nigeria, Peru and the Philippines. In Guatemala, abortion is legal only to save the mother’s life, yet the rate is higher than in the US, and a third of the women are hospitalized as a result of complications. This devours a tenth of the entire budget of hospitals and a third of the budget allocated for maternity. The rate for Guatemala is comparable to that for the rest of Central America, and the higher rate of the cities is comparable to that of Latin America as a whole.

    Some of the lowest rates are found in continental Western Europe, where abortion is legal and covered by national health systems, but sex education is comprehensive and the rate of unintended pregnancy is very low.

    The current US situation
    About a quarter of pregnancies end in abortion, involving 2% of women of childbearing age. At present rates, about a third of all US women will have had an abortion at some time in their lives.

    During the last couple of decades, abortion rates were falling, but this fall has ceased during the present decade. Although rates are still falling among the educated and those of average or above-average incoming, rises have been detected among the under-educated, the poor and low-income groups.

    About a third of all American women of childbearing age are eligible for publicly funded contraception, because of their low incomes. Proper financial support and publicity is estimated to be able to prevent 1,300,000 unwanted pregnancies per year, half of which would end in abortion.

    Over half of those seeking abortions were using contraception of some sort, but were ill-informed on its use. Nevertheless, whether properly used or used in more typical manner, the most commonly used methods were substantially more effective than any of the periodic abstinence methods.

    Those using abstinence properly were about ten times more likely to become pregnant in any given year than users of the commonest methods — except the male condom and withdrawal — and a quarter of those who used abstinence in a more typical manner became pregnant. This is markedly better than those using no method — 85% — but it would, over time, give women larger families than most in the US would want, and periodic abstinence is not something that could be exported or imposed on poor countries.

    It is surely unintended pregnancies that need to be addressed, unless one believes that having a child every year is a woman’s duty. We need to focus on the well-being of mothers and children who are already with us, as well as those yet to be born. Legal abortion may be ten times safer than childbirth for the pregnant woman, but it obviously isn’t safer for the life she carries within. And the psychological effects, largely brought about by the conflict between morality and desperation, are insufficiently addressed by health systems.

    The Best Intentions: Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-Being of Children and Families (National Academies, 1995)

    Catholics and the debate
    As for the Catholic Church, it did not take a strong position on abortion until the long argument about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was finally settled. At that point, ensoulment at conception became a necessary belief. Indeed, that had been a major issue during the centuries of debate. To say that the Catholic Church had always condemned abortion is true, but abortion was defined differently, for church and state, before the 19th century. Abortion was a category that was applied after 16 weeks of pregnancy. This distinction is ignored by much of the literature.

    However, condemnation and active opposition are not the same thing. Before the Second World War, the Catholic Church in the US was not active in opposition to abortion, partly because it was a largely unseen practice after the Comstock Act. 19th-century anti-abortionists were relatively isolated figures, drawn from across the spectrum of political and religious views. It was the 1950s debate about abortion for medical reasons that began to rouse the sleeping forces of Mother Church. Before that, the main group involved had been those demographers who advocated zero population growth.

    As for pro-life campaigners and pro-choice campaigners taking care of young mothers and newborns, I don’t myself see a lot of Catholics and pro-life Protestants or pro-choice Christians and non-Christians getting personally involved, by adopting or mentoring or financially supporting individual mothers and children. However, I live in a relatively pro-life community, so I may have a skewed perspective. At a broader social level, I would say that both groups do a certain amount but nothing like what is now needed, let alone what would be needed if abortion were suddenly to cease.

    Above all, I don’t see the political will to change the level of support for pre-natal and post-natal care, and for financial support. Both Democrats and Republicans have been all too willing to cut back on programs, partly as a result of the “Welfare Queen” stereotype. I do not see a groundswell of opinion among any group involved in this debate to change matters, and the terrible divisions created in the country have made a consensus about social programs almost impossible to achieve.

    That is why I said we need a pro-child and pro-mother movement. Indeed, an anti-poverty movement. I do not see politicians of any stripe putting their reputations on the line for this. It would be political suicide for many conservatives.

    I don’t need to list all the Catholic neo-cons who have deserted doctrines of social justice, but how central to lay thinking is the pastoral letter of the bishops, “A Place at the Table,” or their statements on political responsibility? Is there a single good word ever said by the Rev. John McCloskey in favour of social justice? Does Michael Novak think that the poor need anything more than moral admonitions and tax cuts for the rich? Senator Santorum thought they needed charity and marriage.

    On listening
    The sneer at Planned Parenthood and NOW needing abortion is an unworthy caricature. It may be that some radicals feel obliged to pretend that abortion is inherently good, but that is hardly the case with mainstream groups. This is like taking Randall Terry as the voice of the pro-life movement. Now he certainly does need abortion.

    Caricaturing one another is one of the main ways to prevent listening. It buttresses the aim of imposing moral absolutism. Pro-choice campaigners accuse the pro-life movement of having no concern for the rights of the mother, and pro-life campaigners do the same with the rights of the unborn. This is a dialogue of the deaf.

    Planned Parenthood is a non-profit group, relying on donations, which provides a wide range of health services for men and women that are not adequately covered otherwise. We may deplore their involvement in abortion, but it is far from being the only focus of their attention or their reason for existing. So too with NOW, which has a host of other issues on which it campaigns.

    It is often forgotten, among both Catholics and feminists, just how many of the founders of the present feminism, including NOW itself, and campaigners for what came to be called reproductive rights were Catholic religious. One might mention Sister Mary Joel Read, Sister Mary Austin Doherty, Sister Mary Aloysious Schaldenbrand, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the National Coalition of American Nuns.

    Both younger feminists and increasingly conservative Catholics gradually shut out such voices. The days of the civil rights and anti-war movements had gone. It is surely time now to get back to a position where abortion is one of the issues about which faithful Catholics care deeply, rather than apparently being the only one. How often have I seen Sister Helen Prejean attacked for spending her time on anything other than abortion?

  19. Matt McDonald says:

    Isn’t this just a regurgitation of the CFFC talking points? What exactly is the poster proposing here?

  20. David,

    When you throw up that must stuff in one comment (very little of it sourced) it’s hard to respond in any systematic manner. However, the stats involved are something that I’ve done a fair amount of work with, and I’m pretty confident that you’re wrong on most fronts.

    A few major items:

    – Basically all reputable analyses agree that abortion rates went up after Roe, peaking in 1980 and going down since then. It’s not just pro-life analysts who say this, some of the major pro-choice arguments (such as the eliminating-unwanted-children argument from Freakonomics) are based on the understanding that abortion went up quite a bit after Roe.

    – Your international numbers are way off. Check Guttmacher’s stats here. The solid majority of the world’s abortions are performed in a small number of countries in which abortion is legal and to a great extent encouraged: China, Russia, Vietnam, the United States, and India.

    – There’s little evidence that putting more money into making birth control available to people in the US reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies. We’re already awash in free birth control, and yet the incidence of unplanned pregnancy creeps downward only rather slowly.

    – No one is saying that Catholics should care only about abortion, but too often the claim that “we shouldn’t care only about abortion” is made by people who would basically like permission to care nothing about abortion. During the 50s through the 70s it was certainly not required to care only about civil rights, but if one repeatedly insisted on voting for strict segregationists people might start to suspect that one didn’t care about them.

  21. Gabriel Austin says:

    David Harley:
    Monday, May 11, 2009 A.D. at 2:00 pm

    Recommended a Planned UnParenthood site for information. My librarain’s soul went and looked.
    There is nothing about diapers, formulas, pediatrics, and the like. Which is to say, nothing about caring for babies, except warnings against “fake clinics which are anti-abortion”.

    Among the interesting bits of information are:
    “# our biological sex — male, female, or intersex
    “# our gender — being a girl, boy, woman, man, or transgender.

    Intersex? Transgender?

    Where is the neuter gender?

  22. Norris Hall says:

    In the end the decision of abortion must be left to the individual. Only a pregnant woman can make the decision to have or not to have a child.
    For society to mandate that she give birth to a child she can not afford or does not wish to raise is nothing but another government enforced unfunded mandate that Conservatives are so quick to condemn.
    Better for everyone to make their own decision on this matter.
    We do, after all, live in a democracy.

  23. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “In the end the decision of abortion must be left to the individual.”

    There are two individuals involved in any abortion, and the individual whose life is at stake doesn’t get to decide anything.

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