Wednesday, July 05, 2006

If you want to argue on my terms, you still have to make sense

The latest Carnival of the Feminists points to a post at the RealChoice blog that is a complete mess of disingenuousness, misrepresentations and even plain silliness. We'll begin with the most convoluted bit, just because I'm feeling mean.
Prochoice groups are fond of accusing prolifers of putting the needs of the unborn -- specifically, existing fetuses -- ahead of the needs of living, breathing, born women. But here they are, these prochoice groups, sacrificing the real safety of the 4,000 living, breathing, born women walking into abortion clinics today, to protect the possible preferences of women who haven't even been conceived yet.

This is the ultimate placing of a higher value on the unborn over the lives of the born. These organizations point fingers at prolifers, who place the lives of existing fetuses before the lifestyle choices of their mothers. Then these same organizations place the hypothetical future choices of non-existent women ahead of the safety and lives of women undergoing abortions in the here and now.
It took me several readings, but my final understanding of this paragraph was that because abortion is not 100% safe (natch), pro-choice activists are fighting for the right to abortion that future generations may or may not want at the expense of the safety of women seeking abortion today. First of all, I don't really know where this disappearance in the demand for abortion is going to come from. If today there are 4000 women seeking abortion in the US (and there aren't - dividing the 1.29 million abortions performed in 2003 in the US by 365 yields about 3500 abortions per day), I don't see why that should be expected to change in a generation - or tomorrow, amongst the women here and now, pro-choice and not, who will seek abortion.

GrannyGrump goes on to mention several instances of abortions gone awry - even fatally - and uses this information and one quote from a pro-choice advocate about the effects of overly-restrictive regulation on abortion rights - to show that pro-choice advocates care more about abortion than they do women.
I am not about to quibble with every instance GrannyGrump cites, because as they say "the plural of anecdote is not 'data.'" Further, pro-choice advocates do not say that abortion is without its own dangers. It is a medical procedure, and therefore there are risks associated with abortion.

If I am going to use a broad brush in my characterization of one side or another in a debate, I am going to use equally broad and comprehensive statistics. In a 9-year survey, Linda A. Bartlett et. al. found that there were 0.7 deaths per 100,000 legal, induced abortions. From Bartlett:
During 1988–1997, the overall death rate for women obtaining legally induced abortions was 0.7 per 100,000 legal induced abortions. The risk of death increased exponentially by 38% for each additional week of gestation. Compared with women whose abortions were performed at or before 8 weeks of gestation, women whose abortions were performed in the second trimester were significantly more likely to die of abortion-related causes. The relative risk (unadjusted) of abortion-related mortality was 14.7 at 13–15 weeks of gestation (95% confidence interval [CI] 6.2, 34.7), 29.5 at 16–20 weeks (95% CI 12.9, 67.4), and 76.6 at or after 21 weeks (95% CI 32.5, 180.8). Up to 87% of deaths in women who chose to terminate their pregnancies after 8 weeks of gestation may have been avoidable if these women had accessed abortion services before 8 weeks of gestation.
To put this into context, consider that there are in the US on average 8.9 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies carried to term'. Or take a look at the huge increase in abortion-related deaths in Romania after it criminalized abortion in the mid-60s. Any kind of reliance on public health indicators will show that legal abortion is safer than illegal abortion and actually safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.

If GrannyGrump's main concern here were the life of the mother, she would either be working to make abortion more available to women or to make pregnancy safer. Instead, she has started with her own conclusion (abortion is bad), gotten to by a moral means I cannot agree with her on (abortion is bad) and is trying to work backwards to find the scientific proof that backs up her moral claim. Unfortunately, she apparently doesn't take reality seriously enough to put two and two together and realize her argument is completely false.

Still, I congratulate her, for being able to extract every bit of energy I am willing to devote to a person who uses the term "abortion mill."

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