Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 4, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DOBSON ON ABORTION....Via Scott Lemieux, I see that hardline abortion opponents are unhappy with James Dobson because of his support for a ban on partial birth abortions. One of his critics believes, shockingly, that Dobson uses the partial birth abortion bogeyman primarily as a fundraising tool, while another says the recent Supreme Court ban is useless: "This will never save a single child, because...there are lots of other techniques, and they even encourage abortionists to find less shocking means to kill late-term babies," he said.

Fine. Let 'em fight. But the response from Dobson's spokesman, Tom Minnery, was unusually revealing:

Doctors adopted the late-term procedure "out of convenience," Minnery added. "The old procedure, which is still legal, involves using forceps to pull the baby apart in utero, which means there is greater legal liability and danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus. So we firmly believe there will be fewer later-term abortions as a result of this ruling."

Let me get this straight. Dobson agrees that in many cases the IDX procedure is the safest one available, and that's why doctors have adopted it. So the purpose of the ban is to force them to use more dangerous procedures. If a few extra mothers die or experience serious trauma as a result, well, them's the breaks.

Excuse me while I retch.

Kevin Drum 3:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

Forcepts? Why not a coathangar?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 4, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, a simple, safer alternative to partial birth abortion would be to murder the baby in its crib after it's born. We properly reject that approach.

I personally don't object to partial birth abortion. However, I have sympathy for those who see it as too much like infanticide.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Kevin, but you see those women who die from the more dangerous procedure will be spared the possibility of coming to regret their choice. Justice Kennedy thinks that's a reasonable trade-off to make for the poor dears.

Posted by: Glenn on June 4, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, if one is against late-term D&X, it would make no sense why anyone would be against any other form of abortion at the same stage of the pregnancy.

And in any case, you comparison to actual infanticide fails because childbirth itself is comparably more dangerous and risky to the mother than abortion.

Posted by: Tyro on June 4, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me while I retch.

This is a suprise, coming from people that don't give a shit about women's reproductive health issues?

Posted by: grape_crush on June 4, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Shoot, I mean-- if you're against late term D&X, there's no reason why you WOULDN'T be against any other method of abortion at a similar stage in the pregnancy. You're either against late-term abortions in general, or you aren't.

Posted by: Tyro on June 4, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

They just love life so very much!

At least until you are born...

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on June 4, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

They are eager for the day when all abortions are risky and potentially kill women, for they are ever aware that women will always seek to end unwanted pregnancies even when abortion is banned. Then there will be fewer abortions and more adult deaths. Isn't life beautiful?

Posted by: Urban Pink on June 4, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

They are eager for the day when all abortions are risky and potentially kill women, for they are ever aware that women will always seek to end unwanted pregnancies even when abortion is banned. Then there will be fewer abortions and more adult deaths. Isn't life beautiful?

Posted by: Urban Pink on June 4, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The dirty little secret about abortion that is simply not being covered at all is that today middle-class women, many over 35, are routinely getting abortions (or 'terminating pregnancies') as a result of findings of high-risk for down's syndrome or other abnormalities. These are agonizing choices made as a result of better diagnostic testing to determine risk of a down's baby (nuchal fold test) done around 10 weeks of gestation. Women finding high likelihood of down's in their babies are terminating the pregnancy at a rate of something like 90%. Many of these women are presumably wives and daughters of Republicans. But no one is talking about it.

Posted by: marylou on June 4, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative "morality" here folks, ugly and evil wrapped in a cloak of self righteousness.
We shall overcome these cretins.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 4, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Marylou, there was an enormous story about Down Syndrome abortions in the NY Times a few weeks (months?) ago - I wouldn't describe an issue covered with a major story in the paper of record as "no one's talking about it."

Posted by: Jason on June 4, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Translation of ex-liberal's post: I personally don't object to infanticide.

Posted by: anonymous on June 4, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Let us recap. Untold millions were spent fighting the long bitter battle over partial birth abortion. The anti-abortion forces finally won in the Supreme Court. Only then did anti-abortion supporters discover that taking away the procedure won't actually stop any abortions. The decision, however, has galvanized the pro choice forces." CJ at http://proctoringcongress.blogspot.com/2007/06/pyrrhic-victory.html

The only things that have changed are now using a less safe procedure. Welcome to James Dobson's America.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 4, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Translation #2 of ex-liberal's post: both sides of the debate find me loathsome.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on June 4, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Marylou, I've read the same reports that women choose to abort Downs fetuses at a 90% rate. There's even a movement by Downs parents to urge these women not to abort - but not for "pro-life" reasons. No, they want to continue having research and education money flowing for their own Downs children. I think it's clear that the real level of pro-choice is 90% (of course only for me and not for thee, and for a really good reason, and because the state won't have to pay for me, and, and and...).

Posted by: Shannon Spake on June 4, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

And in any case, you comparison to actual infanticide fails

...because it's a specious, dishonest false alternative? It must be "ex-liberal"!

because childbirth itself is comparably more dangerous and risky to the mother than abortion.

...which is why the procedure is used in the first place. One would have to be a disgusting, dishonest, loathsome toadto place his/her/its sympathies with those who characterize this tragic emergency procedure as "infanticide" as opposed to those who are forced to make such a difficult decision.

Oh, that's right...it is "ex-liberal." Never mind, then.

Urban pink: Then there will be fewer abortions and more adult deaths.

Better yet, women will be punished for having sex, which is the transparently obvious goal of the so-called "pro life movement."

Posted by: Gregory on June 4, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Your deliberatly taking this out of context. BECAUSE this procedure is MORE dangerous, LESS women will seek it out, THUS, there will be LESS abortions, LESS children violently murdered and MORE angry LIBERALS.

Get it, creame puff?

Posted by: egbert on June 4, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

More angry liberals, you say, egbert?

Well thank goodness for that! I *knew* there was an underlying motivation for your political ideology. And THERE it is!

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 4, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK
I see that hardline abortion opponents are unhappy with James Dobson because of his support for a ban on partial birth abortions.

More accurately, they are upset with him for his involvement with the federal ban and praise of the Supreme Court decision upholding the federal ban on dilation and extraction abortions, because that decision endorses the idea that abortion is generally a right, and because they do not see it as effectively impeding even late-term abortions.

Perhaps even more accurately, they are competing with Dobson to get money from the same people, and are simply trying to clear away the major competition.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 4, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Your deliberatly taking this out of context. BECAUSE this procedure is MORE dangerous, LESS women will seek it out, THUS, there will be LESS abortions, LESS children violently murdered and MORE angry LIBERALS.

Makes perfect sense. In fact, let's get Congress to outlaw every abortion method except the coathanger -- think how even more effective that will be!

Posted by: Glenn on June 4, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, let's get Congress to outlaw every abortion method except the coathanger -- think how even more effective that will be!

That would only start a debate about wire vs. plastic.

Posted by: qwerty on June 4, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

That would only start a debate about wire vs. plastic.

How many times have I told you? No! Wire!! Hangers!!! EVER!!!! [/Joan_Crawford]

Posted by: Gregory on June 4, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

The only things that have changed are now using a less safe procedure. Welcome to James Dobson's America.

When abortion is illegal another thing changes: the desperate woman who seek them die, often gruesomely.
Before Roe there were probably about the same number of abortions performed as are done today - that is about 1,000,000 - but by different providers.

It is a testament to the safety of abortion that even illegal abortions resulted in only 1000 to 5000 maternal deaths annually. Estimates vary and while there was, and is, no really reliable data from that period in America, the number of deaths probably averaged about 2,000 (0.2%) yearly.

A 0.2% mortality rate is far lower than any legally performed surgical procedure of the time, (and even today) and the total mortality far less than the 30,000 Americans who die annually from influenza.

This low kill rate is one of the many reasons that legalization of abortion is so difficult. Associated with female sexuality, childbirth and maternal myths - all totemic and uncomfortable subjects in public discourse - the low death rates keep illegal abortion far below political and public health radar.

However, the complication rate for illegal abortion is much higher. Many women require operative intervention to survive. Recovery from complications of illegal abortion, even if sterilization and castration are not required, is prolonged. Persistent morbidity is common.

James Dobson and those who back his calls for illegal abortion, fund raising for which has made him rich, support this step backward in medical care and maternal health.
This is what James Dobson supports:
In tribute to the many women who have died,
frightened and alone,
for all women's rights to full personhood

WARNING: Image is graphic, nauseating, and NOT work-safe.

Never forget that.

Posted by: clio on June 4, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Dobson agrees that in many cases the IDX procedure is the safest one available, and that's why doctors have adopted it."

yes.

"So the purpose of the ban is to force them to use more dangerous procedures"

no.

Note how Kevin took one person's opinion and then, without a shred of evidence or justification, assigned that motiviation onto millions of other people.

This is not the act of an intellectually honest person.

Posted by: x on June 4, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

clio:However, the complication rate for illegal abortion is much higher. Many women require operative intervention to survive. Recovery from complications of illegal abortion, even if sterilization and castration are not required, is prolonged. Persistent morbidity is common.

People have forgotten. Those of us who have been around since before Roe v Wade remember. I have been so thankful that if my daughter decided to terminate a pregnancy without asking my advice she could have it done safely. I believe that she would discuss it with me, or someone who could steer her to a safe provider, but there are many parents who do not have this comfort. They may not know it but they DON'T want their desperate, inexperienced teenager to be prohibited from getting a safe, legal abortion.

Posted by: cowalker on June 4, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

tyro: if one is against late-term D&X, it would make no sense why anyone would be against any other form of abortion at the same stage of the pregnancy

What do you mean by the "same stage" of pregnancy? If you mean the same biological age (since conception) of the fetus, then I disagree. A delivered baby is a human being. An undelivered fetus of the same biological age is not.

The act of delivery changes the stage. It seems to me not unreasonable to believe that a half-delivered baby is a different entity than an undelivered fetus.

If half isn't enough, how much has to be delivered in order for the fetus to be a human being? Suppose the baby is fully delievered except for one foot remaining in the womb. Is it still OK to abort it?

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 4, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to be SO glad when we can take the zygote/embryo/fetus out of the woman and stuff it into the belly of one of those so-called "pro-life" busybodies....if they had to go through the entire mess/pain/danger they might shut their pieholes a bit.

Orwell, you volunteering to carry a zygote to term? Otherwise, shaddup.

Posted by: grumpy realist on June 4, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

I am not so sure the purists don't have a complaint. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Dobson and similar "leaders." They elected lots of cynical Republicans with whom they have no other connection. They were able to pass a law. It works it's way to the Supreme Court. They win, and then they realize they haven't won anything. The general public is just as pro-choice as it has always been. It doesn't like abortion, but it doesn't believe the issue is one for government intervention.

Partial birth abortion is a great big serving of red herring. It doesn't smell very good to the pro-life purists.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 4, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK
I think it's clear that the real level of pro-choice is 90%

Not so fast. I can easily believe that 90% of women who undergo prenatal genetic testing will abort a seriously affected fetus. I suspect a good many who don't get tested do so simply because they don't foresee taking any action based on the results, and because there is a small but not negligible risk to the pregnancy from the test.

(I'm pro-choice -- we did testing before our last child was born -- but I don't think we would have if we'd decided that terminating the pregnancy was not an option.)

Posted by: idlemind on June 4, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, if he is guilty, and I have no reason to think he isn't, he should go away for a good long time. You are going to be hard pressed to find any Democrat willing to defend him. Wm. Jefferson is the non-issue. Go dissemble a different thread.

This discussion is topical because there is a lot of pro-lifers have just discovered they spent hundreds of millions on a pyrrhic victory. Not people like ex-liberal are trying to spin a silk purse out of the sows ear.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 4, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's not a baby yet, Orwell. And it's not murder for sure. You and your ilk don't have the guts to send women to jail for killing something that's not a baby, and for sure not for the terms that murderers get, like life or maybe death, even. Nobody I've heard yet is willing to back that, and the American people won't for sure -- women spending life in jail for having an abortion. And why aren't you out there putting in prison the fertility docs who throw what your President enjoys calling "human life" away? Because you're the hypocrites, that's why.

And you're hypocritical to place the life of something not born ahead of the life a full adult woman (or maybe just a raped child). That's what's sickening about this Supreme Court case -- the disregard for the lives of the living and the assumptions that the conservative sex nannies like you know better what's best for woman in heart-wrenching straits.

Take your sanctimony about the babies and stuff it. It shows that you just can't deal with real women.

Posted by: David in NY on June 4, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

And if her life is in danger, make sure you kill the baby instead. After all, we are offically in charge of judging which life is most important.

As opposed to making sure you kill the mother like all you moronic conservatards want? Yeah, talk about hypocrisy.
And "we" don't consider ourselves officially in charge of judging which life is more important, we believe it's between the parents and doctors to decide--unlike you moronic "small government" conservatards who think the government knows best.

Posted by: haha on June 4, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

...the conservative sex nannies... .
Posted by: David in NY on June 4, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Awesome!

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 4, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

clio: A 0.2% mortality rate is far lower than any legally performed surgical procedure of the time, (and even today)

Not so. I'd be willing to bet that surgery for hangnail or cyst removal has a lower mortality rate than abortion at any stage of pregnancy. There are hospitals with under 1% morality rate for heart bypass surgery. Lots of kinds of pediatric heart surgery had no deaths during a recent year. The mortality rate for one type of gastric bypass surgery is 0.05%.

Posted by: anandine on June 4, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell,

And if her life is in danger, make sure you kill the mother instead. After all, we are offically in charge of judging which life is most important.
Conservative hypocrisy.

there, fixed it for you.

Posted by: Edo on June 4, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Before anyone else posts to this thread, pls read:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-term_abortion

Posted by: none on June 4, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be disingenuous, anandine.

You obviously know something about medical practice and know better than to confuse minor surgical procedures such as cyst removal and endoscopy with invasive surgery. Or at least you should.

As for pediatric heart surgery...Pediatric cardiovascular procedures are among the most difficult and dangerous in all the cardiovascular lexicon. It is possible for a single institution, especially one which refuses to do the riskier cases, to avoid mortalities on a single type of procedure for a while, even a long while. However, I know of no year, including last year, when there were that few deaths nationally.

My point on the safety of illegal abortion stands.

An invasive surgical procedure with low or no mortality is legal operative abortion? Most years national mortality is zero. Lately many of the very few post-abortion deaths have been mifepristone related. Most legal abortion deaths are due to poor post-procedure care of first trimester abortions. Been a long time since I heard of a second trimester death. Be interesting to see if that changes with this ignorant ruling.

Posted by: clio on June 4, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

In an over populated world, it would seem that terminating an unwanted pregnancy is the action which causes the least harm. Making it legal so as to do it safely is the responsibility of the society that benefits. And it would be in a world that was not paternalistic at its base.

You will soon be reading accounts of how the world is over populated by the tragic signal that there is not enough food and water for the population in such and such place. Climate change at work. Over population at work.

Posted by: slanted tom on June 4, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

ex-human: "Kevin, a simple, safer alternative to partial birth abortion would be to murder the baby in its crib after it's born."

Hey, just because that's what you heard from your parents every day of your childhood doesn't mean you have to lay your sorry trip on us.

egfart, how's life in your crib? Feel safe?

Posted by: Kenji on June 4, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

I am so tired of hearing males whining about women who choose abortion. Men can stop all abortions by having sex only with women whose characters they know well, and whom they know would never choose abortion. Of course they can still use condoms; the women can still take the pill. But if contraceptive measures fail, the men can be confident that the children will not be aborted. They know this because they have taken months or years to build strong relationships based on shared values with disciplined, principled women. Women who do not share their values will not be able to find sex partners, and will therefore not get pregnant.

See how easy it is men? Just live up to your own principles and the problem of abortion goes away.

Posted by: cowalker on June 4, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

The rational reason for a late term abortion is the discovery of a fatal flaw in the fetus, For example, ancephaly (no brain). The rational objective is to remove the brainless fetus by collapsing the skull to do the least damage to the woman's uterus in the hope that she can have another pregnancy later, without complications.

This procedure is now against the law to satisfy the irrational beliefs of the political fundamentalists on the right.

Posted by: deejaays on June 4, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dobson's quote reminds me of something a friend said recently, without thinking, while complaining that Paris Hilton's jail sentence was too short: "It's too bad she didn't kill anyone while drunk driving."

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on June 4, 2007 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, there are plenty of immoral men to go around.

Posted by: Al on June 4, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, something at which you are an expert.

Posted by: Kenji on June 5, 2007 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:Kevin, a simple, safer alternative to partial birth abortion would be to murder the baby in its crib after it's born. We properly reject that approach.

That's not actually true. In that case, the mother would have to give birth first - a relatively risky procedure (mortality 11 per 100,000 live births in the US). Abortion is much safer for the mother than giving birth.

Posted by: ajay on June 5, 2007 at 7:18 AM | PERMALINK

Virulent misogyny isn't very far beneath most of the initiatives of the Dominionists, from "full quiver" to total abortion bans. They do not *care* if a nine year old girl is raped and that their policies will make her a mother. They worship the god of perversion.

Posted by: Scorpio on June 5, 2007 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

And if her life is in danger, make sure you kill the baby instead. After all, we are offically in charge of judging which life is most important.
Liberal hypocrisy.
Posted by: Orwell on June 4, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

The irony here is soo rich I just might have to have a nap as I digest it. You play God yourself and then accuse us of playing God. How's that work for you, Pharisee.
BTW - you're not fit to use Orwell as a pseudonym, he would not tolerate your kind of verbal garbage.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 5, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK
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