Martini Reader

A very loyal pro-life reader who enjoys his martinis recently sent me the following note: “Dear Pat: I have read your blog for years and you are clearly the most articulate voice in the pro-death movement. Indeed, several times I have come close to converting to your side based on some of your very persuasive arguments. But after the effects of the martini wore off, I came to my senses. Now, my question is do pro-lifers have the right to break the laws that protect the killers and their helpers?’

Well, I appreciate those very kind comments.  Now, let’s get to the question.

Let me first lay out my qualifications (or lack thereof). I went to law school for one year then dropped out, so I am NOT a lawyer. Indeed, I totally bombed on my constitutional law final exam. In addition, I am a former “hippie” who actively opposed the Vietnam War but was never arrested. And I’m too lazy to do a lot of Google research on the definition of “rights.” But I’m smart enough to realize that I am somewhat of a pro-choice “voice” and that this is one of those “gotcha” questions that we all pose in the hopes of trapping our opponents and, if successful, letting the world know about it. But I really don’t care about being “caught” in a seemingly contradictory position or providing some “evidence” that I might have some reservations about the abortion issue (as I have suggested when it comes to third trimester abortions).

Still, my answer on this question is NO.

Of course, those of you who oppose abortion have the ability to break any law you want, including the one that says you can’t murder anyone, bomb a building or trespass on private property. It’s happened in the past and will happen again. So, if you are willing to deal with the consequences, folks, knock yourself out.

But I think it is inherently contradictory to suggest that you have a “right” to break a law. If that were the case, there would only be chaos. When you break the law, you are taking the chance that you will be caught and punished. Now some might harken back to our Founding Fathers who, during their deliberations on the Declaration of Independence, knew they were committing treasonous acts. In fact, many argued that they had an obligation to break the law. But I don’t think any of them would have suggested that it was their “right” to commit treason. Then, later, there were the abolitionists who felt the same moral obligation to free the slaves but they also suffered the legal consequences for some of their unlawful actions.

When I was up to my eyeballs in anti-Vietnam protests, I might have thought that I was doing the moral thing, but I never ever in my wildest dreams would have thought that it was my “right” to violate any laws. Yes, it was my right to protest, Free Speech and all, but only within certain parameters and if I chose to cross those lines, I knew I could be arrested. And, if I was arrested, I could never with a straight face defend myself by suggesting it was my “right” to violate the law.

Looming behind this question is the old “justifiable homicide” argument that Paul Hill made famous. He basically suggested that it was his right to kill a doctor who was going to perform an abortion – but no court ever bought it. Indeed, most pro-lifers never agreed with him either. The purpose of this question that has been posed is designed to get me to agree that killing an abortion doctor is legally defensible.  So, nice try, my pro-life friend, but no dice.

Enjoy your martini!

Yellow Pages Search "The Old Days"

Once a woman decides to have an abortion, the next step is to find a facility in her area that actually can perform the abortion.  In years past, most women would go to their closet, get out the Yellow Pages and let their fingers do the walking to the “Abortion” category.  Once there, she would see a number of ads placed by the clinics.

What a lot of women didn’t realize, however, was that a number of the ads were actually placed by anti-abortion facilities or “crisis pregnancy centers.”  The ads were slick, never really saying whether or not they performed abortions.  The goal was to try to get unsuspecting women to come to their facility where they would then try to dissuade them, often using hard-handed and questionable “information” to do so.  The abuses are pretty well documented.  Indeed, once these “phony abortion clinics” were exposed, the Yellow Page Association was forced to create a new separate category entitled “Abortion Alternatives” for anti-abortion facilities.  I am intimately aware of the course of these events because I was on the staff of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers at the time – the organization that spearheaded the effort to make sure women knew exactly who they were calling.

Today, most patients do not go to the Yellow Pages for abortion services.  Heck, they don’t go to the Yellow Pages for anything anymore.  Instead, they go to Al Gore’s Internet.  And now, the problem of sketchy advertising is rearing its ugly head again.

A woman who has decided to have an abortion will probably do a Google Search for “abortion” or “abortion services” or “abortion clinics.”  If she were interested in getting the pro-life perspective, she might search for “pro-life” or “anti-abortion information” or words to that effect.  But if she wants the abortion, she will do her search, get to that page and immediately sees a number of ads listed in the “sponsored links” section.  That means those facilities are actually paying Google to be advertised in those prominent positions.  And, lo and behold, included in some of the sponsored links are some anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers!  Then, when you click into their ad and get to their website, it’s the same old story.  They use phrases like “abortion counseling,” “abortion stories,” and “abortion information.”  I searched and searched and found nothing that says “we are anti-abortion.”

Now, I get that the cpcs could argue that they are in fact providing “abortion information” or “counseling.”  But I think the more honest approach would be to say you are providing “anti-abortion counseling.”   Also, I’m sure the pro-lifers who read my world famous blog will come up with examples of how the advertising for the clinics can be “deceptive.”  Indeed, if you DO have examples let us know and we’d be happy to respond.

The point is why do folks play such games with women who are in very emotionally sensitive situations?  Why not be totally up front about what you want to offer?  Then let the women make up their minds if they want to utilize your services.   Meanwhile, I think it would very interesting if someone (perhaps those that manage www.abortion.com) sent an inquiry to the folks at Google and the other search engines asking them to devise something like the Yellow Page folks did years ago so the Internet advertising was just a little more “honest.”

Don’t the women deserve that much?

seek the truth about abortion

Seek Truth about Abortion

She was 19 and he was 21.   She just graduated high school and was working to save so money so she could ultimately attend the local community college.  She had dreams of owning her own nail salon.  He took construction jobs whenever available and had thoughts of being a site manager.  They were both good Catholics so they used the rhythm method for birth control.

Then she got pregnant.

They struggled with what to do.  They were too intimidated to go to their priest so, instead, they talked to a friend or two and some family members.  Ultimately, they decided to have an abortion.  At the time, she was nine weeks pregnant.  It was a very sad occasion for both of them but neither could envision how they could raise a child on their income and cringed at the thought of sending their child to a public school in the Bronx.  She knew, of course, that she could put the baby up for adoption but could not imagine carrying the child until birth then handing it over to another family.  She did not want to spend each day wondering what her child was doing in some other part of the country.   It was all a very sad occasion but they did what they thought was best at that moment.

Nine years later, things had changed.  They made their way out of the Bronx and started making a comfortable living in Pennsylvania.  She was a civil servant and he ran a local hardware store.  Then, she became pregnant again.  And this time they had their baby.

After giving birth, she started thinking more about her abortion and a transformation of sorts took place.  She started thinking that if she had had that first child maybe things would have turned out differently.  Maybe there could have been a way for her to finish college and turn things around.  She couldn’t stop saying to herself:  “what if?”   She started reading pro-life literature and discovered resources for women who had come to regret their abortion.  She dove in head first, joining organizations and attending rallies.

Like the others who had had similar experiences, she never went out and said that abortion should be a crime, that we should throw women and the doctors in jail for participating in the procedure.  No, their approach was more subtle than that, on its face more “caring.”  Because they knew that women knew absolutely nothing about their reproductive lives, they merely wanted to talk to them about the affects of abortion, the dangers.  They just wanted women to know the “truth.”   Their compassion for these women was dripping off the walls.

Of course, they never talk about the millions of women who have had abortions and who, dare I say it, are actually okay today!  They don’t’ talk about the person in my family who over the course of 12 years had two abortions and today has the

Anti Choice Manifestation on Abortion.ws

Anti Choice Manifestation

most amazing family.  Yes, in private conversations she will admit that she might think about the two abortions at times, but only fleetingly.  It certainly has not affected her to the point where she wants to go out and join some pro-life organization or seek counseling.  No, we can’t talk about those women.

Make no mistake about it – these women who have had abortions and now say they are total basket cases have one goal in mind – to make abortion illegal in this country once again.  They want to back to the days when women, despite the laws, sought out abortions, often with disastrous consequences.  Don’t let the sweet talk fool you.  In the back of their minds, they are thinking:  “You are killing a baby, my dear” but they will sugarcoat it by dangling before you the prospect that you will be totally paralyzed with guilt for the rest of your life if you get that abortion.

The irony, of course, is these women who now regret their abortion, including the one above, actually had an abortion!   They made the decision based on their moment in time, based on whatever information they could gather.  And this morning, there is a woman who is facing the same situation.

I have absolutely no problem if that pregnant woman wants to read volumes of pro-life literature.  She can go, if she wants, to a crisis pregnancy center and talk to their “counselors.”  The more information (if truthful), the better for her decision making process.

But, make no mistake about it.  Behind all the nice talk and the offers of assistance, the bottom line is that these women who now regret their abortions thought they were doing the right thing at the time.  And they now want to take away that decision making process from the hundreds of thousands of women each year who are in the same position.

Stop Bullying Women

For many years, anti-abortion activists have lobbied their state legislatures to pass laws that require abortion clinics to share certain information with their patients.  These so-called “Right to Know” laws take many forms:  giving the patient a brochure that shows the stages of fetal development, taking an ultrasound and showing it to the woman, reciting a script to the patient that is a litany of things that can go wrong with an abortion, etc., etc.

Although the pro-choice movement regularly opposes these laws, I have written in the past about how the affect of these laws on the woman is rather minimal.  For example, most women casually look at the brochures, if at all, then toss them into

the garbage.  I’ve been in the rooms with woman as they observed their ultrasound, asked questions about the fetus then proceeded to have the abortion.  It’s all a rather big waste of time if you ask me, but if the anti-abortion movement wants to spend their time on this kind of stuff, go for it.  And, after all, it’s all well-intentioned, isn’t it?  Sure, they would prefer to make that woman’s act totally illegal, but since they can’t do that they want to make sure that a woman is making an informed choice.  How compassionate of them, huh?

Meanwhile, up in New York City, the City Council has taken a great interest in the activities of a number of “crisis pregnancy centers” that, according to testimony provided in a hearing, are engaging in “deceptive” practices designed to convince the woman that they are actually medical facilities.  It seems that the staff in some of these cpcs a

Ultrasound Before Abortion Procedure

re doing some interesting things.  For some reason, they are collecting personal and insurance information in the waiting room, the consultations are taking place on examination tables with the woman in the stirrups and “scrub suited consultants” are giving free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.   On its face, it sounds a little deceptive to me but I’m sure these reports are not accurate because we’ve been told so many times that cpcs do not engage in this kind of behavior.

Still, this crazy ole City Council is concerned about this alleged behavior so they passed a law requiring the cpcs to post signs saying they have no doctors on site and don’t’ give advice about abortions or birth control.  Sounds kind of like the “Right to Know” laws that are being imposed on abortion clinics.

But, lo and behold, here comes the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian advocacy group, and they challenge the law, saying it would have violated the center’s right to free speech.  And, recently, a local judge agreed with them and slapped an injunction on the new law.

Putting aside all the legal mumbo-jumbo and the current status of the law, what I cannot sort out is why anti-abortion advocates want abortion clinics to inform women of everything but the kitchen sink, but when the NY City Council wants to ask them to give out just a little information about their centers, they balk at the idea?

Somebody help me here, please!

Founding Fathers and Abortion

Founding Fathers - Right to Life

It was a sweltering July day in the city of Philadelphia in 1776.  The delegates to the convention slowly make their way into what ultimately would be dubbed “Independence Hall” but on this day it was still commonly known as “Moe’s Place.”   Representatives from the 13 American colonies were there to discuss whether or not to break away from Mother England and set up their own nation.  A committee had been formed to draft a statement of principles that would publicly explain to King George and the rest of the world why the colonies felt it was necessary to declare its independence and, in effect, start a war.

The debate over the proposed resolution was intense and went on for days.  Should we actually call the King a “tyrant?”  How do we address the issue of slavery?  Should we be quoting Thomas Paine or Voltaire?   Should we refer to God?

Then, suddenly, after days of laborious discussion, a delegate raised his hand and is recognized:  “Mr. President, why is there no language that protects fetuses from being aborted?”

There are puzzled looks on the faces of those in the room then Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the document, calmly assures the delegate that his concern has been met and refers him to the section which says that all men shall be endowed with the right to “life” in this new nation so, he explains, since every baby has the possibility of coming out as a male, you cannot have any abortions!

Somehow I just don’t think that’s how it all played out.

Those who advocate making abortion a crime in this country love to cite the Declaration of Independence and, in particular, the line that says (cue the trumpets!):  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Or is it “inalienable?”   I always get that part confused.

Anyway, so somewhere along the line the anti-abortion folks started to interpret that passage to mean that everyone has a “right to life.”  See!  See!  The Founding Fathers, those wise old men, were saying that everyone, including those little fetuses, have the right to life!   See!  What did I tell ya?  You gonna argue with the likes of Jefferson, Franklin, Berkowitz and Adams?

Okay, now let’s everybody calm down and think this through a little.

First of all, the fact is that those sage, all-knowing Founding Fathers never said a word about abortion during that long summer in Philadelphia.  The word is never found in any of the historical accounts of the process.  I mean, just think about about it.  It wasn’t even an issue in those days and they had much bigger things on their mind, like creating a new country.  Didn’t they have other things to do that were a little more important than abortion?

Second, remember that in those days, when they said “all men” are blah, blah, they really meant all MEN.  We know that they weren’t talking about women – God forbid – and they weren’t talking about the slaves either.  They were talking about all of those old white people who had the power.  So, please do not tell me that, although they didn’t give a rat’s ass about women or slaves, they did care about protecting those little, defenseless fetuses.

This is one of those arguments that is really stretching it a bit, don’t you think?

New York Times on Abortion

New York Times Abortion Article

In 1997, I told a reporter with the New York Times that I thought abortion was a “form of killing.”  I said it in the context of a story he was writing about the “partial birth abortion” procedure.  The quote wound up at the bottom of the story on page 17.  In other words, it did not create headlines and millions of women who had had abortions in the past did not come forward to demand their money back from the abortion clinics because they were snookered.  I got a total of one email from a clinic owner who was upset at my quote.  Never heard a word from the pro-choice groups.

Of course, we all know that the anti-abortion movement wants to make the procedure illegal because they also believe that abortion is not only killing, but murder.  When that doctor performs that abortion, he or she is “killing a baby,” pure and simple.  That’s where the line is drawn.  Indeed, a few have gone so far as to kill a (already alive with a family) doctor who performs abortions.

And now here comes Mitt Romney, a Republican candidate for President who years ago used to be pro-choice when he was Governor of (the liberal state of) Massachusetts.  At some magical moment, Romney got “educated” on the issue, coincidentally at the time when he was seeking the nomination in a process that is dominated by pro-life advocates.

Suddenly, Mitt Romney became pro-life!   Today, Romney believes that abortion should be “limited to only instances of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”

Mitt Romny and abortion

Mitt Romney and Abortion

Hmmmmm.

First of all, kudos to this compassionate man who cares so much about women that he would grant them the ability of have an abortion as long as they can prove that they would DIE if they didn’t have one.  Good for you, Mitt!  Bravo!

But he would also allow the abortion if the woman were raped or a victim of incest.

So, what am I missing here?   What happened to the focus on that little 7 week “baby?”  Aren’t we supposed to STOP THE KILLING as the posters say outside the abortion facilities?  No matter what you call it, that entity that is inside the woman is alive, right?    And, if not aborted, it will continue to grow, right?  And the woman is going to the doctor to stop that process, right?

So, what’s with the rape and incest exception?    Killing is killing is killing, is it not?   Does it matter how that poor little ole baby, floating around serenely in the uterus, was conceived or by whom?  Doesn’t the anti-abortion movement want to protect that “baby?”

Of course, the answer is politics.  It’s a way for Romney (and other pro-lifers) to try to appear compassionate and moderate.  He’s trying to have it both ways.   And I suggest that it is the height of hypocrisy.

For many years, the Congress, led by the late Congressman Henry Hyde, passed a rider to an annual spending bill prohibiting federal Medicaid dollars from being used for abortions unless the woman’s life was endangered.   Then, in the 1980’s, after an intense lobbying effort, they added the rape and incest exceptions.  To me, that was also a hypocritical vote, a welcome one nonetheless.  While we were lobbying for the additional exception, it was clear that a number of heretofore “pro-life” members of Congress were uncomfortable and it because a very political vote.  Personally, I admired more those pro-life Congressmen who voted against the rape and incest exceptions.  At least they were being consistent.

So, Mitt Romney is trying to have it both ways.  We’ll see if his strategy works.

My last few blogs have generated a lot of interesting discussions. I love a good, hearty debate so I want to thank everyone for chiming in and for keeping it (relatively) civil. Abortion is obviously an emotional and controversial issue that, as far as I am concerned, will never really be “resolved” because it is just not as black and white as some of our national organizations would have us think.

The last post discussed the efforts of some anti-abortion groups to declare the fetus as a “person” from a legal sense and it generated a rather lengthy thread. We got reams of information about the humanity of the fetus-baby, when it starts breathing, how it can feel pain, how it can hear music, when it starts to fart, etc. It was all very fascinating. No, that’s not true. I gotta admit that it was totally boring to me. After a few posts, I stopped reading most of the scientific information that was shared with us, especially the footnotes and citations by supposedly objective authors. At some point, I just started to tune it all out because to me it was just becoming an academic exercise that had no relation to the real world.

Maybe I’m just too simple. Every time I would see the paragraphs going on and on and on, I would just think of that 21 year old girl living in subsidized housing in the South Bronx who made a mistake. She had unprotected sex with that boy who

abortion stress

Abortion "Stressfull Decision"

has been destined for Riker’s Island since he was in elementary school. And she got pregnant. And, instead of playing the poverty card, I would also think of the 45 year old woman in Beverly Hills who thought she was incapable of getting pregnant anymore and whose marriage is a shambles. I just wondered how both of these women would have reacted if they were reading these regurgitations of the scientific literature? C’mon, folks, let’s get real. They wouldn’t have read any of it. Do you really think these women care that the fetus at 8 weeks has fingers, or a lung or whatever they have at 8 weeks?

Well, maybe they do care a little or are at least interested but do pro-lifers really think that all of the scientific “evidence” of “life” is going to make a difference that much of a difference? No way. Indeed, I can prove it. In a number of states the abortion clinics are required to show women pictures of how the fetus will develop, what it has at what stage. And, if you talk to clinics you will learn that it is extremely rare – I mean extremely – when a woman sees the pictures and is so shocked that she cancels the abortion. One clinic owner told me how they had to get extra trash cans because all of the (taxpayer paid) brochures wound up being thrown out.

Sure, it will be sad experience in some way. The woman may think about how, had she not had the abortion, she would have had a child. But, to her, it was the decision that she had to make at that time. It’s the same process that so many pro-lifers went through when they had their abortion. The only difference is now those pro-lifers are admitting that they now “regret” their abortion or that they were snookered, they didn’t know it had fingers or they didn’t know they could have put it up for adoption. And now they are saying that others can’t have the abortion because they know better.

Bolderdash!!

I appreciate how some want to pass on their “wisdom” and share their experiences to help those coming after them. But it is the height of obnoxiousness and somewhat hypocritical to say that, while you had the chance to have your abortion, you now know better so no one else should have one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I trust women. I trust that they will talk to whoever they want to talk to, they will process the decision as well as they can, they will try to find a reputable clinic with good counseling and they will do what they think is best for THEM at that moment.

For the most part, none of them will be persuaded by the scientific facts. Women already know that the fetus is alive with, at some point, human characteristics. And they don’t want that fetus to grow into a baby that they will have to raise. That’s why they have the abortion.