Pro-life: The new face of the modern movement

The 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that guaranteed women's constitutional right to choose an abortion created a deep divide in American life. Recent polls now show a shifting of support between pro-choice and anti-abortion factions. Anti-abortion groups have hardened their resolve while adopting a strategy of compassion in their efforts to ban abortions.
Friday, July 1, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 1, 2011
A pin depicting a fetus' feet at 10 weeks is worn to show fetal development in the womb. These pins demonstrate support for the anti-abortion movement.

Editor's note — A related interview with Michelle Trupiano, public affairs manager and lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, is available here.

Abby Johnson stands before the crowd, hips cocked, a hint of defiance in her voice:


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“I’m just here to get birth control."

A man pipes up about health risks of the pill.

Johnson counters: “I’ve used birth control for years. I’m fine.”

Another man chimes in: “Do you know this is an abortion clinic?”

“Yeah, I know." She sounds defensive. "I’m pro-choice."

A woman calls back: “Can you explain why you’re pro-choice?”

Johnson's response is clipped: “I don’t want to be a slave to my uterus for the rest of my life."

A pause, then another voice from the crowd: “There are other places you can go for birth control.”


For a few minutes of role playing in early April, the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City stood in for the entrance of an abortion clinic. A group of anti-abortion advocates became “sidewalk counselors.” And Abby Johnson played Any Woman, stopping in at Planned Parenthood to renew her birth control.

In this tableau, Johnson was both teacher and star. For eight years, she worked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, eventually becoming director of the clinic. She quit two years ago, after watching an ultrasound during an abortion, in which she says she saw a 13-week-old fetus “fight for its life."

She has since become the chief research strategist for Live Action, a youth-led anti-abortion group, and also supports sidewalk campaigns led by the faith-based group, 40 Days for Life.

This spring, she was in mid-Missouri coaching pro-life advocates on the use of effective dialogue in anti-abortion campaigns. The role-play exercise in Jefferson City was a chance for activists to practice the strategies Johnson taught:

  • When a woman approaches, ask open-ended questions. Engage in a conversation.
  • Don't use extreme or accusatory language. It turns people off to the message.
  • Ask if the woman knows Planned Parenthood performs abortions. Not everyone knows that.
  • Most important, steer people away from Planned Parenthood to get birth control or needed support elsewhere. Take business away from the facilities that perform abortions.

The workshop was not only a lesson in persuasive dialogue but a chance for Johnson to share her conversion journey, from abortion provider to passionate debunker of what she says are the facts and myths that have fueled 40 years of America's abortion war.

A change in strategy

Johnson speaks the modern language of the anti-abortion movement, coaching activists around the country who consider themselves the mainstream of that movement. In Missouri, that means the well-established Missouri Right to Life and a relative newcomer, the faith-based 40 Days for Life.

Over the years, these groups have moved beyond massive demonstrations and aggressive, sometimes violent, civil disobedience to embrace a softer, more sophisticated war strategy. They no longer aim to outlaw abortion in one fatal blow by overturning the crucible case of Roe v. Wade.

Instead, they are settled in for the long haul, determined to whittle away at abortion year by year, action by action, dollar by dollar, law by law.

MU law professor and researcher Rigel Oliveri says the success of such anti-abortion efforts comes from working within the framework of the law and pushing the cause to state legislators. But the topic of abortion continues to be a litmus test for politicians and has created a cautious point-counterpoint approach in most news coverage.

Even the terms of the debate – pro-life vs. anti-abortion, pro-choice vs. pro-abortion, dilation and evacuation vs. partial-birth abortion – are charged. The subject is so sensitive that officials of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which runs the state's only abortion clinics in Columbia and St. Louis, were hesitant to speak for this story.

"Anything in print can be taken out of context," a regional spokeswoman said.

(Planned Parenthood officials agreed to a brief interview and responded to e-mailed questions.)

Oliveri, who says she personally leans "pro-choice," credits the anti-abortion movement with keeping the issue in the public eye and making progress with a "death by a thousand cuts" strategy.

“They were really smart in turning away from overturning Roe v. Wade outright and instead just chipping away at it incrementally,” she says.

Polls find support to ban abortions growing

There have been as many as 50 million abortions performed in the United States since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman's constitutional right to privacy extends to reproductive choice. The ruling, while not absolute, put severe limits on state and federal laws that restrict abortions.

It also created one of the deepest schisms in U.S. history. And from the beginning, Missouri has been an active player in that schism. A year after Roe v. Wade, the Missouri General Assembly passed a statute of intent: Abortion here would be regulated to the fullest extent of the law.

It has kept that promise.

The state has consistently received an "F" on women's reproductive rights from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which ranks Missouri 48th in the nation for supporting those rights.

It is difficult to find reliable numbers that show how many Missouri citizens oppose or support legalized abortion, either as an absolute or with conditions.

The Gallup Organization reports that since 1975, a majority of Americans – about 53 percent – have consistently favored the right to abortion under certain circumstances, primarily in cases of rape or incest or when there is a threat to the life of the mother.

But the anti-abortion movement has been gaining ground, according to polls. In 2009, for the first time, Gallup counted a slight majority (51 percent) among those who identify with the self-described pro-life movement, which opposes abortion for any reason.

By May that poll had see-sawed back, with 45 percent of Americans identifying as pro-life compared with 49 percent pro-choice.

Those close numbers harden the resolve of Missouri Right to Life and 40 Days for Life.

Indeed, as they gain laws that limit access to and funding for abortion, their targets have expanded to what they perceive as other attacks on human life, including euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

Their ultimate goal, they say, is to bring an end to America's sexualized society and what is often referred to as a “culture of convenience."

“We have evolved in that we’ve become better in what we’re doing,” says Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life. “We’ve become stronger.”

Visibility now main tactic of anti-abortion efforts

The evening of March 8 was quiet except for a steady drizzle and the rush of passing cars. A line of mismatched rain jackets and umbrellas and battery-operated candles formed along North Providence Road, outside Columbia's Planned Parenthood clinic.

Members of 40 Days for Life usually face the clinic as they pray. Tonight they faced the street. At an earlier rally at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 40 Days member Donna McCullem told them: “Impact! Don’t think by just standing there you aren’t having an impact.”

The vigil, held the night before Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of demonstrations outside Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide through the 40 days of Lent. During the Columbia campaign, replicated at 247 clinics around the country this year, sidewalk counselors approached patrons with information about pregnancy resource centers. Others held signs for passing motorists to read:

“Life is precious!”

“Free pregnancy test/or ultrasound. Ask us!”

And they prayed.

On this first Tuesday, a wet evening, their presence was greeted by honks from five cars. One woman smiled and waved out a passenger window. Most cars passed in silence. But heads turned, taking note of the solemn line of candles that defied the darkness.

Some demonstrators were back at 8 a.m., an hour before Planned Parenthood opens. They wanted to be seen as people drove to work.

Visibility is a primary tactic of the pro-life movement. But while some factions of the movement favor aggressive intervention, even to the point of condoning violence against abortion providers, 40 Days says it wants to be a positive, physical prayer presence and to urge women to consider options other than abortion that support motherhood. 

Members sign a contract not to break the law, block the entrances to facilities or use hateful or threatening language. Signs should be limited in number so they aren't perceived as a protest; three is considered right for a Columbia street action. Rather than accusatory, signs should be big, simple, hopeful. "Baby Killer" is out. More effective: “It’s not too late to change your mind.” Graphic images are not allowed.

“We believe in those (graphic) signs," Johnson said at the April workshop in Jefferson City. "We believe they have a place.

"But it’s not in front of an abortion clinic.”

Johnson says the dead fetuses she saw on protest signs outside her Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas were a gruesome match for the body parts reassembled after abortions. But she says it wasn’t until she watched an ultrasound of a baby fighting to escape a probe that she had her own change of heart.

“We need to grow and change. Compassion is more effective,” Johnson says. “That’s the approach we are trying to send to every abortion clinic.”

Anti-abortion groups weigh 'morality' of issue

Donna McCullem can often be found on the sidewalk outside Columbia's Planned Parenthood. Sometimes she holds a sign. Other times she prays. She says many of the women who come here are surprised to be offered support as opposed to a lecture in morality.

“They’ve been led to believe that we are there to harass them,” she says.

McCullem, who grew up in Columbia, has been on the other side of the abortion line. Her first visit to this clinic was in the 1970s to get birth control. She was 19 and in love.

She married the young man and stopped taking birth control after experiencing bad side effects. They had three children, but their marriage began to crumble and her husband asked her for a divorce. When McCullem became pregnant twice more, she felt depressed and unfit to be a mother and worried how she could support more children as a single mother. She returned to Planned Parenthood twice more, this time for abortions. Alone and in crisis, she says she didn't know where else to turn.

She eventually remarried and had another child. But she never was at peace.

“I never stopped praying, but I was a horrible mess,” she says. “I didn’t think there would be any acceptance or forgiveness.”

Then years later, a close family member confided that she was pregnant and considering abortion. McCullem found herself unable to help.

“I wasn’t in a place to be there for her,” she says.

She continued to pray throughout those years but says her emotional numbness finally started to eased when she joined the first 40 Days for Life campaign outside Planned Parenthood in 2009.

While both 40 Days and Missouri Right to Life maintain that abortion is the killing of innocents, many members say that their strategies of compassion, forgiveness and support should extend to those who have made that choice.

“We’ve helped so many people with grief,” says 40 Days for Life director Kathy Forck. “And I would rejoice if an abortionist became pro-life. We're not here to judge people. They have a heavy load.”

But what if abortion is eventually outlawed? Then views on punishment grow murkier.

Fichter says a woman who has multiple abortions probably should be incarcerated. “There’s a point where you have to say a woman is responsible for the death of her child,” she says.

Yet most in the movement agree that the real enemies are those in the "abortion industry." The added “malice” of repeatedly causing the death of children sets abortion doctors apart from women making a tragic decision in crisis.

“There’s a lot of outside factors that make (a single abortion) a less free decision than someone who decides to set up shop as an abortionist,” says the Rev. Dylan Schrader of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. “That’s a very deliberate decision — there’s a real malicious character to that.”

Groups divided on use of birth control

During the Lenten campaign, when cars pulled into the Planned Parenthood parking lot, Forck usually stood alone on the edge of the driveway while fellow prayer activists moved away; a crowd can seem threatening. She urged women to consider pregnancy resource centers, such as the My Life Clinic across the street, which offers free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, parenting classes and some donated items such as diapers and formula.

Forck also recommended prayer groups, healing hotlines or counseling.

But the options offered by 40 Days members in Columbia do not include birth control. The Columbia organization believes contraceptives encourage casual sex, which in turn encourages abortion. Its literature includes information on side effects of the birth control pill and claims a connection between abortion and breast cancer – a connection disputed by most current medical studies.

Birth control is the one area where 40 Days of Columbia disagrees with the coaching provided by Abby Johnson, who calls it a "sticky" issue. She says it's unlikely a woman will be convinced in a brief sidewalk conversation to stop using birth control. She would rather refer those women elsewhere for contraception if it takes their business away from Planned Parenthood.

Missouri Right to Life has its own stance on birth control, says Fichter, its president: It doesn't comment unless the form of birth control used destroys life rather than prevents it. Under that philosophy, the organization opposes the pill because there is no way to be sure if the pill prevents ovulation or implantation.

But among local members of both 40 Days and Missouri Right to Life, there is no disagreement about this: The two remaining Planned Parenthood clinics in Missouri must be closed down. 

Members don't buy the argument that, by law, no tax dollars go to abortion services at Planned Parenthood. As long as the money pays for rent and electricity and building maintenance, they say, it funds abortion. And they frequently repeat Johnson’s assertion that money for family planning and money for abortion go into one big pot at the end of the day.

This fight is a personal one for Forck.

She tells of the day in 1995 when her 17-year-old daughter told her she was pregnant. Forck had noticed her daughter was gaining weight. But news of the pregnancy stunned her.

Forck couldn't help but think of her own mother who, at 16, was raped, became pregnant and was pressured to have an abortion. The experience only deepened Forck's mother's desire to have a large family; Forck is one of 10 children.

Forck remembered what her mother always said and she now told her pregnant daughter the same thing:

“A baby is a blessing. Hold your head up high.”

That day began a whirlwind of doctor’s appointment and baby shopping. That night Forck and her daughter held each other and cried.

It wasn’t until after her grandchild was born, Forck says, that her daughter confided she had considered having an abortion.

“Abortion has touched many generations of my family,” Forck says. “I hope it ends with this one.”

The growth of the anti-abortion moment

Pam Fichter was bathing her newborn son when she heard the news on the radio: In the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting a woman's right to privacy and due process, had just legalized abortion.

Fichter, distraught, called her minister. Something had to be done.

He told her not to worry. As soon as people learned what abortion was, he said, they would never stand for it. The case would be overturned. At the time, both thought they were talking about a matter of months.

But Roe v. Wade wasn't overturned. Instead, it created an army.

In Missouri, that army sprang from the grass roots, beginning in small meetings where people were rattled to learn how abortions were performed.

“There was the immediate outrage, and there were a lot of people whose response was more of demonstration,” Fichter says. “That’s where you saw people blockading entrances to abortion clinics and chaining themselves to doors.”

But even as gruesome stories of termination procedures fueled the ranks of anti-abortion activists, abortion-rights advocates countered with their own stories of desperate women who endured illegal and dangerous back-alley procedures to end their pregnancies.

“Something I saw from a housewife’s point-of-view is how it was sold to the American public through the women’s magazines,” says Mitzi Linsenbardt, a Sedalia resident who has been with Missouri Right to Life since it formed in 1974. “Very emotional — always with a very tragic case that almost anyone would favor the woman having an abortion.”

The early abortion battles were fought at a fever pitch. Some factions of the anti-abortion movement have continued that strategy, laying claim to the harassment of abortion doctors, the bombing of clinics and even murder.

Other groups soon realized they needed a more tenable, long-term strategy — one designed to change hearts and minds, not inflame them.

Missouri Right to Life settled on a three-prong mission: change through legislation, educational outreach and grass-roots advocacy.

“A lot of those people who engaged in (more aggressive) activities realized that they were spending all of their resources on lawyers getting them out of jail, and that’s not productive,” Fichter says. “They also saw at that time that they did not help public opinion on the issue.”

Organization leaders say graphic pictures of aborted fetuses still belong in some of their materials and workshops. But they have abandoned those images in public ad campaigns, such as on billboards and in subway trains. They instead show the development of the fetus — “gentle things just showing the child is a human being or that the mother can work through this,” Linsenbardt says.

“You have to be sensitive to the young ones that might see that,” adds Bonnie Diefendorf, secretary of Missouri Right to Life and chairwoman for the mid-Missouri region. “It needs to be something that isn’t offensive but speaks to a person who may really be thinking about having an abortion.”

Diefendorf's first action in the movement was working a booth at the 1973 Missouri State Fair. She still works the booth each year, combining old tools with new. The booth now features a National Geographic video on fetal development, but still uses life-size models or dolls to demonstrate how a fetus grows in the womb. The smallest doll represents a fetus at seven weeks.

Linsenbardt says children often are curious about the dolls, which prove an effective conversation starter about fetal development.

As for the video: “How can you argue with National Geographic?” Diefendorf says.

Charges of racism used in fight, too

As thoughtful as these strategies are, they don't always work. A new Missouri Right to Life campaign targeting blacks and claiming abortion is a tool of racism has threatened to backfire.

The image, featured on a billboard in North Saint Louis City, is in keeping with the pro-life movement's nongraphic mandate: It shows a lovely black baby looking sad or fretful.

Next to him, these words: "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb."

A statistic follows: "Over 37% of Missouri’s abortions are performed on African Americans, who comprise 12% of our population."

(Detailed abortion statistics for the state are difficult to confirm. But nationally in 2008, black women accounted for 30 percent of abortions, while white women accounted for 36 percent, Hispanic women 25 percent and other races 9 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The most recent census put Missouri's black population at 11.6 percent, just slightly below the national percentage of 12.6 percent.) 

The new billboard campaign is an extension of claims by anti-abortion activists that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger set up early birth control centers in poor black areas such as Harlem as part of a plan of eugenics — a way to improve the human race by not allowing people with defects or inferior qualities to reproduce.

That belief is reinforced by "Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America," a DVD sponsored by Life Dynamics Inc., an anti-abortion organization based in Texas.

Sanger's own writings from the first half of the 20th century advocate that able-minded women be given absolute control over reproduction and that sterilization and immigration laws be used to prevent certain "unfit" populations, such as epileptics, the insane and the mentally retarded to expand.

But while she argued that abortions needed to be made safe, she also decried them as a "taking of life" and urged contraception as a way to avoid them.

Despite that, her views and actions remain the subject of intense debate and have become entangled with the modern abortion wars.

“Their (Planned Parenthood) focus has always been to eliminate certain people from the population,” says Zina Hackworth, a black woman from St. Louis who attended Pro-Life Action Day in Jefferson City in early April.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Michelle Trupiano acknowledges that some of Sanger's views are not in keeping with the modern anti-abortion movement. But she vehemently denies that the organization targets blacks.

"We have a very long tradition of respecting diversity and respecting women where they come from," she says.

"There has been outrage in the African-American community over the new St. Louis billboard because it suggests that blacks do not have the moral aptitude to make good decisions for themselves."

But those who believe the eugenics plot cite this logic: Blacks make up only about 12 percent of the U.S. population; yet, they say, the majority of Planned Parenthood clinics are in black neighborhoods.

Sanger's writings say she placed early clinics in those neighborhoods because that's where health services were most scarce. And Trupiano says clinics are now located in a wide range of neighborhoods, which can be found on the organization's website.

But some anti-abortion activists still see a more nefarious racial connection.

"To us it's no accident that the clinics are in the black neighborhoods of the big cities,” adds Linsenbardt of Missouri Right to Life. “This is exactly what she (Sanger) was promoting when she was alive.”

The argument doesn't set well with many. The billboard in North St. Louis has been vandalized. Fichter says the Missouri Right to Life office has received many “vile” calls complaining that it is racist. A similar billboard in Manhattan was removed because of complaints.

That's an irony Fichter struggles to understand: “If we were racist, we wouldn’t be working so hard to save black babies.”

The future of the fight

The end of legalized abortion is going to be like the end of the Berlin Wall, Fichter says.

“It’s going to seem like it happened overnight, but in reality we’ve been chipping away at it for many years,” she says.

Oliveri, the MU law professor, doesn't think Roe v. Wade itself is at risk: “Courts don’t like to overturn themselves, particularly if a long time has not passed."

Anti-abortion activists undermine their cause when they push for laws that can't be argued as necessary for a woman's health, such as mandatory ultrasounds or counseling that gives misinformation or is done by nonprofessionals, she says.

And she says opposing birth control is a strategic mistake.

“If there is one thing everyone agrees on it's that there should be fewer abortions," Oliveri says. "To have a group say we’re against one of the best methods for doing that is internally inconsistent.”

Despite that, Oliveri says the evolved pro-life strategy has given the movement small victories in the courts and legislature without inflaming the other side to dramatic action.

Those victories continued this year in the Missouri General Assembly.

In May the legislature passed a bill that outlaws abortions after 20 weeks unless the fetus is deemed not viable by two doctors or the mother faces death or irreversible harm. Violation is a Class C felony, punishable by at least a year in jail and a $10,000 to $50,000 fine. Gov. Jay Nixon has until 11:59 p.m. July 14 to sign the bill. If he does not, the bill expires on July 15.

If the bill becomes law, Missouri will become one of a growing number of states that are banning abortion after 20 weeks, according to a June 26 New York Times article.

This year, Missouri lawmakers also continued the Alternatives to Abortion Program, which funds pregnancy resource centers, tax-exempt facilities that aim to guide women through unplanned pregnancies, pregnancy testing and counseling.

Anti-abortion advocates were not successful this year in gaining passage of a bill that would provide legal protection for pharmacists who refuse to sell the so-called "morning-after pill" and tighter regulation of RU 486, a synthetic compound that interrupts a pregnancy and is used by Planned Parenthood for early-stage abortions.

But over time, Missouri has tightened the rope around abortion rights.

  • A woman seeking an abortion must first be asked if she wants to see an ultrasound of her fetus or hear its heartbeat and be told her fetus feels pain. She is given a pamphlet that reads: “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
  • Women are required to wait 24 hours for an abortion after meeting with a qualified professional.
  • Parental consent is required for anyone under age 17 to get an abortion.
  • Physicians do not have to provide abortion services, care or referrals if the procedure goes against their moral or religious beliefs. Employers or insurers can remove contraception from their coverage plans for the same reasons.
  • Abortion providers must be within 30 miles of a hospital, which limits abortion in rural areas. And, as of last year, those providers must be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, a statute that has required many changes to Planned Parenthood’s Columbia facility, such as hallway width and changing room sizes.

No abortions were performed at Columbia's Planned Parenthood during this year's 40 Days for Life campaign; the clinic was unable to schedule doctors during that time but resumed procedures in late May. The clinic will start an escort program to buffer clients from protesters, according to Planned Parenthood's Trupiano.

Goals extend beyond abortion bans

Even if all the battles against abortion were won — even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade tomorrow — activists say their fight would not end.

“The goal of the pro-life movement is not even to end abortion," said Schrader of Our Lady of Lourdes. "That’s true, but that’s a mean."

The goal, he said: "For the human person to be respected and valued for what it is."

Back in early April, people fighting for that goal gathered at the Missouri Capitol for Pro-Life Action Day. Activists chattered with excitement as they filled out cards to hand to lawmakers.

They wore red sweaters and T-shirts and 40 Days for Life sweatshirts. Red, the color of the rose and the symbol of the pro-life movement, painted the Capitol rotunda.

At a noon rally they applauded five House members who met with them in support of their cause.

"The House is moving forward to continue to protect life," said Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, who helped promote the late-term abortion bill.

Abby Johnson, former abortion clinic director and now an advocate for the opposition, encouraged the crowd to call, write and visit their legislators and to continue to work to shut down Planned Parenthood.

"We will not stop fighting until there are no more abortions in America," Johnson said to a roar of approval.

Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, stepped up with her own message: "We will shut them down with love."

A guitarist played "Amazing Grace.” The sea of red scattered back into the world, inspired to continue the fight.

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gale routh July 1, 2011 | 12:45 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
gale routh July 1, 2011 | 1:03 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
hank ottinger July 1, 2011 | 7:24 a.m.

I believe the above comments are a plant by a pro-life advocate, done so to make a pro-choice position appear utterly loony, if not demented.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer July 1, 2011 | 8:24 a.m.

I've removed the first two comments on the story because they violate our comment policy, which reads, in part, "Comments containing personal attacks; profanity; nudity; attacks on race, creed, or religion; or illegal material are prohibited."

This package covers an emotional, hotly debated issue. We'd love to hear your thoughts and look forward to a civil conversation. We'll also appreciate your help alerting us to inappropriate comments if they occur.


Joy Mayer, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox July 1, 2011 | 10:58 a.m.

Personally I'm more concerned about the children, uncared for, already living in poverty, abused, and sold into slavery. The Catholic church should address their own issues with pedophilia before they go about telling other people how to live their life.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 1, 2011 | 11:56 a.m.

DeFacto Control: Until medical science (and society) can take an unborn baby from the womb at 10 or 20 weeks, and be able to care for it, make it thrive, and develop into a normal little kid... the pregnant woman has control. It doesn't matter whether you think this is *right* or not. It's a simple biological fact. The pregnant woman has control.

No laws can change defacto control. Only harm to the woman can change that. Only harm: violence or serious restraint, which will likely harm the baby anyway.

As horrible as it is that 3,300 unborn babies get murdered every day in the US (if it were listed as a Cause of Death in CDC statistics, it would be the single largest non age-related COD, ahead of all 'accidental' deaths), what are practical alternatives? Considering how poorly we deal with 'unwanted' children in our society, Is it appropriate or sensible that we should force harm on pregnant women to add another 1.2 Million unwanted children a year to the ranks?

Birth control works. It really does. It's here, it's practical, it's effective, it's a positive and viable approach to solving the problem. Education and availability of birth control can dramatically reduce unwanted pregnancies.

In contrast, draconian laws that would force harm on women in an attempt to achieve the same goal seems extremely mean-sprited, excessively stupid, and destined to fail to meet it's objective.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders July 1, 2011 | 2:40 p.m.

I see that divide and conquer is alive and well at the Missourian!

This is the perfect example why laws are immoral, as they change the discussion from what one should do, to what one must or is allowed to do, totally nullifying personal responsibility, all because some gang made a decree of how everyone else has to act, or else!

In a world without this form of institutionalized violence, both sides of this debate would stand a far better chance at finding a middle-ground. As it stands now though, it sows the seeds for conflict, accomplishing nothing but to empower those who like to fight to force their views upon another.

Meanwhile the peaceful among us have no ground to stand at all. No, one simply MUST be pro-violence of one flavor or the other. To live life in voluntary cooperation with others is just no way to run a society, I guess?

(Report Comment)
Travis Johnson July 1, 2011 | 6:14 p.m.

I am proud of the work that Planned Parenthood does. I think it is sad that there are people in this world that for whatever reason think that their opinions and beliefs should be placed on everyone else. Turning people away from places that offer abortion when they are not there to receive one is maniacal and controlling in my opinion. There are many people that can not visit these other places because they do not have insurance, have an income that is too low for birth control and other contraceptives but too high to be on the assistance list, and other factors.

We should allow women to have a choice over their body, just as these nut jobs are allowed to preach their gospel in front of establishments like these, as protected by the constitution. I am a man so I will never personally have an abortion, but what it comes down to is people telling others what they may and may not do with their bodies. Unacceptable egotistical behavior that they think they are more qualified and righteous to make a decision based on a lot of text that has been translated and transcribed dozens of times and, whether they want to believe it or not, was written by men. These people would kill their neighbor if the book said to.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle July 1, 2011 | 8:07 p.m.

Richard--anarchism is not suitable for a complex industrial society. You'll need to dismantle *that* first. Otherwise, you're just shouting into the void, aren't you?
As I see it, so long as anti-abortion-rights advocates act according to the law, or are willing to suffer the penalties for non-violent civil disobedience, they have every right to seek to mobilize public opinion to their side. The harrassment of women who visit Planned Parenthood is shameful (in my opinion), but democracy is messy, and these people do have a right to free speech on public grounds.
PS--we *have* had a society in which abortion was illegal. Folks should do some reading up on how well *that* worked. It was an ugly, furtive, tragic business.

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 1, 2011 | 9:19 p.m.

"Folks should do some reading up on how well *that* worked. It was an ugly, furtive, tragic business." Having been there, I can assert that Brookings Institute has given a better description of life in our country before abortion became the "thing". I particularly like the quote: "Until the early 1970s, shotgun marriage was the norm in premarital sexual relations. The custom was succinctly stated by one San Francisco resident in the late 1960s: "If a girl gets pregnant you married her. There wasn't no choice. So I married her." Read more about the terrible problems created for our youth before "Roe". Back then, folks still recognized and adhered to, the word "responsibility".

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle July 2, 2011 | 11:54 a.m.

As Frank C. suggests, read more about terrible problems created for our youth before "Roe."
Here's Dr. W. L. Fielding, an obstetrician in Boston who worked in the days prior to Roe v Wade: "The worst case I saw, and one I hope no one else will ever have to face, was that of a nurse who was admitted with what looked like a partly delivered umbilical cord. Yet as soon as we examined her, we realized that what we thought was the cord was in fact part of her intestine, which had been hooked and torn by whatever implement had been used in the abortion. It took six hours of surgery to remove the infected uterus and ovaries and repair the part of the bowel that was still functional."
He continues: "It is important to remember that Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortions could be performed. They have always been done, dating from ancient Greek days. What Roe said was that ending a pregnancy could be carried out by medical personnel, in a medically accepted setting, thus conferring on women, finally, the full rights of first-class citizens — and freeing their doctors to treat them as such."
By the way, Dr. Fielding is not claiming these cases were the norm--they were (horrific) outliers. Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s estimated that about 85% of illegal abortions then were being performed by doctors.
Some people want us to believe that in the "good old days," men simply married women whom they had gotten pregnant. This claim is only partly true, and we should note that in Frank's Brookings Inst. paper, the authors do not cite any actual sources for the data they place in Table 1 (strange since they rely on a hazy theory about the "decline" of shotgun marriage--where did they get the numbers for this decline? Citation of sources in Responsibility 1 for genuine scholarly work).
The claim for male "responsibility" is also belied by several decades' worth of academic work examining case records of abandoned women--records found in archives at foundling hospitals and the like--and the sheer brute *fact* of abortions, year-after-year-after-year.
I think myths like "the good old days" dramatically simplify our understanding of the past by reducing people of the past to stereotypes that comfort our own beliefs.

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 2, 2011 | 7:14 p.m.

Tim - Wasn't there recently a writer who chastised others for presenting, singular, anecdotal instances as "evidence"? I think he said that such would only create a tit-for-tat situation, or something like that. Would the Dr. Fielding story fit that description?

Your reference to Brookings, "they rely on a hazy theory about the "decline" of shotgun marriage--where did they get the numbers for this decline? Citation of sources in Responsibility 1 for genuine scholarly work)." I count the work of 6 different people, plus their own, "sources"., I think, will give you the numbers you require. Another factor, given by Brookings, without numbers was the following:
"What links liberalized contraception and abortion with the declining shotgun marriage rate? Before 1970, the stigma of unwed motherhood was so great that few women were willing to bear children outside of marriage. The only circumstance that would cause women to engage in sexual activity was a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. Men were willing to make (and keep) that promise for they knew that in leaving one woman they would be unlikely to find another who would not make the same demand. Even women who would be willing to bear children out-of-wedlock could demand a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy." We know that the arrangement of numbers is the only way the liberal mind can make progressivism sound reasonable and that human nature cannot figure in the agenda in any way. However, if you cannot understand how the stigma, human nature, of unwed child birth, (next we'll hear about the mortal fear instilled in our young women) could work to prevent illegitimate child birth and abortion, far better, for far longer, than all the legislation and education, any government has so far offered, it would be hard not to number you among those on our left. We have removed the stigma and left nothing to replace it, except all the "how to safely, "do it" courses and literature" that the liberal mind can produce.

You mentioned "the good old days" as the way to soften the stark difference between then and now. It doesn't work. Our welfare rolls and the disease we now contend with, make the years before we allowed liberalism to engulf us, truly seem to be the good old days.

"the sheer brute *fact* of abortions, year-after-year-after-year." The Soviet Union provided abortion on demand, paid by government. This is what our Democrats are now fighting for. The average number of abortions obtained by Soviet women under age 50, was 5.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 2, 2011 | 7:42 p.m.

"Before 1970, the stigma of unwed motherhood was so great that few women were willing to bear children outside of marriage."

Therefore I am led to believe that you would prefer that people continue to stigmatize anyone who leads a lifestyle that is different than that which you are most familiar with.

"Our welfare rolls and the disease we now contend with, make the years before we allowed liberalism to engulf us, truly seem to be the good old days."

We know that diseases were introduced to us by liberals. Before liberalization, nobody had sex. None of this would have happened had they not allowed women to vote. The liberals want to destroy you because they hate your freedom.

(Report Comment)
Joanne Schrader July 3, 2011 | 1:03 a.m.

Mr. Cox,
The Catholic Church also cares for impoverished, abused, enslaved, etc. children, plus many other people. The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental charitable organization in the world. It helps people through Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, etc.

A lot of organizations, groups, government entities, individuals, etc. tell people how to live their lives. The Catholic Church has the right to freedom of speech in the public square just as much as anyone else. Just because you don't like the message regarding the sanctity of all human life or that mistakes were made in the past, does not mean Catholics have to sit down and shut up.

Speaking of people telling others how to live their lives: I was pregnant 27 years ago when my boss and one other person suggested I could abort. Fortunately, I had the resolve not to listen to them despite my dire circumstances at the time. If I had, the caring intelligent priest quoted in this article would not be here today. Aborting him would have left a big hole in my life and in society.

Pre-born babies are already here - a part of this world. Just because you can't see them without an ultrasound, doesn't mean they don't exist and their lives don't mean anything. God has a plan and purpose for every child conceived. Who are we to second guess what that is?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 1:37 a.m.

Yes, "God has a plan and purpose for every child conceived." - Including the spontaneous abortions of an estimated minimum of 1.4 million unborn babies per year. Yes, God is the single largest abortion provider in the US, out-aborting all other domestic abortion providers combined.

Maybe pro-lifers should work on getting God to stop providing abortions first, then the humans would have a positive role model to copy.

(Report Comment)
Joanne Schrader July 3, 2011 | 1:46 a.m.

Mr. Fogle,
If birth control works as well as purported, there should not be a million plus abortions annually. Abortion is basically a back-up method for birth control failures. We have more forms of contraception and greater access to it than the pre-Roe v Wade days. Youth are exposed and educated on sexual matters more than ever. However, a pro-contraceptive mentality leads to a casual sex culture and can give people a false sense of security.

According to their annual reports Planned Parenthood performs more and more abortions every year, which must mean that their methods for preventing pregnancy are not successful. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the majority of women seeking abortions used contraception in the month prior to becoming pregnant.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 3:32 a.m.

Overall elective abortions HAVE been going down as access to contraception and education have expanded. What planet you been living on? The decline in abortions has only slowed down in the last few years as the pro-life movement has gathered steam. You're halting progress, not advancing it.

The amount of sex and sexual innuendo in our media and culture absolutely dwarfs the amount of accurate reproductive information being disseminated. We're not giving our youth a good or accurate education about sexuality and reproduction, we're trying to use sex to sell them products and services. For every minute of accurate information, there are 10 episodes of "Sex and the City." We even make and aggressively market pharmaceuticals that allow men who are generally too old to be viable parents to have sex.

Your quip about "casual sex culture" underscores your real concern: that people are having sex. Abortion just happens to be the ultimate "Think of the Children!" cover-up for your desire to control other people's sex lives. If you were genuinely that concerned about the sanctity of a newly conceived life, you'd be looking for ways to avoid pregnancy without fighting against humanity's God-given sex drive.

A sex drive is a basic biological function. Beware what you're fighting against. The media knows this, that's why sexual innuendo is in virtually every media production today. Maybe you should start by fighting against the media's glamorization of sex.

Prohibition of abortion is a very negative, violent, damaging, and ineffective reactive approach to solving the problem of unwanted pregnancies. You cannot force a positive outcome; you can only force a negative outcome. That's why the idea of prohibition is essentially, itself, an abortion.

Real education and access to contraception will never be perfect either, but even if it ends up being only marginally more successful than prohibition at preventing abortions, it's an almost infinitely less negative, less violent, less damaging, and a more proactive approach.

Shotgun weddings died with with the rural agricultural society. They're not coming back, no matter how badly some of you want that.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle July 3, 2011 | 8:16 a.m.

Frank C. wrote this: "Tim - Wasn't there recently a writer who chastised others for presenting, singular, anecdotal instances as "evidence"?
No, no, silly. I had you covered there, for I specifically *wrote* that Fielding was not presenting that case as the norm, nor was I. I called attention to the estimate that in the 1950s, physicians performed above 80% of illegal abortions. Read again.
Derrick F. has already posted a very cogent reply to yours and several others' positions. I'll just note that he draws attention to the effect of market forces (the media's generally irresponsible portrayal of sexuality) in producing unwanted pregnancies.
He also sets forced marriage within the context of rural society. In an intimate, face-to-face society, yes, moral codes that shamed unmarried pregnant women, unmarried mothers, and males who abandoned them favored forced marriage.
But history shows little evidence of *urban* (non face-to-face) societies creating that kind of force. Nineteenth- and early-20C urban areas in the US and Britain had significant concerns over abandoned unmarried women. If a man got a woman pregnant, rather than face the community (if there was one), he could simply relocate to another group, another portion of the city, etc. This was made worse by the working-class convention, itself a holdover from rural society, that a *promise* to marriage was accepted as a stage for sexual relations to begin--thus the relatively high incidence of births (in both rural- and urban areas) before the marriage itself had lasted 9 mos. In cities, that convention allowed men to break their promises without communal sanction. (One reason we know about this aspect of early industrial life was that often, before a foundling hospital would accept a woman's baby, she was interviewed about why the child came about. She could be turned down if she was seen as being a "bad character." Many of these interviews have survived, and historians have used them to understand the experience of working-class urban life and sexuality in the 19C.)
All of this was one of the contexts for the emergence of women's rights--and reproductive rights--movements by the early 20C.) Given this history, the argument about the "good old days" doesn't work very well, unless you want to locate that golden age in the era before westerners became majority-urban civilizations. One can do that, but it's not especially helpful, since that horse left the gate a long time ago,
Interesting that young people have been voting with their feet for decades on the relatively attractiveness of urban vs rural life, leaving rural areas with a significant older population profile. Rural-to-urban migration mostly involved economic decisions, of course, but the relative freedom of city life has certainly been a factor. Market forces??

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 9:13 a.m.

Derrick Fogle: "...the pregnant woman has control. It doesn't matter whether you think this is *right* or not. It's a simple biological fact. The pregnant woman has control."

Your arguments depend upon an interpretation of "viable" versus "nonviable". Fair enuf. Given that distinction, what about the following scenarios:

(1) A pregnant woman (10 weeks) desires an abortion. She arrives at an abortion clinic and, with her hand on the door, she is accosted by a criminal who shoots her in the stomach (killing her and the fetus) and takes her purse. He is caught. Should he be charged with a single or double homicide?

(2) A pregnant woman (10 weeks) does NOT desire an abortion. She arrives at home and, with her hand on the door, she is accosted by a criminal who shoots her in the stomach (killing her and the fetus) and takes her purse. He is caught. Should he be charged with a single or double homicide?

(3) A pregnant woman (36 weeks) desires an abortion. She arrives at an abortion clinic and, with her hand on the door, she is accosted by a criminal who shoots her in the stomach (killing her and the fetus) and takes her purse. He is caught. Should he be charged with a single or double homicide?

(4) A pregnant woman (36 weeks) does NOT desire an abortion. She arrives at home and, with her hand on the door, she is accosted by a criminal who shoots her in the stomach (killing her and the fetus) and takes her purse. He is caught. Should he be charged with a single or double homicide?

The variables here are (a) age of the fetus (i.e., viability), (b) motives of the woman, and (c) the definitions of "murder" by society.

Interested in your thoughts.......

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 9:15 a.m.

Here's one face of abortion prohibition:

Does this look like a good or positive solution to you? Because of the fact that God provides more abortions than humans do, you'll be punishing a lot of humans for suffering God's will, heaping misery on top of heartache.

If this is really what the pro-lifers want as a means or an end, they suck.

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2011 | 10:23 a.m.

Tim T. - "Dr. Fielding is not claiming these cases were the norm--they were (horrific) outliers." Not an "anecdotal case", though admittedly, a "horrific outlier" presented by you to show the hardships suffered by womankind in pre-Roe , America? Please!

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2011 | 12:50 p.m.

D. Fogle's "cogent" answer to the failure of Gov't birth control programs, It's the media's fault! Yeah, right! It all began with that picture of a bathing beauty, drinking a "Coke". "For every minute of accurate information, there are 10 episodes of "Sex and the City.". The content of our media presentations, as well as the abuses of the dogma of our culture, came to us with the "sexual revolution". This, "if it feels good, do it" revelation was delivered by a well educated group of dope smoking liberals, not the Catholic Church, or any other Pro Life group.

The oddity here, is that while professing the disbursement of valuable information to make a point, the two, Fogle, Trayle must turn to, of all the possibilities, The Media, to blame for the failures of their governmental programs. It seems the "old" (I made it up) adage, holds true. "Blame anyone, but never blame a Democrat!"

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 1:43 p.m.

@Mike: I think your analysis of the variables is spot-on. I appreciate the fact that you're willing to seriously consider the issue. In all 4 of your scenarios I think the criminal using the gun might as well be charged with double homicide. Whether or not the criminal should end up being convicted of said charges, or perhaps have the 2nd reduced to voluntary manslaughter, or have the 2nd dropped all together, would be something I would need to consider case-by-case.

To be sure, your scenarios underscore one of my main points: that prohibition of abortion is a "negative-only sum" game. You can force a negative outcome, but you can't force a positive one. For this reason, the idea should be discarded as inevitably being as bad, and possibly worse, that the alternative.

For the record, I don't like abortion. I think it's absolutely horrific that abortion is used as an after-the-fact method of birth control. It's sick and disgusting, and I want to stop it.

I'm just not deluded enough to believe prohibition will accomplish the goal of truly reducing abortion. It can only double-down on the harm.

I also don't believe that real, serious education and unfettered access to contraception will complete solve the problem either. I just see it as a far more practical, less damaging approach that is likely to be more successful, in the long run, than prohibition. Why? It doesn't fight against human nature.

The only true solution is forced reversible sterilization at puberty, along with some huge governmental bureaucracy to review and approve, or deny, applications for reversal. To that end, this technology shows some promise:

A couple shots in the nuts for every boy at 13 yrs of age, and unwanted pregnancies really would plummet. Still wouldn't be perfect though, and the fact that it would be the GUY being forced to take the shots? Yeah, right. The outrage at such a proposal would prove the underlying motive is not to really solve the problem, but just to control women and their bodies.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 2:43 p.m.

Derrick: I think the whole notion of "being civilized" is simply one huge fight against human nature. Males have a thin-veneer of civilized behavior demanded by females for concomitant access to their sexuality. When females don't demand civilized behavior, that thin veneer virtually disappears. I just described the evolution of human sexuality over our last 50 years.

What we are talking about here is how to be civilized about our sexuality as individuals and as a society. Even the link you posted is one approach to "being civilized". The problem is that individual freedoms are bumping up against society wishes. Sumpthin' is gonna give....eventually.

My scenarios pertained mainly to "When does society have a vested interest in its children that supersedes female physical and sexual freedoms?" For example, we all believe in serious punishment for child abuse, but when does child abuse....start? After conception? After 10 weeks? After viability? After successful negotiation through a 4 inch, narrow, muscular tube? Are "human rights" conferred like a PhD degree once that tube is successfully negotiated (lol, our first look at the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel we search for our whole lives), or are "rights" conferred at some point before that?

Right now, our laws are muddled. In my scenarios, most would agree that if a woman WANTS her child, but she and the fetus are killed, someone is going down for double murder. But, if the woman DOESN'T want her child (I deliberately provided evidence of this intent in 2 of my scenarios), then is this simply a single homicide? Well, for someone who does not believe in, it's still a double murder. To someone who believes fetus's are not "humans" yet, it should only be a single homicide. What should our legal posture be when we are so conflicted on this issue?

And what is the role of "motive"?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 3:42 p.m.

"Gov't birth control programs" havent' failed. They are working. They'd work even better if there weren't dedicated cadre of nutjobs fighting against it. There were also still hundreds of thousands of abortions performed every year long before the sexual revolution.

I agree that liberalism and the sexual revolution helped to escalate the problem. But I'm not necessarily blaming the media, I bring it up more from the POV that this is today's reality, and if we want to actually solve today's problems, we have to acknowledge today's reality.

You still don't have an answer to DeFacto Control (and good luck with that), you still haven't laid out a plan to deal with an additional 1.2 million unwanted children every year, I've never seen anyone provide practical examples of how prohibition would actually work and be enforced (although the thinkprogress article I linked to above provides some insight), and you still haven't addressed the fact that there are far more natural abortions than elective ones. All you can do is call someone a liberal, since in your mind that makes you right and settles the issue.

You want to solve the abortion problem by going backwards. Well, hey... I want to try to solve a problem by going backwards too!

Here's the proposition: We'll roll back 2 things to the way they were in the late 50s/early 60's: You can have your abortion prohibition, since you think it was all roses back then, and I can have the tax structure and rates in effect at that time, since there was strong economic growth back then. Fair enough?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 3:47 p.m.

Derrick: "...would be something I would need to consider case-by-case."

Exactly. And therein lies the rub. You (with your wisdom) are willing to pass judgment on a murderer on whether it's a one-sy or two-sy. You have become a very small society referee...that makes rules. On a jury, that society is....12. In a neighborhood, it's 30-40, a town is up to 100K, a city is 500K, a state is 2000K, and a nation is 300000K. And, at all levels, whether or not the second "homicide" is really a homicide depends upon whether you, a jury, city, state, or nation society believes the fetus (at ANY age) is a human being with inalienable rights.

Which we can't agree upon as a society of ANY number except...of

Thanks for realizing I was trying to discuss this issue devoid of emotion. It's a wasted effort, the end. Heck, it's like discussing doe-eyed puppy dogs or evolution.

Maybe the penalties for "uncivilized" behavior aren't high enuf?

Do severe penalties promote responsibility...for most of us?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 4:15 p.m.

@Mike: How do human beings become "civilized?"

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 3, 2011 | 4:25 p.m.

"The content of our media presentations, as well as the abuses of the dogma of our culture, came to us with the "sexual revolution". This, "if it feels good, do it" revelation was delivered by a well educated group of dope smoking liberals, not the Catholic Church, or any other Pro Life group."

Wow fRANK. I've never smoked dope with a Republican. Republicans never have sex before marriage or with anyone other than their spouse. There are no liberals in your church.

Well, at least they are educated.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 4:27 p.m.

Derrick Fogle: How do human beings become "civilized?"

Big brains.

But mainly wimmin.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 4:36 p.m.

Time for working out, so I'll check in later.

Only two things I'm sure of in this debate:

(1) I'm having a real hard time denying cognition and sentience to a potential human being just because it isn't wanted (for ANY reason), and

(2) That successful passage through a narrow squeeze chute is THE event that confers human rights.

All of my discussions on this topic have these at their core.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 4:54 p.m.

The civilized of the world moves on in the 21st century, ready or not...

: )

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 5:13 p.m.

The government is not the answer. If/when it is stated that "government birth control has worked," then one should consider that 50% of all pregnancies are unintended, as are 31% of the live births.


(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 3, 2011 | 5:17 p.m.

Not if you can push it back like you want to...

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 3, 2011 | 5:27 p.m.

Hell, why stop at the twentieth century. You should go ahead and just push it all the way back to the thirteenth.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 5:27 p.m.

Paul, please get read up to modern times.

: )

Thank you.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

@Mike: I fully realize the hypocrisy of me tolerating a woman murdering her unborn baby, and not tolerating a violent criminal wielding a gun murdering them both.

I tolerate this dichotomy because I understand I can't force a positive outcome in the first case. I can only create more violence, more problems, and more grief by trying.

In the 2nd case, I see a violent criminal that willfully and purposefully harms other people for personal gain, and I have both the compulsion and ability to separate that person from the rest of society.

I think prohibition would be a terrible mistake, but I'm not against consequences. Instead of simply saying "you can't do that" when they obviously can laws or not, I'd be willing to entertain the idea of forced sterilization for repeat offenders:

The 1st one is a big mistake, but a fairly common one, and the consequence should be having to learn a lot more about biology and sexuality.

The 2nd one should carry the penalty of forced sterilization (for both parties, mind you), unless a reasonably compelling argument can be made why not (medication conflicts, broken condoms, etc., I don't want to hold that bar *too* high).

The 3rd one? It should probably require and act of Congress to stay forced sterilization.

Do you think these are high enough penalties for this specific uncivilized behavior?

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 5:38 p.m.

Here yo go, Paul. Get started.

Women don't need a man to tell them how to make their private decisions, and they don't need the government planning anything for them or telling them how to live their private lives.

In 2011, Planned Parenthood is out, and medical science is in. Safe, high tech medical science.

At last, women are of the frame of reference: "equally yoked" as in "Be ye not unequally yoked." Took women centuries, but we are here. We are "helpmates" to our spouses and not slaves to them, at last.

Please catch up with the time, Paul.

Thank you, and have a happy 4th - Independence Day!

; )

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 3, 2011 | 5:52 p.m.

Something else males do not realize about females:

Some men see abortion as a way of "getting off the hook" for irresponsible sex, so would exclaim/claim this way out. Other men are livid that a woman he cared about would be convinced to allow destruction of his unborn child.

Either way, the woman is left with the choice she makes, and the man can only think that he does not have a double-standard when he thinks murder is wrong of an-age person, but it is not wrong to kill an unborn child. If it is not wrong, then why is there the concept that if you kill an expecting mother and the fetus does not survive, as well, as a result of the murder, then you would be guilty of the murder or two, instead of one?

A woman should have the facts on all she faces that will happen to her body and her unborn child, and then make the decision privately and not in a so-public abortion clinic.

The burden is with her, and will be with her as long as she lives - herself - about the child that is conceived. The man may hurt - or he may insist on the easy way out.

the aftermath is carried by the woman - see link.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle July 3, 2011 | 6:17 p.m.

Frank C. writes: "It seems the "old" (I made it up) adage, holds true. 'Blame anyone, but never blame a Democrat!'"
Frank--I was simply pointing out some factors that go far beyond left/right, Democrat/Republican stances. There are very large structural changes that have helped produce modern attitudes towards sexuality. Urbanization and a kind of capitalism that thrives on the sexualization of media and marketing are certainly among those factors.
But you're once again going down your well-traveled road: a drama-laden polarization of a complex issue, resulting in a diatribe against those damned liberals--this time, "dope-smoking" ones (!).
Your version of history: Golden Age--> "dope-smoking liberals"--> Modern Decline. Okay.
But seriously, your immediate translation of seemingly *every* issue into something that reflects the coarsest strands of political "debate" has become tiresome and toxic. You're no longer in the category of folks I'll engage with in this forum: from now on, I'm skipping over your name, except perhaps for a chuckle.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 6:27 p.m.

Derrick asks, "...Do you think these are high enough penalties for this specific uncivilized behavior?"

Hell if I know. I just ask questions and let others founder for answers. I usually just argue in a circle on this topic. :^)

I do know that I was hoping for a bit of 1880s Texas justice for that little boy that was choked and cast out of his father's car in the desert a week-or-so ago; he was found 3 hours later, and they removed ca. 500 cactus thorns from his skin. He is still alive, for which I am profoundly happy.

Which means I'm not averse to some rather profound penalties that are really just vengeance and my interpretation of true justice. Don't even ask me about rapists and pedophiles 'cause I'll get banned.

PS: On a TOTALLY off-topic topic...for father's day, my middle daughter took me to KCMO to see The Civil Wars...a duo that sings a folk, country, and bluegrass combination.

Wow! If somebody wants to kick some Blue Note rear end, close a street and book these guys!

Take a listen:

PSS: Sorry about the off-topic, but I'm still enthused and had to share.........

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2011 | 8:01 p.m.

"Government" birth control has not worked, because there is no such thing in the US. Thats why I put it in quotes. There *is* government funding for private, usually non-profit organizations that provide such services, but there's no such thing as "Government birth control" in the US. That was Frank's creation, not mine.

If the government really did throw it's full weight behind prevention and birth control, I honestly believe there would be fewer unintended pregnancies than there are with the current wishy-washy, anemically funded efforts in place now.

Anyway, thanks for the convo peeps.

@Tim: Beware, Frank is like crack: hard to resist sometimes. :-)

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2011 | 8:06 p.m.

D Fogle - "Gov't birth control programs" havent' failed" I'm assuming, as is usually the case, that you are addressing me. Birth control programs that treat, sex drive as a basic biological function,that can neither be controlled nor contained, but promote it, if the "safe" accessories and methods are used, fail those intended to help, from the start. I would rather you agreed to the reality that liberalism Created this problem and most of the rest.

You haven't addressed any problems either, only identified these you have imagined in your minds eye. If I should no longer call someone a liberal, I have to think of other names. "Nutjob" and "loony gassbags that foam at the mouth", are, of course, already taken.

"We'll roll back 2 things to the way they were in the late 50s/early 60's: You can have your abortion prohibition, since you think it was all roses back then, and I can have the tax structure and rates in effect at that time," I am true pro-choice. Not for prohibition, only against the promotion of abortion by the likes of Planned Parenthood and the Democrats that are fighting, tooth and nail against the defunding of that entity and every other effort to reduce their ability to Spend. In my view, a woman had the most control over her body, when she was able to refuse sex and feel proud about it, rather than being called "whore", by men or even be assaulted, by men, because of the refusal.

You can have the structures and rates of the 50's, but if you leave Democrats in control as they have been, our economic situation would be the same, or worse. Lets accept our conditions as they are, but work to improve them. If you and the others around here can't see that this is never going to happen as long as Democrats are in charge, anywhere, then "this is never going to happen".

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 3, 2011 | 8:10 p.m.

"and they don't need the government planning anything for them or telling them how to live their private lives."

Yes, precisely. So why, then, would you advocate having your government write and enforce laws that would do exactly that?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 8:13 p.m.

Frank says, "Birth control programs that treat sex drive as a basic biological function that can neither be controlled nor contained, but promote it if the "safe" accessories and methods are used, fail those intended to help from the start.

I took out a bunch of unnecessary commas, but I can't argue against this statement.

I also can't argue against this one: In my view, a woman had the most control over her body when she was able to refuse sex and feel proud about it, rather than being called "whore" by men or even be assaulted [by men] because of the refusal.

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2011 | 8:30 p.m.

DF - Entitled, "Federally-funded birth control prevents abortions".

Bill Clinton adding "viagra" to Medicaid benefits wouldn't count? Of course not!

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 3, 2011 | 9:01 p.m.

I have long feared that down deep Mike W. didnt like me. Now with his attack on my use of commas he has proven this true. Oh unhappy Independence Day!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 3, 2011 | 10:38 p.m.


lol. Nah, it isn't a matter of "like". You can take care of yourself.

Only thing I hate worse than too many too many infinitives.

Too, bad, I, commit, both, sins, too.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 4, 2011 | 6:26 a.m.

Paul, on this of all days...please consider:

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men [women and children] are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among these life [ah, that pesky word "life" again!], liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Never, never have I said the government should regulate private life decisions - but I firmly hold the belief that all life - adult, child, infant, yet in the mother's womb - is protected by the Document we honor and placed by our forefathers into our government structure.

Legislature that represents the people should be where the laws are made and not in the judicial system which opened the floodgates to the killing of the unborn.

Our country is only as strong as where we protect the weakest life in it, and there is no weaker life than the vulnerable unborn who are citizens, too - just waiting to exit the birth canal into this great nation of ours.

: )

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 4, 2011 | 8:56 a.m.

Delcia, you left out part of that sentence:

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.

The problem for you is that pro-choice folks do not acknowledge that a fetus is human until it successfully negotiates the birth canal and those "rights" are conferred upon it like some sort of PhD degree; hence, the unalienable right of "life" does not apply to a fetus.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 4, 2011 | 12:07 p.m.

I meant the quote as stated; that is why it is in quotes and not written verbatim. Most of us had to memorize these things in elementary school citizenship class. Or, learn them in summer Bible School. (Or both.)

If I had said "by their Creator," then someone would have taken offense to that, as well. Everyone knows that is in there, but why mention the root-create twice? That brings in a whole new argument, and this is not about religion, for a good percentage of us - but about preserving life. A woman should decide if religion is the kind of counseling advice she gets on this, or not, as part of her therapeutic healing from the surgical invasion into her body.

Because I am a Conservative, I get tired of hearing that my thoughts are religiously motivated when I comment on anything. That is just another way of labeling, too. And, I know agnostics/atheists/nonbelievers that hold the same thoughts on life that I do.

If there were not conception, then there would be no life. That simple. At the moment of conception, the human being is there with the DNA make-up it will carry from that moment all the way to the grave - in what that person is.

There is no debate about that, at all. That is the way it is.

Does it appear "Pro-Choice" is a sufficient rationalization label to put on the mutilation and destruction of that person?

What of Jefferson's rights of the individual then?

You can get together a group of political agenda folks and they can pick a label for themselves, and then they can take away the life of another human being/person? And label anyone who hold life dear as "anti" and make the negative connotation, hoping it will stick.

It is not about religion or politics - but about survival and humane treatment - the rest of you bring in the labels.

If you label that person at conception just a word of any sort, then you feel distanced from the reality of the cruelty you impose on another person.

So, the labeling begins, and the distancing begins - and people posture confident that is enough, but it is only a temporary band-aid to flash.

This is a woman's health issue, not a political stance and not a doctrinal discussion tidbit. This needs to move out of the obsolete public abortion clinics, and into the medical security of health care in high tech hospital facilities - and all knowledge placed in the woman's hands of what will happen to her body and her child - in the process.


The women in this country deserve that safety net in health care. Let us pick it up and step it to the 21st century then.

: )

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 4, 2011 | 12:12 p.m.

"Shotgun weddings died with with the rural agricultural society. They're not coming back, no matter how badly some of you want that."

They've been replaced by the guns of the government, which will haul you to jail if you refuse to pay taxes to support those who choose to make children they can't or won't support.

"Women don't need a man to tell them how to make their private decisions, and they don't need the government planning anything for them or telling them how to live their private lives."

Then don't expect other people to help support those who choose to make children they can't support.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 4, 2011 | 12:29 p.m.

@"Then don't expect other people to help support those who choose to make children they can't support."

Non-child-support can be dealt with, so check out the means to do so.

There is something to the sage of keeping the clothes fastened, and if you do not, then know what you could be getting yourself into.

The irresponsible "if it feels good, follow through" is reckless and irresponsible, but if someone wants the music then he should pay for the dance. It was not shot gun when he got in the act of impulsive and irresponsible behavior. He chose to do that, and he should face up for the duration or not even start the music. nobody forced him to unfasten from the get-go.

But, if that person is DNA-responsible, then that person should be made to feed that child until his child is an adult.

Are you advocating to stop feeding hungry children around the world, or do you just think it should be a voluntary action, at home and abroad? Because that can happen to, and does with our Food Banks, etc. We will feed hungry children, on a volunteer basis.

: )

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 4, 2011 | 12:37 p.m.

Correction: can happen to offset hunger, and does

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 4, 2011 | 3:52 p.m.


I'm more in agreement with you than you think.

I was simply pointing out 2 things: (1) When you put something in quotation marks, that is your grammatical assurance to readers that you are quoting exactly and not paraphrasing. If you are paraphrasing, then you simply say you are.

(2) The argument that humans have a right to life falls on deaf ears to those who say a fetus is not a human. Personally, I find this argument absurd, that a fetus only becomes a human with rights after it squeezes through a muscular tube.

As for the DNA argument, each second you are shedding or swallowing a zillion little Delcias. Each of the live skin cells and epithelial cells lining your mouth contain ALL the DNA required to make another little you. The only trick is to turn off some genes and turn on some others to revert the specialized cell back to it's origins...a stem cell. THIS RESEARCH IS BEING DONE AS WE SPEAK! Now, add a few reagents to turn on some genes and...voila...a little growing embryo called Delcia.

Personally, I think abortion is an abomination to life and society. But I'm also aware that this topic is fraught with conflicts between science and religion, the latter of which you did not want to include in this discussion. Sorry, but you can't ignore that aspect.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 4, 2011 | 3:58 p.m.

Delcia: As for dealing with non-child support, I can assure you that the single most worthless agency in the State of Missouri is the Division of Child Support Enforcement.

Toothless. And ineffective. And slow. With slaps on wrists. There are more ways to avoid child support than Carter has little liver pills. You have to get 5K in the hole before anyone even THINKS of doing something...if they even think about it at all.

Personally, I think deadbeats belong in prison. The argument that no child support will ever be paid by someone is prison falls on my deaf ears. Hell, they ain't payin' anyway, so prison is the better alternative in my book.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 4, 2011 | 4:32 p.m.

So many men commenting from the safe, theoretical realm.

Ms. Bergen,
I've read your piece three times, and I thought I'd give you some feedback. Take it or leave it.
While I like the two separate stories idea (this and the e-mailed Q & A with a PP representative), your title of this one is deceiving - so many words yet so much left out. Your piece does not mention Scott Roeder or the folks who call him a hero (Virginia based Army of God) or former Kansas AG Phill Kline (under investigation and in the process of, perhaps, being disbarred) or "wanted" posters and Angel Dillard's overt threats to a physician and her family. (The following was deemed as "not a credible threat" by a Kansas judge: "They will know your habits and routines. They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live.... You will be checking under your car everyday — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.")

The bottom line, your article - very well written - presents a single, sunny side of the "new face" of "pro-life." It seems less like journalism and more like public relations. I liken it to a "new face of environmentalism" article and it's all Sierra Club and no Earth First!.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen August 1, 2011 | 4:27 p.m.

Nobody's ever answered a question I've been asking for years: if the techniques of modern warfare result in upwards of 70% of the casualties being innocents and civilians, and if life is sacred, why is there no similar effort to end war as there is to end abortion? Even more dangerous, how many people who are anti-abortion have supported us going to war?

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 1, 2011 | 8:08 p.m.

Greg Allen - War is not a social program such as our Democrat controlled governments have created with "abortion rights" for women. Our last two or three wars, Afghan, Iraq and Libya have been and are being fought to control the mad dogs among us whom could harm us. With nukes, many of which whereabouts are unknown could destroy us. We will continue to protect ourselves with necessary "wars" until anti-war Democrats in our government reduce our capabilities for defense to the point that one or more of the "dogs" decides the odds are right and decides to go "all in".

There's your answer, which you will reject without even wondering , why?

(Report Comment)

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