I ate my wafer...



Since I'm deep in the depths of this particular breed of constitutional law at the moment, I think some comments are in order on the discussion of abortion over at the highlands Version 1.0 group blog. (As jared pointed out in the comments previously, I am preparing a "withering assault on both sides" on the topic. Please resist the temptation to jump to any conclusions about my personal oppinions from the following.)

A. As O'toole mentioned, Roe v. Wade is no longer all that relevant to the discussion, with Planned Parenthood v. Casey affirming the central tenents of Roe despite various changes in the timing of fetal viability, etc in the 20 years between the two cases. There are other cases that are relevant as well, but I would say that Planned Parenthood is the place to start if one wished to understand the current state of the law.

B. Jane Roe's recent attempts to have Roe v. Wade reconsidered are completely and correctly covered under mootness. I know that someone may jump in here and point out that Roe v. Wade originally was an exception to mootness, but this was due to the short length of pregnancy, which would otherwise make it impossible to find any litigants for this issue. Giving an exception to mootness to Jane Roe would be unprecedented and silly, any legal argument she has can be better brought by a different litigant. (Jane Roe cannot be naturally capable of bearing children anymore!)

C. Since Jane Roe has been mentioned, I would point out that I am very suspicious that her arguments about post-abortion psychological harm to the mother would hold any weight legally. I will admit that I have not studied the topic in depth, but as far as I know scientific support for the Post Abortion Traumatic Stress Disorder, or whatever people are calling it now is shaky. (I know the APA rejected it in 1989, but haven't really followed the topic closely). I do know that a good bit of the pro-life literature ignores non-pregnancy related factors such as rape, or a previous history of depression. Conversely, from the legal perspective , Post-Partum Depression and the milder baby blues version are well recognized and very common, yet I doubt that it holds a legal goldmine for the pro-choice crowd. If anyone HAS followed this topic closely, I would be interested in more information.

D. I have a anti-abortion leaflet sitting in a desk drawer at the moment that utterly and completely infuriates me with blatant cooking of science and statistics. When I received it in October, I was tempted to blog a scathing analysis of its "abortion facts" but realized I was probably holding it to a higher standard than I should, etc, and held off. Anyway, a couple of the more egregious problems:

-Silently including statistics about health risks to men, especially about mental health, to force false comparisons. (i.e. women that have abortions are x% more like than "everyone else" to have x problem.) I suppose I might excuse not making the comparisons to women that carry a child to term but even that seems like a serious lie of omission.

-A complete whitewashing of the Hippocratic oath. Beyond all of the ethical and historical problems surrounding the original oath, it is completely misleading to imply that all doctors have taken it and are violating it.

E. I hate the pro-choice movement for historical revisionism with regards to the number of women killed by illegal back alley abortions. The figure 10,000 deaths a year is often tossed around with the implication that it applies to, oh, 1970, immediately prior to the Roe decision. I can believe that there were 10,000 deaths a year in the 1930's and perhaps even higher during the early years of World War II (I had a very interesting conversation with a retired army nurse on that topic once). In anycase, the availability of antibiotics for treating botched abortions radically reduced the death toll. I suspect that in the absence of Roe, even more states would have joined the handful of existing abortion on demand states, and the death toll would have dropped even further.


  • Interesting stuff Bob. My only thought on any of it at this point is that the post abortion psychological trauma position is crap. I have known equal numbers of women on both sides of that (i.e. some who were deeply traumatized and some who suffered no more emotional trauma than after having a mole removed) and even those I knew who DID suffer from psychological trauma were emotionally healthy within two years … compare that with the continued psychological trauma of single motherhood at the poverty line …
    I know this is all anecdotal … but hey. Actually as far as emotional trauma goes an individual I know who learned after the fact that there was a strong likelihood she had a miscarriage was far more emotionally traumatized than any of the women I know who, knowing they were pregnant, chose abortion.

    By Blogger TheAmber, at 4:15 PM  

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