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How Planned Parenthood betrays women Pro-choice activists are failing the vulnerable

Most women who need abortions are not this glamorous. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Most women who need abortions are not this glamorous. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


December 2, 2021   6 mins

Everyone I worked with at Planned Parenthood believed in the mission. Of course we did; how else could we deal with the long hours and low pay? Or the fact that basic things we needed, like upgraded computers and furniture for the waiting room, just “aren’t in the budget right now”? Or the stressful working conditions?

Pro-life culture was particularly hostile at the time, and many of us felt under siege in our Texas location. We ran drills so we all knew what to do if someone released anthrax in our building. Being hated is often clarifying, and we all believed we were doing good, even if in a sometimes shabby way.

It took a while to notice that the executive director was making six figures; that the administrative offices, unlike the clinic, never had broken chairs; that the clinic in the posh neighbourhood was nice and the clinic on the side of town where white people were a minority was not. Planned Parenthood was forever making headlines for testifying in front of Congress, or getting into a war of words with some hideous Christian fundamentalist who claimed abortion causes breast cancer (it doesn’t!). But it didn’t seem to be lobbying for healthcare expansion, or campaigning for compulsory training in abortion services for medical students. It wasn’t challenging politicians who claim to be pro-choice but only mention it when there’s an opening on the Supreme Court, instead of consistently supporting policies that would help the women who came to us in need.

But as hard as it was working in the hostile environment of Texas, back before people started to have hopes of flipping the red state blue, it also felt historically important. This is where American abortion rights were born, and this is where the greatest threat to those rights now lies. On September 1, the state blocked access to all abortion services for women beyond six weeks of pregnancy. Because most pregnancies are impossible to detect or confirm before the four-week mark, and because many women won’t realise they are pregnant until considerably later than this, the state has effectively blocked abortion access full-stop. The law was immediately challenged, and the Supreme Court has heard arguments, but so far it has not released any ruling. Still, with the way the court is packed at the moment, with a heavily conservative slant, it’s not looking good for supporters of reproductive justice.

It’s poetic, almost, that Texas is erasing a right that originated within it. Sarah Weddington was only 25 when she filed a lawsuit, in 1970, against the Dallas district attorney. She was acting on behalf of a pregnant client who was seeking to obtain an abortion, pseudonymously known as Jane Roe. Before long, Weddington found herself in front of the Supreme Court, making the argument that finally gave American women the legal right to terminate a pregnancy. But the focus of this landmark case, and the way it was handled by the professional feminist community, showed that it was only a matter of time before the pro-choice project came crashing down. Because from the very beginning there existed a gulf — one that I noticed on the frontline of Planned Parenthood — between the empowering rhetoric of the professional activists and the realities of those who found themselves pregnant and vulnerable, caught in the middle of a political battlefield.

The Planned Parenthood promotional materials always exhibited the bright smiles and shiny hair of healthy young women, confidently making the healthcare choices that were right for them. They aren’t the ones who needed our help. I remember a week of repeated calls from a young man describing his girlfriend’s symptoms over the phone, all of them suggesting pregnancy. “But she’s not pregnant right?” All I could do was say it’s impossible to diagnose pregnancy over the phone and urge him to tell her to come into the clinic. I could hear him telling her, “They say you’re fine,” and I wondered how long he pressured her not to get help — and if, by the time she was “allowed” to take a pregnancy test, it was too late to choose whether or not to end it.

The people who most needed assistance, then, were not the independent and beautiful poster children of a Planned Parenthood ad campaign. They were much more like the woman at the centre of Roe v Wade, whose name was actually Norma McCorvey. She already had two children. Her first became the centre of a custody battle between McCorvey and her own mother; her second was adopted outside the family. When McCorvey realised she was pregnant for a third time, she tried to get an illegal abortion, but she found the clinic had recently been raided by authorities.

Her young, idealistic attorneys immediately recognised the potential McCorvey’s story held. It was the kind of case that could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, due to her already troubled maternal history. But they also knew that this wouldn’t help her individually: if she stayed in the spotlight, McCorvey would have to continue the pregnancy. She made the sacrifice, in the name of women’s rights. But she found that the feminists who championed Jane Roe, a legal persona, had very little time for Norma McCorvey.

In the 2020 documentary AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey talked about how she was sidelined. She wanted to speak at a pro-choice rally, but the organisers were more interested in Gloria Steinem and other more professional, or photogenic, activists. McCorvey was poor, identified as a lesbian, and lacked formal education. Her story wasn’t one of triumph and empowerment; it was one of abuse by men, familial dysfunction, and addiction. She was in desperate need, but she wasn’t a particularly inspirational standard-bearer.

This same problem plagues the pro-choice movement today. In an attempt to “normalise” abortion, and thereby gain widespread support for reproductive rights, the movement focuses on an appealing minority: attractive, professional, financially stable women “shouting their abortion” on social media. It’s as if once we hear that the cute blonde girl got pregnant through no fault of her own and she really just isn’t ready for motherhood — she can barely take care of herself right now! — then we’ll finally understand that it should be fully legal and accessible. Lindy West, in a viral essay, compared getting an abortion to having a tooth removed, giving the sense that these decisions are easy to make, these services are convenient to access, and the procedure is comfortable to endure.

But pretending that the young, urban, middle-class woman who is choosing ambition over family is representative of those who need abortion services does nothing to help, well, anybody who isn’t that. And providing abortion access on the ground looks quite different from getting paid a couple of hundred dollars to write your personal pregnancy essay for an online magazine. It means dealing with death threats and harassment by protesters at clinics. It means putting your body on the line to escort clients from their cars to the clinic so they don’t have to face the screaming, praying, howling protesters on their own. It means listening to terrible stories sometimes, of people refusing to take responsibility for their own lives. It means seeing a woman coming in for an abortion six months after her last one and helping her anyway. It means letting strangers sleep on your couch because they drove for five hours to get to the clinic and didn’t have money left over for an AirBnB.

While I worked in the education department during the day, at night I often covered shifts for the abortion fund’s hotline, offering financial and logistical counselling for those who were pregnant and urgently needed to figure out how not to be. We talked about applying for credit cards, we compared prices at different clinics, we strategised places to stay if they had to go out of town. It was hard, draining work. Because often they felt compelled to explain how they got into their situation, and many ended up referring to our failings.

They went to Planned Parenthood to get an IUD but were offered no pain relief, and it hurt so badly that they vomited and passed out before the procedure could be completed. Or the clinic required a Pap smear before it would renew their Pill prescription, but when they came for their appointment, they could only wait for an hour before they had to give up and go to work, otherwise they’d be fired. And I listened to all this knowing that Planned Parenthood weren’t model employers. In fact, they have been the focus of multiple labour disputes for underpaying and exploiting their clinicians. The consequences for our institutional failings never affected our CEO, but it left me flat on the floor night after night.

In a recent essay for Harper’s Bazaar, Sarah Schulman wrote about her experience working with an underground abortion network in Seventies Fascist Spain. As an American, she could enter and leave the country without much notice, making it easier for her to smuggle in illegal contraceptives and other materials needed by the group. The activists were risking imprisonment in order to help one another end pregnancies, creating a kind of solidarity and sense of purpose that’s lacking in the American pro-choice community. Our professional feminists are heavy on the rhetoric and weak on hands-on action. They are focused on institutions, like the Supreme Court or Planned Parenthood, instead of the women who need them most. They have managed to squander support from the majority of the population and allowed our rights and access to fall in disarray. This time, we can’t only point our fingers at the religious Right and the patriarchal stereotype of Texas.

When I had to have an abortion in Germany, I was extremely nervous about the general anaesthesia. I had never gone under before. What would it be like? What if something happened while I was there all alone, in a country where no one knew me? I didn’t speak any German, but as the nurses and doctor moved around me in the room, I managed to squeak out, “I’m scared.” And immediately everyone stopped what they were doing and just put their hands on my arms and legs. They applied just a brief pressure before they returned to their tasks, but it was the most comforting and caring gesture I had ever experienced. I think of it often. Pregnancy is a crisis, and the only moral and compassionate response should be: all hands on.


Jessa Crispin is the author of three books, most recently Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto. 

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Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

This sounds like a good description of the activist class, full stop. Big on professional advancement through highly visible performative activism, low on real empathy with, or assistance for, the people on whose behalf they claim to speak. It applies across the woke board.

I don’t have a strong position either way on the actual issue. It seems to me beyond debate that it should be illegal to kill human life for personal convenience. The only debate is therefore when a foetus becomes human life. I don’t know

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Personally I’d set the limit slightly earlier than the youngest surviving prematurely born baby. According to Google this is 21 weeks and a day, therefore I’d have the limit set at 20 weeks currently. If medical advances in the future mean baby’s that premature are able to survive then I’d drop the limit accordingly

John Montague
John Montague
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agree with both of you Martin & Billy. Abortion is a right, but it should never be used randomly, without thought and as prescriptive answer whenever requested. The context of the situations beyond the “righthood” of being able to have an abortion is lost. Pregnancy as the author says – can sometimes be a crisis. But it can also be a start to another human life which can bring change and wonder. It does sound to me like Jessa Crispin slightly misses that point.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Who is going to look after all these babies?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

What babies? Personally I don’t think dropping the limit by 4 weeks is going to result in thousands of unwanted babies being born that otherwise would have been aborted. I’d wager most women know by the halfway point of their pregnancy whether they want to go through with it or not.
What I don’t agree with is the rules like the Texas one, that is set at a date earlier than some women realise they’re pregnant. That will result in unwanted children, mothers pushed into poverty and the associated bad health outcomes that inevitably arise from it

Jay Gls
Jay Gls
2 years ago

Redirect the massive funds of both pro- lobbies into supporting young mothers/making adoption a more humane option?

Emre Emre
ES
Emre Emre
2 years ago

That’s a question that’s been occupying my mind lately. When there’re so many people waiting for adoption (and a baby is the best age to adopt), why is terminating them the default pro-choice position?

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

Do you know the sacrifices that pregnant women who do not want to be pregnant and are forced to carry on with their pregnancy go through? I am prochoice and so glad that women in the UK do not have to pay for treatment at point of source.
I had 7 spontaneous abortions, which most people call miscarriages, but I still think that women need the choice between abortion and pregnancy.
Pregnancy for many is political, especially if the woman is single. Too many people think they own the woman’s womb and anything growing in it, when the only person who has anything invested in that womb is the woman herself as without that womb, there is no child born. Therefore the only person who should have any say is the woman whose womb has the foetus inside it. Everyone else needs to back off, unless there is a safeguarding issue where the woman is particularly vulnerable or too young to consent.
Women fought long and hard for legal abortion and nobody should have the right to take it away.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Feels like a huge knot of conflicting and emotional philosophical strands, cut by a razor of practical common sense.

I like it, but it’ll never catch on.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

More’s the pity.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
AN
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

There is no debate about when a foetus becomes human life, abortion is the taking of human life full stop. To argue anything else is just silly sentimentality. It is possible to justify the taking of human life at times, wars etc so I don’t know why abortion advocates can’t be more honest with themselves.

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Ah yes, the “I’m right and you’re stupid” debating style.

Clearly dawn has arrived across the pond.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Abortion advocates want to claim that a wanted pregnancy ast say, 4 weeks, is human life, but an unwanted one at 7 months isn’t.
It’s silly and childish

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Thanks for Hibernophobia, a new word for me, though I’m not sure it hits the mark. My remark was an observation that the most “my opinion is an undeniable fact” type comments on here tend to come from the US. As far as I’m aware it isn’t a county of Ireland. It is also the type of snarky generalisation best avoided in the interests of an interesting conversation. Mea culpa.

Per the exchange with Gordon below, I don’t think a bundle of cells is a human being, even when it has the potential to become one. I could be wrong, but it’s not an irrational belief and can’t be dismissed as sentimental nonsense by somebody who doesn’t share it.

I personally would feel a murderer if I killed something that looked like a baby, less so about the destruction of something that looked like a blob of snot. For me, they are manifestly not the same. I’m sure there’s a world of philosophical debate round that banal comment, but it’s a real life issue best solved by something like Billy Bobs prosaic but practical compromise.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I edited my comment before seeing your reply as I realised across the pond was a different reference..we see hibernophobia everywhere. We can agree to disagree but i do not see why people are uncomfortable with taking life if they think it’s justified. I can’t agree that humans are humans because of what they look like. In my younger days I probably dated a few fellas who could possibly be described as blobs of snot….

Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

The best craic always requires beer goggles. Enjoy the rest of your evening

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

You echo Peter Singer!

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

Much debate is possible. Many fuzzy areas. Think about it

Jean Nutley
JN
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

I am not sure I believe that wars can ever be justified if we apply logic. After the two World Wars can we honestly say we are any better off or the world is a better place?

Alan Hawkes
AH
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

It takes (at least) two countries to be for peace. It only takes one to be for war.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
2 years ago

Oh yes, the ‘human life is sacred’ brigade! Until the baby is born that is… From the people who brought you banning birth control, never mind abortion, treating pregnant unmarried women as social lepers, walling them up in laundrys etc. to work for free for the nuns (e.g. the Bone Suckers in Tuam), then taking the babies off the heartbroken mothers to sell to (good catholic) Americans and starving the rest to death before chucking the wee corpses in septic tanks…? Yeah, go you!

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

Septic tanks hhahahaha. Been watching too many Harvey Weinstein/Louis lentin soap operas I think. “Bone suckers”- you people are hilarious. Also you miss the point, as is usual with low IQ anti Catholic bigots who regurgitate propaganda that was liquidised and fed to them. The discussion was around when life begins, not whether it may be justified to take life in certain circumstances.

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

See my last comment to you… Who is the realist? Who the fantasist? I know which one I am.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

Using your argument, Nature killed the children I was carrying. Whereas I think I was carrying foetuses who could not live outside my body, and nature killed them for whatever reason it saw fit! Only many years later, did I find out I have a split womb and would never have carried to term without major surgery.
The only difference between me and the woman who seeks an abortion is that mine happened naturally. And while I would have wanted at least 2 or 3 of these foetuses to grow and be born as children, none were planned and some would have been inconvenient and cost me aspects of my life that I actually enjoy.
So nature made the choice for me and gave me the easy way out, spontaneous abortion, let’s call it what it is, not miscarriage as most people call it. Abortion, spontaneous – the womb expelling the cells, the foetus, of pregnancy due to damage, lack of womb space, whatever. Result – dead foetus, no pregnancy, a whole lot of extra hormones that the woman has to deal with. No abortion is easy but at least one should be the choice of the woman whose womb is carrying the cells of pregnancy.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Excellent comment. I have been thinking for some time now that activism – amplified by social media – is the bane of modern life. How many of those people who went out on the streets for BLM would be willing to – say – mentor a black teenager who has fallen in with a gang? Or to give up marching and protesting in order to have more time to do active community service, like repairing the damage caused by the riots?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

Been doing it all my life and still would. Love helping people move onwards and upwards. OK?

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago
Reply to  Alison Tyler

Great! But the question still stands.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Your first paragraph is spot on, the actual issue could be changes to anything else and you would still be right.
As for when a foetus becomes human I think it is still at birth, when a foetus becomes a living separate being. A foetus becomes viable at around 28 weeks gestation, but the law still disregards that, as far as I am aware. Still legal to seek a termination at that time.There needs to be a much, much deeper debate about abortion, particularly now when women can find out whether they are pregnant before their first missed period.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

The foetus is only viable at 28 weeks if it is born in a hospital where tens of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros are spent on keeping it alive. Even then it may be alive but severely disabled. If it is born anywhere else, it might live a few hours but it won’t survive. So babies in the West born to middle class families at 28 weeks may live abd may live without being disabled, but babies born to poor women, women who live too far from hospital or those who have to pay for medical care, no chance. They carry the foetus all that time then there is nothing but a corpse at the end. Is that fair? Not in my world…Abortion to 28 weeks should be allowed to save the heartache women all over the world have to go through for their foetuses

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

I was stating facts as I knew them to be, when I was a nurse. It was very hard to nurse women who had miscarried, and also care for those who had aborted one of the same age.

I do not think the law has changed, to the best of my knowledge, which is that a foetus has no rights irrespective of gestational age.
I would largely agree with you about the survival of a 28 week baby, except for one thing, class has nothing to do with it, access to the correct medical care does. Access to that remains a lottery.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

A bundle of cells with the potential to be nurtured to autonomous human existence. That describes a fertilised human egg whether it is 1 week, 10 weeks, 100 weeks or even 500 weeks old. Birth is merely a change of environment for this useless bundle. If killing it is condoned, because the nurturing is inconvenient, there is no moral difference if the age of death is 20 weeks or 200 weeks. That’s it.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Surely something with the potential to become something else is, by definition, not that something else?

A bundle of cells, at the point in time it is just that, is therefore not a human being by your own definition.

Our legal system has to deal with what is, not what it might become, or chaos will follow.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

A human being is a bundle of cells at all stages of its life, it does not become something else. However, it has to be helped to self-sufficiency or it will die. If that nurture is impracticable, cultures and their legal systems can chose murder … fine… but birth makes no moral or logical partition for the act.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Interesting take but isn’t every form of life a bundle of cells? One description of a human being is certainly “a bunch of cells” but its also a description of a cow, and as such not very helpful.

Immediately before birth a foetus has all the recognisable attributes of a human being, bar the need to breathe. At what point it has enough of those attributes to be considered a human being by any reasonable understanding of that term, seems a reasonable question.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

The attributes to be considered a human being are: viable existence as a biological entity consisting of cells containing a particular DNA sequence: these attributes were present at my conception and I still have them today … and the other 7 billion.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Fair enough and food for thought. I don’t have an equivalent “scientific”’response. Instinctively there is more to being a human being than a DNA sequence, but if I can’t articulate it I’m in trouble.

I’m too far into a good bottle of red now to give it the thought required. 15 love to you.

Arnold Grutt
AG
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago

“I often covered shifts for the abortion fund’s hotline, offering financial and logistical counselling for those who were pregnant and urgently needed to figure out how not to be”

Would not having unprotected sex, or indeed not having sex at all cover this?

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Exactly. But we are not allowed to say that anymore. Apart from unwanted pregnancies, casual sex does tremendous psychological and emotional harm to women.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

casual sex does tremendous psychological and emotional harm to women.

I wonder if this is really true?
My own view is that for many women, and many men, casual sex is emotionally unsatisfying and empty. Most of us find that out by trying it. Some women (but not so many men I think) engage in it as a form of validation. Most eventually realise that they are just being used.
But I’m not sure this the same as doing tremendous harm.
I would agree that it’s promotion as an unalloyed positive is a bad thing.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Well women experience sex differently, perhaps to say tremendous harm is exaggeration but I know many more women who feel deep regret about casual sex than I do men

Alex Tickell
AT
Alex Tickell
1 year ago

Yes I agree Annemarie, nature has programmed men and women differently to protect survival of the species.
We ignore nature at our peril.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Depends on the manipulation and blackmail that made sex the only option for survival. You cannot assume either power or competence as a prequisite for preventimg unwanted pregnancy – you should know from taking the calls.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago

I stopped reading at the reference to ‘reproductive justice’. Justice for whom?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I agree very unuanced article but thought provoking I think.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

I often covered shifts for the abortion fund’s hotline, offering financial and logistical counselling for those who were pregnant and urgently needed to figure out how not to be.

This would be comedy gold if it weren’t such a gut-wrenching tragedy. Our venerable abortion advocate is teaching people how not to be pregnant at the wrong point in the process. She believes – or wants us to believe that she believes – that pregnancy is some mysterious misfortune which befalls the unsuspecting. And before you begin screeching about pregnancies that result from rape and incest, that’s not what she’s talking about. She’s talking about people who call a clinic surprised that they’re pregnant after performing the very act which leads to pregnancy. It’s so freaking difficult to indulge the crazy talk of abortofeminists.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mikey Mike
Mathilda Eklund
Mathilda Eklund
2 years ago

Why would anyone be surprised that Planned Parenting is no friend of women with the gender ideology they also subscribe to..?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

There is no easy answer… much as many think it is.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
AN
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

What a lot of old nonsense. Everytime I read tripe like this, I wonder if the vote should be taken back from middle class women. They are better suited to being at home and channeling their narcissism into competitive needlework.
McCorvey was a working class woman exploited by two spoilt upper middle class brats, too stupid and narcissistic to realise they were useless idiots themselves. I’m fairly sure McCorvey very much regretted being used in this way

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

Or extreme ironing?

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Hahaha

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Given the many ways to ensure there will not be pregnancy, there are drugs to end it if used early. Making them easily and cheaply available seems a reasonably easy thing to do via those clinics. But really don’t have sex if the consequences are too much to bear. If none of that works, there are organizations that will attend the mother through birth; there are lines of people who wish to adopt infants.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

If that were true why are so many children in state care?

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago

The first problem to solve is the demographic collapse of Europe. All other considerations are of minor importance.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

The UK is heading disastrously for around 80m on the most wildlife and habitat depleted country in Europe. We should have declined comfortably from 55m in the 1960s to 40m over a few decades. More forest, less housebuilding, higher GDP per head, higher productivity. Instead we got an immigration ponzi scheme and disastrous effects on the environment.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

Except it doesn’t work like that. A falling population means fewer working age people supporting an ever increasing elderly population in need of pensions and healthcare they never put money aside for. A decreasing population would be economically ruinous

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That simply means we must plan for such a future. Demographic time bombs take time. If policy squanders that time, the future will be hard. But I suspect that need is still quite some time ahead.

Marcia McGrail
MM
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago

Life, albeit not self sustaining (yet) begins at the moment of fertilisation; a unique individual that may not look (yet) like you or me, has all the information s/he requires to determine genetic traits such as eye/hair colour, gender, blood type, bone structure, to some extent even personalitiy, intelligence etc but his/her size, stage of development or someone else’s convenience should not be a death sentence. Heart beat and brain waves at 6 weeks gestation; separate blood system; nourished and (hopefully) protected by mom yet so often the most dangerous place to be for a child is a womb.

Campbell P
Campbell P
2 years ago

What is so staggeringly and painfully obvious from this whole debate is, at one end, the sheer selfishness and utilitarian view of life on the part of educated, well off, but fickle and feckless women (abetted by equally fickle and feckless men) who think that personal choice – or, rather, ME! ME! ME! – is all that counts in their lives, and, at the other, the genuinely needy and vulnerable. That and the utterly appalling view of self-styled Libertarians in the US ‘Democratic’ Party and others who think a baby is not a baby ‘until it leaves the hospital’. How many people do you know who, if you’re pregnant ask you, ‘How’s your foetus doing?’ The womb used to be the safest place in the world.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Jeez I like the articles on Unherd but, based on a few recent articles about the complexities of the human condition, the commenters appear to be mostly people with very little empathy and no capacity for considering moderate views – typically condemning each other or the writer.
Think I’ve had enough of this extremism.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

What a surreal piece of writing, like some heroic, battle-weary soldier coming in from the front in some just war, complaing about the general staff. I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed such a staggering absence of self-awareness.

N T
N T
2 years ago

In other news only barely related: Planned Parenthood LA got hacked, and personal data for 400,000 patients/clients may have been pilfered.

Jay Gls
Jay Gls
2 years ago

If a woman gets shot, that’s a murder. If a pregnant woman gets shot, is that one murder… Or two?

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Jay Gls

That’s two lives not lived anymore. Certainly one whole life, and the rest of the life of the woman whose life has ended.
The stark reality of lives not lived was brought home by one of the murdered victims of the Omagh bomb blast in Northern Ireland, in 1998. A woman expecting twins was one of the twenty-six or so lives lost in the atrocity. I recall that in the years following, in the news, she and her unborn babies were frequently referred to when any journalist mentioned the victims: so something that was typically said was, The twenty-six victims including one who was pregnant with twins.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

In Ireland a few years ago a dreadful tragedy (fire) led to the deaths of eleven members of the travelling community Travelling people rightfully demanded that media should report 11 deaths – though it was 10 people including a pregnant woman who were killed. Even the low IQ abortionistas at least acknowledged that something else died with the pregnant woman, if it didn’t why report her being pregnant at all?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Jay Gls

Depends.
If it’s a black man pulling the trigger, it is white supremacy and structural racism, not murder.

Michael Chambers
BT
Michael Chambers
2 years ago

I don’t have much time for the activists, politicians and lawyers on both sides of the fence.
The people I respect in this issue are those providing practical support to women in trouble because of their pregnancy, so that, if legally they have a choice, it is not excessively swayed by their personal circumstances.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

If UnHerd is about freedom of speech, the right of the individual to choose their own future, the very idea of individual action, could there be any doubt about which side to choose in the abortion discussion?

I am asking this question as a man with no ulterior motive. Because it always seems with abortion discussions that there is another secret dimension which is not open to me, a sort of hidden society operating without my knowledge. Such secret societies are anathema to UnHerd types.

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The abortion debate is about the balance between the suffering of the mother and the death of the foetus. To pose this bitter debate in terms of freedom is totally inappropriate and it is moreover the trap set by the militants.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

What you say is true only in theory. In practice, in some countries abortion is available as a sort of fashion. I think that many, many women see abortion as a freedom – to allow them to continue life as they are enjoying it. To deny this is a lack of experience of meeting real, non-educated people.

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s exactly what I denounce. Just imagine what people will say in several centuries on our society : in 1821 slavery was a fashion, in 2021 abortion was a fashion. Crazy.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Some women do appear to have a blasé attitude towards abortion/contraception and frankly they make me glad its legal here as i imagine they would make questionable mothers.
There seems to be a growing indifference towards responsibility today, young people who cant be bothered to use contraception and think they’ll deal with whatever consequences come and then cant be bothered dealing with the consequences and fob them off on whoever they can.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I don’t even believe that they waste time thinking about it. There is no conflict. ‘Should I have the baby and be tied down for ever or should I have an abortion and keep on partying?’ I don’t think there is a choice.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

“I think that many, many women see abortion as a freedom – to allow them to continue life as they are enjoying it.”

And this differs from the moral point of view of, say, serial killers in what way exactly?

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I can’t answer that because I don’t have any real importance in the matter. To me, UnHerd has to discuss things as theories and real life is sweeping by as a series of fashions.
Once upon a time, people on UnHerd would have been valued as a meritocracy. Today, if they step out from behind their computers they would probably be beaten up for being too clever.
I see around me exactly what is happening. Young people live for the moment with no thought of the consequences. They would just push us out of the way.

Dan Gleeballs
DG
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The old always fear the young, with their noise and energy, their utter certainty and casual strength.

Every generation somehow becomes convinced the one coming up is composed only of violent barbarians. And yet…. somehow, life improves. Would you exchange your life today for one even a century ago, really?

The idea HAS to be wrong. Our children are clearly not all idiots. We weren’t. They also care for beauty and art – and most of them understand decency, courage, patriotism too.

I went to a carol service last night. Nine lessons, young choir, beautiful organ music, except for a bit of Bach at the end. I held a candle and gave thanks for my blessings. I then went to dinner (unmasked), drove home and fell asleep in front of the fire. It wasn’t quite Wind in the Willows, but Badger would have approved every part except an episode of ‘Friday Night lights’.

The young don’t push us aside; they become us – exactly as wonderful and flawed as we are. I’m not saying I love all the modern world. Merely watching the BBC for a while depresses me, but there it is, that great truth:

…every generation despairs of the next – and should not.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I don’t fear the young in any way. In fact, I sympathise with them. Any of today’s problems must have been caused by previous generations – global warming being a arguable exception.
I see people on UnHerd as old men/ women who want to revert to some past system in those halcyon days. Whenever I take the side of the young I just get insults, telling me to get off UnHerd.

Dan Gleeballs
DG
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Do the young have a side, reliably? I’m sometimes right and occasionally wrong. I’d have thought that applied regardless of age.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

More wisdom. I’m still grateful to you for helping my wife see Tuesdays as special occasions.

When the ideological, “we can recreate the world,” certainties of youth, start to crumble in the face of life experience, they turn to muddle and bodge, like the rest of us, to get through.

Being a leading light of the Muddle and Bodge movement doesn’t have quite the cachet of being a freedom fighter, but tends to kill less people.

Dan Gleeballs
DG
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

You did make me laugh with the Tuesdays comment.

I also liked the Muddle and Bodge movement – more power to you. 🙂

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
Alex Tickell
AT
Alex Tickell
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I think , for once in my life, that humanity is regressing. I am an atheist but have read the Bible and the tale of Sodom And Gomorrah seems to be almost relevant to our society’s direction of travel.
A generation ago we still worked with nature, now we work aggressively against it and many of our young people see it simply as an impediment to an easier and lazier way of life.

Alex Tickell
AT
Alex Tickell
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

Life is not “getting better” it is just getting easier….temporarily.
Within the next decade we have some very important decisions to make concerning living standards and the abuse of our freedoms.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

When there’re so many people waiting for adoption (and a baby is the best age to adopt), why is terminating them the default pro-choice position?

William Jackson
William Jackson
2 years ago

Jessa Crispin, thank you. Health, and peace to all, William

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

So the usual Unherd commentary starts – which is largely anti abortion. I would love to take this stance – it is comfortable, but have to ask: in a world with an exploding population, how are all these humans going to survive? Especially as man has intervened to cure many of disease. It is useless to look at it only through the lens of Western society which is currently better equipped to deal with ever more children. I say ‘currently’, because we can see the way Europe and the USA are going.

Jonathan Weil
JW
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

But populations are declining across the developed world…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Not for long…

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago

If overpopulation is the justification, why stop at the unborn?

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Or why start with the unborn? We could’ve embraced Covid and spent the last 2 years helping the elderly be as comfortable on their way out as possible. Their clock is already ticking – natures way and all that!

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Harsh, but arguably more fair! After all, the oldsters have had a fair crack of the whip, unlike those untimely ripp’d from their mothers’ wombs

Francis MacGabhann
FM
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

We’ve just been letting cancer sufferers die instead.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

Promoting abortion as a form of birth control, which is what you seem to be advocating, is almost certainly foolhardy. There are simply too many overtly or residually patriarchal countries that use that form of birth control selectively. In other words, female foetuses are aborted and male foetuses retained. This leads to a demographic imbalance and unstable societies.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

It would be interesting to guess the man/woman ratio on UnHerd. I believe that men have the right to comment on abortion but I don’t believe they can have the last word.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t think there is a moral high ground on either side of the argument. The way I see it, it’s better to have access to a safe procedure and not need it than need it and not have access to it.
I think both involved in making the life should have a say on that life however in the event of one parent wanting to abort and one one against, the one against should assume all responsibility should the life be brought into the world.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/honestly-with-bari-weiss/id1570872415?i=1000537717849
This is an excellent discussion of the issue, and I would urge UnHerd listeners to give it a go…..

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Is abortion most common among the welfare-dependent and the working class, in America and in Western Europe? If so, is there an underlying sense that the lives not lived would not have amounted to much anyway? That no great violin players, nor any great microbiologists, say, would have emerged from the mass of lives not lived? Or should I say if that is the fallacious belief deliberately formed? Developed? Such that society is not short-changed, perhaps even protected, by having abortion written into law?