PBP230H: Objections to Anti-Abortion Legislation

This needs to be updated in light of Dobbs. It's no longer theoretical in an American context.

FIXME denial of care for ectopic pregnancies, or for miscarriage treatment? (Does this belong here or under health of mother?) https://lozierinstitute.org/fact-check-state-pro-life-laws-explicitly-protect-lives-of-pregnant-women/ FIXME master-list from Secular Pro-Life on many of these questions https://secularprolife.org/index/#Effects_of_Abortion_Restrictions

FIXME “women will be investigated for Miscarriages” (argument from investigation)

“If abortion is illegalized, then…” The objections: alleged bad social effects of legally restricting abortion.

The answer: 1) In conversation, give a proactive response using common ground, analogies, and questions; 2) If necessary, give more information and/or request a citation.

Will dangerous back-alley abortions occur?

The objection: If abortion is illegalized, then desperate women will resort to unsafe back-alley abortions.1)


  1. Proactive Response
    1. Common ground: acknowledging that we also need the educational and pastoral arms in order to drive down the abortion rates – each arm is necessary, because politics is generally downstream from culture. We will still need to educate the culture and support women in need– the PLM will still need to exist when abortion is illegal.
    2. Analogies & Questions:
      1. Safe for whom? Should we legalize acts of violence in order to make it safer for the perpetrators? In other words, should killing other human beings be made legal so that it is safer for those who kill those human beings?
      2. Ex. We don't give boxing gloves to abusive husbands.
      3. Susan Smith's story
        1. In 1994, Susan Smith killed her two toddlers in South Carolina, by putting them in the backseat of her car and rolling it into a lake. Imagine that that was not an isolated incident. Imagine that more women do what Smith did. Whether they are stressed out with their children, or are dating men who do not want children, or have some other reason, they, in mass numbers, drown their offspring.
        2. But unlike Smith, imagine that woman after woman drives her car into the lake with the plan of escaping out an open window. Now imagine that many women fail in their efforts to get out of the cars before they sink, thereby dying when killing their children. Should society, then, make drowning one’s children legal so that it is safe for these mothers? In fact, should society even facilitate the process by helping women kill their children in a manner that doesn’t threaten their own lives?
    3. Other guiding questions:
      1. Do you think abortion should ever be legally restricted? E.g. late-term abortion, sex selective abortion etc.? 2)
        1. Maria: short testimony from convo with Julia & from downtown TO convo with older man
      2. Before we talk about the legality of abortion, I think we first need to discuss the morality of abortion…Do you think there is anything morally wrong with abortion? Do you believe in human rights? etc. (Maria - Florida)
  2. Citation?
    1. Historical analysis:
      1. Many illegal abortionists then became legal abortionists after its legalization…e.g. Henry Morgentaler
      2. Consider that in 1960 — nine years before abortion was legalized in Canada and thirteen years before abortion became legal in the United States — Mary Calderone, then-medical director of Planned Parenthood in the United States, stated, “abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians.”3)
      3. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist and co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), confessed that he lied about the number of women he said were dying from illegal abortions. He wrote,
“How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L. we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always ‘5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.’ I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?”4)

Will the foster care system be "overrun"?

The objection: unwanted children who are born instead of aborted will be put into the broken foster care system and would be unlikely to be adopted by a loving family.

  1. Proactive response:
    1. Common ground: There are many issues with the foster care system, and it is in desperate need of reform.
    2. Analogies & Questions:
      1. Even if anti-abortion laws resulted in an increased amount of children going into the foster care system, this would not invalidate the laws.
      2. If legalized abortion helps keep the foster care system numbers low, then why not legalize infanticide to help keep the numbers even lower? If we wouldn't kill born human beings in order to minimize the numbers in the foster care system, then why would it be okay to kill preborn human beings for the same reason?
      3. Or if a city has a very high rate of homelessness, should we legalize killing homeless people in order to reduce the homelessness rate?
      4. We should be killing problems, not killing people.
  2. Give more information: Explain difference between foster care and newborn adoption:
    1. https://blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/foster-care-fallacy/ : “This problem is one of the most straightforward concerns a pro-life advocate can respond to because it is simply based on a misunderstanding of how newborn adoption works. Children who are in foster care are usually waiting to be returned to their biological parents, placed with another family member, or, in some cases, to be permanently adopted from their foster home. Children in these situations often have complicated family environments, which results in them being in and out of the foster care system for years.
      1. However, when a woman during her pregnancy chooses to place her newborn child with an adoptive family, it is a completely different process. Women arrange private adoptions through agencies which help them choose from multiple families to pick the best option for them and whether they want an open or closed adoption. Newborn children in these situations do not go into the foster care system, but are placed with the new family right away.”
    2. (https://adoption.com/foster-vs-adopt “Perhaps the main difference between adoption and foster care is that foster care is temporary. Your agency or social worker has the goal of repairing the problems in your child’s home that led to their removal. When biological parents are able to prove that they can support their children financially, emotionally, and socially, then the child will be able to return to them.”)

FIXME (Maria) I have heard counter-examples of babies waiting to be adopted who were still temporarily put in foster care

  • example from This Is Us: newborn adoption of Randall was simple, relatively speaking, because his parents relinquished parental rights, versus difficulty in adopting Deja because she was in the foster care system and her mom's parental rights had not yet been relinquished. Deja couldn't be adopted until her mom decided
  • 2a. Percentage of women who actually place children for adoption = very low

Many reasons: While the pool of adoptive parents has steadily grown, partly because couples are starting their families later in life, the number of birth mothers has shrunk, partly because of the growing acceptance of single parenthood and our generous social programs.”

FIXME https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=812860016830120&id=17841406461011758&eav=AfafEv0pbqYWR06uF_wLEKyx9RQku3a2lg_CLPvZqhdBis4NmSUoXaLV6jydgLEOjHU&paipv=0&wtsid=rdr_0KBxDcLIDSHPWErjk&_rdr –> multiple points, including Turn away study: most women who were denied abortions ended up parenting their children, not placing them for adoption, and bonded emotionally well to their kids

Will crime rates increase?

The Argument

OITNB S03E01 conversation between Big Boo and Pensatucky to highlight how the argument is made, how it's taken as scripture in popular culture.5)

(lots of cursing)

See also Freakonomics.

The Response

  1. Proactive response:
    1. Common ground: We should definitely all work for a society where children can be raised in safe, loving, healthy environments.
    2. Analogies and questions:
      1. even assuming the Freakonomics thesis is 100% true, does reducing future crime justify killing babies who might be criminals in the future? Wouldn't it follow that crime could be reduced even more if we killed newborns who weren't aborted but were still in prime crime-producing scenarios? Shouldn't we kill newborns or toddlers in that same scenario then if it will reduce crime further?
      2. This is a classic trot out the toddler case – even if legalized abortion reduces crime, that isn't a justification for killing if pre-born children are human beings, otherwise it would also be a justification for killing toddlers.
  2. Citation? It might not even be true. Donohue/Levitt have been fending off substantively academic criticisms of their findings since 2001.6)
    1. Ex. “[Christopher] Foote and [Christopher] Goetz also criticize Levitt and Donahue's use of arrest totals rather than arrests per capita, which takes population size into account. Using Census Bureau population estimates, Foote and Goetz repeated the analysis using arrest rates in place of simple arrest totals, and found that the effect of abortion disappeared entirely.” 7) (Because if the overall population is bigger simply because fewer people are being killed by abortion, then you might have net more crimes, but not more crimes per capita.)
  3. The data is messy and incomplete. There might be a correlation between legalized abortion and reductions in violent crime, but when controlling for other crime-associated factors, that effect seems lessened, or some argues even disappears entirely. Point is: it's not entirely clear to what extent, if any, legalized abortion actually reduces crime. It might. It might not. There is open debate happening on the question. But in any case, we shouldn't be trying to reduce the crime rates of adults by increasing the killing of babies.


Do anti-abortion laws even make a difference?

FIXME does this belong here? Objection (separate but related to #1): Do [legal] abortion rates remain constant, or even increase, under anti-abortion legislation?

Effects of anti-abortion legislation on lowering abortion rates – need to review these:

FIXME Texas, 10k more live births (you can hide an illegal abortion but not a birth) https://www.texastribune.org/2023/06/30/texas-abortion-johns-hopkins-study/

FIXME article where Josh Brahm from ERI responds https://blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/joshs-abortion-dialogue-with-a-reader-from-tangle/

FIXME “should post-abortive women be prosecuted?” Scott Klusendorf's response https://www.scottklusendorf.com/should-we-prosecute-a-mother-who-has-an-abortion/?fbclid=IwAR2nTShQFwhR9_4gAhoX3wk6ih9IvJHcHqxAcuafEIsZ7zytxQegsNL8tKU