As Passions Flare in Abortion Debate, Many Americans Say ‘It’s Complicated’

Abortion is anything but a simple issue. But the nuance in how most Americans think about it has all but disappeared from the political conversation, some voters say.

Comments: 255

  1. It is natural that only the extreme positions dominate the social media, news, internet and airwaves. The reason being that only they can be packaged conveniently into emotionally effective sound bites that do not require much of an attention span. Anyone with a more differentiated view on the problem has to expend considerably more energy to articulate that view and will exceed the average attention span of 8 seconds most people afford to any particular topic. That is an inherent consequence of the internet and social media, though. Rapid, thoughtless transmission of whatever clickbait yields the most rewards. The greatest danger to thoughtful deliberations and an enlightened democracy of our times.

  2. @Kara Ben Nemsi: and it has gotten dramatically worse in recent years, even since 2008.....because the news cycles are shorter and more inclined to "drama" to get attention....because of the growth of social media which tends to work to "gin up" rage amongst various identity groups.

  3. It is not complicated. Maintaining separation of church and state is crystal clear. Maintaining a woman’s health choices with her physician is not complex. The choice itself is highly personal and requires many individual variables to make. If left to the parents/mother - that choice can be made with respect to their own necessities and religious beliefs without violations the liberties of an entire nation.

  4. @Change Happens: what church? the Catholic Church? any power they once had, is long gone. Their own MEMBERS ignore their dogma on birth control and divorce (and abortion, for that matter). Evangelicals? they are a couple of dozen different small churches with major differences in dogma. Also: while liberals LOVE that phrase (separation of church and state), that is not the law and more like "opinion". The Constitution says two things: 1. There shall be no state religion (such as there is in Great Britain with the Church of England, where the monarch is the head of the church AND the state). 2. There shall be no religious test for public office. None of that has the least to do with abortion. Also, many of the groups quoted here (Feminists Against Abortion) are not religious.

  5. My position is pretty simple: it should be legal and an individual choice before viability, and available when the fetus has severe birth defects or the life of the mother is in danger after that point. Like most people, I suspect, I don’t think a healthy woman should be able to abort a healthy fetus at 8-9 months, but I also don’t think it happens - and I’m deeply offended by anti-choice efforts to make people think otherwise. I believe that anti-choice efforts to defund and remove options for contraception increase the numbers of abortions. Colorado proved that to be true when it provided free IUDs. And throwing up obstacles up (like expensive ultrasounds etc) when women seek abortion, only increase the lateness of the abortion. Which doesn’t even make sense.

  6. Thank you for saying it so well.

  7. @ST Actually, your position is complicated by your suggestion that abortion should not be available during the later term except for some select conditions. You say that you don’t think that they happen outside of these extreme circumstances. Yet you don’t trust women to conduct their pregnancies.

  8. @ST "...but I also don’t think it happens - and I’m deeply offended by anti-choice efforts to make people think otherwise." Yes, sad to say, the right wing flat out lies when they describe things like abortions at 9 months (or similarly, when they say that "liberals" want open borders, with no control at all of immigration). And yes, these lies are deeply offensive and cause great damage. "... anti-choice efforts to defund and remove options for contraception increase the numbers of abortions." Yes, whatever they purport to believe, anti-choice actions increase the number of abortions in the real world.

  9. Not complicated at all. Women should be allowed to decide what to do with their bodies without interference from men or governments. Just as elderly men can opt for hair transplants to stave off baldness or surgical removal of their belly fat without interference from women.

  10. The concept of feeling abandoned in discussions about abortion resonate with me. I’m a lifelong Catholic, but after some deep thought, I’ve come to accept, and even support, that abortion is the best answer in some circumstances. Part of this acceptance included the understanding that’s it’s not my choice, but that the decision belongs to others. I still believe that abortion should be legal, safe, and rare. When the discussion moves from the prevention of a potential human life to one about women’s autonomy, and transgender rights, I am lost. Wasn’t it Gloria Steinem who said no one is for abortion? Yet, this the direction that the Democrats are pushing us towards, and I simply cannot, and will not, accept this.

  11. The Democrats aren’t pushing anyone toward abortion, but are protecting us from Brother/big government control over women’s health and medical decisions. No man, no government official should have the power to dictate the most personal and critical of medical decisions to anyone. Having had friends who were faced with heartbreaking decisions after 20-week scans showed anomalies that were incompatible with life, I am adamant that such decisions be left to the individual.

  12. @J. “No man, no government official should have the power to dictate the most personal and critical of medical decisions to anyone.” If you have health insurance, you know that many men (and women) actually do dictate any and all medical decisions to policy holders. That power will shift to the government should Medicare for All become law.

  13. @MyjobisinIndianow: Your comment about Democrats "pushing women toward abortion" is typical of right wing, conservative "Christians." No one on the Left is pushing any woman toward abortion. On the the hand, people like you want to have the right and power to make health decisions for women you have never even met.

  14. It is absolutely bizarre to me that people can be "uncomfortable" with the idea of tax money funding a woman's health care, but be fine with tax money being used to start wars, pay sexual predators six-figure salaries for a lifetime, and execute adults.

  15. How do you know that specific people are in fact comfortable with those things? I’m deeply uncomfortable with war and our inaction on sexual abuse and yet am still uncomfortable on abortion. I’m largely pro-choice because I think the actual outcomes of early term abortion bans are bad, but abortion strikes me as often immoral (with some exceptions to that, most obviously but not only in regards to the health of the woman). And while I definitely think morality should inform governance and law, I’m also not sure enough of my moral beliefs in this case to think that they should be reflected in law.

  16. @Z So much theatrics and posturing across the board. 'My tax dollars, my tax dollars', always with the idea of something we do not like getting funding. With so many other blatant misuse of resources, picking on woman seems to get the most traction these days. My feeling still is that this is absolutely none of anyones business except the woman and her Physician. So mind your own business. If you want to peddle morality, there are plenty of bigger targets out there. Pick on someone your own size.

  17. @Randall I agree completely. I am "uncomfortable" with MANY of the ways that my tax dollars are spent... on wars that have nothing to do with the US, on stupid expensive weapons, on incarcerating asylum seekers, on corporate tax breaks and bailouts, on our worthless president and his semi-permanent vacations at his resorts, on idiotic trade wars that just hurt US citizens and no one else... And for the record, the fact that my tax dollars might be used to fund woman's healthcare is one of the few things that I an HAPPY my tax dollars will be spent on. Abortions? Fine! Abortion care is part of healthcare!

  18. The abortion issue not complicated at all. Either a woman controls her body or the government controls her body. There is no middle ground.

  19. @Joe women should control their own bodies not the government, but the government and its tax payers shouldn’t have to pay for their choice.

  20. @Let me knows Please The government and taxpayers pay for all sorts of choices. The choice to drink or use illicit drugs is paid for when health is compromised by usage of those things in later life. Once over a certain age, the person has Medicare to cover treatment, no questions asked.

  21. @Let me knows Please So if a woman choose to carry through a pregnancy, the government (ie medicaid) should not pay for prenatal care, labor and delivery, etc. I think currently, Medicare does pay for those services.

  22. Just because there are 2 positions on an issue, doesn’t mean they’re equally tenable and the truth is somewhere in between. There’s no middle ground between slavery and freedom; between marriage equality and discrimination...And if we’re going to be honest, “pro-lifers” aren’t so much pro-life as anti-choice. Once you’re born, most oppose any measure that improves the lives of living, breathing human beings. Policies like universal healthcare, higher minimum wage, stricter gun regulations...

  23. @Nima But there aren’t two positions on this issue, there are at least 3-4 as listed in the article: (1) no abortion rights, period (the position of a fringe element), (2) abortion on demand up to the point of birth (the position of a fringe element), (3a) abortion on demand until the point of fetal viability (the position of the majority), and (3b) government funding for abortions (the position of a significant minority). The majority of Americans are pro choice with restrictions.

  24. @Shiv #1 is a pretty sizable part of the GOP including many in power. #2 is not publicly admitted by anyone and is represented by no one in power.

  25. @Shiv - hang on, wait. 2) abortion on demand up to the point of birth (the position of a fringe element) What fringe element? Who takes this position?

  26. I'm one of those people who think that early abortion is unproblematic and that later abortion raises very difficult ethical issues. But I've ended up 100% pro-choice, because I don't want the politicians wrestling with those ethical issues. At the end of the day, I want the ethical wrestling and ultimate responsibility to lie with each individual pregnant woman. She would be allowed to talk to any personal, medical, and spiritual advisors she chooses, but I don't think the government should be involved in the decision or mandate any particular consultation process. A big part of my position is that I've gone past the "politics" view of the matter and started thinking of the "police" angle. If abortion of any sort is illegal, how will the police enforce the ban? Who goes to jail? How will the police get access to medical records? Will women who have miscarriages (which look exactly like drug-induced abortions) be targeted? There's no enforcement mechanism that doesn't raise the prospect of massive civil liberties violations. It's bizarre to me that the party of limited government doesn't see it... but I suspect they only want to limit government when it comes to rich white men. The rest of us can be mistreated at will.

  27. Government has no business in enforcing and religious belief including “life begins at conception”, which was formerly meant ensoulment, that is the “soul enters the body at conception” . Lovely pre-scientific narrative that was engendered by men, in a male supremacist society. The abortion fight is a fight against women by men. If women can control their reproductive life then males lose their superiority. Examine the history of male supremacy and the practices of religious extremists toward women today and then consider the arguments of the Pro fetus vs women’s equality causes to address the “complexity”. Complexity ends when we get religion out of the Congress where it is forbidden to interfere, on any side. Look at the Party of the pro-fetus voters: Republicans. Few women, supermajority male. If women are equal to men, what will become of Republicans? Male supremacy will die when women are paid equally, have equal opportunity, are equally represented in government and the private sector and when Medicaid covers abortion and birth control as it does cover erectile dysfunction. Abortion is not the heart rending problem that religious people imagine. It does not increase the likelihood of cancer or contribute to mental illness except among those who are condemned by their religious community. In fact, abortion is scientifically safer for women that childbirth, especially in nations where universal healthcare is not available.

  28. @Joseph Huben Polls show that a modest majority of those who oppose abortion are female. Don't lay all of this on men please.

  29. @Joseph Huben It's worth repeating as many times as necessary to get the point across: conservative women's projection of horror and disgust at what abortion represents to them is just as much a motivation for resistance to abortion rights as conservative men's worries about the challenge of liberated women. But you keep being a good ally, Joseph.

  30. Isn’t this an issue greatly influenced by your religious beliefs? I thought we had separation of church and state. So, I leave this up to the parents. I am aware of 2 abortions in my life. In each case, the woman, or couple, stressed over the decision. So leave it up to the individual.

  31. @Mr Bretz You wrote that you're aware of two abortions. I imagine that part of the problem is that people don't speak about having had an abortion. If everyone who has had an abortion were comfortable sharing their story, I'm guessing that Americans might come to understand that a) women tend to be very thoughtful when determining if they're going to have an abortion, b) often the decision is influenced by health issues of both the mother and child, c) some abortions are determined by the economics of raising a child. Above all, if women felt they could be open about discussing their situation, I believe that the nation as a whole would be less judgmental. Unfortunately, as long as the stigma exists, the understanding isn't likely to increase.

  32. @A - A few years ago at my 50th high school reunion, I talked with a male classmate who apparently had no idea how many of our classmates got pregnant in high school and, in those pre-Roe days, dropped out of school to "care for a sick grandmother," and were coerced into giving the baby up for adoption. I was at first shocked, but then realized that of course we didn't tell the guys about those situations, even though most of the girls knew about them. It's the same with abortion. Women didn't/don't tell, for the most part, so you can see why so many people may assume they know no one who ever had an abortion, thus leaving them free to imagine horrendous things about anyone who ever had one. Since 1/3 of American women have an abortion by age 45, it's pretty much guaranteed that everyone knows a number of women who've had one, even members of their own family.

  33. @Mr Bretz - And the ones who seem to talk about it the least are the (very) relieved impregnators.

  34. It’s complicated, because the decision is so individualized. But that’s the point: It should be the government’s responsibility to provide universally accessible health services to its citizens, including reproductive health and abortion coverage. But it is not the government’s responsibility to dictate to an individual which of those services can be used on their own body.

  35. @Blake Jory. So let’s get this straight: you want the government to pay for everything but the government gets no say. If this is such a personal decision, why do you need the government?

  36. That's health care. As a primary care physician I treat the complications of obesity, smoking and alcoholism on a daily basis. Should government control access to food, cigarettes and booze for legal adults?

  37. @Jackson It’s the governments role to provide health care and that it meets medically recognized standards for the benefit of the patient. I’m a doctor too and I personally do not like paying for other people’s treatments for smoking and obesity, but...

  38. No, it's NOT complicated. Either you view Women, and their Lives, as autonomous humans, OR you view them as Livestock. It's that simple.

  39. @Phyliss Dalmatian: Yes it is complicated. Because as a pregnancy progresses it becomes less self-evident that there's no other autonomous human whose welfare should also be taken into account by society and its laws.

  40. Ms. Smith-Holmes wants to know who is going to pay for the abortions for the poor? Well, who is going to pay for the unwanted children we get instead? Who will care for them? And it is not just the price you will pay for their necessities, but the price we all pay as a society for the damaged, often abused and neglected children that result. And I have friends who have adopted some of these kids - minority children who are extremely damaged by their birth mother's drug use. They are the lucky ones - most of these kids end up on foster care. Then in prison.... They will end up costing you, all right.

  41. I want to caution you against statements like this. It is perilously close to saying that these children are less human and less worthy and should not have been born. For me, saying that a woman has the right to choose to end a pregnancy- and I believe this firmly - means that she also has the right to choose to carry a pregnancy to term. And that right holds, even if you think she should have an abortion, just as the same right holds when someone thinks a particular woman should bear a child.

  42. Abortion services are necessary period. The only consideration is the preservation of an individual’s personal choice. My body, my choice.

  43. This is a woman's choice. Women are not the property of religious do gooders nor are they the property of the government or politicians. And they are definitely not the property of men.

  44. @Doremus Jessup this is nothing but an election issue that the GOP sabotages to get their votes. this is not an issue of women vs. men, because as we've seen, the GOP cares nothing for newborns, child care, health care and poverty. they only want the abortion vote to stay in office. and this is despicable.

  45. Pro-life and pro-choice advocates should be able to agree that it is desirable to reduce the number of abortions. The pro-life group wants to ban all abortions forcing poor women into the "back alleys" where their grandmothers' generation went pre-1973. Women with financial means will simply fly to a state with legal abortion for the procedure. If pro-lifers really want to greatly reduce the number of abortions, they would enthusiastically get behind universal sex education in schools as well as easy and cheap availability of birth control for everyone over the age of puberty. Instead, they oppose birth control and sex-ed as promoting promiscuity. Do they really think they are going to stop unmarried people from having sex? Sex outside marriage has been a reality since the beginning of civilization. Pro-lifers need to deal with pragmatic reality instead of forcing their moral values on the rest of us.

  46. @will-colorado I think you make the argument that anti-abortion advocates are not always focused on abortions alone but really object to women having control and sometimes are simply uncomfortable with sex. There is a moral and religious element but often the issue is the role of women.

  47. @will-colorado Sex before marriage has been a reality since long before "civilization" existed. People who can not deal with the realities of human sexuality are sexually perverted. Most people enjoy sex and will continue to have sex (married or not) no matter what the sexually maladjusted think of it. To be anti-sex is to be anti-life.

  48. @will-colorado Let me start by saying I'm 1,000, no, 10,000% pro-choice. I think the government has absolutely no place in legislating what parents (the man and the woman) choose in regard to bringing or not bringing a life into the world. Since I've posted a similar comment and received two uncomprehending responses, I'll add that Bernie is way way to the Right of me - my views might best be described as similar to Gustav Landauer's "contemplative anarchism." Now, with that said, I think most of the commenters are missing the point of this article. I tried this hypothetical somewhere else and the responses completely missed the point. I don't know if I'm being particularly opaque, but I'll try to rephrase it: 1. You are giving a talk to an audience of 1000 people in Wisconsin. In this hypothetical - the following is true:(please note - PLEASE don't respond unless you're willing to indulge the hypothetical - this is the whole point of this comment) a. The audience is torn between pro-choice and pro-life b. If you give a talk supporting Roe 100% they will vote to re-elect Trump, guaranteed, and given the electoral college, he will be re-elected c. If you give a talk sympathetic to their concerns, acknowledging at least some validity to their ambivalence, you will guarantee the election of Warren/Buttigieg. What do you do? Remember, hold to your absolutist position, Trump wins. Give a nuanced view, Warren wins. www.remember-to-breathe.org

  49. The issue of abortion is very simple: 1) yes, human life is sacred and it is sad to end this life in the womb, but sometimes it is the wisest choice, especially when the pregnancy endangers mother and the fetus is so defective as to make meaningful life impossible, and 2) of course a woman must legally have the choice whether to end a pregnancy, because otherwise American women can be used as reproductive slaves by men who rape us, including through incest. Our energy should go toward making America welcoming to new life, requiring men to properly support their progeny, and women to be able to not only mother our children but also use our brains and talents in the workforce, which means excellent available daycare. Enough with this wasteful debate; let common sense prevail.

  50. @Anne Russell...part of this is simple, I agree. Yet, one of the unsimple parts is the answer to the question, “when does life begin?”. My answer is, “I don’t know”. What I do know is that no one knows for certain...not a judge, not the Pope or any cleric, no scientist or doctor, etc. I cannot think of another decision that is so deeply personal, so, maybe the correct legal and moral solution is to leave it to the individual. As long as Roe remains the law of the land (and I think it should), the legal aspect is clear. The morality is, in my opinion, something that the person should wrestle with, make up her mind as best as she can, and, then, go on with a clear conscience.

  51. @Patrick alexander You and I agree, except that when does life begin is also simple, because that's not a question we human beings can answer, and since abortion is a personal decision, the pregnant woman's beliefs are hers and not for us to question.

  52. @Anne Russell...your last sentence makes a lot of sense to me. The decision is between the woman and whatever deity she believes in. If atheist, then, it’s between her and her private conscience.

  53. Yes, it is complicated. It involves a conflict between two good ethical principles. Autonomy is a basic ethical principle, having control of your own body and life, being able to make decisions for yourself,. On the other hand, do no harm to another person, is also an ethical principle. These two principles come into conflict all the time, especially in many different medical situations. for example, end of life discussions, organ donations, risky medical surgeries, triage situations during large emergencies. And care of the woman who is pregnant vs care of the completely dependent non-viable fetus. This is why there are ethics committees in hospitals, to help make the best, which usually means the least wrong, decision about care. There are no RIGHT decisions, perfect decisions, simple decisions, about abortions. For any abortion, each decision and circumstance is complicated and imperfect. Trying to make a single universal absolute law in one direction or the other, will cause harm and ignore the one of these principles, and destroy ethical discussion.

  54. So, it the situation is so complicated, let's a woman decide what is right for her in this situation.

  55. @yulia: exactly. not some overreaching law to cover all situations.

  56. No, it's not complicated. It's OK to be either pro-choice or anti-choice and be a Republican or Democrat or whatever. But it's not OK to be against one's personal freedoms. Why must we draw lines? Somehow as a society we've bought into some crazy myth that as long as abortion is legal, women will wantonly do it like getting her nails done. To this day, that has not been the case so why do some many think we need all of these insane new guard rails? Speak to any woman who has made this choice - regardless of whether to keep or abort - and you will find someone who did not make the decision lightly, but agonized intensely over it.

  57. The overwhelming majority of Americans think that the extremists on both sides of this issue are nuts. Very few of us think life begins at conception and that an embryonic cell has the moral standing of a human being — but, so too do very few think that elective abortion on demand at any stage of a pregnancy is a morally tenable choice, with any restriction the first step down an inexorable path to Atwood-style theocratic dystopia. Yet virtually all of the rhetoric and public policy relating to this issue stems from precisely those two standpoints. I’ll happy vote for the first politician, man or woman, who declares a pox on the houses of both Operation Rescue and NARAL and instead speaks to the rest of us.

  58. @Hapax Legomenon You have apparently bought into the specious anti-abortion argument that abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy is what is insisted on by pro-choice "extremists". Nothing could be further from the truth but it illustrates the false equivalence that exists in this debate. Abortion on demand before 24 weeks is the law of the land because in Roe v Wade the court decided (in a 7-2 vote) that the government has no legal interest during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy while government does have an interest in protecting the life and health of the mother (but not the fetus) in the 3rd trimester. In 1992 in Casey v Planned Parenthood (in a 5-4 vote) the court modified Roe by allowing for laws that would ban abortion after potential viability (currently 22 weeks and unlikely to get much less) while prohibiting laws that placed an ill defined "undue burden" on access. When Casey failed to completely reverse Roe, anti-abortion forces changed strategy with a 2 pronged attack. First are laws that confer personhood on the fetus, prohibit abortion even before viability (as early as 6 weeks) or put ridiculous regulations on abortion providers in the guise of protecting women's health. Second they successfully promoted the appointments of presumably pro life judges to the SCOTUS (Gorsuch and Cavanaugh). Planned Parenthood and NARAL are hardly extremists. Rather they believe that women's health care must be comprehensive, abortion included.

  59. @Hapax Legomenon - NO ONE is calling for elective abortion at any stage of pregnancy. The NY and VA laws that forced birthers have been lying about so egregiously were simply addressing rare but crucial exceptions. So there really aren't fanatics on the choice side, there are fanatics only on the forced birth side who shore up their arguments by copious lies that, unfortunately, far too many people believe.

  60. President Trump believes the government should decide reproductive questions for all women and that women must be punished if they choose to have an abortion. I think his words to Chris Matthews were "there has to be some punishment for the woman." While his advisers later pushed back on that statement (much like Biden's advisers pushed back on his), Trump was right for once. The logical outcome of criminalizing abortion would be jailing women for having an abortion (i.e., breaking the law) or, worse, jailing them to ensure they carried the pregnancy to full term (i.e., "protective custody"). Either the state controls a woman's body or a woman does. I'd rather leave that sort of control to the woman, not to the man in the White House.

  61. I would like to know how many abortions Trump has paid for. It isn’t just democrats who are having abortions, republicans don’t practice what they preach.

  62. @avrds: the President of the United States has absolutely no power to make abortion legal or illegal. That power belongs 100% only to CONGRESS, which makes the laws. SCOTUS took that power away from States in 1973, and gave it to Congress. ONLY CONGRESS CAN MAKE SUCH LAWS. Abortion was illegal in the US up until the 1960s when a few states legalized it pre-Roe. No women were put in jails for this. No women were jailed to force them to continue pregnancies to full term.

  63. @Sue That's why the Hatch Act is such a travesty. Rich women will always have access to whatever healthcare and services they need, but they don't mind letting poor women suffer. And I still wonder about that $1million abortion payout that Michael Cohen arranged for one Trump's friends. These men are only in favor of what is politically expedient for them.

  64. Abortion may be a morally and spiritually complicated problem but it is and should be politically simple: Should government enforce a specific set of moral and spiritual conclusions about it on individual women, or should individuals be free to grapple with it in their own beliefs without government interference? What's the line about "government just small enough to fit in my uterus"? Yeah, no thank you, my uterus is invitation-only.

  65. Again, where are the men in this article? Abortion is not a women’s issue. Men are involved in creating embryos and sometimes involved in decisions to end pregnancies. If you want to force a woman to carry a fetus, it affects her physical and mental health, her ability to work, and to socialize. Maybe we can put a “Dad to Be” tattoo on each potential father’s forehead that starts invisible and over 40wks gets larger and more visible. They can be asked about the upcoming birth, what sex, any name yet, still plan to work and have all that fun. And some type of hormonal treatment can be given so they can experience the emotional joy of carrying a fetus required by the govt.

  66. @Meg Riley: I'm am a man and I have always supported a woman's right to an abortion. It is her choice, not mine.

  67. We have a law called Roe v. Wade that permits abortion. We have a 1st amendment that guarantees the "separation of Church and State" and abortion is primary a religious issue. And we have the 13th amendment ending slavery and the anti-abortion laws being passed most in the states of the Old Confedederacy amount to state control of a woman's bodies which is slavery. As conservative Ronald Reagan said, "Let's get the government out of the bedroom." It's fine for everyone to have an opinion just as they have religious views. It's not fine nor legal for them to impose them on others.

  68. @Paul Wortman And do not forget the 14th amendment which provides for equal protection under law (to born persons).

  69. I’m pleasantly surprised to see this article in Times, which I think often falls victim to the polarization it describes. I’ve voted Democratic and generally been amenable to liberal positions for a lot of my life partly because there has always seemed to be more room for thoughtfulness and nuance on the left. I emphatically feel like that’s changing. To deny there is a moral issue here with regard to the unborn child is vastly over-simplifying. To dismiss / smear anyone who says there is as being straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale is deeply unfair, and willfully ignorant of people’s deeply-held moral beliefs. The demands to abolish the Hyde amendment is also a good example of how nuance is being totally stripped by the left. This law is a classic compromise- there are millions of people who feel abortion is wrong to put it mildly, and saying that people will have to pay for their own abortions was some small acknowledgement of their position. Now, the position is it’s somehow racist to ask people to pay for certain things themselves. Never mind that there is something deeply sinister about pushing a change in law with the goal of increasing abortions in racial minorities. Really, this what it has come to?

  70. @David There remains "more room for thoughtfulness and nuance on the left" in the Democratic party but it is being drowned out by the loud 'lefty' voices that get much of the media attention because nothing sells news more than conflict. As to the Hyde amendment being a "classic compromise", it is nothing of the sort but rather the largely rational position that Democrats had to take because it was originally and always has been attached to spending bills that had to pass in order to fund our government. It remains a prime example of our failure to truly implement the provisions of the 14th (equal protection) amendment to the constitution. It is not only racist but also classist and misogynistic. I do not like paying taxes for all sorts of governmental functions, particularly the extremely bloated Defense department and corporate welfare, not to mention government funding of abstinence only sex education.

  71. @David, the reason it is 'somehow racist' is because minorities as a group have vastly less wealth than whites as a group, for historical reasons. The goal is not to increase abortions among minorities, it is to provide better access to health-care, sex-ed, contraception, prenatal care, child care, pre-k, education etc. (for everyone). All of those things do more to reduce abortions than the Hyde amendment. Personally, I'm opposed to Hyde because it encourages later abortions while people scrabble for money. I understand feeling like abortion is wrong, but that means we should be taking the actions that actually reduce abortion, not just the ones that give us a false moral high.

  72. @David - Those of us who oppose war or the military/industrial complex, or corporate subsidies, or any of a long list of things that many people oppose, are expected to silently pay our taxes for those things. It's only the forced birthers who think they're entitled to select what their taxes will pay for. Meanwhile, no one ever talks about the children forced to be born to a mother who knows she's in no position to support or care for or nurture a child. Many unwanted children are resented, neglected, some are abused and a tragic few are tortured and killed. As Sister Simone of the Nuns on the Bus says, you're not pro-life if you want a child born but not a child fed or nurtured or housed or educated.

  73. I'm strongly pro-choice, but I often get frustrated with my fellow progressives who want to oversimplify this debate into a matter of "men wanting to control women's bodies." I have a number of good and decent friends who are passionately "pro-life." We disagree on this issue because they see abortion as murder. And most of these pro-life friends are WOMEN--intelligent, independent-thinking women with a clear sense of their own values. If I believed that an embryo or 2nd-trimester fetus was a full human being with an immortal soul, I would probably protest outside abortion clinics, too. They see this as a kind of genocide. I'm not religious myself, so I don't believe ANYONE has an immortal soul. I don't think an embryo or fetus has a consciousness more advanced than an insect or maybe a mouse. And I believe every child brought into this life should be a wanted child. It's hard enough to raise a child when you plan for him or her! I mostly believe in minimizing unwanted pregnancies. I believe in sex education. I believe in freely-available birth control. And (since there will always be back-alley abortions no matter what the law says) I basically agree with Bill Clinton's phrase that abortions should be "safe, legal and rare." My pro-life friends are decent, moral people. I try to be a decent, moral person, too and I hope they recognize that. We remain friends, and there is room for disagreement on this issue. Most of these subtleties get lost in political debate.

  74. @Allan Agree with much of what you say. You are fortunate to have kept friends like this. The pro-life crowd believes fervently that life begins at conception because that is when the god they worship supposedly instills the soul. You might ask your friends what happens to the souls of the 20 to 30% of pregnancies that end in miscarriage, often without the woman every knowing she was pregnant. Are they recycled or go straight to heaven 'without passing Go' and thereby miss all the suffering of a mortal life.

  75. This is a exactly how I feel.

  76. @Allan You state that you’re not religious, and that’s a key point in your position. Religions have fostered misogynistic “values” for millennia — “values” that strongly influence the broader culture. Where else but from religion are girls/women indoctrinated to feel shame and guilt about their bodies, about their sexual desires, about their sexual behaviors? To feel subordinate to men, where some god is over men, and men are over women and children? It really is as simple as “controlling women”. Birth control and abortion are primary reasons why women can be free from this control, from a status of property/chattel. As such, birth control and abortion are direct challenges (threats?) to religious dogma and male supremacy/domination.

  77. It’s not complicated There are very few doctors willing to provide an abortion after 22 weeks to a healthy mother carrying a healthy fetus. It is very rare, which it should be- and when it does happen the additional time is usually due to the poverty and location of the woman and that it has become so difficult to obtain full healthcare in so many states,

  78. @Deirdre Late term abortions, as rare as they are, are seldom if ever "due to the poverty and location of the woman." They are essentially always due to in utero death of the fetus, severe threats to the woman's life or the certain diagnosis that the baby will not survive long after birth. These are among the most wrenching situations anyone could ever have the misfortune to suffer.

  79. The crazy thing in this whole debate is that the vast majority of us all agree. We all agree that the less abortions, the better. No matter if you think of a fetus as a ball of cells or a person, no matter if you are pro-choice or pro-life -- if there were zero abortions in 2025, no one would complain. If we could all stop yelling at each other for one minute, we could stop and realize that we actually have a common goal. The thing is - no one wants to get an abortion. No one frolics into an abortion clinic excited to either have a surgical procedure or go home with a prescription to take medication to induce waves of cramping, nausea and bleeding. It is a choice of last resort. It is a choice that is made because of unequal access to sex education, contraception, healthcare, paid family leave, or a number of other factors in a person’s life all colliding to lead them to have to make this difficult choice. No one wants to be in this situation. No one wants to have to make this decision. Let me re-frame the debate for us: We all have a common goal of reducing the number of abortions that occur. How should we accomplish this? Should we do it by making abortion illegal? By punishing the doctors that perform the procedures or prescribe the medications? Or should we do it by increasing access to sex education, providing free contraception, paid family leave, lower healthcare and childcare costs?

  80. I don't think the number of abortion is the matter. The matter is the right. Seems to me just merely the right of women to have an abortion drives antiabortionists off wall.

  81. @Val I love what you wrote. But anti-abortion activists’ primary goal is to control women. Limiting access to abortion and decreasing the number of abortions are secondary talking points and just useful means to punish women for having sex by forcing them to carry unwanted children. Otherwise they would support sex Ed and birth control which they clearly do not.

  82. @Person Oh I completely agree that is the primary goal of the anti-abortionists at the top of the chain is to control women. But I am thinking of all of the “regular” men and especially women who consider themselves to be anti-abortion and believe that they really are voting to “save babies” or something similar. If Democrats continue to only chant my body my choice - as much as that may be true it will never effectively penetrate the other side. We need to reframe the debate.

  83. I don't want my tax dollars to pay for munitions made by war profiteers, or to pay for subsidies to billionaire coal mine owners. Can I make a distinction for that?

  84. @Jose Pieste Since when do our "representatives" reflect the will of the people? They represent the wishes of their financial backers. Not you and not me.

  85. @Bill Scurry You certainly can, but not as a comment for this article! The topic here is abortion and women's right to their own bodies. Comment on that, make a distinction for that!

  86. It doesn't matter what you or I think about abortion. It's a choice that a woman makes about her body, and therefore not a place for the state to make a law.

  87. Thank you New York Times for raising this issue. In general the media has failed to treat this truly complicated issue with the sobriety it needs, instead just going for ratings and playing for their audience. In turn Americans have adopted knee jerk reactions to whatever a politician may have to say on abortion, which in turn has driven candidates into positional corners. I think most Americans, particularly those who have faced the tough decision on abortion know in their hearts this is not an easy topic and every woman or couple faced with it has, or will, struggle to decide which way to go. So, perhaps everyone else can just stand back a bit, praying we don't have to stand in those shoes, and give our candidates (and everyone else for that matter) a bit of breathing room on the topic. Again, thank you NYT for this important article.

  88. There is nothing complicated about abortion at all. Either every fetus counts more than the woman’s life (and depending upon the exact circumstances more than her marriage, the fetus may leave her husband a widower and more than her existing children, the fetus may leave them orphans) or it doesn’t. It doesn’t.

  89. Free and easily accessible contraception will greatly reduce the frequency of abortion. But forced birthers don’t want that either. Nor do they particularly care about the lives of living children.

  90. Because it is not, and never was, about the “children”. Isn’t it funny how a large majority are okay with abortion if the woman was raped or a victim of incest? Tell me something... if that is “murdering a child”, would it matter? We don’t allow people to murder 3-year-olds if they were conceived in rape, so if there is no difference between a zygote and a toddler, why is it ok to murder one and not the other? Because they don’t actually think that zygote (or embryo or fetus) is a child. It’s about whether or not it’s the person’s “fault” they got pregnant. Pregnancy is punishment to them for “loose morals”, draped in false philosophizing about when life starts. This is, and always has been, about controlling women.

  91. In a country where abortion is legal, any policy, social stance or cultural bias which inclines a pregnant woman to feel shame or fear poverty makes the person who adheres to such policy, social stance or cultural bias a willing accomplice in abortion. The logic of this is irrefutable and makes plain that the dispute is not about the babies, but is rather about controlling the women. If any of these Bible beaters truly believed the fetuses were babies, they would flock to their legislators demanding free pre natal care, free obstetric care, free post natal care, free daycare, preschool, college tuition and a massive dependent income tax deduction. They would insist that "single mom" and "illegiitimate child" were criminal hate speech. They would raise to hero status every pregnant woman. Such women would be greeted on the street with the equivalent of "thank you for your service" with which we laud the military. Women would still be free to choose, but they might choose to deliver the child and thus contribute to a lessening of the sad shriveling of our population. Not going to happen. Not about the babies now, never has been about the babies.

  92. @Hollis Hanover Thank you for your well written and concise comment which touches on so many thoughts I have had concerning abortion but could never quite articulate as well.

  93. Abortion is a difficult problem but the solution doesn’t have to be difficult to agree on. If our common goal is to make better lives for the mother, the child or children, and society why don’t we provide free maternal and child medical care and subsidized day care? Also provide good free care for kids where the Mom or Dad is too poor, too sick or too young or incapable of taking care of the child. When having a child endangers the mother’s life do we really want laws to dictate who gets to live? In the end, whether abortion is legal or not, it is the Mom, who carries and nurtures the fetus and who would normally take care and love the child, who has to make the ultimate decision. Let’s make that decision easier and more supporting of our common goals and values. Let’s all CHOOSE good life!

  94. Excellent reporting by Mr. Peters and many thanks to the NYT for supporting this kind of thoughtful and honest writing. This kind of reporting will do a great deal to treat the polarization and mistrust that is rampant in our society. I would add, though, that sites like Pinterest make things worse by suspending the accounts of people like Lila Rose. We should each get our say--and follow the tone and respect for others conveyed in Mr. Peters' article.

  95. Personally, I would never have an abortion. However, I do not believe I can force a woman to go through a pregnancy she feels uncappable of dealing with. I cannot support what is not Pro-Life, and is a callous attempt to shackle women's autonomy and privacy by the GOP. These same lawmakers in Alabama and Louisiana have no problem executing people on death row, using drones, or going to war for spurious reasons such as Trump's ego. Further, just a few years back the GOP was trying to restrict birth control, too. It seems some will not be happy until women are completely under men's thumbs once more.

  96. @Jasmine Armstrong: what GOP bill do you refer to, that restricted BIRTH CONTROL? I do not remember any such bill being discussed, let alone passed.

  97. @concerned citizen I believe @Jasmine is referring to the Hobby Lobby case in which it was decided that they did not have to pay for birth control as part of the compensation package offered to employees. This does serve to restrict access when you consider that HL employees are not paid a living wage.

  98. It's not complicated. Does a woman have control over her own body or not?

  99. As a man, I venture into this comment forum with great trepidation due the countless times I’ve be scolded by women that I can’t possibly understand this subject. So this morning I’m trying to pretend what I would feel if I sat here writing this and was undesirably pregnant. Precisely because I am a man I would definitely say that I would want to to be able have the abortion if I chose. I’ll pay for it and leave the rest between me and God to us.

  100. No need to imagine a scenario that could never happen to you. Just think of this: Would you want the government to force you to donate an organ? To donate blood? If the answer is no, then a person shouldn’t be forced to give birth, either.

  101. @John Doe Don't allow women to scold you out of commenting on this topic. It (still) takes two to make a baby, plus men are boyfriends, husbands, and fathers. You do have the right to have and voice an opinion.

  102. @K: I have a friend, right now, in acute kidney failure and who may die if a donor kidney does not present itself. While I would not want forced donation of kidneys from LIVE people…I am not so sure I would not support mandatory donation of kidneys from deceased donors. And if a child was dying and needed blood from a parent to live….and the parent refused…I am not so sure I would not support a court order to compel donation. Blood donation has zero risks and doesn't even hurt, and present no loss to the donor AT ALL. Are you arguing in these cases that my friend should die for lack of a (deceased) donor kidney? Or that a child should die, because a selfish parent refuses to provide a small amount of blood to them? I am not sure yours is the moral viewpoint here.

  103. Many Americans are “pro-life” without an evangelical or even religious basis. The ethical question we struggle with is “when is the unborn child a human being?” Many believe at conception. Many believe somewhere between conception and viability. But where? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is no one knows. And if we don’t know, how can we set a time period for abortion?

  104. @KJ - Roe is the compromise position. It allows abortion prior to the time viability, and after that, only for certain rare but crucial exceptions. The forced birth contingent pretends that's not the case, and claims anyone favoring women's right to choose is calling for abortion up to and after delivery. When the issue is so confounded by lies, I don't see how we'll ever come together unless SCOTUS reaffirms Roe and we go back to living with the compromise we've lived with for 40 years.

  105. @KJ I must respectfully disagree. The ethical question is: Even if the fetus is a "human being," as long as it is not viable, what reasonable standard would suggest that it may have, by LAW, the right to co-opt the body of another, viable human being to sustain its life? If that standard is to be applied fairly (that a non-viable human may legally use the body of another, viable person to sustain its life) then I assume you'll be OK when the government shows up at your door and advises you that they need your spare kidney for that dying patient over there. Or how about when you are notified that it's been more than 56 days since you last gave blood and you're instructed to show up next Tuesday at 2 to lie down and take a needle? After all, a pint of blood can save as many at THREE lives! What's the difference?

  106. @KJ Thank you. Far too many people look at this in a self righteous manner, regarding any other position as barbaric. But if are setting an arbitrary line in the sand- 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 24 weeks- then what ethical leg is anyone standing on? Why is it “my body my choice” at 19 weeks, but suddenly not at 25? We can only hope that we regard each other with empathy on this difficult issue. We are all trying to regard human life with sanctity. The person who believes a life begins at conception is only trying to protect humans. But the person who is trying to permit abortion is only trying to protect the autonomy of humans too. Let’s lay down the swords and talk to each other.

  107. Does it ever happen that a man goes to a health care provider for a necessary medical procedure and is turned down or told that he must wait for a few months while a panel of lawmakers and self- appointed religious experts decides whether he is allowed to have the medical care he needs? Does it ever happen that strangers also drag in his employer, his insurance company, members of his community, and vociferous protesters standing around the medical facility? Do we expect him to hire security or arm himself ,risking his life to get, for example, bypass surgery? Even if it so happens that almost no abortions are at all medically necessary, if the answer is that this never happens to men and that it frequently happens to girls and women, we have an issue with a violation a of fundamental human right. Any man who thinks he will never get stuck in the same trap as a woman merely because he will never need an abortion, might consider that his sex will not protect him if the discrimination happens to turn against males in general, regardless of age, nationality, or any other circumstance he thinks will guard him.

  108. I had to approve my husband getting a vasectomy.

  109. Equating Pro-Life supporters as people who are religious extremists wanting to control the personal lives of women is the what President Trump has made popular as “Fake news”... There is probably a majority of the Pro-Life supporters who are not religious extremists who have held the same views well before social media, that abortion became an alternative contraceptive method, rather than a medical safe guard procedure to terminate an early stage pregnancy from rape and incest. Yet when Pro Choice advocates demand “on demand” abortions and place the aspect of choice above life as a constitutional protected right without any compromise, then the battle lines were drawn well before the Trump Era.

  110. Fact: the majority of anti-choice people are religious. You’re wrong on that. But that doesn’t matter. You’re right about the other thing: the battle lines are drawn. Because this is my body, and the government cannot force me to go through with a pregnancy. And if you want it to be able to do that? Well, then guess what. Forced blood and organ donations should also be mandatory, because it falls under the same umbrella. If you aren’t comfortable with the government telling you that you must donate an organ, then you shouldn’t be comfortable with the government forcing me to give birth. End of.

  111. @MDCooks8 - The abortion rate has fallen 40% in the last decade, so why all the hysteria NOW? As for "abortion on demand," that does NOT mean, as most forced bithers interpret it, "abortion at any stage of pregnancy." Roe already limits it to the stage prior to viability, with certain crucial exceptions. Both the NY and VA laws address crucial exceptions and, contrary to the lies told by forced birthers, do NOT allow the killing of a healthy, viable fetus just prior to birth, nor do they allow the killing of a living newborn. The fact that so many people are so willing to believe those lies show that there'll never be a coming together on this issue.

  112. @K Respectfully I agree that government should be limited in many areas, however these institutions are needed to bind society as cohesively as possible, and if we as a society cannot protect the beginning of life then I have no problem with laws being implemented for that protection. I also agree that all people should control most every aspect of their life as long as accountability is for one’s own actions are taken to heart. We all know that life and choices we make aren’t clear cut, however lacking foresight of consequences and discounting the potential of life is not planning and should never be.. What is more upsetting is how some Pro-choice advocates are encouraging women to make public their experiences of having an abortion because if this subject is about privacy, why the need to advertise? Realistically abortions will continue to occur and this argument will never cease to dwindle since politicians will always make this a voting issue.

  113. What the anti-abortion side does not understand is that law is a matter of linguistics, and the state that can say "you may not" can with a flip of intent can say "you must". Prohibition has not worked in any arena.

  114. This debate is not complicated at all. My body - my choice.

  115. For now, I think it’s unfortunate that Republicans can stake a claim to the moral high ground and the Catholic vote, by being pro-unborn life, while being in a morally despicable gutter in every other way. As for the choice issue itself, I don’t think there will be agreement until science can answer, definitively, whether the embryo or fetus is or is not a human being. Judicial and religious opinions won’t bring it about.

  116. @Anonymous Science has answered the question. A fetus is a fetus, not a human being. The debate isn’t about that. It’s about the philosophical definition of a human being—and that cannot be categorically answered. Hence the pro-choice side makes most sense: choose for yourself, according to your belief about what is and isn’t a human

  117. @Anonymous - That's the wrong question to ask. The point is that when you grant full civil and human rights (personhood) to a fertilized egg, you automatically remove the civil and human rights and personhood from the living, breathing, sentient woman who happens to host that egg. In a case where only one of the two can have the rights of personhood, do we grant those rights to the already living, functioning human being or do we grant those rights to an insensate egg or embryo.

  118. @Anonymous Don't you understand? It does not MATTER if the fetus is a "human being". As long as the fetus is not viable, it should not be able to legally commandeer the woman's body, jeopardizing her health, well-being and using her financial resources to sustain its life unless she consents! The "human being" fetus can't commandeer the father's body. He can't even be compelled to donate a pint of blood to save its life! The law protects his bodily autonomy __even if he is dead_. Please explain to me how that makes sense.

  119. What is perfectly clear is that there is no national consensus on the abortion issue, and that is precisely why decisions about abortion must be left to the directly involved individuals. And those directly involved individuals are WOMEN, not men. Men have no standing on the abortion issue, and the male dominated legislatures on both the national and state levels act only to protect male privilege and domination over women. In this manner, the motivation of such legislative bodies of men is pornographic in the sense that most pornography is about control of the female body by men. The recent acts of Republican-led legislatures to pass anti-abortion laws is about control and not, as those withered old men would have people believe, about respect for the life of children. If the latter were the case, there would be no children in cages at the border, there would be no starving children, there would be no homelessness. So let the proper people make the decision about abortion. And those proper people can only be those most affected: WOMEN. This is not a decision for fear and hatred motivated men. This is not a decision for any man.

  120. Until the anti-abortion folks come with with some examples of women who chose to abort a healthy third trimester child for reasons of convenience, vanity, social plans, or the like, they should stop talking about third trimester abortions. Those happen serious medical reasons, not personal whims. From the other end, we have survived with the Hyde Amendment in place. If that is what it would take to quiet down the anti-abortion people, let it stand. Though having it in place has not kept them quiet to date.

  121. I don’t care if they come up with a reason. You can’t force me to donate blood to save your life. Doesn’t matter if Im anemic or afraid of needles or just would prefer to binge watch Netflix that day. That needle isn’t going into my arm if I don’t want it to. So even if the highly-unlikely scenario occurs where a person changes their mind before birth and just decides they don’t want to have to go through the extreme pain, the potential tearing and disfiguration, the weeks and months of recovery, etc... they shouldn’t have to.

  122. @Jim S. - You may be right that allowing the Hyde amendment to remain in place (for now) will help, but frankly, I haven't seen any evidence that any concession will appease the forced birthers. That said, I have to wonder why those of us opposed to war or corporate subsidies or privatized prisons or any of the other social ills are expected to pay for those with our taxes, while only the forced birthers get the a la carte menu of what their taxes will pay for.

  123. It hasn't kept them quiet and it just hurts poor women.

  124. There is no way that any viable human in America can legally be forced to use any part of his or her body to support that life of a non-viable human. None... EXCEPT in the case of pregnant women. Let that sink in. If the anti-abortion movement gets its way, her body becomes the property of the state as long as she is pregnant and her health, well-being and financial resources can be used by another, non-viable person. By law! No one ELSE can be forced by law to donate as much as a pint of blood or a fingernail paring to save the life of a non-viable fetus... no one. Not even the father. Everyone but the woman has absolute, unquestionable bodily autonomy. How is that OK?

  125. Thank you. All this argument about personhood, responsibility, etc... its all ignoring the elephant in the room. You drove the stake into the heart of the matter.

  126. Regarding Jeannie Wallace French: She chose to donate her daughter’s organs to save the lives of 2 other children. We are not forced to donate blood to save lives, we are not forced to donate kidneys, we are not forced to be organ donors even after death to save lives. Yet some people believe women should not be able terminate a pregnancy that needs her body. Why doesn’t the pro-life community advocate for compulsory organ donation, it certainly would save lives. I agree that this is not a black and white issue, but I am pro-choice because I believe banning abortion will not stop it, it will only make it less safe and available for less affluent women.

  127. How is it that men make the laws about women's bodies? How about required DNA tests for every pregnancy to determine the father. Every father of the fetus held financially responsible for the first 20 years of a child's life. You might find that the men making the laws might have a change of heart about abortion.

  128. Yes. I feel so angry when pro-birth people say a fetus can “survive on its own” at 24 weeks. As if a prematurely born infant could care for and support itself!

  129. For many women abortion is neither a tough decision nor a hard issue. Of course for many people it is both: for the women among them, by all means don't have an abortion (though of course many of you will pursue that option anyway). But don't dictate your own personal moral or religious views about personhood or abortion on those who don't share them. The medical decision whether to have an abortion is between the woman and her doctor: no place for the state to weigh in.

  130. I’ve always felt that the debate about personhood was completely irrelevant. Let’s say I have a rare disease and for some reason, the only way I can survive this disease is if I get a blood transfusion, and the only blood that will work is yours. Even though blood donation is safe, harmless, and easy, I cannot force you to donate your blood. Even if that means I will die. Now, no one (well, except maybe my ex-husband) would argue that I’m not a person. No one would think I should die. But they also would not be comfortable with the government forcing you to donate blood, even though, again, it is a safe and harmless procedure with no long term effects. Pregnancy is NOT safe and harmless. If a person gets pregnant against their will, they shouldn’t have to suffer through temporary and permanent physical, hormonal, and mental changes to bring the pregnancy to term anymore than you should be forced to donate blood to save my life. Whether or not the embryo/zygote/fetus is a person is irrelevant.

  131. @K Thank you, K of Forest Park, Illinois. The more extreme conservatives seem to think that once they have argued for the "personhood" of the fetus, its rights to a woman's body are established. You break that very bad logic by noting that this "right" is not something we accept in any other context. Something as simple as a blood donation is hardly so simple as to confer a right for that donation to be required by law. I do not think you needed to mention the dangers of pregnancy. Those too are beside the point. You've made, to my mind, the most devastating point a conservative can encounter. Too many pro-choice arguments start too late (and too feebly) in the logic. You set things straight by starting precisely where the conservative argument begins and show that its further "logic" is not logical at all. Kudos.

  132. Looking for some simplifications, I found these in the last few days: a mother does not have to submit her body to the rights of another, no matter how innocent states with the most strict abortion laws have the worst infant mortality [life to fetuses, ill health and death to mothers, babies, and doctors!] I'd suggest that universal access to inexpensive birth control is the solution. As long as the pro lifers present as anti family, mother, and children, they stand for hypocrisy. As long as they lie and distort the actual facts, they stand for hypocrisy. The world does not need unwanted children. The rare exceptions do not justify treating a mother as only a vessel, and the child once born as not worthy of the same care and attention as a fetus.

  133. The New York Times should use the phrase "anti-abortion rights" rather than "anti-abortion" when describing people's positions. As is stated elsewhere in the article, many people who believe that abortion is "wrong" believe in the Constitutionally protected right to an abortion. People who are described here as "anti-abortion" are actually against other people's rights to make up their own minds about it.

  134. @Roxanne EXCELLENT point, Roxanne. Thank you for making it.

  135. I might be wrong, but I got the impression that this is how they were using it. “Anti-choice” meant you are against anyone having an abortion. “Anti-Abortion” meant you’re against having an abortion for yourself, but are not necessarily against other people making that choice.

  136. Making abortion legal and available with some limitations gives women the ability to handle the issue in the way they feel is necessary. No one is forced to give birth; no one is forced to have an abortion. The decision to abort or not to may well be complicated for the people making it; it is up to the people to make the decision, not the government.

  137. @Carole Goldberg But "some limitations " can result in "forced to give birth"

  138. @Carole Goldberg, In the third trimester, too? Why almost all developed countries in the world don't agree with you?

  139. I don't see how leaving the choice up to the mother is an uncompromising, absolutist position, much less equivalent to the outright bans that were legislatively passed in the Southern states this year. The issue is political, which means each side uses extreme rhetoric to rally their base. But only one of those sides tells clear, demonstrable lies long after they've been debunked, and generally argues in bad faith. And look at actions taken in legislatures and the courts. One side is anguished, parsing words, and passing laws in full compliance with the compromise established by Roe v. Wade. The other is bringing whatever govt apparatus they control to enforce their theology, and passing legislation specifically designed to wreck that compromise. There is no equivalence here.

  140. It’s just that it’s a slippery slippery slope. I really think bodily autonomy is primal. I feel that way relative to abortion, or mandated chemical castration or the enforcement of overly draconian vaccine policies. I’ve been sick most of my adult life. Undoubted that informs my view. I would never fit into a neat category yet I know I should avoid pregnancies, viruses and chemicals to put it lightly. My body is uniquely rickety, with its own set of instructions. It often behaves very differently than others, with random side effects, complications and a variety of general protests to anything from food to weather to you name it. My doctors can’t always help me so what would the government know about that? So I paced vaccines, modulate my lifestyle and pray. Often. The picture I draw above is broad, only meant to explain my mindset. Am not black and white in anything other than choice. When it comes to ones body, choices and education are the correct combination individually but also as a matter of public health policy outcomes. Pregnancy is very much a medical issue. Yes, there is a burgeoning unborn life, but that life should never hijack the body of the woman it resides in..... Public policy should reflect what works: sex education, access to contraceptives, and paid leaves for parents. Period, full stop. Pun very much intended.

  141. If abortion is a problem the solution is thorough sex education in our schools and free contraception. Mandatory DNA testing and cross reference to DNA databases to automatically garnish wages so fathers pay abortion costs or child support would also help lots too.

  142. This relates to the abortion issue as written by Jeremy Peters on June 15. When we go to the polls to vote, there is no space on the ballot where we can check mark "This Is a Hard Issue". Divorce is another "hard issue" which often affects your children and your faithful mate in very negative ways. There are many "hard issues" to be faced in a lifetime. "Perspective" is hard to come by but it surely helps to get us through these "hard issues". "Perspective " is "The capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance" (Merriam Webster).

  143. All of the hemming and hawing over how to resolve the idea of being personally antiabortion and politically pro-choice, I have a really stunning idea: don't have an abortion. There, simple! You can be personally antiabortion and express this through your decision to never have one. You can express your politically pro-choice position by ensuring that all pregnant people have safe, legal access to abortion. It really isn't as difficult as the people featured in this article claim it is. Their struggle is that they want to both legislate others' decisions AND be seen pro-choice. It doesn't work that way. Anything that impedes the right to safe access to abortion is anti-choice. Also, please start using the phrase "antiabortion" in place of "pro-life." I think most Americans agree that unless you are fighting for access to health care, healthy food, safe environments, and excellent public schools while also fighting for embryos, you are not even remotely "pro-life."

  144. @K Well said! I find it particularly ignorant when the anti-abortionists are only interested in preventing abortion, but then have no desire to fund child care, health care, extended maternal leave, etc., etc.

  145. @Gillian I also find it particularily ignorant when they claim they are pro-life but also pro-guns, pro-war, pro-death penalty, and anti-health care for those unable to afford it. In almost all these cases, they are simply pro-patriarchy and nothing more fundamentally threatens patriarchy like women alone determining their reproductive destinies. That’s who we as a society should be challenging, men who keep pushing archaic patriarchal values on the rest of us and the women who enable them. Shun them and isolate them to their First Amendment-protected houses of worship. The Amish are happy with that arrangement and it seems to be working out fine for those living in the surrounding communities.

  146. @K And also fighting against indiscriminate bombing, most wars, and the death penalty—then you can be pro life...wait I forgot animal cruelty and saving the planet from climate change. Fight against the former and for the latter, then you can be pro life. Did I leave anything out?

  147. I cannot fathom why anyone would want to transfer to the government the mother's right and freedom to make the decision about continuing or ending a problem pregnancy. Roe is based on the idea that the government's power to do that is limited, and increases through the 2d and 3d trimesters as a potential human being advances into the status of probable human being. The government's power to make a 1-size fits all principle that applies to all individuals is highly suspect, particularly for conservatives.

  148. @Sequel Minor correction: “should be” highly suspect to conservatives. However, government regulations over women’s bodies seems to be an exception to conservatives’ aversion toward regulations.

  149. @Sequel actually its quite easy : religion "believers" believe "ends justify the means" , if the "ends" coincide with their personal beliefs.

  150. People on both sides of the debate share a goal: To reduce the number of abortions. Abortion isn’t something that any woman hopes to experience in her lifetime. The difference is between the two factions lies in how they seek to accomplish this goal. Anti-choice advocates want to reduce the number of abortions by exerting government power over people’s bodies. Instead of leaving the choice in the hands of the individuals involved, they want to substitute federal dictum and criminal penalties. Pro-choice advocates want to reduce the number of abortions through high quality sex education, widespread access to birth control, and empowering women and their health care providers. One big difference between these two factions is that only one recognizes a central fact: Nothing a society can do will eliminate all abortions. The pro-choice side, accepting this reality, wants to provide swift, affordable access to abortion. The anti-choice side wants to pretend that criminalizing the procedure will eliminate it.

  151. @Iris you articulated my own sentiments as a pro-choice advocate. However, I do not think that is the message that is being heard from the Democratic Party.

  152. @Iris gotta disagree as the forced-birther side of the debate have the goal of ELIMINATING abortions and REMOVING the ability of women to make their own choices.

  153. @Iris - I honestly don't think the goal of the forced-birthers is to reduce the number of abortions, but rather is all about social control. So that's why the divide can't be bridged. If they were really trying to reduce the number of abortions, they'd be happy to see how the number of abortions has been decreasing thanks to better access to healthcare and birth control.

  154. I don't find abortion a complicated issue at all. I am pro-woman, and pro-abortion. Under any circumstance. If the woman in question wants an abortion, she should be able to obtain one--no judgement, no lectures, no assuming she doesn't know what she's doing. I put the cut-off at about 24-26 weeks, although a fetus delivered at that early stage has a high probability of not surviving, so I may be more likely to push that back by a couple weeks. But, I do not value the fetus over the woman. The woman's life should always come first, and society should assume she knows what's best for her.

  155. @Ms. Pea. I agree with you, I think, but I get a little confused when you use words like “under any circumstance” and then say “there’s a 24-26 week cutoff period”. Words like “under any circumstance” will inflame the right and they won’t listen to the rest of your message. Instead of the left trying to define nuance, why aren’t we simply saying “We support leaving Roe v. Wade the way it is.”?

  156. @Jordan F I agree. We should start saying we support leaving Roe v. Wade the way it is.

  157. @Jordan F "Under any circumstance" is a crucial part of the matter. A woman has the right to decide for herself. Almost everyone supports the right to abortion in the cases of rape or incest, but all that means is "you can have an abortion if I agree you have a good enough reason." Why should anyone else have a right to weigh in on that decision? If a woman is pregnant, and does not want to continue the pregnancy, that's reason enough for me.

  158. I'm with Liz Allen -- pro-choice but anti-abortion. I've been pro-choice since well before Roe was decided, having helped in the late-60s campaign to liberalize NYS abortion laws. But choice means choice, which some pro-abortion radicals seem to have forgotten. While I would prefer to see fewer abortions, I understand that individual choices made by women are none of my business. My view is, I believe, the consensus of American opinion. We should be working harder to ensure that every woman and teen girl has access to quality gynecological care and birth control, that early teen girls (and boys!) are exposed to sex education, that pregnant women are able to get a wide range of counseling and offered options -- choices -- that should include adoption. And just as important -- since two thirds of abortions are performed for lower-income women -- we must have public policies and programs that support families and enable working women, single or married, with adequate guaranteed parental leave, child day care and, if necessary, direct financial help.

  159. @John Burke - That doesn't make sense. Where are thee "pro-abortion radicals" in what you've written? You're calling for the same thing pro-choice women are asking for, and yet you claim "radicals" somehow deny choice. Explain. NO ONE is talking about FORCING anyone to have an abortion, which means we're absolutely talking about choice.

  160. Roe and Casey seem to be good compromises. The right to privacy and bodily autonomy ensure that a woman has a right to choose before viability and after that 23-24 week mark the states choose to enact restriction as long as they preserve the health and life of the woman and take into account severe fetal abnormality. As the Casey ruling stated: "matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment."

  161. @Anon Well said.It means the personhood of men as well as of women is at stake.

  162. The comment by the woman who chose to deliver the twin fetus with severe spina bifida who died shortly after birth highlights the fundamentally flawed framing of this debate. That was her CHOICE, and the fact that she considers herself pro-life as a result of that means she is willing to remove that CHOICE from other women in her position. Pro-life doesn’t just mean you don’t like abortion, or you think there are good reasons to not have an abortion. It means you are forcing women to make a particular decision without regard to their circumstances or beliefs. Yes, abortion is a tough, nuanced issue. The pro-choice platform in general acknowledges this nuance in a way the pro-life platform cannot. It is based on the idea that because the issue is nuanced, we should err on the side of less restriction so that each case can be decided by those most intimately involved in the details, most notably the pregnant woman herself. And if you support the woman’s choice, then it makes no sense to erect geographic and financial barriers that effectively remove that choice.

  163. The flaw in this argument is the assumption that those “most intimately involved, most notably the mother” will act ethically. So, to be pro-choice you must endorse the ethics and morality of all women. As with men, some women are moral and ethical, and some are not. As there is a social impediment to killing, theologians devised “just war”theory. In fact, it is still used to justify Christian participation in contemporary warfare. Is there such a thing as a “just abortion”? What would It qualifications be? Under what circumstances would terminating a pregnancy, which involves the destruction of a scientifically defined human being, be moral or immoral? That is the discussion that needs to happen and no, that is not the question that Roe decided. Society has an obligation to be involved.

  164. @Cold Eye I respect that this will always be an issue that causes disagreement and consternation. Which is why I stated that a pro-choice stance errs on the side of less restriction, but we will likely never live a society that has no restrictions whatsoever. Roe v Wade was the judicial weigh-in of our society on a contentious issue. It decided, essentially, that up until the point of viability, a woman's right to privacy is guaranteed by the 14th amendment and thus abortion bans are unconstitutional, and that all bans after viability need to include exceptions for the life and health of the mother. In this context any debate about supposed "immoral" women having abortions for what others arbitrarily or even collectively define as the wrong reason is immaterial, because a viable woman's right to privacy supersedes the rights of a pre-viable fetus. I happen to think this is a reasonable stance, because when we leave it for debate when a pre-viable fetus has more right to self-determination than a fully sentient, aware, and autonomous human, we create a dangerous slippery slope. Since about 99% of women who have abortions do so before 21 weeks, and the remaining 1% generally involve significant health complications to the mother or fetus, I think efforts to police the morality of women on this issue is a solution looking for a problem.

  165. A second point about this complication: those who hold that individual states may ban abortion as a matter of States Rights, which are said to protect local decision-making . But if the goal is local decision-making, why isn't that decision pushed down to the ultimate local jurisdiction, the woman carrying the pregnancy? That's real local control. There's ultimately no middle ground for people who truly see personhood from conception. If they don't then when -- which is ultimately a religious belief, which the Constitution specifically prevents States from imposing on any individual.

  166. @Eben There are atheists and agnostics who know that from the instant of conception, the DNA makes the fetus a human being whether it is viable or not. You do not have to be religious to be anti-abortion.

  167. @Adrian Sure, you can find a relatively small number atheists and agnostics who believe that from the instant of conception, the DNA makes the fetus a human being with all of the rights of personhood whether it is viable or not. But that's not much of an argument, see" https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/views-about-abortion/ Of atheists and agonists, 3% hold that the abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Of people who are certain or nearly certain of the the existence of God , 94% hold that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. While there may be other variables involved (it's not clear that the Pew methodology controlled for class, for example), this is pretty convincing evidence that holding that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases is derived from religious belief. It follows that the anti-abortion population wish to impose it's religious view of the matter on those atheists and agnostics. Imposing religious views of one group on another is clearly a violation of the Constitution. Roe, many legal scholars admit, is, admittedly, not a great piece of jurisprudence being based on a imputed right to privacy. But, as demonstrated here, there's a strong argument based on explicitly stated rights in the Constitution that banning abortion by any State is Unconstitutional. Let's, by all means, push the decision down from the Federal, down to the localest of levels - i.e., to the woman who is pregnant.

  168. @Adrian but it helps

  169. "Both political parties are doing a poor job of connecting with the sensibilities of Americans who “are both pro-life and pro-choice,” Mr. Krueger said. And the result is a situation where “a lot of people are feeling like orphans on this issue.”" Amen. Another reason I've never joined either party is the tendency in this decade to zoom off to the farthest position, to pretend that polls don't show repeatedly that most people in the country don't want an outright ban, yet also don't want a blanket permission. Safe, legal and rare is a worthwhile goal for both parties - too bad they can't work together right now.

  170. @b fagan. They don't because Republicans' real goal isn't to reduce abortion, but to control and dominate and punish women for having their own sexual and economic agency. "Safe, legal, and rare" is exactly what they *don't* want.

  171. One factor frequently left out of the equation is what to do after a woman is forced to have a child she doesn't want. It's totally unacceptable to force her to give it up. So if it's a legitimate economic issue, should we provide specific and significant financial assistance for her (like an enhanced version of the old AFDC program). If so, for how long? If it's a matter of a child born with known disabilities will we guarantee to provide all care for the his/her lifetime? There are also crucial conflicts within the principles of medical ethics, like the dilemma between autonomy and beneficence/non-maleficence. No easy answers exist for this question.

  172. @John Vance Not to mention carrying a child she does not want. Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows the diligence and sacrifice involved. If the woman is hostile to the fetus and unwilling to all that is required, how can anyone think that will lead to a good outcome?

  173. @Anon. It doesn't. It's known that crime rates dropped precipitously about 18 years after Roe v. Wade was decided - the very age all those unplanned, unwanted, neglected babies would have reached the age of maximum criminality. Safe, legal abortion is a public good.

  174. I would like the candidates to share a more comprehensive platform that includes where they stand on contraception, health education, and access to birth control. It feels to me that we will never come to a common agreement in this country on abortion. However preventing unwanted pregnancy should be the focus. There are so many other options that are not made available to women and men. That needs to change.

  175. As an adoptive parent, I relate to this article as the complicated realities of our family story are not acknowledged by either “pro-life” or “pro-choice” politicians. My children are not “unwanted” nor are they a burden on society—they are deeply loved and wanted by both their biological parents and adoptive parents. I am grateful that we have evolved as a society to encourage open adoptions where biological parents can choose adoptive parents and keep in touch with adoptive families to watch their children grow and thrive without shame. Yes, there is loss, but they are making a selfless decision in the best interests of their child. I cannot fathom adopting a child from a woman who had no agency and was forced to carry a child to term and place her child with strangers or with the state in foster care.

  176. Of course it’s complicated. There are certainly morality questions regarding abortion, however that does not justify legislating personal morality. And the decision to continue or end a pregnancy is as personal as it gets. Why does the observation that the woman who chose to continue her pregnancy and was subsequently in a position to donate the heart valves of the baby girl who sadly died as anticipated have any relevance in this discussion? The implication seems to be that her choice to give birth was more moral than would have been her choice to abort because 2 heart valves were donated and 1 baby died? Aborting or giving birth in this situation are both moral decisions, the point being that the moral decision should be made by the woman who carries, not by legislators or judges. Yes abortion should be safe, legal AND rare, but not because we are legislating other’s moral choices, but because better access to and education about contraception could obviate the need for many (but not all) to make these difficult personal moral decisions. Pete Buttigieg is correct: “I trust women to draw the line.” And to the Ms. Kissling [“It’s not about trusting women, really. Every decision every woman makes about every abortion is an ethically good decision? No. It may not be.”]: Who are you to tell me whether my abortion decision is ethical or good?

  177. @Critical Reader. Yes. I take the chance that some women, a handful, will make an ethically bad decision in order to uphold the rights and safety of the millions of other women who won't.

  178. We have a law system in this country precisely because some people give in to their darker instincts. Should we remove all laws and trust all people to appropriately “draw the line?”

  179. @Jennifer Sweet This is a willful misreading of my comment. I am not advocating removing all laws, I advocate not legislating personal health decisions that have no impact on the rest of the citizenry.

  180. Everyone is pro-life. No one group can lay claim to that idea. Abortion is a traumatic decision but it’s no one’s business how a woman chooses to conduct a pregnancy. The zealotry of the anti-choice movement is an outrage and even the contingent who feels we should “trust “women” to make the “right” decision is arrogant. Women don’t owe that accountability to anyone. No amount of legislation will eliminate abortion. We’ll just get better at taking it underground.

  181. @Gabrielle Rose The anti abortion folks are just getting started. Once the camel's nose is inside the tent we'll see pregnancies registered and monitored by the state. Any poor outcome - miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, birth defect - could potentially be investigated. Some states might ban birth control, or possibly the sale of OTC pregnancy tests. I think the underlying motivation is to put women back to their 1950's position - married and at home with kids whether we like it or not. Maybe a low level part time job - no advanced education or professional career. Those are for men.

  182. NO TAXPAYER MONEY FUNDS ABORTION! The funding is for women's reproductive health services. Stop misunderstanding this important aspect of women's reproductive rights. It falls into the same trap as full term abortions. IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN.

  183. “Trust women”-Buttigieg’s response. That should be the new motto of the pro-choice movement. It’s not about the choice per se. It’s about ensuring women, and only women, have final decision-making authority over their health and their lives, equal to any other mentally competent adult.

  184. Why not take as an example the laws of almost all developed countries in the world?

  185. Complicated is irrelevant. One’s private physical autonomy should be absolute, and not limited to cases where we’re sufficiently impressed with your ambivalence over a controversial procedure.

  186. Abortion is and probably always has been an issue where logic and reasoning are largely missing, replaced by firmly held beliefs. Beliefs are difficult at best and normally impossible to sway, whether it is about religion or the earth being flat. Reasoning not only does not sway beliefs, it reinforces them, retrenching people into their corners. But abortion in particular is an issue that each side finds tricky to deal with the other's points. Being pro-choice for most is NOT being pro-abortion, and being pro-life does not always mean never an abortion. Women, who rightly assert that they should have control over their bodies, make individual and painful choices, and pro-lifers rightly fear wholesale terminations of pregnancies as a form of selective killing. Pro-life women wonder, rightly, why men are not equally culpable in pregnancies, why they are not subject to criminal and civil penalties. They ask why pro-lifers can support the death penalty, support reducing or removing support for poor people. Reason and logic hold no sway Iin these arguments. It is complicated.

  187. It’s interesting that the article is about how many have nuanced views on abortion and see the media and two parties reflecting only extreme positions on either side. Then you come to the comments section and see one side of just that, that there can be no compromise.

  188. @Anonymous Are you speaking of the forced pregnancy side? The one that has snipers who kill doctors and screaming mobs that intimidate and harass? I agree - they see no side but their own,have no doubt of their "right" to enforce their beliefs on others,no tolerance for other beliefs or for the Constitutional right to be free of their religion in civil laws.

  189. Getting lost in this debate is the fact that abortion is a medical procedure, and like all medical procedures it usually comes with pain, discomfort, inconvenience, and, on rare occasions, complications. These are good reasons why we might hope that abortion would be rare, just like we might hope that any similar medical treatment would be rare. From this perspective, to say abortion should be rare is not a matter of casting aspersions on people who have abortions, just as there is no shame for people who get other medical treatments. Another point that seems to be missed is that the "pro-life" advocates (who too often show little regard for life outside the womb and so really are just "anti-choice") undermine their own claims to a moral high ground by grossly misrepresenting the positions of their opponents. Third trimester abortions are extremely rare and are undertaken only in extreme circumstances. The idea that a woman would just walk into a clinic after having carried a fetus nearly to term and say, "I don't feel like having this baby and want to get rid of it" is just absurd and reflects the utter lack of respect that anyone who holds such an idea has for women. That this gets used as the basis for an attack on all abortion rights shows that those opponents of choice have no moral ground to stand on.

  190. No. It isn't complicated. NO ONE belongs in the space between a doctor and his patient and her partner. Not government, not religion, not do-gooders, not anybody. I don't have to decide about abortion. All I need to know is whether an abortion is right for me or my partner, decided in concert with our doctor. Period. We need to stop pretending that a fetus that cannot survive will become a murder victim. Nobody is pro-abortion. Everybody is pro-life. I am pro-choice - it's the choice of a woman, her partner and her doctor, made for any number of reasons, but not to be judged by anyone else.

  191. Its only complicated if the certain specific religious beliefs of some are allowed to become law and dominate the lives of every woman, no matter what be the circumstances, or the medical advice of her doctor.

  192. Roe does not allow for viable fetus to be aborted. Therefore, no human life is being taken. In a perfect world, no one would need an abortion. But, we most certainly do not live in a perfect world. Who will take care of all these children? Will programs for mothers be expanded? Will employers give time off with pay for birth and the ensuing needs of the woman and infant? Will women be able to claim a fetus on her tax returns? Will men be required to take DNA tests in order to determine paternity and financial help for the child? Most of the forced pregnancy movement believe life begins at conception or when a heartbeat is detected. If this is so, why the exception for a woman's health? If the embryo/fetus is a human being, why should the woman's life be any more important than the embryo/fetus? In my humble opinion, this hypocrisy demonstrates their desire to control a woman's healthcare choices rather than protecting all life.

  193. @Sue Salvesen Do we want the Nanny state making other medical decisions for our 'own good'? Forcing chemo or surgery? Overriding one's Do Not Resuscitate or other end of life options? Forced feeding? Or what about forced organ, bone marrow, blood donation? You could get by with only one kidney - someone else needs it to continue to live, maybe someone Important and/or wealthy...

  194. “She was pregnant with twins when she said the doctors discovered one had a form of spina bifida and advised her to abort. She declined and the baby, a girl, died shortly after birth. But doctors were able to use her heart valves to save two other infants.” Isn’t it wonderful that she had this choice? She shouldn’t have been FORCED to continue that pregnancy if she felt it wasn’t best. And she wasn’t. She and her doctor were able to have a discussion based on her specific situation, and she got to make a decision. That’s all anyone is asking for.

  195. Forced? Having to travel to another state, which we would all do to get medical care we need that may not be available in our state, is hardly forcing anything. It’s all a political game.

  196. Choice is limited by Roe. Roe is limited by viability.

  197. @KThese sorts of stories always infuriate me. She CHOSE to continue her pregnancy. She would deny other women that right.

  198. Indeed, the issue of abortion is complex. So many of us women have to dig deep within ourselves to comprehend its gravity. I am pro-choice. But for many of us born and raised as Catholics, we would not want to face the dilemma of having to choose to terminate a pregnancy or not. Truth be told, I am glad my child-bearing years are over and that I never was faced with the above decision. I can not say for sure how I would both react and act. But I am a nurse and, like my counterparts, understand the necessity of a pregnancy which perhaps should be ended. Also, once again it is most important to separate abortion from religion. Organized religion has no place re this issue....the bottom-line being that it is an invasion and itself immoral to rob a woman of who she is, her identity, her individuality. No one should either judge or prevent what is a woman's right over her own body and mind.

  199. How is it so complicated? It is the right of the woman to choose and make a decision. Men have unnecessarily indulged themselves in this discussion for nothing but political and religious gains. Nothing more, nothing less. And, with relation to any religion, men and women both follow their religious beliefs based on what their religious/cult leaders have preached (falsely or otherwise.) The sooner we, the US citizens understand this, the better for our country.

  200. "it's complicated". So let's make it simple: Imagine any conservative judge that has something growing inside his body that the government says he is not allowed to remove. Would he accede to that? The answer is simple and NO.

  201. “Something growing inside a person’s body? That “something” is a human being the person helped create. It’s not a tumor. Roe is the law. Viability is the determining factor. As medicine advances, Roe will fall apart with earlier viability lessons. The entire debate is a cottage industry for politicians and lobbyists.

  202. @Becky - if instead of abortion, we had millions of unwanted vat-grown humans, is that progress? No matter how many times people say that a bunch of cells is a human life, that human life is still just a bunch of cells.

  203. @Becky In the case of rape or incest, we could add that "some thing is growing inside his body that is the result of a felony committed upon his person:|".

  204. Jeannie Wallace French had a *choice* and *chose* to bring her spina bifida baby to term. How is that not--how can she not be --pro-choice?

  205. I support people talking to each other respectfully and sharing their experiences and beliefs. I also support abortion as a fundamental right for women without which there is little hope of financial or political equity for poor to middle class women, children, and families. In fact, often the only difference between a poor woman and one who completes a professional education and achieves middle class status is one or more abortions. Poverty is a fearful condition in the U.S. Arguing against abortion to me is like arguing against public education or arguing for the Ponzi game of replacing public education with charter schools. Is abortion often a poor choice between the fire and frying pan? Yes. Could much public education be much better? Yes. But you can't negotiate for better when you give your rights away. When we have universal health care, free birth control, and more respect for the lives of women and children, perhaps abortion will both be reduced and become a health issue, and not political hay for men who could care less about women, abortion, or all those brown children in cages on our border.

  206. @Dr. Conde Abortion is already at the lowest rates it's been at since Roe v. Wade, thanks to better sex education and long- acting contraceptives. You'd think conservatives would appreciate and acknowledge that. No. Instead they are hell-bent on outlawing the procedure completely.

  207. The argument about abortion rights is the perfect example of how oversimplification of a complex medical situation leads to utter confusion. If you asked an average American, or doctor, for that matter, whether they are pro-surgery or anti-surgery, they would say the question is ridiculous because you can't answer the question without a context. Surgery for headaches might be appropriate in some cases, if the cause is a brain tumor. For an upset stomach, pretty much never, although if the cause is an inflamed appendix, probably yes. We are trying to answer the wrong question. Abortion is never something anyone wishes to have: it's simply the best of many bad options. In other cases, the health issues may not command the same moral imperative, and other options may be more appropriate. It's is also entirely within the realm of possibility that for some woman options that would be preferable, or even more morally defensible would be worse, and appear to be less morally defensible to other women. Doctors and society are not here to pass judgment in morally complicated cases. Where there is a clear injustice, society must attempt protect the rights of those harmed. When the morality of a situation is more debatable within the culture, the law has no business legislating for the minority or the majority. It must remain neutral. People forget that pro-choice people are not pro-abortion. They are in favor of avoiding the intrusion of the nanny state.

  208. This attached article is the heart of the abortion debate for me. I don't see it as a debate; rather, it's about caring. Once, in Charlotte, I was visiting my doctor on Greenwood St. There was an abortion clinic across from his office. When I came out of the appointment about a hundred people were picketing and protesting out on the clinic's front lawn. At first I just scoffed like a good liberal. Then, a woman who was protesting could not stand any more she was so upset. Two other women guided her away to a patch of grass and she fell to her hands and knees, praying I think but also crying. At that moment I realized there is no debate. This is about tears, true faith, tragedy, children, child-mothers and fathers What does politics have to do with this?

  209. @Brad Page I don't doubt that protester's fervor and its impact on you. I doubt that she or you knew the tears, true faith, tragedy or any of the myriad factors that go into another family's decisions. But that protester thought she did, and likely voted in line with her fervor. That's what politics has to do with it. Vote pro-choice, even if you don't think you'll have an abortion.

  210. @Brad Page The crying woman should have stayed home to pray. What do these protestors think they're going to accomplish by shaming and screaming scripture? That woman is welcome to practice her true faith in her true church. No matter how strongly she believes, that "belief" should never, ever be imposed on other women. She is not saving "innocent babies," but is punishing women about whose lives and reasons she knows nothing.

  211. @Brad Page Let us hope the woman crying was never forced to have an abortion. Meanwhile, we should never allow any religious extremists to make choices for other Americans, they cannot prey away their mistakes.

  212. The moral issue for me is bodily integrity. There are laws saying that it is illegal to try to force someone to donate blood, tissue, organs... that healthy organs cannot even be harvested from a corpse unless that person signed an agreement permitting that before they died... and whoops... all of that is tossed by the wayside when a woman gets present. Now it is perfectly fine and just to force that woman to donate her blood, tissue, and organs. I don't find abortion to be "complicated" at all. It is an issue of bodily integrity. At any point during pregnancy, a woman should be able to withdraw consent to continue donating her blood, tissue, and organs to the fetus. Any woman who wants an abortion at any time and for any reason should be able to get one. Full stop. The woman is more important than the fetus and has more rights than the fetus. Full stop.

  213. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. The number of abortions per capita has been steadily declining over the last 35 years. That is a good thing. For those who oppose abortion, prohibition is not the answer. That will only push the procedure into a black market, with life threatening consequences.

  214. @MidtownATL What’s with rare? Is this to placate people who believe abortion is murder because a zygote or a fetus is a person? This line will not satisfy them. Abortion will be rare to the extent that we promote sex education and contraception.

  215. @Doug Lowenthal It should be rare because unwanted or dangerous pregnancies should be rare.

  216. I am a senior woman. I know many women of my generation and my daughter’s that have had abortions, at least some some of whom were using birth control. I do not know one that had difficulty deciding or has any regrets to this day. Every one of them are mothers, in fact, they are excellent mothers. They each were considered able to make their decision and made it with no regrets. This is as it should be.

  217. Does not the pro-choice position—enpowering women to make these kinds of moral decisions—encompass so many of the doubts of these people in "the middle"? Yet where they could have that big ol' complex moral conversation *with* those women, it seems instead they'd rather force women to accept their position by legislating they can't make that decision at all.

  218. It is complicated. That’s why the woman who has the full knowledge of her situation: financial, emotional, supportive family, health, etc. and her medical provider who can give her the best advice regarding her health are the ones who should have a voice in answering this complicated question. The old saying “if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one” rings true to me.

  219. The political question in not complicated. The right to unfettered access to abortion is absolutely correct. What is complicated is the individual(s) decision on whether to exercise that right. And it is truly a difficult choice. But this choice is to be made by the pregnant woman; and her family, if she chooses to involve them. The societal debate should be about who pays; do we include it in Medicare? should health insurance pay for non-medically necessary abortions? I do see that these economic decisions are fair game for political choices like student debt, wealth and income taxes and defense expenditures. We need to strike a balance that is workable financially and politically.

  220. @Rudran Which members of society are ever stripped of bodily integrity? I can only think of slaves and, to some extent, prisoners, although they are allowed to decline being coerced into organ donation, etc. Children cannot make health decisions about their bodies but they have advocates who are supposed to make decisions for their benefit. Women are not only stripped of their body integrity but they are not even allowed advocacy for their own bodies and health, the fertilized egg or the embryo gets all the advocacy at their expense. It is shameful that others get to disregard any health concern for the pregnant person to advocate for an embryo.

  221. What is a non-medically necessary abortion? Pregnancy IS a medical condition, often causing hypertension, infections, anemia, diabetes, hyperemesis gravidarum, preeclampsia, and later, abdominal separation and incontinence. How can government force women to carry an embryo and subject their bodies to these illnesses? Medicaid should cover abortion because all women should be able to control their health risks.

  222. The issues of abortion is heavily politicized. It should be a safe personal affordable women's choice. While it is no one else's beeswax when having an abortion there should be clear guidelines and counseling available as to when women should consider or not consider abortion. As some one else suggested abortions should be rare and the decision well thought through. It is a life and death decision which a mother should take after very careful consideration.

  223. @Girish Kotwal what gives the mother the right to make a death decision for another person?

  224. @Paul P Manhattan. What gives you the right over the pregnant mother? The US judicual system has already give the right to the mother and it is not up to you and me. I would hope that the mother chooses life but beyond that it is not for me to decide or demand one way or the other.

  225. @Girish Kotwal the US judicial system also concluded that blacks were 3/5 of a person. But I guess that’s not for you and I to decide.

  226. Yes, abortion is very complicated. There are an almost infinite number of factors to be considered with every pregnancy, and even pregnancies of wanted babies leave women both thrilled and scared. There are so many things to that are effected: Health, money, career, relationship with a partner, time, other siblings, housing, extended family and on and on. Each woman's situation is different and each potential pregnancy will change every dynamic in her life. That very complexity is why each woman needs to be able to make the choice that she judges to be best in her own unique situation. With the exception of her doctor and her partner, anyone else's point of view is incomplete, unwanted and irrelevant. Shoving the power of the government into that decision-making process can in no way improve the outcome.

  227. The voices of moderation, consideration, and individuality are being drowned out, not just on abortion, but in every aspect of public speech. The fringes have the microphone and they are not going to let go until either every spineless and power hungry politician and partisan sycophant joins them, or reasonable people gather together to charge the stage and take the mic. It's not enough these days to be red or blue, one must be the exact shade of red or blue to be in the club. I'll pass.

  228. @fourfooteleven Women's health care and autonomy take a pass? National security in the hands of pay to players takes a pass? Immigration policies take a pass? Political power that controls everyone's life is a club? Less than 1% of the population owns 65% of our economy which codifies a future that belongs to silent and corrupt dictators. No thanks; I will keep fighting till the day I die - a choice I am still very much grateful to exercise in our messy, very noisy, and uncomfortable democracy.

  229. @purpledot I don't understand how you reached your conclusion that because I would like to hear more thoughtful, moderated, and individual voices in public discourse makes me some kind of hinderance to democracy. How can you assume from my post that I don't share many of your concerns? You seem to be proving my point.

  230. Here's one part that's simple" A woman having sex with 100 random men can carry 1 full-term pregnancy a year. A man having sex with 100 random women can cause 100 pregnancies a year. So why are we trying to control women?

  231. It simply does not matter if the average American finds abortion a “hard issue”. Are we still allowing Americans with difficulties over homosexuality to legislate gay lives? The issue just does not affect the average American unless she is a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, only those personally affected should be empowered to make the decision. To remove that power from women is to enslave them to gendered, second tier status, a status that is the norm in religiously-based primitive societies which America is not. I’m tired of people claiming Roe is “bad law” that should have been left to lawmakers to decide. Do we think laws banning suicide is something lawmakers should do? Of course not, we instead focus on prevention as abortion opponents should be doing. We’ve finally come to our senses with regards to laws banning homosexuality and abortion is no different. The right to bodily autonomy is not something up for legislators to decide; it’s a human right that is above the law which is really just an expression of the will of the populace. But the feelings of the average American are beside the point when it comes to fundamental human rights. They don’t get a say in my bodily decisions just as they don’t have a say in the affairs of those who are gay. And for those ready to claim the same rights for a collection of cells that can’t exist independently of the host organism, one word: viability. Until then, keep your “difficulties” to yourself.

  232. This is the point made by the recent reports on NYT’s The Daily podcast concerning European right wing opposition to EU liberalism. Roe v Wade was an inherently undemocratic imposition broadly striking down legislation in many States. These States were themselves in the repeal and reform process (the Texas legislature repealed the criminal prohibition some years after Roe)... Equating abortion rights with the right to vote, and other enumerated rights beginning with the Bill of Rights and some 22 or more constitutional amendments, seems like a judicial stretch, penumbras and emanations notwithstanding.... The result was an expansion of the Republican Party pandering to working class Southern Baptist’s and Catholics (do you really think Trump or Rove or the Bushes oppose abortion on a deeply held moral conviction)? This gave the unrestrained greed of the wealthy elites their access to a congressional majority, directly leading to the precarious division in the distribution of wealth and economic injustice we have today. The Republican Party will NEVER permit the reversal of Roe, they must have this divisive issue to maintain their illicit power each election cycle. The sincere voters of the religious right have been duped, and their leaders enriched. Their consolation will be “pie in the sky” when they die.

  233. I think pro-life folks forget that it is emotionally painful to get an abortion. No One Wants To Get An Abortion! But in some cases, it is the best option. It is the most responsible option. Ironically, I had an abortion when I was 22 and, of course, it was a painful choice for me. However, when I was 38 and not married, I decided to become pregnant by anonymous sperm donation....many of my pro-life friends, particularly Evangelicals, were v judgemental of me and called me selfish for choosing motherhood as a single woman. (btw, I now have the kid, hubby, and a white picket fence)

  234. The only thing about which there should be no compromise is the right to choose. Everything else we can decently argue about, including the Hyde Amendment: it’s perfectly reasonable to argue, “Okay, but I don’t want to help pay for it even if I agree.” Even if I think differently, still a reasonable argument. My real prob with this article is its “And pro-choicers are just as bad.” Yeah, I’ll believe that when pro-choicers start shooting people and throwing fire-bombs and chasing kids down the street with ugly pictures and publishing giant packs of lies. Fact is, the worst I’ve seen is some shouting, most recently from pols and their supporters who don’t seem to know what the word, “Choice,” means. It means that there’s nothing wrong with Joe Biden saying that he’s a Catholic, personally dislikes abortion, and supports Roe v. Wade absolutely. And it DOESN’T mean you have to agree with people who are okay with abortion. And yeah, I disliked Joe’s folding on the Hyde Amendment. I thought it was too clever by half, and bad politics to boot. If we become just as bad as the turnipheads, how is that good?

  235. It is not complicated! Women own their own bodies, period. Fetuses are not persons.

  236. "President Trump and the Republican Party are rallying their base by falsely portraying efforts to expand abortion rights in states like New York as condoning the murder of healthy full-term babies delivered by healthy mothers." Where the word "healthy" in this quote came from? Surely looks like a desire to mislead about what is being said.

  237. It’s not that complicated. A small group of hardliners are trying to impose their beliefs on what is currently a women’s right protected by law. These anti-abortion zealots don’t care that women’s lives may be destroyed because they could not get an abortion.

  238. I support every woman's right not to have an abortion; if she decides it is the right choice for her. However she has no right to deny other women the right to choose what is best for them. My observation of the "anti-abortioners" is that they are moral hippocrites who have little compassion for others, but revel in a delusion of moral superiority fed by the perverse brain-washing of their religion. For example, the Catholic church's opposition to birth control and abortion is a thinly veiled attempt to create more cash-donating catholics to keep the vatican's coffers overflowing. As we all know, the church should focus on addressing it's own corrupt morality and stop telling everyone else how to live.

  239. "“Women see this as ‘my autonomy,’ and there is no space for compromise in their minds on autonomy,” said Tresa Undem, a partner with the research firm PerryUndem who studies public opinion on the issue. “Honestly, Democratic candidates are catching up to Democratic voters who have been feeling this way FOR A FEW YEARS.” That means it only became an issue because of the elections!

  240. "It's complicated". No, not really. It's not complicated at all. I do not want the government, religious fundamentalists and nutcases, Catholics, and anyone else meddling unnecessarily in my private life and making deeply personal decisions for me that are none of their business. How difficult is that?

  241. This is not a complicated issue. If a woman is against abortion, she should go all in and not accept an abortion to save her own life, to avoid giving birth to a gravely ill baby, to abort a pregnancy caused by a rape-- all of the other "complex" reasons another woman might make the choice to have an abortion. See-- simple. But it the issue is complicated because that anti-abortion woman wants to prevent all the other women needing an abortion from having one. On the other hand, it IS simple in the other direction. The pro-choice woman would NEVER demand, insist, even suggest that an anti-abortion woman should have one. See? So stop it all you anti-abortion people.

  242. If you don't support abortion rights, don't have one. Don't force your beliefs on someone who disagrees. I wonder if many anti-abortion believers think that pregnancy out of wedlock is simply punishment for the sin? And what about rape, incest and health issues for the mother?

  243. It comes down to who do you trust more - women and their doctors or elected officials - who at best have no medical or spiritual training and at worst grandstand at others’ expense.

  244. I have posted this before. A girl in my HS died when her BF and his father attempted to abort her baby in 1971 at a local motel. They were not charged.Yes they used a coat hanger.At age 14, my conviction was made. If you don’t want an abortion, then don’t have one.Keep it legal, so women don’t die. P.S. fund sex education and fund Birth Control! Not wanting to inflame an already wildfire, but where are men on this?It takes 2, yet women are the ones that deal with the responsibility the majority of time . I have 2 Adult sons, glad I never had to make such a decision, but would never be so sanctimonious to inflect my views on another person.I’m sure the majority of women who have abortions, are heartbroken, and do not make this decision lightly.Let it be a private decision, and safe.

  245. Of course it is complicated. That is why progressives say the choice should rest with the woman, and to a lesser extent with the man. But the regressives insist on turning it into an no exceptions all or nothing with us or against us litmus test. I am sick of nuance also. The only good Republican is a dead Republican.

  246. I would like to announce my decision to for President in 2020. My campaign platform covers all the most popular issues but my main focus will be a woman's right to choose!! Once I am elected I will sign an executive order to make abortion MANDATORY following a stringent qualification process. Qualifiers will be based on income, education, number of previous children, mental health, as well several other factors. If you pass you can have your baby. If not... Of course I will have a free "Parenting and Adulthood" schools that you can enroll in after your abortion. Once you graduate you can have one baby. If you'd like another you'll have to go thru another round of the qualifying process. Do I have your vote?

  247. This argument, that abortion rights are “complicated,” doesn’t seem to have waylaid many other advanced countries in our world. So either American “exceptionalism” is present here, too, or the Bible-thumpers in our country have hijacked the issue from those of us in the majority who favor abortion rights. You make the call.

  248. Thanks for this article. My compliments also to Nate Cohn for his earlier rundown of the more nuanced public opinion polls and their lack of fit with our mainstream parties' commitment to stereotyping themselves. I am strongly pro-choice, but I have cogent reasons for that, and I NEVER see those represented in public discourse. Leaders in both parties simply shut people out, as though they are putting their fingers in their ears and shouting "No no no!" to all dissenting voices, including voters'. I recently failed to locate the phone number of someone I know well. I called someone who lives nearby who is related by marriage to the person. Before she would even speak to me on the phone, she wanted to know my political affiliation. Odd indeed, but I complied, which I now deeply regret. What followed was a top-decibel tirade that resembled the whir of chain saw. I could make out little of it other than the words "baby killer" and "abortion." Granted, this woman is unhinged. But I suspect there are plenty of her ideological opponents who are equally unhinged. The point is, we can't have a democracy without talking to each other and trying to reason together. And our political leaders seem reluctant to see that. They shout a slogan and stick their fingers in their ears. Is this to appeal to the masses? Maybe so, but both parties are losing those of us who strongly believe that they need to stop pandering to their lowest common denominator.

  249. Leave the free childcare out of this as well as any “rape and incest” exceptions. Give women safe access to abortions. We do not need to make up excuses. I was a middle class college student when I had an abortion. I got pregnant by my boyfriend like the vast majority of women do. I would not have qualified for the “free childcare” and I would not have wanted a kid anyway. All the free childcare in the world would not have made me a good mother.

  250. As complicated as you seem to feel this subject is I have to disagree. Yesterday I read a story titled “Florida forcing students to stand for anthem” while I believe we all should stand, and we as women are pro choice not pro abortion. This is not Germany of the 40s. We have rights. What is next? Do we “force” people to vote a particular way? Are we truly going to tell others they have to worship our god? This is America. Why did the original settlers come here? Enough telling others how to live, what to feel, who to believe in.

  251. At the core is a fundamental religious belief, that a person with a soul is created by God once conception takes place. That 2/4 of in vivo conceptions spontaneously abort is beyond our ken, as God works in mysterious ways. The position that there be no exceptions to an abortion ban in cases of incest or rape is, in fact, logistically consistent with this position. As is the position that intervention with drugs to prevent implantation. The recent laws passed in Alabama and other states refer to conceptuses as persons, are almost fully consistent. But note that they all make exceptions for termination of intervention pre-implantation. The question is why. Here's my hypothesis. 1) The politicians behind these bills may or may not actually believe in personhood from conception, but all know that if passed, State's Rights will preserve abortion rights a short flight away should a daughter or mistress need one. As has been noted widely, people who have money will still effectively have the right to an abortion. 2) But banning abortion pre-implantation would. to be morally consistent, lead also require the banning of In vitro fertilization (IVF) . That procedure inevitably generates multiple extra "persons" - discarding them would be murder. Storing them, involuntary imprisonment. Thus, even rich infertile couples couldn't use it. Wonder why Mitt Romney wants to ban abortion, but is ok that his son and wife used IVF to have children when some must be cryogenic prisoners?

  252. Where is the concern and outrage for tax payer funded pointless war? Folks seem to have no problem funding mass murder in the Middle East but are outraged at Planned Parenthood.

  253. It doesn't have to be complicated. Those who don't want abortion simply shouldn't have one. Everyone has that choice.

  254. I am baffled by the far right who embrace Kelly Ann Conway’s claims of alternate facts when it comes to the criminality of Donald Trump. Is this an embrace of “tolerance” or a lie. Yet when it comes to an issue of abortion, the far right have no ambiguity, no alternate facts, just certainty than any abortion or some forms of birth control is criminal.

  255. The elephant in the room is the GOP on a divide and conquer mission. Everyone opposes abortion until a loved one is raped, until it becomes a medical issue to preserve a life. Not the doctor, not the patient, not the medical staff is "for" abortion. What pro-choice is, is an admission that this complicated matter is finally up to the woman and her doctor only. No one else. Yet the very party that launched a campaign to diminish life by taking health care away, cutting food subsidies from millions of Americans, disproportionately aimed at women and children, announces their sudden concern for the unborn when they have actively sought to end the life of living born, decides to also attach birth control and the very personal decision a woman must make with her doctor...not her insurance company, not some nosey hypocrite right wing fundamentalist. This war on women and children, replete with locking up babies is an egregious assault on mankind.