Cartoon: How Banning the Abortion Pill Works


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I can’t always say what inspires any particular cartoon. But in this case, I know exactly. Jessica Valenti tweeted this:

Not one anti-choice legislator has answered this question: If a woman  shows up at a hospital, losing her pregnancy – how will you determine  who is having a miscarriage and who deliberately ended it? Pregnancy  loss from taking an abortion pill is indistinguishable from miscarriage.

Building off of Jessica’s point, Lindsay Beyerstein wrote a thread on Twitter, beginning with this tweet:

If history is any guide, they’ll put cops in hospital rooms to quiz  bleeding, drugged-up women; they’ll subpoena phone and internet records;  they’ll grill and threaten friends and coworkers to turn on her; you know, the usual criminal justice stuff.

I checked with Jessica and Lindsay, both of whom very nicely told me to go ahead, and then I wrote this strip.

It’s easy to ignore the kind of police state methods that will be necessary to enforce laws about something as personal as how people reproduce. This is especially the case with banning “the abortion pill,” a drug that should ideally be taken under a doctor’s supervision, but can be taken in private.

Not every cop is abusive, and not every D.A. is abusive. But enough of them are, and the justice system has evolved to accommodate the abuse and protect the abusers. Laws banning mifepristone are inevitably going to target patients who are at their most vulnerable. For something that should never be illegal in the first place.

* * *

Scripting this one took a while. My first drafts, following on Lindsey’s tweets, also talked about how forensic “science” will be used to prosecute, regardless of if it’s reliable. We think of forensics as a very reliable science – just look at what they do with it on CSI! But in practice, it’s a field that’s bursting with pseudoscience, corruption, and guesswork disguised as certainty. To give just one example, identifying people based on bite-marks is completely unreliable – but one that’s been used to prosecute people. There are horrifying stories of dubious convictions based on unscientific nonsense about burn patterns – including at least one execution. Bloodstain analysis, which seems so certain on Dexter, is anything but. Even fingerprints are less reliable than Sherlock Holmes believed.

But trying to explain how unreliable forensic evidence actually is ended up being too much to fit into one cartoon. The script was overloaded and clunky, and so I streamlined by getting rid of the forensic angle. Maybe I’ll return to that in a future strip.

Then, what should the situation be? I knew I wanted the gag to be a ban proponent telling the horrifying truth about what a  mifepristone ban would look like, and then correcting himself in the final panel. My first thought was a Senator at a press conference, telling the truth in thought balloons but then saying the sanitized version aloud; then I tried a Senator being briefed by a pro-life lobbyist.

In the end, seeking to simplify and streamline, I went with the “ask me anything” forum. I liked the device of having him type in an answer, and then deleting and rewording – because it just felt so relatable. Who among us hasn’t done that?

* * *

Folks supporting my patreon got to see this strip a week ago! I’m just saying.

* * *

TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has nine panels, arranged in a three by three grid. Every panel shows the same subject: A man wearing glasses and a polo shirt, sitting at a small table, with a laptop computer open in front of him.

PANEL 1

The man sits typing on his laptop. There’s a “tap tap tap” sound effect for his typing. Above him, in Arial font (a font commonly used for computer text), we can see what he’s typing. He is smiling and looks relaxed.

MAN (typing): Hello, “ask me anything” forum. I wrote proposed legislation to make using Mifepristone, also known as “the abortion pill,” a felony. Ask me anything!

PANEL 2

The man speaks aloud (in the usual faux-handwritten comic book font I use), looking pleasantly surprised.

MAN: I wonder how long it takes for… Oh, someone’s asked me a question already!

PANEL 3

The man reads aloud from his laptop screen. (Again, regular comic book font.)

MAN: “Pregnancy loss from taking an abortion pill is indistinguishable from miscarriage. How will you know who to arrest?”

PANEL 4

The man, still smiling and looking relaxed, types on his laptop.

MAN (types): Great question! First, we’ll tell doctors and nurses to immediately call the police if they think a miscarriage is suspicious.

PANEL 5

The same scene, but closer up. His smile looks creepier, however.

MAN (types): Cops will show up and grill women while they’re still bleeding and drugged. The perfect time to get a confession!

PANEL 6

Even closer up. His smile looks downright malicious now.

MAN (types): Experience suggests that certain classes of women- like poor women and black women -will more often be seen as “suspicious.” That shouldn’t bother you becau

PANEL 7

The man leans back from the laptop and puts a hand on the side of his face as he thinks. He’s no longer smiling.

PANEL 8

Leaning forward again, frowning, the man hits the “delete” key a few times. We know this because of the sound effect, which says: “Delete! Delete! Delete!”

PANEL 9

The man types again, once more looking relaxed.

MAN (types): Great question! We’ll know who to arrest through good old-fashioned police work.

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40 Responses to Cartoon: How Banning the Abortion Pill Works

  1. 1
    Dan Edmonds says:

    Thoughtful question, but actually fairly simple to answer. The abortion pill is a prescribed medication. The government already has access to all our prescribed medications through our state pharmacy board. The prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner, the pharmacist supplier, and the woman can all be neatly arrested with this documentary evidence. When legislators wives and daughters start getting arrested maybe the law would change.

  2. 2
    E.A. Blair says:

    “Above him, in Ariel font (a font commonly used for computer text), we can see what he’s typing.”

    Arial is a font. Ariel is a character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Arial is a font. Ariel is a character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

    Thanks! I’ll correct.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Dan, are you joking? I honestly can’t tell.

  5. 5
    Eytan Zweig says:

    @Dan Edmonds –

    Presumably, if a state bans the use of Mifepristone, then doctors and pharmacies in that state will no longer be able to prescribe/supply that medication. Do you think that will automatically remove all women in the state from suspicion?

    Couldn’t they have not been prescribed out of state?
    Couldn’t they acquired the medication illegally?

    Doesn’t this all just mean just what the comic says – that any miscarriage by a woman who belongs to a “suspicious” demographic will be deemed suspicious?

  6. 6
    Görkem says:

    ” The abortion pill is a prescribed medication.”

    I assume if the law is changed to make it illegal, it won’t be prescribed anymore.

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    In related news, right wing Christians are increasingly threatening civil war if they don’t win the fight on abortion through political means.

    Note, this is not a few random tweets and blog comments from nobodies. There are two elected state representatives quoted, one from Ohio and one from Washington State, as well as a series of articles in Charisma (a publication with an estimated circulation of 275,000 – more than half that of the New York Times, which has a circulation of about 478,000)

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    Kate, I just read through the Guardian article that you linked to. As far as I can tell, the relevant quotes are:

    Last month, Keller drew explicit comparisons with the antebellum situation over slavery, telling the Guardian: “Whether this ever leads to a tragedy, like it did before with our civil war, I can’t say.”

    and

    Earlier this month, the Guardian revealed that the Washington state republican legislator Matt Shea had also speculated about civil war, and the “Balkanization” of America, predicting that Christians would retreat to “zones of freedom” such as the inland Pacific north-west, where Shea is campaigning for a new state to break away from Washington.

    Now, you said “right wing Christians are increasingly threatening civil war”. When I read that, I took it to mean that you hold that particular people are stating that they will start a civil war over this issue. When I read these quotes, it seems to me that they are speculating that one could happen. Can you clarify your use of the word “threatening”?

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    Actually, I think the question becomes “How does the State determine that you have illegally used any drug?”

    Blood tests? Urine tests? Search of vehicle/home for evidence of the drug? I suppose any or all of those things would be on the table.

    BTW, put me down in the “I oppose legalized abortion-on-demand, but these bills are too extreme” camp.

  10. 10
    J. Squid says:

    I oppose legalized abortion on demand in exactly the same way I oppose legalized appendectomies on demand. That is to say not at all and publicly subsidized. But I believe in the right to bodily autonomy so I’m increasingly out of step with the authoritarian bent of current US politics.

  11. 11
    Kate says:

    The articles in Charisma are responding to progressive calls to fight politically, with disingenuous hand-wringing about how they “hope it won’t get violent”, when their side is the one already being violent.

  12. 12
    Chris says:

    Kate has it right on the money. The “Gee, I sure hope there isn’t another Civil War, wink, wink” line is about as convincing as the mob telling a restaurant owner that he has a nice business and it sure would be terrible if something were to happen to it.

  13. 13
    Polaris says:

    This would have been true in the 90:s (or a second world country) but NMR spectroscopy has advanced a lot.
    A blood sample is all that would be required in the year 2019.

    Just for the record Can be done. does not equal Should be done.

  14. 14
    Kate says:

    Wallace: It’s not hypothetical, there are 6,000 women a year who get abortions in the third trimester.

    Buttigieg: That’s right, representing less than 1 percent of cases. So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a woman in that situation. If it’s that late in your pregnancy, then almost by definition, you’ve been expecting to carry it to term. We’re talking about women who have perhaps chosen a name. Women who have purchased a crib, families that then get the most devastating medical news of their lifetime, something about the health or the life of the mother or viability of the pregnancy that forces them to make an impossible, unthinkable choice. And the bottom line is as horrible as that choice is, that woman, that family may seek spiritual guidance, they may seek medical guidance, but that decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.”

  15. 15
    Kate says:

    @ Polaris – what are the false positive rates for those tests?

  16. 16
    Polaris says:

    @ Polaris – what are the false positive rates for those tests?

    With the more advanced ones in theory zero. To put it in perspective for a long time their reliability was taken into question due to them giving false readings which had to be nullified.
    Until we found out that it was actually our understanding of physics that had been wrong while the machine was giving correct readings.
    We had just been unable to observe the behavior of molecules in such detail until recently.

    This however leaves human error like not cleaning the machine properly and not testing it in between or mixing up the samples.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Kate, I haven’t been the biggest Buttgieg fan, but that quote is completely on target.

  18. 18
    Sebastian H says:

    Flip side I’m a big Buttigieg fan but that explanation doesn’t match well with progressive values or arguments as applied in any other legal arena. First it assumes that they are all medically necessary which isn’t true. Second progressive ideology is largely about forcing individual actors to deal with externalities they inflict on others—and the whole question is whether or not a viable fetus counts as a person on whom the negative externality of killing may be inflicted.

    The current state moves on abortion are too far. About 80% of the country believes that zygotes and fetuses at that stage are not protectable. So as to abortion pills, we should allow them. But that’s a completely different world from late term elective abortions. When letting someone end the life of someone else is implicated, we don’t leave it to personal choice. And about 75% of the country think late term fetuses are protectable.

  19. 19
    Kate says:

    Flip side I’m a big Buttigieg fan but that explanation doesn’t match well with progressive values or arguments as applied in any other legal arena. First it assumes that they are all medically necessary which isn’t true. Second progressive ideology is largely about forcing individual actors to deal with externalities they inflict on others—and the whole question is whether or not a viable fetus counts as a person on whom the negative externality of killing may be inflicted.

    The biggest flaw in your analysis is the degree to which bodily autonomy and related issues of consent are foundational to progressive ideology. Redistributing cash is fine. Redistributing use of bodily organs, or even blood, is not.

  20. 20
    RonF says:

    I oppose legalized abortion on demand in exactly the same way I oppose legalized appendectomies on demand. That is to say not at all and publicly subsidized.

    I oppose legalized appendectomies on demand – they should only be performed when medically necessary (like mine was). And I certainly don’t think that an elective appendectomy should be publicly subsidized.

    I oppose elective late-term abortion of a healthy viable fetus. I support the concept that a fetus that is grossly deformed – e.g., acephalic – would be legitimately aborted. “Grossly deformed” obviously is a judgement call – e.g., if the child is physically healthy but has Down’s syndrome. There’s also the issue of sex-selective abortion, which is almost universally used to abort a female fetus.

    I also oppose violence (or threats thereof) at abortion clinics. Thanks for the link, I was unaware of this.

  21. 21
    J. Squid says:

    I believe all health care, elective or otherwise should be publicly subsidized. What’s elective to me may be necessary to you and I’m not going to make that call. I’ll rely on the medical professionals and the relevant medical boards to be better arbiters than you or me.

  22. 22
    J. Squid says:

    Also, just a note… abortion is in no way medically necessary (using the anti-abortion crowd’s definition of the term) for victims of rape. Does that mean you oppose abortion access for victims of rape?

  23. 23
    Grace Annam says:

    RonF:

    I oppose legalized appendectomies on demand – they should only be performed when medically necessary (like mine was). And I certainly don’t think that an elective appendectomy should be publicly subsidized.

    I’ve read about people who are going into remote places, away from modern medical care, for extended periods, getting their appendix removed, as a precaution against dying from completely treatable acute appendicitis. At the time, I gave it no more thought than, “Huh. Interesting. Wouldn’t have thought of that.”

    Would you support the legality of such an appendectomy? As far as I know (and I have done zero research), it is perfectly legal now.

    Grace

  24. Sebastian H wrote:

    Second progressive ideology is largely about forcing individual actors to deal with externalities they inflict on others—and the whole question is whether or not a viable fetus counts as a person on whom the negative externality of killing may be inflicted.

    But that’s really only half the question, isn’t it? Because the other half is whether the pregnant woman, who clearly counts as a person, should have that status removed from her so that “the negative externality” of being forced to give birth can be imposed.

    The question of the personhood of a viable fetus is certainly worth debating, (It is not for me—I don’t think the fetus is a person in the same way that its mother is, ever, until it is born—but I understand why people who have different beliefs will want to debate it.) But, for those who do want to debate it, it is intellectually dishonest to elide the presence of the woman (whose personhood should be beyond question) in whose body that fetus is and on whose body that fetus depends for its life.

  25. 25
    Chris says:

    RonF:

    I oppose elective late-term abortion of a healthy viable fetus.

    Doesn’t everyone?

  26. From Amp’s notes to the cartoon:

    It’s easy to ignore the kind of police state methods that will be necessary to enforce laws about something as personal as how people reproduce. This is especially the case with banning “the abortion pill,” a drug that should ideally be taken under a doctor’s supervision, but can be taken in private.

    Until I read that, I had forgotten about this piece in The New York Times. From the article:

    In this new movement toward criminalization, El Salvador is in the vanguard. The array of exceptions that tend to exist even in countries where abortion is circumscribed — rape, incest, fetal malformation, life of the mother — don’t apply in El Salvador. They were rejected in the late 1990’s, in a period after the country’s long civil war ended. The country’s penal system was revamped and its constitution was amended. Abortion is now absolutely forbidden in every possible circumstance. No exceptions.

    I think it’s important to remember that, if you really believe the antiabortion position, ie, that a fetus is a person and aborting it is murdering it, El Salvador’s position is the only completely honest one to take. But that’s not why I thought to quote this piece here. Amp’s quote made me remember that

    El Salvador…has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor’s office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating [women who have had abortions]. (Emphasis added)

    Just think about that: an actual job called forensic vagina inspector. It left me speechless when I first read the article and it leaves me speechless now.

  27. 27
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate & Ampersand,

    Kate, I haven’t been the biggest Buttigieg fan, but that quote is completely on target.

    It’s not, actually, because it falsely assumes that the pregnant woman was aware that she is pregnant. Studies into the differences between 1st and 2nd trimester abortions have consistently found that a major reason why abortions happen late is that women who have 2nd trimester abortions become aware of their pregnancy later. For example: “Delays in suspecting and testing for pregnancy cumulatively caused 58% of second-trimester patients to miss the opportunity to have a first-trimester abortion.”

    I’m not aware of studies into 2nd vs 3rd trimester abortions, but it seems plausible that a decent portion of these consist of women who became aware of their pregnancy quite late. Some women even give birth unexpectedly, who were never even aware that they were pregnant.

    The second problem with what Buttigieg said, is that it makes the typical mistake of assuming that late abortions are all for health or viability reasons. All the evidence we have points to late abortions being sought largely for the same reasons as early abortions. Claims otherwise seem to be either ignorance or even lies.

    By not demanding a medical reason for a 3rd trimester abortion, Buttigieg would allow abortions for any reason, not just medical reasons.

    J. Squid,

    I believe all health care, elective or otherwise should be publicly subsidized. […] I’ll rely on the medical professionals and the relevant medical boards to be better arbiters than you or me.

    Medical professionals have no incentive to make a reasonable cost/benefit analysis. In fact, their incentive is the opposite: to maximize their own incomes, even if it means doing healthcare with tiny benefits or that is even harmful. Even doctors themselves recognize this, at least, about other doctors: “More than 70 percent of doctors conceded that physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them, while only 9.2 percent said that their own financial security was a factor.”

    Your position would simply result in the spending on healthcare to rapidly increase, crowding out all other government spending, at little benefit and with enormous downsides.

  28. 28
    Eytan Zweig says:

    @LimitsOfLanguage – I notice how you (and the other detractors of the Buttigieg quote) seem to be focused on quibbling about whether or not he accurately describes *all* possible late term abortions, rather than discussing what the consequences of his view are if they apply to *some* possible late term abortions. Do you hold anti-abortion arguments to the same standard? I.e. do you reject anti-abortion arguments if they don’t apply to every possible abortion?

    Your position would simply result in the spending on healthcare to rapidly increase, crowding out all other government spending, at little benefit and with enormous downsides.

    As for this – you are aware that subsidised healthcare is the norm in most of the developed world, right? Most of them leave the decision of what is elective and what is not to individual doctors, and that what you describe hasn’t actually happened anywhere (on a systematic level; there are always cases of localised corruption in any large system, including privatised healthcare).

  29. 29
    RonF says:

    Grace @23: Hm! An interesting question to consider, I admit. I suppose it makes sense at least in that limited case.

    Christ @25: No, I don’t think everyone DOES oppose that. It’s my understanding that there are States whose abortion laws permit it.

  30. 30
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Eytan Zweig,

    I notice how you (and the other detractors of the Buttigieg quote) seem to be focused on quibbling about whether or not he accurately describes *all* possible late term abortions, rather than discussing what the consequences of his view are if they apply to *some* possible late term abortions.

    His views do apply to all possible late term abortions, because he was arguing for no legal limits on late term abortions. The consequence of letting the pregnant woman decide when to have an abortion without oversight, is that women who seek late term abortions for non-medical reasons will get an abortion.

    My complaint about Buttigieg’s quote is that he ‘frames’ the issue in a way that makes it seem like the question is whether pregnant women should be making medical decisions, when a major part of the discussion is about abortions that are for non-medical reasons.

    I.e. do you reject anti-abortion arguments if they don’t apply to every possible abortion?

    That depends on what policy they are in service of. If the proposed policy is a complete ban on abortion, but the argument is against the abortion of healthy fetuses, then ignoring the abortions that are made for medical reasons would be deceptive for the same reason why Buttigieg is deceptive for ignoring the abortions that are for non-medical reasons.

    As for this – you are aware that subsidised healthcare is the norm in most of the developed world, right?

    Yes, where cost control is normal

    that what you describe hasn’t actually happened anywhere

    Of course not. No country is insane enough to write a blank check.

  31. 31
    Chris says:

    Medical professionals have no incentive to make a reasonable cost/benefit analysis. In fact, their incentive is the opposite: to maximize their own incomes, even if it means doing healthcare with tiny benefits or that is even harmful. Even doctors themselves recognize this, at least, about other doctors: “More than 70 percent of doctors conceded that physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them, while only 9.2 percent said that their own financial security was a factor.”

    Is there a lot of profit in performing late-term abortions?

  32. 32
    lurker23 says:

    maybe you can make late abortion only for very bad medical things and you can have alot of people, not just the doctor, who check to make sure that the fetus’ are very bad and okay for abortion, and maybe police do a random check of records after abortion, and you can have alot of very bad punishment for doctors who do not follow the rules? that would not let abortion happen for choice unless it is more early and it would still let abortion happen for very bad medical things.

    i do not think that the people who do not like late abortion are okay with trusting just one doctor because doctors are alot of time going to do what the patient wants like all of the doctors in the rich citys that say alot of students get extra time on the tests, i just read an article on that. it is not hard to find one person who will do what you want but it is hard to make that work for alot of people and even harder if some of those people are not hired by you or picked by you, so if enough people are checking the doctors maybe that would work?

  33. 33
    J. Squid says:

    …i do not think that the people who do not like late abortion are okay with trusting just one doctor because doctors are alot of time going to do what the patient wants…

    I’m not okay with trusting people who do not like late abortion to vote correctly. You don’t see me trying to take their rights away from them.

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    Here’s the bit of the Buttigieg quote that I thought was most on-target:

    And the bottom line is as horrible as that choice is, that woman, that family may seek spiritual guidance, they may seek medical guidance, but that decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.”

    In the end, this comes down to who you trust to make decisions about abortion – the government, or the pregnant person. Conservatives want government to force conservative religious preferences on people at gunpoint; liberals think that the person best positioned to make a (for some) difficult and subjective decision like this, is the pregnant person.

  35. 35
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’m not okay with trusting people who do not like late abortion to vote correctly. You don’t see me trying to take their rights away from them.

    Libertarianism lives!

    In all seriousness, I agree and also wouldn’t trust voters, even though I do question the morality of late term abortion in some instances. At this point, if I could push a button and abortion an explicit constitutional right, I would do it to protect people from shitty voters, even if I still have a few qualms.

  36. 36
    Kate says:

    Is there a lot of profit in performing late-term abortions?

    It is a remarkable coincidence, but, yesterday was the tenth anniversary of George Tiller’s murder. Third trimester abortions are only currently available from four doctors operating out of three clinics in the U.S. (Colorado, New Mexico and Baltimore). The abortions themselves cost about $10,000, plus transportation and lodging in the area where the clinics are. So, it’s not a decision made lightly. Nonetheless, appendectomies go for about $30,000 in the U.S., and don’t come with the risk of assassination.
    All four of these doctors are putting their lives as risk to keep abortion services available because they believe in it. I think a reasonable person may disagree with their judgement calls. But the notion that they are in it for the money, is just absurd.

    All the evidence we have points to late abortions being sought largely for the same reasons as early abortions.

    But “late abortions” includes some second trimester. You can’t extrapolate from that general number because, as I noted above, there are literally only four doctors in the U.S. making these decisions.
    This article, Dr. Hern characterizes the patients at his Colorado practices as follows:

    “These are tragic situations, and there’s a tremendous sense of pain and loss and anguish for the woman and their family to end the pregnancy. So this is not something they want to do,” Hern told NPR. “They want to have a baby; they don’t want to have an abortion.”

    In the same article, there is an account of a women seeking a late abortion because she hadn’t known she was pregnant. In that case, the New Mexico clinic would only do it up to the end of the second trimester (up to 28 weeks). So, at least one of the clinics, representing two of the doctors, won’t perform elective abortions in the third trimester. Note also that the woman in question was traveling from Oregon, so even late second trimester abortions for this reason are obviously not easy to obtain.

  37. 37
    Görkem says:

    Here’s what I don’t like about the Buttigieg quote:

    “that woman, that family may seek spiritual guidance, they may seek medical guidance”

    Buttigieg frames it as a decision that a woman or a family makes. I disagree. The decision to have an abortion should always be that of the pregnant woman alone. She might seek medical guidance or spiritual guidance (although sadly spiritual guidance often turns into pressure and spiritual blackmail, but let’s leave that for now), and she might also seek guidance from family which may or may not include the father of the child. But it’s guidance, not decision. Abortion is not a decision that a woman OR a family makes. It’s a decision that a woman makes, possibly after advice from her family, but still, her decision alone.

    I don’t particularly like Buttigieg but I am not necessarily going to assume that he actually believes this based on a single quote, maybe he just mispoke slightly. Still it isn’t a very good look and given the extreme salience of this issue in the political climate in which he is aspiring to the highest office, to say nothing of the relevance of the issue to the voters he is claiming to represent, well, it would be nice to get some clarification from him. (Even moreso due to his status as a queer man).

  38. 38
    Ledasmom says:

    An addendum to Kate’s excellent comment: It would be difficult, I think, to figure out how much of the $10,000 cost for a late-term abortion is profit. Apart from anything else, there are significant security costs to the clinics. And any profit motive that may exist is a problem to be solved for the entire medical profession, not for abortion providers exclusively.
    I come to this with the very simple position that nobody should have to go through a pregnancy who does not want to go through a pregnancy. I highly doubt that abortion providers are persuading women into late abortions against the women’s better judgment. Even if you assume profit-seeking to be their primary motive in entering the field, a proposition for which I see no evidence, there is plenty of business for them.

  39. 39
    Mandolin says:

    Also, the motive needs to be *inappropriate* profit. (I’m not saying you’re saying anything else, Kate.) But people — even doctors and teachers and so on — are allowed to like making money, the same as entrepeneurs and so on. They’re not allowed (morally) to get that money by pressuring people into procedures they dont want or other ethically dodgy behavior — but they can still be motivated by money.

    Otherwise, basically we’re saying that we should foster a profit motive in some kind of careers, but that people in other careers should just take it for the team. This is pretty explicit around discussions of teacher salaries, often. But in the context of a capitalist economy — especially one that fetishizes a right-wing interpretation of the invisible hand of economics — it doesn’t make sense for only part of the population to be participating; in fact, it undermines the entire premise that the right-wing interpretation is meaningfully coherent in our society.

    You can have servants whose work is meant only to benefit others and not themselves, or you can have perfect invisible hands running the economy, but you can’t have both.

  40. 40
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    Conservatives want government to force conservative religious preferences on people at gunpoint; liberals think that the person best positioned to make a (for some) difficult and subjective decision like this, is the pregnant person.

    Everyone wants to force their own strong preferences “at gunpoint.” Liberals just want to force different preferences. Can a baker refuse to bake cakes for a gay wedding? Who is ‘libertarian’ now?

    You shouldn’t claim that your side has principles that they clearly don’t really have, but that merely get applied when convenient.

    Note that the “at gunpoint” phrasing is just framing, where whatever you want to become legal is supposedly enforced by jackbooted thugs on people who are utterly angelic, while the things that you want to be enforced by government are done by benevolent people who just want the best for others against selfish and abusive bigots.

    In the end, this comes down to who you trust to make decisions about abortion – the government, or the pregnant person.

    No, that’s not what it comes down to. You ignore my primary rebuttal, which is that Buttigieg is being extremely deceptive by claiming that all late abortions are sought by women who wanted a baby, but experienced a crisis situations, which is a claim that goes against the best evidence that we have.

    I think that you need to choose. Either you require that a doctor checks whether the child or mother is truly at danger, limiting (very) late abortions to medical emergencies; or you own the consequences of letting the mother decide, which means legalizing late abortions for non-medical reasons.

    What I forcefully object to is the claim or strong implication that late abortions will only happen for medical reasons if the decision is placed in the hands of the mother. The evidence strongly suggests that this is not the case.

    Chris,

    Doctors have an obvious incentive to have more medical procedures paid for by the government, in general, rather than fewer. Note that J. Squid was making a claim about healthcare spending in general, not just for abortion.

    It’s completely logical for doctors to favor maximizing the coverage of (public or private) health insurance.

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