John Oliver on TRAP laws

by Grania

It’s a little curious that free society has reached a point where a legal procedure, abortion, is deliberately made as inaccessible as possible to the very people who need and want to avail themselves of it.

Even more curious is that this has come to pass in a country where only 19% of people polled (Gallup 2015) are completely against abortion in any circumstance.


John Oliver reviews the situation on Last Week Tonight and it appears that it is pretty grim in certain states.

I can understand why people feel that abortion is something they wouldn’t choose for themselves. I can even understand (although it makes my blood pressure rise) why someone would decide that they ought to be able to force other people to comply with their predilections/religious beliefs. What I don’t understand is if there is genuinely little popular support for laws like this, why politicians pass them in the first place.

Hat-tip: Steve P.


  1. eric
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I can even understand (although it makes my blood pressure rise) why someone would decide that they ought to be able to force other people to comply with their predilections/religious beliefs.

    If you think it’s murder, then you pretty quickly arrive at “none, ever, unless stopping it would cause another murder” as the only self-consistent position. So in my mind, the “no exceptions unless the mother will die” pro-life crowd has a more defensible stance than, say, the “illegal with exception for rape” pro-life crowd. I disagree with both and might operationally prefer the latter over the former, but in terms of logical consistency, I don’t see how someone can think a foetus is a human being but want to permit abortion in non-life-threatening circumstances.

    What I don’t understand is if there is genuinely little popular support for laws like this, why politicians pass them in the first place.

    Not sure how it happens in other countries, but in the US IMO the answer is a combination of (1) special interest money, (2) who they think are single-issue voters vs. who isn’t, and (3) gerrymandering (not all voters are equally important).

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I agree with these points. If people were more consistent about voting with regard to these issues then the slow creep of interfering laws would not carry so much momentum. But the 19% or so are very consistent voters, and many of the rest are not.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Same as you, I hear the anti-abortion crowd screaming that it’s murder. But I doubt they truly buy that, even the no-abortion-under-any-circumstances ones. Either that, or they lack the strength of their convictions.

      Few Americans face more opprobrium than mothers who kill their toddlers. Those cases are always tragic, and they tend to bring out the worst in many of our fellow citizens, some of them calling out rabidly for capital punishment (even though, if you get down in the weeds with those cases, they’re inevitably rife with mitigating circumstances concerning the woman’s background and home life, her mental and emotional health).

      But (thank goodness) you never hear similar calls for women who have had abortions to be prosecuted for capital murder, even from the most-strident, across-the-board anti-abortion extremists — which, given their claim that that the two situations are ontologically indistinct, makes no sense, logically at least.

      And you’re right; the inconsistencies are even more rampant, the logic even more strained, as to those who oppose abortion but exempt cases of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or where the life or health of the woman is imperiled.

      • pali
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        “But (thank goodness) you never hear similar calls for women who have had abortions to be prosecuted for capital murder, even from the most-strident, across-the-board anti-abortion extremists”

        Are you kidding? I’ve certainly heard anti-choicers claim it as murder, and that it should be prosecuted as such. Google “abortion is murder” and you’ll find plenty doing the same.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 23, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          I hear the anti-abortion crowd call it murder on a regular basis (as the opening line in my comment above states). What I don’t hear is people calling for women who have abortions to be prosecuted for capital murder — i.e., where a defendant faces execution if convicted. (I think most antiabortion activists realize such calls would be counterproductive for their cause.)

          If you know of any such instances, I’d be interested to hear about them. I’m pretty certain there has never been a case of a woman actually being charged with a capital offense for having had an abortion — either before Roe v. Wade, or after, for an abortion that remains illegal under the legal scheme since Roe.

          In contrast, every time there is a high-profile prosecution of a mother who has killed her toddler, loud calls go out (including from the rightwing anti-abortion crowd) urging capital punishment for the mother, and there have been some mothers against whom capital charges have actually been filed.

    • Geoffrey Howe
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      While opposition to abortion is heavily tied with religion, I don’t see it as ‘pushing their religion’ on people.

      What is a human being is a big question. Is it in our genes? Our conciousness? Our ability to function on our own? Our ability to do math?

      At what point do we transition from “One of a million sperm who will die without fertilizing an egg” to “Killing this is murder”? This is a values question, and there is no objectively correct answer to this.

      Sure, the religious right side on the “at conception” side of the spectrum, but I’ve seen ardently right-hating left-wingers be pro-life because they believe exactly the same thing.

      Yes, if you deem that in order to be a moral entity capable of being ‘murdered’ the entity must possess conciousness, then “life begins at conception” is objectively wrong. That’s what I believe.

      But there is no objective answer here. And for many people who don’t know what exactly would constitute ‘killing a child’, it’s natural for them to want to play it safe. The second the sperm fertilizes the egg, it stops being one of millions doomed to die. It’s a natural line in the sand to draw for them.

      Of all the traditionally religious rights sex-related hangups, I really don’t have any problem with their stance on this one. I disagree with it, but I can 100% see where they’re coming from.

      • eric
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        IMO there is an objective answer here: it’s that human-ness is not a binary state. That may not be the objective answer people like or want, it may not accord with their religious beliefs, and it may make legislation hard to do, but it’s an answer nevertheless.

        I *do* see it as pushing your religious views on other people when the reason for the abortion is that the person claims the soul enters the body at conception and it’s this ensoullation that makes the zygote a human. If a restriction on behavior arises solely because of some unempirical or revelatory theological claim, then yes that restriction is pushing religion on nonbelievers.

        Not every pro-lifer makes that argument, but enough of them do that I think we can safely and reasonably say that religion plays a strong role in the abortion wars. The human-at-conception position is largely undergirded by the soul-at-conception belief.

        • eric
          Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          ack, typo. Replace “reason for the abortion…” with “reason for the anti-abortion position…”

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        You can analyze your definitions all day but are we not suppose to follow the law? In other words – your opinions are find but they are only yours. The religious force their belief on the rest of us.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      The laws get passed because of an asymmetry of passion.

      The people who support abortion often do so with some ambivalence, or in an indifferent way… they support it but it’s not a big issue to them. The people who oppose abortion, however, are full of passion. They vote. They campaign. They send money. Passion is a multiplier. Each of those persons has the political influence of ten poll-answering people who don’t really care.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        That’s why the organizations that advocate for women’s reproductive rights are so crucial. As you observe, no one argues that abortions themselves constitute an intrinsic good — only that access to them, so that women have a choice, is.

      • Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        True. I have mentioned the same with other controversies. In my country and many others, there is a “trap-neuter-return” policy concerning stray dogs. WHO says that euthanasia of stray dogs would be against the will of the community. Actually, the community wants the dogs euthanized, but a small, noisy and aggressive minority is up in arms in their defense, so the majority of taxpayers have to navigate between large, uncontrolled predators.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    They pass them because they feel that the majority of their constituents support them. I suspect that if we could look at geographic support for choice, we would see more support in the NE and West, than we would in the South or Mid-West, and more support in urban areas than rural ones. The issue is not even spread across constituencies.

    What I don’t get in that poll is how 4% of pro-choice respondents don’t support abortion under any circumstances.

    • eric
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      The Gallup poll does a geographical analysis and it is as you say; pro-life majorities in the south and midwest, pro-choice majorities in the northeast and west.

      That 4% could mean a couple of things. It could represent conservatives intentionally picking the pro-choice label for some reason (make some point? Skew the results?). It could also represent people who don’t pay enough attention/give nonsense answers when polled. Or both. 🙂

      • DrBrydon
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        I just looked at the poll, and the margin of error is 4%, which would also explain the 4% of anti-abortion people who are ok with abortion under any circumstances. But seriously, can’t we get polls with decent survey sizes? Some of these presidential polls have margins of error large enough to eliminate any gap between candidates. Bad polls are Trump’s friends.

        • Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          I read somewhere once (sociologists might confirm this for us if we have any amongst the readers) that a small proportion of people answer affirmatively to any poll question.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Yeah that 4% is logically impossible, since by definition ‘pro-choice’ people MUST support abortion under at least some circumstances.

      I could understand how the 4% of ‘pro-lifers’ could think abortion should always be legal – they could feel it’s morally wrong but their opinion shouldn’t be enforced by law. Though I suspect the 4% is more likely an error, like the pro-choice 4%.


  3. jay
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I think part of the issue is that we need to understand this is not a scientifically definable argument. Science can give informed opinion about the status of development, but cannot tell us when someone becomes a human in the legal sense (not discussing the early stages here, and not discussing medical necessity). This is a legal and emotional call, and as such is quite plastic. At some point it crosses from abortion to infanticide (which most people would ban), and the action of birth is a rather arbitrary delineation. To a degree I can see both sides.

    People go with their gut. Like they do with other emotional issues like animal abuse (at what point does a fetus surpass a kitten) and when the two sides argue, they (in sincerity) talk right past one another.

    [Some on the pro choice side seem as strident as some on the anti choice side. When the funny Doritos commercial on the super bowl had a pair of prospective parents watching the fetus in a sonogram grasping for chips, NARAL posted an objection to ‘humanising a fetus’. Wow. I wonder how prospective parents react to that comment.]

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      It is unfortunate that the issue combines intense passion with large doses of inherent ambiguity and a fair amount of science that most people are at best vague about.

      There is one demarcation that I am willing to go all-in on, though, and that is the “No brains, no person” mantra. I’m actually a bit more liberal about abortion than that but once there are brains I’m willing to concede that there might be an element of subjective judgment involved and will not overly berate someone who disagrees with me.

      The brain barrier is absolute, though. Anything without a brain is, on the personhood scale, a rock. To treat it as a person is an offense to reason and an embrace of superstition of the first order.

      Of course, even with this absolute personhood boundary, there is a potential muddy confusion. A blastocyst, which is in no way a person, may nonetheless have great value and meaning to actual people, such as the parents, and those people do bear some moral consideration. When my wife was pregnant I felt a deep fondness for the little brainless bean that showed up on an early sonogram (high risk pregnancy). But those feelings are my feelings, not a property of the bean-shaped thing. I would have done a lot to protect that thing, and I would like to think that people who care about me would have tried to help me. But at no point would we be protecting that brainless bean for the brainless beans sake, we’d always be doing it for my sake, for my feelings, for my hopes and dreams… because the bean doesn’t have any feelings, hopes, or dreams to consider.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Your last paragraph is a very good point. Before my wife and I were married, she became pregnant. Because of various issues, such as never having had a regular period, and a doctor telling her previously that she couldn’t become pregnant, by the time she finally took a pregnancy test and went to the hospital, the ultrasound picked up a heartbeat. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. There was nothing to do other than an emergency operation to remove the fetus and her remaining Fallopian tube (she’d lost her other one in a previous ectopic). And I can say, we were very, very upset. But looking back on it, while I still get sad (even when writing this comment), it’s nowhere near the sharpness of grief I feel when thinking of actual fully developed people I’ve known who have died, or the almost panic like feelings I get when imagining harm befalling our daughter (adopted, in case you’re wondering about consistency with the earlier part of this comment). I think it’s as you say, that fetus had value to us for all its potential, but it wasn’t a real person with feelings or emotions, and so the grief’s not the same.

        (Sorry for the anonymous posting, but those are personal details my wife and I would rather not share freely.)

  4. Scott Draper
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    If you think it’s murder, then you pretty quickly arrive at “none, ever, unless stopping it would cause another murder” as the only self-consistent position.

    Yes, which suggests that many people who say it’s murder really don’t see it as murder. They actually just object to abortion as a means of backup birth control, a way to escape the consequences of doing something people shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

  5. Albert
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    If the 88% of pro-lifers supporting abortion being legal only in few or no circumstances vote in masses and the others don’t, it makes sense for politician to come up with these laws.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s the real answer. Politicians strongly favor the core of their core constituency. These are the fanatics. The ones who believe they can actually prevent murders by going to the poles.

      Pro-choice people are not really that engaged. Unless you or someone close to you wants an abortion right away, the issue is out of sight, out of mind.

  6. Ken Phelps
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “…why politicians pass them in the first place.”

    A gerrymandered electoral map that allows them to.

  7. Scott Draper
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The bigger question is why John Oliver wasn’t given Jon Stewart’s job, instead of the superficial Trevor Noah.

    • eric
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Agree, he’s better than either Noah or Wilmore.

      I think it was a combination of two factors. One, I imagine HBO outbid Comedy Central. Two, I also vaguely recall the timing wasn’t right for Oliver to take over. He was looking to get his own show many months before Stewart or Colbert were ready to leave.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      I see what you’re saying, but think he’s doing great where he is, and wouldn’t want him anywhere else.

      He’s put his own stamp on the fake-news format, and is doing stuff nobody else can do.

    • respublicus
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I thought Samantha Bea would make a great host.

      • eric
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        Looks like she’s getting her chance! Many of the show’s correspondents were/are good enough comedians that they could produce an entertaining weekly show. Though personally my ‘next choice’ after Oliver would’ve been Jessica Williams.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      John Oliver is a fricking genius. He makes me laugh uproariously even while I’m being outraged at the hypocrisy and scurrility of the people he’s lambasting.


  8. dan bertini
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Some of these people that pass laws are constitutional lawyers, yet they do not separate church from state, or they misinterpret the second amendment. Isn’t one aiming for the right to run for president? Another claims that all the answers (“answers”?) are in the bible. In other words they are a couple of tacos short of a full plate. This should not surprise anyone.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Your cultural appropriation of the taco metaphor has triggered my PTSD (Post Taco Sauce Diarrhea).

      • dan bertini
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Sorry!! It should have read: two tacos short of a full plate. Hold the taco sauce. Tacos are good because they cross the cultural divide.

  9. stephen oberski
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    What’s very interesting is that there is anecdotal evidence – THE ONLY MORAL ABORTION IS MY ABORTION” – that women who are strongly anti-choice will obtain abortions.

    And in a survey conducted by LifeWay (ironically a religious survey firm) – More than 4 in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy.

  10. Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    My local area of no separation of church from state, the RCC interference in P.E.I Canada.

    • eric
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Maybe I’m missing some backstory but how is that “interference”? The article talks about him voicing his opposition, handing out pamphlets etc. – actions and freedoms I would defend, even though I don’t agree with his policy position.

      • Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        I seem to remember hearing that PEI has no abortion clinics (being small and somewhat religious) and have had trouble getting one? (With the consequence that those needing such services have to go to Nova Scotia.)

        • eric
          Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          What does that have to do with a pastor expressing his views? Is he an appointed official in charge of licensing clinics or something?

          • Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            Given that the whole island isn’t likely to have more than a few parishes, it seems likely that he reflects a reasonable sized congregation of similar view points which would have large effect.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 23, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          Well, Prince Edward Island is 100 miles long, and nowhere more than 60 miles from the bridge. And from the other side to Moncton, NB is about 40 miles. (I’m assuming there are clinic(s) in Moncton).

          So assuming Canada doesn’t have any 3-day waiting laws, someone in PEI is still significantly better off in that regard than many folks in Mississippi.


      • Posted February 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        If you read the history of the RCC in PEI and the current influence in the Island affairs you may understand why I used the word interference.

  11. chris moffatt
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    If, per the table, 88% of ‘pro-life’ are in favour of partial or complete bans on abortion then republican state politicians are going to pass such laws because they can. It even tends to happen in purple states like Virginia where the republicans have a lock on the legislature; hence our “ultrasound” law.

    In any case again per the table 55% of all americans are in favour of partial or complete bans on abortion. Pro-choice seems to be a minority position.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Because politicians well-financed by wealthy folk like the Koch brothers need to mobilize their evangelical base??

  13. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Mostly I just get disgusted whenever this subject comes up. There may be a thousand side issues to have an opinion on or argue about but the primary issue blocking the road in this matter is religion. And isn’t that the reason that religion does not belong in this room. Who cares what religion thinks and does. Do what you want, evangelicals or Mormons or Jews or Islam.

    But stay the heck out of the making of laws in this country. That should be true at the federal level, the state level and the local. If this were the case, we would not need to waste time going over this again and again.

    Getting an abortion is legal in this country so any crap that is hindering this in any state should be stopped. And why is that not so. Because the federal legislature has never passed law on this. Instead, we all roll over and let the supreme court have it. And don’t give me the Hide amendment please. That was nothing but a funding issue. States cannot make law that contradicts federal law.

    And even if you want to pick at this, explain how anyone who wants to push their beliefs on you, that also affects your ability to make decisions about your health or your families health makes any sense.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      However, it wouldn’t do to restrict religious speech or prevent participation of the religious in the democracy. The only way bad laws can be blocked is to persuade enough people to understand that it is bad religious reasoning that is responsible for the bad laws, and to do that you need more secular voters. The process of secularization is underway, but it will take more time.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Speech they can have all they want. But making all the laws such as displayed on the video by Oliver would not be possible if the federal govt. (Congress) would act. When they do not act it is left to the states and we all know what that means.

        All the religious fanatics come out at the state level because our congress is useless. So then it is left in the hands of the court where it does not belong and would not be if congress did their job.

        Think back to the issue of slavery before the civil war. Think of jim crow for 100 years after that. What finally put a stop to southern states doing whatever they wanted. It was the civil rights act. Not the courts.

        When you hear the cry – let the states decide. That is code for – you can forget about people’s rights. That was true for African Americans and it is true for Abortion and the women who deserve better.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

          + 1 !

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I can understand why people feel that abortion is something they wouldn’t choose for themselves.

    Yeah, people have complicated feelings about abortion. Take my ex-wife (please 🙂 ). She’s a nurse and worked awhile at a hospital that let staff opt out of elective abortions, which she did. But she had a Planned Parenthood sticker displayed proudly on her car bumper, and regularly donated to NARAL and other pro-choice groups. (I know because I saw the cancelled checks during my fitful attempts to balance the damn check book.) And withal, when a woman showed up at the ER in the throws of a crises pregnancy, she was the first to grab a crash cart and a mask and head to help, so as not to leave another woman in distress (or a fellow human-being, for that matter). I knew some of her nursing friends who also opted out of abortions, and they felt the same.

    I have my own complicated feelings about abortion. But they’ve got nothing to do with metaphysics, let alone with the ensoulment of zygotes. More a squik factor, I guess. AFAIK, I haven’t helped cause a pregnancy that’s been terminated, but that has more to do with luck than vigilance, given a reckless youth and occasional negligence since. Still, it might bother me if the situation were otherwise, for reasons I can’t really explain. But I would never, ever, try to impose my views about this on anyone else.

    And it makes my blood boil to see anti-abortion wingnuts, like those in the video, who do.

  15. Anty
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    It seems that in some corners of the US, compared to some other countries, getting an abortion is at least as difficult as it was for African Americans to vote, before the sixties.

  16. KD
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    The function of morality is to impose group norms on a collective. If you think of a primitive social organization, morality will consist mostly of a set of unquestionable taboos which if transgressed will result in punishment. [With writing and the city-state you get these taboos transformed into laws, which come from the gods, e.g. can’t be questioned.]

    I know people are skeptical of group selection, even with the experiments on social cooperation in yeast, etc., but the point of social norms is to facilitate social cooperation. Further, in so much as warfare is one of the primary means of radical social change, one would imagine a band of people that was better at social cooperation would subjugate a less cohesive band, all things being equal. [The Mongols level of cooperation in combat was unparalleled until modern times.]

    If you take the above approach, then you recognize the preservation of strong communal norms is integral to the survival of your group, at least in most periods of recorded history. I presume this is why people get so worked up in political disputes about norms, and why any norm needs to be imposed universally across the group. The norms create the unity and facilitate social cooperation.

    Some people are moral people, but other people are not. Groups punish free riders who opt out of communal norms. Once people perceive that they live in a community that does not enforce their norms, they will begin to opt out of morality, and the result is a gradual breakdown in social cooperation. [The intensity of apocalyptic thinking stems from this realization that anarchy eventually spells death.]

    Now, it may be that social morality is now obsolete in a world of mass surveillance and intelligence services, and everyone can behave like barbarians and government can simply monitor or incarcerate those it targets as dangerous. But this is a modern luxury contingent on modern technology and economy.

    We have a social order that is very atomized, and people think in very atomized terms. Further, America is prosperous and secure, we haven’t had Indians scalping us in the middle of the night in a long time. So it makes perfect sense that people would have this very libertarian ethos. After all, we have a mass surveillance society and a prison industrial complex that rivals Stalin’s.

    However, I imagine if for some reason there was a break down in civil order, the old way of viewing things would come back.

    To return to the subject of abortion, if you look at the morality in most of the major religions of the world, it falls somewhere on a spectrum between pro-natalist and extremely pro-natalist. While modern secular morality tends to reject natalism, I think a pretty simple evolutionary argument can be made for why natalist moral systems supplant alternative moral systems on any long-term time horizon.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      As an intelligent species with culture and technology, we no longer need rely on natural selection to dictate our morals.

  17. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I can hardly believe the hypocrisy of these legislative fetus freaks who claim their restrictive laws are aimed at womens health. It’s an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has to listen to them.

    If it was just a matter of womens health they should be providing free abortion clinics in every hospital, since medically an abortion, the earlier the better, is far safer, cheaper and less disruptive to the life of the mother than continuing the pregnancy, let alone giving birth.

    (I’m not a medical expert but I doubt anyone can contradict me on that).


  18. Jeff Cotner
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m pro-choice myself (assuming I got to vote on the topic). But even these statistics show that a modest majority (36+19%=55%) feel that abortion should be illegal in all but “a few” (specific) circumstances. And surely those percentages are even higher in the states that are imposing more restrictions. Given this, why would there be any surprise whatsoever (in a democracy) that several states would put some restrictions on the availability of abortions?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think there’s any surprise that people in these states want to restrict access to abortion. The surprise is the extent to which they are succeeding, given that there is a well-established line of cases holding that access to abortion is a federal right guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

      There may also be some surprise about the extent to which anti-choice forces have been able to get away with using the pretext of “women’s health” in getting their agenda enacted at the state and local level.

      • Jeff Cotner
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        Ken, my comment was responding to the original article’s concluding statement: “What I don’t understand is if there is genuinely little popular support for laws like this, why politicians pass them in the first place.” For reasons I stated, his premise was mistaken, and thus the reason for such laws being passed is obvious.

        As to the reasons for passing them in the existing Constitutional regime: It is an unfortunate but inevitable characteristic of judicially-created rights not anchored anywhere in actual Constitutional text that their contours (what is prohibited, permitted, or required) are open to constant challenge, restatement, revision, and controversy. This will be especially true where, as here, an apparent majority of “the People” disagree with the alleged right in all but “a few” circumstances.

  19. RossR
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    So far as I can see, nobody here has mentioned one of the most telling aspects of the whole abortion issue, which the Jesus & Mo author brilliantly pointed out some time ago:

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