Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another thought on Saletan's advice

As Rob mentioned (below), Slate's Will Saletan wrote up some "advice" for those of us who are pro-life, prompted by his attendance at the recent Princeton conference (in which Lisa, Rob, and I participated . . . though, according to some, only in a lightweight, naive capacity). 

Saletan's first piece of advice to the pro-life side was to "reduce abortion through voluntary means."  It is not clear, though, whether Saletan means to suggest that there is something wrong with also trying to change the currently misshaped state of constitutional doctrine so that reasonable regulations of abortion are (as they should be, under a correct interpretation of the Constitution) permitted.  After all, no one thinks that overturning Roe, Doe, and Casey end abortion, so it strikes me as long past the time to stop acting as though it is an insight to point out that it wouldn't.  Even though it wouldn't, it would be a good thing for our political community, I think -- and for our Constitution -- if the anti-democratic judicial overreach that was Roe were corrected.

(Here, by the way, is Saletan's advice for the pro-choice side.)

UPDATE:     Here is a long piece by Frances Kissling, one of the conference's organizers, on the event.

https://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2010/11/another-thought-on-saletans-advice.html

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One of the things I appreciated most about Saleton's first piece, as part of his point #5, was his defense of the pro-life participants at Princeton. I think Charles Camosy has every right to be proud of what he organized, and those from all sides who participated should be commended. It seemed to me missing the point of the conference to snipe over it or to speculate about who won or who lost.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 10:52:19 AM

Voluntary means--like pro-life pregnancy centers. Oops, except that abortion advocates are clamoring for laws that target pro-life pregnancy centers for criminal penalties and closure, based on zero-evidence allegations of "lies and manipulations" produced entirely by (surprise!) abortion ideologues themselves primarily NARAL. When people like Saletan come out against the New York City anti-pro-life-pregnancy-center bill, we can take him seriously as an advisor on how pro-lifers should act.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 12:03:57 PM

I did not notice Saletan saying anything one way or the other about pro-life pregnancy centers. It seems to me almost all objections to pro-life pregnancy centers could be taken care of if pro-life pregnancy centers referred to themselves as "pro-life pregnancy centers."

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 12:22:17 PM

It seems to me that you support singling out pro-life centers to compel them to talk about pregnancy in ways dictated by pro-abortion people, assuming the pro-abortion principles. The fact that Saletan doesn't mention the centers is telling. Pro-abortion people who claim to want abortion reduction actually oppose pro-life centers, and support government attacks on them, because those centers take business away from the abortion industry. The New York City bill criminalizes pro-life pregnancy centers despite the fact that most of them on the cover of their website do call themselves pro-life--so your supposition is false. The attackers on pro-life pregnancy centers are partisans who allege, with no "evidence" besides NARAL's pro-abortion viewpoint, that pro-life centers should be targeted. Such people are not serious about abortion reduction. When people like Saletan come out against the New York City anti-pro-life-pregnancy-center bill, we can take them seriously as advisors on how pro-lifers should act.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 12:55:27 PM

Abortion advocates betray their hand when they talk about "voluntary reduction of abortion" and don't mention (but support attacks against) the pro-life pregnancy centers that serve 2 million women every year. What follows is NARAL's and David Nickol's definition of how pro-life centers are engaged in "DECEPTION", which justifies government criminalization if they don't succumb to compelled speech as dictated by the for-profit abortion industry that free-service pro-life centers are competing against.

Prepare yourself for shocking deception that demands jail time. Here it is.


Studies, in the last five years alone, showing the negative abortion-mental health connection:
• Bradshaw, Z., & Slade, P. (2005). The relationship between induced abortion, attitudes toward sexuality, and sexual problems. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 20, 390-406.
• Brockington, I.F. (2005). Post-abortion psychosis, Archives of Women’s Mental Health 8: 53–54.
• Broen, A. N., Moum, T., Bodtker, A. S., & Ekeberg, O. (2006). Predictors of anxiety and depression following pregnancy termination: A longitudinal five-year follow-up study. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 85: 317-23.
• Broen, A. N., Moum, T., Bodtker, A. S., & Ekeberg, O. (2005). Reasons for induced abortion and their relation to women’s emotional distress: A prospective, two-year follow-up study. General Hospital Psychiatry 27: 36-43.
• Broen, A. N., Moum, T., Bodtker, A. S., & Ekeberg, O. (2005). The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine 3(18).
• Coleman, P. K. (2005). Induced Abortion and increased risk of substance use: A review of the evidence. Current Women’s Health Reviews 1, 21-34.
• Coleman, P. K. (2006). Resolution of unwanted pregnancy during adolescence through abortion versus childbirth: Individual and family predictors and psychological consequences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 903-911.
• Coleman, P. K. (2009). The Psychological Pain of Perinatal Loss and Subsequent Parenting Risks: Could Induced Abortion be more Problematic than Other Forms of Loss? Current Women’s Health Reviews, 5, 88-99.
• Coleman, P. K., Coyle, C. T., & Rue, V.M. (2010). Late-Term Elective Abortion and Susceptibility to Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, Journal of Pregnancy, vol. 2010, Article ID 130519.
• Coleman, P. K., Coyle, C.T., Shuping, M., & Rue, V. (2009), Induced Abortion and Anxiety, Mood, and Substance Abuse Disorders: Isolating the Effects of Abortion in the National Comorbidity Survey. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 770– 776.
• Coleman, P. K., Maxey, C. D., Rue, V. M., & Coyle, C. T. (2005). Associations between voluntary and involuntary forms of perinatal loss and child maltreatment among low-income mothers. Acta Paediatrica, 94(10), 1476-1483.
• Coleman, P. K., & Maxey, D. C., Spence, M. Nixon, C. (2009). The choice to abort among mothers living under ecologically deprived conditions: Predictors and consequences. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 7, 405-422.
• Coleman, P. K., Reardon, D. C., & Cougle, J. R. (2005). Substance use among pregnant women in the context of previous reproductive loss and desire for current pregnancy. British Journal of Health Psychology, 10 (2), 255-268.
• Coleman, P. K., Reardon, D. C., Strahan, T., & Cougle, J. R. (2005). The psychology of abortion: A review and suggestions for future research. Psychology and Health, 20, 237-271.
• Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M. & Coyle, C.T. (2009). Induced abortion and intimate relationship quality in the Chicago Health and Social Life Survey. Public Health, 123, 331-338.DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2009.01.005.
• Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M., Coyle, C.T. & Maxey, C.D. (2007). Induced abortion and child-directed aggression among mothers of maltreated children. Internet Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology, 6 (2), ISSN: 1528-8374.
• Coleman, P. K., Rue, V., & Spence, M. (2007). Intrapersonal processes and post-abortion relationship difficulties: A review and consolidation of relevant literature. Internet Journal of Mental Health, 4 (2).
• Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M., Spence, M. & Coyle, C.T. (2008). Abortion and the sexual lives of men and women: Is casual sexual behavior more appealing and more common after abortion? International Journal of Health and Clinical Psychology, 8 (1), 77-91.
• Cougle, J. R., Reardon, D. C., & Coleman, P. K. (2005). Generalized anxiety following unintended pregnancies resolved through childbirth and abortion: A cohort study of the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 19, 137-142.
• Coyle, C.T., Coleman, P.K. & Rue, V.M. (2010). Inadequate preabortion counseling and decision conflict as predictors of subsequent relationship difficulties and psychological stress in men and women. Traumatology, 16 (1), 16-30. DOI:10.1177/1534765609347550.
• Dingle, K., et al. (2008). Pregnancy loss and psychiatric disorders in young women: An Australian birth cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 193, 455-460.
• Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Boden, J.M. (2009). Reactions to abortion and subsequent mental health. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 195, 420-426.
• Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Ridder, E. M. (2006). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 16-24.
• Gissler, M., et al. (2005). Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, Finland 1987-2000. European Journal of Public Health, 15, 459-463.
• Hemmerling, F., Siedentoff, F., & Kentenich, H. (2005). Emotional impact and acceptability of medical abortion with mifepristone: A German experience. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 26, 23-31.
• Mota, N.P. et al (2010). Associations between abortion, mental disorders, and suicidal behaviors in a nationally representative sample. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(4), 239-246.
• Pedersen, W. (2008). Abortion and depression: A population-based longitudinal study of young women. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36, No. 4, 424-428.
• Pedersen, W. (2007). Childbirth, abortion and subsequent substance use in young women: a population-based longitudinal study. Addiction, 102 (12), 1971-78.
• Reardon, D. C., & Coleman, P. K. (2006). Relative treatment for sleep disorders following abortion and child delivery: A prospective record-based study. Sleep, 29 (1), 105-106.
• Rees, D. I. & Sabia, J. J. (2007). The Relationship between Abortion and Depression: New Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Medical Science Monitor. 13(10): 430-436.
• Suliman et al. (2007) Comparison of pain, cortisol levels, and psychological distress in women undergoing surgical termination of pregnancy under local anaesthesia versus intravenous sedation. BMC Psychiatry, 7 (24), p.1-9.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 1:20:03 PM

Matt Bowman says: "The New York City bill criminalizes pro-life pregnancy centers despite the fact that most of them on the cover of their website do call themselves pro-life--so your supposition is false."

The proposed bill does *not* criminalize pro-life pregnancy centers. It requires pro-life pregnancy centers to provide certain information in their advertising and in the centers themselves. It does not seem to me burdensome in terms of expense and effort to be in compliance. Of course, some people find it offensive, but that is different from being burdensome. I was not endorsing the legislation when I said most of the problems could be solved by pro-life pregnancy centers to *calling* themselves pro-life. I was expressing my own personal opinion. Here is an excerpt from a news article outlining the requirements:

*********
Under the new rules, CPCs would have to disclose that they don't provide abortions or contraception and would not provide referrals for either. The information would be posted on signs in their centers and on their websites and ads.

Centers would also have to disclose that they have no doctors on site, and would be forced to keep all the information they collect confidential. Violators would be fined up to $2,500 for repeated offenses and could be shut down.
**********
http://www.dnainfo.com/20101117/manhattan/abortion-debate-takes-center-stage-at-city-hall-hearing-on-pregnancy-centers

Here is the text of the proposed legislation:
http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=777861&GUID=F7F0B7D7-2FE7-456D-A7A7-1633C9880D92&Options=&Search=

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 1:35:57 PM

Matt Bowman says: "What follows is NARAL's and David Nickol's definition . . .

As someone wisely said recently, "Let's keep comments focused on ideas, not on the person offering the ideas."

Matt Bowman says: "Prepare yourself for shocking deception that demands jail time."

First, the New York law regulating pro-life pregnancy centers would impose fines, not send anyone to jail. Second, the alleged deception has nothing to do with whether abortion is harmful or not. It has to do with pro-life pregnancy centers naming themselves, locating themselves, and advertising in such a way that they imply they provide abortion services and referrals.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 1:50:32 PM

As is the case with many people who speak of abortion reduction but really support abortion, DN above does not oppose the compelled speech as dictated by abortion partisans, and criminalization of pro-life centers, bill, nor does he produce any evidence of deception much less evidence to justify such an attack.

I reiterate, for Saletan, Nickol or whomever, if people are not willing to oppose attacks on pro-life centers that actually voluntarily reduce abortion, they cannot be taken seriously as advisors on how pro-lifers should act to cause voluntary reduction of abortion.

Speaking of "deception," here are the real, jail- and center-closure penalties in the NY bill, that so called "abortion reduction" people support, despite the false information in comments above.

20-818(b)(1) "the commissioner after notice and a hearing shall be authorized to order that the limited service pregnancy center be sealed"
(5) "Any other intentional disobedience or resistance to any provision of the orders issued pursuant to this subdivision, including using or occupying or permitting any other person to use or occupy any premises ordered closed without the permission of the department as described in subdivision b shall, in addition to any other punishment prescribed by law, be punishable by a fine
of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both."
20-819(b)"Notice of any third violation for engaging in a violation of section 20-816 shall state that premises may be ordered sealed after a finding of a third violation."

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 2:01:33 PM

Just one further thought. Here are Saleton's six recommendations for those on the pro-choice side:

1. Admit the value of the fetus.
2. Embrace abortion reduction.
3. Treat contraception as a moral practice.
4. Reclaim stigma
5. Target repeaters.
6. Reconsider the legality of second-trimester abortions.

There are some major concessions there, at least for the most adamant pro-choicers, and they include things Saleton himself says he hates. Saleton is talking about compromise, but he is instantly attacked by the pro-life side as if he were taking an extreme pro-choice position. It seems pointless to me to attack Saleton on the grounds that he doesn't really support pro-life pregnancy centers (which he did not say), when there is no way for Saleton to be other than the "enemy" except to wholeheartedly embrace the pro-life cause as represented by people like Matt Bowman. This is yet another example of the attitude of certain pro-life advocates that if you do not support them and everything they advocate without exception, you might just as well go set up your own abortion clinic.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 2:08:06 PM

DN, "Let's keep comments focused on ideas, not on the person offering the ideas."

The proposal is to embrace abortion reduction. It is necessary to define what the proposer means by "abortion reduction." If he does not mean pro-life pregnancy centers that freely help women choose abortion alternatives, and if he does not oppose buy even support legal attacks on those centers, then his idea of "abortion reduction" is not only severely truncated, it is not abortion reduction at all.

There is a side who is advising the other to entirely abandon its principles as "compromise." That side is characterized by its support of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers, while it claims it wants voluntary abortion reduction.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 2:26:13 PM

Admit the value of the fetus? What exactly does that mean? It comes across to me as a form of cheap grace, in that all I'm obliged to do is admit the value of the fetus, admit abortion is wrong, but I don't actually have to, God forbid, put anything behind that admission.

Posted by: Mark | Nov 17, 2010 2:36:38 PM

Similarly cheap is to "Reconsider the legality of second-trimester abortions," since if you read what he says, it wouldn't make them illegal, it would just subject them to approval by a hospital committee, which would be a rubber stamp. There's no there there.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 2:38:49 PM

Mark.

You say: ". . . . but I don't actually have to, God forbid, put anything behind that admission."

You are taking point 1 in isolation. Under point 2 there is the following: "Pro-choice leaders often point out that they're pro-choice, not pro-abortion. Prove it. Show that our high rate of abortion can be sharply reduced within a framework of free choice."

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 3:12:42 PM

This again begs the question of what someone means by "a framework of free choice." Some people load the dice of "a framework of free choice" as meaning a framework that rather than supporting pro-life centers targets criminal laws against them, even though they are the entities that freely, and 100% non-coercively, are the most successful entities at showing that "our high rate of abortion can be sharply reduced."

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 3:17:47 PM

Matt,

Regarding imprisonment, you are correct. I overlooked that part of the text. But as I understand it, possible imprisonment comes only from interfering with the enforcement of the law once there are three violations by a center and it is temporarily closed. The law does no more than require the centers to put up a sign on the premises and be clear in their advertising. Now, whether or not that is a violation of free speech rights I am not sure. I would have to hear the arguments. But one thing it makes crystal clear is that these centers do NOT want to make it clear that they do not provide abortions, refer for abortions, or provide information on contraception. If this is a battle for free speech, it is a battle on the part of pro-life pregnancy centers and those who support them for the right to withhold information about what services they do and don't supply.

Please explain how it would "cripple" (as one opponent of the law said) pro-choice pregnancy centers to put up a sign in their offices and acknowledge in their advertising that they do not provide abortion or contraceptive services.

You ague that pro-choice pregnancy clinics already are up-front about what they do and do not do. If that were the case, then these laws would merely require them to provide redundant information.

I comprehend your argument far enough to see why you find such laws offensive. But I really don't see how they would do any harm to pro-life pregnancy centers.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 3:31:26 PM

"But one thing it makes crystal clear is that these centers do NOT want to make it clear that they do not provide abortions"

False. The most hated centers in Manhattan, the largest network of centers there, is the most blatantly pro-life on their website. And the others are clear about their intentions. This bill, which is part of a national movement, criminalizes and closes centers for not succumbing to compelled speech about pregnancy in a way that the abortion industry demands they talk about it. And it does so based on ZERO evidence of any "lies and manipulation" except expressing a pro-life viewpoint to women that NARAL disagrees with, much less any evidence that would justify government targeting.

I will reiterate this point until it is no longer avoided: if people are not willing to OPPOSE these attacks on pro-life centers that actually voluntarily reduce abortion, they cannot be taken seriously as advisors on how pro-lifers should act to cause voluntary reduction of abortion. The very idea that someone would tolerate and apologize for a slander and criminalization campaign against pro-life centers based solely on the testimony of the abortion industry proves that they are not in the least interested in "voluntary abortion reduction" or showing that "our high rate of abortion can be sharply reduced."

.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 4:06:58 PM

Matt,

I agree with your assessment here; I wonder, has Saletan ever addressed any of this? Perhaps you could write him.

Posted by: WJ | Nov 17, 2010 4:56:50 PM

Matt:

You say, "I will reiterate this point until it is no longer avoided: if people are not willing to OPPOSE these attacks on pro-life centers that actually voluntarily reduce abortion, they cannot be taken seriously as advisors on how pro-lifers should act to cause voluntary reduction of abortion."

But it doesn't seem to me these are "attacks." As I said before, I understand you feel there is a free speech issue, but I do not see how requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to include specific information in their ads or place signs on the premises would in any way interfere with the work the centers do. If they don't comply with the law, they can be fined or shut down (temporarily), but if they *do* comply with the law, how will compliance hurt them?

By the way, if you are referring to EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers in New York, I would certainly agree that their web site could not be mistaken for being anything other than pro-life. But according to the Times,
Chris Slattery, the president of E.M.C. Pregnancy Centers,argues, “They [Planned Parenthood] don’t do pro-life counseling. Why don’t we have on Planned Parenthood’s door ‘No pro-life counseling, only pro-abortion counseling’ — O.K.? Let’s just have a level playing field.” I don't find that a very compelling argument.

Would you agree that forcing doctors in South Dakota to read pro-life scripts to women seeking abortions violates free-speech rights?

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 5:06:58 PM

It's an attack because it targets only pro-life centers, based on zero basis of wrongdoing but instead based NOTHING AT ALL BUT a slander campaign by the competing abortion industry itself, solely because that industry DOES LESS ABORTIONS (abortion reduction) due to the existence of pro-life centers, and it forces these abortion-reducing centers to speak about abortion in a way dictated by the abortion industry. It's an attack on abortion reduction because it forces pro-lifers who reduce abortion voluntarily to talk about abortion in various ways and means specified by abortionists, in the context of absolutely no wrongdoing other than the fact that they reduce abortion by speaking from pro-life instead of pro-abortion viewpoints and premises.

As I've said here before, the logic that supports imposing a special disclosure burden on prolife providers is just like the logic that would target people of one specific religion, or one specific sexual orientation, to wear large armbands displaying a symbol of their religious or sexual identity. By this flawed logic, the religious or sexual minority group would be told they should actally thank the government for forcing them to wear the targeted "armband disclosures," because it helps people be informed about who holds those beliefs and characteristtics so that other people may more easily join and identify with the minority group. A targeted armband disclosure requirement would claim to be neutral even though no other religious or sexual preference group member has to wear similar armband disclosures. Advocates of targeted armband disclosure would claim that no member of that religious or sexual minority could possibly object to it, because the symbol disclosed on the band is accurate to their group, the group members actually agree with the content, and they have already adopted the symbol as their own. Defenders of a targeted armband disclosure requirement would therefore claim it is not in any way hostile to that religios or sexual group, despite the fact that the people actually clamoring for the armband disclosure openly declare that they believe those religious and sexual groups are substandard, that the armband disclosure is specifically needed to protect women from being harmed by coming into contact with members of those groups, and that alongside this mandate those advocates are proposing that members of the religious or sexual group should have their businesses and licenses taken away and be put in jail if they practice the tenets of their group based on their own viewpoint.

Singling out ABORTION REDUCING CENTERS for jailtime and closure if they don't comply with compelled speech dictated by the abortion industry is hostile to the idea of abortion reduction, and people who are advising pro-lifers to be abortion reducers, while not opposing such attacks (but instead, over and over again, defending such attacks), have no standing to advise pro-lifers on abortion reduction.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 5:19:07 PM

WJ with respect to Saletan himself, I haven't seen him comment on this one way or another, but it is significant that he emphasizes abortion reduction and, as far as I know, hasn't commented on this attack on pro-life centers or expressed opposition to it or suggested that as common ground pro-life centers be supported. Because, as is apparent, the abortion industry and its partisans do not in the slightest believe that pro-life centers are a basis for common ground. My point is that such people aren't plausibly interested in abortion reduction. I make this point because people keep throwing the term "abortion reduction" at prolifers, while pro-lifers are engaged in the most massive abortion reduction movement in world history, and people on the side of the "abortion reduction" advocates are attacking that movement.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 5:28:06 PM

Matt,

Saletan, it seems to me, clearly thinks of pro-choice point 2 (embrace abortion reduction) as preventing unwanted pregnancies. If you are going to attack him for something, then it should be for pro-life point 2:

**********
2. Subsidize maternity. Money can't buy everything. But it can make it easier to carry a pregnancy to term and raise the child. To that extent, it can discourage some abortions. After the conference, several pro-life attendees, writing at Consistent Life, noted the hypocrisy of politicians who oppose abortion while gutting welfare programs that make maternity thinkable for women in financial distress. Charles Camosy, the Fordham theology professor who conceived the conference, reported that he and other pro-lifers discussed this project in a meeting after the conference:

"Making good on the claim to support pregnant women. This would of course mean supporting legislation that does this, but it means far more than this—especially if we don't want to alienate pro-lifers that are uncomfortable with big government solutions to social problems. I mentioned during the meeting that it is a national embarrassment that the American Catholic Church says the things it does about abortion but doesn't more boldly step up (especially at the local level) to help pregnant women and new mothers. Every parish that can afford to should have a women's shelter designed to support mothers and their newly born children. Perhaps we could come up [with] a 'starter kit' (or something) that we could circulate to parishes that would put them on their way to doing something like this?"
**********

I would suppose your argument would be that the pro-life movement is ALREADY DOING THIS through pro-life pregnancy centers, and I would agree that you'd have an argument. But I can only imagine there is a lot more that could be done to "subsidize maternity," and to those of us who are politically liberal, it looks very much like those who are politically conservative don't like the idea of government subsidizing maternity. From a pro-life position, wouldn't "welfare mothers" be preferable to women who were childless because they had one or more abortions?

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 17, 2010 6:19:53 PM

"Saletan, it seems to me, clearly thinks of pro-choice point 2 (embrace abortion reduction) as preventing unwanted pregnancies"

That's what it seems to me too, and it is an unnecessarily truncated posture.

It's rather strange, and symptomatic of liberal Catholics (Prof. Kaveny has taken the same kind of attitude) to say that the Church "doesn't more boldly step up (especially at the local level) to help pregnant women and new mothers." The Church and parishioners are massive supporters of the aforementioned pregnancy center movement that serves 2 million women a year, no thanks to abortionists attacking them. But this "see no good" attitude by some liberal Catholics and other liberals is consistent with the problem I have been highlighting. To them, the pro-life pregnancy center movement doesn't exist, so the Church (laity inclusive) isn't actually helping women, and the attacks on the prolife pregnancy center movement isn't anything to worry about--certainly not something that shows up on the radar of someone like Saletan when he talks about abortion reduction--so more power to NARAL and we can slam pro-lifers for not supporting abortion reduction, which means contraception and nothing else.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 7:32:52 PM

... and thus I have not noticed the New Yorkers that populate Commonweal's blog protesting the pro-life pregnancy center criminalization bill in their city council.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 17, 2010 7:34:35 PM

Rick,

I apologize for not mentioning you and more of the good pro-lifers who did speak at the Princeton conference. I also apologize if you think i was calling you naive. That was not my intention.

All the Best,

Austin

Posted by: Austin Ruse | Nov 17, 2010 8:44:26 PM

There are things that can be done in addition to pro-life pregnancy centers to dissuade women from aborting: waiting periods, mandatory information concerning the nature and impact of abortion, etc.

But I have a major problem with the argument that we should seek to reduce abortion through voluntary means but not criminalize it. There are many reasons why the voluntary means are not enough. But the most fundamental reason, and one that is not often mentioned, is that justice demands that the law recognize grave wrong. So long as abortion is legal, aborted children are denied justice.

I also find the argument that we must seek to reduce abortions without criminalizing them disingenuous. What other comparably grave wrong is exempted from criminalization? We call the police when our car radio is stolen. Is not the life of an unborn child worth at least as much as a car radio?

Posted by: Dan | Nov 17, 2010 9:26:23 PM

Dan,

You say: "But the most fundamental reason, and one that is not often mentioned, is that justice demands that the law recognize grave wrong. So long as abortion is legal, aborted children are denied justice."

Mother Teresa said: "But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

And yet the "justice" the pro-life movement offers the unborn is to exculpate the mothers and punish the abortionist. If the intent is to prevent abortions, then criminalizing only the performing of abortions and not the procuring of abortions may be a practical approach. But if you want to criminalize abortion in the name of justice, then the laws against abortion must themselves be just.

You say: "What other comparably grave wrong is exempted from criminalization?"

First, I would ask, if abortion is criminalized and only abortionists are punished, what other illegal service will there be for which the person who provides the illegal service is a criminal, but the person who solicits the service and pays for it is considered blameless?

Also, regarding any "other comparably grave wrong," I'd ask you to name one that the American people are this divided on. What do you do in a democracy when some people think abortion is a grave wrong and others don't?

Finally, what other situation is comparable to pregnancy and abortion? There simply isn't any. That is why ethicists come up with bizarre analogies such as waking up from anesthesia and finding yourself surgically attached to a famous violinist who cannot survive without remaining connected to you.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 9:11:59 AM

As we've discussed before and as is true of any crime, making abortion a crime is one things, and the decision of which penalties to impose is a different kind of thing; there's nothing unjust (as you imply but cannot establish) about making a legal determination that certain kinds of participants will be treated with compassion as second victims. Once again, you cannot show that pro-lifers want to criminalize women, and you cannot show that pro-life principles demand that women be penalized in a regime where abortions are illegal. Neither point you want to prove against pro-lifers is valid.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 9:28:41 AM

Not that this tangent, which we have argued before, has much to do with Rick's post.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 9:29:52 AM

Matt,

It was with some reluctance that I raised the issue of the punishment of women if abortion is criminalized, because it is quite true that it has been discussed endlessly. However, I don't recall it being discussed in the context of JUSTICE for the unborn. As I said, punishing abortionists but not women who abort may be the most practical way to discourage abortions (although I don't think that has been demonstrated) but what would be truly just laws criminalizing abortion seems to me another matter entirely.

If you accept Mother Teresa's statement -- "And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" -- I don't see how you can justify not punishing women (or at least having provisions in the law that allow for punishment, whether enforced or not) who procure abortions. The standard pro-choice approach to the law is that it *is* accepted that a mother can kill her own child; it should just be more difficult for her to find someone to help her. That is not justice.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 9:50:51 AM

Justice is a concept that is not as precise and absolutist in its actual human application as you suggest, nor do you accept the pro-life movement's factual assessment of the victimization and harm that abortion inflicts on women which is a component of calculating what justice requires. There is nothing inconsistent with agreeing with Mother Teresa and the Church about what abortion is morally, and in creating a social legal regime in which abortion is illegal and preborn children protected and abortionists are punished severely but women are not criminalized rather they are treated as second victims of the abortionists, which also helps punish abortionists and therefore in turn helps prevent the victimization of women. There is simply no mandate that women be criminalized that flows from the Church's teaching that abortion is murder and must be illegal. Penalty schemes are not identical to overall justice and morality. There is some degree of flexibility, if abortion is still illegal and society protects the preborn.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 9:59:38 AM

Matt,

You say: "There is simply no mandate that women be criminalized that flows from the Church's teaching that abortion is murder and must be illegal."

And yet in all the countries in which abortion has been or remains banned with the urging and approval of the Catholic Church, only Poland has laws that do not have provisions for punishing women who procure abortions. El Salvador, Chile, Nicaragua, and Malta all have provisions for punishment.

There is simply no way to reconcile the Mother Teresa quote with what you propose. She says, "And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" What the pro-life movement proposes actually accepts that a mother can kill her own child with impunity. It just wants to make it a lot harder for her to do so.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 10:25:16 AM

The regime I am suggesting does not accept that a mother can kill her child. It makes abortion illegal and punishes the procurers and offers compassion to the women involved. You cannot translate a Mother Teresa quote that logically imposes no specific mandate on the penalties of a pro-life legal regime into a quote that does. You have no basis for alleging that Church teaching mandates the criminalization of women, no matter how many times Catholics insist that there is no such mandate as long as abortion is illegal. This conversation is simply you insisting that Catholics want to criminalize women, and Catholics saying no we don't we want to criminalize abortion, and you saying yes you do, and we saying no we don't. No matter how many times we say no we don't, you will just insist based on non sequitors that yes we do.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 10:37:06 AM

...punishes the "performers"...

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 10:38:54 AM

Matt,

I take it you would then be critical of Saletan's fifth point for those who are pro-choice:

**********
5. Target repeaters. In her presentation, Brown delivered this brutal observation:

"About half of all abortions are to women who have had at least one previous abortion. Half. That suggests not only the family planning systems, but also the people who provide terminations, are not doing enough to prevent additional unintended pregnancies, including such things as immediate post-abortion IUD insertion."

That's a scandal. One unintended pregnancy should be enough to warn you—and the doctor who vacuums out your uterus—not to risk another."
**********

Apparently the old saying doesn't apply to the "abortion industry" and women who procure abortions: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 10:39:23 AM

Yes David I oppose coercive population control.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 10:45:41 AM

...and to get back to the topic at hand, the very suggestion that requiring IUDs is some kind of "compromise" shows how slanted in favor of abortion is the agenda of someone who would make such a suggestion.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 10:59:23 AM

Matt,

You say, "Yes David I oppose coercive population control."

Obviously you don't. You want to make 1.3 million women a year have babies they don't want. Isn't that what jailing abortionists is all about? The pro-life movement has no practical plan to prevent unwanted pregnancies, so the best it can hope for is 1.3 million unwanted births instead of 1.3 million abortions. The women who see abortions are under such unbearable pressure to get rid of their babies that they are blameless for doing so, but the pro-life movement wants to remove the solution to their problems without removing the problems.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 11:14:43 AM

It is absurd to suggest that when we prohibit the killing of children we are engaging in coercive population control. You might as well say that jailing gunmen who kill unwanted kindergardeners in poor neighborhoods is coercive population control.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 11:26:30 AM

And once again, that you would even make such a suggestion displays the pro-abortion premises you are working from, which doesn't exactly make you an authority on how pro-lifers ought to be pursuing their goals.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 11:27:44 AM

Matt,

You say: "...and to get back to the topic at hand, the very suggestion that requiring IUDs is some kind of "compromise" shows how slanted in favor of abortion is the agenda of someone who would make such a suggestion."

The topic, of course, is Saleton's advice based on what he took away from the Princeton conference, which was about "open minds" and "fair minded words." When you take one piece of what someone says and reject the whole thing, that is not evidence of an open mind. The gist of what Saleton said is that if one abortion is bad, a second one is *really* bad, and something should be done to try to make sure that women who have one abortion don't wind up having another. This is not an objectionable idea at all, although *how* it should be done is open to debate.

It seems the immediate reaction of pro-lifers is to try to demolish everything Saleton said instead of trying to find some points of agreement that might help reduce abortions. It certainly is not in the spirit of the Princeton conference. It's just more of the same: "If you aren't on board to elect Republicans, overturn Roe v Wade, and fight abortion state by state, go off to Planned Parenthood where you belong."

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 11:30:57 AM

You cannot immunize yourself or Saletan from criticism by crying that it proves people don't have open minds just because we observe that your very suggestions are based on radically pro-death premises that you are proposing we adopt as a form of "compromise."

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 11:33:37 AM

This has been, if I may say so, an unusually productive discussion, perhaps both despite *and* because of the sharp differences in view on display. I wonder, Matt, if I can ask a follow-up question. Somewhere in the middle of the discussion, David asked what your views were on the question whether doctors who perform abortions may, consistently with the First Amendment, be required to provide particular information (or "read a script," I'm not basing anything on characterization here) to patients seeking abortions, such as that the "the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." Do you have a view on this, I suppose whether legally or as a matter of policy, by which I mean your views on free speech as well as your views on public policy?

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 18, 2010 11:39:50 AM

In relation to this discussion, it seems to me that telling women that "abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being" serves or at least does not hinder the goal of "voluntary abortion reduction," whereas criminal targeting of nonprofit pro-life "voluntary abortion reduction" centers by compelling them to speak in ways dictated by abortionists is antithetical to the goal of "voluntary abortion reduction."

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 11:42:31 AM

Matt,

You say: "And once again, that you would even make such a suggestion displays the pro-abortion premises you are working from, which doesn't exactly make you an authority on how pro-lifers ought to be pursuing their goals."

It is not a pro-abortion premise to point out the contradiction in the pro-life movement: Women are victims of terrible pressure and are blameless for having abortions, so let's make abortion unavailable and let them cope with that terrible pressure . . . how? The part of the pro-life movement that rejects contraception has no workable plan for preventing unwanted pregnancies. So the only thing it can do about unwanted pregnancies is make sure they are not terminated. I am expecting that some day in the not-too-distant future, contraception will be inexpensive and foolproof. Then it will be only those who are morally opposed to contraception who will have unwanted pregnancies and will have a dilemma over abortion.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 11:42:46 AM

"let them cope with that terrible pressure . . . how"
See infra Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers, which you have still not defended from the criminal law pending in your city council.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 11:46:50 AM

Matt, I appreciate your good-faith answer, and especially your attempt to relate it back to the main post. I do want to press a little, though, because much (though not all) of your objection to the New York law is that it is compelled speech, and much of your debate on that point with David is over whether this compelled speech is inconsistent with the speakers' own views or merely requires them to make those views clear. It would seem to me given your comments on this issue that your view would be that, regardless of whether the mandated speech promotes or retards the policy of reducing abortions, it should be treated as impermissible compelled speech as long as the doctors themselves object to it. Of course, they may be criticized on a substantive level for taking this stand, but I take it you would agree that they have the right not to be forced to speak those words. Or am I wrong?

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 18, 2010 11:50:15 AM

Matt,

It seems to me that requiring a physician to read a script to a patient -- a script that he may consider to contain false statements -- is a much more egregious violation of First Amendment rights than requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to be explicit about what they *do* believe. I have acknowledged several times that there may be a First Amendment issue when it comes to requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs or advertise in a certain way, but I have also asked several times how it would adversely impact their mission if they complied. You never answer that.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 11:50:54 AM

Paul, to continue to relate it back to the discussion, it is not just compelled speech but compelled speech written by abortion partisans against their free and voluntary abortion reducing pro-life competition. It seems to me that if we were to consider the goal of voluntary smoking reduction, it would make a massive substantive difference if on the one hand someone proposed to criminally penalize the tobacco industry for failing to speak about smoking in a way dictated by the American Lung Association, while on the other hand someone else proposed to criminally penalize the American Lung Association for failing to speak about smoking in a way dictated by the tobacco industry. Now, if someone insists on quibbling about that, and saying there's nothing inconsistent with the goal of voluntary smoking reduction when we criminally penalize the American Lung Association for failing to speak about smoking in a way dictated by the tobacco industry, then it seems to me fair to ask whether the quibbler is himself working off deep premises favoring the tobacco industry, and whether he therefore is in any position to recommend how anti-smoking advocates or anyone else ought to proceed towards the goal of voluntary smoking reduction.

On the pure First Amendment issue you are raising, there is good briefing on that in the Maryland federal lawsuits.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 12:46:50 PM

And once again David you have failed to take the opportunity to oppose a specific bill that criminalizes the most massive voluntary abortion reduction effort in world history. This despite the fact that you have admitted the pro-life centers in New York satisfy even your definition of non-deception (and of course despite your 100% absence of evidence that they have engaged in any wrongdoing of any kind, except as declared by NARAL).

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 12:55:06 PM

Paul just to be clear I support the law that was challenged in Rounds.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 12:57:38 PM

Again, I appreciate your response and will certainly, time permitting, look at the briefing you mention; perhaps you can offer a cite so I can find it more easily. I will say that I'm not sure I agree with your argument that it depends on who is dictating the compelled speech in question. While I believe legislative intent can be relevant for certain First Amendment purposes, I don't think that's necessarily true in a simple nose-counting way. Legislatures act for a variety of purposes and, of course, regularly listen to (and, of course, can be "captured" or "persuaded," depending on one's point of view) arguments from outside parties in crafting and debating the passage of laws. What matters is not pure intent or an analysis of coalition politics, but whether the law wrongly discriminates on the basis of the content of speech or the identity of the speaker. And beyond this, compelled speech cases can be problematic not because of the intent of the legislature but because speakers have an independent interest in their own identities and actions.

All of this is to say that we come back to the question whether either the compelled speech involving abortion providers or the compelled speech involving pro-life pregnancy centers alter the message the speakers want to transmit, and if so whether that fact alone renders the law problematic. Say that a coalition of pro-abortion types (not much turns for me on these labels) convinced the legislature to require *all* businesses to post clearly marked fire exits. No problem there, right? Or say the legislature flipped a coin as to whether to require all business to clearly mark their entrances with the American flag, or with the hammer and sickle. Problem there regardless of motive, right? Even if compelled speech is targeted at a particular speaker, that doesn't necessarily render it unconstitutional. A law might require a paralegal services organization to preface advice with, "I am not a licensed attorney." It might be passed due to pressure from the bar. But it would not necessarily be unconstitutional, any more than prohibiting false and misleading statements by peddlers of non-FDA-licensed "drugs" is necessarily unconstitutional, even if the law was passed because of pressure from the AMA.

So what matters is not the coalition behind a law but, depending on your viewpoint, 1) whether the compelled speech is necessary for some government purpose that survives judicial scrutiny, or 2) whether the compelled speaker is entitled to substantial deference in asserting that the compelled speech interferes with its own sense of mission.

On that view, which certainly is not unassailable, it seems to me that your position, given what you have argued about the New York law, would be that as long as they object to it, the physicians cannot be entitled to read the script about human life handed to them by the legislature. They can be criticized for not saying these things, but the government cannot compel them to say them. Or, conversely, if you believe that such a law is permissible because the government's assertion of an interest in having the physicians say so, say for reasons of accuracy in providing medical services, is legitimate, then it would seem that your view would be that we ought to defer to the legislature's decision in New York. In neither case would the source of the legislative pressure necessarily matter, assuming the law was otherwise permissible. You might not see it as evenhanded, but no more are laws requiring peddlers of unapproved drugs to say the drugs are unapproved, laws that in their nature do not apply to licensed peddlers of approved drugs. Laws aimed at false and misleading statements (I assume this point for purposes of argument, not to characterize the pro-life pregancy centers) are of course targeted at those who make the false and misleading statements.

There is a third possibility, which is that your position could be driven by your views on abortion. I do not make that claim, and one may argue in any event that all views on free speech are driven by underlying substantive views. But this possibility is worth noting because it clarifies how relevant or irrelevant claims about free speech, compelled speech, etc. really are to one's argument.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 18, 2010 1:07:56 PM

I should say that my obnoxiously long response was written before your comment, at 12:57, that you support the law that was challenged in Rounds. I should note that I limited my examples of the law challenged in Rounds to the mandatory statement that was upheld by the Eighth Circuit and then by the district court on remand; some of the other mandatory statements contained in that law were struck down. For the reasons I offered in my long response above, I am respectfully not sure how your view is consistent strictly as a matter of free speech doctrine or theory.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 18, 2010 1:11:02 PM

As a policy question it matters who is compelling the speech. As a legal question it is relevant but within the legal analysis standardly applied.

On the law again I refer you to the briefs--they are on pacer but probably not westlaw, and I don't know if they are on the internet somewhere. Casey is the basis for the Rounds decision (which is publicly available), but Casey doesn't justify compelled speech outside that context.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 1:12:24 PM

In terms of the relevance of compelled speech to the above argument, refer back to the smoking analogy. It is entirely relevant to Saletan's and Nickol's suggestions of voluntary abortion reduction whether they propose to criminalize pro-life voluntary abortion reduction centers unless they succumb to speech written by abortion industry partisans.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 1:14:18 PM

Refresh my memory, which portion of the Rounds law did the Eighth Circuit uphold striking down?

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 1:19:27 PM

Matt, pardon my lack of clarity. Other mandatory statements were struck down by the district court on remand, at 650 F. Supp. 2d 972. I am not aware of any further developments in the case, but I haven't researched the question very closely. I doubt I will have time to pen a full response to your responses above, so let me at least 1) take the time to thank you for your courteous replies, and 2) suggest that in my view the matter is less one of "criminalization" than of one's views on the First Amendment law of compelled speech and/or one's substantive views of the policies in question. If the state forces someone not to make particular false or misleading statements when providing a service and that concern over false and misleading statements can be justified, then we are not criminalizing that business but will certainly enforce, civilly and criminally, continued refusal to obey the law -- even *if* the law is wholly driven by an economic competitor. The debate is properly over the substance of the restriction, not the fact that criminal penalties are possible or that they serve some interest group's desires. Again, at least in my view, my concerns over whether the law in Rounds is or isn't constitutional aren't driven by whether it was passed as a result of legislative capture or persuasion by a particular ideologically partisan group.

In saying so I don't necessarily mean to suggest that both laws should face the same positive or negative outcome, just that, at least from my perspective, whether one finds one, both, or neither such compelled speech law especially outrageous will depend on fairly across-the-board views on the First Amendment, or necessarily partial views on the substance of abortion, but not on the invocation of the word "criminalization."

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 18, 2010 1:34:19 PM

"The debate is properly over the substance of the restriction, not the fact that criminal penalties are possible"

I disagree, and think the criminal and closure penalties and industry driven components of the laws against pro-life voluntary abortion reduction centers are relevant, as a policy matter and in the legal analysis, in addition to the substance of the requirement (and in fact they affect the substance of the requirement in the proposed bills).

I understand your concerns over the Rounds law and the adoption of a position on abortion. There are First Amendment arguments in response. My point in this thread is that voluntary abortion reduction is a position on abortion, distinct, for example, from laissez faire on abortion. But pro-abortion advocates of what they call voluntary abortion reduction are framing it in such a way that calls into question whether they are really talking about voluntary abortion reduction.

Here's how this fits into the bigger picture:
1) pro-life laws are far more diverse than merely adding abortion to the murder statute;
2) such laws (waiting periods, parental consent, information to women) do lead to voluntary reduction of abortion;
3) the abortion industry and its partisans make lots and lots of money on abortion (unlike pro-life pregnancy center directors), and never ever ever fail to oppose these laws;
4) some of these same abortion advocates are now talking about common ground on voluntary abortion reduction as something pro-lifers should do;
5) those people also frame pro-life legal efforts as being nothing but adding abortion to the murder statute, giving no cognizance to the aforementioned pro-life laws;
6) it is fair to ask whether they are failing to mention these laws in the discussion of voluntary abortion reduction, because if they were to do so they would be shown to be opposed to important methods of voluntary abortion reduction, and also they would lose the force of their attempt to paint all pro-life legal efforts as nothing but criminalizing women--so if they get pro-lifers to agree to stop trying to make abortion legally murder (as Prof. Kaveny wonders out loud) they have suddenly achieved a bait and switch and made pro-lifers abandon all these other pro-life laws that reduce abortion but don't make abortion murder;
7) if someone is serious about voluntary abortion reduction they will approach abortion in ways not dissimilar from the way society approaches smoking, which among other things is through these pro-life laws;
8) but since the persons in question and the industry they lobby for oppose such laws, and in fact make money from more abortions occuring, it seems fair to ask whether they are serious about voluntary abortion reduction;
9) compounding that flaw in their position, these pro-abortion people are at best tolerant of and very frequently are supportive of efforts to criminally penalize the massive, free, not-for-profit effort by pro-life voluntary abortion reduction centers, which movement doesn't even rise to the level of the government doing anything vis a vis how abortionists operate;
10) finally, if the Princeton conference or similar such efforts cannot even conclude (or even propose?) as a compromise issue that pro-life pregnancy centers are a good thing, to be encouraged by society and government, and that the LAST thing a voluntary abortion reducer would want to do is start passing laws against them--well, it illustrates a problem in process, and it could illustrate that the pro-lifers present were too liberal and not representative of a true dialogue, as exemplified by the statement David quoted from Mr. Camosy ("the American Catholic Church says the things it does about abortion but doesn't more boldly step up (especially at the local level) to help pregnant women and new mothers").

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 2:10:39 PM

Matt,

You say: "And once again David you have failed to take the opportunity to oppose a specific bill that criminalizes the most massive voluntary abortion reduction effort in world history."

I have written to the very pro-life pregnancy center to which I contribute financially asking them if they feel complying with the proposed law will interfere with their mission. (They are not one of the EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers.) If they respond that it will, I will write to Christine Quinn (my councilwoman and Speaker of the City Council) in opposition to the bill. However, if I hear back that they do not feel the proposed law will interfere with their mission, I will write in support of the bill.

You say: "This despite the fact that you have admitted the pro-life centers in New York satisfy even your definition of non-deception (and of course despite your 100% absence of evidence that they have engaged in any wrongdoing of any kind, except as declared by NARAL)."

What I said was that the web site of the EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers more than satisfies my requirements. However, according to the t-i-m-e-s: "There is nothing misleading about the E.M.C. Web site, which boldly announces its agenda in red: 'Fighting for life in NYC — the abortion capital of America.' Nor is there anything neutral about what women hear once they are seated across from a staff person at any of those centers. But the vague signage, the E.M.C. centers’ intentional proximity to Planned Parenthood services, and some of the other centers’ more misleading Web sites can make for confusion." So I don't think all is necessarily well with regards to every pro-life pregnancy center in New York.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 2:22:59 PM

Not talking "neutrally." "Vague" signage. Being next door to abortionists.

This is deception justifying criminal penalties and closure? I see.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 2:30:51 PM

"The Midtown Pregnancy Support Center, another crisis pregnancy center, says it already informs clients that it won't make referrals or recommend abortions. In a written statement, the organization says it would be unfairly singled out by the proposed bill."
http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2010/oct/12/abortion-rights-groups-pushing-regulation-so-called-crisis-pregnancy-centers/

I think if we want to cause voluntary abortion reduction, we intentionally put pro-life pregnancy centers next to abortion centers. On the other hand, if people think that the proximity, and unspefied charges based on nothing else but NARAL propoganda, shows that "I don't think all is necessarily well" with pro-life centers, that person is not a person apparently seriously interested in voluntary abortion reduction.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 2:51:11 PM

Matt,

You say: "This is deception justifying criminal penalties and closure? I see."

The fines for violations are civil penalties, not criminal penalties. Criminal penalties come into play only after three violations when the commissioner has ordered a facility sealed -- FOR A PERIOD NOT TO EXCEED FIVE CONSECUTIVE DAYS -- if someone violates the orders of the commissioner.

You may find compliance with the law odious, but you have not yet made the case that it is burdensome or would in any way interfere with the work of a pro-life pregnancy center. I don't see how that case can be made, at least not without admitting that making the pro-life positions of crisis pregnancy centers very clear will cause potential clients to go elsewhere.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 3:20:24 PM

I think we should pass a law requiring David Nickol to say in bold 36 point font at the preface of all his blog comments that he rejects Church teaching on abortion and argues in favor of coercive sterilization, with six months in jail and five days eviction from his apartment if he fails to comply with an order to do so.

I've said it repeatedly and David has only proven my point: someone who apologizes for and refuses to oppose a law criminalizing and closing pro-life pregnancy centers based on absolutely no basis except that they speak from a pro-life viewpoint to abortion bound women has no standing to lecture pro-lifers about how to voluntarily reduce abortion. Funding abortionists and closing pro-life centers isn't compromise or voluntary reduction of abortion.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 3:35:20 PM

Matt,

You score a partial victory. I am going to oppose the bill on the grounds that it unfairly requires additional, unnecessary action on the part of pro-life pregnancy centers that already make their positions clear. That is an argument that I can understand. I still do not think the law would be burdensome, but if MPSC objects, I will support them.

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 3:37:14 PM

Thank you. Compromise is possible on this issue after all. :)

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Nov 18, 2010 3:43:48 PM

Speaker Quinn,

I am writing in opposition to the Limited Service Pregnancy Centers legislation. I am very concerned that some pro-life pregnancy centers may engage in deceptive practices to attract clients who would not otherwise seek their services, but the pro-life pregnancy center I contribute to, Midtown Pregnancy Support Center, could not be more forthright in revealing on its web site the services it does and does not provide. That is, in fact, one of the reasons I support them.

As someone who does not buy into the "orthodox" pro-life movement (vote Republican, repeal Roe v Wade, battles in every state) this is somewhat of a difficult call for me. But if those of us who claim we want to reduce abortions in ways other than those of the "orthodox" pro-life movement cannot support pro-life support centers and all the good work they do in offering women with unwanted pregnancies alternatives to abortion, then how can we really claim we want to see abortions reduced? And whatever one's position on the rightness or wrongness of abortion, how can we claim to support women's rights if we do not help women who do not want to have abortions find alternatives? What good is a "right to choose" for a woman who feels she has only one choice?

So if there are deceptive pro-life pregnancy centers operating in the city, by all means figure out a way to let their potential clients know. But don't compel organizations like the Midtown Pregnancy Support Center to describe themselves in the City Council's terms when they describe themselves adequately and clearly already.

Thank you.

David Nickol

Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 18, 2010 4:20:03 PM