GW1: In general, a very insightful and helpful article, IMO. Thanks, Michael.

MS1: ...the best path to take is education, contraception, and the recognition of full female rights—which are simply human rights—including and especially reproductive rights.

GW1: Yes, I agree that this is the best path. However, it needs tweaking or refinement. Abortion rights for women should not be absolute. Abortion is usually morally permissible, but sometimes it is morally wrong and should be prohibited. Contraceptive methods should be safe, effective, easy to use, accessible, and “free.” Education should include the training of young people to discuss and reach agreements with their potential sex partner about topics such as intercourse, STDs, contraception, abortion, and child custody and care BEFORE intercourse. No agreements, no intercourse.

MS1: Of course, many people are deaf to arguments demonstrating the positive impacts of contraception and education, because their sole concern is the right to life of the unborn fetus which, in their view, trumps the rights of an adult woman, and that leads to a deeper problem in the abortion debate,...

GW1: First, “unborn fetus” is a propaganda term and should not be used in a serious discussion of abortion. Secondly, the right to life of a FETAL PERSON probably does trump MOST of the rights of the adult woman. The right to life of the adult woman is certainly one exception. But, the right to liberty for bad reasons of the woman ought not be an exception. For example, a woman should not be permitted an abortion of a FETAL PERSON for a reason like “I just changed my mind” or “I can’t stand being sick any longer.” The rights to life and well being of the fetal person should not be cast aside for such frivolous reasons.

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Good points Gary. I do think the trimester system developed under Roe and tweaked a bit here and there is a useful heuristic for drawing hard lines where fuzzy boundaries are called for (the law requires those lines, whereas science welcomes fuzziness). In the first trimester, for example, under Roe a woman's motivation for an abortion is irrelevant. It can be for medical reasons, economic reasons, or even just "I changed my mind." That doesn't apply in the third trimester (save the medical reasons).

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Greetings Michael,

I very much enjoyed reading all three parts of your article: Abortion: The Case for Choice. I found it to be balanced & very informative. I must say that I learned a lot I didn't know previously as you dug deeper into the foundations & details of your arguments. Excellent.

While living in Portland, OR in the mid-80s, I volunteered a few times at an abortion clinic to be an escort for women coming in to have the procedure. It was a very stressful time for them. There was the possibility of verbal and/or physical abuse or assault, so they were looking for any help they could get to make the experience more tolerable. It's a sad state of affairs when vulnerable women need help to be shielded from other members of the community who want to do them harm because of a rigid and unfounded belief system that's taken hold of their emotions and thought processes. Luckily, on the days I was there to help out, nothing violent or confrontational developed.

I'm staunchly pro-choice, so I enthusiastically agree with everything you touched on in your 3-part series. Abortion is a choice which no woman really wants to make, but sometimes they have to. My own sister had two abortions during the 80s, and I talked with her extensively as she confided in me at the time and struggled to come to terms with her decisions. It's always agonizing, but if the desire for the child isn't there, it's imperative that the life not be brought into the world. "Every child a wanted child" is what I believed then, it's what I believe now. It's simply the most utilitarian decision to make for the best interests of the people, society and institutions which would be affected (as well as the primitive potential person which should morally not be brought into the world if it isn't wanted).

Following are a few more observations I've had over the last few decades in regards to this issue, and perhaps there is some scholarly research on them in the scientific literature.

1) As you've pointed out, the desire by males to control the behavior of females has a lot to do with "mate guarding" with such behaviors as "vigilance or violence", etc. But it also seems to me that males (and the females who agree with these males who're acting as "assistants") likely extend this control to include basic sexual pleasure too. As the second strongest drive humans possess, it seems logical that males would exert control over females in this area too, not just when it comes to the reproduction end of things. The fundamentalist religious impulses which seek to control women's behavior with regards to abortion, may equally be at work to squelch non-reproductive "recreational" sexual pleasure too. Control of women's behavior and enjoyment of bodily pleasures can (and likely does) work on many levels at the same time.

2) No discussion of "unwanted pregnancies" would be complete without also bringing into the mix the unpopular concept of "accidentally on purpose" pregnancies. These are pregnancies wherein a woman consciously plans to get pregnant "accidentally" or surreptitiously from a man of her choosing. At the point where she's certain of the pregnancy, she will then use this fact as a bargaining tool or means to get the father to commit in some way. This could be through formal marriage, financial support, co-habitation, etc. If he's not compliant, she will then begin the process of negotiating or pressuring the man to acquiesce to her desires. This indecision and negotiating process many take place over many weeks or months, and hence the woman gets farther and farther into the pregnancy (all the while hoping that this fact will gain commitment from the father). If, after many weeks or months, the father is still not willing to meet the woman's demands or changes his mind, she will be faced with a late 2nd trimester abortion, or one even later in the pregnancy. To me, this seems to be the only reasonable, logical reason that a woman would wait so late into the pregnancy to have an abortion. We would reasonably think that a woman would have an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy as early as possible once she figured out she was pregnant. But the "accidentally on purpose" pregnancy strategy must surely be an evolutionary adaptation on the part of some women to concede support and shared responsibility from the father (or the male whom is considered the father at the time).

3) Because of the fact that many of the people who've taken the "pro-life" position are of a religious bent, their arguments put forth the idea that there exists a soul that's separate from the physical body. Additionally, their claim is that this soul enters the physical human body either at conception or sometime during the gestation of the fetus. Along with this imaginary entity often comes the idea that the soul is the thing in which the person's personality, emotions, talents, etc., are ensconced. Therefore, in this way of thinking, there is a real person present in a woman's womb potentially from the moment of conception onward. In this mindset, then, abortion truly is the murder of this little person who is primarily associated with its *soul* as distinctively different from its physical body. In the final analysis, it seems to me that the arguments being made by both sides can't effectively be discussed until or unless this idea of a soul has been dealt with in some way. I'm not sure I know how this would happen. But it's an emotion-based position, and the highly religious will not let go of it because it's part & parcel of who they are & what they believe. How can this fly-in-the-ointment be successfully dealt with from the reason, logic, & scientific perspective?

4) Previous to reading the 3rd part of your trilogy, I was going to make a 4th point about the negative consequences of bringing unwanted lives into the world by women who've been forced to give birth & who've been denied the right to an abortion. But your section on the horrible social engineering program that went on in Romania pretty much summed up what I'd been thinking along those lines. You've shown definitively that in the end, these unwanted babies will grow into troubled adults who will more than likely have painful & unhappy lives, and who will place an unjust burden on the rest of society.

Thanks for your excellent article, and I just hope these sorts of arguments can have some sort of effect on the minds of the "pro-life" folks who seem to be operating from a very emotion-based position rather than one which is based on a thoughtful balance of reason & informed knowledge.

Best regards,

Quest R.

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Thanks for the commentary Quest. Any idea if there is any data (as unreliable as it may be) on how many pregnancies are "accidentally on purpose" as a mate strategy? I suspect it would be a very tiny percentage, along with pregnancies due to rape and incest. The vast majority are from having sex without protection/birth control, due to religion (abstinence programs), lack of education, and poor access to inexpensive or free birth control. Another factor I didn't have space to cover was economic empowerment of women. Countries in which women have more economic (and political) power delay marriage, control pregnancies, and manage family size.

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Thanks for the response Michael. 'Very much appreciated. My professional training is as a pilot at the Airline Transport Pilot level, so I'm not an academic. I wouldn't know where to begin to look for any data (reliable or unreliable) regarding the "accidentally on purpose" (deliberate deception) mating strategy idea I put forward. This might be an area of research for post-graduate work by a social scientist working toward a Master's degree or Phd. Another area which would be worth researching would be the underlying causes or stated reasons why certain women wait weeks or months after confirmation of their pregnancy to seek an abortion. If they truly had an unwanted pregnancy, wouldn't they wish to terminate as soon as they found out? It seems to be a mystery why some wait as long as late in the 2nd trimester (or even into the 3rd) to seek an abortion. If research were to show that the "accidentally on purpose" behavior exists, but is a very small percentage of overall pregnancies, it's still possible that it might turn out to be a reason for a large percentage of late-term abortions sought. We need more data on this! Also, economic (and political) empowerment of women could certainly occur on a very wide range within one country, such as the US. The socio-economic empowerment range for women in the US certainly runs the gamut from very high to very low. For a humorous & entertaining take on wide variabilities within this range, I highly recommend the comedy film "Idiocracy". If you haven't seen it yet, I highly suggest putting it on your list. Hilarious! 'Looking forward to your future substack articles. 'Regards, Quest

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