Department of “Huh?”

Contraception and adoption have roughly nothing to offer in reducing the number of late-term abortions.

Andrew Sullivan:

I want to reiterate my personal moral opposition to legal late term abortions. I understand the awful tragedies and complexities involved. I know too that most of these children would die soon anyway – or be subject to grueling operations with many risks. I just find the ending of human life to be something we avoid as much as we possibly can. And we need to find many more ways to facilitate contraception, the morning-after pill, and adoption to make these tragedies much rarer than they are.

Sorry, I can’t make sense of this. “Contraception, the morning-after pill, and adoption” are relevant to the problem of fourteen-year-old girls who conceal their pregnancies until they start to “show.” (Even then, it takes a colder heart than I can master to say to a middle-school girl who is carrying her father’s child that she has to go through the pain &#8212and, at that age, danger&#8212 of childbirth to bear her half-brother.)

But the whole “safe, legal, and rare” formula offers nothing to women who are carrying fetusus which, if carried to term, would face short, agonizing lives, or women whose pregnancies will kill them if not terminated, or women whose fetuses die inside them. (Yes, doctors are afraid to do dilation and extraction &#8212 the famous “partial-birth abortion” &#8212 even when the fetus is already dead.) Making late-term abortion illegal condemns them to horrors no one should have to face, and I for one don’t have much patience with those willing to impose those horrors on others in order to salve their own consciences.

What Dr. George Tiller was doing (as one of only three physicians in the country) desperately needed, and needs, to be done. An appropriate memorial to him, and rebuke to his killer and those who egged his killer on, would be to enact policies to make certain that the services he had the courage to provide will be provided by others.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: