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Due to work and research commitments, I will not be posting anything new until next year. In the meantime, use the links and the news feeds and still feel free to email me if you want to discuss reproductive politics. Thanks for your continued interest.
Recent posts

Asking Pope Francis to reexamine abortion

Philosopher Gary Gutting, who always writes something interesting for The Stone column in The New York Times, recently asked if Pope Francis might reconsider the Catholic Church's traditional absolutist opposition to abortion.

In doing so, Gutting makes a case for a kind of minimalist justification for abortion-- that is, abortion is immoral in most circumstances but there are a few cases where abortion is justified (in the case of rape, for example). 
For that reason, the column makes for informative reading. Still, Gutting puts the cart before the horse: how and why would Pope Francis review the Church's view on abortion before reexamining its even-more-restrictive view of artificial contraception? 
Anything can happen, of course, but Pope Francis has not really indicated a willingness to reconsider the doctrine of the Church on sex, conception, and abortion. Everything I have read from and about Francis is that he is advocating for a change of tone and emphasis, not what i…

Spontaneous miscarriage and the morality of abortion

Hello, everyone! I have been away from the blog for a while, during a period of great activity regarding reproductive politics. So let's get back to discussing this always-interesting topic. 
In reading an essay by Gary Gutting (subject of a separate post), I followed a link to this blog post by philosopher Peter Smith. 
He wonders why intentional termination of an early pregnancy is more morally consequential than a spontaneous early miscarriage (which occurs in roughly 30% of conceptions). What he is really doing is calling attention to a perceived hypocrisy by pro-life advocates: If unborn are valuable humans from the moment of conception, why isn't there more of an outcry over the heavy loss of human life by natural miscarriage? If the value of the unborn is equal across all situations, Smith suggests, then this apparent lack of concern over natural miscarriage indicates that opposition to abortion, at least early in pregnancy, is about something else. 
Smith concludes (t…

Fights over medical abortion

The newest front in the legislative war over abortion access is the regulation of "medical abortion" performed in the first eight weeks or so of pregnancy.

Pro-life activists express many concerns about medical abortion (questions about its safety, for example). Their true cause for alarm is that medical abortion allows for abortions to occur outside of the clinic structure-- the abortion experience occurs largely at home, and, in some states, family planning doctors are prescribing the drugs remotely (through a kind of Skype-like arrangement).

Anti-abortion legislatures have been achieving a measure of success against clinics by passing TRAP laws. In other words, legislatures are restricting abortion access by regulating clinics out of business. Medical abortion rewrites the rules because it allows abortions to be decentralized and privatized, so a pillar of recent American pro-life strategy will be severely undermined with its proliferation.

Michelle Goldberg and Emily Ba…

Squishy fetus dolls

Where do you stand on the Great Squishy Fetus Doll Debate of 2013?

This is not one of the most important issues out there, but it is interesting.

I recommend all of the linked sources below, if nothing else for the great titles, word choices, and, well, odd pictures of squishy fetus dolls.


Article in The Huffington Post (July 26, 2013): Fetus Dolls Are a Thing, Were Given to Kids by Anti-Abortion Group at North Dakota State Fair

Blog post by Rob Port on SayAnythingBlog (July 21, 2013): Dear Pro-Lifers: Can You Stop Being a Bunch of Weirdos? 

Article in Jezebel (July 24, 2013): Worst State Fair Ever Has Squishy Fetus Toys for Unsuspecting Kids

Page at Heritage House (aka Target for pro-life merchandise) for "The Precious One" 10-12 week fetal model

A second page at the Heritage House web site, at which pro-life activist Abby Johnson explains how fetal models help her with her "sidewalk counseling" work