How to end political conflict over abortion

April 15, 2016 § 41 Comments

Ending political conflict over abortion admits of a simple technical solution.  All we need to do is develop and enhance techniques which empower women to carry out abortion themselves, without the assistance of an abortionist.  If necessary we can develop technology which has ‘acceptable’ uses – which is to say, non-criminal uses – for other things besides self-abortion, to avoid any objection to the effect that the providers of the technology can be criminally charged.  After all, guns don’t kill people: people kill people.

That way – under the principles expounded by all respectable people, including pro-lifers – the law has nobody to charge with a crime.  Political conflict over abortion should come to an end.

Unless we listen to the fruitcakes and nutcases who think there should be legal sanctions against women who procure abortion, that is.

But they aren’t True Pro Lifers[tm] or True Conservatives[tm] anyway, so why should we listen to them?


Reader GJ in the comments below provides data to the effect that 20% of all abortions in 2011 were self-administered by the mother taking an abortion-inducing pill.  In 2008 approximately 30% of the abortions in Planned Parenthood facilities were performed by the mother herself (taking a pill).

§ 41 Responses to How to end political conflict over abortion

  • Mike T says:

    The precision-guided coat hanger now has a market.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    The precision-guided coat hanger now has a market.

    I could easily design one myself, given the state of open source hardware and software. Look for it on Instructables: I am sure someone will do it if the law is changed to reflect the principles of the pro-life movement.

  • This is a possible resolution. It’s likely too much to hope that folks recognize that the need for the prolife movement is fundamentally to salve the consciences of True Pro Lifers and True Conservatives into thinking that they’re actually doing something.

    Thank you for giving folks a chance to unplug from the Matrix. “Free your mind.”

  • GJ says:

    The techniques already exist in the form of chemical abortion, with ‘acceptable’ uses, ‘how-to guidelines by the WHO, and significant current actual usage for abortion.

  • Zippy says:


    Yes, but those techniques aren’t useful all the way to full term, etc. It has to be just as easy to get an abortion without assistance as it is to get an abortion with assistance. Then the pro-life movement can pack up its bags, mission accomplished.

  • JohnMcG says:

    Congratulations on reaching the level of mid-aughts era of Vox Nova and Commonweal, where you spend more energy taking pot shots at pro-lifers than actually advocating for the unborn.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @ JohnMcG:

    This entire time Zippy has been explicitly arguing that abortion should be banned entirely. If that’s not advocating for the unborn, than what is?

  • Zippy says:

    John McG:

    …where you spend more energy taking pot shots at pro-lifers than actually advocating for the unborn…

    In my imagination there are a non-trivial number of pro-lifers who advocate for the protection of the unborn victims of DIY abortion, not exclusively assisted abortion.

    In my imagination there are a non-trivial number of pro-lifers who are capable of seeing that compromised principles have led to compromised results.

    In my imagination, there are a non-trivial number of pro-lifers who can see that rhetorically erasing the real victim and victimizing the perpetrator is neither morally acceptable nor politically expedient.

    In my imagination, some non-trivial number of people who call themselves pro-life in fact favor making abortion – including DIY abortion – illegal, as opposed to ‘safe, legal, and rare’.

    In my imagination, some non-trivial percentage of pro-lifers is capable of being honest and principled.

    How well my imagination matches reality remains to be seen.

  • Rob says:

    The best form of advocacy is arguing that murderers should not be punished. It’s pastoral and prudent.

  • P.B says:

    This reminds me of a comment during a talk by a pro-life legal scholar. He pointed out that the the increasing use of RU-486 undermines the idea that women have no responsibility for abortion. It certainly should as a matter of reason but I wonder if it will really affect pro-life rhetoric.

  • Cane Caldo says:


    It certainly should as a matter of reason but I wonder if it will really affect pro-life rhetoric.

    The movement calls itself Pro-Life because Anti-Abortion was too judgmental.

  • Wood says:


    What you call pot shots, others might call following premises to their logical conclusions. Anyway, this whole thread of posts has been instructive for me – definitely pulled the camera back and, once again, has shown the problem is so much larger and horrible than I ever would have guessed. I really can’t believe the idea that punishing a woman who procures an abortion is so controversial. It’s like an ingenious way of smoking out what people really believe when they otherwise would have never admitted it previously – I don’t know if it’s feminism or what, but whatever it is the roots run deep and unseen.


    I demand my insurance provide coverage for coat hangers. Or ELSE.

  • Mike T says:

    What you call pot shots, others might call following premises to their logical conclusions.

    This is related to something which the crew at W4 could never quite appreciate or deal with. SJWs attack liberals for insufficient commitment. Over on the right, it’s the mainstream who attack the Alt-Right and Tradcons (like Zippy, GJ, King Richard, etc.) for too much commitment. Plenty of people in the pro-life movement act like we are opposed to their efforts to mitigate the damage done by abortion. That is nonsense. Doing something to mitigate is almost always better than nothing. In reality, it is they who attack us for wanting to take it to the next level which is actually putting punishment into effect if and when abortion can be criminalized.

    Further complicating the issue is that many pro-choicers are actually not “pro-abortion.” While they do consider it a rights issue, they find it an ugly one and do support efforts to mitigate the “need” for abortion. Mitigation is not where the real battle lines are drawn on the issue. In fact, most Americans regardless of identification on the issue actually support mitigation of the “need” for abortion via outreach, charity, government support for unwed mothers, etc.

  • Mike T says:

    I demand my insurance provide coverage for coat hangers. Or ELSE.

    MilSpec coat hangers with the snazzy LIDAR tracking system are not covered on your ACA package.

  • Dalrock says:

    Well put Zippy.

    But also remember: If you believe that women who abort their children should be punished (in any way), you clearly haven’t thought the issue through.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    John McG

    you spend more energy taking pot shots at pro-lifers than actually advocating for the unborn.

    Zippy’s written thousands of words against abortion on this blog alone. That doesn’t include comments, or things written at We’reWrongandWe’reWhirled. You have judged a few hundred recent words against those thousands.

    When a man knowingly say untrue things, he is called a liar because those untrue things are called lies.

  • Our Heroine says:

    I know this will sound weird, but I sort of think that pro-lifers ARE lying who state “there-should-be-no-consequences-for-women-who-procure-abortions-once-it’s-illegal,” but not in the way you assert.

    I think they are lying in the reverse way. In the same way the gay “marriage” movement lied from the start. The gay “marriage” movement always intended gay “marriage” to be a stick with which to beat Christians, but they didn’t lead with that intention, or gay marriage would have never got off the ground.

    They led with “with just want to love eachother, like straight people do, that’s all!” and they got acceptance of that idea, which was less-controversial, and sounded harmless, and they “slippery-sloped” it from there once their core-premise (gay relationships are equivalent to straight relationships) had been accepted in it’s user-friendly packaging.

    Now, I know that gay “marriage” is inherently immoral, and banning abortion is an unqualified good. But I DO think the pro-life movement wants to avoid connecting a ban on abortion with incarcerating poor, teen, unwed mothers for murder at this point in time.

    I think their hope is to get the public to accept the idea that unborn babies are human, using the softest, fuzziest, most user-friendly packaging possible, and then slippery slope it — once the core premise has been accepted that unborn babies are human beings — all the way to, “therefore deliberately killing unborn babies is murder, and all parties involved should be prosecuted as such.”

    I say this because when The Donald made his statements I cringed and thought, “He just let the cat out of the bag, didn’t he?!”

    So I think that pro-lifers DO believe that women have moral agency and WOULD be guilty of murder if they had abortions, but they don’t want anyone to KNOW it.

  • jamesd127 says:

    Worm drone with tiny camera, suitable for self inspection. Trails a tube that can suck opaque fluids out and squirt clear saline in. Drone can travel into baby’s eyes and suck out brains through an eye. Thus, no crime committed if the woman can look baby in the eye before gouging the eye out and sucking the brains out.

    I think we could mass produce such drones for about $800. They have a wide variety of potentially non murderous uses.

  • jamesd127 says:

    No matter what women do, not their fault. It is the fault of evil men.

    Which would in fact be reasonable and realistic if women were under patriarchal authority as they should be.

  • Zippy says:

    Remotely controlled laparoscopic instruments with cameras are already widely used and could probably be operated by the person undergoing surgery herself in ‘simple’ cases. All that is needed is to make them cheaper and to provide some instructional youtube videos. Eventually the whole process could probably be almost completely automated, and if the hardware/software were open source there would be no profitmonster to blame.

    More women in STEM, and all that.

  • Crude says:

    Lydia exonerates women from abortion culpability on the grounds that they cannot grasp the humanity of their child the way that an abortion ‘doctor’ can. Even if she’s had children already, it would seem.

    Alright. Then I would assume Lydia would likewise exonerate any man who urges his girlfriend or wife to have an abortion. After all, he’s in even less of a position to grasp the humanity of the child as well, right? He’s every bit as blameworthy as the woman.

    Let’s not even stop there. Society at large is equally free of blame for culpability with regards to abortion. After all, despite some entertaining insistence to the contrary, society is made up of men and women – nothing else. So when the complaints come that people aren’t sufficiently supporting pregnant women in ways which encourage her to care for her child, the response should be ‘So what? There’s no child to speak of. There’s just some blob, as far as they’re concerned.’ And this, too, is not a culpable or blameworthy view. Unless, perhaps, they are (male!) abortion doctors.

    I suspect the ‘pro-lifers’ who rush to exonerate the women from any and all blame, will find it harder to bite these bullets.

  • Zippy says:


    I think it was Bonald who pointed out that this new concept of “substantive mens rea” (my words, because I see the concept as parallel to “substantive due process”) makes pretty much everyone except a committed pro-lifer immune to any legal charges.

    Under substantive mens rea the only people who can be charged with a crime are people who demonstrate their understanding that the crime is wrong by not doing it. Anyone who actually commits a crime demonstrates a lack of substantive mens rea by that very act.

    See how that works?

  • Kevin Nowell says:

    I wish one of those Pro-Life but no punishment for women who procure abortions people (there has got to be a shorter name for them than that) would come here and try to argue against you Zippy. I’d be interested to see what kind of rhetorical tricks they could possibly try to perform to argue against this latest argument. I can’t imagine any possible retort.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    W4 has entirely discredited itself with the Lydia McGrew abortion post. Such terrible arguments given in smug condescending manner! Writing to posterity, no less.
    It would seem that W4 is now not a blog worth one’s time.

  • Mike T says:


    Comments are closed for cause. The reasons have to do with particular annoying readers and the fact that I prefer to put this out there for posterity and do other things with my time than waste it responding to those particular annoying readers. I will be crossposting at Extra Thoughts, where comments are fully moderated. There are plenty of people whose comments I’d be happy to hear in a moderated environment.

    No doubt she didn’t want to reference me by name because she thought I would get some satisfaction out of that. It would have been more amusing to see her name me by name, but still somewhat flattering that she closed comments and retreated to her Safe Space specifically to avoid me commenting.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    The lesson of the recent tumult is that the ProLife movement is more concerned with politics than morality, when in fact the former must come downstream from the latter, or else is worthless. Trump may be a buffoon with little thought about what he says and when he says it, but his critics within the leadership of the ProLife movement have a clearly more exploitative disposition.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Given the snide tone adopted at her personal blog–“take a hike” she writes to a dissenting commentator, I am having doubts if it is honorable for an alt-right to even submit a comment even to W4.

  • Mike T says:

    I think one of the things that she struggles with is that a lot of the conservatives around her are waking up to the reality that many “conservative” ideas are not conservative and moving further to the right. From what I understand, she is a complementarian so naturally when I linked to some of Dalrock’s posts showing that complementarianism is in fact more second wave feminist than traditional gender roles, it would not go over well. It is also entirely true. Even the need to engage in creating a neologism is a dead giveaway that you are not comfortable with resting on tradition there.

    On a somewhat positive note, she does seem to recognize the danger that defining coercion down does on issues like rape and sexual assault. It’s just that holistic, big picture view that she is missing; we know these issues cannot be compartmentalized.

    To create a legal regime that can actually act justly on the issue, we have to differentiate the coercion that a 23 year faces when her boyfriend says “abort or I will leave you” from the coercion that a 13 year old facing screaming parents, dragging her to a PP clinic faces. Not just in our own minds and the culture, but in law. It is obvious that both standards of coercion are not even remotely similar. While the boyfriend is obviously guilty of attempting to coerce his girlfriend to commit murder, what he brought to bear is not sufficient coercion that it should be a mitigating factor for her, though for the young teen girl it probably should be.

  • The thing is, that defining these sorts of exceptions and things is nothing unique to abortions. We do it with literally every crime. The bill of goods being sold is that with abortion the woman is *almost never* criminally liable – and that’s completely absurd, and is exactly what we’re all rebelling against.

  • Mike T says:

    Exactly, malcolm. We have (voluntary and involuntary) manslaughter, second and first degree murder. We also have “felony murder.” We have a flavor of murder charge that fits every level of intent and circumstance out there. There is also the fact that in cases like parents exerting undo influence, prosecutors can probably rely on the restrictions on prosecuting juveniles as adults and go straight after the parents. In fact, one easy we could carve that out would be to call forcing an abortion or contraception on a minor a form of felony child abuse and then hit the parents with felony murder for the unborn child.

  • Proph says:

    Then, instead of shifty, manipulative, lying abortion providers conning troubled young woman into agreeing into infanticide, we’ll be told that it’s shifty, manipulative, lying LADAR-guided coat-hangar manufacturers and peddlers doing the conning.

    And if we managed to put THEM out of business and there was a rash of women tripping and falling belly-first on the sidewalk in their third trimester, why, then it’ll be the duplicitous and irresponsible contractors who tried to save a buck by laying uneven sidewalks.

    And it will always, of course, ultimately be the fault of SOCIETY for forcing women into a position where they feel they NEED to murder their unb — I mean walk down uneven sidewalks, of course — by which of course I mean it is ultimately the fault of men.


  • Mike T says:

    Yet another counter-point: how do these people respond to the many cases where a conservative family would say “abort and we’ll do X” (where X is anything from “I’ll divorce you,” “I’ll dump you” or “we’ll disown you”). The coercion is in the equal and opposite direction for the purposes of the law. In such a case, what is their excuse? How can you justify not punishing the mother when the people coercing her are actually coercing her to try to save the unborn child’s life, rather than get an abortion?

  • Jill says:

    Since this is the obvious logical conclusion to the pro-life rhetoric, I’m yet more convinced that we’re living in a state of insanity. Great blog. I was directed here by a friend and will visit again.

  • […] And that is how everyone ends up in favor of legal abortion, including the mainstream pro-life movement. […]

  • Zippy says:



    I guess an accurate way to characterize the mainstream pro-life movement is that it is not (in terms of public advocacy) against legal abortion: it is merely against commercial abortion.

    In this kind of ‘nuanced’ view growing your own pot or cooking your own meth should be legal, but selling pot or meth should be illegal. DIY murders should not be legally prohibited, but commercially provided murder should be legally prohibited.

    Every day is the Purge if you are in mother’s womb, even for pro-lifers.

  • James Kabala says:

    I wonder if the subconscious model here is Prohibition – it was never actually illegal to drink alcohol, but it was to manufacture or sell it. If that model were to be applied to abortion, homemade abortifacients would presumably be covered under “manufacture.” I think you are right that this is still not very logical, but that may be what they have in mind.

  • Zippy says:

    James Kabala:

    I wonder if the subconscious model here is Prohibition –

    It probably is, for some.

    It seems to me though that a prohibition-style model pretty much outright rejects the premise that abortion is murder. Declining to seek out and destroy her basement still isn’t really the same kind of thing as deliberately looking away – as a matter of the explicit requirements of positive law – while she is murdering people in her basement.

  • Mike T says:

    The post that finally (apparently) got me formally banned at W4 was one recommending that one of their commenters read your posts on abortion that addressed the mainstream conservative view on women’s culpability. Citation.

    One thing that sort sticks in my craw a little about it is that I feel like I was arguing with people who couldn’t even understand my position toward the end. It’s like they thought I’m trying to convince them to “join us” when any reasonable person (I think) could see that I had lost my patience with their attacks and was simply responding with hammering on a point of how mainstream conservatism ain’t worth a bucket of warm piss in terms of how really different it is from the center-left.

  • Mike T says:


    Check this out. If that sort of thing can be 3D printed now, I give it 10-15 years tops before pills can be safely 3D printed.

  • […] Current Year[tm] is merely a variation of pro choice. The mainstream pro life position is that the provision of abortion should be restricted and heavily regulated, but women who procure abortions should […]

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