Is abortion a choice, or a medical necessity?

Since Andrea asked us to say it with her (in response to abortion coverage in current American health care reform bills): Abortion is not medical care.

North of the border, we manage to maintain the spectacular inconsistency that abortion is a woman’s choice, and that at the same time, it is medically necessary. (Abortion is medically necessary when the woman says it is medically necessary.)

I can see abortion advocates arguing that sometimes it’s medically necessary, but otherwise it’s a woman’s choice. The notion that late-term abortion is ever necessary is questionable enough, but that line of argument would fall squarely into one of the five bad ways to argue about abortion: disguising your true position by appealing to the hard cases.

That is, pro-choice advocates tend to appeal to hard cases, which are rare, and then extrapolate to all abortions. “What if a woman was raped? What if a woman’s life is in danger?” These are serious and complex issues — but they account for a small percentage of all abortions. These are bad arguments for all abortions being legal, ethical, or “medically necessary,” and honest pro-choicers know it.

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