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Opinion | The Supreme Court Wrestles With Abortion

Garcia-Navarro: When we talk about the issue in the abstract, we often forget the real stories. My life has intersected twice with abortion. I had one in my early 20s, and if I had not, I certainly wouldn’t be arguing this issue in The New York Times. The second time was in Brazil, where I was considering having another child. I was over 40, and I was concerned that if something went wrong I would not be able to terminate the pregnancy safely. It was a factor in my calculations. And so what I would urge us all to think about is that there are many types of abortion stories and there are millions of women who have had them for all sorts of reasons.

Goldberg: These are also experiences that many women will never recover from. I have two very wanted kids, but both pregnancies changed my body for the worse, and I don’t mean just cosmetically. Luckily I’ve been able to spend thousands of dollars on physical therapy and bodywork to deal with the muscle and joint injuries that come from a weakened abdomen. Obviously not everyone can do that. And the injuries I’m describing are on the very mild side. Julie Rikelman, who argued against the Mississippi law, said it was 75 times more dangerous to give birth in Mississippi than to have a pre-viability abortion.

Douthat: There are absolutely limits to what even the most generous society can do to help women carry those burdens; part of that burden is irreducible and nontransferable. But once the child exists, outside of the cases where its imposition is literally forced on the women — rape and incest — the just society has to put all its efforts toward making the experience something other than degrading and terrifying, not toward using lethal violence. And in many, many cases that end in abortion right now, what makes the situation terrifying is material circumstances, not the child itself. This is where conservatives have not done enough, and should and must do more, to lift or ease those burdens, including on basic issues like maternal care that affect all pregnancies, wanted and unwanted and in between.

Blow: Abortion is not “lethal violence.” Good grief.

Douthat: It may be many other things, and as necessary as Lulu suggests, but it is certainly is that.

Blow: No, sir, it’s just health care for women.

Garcia-Navarro: I’ve lived in countries with no abortion access, including Brazil, and I’ve reported on what happens in places where there is no access to safe abortion. And what you see is that women are forced to have unsafe abortions, and primarily lower-income women bear the brunt of the outcomes for their health and safety. And it doesn’t actually stop abortions there.

Goldberg: I’ve also reported from a lot of countries where abortion was illegal and visited hospitals where the obstetrics wards were full of women recovering from botched or septic abortions. And I’ve been to countries where unexplained miscarriages lead to criminal charges. Given that we already prosecute women for miscarriages tied to illegal drug use, I have no doubt that the end of Roe is going to lead to women going to jail. I do hope that the advent of the abortion pill means that self-administered abortions are safer than they used to be.

Garcia-Navarro: I agree — we’ve very clearly seen the record on outcomes for women in societies without a safe and legal path for abortion.

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