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Novelist John Irving (The Cider House Rules and others) heaved up “The Anti-Abortion Crusade’s Cruel History” onto the op-ed page of Monday’s New York Times. The text box provided this melodramatic slander: “Abortion opponents don’t care about an unwanted child or the mother.” That smear is repeated in Irving’s text.
Besides being beneath the author, that tired bit of abuse skips a rather obvious point: That keeping the child from being killed is certainly an excellent start toward “caring” for it, as opposed to aborting it. As for "caring" for families, while it’s not a perfect corollary between pro-life and pro-choice, studies indicate that “red state” residents are more generous givers than those of “blue states.”
Anti-abortion - Measures - State - Legislatures - History
Irving began: “Amid the anti-abortion measures being pushed through state legislatures, consider the mazy history of abortion in the United States. Women, capable of determining and managing their reproductive rights, have been undermined by men in power before.”
The novelist’s cockeyed take on history blamed doctors for keeping women from abortions:
Women - Babies - Hospitals - Risk - Sepsis
In the 1830s, women having babies at lying-in hospitals ran a far greater risk of dying from puerperal sepsis than women having babies at home. With the help of midwives, women had been having babies and abortions at home -- since colonial times. Had midwives been as busy performing abortions as delivering babies? Beginning in the 1840s, doctors sought to gain control of the reproduction business. Doctors were establishing their new profession; midwives and homeopaths were their competition. But why did doctors lobby for abortion to be illegal? What was their logic? Did doctors underestimate how great the need for abortion was? We know what the doctors wanted, and they achieved it; they became the arbiters of women’s reproductive health care. We don’t know the doctors’ reasons for making abortion illegal....
Irving had an interesting discussion of the...
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