Ethics Quote of the Week: Washigton Post Reader Elizabeth Grover

“Sun wrote: ‘Most doctors will not perform abortions beyond 22 or 24 weeks for various reasons, including legal concerns, social stigma, inadequate training or inexperience.’ She left out perhaps the biggest reason: Most doctors believe that late-term abortions are morally wrong.”

—-Elizabeth Grover of Washington, D.C., in a letter published in the Washington Post “Free for All” section. Reader Grover was commenting on a glowing Post profile of Maryland physician Dr. LeRoy Carhart by feature writer Lena Sun, extolling his willingness, indeed eagerness, to perform late term abortions, which are illegal in several states. Dr. LeRoy dismissed state restrictions on abortions of any kind as “ridiculous.”

Grover was absolutely correct to flag the bias and misrepresentation in Sun’s article. One can argue over the proper ranking of reasons that might lead a physician to decide not to provide late-term abortions, which even such an impeccable liberal champion as Daniel Pat Moynihan condemned as murder. But to omit considerations of right and wrong completely among the factors involved in weighing such procedures shows astonishing tunnel vision, dogmatism, and even a desire to deceive.

It is undoubtedly settled—for now, at least— that abortions are legal in the United States, and that a woman has a right to choose abortion within certain limitations. It is not at all settled that aborting viable children in the womb is right or ethical, or even appropriately legal. As writer Sun must know, aborting a fully formed fetus that has been moving, dreaming and sucking its thumb is far from removing the euphemistic “undifferentiated mass of cells” shrugged off in the pro-abortion brochures, and doing so troubles many doctors deeply. Many will not perform late term abortions because they believe such abortions involve taking human lives. They may be right or they may be wrong, but for the Post to imply that moral and ethical considerations are not part of their decision at all, as Sun did, is incompetent journalism at best, and outright misrepresentation at worst.

Ms. Grover deserves praise for catching the mistake and correcting it, as does the Post for printing her criticism.

7 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week: Washigton Post Reader Elizabeth Grover

  1. Regardless of Roe v. Wade, an increasing number of doctors are refusing to perform abortions on fetuses that have matured to the extent that they can live outside the womb. Late term abortions (i.e., mostly seven months and later) can only be considered murder, as the most effective way to do so is to literally suck the brain out of the fetus before the rest of the procedure contiinues.

    Interesting to me is the fact that even just few years ago a six-month old fetus had virtually no chance of survival… and science and technology are now catching up. What will these “moral” abortiionists decide when a five month old fetus has a great chance of survival out of the womb? Just change their cut-off (cut-out?) dates? Is that the way to make ethical and moral decisions?

    I have believed for years that the Supreme Court case was not the correct forum in which to answer these questions for the nation. Toss the issues to the states, and let the individual cultures in those states make the decisions for their own jurisdictions. This will never happen, I’m sure, because the pro-abortion group is well funded and very vocal while the anti-abortion groups — at least those that come forward with their views — tend to be religious nuts, evangelicals, and others who cannot make cogent,non-Biblical arguments to counter the “intelligentsia” which espouses its views in different ways.

    And just for pondering: Why is it that pro-abortionists are almost always against the death penalty for murderers, kidnappers, terrorists, torturers, and the rest of the sadists we have in prison now? It’s legal, and even “okay” to kill an innocent baby in the womb, but bad, bad, bad to kill a convicted felon. Here’s a dichotomy the liberal pro-abortionists refuse to address. (I refuse to cave and use the slick euphemism “pro choice.).

    The hard ethical questions, to me, do not revolve around late term abortions, abortions for convenience, etc. These are just plain wrong, in my opinion. But the morning-after pill, early and quick abortions for victims of rape or incest (especially young pubescent girls) are more complicated. And as gene mapping reveals the certainty of horrible birth defects in the very early trimester, what do parents decide? Here too technology and medicine are catching up, as certain genetic defects (even certain kinds of spina bifida) can now be actually corrected in utero.

    But back to the main issue: For the Post to print Sun’s clearly prejudiced article is shameful, though no one expects the Post to be honest and fair anyway. “Dr. LeRoy Carhart by feature writer Lena Sun, extolling his willingness, indeed eagerness, to perform late term abortions, which are illegal in several states. Dr. LeRoy dismissed state restrictions on abortions of any kind as ‘ridiculous.’” Whatever happened to the physician’s oath to “first, do no harm?”

    • Yes…in the Post article, the Dr. talked of a late term abortion of a child with spina bifida. He justified it on the grounds that the child would be born paralyzed from the waist down. But that is not necessarily true, as the condition can be treated, often in utero. Spina bifida sufferers can lead productive lives. I’m sure having an “imperfect” child is a disappointment and a burden on the mother, but the proper question is this: would that child rather have the chance to live with the challenge of a disability, or not live at all? I know what I would choose…who wouldn’t? Isn’t the Golden Rule analysis unusually vivid?

  2. You are, of course, assuming that Ms. Sun and Dr. Carhart ever consider morality. They may not consider it a valid reason to make any decision, even if they do ever consider it. Many would lump morality with Bibles and firearms as things they feel are only fit for the ignorant.

  3. What’s the difference between a doctor refusing to perform a legal abortion based on their morality and a pharmacist refusing to dispense birth control based on their morality?

    • If a doctor performs abortions, none. If a surgeon is called on the scene where a woman needs an emergency abortion to survive and no other doctor is available, none. But pharmacists don’t have specialties. A doctor has a right to define his or her profession, just as a lawyer doesn’t have to defend murderers. A pharmacist can’t pick his customers and his services.

      • And, in the quote, Sun is specifically referring to doctors who perform abortions before 22-24 weeks. If she mentions morality, she then has to explain how horrible these doctors are for putting their morality above their job.

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