Thursday, April 08, 2010

“I don’t need a source.....”

Nicholas Fogelson, the Academic OB/GYN and a pro-choicer, inadvertently provides another great example of why the pro-choice movement is losing in the comments section of his post about why the pro-choice movement is losing. When asked to provide some evidence for his claim that, “Prior to Roe v Wade hospitals had entire wards full of women injured or dying from illegal untrained abortion,” this is all Fogelson can come up with:
I don’t need a source – I have first hand knowledge. The very hospital where I trained once had an entire ward devoted to women with post abortal sepsis. Per several of my attendings who were there at that time, it was regularly full.
Note how quickly his “first-hand knowledge” becomes second-hand knowledge. He has no clue if it was full or not and he has no clue how many women were there and how women were dying. And, of course, we have no way of verifying that Fogelson is telling the truth or that his attending physicians were telling the truth to him.

It's amazing to me that he actually thinks that a great argument for keeping abortion legal is that more than 37 years ago he heard from some of his attending physicians that a ward was regularly full of women with sepsis from illegal abortion.

From other comments he makes, it’s fairly clear he has never done any research into how many women actually got illegal abortions and how many of them died.


  1. Never let facts get in the way of a good theory!

  2. Repeat after me: "The pural form of anecdote is not data...."

    That said, pro-lifers ought to not waste our time arguing about pre-legalization abortion safety. An argument about the risks of an "unsafe" abortion misses the point. For whom is the abortion "safe"? Perhaps for the woman, but certainly not for the child who is aborted.

    Every successful abortion kills at least one human being. That's a 100% fatality rate in the "best" of circumstances. And that's why pro-lifers want to stop abortions -- legal and illegal. Abortion kills people.

    Interestingly, please note how Dr. Fogelson resisted all of his pro-life commenters' attempts to focus on the humanity of the unborn child. Several pro-lifers tried to engage this issue -- which is the heart of the abortion debate -- and Dr. Fogelson simply dismissed them.

    Here's one example:
    You believe a fetus is a person, while most if not all pro-choice people do not. There is no point trying to convince you of otherwise, as this is part of your basic ethos.

    With all due respect, Dr. Fogelson, that is why the pro-choice side will lose this debate. The basic question is the humanity of the unborn, and you are completely refusing to engage that question. Which is actually a bit smart, because all of the evidence is against you here.

    All of the reasons to assign value to a human being at any point other than conception are arbitrary and shallow. They don't work. Conception is the beginning of a unique human organism. As such, it must also be the beginning of our human rights.

    I thought that Mike Gray had an excellent response, which I'm planning to remember the next time I'm debating this issue:
    Instead, I look a a pregnancy in 5 minute chunks.
    [examples ommitted]
    At some point, even most pro-choice people will declare a point when it’s too late. Well, what changed in that 5 minutes?

    Excellent tactics! Find a point of agreement: When is it too late to abort? Then back up by five minutes. What changed in those five minutes so that a "legitimate" procedure is now unjust killing? Then keep going back by five-minute increments. Eventually, you get to conception.

    I must remember this approach!