The Atlantic

Disagreeing About Abortion Can Be Respectful, After All

Readers respond to the essay “Three Children, Two Abortions”
Source: William Andrew / Getty

Three Children, Two Abortions

In an essay last month, Deborah Copaken put her two abortions—one as a teenager, one in her 30s—in conversation with her motherhood. What a woman “chooses to do with her body if she finds herself accidentally pregnant,” she wrote, “should not be up for debate in 2018.”


I appreciate Ms. Copaken’s courage in sharing her story. Truly, each of our unique stories defies simple classification, stereotypes, and slogans. Medical histories, sexuality, pregnancies, families are intensely personal aspects of our shared society. The debate over the legality of abortion necessarily draws these private matters into the public sphere. We should be careful to exercise compassion and respect in our discourse.

That said, I would argue with Ms. Copaken’s underlying assumption. She builds a careful, personal case for individual discretion to choose abortion. However, she fails to recognize the inconvenient truth that sex produces, without our explicit consent, a new living person.

I ask the reader

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