Let’s give credit to Froma Harrop, which we don’t often do at Anchor Rising. Harrop tells you what Dahlia Lithwick won’t. Here’s Lithwick, in Slate…
The reason social conservatives seek to have no exception to New Hampshire’s parental notification statute for situations in which there is a risk to the health of the mother is straightforward: They don’t trust doctors. This was the fight at the heart of the partial-birth abortion dispute in the 2000 case of Stenberg v. Carhart, decided by a familiar 5-4 margin. The fear in both contexts is that a health exception in the hands of sympathetic physicians puts no real meaningful limit on abortion
Is it really as simple as the fact that those mean, retrograde social conservatives don’t trust doctors and don’t care about the health of mothers? Or is there something else in play here? The answer is in Harrop’s August 14 Projo
Most of us agree that these abortions [to protect the health of the mother] should be done only under extraordinary circumstances. So if by “health” we mean the psychic well-being of someone who decided late in the game that she didn’t want a baby, then no, the pregnancy must go to full term. But if something has gone terribly wrong, and the woman would be physically ravaged by continuing a pregnancy, then we must have a different kind of debate.
Harrop is explaining that the courts, at present, define health exceptions to abortion very broadly, drawing no distinction between “mental health” and “physical health”. Do social conservatives not trust doctors, or do social conservatives not trust the courts to define reasonable standards of mental health? (Remember Amy Richards
, who opted for “pregnancy reduction” becasue she was traumatized by the thought that having triplets would force her to shop at Costco? Would this have qualified under a “mental health” exception?) If Lithwick wanted to facilitate an honest discussion on this issue, she would have mentioned this detail.