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Abortion and the US Republican Party

Before I start, I should note I am unapologetically pro-choice. I’ve been pro-choice for as long as I can remember. I recall thinking women should be able to have an abortion, if they want one, when I was just eight year old (1972-73).

(New Zealand’s Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Bill was making its way through parliament at the time. It was naturally controversial, and was in the news a lot. Thus, I was aware of the issue.)

As far as I’m concerned, if you oppose abortion, don’t have one. That’s your choice. But you don’t, or at least you shouldn’t, have the right to tell someone else what to do with their body. Even worse, you shouldn’t have the right to force your beliefs onto another person. I think it’s appalling that there are actually laws that make abortion illegal in so many countries (including New Zealand).

When I was a child, it just seemed fair to me. As I got older, and got to know more about the subject, my position became stronger and stronger. My opinion is now supported by multiple data, much of which I hope to cover in this post.

Now, on with the show.

 

Abortion and US Law

In 1973, in a Supreme Court ruling known as Roe v. Wade, US women had their right to an abortion established by law. However, ever since there have been attempts to get that right taken away again. Republicans have adopted this cause as their own. Thus where they control the state government (red states), women’s right to an abortion is more at risk.

Four years after Roe v. Wade, a law known as the Hyde Amendment came into being. It meant that federal money could not be spent on abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother was in danger.

This is obviously an absolute disgrace for multiple reasons, but there are two that I think are the more important than the others.

1. The Most Vulnerable Will Be Affected the Most

Cartoon: Bloody coat-hanger.Firstly, it means that if you’re vulnerable in any way, it’s much harder to get an abortion. So this law disproportionately affects women of colour, young women, those with a disability, etc. In short, those women who, in general, will have the most difficulty caring for a child. (Women who can afford to do so will simply go to another state to have their abortion.) It means many women will either be forced to continue with a pregnancy which may be physically or mentally dangerous or, in their desperation, they will feel forced to resort to dangerous abortion methods.

Some lawmakers, in their complete lack of compassion or understanding, have even introduced laws to make having an abortion first degree murder. For example, Vox reports that Texan Republican state legislator Tony Tinderholt has introduced a Bill there that would introduce the death penalty for women having abortions. Vox reports he, ” says it would make people “consider the repercussions” of having sex.

2. The Effect on Women’s Health Service Providers e.g. Planned Parenthood

Secondly, the Hyde Amendment makes providers of women’s health services, like Planned Parenthood, vulnerable to attacks from anti-choice activists.

Planned Parenthood receives half a billion dollars a year from the federal government to help fund the multiple health services they provide, mostly to women. However, anti-choice activists represent them as doing nothing but abortions and are constantly calling for their funding to be taken away. They’ve even had success in some red states in relation to that.

The reality is that only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services relate to abortion. Further, the money they get from the federal government, while significant, only accounts for around 40% of their funding. All anti-choice activists do when they deny Planned Parenthood funding is ensure women, especially those who are poor or otherwise vulnerable, have less or no access to healthcare.

(Planned Parenthood graphic. Sourced via NPR)

Anti-choice activists know this, of course, but they don’t appear to care. Some even freely admit that they’ll do whatever it takes to get a win for their cause. Anti-choice activists call themselves pro-life (and I’ll get to why that’s a myth later), but some won’t even condemn the extremists within their movement who go so far as the murder of abortion providers. In fact, a small number not only endorse violence and murder, they raise money to support those who carry out such acts. Their opinion is they’re committing justifiable homicide. In the US at least, they’re almost exclusively conservative Christians, whose interpretation of the Bible is that God opposes abortion.

 

The USA Wants Roe v. Wade to Remain the Law

In the past, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has been a reflection of US society. When the issue of same-sex marriage came before them, for example, they were in large part reflecting the changing views of US society in making it legal.

Therefore, if any cases relating to abortion make it to the Supreme Court, abortion should remain legal too. According to Pew (their emphasis):

About six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) said in a 2018 survey that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 37% who said it should be illegal all or most of the time. Public opinion on this question has been relatively stable over more than two decades of Pew Research Center polling, and there is little difference between the views of men and women.

Further:

When it comes to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling, about seven-in-ten Americans (69%) said Roe v. Wade should not be completely overturned, according to a survey conducted in late 2016.

Into the Weeds

There are demographic differences, all of which readers can probably predict:

1. Democrats are more likely to think abortion should be legal than Republicans.

Graphic of politics vs abortion views
2. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to think Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.

62% of those with a high school diploma or less;
70% of those with some college education;
74% of those with a college degree;
88% of those with a post-graduate qualification.

think Roe v. Wade should not be overturned,

3. The only area of the country where a majority think abortion should be illegal is the Bible Belt.

 

Abortion and the Republican Party (GOP)

The US Republican Party (GOP) has always been anti-abortion. Its official platform on abortion doesn’t even make exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

In the past, their attempts to completely take away a woman’s right to choose have been unsuccessful. There has been a lot of success in states that Republicans control though, making it more difficult for women to exercise that legal right. However, the election in 2016 of a misogynist who cares more about the anti-abortion Evangelical Christians that cheer him on than the wishes of the majority of his citizens is a worry for all of us who care about women’s rights.

Donald Trump and Abortion

Before he was a Republican politician, most of Trump’s views were more progressive. There was a time when he was pro-choice. But now that he needs to appeal to far-right Christian conservatives, that’s what he’s doing. During the 2016 election campaign, he was even heard to call for the punishment of women who have an abortion, just like the Christian abortion extremists he’s trying to appeal to.

Those in the Republican party who are anti-choice are taking advantage of having a sympathetic ear in the White House. As a result, they’re having some success in their moves towards making abortion illegal again.

A safe, legal abortion is a choice that should be available to all woman when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, or one that she doesn’t want to go ahead with because of the risk to her’s or the future child’s health or life. But, following the election of Donald Trump, that choice is increasingly at risk.

Why is Trump Supporting a Position a Majority Don’t?

President Donald Trump is a populist, and normally he attempts to appeal to the majority. However, abortion is different, for reasons I will get to.

Trump’s approval rating hasn’t made it to 50% the entire time he’s been in office. It’s never even been above his disapproval rating. He personally feeds off rallies where as many as tens of thousands act as if he’s a rock star, but those crowds are not a true reflection of the US population.

Trump Approval ratings Jan 2017 to Jun 2019

Trump Job Approval (Source: Gallup. Click graphic to go to source.)

 

Trump knows deep down that his win wasn’t down just to those Evangelical Christians. It wasn’t even due to a majority of USians. Help from the Russians in three key states was what got him into the White House. (The Weekly Standard article: ‘The Election Came Down to 77,744 Votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan’ lays the details out clearly.) Within the White House, staff know not to mention things like Russian interference in the 2016 election in front of Trump. He appears to view mere mention of the topic the height of disloyalty. Staff even warn others not to bring the subject up in front of him.

Therefore the few policy positions Trump and his enablers stick to fall into two areas. They’re either favourable towards Russia (e.g. GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell has gone so far as to block bipartisan legislation to stop Russian interference in the 2020 elections), or are those Evangelical Christians support. Opposition to abortion, of course, falls into the second of those two categories.

 

State’s Rights

Living in a country that doesn’t have separate states, I’ve always had difficulty understanding the issue of state’s rights. I’ve never seen the point of it. In the past I’ve thought of that as simply a lack of cultural understanding on my part. More and more though, I’m starting to see it as a dangerous way to run a country. (It’s not only the US where I see problems. Catalan independence in Spain, and the use of Sharia in Aceh province in Indonesia, are two other examples.)

US States'positions on ERA

(Source: Wikipedia. Click graphic to go to source.)

There are several areas where I see having separate states with separate laws causing problems in the US. This is not the place to go down that rabbit hole, but for me one of them is the effect on women’s rights. It is already appalling that women have less rights than men in what is supposedly the world’s leading democracy. What’s even worse is that women in some states have even less rights than their compatriots in other states.

Is is Really All About the Foetus for Activists?

I believe that attempts to deny women the right to control over their own bodies is as much about controlling women as it is about a belief they’re saving lives for many anti-choice activists. There are many reasons I have for that opinion, but one relates to the issue of state’s rights.

On the whole, the states that are trying to make abortion illegal again are the same ones that didn’t endorse the Equal Rights amendment to the US Constitution.  Take note on the graphic on the right of which states don’t think women should have equal rights to men, and you will see they largely correspond with those that are doing the most to try and prevent women from having control over their own bodies.

The Affect of States’ Rights on Abortion Rights

There are now six states that have only one clinic remaining that provides abortions thanks to anti-choice activism. They are: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia. The last clinic left in Missouri may soon have to close. The only thing currently keeping it open is a court order against the latest state law putting impossible conditions on abortion providers.

These states (and others) make laws with unreasonable conditions that are so difficult to comply with, the clinics have no other choice but to shut down. In that way the states aren’t actually breaking the law that gives women the right to an abortion, it just means there’s nowhere for them to go to get one that’s safe and legal.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 452 clinics in the US that included abortions as part of their services to women in 1996. By 2005 that was 381, and by 2014 it was 272. (There are no data available post-2014.)

 

Abortion in Republican-Controlled States

Red states have brought in literally hundreds of laws since 1973 making it more difficult for the women living in them to obtain a safe, legal abortion. Many other laws that sought to do the same have been overturned by the courts due to the advocacy of groups on behalf of women. However, the fact remains that women living in red states have less rights than those living in blue states (i..e. states where the government is in Democratic Party control).

Once again, this is obviously an appalling situation, and one that should not be acceptable to anyone. What should be happening is that women have the same rights across the country. Medical science, social science, and economics all tell us the best thing is for women to have the right to choose whether or not to continue with a pregnancy.

Making Abortion Illegal Increases the Number of Abortions

It’s also the best thing if you really want to reduce the number of abortions. There will be those reading this who object to the way I’ve been framing opponents to abortion as anti-choice. They will say this is about saving the lives of unborn babies. However, that is simply not true. All the evidence, from both the US and the rest of the world, shows that making abortion illegal actually increases the number of abortions. If you really want to reduce the number of abortions, the best way to do that is by making it legal. The leaders of the anti-choice movement know this. This is why they focus on the number of abortions taking place, rather than any other data. (More on this below)

Basically, where the Republican Party is in control of government, women are losing the right to control of their own bodies. Donald Trump, a man who changes his position on issues more often than he washes his hands (and he’s a germophobe), has actually kept one of his election promises, and is on track to keeping another. Unfortunately, both relate to making abortion illegal again in the US.

 

Trump’s First Promise in Relation to Abortion

Trump made a promise that he would only appoint justices to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), as well as judges to other courts, that come with the recommendation of both the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. That means (among other things) justices who oppose abortion.

Unfortunately, Trump has had the privilege of appointing two justices to the Supreme Court.

Neil Gorsuch

The first, Neil Gorsuch, was a replacement for justice Antonin Scalia who died during the presidency of Barack Obama. However, Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell’s (a Trump enabler) absolute refusal to allow a vote on Obama’s choice (Merrick Garland) to replace him meant it was Trump’s pick that took the vacancy.

Cartoon: Gorsuch stealing Garland's SCOTUS seat

Brett Kavanaugh

The second, Brett Kavanaugh was, if possible, even more controversial. It was clear he had a history of, at the very least, not treating women as equals. However, all Republicans, and even one (male) Democrat, still voted for him.

As a result, a majority Supreme Court justices are all personally anti-choice. This has led to a hive of activity amongst anti-choice activists in red states. Each wants to be the first to get a Bill from their own state attracting enough opposition from those who are pro-choice that it makes it through the courts to the Supreme Court level. At that point, they hope the Court will take the opportunity to make abortion illegal again.

This, they think will make them heroes in the anti-choice movement, which it probably will. Perhaps more importantly to many, they will feel they have done God’s will. That’s because for most of them, it’s their faith that informs them when it comes to this issue, not the facts.

Cartoon: Reproductive Freedom in the Trump Court

 

Abortion, God, and the Election of  Donald Trump

Abortion is one of the main reasons more than 80% of Evangelicals, and a sizable chunk of other conservative Christians, gave Trump their vote in 2016. Many even go so far as to believe it was God who made Trump president. The reason? God wanted Trump to stop abortion.

To believe that God made Donald Trump President of the USA sounds, well, unbelievable. However, you only have to do a Google search on the topic to find multiple links to articles and videos of people who believe this. And don’t be tempted to dismiss the belief as a coming from a small fringe element either.

Sarah Sanders

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in an interview in January with the Christian Broadcasting Network:

I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that He wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there, and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things people of faith really care about.

That interview continued with an exchange attacking Democrats for anti-Semitism.

(Here, I must compliment all those Trump-supporting a$$ho£€$ marching and chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and “Blood and soil,” in Charlottesville in 2017 for how well they hid their affiliation to the Democratic party. /sarcasm)

Sanders on Abortion

Next the interview turned to the issues on the southern border. That led to mention of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) calling the wall “immoral”. This somehow enabled Sanders to segue to abortion:

I mean honestly, it’s very hard at this point to even take a lecture from Democrats on what is moral and what isn’t. People who are willing to allow legislation to pass supporting late-term abortion, the idea that they would take out, “so help me God in the platform,” the House Democrats have raised this week …

Sarah Sanders views on abortion an God when she was in the White House were by no means unique.

A note on late-term abortions

 

The Future of Sarah Sanders

The evidence is that Sarah Sanders is returning to her Bible Belt state of Arkansas in order to start campaigning to become its governor. Her father is former Arkansas governor and twice candidate to be Republican presidential nominee, Mike Huckabee. So her chances aren’t as remote as you might imagine. However, whether or not she gets the job, her particular set of principles are ones that are typical of a Bible Belt politician.

Governor Huckabee has clearly been a big influence in his daughter’s life. It’s obviously a good thing for a father and daughter to have a good relationship. However, when that father does things like blame the Sandy Hook massacre on the Bible no longer being in schools, you have to wonder whether some kind of intervention was in order.

He’s also always made his own opposition to abortion clear. This graphic is from one of his successful gubernatorial races.

And this is an example of a Huckabee tweet (iirc, I made the screen capture of this tweet in 2015):

To me, these views seem extreme, but they’re typical of the majority in the Bible Belt of the USA. I originally made a copy of the tweet above, and some others by the governor, because I felt an enormous amount of hate emanating from them. I thought about Christians, including the governor, telling people that Christianity is all about love, but I think they express a quite different mindset.

The unreality of thinking God will judge the US over abortion

 

What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?

As with so many things, it’s pretty hard to get a clear direction from the Bible on abortion. Besides that, Christians are pretty good at only following which parts of it suit them at the best of times. Eating pork, getting tattoos, and even decorating a tree to celebrate Christmas are all things that are forbidden in the Bible. However, you will also have no trouble finding web pages that provide arguments why it’s okay to do those things, no matter how literal your reading of the Bible.

If they want to do something forbidden in the Bible, they will find a way to make it okay. If they want to make a group of people the subject of their derision of hatred, they will.

Passage from'Conservative Bible' (mock document)

 

The Bible does appear to consider abortion wrong. However, unlike many anti-choice activists, it does not appear to consider it murder. The punishment in the Bible for murder is death. “A life for a life.” Women who abort a child do not face this punishment in the Bible. Therefore, I think it’s safe to assume that abortion is not considered murder.

When it comes to information about abortion, anti-choice activists would be far better off reading Valerie Tarico’s ‘Right-Wing Christians’ Hostility to Science Destroys Lives‘. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read on the subject, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

 

The Attempts of Republican States to Ban Abortion Nationwide

There are now eight states in the US competing for the title of “Most Draconian Abortion Laws”. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah. By no coincidence, those states have several other things in common. They’re all not only reliably Republican, they are all strong supporters of President Trump. All also have a larger than average conservative Christian population. (Alabama is the most religious state; Mississippi is third; Arkansas is fifth; Georgia is sixth.) Most are also among the most poorly educated states.

It’s not good for a state’s economy either. Most of these states are also very poor financially, and their stance doesn’t help that. Companies these days are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to doing the right thing. Several states saw what happened when they tried to enact anti-transgender legislation. The same is now happening with anti-choice legislation. For example, AMC’s flagship TV show, The Walking Dead, is considering leaving Georgia after nine seasons. The reason? Georgia’s foetal heartbeat bill.

Republicans, Abortion, and Morality

Most countries believe the fallacy that being religious equals being moral. In most Western democracies a majority hold the belief that Christianity equals morality, though this belief is steadily declining.  The belief is stronger in the US than most, and conservative Christians in particular believe they have cornered the market when it comes to morality. Since Ronald Reagan’s call to the Moral Majority, Republicans have embraced their role as their country’s moral police. (This wasn’t a new role for them, but it became a greater part of their core identity with Reagan.)

Of course, the reality is that on most measures that society considers represent morality, it’s atheists that are, on average, the most moral US citizens, and a majority of them vote or lean Democrat. (I wrote about this, with the evidence, almost five years ago.)  We’re also constantly getting evidence that the so-called Moral Majority are, in reality, a bunch of hypocrites. It seems hardly a week goes by without another breaking story that exposes a leader of the Moral Majority. A recent one was Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University. (You can see Rachel Maddow’s (MSNBC) excellent take on the events here.)

 

The Anti-Choice or Forced-Birth Movement

Those who are anti-abortion call themselves “pro-life”. This moniker could not be further from the truth. As mentioned above, making abortion illegal actually increases the number of abortions.

I am not refusing to refer to them as “pro-life” to get at them in any way. I do it because the term is simply not accurate. The terms “anti-choice” and “forced birth” are both more accurate, and that’s why I use them.

I also find it really, really annoying that many in the anti-choice movement represent women who have abortions as simply using abortion as a form of contraception.

Lack of Empathy

Another person, whatever their gender, cannot imagine what any individual goes through when they discover they have an unplanned pregnancy. Some forced-birth activists present abortion as if women use it as a form of contraception. They produce anecdotes of women casually having multiple abortions as if this is common.

The truth is very different. The fact that a woman has chosen to terminate the pregnancy does not mean the choice was easy. For most it’s one of the most difficult decisions she will ever make. On top of that, one of the things that makes it far more difficult is the stigma around that choice. And, it is anti-choice activists who create that stigma. They make what is already a difficult choice far harder. They speak of the emotional harm a women suffers for the rest of her life, but most or all of that harm is because of the rhetoric of anti-choice activists.

The Lack of Compassion of Anti-Choice Activists

What especially concerns me about many of those in the US who are part of the forced-birth movement is that their care for the foetus that can’t, in their words, “speak for itself”, does not extend to:

1. The cost of any care of the foetus’ (e.g. healthcare) before it’s born.

2. The cost of any care of the baby/child after it’s born (e.g. healthcare, education, housing, food). This is especially the case if the child they are forcing to be born has some form of special/high needs.

3. The cost of any of the needs of the mother either before or after the birth (e.g. healthcare, child care, interruption in education/career, mental health care).

4. The cost of the needs of the future child’s siblings. The parent/s may no longer be able to afford to help with the cost of tertiary education, for example.

5. The cost of any of the needs of the father (e.g. mental health due to the expectations around caring for a child or a larger family). The Guttmacher report notes that a large proportion of abortions are for women who already have several children. The abortion is because they feel they simply cannot afford another child mentally, physically, emotionally, or financially.

Anti-GOP Meme: No abortion and no help caring for child.

 

The Myth of “Pro-Life”

Those who oppose abortion say they are doing so to save the lives of all the babies who would have been born if there was no abortion. This is absolute codswallop. The stupidity of it perhaps makes me even angrier than the attack on women’s rights, That’s because of what the truth really is.

Making abortion illegal does NOT mean no more abortions. What it means is:

1.Women being forced by desperation into breaking the law.

2. Women DYING from what is a simple medical procedure when carried out by a properly trained medical professional.

3. More women, especially poor women, suffering long-term medical complications.

4. More women being trapped in poverty.

5. More children suffering because their parent/parents have more children than they can look after financially, physically, emotionally, or mentally.

6. People, especially women, being trapped in unfulfilling (or even abusive) relationships because couples stay together, “for the sake of the child/ren.”

7. Places like Planned Parenthood forced to close. That means a lack of information about, and access to, contraception as well as other healthcare needs. It also means women who don’t have an abortion, which is most of their clients, lose access to healthcare.

Making Abortion Illegal Increases the Number of Abortions

But most of all, the evidence is that making abortion illegal does NOT reduce the number of abortions. The US’s Guttmacher Institute produced a comprehensive study: Abortion Worldwide 2017 (pdf here). It states:

Abortions occur as frequently in the two most-restrictive categories of countries (banned outright or allowed only to save the woman’s life) as in the least-restrictive category (allowed without restriction as to reason)—37 and 34 per 1,000 women, respectively.

Yes, you read that correctly. There are more abortions where it is illegal or heavily restricted than where it’s freely available.

 

More Sex Education and More Contraception are the Best Ways to Stop Abortion

The Guttmacher Institute report concludes that’s because legal abortion usually goes hand-in-hand with better access to, and knowledge of, contraception.

What makes that second sentence important is that Christians from the far right usually not only oppose abortion, they oppose contraception too. Most especially, they oppose education about sex and contraception for teenagers. Their advice is to stay a virgin until you marry. Then,  you get to spend your fertile years either pregnant, or trying to get that way.

A Lesson from Colorado

Valerie Tarico’s article (same one referred to above) was written in response to an initiative in Colorado in 2015. It begins:

When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40% [3], along with a drop in abortions [4]. The program saved the state 42.5 million dollars [5] in a single year, over five times what it cost. But rather than extending or expanding the program, some Colorado Republicans are trying to kill it—even if this stacks the odds against Colorado families. Why? Because they insist, wrongly, that IUD’s work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred. This claim, which is based in bad faith and scientific ignorance, undermines fiscal prudence and flourishing families.

Cartoon: Irony of GOP being against contraception and abortion

Gloria Steinman was on CNN’s Amanpour recently. They spoke about Alabama’s new abortion law. She pointed out that before Roe v Wade, one in three women in the US had an abortion. Following it, that dropped to one in four. The US followed the same world trend: the more freely available abortion is, the less it occurs. Therefore, it’s likely that if the anti-choice activists succeed in making abortion illegal again, this will actually increase the number of abortions.

 

The Example of Nazi Germany

Like me, Steinman sees the current attacks on women’s independence as part of the international increase in white nationalism and authoritarianism. She noted that the first impulse of every authoritarian government she has ever studied is to control reproduction. That’s because it’s the single thing they can’t imitate.

Steinman further pointed out one of the very first acts of that most famous of authoritarians and white nationalists – Adolf Hitler.  When he first took control his bully boys were immediately physically padlocking all the Family Planning clinics. At the same time,  he made abortion an act against the state. Abortion doctors were given death sentences, and women wanting abortions were put in prison in order to force them to give birth. Those women he didn’t want giving birth (and the men he didn’t want fathering children) were either sterilized or murdered.

I’m not, of course, suggesting that’s this a path that Trump and the Republicans are going to go down. However, Trump makes no secret of the fact he believes he’s in possession of superior genes. And, the white nationalist movement thinks we’re already in a race war and embrace the theories of eugenicists.

 

Alabama’s New Abortion Law

When I see the photo (below) of Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey, proudly signing her state’s Bill making abortion illegal, wearing her Republican-red suit, I see the colour of blood. The blood of all the women who will die because of that Bill is on her hands. It’s also on the hands of the men in the Alabama senate who voted for the Bill. And I say, “men” for a reason; not a single woman in that senate gave it her support.

Governor Ivey notes in the tweet above that her faith is the reason for her opposition to abortion. As with most anti-abortion rhetoric, that’s misguided. Due to a life of being told that by her church, she probably believes that God opposes abortion. But, as so often with the deeply religious, there’s a failure of independent thought. Like so many of the deeply religious, it’s unlikely she’s read the Bible from cover to cover. She probably relies on religious leaders for her view on the subject. That’s understandable, but a bad example in a leader.

 

Exceptions for Rape, Incest, and the Life of the Mother

Most abortion bills have exceptions if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if it would endanger the life of the mother. Notably, at least two of these latest bills, Alabama and Missouri, do not have rape and incest exceptions. This is apparently deliberate as the writers of the bills. They believe this is more likely to get them to the Supreme Court.

However, even most of those who are anti-choice and want to force women to give birth, also want to see an exception for rape and incest. They acknowledge that in these cases a woman should have a choice whether she carries the foetus to term. They can see that the choice of the woman, who is already a person, should take precedence over something that only has the potential to be a person. In such cases, they are able to empathize with the woman.

So, why do they feel differently when a woman becomes pregnant against her will but whose sexual activity was willing? This is often where conservative religion takes control of their thought processes. Sex was a choice, so suffer the consequences. The high failure rate of many contraceptives doesn’t move them. If they’re not married, they shouldn’t be having sex anyway.

The Role of Right-Wing Media

Further, thanks to right-wing media like Fox News, many who are anti-choice make the assumption that all women wanting an abortion are single. They think women are using abortion as a form of contraception and it’s something they do easily and casually.

This all gives them a picture of women who have abortions as young, sexually promiscuous, irresponsible, and, most importantly, not behaving in a manner that meets with God’s approval. In their eyes, such women should suffer in some way. An unwanted pregnancy meets that criteria; everyone will know they’ve been sinning.

(Here, we also see the danger of the Christian belief in free will. I won’t discuss determinism in this post. In the unlikely event you don’t know what it is, I recommend you look it up. Neither the women or the men, of course, had a choice whether they had sex.)

The interesting thing is, the abortion rate in many religiously conservative states are among the highest in the country. Women from religiously conservative families are able to justify their own abortions while still condemning all other women.

2015: Abortion Rate per 1000 women aged 15-44

Abortion Rate per 1000 women aged 15-44 (Click graphic to go to source.)

 

Why Are Women Wanting An Abortion Different?

Republicans think government should stay out of their lives and there should be as few laws as possible. This rule of no rules, however, doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to women. They, it seems, should have to put up with anything, especially if they’re pregnant. The Federalist Society doesn’t believe women should have the freedom to choose what to do with their own bodies. If a woman is pregnant, she should have to continue with the pregnancy no matter what the circumstances.

Cartoon Freedom from Big Government only for men

While the Republican party says it’s all about removing government from people’s lives, again, that doesn’t seem to apply to women. They insist they support equality for women, but the evidence does not support that.

T-shirt design: The elephant in the womb

Over and over again, when there is legislation in relation to women’s rights and equality for women, the Republican Party fails to support it.

List of women's rights legislation the GOP didn't support.

The Future of Abortion in the US

The GOP is constantly making itself harder to vote for. It has become the party of Trump, and his antics are chasing voter away. Women and people of colour in particular no longer feel they have a place in the party.

However, many voters say they don’t care about the things he says. All they care about is that the things he changes are ones they like. Conservative and Evangelical Christians are over the moon about a conservative Supreme Court for decades to come. Further, if they vote for him in 2020, there’s a chance he’ll be able to make another appointment given the state of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s health. There is plenty of evidence of religious hypocrisy in the world. No one should think Trump’s racism, misogyny, ignorance, narcissism, and all the rest, will stop them voting for him again.

The Democratic Party has to give voters something to vote for. Voting against Trump won’t cut it. Only with a Democratic administration can a woman’s right to choose start to become safe again.

 


 

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50 Responses to “Abortion and the US Republican Party”

  1. Randall Schenck says:

    I am not here to give an opinion on this subject because as a male I should not get one. That is really all I should say about it. Your review and history of abortion in this country is about as complete as any I have seen. I like the fact that you included the Colorado information on IUD’s. That story really tells it all.

    So that is it for me on this matter. Females are the only voice that I give any time for when it comes to abortion. To me it is a health care decision for a woman to make with her doctor and no one else gets a voice in it. If you take religion out of it, which it should, this is the only conclusion anyone should have.

    I will throw in a word or two on the problem you mention with this thing called states rights. It is a very confusing thing both here and for people in any other countries and it is all wrapped up in our history and constitution. It was a huge debate back in 1786 in Philadelphia when they were creating the Constitution. The problem is, the federalist lost the debate and government became a “shared” issue between the newly created federal government and the states. It was probably the worst thing that happened in the compromises to get the job done. We have been living with this burden ever since.

    • The fact that this is a medical issue between a woman and her doctor is another issue I didn’t address very well in this post.

      I don’t have a problem with men having an opinion on the issue. My commitment to freedom of speech allows that. It’s just when they start telling women what to do that my hackles start rising. So, if a man says he opposes abortion, I can live with that. If he starts trying to legislate to take away a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body: that’s when I have a problem.

  2. ThyroidPlanet says:

    Sub

  3. tildeb says:

    When we go along with making a medical issue into a moral issue, we go along with making it a political/partisan bell we ring to signify which tribe we belong to. Facts and truth no longer matter when we do this, which is a disservice to everyone. Just look how acceptable with the medical framing of getting the Hep B vaccination is compared to the moral framing of getting the HPV vaccination. The mistake far too many make is to assume women’s reproductive health services is a moral issue rather than a medical one, and then try to fight this battle not on factual or truth-seeking or even humanitarian grounds but on feel-good chauvinistic virtue signalling, which favours only those who would take away our rights and freedoms in the name of imposing their own morality over others.

  4. Matt Cavanaugh says:

    The USA Wants Roe v. Wade to Remain the Law
    “About six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) said in a 2018 survey that abortion should be legal in all or most cases….”

    Roe prohibits any restrictions on abortion prior to viability but, except when the woman’s health or life is threatened, allows restrictions or complete bans after viability.

    Pew 2018:
    legal all 25%
    legal most 34
    illegal most 22
    illegal all 14
    DK 5

    Those who want abortion to remain legal oppose non-essential late-term abortions by a two-to-one margin, (25% for vs. 56% against.)

    Not only is the call for unfettered access to late-term abortions, coming from many choice advocates and Democratic politicians, highly unpopular, it’s also in direct conflict with Roe.

    _

    It is already appalling that women have less rights than men in what is supposedly the world’s leading democracy. What’s even worse is that women in some states have even less rights than their compatriots in other states.

    Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, women and men have equal rights. That some states back in 1979 did not ratify the ERA, does not mean woman in those states have fewer rights than in others.

    NB: Under the US Constitution, any powers not expressly given to Congress are reserved for the states. Police power is one notable example of the latter. Nevertheless, under the Supremacy Clause, any Federal law also applies to state and local jurisdictions.

    _

    It’s also on the hands of the men in the Alabama senate who voted for the Bill. And I say, “men” for a reason; not a single woman in that senate gave it her support.

    That’s a somewhat vacuous statement, as all three women in the AL senate are Democrats, one of whom abstained but has expressed religious reservations about abortion. Further, the GOP men who voted for the bill were chosen by a majority female electorate. I looked at the election results and found that each senator received a majority of women’s votes in his respective district. When all is said and done, a majority of Alabaman women are pro-life.

    _

    … even most of those who are anti-choice … also want to see an exception for rape and incest.… They can see that the choice of the woman, who is already a person, should take precedence over something that only has the potential to be a person.

    Yes, this exposes the hypocrisy of many pro-lifers. Either a fetus is a person imbued by God with a soul, or it’s not.

    _

    … the abortion rate in many religiously conservative states are among the highest in the country.

    The accompanying map does not display a religious correlation, but rather concentrations along the Eastern Seaboard and in the Great Lakes. You’ll find this distribution actually reflects the high rate of abortions among minority women.

    • I think so many people oppose late-term abortions because they don’t know the medical reasons for keeping it in the legislation. I believe if they did, many would change their minds.

      Imo, women in states that make getting an abortion difficult have less rights than those in states that haven’t tried to circumvent Roe v. Wade.

  5. Matt Cavanaugh says:

    Randall wrote:

    I am not here to give an opinion on this subject because as a male I should not get one.… To me it is a health care decision for a woman to make with her doctor and no one else gets a voice in it.

    I believe you have inadvertently stumbled into petitio principii.

    Once having concluded that abortion is not the killing of a legal ‘person’, then it logically follows that in each individual case, no opinions other than those of woman should matter.

    However, the initial question of whether a zygote/embryo/fetus is at any point a person (or, per Roe a “potential person”), is very much up for debate among every citizen, male and female alike.

  6. nicky says:

    Hi Heather, great to have you back, and with 2 posts nogal!
    The abortion post is outstanding and touches a lot of the angles. I’ll peruse it again and the links you give, before commenting further.
    Just want to say how happy I am you’re back.

  7. Ken Kukec says:

    A comprehensive and excellent look at this issue here in the United States of Chaos, HH.

  8. Mark R. says:

    Thanks for this analysis Heather…erudite, insightful and eloquent as always.

    One fact that didn’t get mentioned (and I think it’s a very large fly in forced-birth ideology) is what to do about women who have spontaneous abortions/miscarriages? This is a complicated issue, as it deals with a woman’s age, general health, access to medical care and how many previous children she’s had. Suffice it to say, the rate that a pregnancy will end in miscarriage is between 10-20%. In reality, this figure is going to be higher since many miscarriages occur so early in a pregnancy, that a woman thinks the miscarriage is simply menstruation.

    So the question for the faithful is: why does God allow so many “babies” to die? And if we begin to punish women for actively having an abortion because it’s murder, than shouldn’t a miscarriage be considered manslaughter? She didn’t try to murder the baby, but she still did. Or, this is her second miscarriage, she should have known of the risk of murdering again. People go to jail all the time for things they “accidentally” did…manslaughter by definition is not intentional, but you can still go to jail for it. This is a topic that is never mentioned when we go down the slippery slope of making abortions illegal.

    It all amounts to the shallow thinking of faitheists, mixed with the common authoritarian streak a majority of their kind hold (as you elucidated in your post).

    • This is actually an issue I wanted to deal with, but did because the post was so long already (< 6,300 words). The spontaneous abortion rate is very high, and as you say, women often spontaneously abort without even knowing they're pregnant. So if you're religious, what was the point there? Did God just change his mind? If he's omniscient, why and how does that happen? Valerie Tarico's article talks about this a bit: In some animals, the mother’s body aborts or reabsorbs an embryo if her stress level is too high or her protein level is too low. Alternately, her body may hold the fertilized eggs in a sort of suspended animation until conditions improve. Human bodies also have several ways to reduce the number of unhealthy babies, by decreasing fertility and increasing spontaneous abortion under bad circumstances. But like genetic recombination, this process is imperfect. Perfectly healthy embryos flush out, while some with birth defects—even horrible defects—get through. Since spontaneous abortion is a natural and common part of human reproduction—one could say that every fertile woman has an abortion mill in her body—contraceptives actually reduce the number of fertilized eggs that fail to become babies, and the more effective they are at preventing conception, the more embryonic death they prevent. IUD’s are some of the most effective contraceptives available, on par [11] with sterilization. A woman who believes that embryonic life is precious, either to her or to her god, should use the most effective contraceptive available.

  9. tildeb says:

    And we agree that Valerie is a treasure in better understanding what’s really going on here.

  10. Matt Cavanaugh says:

    (Sorry, the ‘reply’ button is not functioning for me.)

    Heather wrote:

    I think so many people oppose late-term abortions because they don’t know the medical reasons for keeping it in the legislation. I believe if they did, many would change their minds.

    My understanding of the polling data: 56% already support late-term abortions if & only if the health of the woman is at risk. Only 14% don’t even for medical reasons, and they never will.

    Imo, women in states that make getting an abortion difficult have less rights than those in states that haven’t tried to circumvent Roe v. Wade.

    From that perspective, yes. Conversely, my 2nd Amendment rights are considerably more infringed upon here in California than were I in Alabama.

    • I agree, of course, that woman have equal rights within the law. But my opinion is that they don’t in practice. Not anywhere. It’s the same with people of colour. Yes, they are equal under the law, but why then are there so many areas that their lives are more difficult. It may be illegal to deny to rent to a black person, but it’s very difficult to prove someone is doing that, and then there’s the expense and hassle of doing something about it. It may be illegal to deny a woman a job because she’s a woman, but again, it’s hard to prove that’s happening. And, whenever someone complains about it, places that are practicing so-called reverse discrimination will be held up as examples, as if that cancels out the problem.

  11. Damon Williford says:

    Numbers chapter 5 verses 12-31 makes pretty clear that the authors that Old Testament book had no problem with abortion as long as it was the husband who wanted the pregnancy terminated.

  12. Damon Williford says:

    Sorry I didn’t finish my comment when I accidentally hist submit.

    The Old Testament makes it pretty clear that Yahweh doesn’t care if children are killed, in fact he orders children to be killed in several stories. The story of Noah’s flood could be described as an extreme late-term abortion. A lot of the faith-based arguments against abortion seem to involve either ignorance of what is actually in the Bible or more knowledgable anti-choice Christians focusing on certain verses and ignoring all of the others. Or maybe it’s just a case of doublethink. My father was a hard-core anti-choice Christian and avid reader of the bible but the contradiction between what he thought of as God’s will regarding abortion and what is actually in the Bible seemed to pass right over his head.

  13. Randall Schenck says:

    The reply thing isn’t working so I will just repeat for the confused. As Heather also states – A male can have all the opinions on abortion they want. Line them up. However, when they want to step in and decide for the woman, that just does not fly. I personally find that it is primarily the religious that want to step in and tell everyone what to do. That is a non starter.

    • What Randall said.

      Sorry about the reply thing not working. The developers have stopped supporting my site design, so I have to get a new one. As usual, paying for it is a problem. That’s my fault as I haven’t been posting; I can’t expect people to donate if I don’t write anything.

  14. infiniteimprobability says:

    Interesting you mention the 1973 bill. At that time I was helping our surveyor on the Broadwood road, staying at Mangamuka Bridge pub, and one evening we were regaled by a commercial traveller with his accounts of various barmaids he had ‘encountered’ (which I lapped up with typical young-male interest). The following day we were having a smoko by the road when this guy came past and stopped and conversation turned to the topic of the CS&A bill. At which point this guy said he was opposed to it as it ‘allowed women to evade their responsibilities’. I promptly went for a short walk as I didn’t trust myself to utter a word.

    The hypocrisy was breathtaking. And yes, I’m convinced a large chunk of the ‘pro-life’ movement just sees pregnancy as a necessary punishment for immoral women.

    cr

    • That young male reminds me of a lot of men in the late ’70s and ’80s (when I was of an age to be encountering them). Women who wouldn’t sleep with them were frigid or dykes, and women who would were whores, and yes, had to face the consequences if they got pregnant. Sometimes it was even how they viewed their own long-term girlfriends, though that was far less common.

      A lot of people, to my mind, appeared to have the views they thought they should, rather than what they actually thought too, especially in they were members of particular religions. In my circle, that was particularly true of my Catholic friends. There was a huge amount of guilt associated with anything to do with sex for them. When I think back, it’s a wonder anyone (including me) managed to emerge with a healthy view of sex and sexual relationships. Among other things, my father used to say, “There are three kinds of women: wives, virgins, and whores.” He had a lot of such sayings, and a lot of them were about women. I suspect they came from his puritanical Presbyterian upbringing.

  15. Matt Cavanaugh says:

    … why then are there so many areas that [blacks’] lives are more difficult.

    With so many demographic and socioeconomic explanations, why do you jump to the conclusion it’s the racism? Half a century of grand social engineering schemes to negate / remove racism, yet blacks are falling further behind. All the woes endemic to inner-city black communities — high unemployment, poverty, violence & crime, aimlessness, drug addiction, teenage pregnancies, the collapse of the family — are now found in rural white communities. Same factors, same results; how can one be caused by racism, the other not?

    _

    It may be illegal to deny to rent to a black person, but it’s very difficult to prove someone is doing that….

    This is nothing but an ad hoc ‘racism of the gaps’ argument. Even if it can be shown in aggregate that blacks receive disparate outcomes in housing or employment, there’s still no proof it’s due to racist sentiment, and not other factors usually coincident to being black. And just because stereotypes are unpleasant does not mean they can never be broadly accurate.

    Affirmative Action began as an effort to remove artificial barriers. Under Carter, it morphed into erecting artificial quotas, favoring lesser-qualified minorities. Nowadays, those most affected by ‘reverse’ discrimination happen to be asians.

    • “And just because stereotypes are unpleasant does not mean they can never be broadly accurate.”

      This is the sort of comment that sounds innocuous but, in my opinion, is a sign that a person may be racist, though probably without realizing it.

      It also makes me feel like I don’t want to continue to debate this issue with you as I think we’ll both just be talking at each other rather than having a proper conversation. I’m sorry about that, as you’re obviously very knowledgeable on the issues, and I think I could learn some things.

  16. Linda Calhoun says:

    My reply button isn’t working.

    This is in reply to Matt above.

    The term “elective late-term abortion” refers to the fact that the mother’s life is not in danger. It doesn’t describe the reality that late-term abortions are always a response to grave fetal abnormalities or fetal death. The idea in theory that a woman could abort a healthy fetus that was viable is abhorrent to many, but the reality is that even if she were to want that, which she wouldn’t, she would not be able to find a doctor to do the procedure.

    The characterization of women being selfish, cruel, and stupid is another right-wing trope.

    L

    • Yes, this is exactly what the graphic I created was supposed to counter, and it annoys me that it’s still being brought up despite that.

      In the unlikely event that a women decided as late as the birth of her baby that she wanted an abortion, no doctor would kill the baby. An adoption would be arranged. As you say, late-term abortions are in the legislation specifically for the very rare event of grave foetal abnormalitiesor death that were not evident earlier in the pregnancy.

      I would go so far as to say it’s typical of the religious to present late-term abortions as if it’s all about killing healthy babies. To them, the end justifies the means. It’s how, among other things, they’re able to justify their own votes for a man like Trump to be president.

  17. Linda Calhoun says:

    Heather – thank you for your detailed analysis.

    You left something out, though. While I understand why, permit me to add it.

    Forced birthers are lying. They don’t care about the fetus, they never did, and they never will. Their “concern” is merely another attempt to control the lives of women.

    The US has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, and it’s going up, not down. In the state of Texas, maternal mortality rates have more than doubled since 2010, making TX, USA the most dangerous place in the developed world to be a pregnant, delivering, or post-partum mother.

    Are the forced birthers doing anything about that? No, they are not.

    And, thank you for pointing out that the official Republican platform says no abortions ever, not even to save the life of the mother. I find it astonishing that Democrats have not made an issue of that.

    In addition, consider that, while they express concern for the fetus, the very second it takes its first breath and becomes a baby, it goes from being “the most vulnerable among us” to a “parasite” and a “miserable sinner”. Whammo, just one breath. And then, the right-wingers can’t get away fast enough. No heath care, no education, no clean air, water, or food for you, baby.

    The inconsistencies speak louder than all the wingbats yelling about the fetus combined.

    Their real target is birth control. If they got everything they wanted, then they would start in on that.

    Speaking of targeting birth control, our little town’s health clinic is currently being “served” (I hope temporarily) by a Catholic doctor who refuses to prescribe birth control. The women here, who are paying insurance premiums, will be forced to drive 40 miles in one direction, or 50 miles in another direction to get what they need, all in the service of this bozo whose “sincerely held” religious beliefs tell him that prescribing birth control is wrong, but supporting a church that approves of priests molesting children is just fine.

    L

    • Yes, thank you for mentioning that Linda. I did miss it out, and it’s actually one of the things that first prompted me to write the post. I’ve mentioned the fact about maternal and foetal mortality in every post I’ve done on US healthcare, and then when it comes to one of the most important, I leave it out! Very stupid of me.

      And that’s outrageous that women can’t get contraception from the local doctor. Once again, it will be the most vulnerable who suffer. Like you, we have a lot of isolated rural communities, so we’re getting more and more into telemedicine. It’s not happening fast enough, but at least it’s happening. Anyway, the consultation is over Skype, and a specially trained nurse is with the patient to do any physical checks the doctor requires. We also have a privacy law that specifically says that parents don’t need to be notified about contraception or abortion for minors. So in the case of your community, the vulnerable (including teenagers) could get a contraception prescription via a telemedicine consultation. And because the poor don’t pay for prescriptions, and everyone else pays a maximum of $5 per prescription, they wouldn’t have to worry about an a$$ho£€ doctor.

  18. nicky says:

    Thanks Heather, for a monumental post.

    Firstly, I particularly appreciate you showing that the so called ‘pro-life’ stance is not about reducing the number of abortions, and that there are ulterior motives (presumably controlling women’s lives and/or sexuality).
    Indeed, as you say, the only way shown to reduce the numbers of abortions is serious sexual education and easy availability of contraceptives, there really is no doubt about that, and it cab’t be stressed enough. One would expect the so called ‘pro-lifers’ to be on the barricades for exactly that: serious sexual education (at a young age at that) and easy availability of contraception. Yet, I haven’t seen a single one on the barricades for that, to put it mildly. Hence they do not care about reducing the number of abortions (‘murders’) as they contend. QED.
    I do not think availability/legality of abortions reduces the numbers per se (see eg Romania before 1968), but it is the ‘climate’ of the services such as PP offers, which includes access to abortion, that reduces the numbers.

    Secondly, you might have added (I know, the post was already long) that those so fiercely opposed to abortion are always first in line to demand one when their daughter is inconveniently pregnant or they have inconveniently impregnated the house-help (the latter often has racial element too, here in South Africa). Unbelievably, (talk about cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy) it will not change their stance, because their case is different, (of course).
    I’ve been carrying out abortions in a previous life, and I know quite a few ‘abortionists’. Without exception they have been confronted (including myself) with this phenomenon. Most of them are not even grateful you did their ‘dirty work’ for them, they still think you are evil.

    Thirdly, what I somewhat miss is the notion that the path from a zygote to a baby is a process. A 12 weeks old fetus is definitely more than a blob of cells, but still far from a viable baby. Most countries therefore have some kind of ‘incremental need’ for abortions. Eg. on demand until, say, 12 weeks, for serious socio-economic and psychological circumstances up to, say, 18 weeks, and for incest and rape we may add a few more weeks. after that only in cases of severe malformation or the mother’s health or life.

    And fourthly, -yes, you mentioned it, but could/should have elaborated more- (related to 3, but since so prominent in the Alt-right/religious agitprop (I think the term is warranted here) , merits a separate point): the real late term abortions are only for severe malformation incompatible with life beyond a short period and the mother’s physical health or life.
    It should be stressed that late term abortions, extremely rare at any rate, are generally heartbreaking decisions the parents make with their physician. These pregnancies are not ‘unwanted’, they generally are a tragedy and a horror story.
    “Late term abortions” for ‘convenience’ are a figment of the imagination, and a unconscionable, dirty propaganda tool.

    I hope you see all the above more as an addendum to your outstanding post than a criticism.

    • Thanks Nicky, and I agree. There was so much more I could have added. I don’t take it as criticism.

      You are so right about the late-term issue. In cases of those that I know about, the parents were so looking forward to their baby, and were really happy about it, and when they were suddenly confronted with the news it was an horrendous situation. They were devastated. People don’t want a late-term abortion. It’s desperately sad that it’s sometimes necessary.

      I mention that anti-choice people are always able to find a reason for their own abortions, but you’re right that that’s a much bigger issue. The way they treat the people that are helping them is is disgusting, though probably a reflection of the guilt they feel (even though they usually shouldn’t have to feel that guilt).

      And the process thing is important too. I don’t know how some of that could be included in legislation, but knowledge of how a zygote develops to make a baby is important to know. It is an amazing thing, and I know someone who decided she could never have an abortion once she understood it all. She still thought other people should be able to make that choice for themselves though.

      I cut quite a lot out of the post as it was so long, and I’m already wondering if I should do more research and write a short (30,000 words) book to be published online at Amazon. I know I don’t have the chops to write a proper book on the topic. I’m just wondering about getting all the info together for a reference tool to try and help pro-choice people. That way I could include all the stuff people have pointed out I missed in this post, and research would be sure to uncover more.

  19. Michael Waterhouse says:

    This situation is unbelievably awful, yet sadly it is all too believable from certain types of mentalities.

    Topically, for some reason, I happened to think of something that happened many years ago, when I was in High School.
    There was a pretty, popular girl in a similar class range to mine.
    She disappeared through the year and didn’t turn up next year.
    But, and this is the memory that triggered this memory, I saw her once that year, back then pushing a pram. And she looked so unhappy.
    I don’t know if I am confabulating but I distinctly remember seeing this girl and noting how unhappy she looked.
    Perhaps a choice, but perhaps also succumbing to drives and pressure from a guy and there you go. A life of unknown potentials forced into this one course, wanted or not.
    This was slightly before the law was changed in Victoria Australia after a campaign by a Dr Bertram Wainer after a young women came to his clinic needing treatment for a botch back yard abortion.
    He suffered attempts on his life and death threats from corrupt police, a number of whom were facilitating back yard operations and protecting doctors who were breaking the law.
    And inquiry was held and charges laid but most got off. But the court had ruled that abortion could be legal and in 1972 he opened a clinic where abortion could be had for no upfront fees and the whole wretched system was broken.

    To demand a women hand her body over to the needs of another entity has shades of slavery to it if you ask me.

    Awful but typical of religious stupidity.

    • My opinion is partially informed by something that happened at high school too. A friend of my younger sister was gang raped (age 14). When she got home, her very religious parents treated her like she was the one at fault and decried the fact that she was now ruined. To emphasize that, the first thing they did was put her in the bath and scrub her raw. Then a few weeks later they discovered she was pregnant. Her parents opposed abortion because of their religion, and she wasn’t allowed the abortion she wanted. By the time the baby was born, she was in a mental hospital.

      Since then, at least one part of the law has changed that would have helped her. A privacy law means teenagers can get contraception or abortions without parental consent or notification.

  20. Matt Cavanaugh says:

    This is the sort of comment that sounds innocuous but, in my opinion, is a sign that a person may be racist, though probably without realizing it.

    Despite that uncharitable insinuation that I’m a racist, I’ll try to clarify my statement. Stereotyping is part of human nature, animal nature, and actuarial. Not all curved things on the ground are snakes, but it pays off to jump away from all of them just in case. Not all primer-gray El Caminos are driven by dangerous types, but best to not tangle with any of them. We form stereotypes for all sorts of groups. Even when a stereotype associated with a particular race or ethnicity is not accurate, a person acting on that perception is not racist per se.

    • I know stereotyping is a part of human nature. We all do it. I know I do it myself, and try very hard not to. As such, I was trying to be very careful not to make any assumptions regarding your opinions.

  21. Randall Schenck says:

    Well, not having a proper working reply system is driving me crazy so I think we had better kick in…

  22. infiniteimprobability says:

    “That young male reminds me of a lot of men in the late ’70s and ’80s (when I was of an age to be encountering them). Women who wouldn’t sleep with them were frigid or dykes, and women who would were whores, and yes, had to face the consequences if they got pregnant.”
    Just to correct that for the record – the young male in the anecdote was me, but that was absolutely not my attitude. I was profoundly grateful for any young lady who did give me a fling, how could I blame them for sharing a modern enlightened attitude to sex? Pregnancy, like any sexually transmitted disease, was to be avoided at all costs but if the worst happened, reliably curable if caught early enough; nobody in their right mind would go through it unnecessarily.
    As far as I could tell all my male friends thought about the same. It would have been as much of a shock to find one who espoused that retributive Puritan attitude, as if one of them had confessed to being a Christian. This was why the attitude of the older commercial traveller so outraged me.

    • Don’t worry – I did understand what you meant in your comment – that you were walking away in disgust at what he was saying etc. And most men in my circle of friends were like you, not my father.

      Being a fellow NZer, you’ll know that religion was something that was only rarely talked about, even if you were a believer (as I was at the time). Religion was (and is) largely moderate, though I do notice that there do seem to be more followers of people like (self-appointed Bishop) Brian Tamaki these days.

      Any man like my father always got short shrift from me.

  23. Curtis says:

    “There are more abortions where it is illegal or heavily restricted than where it’s freely available.” True but that does mean restrictions cause more abortion. A better method would be to look at what happens abortions laws are changed.

    In the US, restrictions on abortion in the US correspond to a lower abortion rate.

    In 1970, there were 52 abortions per 100,000 births in the US. In 1973, abortions were legalized via Roe v. Wade. In 1980, this rate went up by almost 7 times to 359 abortions per 100,000 births.

    In 2008, laws restricting abortion started to become more common. From 2008 to 2016, the abortion rate dropped 20% (from 234 to 188.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_statistics_in_the_United_States

    Correlation does not prove causation but, IMO, the CDC’s data is better controlled than yours. Also the changes in the law appear to accelerate trends not change them,

    • The CDC figure relates to LEGAL abortions. Imo, it is considered better controlled only by those who oppose abortion. There was research into ACTUAL abortion rates. As I noted in the post, abortion rates in the US FELL following the legalization of abortion.

      Further all the suffering relating to obtaining an illegal abortion was gone. Even if everything goes well with the abortion itself, the woman has committed a crime and must suffer with the stress of being discovered for the rest of her life.

  24. nicky says:

    It should be noted that nowadays, with Misoprostol (especially in combination with Mifepristone). illegal abortion has become much less risky. The mortality rate of illegal abortions must definitely have dropped substantially.
    By the very nature of illegality, precise numbers are obviously difficult to come by.
    Only where abortions are completely legal, and records are kept, can we have precise numbers
    There were abortion is more or less illegal, precise numbers are not available. Relatively reliable estimates could be made by extrapolating from botched abortions and back alley abortion deaths. But now with Misoprostol even those estimates become less reliable.

  25. nicky says:

    Heather, is this website now officially defunct?

  26. No, I just haven’t felt up to writing for some time due to some personal issues. I’m very sorry if there’s anyone who’s missing my posts. I will be back. I don’t know when, but things are looking up so I hope it won’t be too much longer.

  27. nicky says:

    I hope you’ll be able to sort things out. Looking forward!
    [And I’m sorry that the All Blacks lost yesterday (my now 9 year old is distraught). I thought the final would be NZ vs SA, but even the All Blacks can have an off day, it seems.]

    • Thanks Nicky.

      I thought initially we wouldn’t meet England until the final, and then with the way things fell, we’d be meeting you guys. Your son is channeling our whole country! However, we played poorly, and England deserved to win. Anyone who knows anything about rugby knew how they would try to beat us, and still we didn’t manage to counter their attack. As you say, bad days happen, and that was a really bad day. No one likes it, but that’s sport. England were simply better on the night. However, I suspect it will be a long time before they beat NZ again! 🙂

    • I just want to wish all the best to South Africa for next weekend. I hope they win!

  28. nicky says:

    And they did, in fashion. They dominated from the first minute. I find it hard to believe this was the same England team that beat the All Blacks so comprehensively.
    There was only one time The Roses appeared threatening, around 30 min in the first half, but that only resulted in a 3 point penalty. Had that resulted in a try, it might have changed the match, but the Bokke’s defense was solid. For the rest England was nowhere. A comprehensive, monumental win. (32-12)
    I’m a great fan of Cheslin Kolbe, and he did not disappoint, sealed the Roses doom with his typical brilliant try. And they didn’t even use Kobus Reinach or Kwagga Smit.
    Several firsts, the first time a ‘black’ captain (Siya Kolisi) wins the Ellis cup, the first time the Bokke actually scored tries in a final, and with the All Blacks the second team to win the cup three times.
    Mr Garcez has often been maligned in SA, generally not really justified, but his refereeing in this match was class.
    I’m quite happy, as you can probably understand.

    • I hope SA’s fantastic win has cheered up your son! ou thoroughly deserved to win. I also think England had nothing left after beating the ABs. They’d been focusing on that game for years, and won it well, but unfortunately for them they didn’t meet them in the final like they expected to. They arrogantly underestimated everyone else. (Typical of Eddie Jones.) Being beaten by Japan was a bonus for you. 😉 You guys were fabulous! Congratulations!!!

  29. nicky says:

    Thank You! South Africa needs these exploits where a racially mixed team does well.
    Yes, their loss to Japan in 2015 taught them never to take any match for granted. They have improved very much since under Rassie Erasmus.
    I note that SA is the only team that never lost a final (the opposite of France that lost all their three finals).
    Their defeat in the group stages to the AB’s was also a first: the first time a team that lost a match in the group stages went on winning the cup.

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