Since the election, I've been discussing abortion w friends at work who are very anti-abortion, and my v creative friend K and I were talking about it tonight. I seriously disagree with some of this Catholic's points. (Back off my Constitution, you woman-hating creep.) But he does make some worthwhile points.
Years and years of trying to criminalize abortions and of turning the catholic church into the church of "please elect a republican" (who among us can forget the catholic church doing everything possible to steal the election away from John Catholic Kerry and to give it to George the Torturing Warmonger Bush? Nicely done, bishops. You must be so proud.) have failed to stop women from getting abortions. So if your REAL goal were to prevent abortions (and I don't think that is the real goal of many who want to criminalize abortion, but, again, another story for another day), now would be a great time to stop and try to re-think your methods.
Here are the facts:
Criminalizing abortion doesn't stop abortion. We know that this is true because, back in the bad old days when abortion was criminalized, women still had abortions. They had them in back alleys from hacks who butchered them and left them to bleed to death, but they still had them. Abortion has been around for centuries and centuries. Before abortion was available, people exposed unwanted children. There's a long-standing human need to control family size and it's not going away any time soon, laws or no laws. And, even those who advocate criminalizing abortion can't explain exactly how they'd punish women who seek abortions. If it's murder, would you execute the woman? Leave her other children orphans? Only penalize the doctor? Even if she saved the woman's life? WTF? (One suspects these "pro-life" sorts would gladly execute the woman, but don't think that notion is too marketable, "yet." First they'll criminalize abortion and then they'll introduce stoning and burning at the stake. Cuz they're "pro-life.")
Countries in South America with stringent laws criminalizing abortion have high rates of abortion and countries in Scandinavia with liberal abortion laws have low rates of abortion. Abortions were down under Bill Clinton, who was pro-choice, are up under Bush, who says that he opposes abortion. The conclusion is obvious and inescapable: Criminalizing abortion -- the primary goal of the catholic church and of the past several decades of the "pro-life" movement -- doesn't and wouldn't prevent abortion.
You might want to just sit with that thought for a few minutes.
There are things that have been empirically shown to reduce abortions. Sadly, for the catholics and other wingnuts, those things also empower women and reduce unplanned pregnancies (which lead to abortion), and they can't get behind either of those outcomes.
Teaching girls to read, write, do math, do science, understand history, and run small businesses -- dollars spent on educating girls -- empowers women, and reduces unplanned pregnancies and, thus, abortion. Check out any developing nation or American inner city and you'll see that this is true.
Real sex education, not bullshit "abstinence education," empowers women and reduces unplanned pregnancies and, thus, abortion.
Opportunities for women to advance in the work world empower women and reduce unplanned pregnancies and, thus, abortion.
Enforcement of child support laws, provision of affordable, effective and safe birth control, provision of good, affordable day care, provision of medical care for pregnant women and infants, jobs with equal pay: all of these have been shown to decrease abortion.
And, yet, for over a generation, the catholic church and the "pro-life" movement have focused relentlessly on criminalizing abortion. When someone consistently works towards an ends shown not to be associated with his asserted goal and consistently refuses to support those things shown to be associated with his asserted goal, it causes me to question that person's true goal. But that's another story for another day.
If I were concerned with preventing abortions, I think that the last 8 years and this election would be a wake-up call for me.
Even in wingnut South Dakota, anti-abortion ballot measures fail. Your vaunted "state's rights" arguments -- last used by those who wanted to be able to discriminate against African Americans in their own states when they realized they were losing the national debate on that issue (nice company, bishops; you must be so proud!) -- won't save you. Obama's going to pick the next 2 to 4 SCOTUS Justices and they're not going to criminalize abortion. Several generations have grown up accepting that women have a right to terminate pregnancies when they choose. Even when Republicans control the WH, the Congress, SCOTUS, and the media, (and it's going to be years and years and millions of abortions before they ever do again; go look at who's up for re-election in 2010 and 2012) they don't criminalize abortion. They just save the issue to use to make a bunch of fools donate and vote for them every two years. That's all. They use the fundies like the gullible fools they are.
It turns out that you can't have both. You can either decrease abortions -- your stated goal -- and increase women's power and control over their own sexuality, or you can continue to try to control women's sexualiy while fetus after fetus bites the dust.
As the wonderful psychiatrist in my favorite episode of the Sopranos told Carmella, at least you can never say that no one told you.
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