Banning Abortion Increases Their Number?

A new study of abortion rates around the world finds that the rates are higher in countries where the procedure is illegal, and those abortions are, of course, unregulated and far less safe and a lot of women die as a result of botched illegal abortions.

Abortion rates are highest where the procedure is illegal, according to a new study. The study also found nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, with the vast majority of unsafe abortions occurring in developing countries…

The new global abortion study – that’s published in the Jan. 19 issue of The Lancet – is from the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization. Researchers found a link between higher abortion rates and regions with more restrictive legislation, such as in Latin America and Africa. They also found that 95 to 97 percent of abortions in those regions were unsafe.

Experts couldn’t say whether more liberal laws led to fewer procedures, but said good access to birth control in those countries resulted in fewer unwanted pregnancies.

About 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008, and another 8.5 million women had serious medical complications. Almost all unsafe abortions were in developing countries, where family planning and contraceptive programs have mostly levelled off.

“An abortion is actually a very simple and safe procedure,” Gilda Sedgh, study author and senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, said. “All of these deaths and complications are easily avoidable.”

I’ve said it before a thousand times, if the “pro-life” crowd really wanted to prevent abortions they would be doing everything they can to reduce unwanted pregnancies. That means making birth control cheap and widely available. They would also be working to make sure every pregnant woman has adequate family planning services, pre-natal and post-natal care. They are doing the exact opposite, forcing such clinics to go out of business with unnecessary regulations and funding cuts. Because it isn’t really about preventing abortion, it’s about controlling women and enforcing their puritan moral code.

50 comments on this post.
  1. timgueguen:

    It’s funny how that bunch are wont to talk about personal responsibility, yet deprive people of ways of exercising personal responsibility.

  2. D. C. Sessions:

    They also found that 95 to 97 percent of abortions in those regions were unsafe.

    Isn’t that the idea?

    Almost all unsafe abortions were in developing countries, where family planning and contraceptive programs have mostly levelled off.

    But we’re trying to change that.

  3. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    @ timgueguen –

    They define abortion as escaping one’s responsibility.

    Because, dontcha know, if you’re a woman it’s your responsibility to make babies.

  4. davidct:

    Countries that ban abortion also tend to ban meaningful sex education and contraception. If women are given proper information and the means to prevent unwanted pregnancy, it is no surprise that the rates of abortion would go down. Of course these informed women could have sex without consequences and that is what the moralistic anti-abortionists cannot stand. An increase in human misery does not seem to bother these people in the least. Most are preparing for the imaginary next world anyway.

  5. D. C. Sessions:

    An increase in human misery does not seem to bother these people in the least.

    But a decrease does.

  6. Michael Heath:

    Ed argues:

    I’ve said it before a thousand times, if the “pro-life” crowd really wanted to prevent abortions they would be doing everything they can to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

    Fundamentalism exists on a slippery slope; the positions generally held now are at risk of descending further into lunacy if they achieved their policy victories.

    The nomination of Sarah Palin led to the observation that many conservatives actually sought unplanned pregnancies by the young. Of course they hoped these young parents would marry, but that wasn’t the paramount objective, instead it was the existence of young parents. The motivations are obvious and rooted in social studies on who is attracted to fundamentalism. That’s uneducated working class people on the lower socio-economic ladder, especially those raised in an anti-education authoritarian environment. However I don’t think this objective is an attribute of conservative Christianity in general in spite of being a position held by conservative Christian leaders looking at how to maximize the number of future sheep and maintain or even enhance their slavish fealty to their leaders, even at the local level. E.g. on the latter, a powerful and influential local evangelical leader has been on the local radio station harping on the rising age when people first get married. He thinks kids in their late-teens should, “grow-up” and take control over the lives at the age non-college grads did in previous generations. His stated motivation is to end pre-marital sex, even if it results in the loss of the opporutunity to go to college and in spite of the fact we have very few unskilled labor jobs with a living wage around here.

    The reason I bring this up is because it’s so easy to argue that conservative Christians will not engage on the fight for unplanned pregnancies because of their leaders’ resistance, where the leaders’ position is falsely projected on their sheep (in spite of the fact those sheep practice birth control at close to the same rate as their cohorts). I have optimism the ‘pro-abortion rights’ forces can and should flank fundie religious-political leaders and market directly to the sheep to be an ally for reducing unplanned pregnancies. These two groups could become allies, especially as the Fox News generation dies out. That’s because see increasing irrelevance for Fox News over the long-term, that just like young fundies aren’t as homophobic as their grandparents, they’ll become more resistant to Fox News style propaganda. That opens the door to more direct marketing straight to the masses.

    However to do so would require ‘pro-abortion rights’ forces start to denigrate those making the worst arguments and instead promote arguments similar to those made by the president and Hillary Clinton. E.g., I’ve seen arguments in this forum asserting that the unborn are mere parasites, where no ever denigrated such an absurd and repugnant position.

  7. brianwood:

    My mom was quite proud of the illegal abortion she had in the 30′s, deciding not to birth a child into dire poverty. Aside from that, thinking fetuses would cry out for abortion NOW rather than be birthed into a life of itches and bruises and insults and hurts and heartbreaks and eventual deterioration into old age (if you’re effing LUCKY, you get to live through the shit for a long time, we’re told).

  8. Michael Heath:

    timgueguen writes:

    It’s funny how that bunch are wont to talk about personal responsibility, yet deprive people of ways of exercising personal responsibility.

    SallyStrange in response:

    They define abortion as escaping one’s responsibility.

    Because, dontcha know, if you’re a woman it’s your responsibility to make babies.

    Re my previous post’s point on the needed level of emotional intelligence needed by pro-abortion rights forces to actually gain ground. These two posts are illustrative examples on the types of arguments that are divisive and unproductive if people are focused primarily on better protecting the right to an abortion, increasing access to abortions, and optimally reducing the unplanned pregnancy rate. Arguments like this provide moral high ground for the anti-abortion rights movement.

    To timguegen’s point, one can take the position that promoting personal responsibility is the default preferred postion, while simultaneously arguing for government protection of a superior right, in this case the life rights of the unborn, when irresponsibility which causes others to suffer is observed. In fact this is the very position gun control advocates make, i.e., they promote more regulation and prohibitions precisely because people are acting irresponsibily with guns. There’d be nothing to energize gun control if there were no victims from the use of guns.

    Now I get that the law doesn’t view the unborn as people and therefore the unborn have no rights early in a pregnancy, but my point isn’t about who is right about the status of the unborn, but instead about how to better achieve the goal of reducing unplanned pregnancies and increasing access to abortion.

    SallyStrange’s point is an obvious strawman relative to what energizes the grass roots anti-abortion rights movement, particularly the female members of that movement. How we can get the grass roots to listen to our arguments when we mischaracterize them? That’s simply divisive, it feels good to an ideologue to denigrate one’s opponent while insuring they’re less likely to compromise; in spite of the fact so many conservative Christians also use birth control and get abortions.

  9. demonhauntedworld:

    Although the analogy is imperfect, it’s curious to me that many who rail against the uselessness of gun laws (if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns!) are also in favour of making abortion illegal.

  10. mythbri:

    @ Michael Heath

    Re my previous post’s point on the needed level of emotional intelligence needed by pro-abortion rights forces to actually gain ground.

    What is the “needed level of emotional intelligence”? Why do you think that would help “gain ground”?

    I see your “suggestions” as nothing but the kind of capitulation and unnecessary compromise that has led the United States to where it is today regarding the right of women to control their own fertility. I see no need to hold the hand of religious conservatives in order to get them to start respecting basic human rights. I see no need to cluck my tongue and say “Oh yes – isn’t abortion awful? But you know, we really need to be able to let people make decisions about their own bodies. Here, can I interest you in extremely effective measures to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies? No? Well, it would be impolite and emotionally unintelligent of me to argue with you.”

    You think that SallyStrange’s argument is a strawman of their position? I disagree. I think it’s the unspoken and sometimes unconscious heart of their position.

    I refuse to grant even the appearance of legitimacy to people who cannot grok the idea that women are allowed to make medical decisions for themselves, and that it’s no one else’s business.

  11. Nathaniel Frein:

    Given that I’ve been going back and forth with a couple anti-choicers on Cross Examined that are citing the very argument that sex is linked to procreation and that people need to take responsibility for their sex, I fail to see how SallyStrange’s comment is a strawman…

  12. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    Ahh, Michael Heath. I’ve seen your comments elsewhere and not been impressed with your ability to reason. It’s not a straw man. I’m saying what Ed is saying: anti-choicers are more motivated by control of women than they are by concern about “unborn babies.”

    Given this fact, attempting to enlist their help in reducing unplanned pregnancies will likely not meet with success. They’ve been doing this for years; there’s ample evidence about what increases abortions and what doesn’t, and for decades they’ve shown that they prefer tactics that increase abortions yet maintain social controls over women’s behavior, especially their sexual behavior.

    I, for one, am not interested in negotiating or allying with those who would like to make me into a second-class citizen.

    As for this:

    I’ve seen arguments in this forum asserting that the unborn are mere parasites

    There’s no “mere” about it. Embryoes and fetuses are simply parasites. It’s a fact, and it’s a fact that is generally offered up to draw a contrast between the religious fundamentalist anti-choice narrative about pregnancy, which is that it’s all puppies and rainbows and unicorns for nine months and then you have a cute little baby–how could anyone possibly not want that? The fact is that fetuses (not “the unborn,” that sounds super creepy) are parasites and place a very heavy burden on the health of the mother, even in a perfect, complication-free pregnancy.

  13. Gretchen:

    Michael Heath said:

    These two posts are illustrative examples on the types of arguments that are divisive and unproductive if people are focused primarily on better protecting the right to an abortion, increasing access to abortions, and optimally reducing the unplanned pregnancy rate. Arguments like this provide moral high ground for the anti-abortion rights movement.

    I have heard, straight from the pro-life horse’s mouth, SallyStrange’s interpretation of their position more times than I care to count: Getting an abortion is not an act of being responsible; it is an act of abdicating a woman’s responsibility to bear children.

    Is it a misrepresentation to say that pro-lifers believe it’s a woman’s general responsibility to bear children? Not really. The belief tends to be that women should have kids sooner or later, preferably after they’re already married but certainly if they should end up pregnant otherwise then it’s their job to have the baby and get married.

    Regardless, it doesn’t give pro-lifers any “moral high ground” to assume their conclusions, even falsely. First because it’s not like there’s any shortage of misrepresentation going on by pro-lifers themselves, and second because ultimately their actual position would seem to matter most morally, and their position is morally abominable, outweighing any crimes of unnecessarily egregious rhetoric by, you know, several light years.

  14. Gretchen:

    Yes, I’ve decided that light years are heavy. So there.

  15. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    Heavier than my egregious and divisive rhetoric, anyway. :)

  16. Michael Heath:

    mythbri writes:

    I see no need to hold the hand of religious conservatives in order to get them to start respecting basic human rights.

    Here’s a recent post by Ed noting exactly why we need to ally with them, because U.S. females are losing effective access to abortions in this country: http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2013/01/27/access-to-abortion-40-years-after-roe/

    In the that linked post I post a comment about how Andrew Sullivan found it’s far worse than even what Ed reports, that women even in NYC don’t always have access to late-term abortions. Both sides like to make really lousy arguments that feel good, but from my perspective, are not productive when it comes to increasing access to abortion and reducing unplanned pregnancies.

  17. raven:

    Are DIY Abortions More Common Than We Think? – iVillage
    www .ivillage.com /are-diy-abortions-more-common-we…/4-a-41573…

    Jan 4, 2012 – A Dutch activist fights to keep at-home abortion instructions on her Facebook profile … more restricted across the country, will we be seeing more DIY abortions? … services are available to them here — wind up with these sad circumstances. … in the US Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

    There is a trend in the USA for DIY abortions. The home abortion market is heating up.

    I’m not sure how many there are but I know as legal abortion becomes more restricted, they will become more common. We’ve been there before which is one reason why abortion was legalized in the USA.

    There is a black market for RU-486 already and people can go to Mexico to get it.

    FWIW, one of my distant relatives apparently died long before I was born from an illegal abortion. My family rarely talked about her except to say she died at 25 but I heard the story from another distant relative.

  18. Gretchen:

    1. You have yet to point to a “lousy argument” provided by someone who is pro-choice.
    2. The idea that pro-lifers can be persuaded by arguments is one of those things that makes you laugh because it beats crying.
    3. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but arguments in blog comments are generally not productive when it comes to any kind of legal change. Nor are they intended to be, so it’s rather silly to criticize them on that basis.
    4. There is no basis on which the majority of Americans who believe that abortion is a right can “ally” with religious conservatives or pro-lifers generally. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but these are people who think that personhood begins at conception.

    So please, stop the concern trolling. It’s really obnoxious and suggests that pro-choicers don’t have things to be legitimately angry about. And boy, do they.

  19. mythbri:

    @Michael Heath #16

    Perhaps what I should have said was “I see no use in holding the hand of religious conservatives in order to get them to start respecting basic human rights.”

    Can it be argued that there may be a “need”, as a means to an end (the end being increased access to abortion for women in the United States)? Possibly. But the “need” is entirely dependent upon the effectiveness of the means. Now the real question becomes this:

    Can pro-choice people and groups effectively accomplish their goals by making strategic alliances with anti-choice people and groups who are, by definition, diametrically opposed to the goals of pro-choice people and groups?

    I believe the answer is a resounding NO.

    Access to abortion is dwindling in many areas of the U.S. But the support for Roe v. Wade is increasing, according to a recent poll:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/160058/majority-americans-support-roe-wade-decision.aspx

    So what’s going on here? The truth is that the anti-choice advocates have gotten better at hiding their agenda in order to get people elected to key positions so that they can advance that agenda. The ridiculous comments from oodles and oodles of conservative Republican politicians during the last campaign season probably did the pro-choice side more good than any “reach across the aisle”, ineffective and unnecessary alliances ever could have. The important thing is to keep forcing these people to reveal their true positions – not “strawmen”, as you call them, but the REAL MEAT of their beliefs.

  20. baal:

    “Ahh, Michael Heath. I’ve seen your comments elsewhere and not been impressed with your ability to reason.”

    Why should I read Sally’s post beyond this gratuitous ad hom? (I didn’t. I also classify it as emotional wankery but that’s a longer argument I’ll make on another occasion.) You were directly attacked with a facially reasonable argument why not respond in kind?

    Similarly @ Gretchen’s (@18) complaint that Heath is concern trolling; it isn’t.
    1. actually he did.
    2. You’re missing a key point. The need isn’t to convince pro-lifers they are wrong (futile, I agree); the need is to have a highly defensible or unassailable line to recite in response to the pro-lifers in public. This type of rhetorical device is what allows you to capture the middle or allow the (not you) & (not – pro-life) to join on your side when a polarizing event happens.
    3. Legal points are standard fodder on Ed’s blog. Really, like every day. It’s reasonable to make legal points on Ed’s blog on any subject.
    4. The goal is to marginalize the pro-lifers by capturing and defending the middle. Your argument assumes a binary in the population. “Black and White”, “Us vs Them” blinds you to identifying segments of their side that will defect and blinds you to seeing which segments of ‘your side’ are soft and will split with you in certain cases.

  21. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    You’re right, it was gratuitous, but it wasn’t an ad hominem. I am not saying that because Heath’s arguments were bad elsewhere, they will necessarily be bad here. To demonstrate that, I addressed his arguments. They are also bad here. I’m not surprised, because previous exposure to Heath’s arguments has shown me that he is more likely than the average commenter around here to advance lousy arguments.

    1. actually he did.

    Which one would that be? Bald assertions are not convincing.

    2. You’re missing a key point. The need isn’t to convince pro-lifers they are wrong (futile, I agree); the need is to have a highly defensible or unassailable line to recite in response to the pro-lifers in public. This type of rhetorical device is what allows you to capture the middle or allow the (not you) & (not – pro-life) to join on your side when a polarizing event happens.

    So, we can only advance arguments here that would also work as effective rejoinders to anti-choicers (why do you cede to their framing and agree to characterize their opponents as anti-life?) in a public debate? Why?

    3. Legal points are standard fodder on Ed’s blog. Really, like every day. It’s reasonable to make legal points on Ed’s blog on any subject.

    Granted. That doesn’t mean that EVERY point is, or should be, applicable to legal arguments.

    4. The goal is to marginalize the pro-lifers by capturing and defending the middle. Your argument assumes a binary in the population. “Black and White”, “Us vs Them” blinds you to identifying segments of their side that will defect and blinds you to seeing which segments of ‘your side’ are soft and will split with you in certain cases.

    I do rather see it as black and white. I believe that abortion should be available on demand with no restrictions. I am aware that this is an unpopular position in America. I don’t necessarily refer to this position if I’m being interviewed or giving a speech about abortion. Did you really think that we’re all too naive to tell the difference between giving a TV interview or a speech and discussing the issue in a specialized forum, away from TV cameras, among people who are mostly like-minded? Or is it you who is having trouble with the distinction?

    Why are we expected to placate and accommodate our enemies, even when they are not in the room?

    Concern trolling indeed.

    I am reminded of what Stephanie Zvan wrote the other day, with regards to calls from some quarters for the upcoming Women in Secularism conference to give space to avowed anti-feminists.

    Who would demand that creationists speak from the stage of an evolution conference? Who would suggest that someone who had written for Stormfront should be welcome at a conference of black educators as a critical voice? Who would suggest that a medium and a ghost hunter should sit on a panel about at a skeptics conference on the topic of whether skeptics should get “special” conferences? Who would suggest that an LGBT conference was a good place for LGBT attendees to listen to the perspective of Bradlee Dean and maybe reach some kind of understanding?
    Women in Secularism, though? I’m seeing people I generally respect suggest that at least some of those parallels would be just fine at a woman-centric conference. I’m trying very hard and mostly failing to not come to the conclusion that people think accommodation is “women’s work”.

    Can you be quite sure that you are not treating this issue differently from other secular issues that we confront in the atheist community, simply because you perceive it as a “women’s issue”?

  22. Gretchen:

    baal said:

    Legal points are standard fodder on Ed’s blog. Really, like every day. It’s reasonable to make legal points on Ed’s blog on any subject.

    No kidding. I didn’t say you shouldn’t make legal points– I said that comments on this blog should not be construed as intended to create any sort of legal change, in and of themselves, which is what Michael was castigating us for failing to do “productively.”

    In short, it’s stupid to tell people that they’re not doing well at accomplishing something they’re not trying to accomplish in the first place, and in this case amounts to tone trolling because he did actually say that we should speak differently in the interests of allying with someone. To placate.

  23. PatrickG:

    @ Michael Heath:

    Re my previous post’s point on the needed level of emotional intelligence needed by pro-voting rights forces to actually gain ground. These two posts are illustrative examples on the types of arguments that are divisive and unproductive if people are focused primarily on better protecting the right to vote, increasing access to registration and polling places, and optimally reducing the rate of people illegally denied the right to vote. Arguments like this provide moral high ground for the anti-voting rights movement.

    And before you ask, yes, I consider these comparable issues, not in content, but because I consider that human and sociopolitical rights are non-negotiable. It’s why we call them “rights”.

    But, since I’m sure I’m strawmanning here (/sarcasm)…. for people who think that outreach and inclusiveness can work, try googling “safe, legal, and rare”.

    Compromise, respect, and polite language has been tried by a major political party on the national stage. They reached out to opponents, offered compromise on legislation, and tried to preserve reproductive rights with reasonable restriction.* It didn’t work. The burgeoning number of restrictions attempting to make abortion unsafe and illegal are pretty resounding evidence of that.

    What more, exactly, should pro-choice advocates do? How do you reach consensus with a bloc that refuses compromise and takes every opportunity to erode reproductive rights? With a movement that condones unbelievable invasion into women’s lives both at home and at the clinic, that uses intimidation and violence to coerce, that condones the murder of doctors by saying “What a shame, but you know he had it coming…”.

    @ baal: If Akin, Murdouch, et al haven’t given us sufficient content for ‘one-liners’, what in the name of Cthulhu himself would. “The anti-choice movement has demonstrated on the national stage that they have no concern or care for women’s reproductive rights, even in cases of rape and incest, and therefore have no credibility on this issue. Next question please.” Someone with better marketing skills than I can do better, I’m sure, but you’ll note that similar statements have demonstrably marginalized a plank of the anti-choice movement, cf. the last election, the rising support for Roe v Wade, and the general disgust of the public and media when these odious slugs are exposed.

    Can we do better? Sure. Can we market better? Of course. Is there a long way to go against significant opposition? Naturally!

    But you go with what works, and ridicule/exposure seems to work a lot better than appeasement and “respect”. In fact, maybe if we stopped being so damn “respectful” we might actually make some progress.

    Sorry for overuse of bold tag. Pissed off by rank obtuseness.

    * This statement is an extremely generous reading of the Democratic Party’s position, given the existence of Democrats who are quite on-board with the anti-woman position. For examples, see Casey, Manchin, and Nelson and the Blunt Amendment.

  24. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    Don’t forget about the Hyde Amendment, otherwise known as the “Poor Bitchez Ain’t Shit” amendment. Thanks, Democrats! Stupak, that’s the name of the Dem who pushed for continuing that travesty. Happily, he’s no longer in office.

  25. Scott Simmons:

    There’s a fundamental (heh) difference between placating your opponents by saying that what they’re doing isn’t so bad, and saying that the bad things they’re doing are outside of the mainstream of their group. I’m certain that it’s true that some of the right-wing fundamentalist rank-and-file really do think women have a responsibility to bear children and that their bodies are not theirs to do with as they wish. In fact, quite a lot of them think that–if there wasn’t a crowd of supporters, their leadership wouldn’t be able to get away with trumpeting that position.

    But that doesn’t make that a universal position. It may not even be a majority, but rather just a loud minority. And in that case, we’re served a lot better by attacking the position with reasoned arguments and not painting the whole conservative religious community with one broad brush. Because while you’ll hear the same screams of outrage from that loud minority in either case, there’s an opportunity in the former case of that silent majority listening instead of tuning you out. And this is a much more effective method of effecting change than engaging in a no-quarters war–something that our conservative leaders may find out someday.

    You don’t have to compromise in the fight against evil to win it. But there are always potential allies amongst the evil Emperor’s minions; and the more evil the Emperor, the more of them there are. You’ll never find them, though, if your strategy is mass firebombing …

  26. PatrickG:

    @ SallyStrange: Indeed, and probably a better example. My * was a quick addendum and the Blunt Amendment was the first thing that came to mind.

    I know it’s a often-repeated lament, but Why The Fuck™ is it always the pro-reproductive rights side that needs to compromise for ‘strategic reasons’? With people who respond to rape and incest provisions by saying that dem bitches just gonna lie about rape:

    Rep. Turner said: “I don’t want to disparage in any way someone who has gone through the experience of a rape or incest — but someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest.”

    How many one-liners could be gotten out of that?

    Jebus.

  27. PatrickG:

    Previous post moderated for links, so while that one comes out:

    You’ll never find them, though, if your strategy is mass firebombing …

    I strongly suggest you rethink this analogy. Or google ‘pipe bomb abortion clinic’.

    Jebus.

  28. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    You don’t have to compromise in the fight against evil to win it. But there are always potential allies amongst the evil Emperor’s minions; and the more evil the Emperor, the more of them there are. You’ll never find them, though, if your strategy is mass firebombing …

    Yeah, like Patrick said, firebombing? Really? Saying that anti-choicers are trying to control my body, not protect fetuses, is like firebombing my opponents? Meanwhile, my opponents are LITERALLY killing people. Women are, RIGHT NOW, IN THE USA, facing prosecution for having miscarriages thanks to existing personhood laws.

    Tell you what, if you want to play the conciliatory bridge-builder to my Malcom X, that’s fine. YOU do that. But knock it off trying to tell ME what rhetoric I ought to be choosing.

    Frankly, “allies” like these, who prefer to mollycoddle my oppressors, are just as bad as the anti-choicers. At least from them I know what to expect: nothing but opposition. But with these supposed allies, I never know whether they’ll be more interested in scolding ME for my intemperate rhetoric than they will be with scolding anti-choicers for their active attempts to restrict women’s human rights.

  29. Ibis3, Blighter and Trampler since 1971:

    Not only is it disgusting to call for compromise on protecting my right to bodily autonomy, may I also point out that accepting the anti-choice framing of the issue is to promote the notion that abortion is something to be ashamed of, something to avoid at all costs and feel lifelong guilt for obtaining. For a fucking medical procedure. Instead of treating this as something that protects a woman’s health and enhances overall well-being, you accommodationist assholes are, in effect, standing with the slut shamers crying “baby-killer”.

  30. abb3w:

    Looking at the polling data, I’m not seeing a sustained trends in attitudes on the abortion question. The correlation of irreligion and abortion stance suggests there’s at least some potential for future shift, due to the continuing “Rise of the Nones” and associated devaluing of arguments from religious authority. However, the existence of Secular Pro-Life suggests that such shift is anything but assured.

    Based on the present lack-of-trend, I expect US abortion policy to remain an active but largely deadlocked front of the Culture Wars for at least another two decades.

  31. Michael Heath:

    SallyStrange to me:

    . . . anti-choicers are more motivated by control of women than they are by concern about “unborn babies.”

    Given this fact, attempting to enlist their help in reducing unplanned pregnancies will likely not meet with success. They’ve been doing this for years; there’s ample evidence about what increases abortions and what doesn’t, and for decades they’ve shown that they prefer tactics that increase abortions yet maintain social controls over women’s behavior, especially their sexual behavior.

    My previous posts had me separating your “they” in several groups, some of which are increasingly ripe for the picking: those being the younger generation and women – particularly those of child-bearing age. I realize my argument isn’t an immediate winner, but I think it will hasten the end of conservative Christian and patriarchal thinking exploiting government to restrict the rights of females.

    SallyStrange:

    I, for one, am not interested in negotiating or allying with those who would like to make me into a second-class citizen.

    I don’t blame you. I’m pointing out that I think we can increasingly get some of those on the right to join you.

    One of the most recent bits of evidence we’re in the middle of a juncture in this time was 2012′s matriarch desperately attempting to promote the idea her husband really did love women. That wife of course being Ann Romney. Now of course conservatives in general are now fucked-up given they pick swine like Mr. Romney, but that’s an opportunity for the left to get more people to switch camps, not something to avoid or flee, or make it harder to pick some of the groups ripe for the pickin’.

  32. Michael Heath:

    PatrickG to me:

    Compromise, respect, and polite language has been tried by a major political party on the national stage. They reached out to opponents, offered compromise on legislation, and tried to preserve reproductive rights with reasonable restriction.* It didn’t work. The burgeoning number of restrictions attempting to make abortion unsafe and illegal are pretty resounding evidence of that.

    I never argued my current promotion of strategy would have worked in the past. Liberals have lost ground because they’ve failed to gerrymander to the extreme Republicans do when in they’re in power. I was instead arguing this was strategy that is currently emerging now, and increasingly so.

    And if you don’t think my strategy will increasingly work now on abortion rights, why is that same strategy is working so well on gay rights issues with the very same conservative groups? The polling difference between 2004 and 2012 on gay rights isn’t advancing merely on the left, but also on the right. To the point it’s threatening conservative Christians maintaining their share of the population now just politically, but also in their churches. They know that losing this battle will increasingly reveal their bigotry where their young are increasingly refusing to ally with such bigotry. We need to exploit that and the opportunity is now.

    One thing so so many liberals still need to learn is to stop seizing defeat out of the jaws of victory.

  33. Michael Heath:

    patrickG:

    How do you reach consensus with a bloc that refuses compromise and takes every opportunity to erode reproductive rights?

    As I already pointed out, the groups you refer to here, are not the entirety of this population. Gerrymandering and the near-complete migration of conservatives to the GOP has currently and increasingly put their most extremist elements in power. Yes those Republicans in power currently act like those seeing only one group. But the GOP’s voting base and leaners are increasingly not acting like this, and that’s the opportunity. We saw this in the exit polls for the presidential race, we saw this in the general election of the GOP candidates for Senators in swing states who promoted misogynist polices.

    Opportunities are opening up. To leverage those opportunities we have to be smart enough to parse out the populations we can swing over and wise enough to market our policy preferences in a way that disgust them, like calling the unborn, “parasites”.

  34. Michael Heath:

    SallyStrange:

    The fact is that fetuses (not “the unborn,” that sounds super creepy) are parasites and place a very heavy burden on the health of the mother, even in a perfect, complication-free pregnancy.

    I’m happy using a word other than unborn which refers to the entity a pregnant woman carries for the entire term of her pregnancy. A fetus refers only to about the 9th week after fertilization and after.

    I don’t find ‘unborn’ creepy. I do find referring to the unborn as parasites both revolting and self-defeating.

  35. Michael Heath:

    SallyStrange writes:

    Stupak, that’s the name of the Dem who pushed for continuing that travesty. Happily, he’s no longer in office.

    GOP Teabagger Dan Benishek replaced him. Thanks for illustrating my point.

  36. Michael Heath:

    Ibis3 writes:

    Not only is it disgusting to call for compromise on protecting my right to bodily autonomy . . .

    Please quote who is advocating for such, their exact words. I smell another strawman.

    I certainly didn’t in spite of others at least insinuating I did, e.g., PatrickG @ 23. I instead pointed to the fact we increasingly have a chance to make progress by getting some of the groups on the right to compromise.

    Rarely are policy battles ‘all or nothing’ affairs. Relentless progress is hard work and requires discipline, that’s partly how Republicans have been succeeding on restricting the rights of women. A laudable example on our side is how the president out-maneuvered the anti-abortion rights Democrats on Obamacare, which required no change in language in the actual bill but instead a mere reaffirmation of the Hyde Amendment by Executive Order, which Obamacare didn’t even address nor, unfortunately, was their ever enough votes to overturn the Hyde Amendment in the Obamacare bill.

  37. Michael Heath:

    abb3w writes:

    Based on the present lack-of-trend, I expect US abortion policy to remain an active but largely deadlocked front of the Culture Wars for at least another two decades.

    It’s not deadlocked because surveys reveal only the part of what’s happening. While the polling is static, conservatives have been increasingly successful at increasing the restrictions on a woman’s right to get an abortion. But changing demographics coupled to the rising extremism of GOP politicians is creating an opportunity for the left to win some territory back. This is why we saw anti-abortion rights arguments fail in some swing battles in the last election, including the presidential election.

    I don’t see the female progeny of conservative Christian grandparents remaining as loyal to conservatism at the same rate as their grandmothers, even as they age. For the same reason we’re seeing the rise of nones which goes beyond age demographics, a move away from fundamentalism, more antipathy towards people bigoted against gays, and more conservatives in support of equal rights for gays.

    This emergent opportunity is tactically squandered if the pro-abortion rights movement is increasingly defined by those who proclaim the unborn to be parasites. We need to let those leaders lead who have the best chance of success at protecting and expanding abortion rights, not the ones who are the most ideologically zealous. That’s the failure the Republicans have done over the past several years and we see where it got them.

  38. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    I’d rather have a teabagger in office than a Democrat who thinks it’s okay to pass laws that treat women as second-class citizens. I don’t expect to do anything but fight against teabaggers, but Dems are my putative allies. They need to act that way or pay the price. Stupak paid the price.

  39. Gretchen:

    I don’t find ‘unborn’ creepy. I do find referring to the unborn as parasites both revolting and self-defeating.

    It’s self-defeating if one’s goal is to avoid offending people who are opposed to abortion.

    In terms of use as both an accurate and evocative term conveying the way a fetus can be regarded by a woman who would want an abortion in the case of accidental pregnancy, it’s highly successful.

    And yet……the same person can have both of these goals!
    And also….the ability to determine which situation they’re in, and therefore which goal is best to pursue!

    Amazing.

  40. PatrickG:

    @ Michael Heath:

    I never argued my current promotion of strategy would have worked in the past. Liberals have lost ground because they’ve failed to gerrymander to the extreme Republicans do when in they’re in power. I was instead arguing this was strategy that is currently emerging now, and increasingly so.

    Gerrymandering is a completely different issue, with a completely different set of problems and solutions. Let’s talk about the strategy that is currently emerging, by your account.

    And if you don’t think my strategy will increasingly work now on abortion rights, why is that same strategy is working so well on gay rights issues with the very same conservative groups? The polling difference between 2004 and 2012 on gay rights isn’t advancing merely on the left, but also on the right.

    Quite frankly, this confuses the hell out of me. I would argue that gay rights issues have been advanced precisely because of the no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners strategy that you seem to feel is inappropriate for discussing reproductive rights. The strategy was to call people on their bigotry, shame them publicly, and move the “middle”. It was to point out just exactly what the motives were, just exactly what supporting that position meant, and show the real, real harm that position does to people. Some of the most powerful (and therefore vilified) political ads in California were the ones that just showed gay couples. Living their lives. Looking exactly like you and me.

    In short, the strategy was not to say ‘well, you’ve sort of got a point about that whole gay marriage thing being icky, but maybe we can talk about it more because I’m worried I’ll drive you into the theocratic camp.’

    Note also that this advocacy happened for marriage equality and DADT. It didn’t happen on ENDA and trans* rights. Now, whether it was strategically optimal to push on the “easier” targets first is an entirely different discussion, but where uncompromising support wasn’t evidenced… very little happened. Mind you, the ENDA debate* in particular came with a lot of hand-wringing about whether people were ‘ready’ and whether people were pushing ‘too hard’. Sounds awfully familiar, no?

    In summary, no, your strategy didn’t happen with gay marriage, DOMA, and DADT. In fact, quite the opposite.

    To the point it’s threatening conservative Christians maintaining their share of the population now just politically, but also in their churches. They know that losing this battle will increasingly reveal their bigotry where their young are increasingly refusing to ally with such bigotry. We need to exploit that and the opportunity is now.

    Absolutely true! Again, the goal here is to shift the middle, not try to change the minds of the fanatical right. If you want to go with the gay marriage analogy, the best way to exploit this is to relentlessly hammer home that the hardcore religious right is deceitful, authoritarian, and really doesn’t give a shit about fetuses, babies, or you.

    You know, tell people the truth. Don’t sugarcoat it. These people are on record with their positions, they’re not even trying to hide it anymore, and a large majority of the American people are uncomfortable going that far. That is the wedge to exploit.

    As long as public figures and national speech remain focused on the “real problems” of abortion, the most extreme have cover and protection. The middle, which is either softly bigoted, doesn’t really give a shit because it doesn’t seem to affect them, or is simply low information — these people are the goal here. What they’re hearing is “Republicans are idiots, but everybody agrees that abortion is ‘problematic’”. That messaging has to change, and yes, it has to be uncomfortable for people who are either wavering or not particularly aware.

    One thing so so many liberals still need to learn is to stop seizing defeat out of the jaws of victory.

    I agree. We’ll do that by not letting the Akins, Murdouchs, and Stupaks of the world retreat into cover while discussing whether or not abortion is icky. Instead, we’ll hammer it home and make it clear that this is about rights. Your rights. Your daughter’s rights. Your sister’s rights. And those creepy bastards on the Right are trying to take them away.

    “You support Roe vs. Wade. Look at this, the Republican Party and the religious right are trying to overturn it.” This is the argument. Or should be. Instead, we’re getting “well, does life really start at X” and “well, shouldn’t we agree that sluts shouldn’t be getting abortion”, and “but teenagers really need the consent of their parents”, and most of all: “move slowly or you’ll piss people off!

    Fuck that noise.

    *There’s a very real debate to be had about political timing and the composition of the HoR and Senate when ENDA was being contemplated. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

  41. PatrickG:

    I certainly didn’t in spite of others at least insinuating I did, e.g., PatrickG @ 23. I instead pointed to the fact we increasingly have a chance to make progress by getting some of the groups on the right to compromise.

    I wasn’t insinuating anything. I was actually saying that. Since I don’t want to be accused of insinuation:

    - You fail to identify any groups that are reasonably targeted; in fact, you’re very vague on this point.
    - The prominent groups on the Right speaking on this issue (Republican Party, USCCB, conservative media) are either absolutely dead set against reproductive rights or continue to view it as a wedge/strategic issue.
    - Compromise has been impossible, and you’ve offered no concrete signs that this has in any way changed.
    - Therefore, trying to compromise with them is, in fact, a direct capitulation on the issue of a woman’s bodily autonomy.

    So no, not insinuating. If you want to change minds, point to the groups that are receptive, not just the nebulous people who are turning against their grandparents’ position. Until then, your argument is ludicrous.

    Oh, and before you argue that I’m misrepresenting you, please see below.

    This emergent opportunity is tactically squandered if the pro-abortion rights movement is increasingly defined by those who proclaim the unborn to be parasites.

    This is a separate issue. You’ve made two arguments in this thread: (1) the pro-choice movement needs to reach out and compromise with religious conservative, and (2) the ‘parasite’ argument is a non-starter in a marketing sense.

    I should note that your position evolved from (1) and became (2). To wit:L

    mythbri writes:

    I see no need to hold the hand of religious conservatives in order to get them to start respecting basic human rights.

    Here’s a recent post by Ed noting exactly why we need to ally with them, because U.S. females are losing effective access to abortions in this country

    Access is imperiled, therefore we must ally with religious conservatives. Pretty clear, I think. So forgive me if I see just a teensy bit of goalpost shifting here.

    First show that this position is actually turning people off (outside of sites like this one which rebuts this argument by saying that pregnancy saves lives!

    You’ve given vague assurances that people are going to be turned off by this who would otherwise be convinced. Well, anecdote != data, but I used to be one of those people who thought abortion was icky and was more concerned about the rights of the unborn than those of them other.

    One guess as to what argument changed my mind.

  42. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    Yeah, also, Michael Heath continues to Not Get It with regards to referring to embryoes and fetuses as parasites.

    There is a dominant narrative regarding pregnancy in this culture. The dominant narrative states that pregnancy is a time of happy fluffy puppies, rainbows, and unicorns. It mostly involves shopping for cribs, throwing baby showers, and looking all glowy. Therefore, according to this narrative, any women who is pregnant but doesn’t want to be, is utterly selfish for preferring abortion to adoption. Because pregnancy is, for them, a complete non-issue. We’ve even seen several Republican members of Congress (and maybe state legislatures, I don’t remember) claiming that maternal mortality is a thing that simply never happens. That there is no such thing as women dying in childbirth anymore.

    In reality, pregnancy places a huge burden on the health of the mother. And maternal mortality in the USA is among the highest in the “developed” world, and it’s especially bad for poor women and women of color. Pregnancy causes long-term problems with dental health, blood pressure, circulation, and puts you at risk for a whole series of illnesses, from diabetes to hemorrhage and death. Why is this? Because fetuses are parasites. They obtain ALL of the necessary nutrients and building blocks for their growing bodies FROM THE BODY OF THE PREGNANT WOMAN. There is a persistent tendency towards total erasure of the pregnant woman from the equation. Therefore it is useful to refer to fetuses as parasites, because it raises the question: parasite off of what? Oh right, there’s a pregnant woman involved in this whole gestation process! HER body pays the price for the development of the fetus. I’m open to considering that there might be a better way to challenge the dominant narrative about pregnancy, but until Heath can demonstrate that he understands that this is an important goal, his advice about terminology is going to go unheeded because he lacks credibility.

    See also: Libby Anne’s admonishment to anti-choicers to stop erasing women from pregnancy.

  43. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    PatrickG, I know you were describing Michael Heath’s position, but I just wanted to modify it so that it fits what I’ve observed in watching the fight about abortion rights and studying its history:

    Access is imperiled, therefore because we must ally have been allied with religious conservatives.

    There.

    Historically speaking, lack of compromise with anti-choicers has NOT been the problem.

  44. jenniferphillips:

    Michael Heath said:

    I do find referring to the unborn as parasites both revolting and self-defeating.

    Many biological phenomena can be perceived as ‘revolting’. That doesn’t make them any less true. It is a well-studied reality that mother and embryo/fetus engage in a scrappy arms race throughout gestation. Fetus leeches calcium from mother’s bones to form its own skeleton; mother’s hormones inhibit fetal growth to reduce the chances of it getting so big it’ll kill her coming out. If any other organism were doing this to you, there would be no question about terminating its stay in your body *if you didn’t want it to be there*.

    Self-defeating? Well, it would be a poor choice to describe pregnancy so bluntly in, say, a national ad campaign for family planning. Perhaps I missed all the “We want the right to smite those parasites!” signs in the recent Roe v. Wade anniversary marches, but I doubt it. Absent such framing faux pas, however, I don’t see how biologically accurate information can be self-defeating.

  45. PatrickG:

    No problem with that modification, it pretty well sums up my position as well.

    And … unholy crap, I just went back and reread Ed’s post, as linked by Heath. I’d completely misidentified the post (as in, thought it was a different Dispatches post). Apologies for reproducing it in full, but I can’t really make myself cut it.

    The Daily Beast mapped out all the clinics in the country that provided abortion services and found, unsurprisingly, that they are clustered around big cities and that many women would have to travel hundreds of miles to get to one. They even made the map interactive so you can search your area.

    The clearest trend on the map is the dearth of clinics through the center of the country—from northern Texas through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Roughly 400,000 women of reproductive age (between 15 and 44) live more than 150 miles from the closest clinic in this region. The county farthest away from an abortion clinic is Divide, N.D. All of these states except Wyoming require 24-hour waiting periods between the time a woman schedules an abortion and the procedure.

    Often, the states with the fewest clinics also have more restrictions. These are six of the many states that recently curtailed access to medical abortion—also known as the abortion pill—by banning telemedicine, a method doctors use to prescribe medication to terminate a pregnancy over a video chat, a convenience to people who live in rural areas.

    And here’s why murdering abortion doctors works:

    Since the 2009 murder of abortion provider George Tiller, Wichita, Kans., has been without an abortion clinic of any kind and is roughly three hours’ travel from the nearest ones in Kansas City and in Tulsa and Norman, Okla. Women who visit the Oklahoma clinics will face a ban on telemedicine, while those who travel to Kansas City will be required to get an ultrasound.

    What we have seen since the Republicans took over so many state legislatures in 2010 has been a staggering assault on reproductive rights. They are trying to destroy this right by enacting death by a thousand cuts to the clinics that provide it. But there is much collateral damage. Forcing those clinics out of business also takes away birth control services from a huge number of women, as well as prenatal care. In Michigan we have 16 contiguous counties in the upper part of the lower peninsula without a single clinic that does prenatal care. The result will be less healthy babies and mothers and increased spontaneous abortions to women who want to deliver the baby.

    This is an argument for pro-choice advocates needing to ally with religious conservatives? They’re so effective at destroying reproductive rights we need to … ally with them to stop them?

    That’s like saying we need to have a panel discussion on segregation with George Wallace and “Bull” Connor.

  46. Michael Heath:

    Me earlier:

    I do find referring to the unborn as parasites both revolting and self-defeating.

    Gretchen writes:

    It’s self-defeating if one’s goal is to avoid offending people who are opposed to abortion.

    I think that’s a major fallacy of false alternatives. I think plenty of people who support abortion rights would find the use of parasite repugnant in this context. Such use redirects debates into an ideological battle framed by zealots. For me that because using the term parasites for the unborn is compelling evidence of some combination of misanthropy or an ideologue seriously deluded by their beliefs.

    Use of parasite is also divisive when the American public mostly takes a nuanced position on abortion rights, and where emergent voters remain largely up for grabs given abortion debates now are mostly nuanced, such as support or opposition to the Hyde Amendment (I happen to think the Hyde Amendment is bad policy). So it’s not merely about offending anti-abortion rights supporters, but a display of punching oneself in the face to the point the debate veers off into other territory, and makes allies and potential allies question the character of those in the movement.

    I realize nearly all movements have their whackos and it’s a beneficial attribute when those whackos don’t have any power or control the debate, but that’s learned through experience. Hearing such ugly and hateful rhetoric provides zero benefits from my perspective, offending the sensibilities of anti-abortion supporters being of least concern.

  47. Gretchen:

    Hearing such ugly and hateful rhetoric

    Describing a fetus as a parasite by a person who honestly and accurately perceives it as such is “ugly and hateful rhetoric”?

    What the hell are you smoking?

  48. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    Exactly what is “hateful” about describing fetuses as parasites? What is being hated? The fetuses? What’s the problem with that?

    If you’re going to sit here and tell me it’s wrong women who are pregnant to experience, or report on experiencing, feelings of hatred towards the fetuses that are parasitizing their bodies, then I have two words for you, Michael Heath: fuck off.

  49. SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius:

    I note that Michael Heath continues to fail to engage with the problem of inaccurate narratives about pregnancy that are dominant in our culture. He offers no alternatives on how to challenge those problematic narratives. He just wants to sit in judgment of women who are activists on behalf of women’s rights.

  50. abb3w:

    @37, Michael Heath:

    While the polling is static, conservatives have been increasingly successful at increasing the restrictions on a woman’s right to get an abortion. But changing demographics coupled to the rising extremism of GOP politicians is creating an opportunity for the left to win some territory back

    Oh, sure. Underlying attitudes have been static; conservatives have pushed changes anyway; so, it’s easy enough to get backlash to remove those politicians and those changes, getting back to status quo ante… but no further (without risking the same). And, even once the change back is made to status quo ante, it’s unlikely to do anything about the GOP immediately pushing to put the restrictions back once more. The back-and-forth fighting doesn’t mean it’s not an essentially stagnant front.

    @37, Michael Heath:

    I don’t see the female progeny of conservative Christian grandparents remaining as loyal to conservatism at the same rate as their grandmothers, even as they age.

    Conservatism over all, no; which may reduce some tribal psychology based support for it. So may the Rise of the Nones. But, I’m not seeing a lot of change in the attitude on basic “any abortion” by year or cohort yet, which suggests any shift may be slow; thus, my 20 year qualifier.

    @48, SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius

    Exactly what is “hateful” about describing fetuses as parasites? What is being hated? The fetuses? What’s the problem with that?

    Assuming your goal is political persuasion, the proximate problem is that such language offends the largish fraction of the population who have had children, and were very happy about the prospect from very early on. You’d have to assess whether those put off are more or less than the number persuaded by fetus-as-parasite language, though.

    (Less obvious problems also seem possible, but you appear highly unlikely to accept the basis I use for assessing them as such, so no point to my typing up anything extended on that.)

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