Republican governors and state legislatures are on another anti-abortion power binge. It appears their strategy of chipping away at the fringes of abortion rights has failed. Federal courts are quickly striking down restrictions Republicans wasted much time passing.
Republicans will probably adjust their efforts. Taken to the extreme, if Republicans actually got Roe versus Wade over turned, would abortion in the U.S. disappear?
(G Sedgh ScD, 2012)
Countries with the most liberal abortion laws have the lowest abortion rates. This is not coincidence. The most striking comparison is Western and Eastern Europe. Western Europe has easily accessible and cheap birth control. Sex education is part of their school curriculums. Most Eastern European countries have taken the Republican approach and outlawed abortion and birth control. Their abortion rate is almost four times as high as Western Europe’s.
In the Third World, South Africa has the continent’s most liberal abortion laws and the lowest abortion rates. Different continent, same lesson, if you want fewer abortions, offer more accessible birth control and education. If your policy goal is more abortions, outlaw the procedure and restrict access to contraceptives. This seems relatively simple and straightforward. What part of this is too complex for Republicans to understand?
Republican legislation being struck down in federal courts is far more about punishing and humiliating women getting abortions than reducing abortions. There are no efforts making having a baby a better option. The Guttmacher Institute released a study in 1985 finding that not being able to afford having a baby was a reason nearly 3/4 of women getting abortions terminated their pregnancies.
Given this, it is incredible that Republicans claim they are fighting for the unborn while they are doing everything in their power to derail the Affordable Health Care Act and cutting the Food Stamp Program.
Today’s Republicans aren’t driven by logic or research and certainly not compassion. They are sure they know what is best for us and are willing to use the power of government to ram it down the throats of the less enlightened.
For those of us who aren’t on a morality vendetta and truly want fewer abortions in the U.S., implementing President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act is the highest priority. The combination of preventing unwanted pregnancies with included birth control and better health care for women having babies will lower the number of abortions.
Democracy gets messy sometimes and thoroughly vetted legislation has many compromises. These compromises are often the secret to the bill’s success. When people with diverse backgrounds each have meaningful input, the result is legislation with broad-based appeal. This is not the case with abortion bills passed on party line votes.
The net result of Republican efforts are a whole lot of women committing themselves to a lifetime of voting against Republicans. They’ll have plenty of company.
G Sedgh ScD, S. S. (2012). Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008. The Lancet , 379 (9816), 25.