Monday’s Mtg: The Future of Abortion in the United States

I’ll be late, maybe very late, to Monday’s meeting due to another commitment. This post will be a little longer than usual so you can get the idea of why I picked the topic and what my angle is. Carl will preside in my absence.

We last discussed abortion in 2010 and it was great. Civilized even though we had both pro-life and pro-choice voices in the debate. It was multi-faceted, too. We got into the moral case for and against abortion, women’s motives for having them, and the effect Obamacare was expected to have on abortion. (Basically, better access to health insurance and the contraception mandate = likely fewer abortions, but not for certain)

I thought this time we’d maybe focus on the future of abortion. Why? Ever since the Tea Party-led wave election of 2010, Republican elected officials have passed a blizzard of laws to restrict abortion in almost every way imaginable. Bills passed by the GOP House all died in the Senate. But, in the dozen states the GOP gained control of, literally hundreds of new restriction passed. For a movement that was supposed to be libertarian, the Tea Party sure has prioritized abortion. And, 2014 may see a repeat of all of this, since the Republicans are expected to do very well and could take even more statehouses and legislatures.

Crucial to understand, and the reason I wanted t debate this topic again, is that the pro-life movement has evolved a wholly new tactic that is designed to fly under most people’s – and the Media’s – radar: “Supply side” anti-abortion policies, they call them. These policies use health and safety laws and regulations to force abortion providers to close their doors. The pro-life movement has discovered that it’s easier and less visible to target providers than work to reduce unwanted pregnancies, I guess. So, Tea Party governments are deliberately imposing the kinds of pesky regulations that they normally bemoan to crush businesses, since they are business they don’t like. Worse, the “abortion mills” being closed (it’s working, see below) often are health clinics that provide contraception and basic health services to poor women. Of course, if abortion is murder then this sort of thing would be justified, wouldn’t it? Tough issue.

Anyway, since I’ll be late, no lecture from me.  I’ll see you late on Monday, probably.  Thanks to Carl for subbing.

Discussion Questions

  1. Has the public’s opinion of abortion changed recently?
  2. Why are Tea Party-supported governments making abortion such a top priority in the states and Congress? Where does abortion fit in the Tea Party constellation of issues and priorities?
  3. Liberals often say the pro-life movement is anti-women. What do they mean by this? This infuriates conservatives. Do they have a point? What is the rebuttal?
  4. Compromise: The public supports current law, mostly, which is legal abortion with many restrictions. Will we ever really diverge from this middle ground, or will one “extreme” win in the end?
  5. Future: Will we end up a divided country, with abortion legal in blue states and in red states legal but so restricted that in practice it’s a right that only women with money can exercise? Is this our future on issue after issue?

Links –

Pros/cons if you need them.

Public opinion on abortion –

Trends in abortions– (note: Data and spin from pro-choice group)

Big recent changes in abortion policy – (The reason why I chose this topic!)

Next Week:   Liberal and Conservative Principles, Part II:  Foreign Policy.

4 responses

  1. I am so tired of the continual debate on abortion!
    What a non-issue to (nearly) dominate our political discourse, when we have so many important things we could be discussing!
    Regret I won’t be there.

  2. It reminds me of the 20s, when Prohibition was the big issue, as the world was going to pot.

  3. It’s not a real issue?? To millions of young women it is quite an issue. It is our exhaustion with it that is being used to surreptitiously impose as many burdens as possible so that poor women – the ones that need this tragic option the most – cannot use it. See here: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_06/rick_scott_and_the_religious_r050788.php

  4. It shouldn’t be a real issue. For one thing, abortion should not be used as a method of birth control, there are far better ones. Of course, I don’t agree with the rightists and religionists who can follow their own principles without trying to impose them on others.

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