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 –
- Has the public’s opinion of abortion changed recently?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
Pros/cons if you need them.
- Basic pro/cons of legalized abortion.
- Do conservative policies actually lead to more abortions? (Sorry, but this matters.)
Public opinion on abortion –
- It has changed little [link fixed] in decades. Most Americans hold a middle position, wanting abortion to be legal but restricted.
- Thus, abortion is one of those rare issues where public opinion really does lie in between the liberal and conservative extremes. There is no silent majority for either side’s position.
- But, via the below must read, abortion remains a core, top-tier plank in the Tea Party agenda.
Trends in abortions– (note: Data and spin from pro-choice group)
- Who gets abortions in the U.S.? View the 3-minute video (with pro-choice commentary/spin).
- Our abortion rate is the lowest in 40 years. Why? Probably due to better access to contraception, but other factors may be playing a role.
Big recent changes in abortion policy – (The reason why I chose this topic!)
- Your must-read. A major shift in strategy has occurred on the pro-life side: A “supply side” strategy to close abortion providers via onerous regulations. (Note: Very hostile to pro-life position and movement.)
- Thorough account of the post-2010 pro-life effort at the state and deferral levels. (2012 article in Rolling Stone)
Next Week: Liberal and Conservative Principles, Part II: Foreign Policy.