And not just because they kill abortion doctors
I like Herman Cain’s confusing position on abortion, and the recent Republican candidates’ focus on the issue, because it’s a good excuse to bash pro-life hypocrites. And, yes, if you’re pro-life, you’re a hypocrite. Sorry; that’s the truth.
Pro-lifers are hypocrites because, contrary to popular thought, criminalizing abortion and actually lowering the abortion rate are not the same thing. According to a global study by the World Health Organization and the Guttmaker Institute, the legal status of abortion has no effect on a country’s abortion rate. The same study found that where abortion is illegal it is an extremely dangerous procedure, which results in the worldwide death of roughly 70,000 women each year. So if you’re pro-life, in the traditional sense, you’re endorsing the senseless death of women, for a policy change that will not lower the abortion rate.
The only things that reduce a nation’s abortion rate are an increase in its overall living standard and a strong commitment to reproductive/contraceptive education. For instance, Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, abortion is illegal, and its sex education focuses on abstinence alone. At 54 per 1,000 women of reproductive age, that country subsequently has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. The Netherlands, by contrast, has a much higher living standard, abortion is legal, and the rate is a scant 6 per 1,000 women. The United States’ living standard is generally on par with the Netherlands, and yet the abortion rate is 21 per 1,000—double that of Western Europe.
Why? Well, according to the National Institute of Health, the low Dutch rate can be attributed to their firm commitment to family planning services, and sexual/contraceptive education. Like so many other issues in this country, we’ve been given a false choice. Abortion’s been framed as “pro-choice” vs. “pro-life,” legal vs. illegal, moral vs. immoral, Republican vs. Democrat.
It’s a very emotionally charged debate based on false assumptions. Regardless of your moral convictions on abortion, I think everyone can agree that as a society we want fewer of them. No one likes abortion. But the thing is, that will only happen with smart policies. It will not happen out of moral outrage. It will not happen out of anger and other extreme emotions. It will not happen by threatening women with prison.
For the record, I copied most of this post from my answer to a social issues questionnaire I answered when I ran for Congress. Being the most unabashed pro-choice, pro-education candidate, I was able to brag that I was the only true “pro-life” candidate in the race. And lo did I get angry emails. I had a back-and-forth with a few different people who liked my positions, generally, but who said they could not support me if I was pro-choice. I put forth the same argument that I made above, but it just didn’t matter. I don’t understand pro-lifers.
Pro-lifers like to think they’re standing on the moral high-ground in this debate. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’re hypocrites, up to their eyes in the blood of women and the fetuses they supposedly want to protect — or they would be, if they ever got their way.