Links and Comments: Reality and Fantasy about Abortion

I don’t have any horse in the race about abortion, per se, except how it is an example of right-wing authoritarian, anti-science thinking. (I’ve seen but need to document the historical background about how abortion wasn’t on the conservative religious agenda at all, until the mid-1960s, when the right realized it was losing the civil rights debate and needed another cause to rally around. Certainly there’s nothing in the Bible railing against abortion; on the contrary, in the OT causing the death of an unborn child is considered a relatively minor offense.)

As I mentioned a few posts ago, in Wishing Things Away, “like it or not, women throughout history have occasionally been put in situations in which there seems no better option than to terminate a pregnancy. Laws won’t make such circumstances go away; they will merely drive the procedure underground, making it far more dangerous for the women’s survival.”

I would expand this a bit to consider the primitive history of the race. When humans were mostly nomads and hunter/gatherers, women, instinctively or intuitively, likely understood that some times were better to bring forth a child, and other times were not. A woman realizing she were pregnant in, say, Spring, understanding that the child would be born in the depth of winter… might realize that her survival, and the survival of a potential child, would be better off if she delayed the situation until the appropriate season. Elementary natural selection: tribes in which women did not realize this, suffered more infant deaths. Tribes in which women did realize this…–and procured some means to abort one pregnancy in favor of a later one– had more infants who survived and grew to adulthood.

Enough speculation.

So from Sunday’s New York Times, an op-ed by Renee Bracey Sherman: Who Should You Listen to on Abortion? People Who’ve Had Them

In states like Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, elected officials are willing to imprison people for administering their own abortions because they simply couldn’t afford care nearby. Vice President Mike Pence is a man so obsessed with abortion that as governor of Indiana, he signed every anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk, including mandating funerals after abortions and requiring medically unnecessary ultrasounds. He also awarded millions of taxpayer dollars to fake pregnancy centers.

Anti-abortion policies like these aim to bring about an end to abortion; but history has shown us there’s no such thing. Abortion will continue. The only question is whether it will be safe or unsafe.

The crux of the issue is not whether you would have an abortion yourself. It’s whether you would stand in the way of someone else’s decision. Everyone loves someone who has had an abortion, though we may not know it.

The conservative position should be, it seems to be, to do everything possible to avoid women being put in situations where the feel the need to terminate a pregnancy. Sex education. Prophylactics. Surely they are less bad than terminating what they imagine is the moral equivalent of a human being. But religious conservatives are against these, too.

On the contrary, Amanda Marcotte at Salon: Baby born clutching IUD? Free abortion vacations? Nope — but such urban legends are very useful to the right. Subtitle: Titillating stories can be more persuasive than facts, and the anti-choice movement loves its nutty urban myths.

Because myth is more powerful than fact.

…the anti-choice movement has been battling scientific fact for decades now by exploiting a human weakness to pay more attention to wild and titillating stories than to facts.

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