Thursday, August 16, 2018

Why the Anti-Abortion Dream of Evangelicals Will Be a Nightmare for Young Women

by Nomad

With the confirmation of arch-conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, one of the long prayed-for dreams of the evangelical movement will very likely be attained: the overturning of 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Fox News reported this week that two states, Alabama and West Virginia, are already prepared. This fall, voters will decide on ballot measures asking whether to amend their constitutions to do away with any abortion protections.
If passed, the measures would not immediately impact state policy but would ensure their constitutions can’t be used to allow abortions, if the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.
The timing could hardly be more ironic. A poll just a couple of weeks ago found a full 71% of voters believe that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. That's the highest level of support the SCOTUS ruling has had since 2005 when the poll began tracking the issue. 

Not surprisingly, the highest support was found among Democratic voters (88%) with independent voters (76%) Even amongst, Republicans, the majority (52%) supported not overturning the law. 

Politically, what this means is that evangelicals may finally get what they've longed for and the rest of the country will not like the result.

Generally, the northern hemisphere has the most open laws when it comes to the procedure, with Africa and South America tending towards much tighter restrictions.

Data Source:

Where Illegal Means Unsafe

Because of the increase in the proportion of women of reproductive age living there, a larger percentage of abortions are performed in developing countries.

That's important because abortion in the developing world is largely illegal and often medically unsafe.
Fully 97% of all abortions taking place in Africa are medically unsafe, as are 95% of those in Latin America and 40% in Asia.
According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization,
Unsafe abortion accounts for 13% of all maternal deaths each year and virtually all of those deaths—47,000—occur in the developing world. More than eight million women suffer from complications of unsafe abortion that are serious enough to warrant medical treatment.
Before Roe v. Wade, American women took the same risks. If the Right is able to overturn the law, the quality of women's health will probably look much like the standards of the poorest countries of Latin America and Africa.

Abortion and Contraceptives

One aspect of this 40-year debate that has been largely overlooked is the relationship between abortion and contraceptives. 
According to studies, abortion rates are the lowest in countries where the procedure is "broadly legal" and widespread. But that's true only where the use of effective contraceptive methods are easily obtained.  

Conversely, where contraceptive use is low, the abortion rate in those countries is higher. One good example of this can be found when comparing Eastern and Western Europe. 
The countries with the lowest rates are in Western Europe, where the rate is 12 per 1,000 women ages 15–44. At the other end of the spectrum is Eastern Europe, where the abortion rate is 43 per 1,000. 
Even though the status of abortion law throughout most of Eastern Europe is essentially similar to that in the west, contraceptive use is low and "the methods women do use are more likely to be condoms, withdrawal and the rhythm method—all of which tend to be associated with high failure rates due to incorrect or inconsistent use."

So if the intention is to lower the number of abortions then making it illegal will not help. That would only make it more dangerous.
The true path would seem to be to regulate it and offer dependable contraceptives as a first choice.

Criminalizing Your Right to Decide

As Mother Jones reported back in 2012, social conservatives, not content with merely attempting to criminalize abortion, have widened their offensive, and their new target is making it harder for women to obtain reliable contraceptives.
And as the Daily Beast reported just last year,
Conservatives at all levels of government have set their sights on defunding Planned Parenthood. While it’s not the only shop in town that offers women birth control, it’s one of the largest providers of low-cost reproductive and women’s health care in the country.  
In April 2017, President Trump signed legislation aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups. In their mistaken belief that limiting a woman's reproductive rights and choices would limit the number of abortions performed every year, pro-life conservatives were over the moon.
In fact, according to a poll conducted last year,
75% of Americans, including majorities of both Republican women and Republican men, support federal Medicaid reimbursement for Planned Parenthood to provide services such as contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings.
Planned Parenthood may be the country’s largest abortion provider but it is also a key component of reproductive health care for women, especially for poor women. More than one-third of low-income women who get birth control through Title X- the only federal program dedicated to paying for birth control- currently do so at one of Planned Parenthood’s 817 clinics.
So, cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood across the board is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Elizabeth Shipp, the political director for the 1.2 million-member organization, NARAL Pro-Choice America, believes the battlefield has definitely shifted.
"First, everyone thought it was all about abortion access and abortion rights..But they decided to move the goalposts, and it's been kind of stunning how far to the right they've gone. These are people who have never, ever approved of birth control, and they saw an opportunity to take it one step further."
If the studies are correct, making it harder to buy contraceptives will increase the number of abortions. Abortions will become the de facto form of contraception for women without any other choice. At the same time, banning safe and legal abortions will only increase the risks of illegal abortions.
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None of these facts seem to make any difference to the foes of abortion. No matter what sordid scandals emerge from this White House, their support for Trump is rock solid. Seventy-two percent of white evangelical Christians approve of Trump's performance.
So, with the beleaguered president dangling the anti-abortion prize under their noses, they've stopped listening to common sense, fact-based solutions.

Evangelicals and so-called pro-life groups may be close to their dream of banning abortions but it is likely to turn the state of women's health into a nightmare.