Today, Pope Francis granted priests authority to absolve abortions. The conservative establishment must be panicking, as they’ve relied on this hot-button issue for decades. It was a sure-fire way to get Christian conservatives to the ballot box.
When we look at the history of abortion, it’s self-evident Roe v. Wade was not a partisan issue. In fact, in 1973 six of the seven justices who passed abortion were Republican appointees. Abortion was broadly accepted by Republicans and Democrats. After all, it was more a victory for doctors who would no longer face criminal charges.
A Gallup poll in the summer of 1972 found 64 percent of Americans agreeing with the statement that “The decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician.” A majority of all identified groups, including Catholics, agreed with that statement. There was almost no difference between men and women. The group expressing the strongest agreement – 68 percent – was made up of Republicans.
When did this change?
In 1979, on a conference call, the religious right, in an effort to rile up their base, decided the best issue to politicize would be abortion. At first, evangelicals wanted nothing to do with it, but the GOP realized they could use it on their political platform as a wedge issue to drive Christians to the polls. Watch Samantha Bee’s recent segment on this very topic.
The Republican leadership didn’t care about the issue until they realized its political capital. When abortion became partisan, it was a deliberate attempt to manipulate voters. It is still used successfully to this day, and practically ensures they’ll never repeal it.
If Republicans ended abortion, they could no longer use it as a campaign issue.
The limits on abortions in certain states, as well as all abortion-related campaigning, serve one - and only one - purpose: To rile up voters of faith to get them to the polls. (Not unlike North Carolina’s Transgender Bathroom nonsense. This political theater cost the state $400 million, but hey, at least it helped Republicans keep the majority of the state red.)
The biggest indicator that Republicans aren’t genuinely concerned with the abortion issue is that they never engage in the right conversation.
Why is the abortion argument always about legalization when these are the facts:
This means the legal abortion rate (34 in 1,000) is less than the illegal abortion rate (37 in 1,000). In countries where abortion is illegal, abortion rates are slightly higher. (And half of all abortions worldwide are performed illegally.)
To the contrary, making it illegal will result in more deaths:
Making abortion legal dramatically reduces maternal morbidity and mortality. One woman dies every 7 minutes around the world due to an unsafe illegal abortion. Women who undergo illegal abortions are those who are very poor and do not have access to family planning facilities for education and prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
Since these are the facts, why aren't we having a discussion about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies? Or more sex education in schools? Or distributing more birth control? Or allowing birth control to be more readily available through insurance coverage? Or easing our adoption laws? Or anything else relevant to the actual problem?
Because conservatives aren’t interested in solving the problem - like most of their causes, abortion is used specifically to rile up voters and sway them emotionally. In other words, manipulation.
Considering the majority of abortions are performed within the poverty class, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, it would demand a significant increase in public spending on welfare and social programs. Why does the sanctity of life argument never include the quality of life? When out of the womb these children are born into poverty.
Shockingly, the US has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country, ranking 34 out of 35. About 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty line. Why is the inevitable impact from anti-abortion legislation ever discussed in political debates? Would conservatives suddenly become more amenable to welfare expansion? Doubtful.
Furthermore, consider what would happen if abortion actually was repealed: Anyone remember the lesson of prohibition? I’ll give you a hint, we wouldn’t have The Godfather, The Sopranos, or Goodfellas without it.
If abortion was outlawed, females would resort to back alleys and coat hangers. One can imagine the criminal underground that would result.
Actually, no need to. Our drug policy works much the same way. Mexico’s drug cartels reap the benefits of our anti-drug laws.
Clearly, we still have a lot to learn from prohibition. But no need to bring it up until after the next campaign season.