Thursday, November 19, 2009

Abortion: Why We Lose

A few days ago, I put in my two cents on the dynamics behind public support for abortion restrictions:

The energy and funds spent by the Beltway pro-choice lobby could be even better spent persuading Americans that this is not what their tax dollars would be used to promote (link to rightist scoundrels demonizing "loose" women):

Abortion as Birth Control

Abortion is no longer primarily an act of teenage desperation; instead, more and more it is the calculated choice of adults unwilling to accept responsibility for their behavior. Abortion is becoming more “rare” among the nation’s teens, but a larger percentage of women in their mid to late 20s –– women who are supposed to be responsible, mature and informed –– are, to put it bluntly, using abortion as a form of birth control.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 6 million American women become pregnant every year — almost half of them unmarried. The abortion rate for unmarried women is four times greater than that of married women. Obviously, these women engage in irresponsible and risky sexual behavior with men who are poor candidates for marriage and even worse candidates for fatherhood. Of those 3 million unmarried pregnant women, almost half have an abortion and almost half become single mothers. Very few of them marry the father of their child or give the child up for adoption.

In summary, over the past couple of decades, abortion has enabled women to engage in sexual activity without marriage or any other commitment –– regardless of whether either person is able or willing to commit to a permanent relationship and regardless of whether either person is willing or able to take responsibility for the consequences. That’s the driving force behind the so-called “pro-choice” movement.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.

This is what we're up against.

To argue past these people is to forfeit the debate, IMO.

Who in the Democratic party are the standard-bearers against this frame? Who in the Beltway lobby speaks to this rhetoric at all?

Who's getting up on their elected perches, and telling Americans that abortion isn't about promiscuous women defying their communities' moral codes? Who is standing their ground on the position that public funds should be available for abortion, because tax-payer support does not mean promoting irresponsible, immoral behavior in young women?

(I say this to point out that the two sides keep talking past each other, with the result being that the anti-choicers are winning the public debate.)

When we argue the issue in terms ("over 500,000 families have a child who went hungry") that lie outside the rightists' core proposition, I believe that we're avoiding the real fight.

We have to be able to look ordinary folks in the eye and say

"Young women who get pregnant in bad situations and have abortions are taking responsibility for their actions. It's the responsible thing to do. Abortion is about saving women from all the things that can go wrong in people's lives, from medical concerns to future-ruining mistakes to family survival.

That's why it's legal in the United States and around the developed world, because people have always known that these things happen to us when we expect them least. That's why public money should be available to help women do the responsible thing in bad situations, however they ended up in that doctor's office --because sometimes it's the only responsible decision to make.

Nothing less will do until this issue is confronted head on, in my opinion. People understand "Girls Gone Wild", but child hunger statistics? Not so much.

If the professional liars in the pro-life lobby can get away with doing this --with persuading most Americans who aren't firmly convinced abortion is murder to their core that it encourages irresponsibility and immorality, then we're going to lose, period.

If the debate were had honestly, on its merits, Americans would be confronted by this frame:
Q: In terms of pregnancy and birth, do you know when a baby is a baby, exactly?

A (anti-abortion): From the moment sperm touches egg.

A (pro-conscience): I don't know. I don't think we can know that for sure.

Q: If you were in a burning hospital with a test-tube full of 10,000 fertilized eggs on the one hand, and a single newborn baby on the other, and you had to choose one to save, which would it be? The test-tube with 10,000 potential babies, or the one live baby?

A (anti-abortion): I don't know. I don't think we can know that for sure.

A (pro-conscience): The baby.

If that were the sober discussion, whose side do you really think most Americans would be on?

Instead, they are presented with "Concerned Women for America" telling them a story about something that concerns their lives every day, i.e. young women having sex and making Moms and Dads uncomfortable, and a pro-choice lobby that seemingly would rather talk to itself than deal with that story.

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