Conservative ‘pro-lifers’ promote policies that kill people while doing nothing to reduce abortions

By TheCriticalMind | 6 September 2022
Daily Kos

(Photo: Victoria Pickering / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Brain Kilmeade asked Jim Jordan how the GOP should deal with the backlash to the Dobbs decision overturning Roe. Truculent as ever, the irascible bigmouth told the Fox host,

“We’ll lean into it. We’re the pro-life party. We’re going to protect the sanctity of human life. And Democrats have the radical position. They’re the ones who think you should be able to take the unborn child’s life right up until their birthday, for goodness sake.”

He is a Republican, so the lie about the Democratic position on abortion was mandatory. It is true that Vermont, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, New Jersey, and D.C., put no gestational limit on when a woman can get an abortion. However, every other Blue State has viability limits on elective abortions. And there is no significant call to change that. Interestingly, Red State Alaska also has no time limit on the procedure.

The statistics also show that Republican hysteria over late-term abortions is pure politics. Fewer than 1% of abortions occur after 21 weeks – and those late abortions are mainly due to fatal fetal defects or to preserve the life and health of the mother.

Planned Parenthood — and I will grant you they are not a disinterested party — also suggests that women delay abortions through ignorance and poverty,

The number of abortions after the first trimester might be even smaller if women had greater access to safe and legal abortion. Most women who have had an abortion say they would have preferred to have it earlier, but financial limitations and/or lack of knowledge about pregnancy caused them to delay.

Lack of knowledge is a product of the conservative desire to keep sex and its consequences a mystery. It is insanity to teach ‘abstinence-only’ sex-ed. And purity pledges are a complete non-starter. Teens raised with conservative head-in-the-sand wishful thinking are just as likely to have sex as their better-educated counterparts. Some evidence suggests that on average they delay their first experience by a few months. Other evidence says it makes no difference. Either way, they rapidly catch up.

Worse, when these uninstructed teens start having sex, they are far less likely to use a condom. And as a result, the rate of STDs in the Red States is generally higher than in the Blue States. Seven out of the top 10 states with the highest STD rates are in the Bible Belt. And untreated STDs can lead to fetal infection — in 2020 a staggering 2,128 babies were born with congenital syphilis — and even death in newborns. What does a ‘pro-lifer’ think of that?

It does not take a social scientist to point out how ludicrous this approach to teaching kids about sex is. It requires hormonal and horny teens and young adults to have greater impulse control than many religious leaders and politicians. The human race is not good at “keeping it in their pants”. And almost everyone who has been through puberty should be aware that the urge to have sex is powerful.

People who are pro-life educate their kids about having safe sex, encourage schools to have thorough and frank discussions on the matter, and support the free and widespread availability of contraception.

The most egregious conservative lie about abortion is that banning it is pro-life. Bullshit. Women who need an abortion will almost always get it regardless of its legality. The rich will go to where it is legal. And the poor will go to a back alley — which in the internet age is often metaphorical, thank God. Conservative policies have done nothing to halt the trade in illegal drugs. Why on earth will medical abortion pills be any different?

The true pro-lifer will ask, how do we prevent abortions? The answer is to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Contraception puts a dent in that, but the complete answer lies in economics. The top three reasons women give for getting an abortion are

  • “Having a baby would dramatically change my life” (i.e., interfere with education, employment, and ability to take care of existing children and other dependents)
  • “I cannot afford a baby now” (e.g., unmarried, student, cannot afford childcare or basic needs)
  • “I do not want to be a single mother or am having relationship problems”

Being unable to care for existing children dovetails with the fact that 59% of women getting an abortion are already mothers. The poverty rate in America is 11.4%. But for single mothers, that rises to 37%. So it is unsurprising that poor women account for 49% of abortions.

Conservatives are particularly upset by single mothers. And in a way, they are right — at least about the problem. But they are wrong about the solution. Twenty-five percent of American children live in single-parent homes. Yet they account for 63% of child suicides, 75% of addicted children, and 90% of all homeless and runaway kids. The conservative policy on abortion will only increase the number of single mothers and put more children at risk.

Bearing all of this in mind, after better sex-ed and contraception reduce the pregnancy rate, the second part of the solution is to provide the resources to women so they can support the child. For instance, make paid parental leave mandatory. Provide free or subsidized daycare. Raise the minimum wage. Increase the Women with Infant Children (WIC) program. Increase SNAP (food stamps) limits. And ensure that new mothers do not have to worry about money.

No doubt conservatives will call it socialism — but it is pro-life. As the world’s richest country, we can surely afford it. And it is the Christian thing to do.

Sweden could be our model. New parents enjoy 480 days of government-paid leave at 80% of their previous earnings, capped at $3,700 per month. A single mother gets all 480 days. Two-parent families can divvy it between the two partners — gay or straight, married or not. At age one, Swedish law guarantees the child a spot in the Swedish public childcare system – which is free for the poor and capped at $160 a month no matter how well off the parents are.

Conservatives can rant endlessly about how pro-life they are. But until they put their money where their mouth is, they are nothing but sanctimonious misogynists who enjoy beating women up.

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