Drew’s Radical Platform: Treat Abortion as a Matter of Life and Death.


November 9, 2012 by Drew

Doesn’t the Republican party already do this, you say?

They talk that way.  But then they undermine themselves with their actions, and their other positions.

But at least they talk that way.  Democrats coined the phrase, “Safe, legal, and rare,” but they rarely get beyond legal.

Despite all of my liberal leanings, I still identify as “pro-life.”  I don’t vote pro-life most of the time, but I really am FOR life.  I learned this from my republican, pro-life parents.

The other thing that I learned from my republican parents is that laws and regulations often do not have the desired effect.  Sometimes, they often have the opposite effect.   The “war on poverty” just created more poverty.  Criminalize guns and only criminals will have guns.  If the pro-life movement is about saving the lives of unborn children, shouldn’t we examine the effectiveness of our efforts and do the very best thing for those children–even if it is counter-intuitive?

Politicians are no strangers to counter-intuitive measures.  Right?  We hear it all the time: “More guns will reduce gun violence”, “Tax breaks for rich people is the best way to help poor people,” “Lowering taxes is the best way to increase revenue,” and so on.  They can even site evidence to back it up.

But what if the evidence shows that criminalizing abortion does nothing to prevent it?  What if there is an evidence-based approach to reduce abortions?

“But we don’t want to reduce abortion, cry the the traditional pro-lifers.  We want to ELIMINATE it.

All well and good.  Show me a way to eliminate it, and then we’ll talk.

What the evidence shows is that outlawing abortion does little to change the abortion rate.  In fact, abortion is most prevalent in countries where it is illegal.  Nobody has been able to eliminate abortion, via laws or any other method.  Just as other evils like poverty and war stubbornly stick around, so also does abortion.  I’d love to eliminate all three, but talk about eliminating poverty or war and you are a hopeless idealist.  Yet somehow an expectation that we eliminate abortion (and a related conviction that we accept no half-measures) is reasonable.

What the evidence shows is that access to contraception seriously reduces abortion.  More than anything else.  “Sometimes it fails!”  Yes, sometimes.  But you know what fails more often?  Everything else–including an expectation of or education for abstinence.
Roman Catholics have a moral objection to contraception.  It’s not that “Every sperm is sacred.”   It’s that the reproductive act of sex is not to be separated from the other parts.  If you want to have sex, you should be open to life.

I actually respect this idea.  But most Catholics don’t.  And even if you did–it doesn’t follow that this law should be applied to others–especially doing so would put the lives of children at risk.  And that is the consequence of less contraception: more abortions.  Life is more important than philosophical/theological consistency.

I will vote for the party that embraces contraception as a pro-life measure.  I know that the Democrats are already pro-contraception, and the Republicans are already pro-life.  The evidence is out there to allow the GOP to save face, give people what they want, AND truly make a difference, saving the lives of thousands of unborn children.

(NOTE: Most of the ideas in this article come from this excellent blog post)


20 thoughts on “Drew’s Radical Platform: Treat Abortion as a Matter of Life and Death.

  1. Lowell says:

    I don’t know any pro-lifers who operate under the delusion that anything but the return of Christ will eliminate abortion – or robbery, or rape, or racial discrimination, or drunk driving, or murder, or any other product of the Fall. But we still have laws against all those other things because we believe the human dignity of the victims must be accorded a measure of justice, and we also believe that legal penalties afford a measure of deterrence.
    Re: contraception, are you saying that Roman Catholics, or any other group that has religious scruples about contraception, should be required to provide such for their employees?

    • Drew says:

      It seems that the legal penalties do not deter. As for the dignity of the victims and the moral statement that laws make–I get that, but I’m not sure it makes that much of a difference.

      Re: contraception and religious freedom. This is going to be tricky as long as we have employer-based health insurance, which is a pretty silly way to distribute health insurance. I want to think that those who have problems with contraception would still embrace it as a “lesser of two evils,” but we have seen that it is not the case.

      In the short term, I think the way Obamacare worked it out is satisfactory. Those organized as churches under the tax code are exempted from the law, but ordinary non-profits (even if they have a religious component) are not. Even they have an out in that it is the insurance companies that provided the contraception, not them. Due to the nature of insurance, this actually saves the companies money, so there is no added expense to the non-profits.

      In the long term, I would prefer we expand medicare to everybody (and include contraception coverage) or–even better–expand the VA to a national system. That’s another post though.

  2. Wrong. More contraception equals more abortion, not less. Couples who are unmarried and not prepared to accept children hook up casually, thinking contraception will protect them. Many times contraception fails, and then abortion is seen as a “necessary” solution. (Check out the failure rate of contraceptives.)

    Where do you get the notion that there is more abortion in countries where it is illegal???

    Catholics are called by our faith to help the poor. So when we form groups like Catholic Charities that help ANYONE who walks in the door, no matter what their religious beliefs, we no longer qualify to be exempted from Obamacare. THAT is an attack on my religious liberty.

    • Drew says:

      It’s all from the last link. But here’s more detail:


      The idea that contraception reduces abortion rates is (in addition to common sense) rooted in a comparison of regions. From the last link (again):

      “Both the lowest and highest subregional abortion rates are in Europe, where abortion is generally legal under broad grounds. In Western Europe, the rate is 12 per 1,000 women, while in Eastern Europe it is 43. The discrepancy in rates between the two regions reflects relatively low contraceptive use in Eastern Europe, as well as a high degree of reliance on methods with relatively high user failure rates, such as the condom, withdrawal and the rhythm method.”

      The countries with the fewest abortions per pregnancy are countries where abortion is legal, and contraception is available.

      Here’s another study: http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/04/14224132-free-birth-control-cuts-abortion-rate-dramatically-study-finds#.UHDav8na2sU.twitter

      Also interesting (but far from conclusive) abortion has declined by 19% in Mass. since the implementation of “Romneycare.”

      As I said in the post, I know that contraception fails sometimes, but it fails less than abstinence pledges. Nothing is perfect, but don’t we have a responsibility to do the best we can? All of the pro-life efforts are going into the least effective thing (criminalizing abortion), and many are working against the most effective thing (contraception),

      If your goal is to be consistent, than I understand the opposition to contraception and the emphasis on abstinence. But the question is, how many lives are we willing to sacrifice in the name of being right? All the best studies say that an increase in contraception will result in a lower abortion rate. If you believe that each fetus is a life, then is there not some obligation to save the thousands of lives that we can save?

      I know you will not likely believe the statistics that are out there, but they are there. I think we have a responsibility to consider our opinions and tactics in light of the evidence, instead of considering the evidence in light of our opinions.

      • Jeremy says:

        Catholic Charities, Catholic hospitals, and Catholic colleges are not exempted from the ACA, or from any federal discrimination laws for that matter, and should not be as long as they accept federal funding. It’s not an attack on religious liberty because many of these employees are not Catholic, and these organizations are not required to pay for contraception anyway.

  3. Er…. I agree with a lot of what was said here but I think its worth pointing out that the War on Poverty fundamentally changed the quality and severity of poverty in America. There are elements to this which are ultimately unhelpful, but I think it is crucial to admit that it was largely successful in alleviating some of poverty’s largest threats. Hunger comes to mind.
    I’d also like to say that some of the increased poverty came from other factors. That is all.

    • Drew says:

      I agree, Nikki. I also reject the idea that guns prevent gun violence. The point is that conservatives especially appreciate the failure of government intervention most of the time, but the regulation of abortion seems to be an exception.

  4. My problem is that the mechanism of the pill does not simply prevent fertilization of an egg, but also prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. (Read the package insert.) So, the pill (as with IUD’s) really accomplish an abortion of a fertilized egg. (Unacceptable to Catholics, and anyone who understands the basic science of the beginning of life.)

    Plus, add on the side effects of hormonal contraception (increased rates of breast cancer, blood clots, etc. — again read the package inserts) and it becomes unethical to me to promote artificial contraception. One of Melissa’s friends (who has 4 young children) was hospitalized with a blood clot resulting from her contraception. (If it had progressed to a pulmonary embolism, that could have been fatal.)

    • I hear you on the side effects and dangers aspect- I have a condition for which birth control is a common treatment and I refuse to be treated with it for those reasons. I can’t believe it when people tell me they take the drug for things like acne.

      However, your concern in regards to preventing implantation is somewhat over blown. If you read the article Drew cites, it has some really interesting points. One of them that I have included below- as its a long article and sort of hard to navigate:

      “The anti-birth control crowd leaves out one very important fact: a woman’s body naturally rejects at least 18% of fertilized eggs. This means that if you have unprotected sex that leads to the fertilization of an egg (30% chance of successful fertilization), the resulting zygote has an 18% chance of being rejected by the uterus. The human body naturally performs “abortions” almost 20% of the time. So does taking birth control actually increase the chances of zygote abortion, or does birth control actually reduce the chances of this occurring? Let’s do the math.

      Without Birth Control:
      Out of 100 fertile women without birth control, 100 of them will ovulate in any given month.
      Out of those 100 released eggs, 33 will become fertilized.
      Out of those 33, 18% will be rejected by the uterus.
      In a group of 100 women not on birth control: 6 zygotes will “die”

      With Birth Control:
      Out of 100 fertile women on birth control, around 6 of them will ovulate in any given month.
      Out of those 6 released eggs, only 2 will become fertilized.
      Out of those 2, 100% will be rejected by the uterus.

      In a group of 100 women on birth control: 2 zygotes will “die”
      So let’s get this straight, taking birth control makes a woman’s body LESS likely to dispel fertilized eggs. If you believe that life begins at conception, shouldn’t it be your moral duty to reduce the number of zygote “abortions?” If you believe that a zygote is a human, you actually kill more babies by refusing to take birth control.”

      • It all depends on whether you want to be God, or you let God be God.

      • Drew says:

        We don’t really say that with most illnesses or preventable deaths. As both Nikki and the post pointed out. Oral contraception would reduce the number of Zygotes that fail to implant by preventing fertilization (even if it only did that some of the time, it would still beat the natural processes.)

        Very rarely would we argue that inaction in the face of preventable death is worthwhile because God wills the death.

        Nonetheless, this is only the argument against one particular type of contraception. I think it would an acceptable compromise to allow widespread access to other types, and to fund research into making oral contraception more dependable at preventing fertilization.

        As for side effects, that’s a red herring. Nobody is being forced to do anything, everybody will have an informed choice. Pregnancy can also be fatal and have horrible side effects, but it is obviously a very good thing for many women.

  5. It all depends on whether you want to be God, or you let God be God.

    Ahhh, despite all the evidence provided that contraception and access to abortion are good for women and society we get this argument.

    My magic ooga-booga says (or more likely I interpret) that “X” is wrong, therefore it must be wrong. Delusional, myth based thinking has no place in a rational debate.

  6. Jim Ludwig says:

    I’d like to back up. Are you saying that before 1973 when abortions became legal in the US there were more than 1.5 million illegal abortions performed each year?. And that when they became legal and had the blessings of our government the number went down?
    I don’t think so. I have never heard an argument that you seem to be making that if Roe v Wade were overturned we would have more abortions. Sounds pretty far fetched. Many pro-lifers such as myself are not opposed to all forms of contraception. My objection to the HHS mandate is not about contraception at all. It is based on the fact that Government never before has forced an employer to violate their religious conscience. As long as the employer is paying for it (and that may not be forever) they should have the right to choose something that doesn’t violate their religious beliefs. I don’t know what choices I will have for my employees yet. But I suppose the more objectionable mandates there are the more employers will just drop health coverage, which may be the real goal of our government.

    • Drew says:

      Did not say that. What I said was that when you compare abortions per pregnancy in countries where it is legal, and countries where is illegal, the rate is lower in the countries where it is illegal.

      Anyway, it sounds just as far fetched to me as more guns reducing gun violence. Sometimes the counter-intuitive thing is true.

      The argument isn’t that we would have MORE abortions, just that we probably would not have less. Most women don’t want to have an abortion. If you are willing to terminate a pregnancy, it being illegal won’t stop you.

      I’ve got a lot more thoughts, but I have to save them for a time when I can think and write more. Peace.

    • Drew says:

      If an employer has make an objection or the grounds of conscience to any number of laws, that objection will be ignored. And if we were to expand freedom of conscience into the realm of business, it would open the door to corporations declaring all sorts of scruples. There are plenty of religions that forbid mixing with people of other faiths or even genders. Wouldn’t we have to allow companies to refuse to sell to or hire people based on their religion?

      I very much believe in freedom of religion, but I think it is dangerous territory if we expand that freedom beyond institutions that are organized as religious institutions.

      That said, all of this will go away if there is a national plan. I don’t think that this is part of nefarious plan, but I hope I am wrong.

    • Drew says:

      One last thought. I think it is time for the pro-life movement to move beyond “many pro-lifers not being against some types of contraception,” to “most pro-lifers using the best tactics to stop abortion: promoting birth control (or at least many types of it).”

  7. My objection to the HHS mandate is not about contraception at all. It is based on the fact that Government never before has forced an employer to violate their religious conscience.

    You make it sound like its unreasonable. Religious conscience is a pile of poo. I’m very sorry your dark aged beliefs don’t jive in the 21st century. That is possible evidence that the beliefs in question might be a touch outdated.

    • I don’t think there’s anything intelligent or mind-changing about insulting someone’s religious beliefs. And this comes to you from a WAY post-religious person.

      • When said beliefs support unconscionable arguments they deserve nothing but ridicule. There is no free pass for religion given the horrible history of what it does to societies and people.

        mind-changing about insulting someone’s religious beliefs.

        Do you honestly believe that mere arguments can change peoples minds when it comes to their delusional beliefs? Religion is constructed to guard against reason and rational thought. People disabuse themselves of religion when they finally manage to see for themselves the rotten, hollowed-out shell it happens to be and not a microsecond before that.

        So, here on the internet, where there is a reasonable flow (at least in the western world) of information and ideas we can and should discriminate between the bad and the good ideas that we come across. Religion/belief in the supernatural is one of the worst ones going and should be treated with the opprobrium and scorn it deserves.

      • Drew says:

        Regardless of the validity of religiously-based arguments, they are a reality, and mocking the religious will work for the non-religious about as much as mocking the poor has worked for the rich.

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