Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Abortion: The Unraveling Begins!


Balkinization

In response to the controversy over South Dakota's new law, three potential GOP candidates for President in 2008 have recently suggested they would sign a bill that banned almost all abortions:...A spokesperson said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would have signed the South Dakota legislation, "but [he] would also take the appropriate steps under state law -- in whatever state -- to ensure that the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother were included.

So much for McCain, the only viable Republican candidate for 2008 (so far).

Republicans have misjudged their base when it comes to the abortion issue: most Americans may want parental notification requirements for minors--because they want at least the illusion of control over their daughters' sexuality--but they don't want abortion to be unavailable for them. As an article in yesterday's NYTimes notes that parental notification rules don't decrease the rate of abortion. In fact as it turns out in quite a few cases it's parents who want their kids to have abortions:

some workers and doctors at abortion clinics said that the laws had little connection with the real lives of most teenagers, and that they more often saw parents pressing their daughters to have abortions than trying to stop them. And many teenagers say they never considered hiding their pregnancies or abortion plans from their mothers.

This is hardly surprising. Here is why:

All decent parents want their kids to have good lives. In the past the only feasible career option for most girls was marriage: to have a good life a girl had to snag a good-quality, high-yielding male. The only way to do this was to restrict sexual activity: if you can get the milk for free there's no point in buying the cow. So parents wanted the threat of having a child out of wedlock as a deterrent--to keep their daughters from being promiscuous or selling themselves cheap. Moreover, if abortion was unavailable it was possible to force a shotgun marriage as a last resort. That is why, in the past parents wanted abortion to be, for all practical purposes, unavailable to their daughters.

Now women can't make a full-time, permanent career of marriage. They can't manipulate men into guaranteeing permanent financial support by refusing to put out--and shotgun marriages are a thing of the past. Moreover women have other, often more desirable career options. Parents might want to have the illusion of control over their daughters' sexuality but they certainly don't want them stuck with babies that would interfere with their education or career plans. They might want some deterrent effect for religious reasons or to motivate girls to use birth control, so they might want a parental notification requirement to make getting an abortion embarrassing. But if a girl does get pregnant most wouldn't want her to have that baby and certainly wouldn't want her to keep it at the cost of her education and career prospects.

Simple, isn't it?

So, if McCain is nominated, and supports these restrictions on abortion, all the Democrats have to do is run a few vignettes showing Good Girls (and nowadays Good Girls have sex) being told that they can't get abortions.

Girl: But I can't marry Adam--I'm only 17, and I've just gotten accepted to Yale! And he's going to UCLA!

Doctor: Well, if you said it was rape we might be able to do something.

Mother: Are you kidding?

Doctor: Um, there is another possibility. You could say your father, um, molested you and then we could get a special dispensation for incest.

Father: %^&$^%$@#

1 comment:

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