Control

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abortion, Supreme Court, Women's Issues

The New York Times catches on to something I’ve been saying for a while:

For proof that criminalizing abortion doesn’t reduce abortion rates and only endangers the lives of women, consider Latin America. In most of the region, abortions are a crime, but the abortion rate is far higher than in Western Europe or the United States. Colombia – where abortion is illegal even if a woman’s life is in danger – averages more than one abortion per woman over all of her fertile years. In Peru, the average is nearly two abortions per woman over the course of her reproductive years.

In all of our endless fighting over abortion law, one never hears the simple fact that making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it. Indeed, as I argued in this post, we don’t know for sure if the rate of abortions in the U.S. is higher now than it was pre-Roe. Estimates of the number of abortions performed in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s put the number as high as 1.2 million per year. That’s the same approximate number of abortions performed annually in the United States right now, and in a larger population.

Studies of contraceptive practices in several nations before and after legalization reveal no indication that abortion replaces contraceptive use, as some anti-privacy activists claim. On the other hand, there is copious data that shows making contraceptives easily (and legally) available does lower abortion rates. (See “Sharing Responsibility: Women, Society & Abortion Worldwide” [Alan Guttmacher, 1999, PDF].)

The New York Times editorial continues [emphasis added],

In a region where there is little sex education and social taboos keep unmarried women from seeking contraception, criminalizing abortion has not made it rare, only dangerous. Rich women can go to private doctors. The rest rely on quacks or amateurs or do it themselves. Up to 5,000 women die each year from abortions in Latin America, and hundreds of thousands more are hospitalized.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in the U.S. 14 women died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortion in 1998 and 1999. The mortality rate related to abortion in the U.S. is <1 death per 100,000 abortions. This is a much lower mortality rate than for pregnancy — in 1999, says the CDC, there were 12 deaths resulting from pregnancy per 100,000 live births.

Every time news media carries a story about an American woman dying after an abortion you can count on the anti-privacy army to march forth screaming that abortions are medically risky and must be banned. This, of course, would make abortion a whole lot more risky, but try to explain that to the Fetus People. Just try. It’s like explaining algebra to spinach.

Back to the New York Times editorial:

Latin American women, who are increasing their participation in the work force and in politics, have also become more vocal. Their voice would be much louder were it not for the Bush administration’s global gag rule, which bans any family planning group that gets American money from speaking about abortions, or even criticizing unsafe illegal abortions. This has silenced such respected and influential groups as Profamilia in Colombia. Anti-abortion lawmakers in Washington can look at Latin America as a place where the global gag rule has worked exactly as they had hoped. All Americans can look at Latin America to see unnecessary deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions.

You aren’t going to budge the anti-abortion lawmakers with sordid tales of maternal mortality, of course, because they don’t care if women die. It’s more important to control women’s behavior and punish them for being sexual than to care about their health and well-being. But the majority of Americans favor keeping abortion legal. And making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it. So, one might ask — what are we arguing about, again?

Here’s what we’re arguing about:

Next week the SCOTUS confirmation hearings for Sam Alito will begin. NARAL is sending out a fact sheet on Alito and birth control saying that Alito considers some birth control methods — such as birth control pills, the contraceptive ring, the IUD (intrauterine device), and the birth control patch — to be “abortifacient” rather than contraceptive. He has also argued in favor of requiring women seeking abortions to be given misleading and counter-factual anti-reproductive-rights propaganda. Alito “appears to question the competence of women to make their own choices,” the fact sheet says. “Alito urges that the state become the moral guide of the woman facing a crisis pregnancy, that the bedrock principle of informed consent be twisted beyond all recognition into a political instrument.”

Alito is one more right-wing control freak who doesn’t trust you to live your own life. It’s not about babies (states with the most restrictive abortion laws tend to have higher infant mortality rates than more liberal states). It’s not about women’s health. It’s not about conscience. It’s about control.

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15 Comments

  1. Marshall  •  Jan 6, 2006 @9:20 am

    I was reading this when something caught my eye :

    Their voice would be much louder were it not for the Bush administration’s global gag rule, which bans any family planning group that gets American money from speaking about abortions, or even criticizing unsafe illegal abortions. This has silenced such respected and influential groups as Profamilia in Colombia.

    My question is, why ? Why do they let themselves be gagged ? Or, to put it less politely, why do they let themselves be bought off ? Suppose that the administration had simply cut off all funding to any family planning group. OK, no doubt it would hurt, but would they go out of business ? I doubt it. They would deal with it and get on with their mission. So why do they accept the money on these terms ? Why not just say what they want, and if they get cut off, they get cut off, noisily and publicly. Or, if they don’t seek political controversy, then why not just turn it down quietly ?

    I have of course heard about this for some time, but in the light of current events, I cannot see accepting what amounts to a bribe from these people is a respectable thing to do. That sounds hard I know, but we live in hard times.

  2. Anonymous  •  Jan 6, 2006 @10:23 am

    Looks like Alito needs to go back to science class- if you are ignorant you should not sit on the bench.

  3. maha  •  Jan 6, 2006 @10:31 am

    Marshall, the problem is that the gag rule bars U.S. money going to to non-governmental agencies like the United Nations Population Fund if they do not behave. According to this policy, foreign organizations are prohibited from using their own, non-U.S. funds for a variety of women’s health services, including:

    *Organizations cannot do any research to determine how many women die or are injured as a result of unsafe abortion in their countries, and cannot publicize those statistics.

    *Even if abortion is legal (as it is in most countries in the world under certain circumstances), organizations are prohibited from giving women information about where they might obtain a safe, legal procedure.

    *An organization that receives any funds from the United States—which is the largest bilateral donor in many countries—faces what one local leader calls Sophie’s Choice: The group must either knowingly withhold information and services from often desperate women, or risk losing what is often the bulk of its funding.

    I repeat, the even if the organization does these things with money raised outside the U.S., the U.S. will cut off funding.

    For background, see:

    http://www.globalgagrule.org/

    http://www.crlp.org/pub_fac_ggrbush.html

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/pp2/portal/files/portal/webzine/globaldispatch/gd-050119-globalgag.xml

  4. No Blood for Hubris  •  Jan 6, 2006 @1:12 pm

    You are quite right. It’s not about life, it’s certainly not about actual babies, it’s not about fetal sentimentalists pertecting the sweet widdle fetuseseses with their big round sad eyes who can’t in any case exist outside the womb– this is all about power and control.

  5. justme  •  Jan 6, 2006 @1:23 pm

    Boy, you think the angry white males have their panties in a bunch now?? Just wait until they are cut off from having ANY sex because their wives,lovers fear becoming pregnant..that will give them a reason to be pissy.

    The right acts like if we could just go back tot he 1950’s everything would be fine, but news flash righties,Women are not the same as they were then.We marry later, if at all, we have lives BESIDES baking cookies , and the men? well , we just don’t have the need for them we used to in 1950. They don’t do any of the things men used to do in the 1950s,, why have a man when you can go to jiffy lube for an oil change?

    We don’t need their financial support, we can run our own households…mens only use anymore,really , is sex and now the righties want to make them USELESS.They make things for us women that we can use and have no risk of an unwanted pregancy so why on earth have a man?????FINE, take away my right to choose,, take birth control too…as long as my batteries recharge you can’t take away my choice to have pleasure,, but you sure changed life for men …and boy is the change ever going to be hard for them to adjust to, since most men spend half their lives being lead by the wrong head…

    This leads to the new problems this will create….if women stop “putting out” because they have no choice but to risk getting pregnant , men are simply not going to stop wanting it, or needing it.Rape will increase dramatically..I would be willing to bet in countries were abortion is not legal this is the case.

    Another terrible result I fore see is STD’S and AIDS… again men are not going to stop wanting sex, and if they can no longer have sex with their wives or lovers for fear of an unwanted pregancy they will seek out paid services or ladies who cannot have kids …those ladies are sitting on a gold mine. Men will go outside their relationships to get their needs met, and it will end in sorrow for many when they get caught or end up giving their partner some STD. The “i wish it was like the 1950’s” crowd didn’t take that into account….

    This is a forgone conclusion,,the righties have won,, all that is left to do is to figure out what is the price society will pay as a result ….my advice to anyone child bearing age,,, get all the sex you can now,, the party will soon be over.

  6. Steve Nichols  •  Jan 6, 2006 @1:33 pm

    I suspect today’s men perform cunnilingus more frequently than our 50’s counterparts.

    That’s what I’d use as a marketing slogan anyway.

  7. Steve Nichols  •  Jan 6, 2006 @1:54 pm

    “since most men spend half their lives being led by the wrong head.”

    Does being horny make you a bad person? Are you supposed to suppress being horny?

    I confess that from early puberty until my late 30’s, sexual desire was a constant distraction; I’m amazed I was able to concentrate enough to feed myself, much less get through the Army and college without ripping my clothes off regularly and running around naked in Dionysian frenzy.

    At 49, my testosterone level is dropping, and as I understand it, my libido is diminishing. It frees up mental space and energy for other things besides being horny all the time.

    Vaysayana correctly noted 1500 years ago that sexual desire comes in three sizes (an idea stolen by McDonalds 15 centuries later). Some men and women are going to be more obessed with sexual gratification.

    Maybe we should design a scarlet ‘H’ for the foreheads of the excessively horny, so the rest of the public knows.

  8. Erin  •  Jan 6, 2006 @2:55 pm

    I think what I find most infuriating is that Alito “considers” some birth control methods to be abortofacients, as if that’s a legitimate argument when it’s plainly not true. So, wonderful, he’s making decisions about my body based on magical fantasies. Yeah, I trust that guy in the SCOTUS.

    Also, have you heard, there’s a state senator in Indiana who introduced a bill to ban all abortion in Indiana, knowing full well that the courts would strike it down (if it even gets past the Senate, which I have doubts about) and hoping it would eventually make its way to the post-O’Connor Supreme Court.

  9. justme  •  Jan 6, 2006 @3:38 pm

    Notice is said “MOST MEN” if you are not one of them, good FOR YOU…I can only say what I have observed.Your right, maybe men are not obsessed with sex. I guess the three “adult” bookstores I passed this morning are marketed towards women, but for the life of me , I can’t imagine why they were not filled with pregnant housewives. And those huge bilboards for beer with huge tits on them??Maybe those are not geared towards men obsessed with sex, but rather a new keg shape…Those models at the auto show?? , they are not aimed at men hooked on sex, right???They are wearing almost no clothes because they couldn’t afford a whole outfit, no doubt.In my little town we have 5 strip clubs,, NOT ONE has topless men, but no need to assume the men who go there are thinking with the wrong heaad.

    I am sure you made it thru college and the army, but I doubt you did so with no sex , as I have been to a few college parties in my day, I am aware sex in college is not rare.

    Society seems to have a complex , and we seem to think we can make it all better if we would just change this or that. My point was that if society is looking at ending abortion as a “fix all” they are not even considering the million or so problems the fix creates.

    I personally don’t have a problem with horney men (or women for that matter) , but lets not pretend men are not obsessed with sex because most of you are..How many girly magazines, movies, commercials and tv shows would there be if you were not? It is not like MEN are not buying this stuff.

    I am just trying to say here, that this is a womans issue(the right to choose) but by no means does it end there.Laws made to control women will have more affect on men then you understand, but hey if you don’t need sex EVER no problem.

    Women are not the only ones being controlled here, whether you like it or not.Women will suffer, but men will too.Perhaps Vaysayana didn’t take into account we are not a small,med,large society, we are a supersized society..in a world where we want more of everything,,lets just see how we like going from supersized to none.

    I have been with the same man almost 22 years, I am in my late 30’s and he is in his mid 40’s……I have friends who range in age from 20 to 70 and in EVERY circle the men want more sex then their female partners, I have found from speaking to women about the issue….I am not saying it is always that way, but based on my un scientific research on the issue I have yet to see the exception to it….i am sure it must be out there somewhere…

    Sorry if suggesting this might also affect men caused a shit storm,, as I said before, wait until the laws change and this discussion is real and going on in homes around the country. I suggest to you “horney” is nature, and we are going to be asked to defy it….. I can see those “H”s being made now, as what the government has in mind will make sex for anything other then procreation illegal….leave it to the righties to take the good out of sex.

  10. erinyes  •  Jan 6, 2006 @5:56 pm

    WOW!!!
    All this time I thought I was preoccupied with sex by obsessing about it for 10 min each day! All my piggy brothers are running around thinking about sex and humping their pillows all day long…where do we find the time to get any work done?No wonder I can’t find the time to change my oil, I mean just the thought of SCREWING on that new oil filter GETS ME SOOOO HOT!!And all that hot dirty oil running doen my leg OOPS, just soiled my undies again! Damn, this happens 20 or so times a day, and I keep tripping over my testicles to boot! Wow , would you look at the tits on that….. OOPS again!
    Help me! put me out of this testosterone induced lust rage…
    Just me, relax, have a glass of chianti and some nice fava beans.
    IT’s not that bad….look into my eyes, come to butt head!!
    JEESH!!!

  11. erinyes  •  Jan 6, 2006 @7:20 pm

    Sorry for getting distracted and goofing on our friend Justme a bit ( no harm intended), Maha. As a father of a 13 year old girl, I am very concerned about what might happen if Alito, or someone even more militant gets in.
    As a man, I would suggest that if you don’t want kids, have your husband or partner “fixed”. After my daughter was born ( she was unplanned, but a true blessing!) my wife asked me to get clipped, since she had carried the birth control for the previous 18 years.
    I thought that was fair. It was no real big deal, but I never imagined I’d like frozen peas so much! I went back to work a bit early and threw my back out, out side of that, no sweat.I guess that (among other things) makes me a custom model

  12. WarriorMoM  •  Jan 6, 2006 @8:45 pm

    Men aren’t obsessed with sex. They’re obsessed with fetishes (no, not a typo for fetis, read on) of body parts or women’s clothing, etc., that let them feel in control of another human by objectifying part of her to replace their having to reconcile with the fact that she’s a whole person…most men. In fact, many psychologists claim that fetishes are a weird thing that is normal. Huh.

    >>>”You aren’t going to budge the anti-abortion lawmakers with sordid tales of maternal mortality, of course, because they don’t care if women die. It’s more important to control women’s behavior and punish them for being sexual than to care about their health and well-being.”

  13. Swami  •  Jan 6, 2006 @10:26 pm

    The link above to the NARAL fact sheet is interesting. It shows that Alito really isn’t too slick in hiding an agenda. Maybe he’s tightened up his legal acumen in the past 20 years, but his attempt to decieve was weak in that legal interpetation.

    I agree, a women’s right to choose has become a control issue. If anybody feels that the protection of the unborn is the true issue, than they should stand on that belief alone and not resort to schemes and deceptions to defend that belief.

  14. Donna  •  Jan 6, 2006 @11:15 pm

    The most telling sign that they don’t actually care about babies and care more about controlling those “trashy” women who want and expect to enjoy sex is that they don’t support programs that support children AFTER they are born. Who gives a shit if they have healthcare, are fed, sheltered, clothed, and educated; you could even show them children dying in poverty and they’ll ignore it. Suffering and even slow agonizing death is ok and as God intended, instead of letting women decide when they will be mothers and if they can care for any possible children.

  15. Swami  •  Jan 7, 2006 @10:48 am

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