I’m not necessarily suggesting you read it, but FYI today’s Ross Douthat column tells us that Texas-abortion restrictions really don’t oppress women, so liberals should quit bellyachin’ about it. Yeah, I’m sure Douthat is an expert on what women find oppressive.
He comes to this opinion via his usual highly creating juggling of cherry-picked “facts.” Yes, it’s true that many European countries have gestation limits for elective abortion that are even lower than 20 weeks. However, most of these countries do not have goon squads of Fetus People closing clinics on trumped-up pretenses, demanding transvaginal ultrasounds, or second-guessing physicians about which later-term abortions are medically necessary. And I believe in most of these countries abortions are covered by the national health care system, so that women don’t have to delay having an abortion while they save up the money to have an abortion.
Douthat writes of the potential consequences of Texas abortion law,
One possible answer is that Texas will make a forced march into squalor, misery and patriarchal oppression. Womenâ€™s lives will be endangered, their health threatened, their economic opportunities substantially foreclosed.
To the extent that this case rests on facts rather than fear, itâ€™s based on cross-country comparisons. Around the globe, countries with abortion bans often do have worse outcomes â€” more poverty, fewer opportunities for women and, yes, often more abortions as well.
But, he says, comparisons with sub-Sahara Africa are not exactly like-to-like. What about Ireland? he asks. Which is a hoot, considering that it’s probably much easier for an Irish woman to take a ferry from Dublin to Liverpool than for a woman in middle-of-nowhere Texas to go anywhere civilized. Douthat says, “even if abortion were somehow banned outright in Texas tomorrow, it would still be available to women with the resources to travel out of state.” And the women who do not have those resources almost certainly can find hangers.
And Irish law specifically provides that Irish women have a right to travel to Britain or anywhere else to get an abortion. Just watch the whackjobs in the Texas legislature pass laws that prosecute women for crossing state lines to get an abortion.
And yes, Douthat mentioned Savita Halappanavar, a woman who really truly died in an Irish hospital because she was denied an abortion. But Douthat tells us soothingly that “there is little evidence that the Halappanavar tragedy reflects a larger trend.” I’m sure that’s a great comfort to her family.
Meanwhile, international rankings offer few indications that Irelandâ€™s abortion laws are holding Irish women back. The country ranks first for gender parity in health care in a recent European Union index. It was in the middle of the pack in The Economistâ€™s recent â€œglass-ceiling indexâ€ for working women. It came in fifth out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forumâ€™s â€œGlobal Gender Gapâ€ report. (The United States was 22nd.)
Now itâ€™s also true that Ireland, like most of Europe, is to the left of Texas on many economic issues. All the abortion restrictions described above coexist with universal health care, which Rick Perryâ€™s state conspicuously lacks.
So perhaps, it might be argued, abortion can be safely limited only when the government does more to cover womenâ€™s costs in other ways â€” in which case Texas might still be flirting with disaster.
But note that this is a better argument for liberalism than for abortion.
Dude — it’s all of a piece. Notice that the yahoos who lay awake at night thinking up new abortion restrictions are the same ones trying to sabotage “Obamacare.” And they’re often the same ones denying that women are really paid less than men or that anyone might need Affirmative Action or a living wage.
The day that abortions are covered by a national health care program, all women have reasonably good access to abortion providers, and physicians are allowed reasonable discretion in determining medical need for a later-term abortion, then a 20-week gestation limit on elective abortions wouldn’t be that big a deal. But until those other things happen, it is.
And if I were God, I’d give Douthat a womb. It might broaden his perspectives.
Well, I wasn’t going to rant on about Douthat quite this long, because I also wanted to mention the on-air argument between professional white guy Ben Ferguson and CNN host Don Lemon. Basically, Ferguson told the African-American Lemon that black men are not, in fact, profiled or harassed by police or treated differently by pearl-clutching matrons than white men, and an exasperated Lemon said,
â€œIâ€™m telling you my experience, the presidentâ€™s telling you about his experience. And youâ€™re saying that weâ€™re not having that experience. Who are you to tell us weâ€™re not having that experience, when youâ€™re not living it? Youâ€™re not in our bodies. Itâ€™s insulting for you to say, â€˜No thatâ€™s not happening.â€™ You donâ€™t live as a black man, you donâ€™t know that.â€
Hey, he’s the white guy; he knows everything. And you’re not oppressed until he says you’re oppressed.