I know a lot of people reading this blog, especially when it gets linked from random sources, are decidedly not on the same page as me. I would say this is nowhere more evident than on the issue of abortion. I am a strident pro-choice advocate. While I don’t condone abortion per se, I understand circumstances are various, reasons are complicated and ultimately a women should be allowed to decide what she does with her body free from any outside influence. Abortion is a legal medical procedure and it should remain so.
Now, like I mentioned, that doesn’t mean I am necessarily cheering for abortions. I think the radical anti-abortion zealots tend to think the pro-choice crowd are in favor of abortions being offered like after-dinner mints. I think many on the left would agree with Bill Clinton’s stance on the issue: abortion should be kept “safe, legal and rare.”
As many of you know, Oklahoma, where I currently live, is militant in its approach to curbing abortion. Though some of the draconian measures passed over the years have been ruled unconstitutional, legislators, cheered on by a right wing governor, continue to chip away at reproductive rights. What never get mentioned, however, are the underlying problems surrounding abortion and why it occurs. Oklahoma is near the top in teen pregnancy, doesn’t mandate sex ed in schools and generally follows the Bristol Palin approach to talking about sex. And that doesn’t even begin to touch upon the religious zealots’ inanity.
With all this in mind, I’m fascinated by this piece from Amanda Marcotte. Doesn’t it stand to reason that given these problems facing Oklahoma, we’d want solutions to the problems (political and moral) posed by abortion that actually reduce abortions? No, rather than discussing the issue like adults, lawmakers in OK would rather punish single mothers by reducing access to WIC. That’s because they only see the abortion issue through a shallow, ideological lens: abortions bad, no abortions good. Measures that would actually affect the numbers are non-starters because, ironically, it lets big, bad government fund things like family planning curricula and contraception (as opposed to putting the government between you and your doctor?). As Marcotte puts it in her closing graff:
Republicans probably haven’t thought about this plan much beyond patting themselves on the back for being clever enough to give something to the anti-contraception fringe without unduly alarming moderates. Still, they should consider the effects of amplifying the differences in red and blue states. Red states already have a reputation for high poverty, teenage pregnancy, STD, and divorce rates. If they continue down this path, the contrast between red and blue states will start to resemble that of undeveloped and industrial nations.
Were I a cynical person, I’d be tempted to think the right wing in OK doesn’t really care about that last bit as long as the donations keep flowing.