12 November 2014

More on the advance by nickels and dimes

I've often had some strange opinions. Or what must seem like strange opinions to most people.

So. This one is kind of out there too. I don't think the problem for pro-choice people is defending Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court. That's not going to be overturned for one. And if it ever is, the problem is then on pro-life voters to defend a minority position in almost every state (the complete ban of abortion) by making that their intended legal framework. My thought has long been that if Roe were ever overturned, the pro-life movement shrivels and dies because it can't win that way and Roe is a rallying cry that it doesn't get any other way. 

The real problem has been, especially over the last few years, a system of nickel and diming the effective options of what it means for pro-choice to be actually exercised. To restrict; primarily with tedious, invasive, expensive, and mostly unnecessary legal frameworks to run a clinic conducting abortions and to obtain access to it from within a state (waiting periods, ultrasounds, descriptions, parental notification, restrictions on IUDs, etc). Most of that is controversial and well-known to be useless and arbitrary rather than meaningful restraints among pro-choice advocates, but such advocates are also not very common (ardent pro-life voters are roughly as common). Most people are squishy and uncomfortable with the topic and without much contemplation will feel these are reasonable restraints. Even though they're not useful to protect anyone except to waste more time or money for those who want or need access.

But it's also starting to punish. And this is more where it gets scary and strange. 

"Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived."

"documenting 413 arrests or equivalent actions depriving pregnant women of their physical liberty during the 32 years between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. In a majority of these cases, women who had no intention of ending a pregnancy went to term and gave birth to a healthy baby. This includes the many cases where the pregnant woman was alleged to have used some amount of alcohol or a criminalized drug. 


Since 2005, we have identified an additional 380 cases, with more arrests occurring every week." [Bold mine]


This is in combination with cases like that in Texas earlier in the year where the state was attempting to keep a pregnant but brain-dead woman "alive" long enough to deliver a baby against the family's wishes and before the legal statutes required it (which is grotesque and macabe enough that there are legal statutes requiring it rather than allowing families to decide this). 


The problem with these legal changes isn't just that it presents these arbitrary distinctions over the access of women to abortion. It's that it now potentially criminalizes basic medical decisions, places judges in positions of authority over the health risks or even the lack of life rather than doctors and patients making these decisions, and in some cases, criminalizes terrible things happening to women naturally. Miscarriages. Which are much more abundant than people realize. Or severe health problems placing both her and a probably very much wanted pregnancy at risk. These demands and realities are placed at odds with legal codes that are not as accommodating. Even if women are eventually cleared of any "wrong-doing" and even if one agrees with the fundamental "personhood" legal basis behind many anti-abortion legal codes, that we should be demanding the intrusion of the state onto personal liberties of women who have suffered a considerable loss, or been through considerable trauma and risk to their own lives suggests that we have accorded the state far too much power over this. And far too much power primarily for the purpose of punishment rather than power for the purpose of protecting the life and safety of citizens. 


As a corollary to all of this. I'm still extremely baffled by the Democrats election strategy being premised largely on fear based positions relating to abortion politics. As noted above, there is not actually a grand divide of people for whom this is a single-issue vote that they will always turn out to vote for or against. There are some people for whom this is an issue, but there were not many. The electorate seemed mostly concerned about their economic prospects, with maybe IR (ISIS) and other assorted issues mixed in. And what's more, this has never actually been a "women's issue" in the sense that it motivates women to vote uniformly or as a bloc of voters. It is a women's issue in the sense that it is women getting abortions or in need of them; men obviously don't need them as we can't have one. It is not a women's issue in the sense that there are more women in favor of abortion (men are usually slightly higher in support in polls, especially later term) and that thus running such ads or campaigns based upon the (legitimately) terrible things Republicans could do in office on these issues would turn out women FOR Democrats. It doesn't break that way. It was just as likely to either: 

a) get women to go vote FOR Republicans, because there are numerous women who actually favor such policies and want to see them enacted. Women break evenly here rather than "for" choice (although most women still have a "abortion for me and not for thee" style convention to this "choice").

b) get women annoyed at the men in these campaigns for thinking this is the only issue on which they are concerned and annoyed enough to stay home and not vote or annoyed enough to vote for the other guy. 

That was a textbook stupid campaign in other words. 
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