There’s an article in Sunday’s Washington Post by Linda Hirshman that I’ll be getting to in just a moment, but first I want to touch on something I mentioned in a previous “on the issues” post. In it, I said that the “culture wars” topics – like gay marriage or abortion – were a distraction. This is true. When presented as issues of morality they are intended to distract people and drive an impenetrable wedge between them and the people who are “immoral.”
The problem, however, is that both of these issues have very real impacts – not only on peoples’ lives and choices, but in how the people who are the objects of each of those debates is treated.
I’m not going to talk about gay marriage today, but I am going to talk about abortion. Linda Hirshman’s article first.
My generation of women has been spoiled in that we have (dwindling, but present) access to abortion. Why is this spoiling? Because, apparently, the fact that we have it makes us not care whether we have it. The anti-choice fundamentalists love to wave fetuses in your face to show you how awful abortion is, but you rarely – if ever – see pro-choice people waving around images of women dead in a pool of blood from hemorrhaging after an illegal abortion.
Sorry for the shock value, but it’s true, it’s our legacy, it’s what has happened. It’s what will happen again because when abortion is illegal, women suffer. For instance, Hirshman cites West Germany’s prohibitive abortion laws and what they meant for women travelers.
In the 1980s, when abortion was severely limited in then-West Germany, border guards sometimes required German women returning from foreign trips to undergo vaginal examinations to make sure that they hadn’t illegally terminated a pregnancy while they were abroad. According to news stories and other accounts, the guards would stop young women and ask them about drugs, then look for evidence of abortion, such as sanitary pads or nightgowns, in their cars, and eventually force them to undergo a medical examination – as West German law empowered them to do.
Think this is outlandish? Couldn’t happen here? Please.
four states — Louisiana, Missisippi, North and South Dakota — as having trigger laws explicitly aimed at making abortion criminal upon Roe’ s demise, and seven others that have committed to acting to the extent that the court may allow
And the trouble may come with crossing state lines and criminality there.
“To speak of the fetus’ ” home state, and make the home it shares with the mother “a basis” for controlling a woman’s ability to get an abortion might “make sense,” Columbia law professor Gerald Neuman wrote in 1993 when abortion rights were last in peril.
Now, the difference between Obama and McCain on this is clear. McCain has pledged to pack the Supreme Court with justices in the vein of Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas (extremely conservative). Among these men are the three youngest justices who may have careers on the court for as long as 30-35 years. They are entrenched. Any more conservative justices and the next 30 years will be a nightmare for women, people of color, GLBT folks, free speech, torture discussions, social programs, etc.
And let me remind you, on the more liberal side, John Paul Stevens will not last out another administration. The man is hanging on by his 88-year-old teeth.
Anyway, on McCain’s issues page, the very first entry on the “Human Dignity and Sanctity of Life” section (sigh) is this:
Overturning Roe v. Wade
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who
understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.
However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents only one step in the long path toward ending abortion.
Blah blah blah it goes on about “strength” of pregnant women “choosing life” and faith based hoo-ha and nothing about sex education or anything that actually prevents abortion from being needed as an option nor anything about social programs to help women/families who choose to have children. So – as usual – pro-life as long as the kid isn’t born yet.
Obama’s site has a reproductive choice section
Supports a Woman’s Right to Choose:
Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in that case.
Preventing Unintended Pregnancy:
Barack Obama is an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.
So there it is – you choose between the guy who won’t tell you how to not get pregnant, force you to keep it if you do, and leave you out on your own once you’ve given birth OR the guy who will work to get you the education and the access to contraception you need to not get pregnant in the first place, give you the opportunity to make the choice if you do, and in other sections has all kinds of things about supporting families/mothers. (Obama doesn’t cynically roll together helping families and his reproductive choice section into the same thing like McCain does.)