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5/26/2005

Yes, I'm pro-abortion

A lot of abortion rights supporters are careful to stipulate that they are not pro-abortion, but are simply in favor of keeping abortion 'safe, legal, and rare' in Bill Clinton's formulation. Howard Dean made basically the same point on Meet the Press this weekend, and Nathan Newman hammers him (and Kevin Drum, who agreed with Dean) for it:
Why Abortion Improves Society

Kevin Drum argues that progressives should downplay the merits of abortion and instead frame abortion politics around "anti-busybody" politics. He is seconding an argument by Howard Dean:
I don't know anybody who thinks abortion is a good thing. I don't know anybody in either party who is pro-abortion. The issue is not whether we think abortion is a good thing. The issue is whether a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care
This is an asinine statement by Dean. If abortion is never a good thing, then why should anyone have the option to have one?

One reason progressives are not as strong on the abortion issue is that we so rarely hear abortion defended on its merits. Instead, we have the religious right denouncing it as the equivalent of murder and slavery, and progressives essentially saying "that may be, but it's really none of your business if people are committing murder and slavery, now is it?"

If that's the debate, it would be no surprise that the rightwing would win over time.

Back in 1968, only 15% of the population supported liberalizing abortion laws. By 1972, 64% supported increased access to abortion for women.

This change didn't happen because of "anti-busybody" arguments but because feminists of both sexes stood up and declared that abortion -- however sad an option when used -- was necessary to improve the quality of life and equality of women in our society. In 1972, fifty-three prominent women published an open letter declaring that they had had an abortion to demonstrate that good people had good reasons to have abortions.

...

Abortion is not just some individual decision with no effects on broader society ... Most abortion rights activists have not been libertarians who thought individual choices have no effect on broader society, but people who thought the availability of abortion causes profound and needed changes in that broader society...

... overall, we have a better society because abortion is legal than if abortion was criminalized.

It's nice to see someone get things so right. Abortion is not only a legally available choice, and it is not only a legitimate choice--in many, many cases, it is the right choice. As in: it should be encouraged. Case in point: 13-year-olds who get pregnant. It is indicative of the power of the Religious Right in the US that progressives have to defend the legitimacy of abortion, rather than doing what we ought to be doing--viz., encouraging more abortions.

Most people need a kid like they need a hole in the head. There are too many damn people roaming the earth. Pregnancy is dangerous. There are all sorts of reasons why abortion is the proper, responsible thing to do in many instances.

Don't get me wrong: I am not advocating mandatory abortions or anything like that. I'm pro-abortion, but I'm also pro-choice--if a woman doesn't want to abort a pregnancy, she shouldn't be forced to. But that doesn't mean we can't do everything possible to encourage women in general to make certain choices.

I know this position makes me something of a leper. The only other person I've heard express it is Jackie Passey, and she catches a lot of shit for it. Nonetheless, I'd like to see us get to a point where we are beyond arguing over the criminalization of abortion.

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