Abortion Ban Backfire?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Abortion Ban Backfire?

Like a lot of women, I am personally against abortion, that is, until I might *need* one.

What does that mean exactly? Well, considering my unique circumstances, (cough, lesbian, cough) I don't have to worry about "accidently" getting pregnant. If I ever get pregnant it will be because I want to be. So, unlike a lot of other married, sexually active women, it's pretty hard for me to imagine circumstances where I would *want* to have an abortion.

Which leaves me with the few circumstances where I wouldn't want to have an abortion but I would *need* to have one. For instance, if I were raped and got pregnant I would most certainly have an abortion. If during a regular pregnancy I found out for medical reasons that my health/life was at grave risk or it were discovered that the fetus had certain devastating birth defects, I would reluctantly choose to have an abortion. These are the worst kinds of abortion, the kind that follows the trauma of a rape or the kind where the parents will deeply mourn the loss.

So in the wake of Bush's newly minted justices we now have the rise of state abortion bans crafted to overturn Roe. First South Dakota, with quite a few states already promising to do the same. Not suprisingly, they're all red states.

I'm glad they're doing it.

I think it is time for a final showdown over abortion, over privacy, over bodily autonomy from the state. I want the right to choose and all the freedoms it sybolizes to come into much sharper focus, for people to wake up to the real possibility of abortion being transformed into a prosecutable, criminal act. The Chicago Tribune articulates why this ban will be ruled by the law of unintended consequences.
As Prohibition proved, a mere law can't make people abandon something they value. Changing behavior requires changing basic attitudes--to eliminate not just the availability of abortion, but also the demand for it.

Though the activists on both sides of this debate get most of the attention, many people favor the goal often stated by President Bill Clinton, which was to make abortion "safe, legal and rare." The anti-abortion movement has had some successes in recent years, notably on "partial-birth" abortion and parental notification laws. But it has not been able to convert widespread ambivalence about abortion into firm opposition.

What South Dakota lawmakers have approved may shake some people out of ambivalence, but not in the direction the lawmakers favor. The ban allows no exceptions for rape, incest or serious dangers to the mother's health. Only when the mother's life is at risk would it be allowed. Faced with this ban, voters on the fence are more likely to be pushed toward the abortion-rights camp than pulled away from it.
If there is one way to wake up the women voters in this country-- especially the extraordinary number of single, young women who don't vote-- this is it. I think "pro-life" people strongly underestimate the emotional impact of such a bold move to ban abortion. I think choice is a right that many women (and men) take for granted, at the very least this will change all that. I personally think the closer we get to banning abortion the further the possibility will be pushed away. In a word, the GOP will quickly become closely acquainted with one word-- overreach.

What happens if Roe is overturned and all those red states ban abortion? Statist oppression and control breeds revolution, my dears, especially in a country that (allegedly) elects its leaders. Bring it on.

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