Category Archives: Abortion Issues
In July, the Pew Research center released new data about public opinion on abortion. So what do people believe about abortion? Though a vocal minority is aggressively anti-choice, most people support abortion access. And almost all people support abortion to save the life of the woman. Overall, public support for abortion is the highest it has been in the last two decades.
Last Saturday, more than 600 protesters gathered outside a Charlotte, North Carolina, abortion clinic to shame women seeking abortions. Many urged that “abortion is a men’s issue, too.” Justin Reeder, founder of Men for Life, recently remarked, “The truth is, this is more a man’s issue than a woman’s issue…We forget about the men so often in this story.” Apparently what happens inside of women’s bodies actually matters more to men than women. But far-right abortion protesters are right about one thing: abortion affects men, too. Yet women disproportionately bear the shame, costs, and risks of abortion. Abortion benefits men–even when they won’t admit it.
How Abortion Benefits Men
When women don’t have abortions, they have children. Those children need at least 18 years of food, clothing, parenting, education, and myriad other costly forms of support. Single fathers are more likely than mothers to neglect these responsibilities. But they still have to pay child support, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars over the course of childhood. Abortion prevents men from paying for children they don’t want or never see. It protects them from a lifelong relationship with a partner they don’t want to be with. It ensures that both men and women can pursue educational and career goals. And, in the case of very conservative men from very conservative families, it may protect men from the stigma of an unwanted pregnancy.
These aren’t trivial benefits. Men who can’t afford child support can find themselves in bankruptcy. Teen fathers are more likely to drop out of college and high school. Ongoing conflict with a mother the father no longer has a relationship with is a source of chronic stress. And of course, the ability to have sex without fear of being forced to raise a child to adulthood is a significant benefit that frees men to think about more pleasant topics.
Why Men Don’t Get a Say
So if abortion benefits men, too, why don’t they get a say? Men’s inability to stop a partner’s abortion has been a rallying cry of the far-right for decades. The obvious answer, of course, is that the fetus is in the woman’s body. Most anti-abortion activists are undaunted by this. So here’s another issue: the odds of a man actually serving as the primary caregiver for a child he forces a woman to bear are vanishingly slim.
Dozens of studies have documented that men continue not to do their fair share of childrearing. Some studies even show that men see equal division of childrearing as a form of inequality. When couples don’t live together, the discrepancy grows even larger. Following a divorce, a third of men drop out of their children’s lives altogether.
It’s a fantasy to believe that a majority of men who want to stop their partners from having abortions actually want to raise the child. Instead, the mother will be stuck parenting a child she didn’t want–or worse, the child will end up in foster care. It’s just one more way the anti-choice movement has proven to be an anti-family movement.
Women Still Bear the Cost of Most Abortions
Researchers have paid little attention to the role men play in abortion. A small 1999 study found that only slightly more than 1% of men whose partners had abortions wanted their partner to complete the pregnancy. This suggests that men know they benefit from abortion. But what support do men offer? Not much. In an even smaller study, only half of men whose partners sought abortions even bothered to accompany their partners to the abortion clinic.
Women are still significantly more likely than men to pay for abortion, even though men earn more money than women. Women also bear all of the risk of abortion, and most of the stigma. Abortion clinic protesters, after all, don’t call men whores or sinners. They’re more likely to insist upon a man’s right to control his partner. Male abortion protesters are protesting abortion, not going to the local foster care office and petitioning to adopt unwanted children.
It’s a sign of the privilege that infects virtually every aspect of relationships between men and women. Men benefit from someone women do, while denying that benefit and demanding even more of women. The male anti-abortion movement is male fragility at its worst.
Support for choice should be a non-negotiable litmus test for Democratic candidates. Yet male Democratic party leaders are increasingly cozying up to anti-choice Democrats. A few weeks ago, it was Bernie Sanders. Now it’s Tom Perez. The new DNC chair will meet with representatives of Democrats for Life as part of an “outreach campaign.” It’s just one in a series of moves that suggests the party still doesn’t understand the role of its progressive female base.
This week’s swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has raised concerns among pro-choice activists. Any of the many state-level abortion restrictions could make their way to the Supreme Court. This, in turn, could spell the end of Roe vs. Wade. Gorsuch replaced a conservative justice. This means the technical balance of the Court hasn’t shifted. But with one more Supreme Court nominee, the Court should shift further right than it has been in four decades.
With all the focus on abortion rights, it’s easy to lose sight of something most people take completely for granted: premarital and casual sex. Abortion rights helped birth the sexual revolution. The transformation this produced took premarital sex from scandalous to standard. A Supreme Court that reverses choice rights, or even one that just eats away at choice, could affect the sex life of anyone who’s ever deigned to have sex outside of marriage–and that’s almost everyone.
A new Tennessee abortion ban bill prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. The bill, sponsored by Republican legislators, was roundly criticized by women’s rights groups. In testimony about the bill, one woman cried and called the bill “cruel.” Now, opponents of the bill are getting support from an unlikely source. Tennessee’s Republican attorney general, Herbert H. Slattery, III, has called the bill “constitutionally suspect.”
Anti-choice zealots know they’re about to have another friend on the Supreme Court. They’re rolling out new state abortion laws at a dizzying pace. Laws that are clearly illegal under Roe vs. Wade are actually a great strategy. That’s because these regulations have a good chance of winding their way to the Supreme Court, potentially reversing Roe. Here are four new state abortion laws you might have missed this month.
Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has been a rallying cry of the GOP for eight years. Now that they’re finally getting their chance, Republican leaders are struggling to find a politically acceptable replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare greatly expanded women’s access to healthcare, so Republican attempts at repeal pose a direct threat to millions of women. Here’s what could change.
Republican Replacement for the Affordable Care Act: Changes Now, Changes Later, and an Uncertain Future
The Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act is a fiscal reconciliation bill. It’s also, they say, just the first in a series of legislation. So we don’t yet know how extensive the changes will be, or when they will come. So far, Republican changes include only defunding Planned Parenthood, draconian abortion regulations, and a massive scale back of Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood Funding
Republicans have been at war with Planned Parenthood, a major provider of women’s healthcare, for years. Unsurprisingly, their new plan completely defunds the organization. This could leave millions of women without access to birth control, reproductive health counseling, and other vital services.
The Hyde amendment already prohibits any public funding of abortion. The new Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act would go further. Tax credits for healthcare coverage are a signature feature of the new legislation. But Republicans want to prohibit tax credits for any plan that covers abortion—even if the plan recipient never has an abortion. This could reduce the number of plans eligible for tax cuts, while encouraging insurers to refuse to cover abortion care.
The Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act would scale back Medicaid coverage. Funding for Medicaid would be given to the states. However, funding would be capped, and coverage would be limited, reducing the total number of people eligible for care. This could have disastrous effects on preventative care, including for women’s health.
Birth Control Coverage
For now, birth control coverage is safe. As one of the most popular features of the ACA, coverage for birth control has saved countless women thousands of dollars. To anti-choice Republicans, birth control access should be a no-brainer. Research shows that birth control access can prevent abortions. Yet Republican opposition to abortion seemingly has little to do with protecting life. Republicans have steadfastly opposed the ACA’s birth control mandate. It’s likely that as soon as they get the chance, they’ll remove birth control coverage, throwing millions of women’s reproductive futures into uncertainty.
Republicans apparently aren’t sufficiently pro-life to want to fund the costs of carrying a baby to term. For years, Republican men have insisted they shouldn’t have to cover pregnancy and childbirth, even as they insist that women cover male-specific treatments such as prostate cancer screening and Viagra.
The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance plans to cover maternity care. Prior to the law, most employer-backed policies offered maternity coverage, but other plans rarely did. Moreover, even employer-supported plans often featured significant coverage gaps. While Republicans have not yet moved to eliminate the maternity care mandate, their long-time opposition to this piece of the legislation suggests they may soon attack it.
With average birth costs ranging from $10,000-$40,000 without insurance, this could put many women into bankruptcy solely because they chose to have a baby.
Choice advocates interested in abortion access for all woman now often talk about reproductive justice as opposed to reproductive choice. The reproductive justice movement, which originated with feminist organizations such as SisterSong led by women of color, focuses on access issues, not just legal rights. Reproductive justice advocates argue that abortion can’t just be legal; it must also be available to the women who need it most.
Here are five ways abortion rights are constrained even when abortion is fully legal.