Roe vs. Wade vs. the Iowa Reality Show

As we turn our collective attention to the reality show in Iowa, it’s hard to miss that a woman’s right to choose is under attack. Many members of the rabid right like to live in a fact-free zone and are so unhinged from reality that they wouldn’t recognize it if it sat down across from them at the dinner table. Nevertheless, we must do our best to focus on reality while we face the onslaught coming from the right-wing presidential wannabes.

I have a confession to make. Back when I was young and naive, I was a pro-life evangelical. I felt that the unborn were precious (still believe that) and worthy of protection (still believe that too). Christian evangelicals often dislike complexity and tend to see things in simplistic black-and-white terms. Certainly the same could have been said of me. (Someday I’ll tell you about my metamorphosis from evangelical to Episcopalian. But not today.)

During that time I happened on an issue of Sojourners magazine that examined the question of abortion in depth from several carefully thought-out and well-expressed perspectives. I read the whole issue, front to back. Some of it I read more than once. As a result, all the black and white morphed into many shades of gray. I’ve been mulling over what I read there ever since.

What hit home for me was that legislation is not the best way to reduce the number of abortions. Legislation banning abortion serves only to put the back-alley hacks back in business, thereby causing more needless deaths, not preventing them. This can hardly be considered a desirable outcome, but it’s one that many who want to make abortion illegal refuse to acknowledge. If your goal is really to protect the unborn, rather than just beating your chest and trying to make yourself appealing to anti-abortion die-hards, then it’s well to consider how best to do that.

Reducing the annual number of abortions is certainly an admirable goal. However, there are different ways to reach that goal—some of which will help women and some of which will not.

Simply put, there are two key ways to reduce abortion—by making it less necessary or by making it less available. In our view, only the former approach is humane, effective, and just. [Center for American Progress]

Abortion is not new. It has been part of the human story from the beginning. It’s not going away, regardless of how much its foes stomp their feet. Throughout human history women have found ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

None of the options available when a woman is faced with an unwanted pregnancy are especially easy or pleasant. Regardless of the reason for the pregnancy—lapse of judgment, rape, or failed birth control—the decisions that must be made are difficult and rightly belong to the pregnant woman and the people she chooses to trust.

How is it that those most adamantly opposed to abortion seem never to spare a thought for women faced with unwanted pregnancies? In their efforts to outdo each other in their pro-life fervor, abortion opponents even cast shame and suspicion on women who miscarry, and women who are raped cannot expect an ounce of compassion from those who value the unborn more than they value rape victims.

The question is, who decides? Who decides what should be done when a woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, for whatever reason?

Surprisingly enough, a bunch of judgmental middle-aged legislators, most of them men, are not the best ones to make extremely personal decisions for women at such crucial junctures. The decision of what to do about a woman’s pregnancy shouldn’t be made by strangers. It should be made by the woman herself. And no one else.

The goal of reducing the number of abortions is a much better one than making abortion illegal. Make good reproductive health care and sex education available to everyone, and then trust women to make the very personal choices they’re confronted with responsibly and with much-needed support and assistance.

I know that’s not what we’ll hear from the reality show in Iowa. All the more reason to counter the reality show with reality. Nothing less than the very lives of our mothers, sisters, and daughters is at stake.

Grab bag of blogging, Dec 1: High-speed rail | Republican recipes | NYTimes studies Palin | Die already, DADT | Melee at Isthmus

What’s up with Wisconsin’s rail?: This haunts me. Madison’s Mayor and Common Council President Mark Clear have told the city’s Economic Development Committee to keep its mouth shut and let the mayor diplomatically broach the subject of high-speed rail with Gov-Elect Scott Walker.  And by “diplomatically broach” I mean wait around for Scott Walker to meet with him. I agree with Julie Stone who says: “I think we’re losing a battle of publicity, not politics.”

And what are those Republicans cooking up?: Jack Craver of Isthmus lists 8 actions Wisconsin Republicans will likely implement with their total control. None of which looks capable of creating 250,000 jobs. Representative Jon Richards of Milwaukee went on Public Radio and pledged to keep Republicans to their knitting: ““It’s been a little troubling to hear that one of the first things they’re doing is trying to derail the high speed train project that’s expected to create 5,000 jobs in Wisconsin. That also should be part of the agenda to make sure that project is on track so we keep those jobs in Wisconsin.

Repubs are surely coming in demanding photo I.D. voter registration requirements. I fear eventually they will turn their attentions to the Pro-Life Wisconsin agenda:  opposing abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk, halting embryonic stem cell research, and opposing any artificial birth control.

Palin still here?: New York Times figured out Palin just won’t die or go away, so they did an exhaustive 7 pager on her. We learn that Palin is too secretive and controlling for her own good, she’s an organism hated as much by the Republicans as by me, and she’s rented office space in Iowa — prepping for primary action in 2012.

Cut the DADT crap already: President Obama calls on Senate to act ASAP and repeal “Don’t ask don’t tell” so he can sign it into law. From the study: “We have a gay guy. He’s big, he’s mean and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay,”-quoted member of special operations force.

Gentlemen, start your melee!: Bill Leuders, Dave Blaska, and Jack Craver had a spirited discussion at David Blaska is not telling the truth. I see even Emily Mills popped in! Afterward, I hope they had a beer together.