Emily Tsitrain has a lot at stake in the abortion debate. She’s a woman, and theocratic, misogynist, anti-science regimes like South Dakota and Alabama would make her a ward of the state whose sole purpose is to breed young for the fatherland. But because she is so much more than the hysterical, unreasonable creature whom certain states think must have her private decisions made by big government, Tsitrian lays out a rational argument for sensible public policies that would reduce abortions far more effectively than declaring tiny cells humans with rights and women mere livestock:
To reduce the underlying need for abortions (most effective), try the following:
- Make reproductive healthcare universal and accessible. empirically shown to reduce abortions. Period.
- Invest in anti-poverty policies. As communities move up the economic sphere, abortion rates decrease as bearing children becomes easier financially.
- Make sex education universal. It’s horrifying how many young adults actually don’t understand how human reproductive biology works, and abstinence-only approach has shown to be wildly ineffective.
…anyone can agree that reducing abortions is generally a good thing, and that if we’re optimizing for lives saved (not arguing a fetus is a life or not here, but for the sake of the argument let’s say that it is), abortion bans are a poor use of political capital and resources and do not achieve the desired result of reducing human suffering [links mine; Emily Tsitrian, “Banning Abortions Doesn’t Work, Says Guest Poster Emily Tsitrian. Reducing The Need For Them Does,” The Constant Commoner, 2019.05.24].
Tsitrian’s second point on anti-poverty programs is worth debating. See Katha Pollitt, on tempering one’s view of the poverty-abortion link, and the Guttmacher Institute, which points out that, in 2011, a lower proportion of women below the poverty line chose to end unintended pregnancies by abortion. But even if the poverty-abortion link as some debatable empirical and moral ground, it’s clear that helping women out of poverty is better than leaving them poor and treating them like second-class citizens. And it’s just as clear that abortion bans don’t achieve their purported aim nearly as well as expanding health care access and sex education.