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Emily Tsitrian: Bans Don’t Reduce Abortion; Smart Social Policy and Education Do

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:

  1. Make reproductive healthcare universal and accessible. empirically shown to reduce abortions. Period.
  2. Invest in anti-poverty policies. As communities move up the economic sphere, abortion rates decrease as bearing children becomes easier financially.
  3. 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.


  1. jerry 2019-05-25

    Access to healthcare works as well. “Over the past three decades, the world has seen a steady decline in the number of women dying from childbirth. There has been a notable outlier: the United States.

    Here the maternal mortality rate has been climbing, putting the United States in the unenviable company of Afghanistan, Lesotho and Swaziland as countries with rising rates.” Washington Post 11/4/2018

    It is now climbing even further due to lack of Medicaid Expansion and the republican sabotage of the ACA The writer is too kind, she should note that republicans hate women, they always have and always will.

  2. Southsider 2019-05-25

    The most glaring hypocrisy from the right (which is saying something) is this simple one.

    “Banning guns wont stop criminals from getting them”
    “Banning abortions is the most effective way to stop women from getting them”

    What in the actual eff???

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-05-25

    It’s all selective ethics, Southsider. Republicans believe what they want when it suits their political agenda.

    Of course, we Dems can fall into a similar trap if we’re not careful. We can’t say “Bans don’t work” on abortion and then maintain simply that “Bans do work” when we turn to sensible gun policy. We have to focus on bigger policy issues, like the ones that Emily Tsitrian points out above, and balance them with our moral positions. We also need to look at the evidence. The links above show evidence that Tsitrian’s policies make sense.

    The Rand Corporation notes that certain pro-gun policies may increase violent crime and certain gun restrictions may reduce violent crime.

    We Dems can thus be smart and say some restrictions do work and some restrictions don’t. Abortion bans appear to be different creatures from gun “bans”—and maybe there’s a reason tp pause, because we Dems aren’t talking about absolute bans on guns the way Pubs are aiming for absolute bans on abortion. We Dems are looking for sensible, evidence-based regulations. We Dems aren’t anywhere near trying to regulate gun shops out of existence the way Pubs are trying to “regulate” abortion clinics out of existence.

  4. jerry 2019-05-25

    republican talking points on the Alabama abortion disgrace. Watch our little Russian senators along with giggles’s, defend this women hating law.

    “According to the document distributed by the largest GOP ideological conservative caucus in the House, conservative leaders are urging members to defend the Alabama law, using the justification that an abortion would be committing more violence against a woman who was raped or survived incest.

    “Committing a second violent act with abortion to a woman who has already been victimized by an act of rape or incest could physically or psychologically wound her further,” the document states. “Every single child should be afforded the opportunity to live, regardless of how they were conceived.”

  5. Debbo 2019-05-25

    Patriarchal paternalism. We’re doing it to protect the ladies. 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-05-29

    Debbo, I’m inclined to believe we Democrats need to run women for every office.

  7. Debbo 2019-05-29

    Good idea.

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