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Not quite a wingnut swirlie, but definitely a wedgie

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 3, 2008 23:55 EDT

How’s this for an economic indicator?

There were 13,843 abortions performed in Minnesota in 2007. Of the women who listed a reason for their abortions, 40 percent cited economic concerns — that’s the largest share since the state started collecting detailed abortion information a decade ago, according to the state’s annual abortion report.

Abortion: Brought to you by 8 years of George W. Bush’s economic policies. Bet all those sexist wingnuts clutching jewelry shaped like teeny-tiny feet didn’t realize they were pulling the lever for more abortions when they voted for Bush.

In other words, what we have here is a wedge issue. Economic downturns in our nation and widening gap between rich and everyone else directly affects women’s choices on whether or not to carry a baby to term. And this is not a problem that will be solved by that $600 stimulus check, which barely covers the cost of an abortion, but falls short by a couple of digits from the amount of money required to deliver the baby, much less raise it. And contrary to what Time magazine would have you believe, that used teddy bear, box of diapers, and a brochure telling you that condoms make your hair fall out that you get from your local crisis pregnancy center isn’t enough to get over the hump. Liberals need to be pointing to this statistic every five seconds or so until the message starts to sink in—you can have a shitty, economically unjust society or you can have a declining abortion rate, but you can’t have both. What’s a Republican to do?

Some anti-choice activists are waking up.

Considering the increase in economic concerns, [anti-choice activist Scott Fischbach]* recommends more funding for alternatives, including programs that provide women with housing, education and adoption planning.

True to form, he slipped in something about adoption, which is a useless waste of money, because the tiny sliver of pregnant women that are eager to give up their babies aren’t wanting for help. But wingnuts continue to believe in their fairy tales: Jesus died for your sins, there is a god and he loves you, zygotes know their ABCs, and there’s tons of women who are one pamphlet away from being convinced that they need to put their bodies through 9 months of pregnancy to produce a baby to give to someone else. Without doing a warm-up exercise like fostering some rescue pets or something. Still, we pulled the housing and education admissions out of him, which is a big step. Now we need to start strongly pointing out that Band-Aid solutions won’t do it. The abortion rate will remain high as long as economic injustice and lack of sex education/contraception access continue.

There are concerns that trumpeting the economic causes of abortion will obscure the fact that abortion access is a right, not just a necessary evil that could be eliminated through search and destroy missions aimed at typical causes. Catherine Price voices this concern:

In the end, I don’t think it really matters which reason a woman cites for her decision to terminate a pregnancy. But one possible fallout from using money as a reason is that it gives fuel to antiabortion activists like Scott Fischbach, excecutive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. He says that abortion can be combated by pouring more money into things like programs for women’s housing, education and adoption planning. Granted, all of those things could definitely have positive effects (and possibly reduce the number of abortions — which I think all would agree would be a good thing). But they wouldn’t solve the problem of what to do when a woman just does not want to be pregnant, period. Economics or no economics, that should still be her choice.

That’s worried me in the past, too, but I think I’m getting over it. The main reason is that there’s never going to be a trade-off. It’s not going to be like left and right meet one day and say, “Okay, I’ll swap you abortion rights for better social services and narrowing the gap between the rich and everyone else.” But we can use this issue to, pardon me for using this expression, heighten the contradictions. When it comes to converting people from anti- to pro-choice, you hear more stories of people who woke up because they realized that Republican policies actually increase the need for abortion than any other wake-up call. Liberals have a giant consistency advantage between being pro-choice and pro-economic justice, and this is an opportunity to hammer at that. At worst, you convince anti-choicers they need to be pro-choice, but usually when you convert them, you get more than that, including a general overall appreciation for liberal ideas on women’s rights and economic justice.

Really, how often do you get the platonic wedge issue presented to you like this? If you can’t pounce on such an opportunity, you don’t deserve to win.

*Yep, another man. I know. I’m as surprised as I was when the sun came up this morning.

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