Abortion Rhetoric

Nobody who writes about abortion rhetoric ever produces evidence. And by “Nobody,” I include myself. I’d say pro-choicers need to talk more about fetal development and mention anecdotes of my convincing people using neurology. Amanda says pro-choicers need to talk more in general health care terms and brings up an anecdote of a woman who would’ve remained pro-life if pro-choicers had talked to her in terms of choice or science.

The plural of anecdotes isn’t data; it’s a focus group. Different people have different tastes in political rhetoric. That there exists a single conservative who I could convince by talking about fetal pain doesn’t mean that there are many others.

I probably wouldn’t have been able to use general arguments about health or choice, since that particular conservative was familiar with them and considered them false, while my own argument was novel. But there are other conservatives who are familiar with the arguments from science and for whom something else is new.

American pro-choice organizations have the misfortune of having to counter a trend of increasing opposition to abortion without having a clue about what tactics work the best. The only thing they have on their side is the fact that Independents are more pro-choice than Democrats, but as long as the Democratic Party doesn’t prioritize the issue accordingly, it doesn’t help anything.

I know that talking about the rights of unmarried couples in general is good rhetoric because it was used in Arizona, which voted against an anti-SSM proposition, while the traditional equal rights argument failed to stop a similar proposition in Wisconsin. But gay marriage is relatively easy to find good rhetoric about, because there have been numerous state battles about it. About abortion there have barely been any; referenda about dilation and extraction or parental consent are fundamentally different from referenda about total abortion bans.

3 Responses to Abortion Rhetoric

  1. Stentor says:

    Hey, focus groups are data. They’re just a different sort of data than representative surveys.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    I know… but in this particular case, they’re useless for the same reason the sum total of the anecdotes major feminist bloggers know of is useless.

  3. Christina says:

    I notice that the Harris Polls mischacterise Roe:

    In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that states laws which made it illegal for a woman to have an abortion up to three months of pregnancy were unconstitutional, and that the decision on whether a woman should have an abortion up to three months of pregnancy should be left to the woman and her doctor to decide.

    But Roe totally wiped out laws prohibiting abortion for the first six months of pregnancy, and allows only gutted prohibition after six months.

    So their polls don’t measure support for Roe at all, because they don’t measure public opposition to or support for abortion on demand up to the end of the second trimester.

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