The most urgent abortion-related issue in the United States is who will replace Stevens. Thereafter, once Roe vs. Wade is safe enough for the time being, it should be access, especially in the third world, where women die by the myriads every year due to unsafe abortions.
Ann‘s boyfriend Brad Plumer has an article suggesting the real possibility of a repeal of the Global Gag Rule, prohibiting the US to give any aid to reproductive rights and birth control organizations that even mention abortion.
Increased access to birth control would, of course, prevent many of those pregnancies from occurring in the first place. Thanks to the gag rule, though, many NGOs can no longer receive donations of contraception from the United States, a primary supplier. As of 2002, at least 16 developing countries had lost their entire USAID supply of birth control, because an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood had been the only group distributing contraception in the country–and refused to accept the gag. A recent study in the Lancet found that 120 million couples in low-income countries don’t get the contraception they need. Partly as a result, 80 million women have unwanted pregnancies each year, more than half of which end in abortion.
Abortion is like a double bypass surgery. It’s a great thing that it exists, but reducing the need for it is as important as making sure it’s widely available. The conservative idea that sex must have a negative consequence is not normative, but right now there already exists a negative consequence – needing an abortion, hardly the most pleasant procedure known to woman.
Another issue is population pressure. Overpopulation is a problem both globally and locally. Countries with fertility rates much higher than 2-2.5 are often plagued by overcrowding and undue pressure on their public health systems. Part of the reason the state of global public health is more pessimistic than it was in the 1970s is that world population has gone up 50% and more than doubled in some regions.
Although much of Brad’s article restates the case for funding reproductive rights organizations, its punchline is that in light of the Democratic takeover of Congress and of internal divisions in the Republican Party. Although Democrats are divided on D&X and even on D&E and earlier-term procedures, they almost uniformly support funding birth control, on which Republicans are divided.
A repeal of the Global Gag Rule does not mean the US will fund a single abortion; the only difference between Clinton and Bush’s policies is that under Clinton the US aided birth control organizations that mentioned abortion as an option or gave any accurate information about abortion. But in a country whose center has been tilting right for a long while, the left can win just by capturing the old center. If the Republicans let the Dominionist faction prevail, the Democrats could portray them as lunatics.