Home / General / The Political Benefits of Embracing Reproductive Freedom

The Political Benefits of Embracing Reproductive Freedom


I have a piece up at the Prospect about how, contrary to the conventional wisdom, embracing reproductive freedom has almost certainly been a net win for Democrats in national elections.

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  • thusbloggedanderson

    Let me guess the answer: something to do with those unconfirmed reports about large numbers of voters with ladyparts?

    • tt

      Not as much as you might think. Women are slightly more supportive of abortion rights than men, but as Scott says in the article, the real difference is between educated and uneducated voters.

      See for example: http://www.gallup.com/poll/127559/education-trumps-gender-predicting-support-abortion.aspx

      • thusbloggedanderson

        So what you’re saying is that wild guesswork is less reliable than actually clicking a link and reading something factual on a subject?

        Sorry, but I just can’t imagine an internet that works that way.

        (But really, thanks!)

        • malraux

          That’s a very Vaarsuvius reply

  • Every knowledgeable political pro I know, including conservatives, believes that the abortion issue (and other reproductive rights issues) favors liberals nationally. This is why Democratic candidates promise openly to keep Roe and Republicans downplay opposition and claim that they have to change hearts and minds first.

    It is true that many people self identify as pro-life. But if you actually ask about overturning Roe they demur. They just want to preen about morality without making it illegal.

    • Bingo. Plus, everyone is pro-life. It’s a silly term. I just happen to be pro-choice, too.

      • DrDick

        Actually the anti-abortion crowd are not, overall, pro-life. They overwhelmingly favor capital punishment and an aggressive, militaristic defense/foreign relations policy, and oppose social programs that benefit children and mothers.

        • thusbloggedanderson

          Right. Fetuses are human beings with inalienable rights … until birth.

          • Joe

            Republicans support infanticide. You know, U.S. residents. No drones here.

            • DrDick

              Absolutely true, since they would deny actual infants, as opposed to blastocysts or fetuses, medical care, food, or a place to live. For that matter, they would also deny those to the pregnant woman carrying that sacred fetus.

      • Right.

        Anyway, “pro-life” is more a marketing category than a descriptive one. Under that label, you have both a lot of people who morally oppose abortion but want to keep it legal, and a lot of people who want to ban it. And tons of shades in between. Meaningless descriptor, it essentially means “I have some moral reservations about abortion, which may manifest itself in a number of different ways.”

        Much less ambiguity about what pro-choice means.

    • Bexley

      So whats all that business about personhood amendments about then?

      • Davis X. Machina

        Turnout. And F=MA. Incensed minorities (small values of M, large values of A) roll apathetic majorities (large values of M, small values of A) of all the time.

        • Also note what states they are proposed in. Nobody denies opposition to abortion plays well in certain states. But nationally, Republicans and conservative talkers and thinkers don’t endorse personhood laws even though they rhetorically claim that life begins at fertilization.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Supporting personhood amendments is actually the best way of signaling opposition without actually doing anything to make abortion illegal.

      • JosephW

        Just let one of those things actually pass and see how the supporters start wondering HOW the fuck they’ll actually enforce it.

        It’s great to make such a wild claim, but when it comes down to all the LEGAL niceties (or not-so-niceties) in applying the amendment, you find that what looks good on paper turns into a massive quagmire that would make conservatives have night sweats.

        For starters, if a fertilized egg is declared a “person,” then that automatically means that all those “legal age” requirements have to be retrofitted. 18 to vote? No–roughly 17 years and 3 months old. 21 to buy booze legally? No–roughly 20 years and 3 months. Driver’s license at 16? No–roughly 15 years and 3 months.

        Then, there’s the complication that the “birthers” have added. Would the place of conception now need to be taken into account for citizenship purposes? “I’m sorry, ma’am, but it seems your child was conceived in Malta, so he’s going to have go through naturalization.” “But, but, he was born in Detroit, and my husband and I were only in Malta for 1 day and we’re both citizens fo the USA.” (Okay–this probably will have no real impact until said child wants to be President.)

        On a more serious note, what happens if a woman miscarries (something which DOES happen naturally)? Is she going to be charged with manslaughter or some degree of murder because Mother Nature decided the fetus wasn’t “worthy” of survival? How do identical twins and triplets and other multiple births count? A SINGLE fertilized egg can split into two or more “persons”–all of whom would be “conceived” simultaneously. Right now, the “senior” status goes to whichever multiple emerges first. But, in a world where all result from the same fertilized egg, how can there be any LEGAL way of awarding “firstborn” status to the one who emerges first? (I could just imagine the lawsuits resulting. “Your honor, it’s true my brother came out of our mother first but the law states that our PERSONHOOD began at conception and we both came from the same egg. How can the will give him more money simply because he popped out first?”) And even with non-identicals, resulting from the fertilization of two eggs at the (relatively speaking) same time by different sperm, who’s to determine which egg was fertilized first? A woman who has sex with two or more men within hours or each other during her fertile period could be inseminated by both (or all) and without her keeping a record of who she had sex with, there’d really be no way to know (and things get REALLY complicated if she participated in an orgy–conception wouldn’t necessarily be a case of “first come, first daddy”).

        Personally, if I were a woman in ANY state that managed to pass one of these personhood amendments, I’d go to the courts just as soon as I found out I was pregnant and, if I didn’t want the kid, I’d be suing the state for FULL child support (including fully-paid prenatal care) because, after all, if the State wants the child so badly, then the State can effing pay for it. Get enough women to go to court claiming the State owes them child support for the unwanted pregnancies and I can just about guarantee that the law would be overturned in short order. Especially as most states are currently so severely underfunded that they’re having to cut state budgets–including child and family welfare agencies–that being forced to pay tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars PER CHILD/PERSON every year until they reach whatever legal adulthood is decided would show just how really “valuable” these children are to the anti-choice movement behind these amendments. I’ve long held that all of these folks opposing abortion should put their money where their mouths are and PAY for the women to have the children (from prenatal care all the way through delivery) and then take full responsibility for every last child that wasn’t aborted. Yet, for all the rhetoric, I’ve NEVER seen a single one of these groups put up money for women struggling with an unwanted pregnancy.

        • Cody

          I suppose that’s one way to get Universal Healthcare.

          Maybe we should make this happen, then we can force the State into paying for all our children! Then we’ll be the greatest “Welfare” State!

        • thusbloggedanderson

          That kind of uh-what? led to a “personhood” amendment’s failing in Mississippi, of all places.

          (Voter ID, by contrast, sailed through, apparently b/c there wasn’t enough voter fraud to stop it … hey wait …)

  • Anonymous

    Well, so long as it benefits the Dems, it must be something temporarily worth fighting for.

    • Malaclypse

      For values of “temporary” = “since 1972.”

      • Cody

        To be fair, that is only .0000000000882% of the time Earth has been around.

        Unless you’re Republican, then I guess the World might have started 4000 years ago.

        • Republican

          Don’t be absurd. The pyramids are over four thousand years old. Of course the world didn’t start four thousand years ago.

          It started six thousand years ago.

          • Bill Murray

            Ussher was pretty clear it 4004 BC — creation began nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC, so it’s Earth Birthday in less than a month. there should be a party and a Holiday

      • Anonymous

        Yep. Right to abortion and contraception throughout the country hasn’t been consistently eroded since then, no siree Roberta. Just ask a dude–he’ll tell you!

        • Malaclypse

          Yep, and Democrats are behind it all.

          • Anonymous

            Their interest certainly waxes and wanes depending on what year it is, yes.

            Didja read the title of this here blogpost?

  • James E. Powell

    Strangely, this was not understood by NARAL and Planned Parenthood when they endorsed Lieberman over Lamont.

    • Captain Splendid

      That bread won’t butter itself!

    • Lieberman isn’t pro-choice?

      Honestly, while I donated some cash to Lamont as a vehicle for taking down Holy Joe, can’t we all admit at this point that Lamont was kind of a shitty politician and, as his later gubernatorial run showed, not really as much a progressive as people wanted to think? He’s more like Howard Dean minus Dean’s accomplishments in VT and the DNC.

      • Bill Murray

        and Joe is Ben Nighthorse Campbell without as much guts

      • witless chum

        Well, is Lamont not pro-choice? Seems like they should have run adds saying “So long as you don’t vote for whoever the Republican was, you’re good.”

        And taking down Holy Joe is not about replacing him with a better senator. That’s a side benefit. It’s about punishing Holy Joe. Shitty and mean, but it’s good politics.

        • James E. Powell

          Exactly. Unless and until a Democrat of some stature loses his or her re-election for failing to protect abortion rights, no Democrat is going to feel like they have to fight to protect them. If they don’t feel like they have to fight to protect them, they won’t do it.

  • Sherm

    “To give another example, claims that same-sex marriage swung the 2004 election for George W. Bush turned out to be empirically wrong. Again, too many pundits focused on the opponents”

    I wouldn’t be so dismissive of the notion that the same-sex ballot initiatives helped deliver Ohio to Bush. But you are absolutely correct on reproductive rights. It’s a clear winner for democrats irrespective of the flawed polling data.


  • RVL

    Since Reagan, the Democrats became liberal Republicans while the Republicans became Francoists without the technocrats.

    • DrDick

      I think you may malign the Francoists there.

  • anonymous

    But, but, but then the fauxgressive d00ds won’t be able to pat us on the heads and say, “We’ll deal with your silly lady issues once we take care of the important things”!

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