Home / General / Would American Anti-Choicers Actually Want European Abortion Law?

Would American Anti-Choicers Actually Want European Abortion Law?


As I have noted before, the answer to this question is obviously “no.” The strategy is to cherry-pick some provisions that (at least on paper) seem more restrictive while ignoring the more egalitarian context in which they’re embedded.

Katha Pollitt has much more on this question, and needless to say it’s brilliant. Some highlights, but really read the whole etc.:

Wouldn’t it be great if these mansplainers with their world-class bully pulpits knew what they were talking about? For example, given that even in the United States, where later abortions are legal (if expensive and tricky to find), 88 percent take place during the first trimester, how could Germany’s time limit be the reason its abortion rate is one-third that of ours? Could it be that the reason German women are less likely to have abortions is that they are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies? Germany has one of the world’s lowest birth rates, after all, despite a generous basket of benefits for families. Thirty percent of women have no children. That suggests some serious contracepting is going on.

Here’s what’s really different about Western Europe: in France, you can get an abortion at any public hospital and it’s paid for by the government. In Germany, you can get one at a hospital or a doctor’s office, and health plans will pay for it for low-income women. In Sweden, abortion is free through eighteen weeks. Moreover, unlike the time limits passed in Texas and some other states, or floating around in Congress, the European limits have exceptions, variously for physical or mental health, fetal anomaly or rape. Contrast that with what anti-choicers want for the United States, where Paul Ryan memorably described a health exception to a proposed late-term abortion ban as “a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it.” If a French or German or Swedish 12-year-old, or a traumatized rape victim, or a woman carrying a fetus with Tay-Sachs disease shows up after the deadline, I bet a way can often be found to quietly take care of them. If not, Britain or the Netherlands, where second trimester abortion is legal, are possibilities. (In 2011, more than 4,000 Irish women traveled to Britain for abortions.)

Here are some other differences: in Western Europe, teens get realistic sex education, not abstinence-only propaganda. Girls and women have much better access to birth control and emergency contraception, which are usually paid for by the government. In countries that require mandatory counseling, it is empathetic and nondirective: nothing like our burgeoning network of Christian “crisis pregnancy centers” and state laws requiring women to endure transvaginal ultrasounds, hear fetal heartbeats and look at sonograms. European doctors are not forced to read scripts that falsely warn women that abortion will give them breast cancer and drive them to suicide, and tell them that an embryo the size of a pea is “a unique living human being.” In countries that have waiting periods, distances are smaller, and just to repeat, abortion is widely available and integrated with the normal health system, not shunted off to clinics in a few
cities and college towns. You do not have to travel eight hours four times to get the counseling and fulfill the waiting period—or sleep in your car or the bus station till the time is up.

But once American pro-choicers find out that rational sex. ed. and increased access to contraception can reduce abortion rates, we’ll be able to make a deal to do that because criminalizing abortion is not at all about regulating female sexuality! [/centristconcerntroll]

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