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Democrats often say that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”
I’ve seen some feminists argue against this slogan. “Why should we care if abortion is rare? There’s nothing wrong with it.” And they make the very good point that Democrats shouldn’t embrace a slogan that could be read as implying that abortion is immoral.
I can understand that perspective – I’m definitely in the a-fetus-has-no-independent-moral-value camp myself.
But even if we attach no moral value to the fetus, we should still want abortion to be rare. Abortions are expensive, and often extremely unpleasant for patients. So wouldn’t everyone be better off if fewer unwanted pregnancies happened in the first place?
It’s like appendectomies. I’m glad that the procedure exists for people when they need it. But if there were some sort of treatment that prevented appendicitis in the first place, so fewer people needed surgery, that would be even better, because it would be physically and financially easier on patients. Saying so is not saying that there’s anything immoral about appendectomies!
So I think liberals can, and should, want abortions to be rarer. So this is an area of potential compromise between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, right?
It doesn’t turn out that way.
I find it useful to use some economics language when I think about reducing abortion. Supply and demand. We can reduce abortion by reducing the supply – trying to shut down clinics, waiting periods to make abortion less available, and at the extremes, bans. All of these methods are coercive in some way.
Or we could reduce abortion by reducing the demand – changing society so that fewer people want abortions. This primarily means trying to help people who don’t want babies avoid getting pregnant, but it can also include better safety nets for people having babies. These methods are not coercive.
The pro-life movement, at least among the policy makers – Senators, congressmen, the leaders of the major pro-life orgs, etc – simply has no interest in reducing the demand for abortion. In fact, they actively oppose non-coercive ways of reducing abortion.
And that’s why the most obvious seeming compromise between pro-life and pro-choice – which is to embrace non-coercive methods of reducing abortion – is a no-go.
(I wrote a twitter thread about this recently, which has some more info on how extremely effective giving away free birth control can be for reducing abortion.)
Another strip where I paid a lot of attention to drawing environments! I think panel 4 came out pretty nicely. I also decided to color everything except hair and skin in shades of blue, which I think is really neat looking.
I was binging “Person of Interest” on Netflix while drawing this cartoon, and decided to draw the pro-life guy as one of the stars of that show, Michael Emerson. (Emerson is probably most famous for playing Benjamin on “Lost.”) I didn’t do this as a comment on Emerson’s politics – I have no idea what Emerson’s opinions on abortion are. He just has a super interesting face.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same two figures walking through a city environment while they talk. The first figure is a dark-haired woman wearing a business outfit, with a black shirt. The second figure is a middle-aged man wearing glasses, slacks, a collared shirt, and a striped necktie.
In the first three panels, they’re both walking in the same direction with the man in front, so the man is facing away from the woman.
Both speakers are friendly-looking.
WOMAN: Okay, Pro-Life… let’s brainstorm ways to reduce abortion!
MAN: Reducing abortion is definitely my number one priority!
The man dismissively waves a hand.
WOMAN: Research shows that giving people free long-acting reversible contraception reduces abortion more than anything!
MAN: Nope. That would encourage promiscuity.
WOMAN: Okay, um… How about a super generous child benefit program, like Belgium or Germany?
MAN: I don’t want taxpayers paying people for being irresponsible.
The woman loses her temper a bit, looking angry and holding up her hands. The man has turned around to face the woman, smiling and looking eager and excited.
WOMAN: Come ON! There must be SOME way of reducing abortion you approve of other than punishing doctors and patients!
MAN: Now you’re talking! What’d you have in mind… Shaming? Prison? Death penalty?
SMALL KICKER PANEL BELOW THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP
The man from the previous four panels is now talking sternly at Barry the cartoonist.
MAN: If a million “pre-born babies” have to die to avoid compromise on birth control, it’s worth it!