Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And don't have any kids yourself

National Review guest post from Michael New spinning like a top regarding the embarrassing (for pro-lifers) report from the Alan Guttmacher Institute showing that, inter alia, rates of abortion don't differ with the legal status of abortion across countries --

Most of the countries where abortion is prohibited are in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. These countries have low per capita income and a higher incidence of social pathologies that may increase the perceived need for abortion. This nuance is not picked up in any of the media coverage of the AGI report.

This particular nuance is so nuanced that it's not clear what the point is. What are these "social pathologies" in countries that ban abortion which also result in high rates of abortion? Stigma against single mothers? Stigma against contraception? Aren't those exactly the issues which pro-lifers in rich countries use to bash social liberals in those countries?

To put it more bluntly, one very obvious social pathology in many poor countries is that attitudes to women are completely f*cked up! Which would lead you to predict exactly the mix of discrimination and pregnancy care underprovision that you see in these countries. That's no nuance. That's goes to the essence of the debate about the regulation of contraception and abortion.

Finally, not every country that bans abortion yet still has abortion is low income. There's Ireland (and Poland, and a few other European countries too). The wheeze there is that neighbouring countries provide it, which cuts down on the health disasters that the Guttmacher Institute finds for poor countries. Which illustrates the general point: one reason countries have abortion bans is because mechanisms emerge to enable official hypocrisy. In poor countries, it's the backstreet abortion. In rich countries, it's money, NGOs, and mobility. Laws on the books keep the zealots happy. But they don't have much to do with sustainable reductions in abortion.

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