Posted by: jt | October 10, 2008


I love debating politics with people whose views oppose my own. Whether I change someone’s vote or not, I can usually get them to the point where they understand and respect my perspective, even if they disagree. Given the vitriol in American politics today, I like to think that’s progress.

People hear me on Iraq; on the PATRIOT Act; on human rights; on healthcare; on gay marriage; on education – we find common ground. There is one issue, however, where people seem to put up a wall that’s dramatically harder to tear down: abortion. Both sides of this debate usually come to the table with equal amounts of moral outrage that it’s frequently impossible to convince anyone to even consider listening. We all know where we stand and we’re all passionately entrenched there.

I hear the dedication to preserving life. I hear it.

Part of why I’m pro-choice is because it’s clear to me that those policies actually save lives and prevent abortions. A lot of people on the other side of the aisle just snorted derisively at me. Regardless: pro-choice policies save lives and prevent abortions. Nicholas D. Kristof’s column in Wednesday’s New York Times outlines one of the ways how (emphasis and links are mine):

Can This Be Pro-Life?

The Bush administration this month is quietly cutting off birth control supplies to some of the world’s poorest women in Africa…a policy whose result will be tens of thousands of additional abortions each year — along with more women dying in childbirth…

There is something about reproductive health — maybe the sex part — that makes some Americans froth and go crazy…The latest bout of reproductive-health madness came in the last couple of weeks when the U.S. Agency for International Development ordered six African countries to ensure that no U.S.-financed condoms, birth control pills, I.U.D.’s or other contraceptives are furnished to Marie Stopes International, a British-based aid group that operates clinics in poor countries…

“The irony and hypocrisy of it is that this is a bone to the self-described ‘pro-life’ movement, but it will result in deaths to women who just want to space their births,” said Dana Hovig, the chief executive of Marie Stopes International. The organization estimates that the result will be at least 157,000 additional unwanted pregnancies per year, leading to 62,000 additional abortions and 660 women dying in childbirth.

That may overstate the impact. Kent Hill, an official of the U.S. aid agency, insists that there will be no increase in pregnancies because the American contraceptives will simply be routed to other aid groups in Africa.

That will work to some degree in big cities. But it’s a fantasy in rural Africa. Over the years, I’ve dropped in on a half-dozen Marie Stopes clinics, and in rural areas there’s typically nothing else for many miles around. Women in the villages simply have no other source of family planning…

In some parts of Africa, a woman now has a 1-in-10 risk of dying in childbirth. The idea that U.S. policy may increase that toll is infuriating.


I’ve had the abortion/choice discussion with countless people who claim to be “pro-life” and every time examples like this one are cited they bemoan the tragedy and say, Well, I certainly don’t agree with that.

Then stop voting for it.

McCain supports this decision (click on the link for full text). Obama does not. With these facts at hand, a vote for McCain guarantees thousands more abortions that Obama would prevent. If your vote is based upon stopping the murder of innocent babies, I guess the question is, does that only apply to American babies or do African babies count too?


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