Realpolitik

I begin, as all good sermons should begin, with a story that will serve as a parable. On May 6, 2012, then Vice-President Joe Biden announced his support for same-sex marriage, six months in advance of what was expected to be a close election. Republicans were overjoyed. Between 1998 and 2008, prohibitions on same-sex marriage had appeared as ballot initiatives in 29 states and had passed in every case. In 2004, such initiatives were on the ballot in 11 states, and all passed, even the ones that banned civil unions. These initiatives were an exercise in realpolitik, a sure-fire way to bring Catholics and Evangelicals to the polls and turn pulpits into campaign stumps. And for the 2012 elections, there would be initiatives in an additional five states, including the battleground state of Minnesota. The Republicans could barely believe their good luck.

But Obama had seen something in the polling data (not that such data would influence a politician’s opinions—perish the thought!) that the Republicans had missed. He had avoided the issue in 2008, when public sentiment was 53-46% against same-sex marriage. But by 2012, those numbers had reversed themselves. And this was just a segment of a larger trend in which the clear consensus against “gay marriage” of 1996 (68-27%) became a clear consensus for it (67-31%) in 2018. Obama would win with a comfortable margin of five million votes, and four of the five ballot initiatives would go down in defeat, something that had never happened before. The realpolitik of the conservatives turned out to be neither politic nor real. What went wrong? How did an overwhelming consensus one way become the same consensus the other way?

https://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/0aupu8rtg0ewd4m4yzsgmw.png

Kulturkampf

The conservatives could concentrate on the political battle because there was a clear cultural consensus in their favor. But while the conservatives were waging a political war, the gay community was waging a cultural one, a kulturkampf, carried out in the popular media of TV, movies, stories, and novels. To take television programming as an example, homosexuals began appearing on American and British series in the ‘70s, beginning with the charmingly gay Mr. Humphries in Are You Being Served and with several characters on Barney Miller. Through the ‘80s gays continued to appear mainly as comic figures, but by the ‘90s they were more and more normalized in series such as High Society, Spin City, Sex and the City, and Will and Grace. By the 2000s, homosexuality had been become routine in popular entertainment in such shows as How I Met Your Mother, The Office, My Name is Earl, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock, and Glee, among many others.

The case of Glee is instructive because it is a product of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire. On their news channels, they tended to oppose the “Gay Rights” movement, but with Glee and many other products, they were supporting it. They had bracketed off the cultural and political elements from each other precisely as the same-sex marriage movement itself was uniting them, and in the process co-opting Fox to support the cause. And the reason they could do this is that the profit motive at Fox swamped all other considerations, cultural or political. So on their entertainment channels, they exploited cultural trends to widen the audience and increase revenue, and on the political channels they exploited a niche market to produce a loyal following. It is absolutely irrelevant to point out that the agendas were contradictory, because they were united by being profitable, the summum bonum of capitalism. And I believe that this serves as a paradigm for the abortion debate; I hope to show that too often, the opponents of abortion support the very cultural elements that tend to normalize abortion. More on this anon.

Andrew Breitbart has famously observed that “Politics is downstream of culture,” and the homosexual rights movement illustrates this point. Note here that I am not offering any arguments for or against these rights; I am merely attempting to chronicle how the political battle was shaped by the cultural battle, and that those who ignored the one lost the other, even when starting from what seemed to be an unassailable position of strength. But all of the political victories were mere prelude to an ultimate and inevitable defeat. I very much suspect that the abortion debate is following the same trajectory and will have the same end.

The Abortion Debate

While the opponents of same-sex marriage started with a cultural consensus, this is not true of the opponents of abortion. There has never been a consensus for the “Alabama solution,” an outright ban and criminalization with stiff penalties. In 1975, that solution polled at 21% and has never exceeded that number. In the post recent polls, it stands at 18%. On the other hand, the “legal in all cases” position polled at 22% in 1975 and now stands at 29%, a statistically significant movement. It would seem that in 45 years of political agitation, the anti-abortion movement is going backwards.

Line graph: Americans' abortion views. 2018: 50% say it should be legal only in certain circumstances, 29% legal in any, 18% illegal in all.

Prior to Roe v. Wade, the abortion issue was not particularly partisan. In 1967, three states (Colorado, North Carolina, and California) had passed permissive abortion laws, and in 1970 a further four states (New York, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington) passed “abortion on demand” laws. Of these seven states, five were ruled by Republicans (including Ronald Regan and Nelson Rockefeller, representing both wings of the party) and one by conservative Democrats. The rhetoric on the Right tended to be libertarian (“get the government out of the bedroom”) and to be an extension of the contraceptive debates that resulted in the Griswold v. Connecticut decision in 1965. But on the Left, it was a different story. In fact, it was a story, the story of Sherri Finkbine.

Mrs. Finkbine was the host of a children’s television program, Romper Room, who in 1962 was pregnant with her fifth child. She took some sedatives her husband brought back from a trip to Europe. It was only after she had taken these pills 36 times that she discovered they contained thalidomide, known to cause abnormalities in the fetus. Denied a therapeutic abortion in Arizona, she traveled to Sweden to obtain it. The doctor who performed the abortion stated that the child had no legs and only one arm and would likely not have survived. The case became a cause célèbre, one which aroused the sympathies of many women and men. Later, she went on to give birth to a fifth (or sixth) child. The contrast here is between approaching an issue with abstractions or with stories.

After the Roe decision, the issue became highly partisan. Anti-abortion Democrats were marginalized in the party, while the Republicans enthusiastically accepted the support of the anti-abortion movement, although remaining a “big tent” party. And since the issue was no longer one of statute law but of constitutional law, the debate shifted to the courts, and supremely to the Supreme Court. Further, it became a “single-issue,” one that swamped all other considerations; “pro-life” voters were expected to support whatever horror the Republican Party offered in their agenda, whether it be perpetual war, or torture, or a decided preference for the rich, all in the sacred cause of fighting abortion. In exchange for promises about Supreme Court Justices, the “pro-life” movement swallowed the entire Republican agenda. And this politicization of the issue has gotten in the way of evangelization and is ultimately self-defeating for three reasons: one, it misunderstands how humans reason; two, it divorces the issue from the moral matrix within which it makes sense; and three, it cannot come to grips with the causes of abortion.

The Causes of Abortion

The most inflammatory debates about abortion concern pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or those which endanger the life of the mother. But as serious as these cases are, they are a tiny portion of the abortion market (and it is a market, a business), and if it were limited to that, it would be a very limited market indeed. The wider market has other causes. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “75% of abortion patients in 2014 were poor or low-income. Twenty-six percent of patients had incomes of 100–199% of the federal poverty level, and 49% had incomes of less than 100% of the federal poverty level ($15,730 for a family of two.)” That would seem to make it an economic issue, and of course that is a large part of the problem, but not the whole problem. The Institute goes on to say, “The three most common reasons—each cited by three-fourths of patients—were concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents.”

Again, this would seem to make it an economic problem. But I am going to make a leap here and assert that behind the economic problem lay a cultural problem, or rather three interrelated cultural problems: individualism, hedonism, and capitalism. Individualism means that we have only such responsibilities as we choose to have. But this works against women; men can easily walk away from their natural responsibilities without penalty, but women cannot. “Saddled” with children, she is no longer an “individual,” but a little community, and one that depends on support from the wider community, support that is frequently not forthcoming. In the same way, hedonism is also not an equal opportunity employer; it favors the male of the species. When men are encouraged to take their pleasures when they want and leave them when they will, contraception and abortion work as defense mechanisms.

And behind these two stands capitalism, their greatest champion and defender. For the logic of mass production flourishes best in a culture of consumerism—that is, hedonism—and it sends us messages 24/7 encouraging and normalizing the idea that we are what we consume. When a sandwich company can get away with screaming at us (literally), “I do what the ____ I like,” you know that they are not selling sandwiches, but a particular lifestyle and frame of mind, one which is destructive of community and family life by being supportive of individualism and hedonism. And capitalists feel no obligation to support the family through wages, but only to pay the lowest possible rate for labor, even if they have to go to Bangladesh to do it.

The Moral Matrix

Hence the “pro-life” movement, by tying itself to the Republican Party, ties itself to the aggressive support of capitalism and to the party least likely to impose any controls or obligations on the system. Like the Fox channels, they have bracketed off the moral and cultural issues, so that they support with one hand what they oppose with the other. They oppose the culture of abortion while supporting the culture that practically demands it. This cultural/political schizophrenia lends credence to the caricature of the “pro-life” movement as supportive of pregnancy and birth but not of motherhood. After giving birth, she should get a job like everybody else and not be a drag on the body politic. The movement can help elect the slimiest president possible under the naïve belief that he will lift us from the slime. Understood this way, it is really no surprise that the most radical expression of the anti-abortion movement occurs in states like Alabama, a state with the lowest levels of support for mothers and the highest level of support for big business, a state that is ranked near the bottom in public support for healthcare, education, infrastructure, and many other things.

A principled stance against abortion makes sense only within a matrix that ties together the economic and social ordering of society. Apart from a social order that welcomes children and an economic order that supports families, the prohibition of abortion appears to be just an arbitrary denominational stricture, like fasting on Fridays or wearing a yarmulke. This lends credence to the charge that we are merely trying to enforce our religion on others. By treating it as a “single-issue” that overrides all other issues, the pro-life movement divorced the issue from the moral matrix which harmonizes it, thus making it appear self-contradictory. We have bracketed the issue from the very things that make it part of an intelligible whole. What Fox does in the name of profits, we do in the name of power.

Reasoning and Storytelling

The anti-abortion movement, like the anti-homosexual movement before it, thought that their job was to make good arguments, and this they usually do. It should be obvious, for example, that if one defends bodily autonomy, one resigns control over any other body, particularly that of the infant in the womb. However, when both bodies occupy one body, other considerations appear, or can appear, equally rational. That is to say, both sides can present rational arguments for the simple reason that anything can be rationalized. Which arguments will appear more persuasive to someone will depend on what stories that person accepts. We must acknowledge this truth: Whoever controls the story will control the debate; the arguments are secondary.

But where we have good arguments, they have Sherri Finkbine, and many other stories as well. They have been good story-tellers where we have been good rationalists. In doing so, we buy into the modern myth that myths don’t count, that stories should not control. One can make a good argument for such rationalism, but one cannot make it into a good story. Where rationalism narrows issues to single points, the story unites them into a coherent whole. Not that the story is always right, but over time, false stories tend to fade away, while “true” stories tend to endure, making a lasting claim on our collective consciousness.

Evangelization

In the final analysis, the cultural battle—and therefore the political battle—depends on evangelization. The homosexual and abortion movements grasped this intuitively and were good at evangelization; the Evangelicals and Catholics were not. Christianity does not begin with a Summa but with a story, the story of Jesus Christ. And all evangelization is built on this story. A “rationalized” philosophy and theology won’t mature for at least three centuries, and that task always continues. But the story remains, and always remains primary, no matter how good the philosophy is. We have let others dominate the story while we tried to dominate the politics. But separating culture and politics is a self-defeating strategy even, or especially, when it appears to be working. As in the case of same-sex marriage, where an unbroken string of victories was mere prelude to final defeat, I suspect the same thing is about to happen in the abortion debate. My prediction (and I am notoriously bad at prediction) is that the Alabama law will be overturned at the district and appellate levels, and that the Supreme Court will refuse to hear it. The Court is sensitive to the needs of the Republican Party, and that party is trying to shut down the Alabama solution. They know that if this becomes a state legislative issue, they will lose in 40 or more states.

The anti-abortion movement wants the state to impose a “solution” that is opposed by the overwhelming majority without making any real effort to form a new majority. In the long term, this will not work; law really only works when it is accepted by most of the people. Abandoning the cultural battle guarantees failure in the political battle. And yet, there is no reason to resign the cultural battle. Telling the story of women who have been abandoned and yet made the decision to stand up to an uncaring culture and salvage the best possible life for themselves and their children, often in opposition to their friends and families, should provide enough heroic material for any amount and variety of art, poetry, and story. But until we actually tell these stories, we cannot expect any real future save one of constant defeat. We have to decide to evangelize rather than merely campaign. If we cannot produce any art, we cannot produce any politics; and if we cannot tell our own story, we will live under someone else’s. Finally, it is culture alone that allows us to overcome the false realpolitik of partisanship and to actually practice politics, the endless search for the common good in the social and political orders.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Very good analysis.

    There’s another side to this, which is a point I have started to make. Canada has paid maternity leave but generally tax relief or other monetary supports for parents than the US, and the US has far less in general (and not even paid maternity leave) compared to most European countries. A major part of the equation, I think, is that European countries generally bar second and third trimester abortions while Canada allows for the full 40 weeks.

    What this means is that in Europe there is a community of people with full voting rights in the communities (mothers and their husbands, etc) who necessarily depend on social support for childbearing in part because “if you can’t afford it, just have an abortion” is taken off the table. This rhetorical shift is the reason for the correlation, and banning elective abortion after 12 weeks in this regard thus has political, social, and practical value.

  2. You think that presenting stories of women who continued pregnancies as heroic will win the day for your side. You are wrong. Abortion politics is almost entirely about each side’s view of the role of women. People who think women should be allowed into the public sphere support abortion rights; people who think women should be confined to domestic life oppose them. (The fact that I said ‘confined’ in that sentence should be enough evidence of my opinion.) Opponents of abortion rights are deceitful in that they state that there will be no effect on women’s other rights if we allow them to take away this particular one, but someone never manage to explain how it’s possible to make a zygote a person while also allowing the person who’s body enclosed entirely said zygote to be a person at the same time. You are correct that pregnancy is a unique burden, but I see nothing in the forced-birth platform to make that burden easier.

    • Karen, Could you not make the opposite argument on the same grounds. Namely, if wages are too low to support a family on one income, then women are “confined” to working for wages; having a career as a woman is a great right unless it is also an onerous requirement. But as I attempted to point out, “rational” arguments can be made on both sides; those never carry the day.

      • I didn’t say that. I personally think the ‘family wage’ is a terrible idea because it gives the entire economic power in the family to the father. If some men are generous with their wives, others keep all the cash and spend it on booze. Better to have both partners working jobs and with their own incomes; at least one of them is likely to be responsible.

        As for rational arguments, one fact your side always dances around is that the fetus cannot survive outside the womb for at least six months. Kill mom and the fetus dies too. Quite often the fetus actually kills the woman, via ectopic pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, or by requiring a delay in cancer treatment until viability. This isn’t even counting things like firing women from jobs that might damage a fetus. How do you protect the fetus without restricting the woman?

        • You are correct that a fetus cannot survive without the mother’s support. The same is true for the infant; both need extensive support. So do the elderly, the lame, the disabled. So do I, if it comes to that. So I find “viability” to be a dubious basis for human rights; few of us would pass that test.

          As for the living wage, without it, you confine the woman to the cubicle, and I know how much you hate the idea of women being confined. Then it is not a matter of freedom, but necessity. But, it is great for the capitalist: instead of a living wage given to one, cut it half and get twice the labor. This is why capitalism is always the enemy of the family and the friend of the abortionist.

          • Yes, lots of people are dependent on caretakers; none of those actual people require constant care from the same person for nine months and none of that care actually involves borrowing that person’s blood and tissue. Pregnant women have no time off at all. Presumably caretakers want to do that work, which is not the case with all pregnant women.

            Women in cubicles get their own pay; they perform set tasks for their bosses for a period of time and then leave. Wives are constantly at the service of their husbands. Wheedling money from a spouse is far, far more degrading.

            You have a stupidly idealized vision of patriarchal families. At least recognize the problems with that arrangement and do something effective to correct them.

          • I’m really not sure why I’m engaging this as it seems to going nowhere. But since, Karen, you are so insistent that anyone who opposes abortion must be a backward, misogynist captor of would-be productive women, I feel some need to speak up as someone who doesn’t exactly fit your sweeping stereotype. Since you were so eager to heap praise on my first piece for shrugging off the roles imposed on my wife and I by the patriarchy, it might shock you to find out that I am not a supporter of abortion rights. I despise the killing of the unborn for the same reason that I oppose the death penalty, warfare, the police gunning down unarmed people of color (or anyone for that matter), euthanasia and assisted suicide. We live in a culture of death. I refuse to play along with any ploy to reduce the value of human life in the interest of boosting the GDP and the convenience of the rich. There are many women, contributors to this site and others, here and elsewhere, who are vocally opposing the killing of the unborn and the treating of pregnancy as a disease. These are working women, like my wife. We have been fortunate that my wife has had Christian employers who have never considered firing her because we decided to have a child. 3 kids in, 2 of them home births, and the only people treating my wife as having a “condition” instead of doing something beautiful and self-sacrificial are federal government stooges who claim to be defenders of women’s rights. Them and corporate media and entertainment trotting out the same tired tropes that you have been above. Pregnancy and birthgiving have been an empowering experience for my wife. I have never insisted that she be confined to a domestic life or shirked responsibility to help her with the kids. She controls our finances and if anyone has an allowance, it’s me. Though we don’t have much spare income anyway, given our refusal to submit to the culture of total work. We both work 24/7 for our kid’s sake. Rather than feuding over gender roles, we have always endeavored to do what is best for our children and for our own mental health. The abortion industry has convinced women that pregnancy is a disease, that children are an unreasonable burden and that human life is disposable. How exactly is that liberation? Is that a culture that elevates women? Venerates women? I believe wholeheartedly that we are blessed to live in a day and age when both parents can live fulfilling and varied lives. Our vocations are multifaceted and dynamic. But I refuse to play nice with anyone who suggests that women are broken. After eons of men telling women that they are subhuman because they aren’t men, it seems as if “liberation” has come in the form of women buying into that lie and trying to be men. Your boss says that baby is inconvenient for business? Just kill it! There are profits to be made. Sound like screwy logic? That’s capitalism for you. Who exactly is playing along with patriarchy here? I don’t want to attack you, Karen. Just quibble with your ideas. I have no idea what your experience has been. I don’t know what’s shaped your worldview. But is necessary to hold on to such an incredibly narrow view of the issue? I do not think, for the record, that women only have abortions for selfish reasons. More often, they do so because of tremendous pressure exerted by society. Honestly, I think it’s the fault of incredibly selfish men who feel no responsibility toward women and children.

        • “Karen is our resident troll and is not interested in argument, rational or otherwise.”

          Indeed. I know her of old from other blogs — always the same old bitter song.

          • It’s quite a coincidence that the only woman I see on the thread is also a “resident troll.” Good look, folks.

          • Nick – Thank God your wife was never raped, and forced to carry a resulting pregnancy to term. I doubt that most people would consider that “beautiful,” although it would certainly be “self-sacrificial,” albeit in a traumatic way.

          • ~~It’s quite a coincidence that the only woman I see on the thread is also a “resident troll.” Good look, folks.~~

            Trolls gotta troll. Sex doesn’t figure into it.

          • gary,
            I was referring specifically to the fact that my wife had to apply for medical leave to maternity leave when she had our first child. The form specifically asked what her “condition” was. We were both deeply irked by the idea that our child was being defined as a medical malady. I think you are attempting to put words in my mouth, by raising the specter of rape. At what point in my comment did I suggest that I thought there was anything beautiful about a woman having to carry the child or her rapist? This is a cheap shot you are taking. You are assuming an awful lot about my perspective. I was only referring to our particular instance. This is always what these arguments get down to. This is where they always hit rock bottom. I was merely irked at the suggestion that anyone who supports any form of localism, tradition, etc is secretly trying to oppress women. I have no ulterior motives. I like my town and want to make it better. I believe this value in old things. And I believe that the unborn are people. I accept that this issue is complex. And I don’t wish anyone ill. I don’t think Karen is a “troll”. I think she really believes everything she says and is deeply convicted about it. I don’t support any name calling or lack of civility. If my comments were taken that way, I offer my sincerest apologies.

    • Interestingly, Europe has more restrictions on abortion and more economic participation by women in the work force, than the US or Canada does. And economic equality in terms of compensation is higher too.

      So I don’t understand this argument that it’s all about confining women. It may be that restricting abortion creates a place for the family in politics as family, and that this helps ensure that motherhood is embraced by the economic order.

  3. Okay. Low wages in the service of women’s liberation from the patriarchy.
    But isn’t that just patriarchy writ large?
    We have tried this before, in the days before FDR and the New Deal. And not only were women “liberated” to work in the factories, so were children. Small children.

    So much liberation.

    • Liberated to work in bomb factories, we might add. So that there husbands could be shipped off to kill strangers. Stick the kids in military day care. Total Army Family. I think it was Kauffman who called this “Orwellian.” I couldn’t agree more.

  4. Good analysis.

    But i think there are 2 issues one should consider further:

    1. At least some pro-life people try to tell thes stories.

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/post-rape-mom-pro-abort-advocate-didnt-conceive-doesnt-speak-for-us

    Thats from 2011.

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/we-loved-you-louder-inspiring-story-of-a-mom-whose-baby-healed-the-trauma-o

    Thats from 2018.

    So one should consider, why potentially the story telling fails and/or why it is done not often enough, etc.

    Arguing that it is not tried, would be false.

    2. While maybe 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, there might have been alternatives, today in the US pro-life can either exert political influence via the republican party – or not at all.

    So while the attaching to the republican party might have been a mistake as argued, it would currently probably look to many pro-lifers still as the least serious mistake.

    One would need to find an alternative plan.

    In my view it would not include stopping arguing against lax abortion laws, against the celebration of abortion, etc.

    But it would include highlighting all the things that encourage women to choose abortion and call it what it is – incitement to kill one’s own child.

    E.g. some studies – not Guttmacher, they are to pro-choice to care looking for this – indicate that above >10% of abortions are done because the man asks/requests/pressures the woman to abort; if he wouldn’t ask/request/pressure, she would not abort.

    What has it to do with equality of women that 100000+ unborn children in the US are killed per year, cause the father wants it (some of them to avoid chuild support payments)?

    Maybe one cannot agree that on should do something about the other abortions, but it should not be hard to at least agree, that one should do something about 300 men per day striving out of greed for the unborn child to be killed. What that something is, might still be difficult to decide upon.

    But it allows for very different stories and those who favor pro-choice due to feminism will have a hard time to counter stories of a women weeping that they only choose abortion cause the man pressured them out of greed.

    And of course job market and similar issues would have to get their share in such an approach (i personally think that however often one could say that capitalism incited the woman to get an abortion, this will pale in comparison to incitement by men).

    • I think there is a question as to whether the PLM has influenced the Republican Party, or whether the party has influenced the PLM, ensuring that the movement adopts all the party’s goals. This is counter-productive, since those goals are mainly the advancement of capitalism, the biggest engine of abortion. You respond that it is not capitalism but men. Perhaps, but why do men do this? Because they face the same pressures and occupy the same cultural territory as do the women. The cultural grounds are those of an abstract and negative liberty, a position that will always favor abortion. And two stories in 8 years hardly constitute a literature.

      • “Perhaps, but why do men do this?”

        I think our main remaining differences would boil down to:

        1. What term “capitalism” means (depending upon what capitalism means, its guilt in inciting abortions can differ; at least with my understanding of the term, i would disagree that it is the biggest engine of abortion – mainly due to socialistic societies having far higher abortion rates).

        2. What constitutes evidence that something is a cause of abortion; i would try to stick close to what incitement means in legal context; not because i want to let “capitalism” of the hook; but because when i call out somebody/something to be guilty of causing the death of an innocent and defenseless human, i want that accusation to be as ironclad as possible, so that the somebody/something has to accept the guilt and thereby hopefully finds motivation to do better.

        3. That i prefer to start with the easy cases.

        Showing that the current laws about economy, taxes, labor and buisiness and/or the cultural attitudes towards these are causing a certain specific abortion in the sense, that if some element thereof had been something else – e.g. instead of some given tax code another tax code had been implemented – that then the specific abortion had not taken place, can be quite a challenge.

        Showing that Ms. A would not have decided for abortion, if Mr. B had not intentionally pressured her out of greed in a cruel and demeaning way to abort, can be as simple as asking Ms. A a single question: “Would you have aborted if Mr. B had not pressured you to do so?”.

        4. Step by step
        Maybe men would pressure a lot less for abortion if we changed something about economy; but even if that is the case, the first step would be to establish that men do pressure for abortion often (and how often) and that this causes abortion (and how often)

        Then the quesion is, why do they do; which might be capitalism; or something else

        (1. e.g. the economic systems of Germany and Austria are not fundamentally different; yet abortion rates are so different, that some austrian abortionist claimed publically that the official abortion rates of germany must be false; 2. e.g. in different states of the federal republic of germany, the abortion rates differ up to a factor of two or more;
        therefore, abortion rates seem to be influenced by things besides economic system;

        my prime suspects: a) differences in economic situations, as the more affluent regions of Germany have lower rates; b) cultural differences, as the ex-socialistic former east germany has consistently higher rates; and c) mandatory abortion counseling by someone with formal task of exncouraging yes to child in combination with uncomplicated financial aid for pregnant women, as Germany has such counseling adn Austria does’t and as the regions in Germany with the lowest abortion rates tend to be the ones in which the funding for the uncomplicated aid is highest AND in which the abortion counceling organizations are taking their formal duty to encourage yes to the child more seriously as far as i know

        everything in brackets, as i see no point in discussing this in deatail, but meant to show why i see various possible causes and various possible remedies; and honor where honor is due, so preferably guilt exactly where guilt is due as far as possible)

        • I am not quite sure that you are correct that “socialist” countries in general have higher abortion rates. ISTM that the highest rates are in those countries making the transition to capitalism. This was certainly true in China, where the one-child policy–and forced abortions–were one of the “four fundamental reforms” deemed necessary to make the transition. And it was necessary because it destroyed the village economy which depended on the farm labor of the children, and thereby provided an army of laborers for the expansion of industries.

          Japan is another case in point, where the same thing was accomplished through economic and social pressures. Indeed, the United States would be facing the same dismal demographic problems were it not for immigration; in effect, we have outsourced the next generation.

          I certainly agree that the prime suspects are economics and culture; indeed, that was the point I was trying to make in the essay. By bracketing off the economic issues, we ignore one of the biggest–and perhaps THE biggest–cause of the problem.

          • “I am not quite sure that you are correct that “socialist” countries in general have higher abortion rates.”

            I realize that also there might be difference between what we mean with “socialist”; i just mean the official socialist countries and/or countries without or with little right to privately own what is deemed to be “means of production”

            From Guttmacher:

            https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide

            “Across all world subregions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in its abortion rate, from 88 per 1,000 in 1990–1994 to 42 per 1,000 in 2010–2014, which corresponded with an increase in access to modern contraceptives following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”

            http://www.ponarseurasia.org/point-counter/article/abortion-russia-how-has-situation-changed-soviet-era

            Figure 1

            http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-russia.html

            There were in the soviet union more abortions than life births; in Germany there are about 6-7 live births per abortion. In the US i think a bit more, but still far less than 1 to 1.

            As Guttmacher indicates part of the reason might be, that contraception was not available – but as that is a direct consequence of inefficient socialistic economy, even that could be argued as being a cause of abortion. So socialism would be a cause of abortion (and that would be even more true, if the high numbers were not only due to lack of contraception due to economic inefficiency).

            If there would be only a binary choice between capitalism and socialism, then capitalism would be something that reduces the number of abortions due to better availability of contraception.

            But i am in doubt whether this is only socialistic inefficiency.

            https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Gesellschaft-Umwelt/Gesundheit/Schwangerschaftsabbrueche/Tabellen/land-wohnsitz.html

            The lower part is “Quote je 1 000 Geborene (Lebend- und Totgeborene)” so number of abortions per 1000 births. Excluding the city states Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg (cities have for whatever reason -high rents? less religious? more drug abuse? more promiscuity? higher education? more abortionists? – higher abortion rates than rural areas)

            the states on the former territory of the former DDR are ALL above 200 abortions per 1000 life births, while the states of the BRD have ALL below 200 abortions per 1000 life births, with Bavaria going down to 115.

            Contraception is cheap and available everywhere in Germany; while the economic situation in the east is worse than in the west of Germany, the difference is too small to explain this factor of 2.

            For reasons beside economic situation and contraception access, the former socialist regions have still a far higher abortion rate than the regions which were always somewhat capitalistic.

            Whether a society is more socialistic or more capitalistic has at least a considerable effect on abortion rates.

            “By bracketing off the economic issues”

            I mainly consider the issue to complicated to discuss here.

            Look at the statistics i provided for my thesis that abortion rates are in socialistic countries higher; they are not conclusive; i would at least have to show why these statistics might be reliable; and you potentially might have some statistics showing something different or maybe just supporting that the transition is especially increasing abortions (which would then require pondering whether the stats before and after transition are comparable).

            And we would have to ponder what is going on in GB (somewhat capitalistic with formally free healthcare and free contraception but higher abortion rates than more capitalistic US without free healthcare AND more abortions than less capitalistic Germany with some free healthcare).

            So it is just due to complexity that i “bracketed”.

  5. I think you missee one big player in your analysis. To me, taxation and welfare are the responsibility of the Church, not the State.

    The American experiment is a failure. The Westphalian experiment, which gave rise to monarchs taxing instead of churches tithing, is a failure.

    Abortion and homosexuality are symptoms of the rot, but the real problem is morality free liberty.

    • There isn’t much difference between an mandatory tithe and a tax, at least not from the standpoint of the person doing the paying. But yes, a negative view of liberty stands at the base of the problem.

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