Jesurgislac’s Journal

November 22, 2009

On Netherlands and ethics, or lack thereof

Responding to a post by a Catholic pro-lifer (“Disciple”): Netherlands and bioethics, or lack thereof, which illustrates both the particular problem about trying to oppose abortion as a Catholic, and the general problem all pro-lifers have that their movement is based on lies: while they claim to be “against abortion”, they neither support any effective means of preventing abortion, nor do they actually believe their oft-repeated claim that abortion=murder.

Disciple claimed repeatedly that s/he believes “Abortion is MURDER. And that is all there is to it.” (cite, cite)

The only successful way of preventing abortions – if you believe pro-lifers, of “preventing murders” – is to provide both free access to contraception, and educate/encourage young people to use contraception whenever they have sex. Both are essential. Pro-lifers support neither. (Pro-lifers were actively against allowing the US once more to provide funding to overseas family planning clinics, which prevent abortions, and actively against allowing low-income women to claim contraception on Medicaid, which would prevent abortions.)

The global good example of preventing abortions is the Netherlands. This isn’t a flash-in-the-pan good example, and it’s no secret how it was achieved:

People in the Netherlands consider unplanned pregnancy to be a large problem that society and decision-makers should and do seriously address. The abortion rate fluctuates between 5 to 7/1000 women of reproductive age, the lowest abortion rate in the world. Between 1965 and 1975, a shift from a largely agricultural society to an industrial society, rapid economic growth and the establishment of a welfare state, a reduced influence of the church in public and personal life, introduction of mass media, and a rapid increase in the educational level of both men and women brought about a rapid change in traditional values and family relations in the Netherlands. These changes and the introduction of modern contraception effected a breakthrough in family planning and sexual morality. Factors facilitating the rapid transition to a contraceptive society in the Netherlands were a voluntary family planning movement, fear of overpopulation, role of general practitioners in providing family planning services, and inclusion of family planning in the national public health insurance system. Acceptance of contraception preceded liberalization of abortion. Society accepts abortion as only a last resort. The sexual sterilization rate is higher than that in other European countries (25% vs. 0-23%). Special family planning programs in the Netherlands target groups at risk of unwanted pregnancy, particularly teenage pregnancy. Almost all secondary schools and about 50% of primary schools address sexuality and contraception. Sex education has largely been integrated in general health education programs. The mass media address adolescent sexuality and preventive behavior. Very large scale, nonmoralistic, public education campaigns that are positive towards teenage sexual behavior appear to be successful. Teens have wide access to contraceptive services through general practitioners who maintain confidentiality and do not require a vaginal exam and through subsidized family planning clinics. (1994)

What has this meant, in real terms?

In 2002, the total number of abortions in the Netherlands was 34,168. (This includes just over 4000 abortions performed on non-residents, women travelling to the Netherlands to obtain an abortion or on illegal immigrants.) The abortion rate per 1000 women ages 15-44 resident in the Netherlands was 8.7.

In 2002, the total number of abortions reported in the United States was 948,712: it’s estimated that as many as 347,000 were not reported, and the abortion rates for non-residents, which I presume includes all illegal immigrants, are strikingly higher. But the abortion rate per 1000 for women ages 15-44 legally resident in the United States was 20.5.

One presumes, if you genuinely regard abortion as MURDER, you won’t cavil at preventing it among women who aren’t actually legally resident.

In 2002, in the Netherlands, the abortion ratio (abortions per 1000 live births) is 169.1. In the United States, it is 315.5. The abortion rate – considering abortions as percentage of pregnancies (excluding fetal deaths/miscarriages) in the Netherlands in 2002 is 14.5%. In the United States, it is 24%.

How many abortions would have been prevented, in the United States in 2002, if the United States had adopted the same educational/health system as in the Netherlands and only 14.5% of the pregnancies in that year had ended in abortion, instead of 24%? The historical statistics for the Netherlands and the United States are here: you can play around with the statistics for yourself.

But I make it, at lowest, 440,000. Four hundred and forty thousand. 440,000. That’s how many, at minimum, abortions could be prevented, in the United States, each year, if the US would use the Netherlands model.

November 10, 2009

What the Stupak-Pitts coathanger amendment means for Americans

Bart Stupak, Democrat for Death, decided he hated women and he didn’t want women who needed abortions to get healthcare: he wants taxpayers who are women to be required to pay for government subsidies for health insurance plans, but he wants those health insurance companies to be allowed to deny those women life/fertility-saving healthcare.

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

From a woman who had an abortion on Hallowe’en:

As much as I struggled with the sudden realization that the pregnancy was over, I also found myself trying to decide financially what I was willing to do. A chemical abortion would cost $40, but I would be alone, bleeding, and it could still be incomplete and I would require a D&C anyway, since my pregnancy was so advanced. Surgery would be quick, total, and under controlled circumstances, but would likely be our full maxed insurance amount of $1500. And of course, there was the free option of waiting for my body to finally realize I wasn’t pregnant, but after 4 weeks the risk of infection was steadily climbing, increasing my chances of future miscarriage, infertility, or even death. With a toddler at home, and still nursing hopes for extending our family some day, this was not an option.

I chose the quick and total route of the D&C, despite the costs, prioritizing my health and the health of possible future children. I was lucky, and could afford to make that choice, because currently, my insurance cannot chose to refuse to cover what the hospital as termed an abortion.

Thanks to the Stupak amendment, that can now change.

This is an anti-women amendement – the kind of misogynist crap that women-haters spew – but it is also a typically rich-bastard anti-poor people amendment. A woman who already has a good insurance plan – one that covers abortion – or who has the kind of income that can afford to pay a couple of thousand for an unexpected medical expense that her health insurance, she discovers, won’t cover – will be OK.

A woman who figures she can scrape together $40 for a chemical abortion and just hope that will do it? Or a woman who can’t afford anything but a coathanger?

Congressman Bart Stupak has decided such worthless women can die. Or become involuntarily infertile. Or whatever. Their lives, and the lives of the children they hoped to have, are of less than no importance to a man like him. He has an e-mail form here, if you want to let him know what you think. (You will need to provide him with a zip code inside Michigan’s 1st District, which you can do by looking a city up here and the zipcode for it here. )

November 4, 2009

Bigots win in Maine

It’s beginning to look like a pattern: US legislatures agree there’s no point in legally enforcing bigotry by denying marriage to same-sex couples, and pass a law repealing the ban. Then homophobic bigots force a referendum, and a majority of Americans, asked if they believe in liberty and justice for all or if they want to deny rights to a minority… go for the bigoted option.

What is it about liberty, about justice, about equality, that so many Americans loathe so much? Why do so many Americans really believe that if a majority don’t want a minority to have the same equal rights as everyone else, the majority ought to get to deny it to them?

No doubt I will cool down about this later on. The homophobic bigots have more money and the power to shout louder: but they are also an ageing group. Opposition to the freedom to marry is a losing game: eventually the anti-Constitutional DOMA will be overthrown, by a Supreme Court decision even if there’s never a federal legislature with the guts to affirm the US Constitution in the face of the bigots who think it doesn’t apply to queers. Eventually: there are twenty-plus countries round the world who support the legal right for same-sex couples to wed. Homophobic Christians may proclaim all they like that they know their God hates queers and the law of the land ought to enforce their God’s will, but in a functional democracy theocratic law is eventually doomed. Eventually.

But it takes so long, and the cause of bigotry leads to so much human misery as it dies.

To the bloggers who rejoice today because they hate children and want them to be forcibly removed from their parents: well, there’s nothing worse I can wish you than your corrosive hate for children and their parents will do to your own mind.

Blog at