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.
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August 15, 2008

Who decides in November?

Well, come on, you know: the same people who decided in 2004.

Not the voters. The people who control the voting machines.

Since the year 2000, the US hasn’t had a national election where the exit polls corresponded to the results the voting machines provided.

Will Barack Obama win in November? I think it likely – Bush couldn’t win in 2000 or 2004, and neither Gore nor Kerry were as popular as Obama is, despite his recent betrayals.

Will McCain be in the White House in January? Quite probably.

On the other hand, if Chuck Hagel supports Obama for President, he may be all the voter Obama needs….

June 15, 2008

US: Pro-life politicians are anti-children

Here’s a convenient piece of documentation: American politicians, and how they vote on pro-child policies.

You can look up the worst and the best politicians for yourself.

John McCain has a 10% score, by the way. Barack Obama has a 60% score. (Hillary Clinton has a 70% score.)

Correlating the pro-child politicians against the “pro-life” politicians, unsurprisingly, we find that the politicians most likely to vote against children are the politicians also most likely to vote “pro-life”. Being anti-child has a strong correlation with being anti-woman.

I won’t give them a link, but the NRLC has a convenient little tool by which you can look up different politicians and discover how they voted on anti-women bills: McCain has the lowest score as anti-child in the Senate, and he also has a lot of bright green ticks on NRLC (and is endorsed by them as a “pro-life” candidate).

David Vitter, James Inhofe, James W. DeMint, Tom Coburn: score at 20%, – strongly anti-child: and all of them have a 100% voting record as anti-women. Among the legislation they supported was a vote that had the effect of defunding UNPFA.

You can continue checking: it’s tedious but disgusting work, confirming that if you’re the kind of politician who votes to limit women’s choices, you are the kind of politician who votes against helping children.

Pro-lifers don’t care about preventing abortions (a pro-lifer showed up in the comments to that post to confirm this): but if you ask them, they’ll claim their justification for trying to make abortion difficult to access or illegal is “Helping moms, saving babies, ending abortion!”

Yet they vote for and urge others to vote for politicians who don’t care about helping moms, or saving babies (or older children) and who actively prefer to avoid preventing abortions.

Now why do they do that? If they wanted to “help moms” they could campaign for paid maternity leave, for free healthcare for pregnant women and children. If they wanted to “save babies” – well, babies and older children – they could campaign for and support politicians who can be trusted to vote for policies supporting children.

There are Senators who score 100% on voting for pro-child legislation (listed below) and, unsurprisingly, NRLC doesn’t like how they vote very much. Check their names: some of them have a few approving green ticks from NRLC for voting for anti-woman legislation, but most have nothing. NRLC doesn’t score points for voting to help children: all NRLC cares about is the codeword “saving babies” – which has nothing to do with actually helping real children, any more than it has anything to do with preventing abortions.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) 100%
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) 100%
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) 100%
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 100%
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) 100%
Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) 100%
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) 100%
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) 100%
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 100%
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) 100%
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) 100%
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 100%
Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI) 100%
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) 100%
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) 100%
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) 100%
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D/I-CT) 100%
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) 100%
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) 100%
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 100%
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) 100%
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 100%
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) 100%
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) 100%
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) 100%

May 1, 2008

Using Up My Five Minutes of Blogging Time To Complain About Other Blogs

Once upon a time, the reason for reading American political blogs was that they were substantially different from American mainstream media.

This has not been true of many right-wing blogs for some time, which more and more simply seemed to chorus together whatever party line was coming out of the White House.

But it was still true of many blogs, some on the right, many on the left, lots which were neither typed as “right” or “left.

Sadly, it no longer seems to be the case. What the mainstream media is paying attention to is apparently what is deemed to be important, so what <I>is</I> the point of reading blogs rather than reading mainstream media?

This primary would have been a great opportunity to examine the real differences between Clinton and Obama: substantive reasons, rather than trivial ones, why someone might decide they preferred one over the other.

Instead, as one would expect, the mainstream media and the Republican campaigners had a long, happy time circulating nasty nonsense about either or both, and as I certainly didn’t expect, the left-wing blogosphere happily took up the lead the mainstream media and the Republican campaigners had given them and ran with it.

For large chunks of time, I won’t be able to be online in May. Once upon a time, political blogs would have been an excellent way to pick up in summary the recent and most important news. Now? Might as well switch on CNN 24.

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