Abortion is like the death penalty. Two squeamish political issues facing modern
For that reason, we really need to examine these issues through looking at return-on-investment related to what sorts of policies empirically reduce abortions, which I generally think most people agree is a reasonable shared goal.
Abortion bans Do. Not. Work. and disproportionately affect communities of color and those living in poverty. Those with resources will always find a way around these bans, and I'm guessing any one of us knows someone who has taken matters into their own hands at some point. Not a pretty thought, and I'll spare you the details of how this is done, but I'm sure some googling or thinking back to your friend from middle school who strangely disappeared for a month then came back will spark your imagination.
To reduce the underlying need for abortions (most effective), try the following:
1) make reproductive healthcare universal and accessible. empirically shown to reduce abortions. Period.
2) invest in anti-poverty policies. as communities move up the economic sphere, abortion rates decrease as bearing children becomes easier financially.
3) make sex education universal. it's horrifying how many young adults actually don't understand how human reproductive biology works, and abstinence-only approach has shown to be wildly ineffective.
Finally, if you insist that life begins at conception (not going to argue here, nobody's mind gets changed) and are looking for ways to reduce the rate at which you believe losses of life occur, abortion bans get you very low ROI. Here are some policy ideas to prioritize instead:
1) universal access to healthcare. we can debate how to get there until the cows come home, but you will achieve so much more lives saved by getting people to a damn doctor's office than the hypothetical ones "saved" by these bans.
2) climate change. Climate change is projected to create a humanitarian crisis like we've never seen before, and the clock is running out on our ability to intervene before it's too late.
My point is that my own personal opinions (or yours) on the morality of abortion aren't going to change and these debates usually devolve into identity politics which doesn't usually produce results or open minds. However, I think anyone can agree that reducing abortions is generally a good thing, and that if we're optimizing for lives saved (not arguing a fetus is a life or not here, but for the sake of the argument let's say that it is), abortion bans are a poor use of political capital and resources and do not achieve the desired result of reducing human suffering.
Emily Tsitrian was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. She is an honors graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (2011, Economics) and is the implementation manager of a San Francisco-based health information services company. She is also my daughter.