This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Why Have Attacks on Reproductive Rights Been So Successful?

Gail Collins raises a very interesting point in her column in today's New York Times. The gay rights movement has been very successful in the U.S., but women's reproductive rights have been going in the opposite direction. 
Last year, 22 states adopted new abortion restrictions, some of which come close to completely eliminating women’s right of choice. There was a dramatic standoff in the Texas State Legislature when Senator Wendy Davis staved off a draconian anti-abortion bill with a one-woman filibuster. People watched enthralled around the country. Davis catapulted onto the national political stage. But the Legislature came right back and passed the bill a few weeks later.
Obviously, abortion is an issue that only relates to one gender, at one particular stage in their lives. And it’s never a feel-good option. “I don’t expect the National Football League to be defending abortion rights anytime soon,” said Susan Cohen of the Guttmacher Institute.
Collins concludes that the answer gets down to money. Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays not on the grounds that this was morally outrageous, but on the grounds that it did not make good economic sense for Arizona. Not only do gay couples spend money, but enough people were outraged at the impending legislation (even if the governor was not), that they might boycott the state and harm its economy. But when we follow the money with respect to accessibility of abortion services, it turns out largely to be poor women who are affected.
Low-income women are five times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy as their most affluent sisters. And the lawmakers who busy themselves throwing up barriers to abortion in their own states realize, deep in their hearts, that if their middle-class constituents want to end a pregnancy, they can get on a plane and go where it’s easy to take care of the problem.
We keep looking for new angles on the song, but the tune stays the same. Follow the lack of money.
This strikes as very sad and very true.

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