Titles like that are why I don’t cater to ideologues, except to troll them. One side swears that the least regulation of women’s access to abortion throughout their pregnancies is the work of the bastard love child of Anthony Comstock and Jack the Ripper, the other side swears that women’s lawful recourse to abortion as individuals under the post-Roe regime is tantamount to the gas chambers of Birkenau (often with helpful illustrations of the Nazi genocide infrastructure), and the silent majority has another pint of Franzia, since any other response would be futile.
How does one even try to reconcile competing, irreconcilable policy interests? How can the self-determination of women facing unwanted pregnancies be squared with the welfare of the babies they are carrying or the demographic health of society? Maybe by attaching felony penalties to Godwin’s Law (everything else is already a federal felony, after all). If nothing else, we can remember that even in times of darkest derp, demographic statistics abide, although maybe not so much in the debate about abortion itself, because that frothy milkshake brings all the braying nuts to the yard.
To wit, from a Nazi-allusion-free article not about abortion at the Demo Memo:
Baby Bust Update: 8% Birth DeclineAccording to preliminary estimates for 2012, the baby bust continues but the decline is slowing. The nation’s 2012 fertility rate was 63.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, the lowest on record and 9.4 percent below the 2007 high of 69.5. The fertility rate of women under age 30 is at a record low, but the rate among women aged 30 to 34 climbed slightly between 2011 and 2012 as those who had been postponing childbearing played catchup.
Overall, 3,952,937 babies were born in 2012. This was 8.4 percent below the 4,316,233 born in the peak birth year of 2007. So far, the Great Recession baby bust is not as deep as the 10.7 percent Great Depression bust, and it’s not likely to reach that level because the decline is slowing. For some perspective, keep in mind that the decline in births from the peak year of the baby boom in 1957 to the trough year of the baby bust (Generation X) in 1973 was a much larger 27 percent.
Did you notice that? It was subtle. In the course of not yelling about misogynistic sex scolds or murdered babies, Cheryl Russell mentioned that dreadful watershed year of 1973. That was the year in which American women started killing their own flesh and blood en masse with the government’s blessing and disposing of it as medical waste, except for the part about their finally starting the next year to carry more babies to term after nearly a generation of deliberate barrenness.
It appears that what Roe really did as a policy (in contrast to its excellent service as a lodestone for acrimonious derp unto ages of ages) was to regularize a common medical procedure that had proven impossible to eliminate, even with criminal penalties. There aren’t reliable records of abortions in most states for several decades prior to Roe because no prudent physician would have documented a procedure that could have subjected him and his patient to felony prosecution. As birth records from 1957 show, sex was invented at some point prior to 1973, and for purposes of demographic analysis, it’s reasonable to assume that a constant, and very high, percentage of women of childbearing age was sexually active. That’s why Russell used data on live births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.
These are rough bounds, but they’re accurate enough for demographic purposes. In demographic terms, the celibate minority of adults is static, mere background noise obstructing the thumpy signal of the rumpy-pumpy. The clerical celibates (sic?), of course, are especially noisy. The vulgar truth is that you and me, baby, ain’t nothing but mammals, although personally, I prefer Nature documentaries, and I find bears to have the most dignified and heartwarming mating practices this side of the quaking aspen.
That paragraph was kind of gross. So is pretty much the entire debate on abortion in the United States since 1973. It takes a special kind of person to insist that late third-trimester abortions present no ethical or existential concerns and are totally cool. It takes a really special kind of person to march down the National Mall with a sign showing a photograph of a fetus next to one of Dachau. Centrists do not enjoy hanging out with such people. Bring out the grrrrrrlll power wimminz in shoddy crew cuts and Randall Terry with a gas chamber picture, and the substantial portion of the silent majority that doesn’t have a prurient interest in the macabre spectacle, the people who should be asserting themselves as policy stakeholders, shrink into the woodwork at warp speed.
To a great extent, this four-decade abortion shouting match is a major front in the war between K-strategic libertines and r-strategic authoritarians for the demographic soul of the nation. Neither of these factions should be given a voice as stakeholders in the childbearing decisions of individuals. Granting legitimacy to either faction as an arbiter of individuals’ reproductive decisions is collectivist madness.
Both sides have developed a habit of becoming insufferable concern trolls. The barren libertine left concern-trolls women who genuinely want to raise families on the basis that they aren’t devoting enough time and energy to the stuff of feminist liberation. The authoritarian breeder right concern-trolls poor, defenseless babies, and at its shrillest extremes unimplanted embryos, with no thought to the gruesomeness of the alternative means of population control that eventually will assert themselves: consistently some combination of war, disease and famine. (If they think American women’s attitudes towards their infants in utero are amoral, they should consider a famine afflicting a burgeoning population. A failed wheat crop never cares.)
Neither extreme really wants competent individuals to make their own free, informed decisions, because have it all/children are annoying and le hard/baby murder!/invading proliferative Muslim hordes. Do it in the name of Carrie Bradshaw, or do it in the name of Charles Martel, but whatever you do, don’t make your own decision; make ours.
The Eagle wept.