Republicans seem to have decided that opposition to abortion should be the focus of their message for the 2014 elections. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal. The numbers have been very consistent over time. Yet, the GOP believes that opposing abortion will be a winning issue for them this fall.
Over the years Republican politicians and their allies have paraded out a laundry list of reasons to make abortion illegal. The most used reason, of course, is the belief that life begins at conception. Since many people have trouble imaging that a small collection of cells is truly a human life, abortion foes have moved on to other reasons to ban it. Several of those reasons were trumpeted at the 41st annual March For Life, in Washington. Missouri GOP congresswoman Vicky Hartzler told the crowd that “It [abortion] ends a beating heart, it leaves emotional wounds with women that they carry for life and it robs men of the privilege of fatherhood.”
That’s right. In addition to the other reasons for opposing abortion, Republicans now want men to oppose it because it deprives them of their right to be fathers. So, are Republicans trying to divert attention from their “war on women” by suggesting that abortion rights are part of a “war on men?”
Hartlzer is not the first to make the claim that abortion deprives men of their fatherhood ‘right.’
Vicky Hartlzer’s statement echoes one made recently by anti-gay activist Scott Lively. Lively’s website offers a list of “Top Seven Reasons Why I am Pro-Life.” The first four reasons listed are from the standard anti-abortion mantra — God opposes abortion, a baby is a human being from the moment of conception, abortion is murder, the Declaration of Independence grants life as an “unalienable right.” He then calls the last three reasons “statements of self evident truth.” The first of his “self evident truths” is this:
Because legalized abortion robs fathers of their fundamental rights as parents, and their Biblical authority as heads of their households.
Hartzler stopped short of the Biblical reference, but her statement is otherwise in lockstep with Lively’s.
Abortion statistics call Hartzler’s claim into question.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended. Forty percent of those pregnancies are ended by abortion. If a woman does not intend for sex to lead to pregnancy, it is logical to assume that in most cases her partner also does not intend for her to become pregnant. This blows Hartzler’s and Lively’s claim out of the water. How can a man be deprived of being a father when he never intended to be a father?
This new attack line on abortion ignores the reasons women give for why they have an abortion. Around half say that they do not want to be a single parent, or that they are having trouble in a relationship. Being a single parent means that there’s a good chance that the pregnancy was the result of casual sex, or that the father is not on the scene for other reasons. In either of those cases it is absurd to claim that the father is somehow being deprived of fatherhood.
Hartzler also laments about how if we hadn’t had so many abortions, one of those fetuses might have grown up to discover a cure for cancer. Once again, consulting statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, 42 percent of women who obtain abortions have incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. 27 percent have incomes between 100-199 percent of the poverty level. Republican policies seem designed to make sure that poor people stay poor. How likely does she think it is that any of those fetuses aborted by poor women could have gotten the education needed to discover a medical breakthrough?
The Republican obsession with social issues has cost them a number of races over the years. Most recently it enabled Terry McAuliffe to be elected governor of Virginia. If the GOP is pinning their hopes for this fall’s elections on abortion, it may provide Democrats with their best shot at taking back the House of Representatives.
Here is the video with Rep. Hartzler’s remarks, courtesy of C-SPAN: