Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's First Moves

So what does Barack Obama care about the most? His first hundred days will show his true agenda, the things that matter the most to the new President. Let's see what he's wanted to push for the most since Tuesday.

He lifted the Mexico City policy. The policy required any non-government organization receiving money from the United States government to "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations." Initially instituted by President Reagan, it was lifted by Clinton, and reinstated by George W. Bush.

He closed the detention center at Guantanimo Bay. He also ordered that all intelligence agencies use interrogation techniques from the Army Field Manual instead of the other techniques used during the Bush Administration. Secretary of Defense Gates says this is going to be difficult because it's unclear what happens to the current detainees at Gitmo. I understand changing the policy on torture. Closing Gitmo needs to be done slowly and methodically to figure out what exactly what to do with the detainees before immediately closing it.

Both of these executive orders are nods to the liberal base which helped secure him the nomination. The problem with the latter is that it's not well thought through. The problem with the former is that to "actively promote abortion as a method of family planning" is awful; to promote abortion as a form of birth control is awful. Abortion, if it is to remain legal, it should be as a last resort such as if the woman's life is in jeopardy. You can plan a family with birth control such as condoms, medical birth control, or the simplest solution - not having sexual relations.

1 comment:

The Only Sensible Man Alive said...

"Family planning" is not equatable with "birth control". I'm not sure if you've heard accounts of what having an abortion is like, but it's either a surgical procedure or, at best, like a miscarriage, which is not something people have sex intending to put themselves through. Claiming that people support abortion as a form of birth control is basically saying that people have unprotected sex thinking "Oh, it's cool, I can always just get an abortion."

Nobody, and I do mean nobody, goes into sexual relations thinking "You know, I'm really not keen on taking these hormones or using a barrier, so I'll just get an abortion if it's a problem."

People who aren't pregnant don't want to be in a situation where they feel the best option is an abortion, and it is rarely a decision entered into lightly.

The myriad factors that a woman may take into account in making that decision are factors you and I will never experience. Even in modern society, and especially in lower-opportunity areas of the world, women face serious stigmas and penalties if they become pregnant without a husband. They may be removed from the workplace, or even beaten and killed.

A woman may conceive a child with Tay-Sachs, in which case the child is almost guaranteed to die within the first three years of its life--if it survives that long it may live to be as old as fourteen with crippling muscular disorders and constant pain. Carrying such a child to term may be a moral white area for you, but it's not for everybody. Imagine forcing somebody to live with the knowlege that they bore a life that only suffered and died. Nobody has the right that impose that on somebody.

And I can't even begin to enumerate all of the reasons somebody might have to have an abortion, but I can guarantee you that no matter how many people may abort out of convenience, ensuring that the people who genuinely, honestly need access to that procedure have it no matter what vastly outweighs your moral umbrage.

Women, as a group, still suffer from a huge barrage of social pressures that men do not have.

They suffer disproportionately from domestic violence, and murders of domestic violence are disproportionately triggered by a pregnancy the violent partner does not want, and to pre-empt the argument that the victim could simply leave her abuser, most abusers are more than happy to track down their victims and continue to abuse, or even kill them.

They suffer disproportionately from wage discrimination and a lack of health benefits. Among the lower class, where unintended pregnancies have a much higher rate, they are unlikely to be able to pay for pre-natal care--which could cost them their lives to carry a fetus to term that might not even live for lack of proper care. Many pre-natal complications such as eclampsia are unrecognizable without regular care until the symptoms become severe, at which point the norm is severe organ damage which is often untreatable in patients who are late into eclampsia.

Further, the repeal of the Global Gag Rule does not have US aid funding abortions. It funds family planning organizations, periods. The Global Gag Rule strangled many areas because most or all of the family planning organizations there received funds to provide abortions from somebody. Without regard for necessity or context, the US cut off aid that was marked for condoms, birth control, sex education campaigns, HIV awareness campaigns, and other useful and necessary programs in materials in areas where those programs are needed more than ever, simply because the organization was also willing to provide abortions.

That is a great moral crusade that was causing enormous suffering and death in Africa and Asia, and it's a damn good thing it's gone for now.