Straight Dope Message Board

Straight Dope Message Board (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/index.php)
-   Elections (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/forumdisplay.php?f=34)
-   -   Is any other country's politics as *obsessed* with abortion as the USA's? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=875618)

ThelmaLou 05-16-2019 06:17 AM

Is any other country's politics as *obsessed* with abortion as the USA's?
 
Where a politician stands on this can make or break his/her career regardless of where s/he stands on other issues. Is this true in any other country? Any other Western country? Does the question of the legality of abortion even come up in public discourse as constantly and relentlessly as it does in the USA's current climate?

Not 100% sure this is the right forum. But I am asking about abortion as a polarizing political issue.

Locrian 05-16-2019 06:50 AM

It is entirely a political affair. It has nothing to do with babies. If men could suddenly become pregnant, abortions would be legal, fully insured and available at every Target. Old white Christian men keeping god-fearing women in their place in the voting booths.

ThelmaLou 05-16-2019 07:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Locrian (Post 21645299)
It is entirely a political affair. It has nothing to do with babies. If men could suddenly become pregnant, abortions would be legal, fully insured and available at every Target. Old white Christian men keeping god-fearing women in their place in the voting booths.

I totally agree and could have said a lot more and posted this in The BBQ Pit. Don't even get me started. Seriously.

But my question isn't about abortion itself. It's about abortion as a political issue, i.e., is abortion the CENTER of any other Western country's politics like it is here?

Wesley Clark 05-16-2019 07:18 AM

I believe abortion is more of a controversial topic in latin america. However I don't know if it has the constant back and forth or political power that it does here.

SanVito 05-16-2019 07:27 AM

It's controversial in Norther Ireland (Where it is still, effectively, illegal in most cases), where the presiding politicians are either hard core presbyterian or Catholic, and religion is very much part of the public discourse.

Not the rest of the UK - abortion is a given, and not a topic for political debate.

Locrian 05-16-2019 07:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThelmaLou (Post 21645333)
I totally agree and could have said a lot more and posted this in The BBQ Pit. Don't even get me started. Seriously.

But my question isn't about abortion itself. It's about abortion as a political issue, i.e., is abortion the CENTER of any other Western country's politics like it is here?

Other countries is a tough one. It'd have to be one with somewhat democratic voting with only two major political parties run by an electoral college where voting districts can be gerrymandered. If a country is theocratic, it's not even a topic, it's a given.

I think it's the center of elections here because of the popularity. Let's say I run for office as a Dem, but somewhere in the Bible Belt. My campaign peeps tell me to go pro-life. I say, I'm not. They say, doesn't matter. I say I'm pro-life, will work with churches and here come the votes I need to get elected, not votes that say I have to do what I promised. I got all the fence-sitting votes I needed for a win.

So any other country would need a lot of leeway of choice (like ours) for it to even be a main issue. And a country where candidates can openly bullshit all day. :D I'm stumped to think what country that could be.

Nava 05-16-2019 07:36 AM

In Spain, definitely not as much of a huge button issue as it is in the US. There are parties that you know lean more towards one side or another of the debate, there is continuous back and forth and tweaking of the laws, but it's not a Big Issue when compared with unemployment, educational issues, linguistic issues, the economy in general, the grey economy, immigration (legal, illegal, expats, retired expats, refugees…), etc.

But I think that's probably got a lot to do with several big differences in how politics are organized in both places:
* Spain doesn't elect anywhere near as many people as the US
* many of the positions which in the US are held by elected people, in Spain are held by civil servants (judges, school "district" officers except we don't have districts…)
* Most of your elections are "pick a person's name"; the immense majority of ours are "pick a list of people presented by a party" (Senators are the only ones selected individually). People get filtered before making it to the list, not after.


Add that while there are differences of opinion, it's the kind of thing where being extremely radical in either direction (the way a lot of American politicians are on this subject) is more likely to get anybody a lot of personal space than to get them pats on the back. The few people who are completely and absolutely against abortion tend to be men: any person possessing ovaries and half an imagination accepts that cases such as "ectopic pregnancy", "placenta with no baby" or "you have to choose between carrying the baby to term or getting cancer treatment" fall into either "doesn't count as an 'abortion' (since waiting until term would not produce a baby)" or "just thinking about it scares the shit out of me, I'm so grateful I never found myself in such a horrid situation". Conversely, "it's my body and I do with it whatever I want!!!!" is the kind of thing that doesn't come much in normal conversation, because normal conversation doesn't include people who use that many exclamation marks.

asahi 05-16-2019 08:37 AM

What has made abortion so controversial the last 40-50 years is that the freedom to have one was decided by the Court. It would still be contentious if it were decided by the legislature, but it's the idea that no matter what laws the current government wants, abortion rights remain essentially unchanged. Predictably, the states have responded to this by asserting what legislative powers they do have at the state level to the point where it has reduced the number of abortion clinics to all but just a handful in some of the more conservative states. They will continue to fight at the state level to the point where abortion becomes de facto illegal in conservative states. This is partly why I think that the SCOTUS, regardless of how conservative it may eventually become, will probably not overturn Roe v Wade entirely, but will do so piecemeal over the next 5-10 years.

AK84 05-16-2019 08:40 AM

Not so much in Pakistan.
Sex selective abortions, on the other hand, actual or perceived ones are generally a hot button issue.

ThelmaLou 05-16-2019 09:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nava (Post 21645370)
In Spain, definitely not as much of a huge button issue as it is in the US. There are parties that you know lean more towards one side or another of the debate, there is continuous back and forth and tweaking of the laws, but it's not a Big Issue when compared with unemployment, educational issues, linguistic issues, the economy in general, the grey economy, immigration (legal, illegal, expats, retired expats, refugees…), etc.

But I think that's probably got a lot to do with several big differences in how politics are organized in both places:
* Spain doesn't elect anywhere near as many people as the US
* many of the positions which in the US are held by elected people, in Spain are held by civil servants (judges, school "district" officers except we don't have districts…)
* Most of your elections are "pick a person's name"; the immense majority of ours are "pick a list of people presented by a party" (Senators are the only ones selected individually). People get filtered before making it to the list, not after.


Add that while there are differences of opinion, it's the kind of thing where being extremely radical in either direction (the way a lot of American politicians are on this subject) is more likely to get anybody a lot of personal space than to get them pats on the back. The few people who are completely and absolutely against abortion tend to be men: any person possessing ovaries and half an imagination accepts that cases such as "ectopic pregnancy", "placenta with no baby" or "you have to choose between carrying the baby to term or getting cancer treatment" fall into either "doesn't count as an 'abortion' (since waiting until term would not produce a baby)" or "just thinking about it scares the shit out of me, I'm so grateful I never found myself in such a horrid situation". Conversely, "it's my body and I do with it whatever I want!!!!" is the kind of thing that doesn't come much in normal conversation, because normal conversation doesn't include people who use that many exclamation marks.

Extremely interesting and informative post, Nava. Thank you.

Les Espaces Du Sommeil 05-16-2019 09:21 AM

Definitely not in Belgium although we had this shining example of constitutional creativity less than 30 years ago:

Quote:

Another important controversy happened in 1990, when the Catholic monarch, King Baudouin I, refused to ratify an abortion bill that had been approved by Parliament. The king asked Prime Minister Wilfried Martens and his government to find a solution, which proved novel. The government declared King Baudouin unfit to fulfill his constitutional duties as monarch for one day. Government ministers signed the bill in his place and then proceeded to reinstate the king after the abortion law had come into effect.
That was an interesting day.

naita 05-16-2019 09:29 AM

There's only one party in Norway that is obsessed with abortion, and they are currently polling at about 4%. They did however join the current governing coalition with an absolute demand for changing abortion law.

The other parties are very much saying this is not a _real_ change, but a clarification for something that wasn't medically possible when the law was made in the 70s, but they are using cherry picked research and going against every medical advisory group to support their choice.

Some of them are probably on board with it, abortion being a emotionally difficult topic, but they also know that the political climate in Norway is very much in support of our current laws and practice.

Oh, and the change? To ban abortions of only some of the fetuses in a multiple pregnancy. Wanting to not be pregnant at all will still be perfectly legal, and the medical science is coming down squarely on "this is safe", so it's all about how even Norwegian pro-choice believers can be manipulated into judge this on the squick factor.

Velocity 05-16-2019 10:10 AM

I don't think any other nation matches the OP, because the U.S. is the only nation where there is a close enough split that you can have such ferocious debate. In other nations, either the pro-choice side or pro-life side holds such immense power that there's not much of a debate to be had.

zimaane 05-16-2019 10:22 AM

The Republic of Ireland held a referendum last year on abortion, and overturned the previous ban:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44256152

It was a big deal at the time. I don't know about now.

I was surprised to learn recently that many European countries have fairly restrictive abortion laws:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#Europe

Little Nemo 05-16-2019 10:39 AM

I think a big reason why abortions are such a major political topic in the United States is because it's not really a political issue.

As far as the law is concerned, the issue was decided decades ago; the Roe decision said abortions were a legal right. That put abortions beyond the reach of legislators and executive officers.

And that freed legislators and executive officers to bring up the topic of abortions all of the time without being held accountable. Congressmen and Senators and Presidents and Governors and state legislators can take up all kinds of extreme positions on abortions without being expected to follow through on what they're saying.

If the Roe decision didn't exist and it actually was legal to enact laws banning abortions, politicians would have to pull back from these extreme positions. They'd have to weigh the electoral consequences of offending voters who are pro-life and voters who are pro-choice. You'd see politicians adopting much more moderate positions in an attempt to not offend anyone too much and trying to keep the subject of abortions from being raised at all.

jasg 05-16-2019 10:55 AM

I suspect that some pro-life politicians prefer the status quo - it is a great campaign issue. If Roe is overturned, a lot of single issue voters will stay home on Election Day.

Hari Seldon 05-16-2019 08:11 PM

Not an issue in Canada. Some time around 1970, a doctor was charged with having performed an abortion, then illegal. He (or his lawyer) argued medical necessity (I think it was the woman's mental health) and he was acquitted. In Canada, you can appeal an acquittal and the crown (government prosecutor) did so. The appeal judge not only granted the appeal, but substituted guilty for not guilty. That was reversed on further appeal and the crown tried him again and the jury hung. They tried him a third time with the same result. Finally the gave up and finally they repealed the law and I have not heard anyone wanting to go back. If you cannot get a conviction, there is no point to a law. Maybe the nut in Ontario would like to change it, but criminal law in Canada is federal.

Steken 05-17-2019 04:51 PM

These are the very first words of El Salvador's constitution:

Quote:

TITLE I

SOLE CHAPTER

THE HUMAN PERSON AND THE ENDS OF THE STATE

Article 1

El Salvador recognizes the human person as the origin and the end of the activity of the State, which is organized to attain justice, judicial security, and the common good.

In that same manner, it recognizes as a human person every human being since the moment of conception.
My italics.

Kent Clark 05-17-2019 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThelmaLou (Post 21645269)
Where a politician stands on this can make or break his/her career regardless of where s/he stands on other issues.

Remember, only a small fraction of voters on either side of the issue are so hard-core that abortion is their one and only issue. But those hard-core voters will turn out en masse in the party primaries to vote for people as committed as they are, and they might even stay home in the general election rather than vote for the least objectionable candidate. Politicians, understandably, are afraid of this. Ditto with taxes, LGBTQ rights, etc. Remember, the largest newspaper in New Hampshire won't endorse a Republican who won't take "The Pledge" on taxes.

Maybe the question question would be better framed as, "is there any other nation in the world where politicians are so afraid of single-issue voters."

ThelmaLou 05-17-2019 07:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kunilou (Post 21648624)
...Maybe the question question would be better framed as, "is there any other nation in the world where politicians are so afraid of single-issue voters."

That, too.

Northern Piper 05-18-2019 08:34 AM

We're in a run-up to a federal election in Canada.

The governing Liberals are saying that the Conservatives will re-open the abortion debate if elected, because several Conservative MPs recently participated in a Pro Life march.

The Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, responded by saying that the Conservatives have no intention of re-opening the abortion issue if elected.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/and...bama-1.5140900

Northern Piper 05-18-2019 09:03 AM

I would slightly qualify Hari Seldon's summary of the history of the abortion issue in Canada. There were two separate rounds of litigation, followed by failed legislative efforts.

In the first round, in the 1970s, Dr Morgentaler was acquitted by a series of juries in Quebec. That was the basis for the case where the appellate courts imposed a conviction. The Attorney General of Quebec eventually announced that there would be no further prosecutions, as the pattern of jury acquittals showed that there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

The second round was in Ontario in the 1980s. Dr Morgentaler opened a clinic in Ontario. He was charged by the Ontario authorities but again acquitted by a jury. That case went on appeal to the Supreme Court, which struck down the Criminal Code abortion law under the Charter. The Court didn't establish that abortion laws per se were unconstitutional, only that the particular law in issue was in breach of the Charter.

The Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney then moved to pass a new abortion law. The first attempt was defeated in the Commons on a free vote. Opponents of abortion thought the proposed law was too permissive, while pro choice MPs thought it was too restrictive. Both groups voted against the bill, and it was defeated.

Mulroney's government tried again a year later with another bill. This bill passed the Commons in a free vote. It then went to the Senate, which also held a free vote (and party discipline is generally a bit weaker in the Senate anyway).

The Senate vote was a tie, somewhat to everyone's surprise. Under the rules of the Senate, there's no tie-breaking procedure. If a matter goes to a tie, that means it has failed to pass. The bill was thus defeated in the Senate.

After that, Mulroney said he was done with the issue. He'd tried twice to pass a bill and failed. He concluded that there simply wasn't political appetite for it, and moved on to other vote-getters, like instituting a new tax.

That was around 1991. Since then, no federal government has introduced any bills to regulate or prohibit abortion. Abortion is now the same as any other health or medical procedure.

Anny Middon 05-18-2019 02:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by naita (Post 21645616)
Oh, and the change? To ban abortions of only some of the fetuses in a multiple pregnancy. Wanting to not be pregnant at all will still be perfectly legal, and the medical science is coming down squarely on "this is safe", so it's all about how even Norwegian pro-choice believers can be manipulated into judge this on the squick factor.

I find this very interesting. AIUI so-called "selective reduction" is done only when aborting one or more fetuses in a multiple pregnancy increases the survival rate of the remaining fetus(es). I don't understand why anyone would be against this. When is it more desirable to have (say) three stillbirths rather than one aborted fetus and two healthy babies?

ThelmaLou 05-18-2019 04:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anny Middon (Post 21649733)
I find this very interesting. AIUI so-called "selective reduction" is done only when aborting one or more fetuses in a multiple pregnancy increases the survival rate of the remaining fetus(es). I don't understand why anyone would be against this. When is it more desirable to have (say) three stillbirths rather than one aborted fetus and two healthy babies?

Ah, grasshopper, you don't understand. This is for GOD to decide, not the doctor or the mother. The fact that God presumably gave both the doctor and the mother BRAINS and HEARTS to help them make good decisions is irrelevant.

You see, healthy babies are not the goal of this policy. The goal of the policy is to take control of a woman's body away from her and to jail (or murder) any doctor who interferes. If the goal were healthy babies, then healthy babies would be valued and cared for, right? There would be adequate medical care for them from birth, social safety net programs, educational opportunities--all the things that turn healthy babies into healthy adults. But this group doesn't care about babies or children. It only cares about FETUSES and uppity women who dare to think that their bodies are their own.

Ugh. Sorry about the rant... couldn't help myself.

JackieLikesVariety 05-18-2019 05:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThelmaLou (Post 21649846)
Ah, grasshopper, you don't understand. This is for GOD to decide, not the doctor or the mother. The fact that God presumably gave both the doctor and the mother BRAINS and HEARTS to help them make good decisions is irrelevant.

You see, healthy babies are not the goal of this policy. The goal of the policy is to take control of a woman's body away from her and to jail (or murder) any doctor who interferes. If the goal were healthy babies, then healthy babies would be valued and cared for, right? There would be adequate medical care for them from birth, social safety net programs, educational opportunities--all the things that turn healthy babies into healthy adults. But this group doesn't care about babies or children. It only cares about FETUSES and uppity women who dare to think that their bodies are their own.

Ugh. Sorry about the rant... couldn't help myself.

very well summed up, Thelma Lou

if any "pro lifers" really cared about babies (and about pregnant women and girls!) they would be all about the birth control.

Icerigger 05-18-2019 07:36 PM

Let us not forget the pro-lifers are just as opposed to Contraception, this is their next target if Roe is overturned.

Whack-a-Mole 05-18-2019 08:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Locrian (Post 21645299)
It is entirely a political affair. It has nothing to do with babies. If men could suddenly become pregnant, abortions would be legal, fully insured and available at every Target. Old white Christian men keeping god-fearing women in their place in the voting booths.

Nah.

It is just a cynical power play by a political wing to churn up the masses so they vote for them.

Maybe they hate women, maybe they don't but that is not the point. No one is sitting there, rubbing their hands in an evil overlord sort of way, thinking this will really hurt women...WooHoo!

It is no more or less than politics. Conservatives have manufactured abortion into a wedge issue in order to bolster their votes. That's it.

We know this because their pious proclamations about the sanctity of life are not upheld anywhere else (witness their zeal for the death penalty). Their concern for the fetus ends the second it is born. Indeed they do not even advocate for health care for the mother.

The bible is mostly silent about abortion but what it does say suggests it is not too fussed about it. So it is not even a religious thing.

Conservatives used to be pro-choice and were fine with abortion.

It is literally a ginned up problem used for political reasons. That's it.

Gullible = conservative. They should be synonyms.

Velocity 05-18-2019 09:15 PM

For the record, 47 percent of American women are pro-life.


(Since there's this recurrent narrative that "It's about men who want to suppress women.")

Whack-a-Mole 05-18-2019 09:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Velocity (Post 21650235)
For the record, 47 percent of American women are pro-life.


(Since there's this recurrent narrative that "It's about men who want to suppress women.")

Is there more nuance to that?

Do those women think abortion is right/wrong in the case of incest or rape?

Do they discern between abortion depending how far along it is?

Do they think they should have the option to abort or were they asked about it as a general idea?

These things make a difference in polls.

puzzlegal 05-18-2019 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anny Middon (Post 21649733)
I find this very interesting. AIUI so-called "selective reduction" is done only when aborting one or more fetuses in a multiple pregnancy increases the survival rate of the remaining fetus(es). I don't understand why anyone would be against this. When is it more desirable to have (say) three stillbirths rather than one aborted fetus and two healthy babies?

Honestly, the better option is to never implant more than 2 eggs at a time. Multiple pregnancies greater than twins are very uncommon outside of IVF and some hormonal fertility treatments. And twins usually both do okay.

Nava 05-19-2019 01:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zimaane (Post 21645730)
I was surprised to learn recently that many European countries have fairly restrictive abortion laws:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#Europe

It actually makes sense if you think of them as being "in-between laws". To be in a situation where everybody agrees that "what we have isn't perfect but it's acceptable" requires being in a middle ground; in some countries that middle ground has been more stable, in others it moves more, but it's always a compromise. What looks "fairly restrictive" to a person looks "permissive" to another one. Part of the issue in the US is that abortion politics are presented in b/w terms: it's either "free abortion" or "no abortion". That's not the case in most of Europe: the majority of us talk about it in terms of "when", not "if".

naita 05-19-2019 07:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anny Middon (Post 21649733)
I find this very interesting. AIUI so-called "selective reduction" is done only when aborting one or more fetuses in a multiple pregnancy increases the survival rate of the remaining fetus(es). I don't understand why anyone would be against this. When is it more desirable to have (say) three stillbirths rather than one aborted fetus and two healthy babies?

Since "selective reduction" was not (much of) a thing when the current Norwegian abortion laws went into effect in 1976 there was no special mention of them in the law.

In 2016 the Justice Department reviewed the status of the law and medical science in that area and stated that "selective reduction" was an option within the "12-weeks no questions asked"-window of the current law as well as the "12th-18th week apply to the abortion "tribunal""-window.

In the period 2002-2015 there were 16 cases of selective reduction, all due to severe fetal developmental anomalies.

From the change in the interpretation of the law until 2018 there were 38 cases of selective reduction, over 60% of them in completely healthy pregnancies.

Little Nemo 05-22-2019 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThelmaLou (Post 21649846)
Ah, grasshopper, you don't understand. This is for GOD to decide, not the doctor or the mother.

And God's busy, so some people have appointed themselves to speak on God's behalf.

sfriver 05-22-2019 11:34 PM

Maybe we should have a registry for the women who are open to having an abortion so men can have a fair choice too. Or maybe an alternative registry of women who pledge to never have an abortion (rape, incest, medical reasons excluded). Personally I am very strongly pro life. I would not have sex with a woman that I knew would abort someone's life.

As it stands now, men don't have any control between paying child support for 18 years or having no kid at all in the event of an unexpected pregnancy. Men have been marginalized in the family structure. Their future is at the mercy of what the mother decides. It is wrong that both people decided to have sex but one person decides the fate for everybody.

wolfpup 05-23-2019 06:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Northern Piper (Post 21649371)
... After that, Mulroney said he was done with the issue. He'd tried twice to pass a bill and failed. He concluded that there simply wasn't political appetite for it, and moved on to other vote-getters, like instituting a new tax.

That was around 1991. Since then, no federal government has introduced any bills to regulate or prohibit abortion. Abortion is now the same as any other health or medical procedure.

Just to re-iterate that last point, abortion has been politically a non-issue in Canada for about 30 years. Meaning that the only obstacle to a woman's preference might be medical ethics affecting late-term abortion, but there is neither legal meddling nor any political interest in reviving an issue that has been long settled by the Supreme Court. There are the inevitable vocal small groups of religious nutters railing against it, but they have pretty much no political clout. I don't remember the issue ever coming up in political debates.

puddleglum 05-23-2019 10:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Icerigger (Post 21650104)
Let us not forget the pro-lifers are just as opposed to Contraception, this is their next target if Roe is overturned.

There is no truth at all to this.

naita 05-23-2019 10:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sfriver (Post 21657934)
Maybe we should have a registry for the women who are open to having an abortion so men can have a fair choice too. Or maybe an alternative registry of women who pledge to never have an abortion (rape, incest, medical reasons excluded). Personally I am very strongly pro life. I would not have sex with a woman that I knew would abort someone's life.

Get a vasectomy and/or avoid vaginal sex. There is tons of sexual pleasure to be had with zero risk of pregnancy and there's is no guarantee a woman who gives your pledge doesn't change her mind, so you owe it to that possible life to commit to these immensely smaller sacrifices.

John Bredin 05-23-2019 02:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21658485)
There is no truth at all to this.

"At all" is a rather strong phrase.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:03 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.