The abortion issue is more divisive than ever, thanks to extreme anti-abortion legislation recently passed in some states and, lately, to Democratic presidential candidates seemingly vying to be the most pro-choicest.

The newest controversy swirls around the 1976 Hyde Amendment, named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., which forbids the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk. The provision has long enjoyed a degree of bipartisan support in a nod to the millions of conscientious objectors to abortion.

Then came the buoyant presidential candidacy of Joe Biden. After his campaign initially confirmed last week that he still supported the Hyde Amendment, his legion of Democratic opponents got busy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts led the charge in an MSNBC town hall Wednesday night, arguing that the Hyde Amendment has to be scrapped because it discriminates against poor women.

From this view, a subtext quickly emerged that the amendment is essentially classist — and perhaps racist — because lower-income women and women of color are more likely than wealthier and white women to get pregnant unintentionally and to seek what the Guttmacher Institute calls a “critical reproductive health service.” Warren suggested that under Hyde, “women of means” still have access to abortion. Less well-off women dependent upon a government safety net such as Medicaid, however, may not.

One might further infer from Warren’s argument that those who support the Hyde Amendment essentially support withholding help from poor women and women of color in one of life’s most vulnerable times.

Although abortion rates are down across the board over the past decade, among women aged 15-44 (more or less the reproductive years) in 2014, blacks had the highest abortion rate, at 27 abortions per 1,000 women. Hispanic and white women clocked in at 18 and 10 abortions per 1,000 women, respectively. And abortion is most common among impoverished and low-income women, who accounted for 75% of abortion patients in 2014.

Shouldn’t we dedicate more effort to tackling unplanned pregnancy across all races and wealth levels before we mandate that Americans pay for others’ abortions?

In the barely meanwhile, Biden flipped. One day he was running as a moderate candidate of consistent principle. The next, he was running to the left of himself. Explaining his sudden opposition to Hyde, he told an audience in Atlanta: “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”

But a ZIP code isn’t really the point, is it? It’s about whether taxpayers with a strong commitment to life at conception should be on the hook for others’ abortions. Sacrificing our nation’s long history of protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience is a high price to pay so that strangers can abort their babies. If it’s no one’s business what women do with their bodies, then why is it anyone’s business to interfere with another’s profound religious conviction?

The real problem with abortion, aside from its obvious complexities, is the way we talk about it. Given the more than 50 million abortions performed in the wake of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, it should be clear that we suffer a lack of imagination. Rather than arguing endlessly about choice vs. personhood, we should be talking about ways to end this primitive, barbaric procedure that is risky, nasty and, unequivocally, life-ending.

In 21st-century America — with pills, patches, spermicides, morning-after medications, IUDs, condoms or some combination thereof — we should be well beyond all but the rare abortion. If Big Pharma can give men hours of sexual stamina, surely it can come up with a foolproof, failsafe method of pregnancy prevention.

If poorer women lack sufficient access to birth control, then let’s use federal funding to get more of it to them. If boys and girls need better sex education, let’s make sure they get it. If you don’t like abstinence lessons, teach them the joys of mindfulness. You want to have sex? Make it extra-special by not creating a fertilized egg. Here’s how. There are a hundred ideas out there waiting to be implemented, if we could only stop our political posturing long enough to imagine.

Warren has a plan for everything. I’d love to hear a plan for making abortion irrelevant.

Kathleen Parker’s email

(18) comments

threecents

"I'd love to hear a plan for making abortion irrelevant." In my opinion it is evil to prevent someone who was raped from aborting or someone carrying a fetus with devastating defects from aborting. If the woman or girl decides she cannot go through with a pregnancy, then her decision should be respected. The best way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is through family planning and education.

DickD

Personally, I don't like abortions, but there are times it is best to be pragmatic.  If you aren't willing to support illegitimate children with your taxes, you better be willing to allow those wanting an abortion to get one - with or without your tax money.  About time the far right woke up to that fact!

awteam2000

Am I the only one having problems with punctuation marks formatting properly on this site 🤔?

gabrielshorn2013

No. See below. This has been going on for about a week or so.

awteam2000

Thank you 😊

public-redux

Paragraphs too.

threecents

It's not a good idea to use apostrophes: so don't do it - unless it's needed;. I wouldn't.

public-redux

And yet you get away with it! I have noticed that some comments are affected and others are not. I wonder if it might be related to the device one uses. I use three devices. An iPad, a Windows based PC, and a Pixel phone, which runs on an Android chassis.

threecents

I use a PC.

DickD

Strange symbols are showing up in all posts.

public-redux

If poorer women lack sufficient access to birth control, then let’s use federal funding to get more of it to them. If boys and girls need better sex education, let’s make sure they get it. If you don’t like abstinence lessons, teach them the joys of mindfulness. You want to have sex? Make it extra-special by not creating a fertilized egg. Here’s how. Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap between the folk who object to these ideas and the folk who want abortion to be illegal.

Dwasserba

"In 21st-century America — with pills, patches, spermicides, morning-after medications, IUDs, condoms or some combination thereof — we should be well beyond all but the rare abortion." Absolutely. No one should have to consider abortion their only option, "if".

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

FAUX, in all fairness, this is not a Republican or Democrat issue in those states. This was supported by members of both parties, men and women, white, brown, and black. It is a cultural issue, and to claim it is a Republican issue oversimplifies the issue. Do you disagree with Ms. Parker’s points? Why or why not?

gabrielshorn2013

Kathleen Parker makes some very good points here. The Hyde amendment was a nod to the pro-choice side that argued “what about women that suffered a pregnancy from rape or incest? What about if the pregnancy adversely affects the health of the mother? What if the fetus will not survive until birth or outside the womb?†It was a good compromise, and allowed use of taxpayer funding for such instances. Pharma and the medical device industry have a myriad of effective pregnancy prevention options, and if two are used in an orthogonal approach, pregnancy prevention is near certain. The caveat is that they must be used, and used properly. With all of this, unwanted pregnancy should be rare, but it’s not.

hayduke2

gabriel - the one thing you left out is the need for education. All those things you mentioned will be of no use if young people and others have no understanding of how pregnancy occurs. Restricting this type of education in schools and saying parents will take care of it is one factor in unwanted pregnancy.

gabrielshorn2013

Completely understood hay. I agree that this must be taught both at home, and in health class (is there still such a thing?) in school. Often parents have no clue, but they object to the schools teaching it in the unreasonable fear that if Johnny or Becky learn about it, they will do it. Isn't Ms. Parkers assertion that "if you like sex, here is how to not create a fetus" a reasonable goal, thus greatly diminishing the need for abortion services?

cleanrunoff

I would endorse a system where individual taxpayers can pick and choose what their tax dollars are used for.

DickD

Good idea, I pick none! [beam]

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