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Froma Harrop: Anti-abortion politicians face reality

As the country divides into states that defend reproductive rights and states that attack them, the latter are bound to suffer economically as a result.

Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
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For decades, conservative politicians had a free ride on the abortion issue. They could tell their "pro-life" base that they were doing all they could to ban the procedure -- while not scaring the pro-choice majority. As long as Roe v. Wade protected the right to an abortion, the talk about outlawing it was just talk.

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Just about anyone can build a case for being looked down upon.

Now that Roe is gone, unwanted pregnancies have become enshrined in the law. Parents, for example, face the possibility that their tenth grader could be forced into becoming an unwed mother at 16. There are real world consequences here, and that's why voters in generally conservative Kansas showed overwhelming support for abortion rights.
Republicans genuinely opposed to abortion should accept the political repercussions of their "success." But those who were simply opportunists and are now trying to dodge blame for ending a basic reproductive right have a hard climb.

You hear the trimmers say, look, we've made exceptions for rape and incest. That's blatant hypocrisy. If they believe that the embryo or fetus is an innocent baby, then the circumstances surrounding the conception should not matter at all.

The advantage of Roe was that anyone could obtain an early abortion without politicians demanding to know the reason. States that have made carveouts for rape and incest are going to see a lot of creepy intrusion into the lives of women -- and their families.
Only the truly gullible would believe any of that sweet talk from abortion-banning states about how they'll help the women and their unplanned families. Mississippi will "take every step necessary to support mothers and children," said Gov. Tate Reeves.

Oh, sure. This is a state that couldn't summon the humanity to sign onto the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, which would have extended health coverage to 43,000 women of reproductive age. Its welfare program limits payments to poor women with two children to a maximum $260 a month.
States severely restricting abortion will soon face the demographic realities of compelling women to have children they don't want and can't afford. Their affluent residents will go elsewhere for an abortion while the dysfunctional or poorer women will stay home and have children they can't care for. (A study found that after abortion became legal in Washington, D.C., in the early '70s, the percentage of girls who became mothers in their teens fell by a third.)

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As the country divides into states that defend reproductive rights and states that attack them, the latter are bound to suffer economically as a result. Indiana, for example, just passed a strict anti-abortion law, quickly signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb. That day, Eli Lilly, one of the state's biggest employers, announced that the abortion ban would make it hard to recruit workers — and that it would look elsewhere to expand its business.

When Texas virtually banned abortions — while letting any ghoul try for a cash prize if he thinks one was illegally performed — 50 major employers signed a letter in protest. The list was heavy with the tech companies that Gov. Greg Abbott brags about attracting.
Richard Alm at Southern Methodist University says that this sort of social policy "also has a labor market component." With the likes of Apple and Google moving in, he said, "you need enough labor and the right kind of labor."

Thus, these places will have to deal with the loss of top employers to states and countries guaranteeing reproductive rights. And almost everywhere else guarantees reproductive rights.

With the end of Roe, politicians must now take responsibility for harsh new intrusions into families' ability to plan for their future. This is not a hypothetical concern, and offering free baby clothes is not going to allay the public's anger.

Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work regularly appears in the Grand Forks Herald.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Froma Harrop covers the waterfront of politics, economics and culture with an unconventional approach. She takes public policy quite seriously. Herself, less so.


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