NBC News recently reported that 30% of Republicans vote on a single issue: abortion. They may disagree with their party on health care, education, tax policy and social safety nets (and many do). But they will hold their nose and cast a vote for Donald Trump on Nov. 3 because they believe he will get us closer to eradicating abortion in America. For them, it is a moral vote.
I can empathize. I used to be one of those single-issue voters, and for a long time it felt like the only moral choice. But, I have learned over time that focusing on the moral victory — making abortion illegal — does nothing to impact the frequency of abortions. If my true goal is a practical victory — making abortion unnecessary — I need to look at the policies and programs that result in an actual decrease in the number of abortions.
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The data on this is pretty clear: The abortion rate in America decreases under Democratic presidents and policies, while the rate remains virtually stagnant under Republican administrations. In the first year of George W. Bush’s presidency, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 853,485 abortions among women ages 15 to 44. In 2008, the final year of the Bush administration, that number was 825,564 (a mere 3% decrease in eight years). Contrast that with the Obama administration: The abortion rate dropped by 24% between 2008 and 2016 — resulting in 200,000 fewer abortions every year.
The data clearly show that when you invest in programs that address the lack of education, limited access to health care and economic uncertainty that contribute to increased rates of unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, you are much more likely to decrease the number of abortions. It’s the difference between a victory in principle and a victory in fact.
Investments in health care, paid family leave and child care equip pregnant women with the support they need to carry and raise a child. Renewed focus on equal pay, comprehensive fertility and sex education for our young people and publicly funded access to family planning services all lead to fewer abortions. That, combined with renewed efforts to combat domestic violence, go much farther toward eradicating abortion in this country than merely appointing pro-life judges.
If your true goal is the practical victory, then your choice in this election is clear. Joe Biden is the only candidate whose policies have any hope of sunsetting abortion in America by virtue of rendering it unnecessary.
Danielle Burmeister is a wife, mother, full-time marketer and life-long Iowan.