Erika Bachiochi on sexual asymmetry and reproductive justice

The second plenary session on Saturday, June 7, of the UFL Conference was a talk by Erika Bachiochi called, “Women, men, Sexual Asymmetry and Authentic Reproductive Justice.” In it she discusses the natural asymmetry between men and women when it comes to the consequences of sexual activity: because of the possibility of pregnancy women have a much greater stake in a sexual encounter.  Bachiochi notes that the second-wave feminist “solutions” to the problem, contraception and abortion, can be shown to have made the disparity even worse, since now men are completely freed from any responsibility for the outcome and women have a greater burden to make sure their sexual encounters don’t end in pregnancy, up to and including having an abortion, which then wreaks havoc on women physically and psychologically. Among the results is skyrocketing rates of poverty due to single motherhood.

Bachiochi recommends several cultural strategies, such as  an affirmation of the value of women’s fertility and motherhood, including in the workplace. If a society genuinely wants to safeguard a woman’s equal opportunity, it must not penalize a woman for being fertile or for being a mother. It must make accommodations to compensate for the natural asymmetry. It shouldn’t make a woman have to deny her nature, as it so often does now, in order to participate in the common life. Also, men need to be held accountable for the consequences of their sexual activity, rather than given tools to avoid responsibility

Bachiochi’s web site can be accessed here.

Note: my crack team of photographers [me] was unable to get a usable photograph at this session.

2014 Supreme Court Abortion Rulings

2014 Supreme Court Abortion Rulings

The Supreme Court of the United States has rendered on June 26th, the second of two abortion-related decisions this month.  Both rulings were victories for the pro-life advocates.

In McCullen v. Coakley, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. __ (June 26, 2014) (9-0; 5+3+1) Massachusetts’ law banning standing on a sidewalk within 35 feet of entrance to a reproductive health care facility but exempting employees and agents of the clinic, designed to eliminate clashes between pro-life and pro-abortion advocates violates the First Amendment because it restricts access to public ways traditionally open for speech and is not content neutral but is focused on abortion clinics, exempts clinic agents, is not narrowly tailored, but substantially burdens speech beyond that necessary to further the state’s legitimate interests.

Ten days earlier, in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus,  ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. __ (June 16, 2014) (9-0) the Court ruled that the Susan B. Anthony List (SBAL) had standing (judicial competence) to file a suit challenging an Ohio law that criminalizes making a false statement concerning the voting record or a candidate. In this case, Driehaus was an incumbent member of Congress whose votes for Obamacare were criticized by the SBAL as votes for “taxpayer funded abortion.”  Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission charging that those criticisms by SBAL were false and violated the Ohio election law. In response SBAL filed a suit in federal court asserting that the federal election law that purportedly criminalized its election claims was unconstitutional.  After he lost his re-election bid, Driehaus dismissed his complaint, and the district court dismissed for lack of standing the SBAL suit challenging the election law, and the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed on similar ripeness grounds. The Supreme Court reversed and held that SBAL had alleged a sufficiently imminent injury for Article III justiciability purposes.  SBAL had shown its intent to act in a way proscribed by the Ohio law, and there was a substantial threat of enforcement of the law against SBAL.

Another Supreme Court decision is expected shortly in the Hobby Lobby case that still is pending. In that case Hobby Lobby and other companies challenge the Obamacare “contraceptive” regulations that require companies to provide insurance coverage for four specific “contraceptives” that can act as abortifacients to cause abortion, in addition to the sixteen pure contraceptives that the companies are willing to provide to employees that merely prevent complete conception.

The constitutional arguments of Hobby Lobby are very strong, especially their first amendment claims.  However, since the Court already has ruled for pro-life parties in two abortion-related cases this term (albeit one of them a purely procedural, and thus peripheral, ruling), for any justices who are very concerned with their image as being in the middle of popular political ideology, a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobbywould mean they ruled three times (out of three cases) in a single year for the pro-life side.  Thus, while constitutional law seems to be solidly on the side of Hobby Lobby, it would not be surprising if the Court ruled against Hobby Lobby in that case and upheld the Obamacare contraceptive-abortifacient mandate. The reason for that prediction is not any reason of constitutional text, precedent, history, or logic, but simply because of judicial politics – the politics of political appearance. For justices concerned with cultivating an image of moderate-middle swing-voting, voting to protect the constitutional rights of the pro-life side in three cases in a row (three-out-of-three in one term) might “appear” to be “too accepting” or “too supportive” of one side (the pro-life side).                                                                                                                                                                                                 — Lynn D. Wardle, posted 26 June 2014

Assistance with pro-life research library

Assistance needed in working with a pro-life research library.  Responses from our members who have Library Science credentials are especially welcome.  This message was posted on the UFL group on LinkedIn and sent to the listserv as well.

The collection of the research library in question has a variety of materials: over 10,000 monographs (estimate), several shelves of paper copies of serials, audio and VHS tapes, and correspondence from pro-life activists. Unfortunately, the material is not on any online cataloging system.  Specific questions are:

1. Is there a bibliographic services software package that enables easy cataloging of such a collection?

2. Would adding holdings in WorldCat be just as good, presuming that the research institution registers its library with WorldCat?

3. Does any UFL member have experience with cataloging correspondence and other material?

4. Are there other questions which should be addressed for such a collection to become available to scholars?

For privacy’s sake for the institution involved, please do not post replies on the UFL group on LinkedIn. Instead, please email me directly at DrJeffKoloze@att.net if you have any input.  Responses will be collated and a course of action suggested for the research library.

Peace Psychology considers Abortion

Rachel MacNair talks about peace psychology and abortion

Rachel MacNair talks about peace psychology and abortion

There were many great break-out session talks at the Life and Learning Conference earlier this month. I was unable to attend them all, but in the next few posts I will give a description of some of them that I did hear.

Because of the multidisciplinary nature of UFL, one can hear talks from a great many disciplines. One interesting talk was by psychologist Rachel MacNair, president of the Peace Psychology division of the American Psychological Association. McNair is heading an APA  presidential task force which deals with three areas: weapons drone, capital punishment, and abortion. She described the highly charged process of getting the abortion paper written.

The subtopics of the abortion paper are: domestic violence, coercion, and genocide/sex selection. It is written in part as a response to the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, which took a strong pro-abortion stance. MacNair hopes the paper will give a new perspective to some members of APA who are pro-abortion, but have not heard of the extreme psychological effects of abortion from a peace psychology approach.

MacNair is looking for reviewers of the three papers (Drones, Capital Punishment, Abortion). They can be from any discipline. If you would like to be a reader, e-mail her at rachel_macnair@yahoo.com.

 

Does The Adoption Of Genderless Marriage Lead To More Abortions?

Does The Adoption Of Genderless Marriage Lead To More Abortions?

 

Among the six European nations that first allowed same-sex marriage—either overtly or indirectly—there appears to have been a substantial increase in abortion.  Those six nations are listed in the following chart, which shows the years in which each nation either redefined marriage in genderless terms or adopted a genderless civil union or registered partnership regime that offered virtually all the incidents of marriage, including full adoption rights, to same-sex couples:[1]

 

Comparison of National Abortion Percentages and Ratios

In European Union Nations Adopting Same-Sex Marriage (Or Practical Equivalents) Before 2006[2]

 

Nation Year adopted SSM or equivalent Abortion % in prior year Abortion %

2011

Percent change Abortion ratio in prior year Abortion ratio

2011

Percent change
               
 Norway 1993 (2009)[3] 20.1 20.3 1.0% 252.1 254.8 1.1%
 Sweden 1995 (2009) 22.4 25.2 12.5% 287.9 333.7 15.9%
 Iceland 1996 (2010) 15.9 17.8 11.9% 188.6 215.7 14.4%
 Netherlands 2001 11.6 13.4 15.5% 131.7 154.5 17.3%
 Belgium 2003 12.4 13.4 8.0% 133.0 154.8 16.4%
 Spain 2005 15.8 18.8 19.0% 187.6 231.2 24.2%
               
    Average

Increases

      11.3%     16.5%
               

As the chart shows, since 2000 all but one of these six nations saw a substantial increase in both the abortion percentage—defined as the percentage of pregnancies ending in abortion—and the abortion ratio—the number of abortions per 1000 live births.  Spain’s progression is especially remarkable:  Over the 2004-2011 period, it saw an increase of 19 percent in its abortion percentage and 24.2 percent in its abortion ratio.  The average change in the abortion percentage for the entire group was 11.3 percent, while the average change in the abortion ratio was 17.9 percent.

 

These changes, moreover, stand in sharp contrast to overall trends in the developed world.  According to a 2012 joint study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, overall abortion rates (the number of abortions per 1000 women of child-bearing age) in the developed world have consistently declined since 1995 (up to 2008, the last year analyzed by the study).[4]  Specifically, in developed countries other than Eastern Europe (where abortion rates have been higher), between 1995 and 2008 the average abortion rate declined by about 15 percent.  Abortion percentages and ratios have seen a similar decline.[5]

 

So why might the adoption of a genderless marriage regime lead to more abortions?  There are at least two plausible reasons.

 

First, as a number of commentators have noted, the adoption of genderless marriage necessarily changes the public meaning or perception of marriage from an institution principally concerned with procreation and children to one that is principally concerned with the well-being of adults.[6]  In most societies, marriage is the only social institution largely dedicated to children, and its high status stands as a constant reminder to society that the interests of children should take precedence over the interests of adults.  But a society that redefines marriage to accommodate the romantic interests of a small subset of the adult population necessarily conveys to its members that adult interests can appropriately trump the interests of children.  That message will tend to legitimize decisions by non-married and married citizens to place their own interests above the interests of their children – including their unborn children.  And that, in turn, will tend to increase the abortion rate.

 

Second, as other commentators have noted, the adoption of a genderless marriage regime sends another, powerful message to men—especially young men—who self-identify as heterosexual.  That regime creates a legal structure in which any two people of the same sex—generally two women—can easily form a family, conceive children (using artificial reproductive technology), parent them, and raise them to adulthood—all without (except for an initial sperm donation) any male involvement.  The adoption of that regime thus says to young heterosexual men, “Aside from access to your DNA, we as a society no longer really need you in order to form families and effectively parent the resulting children.”[7]  Some young heterosexual men will inevitably take that message to heart and, as a result, lose interest in marriage—which will tend to produce declining marriage rates.  But because these young men will not lose their ordinary interest in sex, the end result is likely to be a relative increase in the number of unmarried but pregnant women.  And because unmarried pregnant women are much more likely than married pregnant women to obtain abortions,[8] a relative increase in the former will naturally lead to higher abortion rates.

 

Statistics for the six European nations discussed above, moreover, appear to confirm (with one exception) a reasonably strong correlation between the adoption of genderless marriage and declining marriage rates:

Comparison of National Marriage Rates

In European Union Nations Adopting Same-Sex Marriage (Or Practical Equivalents) Before 2006[9]

                       

Nation Year adopted SSM or equivalent Marriage rate in prior year[10] Marriage rate, 2010 Percent change
         
 Norway 1993 (2009) 5.3 5.2 -2.0%
 Sweden 1995 (2009) 3.6 5.1 +42.0%
 Iceland 1996 (2010) 5.6 5.2[11] -7.1%
 Netherlands 2001 5.0 4.4 -12.0%
 Belgium 2003 3.9 4.1 +5.1%
 Spain 2005 5.1 3.8 -25.5%
         

 

 
Although marriage rates have generally declined in Europe during this period—by around 6 percent[12]–the declines in three of these nations, the Netherlands at 12%, Spain at 25.5% and Iceland at 7.1%, were significantly in excess of the overall European decline.  And that is consistent with the common-sense prediction that the adoption of genderless marriage leads some percentage of the heterosexual male population to lose interest in marriage altogether.

 

The data for two more of these countries—Norway, which saw a small decline than the European average, and Belgium, which saw a slight increase—are also consistent with this prediction.  That is because, all else being equal, the advent of officially sanctioned same-sex marriage could be expected to cause a small but temporary increase in overall marriage rates because of pent-up demand for marriage by same-sex couples.  If that expectation is correct—as same-sex marriage advocates themselves claim—then it appears that marriages involving heterosexual men were also probably declining in these three nations at a faster clip than the overall decline in European marriage rates.[13]

 

Thus, marriage rates among heterosexuals appear to have declined more rapidly than one would expect in five of the six European nations that were “early movers” in enacting same-sex marriage or its functional equivalent.  That strong correlation is unlikely to be a mere coincidence.

 

In sum, there are at least two plausible pathways by which the adoption of a genderless marriage regime would lead to more abortions.  And available statistics suggest that one or both of those pathways may well have led to increased abortion rates in the five European nations that first embraced that regime.

 

 

 

[1] Denmark adopted a registered partnership arrangement for same-sex couples in 1989.  But as to adoption and other significant matters, and unlike the arrangements in Norway and Sweden, Denmark’s registered partnership arrangement did not give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.

[2] Source:  Wm. Robert Johnston, Abortion Statistics and Other Data, last updated 14 April 2014, www.johnstonsarchive.net.

[3] For Norway, Sweden and Iceland, the year in parentheses is the year in which marriage was formally redefined in genderless terms, after having been effectively redefined previously because of a marriage-equivalent civil union or registered partnership regime.

[4] See Guttmacher Institute, “Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide,” January 2012, available at www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html.

[5] This paper focuses on abortion percentages and ratios because more recent data are available for those measures than for abortion rates.  See Johnston, supra.  However, in years for which abortion rates are available, those rates closely follow changes in abortion percentages and ratios. See id.

[6] See, e.g., Girgis, Anderson, & George, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, at 23-28 (2012).

[7] See, e.g., [cite Hawkins-Carroll article or amicus brief]

[8] See, e.g., National Center for Health Statistics, Data Brief No. 136 (December 2013), available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db136.pdf (in the U.S., the abortion rate for unmarried women is “almost five times higher than for married women”).

[9] Sources:  OECD Statistics on marriage rates for 2010 in OECD nations are available at www.oecd.org/statistics; other marriage rates available from Eurostat at epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm.

[10] The earliest year for which data are consistently available is 1998, so that year is used for nations that adopted same-sex-marriage-equivalent regimes before then.

[11] Iceland’s marriage rate does not appear in the OECD data.  The most recent year for which Iceland’s marriage rate is available from Eurostat is 2008, and that is the rate used here.

[12] See id. (showing average decline for all 27 EU nations from 5.18 in 2000 to 4.87 in 2007, or approximately 6 percent over that period).

[13] Some other exogenous factor or combination of factors must explain the dramatic increase in the marriage rate in Sweden during this period.

Posted 16 June 2014 by Lynn D. Wardle

UFL Scholarly Achievement Award

One of the highlights of the UFL Life and Learning Conference every June is the Scholarly Achievement Award in Creative Writing, Literary Criticism, or Research given to talented undergraduate and graduate students.  This year the awards were given by Jeff Koloze and Clara Sarrocco at the Saturday night banquet in an Oscar-style presentation, complete with “And the envelope, please!” The award recipients for this year were:

Sarrocco and Koloze at the Saturday banquet prepare to present the Scholarly Achievement Awards.

Sarrocco and Koloze at the Saturday banquet prepare to present the Scholarly Achievement Awards.

Creative Writing

  • First place: Kimberly Hubbard (Baylor University) for her short story “Infinite?”
  • Second place: Teresa Pincus (North Carolina State University) for her short story, “Confessions of a Sidewalk Counselor.”

Research

  • First place: Andrew Kubick (Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Connecticut) for his essay “Could GMO Classification Facilitate the Global Trafficking of Human Embryos for Scientific Research?”
  • Second place: Anthony Crescio (Marquette) for his essay, “Abortion: A Threat to the Actualization of the Mother as an Individual.”

The student scholars who win in any category may be offered an opportunity to read their work before the annual conference of University Faculty for Life. They may have their work published on UFL’s website and in conference proceedings. Finally, first-place winners in each category received $200.