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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.

Kathleen Parker mug

kathleen parker

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 during 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 during 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.

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Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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(25) comments

johnnybragatti

So the cxlamatedope is against birth control. Cluelessness ain"t his only crime. No wonder he became a hard core Trump-Humper. Where else can a bonafide ,"left behind",flunky loser seek sanctuary? He probably signed on immediately. Ya think?

Climatehoax

Blame it on the anti extreme anti abortionists . It sure can’t have anything to do with the DemoRat who said he’d back abortion AFTER birth.

capedcrusader

What's wrong with your typing? What is your deal?

Cassandra2

I'd back abortion up to whatever age you are at, Hoaxer. LOL!

martian2

Parker makes some good points on how to prevent pregnancy in the first place. Birth control should be widely and cheaply available. But wait, hold on, there are religions against the use of birth control also. They don't want their religious doctrine violated by using their tax dollars to buy birth control for anyone. They advocate only abstinence teachings is permissible, even though it has been shown to be ineffective. So they are against abortion and against birth control. Then what do we do Ms Parker? No matter what we do as a society on the abortion issue it is going to step on someone's religious toes. Maybe we should just let the pregnant women and their doctors decide and the rest of us butt out.

oldhomey

Amen, martian.

DMoney

The complexity is real, no question. But we can't just let pregnant women and their doctors decide in every case, as innocent and viable people will be killed. We don't "butt out" of child abuse cases, murder, etc. I don't have the answer but that's not it.

martian2

In the first two trimesters we should butt out, the third trimester must be for extenuating circumstances only. Like the way it is now as far as I know. When you mention child abuse and murders we are talking about people already born and living being the victim, thats a whole different argument, that should never be condoned by society of course.

DMoney

I can live with that.

martian2

you and I can live with that, but there are religious zealots who will not live with it. Like some states down south they want all abortions banned, No exceptions no ifs ands or buts. So then what, how do you appease these extremists? Truth is you can't. That is an example of why this country is so divided.

DMoney

In my opinion, those extreme laws in the South were only passed because of the extreme laws passed in NY and in other states, allowing late term abortion for any "health" related issue to the mother and verified by a non-physician. That is just as extreme as a zero-abortion policy. Extremism invites extremism. It's one big game of one-upping and regular people are caught in the middle. I for one will vote for any declared moderate with middle ground values. I don't care what ticket they are on. I still like that Starbucks guy.

martian2

I guess I would disagree. I don't see the NY abortion bill as extreme. I trust the doctor (or other PA or NP) and the woman to make the sane choice when it comes to health. The extremists laws in the south were passed because they want roe v wade overturned and now they think they have the supreme court to do just that. Nothing to do with NY laws. Never heard extremism invites extremism, must be something new I missed. Usually extremism invites crack pots and so called pseudo intellectuals who dont have a clue on what they are talking about.

PhysicsIsFun

How is it that the Catholic Church can have these regressive policies with regard to sexuality and birth control while they cover up the sexual abuse perpetrated on children by their professional religious staff? Meanwhile they lobby to change the laws on compensation for their victims.

martian2

good questions physics, it does seem ridiculous why the Catholic church is an oxymoron.

martian2

I agree caped, why would tribune allow such foolishness. Do they need the money that badly? Its obvious he doesn't belong on these pages, time the tribune wakes up!!

capedcrusader

The Tribune apparently didn't like me calling him what he is, a cyber stalker. He wouldn't be allowed on any other newspaper.

Comment deleted.
oldhomey

Speaking of which, Ricky, where did you teach for 13 years, as you have claimed, and what did you teach? I shudder to think of you having been in any position whatsoever, giving you the authority to guide and lead young minds in any academic or technical discipline.

PhysicsIsFun

Ricky you keep getting your stupid ad hominem comments deleted by the staff at the LAX Tribune. When are they going to finally ban you for good? You never say anything interesting or informative, just name calling and invective. Must be fun to be such a person as yourself.

PhysicsIsFun

I can assure you Ricky that my feelings are totally unaffected by your inane comments. The only person who should be upset is you when you read the drivel you put on here under what you say is your real name. If you had any brains you and your family would be embarrassed, but then you have no brain. It's sad for you, but it is mildly entertaining for the rest of us.

PhysicsIsFun

Plus Ricky I did not go to the editor. They made their judgement on their own, based on your constant breaking of the rules.

capedcrusader

I don't believe he was a teacher.

Cassandra2

Because, Physics, organized religion is not about saving souls or personal spiritual growth. It is about one person holding power over another, just like rape and child molestation.

martian2

I would have to agree with you Cassy, much of organized religion is about power and control. But of course there are exceptions to that, many exceptions. Making blanket statements like that are not true. Many Christian and Buddhist and Islam sects are about personal spiritual growth, which in turn brings peace and harmony not only to the individual but to the rest of the world. It seems to me we could use much more of that. Unfortunately there are too many that use religion as their own personal power grab or a tool for dehumanizing others. Sad what humans can twist around and use against their fellow humans for selfish reasons.

oldhomey

Ah, yes, so now Ricky in addition to everything else he has botched in his peculiar biography of me that he is putting together, he now has me as having no children. It would be difficult for me to prove that you never told the rest of us twice in the last two years where and what you taught. It would be SO easy for you, though, Ricky to simply tell us. Why is it that you refuse to do so? All of the rest of us already know that answer. I am flattered, however, that you think my computer makes me sound smart. I am afraid you are wrong, again, however. Nothing that I know of could make me sound smart. But thanks for the kind word.

martian2

come one tribune, get with it. ricky keeps up the foolishness and you keep allowing it. Why have rules if you don't enforce them. Wake up tribune!!!

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