As Abortions Rise and Trump Pivots

As Abortions Rise and Trump Pivots April 8, 2024


a black and white photo of a newborn baby grasping an adult's finger
image via Pixabay


The news has come out, in the past few weeks, that the number of abortions in the United States continues to rise.

We’ve known for a long time that the highest rate of abortions ever recorded in the United States was in the 1980s and 1990s, and the abortion rates dropped steadily during the decades after that. They tended to drop more sharply under Democratic presidential administrations and more slowly under Republicans, except for a brief period when they rose a little in the W. Bush administration. They reached their absolute nadir at the very end of the Obama administration– it’s usually assumed that this is because of Obamacare’s increased access to birth control for women who didn’t want to get pregnant in the first place, and I think it’s safe to say it’s also because of the increased access to obstetric care for women who wanted to give birth. Nobody would LIKE an abortion.

We now know that, after that, abortion levels went up steadily under Trump, and they continue to climb now under Biden. We’ve more or less erased the progress made in the Obama administration now and it doesn’t show signs of stopping.

If the much-touted Dobbs decision is going to make abortion go away, or even make it rarer, it hasn’t yet.

We know that abortion rates, or at least the rates on record, dropped very sharply in states where abortion is illegal, to nobody’s surprise. But considering the rising rates nationwide, those drops meant that women had to travel  to get their abortions. And that’s not all. If all Dobbs did was change what state somebody had to travel to to get an abortion, I would expect the rate would stay the same or keep dropping. I’ve been saying for years that I thought that if Roe were reversed, that’s what would happen. But I was wrong. Either because of or in spite of Dobbs, abortion is going up.

There are those who would say that this is because other states have passed laws protecting access to abortion, but that doesn’t explain why abortion rates are going UP.

If bans worked in any way, scattershot bans across the country would at least keep the rates the same or drive them down a bit. But the opposite is happening.

The pro-life movement got everything they wanted and a piece of cake. They prostituted themselves to the Republican party no matter what the cost, no matter who they hurt, as long as they got their own way. They bullied and abused everyone who opposed abortion but warned them this wasn’t the right way to go about changing the world. They spiritually abused us by telling us we had to vote the way they demanded or we’d go to hell. They elected the guy who said women should be punished for abortions and his devout Evangelical lackey to the White House. They had total control of the House and the Senate, as well as the Supreme Court.  The ball was in their court for four years. It will be in their court in the Judicial branch for years to come. Their most fervent followers control state and local governments all over America. And the abortion rates are going up.

Not only that, everyone hates their guts.

Americans are flocking to the polls to vote for laws and amendments that protect a woman’s access to abortion, all over America.

Remember those t-shirts that said “The pro-life generation?” This is the opposite of that. This is the generation that the pro-life movement produced, and it isn’t pretty.

Imagine how evil and corrupt you’d have to be if your message was “I don’t think you should kill babies” and you somehow turned everyone against you. That’s what the pro-life movement has done. No one wants to hear their message anymore, because everyone knows they’re con artists.

Today, even the senile Donald Trump tried to distance himself from Dobbs and the chaos that’s followed, because even he can see it’s political Kryptonite. He said abortion is “up to the states” and he’s not going to endorse that federal ban the pro-life movement is sure will finally fix everything. Pro-lifers are making their sad faces. Curses, foiled again. Everyone else realizes he doesn’t mean it. He’ll parrot whatever he thinks will get him elected. He’ll sign whatever is put in front of him if he gets into the White House again. He doesn’t really care about the babies.

It’s never really been about the babies, you see. It ought to have been about the babies, but it’s not. It’s been about everything except the babies. It’s about the nuclear family and trickle-down economics, racism and xenophobia and climate change denial, misogyny, greed, lies, and above all, control.

If it had been about the babies, the history of the past five decades in America would look completely different.

I still want it to be about the babies: about people, about respecting lives and human dignity in whatever way we can.

We can’t respect life through the pro-life movement, because they’ve always been a confidence game. They got what they wanted and they made it worse.

What a waste.



Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

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