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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Pro-choice policy is driven by wealthy elites. The poor are pro-life.

A coin jar

During the question and answer session of last week's Out of Hyding virtual rally, we discussed the role of civil disobedience in preserving the Hyde Amendment for the next generation. (Quick refresher: the Hyde Amendment restricts taxpayer funding of abortion through the Medicaid program and has saved the lives of over 2.4 million Americans. Leading Democrats in Congress have signaled their intent to kill it.) One suggestion was conscientious refusal to file your tax return, a tactic which has already been attempted in the context of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. I expressed support for civil disobedience in general but had my doubts about that particular tactic: 

I don't think it's scalable to the level that we need it to be. And the reason for that is, you know, most Americans are wage earners and we have our taxes deducted from our paychecks before we ever even see them. Most of us who file a return do so in the hope of getting a tax refund. And that's particularly true for pro-life people who are statistically lower income than pro-choice people.

Someone in the chat asked for my source, but we had too many good questions and not enough time. 

What I had in mind was this 2013 Gallup survey on abortion attitudes in the United States. Among those with household incomes exceeding $75,000, 58% called themselves pro-choice — compared to only 41% of those with household incomes under $30,000. Those with incomes in the middle also had abortion views in the middle. The data showed a straightforward relationship: the higher your income, the likelier it is you support abortion. 

Gallup's more recent surveys change the income brackets, but demonstrate the same relationship. Of those earning $100,000 or more, a 49% plurality support abortion in all (33%) or most (16%) circumstances. But among those earning under $40,000, a whopping 70% take pro-life positions: 40% want abortion to be illegal in all but a few circumstances, and another 30% want it to be illegal without exceptions. 

Bottom line: If low-income people were in charge of abortion policy, the Hyde Amendment would be in no danger whatsoever. Bear that in mind when you hear abortion supporters argue that the Hyde Amendment is bad for the poor. The push to end the Hyde Amendment benefits from wealthy donors, but it does not have grassroots support among those with low enough incomes to receive Medicaid. 

[Photo credit: Michael Longmire on Unsplash.]

3 comments:

Clinton Wilcox said...

Good info, thanks. This is kind of surprising, considering how often poverty is used as an excuse for why abortion needs to be legal.

Arekushieru said...

Wrong. The poor can support policies that will be detrimental to themselves just like many women support policies that will hurt other women as well, for the same reason: the less privileged tend to be the targets of disinformation more than the elites. Besides even if the foregoing were not true it does not mean that poor pregnant people should all of a sudden have fewer rights than the wealthy.

Dane said...

Do you know at all if there are any analyses that account both for the fact that the poor are more religious than the rich? I'd also be interested to know how much of this is due to the fact that you would expect pro-lifers on average to have less wealth that pro-choicers, simply due to the fact that most (but sadly not all) pro-lifers wont have an abortion if they end up pregnant and will have extra costs from both the birth and cost of childcare in most cases, to play devil's advocate against my own view (which is that abortion is class warfare against the poor and other matrginalised groups).

The other thing I'd note is that it isn't unreasonable for those on the left (like myself) to conclude that abortion functions as a tool of class warfare against the poor (at the very least, the underlying class dynamics should make the left highly spkeptical of abortion as anything but a band-aid to capitalism's problems), and in this context it's hardly surprising given that Planned Parenthood opposes single-payer healthcare (in both CA and CO), has a long record of pregnancy and other workplace discrimination (e.g, asking Trump's labour board to help them break up their staff unionising), and taking donations from big banks and fossil fuel/arms companies on top. Obviously not proof by any means that abortion is infanticide, but should make the left think twice and ideally shift to beliving in pro-life intersectionality...