The morality of abortion is an issue that splits America in half. In the 2018 Gallup Values and Beliefs poll, 48% of respondents thought that abortion was wrong.

At first glance, Andrew Yang does not sound like a pro-life presidential candidate. He is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination with a platform that states that “access to safe and affordable abortion services should be provided to all Americans.” [1]

On the other side, the pro-life argument is that human life begins at conception. What follows is that abortion should therefore be illegal because it is akin to murder. While the murder part is accurate, the illegal part is not. The sad truth is that even prior to abortion’s legalization by Roe v. Wade, abortions were common. But they were far more dangerous, often resulting in the woman’s death as well as the baby’s. [2] It is difficult to argue that two deaths are somehow more righteous than one.

And, critically: Bans on abortion have not been proven to reduce abortion rates.

In other words, ending abortion, in this world, was never an option. Not before Roe v. Wade, and not now.

So what can we do? We can reduce the number of abortions. It makes sense when you think about it: preventing actual abortions is the best way to save lives.

If you believe that abortion is wrong, as I do, then you also believe that our goal should be to reduce the number of abortions as much as possible. And that is where Andrew Yang shines.

First, it is important to look at the reasons why women get abortions in the first place. Understanding these reasons is crucial to informing public debate and policy regarding abortion. Some pro-choice advocates believe that the reasons that women get abortions are: to save their lives or physical health; in cases of rape or incest; or to avoid birth defects. The reality is that less than 1% of abortions are due to these “hard cases.” The truth is that over 99% of abortions are performed for social or economic reasons. [3]

Reasons for abortion – chart

74% of women end pregnancies because it would interfere with their education, work or ability to care for dependents. [4] For 73% of women, they could not afford the baby at the time. 48% of the time, she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems. The overarching theme here is that abortion is motivated by resource limitations, particularly by financial constraints.

Over 73% of abortions are motivated by

financial constraints.

Guttmacher Institute

Indeed, about 75% of abortion patients are poor or low-income. [5]

Given women’s limited economic resources and existing responsibilities to others, women typically feel that they had no other choice. In other words, the vast majority of women who are having abortions are not making a “choice” to have an abortion. Instead, their lack of economic resources forces their choice and virtually requires them to give up the baby to an abortion.

Some pro-choice advocates ignore the fact that most women who have abortions, if they had the economic freedom to keep their babies, actually would. In other words, they are given the choice to have an abortion, but they are not given the choice to have the money that they need to actually support the child, were they to keep him or her.

The pro-life vs. pro-choice debate tends to overlook the fact that the vast majority of women who have abortions don’t do so by choice, at least not entirely. Circumstances put them in a position where abortion is the least self-destructive option available. [Again], 73 percent of women who had abortions in the United States in 2004 said that they couldn’t afford to have children.

ThoughtCo.

If women are having abortions because they literally cannot afford to have the baby, then are they really free to choose?

Enter Universal Basic Income, the Freedom Dividend. It is a policy that would guarantee every American adult (age 18 and over) a stable monthly income of $1,000.

With a stable monthly income of $1,000, women would have the economic means to care for their babies. If they are in a family with two adults, they would together receive $24,000 per year, putting them well above the federal poverty line even if they do not have a job to provide additional income on top of that. The vast majority of parents do work at a job, putting their economic standard of living well above the level needed to support a pregnancy and a child—but only with the Freedom Dividend.

$1,000 per month of guaranteed stable income would be literally life-giving for millions of women.

Andrew Yang

Furthermore, Andrew Yang often brings up the fact that the Dividend would empower millions of American women who are in abusive or exploitative relationships. Today, they are trapped in relationships because they do not have the economic means to care for themselves. The Freedom Dividend would directly provide economic freedom, making these women less vulnerable, and giving them more choices in moving out or finding better opportunities. It recognizes their value even as they do the unpaid work disproportionately done by women, such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for elderly relatives. [6]

(Twitter)

$1,000 a month for each individual would help society become stronger. It would help many Americans decide to have and keep children. One person said to me that the Freedom Dividend is the most pro-life policy being considered in our country.

—Andrew Yang

So, it is possible to be both pro-choice and pro-life. In fact, this is the middle ground where the majority of Americans live, if they were to really think hard about what they believe and what makes sense. Even the Democratic Party has historically been aligned with this view, as back in 2004, they used to say that “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.”

(Sadly, they now state that the Democratic Party “strongly and unequivocally supports” abortion and no longer states that it should be rare. That is not in line with what Americans want.) [7]

The truth is that pro-life vs. pro-choice is a false dichotomy promoted by politicians and the media in order to rile up voters and get people energized for their cause. The professional politician’s goal is to inflame passions and drive supporters to the voting booths. The media’s goal is to garner people’s attention and outrage, giving them more eyeballs and ad revenues. Many pro-life people have fallen into this trap, being driven to an extreme position by abortion opponents who believe that the only way to make progress for their cause is to ban abortion outright. While the simplicity and purity of this idea gets people excited, it would, unfortunately, have dire consequences: making abortion not less common, but more dangerous. This would be, in reality, a loss for the pro-life cause of saving life.

The reality is in between, with most Americans on the same side; the issue should not be so politicized. Set aside the ideology, and instead look at what makes practical sense and saves the most lives.

We, as Americans, should agree that the most important question is not whether abortion should be illegal, but: How can we best reduce the number of abortions that occur? I am certain that this is the most moral and righteous path to pursue; to cut down, in real terms, the number of abortions that happen.

The two most effective ways to decrease the number of abortions are to provide every woman with access to contraceptives and to provide financial, emotional, and structural support to individuals who are financially struggling and become pregnant—Universal Basic Income would accomplish this for many prospective parents.

Andrew Yang

No one knows exactly how many lives will be saved by the Freedom Dividend (Universal Basic Income). But given that:

  • 75% of abortion patients are poor or low-income
  • The federal poverty level is $12,060 for a single adult
  • The federal poverty level is $16,240 for two adults
  • The Freedom Dividend guarantees $12,000 per year for a single adult
  • The Freedom Dividend guarantees $24,000 per year for two adults

… it would not be a stretch to imagine that the number of lives saved could be well into the millions—far more than would be saved by making abortion illegal. And this would be much more humane, too.

In the end, this is a health issue that should be handled by doctors rather than legislators or politicians; and “uniquely among his fellow candidates, Yang has proposed ways to decrease the amount of abortions in the country, saying that contraceptives and financial support to impoverished pregnant women should be provided.” [8]

In the future, advancements in birth control technology might further reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. At some point in the 21st century, abortion may largely disappear, not because it’s been banned but because it’s been rendered obsolete.

The bottom line is that every American, even pro-life ones, can support pro-life policies like the Freedom Dividend while at the same time advocating for abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. With these principles in mind, you can vote for Andrew Yang with a clear conscience.

References:
[1] Right to Privacy/Abortion and Contraception, Yang2020.com
[2] Washington Post: When Abortion was Illegal
[3] Why Women Abort
[4] Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives
[5] Induced Abortion in the United States
[6] The Feminist Case for Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend
[7] How Democrats Lost Their Way on Abortion
[8] Abortion should be regulated by doctors, not legislators

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13 Comments

  1. You cannot be for and against abortion. You are either for it or against it. There is no middle road sitting on the fence. It’s either life or murder! If you do not have the financial means to have a child, don’t have sex or use birth control. I know some people think they cant live without having sex, but you can. My strong stance on pro- life is not from some political standpoint. It comes from the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not kill”. It doesn’t say anything about unless you are on the lower spectrum of the financial rainbow. Or if it gets in the way of your career. Or if you were raped, or any other excuse you may have. You can be responsible, take care of your kid, and I mean men and women, because both are responsible, and take care of the life you have made. If you support an organization or a political representative that supports abortion, you are for it. Support Democrats and you are ok with murdering babies.

    1. 3/4 of abortions are due to financial reasons. Remove the financial reason and you’ll reduce abortions to 1/4 of current levels. It’s like you didn’t even read the article. You aren’t interested in reducing abortions. Your goal is just to hate on Democrats.

    2. If it abortion becomes illegal again, after almost 50 years of being legal, who is arrested and what is the charge against them? Also who enforces it? Police? FBI? What happens to the men who are the fathers? Do they get off scot free? Who pays for the new policing that will be necessary for all of this new regulation? It makes zero sense to go back to making it illegal. I am a pro-life mother of eight kids. I have been there, done that. Evolve to some reality around this issue and instead of pontificating, work toward some real solution toward REDUCING the toll on everyone concerned. Also, Republicans support the NRA, even after Sandy Hook where babies were slaughtered. Also the current POTUS’ border policy is currently separating babies from their parents. This is NOT pro life. Evolve. Learn. Listen. Get out of the one issue blindness. Yang is the most human-dignity centered candidate we have ever had in my lifetime and I am old.

    3. Your argument is divisive. Whether it’s right or wrong isn’t what is discussed; what is acceptable and encouraged is stopping the need for abortion. How can a pro-life individual not want to decrease the number of abortions? And before the whole thing about legal/illegal comes in… drugs like cocaine are illegal. Has that stopped usage? Nope. So let’s shine a new light on a conclusion most all of us can get behind. A conclusion that brings us together, rather than dividing us continuously.

  2. Definitely interesting, but what do you say to the view that moral issues are largely a matter of character and that giving people money does not as such change their character? I am skeptical that giving people more financial means alone will convince them to alter behavior. Moreover, it seems when people are given widespread access to birthcontrol, sexual behavior only becomes more taken-for-granted, such that unplanned pregnancies still occur because behavior does not correct for the still-present chance of pregnancy through human error. It’s like football helmets: more protection, more sense that risks can be taken.

    1. Agreed, financial stability and economic security won’t solve all problems. But it’s clear that it’s a step in the right direction. We cannot let perfection stand in the way of life-saving improvement.

    2. Increasing people’s financial means will also increase their IQ by about 13 points, or one standard deviation. That will definitely lead people to focusing more on their education, and less on escaping their despair and hopelessness through short-sighted decisions.

  3. I appreciate this standpoint, it is a tragedy women have abortions because they feel they have no other choice. I have heard many women say this and it is a failure of a society. I would support the universal basic income and at the same time want abortion to be illegal. People would still choose abortion in some cases. Abortion ends and innocent human life and it should be illegal.
    The argument that laws against it don’t decrease the number of abortions is false. Also abortion was not some super dangerous thing for women when it was illegal. I would rather see no one die from abortion, mother or child. We shouldn’t keep something legal simply because it’s safer for someone to commit the would be crime. I would challenge you that we can decrease the need for abortion as well make it illegal, with the punishment falling on the doctors.
    Here are some sources for my claims:
    https://lozierinstitute.org/how-the-legal-status-of-abortion-impacts-abortion-rates/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/12/separating-fact-fiction-abortion-talking-points/

  4. How do you address the issue of women who are having abortions because they are so career-focused they feel a baby would be an inconvenience? Or women who have multiple abortions, almost as though they were using abortions as birth control? I’m not trying to argue, I am genuinely interested. Lastly, where does the $1,000 per month come from, and what happens when the cost of living goes up?

  5. No one gets pregnant so they can have an abortion. All pregnancies are caused by natural forces that are beyond the control of the partners. The best that can be done is to educate people that sex before marriage is risky and ultimately a barren experience. If people choose to have sex and then the woman becomes pregnant, punishing the woman (and not the man) by forcing them to use illegal, risky,abortion methods will not help them in any way. The old saying is that two wrongs do not make a right is true here. Abortion is wrong but illegal abortions is doubly wrong.
    We need to support women who have the burden of raising children. We need to make adoption easier and less expensive and we need to free poor women from feeding and raising a child on limited resources by passing the Freedom Dividend.

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