Times of London Radio Interview with Alexander Sanger

SEPT 14, 2022

ToL – Senator Lindsay Graham proposed new national restrictions on abortion yesterday and of the plan’s abortion after weeks of pregnancy would be banned across America. They’re not likely to get through Congress, but this is the plan that has been announced. Alexander Sanger is the chair of the international planned parenthood council.

ACS – It’s a 50-state battle, as well as a federal battle over the criminality of abortion and whether women should be criminalized and doctors should be criminalized for seeking to terminate a pregnancy. The Lindsay Graham bill seeks to make it a 50-state ban imposed by the federal government. And that would make abortion where it’s legal in New York state and California, for instance, make it criminal.
So it’s a dangerous bill and it’s part of a Republican party posturing, they’re stepping back from their platform where they want a criminalized abortion nationwide. They realize how unpopular this is with the voters. They just lost a referendum in Kansas and, their candidates are trying to back away and avoid the issue.

ToL – So, so why is Lindsay Graham doing that? If, if they’re trying to back away from this? Why introduce legislation?

ACS – Lindsay, Graham’s trying to give the Republicans some talking points, so they don’t appear as radical as they really are. He’s trying to posture and say, well, we’re only going to criminalize abortion after 15 weeks, which on its face to many people would seem reasonable, but it’s not. So, it lets the Republicans avoid their extreme position, which is to criminalize all abortions, so it’s a way of trying to get around the hole they dug for themselves by having Roe v. Wade overturned.

ToL – why do you say it’s not reasonable? Presumably there is a point at which there is a, there is a time limited point at which abortions in, in your view are ethical and practical. What’s, what’s the, what’s the issue of 15 weeks?

ACS – This bill is going to hit the most vulnerable women. It’s going hit young women who often don’t know they’re pregnant until much later. And it hits women who get a bad test on the fetus, which shows some abnormality, some condition that is incompatible with life, and they have to have a termination when they had a perfectly wanted pregnancy, but it’s not viable. So that’s why this 15-week proposed man is totally unconscionable.

ToL – Why has this become a culture war issue in your view? Why is it so heavily politicized? Because from the polling that I can see, there is a majority of Americans who are opposed to severe restrictions on abortion. And yet it seems somehow as a populist move by some Republicans to restrict abortion, doesn’t seem those two, those two propositions don’t seem to add up at all.
ACS – Well, this has been a battle since the 1960s. And when, you know, abortion was, universally criminalized pretty much, even though there were therapeutic abortions available, but New York, California, Washington State, Hawaii, and some others began to decriminalize abortion because they saw the toll of a legal abortion on women. The carnage was immense, and every public hospital had a septic abortion ward.
When the decriminalization movement started, the backlash became immediate. Right to Life Parties were founded in the late 1960s. So, this has been going on a long time. It’s all about who controls pregnancy. Do men control it or do women? It involves racial issues as certain racial groups, are seen to be by the white majority growing too fast and is their power slipping. That that’s been a factor in America since the 19th century where the white Protestants feared being outnumbered by the Catholics immigrating from Ireland. And they created the Know Nothing Party, which sought to criminalize birth control so that white women couldn’t use it. So, this has been two centuries in our country, this culture war.

ToL- But there must be some people, I mean, if it is a populous move by Republicans and even set against this polling, that seems to suggest it’s actually unpopular. What’s the politics of this. Actually, I accept that I can’t quite understand that if it’s, if there is this universal, or generally a majority position that, abortion should be in the hands of women, why make this a political issue? Who, how do the Republicans hope to win through that position?

ACS – The reason it’s a political issue and a cultural issue is because of our primary system. When you run for office in a congressional office, U.S. Senate, or, or even in your state, you have to go through a primary. And the people that show up to vote in primaries are the hardcore hard right wing voters, because they’re motivated to show up. And these are the ones that want to criminalize abortion. So, any candidate who wants to get the Republican nomination in virtually every state has got to cater to these voters, because they’re the ones who show up.

And I’ll say to be fair on the Democratic side, it is those who want abortion decriminalized, who were motivated to show up and vote in democratic primaries. See, so that’s why we have two very strong positions in each party that are diametrically opposed.

ToL -That’s so interesting from Alexander Sanger. So, the primary process you end up to appeal to your base. You have to offer the furthest end of the policies, to get yourself elected. Of course, Liz Truss has had a similar experience that if, if your electoral base is 150,000, you’ve got to appeal to them in the first instance to get elected in the same as true, which is why the Republican position is so hard line on abortion, same with the Democratic one.

And you can read plenty more coverage from around the world by picking up a copy of the Times or going online.

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