The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics

Overview

From social issues like religion, gun control, and abortion to the most controversial economic issues - Can the budget really be balanced? Will Social Security survive? How about Medicare? - Garrett and Penny clearly and definitively assess the difference between what we've been told and what's really going on. There are no sacred cows in this book: Republicans and Democrats alike are held accountable for twisting statistics, ignoring or misrepresenting major voter concerns, and settling for quick fixes where ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $1.99   
  • Used (21) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 3
Showing 1 – 10 of 21 (3 pages)
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(595)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Good
New York, NY 1998 Hard cover Good. Go green, recycle! Book may have wear from reading, may contain some library markings. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 240 ... p. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Toledo, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:

(9921)

Condition: Good
Dust Cover Missing. Light shelf wear and minimal interior marks. Millions of satisfied customers and climbing. Thriftbooks is the name you can trust, guaranteed. Spend Less. Read ... More. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Auburn, WA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(2)

Condition: Good
1998 Hardcover Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Dallas, TX

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(7593)

Condition: Very Good
Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Appearance of only slight previous use. Cover and binding show a little wear. All pages are undamaged with potentially only a few, ... small markings. Help save a tree. Buy all your used books from Green Earth Books. Read. Recycle and Reuse. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Portland, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(3896)

Condition: Good
Dust Cover Missing. Book has a small amount of wear visible on the binding, cover, pages. Selection as wide as the Mississippi.

Ships from: St Louis, MO

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(595)

Condition: Good
New York, NY 1998 Hard cover Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 240 p.

Ships from: Toledo, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(595)

Condition: Good
New York, NY 1998 Hard cover Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 240 p.

Ships from: Toledo, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(595)

Condition: Good
New York, NY 1998 Hard cover Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 240 p.

Ships from: Toledo, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(595)

Condition: Good
New York, NY 1998 Hard cover Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 240 p.

Ships from: Toledo, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(10941)

Condition: Good
Dust Cover Missing. Book shows minor use. Cover and Binding have minimal wear and the pages have only minimal creases. A tradition of southern quality and service. All books ... guaranteed at the Atlanta Book Company. Our mailers are 100% recyclable. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Atlanta, GA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 3
Showing 1 – 10 of 21 (3 pages)
Close
Sort by
The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

From social issues like religion, gun control, and abortion to the most controversial economic issues - Can the budget really be balanced? Will Social Security survive? How about Medicare? - Garrett and Penny clearly and definitively assess the difference between what we've been told and what's really going on. There are no sacred cows in this book: Republicans and Democrats alike are held accountable for twisting statistics, ignoring or misrepresenting major voter concerns, and settling for quick fixes where serious solutions are desperately needed.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A self-defense manual for voters." —Pioneer Press

"Calmly reasoned. . .The authors write with knowledge about the political process, and with authority." —The Indianapolis Star

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312182946
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/1998
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Major Garrett is the congressional correspondent for U.S. News & World Report. He has appeared on such television programs as Hardball with Chris Mathews, CNN's Crossfire, and The Today Show.

Former congressman Timothy J. Penny, now a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute and policy chair of the budget watchdog group Concord Coalition, lives in Waseca, Minnesota. Their previous book was Common Cents.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

THE FIRST LIE

 

THE ABORTION DEBATE MATTERS

THE TITLE OF this chapter is intentionally inflammatory.

We apologize to anyone on either side of the abortion debate whom we’ve offended, or who believes we’ve been flippant or cruel.

We’re not suggesting that Americans who are pro-choice or pro-life are irrelevant to the ultimate decision the nation reaches on the question of abortion rights. Clearly they are important voices, and their interest and dedication to their beliefs are commendable. Would that other issues in America attracted similar passion.

Nevertheless, we believe that America must reassess the way it discusses abortion—believe it so strongly that we are compelled to attack, in the strongest terms possible, the tenor, direction, and content of America’s raging debate over abortion.

But let’s establish how we, the authors of this book, personally approach this issue.

In a professional context, Tim dealt with abortion issues repeatedly during his twelve years as a member of Congress. He had a generally pro-life voting record and consistently voted against Medicaid funding of abortion. Contrary to the wishes of the pro-life lobby, he voted for international family-planning programs that provide access to birth-control services, but Tim generally enjoyed support from pro-life groups. He never received contributions from pro-choice forces.

In his fourteen years as a professional journalist, Major has covered many facets of the abortion debate, from clinic protests in Las Vegas and Houston to the struggle over abortion language in the Republican Party platform at the 1992 National Convention. Major also observed dozens of abortion debates while covering Congress from 1990 to the present.

Since 1982 we have been participants in, or witnesses to, a good deal of America’s abortion debate.

And we’re sick of it.

No.

We’re sick at heart about it.

We’re sick at heart because it all seems beside the point.

It’s now been twenty-five years since the Supreme Court ruled that access to abortion was constitutionally protected throughout America (it was legal in fourteen states before the Court handed down its ruling in Roe v. Wade).

And what has America gained from its inflamed debate over abortion?

What have we to show for all the protests, the court filings, the clinic blockades, the bombings and shootings, the rallies on the Mall, the press conferences, the television and radio commercials, the congressional floor speeches, the presidential speeches and vetoes, the sermons (for and against) from the pulpit? What has all the yelling wrought? Nothing.

After twenty-five years, the abortion debate in America has done nothing to reduce appreciably the number of abortions performed every year in this great nation.

Federal law gives every woman in America the right to terminate her pregnancy up until the twenty-sixth week of gestation. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled this to be the point at which a fetus becomes “viable” outside the mother’s womb. The Court did not endorse the feminist concept that a fetus is the property of the woman, only that the fetus is the property of the woman until the fetus is healthy enough to survive outside her womb by means of medical intervention. At that point the fetus, according to the Court, can be subject to state protections if the state decides to impose them. By and large, however, the Court has rejected most attempts by the state to impose restrictions on adult women seeking abortions at any time in their pregnancy. At the same time the Court has upheld various laws meant to discourage and in some cases outlaw abortions obtained by a minor without the consent of at least one parent.

Following the Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, the number of abortions doubled—from 744,600 in 1973 to 1,409,600 in 1978. Since then the number of abortions nationally has averaged about 1.5 million per year. In 1992, the last year for which hard statistics are available, the number of abortions was 1,528,900. Estimates from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a special-research affiliate of Planned Parenthood, suggest that the number of abortions from 1994 through 1996 fell slightly, to 1.4 million per year. But this decrease is largely attributed to the decline in women of child-rearing age—particularly women in their twenties, who have a disproportionately large number of abortions compared to women in their thirties.

This follows a statistical trend established after the number of abortions reached 1.4 million in 1978. Since then, according to Census Bureau statistics, the aggregate number of abortions has fluctuated primarily in relation to the number of women of child-rearing age. As the number of women of child-rearing age has increased, so too has the number of abortions. As it has declined, so too has the number of abortions, if ever so slightly. The incidence of abortion has remained relatively constant across all demographic and regional groups and subgroups. According to estimates from the Guttmacher Institute, more than 34 million abortions were performed from 1973 to 1996. After twenty-five years of debate, the cultural predisposition toward abortion has neither increased nor decreased.

To our way of thinking, reducing the aggregate number of abortions each year is the only rational goal and the only worthwhile measurement of the quality, importance, and relevance of America’s debate on abortion.

Why?

Because that’s the one thing both sides say they want.

Pro-life forces want to make abortion a crime, or at least return the decision on whether to make it a crime back to the states, where the issue could be debated and a majority decision reached. Clearly their intention is to have fewer abortions, since they consider the procedure an act of “killing the unborn.”

Pro-choice forces do not, of course, see abortion as murder, but rather as a woman’s way of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy on her own terms. Pro-choice mores hold that the woman herself is the only one who possesses the moral and legal right to decide the fate of the fertilized ovum in her uterus. The state has no right to force a woman to bring that fertilized ovum to term if she does not want to.

But pro-choice mores also hold that abortion is only one of myriad “reproductive health-care” choices a woman can make. Pro-choice forces rarely argue that abortion is the morally superior method of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. In fact, leaders of the movement take pains to emphasize that they are not “pro-abortion,” and are quick to point out that adoption is an equally valid means of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.

If we take both sides at their word, it would seem they have a common goal: to reduce the number of abortions in America. Pro-life forces would like to see individual states enact laws against abortion, thus using government coercion to reduce abortions. Pro-choice forces, though they support the right to abortion as it now exists, also want women to understand and to make use of available alternatives.

At least theoretically, both sides want to reduce the number of abortions.

Has that message come across to you?

When you think of the abortion debate in this country, do you think of it as a means of building a cultural consensus on sexuality? Does the debate explore the responsibility women and men have to themselves and society when they decide to have sexual intercourse? Do you think the abortion debate has in any way helped women and men unite in common purpose against the immense psychological and physical angst an unwanted pregnancy unleashes on a relationship? Do you think of the debate as revolving around the individual consequences of abortion—the physical and psychological trauma that accompanies each procedure—and about whether society should act to reduce abortion in order to protect as many women as possible from such pain and anguish?

Probably not.

The abortion debate in America is really about power, and the combatants are special-interest zealots as politically obtuse as they are morally righteous.

Before going any further, let us briefly summarize the arguments on both sides of the issue—the moral and legal justifications both sides have used to defend their positions in court and in the political arena.

The abortion question turns on decisions societies must make about life, death, the rights of men and women, the rights of the unborn, and the value placed on individual liberties when the exercise of such liberty deprives a potential human being of life itself.

When debating an issue such as this, neither side will cede the moral or legal high ground.

To activists on the pro-choice side, any diminution of abortion rights is, by definition, a blow to the rights of women and a return to a patriarchal society awash in subjugation and oppression. To activists on the pro-life side, the very existence of abortion rights is an affront to God and all civil society, because it’s a license to kill a fetus that is unwanted or inconvenient. Those who are pro-choice are no less fervent in believing that morality and law are on their side than those who are pro-life. In short, both sides are sure they are absolutely right. In a battle in which moral and legal certitude is absolute, compromise is impossible. And so it has been.

Pro-choice forces, particularly those with ardent feminist beliefs, see the abortion question as a defining battle in the millennial war women have waged against moral patriarchy and oppression. Take away a woman’s rights to abortion and soon enough the right to contraception might also fall away. Take away a woman’s right to control her reproductive organs, and you deprive her, and by extension all women, of the precious autonomy they have established in a world previously dominated by men.

It’s important to remember that the federally protected right to abortion in America grew out of the federally protected right to contraceptives. The key legal antecedent to Roe v. Wade was the 1965 Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut. That case arose from the arrest of the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut and its medical director, a licensed physician, for giving married couples information about contraception and providing women with a medical contraceptive device. Connecticut law at the time forbade the use of any drug or device to prevent conception. The plaintiffs sued on the grounds that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s due-process clause, which guarantees that the state shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

The United States Supreme Court had over time expanded its definition of “liberty” to include an individual’s right to privacy, ruling in previous cases that parents had the liberty to make certain decisions about their children’s education without state interference. It also used the connection between liberty and privacy to strike down a law forbidding interracial marriage.

In a seven-to-two vote, the high court ruled that Connecticut had no compelling interest in violating a married couple’s right to privacy (and thus their right to liberty as defined by their reading of the Fourteenth Amendment) by dictating what they did about contraception in their own home. Seven years later, the Court ruled in Eisenstadt v. Baird that unmarried women had the same right to privacy, and it struck down a law forbidding the use of contraceptives by unmarried women.

The privacy right outlined in Griswold v. Connecticut and reaffirmed in Eisenstadt v. Baird set the legal precedent for the Court to rule in favor of abortion rights in the landmark Roe v. Wade case in 1973. A woman named Norma McCorvey, given the pseudonym Jane Roe in the Court filing, sought to overturn a Texas law forbidding abortions except those performed to save the life of the mother. (Interestingly, McCorvey never aborted the child she was carrying at the time the suit was filed. The child was the third unwanted pregnancy of her life and, as with the previous two, she carried it to term and gave the child, a girl, up for adoption. McCorvey has also backed away from her abortion-on-demand position and now advocates abortion only in the first trimester. This change of heart arose, according to her 1994 autobiography I Am Roe, out of her work in an abortion clinic, where she witnessed far too many second-trimester abortions.)

The right to privacy, the Court ruled, was no less valid when it came to ending an unwanted pregnancy than when the issue was attempting to prevent one in the first place. The Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy that the Court construed as protecting the rights of parents to send their children to private schools, of mixed-race couples to marry, and of married couples and unmarried women to use contraceptives was, the Court said, “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

So, on the one hand, the Court validated the feminists’ point that women had a fundamental constitutional (even human) right to control decisions about their own sexuality and motherhood. On the other hand, the Court also validated the pro-life community’s contention that a woman’s womb is home to more than a mixture of cells, tissue, and genetic codes. The Court came up with a scientifically informed judgment of twenty-six weeks as the point at which a fetus becomes capable of living outside of the womb—and therefore as deserving of state protection from harm as any other human being.

So the Court itself, ironically, provided foundations for the moral certitude both sides have brought to this debate since 1973. Moral certitude is the best weapon any voice in a political debate can have. It establishes rigid principles and sets a high standard for those who wish to join the cause. It calls upon political leaders to reach beyond easy compromise and measure their own moral precepts against prevailing political attitudes.

It was just this kind of moral certitude, of course, that forced America’s political and legal system to confront the question of abortion rights.

Those opposed to anti-abortion laws considered it immoral to require a woman to have a child against her will. This they considered the ultimate violation of her rights as a woman. The intricacies of human sexuality and the nuances of each and every sexual encounter were such that mistakes would inevitably occur. Whereas men had the legal right and, usually, the financial power to flee such mistakes (unless they agreed to marry the woman, which many were not prepared to do), women had no legal right to flee the consequences of a pregnancy. Pregnant women were sentenced to become mothers of children they did not want, regardless of whether they had the financial means or emotional and spiritual inclination to raise those children. In the event of a “mistake” between consenting adults, men had options that women simply did not. The conviction that this situation was morally and legally unfair gave rise to the push among feminists first for legal access to contraceptives and then for legal access to abortion in all fifty states. At first, the call for abortion rights was intended to give a woman recourse when, in the most-difficult of personal circumstances, abortion appeared to be the best course of action. The crusade for abortion rights was not motivated by a desire to make abortion available as a method for casual birth control, but by the need to give women a legal method of coping with the extremely difficult circumstance of an unwanted pregnancy. The moral thrust behind the movement was to give women the right to control their destinies in cases—assumed to be rare and acutely painful—when adults who consented to sex could not agree on how to cope with their unwanted pregnancy.

This moral and legal construct remains central to the pro-choice argument in defense of legal abortion. It is a legitimate and entirely defensible argument, honorably conceived and consistent with legal precedents and moral codes that seek to equalize rights and responsibilities in our pluralistic society.

There was also a practical side to the abortion-rights crusade: legalizing abortion, it was hoped, would reduce maternal mortality. The medical community lobbied to legalize abortion because more than five thousand women—predominantly black and Hispanic—were dying annually as the result of botched abortions performed in illegal clinics. Pro-choice advocates were fighting to end the days of such procedures; surprisingly, though, the era of the “back-alley” or “back-room” abortion was not as long as many might guess. From colonial days until the last third of the nineteenth century, abortion was legal before (in the language of the time) “quickening” had occurred—until roughly the fourth month of pregnancy. After the Civil War, the American Medical Association, seeking to bolster the authority of physicians over that of midwives and homeopaths, pushed for legislation to prohibit abortions in state legislatures across the land. Legal prohibition of abortion led many women to seek back-alley abortions—and to accept the considerable risks that went with such measures.

NOW let’s take a moment to examine the pro-life argument. Pro-life forces contend that life is just as sacred inside the womb as outside. They argue, with more than a slight degree of scientific justification, that most of the genetic coding of a child is laid down in the earliest days of conception. What a child will become at birth—the color of his or her hair, his or her height, his or her weight, the length of his or her fingers and toes, and millions of other genetic characteristics—is determined at, or very soon after, conception. Many also argue that only God has the right to abort a child spontaneously—that is, to cause a miscarriage. Each human being is a divine creation, in their view, and God, as the creator of all mankind, determines whether a fetus will survive in a mother’s womb. To abort a fetus, which God gave us the power to create, is to interpose oneself between God and the act of creation. The power to create is a gift from God and must be honored as a sacred blessing, and its defiance through an act such as abortion constitutes a sin of a particularly heinous kind. Aborting a fetus is a greater moral violation than killing an innocent human being because adults and even children would theoretically have some potential of defending themselves—something a fetus surely does not have.

In response to the feminist argument that abolishing abortion puts women at a legal disadvantage to men, pro-life forces argue that women who submit to unprotected sex outside of wedlock are taking an informed risk. They know such sexual encounters can result in pregnancy. By agreeing to have unprotected sexual intercourse outside of marriage, they are assuming the biological responsibility to care for any child that union might create. Pro-life forces argue that abortion allows a woman to shirk her responsibilities to herself and society by giving her the right to kill a fetus she agreed to create by having sex in the first place.

How is feminism advanced, pro-life women often ask, by creating a moral and legal climate in which it is accepted that women are powerless to control the outcome of sexual interaction with men? The assumption that women need abortion rights presumes that they are incapable of protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies. If women are so concerned about unwanted pregnancies, pro-life forces can fairly ask, why don’t they abstain or make absolutely sure they’ve taken all the necessary precautions available to avoid a pregnancy—instead of resorting to abortion?

Lastly, pro-life advocates contend that no society should condone, on the grounds of expanding personal liberty, an act that deprives another human being of that same liberty. The transient liberty a woman enjoys once freed from an unwanted pregnancy deprives the fetus she was carrying of all the liberties he or she would have enjoyed if allowed to live.

These arguments are as morally and legally valid as those on the pro-choice side. Those who hold them do so as sincerely and with the same honorable intentions and goals as those on the pro-choice side.

And guess what? Most Americans agree with both sides.

Or, to be precise, they agree with most of what both sides have to say about the morality and legality of abortion.

The vast majority of Americans see abortion rights as an important component of women’s rights, a reflection of the progress women have made in asserting their right to control decisions involving their own bodies. Most Americans see abortion as a practice that should be exercised with extreme caution, and only under the most trying circumstances. In sum, most Americans want abortions to be safe, legal—and extremely rare.

That’s why the vast majority of Americans oppose abortion as a means of birth control or sex selection. Most of us also oppose unlimited access to abortions for teenagers, recognizing that teens are unlikely to be mature enough to make such a life decision on their own. Importantly, most Americans do not oppose giving teens access to abortion; they merely want the state to ensure that teenage girls consult with their parents and obtain counseling to help them cope with the trauma. Most Americans are opposed to partial-birth abortions, in which a near-term fetus is partially delivered before the abortion takes place.

Survey data collected in 1987 by the Guttmacher Institute suggest that a high percentage of abortions are performed for “social” rather than medical reasons. The Institute found that among a group of nineteen hundred women who had had abortions, only 6 percent cited potential health problems of themselves or the baby as determining factors in their decisions. Only 1 percent cited rape or incest as the reason. In the vast majority of cases, according to the survey, women had abortions because they had relationship problems with the father or couldn’t afford the baby at the time or weren’t ready for the responsibility of raising a child. The Institute estimated that 1,559,100 abortions were performed in 1987. According to the survey data, fewer than 150,000 of these abortions were performed on women who reported what most Americans would consider “hard cases,” such as rape, incest, or potential health complications for the woman or child. (This is the only year so far in which the Institute has conducted such a survey.)

Overall, most Americans have a strong commitment to maintaining access to abortion but are opposed to the use of abortion in many of its particulars. When it comes to the right to abortion as an abstraction, the vast majority of Americans support it. When most Americans evaluate abortion on a case-by-case basis, ambivalence grows. Many Americans tell pollsters they are personally opposed to abortion but nevertheless support the right of others to obtain the procedure. We suspect that most Americans secretly harbor “there but for the grace of God go I” sentiments about abortion. We also suspect that a sizable majority of Americans have, at one time or another, placed themselves in a situation in which the need for an abortion might have arisen. That’s a powerful psychological subtext in this issue, one that sets abortion apart from all other public policy issues. It’s one of the many unique characteristics of the abortion debate, and one that makes its resolution particularly difficult.

We believe that the public’s ambivalence about abortion should compel pro-choice and pro-life forces to craft a public policy that reflects this ambivalence, and to build a consensus in the nation on the role abortion plays in a civil society. There is a crying need for pro-choice and pro-life forces to send a unified message to women and men across the country that we all have a responsibility, to ourselves and society, to avoid unwanted pregnancies and the abortions they needlessly precipitate.

THE FIRST LIE

THE ABORTION DEBATE MATTERS

THE TITLE OF this chapter is intentionally inflammatory.

We apologize to anyone on either side of the abortion debate whom we’ve offended, or who believes we’ve been flippant or cruel.

We’re not suggesting that Americans who are pro-choice or pro-life are irrelevant to the ultimate decision the nation reaches on the question of abortion rights. Clearly they are important voices, and their interest and dedication to their beliefs are commendable. Would that other issues in America attracted similar passion.

Nevertheless, we believe that America must reassess the way it discusses abortion—believe it so strongly that we are compelled to attack, in the strongest terms possible, the tenor, direction, and content of America’s raging debate over abortion.

But let’s establish how we, the authors of this book, personally approach this issue.

In a professional context, Tim dealt with abortion issues repeatedly during his twelve years as a member of Congress. He had a generally pro-life voting record and consistently voted against Medicaid funding of abortion. Contrary to the wishes of the pro-life lobby, he voted for international family-planning programs that provide access to birth-control services, but Tim generally enjoyed support from pro-life groups. He never received contributions from pro-choice forces.

In his fourteen years as a professional journalist, Major has covered many facets of the abortion debate, from clinic protests in Las Vegas and Houston to the struggle over abortion language in the Republican Party platform at the 1992 National Convention. Major also observed dozens of abortion debates while covering Congress from 1990 to the present.

Since 1982 we have been participants in, or witnesses to, a good deal of America’s abortion debate.

And we’re sick of it.

No.

We’re sick at heart about it.

We’re sick at heart because it all seems beside the point.

It’s now been twenty-five years since the Supreme Court ruled that access to abortion was constitutionally protected throughout America (it was legal in fourteen states before the Court handed down its ruling in Roe v. Wade).

And what has America gained from its inflamed debate over abortion?

What have we to show for all the protests, the court filings, the clinic blockades, the bombings and shootings, the rallies on the Mall, the press conferences, the television and radio commercials, the congressional floor speeches, the presidential speeches and vetoes, the sermons (for and against) from the pulpit? What has all the yelling wrought? Nothing.

After twenty-five years, the abortion debate in America has done nothing to reduce appreciably the number of abortions performed every year in this great nation.

Federal law gives every woman in America the right to terminate her pregnancy up until the twenty-sixth week of gestation. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled this to be the point at which a fetus becomes “viable” outside the mother’s womb. The Court did not endorse the feminist concept that a fetus is the property of the woman, only that the fetus is the property of the woman until the fetus is healthy enough to survive outside her womb by means of medical intervention. At that point the fetus, according to the Court, can be subject to state protections if the state decides to impose them. By and large, however, the Court has rejected most attempts by the state to impose restrictions on adult women seeking abortions at any time in their pregnancy. At the same time the Court has upheld various laws meant to discourage and in some cases outlaw abortions obtained by a minor without the consent of at least one parent.

Following the Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, the number of abortions doubled—from 744,600 in 1973 to 1,409,600 in 1978. Since then the number of abortions nationally has averaged about 1.5 million per year. In 1992, the last year for which hard statistics are available, the number of abortions was 1,528,900. Estimates from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a special-research affiliate of Planned Parenthood, suggest that the number of abortions from 1994 through 1996 fell slightly, to 1.4 million per year. But this decrease is largely attributed to the decline in women of child-rearing age—particularly women in their twenties, who have a disproportionately large number of abortions compared to women in their thirties.

This follows a statistical trend established after the number of abortions reached 1.4 million in 1978. Since then, according to Census Bureau statistics, the aggregate number of abortions has fluctuated primarily in relation to the number of women of child-rearing age. As the number of women of child-rearing age has increased, so too has the number of abortions. As it has declined, so too has the number of abortions, if ever so slightly. The incidence of abortion has remained relatively constant across all demographic and regional groups and subgroups. According to estimates from the Guttmacher Institute, more than 34 million abortions were performed from 1973 to 1996. After twenty-five years of debate, the cultural predisposition toward abortion has neither increased nor decreased.

To our way of thinking, reducing the aggregate number of abortions each year is the only rational goal and the only worthwhile measurement of the quality, importance, and relevance of America’s debate on abortion.

Why?

Because that’s the one thing both sides say they want.

Pro-life forces want to make abortion a crime, or at least return the decision on whether to make it a crime back to the states, where the issue could be debated and a majority decision reached. Clearly their intention is to have fewer abortions, since they consider the procedure an act of “killing the unborn.”

Pro-choice forces do not, of course, see abortion as murder, but rather as a woman’s way of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy on her own terms. Pro-choice mores hold that the woman herself is the only one who possesses the moral and legal right to decide the fate of the fertilized ovum in her uterus. The state has no right to force a woman to bring that fertilized ovum to term if she does not want to.

But pro-choice mores also hold that abortion is only one of myriad “reproductive health-care” choices a woman can make. Pro-choice forces rarely argue that abortion is the morally superior method of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. In fact, leaders of the movement take pains to emphasize that they are not “pro-abortion,” and are quick to point out that adoption is an equally valid means of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.

If we take both sides at their word, it would seem they have a common goal: to reduce the number of abortions in America. Pro-life forces would like to see individual states enact laws against abortion, thus using government coercion to reduce abortions. Pro-choice forces, though they support the right to abortion as it now exists, also want women to understand and to make use of available alternatives.

At least theoretically, both sides want to reduce the number of abortions.

Has that message come across to you?

When you think of the abortion debate in this country, do you think of it as a means of building a cultural consensus on sexuality? Does the debate explore the responsibility women and men have to themselves and society when they decide to have sexual intercourse? Do you think the abortion debate has in any way helped women and men unite in common purpose against the immense psychological and physical angst an unwanted pregnancy unleashes on a relationship? Do you think of the debate as revolving around the individual consequences of abortion—the physical and psychological trauma that accompanies each procedure—and about whether society should act to reduce abortion in order to protect as many women as possible from such pain and anguish?

Probably not.

The abortion debate in America is really about power, and the combatants are special-interest zealots as politically obtuse as they are morally righteous.

Before going any further, let us briefly summarize the arguments on both sides of the issue—the moral and legal justifications both sides have used to defend their positions in court and in the political arena.

The abortion question turns on decisions societies must make about life, death, the rights of men and women, the rights of the unborn, and the value placed on individual liberties when the exercise of such liberty deprives a potential human being of life itself.

When debating an issue such as this, neither side will cede the moral or legal high ground.

To activists on the pro-choice side, any diminution of abortion rights is, by definition, a blow to the rights of women and a return to a patriarchal society awash in subjugation and oppression. To activists on the pro-life side, the very existence of abortion rights is an affront to God and all civil society, because it’s a license to kill a fetus that is unwanted or inconvenient. Those who are pro-choice are no less fervent in believing that morality and law are on their side than those who are pro-life. In short, both sides are sure they are absolutely right. In a battle in which moral and legal certitude is absolute, compromise is impossible. And so it has been.

Pro-choice forces, particularly those with ardent feminist beliefs, see the abortion question as a defining battle in the millennial war women have waged against moral patriarchy and oppression. Take away a woman’s rights to abortion and soon enough the right to contraception might also fall away. Take away a woman’s right to control her reproductive organs, and you deprive her, and by extension all women, of the precious autonomy they have established in a world previously dominated by men.

It’s important to remember that the federally protected right to abortion in America grew out of the federally protected right to contraceptives. The key legal antecedent to Roe v. Wade was the 1965 Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut. That case arose from the arrest of the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut and its medical director, a licensed physician, for giving married couples information about contraception and providing women with a medical contraceptive device. Connecticut law at the time forbade the use of any drug or device to prevent conception. The plaintiffs sued on the grounds that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s due-process clause, which guarantees that the state shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

The United States Supreme Court had over time expanded its definition of “liberty” to include an individual’s right to privacy, ruling in previous cases that parents had the liberty to make certain decisions about their children’s education without state interference. It also used the connection between liberty and privacy to strike down a law forbidding interracial marriage.

In a seven-to-two vote, the high court ruled that Connecticut had no compelling interest in violating a married couple’s right to privacy (and thus their right to liberty as defined by their reading of the Fourteenth Amendment) by dictating what they did about contraception in their own home. Seven years later, the Court ruled in Eisenstadt v. Baird that unmarried women had the same right to privacy, and it struck down a law forbidding the use of contraceptives by unmarried women.

The privacy right outlined in Griswold v. Connecticut and reaffirmed in Eisenstadt v. Baird set the legal precedent for the Court to rule in favor of abortion rights in the landmark Roe v. Wade case in 1973. A woman named Norma McCorvey, given the pseudonym Jane Roe in the Court filing, sought to overturn a Texas law forbidding abortions except those performed to save the life of the mother. (Interestingly, McCorvey never aborted the child she was carrying at the time the suit was filed. The child was the third unwanted pregnancy of her life and, as with the previous two, she carried it to term and gave the child, a girl, up for adoption. McCorvey has also backed away from her abortion-on-demand position and now advocates abortion only in the first trimester. This change of heart arose, according to her 1994 autobiography I Am Roe, out of her work in an abortion clinic, where she witnessed far too many second-trimester abortions.)

The right to privacy, the Court ruled, was no less valid when it came to ending an unwanted pregnancy than when the issue was attempting to prevent one in the first place. The Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy that the Court construed as protecting the rights of parents to send their children to private schools, of mixed-race couples to marry, and of married couples and unmarried women to use contraceptives was, the Court said, “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

So, on the one hand, the Court validated the feminists’ point that women had a fundamental constitutional (even human) right to control decisions about their own sexuality and motherhood. On the other hand, the Court also validated the pro-life community’s contention that a woman’s womb is home to more than a mixture of cells, tissue, and genetic codes. The Court came up with a scientifically informed judgment of twenty-six weeks as the point at which a fetus becomes capable of living outside of the womb—and therefore as deserving of state protection from harm as any other human being.

So the Court itself, ironically, provided foundations for the moral certitude both sides have brought to this debate since 1973. Moral certitude is the best weapon any voice in a political debate can have. It establishes rigid principles and sets a high standard for those who wish to join the cause. It calls upon political leaders to reach beyond easy compromise and measure their own moral precepts against prevailing political attitudes.

It was just this kind of moral certitude, of course, that forced America’s political and legal system to confront the question of abortion rights.

Those opposed to anti-abortion laws considered it immoral to require a woman to have a child against her will. This they considered the ultimate violation of her rights as a woman. The intricacies of human sexuality and the nuances of each and every sexual encounter were such that mistakes would inevitably occur. Whereas men had the legal right and, usually, the financial power to flee such mistakes (unless they agreed to marry the woman, which many were not prepared to do), women had no legal right to flee the consequences of a pregnancy. Pregnant women were sentenced to become mothers of children they did not want, regardless of whether they had the financial means or emotional and spiritual inclination to raise those children. In the event of a “mistake” between consenting adults, men had options that women simply did not. The conviction that this situation was morally and legally unfair gave rise to the push among feminists first for legal access to contraceptives and then for legal access to abortion in all fifty states. At first, the call for abortion rights was intended to give a woman recourse when, in the most-difficult of personal circumstances, abortion appeared to be the best course of action. The crusade for abortion rights was not motivated by a desire to make abortion available as a method for casual birth control, but by the need to give women a legal method of coping with the extremely difficult circumstance of an unwanted pregnancy. The moral thrust behind the movement was to give women the right to control their destinies in cases—assumed to be rare and acutely painful—when adults who consented to sex could not agree on how to cope with their unwanted pregnancy.

This moral and legal construct remains central to the pro-choice argument in defense of legal abortion. It is a legitimate and entirely defensible argument, honorably conceived and consistent with legal precedents and moral codes that seek to equalize rights and responsibilities in our pluralistic society.

There was also a practical side to the abortion-rights crusade: legalizing abortion, it was hoped, would reduce maternal mortality. The medical community lobbied to legalize abortion because more than five thousand women—predominantly black and Hispanic—were dying annually as the result of botched abortions performed in illegal clinics. Pro-choice advocates were fighting to end the days of such procedures; surprisingly, though, the era of the “back-alley” or “back-room” abortion was not as long as many might guess. From colonial days until the last third of the nineteenth century, abortion was legal before (in the language of the time) “quickening” had occurred—until roughly the fourth month of pregnancy. After the Civil War, the American Medical Association, seeking to bolster the authority of physicians over that of midwives and homeopaths, pushed for legislation to prohibit abortions in state legislatures across the land. Legal prohibition of abortion led many women to seek back-alley abortions—and to accept the considerable risks that went with such measures.

NOW let’s take a moment to examine the pro-life argument. Pro-life forces contend that life is just as sacred inside the womb as outside. They argue, with more than a slight degree of scientific justification, that most of the genetic coding of a child is laid down in the earliest days of conception. What a child will become at birth—the color of his or her hair, his or her height, his or her weight, the length of his or her fingers and toes, and millions of other genetic characteristics—is determined at, or very soon after, conception. Many also argue that only God has the right to abort a child spontaneously—that is, to cause a miscarriage. Each human being is a divine creation, in their view, and God, as the creator of all mankind, determines whether a fetus will survive in a mother’s womb. To abort a fetus, which God gave us the power to create, is to interpose oneself between God and the act of creation. The power to create is a gift from God and must be honored as a sacred blessing, and its defiance through an act such as abortion constitutes a sin of a particularly heinous kind. Aborting a fetus is a greater moral violation than killing an innocent human being because adults and even children would theoretically have some potential of defending themselves—something a fetus surely does not have.

In response to the feminist argument that abolishing abortion puts women at a legal disadvantage to men, pro-life forces argue that women who submit to unprotected sex outside of wedlock are taking an informed risk. They know such sexual encounters can result in pregnancy. By agreeing to have unprotected sexual intercourse outside of marriage, they are assuming the biological responsibility to care for any child that union might create. Pro-life forces argue that abortion allows a woman to shirk her responsibilities to herself and society by giving her the right to kill a fetus she agreed to create by having sex in the first place.

How is feminism advanced, pro-life women often ask, by creating a moral and legal climate in which it is accepted that women are powerless to control the outcome of sexual interaction with men? The assumption that women need abortion rights presumes that they are incapable of protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies. If women are so concerned about unwanted pregnancies, pro-life forces can fairly ask, why don’t they abstain or make absolutely sure they’ve taken all the necessary precautions available to avoid a pregnancy—instead of resorting to abortion?

Lastly, pro-life advocates contend that no society should condone, on the grounds of expanding personal liberty, an act that deprives another human being of that same liberty. The transient liberty a woman enjoys once freed from an unwanted pregnancy deprives the fetus she was carrying of all the liberties he or she would have enjoyed if allowed to live.

These arguments are as morally and legally valid as those on the pro-choice side. Those who hold them do so as sincerely and with the same honorable intentions and goals as those on the pro-choice side.

And guess what? Most Americans agree with both sides.

Or, to be precise, they agree with most of what both sides have to say about the morality and legality of abortion.

The vast majority of Americans see abortion rights as an important component of women’s rights, a reflection of the progress women have made in asserting their right to control decisions involving their own bodies. Most Americans see abortion as a practice that should be exercised with extreme caution, and only under the most trying circumstances. In sum, most Americans want abortions to be safe, legal—and extremely rare.

That’s why the vast majority of Americans oppose abortion as a means of birth control or sex selection. Most of us also oppose unlimited access to abortions for teenagers, recognizing that teens are unlikely to be mature enough to make such a life decision on their own. Importantly, most Americans do not oppose giving teens access to abortion; they merely want the state to ensure that teenage girls consult with their parents and obtain counseling to help them cope with the trauma. Most Americans are opposed to partial-birth abortions, in which a near-term fetus is partially delivered before the abortion takes place.

Survey data collected in 1987 by the Guttmacher Institute suggest that a high percentage of abortions are performed for “social” rather than medical reasons. The Institute found that among a group of nineteen hundred women who had had abortions, only 6 percent cited potential health problems of themselves or the baby as determining factors in their decisions. Only 1 percent cited rape or incest as the reason. In the vast majority of cases, according to the survey, women had abortions because they had relationship problems with the father or couldn’t afford the baby at the time or weren’t ready for the responsibility of raising a child. The Institute estimated that 1,559,100 abortions were performed in 1987. According to the survey data, fewer than 150,000 of these abortions were performed on women who reported what most Americans would consider “hard cases,” such as rape, incest, or potential health complications for the woman or child. (This is the only year so far in which the Institute has conducted such a survey.)

Overall, most Americans have a strong commitment to maintaining access to abortion but are opposed to the use of abortion in many of its particulars. When it comes to the right to abortion as an abstraction, the vast majority of Americans support it. When most Americans evaluate abortion on a case-by-case basis, ambivalence grows. Many Americans tell pollsters they are personally opposed to abortion but nevertheless support the right of others to obtain the procedure. We suspect that most Americans secretly harbor “there but for the grace of God go I” sentiments about abortion. We also suspect that a sizable majority of Americans have, at one time or another, placed themselves in a situation in which the need for an abortion might have arisen. That’s a powerful psychological subtext in this issue, one that sets abortion apart from all other public policy issues. It’s one of the many unique characteristics of the abortion debate, and one that makes its resolution particularly difficult.

We believe that the public’s ambivalence about abortion should compel pro-choice and pro-life forces to craft a public policy that reflects this ambivalence, and to build a consensus in the nation on the role abortion plays in a civil society. There is a crying need for pro-choice and pro-life forces to send a unified message to women and men across the country that we all have a responsibility, to ourselves and society, to avoid unwanted pregnancies and the abortions they needlessly precipitate.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: Political Lies: A Self-Defense Manual 1
The First Lie: The Abortion Debate Matters 12
The Second Lie: Gun Control Reduces Crime 31
The Third Lie: Religion and Politics Don't Mix 46
The Fourth Lie: Immigration Hurts America 60
The Fifth Lie: All Politicians Are Corrupt 75
The Sixth Lie: Money Buys Elections 92
The Seventh Lie: Fat Cats Are the Problem 113
The Eighth Lie: The Budget Will Be Balanced by the Year 2002 132
The Ninth Lie: Social Security Is a Sacred Government Trust 146
The Tenth Lie: Medicare Works 160
The Eleventh Lie: Tax Cuts Are Good 174
The Twelfth Lie: Education - More Money Equals Better Results 184
The Thirteenth Lie: The Environment - It's Mother Earth or Mother Lode 198
The Fourteenth Lie: Republicans Believe in Smaller Government 212
The Fifteenth Lie: Democrats Are Compassionate 220
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)