When It Comes To Abortion, There Should Be No Controversy

jackson-clinic

The last abortion clinic in Mississippi

 

Abortion is an issue that polarizes people. Anti-abortionists do their very best to restrict a woman’s access to legal and safe abortions all over the country. In Mississippi there is only one place in the state you can safely and legally have an abortion. The state has almost three million people. It also rates second in the nation in teen pregnancy.

Those who advocate for a woman’s right to choose will often argue that since it is the woman’s body and life that is most closely impacted by being pregnant, she should have the choice of what to do about it like any other health issue.

The problem is that those against abortion see the unborn fetus as a living being and think of abortion as murder and there is no argument to be made that will convince most of them that the fetus does not deserve every bit of protection we would give any other human life. This argument has been used again and again both in legislative buildings and in the defense of killing doctors who perform abortions. Given that this fundamental difference is so significant, I will not be arguing for or against it. What I am going to do instead is make an argument about abortion that I believe can be adopted by those who feel abortion is a woman’s right and those who feel it is no different than murder.

I know this sounds like a tall order, but I’m a liberal Democrat and my Dad is a Born-Again Christian who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and when I explained this to him, he and I agreed. I am genuinely hoping I am able to sway some more people with this because as I see it, there should be nothing controversial about abortion whatsoever.

Before 1973, abortion was not legal in much of the United States. This does not mean that abortions did not occur in the United States. They did. They occurred in unsterile environments with unqualified people who often left the pregnant woman permanently injured or dead. They occurred with women trying home remedies that often left them sick or dead. The only time they occurred with any semblance of safety for the pregnant woman was when the wealthy would hire a doctor to perform them. We know these things happened. We have hundreds of women and relatives of women who have bravely told these stories.

We also know the lengths that some pregnant women will go to in order to have abortions because there are states where anti-abortion laws are so strict that women have had to go to great lengths to get an abortion, including driving out of state, trying one of those home remedies, or getting butchered by an unscrupulous doctor. This is not something that only happened in the past. It happens today.

It is curious to me that the same conservatives who tell me that gun control will not work because criminals don’t follow laws are under the impression that laws restricting abortion will stop abortions. There’s a certain cognitive dissonance there. But if we know laws will not stop or lower abortions, maybe it is time to look at what we know works.

For starters we need to look at the cause of every single abortion ever performed: pregnancy. If we can limit the amount of pregnancies, we limit the amount of people who might want an abortion.

A popular idea among conservatives is to just tell anyone who does not want a baby to not have sex. This is a roundabout way of imposing antiquated religious beliefs on poor people. Sex is not simply for baby creation and it is not something you should only do if you have enough money. Sex between consensual partners is a human right. More to the point, we know that telling people to abstain simply does not work.

If we look at states where abstinence-only sexual education is mandated we find that there is a significant increase in teen pregnancy and STDs. This is because getting teenagers to avoid something by telling them not to do it, is like putting a steak in front of a dog and telling him not to eat it. It doesn’t work. It does not take an expert to understand why those with little cash and lots of hormones might engage in sex. It also does not take an expert to understand why a young woman who becomes pregnant who is poor might choose to have an abortion.

I would love to point to a state where there is solid nonjudgmental, non-religious sexual education, but there really isn’t one. So instead let’s take a look at Sweden where sexual education has been mandatory since 1956. Sweden’s pregnancy rate per 1,000 people is less than a third of ours.

It is clear to anyone paying attention that giving children accurate sexual education helps lower the pregnancy rate and as mentioned earlier, less pregnancies means less abortions.

Even when people are properly informed and educated about sex, they may still engage in unsafe sexual activity, especially if it is difficult to get birth control. This is why we do not just need good sexual education. We need access to free and low cost birth control. Studies have shown that when women have access to free birth control unwanted pregnancies go down. These two things lower the pregnancy rate dramatically and when there are less unwanted pregnancies, there are less abortions.

Now, let’s review:

  • Abortions happen whether or not they are legal.
  • Illegal abortions often put the life of the pregnant woman in danger.
  • Nonreligious, non-judgmental sexual education and access to free and low-cost birth control lowers the abortion rate more than anything else.

Given these facts the only logical thing to do is provide good sexual education, free birth control, and offer safe, legal abortion services for those women who choose to have abortions.

Any other alternative either increases the abortion rate or puts the pregnant woman’s life in danger. In either case, you can’t call yourself ‘pro-life’ while putting a woman’s life in danger or deliberately blocking something you know will lower the abortion rate.

Nothing I have said here is opinion. Each of the things said here can be verified. I’ve included links and there is more information out there if you are so inclined to find it. I welcome discussion, but if you are going to say that anything in this article is not true, please cite your sources.

Ultimately, those in favor of cutting funding to Planned Parenthood or creating new laws that restrict a woman’s right to choose are at best misguided and at worst simply anti-woman. Hopefully this article helps make sense of an emotional issue.

– Jack Cameron

Other Sources:
http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/597-abstinence-only-until-marriage-programs-ineffective-unethical-and-poor-public-health

Want To Lower The Abortion Rate? Provide Free Contraception

ABORTION PROTESTWhen it comes to abortion, most debates hinge on the fundamental disagreement about when life truly begins. Most anti-abortion proponents contend that life begins at the moment of conception and that at that point, the fertilized egg must be treated with all the rights of a human being. Most pro-choice sorts contend that a fertilized egg isn’t a human being any more than a pinecone is a pine tree. This disagreement isn’t the sort that can be definitively resolved because no amount of evidence is going to change either side. And so the abortion debate has gone on for years and years with no end in sight because of this irreconcilable difference.

And so in this article I will not attempt to persuade you one way or another when it comes to when life begins. In fact, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that somehow we know for a fact that human life begins at conception. With that point conceded, let’s take a serious look at the issue of abortion.

If abortions truly are killing human beings then it is in everyone’s best interest to make the abortion rate as low as possible. The reflexive response and the response by most Republicans and conservatives is to ban abortion entirely. This is understandable but it fails to pay attention to history.

The first abortions in America were not performed after Roe v. Wade. At the time that abortion was legalized thousands of abortions had already been performed. Most were performed under terrible conditions by unqualified ‘doctors’ that charged far too much money. Many mothers died under these circumstances. The important take away here is that making abortion illegal did not stop abortions. It simply made them much, much more dangerous. People who want to make abortions illegal may have their hearts in the right place, but if their intent is to lower the abortion rate, this isn’t the way to do it.

The absolute best way to lower the abortion rate is to make sure that unwanted pregnancies never occur in the first place. Again, the knee-jerk reaction to this is a sensible one: If people don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. Naturally, that makes perfect sense. But much like some people will get abortions regardless of what you want them to do some people are going to have sex regardless of whether or not they should have sex.

The problem with many standard Conservative responses to abortion is that they tend to assume that all people will behave a certain way. They assume that if abortion were illegal all women with unwanted pregnancies would not seek out illegal abortions. They assume that if people cannot afford contraception and don’t want to be pregnant they won’t have sex. But the reality is very different.

If you’re looking for something that will lower the abortion rate but still account for those who have sex and do not want children, the best option is to provide contraception. When contraception is free and easily available, the abortion rate plummets. This isn’t just opinion. Studies have shown this to be true.

A common Conservative argument against providing free birth control is that sex is not a human necessity and that tax dollars should not be spent on something like birth control. But if this is your argument against providing free birth control, the question has to be asked: Which is more important to you, saving money or saving the lives of the unborn? Regardless of your answer, providing free birth control is still the correct answer.
Most women who have unwanted pregnancies do not have health insurance. This means that if they give birth, the state is going to have to pay for it. A quick look at the cost of child birth vs. the cost of birth control pills reveals that the cost of one child birth is enough to pay for birth control pills for twelve years. That cost isn’t including all the additional healthcare costs associated with having a new child. It’s astronomically more expensive to pay for a woman to have a child than to pay for a woman’s contraception. If you’re looking to save money and lower the abortion rate, providing free contraception is the simplest and best solution.

–          Jack Cameron