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

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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

A Few Words About The Republican War on Women

I know Republicans who are saying that there is no War on Women. They say that the anti-woman things being said and the legislation proposed by various Republicans are not reflective of their personal beliefs or that of the Republican Party. They say that they don’t agree with everything Republicans say but Obama has got to go. And they say that I’m exaggerating when I call all of this anti-woman stuff a ‘War on Women’.

Let’s take a look at a few things and see what conclusions we can draw from them.

We’ll start with the obvious one. A 30-year-old Georgetown student talks to the House of Representatives about the need for insurance companies to provide contraception to women. Republican, Rush Limbaugh responds by saying, “What does it say about the college co-ed Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex,”

The next day he said, “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is: We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Now many will and have said that Rush is a ‘shock jock’ and he been saying these kind of things for many years. When he’s not making fun of college students, he’s shaking around making fun of Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease. This is true, but he’s still respected by the Republican Party and when there was an uproar about his latest comments, it didn’t come from the Republicans.

Attacking pundits for saying stupid things is fairly easy. Especially someone like Rush. So let’s move on to others.

Rick Santorum is a Republican running for President of the United States. He isn’t a pundit. He’s not some lone nut. He is someone who as of this writing has had hundreds of thousands of Republicans vote for him in the 2012 primaries.

When asked about women who become pregnant due to rape, Rick Santorum said, “I believe and I think that the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless, in a very broken way, a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you.”

This same man believes that you should never have sex out of wedlock and also doesn’t believe in contraception of any sort.

Much like Rush, Rick Santorum is an incredibly easy target because he says horrible things all the time. Unlike Rush, he is running for the highest office in the land. Rick Santorum is coming in first or second in just about every primary we’ve had so far. It wouldn’t be outlandish to call him the second most popular member of the Republican Party.

Let’s look at the only guy in the Republican Party who is currently beating Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney hasn’t been nearly as vocal about his anti-woman views but he does have them. When asked about his thoughts on Planned Parenthood he said he would, “Get rid of it.”  Later, when he was questioned further, he clarified by saying, “Planned Parenthood is a private organization. What I want to get rid of is the federal funding of Planned Parenthood,”

He’s not the only Republican who feels this way. They will all say that it’s because Planned Parenthood is one of the few places a pregnant woman can have an abortion. What they won’t say is that abortion covers just under 3% of what Planned Parenthood does. The vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s work involves preventative care such as cancer screenings for women. Planned Parenthood is often the only place a woman can go for such things. This is why cancer charities are also donors to Planned Parenthood. It’s not a abortion factory. It’s a women’s health facility.

I won’t spend too much time on Presidential Candidate Ron Paul because he’s more a Libertarian than a Republican, but he’s as against a woman’s right to choose as any of the rest of them. His vile Ames Straw poll speech proved that much.

Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich has been just as loud about his anti-choice views. On top of that he left his first wife while she was dying of cancer. He left his second wife to marry his mistress. Gingrich makes it abundantly clear how not important women are to him.

Okay, so we’ve covered the only four Republicans left in the Presidential Race. Not one of them has good things to say about women. Not one of them will defend a woman’s right to choose. And before you argue that a woman’s right to have an abortion isn’t a woman’s health issue, let’s get something straight. Regardless of the legality of abortions, pregnant women will still have them. We know this because it was true before abortion was legalized. And in those days many women died during the procedures because they weren’t done correctly. If you’re going to claim to be ‘pro-life’, you can’t ignore the health of the woman without being a hypocrite.

Of course the vitriol hasn’t been confined to the presidential race.

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman introduced Senate Bill 507 that says among other things: “Section 2. 48.982 (2) (g) 4. of the statutes is amended to read:

48.982 (2) (g) 4. Disseminate information about the problems of and methods of preventing child abuse and neglect to the public and to organizations concerned with those problems. In disseminating that information, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

In other words if a pregnant women has a kid and she isn’t married, she is causing a ‘contributing factor to child abuse and neglect’. Single parents have it rough enough without Republicans like Grothman claiming their very existence is a contributing factor to child abuse. This could also be seen as encouraging a woman to stay with an abusive man. I mean as long as he’s not hurting the child, according to Grothman it wouldn’t be a contributing factor to child abuse as long as they were married.

Wisconsin isn’t the only state attacking women and their freedom. In Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia Republicans have introduced bills that would force women who want to have abortions to have a transvaginal ultrasound. Now transvaginal is a word so rarely used that my spellcheck is telling me it isn’t a word. What that means inserting a device inside a woman’s vagina. What ‘forced’ means is against her will. In any  other setting, if you put something in a woman’s vagina that she didn’t want there, they would call that rape.

In Arizona, Republican Senator Terri Proud said, “”Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a ‘surgical procedure.’”  That’s right. She wants you to watch an abortion before you have an abortion. Just like she watches cows get slaughtered every time she eats a burger.

In Tennessee Republican Rep. Matt Hill has introduced a bill that would make public the age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant of every woman who has an abortion. But don’t worry. They won’t release any names. That way you can have fun trying to hunt down who had an abortion.

Last week in San Diego, 50-year-old Michael Kobulnicky was arrested for the kidnapping and rape of a 53-year-old woman. Up until recently he was a spokesman for the San Diego branch of the Tea Party.

In Texas, firebombs were set off in the office of Wendy Davis, a prominent female Democrat Senator.

When we add this all up, we have a famous radio personality, all four Republican Presidential Candidates, Republican Senators and representatives in at least eleven states, and a Tea Party leader all doing or saying things against women. If these views do not accurately represent the people of the Republican Party, I have two questions.

  1. Why do so many people in the Republican Party vote for them?
  2. And exactly how many people do I have to list before you realize this is what the Republican Party is now?

You can make any argument you like, but what it comes down to is that a vote for the Republican Party at this point is a vote against women and women’s rights. If you can’t see that, it’s because you’re not paying attention or you just don’t want to see it.

I am outraged by this behavior. I can’t imagine any rational thinking man or woman looking at all of this and not being equally outraged. When I make arguments like this, I’m often accused of not having an open mind. This usually bothers me because I consider myself a very open minded individual. But then I remember that my open mind draws the line at bigotry and discrimination. When it comes to bigotry and discrimination, I am intolerant and closed minded. And I’m proud of that fact because as an American, I believe bigotry and discrimination is a terrible thing and it’s not something I want to endorse or encourage in this country.

There are a lot of reasons I’m voting for Obama in November. But the number one reason is that I love women and believe in their equality and the Republican Party doesn’t. Even if I agreed with every other thing Romney and the others want to do (and I don’t), I cannot step on the rights of women in the pursuit of the economy,  jobs, national defense, or anything else and still be proud to call myself a man.

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/04/usa-contraception-limbaugh-idUSL2E8E400820120304
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2012/01/20/piers-rick-santorum-abortion-gift.cnn
http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/11303553-452/romneys-parenthood-plans.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plDcyC4Gnrs
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/glenn-grothman-wisconsin-law-single-parenthood-child-abuse_n_1316834.html
http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/03/transvaginal-ultrasounds-coming-soon-state-near-you
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/tennessee-abortion-bill_n_1363410.html?ref=divorce&ir=Divorce&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/21/10791923-firebombs-set-off-at-texas-state-senators-office

Holy Shit (Okay, Actually Religious Shit)

As you may notice, you can leave comments on any of these posts. Last night, someone did just that. You don’t see it because I didn’t approve it. Every time I think of taking comment approval off, someone like the guy last night writes in.  

It’s said that if you want to start controversy, all you have to do is talk about religion or politics. The reason people say this is because if you want to find the outright whack jobs in this world, you’ll find them heavily involved in one or both of these things.

So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that someone wrote in to tell me I was wrong, but I was surprised. I guess I just assumed that insinuating that people who bomb abortion clinics are bad was a safe enough thing to say. I was wrong. Someone left a comment that went on at length about how I’m a horrible baby killer and that people who bomb abortion clinics are heroes. This guy was about as Christian as Osama is Muslim. They both claim to be that, but really aren’t at all. And everyone with a brain knows it. 

I can understand the anti-abortion crowd. I get that. What I don’t get is where they say killing doctors who perform abortions is okay in one breath and say all life is precious in the next. That’s hypocritical psychotic thinking and it’s not the sort of thing I want to encourage and that’s why you won’t see his comment here or have me mention his website.  

Hate isn’t a value. It’s just hate. And using your faith to shield your hate is about the worst kind of cowardice I can think of. 

Assuming standard Christian doctrine is right, you simply can’t call yourself a Christian and advocate blowing up buildings without really pissing off the guy upstairs.

Feel free to leave a comment or if you prefer write me at jack@jackcameron.com

-Jack