Question #12: Can common ground on abortion be found?
(This post is part of a series for July 2013 entitled “Question Month.” Read the intro to the series here.)
My Facebook post earlier today:
“Question No. 12: Brainstorm time! Inspired by yet another fruitless debate between pro and anti choice camps (regarding abortion), today’s question is simple: knowing what we know of one another’s deeply held, virtually unshakeable differences, what are things we can AGREE ON to do to reduce the number of abortions?”
I think it is telling of more than it just being a weekend that quite a few people read this and yet no one commented.
Is there no room for agreement? Are we doomed to partisan hell?
Because the lines in the sand on this issue are so deep and rife with jellyfish, it took me a little searching to ensure my statistics came from as impartial a party as possible. I finally found this page by the CDC and recommend it to all who are curious about what people are having abortions.
So who has abortions? According to the above site, “nearly one-fifth of all pregnancies end in abortion.” It is mostly young, single women early on in pregnancy (the majority before eight weeks gestation and almost all within the first trimester). And, most important for our brainstorming session, “nearly all abortions are preceded by an unintended pregnancy, with most recent estimates suggesting that intended pregnancies account for <5% of all abortions, including those which presumably are performed for maternal medical indications and fetal abnormalities."
It is important to note that women of all races, ethnicities, and religions are having abortions.
It is clear to me that preventing unintended pregnancy is essential to preventing abortion. We could attempt to brainwash people into wanting to bear children in their teens and early twenties, but I suspect we will have more luck with contraception. According to this Guttmacher page, “the two-thirds of U.S. women at risk of unintended pregnancy who practice contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5% of unintended pregnancies.” The rest are those using contraception improperly (43%) or not at all (52%).
Universal access to practical sex education, which I believe should certainly include but not be limited to discussion of abstinence, would see a clear reduction in undesired pregnancies. Free access to routine preventative health care visits and free contraception might practically cinch the deal.
Add substantial support (both financial and emotional/spiritual) rather than scorn for young and impoverished individuals and another main reason for abortion is on its way to being dealt with by clearing obstacles from the path toward birth and child rearing.
It is easier to prevent a flood by fixing a leak than by waiting for the pipe to burst. Common sense tells us to put on a hat to avoid a sunburned nose rather than do nothing but break out the aloe vera afterward. And I can tell you it is way easier to stop one sibling from harming another at the first warning signs of a bad mood developing than to wait until the shoving commences.
Our (so unrepresentative) members of Congress feel it is wiser to tackle this issue after it is essentially too late; once a person who wishes not to be with child becomes so, they make up their own mind whether to give birth or abort regardless of legality. It is as though these politicians delight in shouting obscenities at people tumbling down a flight of stairs rather than bothering to address the broken step at the top.
The nation is rather split on abortion.
Do we just throw up our hands?
Divided we may be on abortion. But we are significantly less divided on the use of contraception with the clear majority strongly in favor. Enter the temporary vasectomy RISUG which will finally give men something way easier than condoms to use when preventing pregnancy is the only goal (i.e., in a committed relationship with low risk of STDs).
We could batter heads endlessly, most of us with the best interests of someone at heart. But no one wins that way. Let’s utterly baffle our congress(wo)men and join forces wherever we can agree so that lives really are saved.
None of us, pro- or anti-choice alike, are really in favor of ending tiny lives. So let us begin there, on common ground.