I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. The first part of that sentence is pretty much universally agreed upon. I am in a minority (45%) in the second part. There are very few people that would say they think we should have more abortions, and those people are generally referring to overpopulation as their reason. While I agree that overpopulation is a major issue no one talks about, I don’t think abortion is the answer. Abortion is the absolute last resort that carries its own powerful punishments with it, and requires no further stigma or persecution beyond that pain and trauma to discourage people from having one.
I understand what divides people about this subject. When abortion means “murder” to you, there really is no circumstance where it’s okay. I can pick apart this argument based on the people who generally make it being immense hypocrites (supporting war, not supporting giving healthcare or food to needy children after they’re born, etc.), but that’s a political argument that is irrelevant to this topic. I think the real argument to be made is “How do we reduce the frequency of abortions as much as possible?”.
Generally, advocates of the pro-life argument seem to think that the best way to reduce abortions is to make them illegal, or at least inaccessible. Then, the people who have unwanted pregnancies would have the options of:
- Give birth and put the kid up for adoption.
- Give birth and keep the kid in an environment where it was unwanted, and most likely with parents incapable of raising it.
- Have the procedure illegally, at greater physical risk, and with the possibility of being put in prison for murder.
AND: Make this decision with an extremely limited sexual education that boils down to “Don’t get into this situation”.
While I find this idea lacking compassion or mercy (ironic considering the religious nature of those pushing for it), I’m sure it would reduce the number of abortions that occur. It would likely cause many other problems as well.
Even without being a parent, I can understand the desire that parents have to prevent their children from having sex. Any good parent wants their children to avoid risky behavior, and sex absolutely qualifies as risky behavior. I 100% get that. If I had gotten an STI or impregnated a girl I was dating in high school, I’d likely regret that for the rest of my life.
But I didn’t.
My parents were both teachers, so they have passionate beliefs about education and child development. They both have always been honest with me when I had questions about things, even with uncomfortable topics. But believe it or not, I never got “the talk” — meaning there was never a single session where my parents sat me down and unpacked everything they wanted me to know about sexuality. Because they always answered my questions, this wasn’t too bad. The only problem is, I didn’t always know what questions to ask.
My mother was a school nurse and sex education teacher, so that fact probably surprises some people. My parents trusted the public education system to teach us about sex. New Jersey is not Kansas — thank heavens — so we learned about contraception and had more than abstinence on the curriculum. But we definitely didn’t have anything I’d call a “complete” education in hindsight. My brother and I had a special benefit though, which was persistence. My mom would show us materials (videos, pamphlets, etc.) she was considering showing to her students and she’d ask us what we thought of them. Even as we grew up, she still taught kids of grades 5-8 the entire time, so we had the same concepts drilled into our heads repeatedly over time.
Wear your seatbelt, don’t do drugs, use a condom, and don’t get any tattoos.
My Mom, every time I left the house as a teenager
This stuff all made us roll our eyes at the time. Our mom was a silly worrywart and we were going to do those things anyway. But looking back I think it worked. I think seeing my mom’s diagrams on her office wall with all the STIs on them worked. I think hearing about and talking about sex regularly, even if we were just joking around, worked. I think my parents’ transparency, approachability, and repetition were keys for us taking control over the risks of sex as young adults.
My parents never tried to put fear in us about sex. We were never told to wait for marriage, though we were encouraged not to take sex lightly. We were never told that we had to like girls or that it was wrong to like boys. My mom didn’t say “Don’t have sex” when I left the house. They told us the truth and both of us are disease-free non-parents to this day.
I don’t understand the arguments against sex education or birth control in the slightest. I also don’t get what the problem is with people having sex as long as risk is minimized, but that’s pretty much entirely a religious thing. People will never stop having sex. They will either do it safely, consensually, and responsibly… or they’ll do it the dangerous way.
I believe that empowering
women people to make good health decisions for themselves will naturally reduce the demand for abortions, as well as reduce the incidents of STIs and perhaps even rape. This means making birth control reliable, affordable and accessible for everyone. This means fighting the social stigma that women (and homosexuals) face about sex at every level. This means honest and complete sex education. This means getting the government out of people’s lives and letting them make some of their most important personal decisions in a safe and private way. I believe the reduction in the number of abortions would likely be less immediate, but have fewer negative side effects. I believe that the best way to reduce abortions is to reduce the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.