Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why I am Pro-Choice

Like many people, I was astonished and mystified to find out that more than 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump. He’s a known philanderer, on his third marriage, and brags about sexually assaulting women. Evangelicals are a group of people who usually tolerate no moral missteps in their leaders. I know of a megachurch pastor who was fired because his wife had an affair. The disconnect here just stuns me.

And honestly, I still don’t get it. But I’ve now heard three Evangelical women say that they voted for Trump because Clinton is pro-choice, and since I don't hang out with that many Evangelical women, this seems important. So I’m giving you my (unasked for) opinion. I’ve never addressed the abortion debate in my blog, although I’ve considered doing so many times, so I’ll just type this as briefly as I can and move on.

First of all, no one is pro-abortion. No woman goes out and gets pregnant so that she can have an abortion. No man purposely gets his girlfriend pregnant so that he can coerce her to abort the baby. Abortion is a solution to the problem of an unwanted pregnancy--whether you consider it a good solution or a bad one is a different question. The real problem here is unwanted pregnancies. Solve that problem, and like magic: no more abortions.

Faced with an unwanted pregnancy, a woman has a number of choices. She can have the baby and raise it herself, give the baby up for adoption, have the grandparents raise the baby, leave the baby on someone’s doorstep, leave the baby in a dumpster (as sad and horrifying as that is, it happens). If she chooses to end the pregnancy, when abortion is legal, she can have it done safely and with follow-up care as needed. If abortion is illegal, she will very likely have it done unsafely and with no access to follow-up care. Women die because of back-alley abortions (as sad and horrifying as that is, it happens).

With the exception of the woman having a change of heart and deciding to raise the baby herself, none of these are perfect solutions. All of them have emotional consequences for everyone involved. Clearly the best answer to this problem is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This is a no-brainer, and yet it’s something you rarely hear discussed.

You don’t hear the pro-life folks insisting on birth control education, you don’t hear them demanding funding for research into better, more reliable methods of birth control. In fact, at least in our area, the pro-life folks are usually the ones that are protesting against sex education in the schools, and picketing outside clinics that offer free condoms.

In this crowd, it quickly becomes clear that they are not really interested in solving the problem of unwanted pregnancies. If you push them far enough, they're likely to smirk and say, "Well, if women would just wait to have sex until they get married, none of this would be a problem"-- as if no married woman ever wants to avoid pregnancy; as if once she marries, it no longer matters whether (or when) she wants to have children.

And when you get to that point, you start to figure some things out. They aren't anti-abortion so much as they are interested in insisting that people follow their religious beliefs about when sex should occur. If they really wanted to end abortion, they'd develop comprehensive, innovative sex education programs, and they'd push for better, cheaper access to birth control--because that's what works. A program to provide low-cost birth control to teens in Colorado dropped the teen abortion rate by sixty-four percent over eight years.

I'd be OK with outlawing abortions in the third trimester. For one thing, they almost never happen, and for another, I'm sorry but that's horrible. But in the first trimester, until we have widely accessible, foolproof birth control, legal abortion is a sad but necessary part of women's health care.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Thank you, for this gift.
I needed it.
Miss you,