Well, why not start of the Blogging A to Z Challenge with a topic that will surely raise some eyebrows and tick people off!
Up until yesterday, I had no idea what to write about for the letter A. But long car trips with my husband spur some interesting discussions, so this blog post is inspired by one of those discussions we had yesterday.
Actually, I’m hoping this doesn’t actually make anyone mad because I’m not here to pick on anyone. All I want to do is share some ideas I have.
Okay, full disclosure here first: I consider myself pro-choice and anti-abortion, which many people think can’t exist. In a nutshell, I don’t particularly think abortion is a good thing, but I also don’t think I should be butting into the business of any woman’s decision about her body. I would love to see the abortion rate, whatever it actually is, drop to near zero, being used in only the most dire of cases. But I also don’t think the way to do that is through legislation or moral or religious appeals. Making abortion completely illegal won’t work. First of all, it is hard to give something to the masses then take it away (see: prohibition). Plus, much like prohibition, and like abortion once was, making it illegal just means people find a way to get it done in much more dangerous ways. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go back to the days of coat hangers, back alleys, bleach, or whatever other barbaric method was used. I don’t think a moral or religious appeal works, either. All it does is lay massive amounts of guilt on people who start to think they are horrible people and they don’t reach out for help when it’s needed out of shame or fear. Plus, let’s be honest. Lots of people cherry pick their religion. When I was Catholic, I didn’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, but I did take birth control pills. And I’m willing to bet there were millions more Catholic women like me out there — cherry picking what tenets to follow and which ones to eschew.
So, let’s get practical. How can we drastically reduce abortion rates without outlawing it all together or shaming people into decisions they just don’t want to make? Here are my thoughts, which are not scientific in any way, shape or form:
- Education is key. Everyone, but in this case especially women and girls, need to be educated about their bodies and how it works. There needs to be an understanding of the entire menstrual cycle and reproductive system and how babies get made and sexual health and contraception. No holds barred. No embarrassment. No half truths. And this needs to come from parents, doctors, nurses, teachers. Education on all of it. Education means females understand how their bodies work and that can mean the difference between getting pregnant or not getting pregnant. I have one child, and I planned it that way. I decided when I wanted to have my baby and I had her exactly when I planned, and I managed to avoid getting pregnant all the other times before and after her — all because of education. And it needs to start young. Can’t wait until a girl hits 5th grade and then she gets pulled into the gym with all her other female classmates by the school nurse for “the talk”. American Girl had a book called The Care and Keeping of You which I bought for my daughter when she was young and I let her start to go through that book on her own. (A quick Google search just showed me that American Girl has expanded this line to include multiple books in this line, including a book for boys called Guy Stuff.) These books are a good place to start with young kids.
- Access to contraception is also needed. It needs to be available with little to no cost and no guilt or moral judgments. I’m not sure that incentivizing birth control use is a bad idea. I know that a common argument against free birth control is cost, but I have to believe that free access to contraception and even offering incentives to use birth control has to be cheaper in the long run that the cost of pre-natal care and post-natal care for moms and children, the cost of abortions and the medical care required for that procedure, the cost of leaves from jobs, and the cost of supporting people through welfare programs. I’m no financial expert, but I know that the money I’ve spent on birth control over the span of my life does not equal what I’ve spent on my daughter since the time I was pregnant with her. So take me times however many….
- Make health care affordable, yes, in all areas, but for this blog post, I’m talking about pre-natal care, post-natal care, female wellness, and child wellness. No one can ever really “afford” to have a baby, but the costs can be so overwhelming that some women feel the only choice they have to escape that heavy financial burden when they really can’t handle it is to turn to abortion — and that includes in cases where the woman would prefer to give the baby up for adoption. Make it affordable for women to get through their pregnancies and then raise their children if they choose that option.
I really believe that if there were enough education, access to birth control, and affordable health care, women would not feel compelled to turn to abortion anywhere near as often as they do (which is not an overwhelmingly large number statistically speaking when looking at data from the CDC).
If you’re going to approach this topic from a moral or religious perspective, I’m not the girl to talk with because I really believe that this issue needs to approached from a practical standpoint, from a reproductive healthcare perspective.
Just one human’s opinion on this highly charged topic.
P.S. I am actually kind of afraid to share this post. It seems that social media can get so nasty so easily. I don’t mind debates or dissenting opinions. But I don’t like threats or insults, so here’s hoping I don’t get any of those 🙂
P.P.S. I also promise that the vast majority of my posts for this challenge will be on way more boring topics!