I’ve been avoiding posting on this topic for some time because of its highly divisive nature but I’m going to dive into it today. I’m sure this is a sensitive issue to a lot of you here because so many of you have kids and families of your own. I get that.
Since I first became politically aware, I’ve been a strong pro-choice advocate. This does not mean that I hate babies. On the contrary, I love babies, just as long as they are not pooping on me. I’ve read so many bloggers lately that are either pregnant now or have just given birth recently. I stand in awe of the love and dedication it takes to care for a baby, or a toddler, or a kid of any age. Each comes with its own unique set of issues. I don’t know how any of you do it without cracking up.
The thing that always gets me about the whole pro-choice/pro-life argument is that other people… those other than you or your mate… presume to want to tell you that upon accidentally becoming pregnant, that you would have to take on that responsibility by substituting their moral values in place of your own. They’re saying “Hey, you had sex, now you must pay. Because WE, (the stuffy, predominantly middle-aged white men of the US Congress), think that it’s a full-fledged person the very second those two cells intersect, that YOU must change your life forever by raising it. OR you must change your own personal body forever by carrying this baby to term so that you can then give it away. And this is because of OUR beliefs, not yours.
If I’m a woman, I’m telling every last one of them to go to hell, because in MY moral view, two cells intersecting is a science experiment, not a person, and I’ll thank the rest of the world to get out of my god-damned business.
There isn’t a bigger question than “when does life start.” It’s chocked full of moral and ethical dilemmas, and they’re all very personal.
As a country, we claim that we have religious freedom. (When in fact, we have all the freedom we want to be Christian, or failing that, Jewish.) But yet when it comes to this issue, there’s this push to let the strict views of the very few take precedence over the views of everyone else. Or anyone else. The numbers don’t really matter. In no way should the decision to carry or raise a baby belong to anyone other than those directly involved. Period. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. That’s the end of your reach on the issue.
This argument has hampered medical research and practically torpedoed health care reform. The sad part is that both sides are so entrenched, it’s practically impossible to find common ground. I think there’s an obvious middle ground to “no abortions ever ever ever, even if you’re raped by a gang-banger, your prom date or your Dad” versus “abortions on demand up to full term” or “abortions as a lazy-assed method of birth control.”
Personally, if I were made King I’d draw the line at viability: abortion upon demand, up to the point of viability. Afterwards, I would make exception for the health of the mother or baby. Plan B/Morning After birth control should be OTC and as available as an aspirin tablet. The birth control sub-dermal implants would be offered as a free service to anyone that’s had an abortion.
I’d immediately end all the bullshit hoops that women have to go through… the literature and the videos and the waiting periods. These are all things designed to make it inconvenient for the woman and use a passive-aggressive approach to keep her from having the abortion. Instead, I would create a single, fact-based information packet, spelling out the scientifically documented risks and issues surrounding the procedure. And by “scientifically documented,” I mean scientifically documented by independent scientists, not the paid flunkies of the Right to Life lobbying industry, where the conclusion is already written, with the data filled in later.
It’s sad that we even have the need for as many abortions as we do. It should be in the best interest of both pro-life and pro-choice supporters to prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. You’d think the two sides could get together on something as simple as that, right?
Wrong. If you look, you’ll see that so many of the people that are adamantly against abortion are the same ones against easy access to birth control, or God-forbid, sex education. They cling to the idea that if they keep their heads in the sand and preach “abstinence,” their precious offspring will refrain from all manner of frolicking until their wedding night, (and thereafter only when necessary.) It doesn’t matter that study after study shows that abstinence training doesn’t work. The kids screw anyway and those with abstinence training have a much higher likelihood of pregnancy, due to said screwing.
So they’re preaching, “don’t have sex,” preventing any information on contraception be discussed at school, then bemoaning the decline of values in America while they make sure that all pregnancies come to term. And you’d also think that they’d then support federal programs for child care, health care, after-school programs and the like, in order to deal with all the babies being born to single mothers or hard-luck couples.
Nope. Those are the first things they want cut at budget time, presumably so they can afford more high-end tax cuts. The fact is that the right-to-life brigade only gives a shit for children up until they’re born. Then it’s someone else’s problem.
I feel the only answer is age-appropriate and comprehensive Sex Ed classes in school. I mean, parents can feel free to supplement the classes with their own moral bent, but depriving information never the way to go. Because with the lack of hard-core, factual information, kids will get the dirt elsewhere: from TV, movies, their idiot friends and Internet porn. That information is guaranteed to be rife with rumor, innuendo and misinformation that can potentially be fatal. Is that really a good alternative?
I remember when I was in 6th grade and we were all gathered together for assembly with the boys in one session and the girls in another. Our principal, a tall, lean, dour, bi-spectacled man, led us through the biology of fertilization, culminating in the mysterious statement that “the man’s sperm then goes from the penis into the woman’s vagina.” Then he asked if we had any questions.
By this time, my little head was swimming. We were supposed to do that? With girls?? I was WAAAY to shy to even consider doing something like that, no matter how far into the future that would be. But still, one thing puzzled me even more, so I put up my hand. The principal called on me.
I stood up and asked my question: “How does the man know when the sperms are going to come out?”
The principal coughed a few times, looked around furtively and said, “Um, you’ll know.”
Well that was no help! I didn’t know. I looked around and none of my friends knew. Hmm. I’d have to watch that. I could be running around on the street one day and bang! Stuff would be coming out and I’d have to hurry up and find a vagina to put it in.
See, there was so little context regarding the entire situation, our big Sex Ed Speech made everything an even greater mystery. I’m sure kids today are far hipper to such things, but still, they’re kids. Without proper context, it’s no wonder young people have so many misconceptions about sex. If we’re going to do something about curtailing abortions in this country, we can’t just preach “no sex” and then put the screws to young adults or troubled couples when something goes horribly wrong.
Basic information has to be given out. Access to preventative measures must be guaranteed. Every abortion is a tragedy; an often-preventable tragedy and we should be doing everything we can to make them unnecessary.
OK, and if you guessed that the only reason I’m writing about this today was so I could tell that story, you’d be right.