It seems that it’s time for both sides of the aisle to publicly find common ground, as all of our women are clearly being affected by abortion. We need to cease this “us vs. them” mentality and drop the divisive identifiers. The labels of “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are weapons used to decapitate our ability to have a rational discussion. Meanwhile, solutions for a more aggressive approach to sexual education, family planning and women’s health have been dwarfed by talking points, big business and bloody-hanger propaganda.
Enough is enough.
It’s time to have a connected, revolutionary, rational discussion about abortion.
Epiphany #1: abortion isn’t going anywhere. Whether legal or in a back alley, women have always had and will always have abortions. My Great-Grandmother, Ruth Davis, died in 1937 from a botched back-room abortion; God forbid we travel back in time. People didn’t stop drinking during prohibition, they haven’t stopped smoking weed/crack/meth just because it’s illegal and they aren’t going to stop having abortions. It’s a horrible reality, but it’s true.
If I’ve offended you already, I apologize, but stay with me.
Like many Americans, my position on abortion doesn’t fit into a neat little religious or political box. I believe that the soul of my son arrived in my womb at the point of conception; I listened with my heart and felt him. I have no doubt that the tadpole swimming around in my belly was my willful little boy right from the start. I also know that I don’t have the strength of spirit to ever endure an abortion. Thank God my journey has never led me to face such a decision.
With that in mind, I also wholeheartedly disagree with any governmental restriction of my rights. Just as I don’t want our government restricting the free speech of those idiots who picket funerals, I also don’t want them to govern what I can or cannot do with my body. Governmental intrusion is a slippery slope. I believe just as our community rose up to produce the Patriot Guard who protect the innocent from the insanity of Westboro Baptist Church, so too can we find guardian angels to mend the tattered mess of abortion.
Let’s step back for a second and breathe.
Isn’t it reasonable to concede that both pro-life and pro-choice have very viable concerns? Of course they do! We are arguing two very sacred elements of the human experience: life and freedom.
If we’re being honest, we can all agree that no one wants an abortion. Abortion is simply a symptom of much larger problems. Problems such as: the vilification of women, our divided approach on sexual education, lack of funding, how to properly address the long-term emotional and physical needs of the birth/abortion/adoption of an unwanted child – and that’s just to name a few.
According to the Guttmacher Institute:
- 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by age 45.
- 58% of women having abortions are in their 20s.
- 61% have one or more children.
- 56% are unmarried and are not cohabiting.
- 69% are economically disadvantaged.
Let’s put a face to this 1 in 3 statistic. I personally know women who have had an abortion. So do you – you just may not know it. She may be the clerk running the register at the local grocery store, the gal who watches your children at daycare, or your Preacher’s wife. Regardless, we must concede that these women are not ignorant, flippant or happy about having such an invasive procedure. Having an abortion is terrifying; no woman wants to find her feet in the dreaded stirrups of such a horrific table. Period.
It may be idealistic, but consider some solutions:
Rather than stabbing these women with sword of blame, I am of the belief that education should be our weapon of choice.
Ideally, parents should be responsible for a child’s first introduction to sex. However, not all children have access to a healthy family perspective or a family for that matter – so then we the village must step up.
A united community approach to sexual education is a must if we want to decrease the number of abortions. Getting our hands dirty and deconstructing the curriculum from ALL American schools (rich and poor) is vital. Revamping sex ed. pedagogy to include topics such as: self worth, promoting positive body images for both boys and girls, the importance of goals and future, the importance of choosing a sexual partner/mate wisely and then pairing it with the traditional teachings of anatomy, birth control, abstinence, STD’s, and the reproductive process. What a great all-inclusive foundation! Smart kids make smarter adults.
Despite our best efforts, however, even if there was a miraculous sex ed. overhaul, a percentage of women would still find themselves in the situation of an unwanted pregnancy. What then?
Attention must be paid to the process of abortion/adoption/birth itself. I know that many of you are going to disagree, but destroying Planned Parenthood is not the solution. Redistributing, reinvesting and redirecting their obscene surplus back into women’s health is a better alternative than demonizing the organization itself.
Why reinvent the wheel?
I currently work as a professor at a University and many of my female students go to Planned Parenthood for gynecological issues. Why? It’s free and it is a brand that they identify and trust. Planned Parenthood is a business that has developed over decades. Name/brand recognition, when you’re lying naked on a table, is comforting. Planned Parenthood has an excellent infrastructure already in place to deal with the giant issues surrounding women’s health.
HOWEVER, ensuring an unbiased standard of care/education/counseling within its walls is a reasonable request in exchange for our tax dollars. Planned Parenthood needs to step up to the plate and be honest. They are making millions from abortions – it is in their best fiscal interest to continue to counsel women down this path. With money as an ulterior motive, how can women possibly receive earnest guidance? Women (and consequently our families) are the victims, again.
Allow me to illustrate my point with a personal example:
I had a very difficult pregnancy and found myself in three different world class ER’s in Los Angeles: Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Cedars Sinai, UCLA Santa Monica. In every instance (and my husband can verify) the Doctor asked if I had ever had an abortion. In every instance we asked why they would ask such a question. The reply was unanimous, “Women who have had abortions often have issues with pregnancy.” I was shocked. Published research suggests that abortions are mostly harmless and have very few long term effects.
Obviously, there is a disconnect between the research and reality – and women are suffering the consequences. End result? Trust no one with your womb or your baby.
My experience solidified my stance that women should be fully educated when undergoing a procedure that may inevitably change her life. Responsibly providing a sonogram, counseling and a thorough medical examination should be part of the process; a woman (whose abortion is NOT medically necessary) should have access to every possible resource. (In the 1% of cases that involve rape and incest, however, education and counseling need to be of a different ilk. Forcing an already traumatized woman to undergo a sonogram is not only inhumane, it’s utterly abusive.)
OK – let’s breathe again.
There is common ground, I promise, we just have to shed our labels long enough to find it.
So. . .to the Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists, Republicans, Liberals, Independents, Democrats and all others weighing in on the issue: the gauntlet is laid. Who among us is going to be brave enough to focus on a rational, compassionate response rather than propaganda and rhetoric? What politician will be brave enough to publicly denounce the labels and focus on solutions? What version of the Patriot Guard will rise up and champion preventative care so that our society can deliver our women from these circumstances and save the lives of our unborn children?