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Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

    Abortion: Examining the conservative side of life

    I have been experiencing an uncomfortable feeling lately. It would best be described as a deep yearning emanating from somewhere between my heart and stomach, occurring only in the presence of small children. I’m calling it Baby Envy. I envy you your baby.

    It’s not my fault; my hormones are banging around in my body telling me I should procreate, it’s what 20-year-old females with hips like mine are made for. Now, I know that this feeling should be ignored for now, but idyllic thoughts of families and babies (and the men with whom to create such things) have inspired me to rethink my position on abortion.

    I must admit, in my most conservative hours (usually between 2 and 3 a.m.) I can’t get past the notion that life begins at conception; if one did nothing after the moment the sperm enters the egg, a baby would be born in nine or so months. This seems so apparent to me that I get really annoyed when the pro-choicers and the pro-lifers go at it over minute definitions of “when life begins.” As long as the pro-choice movement picks this battle, it’s going to lose. A fetus is alive; it changes, grows, develops. To abort that fetus is to end life. Can we not all agree that this: the ending of life: is something to be avoided?

    I am a person who considers herself to be pro-choice, and this is not a statement I disagree with. Is there any pro-choicer out there calling for more abortions? No, they’re calling for safer ones, for earlier ones and, increasingly, for fewer ones. It is this last point the pro-choice movement should focus on.

    Pro-lifers (don’t get me started on how loaded that term is) are also for fewer abortions. Of course, they are for no abortions, period, but that’s never going to happen, not through any means they are trying. So what if they overturn Roe v. Wade? That’s not going to make abortions go away, that’s going to make abortions illegal. The lowest abortion rates in the world occur in Europe, where abortion is legal and available (9 in 1000 women); more than twice that many have abortions in countries that have outlawed it, and those abortions are much more unsafe and result in more deaths for women undergoing the procedure.

    Can’t the two movements work together on this point? Can’t the pro-choice movement relax its grip on its singular obsession with a woman’s right to choose and concede that something needs to be done to reduce the number of abortions?   Can’t the pro-life movement allow that abortions are going to happen no matter what and realize that in order to get as close as possible to that goal of zero abortions, they too should work towards reducing the number?

    Once the argument unifies, once we have people who can say, I am for Fewer Abortions (regardless of their affiliation with either movement), then we’re getting somewhere. Then we can look at who is at risk for unwanted pregnancy (minorities, people living close to or below the poverty line) and work at addressing the real problem: women get unintentionally pregnant, and then feel as if they have no other choice but to terminate.

    A. Let’s work at reducing the number of unintended pregnancies: more education about and access to birth control. The religious right is going to have a problem with this, given that they prefer to pretend that their teens and unmarried people aren’t having sex, and thus don’t need to be educated on or have access to birth control. But when 27 percent of women having abortions are Catholic and 43 percent are Protestant, it is clear that religion is not an effective barrier (neither are condoms, all the time, but we’re working on that).

    B. Let’s address the circumstances that compel women to have abortions: 73 percent of women cite their inability to afford a child as a reason for having an abortion, and 69 percent say having a child would interfere with their employment or their education. What if paid family leave programs were initiated nation-wide to ensure that women don’t have to worry about losing their job because they became pregnant? What if daycare were made more affordable for low-income women? Release women who feel pinned and trapped by financial circumstances, and the rate of abortion will go down.

    I am for Fewer Abortions: each side has to give up some of their ideological qualms to reach this conclusion, but we are getting nowhere in the current state of division between the movements. Compromise, as our parents and kindergarten teachers always told us, is the path to progress. I am for Fewer Abortions: for isn’t the ultimate goal to exist in a world where the legality of abortion is moot because abortions aren’t occurring? This will happen only when women are able to reproduce when they want, and are able to care for their children no matter their circumstance.

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    Comments (3)

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    • K

      Kate BerfieldSep 15, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      I’m not certain what world Rob lives in — but it’s certainly one defined by a level of privilege that I’m not sure they fully acknowledge or realize the ramifications of.

      “I would remind her that women aren’t penalized at work or school for pregnancy regardless of their irresponsible actions that cause it.”

      Whoa there, friend. Many employers are reluctant to hire women with young children, because of the societal expectation (yes, it’s still there!) that women will be the ones in the relationship to provide childcare. When the goal is to hire someone who can work flexible shifts and won’t have many outside distractions…you can bet that there’s hiring discrimination, however legal or illegal. I’m not even twenty and I’ve still been asked about my family plans when interviewing for a -waitress job-. To potential employers, the state of my womb is a pretty serious consideration.

      Beyond outright discrimination, more subtle discouragements exist in the form of just plain -lack of support- for mothers working and attending school. Do you know what it’s like to struggle to raise a kid, attend college, and work all at once? I’m guessing not, and I sincerely hope that you never have to find out.

      As for those ‘irresponsible actions’ (how -dare- someone’s condom fail, as is often the case) by which I can only assume you mean engaging in unprotected sex … you are holding the hypothetical man culpable as well, I’d hope. Unless we’ve had a sudden rash of irresponsible virgin Mary’s that I’ve missed, conception is a two-person process. Yet I notice it’s only the woman that you’re holding accountable, here?

      How odd, then, that men are able to legislate something that’s supposedly the sole responsibility of those with wombs.

      “I would remind her that there are many loving families that would adopt any children that she would so callously murder during this epidemic of irresponsibility.”

      *white, able-bodied and able-minded children

      Fixed that for you.

      Reply
    • T

      ThsGuyRightHereSep 14, 2008 at 5:22 pm

      Very well written, I enjoyed the read. One thing I would add is that the morning after pill (which prevents fertilization from occurring) should be made more readily available. What people like Rob don’t seem to understand is that an outright ban by itself is not a solution. However, liberals sticking to their guns (“clinging”, if you will) and refusing to budge any concession that abortion is wrong is not a solution either. Then the accusations of “murderer” and “fascist” get thrown around and it’s all downhill from there.

      One other consideration is that any working bipartisan solution will have to be reached without any involvement from organized religion. Since most if not all Christian denominations still flag premarital sex as evil, the right has a tendency to insist that abstinence as the one and only solution. Since I’m still young enough to remember what it’s like to be a teenager, I can say with certainty that such an approach is doomed to be a miserable failure.

      Reply
    • R

      Rob MisekJul 25, 2008 at 12:10 pm

      I would like to speak to this woman.

      I would say that all crimes are illegal because society wants fewer of them. People still choose to commit them at risk to their freedom for any number of purely selfish reasons.

      I would ask her if her support of choice was extended to all choices or if she intended to lend specific support to abortion.

      I would remind her that women aren’t penalized at work or school for pregnancy regardless of their irresponsible actions that caused it.

      I would remind her that there are many loving families that would adopt any children that she would so callously murder during this epidemic of irresponsibility.

      Women who abort and anyone who supports them are murderers.

      Reply