Last week I saw that Vice President Mike Pence was the tie breaker in a bill to de-fund health clinics. Yes, there is much more detail, and I will expand on the implications, but let that sink in. The GOP and our Vice President voted to de-fund a resource for low income people to receive vital health care, which in many cases saves their lives.
Breast cancer screenings, which saves lives.
GYN exams, which saves lives.
General physical exams, which saves lives.
Prenatal checkups, which saves double lives.
All because they offer the constitutionally protected right to choose. They offer abortions, and they counsel women on all their options, when it comes to pregnancy.
The crux of this issue, is that the pro-life supporters don’t want this to be an option, and I get the sense that they think pro-choice supporters want abortions. It is so far from the truth. Abortions have existed for centuries. They were just way more dangerous, in the past. What happens when abortions are not legal or accessible, is that those with money can afford to find a private doctor to perform the abortion off the books, and it still happens. Low income people resort to “back alley” abortions, which are incredibly dangerous. It still happens. Restricting access doesn’t prevent abortions from happening. It prevents access to safe abortions from happening.
Making them illegal will not help protect life, it will only endanger it. If pro-life supporters really want to protect life, they need to stop forcing women into back alleys, and attempting to control their bodies. Controlling people will not sustain as a solution, and it does not respect the equality, that we must strive for, if we will ever have a community built on respect and support of each other.
So I wanted to address some of the dichotomies, that I find exist in the stance of being pro-life, and how we can really protect life. It doesn’t start with outlawing or restrict access to health clinics, where abortions are provided. It can result in the lessening of women seeking abortions, and that should be the true goal. Preventing people from being able to have a safe abortion won’t solve this. Vilifying women who seek abortions won’t solve this. Protecting women, absolutely will.
Understanding the Reasons
There are many reasons a woman may find herself in the situation of becoming pregnant and seeking an abortion. Out of the many reasons a woman could seek an abortion, many of those are situations where they have suffered trauma, are in an abusive situation, or do not have full control over decisions affecting their body and the decisions that would surround a pregnancy.
As long as women are not equal to men, in the value of their lives, they will always have the potential to have their body forced into a pregnancy, and could then feel forced into no other choice but an abortion. The interesting part of this debate, is that men are fundamentally making these laws, which govern the rights of women. They always have. Women are not proportional in their representation in government. At no point in a man’s life, does any law intervene and say what he can do with his body. At no point, does he need permission to control the body.
People argue, that when a woman becomes pregnant it is no longer just her body. Well, it still is her body. We wouldn’t tell a woman how to raise a child, and we shouldn’t be controlling her choice to have a child. We also shouldn’t be forcing her to submit to a hospital clergy, before she can abort an ectopic pregnancy, threatening her own life and/or even when a pregnancy is no longer viable. It’s hard to grapple with the concept that we must value the woman in equal measure, that her right to control her own body must be an imperative.
While we can argue the merits of that again and again, we have many ways to lessen the need and demand a woman might have for seeking an abortion. If we can fix some of the socio-economic divides, which can increase the demand for abortions, we can save many lives. Of women, and potentially lives that might not be aborted. We can provide better resources and options for women.
Welfare and the True Adoption Case
Many believe it should be as simple as giving the child up for adoption. I encourage Mike Pence, to visit Child Protective Services, and meet with some social workers, particularly those working with kids in the welfare system. Spend a couple of days learning about how many cases they have, and how strapped they are for funding and how much red tape leaves kids neglected and often abused. Work to fix that system, so the choice to give a kid up for adoption can become a more community strong choice, that is a better option than abortion. It won’t completely negate any need for a woman to ever seek an abortion, but I guarantee you it would decrease the demand.
Too Young to Learn
I know pro-life supporters don’t want to have condoms in the schools, or to teach kids about protected sex, but there is math. Statistics show a direct correlation to teaching kids sex education, with a decrease in teen pregnancy. Do this, and encourage parents to talk to their kids, and you will have educated teenagers, who will be less likely to get pregnant. I get that it’s uncomfortable, but it’s the reality of life.
You can tell a kid to not go in the water.
If they know how to swim, and they disobey you, they won’t drown.
If they weren’t taught how to swim, just in case, they will drown.
That’s the flaw in trying to not teach kids the truth. Teaching sex ed has the added bonus of preventing STDs, like HIV and AIDS. We must be brave, and have the uncomfortable conversation with our kids, so that they are armed with the best asenal possible. The truth. The truth about protected sex. The truth about rape and date rape. The truth about mental health counseling. They truth about options, and choices.
Those with Power Must Give it Back
It’s the struggle for equality. Feminism, social resistance, etc. The struggle is rooted in a group with more power, than that which they are entitled to. The social imperative of equality, is founded in no one group having more power than another. Any social construct where a group of people are denied power, and those with more are able to abuse that excess, will never be sustainable. It will always result in a struggle, for a redistribution of power.
If pro-life supporters really want to prevent pregnancies from rape, they need to start championing every effort for preventing and punishing sexual assault and rape. Get rape kits tested, enforce strict penalties for rape and assault, and remove statutes of limitations. The statutes vary from state to state, and I don’t get why they even exist, let alone why they vary. Why does a rapist get to walk, because the victim wasn’t able to come forward in time? What if it happened as a child, and because of the trauma they blocked it out? What if they don’t remember until decades later? What if they are in an abusive relationship? What if they are being threatened? What if the rape happened in one state, where the limitation is less than another? Darn the luck? Really?
Why is a woman being faulted, for not coming forth in a timely manner, when it comes to having to muster up the strength to fight through a court case? To fight a court case over the rape she already had to muster up the strength to survive and recover from? No one was protecting the woman, when that happened. And the woman still isn’t being protected, in the judicial system. The accused rapist is protected, and in Congress if the woman becomes pregnant, the pregnancy is more protected than the woman. Congress is voting to cut the funding that would directly help the victims of sexual assault. The woman is abused, injured, used as a host and discarded. That is not equality, and that is not valuing the life of the woman.
In preventing rape and assault, sex education programs should also include curriculum aimed at teaching boys how to be men, and how to respect women. No means no. Only yes means yes. It’s not all on the woman, to dress a certain way, drink only a certain amount, only stay out to a certain time, because she can still be raped. It’s not about any of those things, but that’s what women get told, and it’s missing the point entirely.
Men must stand up to other men, who objectify and attempt to dominate women. They need to call them out, when they brag about assaulting or raping women. If a girl or woman is raped, the last thing she will ever need, is a doctor lying to her, a Congressman or anyone else attempting to control her body. It will just be like another kind of rape. A possession over the control of her autonomy and her body. You can support funding for mental health resources, for rape and assault victims. That might possibly help some to feel that adoption is something they could handle, and that abortion might not be necessary. I can’t promise that, but as a woman I can only imagine it would help, rather than exacerbate the situation.
I can’t ever promise that women won’t seek abortions, even if you support all the above.
You can help increase the amount and quality of options and alternative choices a woman has, to unintentionally becoming pregnant, and to seeking an abortion. At the end of the day, if she feels that her only option is an abortion, she will seek one. Making it unavailable or illegal will only make it more dangerous for her. If you are ok with that, because you disapprove of her decision, you can’t truly claim to value life. You fail to value and protect hers. You would have championed protecting her life, while she was in the woom. You must continue to protect that life and it’s equality through her life.
The pro-life supporters, including Vice President Mike Pence, believe that funding clinics, which also provide abortions, is wrong. Either they don’t know, or don’t care, that the funding isn’t used to fund abortions. They don’t want to allow abortions to occur, or be able to happen, even though Roe v. Wade has been ruled before the Supreme Court, making it unconstitutional to outlaw a woman’s right to abortion access.
I wonder how de-funding clinics, or cutting off foreign aid to clinics, where abortions are discussed and available, isn’t in direct violation of that constitutional ruling. What is the purpose of having a constitutional amendment, protecting a right, if Congress can pass laws and deny funding for any entity practicing something under the protection of that amendment? I’m not a lawyer, so I’m sure someone can tell me why it’s not that simple, but it seems like it should be.
Regardless of those legal and political battles, the reality remains. Making them illegal or unavailable won’t stop that need. It just makes it more dangerous.
If pro-life supporters truly value life, they must value the woman as equal to the life they are trying to protect, in her woom. By attacking a woman’s right to the privacy and control of her own body and health care, the value of her life has become less, and not equal. The unborn life is being protected, and the woman is not. Once that life is born, it runs the risk of ending up in cycles of abuse, in the foster and welfare system of our country.
If pro-life supporters truly want to help decrease the need and demand for abortions, I wish they would start championing the efforts that truly will help to lessen the need for a woman to seek an abortion.
Instead of protesting outside clinics, adopt and foster. Take care of the kids in our welfare system. Instead of cutting welfare funding, increase it.
Instead of refusing to have comprehensive education for our kids, to teach them protection and how to prevent a pregnancy too soon in their young lives, be brave. Be willing to educate our kids, and prepare them, so that if they do go in the water, they don’t drown.
Instead of protecting the rights of an alleged attacker, protect the victim. Make testing rape kits a priority. Increase funding for clinics, including Planned Parenthood. Including mental health funding, particularly for rape victims.
Instead of leading with your religion, as why women should do as they are told, decide what you really want. Do you want to force your faith on others, or do you want to preserve and protect as many lives as possible?
We can help protect women, and pregnancies. We can prevent the need for so many abortions, not by limiting access, but by preventing the situations that result in a woman becoming pregnant under conditions that are not conducive to her carrying a pregnancy. Whatever the reason, it is her reason. It always will be her’s to make. The best of what you can do is support her. Or you can fight her, though I will never understand how you can bring yourself to do that. She is not the enemy.
The situations, which result in women ending up with an unintentional pregnancy, are not caused by her alone. They won’t be solved by her alone, either, but let’s start by not attacking her. Let’s start by ensuring she is protected, supported and given as many options as possible. If you support all the best resources, she may just be that much less likely to see the option of abortion. As least, if it is accessible, we are protecting the woman, and at some point that needs to be enough. After all, she was a life you would have protected, and you still should now.