Once again we have the Legislature pushing its 20-week anti-abortion bill. Luckily the Governor intends to veto it, but there is always occasion to stress the dreadful problems that such a restrictive bill will cause. Let’s start with three ideas:
First, the term “pro-abortion” has no place in productive discourse. No one is pro-abortion; no one thinks that an abortion is some kind of neat liberating experience. The term is “pro-choice.” No woman wants to find herself in the position of considering one. We needn’t discuss whether it’s “her fault” for being in this predicament; there are many reasons, and no one can judge this for another, especially in a society that presently seems determined to chop away as many as possible of the supports that enable a woman without other resources to raise a child decently as a single mother.
Second, the proposed bill will INCREASE abortions, since it cuts away many of the resources that keep unwanted children from being conceived. Planned Parenthood exists for the chief purpose of enabling women to limit their family size. This is the organization’s reason for being, and cutting funding to PP has only the result of keeping women of small means from getting the contraception and other health services they need – and leading to more unwanted pregnancies. Readers should be reminded, if necessary, that NO government funding goes to PP’s relatively few abortions.
Third, whether anyone likes it or not, there will be abortions. But we already know how to cut down on them, and legislation doesn’t work. If you doubt me, check the internet on advice as to how to do it, and you will be appalled at the measures that desperate women will resort to. We do know what works:
1. Make contraception easily available to anyone who wants it. Yes, even if it’s your carefully reared fourteen-year-old, who you may be surprised to find has a bit of secret life after all. Locking the kid in his/her bedroom is not practical for long. Cost-free is even better; communities have found that providing free contraception has made a large difference in their need for single-mother support.
2. Provide accurate, age-appropriate sex instruction in the school system from the earliest years. No, this does not imply consent to loose behavior; it simply acknowledges facts. Nor does it imply a disregard for moral sexual values. The one doesn’t rule out the other.
3. Remove restrictions on abortion, thereby doing away with an industry that profits viciously from desperate women. There will be many fewer abortions than we have now.
Countries that have followed these principles (e.g. many European countries) have seen abortion rates plummet. Doubters can easily check the relevant statistics of various nations of the sort we like to identify with. I would so like to see the United States deal with this in a way that really works.
Dr. Karen L. Black,