I had to unfriend someone on Facebook the other day because they posted something about how if women get to have the choice to abort a baby they don’t want, then men should have the choice to walk away from a baby they don’t want and not pay child support. It’s exactly this kind of crap that makes it impossible for me (a Christian who could never, personally get an abortion) to ever align myself with the anti abortion movement.
I get that you don’t like abortion, I’m not a big fan of it myself. No one likes abortion. But maybe instead of trying to shame women who might consider one, or punish them for getting them, or even making them illegal, wouldn’t it be a better idea to think about why a woman might want an abortion, and try to eliminate those reasons?
For example, one of the major reasons many women choose not to carry a pregnancy to term is the fact that legally the father of that baby is required to do very little to help care for it. He is required to pay a small percentage of his pay in child support, and that’s it. He’s not required to help provide physical care for the child, he’s not required to make any emotional investment in the child, and in most cases, even if he flakes out on the one thing he is required to do, he rarely sees any negative consequences for it. So do you really think that advocating for less paternal responsibility is going to make more women “choose life”? (I won’t get into the issues of how terminating a pregnancy and walking away from a living, breathing child are not even close to equivalent)
Lets think of some other reasons a woman might want to terminate a pregnancy, and how we could eliminate those concerns.
Fear of poverty
Here’s an idea, why don’t we raise the minimum wage, make education more accessible and high quality (this does not mean more standardized tests in schools), and eliminate the wage gap. Also, making sure everyone in the US has access to quality health care would be a good start. At the very least, we should be better about making men pay child support for their kids when the mother has chosen to pursue it.
Fear of having to deal with an ex who might be harmful
Women know when it’s in their best interest not to include their ex. Rarely have I known of a woman who keeps her kids from a good man (far more often I see women going nuts trying to force an asshole to be a dad to her kids because of this myth that kids need a father, any father, in their lives.) Maybe we could give moms some autonomy to do what she feels is best for herself and her child, and not shame women for choosing not to pursue child support. If a man really does want to be a dad, and is a good person, he can pursue claiming his parental rights on his own. It is not a woman’s responsibility to hand him his rights.
Fear of shame
This is one anti abortion folks need to be reminded EVERY SINGLE HOUR OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. Shaming women for getting pregnant in a less than ideal situation causes abortions. Shaming single mothers causes abortions. Judgement, lies, and bigotry over single pregnancy and single parenting causes abortions. Stop it. Right now.
Fear she will never be happy/find love/be successful
It never ceases to amaze me how we as a society can bring our children up with the belief that an unplanned, single, or too young pregnancy is the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to them, and that if it happens your whole life will be over, parenting your baby will be miserable, no one will love you again, and you’ll never be happy or successful or have fun ever again until you die, and then we are shocked when a woman reacts to an unplanned pregnancy as if it is a threat to her life. We live in a culture that thinks it okay to shoot home intruders with automatic weapons to protect your tv. You think terminating a pregnancy that’s going to completely destroy your life is somehow different?
Here’s an idea, instead of telling kids that pregnancy will ruin their lives forever, lets teach them that it makes things harder, but that success, happiness, and love is still totally possible if you’re willing to work extra hard for it. Lets emphasize the struggle without making it sound like a baby is a curse that should be eliminated the same way we find it acceptable to eliminate a tv thief. Just an idea.
Lack of support
This ties in with shame and fear of her life being ruined. If your daughter comes to you and says she’s pregnant, for God’s sake, support her. You think telling her she’s a slut and to lie in the bed she’s made is going to make her want to keep the baby? You think it’s going to make the situation go away? What good does it do? Taught her a lesson, now she’s pregnant, alone, and she feels like shit. Good for you. And the baby will suffer too, awesome. Great parenting, right there (this goes for parents of older kids too, I was 23 when I got pregnant, and thank God for my supportive family!)
Furthermore, bring up your sons to take responsibility for the actions of his penis. Teach him that if he gets a girl pregnant that he still needs to be a dad even if he doesn’t want to be with the mother of his child. We need to build a culture of supporting parents and their children.
The adoption industry
This is huge, and hard to hear, but adoption is a hard choice for many women to make. Many have responded to this by setting up “clinics” with the purpose of manipulating women into choosing adoption when that’s not what they actually want. These clinics are, of course, connected to for profit adoption agencies, so of course they have a big interest in coercing women into adoptions they don’t want. There are other sinister reasons behind this practice that I won’t get into now, but profit is probably the biggest motivator. This practice needs to stop. Women who choose adoption should do so of her own free will without coercion. People who wish to adopt children should think about all the born children who need loving homes and stop trying to farm babies through reduced access to birth control and “options counseling”.
She’s just not ready for a baby now, or ever
Maybe, just maybe, we should give people as much access to means of preventing pregnancy in the first place. And I’m not just talking about birth control for women, I’m talking about giving men some options beside condoms, sterilization, or abstinence as well. Birth control for men does exist and is being used in other parts of the world. Even more is in development. I think we need to ask why our country is not on the ball with giving men the ability to take control over their reproductive futures. Part of the issue is, I think, the knowledge that if we give men more responsibility over preventing pregnancy, they won’t have as much room to play the victim if an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Also, I think it’s been easy for the FDA to mess around with pumping hormones into women’s bodies, because women’s bodies don’t matter. In the end, dumping all the responsibility for contraception onto women is just another way of telling us all that the consequences for sex are solely a woman’s burden to bear. But I would like to see a future where both my son and my daughter have wide varieties of ways to take control of their reproductive futures. And maybe, just maybe, if men take a little more responsibility, it will be easier to give them a little more rights.
Those are just a few ideas, I’m sure you all could think of a lot more. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live in a world where abortion is available but no one wants or needs one, than a world where lots of people want abortions but no one can get one. I think that’s the fundamental difference between a person who is pro life and a person who is anti abortion. A pro life person is working towards a world in which no one wants or needs an abortion. An anti abortion person just wants to make abortion illegal.