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Abortion: A Logical Approach
[Most of this is at least four years old--I just decided to make it into a blog post, so I wouldn't have to dig through my archives every time this issue came up.]
Outlawing abortion at any level--municipal, state, or federal--will ultimately prove to be ineffective. The abortion trade will simply be driven to other areas. Tour buses will offer "medical tour packages" that will take women over the Canadian and Mexican borders to have abortions. Or maybe some rich doctors will pony up the money for a small yacht or cruise ship... load it up, cruise out into international waters... and come back to shore a few days later. And then, of course, there's the old favorite, the "back alley" approach... mail-order concoctions of all times, "herbal remedies" forgotten in the 19th century will return to the back pages of "Rolling Stone" magazine.
The only truly effective way to reduce abortions (and I mean "reduce" [realistic and logical], not "eliminate" [unrealistic and illogical]) is to reduce the number of women who need abortions.
Following that line of thought... pre-pubescent girls and older women who have been through menopause generally don't seek out abortions. Most doctors would agree that the women who seek out abortions are exclusively of "childbearing age." These same doctors would probably also agree that the women of childbearing age who seek out abortions... do so because they are pregnant. Women of childbearing age who are not pregnant, generally do not seek out abortions.
It is also my understanding that abortions generally terminate pregnancies. Women who are pregnant, and want to stay pregnant... generally do not seek out abortions.
Therefore... I hope we can all agree on the following:
Most, if not all, of the women who seek abortions, are of childbearing age, and are pregnant.
To my knowledge... there are currently no effective means of keeping a pre-pubescent girl "young" for a longer amount of time; that is, to stave off puberty, maturity. Likewise, there are currently no effective means of hastening a woman's advancement into menopause, ending her "childbearing years." So, women have no control over this, and neither do their partners (male or female). So... maybe we can also agree on the following:
Women of childbearing age that do not wish to risk getting pregnant, should probably abstain from sexual activity. If they can't or won't abstain from sexual activity, they should probably employ some means of birth control, and/or insist that their male partners employ some means of birth control.
Why? Well, I suppose that we can agree...
If we can reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, we will reduce the need for abortion providers and methods of all kinds.
I feel the best way to accomplish this reduction of unwanted pregnancies is through a series of "safety nets." No single solution works for everyone; there is no "one-size-fits-all" cure. So, I would propose the following series of three "safety nets":
- Promotion of Abstention
Abstaining from sexual activity is the only, truly 100% effective way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy--there's simply no way to deny this. Abstention should be promoted not only to girls, but boys as well. There are a myriad of reasons, lessons, ideas etc. that can be taught and promoted to our young people, when it comes to abstaining from sex; many of these reasons and ideas are secular, non-religious. It should be very easy to promote abstention in our public schools, without relying on one religious doctrine or another. Religious and/or spiritual reasons for abstention can be taught in private schools, churches, synagogues and other religious gathering places... and of course, the private home.
I think it's important to realize that we must also be very clear about what we are recommending these folks abstain FROM. As tough as it might be for some of the more "uptight" parents, you will have to address things such as: oral sex... mutual masturbation or "heavy petting"... same-sex relationships... and even anal sex. All of these things carry risks with them ("disease" being just one of them) and yet provide little or no opportunities for unwanted pregnancies. Agreed?
The biggest problem with only promoting abstention, however, is that it has proven to be largely ineffective at curbing sexual activity (not necessarily intercourse).
For some youngsters, teaching and promoting sexual abstention will be enough; for others, it will not. So for those youngersters, we need...
- Access to Birth Control
Some youngsters--and adults, as well--choose to engage in sexual activity for reasons other than procreation. If these people employ some means of birth control it will reduce their risk of unwanted pregnancy... and in turn, reduce the risk that somebody will need an abortion. So, logically, ensuring that these folks have access to birth control, and know how to use it properly, will reduce the number of women seeking out abortions.
I think it is important that condoms be available in our public schools, through the school nurse or nurse practitioner. I don't think this needs to be promoted--there's no need for the nurse to keep a bucket of condoms outside her office door. We're talking about schoolkids here; if only three or four kids are handed a condom by the school nurse during the first day of the school year, the entire student body will be spreading the news over lunch that same day. I also think a way should be devised to bring parents into the discussion. Maybe a discreet email or phone call from the school nurse?
In any case, regular use of birth control, by those that choose not to abstain from sexual activity, will reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Sadly, no method of birth control is 100% effective, which makes it wise to have available...
- Access to Emergency Contraceptives, Abortifacients, etc.
Condoms break. Women/girls may forget to take their birth control pills. And really--what are the chances that a woman who is about to be sexually assaulted will tell her assailant, "Look, if you're gonna do this, can you at least put on a condom so I don't get pregnant?!?" (That's actually happened once, that I know of!)
RU-486, "Plan B," whatever you choose to call it... provides a relatively safe, quick, and easy way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. It's just as safe--if not safer--than Viagra. Viagra-related deaths have since been demystified, but the numbers haven't really changed.
People have tried all sorts of things to put George Tiller out of business--most of them legal, a few of them were illegal and even immoral. The only strategy that's never been tried is eliminating his market, his customer base. Cut into that heavily enough, and he'll find something more lucrative to do.
I've just given you three great ways to do that!