Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Abortion: Roe v. Wade is not the issue

"I am pro-choice." Tell that to a conservative and you better expect a fist in your face. And I don't just mean that as a hyperbole. Tell a feminist you're pro-life and you might as well be a sex trafficker advocating for your heinous profession. Let's face it, the topic of abortion, among a few hot button issues, causes people to engage in judgmental and even violent discourses. Some people view abortion as murder. Some view it as a regretful but circumstantially necessary procedure. And some view it a disposable solution to a problem/hindrance. Regardless of where one stands on this issue, most of us will agree that abortion is a terribly sad reality.

Most pro-choice advocates, despite conservatives' perceptions, do not look at abortion with a "sparkle" in their eyes. Indeed, there are a minority of our population that believe abortion is an act of a woman's freedom and right to do whatever she pleases with her body, without any regard for the life inside her womb. These people are pro-abortion, not pro-choice. There is a difference between the two groups (I will reserve the latter point for a future post).

When it comes to the question of whether or not Roe v. Wade should be overturned, it would be an understatement to say that pro-choice and pro-life advocates sharply disagree. Caught in the emotion of their threatened convictions, these people spew insults at each other that are so offensive, demeaning, and hurtful that the very topic of abortion becomes a peripheral. They miss the common ground they could be standing on to redirect all of their energies and passion to tackle what I believe is the heart of the issue: the existence of abortion, regardless of its legality. The truth is, abortion is a reality that exists outside of Roe v. Wade. Historians tell us that abortion rates before the legalization of abortion were comparable to that of today. I should point out, however, that there has been an increase in abortion among teens, though there is a parallel here with the sharp increase of teenage pregnancy.

I am afraid, dear conservatives, that banning abortion will have very little affect on stopping or decreasing abortion. The issue of abortion goes much deeper than its politics; it is centered on conviction. Conviction is driven by our values, morals, and ethics. However, conviction is not without circumstantial and/or environmental influence. Nearly 60% of women who had an abortion are economically disadvantaged. 86% of women who had an abortion are unmarried (Get more info on abortion at When presented with poverty or the difficulties of single-parenting, some of these women will remorsefully lay their convictions aside and get an abortion. I should caution the reader that I am oversimplifying the many components that play into the decision-making of a woman considering the termination of her pregnancy.

The key to reducing abortion, then, is to engage a person's conviction and her external influences. For instance, nearly half of women who have abortions do not use contraceptives. Encouraging and empowering them to use contraceptives will significantly reduce abortion. For economically disadvantaged women, let's provide them with the resources they need to keep that child, not only until birth but also after birth. In the school system, let's educate our children about the value of being a human being, no matter what stage of human development. If pro-life advocates would redirect their energies and monies to tackling abortion from the bottom up (convictions, education, circumstances, etc.), and not top down (politics), I contend that we will reduce abortion to levels unprecedented in our modern history.

Perhaps I am being pessimistic, but I do not believe that Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned. And frankly, it is not necessary to reduce abortion. So instead of ridiculing and condemning pro-choice advocates, lobbying politicians to ban abortion, and spending money on anti-abortion paraphernalia, I, a pro-life follower of Jesus, would rather love and counsel the women who had an abortion, educate children on healthy sexuality, and vote for politicians who care about reducing abortion, whether they're liberal or conservative.

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