When I hear those who oppose abortion expressing themselves with such force and confidence, I wonder what they know about the lives of the women they are condemning. I spent yesterday volunteering as a chaplain in the recovery room of a Planned Parenthood clinic. I don't think I met a single woman there who did not see her abortion as a life-changing experience. Many women were there because they were physically unable to bear another child due to high blood pressure, spinal deformities, and other issues which made childbearing against their doctor's orders. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of faithful Catholic women praying that their priests would be able to help them heal from this experience.
After women leave the recovery room, they have a family planning consultation to help make sure they do not have another unwanted pregnancy. Only 5% of Planned Parenthood's work involves abortion. The other 95% is directed toward family planning and women's reproductive health. The goal is to reduce the need for abortions to zero. We can all pray that this goal is achieved.
It would be helpful if the federal government would join us in this work, instead of limiting federal funding to abstinence-only sex education, which has proved to be a remarkable failure and a waste of funds that could have been better spent to reduce the need for abortions.
I would like to see us abandon the polarizing phrases pro-life and pro-choice. Instead, how about using a phrase we can all agree on: pro-family. This would include all aspects of nurturing and sustaining families, instead of focusing only on the abortion issue, which is a small part of the total picture, and a great distraction from what could be a productive discourse.
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