I was raised Catholic and participated in Pro-Life activities with my mother; I recall walking door-to-door handing out pamphlets containing gruesome photographs of aborted fetuses.Like many people, my black-and-white understanding of abortion blurred considerably during college and beyond. Learning about the history of contraception in the United States and the current state of women's reproductive health world wide has broadened my perspective such that the basic concept that many people focus on solely-the "life" of the fetus- is now only one small piece of a very complex puzzle that we refer to so simply as the "abortion issue".
I do wonder if "pro life" people often think more broadly about the related issues- because they are rarely addressed in public debate where the focus is so often simply the number of abortions recorded in any given time period and what efforts are currently underway to decrease or defent access to clinic- do they ever think about how many unwanted pregnancies are PREVENTED in that same clinic, for example? Do they ever hear that there are fewer abortions during times of economic prosperity, and that many women seeking abortions are married women who already have children and cannot afford another?
And the polar opposite of a "pro-life" position, really, would be a "pro-abortion" position- a person who said you MUST have an abortion. If "pro-life" means you MUST carry a pregnancy to term, then "pro-abortion" would mean you MUST terminate a pregnancy (or perhaps you could appeal to a panel of judges who might allow you to continue the pregnancy if they decide to allow it). Pro-Abortion would not allow the individual woman to choose- they would gather enough signatures/votes/judges to make mandatory abortions the law of the land. And they would picket OB clinics, I suppose. I wonder if "pro life" people ever really consider that scenario; because it seems to me that is what they have been doing to the rest of the country. And by that standard, "pro-choice" starts to sound pretty moderate, doesn't it?
I would love to see people come together and really talk about the social, economic, and cultural forces that contribute to unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Really, really listen to people in whose shoes we have never walked. (I was once at a parent group with parents of children with Down's Syndrome and they began talking about whether they would have had an abortion had they known early in their pregnancy that their child would have Down's and what that would mean- every single parent said s/he would have elected to have an abortion- it was a powerful moment & very instructive) Instead of repeating the same arguments over and over- I would like to have a real HONEST discussion and come to some conclusions as to what we can really expect of one another as human beings. For example; What rights to privacy would we be willing to give up? Really?
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