Monday, June 15, 2009

Does common ground in the abortion debate lie in pregnancy prevention?  

Can those on either side of the abortion debate find common ground? Reverend Debra W. Haffner, of the Religious Institute, seems to think so. Her piece on the Women's Media Center highlights the area where she thinks we can find this common ground, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. While discussing Dr. Tiller's death, she explains:

It's also an opportunity to reach across the divide on abortion to forge ahead toward a goal that surely is common ground—to reduce the need for abortion by reducing the incidence of unwanted pregnancy. And it's an opportunity to uphold the moral agency of women in making the decisions that are right for their individual circumstances. That's how we can honor George Tiller, whose motto was "trust women."

Reverend Haffner believes that we need to be focusing on the cause of high abortion rates, which is unintended pregnancies. She believes that through comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives, and not through attempting to pass restrictions on abortion rights, we can effectively reduce the abortion rate, leading to happier and healthier women.

So here is my suggestion: Let's stop talking about reducing the number of abortions as a goal in itself. Such talk obscures what should be our principal objective—reducing unintended pregnancies—and leads to anti-women and anti-teen measures that would place restrictions on abortion access. Let's keep talking about reducing unintended pregnancies. This is not only the better public health position; it is a faithful and moral one as well.

Unfortunately, Reverend Haffner's position is not one taken by most activists. Pro-lifers seem to be too wrapped up in the teachings of their churches to be comfortable with promoting sex education and contraceptive use, and pro-choicers seem reluctant to find common ground in the debate, as if it were to mean we would be admitting defeat. But I think there is a way to find common solutions without compromising our fight for reproductive justice. Abortion rights can remain solid and intact while we work to reduce the abortion rate through pregnancy prevention.

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3 comments: to “ Does common ground in the abortion debate lie in pregnancy prevention?

  • June 15, 2009 at 6:36 PM  

    Many anti-choice conservatives are also against contraception, so that's pretty much out the window there. Also, many anti-choice conservatives don't think it's a man's responsibility to be thinking about pregnancy prevention, while at the same time thinking that we silly dumb women can't be trusted to take care of it ourselves either. We are either too dumb, or too whorish. A lot of the anti-choice debate is based on wanting to punish liberal women for their sexual practices (having sex out of wedlock, or not wanting to be pregnant every 9 months like "God intended" after one is married). If we have pregnancy prevention, they won't be able to blame liberals or dumb women anymore! Who will be their scapegoat? They secretly want us to have unwanted pregnancies so they can whine about us. Besides - conservatives are so against progress or agreement of any kind - no matter what kind of good it will do - just for the sake of argument and the sake of being against liberals no matter what.

  • June 15, 2009 at 6:50 PM  

    It's true. For most pro-lifers (though they won't admit it), this whole thing isn't about abortion rates, but rather about controlling women and their sexuality.

  • January 25, 2010 at 7:12 PM  

    While I do think trying to educate people on pregnany prevention, there's only so much you can do. Mistakes happen. A condom breaks, you forget to take your Pill. Obviously people getting abortions weren't aiming to get pregnant in the first place.