February 17, 2012

The Abortion Debate

A panel of men discussing the type birth control that women are responsible for.

I inadvertently sparked an abortion debate on Facebook a couple of weeks ago when I posted a link to an article in which a Republican presidential hopeful said that not only would he work to make abortions illegal but that women should view pregnancies that are the result of a rape as a "gift from God." People have very, very opinionated views on this topic, as can be seen by the 69 very informed comments that post garnered on my wall.

One of the people commenting later posted an unrelated link to a collection of interviews from abortion providers, asking them about their most memorable patients. They talked about the very religious/anti-abortion patients who were getting, that's right, abortions. Women who ran anti-abortion groups with their schools, pro-life parents bringing their young daughters in for abortions, even one woman who brought her (black) maid in for an abortion and sat in the lobby passing out anti-abortion pamphlets to the rest of the waiting patients made the memorable lists. Incredible stories.

The people most opposed to abortion in these interviews, the ones getting abortions, were convinced that their abortions were necessary. They were convinced that the abortion providers and other patients could never understand their reason, and some even called the other patients terrible names even though they were getting the exact same procedure. They did not thank the doctor who performed the procedure and some got snotty, as if it was the doctor's fault the woman was getting an abortion. Some of these women getting procedures they did not "believe in" blamed the abortion providers to their faces and said hurtful things (some of these women were turned away). But it made me wonder why people who are vehemently anti-abortion get abortions. Could it possibly be because they find themselves in the same position many women find themselves? None of the women in these interviews said their pregnancies were the result of a rape (and certainly none of them were life-saving abortions because they occurred in clinics), which leads me to believe these same women are having the same kinds of sex that every other woman has, with the same types of partners, and the same types of accidents occur.

However, people who are anti-abortion are generally (not always, please don't harp on this word) religious, believing abortions should not be performed on moral grounds for any reason. But these same people also generally believe that pre-marital sex is a sin, and a good portion of them believe that using contraception of any kind (which absolutely baffles me) is also a sin. However, my experience has shown me that even religious women have pre-marital sex: the Catholic basketball star in my high school class got knocked up our junior year because she had unprotected pre-marital sex. The women and girls who do so are obeying a very basic, very common and very powerful urge, and possibly some are giving in to boyfriends they don't want to lose. Now, a pregnancy is really the only sure indication that a woman has had sex, so I wonder if some of these anti-abortion women get abortions to save face. They can't exactly preach abstinence if they're knocked up and unmarried, can they? So they get abortions so that no one has to  know there was ever a pregnancy or even ever pre-marital sex. Their purity remains, their future husbands will never have to know, and they won't have to give up any position they've made for themselves. The only other options are to carry on with the pregnancy and have a child out of wedlock or marry the child's father immediately. However, these women are often in the same social and financial situations as the majority of the women who get abortions. They are not in a position to get married, do not have enough money to support a pregnancy or child, and would be condemned by family members and close friends for their actions. An abortion is a great way to save face, protect their reputations and allow them to carry on with their way of life.

Maybe anti-abortion women are less likely to have a second abortion, or maybe they're more likely to acknowledge their actions and tlearn to ake precautions, like using birth control the next time they have sex. But I also wonder if they might be more likely to get a first abortion.

The good part about that collection of interviews was that one provider shared a story of a woman who changed her mind after her abortion, acknowledging that if she could get an abortion she could no longer condemn other women for making the same choice. Gives me hope that people will eventually realize that abortion is a choice that needs to be on the table, for whatever reason. Which is why access to and knowledge about birth control is very important for men and women.

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