Against Abortion? Fight For Women’s Rights
Why pro-lifers should fight for preventative measures
By Megan Hoff
One of the most controversial and political hot-button topics—abortion—has taken the country by storm (again). Trump’s State of the Union Address and New York’s new abortion bill (which, contrary to many pro-lifer Facebook posts, does not allow late-term abortions for whoever wants one) have continued to anger people on both sides of the issue. For those who are pro-life: even if abortion is outlawed, the reality is that women will still get them through much less safe methods (plus how well did Prohibition work out?). The best way to stop abortions from happening is to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place and provide women with the support they need when they do get pregnant. These are the changes we need to make to protect women, regardless of whether abortion is legal:
● Comprehensive sexual education in all schools. Numerous studies have shown that abstinence-only teachings do not lower teen pregnancies. Schools in the Netherlands start their comprehensive sex education as early as the age of four, working their way from crushes and body image to beginning discussions about contraception options at age 11. The rate of teen pregnancy in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world. According to the World Bank Group, the Netherlands averages four births per 1,000 teens ages 15-19, compared to 20 per 1,000 in the United States. Lower teen birth rates mean lower abortion rates: 11 per 1,000 teenagers aged 15-19 had abortions in the United States in 2013; whereas the Netherlands averaged 7 abortions per 1,000 ages 15-44.
● Access to contraception, including Plan-B, is essential. The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies is to use two methods of protection. Even then, accidents happen, which is why accessible and affordable morning-after pills are so important.
● Continued funding for Planned Parenthood is another necessity. They do far more than simply perform abortions. Planned Parenthood provides accessible health care from STI testing to cancer screenings, not to mention various contraceptive options.
● Rapists shouldn’t be allowed to fight for custody of a child conceived through assault. Seven states do not have laws protecting “rape victims from custody fights,” according to CNN: Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota. Granting rapists visitation rights forces the victim to interact with the person who violated them, perpetuating the trauma cycle.
● If women are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, better maternity leave is needed. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires that employers provide at least 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave in the United States. However, the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t require paid maternity leave. According to CNN, Bulgaria allows the longest paid leave in the world, with 59 weeks. Although this isn’t in full, Bulgaria provides one of the best pay rates as well; when averaged out, 46 of the 59 weeks are fully paid.
● End the stigma around single motherhood and/or unmarried, pregnant women. 85% of women who have abortions are unmarried, according to a 2015 U.S. Centers for Disease Control report. Along with this, the minimum wage should be increased. Many families struggle to get by with two incomes, let alone one. Let’s not forget how expensive giving birth in a hospital is. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, an average stay for a hospital delivery costs $3,500.
● Push for a birth control pill for men. Oral contraceptives were originally designed for men, anyway. However, since men don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, their tolerance for dealing with side effects from taking the pill is lower. Studies have shown that men are increasingly interested in oral contraceptives, as their only options are condoms, vasectomies, and the “pull-out” method (which is another problem). If men have more contraceptive options available, unplanned pregnancies will drop significantly, according to Contraception Journal.
No one wants to have abortions; they’re not something to be taken lightly. Women should have a choice, but the best solution is that they never have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion can be reduced with access to reproductive healthcare, in-depth sexual education, and financial stability. If you’re not going to stand with women and their right to choose, fight to fix the issues that will ensure they don’t have to.