Solution to Abortion Debate

Dan Kilkelly, Commentary Editor

What is the number one taboo topic in America?  Abortion seems to be at the top of the list.  It is a debate in which there is no dignified way to declare your stance, since the bickering sides have labeled them “baby killers” and “misogynists.”  But let’s not rehash this debate here.  All you readers probably have your own stance on this issue, and nothing I say will sway you much.  So instead, I’m going to redirect your focus to other topics that are along the same lines as the abortion debate, but that no one seems to pay attention to.

First off, let me put forward a simplified understanding of the debate as we know it.  The pro-life side wishes to preserve the life of unborn children.  The pro-choice side wishes to protect a woman’s right to her own body.  These two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  There are other ways in which we can both protect life and protect choice.

The first is in health care.  One of the things that baffles me is that we’re bickering so much about abortion, and yet the United States has an embarrassing infant mortality rate.  The 2013 estimates done by the CIA World Factbook puts us at #47 in the world.  Which means that despite the fact that we are arguably the richest and most powerful country in the world, 46 other countries have less babies dying than we do.  That’s a pretty good excuse to stop the childish fighting about abortion and focus on all the babies that we already can’t keep healthy.  What else is more in the spirit of pro-life?  Why don’t anti-abortion advocates focus on making us number one on that list by giving mothers better health care, both prenatal and postnatal?  You can bet the abortion rate would go down if we provided potential mothers with a safe environment for them to give birth to healthy babies.  No longer would fear of having a baby that you can’t care for lead to abortions.  That easily improves the quality of life as well as being a victory for women’s rights.

Speaking of safe environments, what about jobs?  Women have made great strides in recent decades breaking into the male-dominated workplace.  It’s still an uphill battle, however, and one significant barrier to female advancement is pregnancy.  If a woman works hard to get a job over a male counterpart, well, she’d better do everything in her power to make her bosses think she’s worth it.  So what are the chances of those bosses granting maternity leave?  Wouldn’t it be much easier to hire a man who won’t run that risk?

This is another issue that is worthy of some time and effort from the pro-life advocates.  Make the workplace a safe environment for women.  How many times do you think an up-and-comer with a bright outlook on her career has become pregnant, and is thus faced with a decision no one wants to make: get an abortion or give birth and subsequently give up her job because the boss doesn’t want a new mother working for him?  The time commitment that she has to put towards her baby is tremendous, and it would interfere with her ability to work at the “level of a man.”  This is another area in which the United States is shamefully behind the rest of the world.   It’s not even like out 47th place, with infant mortality: we’re pretty close to dead last, one of only eight countries without maternity leave.

If we fought for maternity leave, that would take so much pressure off of women, who are already at a disadvantage in the male-dominated system.  The number of abortions would drop even further if women weren’t forced to choose between a career and a family.

Lastly, those who are against abortion should be the strongest advocates for readily available contraceptives.  It’s a no-brainer.  Teach people about safe sex and provide the means for them to do so, and there will be fewer abortions still.  If everyone had means to birth control pills and condoms, then we could say goodbye to those moments of passion in which the participants charge forth blindly, and later are forced with the decision to put a hold on their life to raise a baby or make the difficult choice to have an abortion.

This last option, while probably the most efficient method of lowering abortion rates, is for some reason fought against, often by the very same people who are pro-life.  They reason that talking about sex and giving birth control is just going to make people have more sex, even though study after study has shown that abstinence-only sex education does not work.  People are smart.  No one wants to have an abortion.  It’s a difficult choice, and if they are provided with an easy means to prevent pregnancy and are educated on how to use it, they will do it 99% of the time.  Sure, there will still be those people who use abortions as birth control, but they’re a small minority, and if you teach people a respect for life as well as providing contraceptives, there won’t be many of those people.

So there you have it: three easy solutions to the abortion debate.  Women’s rights and the lives of unborn children do not have to be in conflict.  If we provide a safe and healthy environment for those babies, both medically and financially, as well as providing birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies, the need for abortions will drop dramatically, and there will hardly be an issue to fight about anymore.