I recently tweeted about the amazing 180 video. Well worth the watch. I had a question, however:
What does “vote to end abortion” mean? Will a vote to make abortion illegal actually “end abortion”?
A fellow tweeter responded: “It might not stop women from getting an abortion, but it will make it criminal and punishable by law.”
Well, yee-haw! Crime and punishment, oh boy! So I asked: “What is it you want, to end abortion, or to make criminals and punish them?” To all politically right-wing pro-lifers, I ask you the same question. Which do you want? They are two totally different things.
She responded by asking what I want–fair enough–and how I think abortion can be ended without criminalizing it. As inconvenient as it may be, the answer to that question simpy cannot be contained in 140 characters, nor can it be contained in a blog post. It is, however, a good question, and so, I share my preliminary thoughts.
Ending abortion must begin by creating a society that supports women in the act of bearing children. This means everything from providing basic healthcare (both to the mother and to the child) to monetary and social support for raising a child, to making sure that women will have equal opportunities in their career whether or not they choose to have a child.
Abortion is irrefutably linked to poverty. Not surprising, considering it is more expensive in many cases to pay the hospital bill for labour than to pay for an abortion. Not only are those faced by poverty often in desperate situations, they also lack education.
I am by no means suggesting this as a justification for abortion. In answer to the 180 video‘s question: “It is okay to kill a child in the womb when _______ ” I cannot and will not give an answer. I’m passionate about working towards a world with no abortion. I am pro-life. I just don’t see how the pro-life goal can be reached through right-wing politics. The issue of abortion must be addressed from a social standpoint. It is a moral issue, with social implications.
That’s what bugs me. Pro-life political rhetoric seems to suggest that when every state in America (and every province in Canada) has declared abortion illegal, their work is done. They can go home and celebrate their victory (and get busy … punishing?). That solves the problem for them, but it doesn’t solve the problem. How does it solve the problem for them? It allows them to feel righteous, to feel like they live in a righteous country, and to no longer have to deal with the “unrighteousness” around them. Such unrighteousness can be conveniently labelled as criminal activity, and can be shoved under the carpet with all of life’s other un-pleasantries so that conservatives can get back to good-clean living. Meanwhile, abortion continues. Out of feelings of abandonment, desperation and fear, women will hide themselves in the dirty underground and will tear babies out of their wombs with coat hangers. Many will die in the process; those that don’t can be tried and punished. Is this the pro-life solution? It’s a pathetic, insensitive, unedcauted, and entirely selfish solution.
I’m not saying that all those who have abortions are poor and are doing so for lack of money and resources. Many are not. I’m not saying that legislation to further regulate abortion, to limit abortion, and maybe to eventually make it illegal might not be part of the long term solution. Also, continuing to ensure that the world is talking about abortion, and is discussing the moral implications of abortion is imperative to the pro-life movement. If all you’re fighting for, however, is to make abortion illegal, you’re putting a Barbie Bandaid on a severed artery and walking away.
The issue is big; the problems are many. Through further efforts, however, to educate women about prevention and about the beauty of adoption (and the many parents on waitlists, longing for a child), through the provision of healthcare, resources, and community, social, and financial aid, and through overall efforts to eliminate poverty and to bring equal opportunity to all human beings–women, men, children, and unborn children alike, we can provide women with real choices, and can create a world where every child is a wanted child, and where abortions have ceased.
I am pro-life, but when it comes to “voting to end abortion,” I ask you, what does that mean?