(Before I get to today's post, just want to say to those of you who have been frustrated by trying to comment on my blog unsuccessfully -- and that would include me -- I have switched to a pop-up format, which seems to be working. If it doesn't work, please let me know via email: emilymb95 at gmail dot com. Thanks!)
So, today, on U.S. election day, I want to make something perfectly clear to those sorts of politicians who seem to think that all they have to do is say something to make it true. I am pro-choice. I am not, nor have I ever been pro-abortion. Just because you want to call me pro-abortion does not mean that I am. The fact that this country, with all its money and resources, does not have a lower abortion rate is very sad. I'm ashamed of us (which, by the way, does not mean I don't love my country any more than it meant I didn't love my parents when they used to shame me by wearing outfits in public that I thought were hopelessly "uncool").
I know that there will always be some unwanted pregnancies (no form of birth control is 100% accurate), and there will always be some pregnancies that end in abortion because the mother's life is in danger or because the baby will not live if brought to term, but for 22% of all known pregnancies to end in legal abortions is tragic. We should be doing everything we possibly can to lower that statistic. And let me give you a little hint here: teaching teenagers abstinence as a preventative measure isn't going to work. It's like sticking a box of candy in front of a young child (or even in front of many adults, for that matter), telling him or her not to eat any, and then walking away.
So, if I'm not pro-abortion, what am I? I don't know. Some might call me pro-long-lasting marriage. You see, I don't happen to believe that marriage is easy. I don't happen to believe it should be taken lightly. I don't happen to believe that just because a sixteen-year-old girl has found herself pregnant that she and her sixteen-year-old boyfriend are ready to take on the responsibilities of marriage and child-rearing (as a matter of fact, if they've found themselves in this situation, that's pretty much proof that they're not real good at thinking through the consequences of their actions). Let's face it, those of us who were in love with boyfriends and girlfriends at age sixteen thought we were in be-all, end-all relationships, didn't we? These were the loves of our lives. We'd get married and live happily ever after. How many of you today think that you could have married that person and had it last past the age of 20? I know, it does work for some, but those are few and far between. And who suffers most in those unhappy marriages? The children.
Or maybe you could call me pro-life of the baby. I don't believe that all babies have the same opportunities. Some babies are born into extreme poverty and never grow up. Some babies are born to drug-addicted parents, are neglected, and never grow up. Some babies are physically abused and die at the hands of their own parents. Some babies become victims of incest and venereal disease. Just because a baby makes it from conception to birth does not guarantee life. My guess is that unwanted babies run a higher risk of falling into these categories than loved and wanted babies do. And what do we do to take care of them, to make sure they get the chance to grow up, to help keep them from becoming violent members of society themselves? If abortion is going to be illegal, I want to see some sort of system in place in which our society takes complete responsibility for all unwed mothers, all victims of incest, all victims of rape, all unwanted children, all children who go to bed hungry at night, all children who are more familiar with a fist than a hug, etc. Until then, please don't keep dragging out your examples of people who are "so glad their moms, rape/incest victims, didn't choose to abort them." Because you know what? I've met others in my life who have lived through untold horrors, and who have told me they wish their mothers had aborted them.
Then again, possibly I'm pro-life-of-the-mother. In case you are unaware of what it's like to live in a country in which safe, legal abortions are not available, may I suggest you go do a little research? Maybe read a little? Take a look at what was going on in back alleys before Roe v. Wade. Find out how many women, when abortion is illegal, die trying "do-it-yourself" methods, how many die visiting less-than-sanitary "facilities," oh yes, and how many die at the hands of men who didn't think about the fact they didn't want another baby until the woman showed up pregnant.
Oh, and speaking of men, abortions need to be safe and legal until we live in a society in which men take equal responsibility for unwanted pregnancies, rather than disappearing, leaving the woman to care for the child. It needs to be a society in which men are labeled "tramps" and "whores" and are looked down on when they father a child out of wedlock. And it needs to be a society in which laws against rape are strictly enforced, a society in which thirteen-year-old girls do not become pregnant by their fathers and stepfathers. This society also needs to be one in which all women have equal access to affordable health care and birth control. While we're at it, all babies and children need equal access to affordable health care, too. It needs to be a society in which women don't have to make choices between work and childcare. It needs to be one in which we don't merely give lip service to caring about children but actually care about them.
Unfortunately, I don't see anyway that our society can possibly support making abortion illegal. Thus, I am pro-choice. But don't tell me I am not pro-life. I just happen to believe that life continues after birth and that, rather than arguing about whether or not abortion should be legal, our energies ought to be focused on doing everything we can to make sure that every single child who is born is wanted and loved and cared for by somebody.