Opinion: A Pro-Choice Guide to Reducing Abortion Rates
“Don’t Like Abortions? Don’t Get One.”
If you’re unfamiliar with that headline, simply replace the word “abortions” with “guns” and you’ve got yourself a bit of age-old Republican logic! I’ve always been perplexed by how easily this sentiment can be applied to ownership of weaponry, but overlooked in regards to ownership of one’s body.
Before we break down the opposition, I’d like to go over a few widely-proven and well-researched facts about the constitutional right to choice.
Yes, Abortion is a Right Protected by the Constitution
Exactly 46 years ago (in January of 1973) the U.S. Supreme Court completed its landmark decision of adding the right to seek an abortion to the Constitution. As expected, this addition was met with plenty of pushback from the GOP who continually fight for the following proposals:
- To outlaw abortion directly except to save the life of the mother
- To extend the constitutional definition of person to all human beings from conception
- To give states the power to criminalize abortion
However, for nearly five decades, justices from courts all across the nation have repeatedly halted such proposals before they could become actual legislation. Why? Because the majority agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade: the “recognition of the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from that state” (505 U.S. 833, 846).
Additionally, the courts have recognized time and time again that the trimester timeline does not matter. The “line in the sand” when it comes to an individual state’s power to prohibit abortion is, again, viability.
Why Viability Matters, and Why Medical Facts Outweigh Pro-Life Opinions
Viability determines the capability of living. Essentially when a fetus is viable, it can survive outside the womb. A fetus pre-viability relies solely on the pregnant person for survival at the cost of their physical and mental health. This pre-viability relationship between a fetus and a pregnant person is arguably identical to almost every parasitic relationship found in nature.
Viability is recognized in Roe v. Wade starting around 24 weeks (it’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean there is a high chance of survival –– it merely means this is the point at which survival outside the womb even begins to be feasible).
There are numerous studies to confirm this claim, including this one that places viability’s beginning at 23 weeks and another that examined viability limits between 20-26 weeks only to discover the same.
Just so we’re clear: any pro-life attempt to hijack the narrative of when life begins is scientifically null and void. If the consensus of medical professionals, court justices and individuals who have spent lifetimes studying pregnancy and abortion is that no one can truly assert the specific point at which life begins… I’m still trying to figure out why Chad with a MAGA hat and a business degree thinks he knows any better.
How Pro-Lifers Use Sex as a Fear Tactic to Control Women, Nonbinary, and Trans Individuals
Another major problem with the pro-life movement is its unwavering dedication to the idea that sex is for reproductive purposes only. (In reality, you’ll witness men being praised for their sexual explorations while womxn are typically seen as “sluts” or “have no respect for themselves” when they do the same.)
If you really think about it, what exactly is logical about those with a uterus carrying the ideological burden of life vs. choice? Women, nonbinary, and trans individuals can get pregnant (at most!) twice in one year from puberty till menopause, whereas a man could theoretically impregnate multiple womxn every single day for nearly his entire life.
What would happen to abortion rates if vasectomies were a requirement that could only be reversed when a man and his partner were ready to conceive? What if the responsibility of taking birth control was shifted to men?
For those who read the questions above and immediately said, “wow you can’t just force something on men and their bodies!” Congrats. You’re so close to finally grasping the point.
If you know anything about birth control for womxn, you must be aware that it comes with a never-ending list of side effects AND usually a hefty cost. (Especially when nearly 80% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck and a lot of us still don’t have access to affordable healthcare!)
So, when you insinuate that those with a uterus who “can’t afford” or “aren’t ready” for a child “should just use birth control” or “shouldn’t have sex” what you’re actually stating is:
- Women, nonbinary, and trans individuals struggling with poverty aren’t allowed to have sex
- Women, nonbinary, and trans individuals who can’t take birth control because of mental and/or physical side effects aren’t allowed to have sex
- Women, nonbinary, and trans individuals who never want children aren’t allowed to have sex
How to Decrease Unwanted Pregnancies and Abortions
Because no form of contraception is 100 percent effective, abortion is a necessary solution to unwanted pregnancy. Meaning if one wishes to eliminate abortion while simultaneously claiming to value freedom, they would focus on solving unwanted pregnancies – NOT dictating the personal choices of women, nonbinary and transgender people.
It takes two seconds to blurt out “adoption”… And another 20 to look up the six-figure number (about 108,000) attached to children waiting to be adopted.
Adoption aside, the pro-lifer’s best bet to stop unwanted pregnancy would be to advocate and fight for:
- nationally-mandated sexual education courses on reproductive health, consent, etc.
- access to affordable healthcare for all, including fully-paid paternity leave
- a living wage
- funding towards birth control research/normalizing male birth control
It should come as no surprise that teaching abstinence instead of realistic expectations is an underlying reason why the highest rates of teen pregnancy happen in the ultra-conservative “Bible Belt.”
The average hospital bill for one birthing procedure can reach up to $50,000 without insurance (and start around $5,000 with insurance). The average annual salary of Americans ages 20-24 is under $28,000 while ages 25-35 is barely $40,000.
Let’s also not forget which side of this argument has a habit of shaming those in poverty who do choose life, but require welfare assistance to do so.
Recent advancements in birth control are making it a considerable option for men, although side effects similar to birth control have slowed down the testing process (again, pretty weird those with a uterus were/are just told to deal with such results while cisgender men can use them as an excuse to shirk off responsibility…).
I must end with a final rebuttal to any pro-lifer that made it this far with one argument on their mind: “my tax dollars shouldn’t fund abortion!”