by Sonja Szlovicsak (Editor-in-Chief)
Just a few short weeks ago, there was a pro-life rally in Langley Township. I’ve never been a fan of the terms “Pro-life” or “Pro-choice,” because they seem to set both sides of this debate so far against each other that no middle ground will ever be achieved. While all the “A woman’s choice” and “Choose life… your mother did” rhetoric seems almost laughable (I’ll explain that in a few paragraphs, so bear with me), both these sides have some good points. If they could just settle down and stop trying to lobby the government and the public in opposite directions, they’d probably be able to achieve some “pro-baby” legislation that would work to the betterment of women and children.
There are two extremes to this argument: a mother should never have an abortion, even when her life is in danger; or, a mother should be able to have an abortion right up until the moment she gives birth. I doubt many reasonable people would choose either side of this argument. In fact, as many polls have shown, most people fall somewhere in between.
Despite a fairly Catholic upbringing, I’ve never been able to bring myself over to the pro-life side. Why? It’s really very simple: abortions will happen, whether they’re legal or not. Were they to be outlawed in Canada and the United States, women that are wealthy – or have a decent sized credit limit or some money in their savings account – would travel to countries where abortions are legal to receive the service. The only women affected by abortions being banned would be poor women – the women who can least afford to raise a child (or the rather ugly option that is politely referred to as “the knitting needle”). With so little support offered to the poorest women in this country, this is a recipe for disaster.
Which brings me to why all the “A woman’s choice!” and “Choose life… your mother did” rhetoric is so laughable. To think that any woman wants to choose an abortion is ridiculous. It’s quite hard to imagine that any reasonable woman plans to get pregnant, and then have the pregnancy terminated. It’s the hormonal equivalent of a roller coaster. Accidents are what lead to abortions, not plans in your day timer. And the line “Having sex was not accidental” is a rather cheap counterargument, and usually comes along with the abstinence as birth control spiel.
Allow me to rant about abstinence as the ultimate birth control for a moment. It’s nice to think that the only thing teenagers should be taught is “Don’t have sex,” but it’s not going to work. Teaching kids about condoms will not encourage them to have sex before they’re ready. Young people have been having sex before they were “ready” long before sex-ed entered the classroom.
A quick glance through history reveals that rushed marriages have been happening for centuries. Even amongst the puritans, babies were born just a few months after their parents’ marriage. Teaching teenagers about birth control will keep them from having unwanted babies – even after they’re married. And for those that don’t really care about waiting until marriage, well, condoms help keep the herpes from spreading, and they help keep the unwanted pregnancies (or abortions) from happening.
Of course, since we’re talking about preventing abortions here, we could just tell everyone to have same-sex relationships until they’re ready to breed. Abortions would become a thing of the past – but I have the feeling that would work about as well as teaching everyone to wait until they’re married.
Not that many mothers think of giving birth as breeding. Each and every one of my single-mom pals adore their children and couldn’t imagine life without them. Too bad all fathers don’t feel the same way. It’s very easy to get around paying child support; all it takes it a job that pays cash. If these women didn’t have supportive families, they’d be forced to live off student loans or government handouts that barely cover the basics. And don’t forget that many families are not supportive of their pregnant, unwed daughters. There is a certain amount of shame associated with giving birth to a bastard.
But that tends to get forgotten in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. What matters is the actual act of abortion itself, and not what causes it. Really, showing posters of aborted foetuses is not going to change any expectant mother’s mind. It just seems to be guilting mothers into giving birth.
Abortion needs to be available, but rare. And the way to make that happen is to offer pregnant women that can’t raise their children actual choices – not abortion or adoption. There need to be programs that offer expectant mothers actual help and not just the bare necessities. And for those few women that still won’t have a baby despite the financial, emotional and all-around feel good support that is offered to them, there need to be safe and legal abortions. Otherwise, we go back to the knitting needle.