I had no idea how I was going to start this blog. This is not my forte. I scoured the Internet researching. I wanted to have facts. I wanted to prove my point. I thought about who would be reading this. I wanted to be thoughtful. I outlined the reasons that I am Pro-Choice. I went to Pro-Life websites to look at their arguments. (I know my NARAL brethren would prefer I use the Anti-Choice moniker when referring to them, but I will refer to them as they call themselves.) I talked with friends who have had abortions. I talked with friends who thought about having abortions and who ultimately didn't. I talked with my mom about what it was like before Roe v. Wade. I was lost. I have no idea how to write this post.
I am Pro-choice. I want women to have choices: The choice to have a safe, legal abortion, The choice to continue with their pregnancy, The choice to keep their baby, The choice to give their baby up for adoption. I want women to have access to affordable, comprehensive reproductive care. I want women to have access to affordable birth control and emergency contraception. I want children to have comprehensive sexual education and I want their parents to have a choice whether or not their children participate in that education. I want every child to be a healthy, wanted child.
It is that simple for me. It is not about the actual procedure of an abortion. It is about having a choice. So here I go. I am going to try and give you my argument for CHOICE.
Let's start off at the beginning of this dilemma, SEX.
We live in a culture today where sexual images and content are prevalent. Ironically, we now live in a time when the only sexual education we are supposed to teach is Abstinence Only Education. Guess what? It doesn't work. Independent researchers found that in four typical abstinence-only programs sampled from around the country there was absolutely no difference between the sexual activity of kids in these program and kids who were not. Children in these programs admitted to having sex at the same rate and starting at the same age as other students not in these classes. Whether they were in an abstinence-only class or not, by the time they reached 17 years of age, half the kids said they had had sex and half had not.
So half of the kids are not having sex? Not so much. They may not be having "penis in the vagina" sex, but they are still getting it on. A study from 2005 stated, "Many teens who take 'Virginity Pledges' substitute other high-risk behavior for intercourse". Theses teens, while may not have vaginal intercourse until they are married, are engaging in oral and anal sex at higher rates than the non-pledging virgin teens and less likely to use condoms once they become sexually active. These "pledgers" similar rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). "Advocates for abstinence-only education assert that premarital abstinence and post-marital sex are necessary and sufficient for avoiding negative consequences of sexual activity, such as STDs," the study says, adding, "This assertion collides with the realities of adolescents' and young adults' lives." "Advocates for abstinence-only education assert that premarital abstinence and post-marital sex are necessary and sufficient for avoiding negative consequences of sexual activity, such as STDs," the study says, adding, "This assertion collides with the realities of adolescents' and young adults' lives." "Not only do virginity pledges not work to keep our young people safe, they are causing harm by undermining condom use, contraception and medical treatment,"
Telling kids every day "don't have sex" and nothing else, really does not work. A report released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states: For the first time in 14 years, the number of teenagers having babies in the United States rose last year, The report reveals that between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate for teenagers 15-19 years rose 3%. This follows a 14-year downward trend in which the teen pregnancy rate fell by 34% from its all-time peak in 1991.
Now someone is pregnant: What does she do?
Adoption or Keep the Baby
Well, it sounds great, but there are some problems with that, because we already have plenty of kids to adopt.
Nearly One Quarter of Foster Care Children Are Waiting for Adoptive Families.
In 1999, the latest year for which totals have been finalized, there were about 581,000 children in foster care in the United States. Twenty-two percent of these children -- about 127,000 kids -- were available for adoption.
Foster Care Population Down From 1999
Preliminary federal estimates indicate the foster care population decreased from 581,000 to 556,000 between 1999 and 2000. The number of children waiting to be adopted, however, increased to about 134,000 during the same period.  Early estimates for 2001 show the foster care population marginally increased to 565,000.
Many Children Spend Years in Foster Care
Almost 70 percent of the children waiting to be adopted had been in continuous foster care for two years or more; twenty-five percent for five years or more.
Many More Adoptive Homes Needed
Even with the recent increases in adoptions from foster care, the number of children waiting for adoption on September 30, 1999 was more than two-and-a-half times the number of children adopted during that year.
Until we can find homes for the thousands of children that go un-adopted each year, it unrealistic to think that EVERYwoman faced with unwanted pregnancy will be able to find a home for her baby.
Let's say she does find someone to adopt her baby, but they have no money…just a loving home to raise the child. This woman needs health insurance for herself and her unborn child. She will need: food, shelter and clothing. Who is going to support this woman while she is pregnant? Maybe she already has children, are you going to support them too? Who is going to write the check?
If she keeps the baby: Who is going to support this child after it is born? Who wants to write the check? Are you going to make faces and roll your eyes when you stand behind her in the check out line and she is using her WIC coupons and food stamps? So often "Pro-lifers" will support a woman while she is pregnant, then forget about her when the unborn becomes a newborn.
We fail our children when we do not teach them how to avoid pregnancy. We fail our children when we fail to find homes for them when they are put up for adoption. We fail our children when we do not support their mothers with job training, affordable housing, healthcare and childcare. We cannot take care of the children we have. It is cruel and irresponsible to force a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy unsupported.
I urge all of you reading this to think about this issue when you are voting, both nationally and locally. Women's rights are slowly being chipped away by people who only support life while it is in the womb. If these folks are left unchecked, they will continue.
Here is some Freedom of Choice Talking Points to consider.
This article can be found on the web at
Freedom of Choice Talking Points
By JONAH ENGLE
[Posted online on May 1, 2003]
Though polls consistently show a majority of Americans supporting freedom of choice, abortion rights are facing their greatest attack since the Supreme Court decision Roe V. Wade legalized abortion in the US thirty years ago.
§ Since 1995 states have enacted 335 antichoice measures.
§ Increasing numbers of states are imposing parental notice or consent as a condition to minors obtaining abortions.
§ The Bush Administration is nominating strongly antichoice judges to federal courts, including Carolyn Kuhl, Jeffrey Sutton and Priscilla Owen.
§ Bills banning "partial-birth" abortion have been passed in the US Senate and introduced in ten states. The vaguely worded bills seek to criminalize safe and common abortion procedures throughout pregnancy.
§ The number of abortion providers in the US has fallen by nearly 66 percent in the past twenty years; currently only 13 percent of counties have abortion providers, and eighty-six of the nation's 276 metropolitan areas don't have any abortion providers at all. Now more than ever it is essential that people who support full reproductive rights register their opposition to these rollbacks of Roe V. Wade. Contact your political representatives. Write a letter to your local paper. Call a talk-radio program. And join one of the many organizations that are working to guarantee continued, inexpensive access to abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the National Abortion Federation are all groups we heartily recommend. We've also compiled the following talking points for further information.
1) Reproductive Freedoms Are a Fundamental Human Right
It is a fundamental right of each individual to manage his or her fertility. Such reproductive rights are an integral part of women's social, economic and political rights, and have been affirmed in numerous international treaties and conventions including CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women) and the Program of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development.
2) The Denial of Safe, Legal and Affordable Abortions Threatens Women's Health In rare cases, carrying a pregnancy to term can pose a serious health risk to a pregnant woman. Whether or not abortion is safe, legal or affordable, women still have recourse to it. When abortion is illegal they are forced into having underground and often unsafe operations. This greatly compromises the health and well-being of pregnant women. Each year at least 78,000 women die around the world due to complications from unsafe abortions (13 percent of maternal deaths), and hundreds of thousands more suffer short- and long-term disability. Legalizing abortion helps prevent this tragedy--within five years of legalization, abortion-related deaths decreased 85 percent in the United States.
3) Legalizing Abortion Does Not Increase its Incidence
Statistics show that women worldwide, when faced with an unwanted pregnancy, seek abortions regardless of the legality of the procedure, and whether or not safe services are available. Countries as diverse as Canada, Tunisia and Turkey liberalized their abortion laws without an increase in the abortion rate. Holland, though it has a non-restrictive abortion law and free abortions, has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world, far lower than many countries where abortion is illegal (e.g., Chile and Brazil).
4) Medical Abortion Is a Very Safe Procedure, Especially in the First Trimester (When 88 Percent of Abortions Take Place) The health risks from an abortion are minimal.
- Less than 1 percent of women experience a major complication.
- The risk of death associated with childbirth is eleven times greater than the risk of death from an abortion.
5) When Women Are Not Free to Choose, Children Risk Coming into the World With Parents Who Are Not in a Position to Properly Look After Them
6) Though Abortion Remains Legal, Restricting Access to Abortion Penalizes the Poor, Who Are Less Able to Pay for Such Operations Despite the fact that abortion is legal in the United States, access is decreasing as numerous barriers have been set up. These include consent forms, extended waiting periods and, most notably, the Hyde Amendment, passed into law in 1977. The legislation denies federal funding for abortions (except in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnant woman's life is endangered) for poor women who rely on Medicaid, disabled women who rely on Medicare and Native American women who rely on the Indian Health Service for healthcare. In addition to these women, federal legislation denies access to abortions for Peace Corps volunteers, women in federal prison, women in the military, teenagers who participate in the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, patients of Title X family-planning clinics, residents of the District of Columbia and federal employees and their families. Only fifteen states make state Medicaid monies available for non-discriminatory funding of abortion. Abortions in the first trimester without complications start at $250-$350, and can run into the high hundreds or thousands of dollars. Without Medicaid funding, low-income women do not have equal access to a vital and legal medical procedure. Furthermore, welfare laws discourage states from providing assistance for abortions as well as to unwed mothers, placing low-income women in a double bind.
7) The Most Effective Way to Reduce Abortions Is to Reduce
Unintended Pregnancies Western and Eastern Europe have similar abortion laws but the West has far greater access to effective contraception. They also have, respectively, the lowest and highest abortion rates in the world. The Bush administration's decision to end contributions to the UN Population Fund, which funds family-planning projects in 142 countries, will perversely result in approximately 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant and child deaths.
If you are still reading this, thank you. If you scrolled down to this, thank you. I will leave you with this story of my friend, who shall remain anonymous, but gave me permission to use her story in this blog.
I have a friend. She is personally against abortion. She is also one of the most fertile people I know. She got pregnant before she was old enough to buy a beer. She kept the baby. She met a man; they fell in love and got married. Despite using birth control, she got pregnant again. That man she fell in love with and married? He cheated on her, he was verbally abusive and he left her when her second child was an infant. She worked long hours to support her two children. She fought to get child support from their fathers. Then my friend started having heart problems. Serious heart problems. She had extensive testing and many surgical procedures to treat this condition. Her heart doctor told her not to get pregnant; he said it could kill her. He also told her that she could not use any contraceptive device that contained hormones. That meant that the pill, the shot, the patch and an IUD were out of the question. She petitioned her insurance company to get her tubes tied. They denied her claim. Her heart doctor, her family doctor and her OB/GYN doctor all wrote lengthy letters to her insurance company to try and change their minds. They still refused. In all of this chaos, she met a man. They fell in love. They got engaged. While planning their wedding, she found out she was pregnant. Their birth control had failed. My friend knew that getting pregnant and carrying the baby to term could kill her. She had been literally using birth control to save her life. It failed.
What should she do? Some people are okay with abortion if it is to save the life of the mother. Her doctor couldn't say for sure if the pregnancy would kill her, but he couldn't guarantee that she (and the baby) would survive. There are no absolutes in this world. We should always have a choice when fate reminds us of that.