What does Pro-choice mean?

As a teacher I spent many hours answering questions about abortion from my students.  Most students were fully convinced of one side of the debate, a position which was predictably based on their parents’ or their church’s views. Many were convinced that I was a rabid pro-abortionist, mainly because of my rather liberal point of view in other areas.  If I were to classify my thinking, I would consider myself a Social Libertarian.  You might ask, what in the hell is that?  Put succinctly, I cherish my individual rights but see the need of a society as complex as ours, with its many moving parts, to be regulated by a central government.  Among these critical needs would be: the military, social security, highway system and most importantly health care!  After all, if you are not well, none of these other things matter.

So with that said, let’s move on to the topic at hand.  Abortion is, by any measurement, a complex issue with rigid points of view on both sides.  The extreme right feels  that even when a mother’s life is in danger or a woman has become pregnant through rape, abortions should be illegal.  This ranges all the way to the far left, who believe that an abortion should be readily available with few restrictions. There is little chance that the two extreme groups are ever going to come to a compromise.

So let us take a step back and look at the things we know:

  1. If we do not curb the increasing population of humans, life on earth as we know it will cease.
  2.  Starting 18 years after Roe v Wade was passed by the Supreme Court in 1973, major crimes have dropped every year,
  3. I think a women should have the right to determine if she wants to have a child.
  4. Children should not have children.
  5. Many unwanted children become wards of the state.
  6. Throughout history attitudes about abortion have changed based on the size of the population and economic security.
  7. The economic drain on our society from neglected children is growing rapidly.
  8. Children of reluctant parents are sometimes born with severe medical and social problems due to poor parental skills and lack of medical care.
  9. Abortions preformed in unsafe environments by untrained individuals are not a favorable direction in a modern society and will result in the deaths of many women.

The first and most important fact to consider is that, NO ONE WANTS AN ABORTION! I can’t imagine that one wakes up in the morning excited that she is going to have an abortion that day. This includes all liberals, conservatives and everyone in-between.  Abortions are not anyone’s first choice but in some cases may offer a way out of a extremely harrowing and difficult situation.  For example, were a women to become pregnant by rape, how in the world would she be expected to be sanguine about birthing that child.  Why would she want to commit to raising this child for 18 years?  She may love children in general and be open to conceive a child but I feel pretty certain she would undoubtedly prefer to have a child based on love, not the violent act of rape!  This is one of those areas where the adage, ‘Take a walk in my shoes’, comes to mind.

More than a few women experience medical complications during pregnancy and childbirth.  In this case, a difficult decision would need to be made weighing the mother’s life against the fetus’s life.  I do believe, and feel that this is a consensus opinion: a mother’s life has priority over the fetus.  I can only imagine the difficulty in making such a decision.  There would be several doctors, the mother, clergy, administrators and members of the family involved!  I do not think that any of us who have not been confronted with this dilemma can imagine the stress and pain involved in a decision of this magnitude.

By far the most difficult issues we must consider are the unwanted child of a young girl, of a drug addict or genetically challenged parents.  In nature this is not a problem; if an animal is unable to survive, mother nature removes it from the gene pool.  In our world we have circumvented nature with our modern medical advances.  Many of you who are reading this would not be alive today if not for the marvels of modern medicine.  Again, we are faced with a difficult decision.  When a severely challenged child is born, the effect ripples through a family, not only emotionally but financially with little support from the medical community or the government.  Many families have been financially destroyed by the birth of a challenged child.  In a world where many of us are denied adequate basic health care, it is hard to financially justify bringing a profoundly challenged child into the world who could generate medical bills that could run into the millions, while at the same time, others have little to no health care.

As you may now see, abortion is very complicated.  I believe the decision should be made by the woman and persons intimately involved and not legislated by government.  That’s the libertarian in me.  Said another way, I believe a woman should have the untrammeled right to determine if she is able and willing to take on the serious responsibility of raising a child. This is not a decision that I would want somebody to make for me.  To make this even more complicated, we would have to consider when does the fetus become a viable life.  I, like many others, believe that when the baby is able to survive outside the womb, then they become a protected life. Some other points of view suggest that as soon as the sperm finds the egg, it becomes a viable life.  There is also the spectrum of ideas between these two beliefs. Abortion has become the passionate talking point of politicians and this scares the crap out of me.  Do you really want politicians deciding what you do with your private life?

As I said at the start, if I were a women considering an abortion, it would be a very difficult thing for me to decide to do, so I am glad that I never did and never will have to even think about making that decision. But, there are many women out there who have to make this choice, and hopefully they will base that decision on sound reasoning.

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