Mad Scientess Jane Expat (nanila) wrote,
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Exorcism, part deux.

I may not be saying anything original here, but I am saying it my way and that's part of what journalling is about.

I'm at a point in my life where, were I to find myself pregnant again, I would not opt to have another abortion. I feel I have the emotional and financial resources now to carry a child to term and take my best shot at being a good parent. I'm prepared for that possibility. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate having had a legal and safe procedure available to me when I wasn't.

In my view, the circumstances by which conception occurs are irrelevant to the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Abortion should be an option that is available to anyone who becomes pregnant. Although I don't oppose the use of it, I would like, in the long term, to see it become a last resort. In order for that to happen, I believe there will have to be a major restructuring not only of the way that our society views unwanted pregnancies, but of the way we view birth control.

If an individual doesn't consider abortion to be an option for her, she is entirely welcome to carry a child to term and raise it whether she can afford it or not and by "afford," I mean emotionally and financially. I do not consider that to be a responsible attitude. This is why I have a problem with those who want to remove or restrict the abortion option to the victims of circumstances that they deem appropriate. The alternatives espoused by many of those who want to reduce the number of abortions include adoption and abstinence. I find both of these inherently problematic.

The adoption proponents overlook the need for the mother to carry the child to term beforehand. Pregnancy is burdensome and not just physically. Pre-natal care is expensive. Unless a woman is lucky enough to have an understanding employer who will give her maternity leave despite her intention to give up the child after it is born, and I do not think that many of them are, it is likely that she will have to bear the costs on her own. The potential for dire social, and hence emotional, consequences should not be underestimated either. By the third trimester, it becomes extremely difficult to hide a pregnancy. A woman who is carrying a child to term and plans not to keep it faces a great deal of criticism and judgment the consequences of which should not be underestimated. A real shift in societal attitudes must occur for adoption to become a more attractive option than abortion.

If those who oppose abortion (and those who don't, too) really want what is best for an unborn child, then they should push for a strong support system for those who opt for adoption. Instead of carrying signs around outside of family planning clinics (and yes, I do understand that not every abortion opponent does this), they ought to escort expectant mothers who are preparing for adoption to their schools and workplaces and help them to respond to curious questioners. They should collect funds to help support those who can't afford pre-natal care. They should petition employers for the right of these women to take maternity leave.

The abstinence option doesn't work because the psychology is flawed. Humans are curious. Discouraging them from exploring a particular avenue tends only to inspire perversity. There are some who will find personal reasons compelling enough to abstain from sex for the bulk of their adult lives, but they are not in the majority. Abstinence has been marketed most heavily to adolescents. It has been fairly comprehensively demonstrated that abstinence-only sex education programs do not work in the long term. Teenagers who pledge to remain chaste are more likely to be unsafe when they do have sex, increasing the risk of pregnancy, not to mention the spread of sexually transmissible diseases. The prospect of convincing adults, particularly the married ones, to abstain from sex except for the purpose of procreation, is laughable.

Most people don't start having sex at a point in their lives where they are fully prepared to bear and raise children. They start when they are still developing, learning about their sexuality, learning to cope with a confusing array of both hormonally generated impulses and the tumultuous emotions that maturing sentience has this unfortunate tendency to induce. As a result, they may make mistakes, through a lack of experience. They may use birth control incorrectly or they may fail to use it at all. The only way to prevent those occurrences is to educate everyone to use birth control methods of all kinds. Show them how to put on condoms, how to set up a schedule to take a birth control pill, how to use diaphragms, sponges, spermicidal foams. Give them choices, and tell them not to be afraid to use them. Teach them to be proud of their use of birth control because they are preventing unwanted pregnancies and protecting themselves and their partners from disease.

Again, I would suggest to abortion opponents, if you're committed to preventing unwanted pregnancies as well as protecting the lives of the unborn, then get involved in birth control research. Fund or participate in research that has the aim of developing a form of hormonal birth control that doesn't have a negative impact on a woman's health or her libido, and that prevents the spread of disease. Until realistic alternatives are offered and changes in social attitudes are embraced, I will remain unconvinced that restricting or removing access to pregnancy termination services will stop abortions from happening. It will simply make them unsafe.
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