Friday, June 24, 2011

Sarah on Abortion

I thought I would answer your questions about my stances on abortion via a message instead of that same article so as to not give all your friends a whole pile of notifications that they don't want/need. Get ready for a long letter.

My personal feeling is that abortions should be limited at the time of viability (late term abortions) which are mostly illegal at present anyway. If a baby can breathe and live on it's own without massive medical intervention, I think it's a baby. Less than two percent of abortions happen this way (as I've noted) and that's why I think the more gruesome pictures that are sometimes shown are incendiary - it's not an accurate depiction of the reality of abortion and it can trigger an intense emotional response in women who have had abortions or miscarriages themselves (and/or their families). From an article by Lisa Wade at "According to The Guttmacher institute, 90% of all abortions occur in the first trimester. According to WebMD, a 12-week old fetus is 2.5 inches long and the typical woman will have gained three to five pounds. Most of these women’s pregnancies are essentially undetectable to an observer."

I believe abortion should be legal for a lot of reasons, but I'll appeal to you with this one: abortions are going to happen, whether or not they're legal. When they're legal, they can happen in an environment that's the safest and the healthiest possible. There will always be women who want to end their pregnancies for any number of reasons - they can't afford to have a baby and don't want the baby to grow up in poverty, they have a husband/boyfriend that doesn't want a baby, they've been raped, or they just plain don't want one - and it's much better for a woman to have an abortion performed in a safe and sterile environment by a doctor than to have a back alley abortion performed by someone with a coat-hanger, or to throw themselves down the stairs.

I also resent the term pro-life as it is currently used, because it implies that people who believe abortions should be legal are against life. You've met me, clearly, and you can probably guess how the implication that I am against life is hurtful to me. Abortion isn't an easy decision to make, by a woman herself or by a woman in conjunction with her significant other, and implying that the women and their families that make this choice are thoughtless or criminal is an insult to their character and their intelligence.

If the goal is to have fewer aborted fetuses, which is certainly not a bad goal, then contraception has to be more readily available and sexual education has to be better than "don't have sex." It's fine if abstinence is a tenet of your religion, and even better if you can stick to that as a measure of your faith, but teaching abstinence, especially in public schools, is a waste of federal funding and classroom hours. Not all kids hold the value that abstinence is important and the majority of them are going to have sex before they're married. Health teachers should be held responsible for teaching students the reality about their health, and accurately informing students about sex and contraception would be an important step.

This is why groups like Planned Parenthood are so important - they inform women and men of all ages about their health and they make contraception readily available for those who need to use it. That's why the whole government brouhaha over it was so frustrating for me - it was an argument about abortions when none was necessary. About three percent of the work Planned Parenthood does is abortions, and none of those abortions are federally funded anyway. What the government is funding is information about sexual health, contraception, pap tests and breast exams to detect cancer, and identification and treatment of STIs. A stat from the Planned Parenthood website: "Planned Parenthood health centers focus on prevention: 83 percent of our clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy. Planned Parenthood services help prevent more than 612,000 unintended pregnancies each year." This is how you prevent abortion - not by shaming and criminalizing women who are doing what is best for themselves and their families, whether or not they are married, whether or not they are poor, whether or not they have children already.

I know there was a lot to read here (and I probably have more to say, if you ask me) and I hope that you got through it. I have faith in you - you are usually good about listening to both sides and hearing people out, so I appreciate it if you took the time to get all the way through this.


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