Tuesday 14 February 2012

Abortion: If we make it illegal, the problem will go away

Reprinted from June 25, 2010

My wife and I watched a news item on television last night which stated that every year 25,000 women die from unsafe abortions in Africa and 1.7 million are injured. Due to the restrictive laws governing abortions in almost all African countries, virtually all of the 5.6 million abortions performed annually in Africa are unsafe. Apparently only about 100,000 of them are performed by trained professionals in a safe environment. The news item went on the cover various religious groups in these African countries who are lobbying to keep abortions illegal and one minister who was interviewed proudly said that he has having a big impact in maintaining laws which make abortions illegal.

This news item is all that much more important considering it was shown on the backdrop of the G20 summit occurring in Toronto. Apparently the G8 which met just before the G20 has made a commitment of $5 billion for maternal-and-child health. However, Canada's leader, Stephen Harper is clearly not supporting any funding or support for abortions within this aid. Stephen Harper as a representative of the conservative movement within Canada follows not just a political path but a personal vision that by outlawing abortion, he can make the entire issue of abortion go away.

In the United States, Barack Obama recently succeeded in enacting a much needed reform in the health care system of his nation. Unfortunately, to do so, he was obliged to make certain sacrifices, certain trade-offs one of which saw him banning the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.

From the above items, I can surmise that there is a strong pro-life movement which has a far reaching effect on politicians and their politic decisions. However, despite their best efforts, the efforts of these pro-lifers, has the problem of abortion been improved never mind been solved?

The statistics vary from source to source but the one conclusion is that every year there are a lot of abortions happening; approximately 42 million abortions worldwide. According to the Guttmacher Institute, "an American non-profit organization which works to advance sexual and reproductive health", unintended pregnancies account for almost half of all pregnancies and 4 out of 10 unintended pregnancies end in abortion. (I just found some statistics which suggest there are approximately 130 million births worldwide annually and 57 million deaths. Do the stats presented by various sources match up?)

In March 2009, the Pope visited Africa and during his trip he reaffirmed the church's ban on the use of condoms. Never mind talking about pregnancy, the numbers related to AIDS were staggering. At that moment, 22 million people were infected with HIV in Africa; there were 11.4 orphans because of AIDS; 1.5 million had died of AIDS in Africa in 2007 and 25 million had died in the past 20 years. But I digress.

Let me recap by returning to the pro-life argument. Abortion is murder. We're all against murder, right? We should all be against abortion.

I look at the above numbers and I have to ask by paraphrasing Dr. Phil of American television, "So, how's that working out for ya?"

I am confronted by a gap, no a chasm between the supposed ideal of having no abortions in the world and what's actually going on. The Canadian leader Stephan Harper does not want to support abortions. There were over 70,000 abortions in Canada in the past year. Barack Obama was forced by various groups to stop federal funding on abortions. In the United States there were over 1.7 million abortions in the past year. Every year there are over 42 million abortions worldwide. How to explain this dichotomy?

In an ideal world, no one would have sex outside of marriage; we would all abstain. Is that happening? I would say the answer is an emphatic no and this leads me to ask the question. If abstinence isn't working; if banning condoms isn't working; if making abortion illegal isn't working; are we collectively dealing with the problem in a manner which would be deemed in any way effective?

The author Rita Mae Brown said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

The numbers above would indicate that current policies have failed to stop abortion. At what point do we collectively assess the situation and arrive new policies, new methods with dealing with this issue?

If I set aside for the moment the idea that abortion is murder, I have to recognize that abortion is an invasive procedure. Anything invasive like surgery is something we would all like to avoid. This isn't good for the body; in fact, depending on the level of health care, it may be dangerous if not fatal. Nevertheless, women are electing to do this. Despite the danger, despite the risk of fatality, women are electing to do this. Why? We make abortion illegal; women do it illegally. We try to take away condoms; women continue to get pregnant. We ask for abstinence; people still have sex.

Wait! I just said that "people" still have sex. Oh yes, women get pregnant from having sex with men. Hey, here's a radical idea; why don't we give all men a vasectomy? I can just hear you saying, "Now don't be ridiculous." Has anybody noticed that the people making abortion illegal are for the most part men, male politicians? Has anybody noticed that the Pope who bans condoms is a man? Has anybody noticed that the pro-lifers advocating abstinence seem to be lead by men? It takes two to tango. If we can't stop abortions from happening; why not attempt to stop women from getting pregnant? This, of course, takes into account just how women get pregnant and that's from men. Yep, that's right. All these women wanting to get abortions became pregnant because a man had sex with them. How come I never see anything about the guy in question?

I am against abortion. It is a surgical procedure; it is invasive; depending on the quality of the medical care, it could be dangerous; it could be fatal; it should be stopped completely.

But, getting from where we collectively were to the point where abortion no longer existed, where abortion was no longer even necessary never mind wanted, involved more than just laws making abortion illegal. Society needed to support and promote sex education. Ignorance was very much a big part of the cause of the entire problem. Society had to support and to promote the use of condoms. Society had to admit that no matter what we do, we cannot stop people from having sex. Sex is natural; it is primordial; it is part of our make-up of human beings.

But most importantly, to get to this point which admittedly is an idealistic, Utopian like point in the development of our society, we have to admit that abortion will have to be an option. As I stated at the beginning of this essay, every year 25,000 women die from botched abortions in Africa. Do we cavalierly stand by observing this situation while saying it is the fault of the person, no, the woman who decided to have the abortion? If I think of those who claim to be against the supposed murdering of a fetus, it is interesting to note how they seem quite unconcerned about these 25,000 women dying.

I am against abortion. I would like to see the day where there were no abortions at all. But, as long as men keep having sex with women, I don't see that happening.

I am for the woman making her own choice. It is her body; I believe she should be allowed to control it. But, I would want to support her in every way possible by avoiding the critical, life-altering decision of having an abortion. I would want to promote sex education; I would want to see condoms readily available; I would like to see contraceptives for everyone. Let's just quite plainly not let the problem get so big that abortion is even on the table as a necessary solution.

So, for those how read this but are against sex education, against the use of condoms, against contraceptives and all for abstinence, I can only say it ain't workin'. The numbers show it; admit it. Let's get over the "how" and work together to get rid of abortion. If a woman doesn't have an abortion because the man used a condom; I'm for it. If a woman didn't have an abortion because she used a contraceptive; I'm for it. If a woman didn't have an abortion because she and the man had sex education; I'm for it. For everyone who is against the killing of the baby, don't forget that a botched abortion which kills the woman results in 2 deaths.

An analogy: If we make firetrucks illegal, can we assume that all fires will automatically stop?

In other words, making abortions illegal does not stop abortions. It merely makes the woman in question so desperate, she would risk her own life. So the law makers in wanting to save the life of the child end up killing the mother. There has to be a better way. If all pregnancies were "wanted" pregnancies, there would be no abortions.

In a nutshell, I am pro-choice and anti-abortion. I am for the woman having the choice but would sincerely hope that we all arrive someday at a point where there is no need for a woman to even have to choose an abortion.

The Internet is full of statistics, facts and opinions. It is hard to sort out what's what: what's the truth; what's somebody's opinion.

Abortion Facts: the United States
1. Unintended pregnancies account for almost half of all pregnancies.
2. Four out of ten unintended pregnancies end in abortion.
3. Out of the total number of pregnancies, 24% end in abortion.
4. For women ages 15-44, two out of every hundred have an abortion. Of these, 48% have had one or more abortions previously.
5. For women choosing abortion, 52% are under 25. Teenagers account for 19%, and women 20-24 account for 33%.
6. Black women are almost four times as likely to have an abortion as white women. For Latino women, the number is 2.5 times.
7. Women who have never been married account for 2/3rds of all abortions.
8. The majority of women who choose abortions have already given birth. Mothers who have had one or more children comprise over 60% of all abortions.
9. Women who have never used any birth control method account for 8% of abortions.
10. For women having abortions, 43% are Protestant and 27% identify as Catholic.

The Guttmacher Institute
Four decades after its creation, the Guttmacher Institute continues to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights through an interrelated program of research, policy analysis and public education designed to generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate and promote sound policy and program development. The Institute’s overarching goal is to ensure the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health for all people worldwide.

The Institute produces a wide range of resources on topics pertaining to sexual and reproductive health, including Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Guttmacher Policy Review. In 2009, Guttmacher was designated an official Collaborating Center for Reproductive Health by the World Health Organization and its regional office, the Pan American Health Organization.

Wikipedia: The Guttmacher Institute
The Guttmacher Institute is a non-profit organization which works to advance reproductive health including abortion rights. The institute operates in the United States and globally "through an interrelated program of social science research, policy analysis and public education." According to their mission statement, this program aims to "generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate, promote sound policy and program development and, ultimately, inform individual decision making."

Women's Guide to the University of Chicago
Pregnancy and Post-Pregnancy Options
For many reasons, including a relative lack of access to family planning services and sex education, the United States has one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries. Each year, nearly three out of one hundred women have abortions. Forty-three percent of these women have had at least one previous abortion and 49% have had a previous birth. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, it has saved the lives and health of countless women. In 1965, illegal abortion accounted for nearly 17% of deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth. By 1985, the risk of dying from a legal abortion had decreased to 0.4 deaths per 100,000 legal abortions. Abortion is 11 times safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, and nearly twice as safe as a penicillin injection.


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