I am “pro-choice” predominantly in the sense that there are SOME women who need abortions for medical or other reasons. While I find the reasons that many women (statistically speaking) get abortions reprehensible (and not getting pregnant in the first place for many of them preventable), it is a right that should be available. We all know what happened with back alley abortions. We all know what happens when government tries to legislate decisions that should best be left to the medical arena. I find abortion a sad thing; I find it a very preventable thing.
I do wish the pro-life movement spent more of its money polling women about the reasons that they get abortions. Concerns about family approval (and wider community approval, for many unmarried women in religious communities), wanting to get a better job, fears about how it will impact education, an unsupportive/abusive partner and concerns about money often top the list of reasons that women get abortions. Solutions need to be tailored to those concerns, rather than putting up billboards attempting to shame or coerce people into adopting.
Artificial wombs are a promising idea — and they could be helpful for those who have fertility problems, women who face recurrent miscarriages, etc. But they are unlikely to ever be an alternative to abortions. What happens after they’re given away in these circumstances? A mother may not like the idea of an untied knot in her history — will she someday have to pay child support? Will someone come knocking at her door, bringing about news of the pregnancy she wanted to keep hidden? It could be a solution for women who want to keep their pregnancies from their families, but for many, it would still probably be a concern. Still, this is far from the craziest idea I’ve ever heard.
I am far more behind the idea, though, in terms of solving other fertility problems.
But back to the pro-life issue:
There are many crisis pregnancy centers in my community, but the tactics I often hear about them are shameful. We should not be lying to women, telling them they’re 10 weeks further in their pregnancies, showing them ultrasounds of a baby that isn’t theirs. These centers should inform women more thoroughly about the process of adoption. They should outsource women to counselors who may be able to support them through telling their families, or therapists who can help them navigate getting out of — or getting help for — a relationship that could pose a threat. They should be connected with community and welfare programs that could give them the money, job training and education support necessary to become mothers. These girls should be connected to shelters where they can recollect themselves if danger — from family, boyfriends, whoever — are an immediate threat. But, it’s easier just to say, “Don’t get pregnant. Don’t abort your baby.”
We should be handing out birth control supplies almost like candy. There’s no reason that vending machines in high schools, hell, even in middle schools, can’t carry condoms and spermicide (at least where I reside, anyone can purchase these in stores, too). And, if many of the major American medical associations finally push through, maybe we will one day see birth control supplies being sold similarly — with only blood pressure and medical history being taken by a pharmacist before people can be out the door.
Hell, even when I went to Planned Parenthood — on a sliding fee scale, and I was toward the higher end of “low-income” at the time — it was $80 just to walk through the door (I think my first visit was $40). It was another $20 or so for the annual pelvic/pap for that women. While I could originally buy my birth control pills through PP — for about $15 a month — they ended up changing their policy so that only women approved for state-funded insurance could do so. I ended up buying my pills from Canada for about $20 a month, because they were $40 – $50 a month here. Fortunately, I had the money for those visits. But, a woman looking for even a three months supply would be looking to spend nearly $300.
The switch away from having to get a prescription from a doctor would make them far cheaper and more affordable for women of all ages. I know that in my case, I was living with my now-husband, but I was still on my parents’ insurance. No matter the reason, I knew they would flip their crap if I dared use our insurance for anything like that (my mom, in her ever-backwards way, always liked to explain to me that I didn’t need a pap smear until I had sex. So, seeing anything like that on an insurance claim would have led her to conclusions immediately. I was 24 at the time).
Many young women are in similar boats. My solution was to drive nearly 20 miles to the nearest Planned Parenthood for a cheaper visit. It probably would have been double that cost in a regular office. When you don’t have to worry about your parents finding out (and, frankly, mine were very emotionally abusive, so it was something I couldn’t risk), you are far more likely to get your hands on it.