How Pro-Life or Pro-Choice Could Be Pro-Life and Pro-Choice
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on woman’s rights or contraception/abortion access, and this article does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Tribal Truth. I want this article to be the start of conversation, not the end of it, and it does not cover all aspects of this complex issue.
This week, people around the world were horrified to hear about a newborn baby boy who was left for dead by his mother in an airplane trash bag. The story has raised questions about reproductive rights throughout the world, support for pregnant women, and the desperation of impoverished women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Pro-life and pro-choice activists alike are going to have to ask themselves tough questions and work together if they want to help these women in need.
Often, there is a lot of bad press about the pro-life movement because of the actions of extremists in the movement. The murder of Dr. George Tiller and attacks on woman’s clinics come readily to mind, but many pro-life groups have done a wonderful job taking care of women during their pregnancy and providing support for their child after giving birth. For some women, an unplanned pregnancy is a struggle, but they decide not to have an abortion. They make this choice because of religious beliefs, personal morals, or a myriad of other reasons. These women need love and support just like women who choose to terminate the pregnancy, and pro-life organizations fulfill that need with baby clothes, food, and even shelter.
Where pro-life groups are failing is in supporting contraceptives and birth control methods that prevent pregnancies in the first place. Some groups have even spread misinformation about the effectiveness of condoms and the pill as well as confusing Plan B with the abortion pill RU-486. By planting seeds of doubt, young pro-lifers might decide to become sexually active without being prepared to do so, causing not only unplanned pregnancies but also continuing the spread of sexually-transmitted illnesses. This is where pro-choice organizations step in because their strengths are sex education and encouraging the use of contraceptives. The problem is that certain pro-choice groups sometimes get too tied down in the politics of abortion and focus a little less on women who choose to go through with the pregnancy.
What does this all mean for the woman who left her baby in the airplane bathroom? Well, at this time they haven’t found the woman yet, and most of what has been reported is complete speculation. She might have abandoned her child out of fear of repercussions from her family or religious community. Maybe she couldn’t support the child financially or there might be another reason that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Right now, there is no way to know if she is pro-life or pro-choice or had access to contraceptives or abortion services. Looking at this situation, however, I can see how pro-life and pro-choice organizations can help this woman and other women like her.
While abortion itself might be divisive, preventing an unwanted pregnancy should be a no-brainer. Pro-choice groups should be able to distribute contraceptives in low-income areas without meeting resistance from pro-life groups. If pro-life groups want to reduce abortions, they need to face facts. They need to realize that people are going to have sex, and instead of stirring up moral outrage over condom distribution, they should let the pro-choice groups deal with preventative measures.
At the same time, pro-life groups have a vitally important role in helping these women. Unplanned pregnancies still happen, and some women will have the child despite the difficulties of their circumstances. This is where pro-life groups come in. These women need food, clothing, and financial assistance, but they also need emotional and spiritual support. While pro-life groups need to support contraceptives distribution, pro-choice groups need to show their support for women who choose to have the child.
Go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/13/newborn-boy-found-abandon_n_714345.html to read the original news story about the abandoned newborn, and to read more about the pro-life/pro-choice debate, check out this New York Times op-ed at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/22/opinion/22saletan.html.
Tags: abortion, AIDS, children, clinic, collaboration, community empowerment, condom, contraception, education, empowerment, George Tiller, girls, grassroots, healthcare, HIV, human rights, New York Times, philanthropy, Plan B, poverty, pregnancy, pro-choice, pro-life, RU-486, social change, solutions, STIs, women