Why I hate the abortion debate

Abort​ion:​​ for or again​st it?

Who came up with this question, Eagle Forum? Perhaps the Heritage Foundation? Sarah Palin? It's a terrible way to frame the issue of abortion.

What I'm *for* is empowering people in general and women in particular to take charge of their own sexual and reproductive health, and this also includes the right to a safe and legal abortion, although more importantly, the right to accurate information that doesn't smack of religious dogma and dumb gender stereotyping and homophobia, and access to contraception.

It also really gets my goat that with abortion, some current laws make physicians describe all the risks of abortion, some of which are claims that time and again groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Psychological Association have refuted. Pregnancy, meanwhile, carries a whole slew of risks, including but not limited to, post-partum depression, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, ripping of the tissue between the vagina and rectum during birth, or, if you do a C-section, that has its inherent risks. Childbirth can hurt unless you get an epidural, but again, epidurals are rife with their own risks. Also, pregnancy is a particularly vulnerable time when it comes to relationship violence. Statistically, getting a legal, early abortion is much less risky than going through with a pregnancy.

But can you imagine doctors being forced to tell you all of that about continuing a pregnancy?

In 10th grade health class, the teacher said that women who get abortions often regret it (I went to school in Virginia, and the Virginia code says about sex ed that it needs to promote the benefits of adoption as an outcome of unintended pregnancy). I so wish I'd asked her how many women who give birth regret giving birth, or if those women who regretted their abortions truly felt that they'd be better off having given birth. Or maybe what sucked was getting pregnant at a time they weren't planning to get pregnant. Hm?

Then there's the phrase "abortion on demand."

It might interest those people hurling this phrase around that all those places where abortion is available "on demand" see far fewer abortions than those places where it carries legal restrictions. In the world, according to Guttmacher Institute data, Latin America is the region with the highest abortion rate, abortion rate meaning number of abortions per 1000 women ages 15-45. (Latin America is no bastion of women's sexual liberation, and abortion is illegal in many Latin American countries.) The Netherlands, meanwhile, is notorious for being sexually open. And yet...the abortion rate is really low, much lower than it is in the US. The lesson here is that legality is not a sine qua non of abortion. Pregnancy is.

Maybe we can find another way to frame the abortion debate, one that's mindful of facts rather than one that pretends that anyone is "for" abortion.

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