I am pro-life. By that, I mean that in addition to seeking to eliminate the need for abortion in our world, I am pro-health care, pro-education, pro-living wage, and pro-being a decent human to other humans after they are born.
If someone is singularly focused on birth and not feeding a hungry child, housing a homeless family, and making sure all children get a quality education, then that person is pro-birth, and not pro-life.
We must work toward a day where the need for abortions is eliminated. To do this we need to invest in education, contraception, and maternal health care.
We need to end the cycles of poverty and abuse and neglect. We need to eliminate health complications that put mothers’ lives at risk by investing heavily in maternal medicine research – especially for women of color who die in childbirth at rates 3 times higher than white women.
We need to turn elements of our culture that objectify women into a culture that elevates and respects them so that rape, sex trafficking, and sexual abuse no longer exist.
We need to create a society where all pregnancies are wanted, and all expecting mothers are safe during their pregnancy, labor and delivery, and post-partum.
Until we eliminate any need to terminate a pregnancy, then the ability to do so must be available to women – and the decision should be the woman’s alone.
When I was in my 20s I worked for the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City for about 18 months as the HR Director and office manager. This was during the only 5 years of my life I lived outside of Michigan.
My job there was to run the back office, conduct interviews, make sure the coffee and copier toner got ordered and manage the receptionist and the mailroom workers.
CRR is a non-profit human rights law firm that represents clients in national and internal reproductive justice cases. In the short time I was there, CRR represented women in the U.S. who had been denied their right to contraception, quality prenatal care, and abortion services.
CRR also represented women internationally who were the victims of forced sterilization as a form of ethnic cleansing. The mission of CRR was and is to use the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world. They work to expand access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control, safe abortion, and prenatal and obstetric care. Though I was there only a brief time and my role was very limited, I couldn’t be prouder to have worked there.
We know that countries with the most restrictive abortion laws have the highest rates of abortion, and that easier access to birth control drives down abortion rates. We also know that in the United States one in 4 women will make the decision to have an abortion by age 45, and that a good number of those women are already moms. So, it is likely we all know a woman who has had to face that toughest of choices even if they haven’t disclosed it.
When asked about reproductive rights, the face of a woman who is very close to me comes to my mind. She was a mom already and the birth of her first child almost killed them both. She was told that she and her husband could never conceive again and when they did they were terrified – with good reason – that if they went forward with the pregnancy, their first child would be left without a mom. She agonized over this decision but made the heart-wrenching choice to terminate her pregnancy.
We must trust women to consult with their doctors and make the best decision in their unique circumstance. Government has no place in that conversation.
I agree with Sister Joan Chittister, a Catholic Nun, who said, “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
Factual articles regarding abortion:
Abortion rates go down when countries make it legal
US abortion rates fell 25% from 2008-2014
Abortion rates are at an all-time low, thanks largely to better access to birth control