The Wrong Abortion Debate

Abortion. It’s one of those wedge issues that causes some pretty heated debate. Few people have no opinion on this subject in fact. And it’s easy to understand why. We are talking about human life, the creation of human life, religious philosophies, religious dogma, complex moral considerations, social values and personal values.

But it’s time we (as the Republicans like to say) had an adult conversation about this issue. For one thing, it’s an issue we need to stop debating and rehashing over and over again. Republicans need to stop shamelessly exploiting the issue to fire up their base on the religious right, and we need to simply leave the issue where it belongs; as a private discussion between a woman and the advisers she wishes to listen to in her life.

I have a number of reasons for being pro-choice, which by the way is not the same as pro-abortion. I’d like to take a moment to share these reasons with you.

Women’s Rights

Women’s rights are important. You just have to take a look at the Middle East to see why I make that statement. When you oppress women, the whole of society is affected in a negative way. And forcing women to give birth against their will is morally wrong. It is every bit as wrong as forcing a woman to have sex against her will.

Republican Law Philosophy

Republicans, it seems, are oblivious to the reality of their policies. The average Republican seems to believe that making something illegal will instantly solve a perceived problem. But of course this isn’t the case. Remember Prohibition? All that did was embolden organized criminals, and pour massive fortunes into the hands of organized crime syndicates, all while curtailing tax revenue and causing more tax dollars to be spent enforcing the law.

Whenever you outlaw something that people want to do, they will go ahead and do it anyway. The only difference is that some people will run afoul of the law and end up in jail, at the tax payers expense.

When it comes to abortion, if you made it illegal throughout the country it will affect the rich and poor very differently. Rich women can simply travel to a country where abortion is legal, and have an abortion there. Poor women will have a choice of trying to self terminate, having a back street abortion, or being forced to have a baby against their will. But in any case the law change has not ‘saved babies’ as pro-life activists would have you believe, all it has done is curtail the rights of women, and maybe force some unwanted babies into the foster care system; which already has trouble with the volume of kids it has now.

Religion

Your religion may tell you that murder is wrong, but few religions actually addressed the issue of abortion specifically. And even if yours does, your religion is not my religion. This country is supposed to separate church and state and so it really isn’t appropriate to demand that your world view according to your religious beliefs are forced upon all members of this society regardless of their beliefs.

We are free to worship as we wish in this country, so long as said worship is lawful and reasonable. In fact if anything we are too tolerant of religious sects and cults doing whatever the heck they like in the name of religious freedom, bilking large fortunes off the gullible and then keeping it all tax free.

Infant Mortality – The Elephant in the Room

For me, the biggest argument I have with pro-life activists is the reality that we in this country do not seem to care about our dying babies. We as a country spend more money per person on health care than any other country in the world. Yet despite this reality our infant mortality rate (according to the CIA’s 2009 figures) ranks us 46th in the world. Forty five countries around the world, all of whom spend less than half what we spend per person on health care, have lower infant mortality rates.

Until we address this startling statistic, the abortion debate that has raged for years in this country is completely irrelevant.

We are currently in the embarrassing situation of being the richest nation on the planet, we spend the most money per person on health care, and yet we are failing to keep our babies alive at a reasonable level. There are many reasons for this, but the most obvious is the inequality between the way the rich and the poor have access to health care. It’s so easy in America to make the wrong decision medically, for fear of the financial ruin that can come of getting sick. And that does seem to be a common factor in the countries that are kicking our butt on the infant mortality leader board; the winners who manage to keep their babies alive, have some form of socialized medicine; where children can get the health care they need without the parents having to worry about a medical bankruptcy.

So for me, I don’t believe that it is ever right to curtail women’s reproductive rights. But among Republicans and the religious right, it seems to make a lot of sense to. Yet oddly, once the child has been born, perhaps against the will of the mother, the same party that mandated that women should be forced to have unwanted babies, has no interest at all in protecting these children. Republicans have demonstrated over and over again that they are not willing to ensure that children are given free access to health care. In fact they recently tried to roll back ‘Obamacare’ provisions including children’s access to health care.

Ultimately this is why I think most abortion debates are wrong. It makes no sense whatsoever to even discuss the merits of outlawing abortion, if we are not taking care of the children we already have. Right now we are actually allowing babies to die at a rate that is completely unacceptable in our society, and yet Republicans and the religious right would have us force more women to have children against their will, and then deny those children proper access to health care too.

What a strange and twisted notion that they should advocate so strongly for the rights of a tiny fetus, but not give a crap when five year old Jane Doe gets leukemia and needs expensive medical care. At that point it’s sorry kid, you’re on your own. You should have had more responsible / rich parents who got you better coverage. Maybe you should find a charity to do a fund raiser for you, while Jane’s symptoms worsen and you get to watch her die slowly and in agony.

So when it comes to the abortion debate, I’m not really that interested in it until I see America crack the top 10 countries for low infant mortality, and all our children regardless of background getting free access to health care. We need to take care of our children properly before we start even thinking about forcibly creating more of them.