Saturday, January 22, 2011

38 Years of Safe and Legal Abortions

Today marks 38 years since the passing of Roe v. Wade. In case you are unfamiliar, this landmark court decision ensured a woman's right to privacy in choosing to --or not to-- have an abortion.

That's right, abortion is a choice. Whether or not you feel like you personally could or ever would get an abortion, that is your choice. What other people do with their bodies is their choice. But even with Roe v. Wade, abortion access is strictly regulated, and there are many people who have a hard time finding safe and legal abortion providers. Restricted access to abortion, which is usually a safe medical procedure, is the reason women die unnecessarily from unsafe, unclean, and illegal abortion providers.

There are lots of reasons women get abortions, and their reasons are usually personal and private. I hope that I will never get an abortion, but I am happy that I have that option if I were to get pregnant and decide that I could or should not have a baby.

Seeing shows like Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant don't make me wish that these girls had gotten abortions, but that they hadn't gotten pregnant in the first place. When used properly, condoms are about 98% effective in preventing pregnancy (and sexually transmitted infections) and the birth control pill is between 92 and 99% effective. The important thing is to ensure that people know how to use birth control methods properly.

Abstinence, like say... abortion, is a personal choice. If you believe that you should remain abstinent until marriage or until age 25 or whatever... go for it. However, the reality is that teenagers are having sex. And that most people, even the ones who do remain abstinent until marriage, do have sex some day. And both men and women should be equipped with the knowledge about staying safe during sex. Not many people aim to have a baby every time they have sex (not everyone can be the Duggars). I think I received a fairly good sex education in high school, and had a fairly unrestricted access to information online when I was curious about learning more... and I never had sex in high school. Learning about sex does not create the need in a teenager to have sex. Learning about sex in high school did the contrary for me. I knew that there was no way in hell that I wanted to have sex when I was a teenager because I was super paranoid about STIs/STDs and pregnancy. I knew that when I did start having sex, I wanted to be using the birth control pill. I have a friend from Lubbock, Texas, who told me that her sex education consisted of a preacher coming into her (public) school and talking to the students about abstinence and how if you have sex before marriage you will go to hell. (As far as I know, this is still true in Lubbock.) Incidentally, Lubbock teens are ill-equipped in their knowledge about how to have safe sex, and the town has one of the highest STD rates among teenagers in the country. Abstinence-only education is not encouraging teenagers to not have sex, nor is it providing them with the kind of information that keeps them safe from the negative consequences of having sex unsafely.

It's kind of a no-brainer that access to information about safe sex will lead to less teen pregnancies (or less teen abortions). Continued access to safe and legal abortions will mean that fewer women will die or face life-threatening infections from unsafe procedures, and will be able to have children later in life when they choose to. Additionally, state and nationally funded programs that help families and children will improve the quality of life for women and children. (Funny how the states in which abortion is most restricted... where senators want you most to carry your pregnancy to term... have the least amount of programs to help children once they have been born. Abortion-friendly states and senators have an inverse relationship with their amount and quality of programs for women and children.)

And here's my links to more info round-up for the day:

25 States with the Most Abortions (funny how many of these are the most hostile towards women seeking abortions... think they might restrict access to good sexual education as well?)

Shelby Knox's personal blog (on safe sex and women's rights)

How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics, and the War on Sex. I read this book this past summer and it is fantastic. It's very informational and engaging and if you are at all interested in reproductive rights and the battle to save them, you will love this book.

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