Remarks on abortion

Given how this is a polarising topic in politics at the moment, I feel it to be important to address this issue. I feel that as soon as debate moves to whether or not it should be outlawed, the point has already been tragically missed.

It is important to distinguish between things people do for fun, and those which they resort to. I do believe that a high abortion rate is generally an undesirable indicator (suggesting e.g. prevalence of poverty and sexual abuse), but with the understanding that a metric ceases to be useful once it becomes a target. I am not, however, in support of outlawing or censoring the process, and I feel that there is a pervasive tendency to harmfully oversimplify the responsibility for such scenarios.

It is all too convenient to place the blame in the arms of the pregnant, who is driven between a rock and a hard place, without questioning why someöne was driven there in the first place. It is convenient and easy to advocate for the unborn—they are the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe” (Dave Barnhart)—without caring about the disadvantaged, oppressed or abused who are living. I do not feel that it is reasonable to necessarily consider the pregnant the villain rather than a victim of the situation.

(This is leaving medical emergencies out of it. I feel that the course of action there, as with any medical emergency, ought be blatantly obvious to anyone who cares about the principle of the matter.)

So if you wish to reduce rates of abortion, what should you be doing?

  1. Reduce occurance of situations which might necessitate it in the first place. Due to the variety of circumstances, no one approach will necessarily be sufficient. Working to reduce sexual abuse (including inter alia rape and contraceptive sabotage), increase availability of contraception, and increase awareness of the risks of (unprotected) sex through competent sex education will all contribute to this. Remember that if you are truly trying to reduce this, the approach cannot rely on assuming everyone sticking to a given religious code.
  1. Reduce the need to resort to such measures in any situation. For example, working to ensure that teenage pregnancies will not be shunned, disowned, bullied or placed at an academic or career disadvantage, and will have the resources to pull through. Parts of this, by the way, begin in your own homes.

I don’t know if it’s too skeptical to suggest that many of the views heard around abortion originate from those without uteri who (for example) shame or penalise teenage pregnancy or deny access to contraceptives, and not like to think of themselves as responsible for their regions’ rates of abortion, but there may be some truth in that.