(6) I believe that if you want to fight against abortion, you should do so in a way that empowers women rather than shames them. The best way to make abortion rare is to take care of societal health in other ways, including universal health care and better options for higher education, ensuring that people know about sexual health and reproductive choices and that when a woman does get pregnant, it does not mean that she'll be unable to experience educational and financial independence. Abortion rates are much lower in countries with universal health care, lower costs for higher education, and better sex education. Empowered women actually means fewer abortions.
If we as a society are going to address the causes of abortions, we need to do so first from a proactive, non-criminalizing way. Provide universal health care, address higher education costs, address maternity leave, provide paternity leave so that women don't bear the only burden of childbirth. If you want to fight against abortion, fight for better poverty-reduction strategies, such as more equal education for children and greater loan assistance for those pursuing higher education. Fight for greater financial assistance for young and unwed mothers, fight for more affordable housing, fight for universal and affordable prenatal care (something, by the way, that Planned Parenthood provides in certain areas for women who would not otherwise get it), fight for greater pay equality between men and women, and fight for more comprehensive sex education for children and teens. This has proven more effective than outlawing abortion and it ensures greater protection for those voiceless and defenseless children once they are born than the current tactic of the GOP legislators around the US.
(7) As we have seen in this election cycle, it is not a particularly far leap to go from abortion rights to government interference in other choices about parenthood. This future interference will inevitably focus first and foremost on persecuting mothers and women. First it was abortion, now it's contraception. A legislator in Wisconsin has presented a bill that would make single parenthood - which is disproportionately a problem for women - child abuse. So, now single women who do get pregnant and choose not to have an abortion are criminals who could lose their child. That's a *great* way to handle the situation. A woman who is abused and leaves her husband - a Biblical ground for divorce - is now also a criminal for taking care of her child.
When we treat women as nothing more than baby-producers and care givers, then these are the natural consequences: women are forced to give up their careers, they are forced to singularly bear the burden of the mistakes of two people (or non-mistakes, as in the case in the story), and they lose their own voice and are forced to adopt the choices made for them by others. Suddenly, maternity leave is not a choice, but a forced determination. Women aren't compensated for that time because it is expected of them and they aren't allowed to return to work because that's no longer their 'place'. Women start to be treated like cattle.
When we treat women like cattle, it leads to things like domestic abuse, rape, incest, FGM, etc. It all becomes slightly more acceptable. I realize it's easy to roll one's eyes at these very real possibilities and suggest this is just an exaggerated slippery slope argument. But those in the human rights world deal with the very real consequences of taking choices from women and empowering men or society to make those choices for women. I see all of these things stemming from the same belief systems: a woman's principle role in life is not one she chooses but one that society forces upon her.
(8) I am not "pro-abortion." In fact, I know no one who is. I am instead for making abortion safe, legal and rare. I have never had to face the question of whether I would have an abortion, but I believe that coming to this conclusion is a terribly painful process for most women who face this decision. I know a lot of women who as children dreamt about becoming mothers when they grew up; I know none who wanted to have an abortion when they grew up. By nature, pregnancy is what most (but not all!) women desire so when they are considering terminating a pregnancy, it is not an easy decision and it is usually done with consideration of the growing child inside them. I think there is no need for the state to make this decision even more difficult and painful for them.
I find hypocrisy, and even sometimes cruelty, in the anti-choice movement's treatment of abortion. I'm tired of members of the "pro-life" movement in the US claiming to care about children but also stating that we should stop providing international assistance to developing countries. I'm tired of those same people justifying an unjustifiable war in Iraq. In 2003, people operating on behalf of the American population started a war that cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, including thousands of Iraqi children. These were children God also knit together in their mothers' wombs; children who were defenseless and voiceless and helpless. Where was the voice of our pro-life movement then? Where is it now for children in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan who are killed in drone attacks or who are lumped together in the terrifyingly disrespectful term of "collateral damage" for our wars? Where was the objection based on "every life is sacred" and "every child counts?" In this situation, we didn't even defer to those closest to the situation. Someone in Washington makes a choice, not knowing whose lives will be terminated.
There are millions of defenseless, voiceless children who will die from poverty around the world because successive generations worth of US Presidents and Congresses have constructed trade and aid policies that actually harm those communities and are likely to ensure their continued impoverishment rather than sustainable growth. There are millions of children who die because our intellectual property laws protect big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of those children's access to medicines. Millions who will be left orphans for the same reason. Millions left without one or both parents - both in the US and outside of it - because of US health policies ranging from a failure to discuss and distribute contraception in AIDS affected countries to a failure to provide universal health care here at home. Children in the US and around the world die because they don't have access to food, medicine, or safe living conditions. Our girls are sold into sex slavery, advertised regularly on sites like Backpage.com.
We abdicate our rights and responsibilities to fight for life in all these situations and the consequence is that children suffer. It is cruel to the mothers of those Afghan children, those Yemeni children, those Pakistani children, and those American children to treat the unborn as more sacred than the living. Let us give a voice to the voiceless amongst us; defend the defenseless on Earth. When we have systematically, and as passionately, done that, then we should engage in the questions that we can only truly learn the answer to in Heaven, such as when life begins and what protections should be afforded to the pre-born.