CATE O’BRIEN | OPINION COLUMNIST
Why we have to stop simplifying the issue of abortion and come together for an answer.
I have been pro-choice for as long as I knew what abortion was. My stance has evolved from solely an echo of my parents’ beliefs into a true representation of what I believe in based on readings, discussions, and my own sense of morality. This stance might make some of you stop reading this article immediately. I understand that. Your firm belief in the dignity of all life is beautiful and insightful, and I’m sure that you have thought about it as much as or more than I have, because it is an intense issue and it deserves careful thought. Literal lives of others are at our disposal when this issue is taken up.
Which is why we need to stop the silly party line bantering and listen to each other.
Both sides of the argument are guilty of demonizing the other side. In my admittedly limited experience, people who are pro-life tend to cast an image of those who are pro-choice as monstrous teenagers who don’t want the responsibility of taking care of something as precious as another human’s life, careless idiots who sling around mumbo jumbo and feminist ideals without thinking of the importance or significance of the children’s lives they are taking away.
People who are pro-choice (my high school self included) tend to think of people who are pro-life as small-town hicks who haven’t thought the issue through, prudish imbeciles so bound to their traditional morality that they refuse to think past the same lines their parents have repeated to them throughout their lives.
Obviously, these generalizations are not only angering; they’re also incredibly untrue. Both sides of the issue have points that are deeply moral. Obviously those who are pro-life, in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, show a deep sense of morality and kindness. And as for those who are pro-choice, I would hope that most of us don’t simply hate all babies but rather really care for the woman’s health and well-being. So, to sum up the issue, on the one side there is respect for the baby; on the other, respect for the mother. The resulting question I’d like to pose is: why can’t we attempt to come to a conclusion that respects both?
This conclusion would have to be thought out. It would have to go beyond the banning or admittance of abortion in the country, because abortion happens whether or not we ban it. So the solution would have to come from the source of the problem. Why are these abortions happening? I refuse to believe that out of the nearly 700,000 women getting abortions per year, all of them are careless, evil women. So then, why do so many abortions happen?
Is it because of the poverty of these women? Research shows that 42 percent of women who get abortions have incomes below 100 percent of the poverty line, and another 27 percent of them have incomes between 100 percent and 199 percent of the poverty line.* If the correlation between poverty and abortion has anything to do with its causation, what can we do to help these impoverished women feel more secure in their pregnancies?
Perhaps the issue is not solely poverty. Perhaps it’s education about birth control. Perhaps it’s the safety of these women against rape. Perhaps it’s the fear of being a single parent. Perhaps it’s the culture surrounding casual sex. Perhaps it’s the stigma around adoption, or perhaps it’s a lack of knowledge about the adoption process.
For those of you who are pro-life, I understand that it seems I am making excuses for the women who get these abortions. My goal in bringing up these “reasons for abortions” is not to force you to excuse these women. Rather, it’s to spark intelligent, respectful conversation between the two sides of the argument in an attempt to come to a solution which might help women feel that they no longer need the option of abortions at all. The goal would not only be to help the woman, but to ensure that her child would have the opportunity to live a full, beautiful life: respecting both the woman and the child.
The next time that this conversation comes up, just think about listening to one another. The arguments of the past will get us nowhere in the future. To really solve this issue, we need common ground. We need to humanize, to respect and to listen to those with different opinions. Otherwise, we are just breeding the same hatred of the past, and c’mon guys: communio, right?