In the United States, abortion is one of a few issues that sharply divides voters. With voters believing that Republicans will make abortions illegal again, many people who find the practice morally repugnant vote accordingly. Those of us who find the overall Republican platform morally repugnant vote otherwise. What I think that many people do not understand, though, is that those of us who are not in favor of making abortion illegal do not necessesarily want to see the practice continue, either.
How can a person think that abortions should end but be opposed to making it illegal? It's the difference between treating a symptom and treating a cause. Making abortion a crime is treating a symptom; if abortion is made illegal, it may make opponents happy but it will not stop the practice. A knowledge of history in the United States is evidence enough to make any reasonable person see the truth of that.
So how do we eliminate all but the most necessary abortions? The same way any problem is really solved, by looking at data and making decisions based on it. Why do women have abortions? What reasons do they give? What trends come out from that information? And to get this kind of data, what do we have to do?
We have to make it safe for women and their doctors to record the required data. The only way to do that is to keep abortions legal. This certainly must seem counterintuitive to ardent abortion opponents. But it is the only course that makes sense. To stop the practice of abortion, abortions must remain legal.
However, this is obviously not enough. After all, abortions are legal now and they still continue. So what else has to happen? We need to act on the causes. From the data already available, we know there are both social and economic causes. For instance, social pressure for an unmarried woman to not have babies is still high. It is highest in many religious organizations. So again, this might seem counterintuitive religious people and their condemnation of unwed mothers, whether explicit or implicit, is a cause of abortions. Until they're willing to accept the children and their mothers as they would any other family, some women will have abortions to avoid being social outcasts.
Among economic causes is lack of health care and feeling financially unable to raise a child. So eliminating the economic causes of abortion will most likely mean giving people a good education, providing them with health care, making their neighborhoods safe... In short, it will mean funding programs that make people feel like they can bring a child into the world and give that child a decent life. It is somewhat ironic that Republicans would like to see social programs cut to the bone, thus contributing further to the causes of abortion. Between the social and economic causes, it seems far more likely that people will change their attitude toward unwed mothers than that Republicans will change their attitude toward taxes.
I challenge any Republican who happens to read this to put your money where you say your heart is. Demand to have social programs improved, demand health care for all, and be adament in your willingness to pay for it.
So let's work to see that abortions are no longer deemed necessary, that they are eliminated as a matter of course and not as a matter of law. And let's do it in a way that is consistent with the notion that all life is sacred and that all the people involved are treated with the respect and dignity that every person deserves.