Earlier this month, the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito in a case involving a Mississippi abortion clinic raised the prospect that America’s highest court would overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion that legalized abortion in all states in the U.S. It would not only make abortion illegal in 20 states, but would increase negative stigmas that surround women and sex.
As a pro-life individual, I understand where people are coming from when they want to make abortion illegal. I do not stand behind the concept of killing children before they are born. However, in discussing the subject of abortion, the conversation does not end with the removal of a gamete or zygote. This issue is deeper than the start of life, and echoes into multiple aspects of our society.
The motto that life is sacred “from womb to tomb” is a sentiment pro-life individuals should reflect on more. There is a heavy emphasis on life in the womb, but the fight for better legislation seems to end there. Everyone is so invested in ending abortion access, but where is that same energy for gun reform and universal health care? Where is the same fire for supporting our veterans, the homeless, people who are starving and criminals facing the death penalty?
By focusing on eliminating abortion as an option for women with unwanted pregnancies, we are hyper-focusing on the symptom of the problem. If you talk to any woman who made the decision to have an abortion, it is not something they carry lightly. The burden of undergoing that procedure follows these women. It is not something they tote around or something they chose on a whim.
The real problem is our continued lack of sex education, and the further continuation of rape culture. As a society, most of us only learn the basics of how children are made. I think that every one of my female friends received the American Girl “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls” after having “The Talk” with our parents. This book did a great job de-stigmatizing the changes our bodies go through during puberty, and honestly there need to be more resources like it that can relate to sexual education.
While I understand that no parent wants to tell their 11-year-old all the details about how a baby is made, that is not what I mean by better education. I mean that high schoolers need to learn about how a child is made, the various ways it can happen, what childcare is actually like, and, most importantly, what consent is.
Lots of people fear that telling kids this information will make their child want to try it. News flash: your child probably already has. If we educate correctly, then they will understand the many reasons why not to have sex until they are adults. More importantly, they will know how to go about the act in a way that is safe.
Because we do not talk about sex, there is still the aura of something forbidden lurking around it for rebellious teens, which will only make them want to experience it more. If we made talking about sex the same as talking about getting a cold, we would have far fewer problems with unwanted conceptions.
An abortion ban will also not stop abortions from happening. It will only stop safe, legal abortions from happening. Data from the CDC shows that before and after Roe v. Wade in 1973, the number of abortions remained almost the same. The only factor that changed was the number of women who died from abortions drastically decreased from over 30 to under five.
If we want to be pro-life individuals, we need to stop eliminating options for people who have unwanted pregnancies and focus on ways to stop the pregnancies from happening in the first place. It is hypocritical to back overturning Roe v. Wade without offering alternatives, such as sex education and easy access to contraceptives.
Even more, if you consider yourself pro-life, but your concerns end once the child is born, you are part of the problem. Pro-life is a life-long mindset, and supporting an abortion ban is not going to solve the numerous violations of life that American society perpetuates daily. We need legal abortions to protect mothers, and we need better education to beneficially eliminate abortions.