PART 4: THE SOCIAL BENEFITS OF ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTION.
Before the legalization of abortions in 1973, it was estimated that there were approximately 800,000 illegal abortions a year. (Guttmacher Institute Jan/Feb. 2004).
That’s proof right there that criminalizing abortion will not STOP abortion. It simply drives it underground. On the other hand, legalization has created many positive options for unwanted pregnancies:
1) The average gestation period for abortions has dropped. In 1970, 1 in 4 abortions were performed at 13 weeks or later. 10 years later, that number had dropped to 1 in 10. More than half of the women obtaining abortions after 1980 did so at 8 weeks gestation or earlier (Guttmacher – same report). Abortions are a fact of life in every human society, regardless of their laws and customs. So, can all the “Pro”-Groups, at the very least, agree on encouraging and supporting abortion as earlier in the pregnancy as possible?
2) Early legal abortions were typically done in a hospital. But since the 1980’s those procedures were more commonly offered at Woman’s Reproductive Health Clinics that in addition to abortion, also provide women with family planning services, support networks, contraceptive counseling, routine out-patient gynecological exams, sterilization procedures and infertility testing. Closing such health clinics robs women of access to all important reproductive health services.
3) Deaths and complications from illegal abortions dropped dramatically after Roe vs. Wade. Abortion today is one of the safest medical procedures performed. (stat here?). Remember, making abortions illegal again won’t stop abortions – it will just drive them underground where they will become more dangerous and fatal. Legalization has also encouraged extensive research to find better, safer and more affordable procedures and birth control methods.
A 1999 Harvard University study reported these additional long-term social benefits:
“The sharp rise in legal abortions from fewer than 750,000 in 1973 to a plateau of around 1.5 million a year since the early 1980’s fits with the timing of the drop in national crime rates since 1991. The cumulative effect from abortions 15 to 25 years earlier can also explain why the national crime rate continued to fall through 1998 and is projected to keep falling for a further 10 to 20 years.”
“….New York and California legalized abortion by 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. As the theory implies, the early legalizers experienced falling crime rates sooner than the rest of the country. Finally, abortion rates responded to the legalization differently across states, and those with the highest rates of abortion in the 1970’s experienced the sharpest drops in crime in the 1990’s.
Read the full article at: https://scholar.harvard.edu/barro/files/99_0927_crimerate_bw.pdf
Just a shout out to the Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani-types: legal, safe, effective, affordable abortions seem to have had a much greater effect on lowering the crime rate than your “stop and frisk”, “three strikes”, and mandatory minimum sentencing programs. Something we should all be talking about.
If that’s not enough, there is one more big long-term social benefit. Overpopulation is one of human civilization’s greatest threats. At this current moment, we are failing to supply about 1/3 of the world’s population with the very basic necessities of life: adequate food, clean water, medical care and adequate shelter. By 2050, with an estimated world population approaching 10 billion, that shortfall will affect roughly 50% of all humans! (UN study, get specific reference). How can we maintain a stable society when half of all people don’t have access to the basic necessities of daily life? We simply cannot sustain our current quality of life without fundamentally changing the way we live.
Americans are a huge part of the problem. Per capita, Americans consume 4 times as much of the world’s natural resources as British or French citizens. When compared to Chinese or Indians, average American consumption is 10-12 times higher. Americans devour 20 times more natural resources per capita than people in Brazil or Egypt or Pakistan. And compared to some of the poorest sub-Saharan African countries, American per capita consumption can range from 50 to 100 times higher.
From a global perspective, we Americans are gluttonous, greedy pigs. Even though our birth rates are relatively low, it’s our massive appetite for Earth’s resources that makes us such a danger to our species’ quality of life.
If we had any kind of conscience and compassion for our brothers and sisters around the world we would, and should, rethink, redesign and re-engineer all products, packaging, delivery systems and energy consumption currently in use. Unfortunately, that will likely take decades, if it happens at all.
In the meantime, the very last thing we should encourage is the gestation and birth of unwanted children. Such an attitude is bound in an ancient, outdated belief that humans have an obligation to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28, 9:7). That seemed like a good idea thousands of years ago when there were under 50 million humans on this planet. Unfortunately, Western monotheisms continue to preach and defend this doctrine up to this very day.
We humans have been too fruitful and have multiplied into a ravenous swarm of billions that we cannot sustain. Like a virus that multiplies too successfully and kills its host. Earth is our host and out-of-control human population is killing our only habitat.
As urgently as we need this change of consciousness, it should be implemented voluntarily. Smart governments will not impose mandatory sterilizations or one-child policies, nor should governments force women to remain pregnant and deliver children against their will. Instead we can dramatically reduce the number of abortions by providing women (and their spouses, baby-daddies and doctors) with the best possible health care and a broad range of prevention and pregnancy options which includes safe, effective abortion procedures. Given those options, women will overwhelmingly make the right choices for their lives and future. We must support that.
If we were to make abortions illegal again in this country (or with only an exception to save the mother’s life) we would join the company of the following nations:
El Salvador Lebanon
Or, we can adopt sane and sensible abortion laws with viability restrictions, proper education, safe medical facilities and procedures like the following countries:
The Netherlands Israel
With whom shall we cast our lot? Countries run by tyrants, dictators, autocrats and religious fanatics (except Ireland where they will be voting on a constitutional referendum to liberalize abortion laws in May ‘18) or democratic countries that lead the world in per capita income and quality of life?
When will the United States take responsibility for consuming the lion’s share of the world’s resources? If we are going to be respected as the “Leaders of the Free World” then we must act like leaders and LEAD. We must be the role models. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
That means not emulating dictatorships and theocracies. That means having the best health care systems in the world that includes contraception, prenatal education and care, lowering our infant mortality rates, and as a last resort option, providing safe, effective and inexpensive abortions. It also means having the best adoption and foster care system in the world; ending child homelessness, malnutrition and providing health care for all children.
We cannot randomly, carelessly or thoughtlessly bring unwanted children into a country where they will consume 4 to 100 times more resources than children in other countries. Nor should we bring them into a country with a woefully under-funded, under-staffed adoption and foster care system.
Our priority must be for living children – for the 400,000 in foster care, the 20,000 a year that age out of foster care without a permanent family, the 2.5 million homeless children, the countless millions more without health care, and the untold number of children that are abused. Let us put all of our energies into solving their problems first instead of shaming, scaring and obstructing pregnant women.
Can we temporarily drop these unwinnable Abortion Wars and instead try working together to make our world healthier, safer, happier and more caring for our living children? Politicians won’t like us working together — because they can manipulate us much more easily by dividing us and making us fear one another. But together we can reduce the number of abortions, reduce infant mortality, give mothers and their children better healthcare and improve conditions for parentless children.
Let’s drop the polarizing rhetoric of “Life” and “Choice” and find the common ground. We’re all Pro-Child and Pro-Mother right?
END THE ABORTION WARS.
PROTECT AND SUPPORT OUR LIVING CHILDREN & MOTHERS.
COMING SOON: PART 5: CONCLUSIONS AND SOLUTIONS TO THE REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS HOT BUTTON ISSUE.