For the health and safety of women and children in our nation, we must not allow the current extremist position of the Republican party to continue influencing policy decisions. I’m not sure how I feel about Plan B emergency contraception, never mind the idea of expanding its OTC availablity to girls under age 18. But the recent decision by Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to override the FDA recommendation smacks of politics trumping women’s health.
My own beliefs about terminating a pregnancy are complicated, as I believe they should be. I’m a woman. I’m a childbirth educator who helps parents prepare for birth. I’m a mother. I’m a liberal Democrat. I believe life begins at conception, and that even a ball of cells has a soul.
After years of searching my own soul, I conclude that abortions must be legal and paid for by health insurance. Here are some of the reasons why:
- My beliefs that life begins at conception and that souls exist at all, are simply that. My beliefs. Though shared by many people, they are not scientific facts. Embryos are not, and should not be, protected by the Constitution in the same way that people are after they are born.
- Thousands of girls are sexually abused by male family members each year. This abuse tends to be repeated and without condoms. For a politician to suggest, as Nevada Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle did in her ’08 campaign, that a teen impregnated by a family member should “make lemonade” out of this situation is unconscionably cruel and irresponsible.
- I can so easily imagine a woman about my age, married with let’s say three kids. She gets accidently pregnant—things happen. Financially her family is just barely making ends meet. Maybe one of her kids already has special needs. She learns that the baby she is carrying has a horrible condition that will lead him to spend his brief life in a hospital until he finally dies a painful death. What is the kindest choice in this situation?
Life is complicated. The goal should not be to criminalize abortion. The goal needs to be minimizing unwanted pregnancies and making adoption accessible and affordable. That means:
- Comprehensive sex-ed programs that are actually effective.
- Healthcare coverage for everyone that includes easily accessible and affordable birth-control options.
- Sincere conversations in homes, churches, schools and society about sex, pregnancy and parenting. Everyone knows an abortion is different than any other medical procedure to remove something from your body. Talk and listen calmly and honestly about sex, what it means to be pregnant, and how easy it is for teens to become pregnant.
- Allowing every loving and able prospective parent regardless of race, sexuality, marital status, or income to adopt babies. It costs about $25,000 to adopt a baby and adoption is often limited only to straight married couples.
- Supporting programs that support pregnant teens. We need programs that keep pregnant teens in school, provide healthcare for mom and baby, provide a home if needed, provide job training and college loans, and provide quality affordable childcare.
- Providing programs that support families of children with special needs.
God didn’t give any of us the right take a life. True. But God also made life really, really complicated. And God gave us the power and responsibility to be thoughtful and make independent choices. I choose to support women’s health and safety. I choose to support a government that values healthcare for all. I choose to support families that struggle. I choose to provide children with honest information about their bodies and their health. I choose to listen to the beliefs of others. I pray that others will do the same.
What do you choose?