Reducing Abortions

Abortion is a term that immediately stirs a reaction. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, I do not believe anyone is truly in favor of abortion. The argument is about legal availability, and is a very complicated, supercharged and divisive issue.

Since we want fewer abortions, how do we do it? What is the most effective and civilized path forward for reducing unintended pregnancies?

The sides are deeply divided. It is amazing how different these paths. You might be wondering, why am I writing about this?  Great question.  Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for a long time.  Attempts to overturn this decision have been many, and states have weighed in with their own legislative efforts.

In a democracy, we have different branches of government to make law, and to rule on challenges to laws.  We have processes that outline how this system works and how men and women are appointed or elected to places in this system. And those things create and protect fair-dealing? Not always.

Here is an example.

The conservative Kansas Legislature is again attempting to make abortion illegal regardless of such issues as rape, incest and serious health factors. It isn’t enough to propose such legislation, the Legislature fought to put the issue on the August 2022 ballot as a Constitutional question. Why was putting it on that ballot a controversial issue? Well, that date is primary, in a non-presidential election year. Conservatives fought hard for the date, as well as holding off amendments for rape, incest and risk to the life of the mother.  If passed, it would amend the State Constitution to allow the Legislature to effectively abolish abortion. 

In Hodes & Nasuer, MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt, the Kansas Supreme Court in 2019 ruled that persons have controls over their own bodies, under the right of personal autonomy. Since 2011, the Legislature has made nearly two dozens restrictions on abortion, but this Constitutional question is a game-changer.

While the ballot issue is one thing, the underhanded action to make sure it is on an election date favorable to passage, that’s rigging the game. Apparently, the end justifies the means. Isn’t this an example of trying to steal an election?

Several years ago, to ensure far-right members of the Kansas Legislature wanted to pass some controversial measures that did not even have the support of moderate Republicans. So fearing defeat, the conservative leadership replaced members of several committees with supporters who ensured passage of those bills. When you cannot win legitimately, you cheat and rationalize your actions.

This is the same conservative faction that wants limited government, and to stay out of people’s personal rights and lives. Dictating reproductive rights of women is hardly staying out of people’s lives. It is hypocrisy.

On March 9, 2021, the Arkansas legislature passed SB6, which bans providers from performing abortions “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency,” and makes no exceptions for instances of rape, incest or fetal anomalies.

I am not pro-abortion, I never have been. I am pro-choice, just for the record. I believe in sex education, availability of birth control, and access to health services for women.

In states and countries where sex education is taught and birth control available, abortion rates are lower as is the reduced spread of sexually transmitted disease. Prevention is always smarter than punishment.

In the Netherlands, where sex education begins in preschool and is integrated into all levels and subjects of schooling, they boast one of the lowest teen birth rates in the world — 5.1 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 — a rate six times lower than that of the U.S. (Berne & Huberman, 1999; United Nations, 2012). Likewise, the Dutch teenage abortion rate is approximately two and a half times lower than that of the U.S., and its HIV prevalence rate is three and a half times lower (Kost & Henshaw, 2012; Statistics Netherlands, 2011; UNAIDS, 2012).

In Germany, where sex education is comprehensive and targeted to meet the reading and developmental needs of the students, the teenage birth rate is three and a half times times lower than that of the U.S.; its teenage abortion rate is about four and a half times lower; and its HIV prevalence rate is three and a half times lower (Destatis, 2013; Kost & Henshaw, 2012; UNAIDS, 2012; United Nations, 2012).

France has a nationally mandated sex education program that begins when students are 13. Parents are prohibited from withdrawing their teenagers from the program. France’s teenage birthrate is three times lower than that of the U.S., and its HIV prevalence rate is nearly two times lower (Berne & Huberman, 1999; UNAIDS, 2012; United Nations, 2012

Afraid that information will make teens fore sexually active? Some already are, and others already know what it’s about. Teens who have sex education are half as likely to experience a pregnancy as those who attend abstinence-only programs (Kohler, et al, 2008).

Thirtyeight states have law covering sex education, focusing on age and content, including what cannot be taught and emphasizing certain practices over others. Only 29 states require sex education and of those, just 22 states require sex or HIV education to be technically accurate. I guess in some states the stork still delivers babies.

For a civilized country, we have banana republic leadership, heavy fisted, closed minds and belief in windmill cancer.

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