I’m pro-choice, including abortion. I would even say I’m a Fan of abortion. I had one myself, six years ago this week. I had gone into it with a lot of fears and myths in my head, and was so pleasantly surprised by the truth, I went on CNN to spread the gospel of RU486.
In the week I had to wait between a positive pregnancy test and a Planned Parenthood appointment, I read every first-hand account of medical abortion (abortion by pill rather than outpatient surgery) I could find, and every fact I could absorb from the Guttmacher Institute. I learned that abortion within the first trimester is one of the safest medical procedures in USA, if not the safest.
I noticed how grateful the women writing these stories were. I learned that most people feel relief immediately after abortion, and gratitude over the years that follow. Despite popular sentiment that abortion is “a difficult choice” or “always a tragedy”, elective abortion is experienced as a good in the lives of those who have them.
Yet, I support measures to prevent abortion. Not because abortion itself is a bad thing, but because it can be a sign of bad things we really should address. When I had my abortion, I very much fit the average of abortion patients – a white woman in my 20s, in poverty, who was already a single mother, with an unintended pregnancy.
The majority of abortion payments are poor or impoverished (7/10). The majority already have children (6/10) and know how much time, energy, and money children need. They are already twice penalized in the workplace for being women and mothers, possibly more depending on race, size, and disability.
These women in their 20s have limited access to long-term and hormonal birth control, as compared to other age groups. They are too old to qualify for teen health initiatives, are much less likely to be covered by parents’ insurance, and are less likely to have careers that provide health insurance. The Affordable Care Act, which passed since my abortion, has addressed birth control access somewhat, but incompletely.
Divorcing the link between poverty and single motherhood would go a long way to reducing abortions. First, there would be fewer unintended pregnancies. Second, women not in poverty are more likely to choose to complete unintended pregnancies. Third, if parenting more children did not necessarily lead to more financial hardship, more people would choose to continue their pregnancies.
Universal healthcare, strong protections for abortion providers and their staff, and living stipends for parent-caregivers or universal basic income would do more to prevent abortion than any crisis pregnancy center or garish poster of fetal remains ever could. In other countries, such measures are correlated with both fewer abortions and fewer unintended pregnancies.
It is good to prevent unintended pregnancies, not because abortion is a dangerous ordeal, but because pregnancy is. Pregnancy has its own diabetes and heart disease, and maternal mortality rates in some poor, mostly black parts of USA are as abysmal and tragic as the rates in sub-saharan Africa. Pregnancy prevention is safer than abortion; abortion is safer than pregnancy and birth. There will always be abortion, and I am hopeful one day all abortions will be safe and legal.