Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Polarized Views on Abortion

According to numerous polls, the majority of Americans think that abortion should remain legal. A similar majority is uncomfortable with abortion and supports minor restrictions on it. My own views mirror the majority.

A couple of issues have come up at either end of the spectrum on Abortion. I want to talk about why I reject both of these.

First there are an increasing number of pharmacists who refuse to fill a prescription for the "Morning After Pill". The objection is that it prevents a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the uterus and is therefore an "abortion pill".

The flaw in this argument is that a surprising number of fertilized eggs do not embed themselves. I've seen figures suggesting 20%-30%. From a strict religious viewpoint it is hard to say that God thinks that preventing a fertilized egg from becoming a baby when he designed it so that it happens in a quarter of the cases, anyway.

Pharmacists should know that. They have had some medical training. If this offends their religion then they should stay away from general pharmacies where these prescriptions are filled.

On the other end are the pro-abortion people. The abortion-rights movement likes to call itself pro-choice but to many of them, the choice is always abortion.

Years ago the OSU Women's Studies Department out out a calendar that included a group that tries to talk pregnant women out of having abortions. If you are actually pro-choice then this should be no problem. You want a pregnant woman to be able to listen to either side of the issue.

Not the women of Columbus. In several opinion pieces they made it very clear that the only appropriate choice for a pregnant student is to have an abortion. This was based on statistics showing how seldom pregnant students finished their degree. The not-so-hidden assumption was that having a degree is always better than having a child and that if a woman is going to wait for one or the other, she should always wait to have the child.

That came up years ago but it echoes in the modern debate over parental notification. There is a bill in Congress that would make it a crime to take a minor across state lines for an abortion without the consent of her parents. There are also provisions for parental notification and a 24 hour waiting period.

Abortion advocates have a fit over this. Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman points out that parents are not notified when their daughter has sex or when she is in the delivery room (really - can a 16 year old deliver a child without next of kin being notified? I don't know.). She also points out that the child still has the option to refuse the abortion or to give up the child for adoption.

The Feminist Daily News goes further:

Reproductive rights groups are calling the bill the “Teen Endangerment Act” because it “fails to protect those teenagers dealing with precarious family situations — like alcoholic or abusive parents — by forcing them to rely on those parents or to go to any lengths, including dangerous ones, to avoid doing so,” said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Situations in which young women who had obtained a judicial bypass in their home state would be exempt, but there is no provision for girls who are not residents of parental-notification states to obtain such a bypass, reports The Christian Science Monitor
Are these attacks fair? The feminists start with a blanket assumption that pregnant teenagers' parents are abusive. The dreaded back-alley abortion is also alluded to when referring to the "dangerous lengths" that girls would go to.

There are huge flaws in this argument. The biggest one is that having an abortion will resolve the abusive family or that abuse is ok as long as there is no pregnancy involved. These are really two different issues and should be addressed separately.

There is also the possibility that the man who abused a teenage girl is the one taking her for an abortion so that the parents will not find out about the abuse. Which is more likely? Both are serious issues but arguing exclusively based on one ignores the other.

Judicial override would be a nice addition to the bill and would resolve any objections based on abuse.

Goodman has better points but they are also separate issues. Yes, teens have sex without parental notification. If birth control is involved then, depending on the age of the kids, this is a much lesser issue.

Beyond that we get into double and triple standards about how we treat teenagers. They cannot drink or smoke or buy a gun. They cannot sign contracts. They can drive once they are 16 but often with restrictions. Their minds and bodies are not fully developed yet but their reproductive organs already work.

The same people who are calling for full sexual freedom at puberty are also in favor of giving these kids a pass when they commit a criminal act.

The underlying assumption here is that a teenager should always have an abortion. They want it to be as easy as possible. Worried that you will be grounded? No problem, the doctor can get rid of this little problem for you.

That's also why they are against waiting periods. If a girl is so unsure about the abortion that she cannot come back a day later then there is a good chance that she will regret it afterwards. That doesn't matter to the abortion rights people.

Yes, having a child in your teens is a crushing burden on the mother and her parents. I know some very worthwhile people who were born in these circumstances. Any attempts at stacking the deck to ensure abortion are misguided.

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