Pro-life or pro-choice? Both.

or, Why I can be pro-life and still want abortion legal

The movement for illegalising abortion made a major PR coup when they adopted the name ``pro-life'': it implicitly accuses opponents of this view of being ``anti-life''. I really don't know very many people who are actually against life; I really don't know too many that even think abortion is always a good idea. Many pro-choice people think that abortion is usually or always a bad idea, some going as far as to call it evil.

How, then, can they want it to be legal?

There are many, many reasons to want abortion legal. Some are strong, some are weak. You may not agree with all of them, but if you agree with even one it should give you pause for thought. I have broken them down as follows:


If abortions are legal, then they can be regulated.


If abortions are legal, then women can choose not to have them.

Social equality

If abortions are not legal, it creates an atmosphere of sexist and classist inequality.

Different points of view

What can we do?

Right about now, there are a lot of people reading this saying, ``but abortion is wrong. What else can we do, if not make it illegal?'' This is more good PR work on the part of the illegalise-abortion camp. They have made it seem like if you are ``pro-life'' (and anti-abortion), the only thing to do is to illegalise it. On the contrary, there are a number of very useful things we can do to decrease the number of abortions performed---perhaps even more effectively than illegalising it.

Promote birth control

It's simple: if people use birth control, they're much less likely to get pregnant. And if they don't get pregnant, they won't be getting an abortion. Promote abstinence all you want, but if kids don't know about birth control, then when they do have sex there's a good chance they'll get pregnant. Possible compromise: the use of birth control could be taught in the context of marriage. As in, ``when you first get married, you might not be ready to have kids yet, so here's how you put them off a while.'' I mean, don't get me wrong---kids aren't dumb, they'll figure out what you're really telling them here, but if you need to toe the official line for some reason, there's your out.

Don't badmouth single mothers

Many pregnant teens turn to abortion because they are deathly afraid of their parents ever finding out. Every time you utter anything bad about single mothers, you are making it that much more likely that, if your daughter gets pregnant, she'll want to do anything to keep that fact from you. Including getting an abortion.

Lend assistance to single mothers

If there is a single mother in your community---church, family, friends, neighbours---help her out! Offer to babysit, offer to come in and cook occasionally, donate old baby clothes, be a shoulder to cry on, anything. The more visible, the better. Then, when someone else in the community gets pregnant, you've set yourself up as a sympathetic ear for her to go to. She'll be scared, but you can point out that the community is there for her and will help out, etc, etc.

Behave well when someone announces her pregnancy

Especially if she's your daughter, but really no matter who she is, behave yourself! Surprise is fine; disapproval and shame are not. Do not say: ``well, I hope you're ashamed of yourself.'' Do say: ``wow, that's a heavy load for you to carry. How can I help?''

Give to single mother organisations

There are a number of programs out there, run by churches or other charitable organisations, that give aid of various sorts to pregnant women and single mothers (usually simply on the condition that the baby be allowed to live). Donate to them!

Support pro-life propaganda

There are many radio and TV commercials out there that ``there's another option'', or several other options. Convincing pregnant women not to have abortions is All Good---as long as we are honest enough to recognise that someone might choose abortion anyway, and humble enough to recognise that we aren't allowed to dictate their life.


I honestly think that if all the money and effort put towards illegalising abortion had instead been put towards helping single mothers (and publicising the organisations that do so), there would have been much more progress towards curtailing abortion than has been made so far. I also think that we have for far too many years let political candidates use this as the only issue they run on, rendering this ``democracy'' incapable of representing its people on any other issue (if indeed it even represents us on this one).

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