President Obama has indicated that he wants to help the pro-choice and pro-life movement find “common ground” on the issue of abortion. There are lots of cynics out there, from pro-lifers who say they could never agree with a “baby killer” to ardent pro-choicers who distrust anyone who would take away the constitutional right to abortion. Still, the President has persisted and several months ago his office sponsored a telephone conference call with representatives from both sides of the issue. Most participants say they felt that not much was accomplished.
Let me suggest that, if there is one thing that both sides of the debate have in common, it is they want to reduce the number of abortions. And to do that you need to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. You know the phrase: “every child a wanted child.”
What is the pro-life movement doing to reduce the number of abortions?
First of all, many of them, despite the position of their church, do support birth control. Some of them are reasonable and enlightened enough to understand that people will have sex and if they do they should use birth control. Then there are others, who are a little more dogmatic who say abstinence is the only way – the “Just Say No” crowd. A nice thought, but not very realistic. And, they say, if you have sex and become pregnant, well you’re out of luck. You’re having a baby. Get the shower announcements printed.
Of course, there are the pro-lifers who believe that they stop abortions by “educating” women as they are entering an abortion facility. If they can, they stop the women tell them “the truth about abortion.” If they cannot stop the women, they’ll scream at them at the top of their lungs. I’ve talked to pro-lifers about these tactics and they swear that they have “saved” a lot of “babies.” They tell me about the woman they talked to who suddenly learned exactly what abortion is. And they tell me she went home instead. Of course, they do not realize that that woman probably called a different clinic the next day and had an abortion elsewhere. But that is beside the point.
The general pro-choice movement certainly supports sex education, birth control, etc. which does reduce the number of pregnancies in this country. But I want to talk about the clinics that are listed on the website (www.abortion.com) that sponsors this blog. That website is a directory of clinics that perform abortions and offers other reproductive health services. And I would suggest that they do more to stop abortions than the average pro-life activist.
What most people don’t realize is that when a woman enters one of these clinics to have an abortion, the first thing that happens after filling out the paperwork is a counselor sits down with her and discusses the circumstances that led to her getting pregnant. During that conversation, the counselor will discover whether or not the woman was on birth control. I once attended a session and, when asked what kind of birth control she was on, the woman responded “I use Lady’s Luck.” I asked her what she meant and she replied “I just hope I get lucky and don’t get pregnant.”
The counselor will then spend time trying to determine what form of birth control is best for that woman: the depo-provera shot, birth control pills, an IUD. If it is determined that birth control pills are the best option, the counselor will usually give the woman a free, three month supply of pills. For many women, pills are very expensive so the clinic tries to make it as easy as possible to get that woman used to taking those pills. Once these discussions are complete, the woman will then have her abortion.
When a woman comes to an abortion clinic, the staff is ready to help but they also never want to see her again. The goal is to put the woman on a regimen that will hopefully prevent any more unintended or unwanted pregnancies. Despite the accusations of the pro-life movement, abortion providers are not anxious to see a woman several times for an abortion. While they would never judge them and will facilitate their desires, they also hope that the woman (and man) take less risks in the future.
I suggest that the pro-life movement does practically nothing to stop abortions. Their response is just don’t have one. On the other hand, the real work of preventing abortions is taking place right inside that very clinic.