I get very frustrated by “I Vote Pro-Life” bumper stickers and yard signs, primarily because I believe that if you are voting for a candidate only because you think he or she can put an end to abortion through their overt position on “pro-life” versus “pro-choice” then I think you are deluding yourself. Now that I have alienated 99% of the few people who actually decided to read this, let me explain what I think would be much more effective methods of actually saving lives.
- Privacy vs. Viability (and other “scientific” arguments) – A woman’s right to privacy (and therefore to have an abortion) is superseded once a fetus becomes viable. What is deemed “viable” has changed through the years and varies state by state, with Georgia, Iowa, South Carolina, Virginia and Texas allowing abortions until the third trimester and Nebraska and North Carolina only allowing abortions until week 20. By supporting research that will keep premature babies alive at younger and younger ages, you help demonstrate that viability well before the third trimester is not just an anomaly but a reality and you make it easier for states to defer to the rights of the viable fetus at an earlier point in the pregnancy. Nebraska has taken this scientific approach one step further, basing its 20 week limit not on viability but rather on the capacity of the fetus to feel pain.
- Do Not Treat Cases of Rape and Incest Differently Than Other Abortions – Regardless of why you are opposed to abortion, it makes no sense to treat a fetus that is the product of rape or incest any differently than a fetus that was conceived consensually. All of the other arguments for protecting life lose credibility if you are willing to sacrifice this small subset of lives because of how they were created.
- A Pro-Economy Vote Will Probably Save More Lives Than A Pro-Life Vote – Although abortions overall have been declining, abortions among women living below the federal poverty level are on the rise: “[W]hen confronted with an unintended pregnancy, women who might have felt equipped to support a child or another child in a more stable economic climate may have decided that they were unable to do so during a time of economic uncertainty.”
- Become an Advocate of Birth Control, and KNOW YOUR FACTS! – I feel like far too many people in the “Pro-Life” movement lose sight of the goal. If we truly want to minimize the number of abortions, then why haven’t we discovered the amazing common ground with the “Pro-Choice” movement of teaching about and making available various methods of birth control and their effectiveness? For example, how many of you know that condoms are considered to be just as effective as withdrawal, leading to 15-24 pregnancies per 100 women per year? Yes, condoms have gotten a great reputation for preventing the transmission of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, but if you want to decrease the number of abortions happening in this country every year, you should be out there educating people that condoms are not very effective at preventing pregnancy.
- Support or Start an Organization That Offers Abortion Alternatives – Here in the Washington, D.C. area we have the Gabriel Network which has been going strong for over 10 years. Their Mission Statement is to “[provide] a supportive Christian environment and help with basic needs to pregnant women facing poverty and homelessness, empowering them to embrace motherhood and choose life.” Although they are church-based, they offer assistance regardless of the mother’s religion (or lack thereof). Alternatives like the Gabriel Network are sometimes the last line of defense in a mother’s choice to keep her baby, and they can only provide the services they do with your support.
I would love to have your feedback on this document, which is intended to present ideas on ways you personally can decrease the number of abortions without relying on your state or the federal government to make abortion illegal.