As someone who has always been surrounded by strong opinions on abortion, I have found myself fascinated by the issue’s development and even more recently the lack thereof. Surprisingly, I became most aware of this lacking while reading Freakonomics.
One of the most compelling chapters in the book covers a dramatic decrease in crime, which the authors attribute primarily to the absence of unwanted teenagers. It’s not that these teenagers died or were simply wanted. They just weren’t born, a possibility due to the legalization of abortion years earlier.
Though this passage is certainly a new perspective on the abortion issue, it unveils the lack of development by inviting only those who don’t care about the topic to read any further. Following this statement, the authors deconstructed the logical responses and solutions to this insight. While I understand this is a touchy topic, it would be absurd for any person who cares about the issue not to read further, to seek more information, and to want to understand the other perspectives (especially if you want to be persuasive!). However, this doesn’t seem to be happening from either end of the issue. Both arguments seemed focused more on judgments rather than solutions.
Pro-Choicers tend to believe they hold the answer to the only intelligent and women-friendly response. This belief allows them to completely dismiss any pro-life notions. As a result, many pro-choicers fail to recognize the ways some pro-lifers are actually making logical (Jesus-free) arguments that could even be deemed feminist.
Pro-Lifers, on the other hand, often argue from a moralistic perspective, citing religious creed as justification (which is really inappropriate approach to US laws). They claim the “good-person” perspective, often denying the loving reasons some people argue pro-choice.
As bad as it is the way each side dismisses each other, it gets worse. Both sides are often guilty of judging the women facing an unplanned pregnancy. There are pro-choicers who, when old high school classmates show up pregnant on their homefeeds, judge them for not being “smart” enough to have gotten an abortion or used another form of birth control. In other words, they forget that they are fighting for choice, not simply abortion. There are also pro-lifers who judge mothers in unconventional situations basically for just not keeping their knees shut. In other words, they forget that they are fighting for all life, no matter how it arrives.
The result is that we have a ridiculous argument that would only exist in a male-dominant society. Pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences of the human body, but because it only happens to women, we act as if it is something to be dealt with instead of embraced. I’m not saying everyone should run out and get pregnant, but if it happens, there is no reason it should have to be so scary. Pregnancies, planned and unplanned, will always happen, so it only makes sense to focus on supporting women in this experience.
I might be wrong, but I’d like to believe if a pregnant woman knew she could maintain her job, would not be judged, and that information and even some material support would be offered, this whole debate would dissolve and abortion would be largely unnecessary. Until then, the situation can only improve if we would all just listen. Believe it or not, both sides have something to offer and moderation often leads to the best solutions.