Today on my way to the endodontist, I drove past a demonstration at our local Planned Parenthood. It appeared peaceful. It consisted of about a half dozen people holding signs spouting the usual pro-life slogans. One of the signs accused Planned Parenthood of being responsible for the death of a generation.
In truth, I’m sure Planned Parenthood has prevented more abortions than it’s performed. Its mission statement is “Every child a wanted child,” and to achieve this goal they provide low cost birth control so poor women who can’t afford to have babies don’t have them.
I noticed the demonstrators weren’t there when I drove past on the way home. Seems to me they’d make more of an impact if they were there all day, every day. I guess the occasional Tuesday morning is enough.
Anyway, they got me thinking about this thorny issue, the way they always do when I see them exercising their right of free speech.
I was 16 when the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion was handed down in 1973. At the time, I thought it was a good thing. Abortion was safe and legal now. And, since sexual activity loomed out there for me, I was glad that option was there for me.
These days my position on abortion exactly matches the convoluted statement John Kerry made in last year’s presidential debate. Oh to be like George W. Bush and say firmly and unequivocally, “I’m against abortion.” Or to be like the pro-choice activists who ardently proclaim their support of a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body.
It’s not that simple. I firmly believe that abortion should not be used as a form of birth control. We live in a time when contraception is effective and available to any one. And we all know if you have sex, you can get pregnant.
But accidents happen. Every method has a failure rate as many women have found out the hard way.
Abortion is our choice, but face it, it’s a choice most women would rather not have to make. And while I’ve always voted pro-choice, I also believe that when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, the responsible choice is to go through with it. If you have children already, make room for one more. If you’re not in a position to care for a child, put it up for adoption. There is no shortage of childless couples looking for newborns.
That’s my view, but I don’t believe I have the right to impose it on other women. It’s still their legal right, and a choice they make on their own.
There's a group called The Common Ground Network For Life And Choice an unlikely alliance between pro-choice and pro-life groups. Tired of the animosity between the two camps in Buffalo, NY after Operation Rescue’s violent marches in 1992, a few brave pro-choice and pro-life activists decided to stop demonizing each other and see if they could find one thing they agreed on. They started talking in 1993 and discovered they both wanted fewer abortions and they both wanted to help women and their children. Here’s what they decided to support: assitance to crack-addicted pregnant women, preventing unwanted pregnancies, providing women support during pregnancy, teaching abstinence to teenagers, reducing infant mortality, and financing school breakfast programs.
It's a difficult process, finding common ground among such passionate adversaries. But as long as we stand across the chasm and call each other names, we won't change anything.