Thursday, July 21, 2005

The successes of Liberals in stopping abortion.

Like many who support a woman's right to do as she wishes with her own body, even when I might not agree with what she is doing, I have been accused of being 'pro-abortion.' It is usually said in a way that makes it sound like we are a bunch of pushers, preying on unsuspecting women, trying to get them to 'try our wares' and go to an abortion clinic, presumably one in which we own stock.

In fact, abortion represents a very real tragedy. Nobody ever has sex just so that they or their partner can end up in an abortion clinic. Have you ever met a woman who was happy about getting an abortion? No one I know outside the Chinese government is 'pro-abortion,' and in fact we as liberals would love it if there were no abortions because every child was wanted. But, it is sadly and tragically not so. Yet. But that is the goal that we are aiming for.

Despite what you may hear from conservatives, liberals have not simply sat by and let abortion run rampant in society. Liberals have always championed family planning, safe sex, and sexual education in schools. And you know what, compared to the failure after failure of conservatives who are always trying to push the envelope with laws that cost the state millions in legal fees before being struck down in court (get a hint: Roe V. Wade is the law of the land, and even John Roberts acknowledged as much during his confirmation hearing to get on the DC court of appeals in 2003), liberals have been SUCCESSFUL in reducing abortions.

Here are a few facts: Today, July 21, the Washington Post reported that the abortion rate in the United States is the lowest since 1976. Teen pregnancy rates have also been in decline. The drop in both of these rates began during the Clinton years, and predates the current rush to implement 'abstinence education' as the only sex education option in schools.

What was being done then? Education. Education about safe sex. Education about AIDS. Education about birth control. Education about family planning.

It still is being done in America's schools, despite the best efforts of conservatives to get it out of the schools.

Do I think abstinence is a bad thing? Not at all. I hope my younger daughters listen to me and practice it. My eldest didn't, and got pregnant when she was fifteen. But given that she was not abstinent, I can tell you that I wish she had practiced birth control.

But abstinence-only is a dangerous precedent, because no matter how hard you try, some kids will have sex; That is a story as old as time itself. And it worth noting that the American Society of Pediatricians denounced abstinence only education as ineffective. From the article: “Even though there is great enthusiasm in some circles for abstinence-only interventions, the evidence does not support abstinence-only interventions as the best way to keep young people from unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Jonathan Klein, chairman of the academy committee that wrote the new recommendations...Teaching abstinence but not birth control makes it more likely that once teenagers initiate sexual activity they will have unsafe sex and contract sexually transmitted diseases, said Dr. S. Paige Hertweck, a pediatric obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Louisville who provided advice for the report.

In any case, the teen pregnancy and abortion rates were declining well before abstinence had made any headway, and conservative solutions to abortion were pretty much limited to wasting the state's money defending quixotic attempts to circumvent Roe vs. Wade. The only solutions being put forward in a venue where kids would actually access them were liberal solutions. Condoms. Sex Ed. Family Planning.

And, as the evidence has showed quite clearly, they work.


Anonymous said...

Good point.

Why DON'T liberals talk about their plan for reducing abortions in America by means of sex ed, condoms, and family planning?

Make it like smoking. With all the education, people don't smoke as much, but nobody is talking about making nicotine illegal.

russellkalltheway said...

Bravo on this post Eli. I couldn't have said it better myself.
It always irks me when the right attacks liberals as pro-aboriton. The truth is, there aren't many liberals who get satisfaction with the thought of abortion. In fact, most of the people I know are uncomfortable with it. The problem is that without legal abortions, abortions would persist. And I would rather see a scared pregnant teenager alive in an abortion clinic, than dead on the street in some back-alley.
The key here though is family planning and education. Numerous studies have shown that the only way to reduce dangerous behavior is with education, not ignorance. Abstinence is unrealistic, plain and simple. You cannot force an ideology of Christian Coservatism (or any other for that matter), on the entire population. Right now the US is going backward on this, and the Bush administration must take the blame.

rosepetal said...

Republicans say they are pro-life except in instances of rape, incest and danger to the mother...umm....doesn't that by definition make them can you be both pro-life and pro-choice...that's like being kindof pregnant--it just isn't possible and sounds like flip-flopping to me...