Women’s March, Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice and their common goal

This week I was able to attend the Women’s March-which turned out to be a global march uniting women all over the globe on human rights issues.  Their motto was “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and people marched for so many reasons from ending sex trafficking to demanding clean air.  I was saddened to see that some women felt that they could not attend because of their views on abortion, and those feelings were valid as the organizers of the march did not invite those that head Pro-Life organizations to attend.  While reproductive rights was just one issue women marched for, it kept many home and they chose for their voices on this and other issues to not be heard.

womens march slc

I have been writing about my clients who are everyday advocates.  I believe that these passionate women change the world around them.  They are Pro-Life and Pro-Choice.  All of these women, my friends, want to reduce the number of abortions.  All of them want to help women.  So what can you go and do now to help reduce abortions, no matter which stance you take?

1.  Comprehensive Sex Education.
We MUST provide a comprehensive sex education for girls AND boys.  When teenagers are given factual resources on sex and how to reduce unintended pregnancies and STD’s, then teen pregnancy rates drop.  In 2008, the Washington Post reported on a University of Washington study which found that teenagers who received comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to get pregnant than someone who received abstinence-only education. A 2007 federal report found that abstinence-only programs have had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence,” reported ThinkProgress.    You can see the correlation of having comprehensive sex ed and teen pregnancy rates by state.   Call your local representatives and let them know you support comprehensive sex education in schools.

teen pregnancy sex education rates

2.  Access to affordable or free contraception.
According to a recent study by the peer-reviewed medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, free and universal contraception can cut abortion rates by as much as 50%–this cut, in and of itself, would have an incredible effect on US abortion rates, at virtually no cost to society. The decrease in costs from taking care of unwanted pregnancies would more than make up for the cost of guaranteeing free contraception to all women. We see examples of contraception leading to low abortion rates in many countries, including the Scandinavian region where they have long implemented free contraception.  We must also educate our teens that contraception will not prevent all pregnancies or STD’s and the ONLY 100% way to not get pregnant or get an STD is Abstinence.  If they choose to have sex, they need to be not only educated on the consequences (STD’s, pregnancy, emotional/physical effects, etc) of sex, but also have access to contraception that can lessen their chance of getting STD’s or become pregnant.  We also must realize that it is not only teens and college women that have unintended pregnancies and are considering abortion.   Having access to different types of contraception, like IUD’s can also reduce abortion rates.   If you want to reduce abortion rates, you can support organizations and programs like Planned Parenthood that offer these services free or at reduced cost to women and men.  Bedsider also gives you information on where and how to get free birth control.  We must also support legislation that requires abortion clinics to provide truthful and accurate information on the procedures that they will be performing on these women.  Sugar coating or lying about medical procedures is never ok and patients should demand to know all of the side effects of them (ie. PTSD, PPD, depression, infertility, etc)

3.  Support paid family/maternity leave and government assistance programs.  
When a woman with an unintended pregnancy decides they want to parent, we must support and offer services that allow them to do that.  We need to provide medical assistance for her and the baby, education, paid leave and other means to provide for the baby. The United States requires 0 weeks of paid leave compared to these other developed countries that provide up to 50 weeks of paid leave.
paid maternity leave

This site has 10 organizations that help mothers.  You can also support legislation that supports programs like WIC, Medicaid, EITC, SNAP (food stamps) and Pell Grants.  Without these programs, many women are unable to afford raising a baby and consider abortion.

4.  Adoption Education.
This topic is obviously close to my heart.  Many people will say, “well they can just place their child for adoption”.  Please know that “just” choosing adoption is not an easy or right option for everyone.  While I love adoption and see the beauty and love in it, I also see the pain and trauma it can cause.  It is not an easy fix or an easy road for anyone involved.  Providing comprehensive adoption education to teens and adults considering adoption is essential.  You can support local adoption programs like the Utah Adoption Council or your local Foster Care Foundation.  Advocate for ethical adoption laws and practices in your local government/State.  Whenever you are advocating for adoption, please always think of the adoptees rights first as they are the ones that do not make this choice for themselves.  Less than 2% of women with unintended pregnancies choose adoption, so much more education on this topic is needed.  If you are an adoptee, adoptive parent, or birth parent you can volunteer at your local high school and teach a class about adoption in their Health/Adult Roles class.  Sharing your real experiences with adoption can open their eyes to what it really is like, rather than what they have seen on tv.  We must also support these women and men who choose adoption before and after the adoption with programs (medical, mental health, housing, etc) if we truly support adoption as a viable option.

5.  Universal Healthcare: Studies have shown that universal healthcare programs lead to decreases in the abortion rate—counter-intuitively, this remains true despite the fact that abortion services are free and accessible under universal healthcare regimes. By ensuring that all pregnant women know that their potential children will have their health taken care of, it is possible to reduce the fear surrounding raising children, thus reduce the abortion rate.
When RomneyCare was passed in Massachusetts abortion rates went down.

6. Universal Child Care & Quality Education.
Abortions may happen because of the inability for women to juggle work, childcare, life and education.  If we supported universal child care, these women would have less burden on them and may be able to parent their baby.  We already have universal public education, however we are ranked 17th in math and 21st in science among 34 OECD countries, yet we are ranked 5th in spending per student.  We need to put our money into quality teachers and demand high standards of our schools.  Finland has one of the leading education programs and we should be looking at other countries that are succeeding and model our education system after them.  You can support your local schools and advocate for quality education laws in your state by calling your local representatives.

7.  Heal the divide.
This topic can get VERY heated.  There are valid reasons why it does and I am here to tell you I validate the loss that you feel.  Instead of working against each other, let’s find one or more things that we can go and do to help reduce abortions and support women before, during and after a unintended pregnancy.

I am a woman who went to Planned Parenthood for three years when I was first married and could not afford health insurance.  I am grateful there was a place I could go and get access to good health care and contraceptive services.  I am a woman who adopted a child and am passionate about advocating for ethical adoption practices, adoptee rights and birth parent rights.  I believe that abortion, adoption and parenting are all hard and different roads and we can’t paint any with the same brush.  If we can all come together and talk about how to help each other, I think we can do amazing things.  So where am I on this issue?  I am Pro-Go-and Do!

I’d love to hear about what you are going and doing to help reduce abortions and support women in unintended pregnancies!  Use #progoanddo!