I’m pro-life and I support Planned Parenthood

I want the abortion rate to plummet, but abstinence-only sex ed and reversing Roe v. Wade will do just the opposite

Topics: Abortion, Planned Parenthood, ,

I'm pro-life and I support Planned ParenthoodA "Stand Up for Women's Health" rally in Washington April 7, 2011. (Credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
This originally appeared on John Saveland's Open Salon blog.

Can we have the term “pro-life” back, if everyone else is just going to misuse it?

I’m pro-life because I value all human life. I value the lives of every person living in my country. I value the lives of children living in poverty, and victims of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the Third World. I value the lives of criminals on death row, homeless living in the streets, and soldiers serving our country abroad.

I also value the nascent human life of the unborn.

So why aren’t I trying to defund Planned Parenthood, calling abortion doctors “murderers,” and petitioning the federal government to overturn Roe vs. Wade?

For that matter, why haven’t I emptied my bank account – and demanded that the government do the same – to send meals and vaccines to every person on the planet? Why don’t I spring for motel rooms for every homeless person I meet, unlock the cells in every prison, and demand our country surrender every war?

These would be ridiculous actions because they completely miss the point. They substitute ideologies for solutions, and favor short-term irrational emotion rather than long-term pragmatic decisions.

Sound familiar?

I want the abortion rate in this country – and every country – to plummet. That’s a given.

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But it’s not going to happen by overturning Roe vs. Wade, or cutting funding for healthcare to low-income women and families. It’s going to happen by expanding healthcare access, contraceptive use and sex education.

This is speaking from overwhelming international and historical evidence.

Russia has (and has had) one of the highest abortion rates in the world. But a RAND Corporation study that tracked the heavy drop in the late 1980s and 1990s in Russia observed that it was expansion of contraceptive access that curbed the practice.

Or take Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education focuses exclusively on abstinence: the abortion rate there is more than double what it is in the United States.

Researchers at the University of California saw a 46 percent decline in the odds of an abortion when low-income women had access to public healthcare (or any healthcare) that provided contraception in year-long supplies.

Where is the lowest abortion rate? The Netherlands – where abortion (and prostitution) are completely legal. What do they have that we don’t? Accordingly to U.S. News & World Report and the Guttmacher Institute, their low abortion rate is credited to very comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraceptives.

An ideological war on abortion that ignores the data and sets its sights on low-income women who lack proper education and resources must stop. The Pro-Life movement must make reducing the rate of abortion the goal, and seek rational methods and solutions that will serve this purpose.
If the only thing that matters is righteous ideology without concern for results, then we want the term “pro-life” back. You’re using it wrong.

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