Being Pro-Choice Doesn’t Mean You Have to be OK with Abortions

I like to find bridges that encourage people who’ve only ever heard extreme talking points to see the reality of the other side. I never thought Tomi Lahren might be one of those bridges.

Recently, Tomi Lahren, an infamous right-wing person who is known for, well, being genuinely quite awful most of the time, did a good thing:

She was right on two fronts: a lot of conservatives are attacking her for this statement, and also for standing up against Alabama right now.

We don’t necessarily agree on the reasons the ban is wrong, but it does give me some hope that at least one message (“keep your government out of my uterus,” specifically) is resonating somewhere.

Her tweet has also brought out quite a few people like Abyssaltech, too. The ‘I’m pro-life but — ‘ sorts who then go on to say things that are actually the pro-choice platform. And from one former ‘pro-life’ person to all the others who think they’re part of the ‘pro-life’ side while actually being firmly pro-choice, let’s talk.

To answer Xir Spinning Dishes’ question, there is a lot of misinformation spread by ‘pro-life’ organizations. It's really one of their goals to lead people who might actually be pro-choice to think they’re ‘pro-life’ so that those people will then go and vote for the politicians who further restrict women’s healthcare because they’ve been led to think that being pro-choice is something entirely different from what it actually is. Spreading incorrect information and withholding facts serves them well in achieving their goals.

For example, those organizations will conveniently leave out all the lives — including the lives of the women and babiesthat are harmed by these blanket bans, and how bans don’t actually reduce abortion rates. In fact, they often make rates go up, as do rates of women dying due to getting abortions and even women dying from going through miscarriages, because, yes, that is a very real side-effect of abortion bans, even in cases where the law doesn’t outright provide loopholes where women going through miscarriages can be charged as criminals.

Of course, that doesn’t matter to the people who are pulling the strings of the movement. Their goal is to criminalize it regardless of the damage they are causing because they want women who get abortions to be considered criminals regardless of any factor that led them to get one. They can use whatever excuse they want for their actions, the fact of the matter is that they proudly spread misinformation that causes far more people to suffer than they ‘save.’

I used to think I was ‘pro-life’ because I thought that was what you had to be if abortion talk upset you in any way. I knew I was against forcing people to suffer, and I knew that my definition of suffering and my level of tolerance for different kinds of suffering was different from others around me, but I also knew that the thought of abortion made me uncomfortable. I wanted there to be fewer overall, and I wanted a world where as few people as possible had to face the decision to get one.

But that isn’t the direction these laws go in, and it’s definitely not the direction the politicians that sign them want to go in.

Abortions aren’t going to just go away because the law says so, and just because the idea of someone getting an abortion makes you feel awful, that doesn’t mean banning abortions is going to solve the problem. It doesn’t discourage people from getting one or trying to get one, it doesn’t defend the babies you are so determined to force these women to give birth to, and it doesn’t defend the adults whose lives may now well be ruined. The only things completely banning abortions does is allow for men in power to assert greater control over women (whether that is your goal or not, it is a guaranteed side-effect) and allow individuals feel better about themselves when they don’t have to think about it anymore.

Sticking your fingers in your ears and loudly screaming LA LA LA doesn’t actually change any of the things that actually need to be changed. Abortion is at the heart of many of America’s problems, and it's not going to go away until those problems are solved.

So what will solve the problem?

Well, let’s start at the beginning of life, age-wise, and go forward. From the youngest of ages, we need to start teaching our children that consent is important. While sexual consent should be addressed in sex ed, general consent and autonomy over their bodies should be established much younger. This means if a kid really doesn’t want to be touched, don’t touch them (unless it's for their protection, such as if you need to save them or if they need medical care). This means not waving off boys getting rough as ‘boys will be boys’ or telling girls that the boy who’s picking on them ‘has a crush.’ We should not be normalizing ‘well, boys will touch you without your permission and there’s nothing you can do about it.’

We need to recognize that our toxic behaviors teach children that behaving badly is acceptable as they grow. The best long term solution to preventing future rapes is to teach children to truly respect the autonomy of those around them, and to understand that they always have the right to say no.

Next, we reach school age. First, the easiest change to make is to ensure that every child receives comprehensive sexual education, and that education has to be mandatory across all types of schooling. There can’t be ‘but my religion says no sex till marriage’ exceptions. Especially considering those kids are eventually going to grow up. It's better that they learn now how their bodies work and what can happen to their bodies before they have a chance of those things happening. Also, as I noted before, this education must include a discussion on sexual consent, but it must also include information on their health and wellbeing, letting them know what they might face and how to take care of themselves. Let them know that they have options, that they do not have to live with cramps so bad they can’t move. Let them know the reality of what happens during pregnancy — and, yes, those born without ovaries and a uterus be included in these lessons, too, for adult men are woefully undereducated when it comes to how female reproductive organs and pregnancies actually work — and how to recognize when something is wrong so that they can get to the hospital.

It’s also absolutely mandatory to teach children and teens their legal rights and about current challenges they might need to be prepared for, especially while we still live in a world where lawmakers insist that it’s somehow a good thing to allow doctors to deny care because of their religious feelings. If kids know about this in advance, they can find the medical facility most likely to properly take care of them — and that goes for more than just abortion care. While it benefits everyone to know when discrimination or inadequate treatment is happening, it’s also invaluable information for LGBT+ children and teens, and the children of LGBT+ parents, since those ‘religious rights’ laws that are being pushed allow doctors to deny any care on the grounds of it upsets their religious sensibilities.

We also need to improve health care for teens and children and ensure that they are able to get the care they need. Where I work, teens can request certain topics not be discussed with their parents. Specifically, topics about STDs and birth control. Why? Because these are dangerous topics for teens in many parts of the US. Our puritanical society often encourages parents when they punish their teens for being sexually active, or implying they might be (and many parents see any discussion about birth control as purely sexual, even though birth control actually treats many conditions, ranging from severe cramps and bleeding to acne). Right now, addressing anything to do with the reproductive organs harm people when their families and communities find out. Until that changes, we need to protect their access to reproductive health care.

Of course, we also need to make sure that there is secure access to high-quality health care at all stages. Just being pregnant in America is a dangerous thing and things don’t get easier if both mom and baby survive pregnancy. First, the ‘pro-choice’ politicians are working to dismantle what care we do have, but the care we do have is woefully inadequate. Adults can’t afford to get sick, but they also can’t afford to have a sick kid, no matter how willing they are to dedicate themselves to it.

A country’s government should exist to take care of its citizens, but that isn’t what America does, primarily because of people in power who seem to think that access to healthcare should be considered a commodity akin to a cellphone. But if you want to reduce abortions and protect young life, people need to have secure, consistent access to good healthcare. Leaving the determination of access to healthcare to for-profit organizations is going to leave huge gaps in care because they are only going to provide care in the areas where they can make the most money. That means both geographical areas as well as areas of medicine. Unprofitable areas are already lacking in access to healthcare, but if you were to leave it all up to corporations, you would also see unprofitable diseases and conditions being shuffled down the ladder or you will see more cases such as what is happening with insulin. Under current law, the price of insulin will continue to rise until it reaches such a point that profits start to drop. That is the concept of supply and demand. But, in this case, the demand is ‘I want to live,’ and demand dropping means people are dying.

And, if you leave healthcare to corporations, the majority of conditions will be subject to that treatment. You could say ‘but competition’ — but nothing. The American car sales industry and American internet industry are both prime examples of companies working together to ensure they are over-charging Americans for services that would be much cheaper if they competed honestly. Or you could see how companies are pushing massive mergers, which gives them more freedom to set whatever prices they want because there is limited competition. It also ensures they have an easier time snuffing out the competition. Or you could just look at how Amazon can charge rock bottom prices until the competition goes bankrupt, then jack the prices up for a hefty profit.

The same is true of many problems facing people today who might otherwise be more than willing to start a family — Americans are struggling to find secure and affordable housing, many Americans live in food deserts, and that’s not even addressing the issues with overall education. People can fight over ‘well they shouldn’t have gone to college if they couldn’t afford it’ now, in hindsight, but for the last 30 years, children have been told that the only way to have a good life is to go to college, based on several decades of proof prior to that showing that going to college almost always allowed for a better life. So they went to college. And the people at the top exploited them for it by skyrocketing every cost associated with college (dorms, books, tuition, hidden but, so they say, mandatory fees, and so on) while wages remained stagnant.

Leaving basic human needs to the whims of corporations is the worst answer. But, by and large, those are the sorts of policies that ‘pro-life’ politicians create and push.

That’s not even addressing other little things that would improve abortion rates but get swept under the rug, such as male birth control — there is a pill, it exists, but it was vetoed (by men) because of the side effects. Which sounds reasonable, except the proposed male birth control pill has fewer and less dangerous side effects than many already approved forms of female birth control.

There’s also the issue of how we address rape, which was ultimately the point where I realized that we can’t be placing restrictions on abortion. See, America has a bit of an issue with believing women. There’s a reason the #metoo movement surfaced, and even now there are people who insist that the majority of people who have a #metoo story are lying or are at fault for what happened to them. Again, the Republican party has no qualms pushing through their predatory men, and even defend them because, apparently, they don’t have men who didn’t assault women at some point running for these various positions. Which cycles back to making sure we jettison ‘boys will be boys’ from our list of sayings because, no, that is not being boys. That is us raising little predators and telling them their behavior is ok, and telling the people they mistreat that they need to accept this mistreatment as normal. This does not have to be normal.

We can’t trust that authorities will side with women, even when the evidence is overwhelming. We can’t trust that their peers will believe them. We can’t trust the law to take rape seriously or to even take steps to protect current and future possible victims. We can’t even trust medical professionals to provide all the correct information, considering how ‘religious beliefs’ are considered a valid reason for denial of care.

We could pass better laws defending rape victims today and that still wouldn’t immediately change the culture surrounding them. After all, there are definitely laws on the books saying rape is a crime, but the majority of rapists get off with no punishment, largely in part to how mishandled rape is, which causes rape to be severely under-reported because it can be more dangerous to report a rape than it is to suffer in silence. After your body has been violated in one of the worst possible ways, the last thing most people can handle is the game of chance that is ‘will this police officer mock me and belittle me, or believe me?’

Even when women have concrete evidence in pictures or sound recordings or videos. Look at how confused people still are as to what constitutes rape. Look at this attempt to say that ‘it’s not rape if you started having sex and then something changed’ (completely ignoring that, yes, it very much can become rape after sex has already started if the other party starts doing things that are not consented to, like removing their condom):

We can say we only want people to get abortions in cases of rape or endangerment, but that means we need to be able to trust the people who get to decide if what occurred counts as rape or not, and…we can’t.

Abortion should not be limited like that because we literally as a nation are not handling that power appropriately.

That’s not even beginning to discuss situations such as when a fetus is nonviable or pregnancies that end in miscarriages. Those things are not a choice, but there are medical ‘professionals’ who claim to be pro-life who will gladly not treat a woman going through such a situation ‘because abortion is bad!’ Many women have died both in America and around the world because of conditions, such as sepsis, related to a miscarriage which could have been prevented if the medical professionals they counted on had actually done their jobs. But then, that doesn’t surprise me, given that we live in a country that defends a doctor’s ‘right’ to not treat LGBT+ patients or their children, and in places where the ‘pro-life’ politicians are passing laws that instill literally impossible requirements.

And yet, the sort of people who will pass bills like these are in positions where they can do so for a reason.

Its not easy — America isn’t built in a pro-average-human way. It’s built so that the wealthy can become more wealthy at the expense of the poor, and the only way to actually minimize abortions is to change that. I implore you, if you want to see the abortion rates continue to decrease, please support policies that truly support the majority of women, and children, and families. Fight for their lives, not just their birth day.

I write in the hopes that perhaps I may help others feel not so alone. Join my writing journey on twitter @kate_is_writing

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