Reframe the abortion debate

Refocus the abortion debate on prevention, not prohibition.

Despite the rabbit holes inherent in arguments about what counts as human life, it’s important to find a compromise.

Evelyn Sampsell-Jones

Despite the rabbit holes inherent in arguments about what counts as human life, it’s important to find a compromise.

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Abortion has always been a partisan issue. Since its legalization in 1973 with the lawsuit Roe v. Wade, arguments about one’s right to terminate a pregnancy have become explosive. People who have abortions are regularly accused of murder, and many people have stories about going to a Planned Parenthood and having insults hurled at them as they enter, no matter the reason why they were there. 

At times, there seems to be no hope that pro-lifers and pro-choicers will find a middle ground. But despite the rabbit holes inherent in arguments about what counts as human life, it’s important to find a compromise. To do that, refocus the abortion debate on prevention, not prohibition.

The Title X gag law achieves the exact opposite of its goal, it decreases affordable access to birth control, and this increases unwanted pregnancies, which increase abortions nationwide.”

Abortions frequency is falling, reaching historic lows in recent years. In 1973, the year of the landmark Roe v. Wade lawsuit, the abortion rate was 16.3 out of one thousand women between the ages of 15 and 44. Abortions reached a high point in 1981 with a rate of 29.3 and reached a historic low in 2017 with a rate of 13.5. Unintended pregnancies have also fallen, with a rate of 54 per 1000 women in 2008 dropping to 45 in 2011, which was an 18% decline. This was also a historic low. The Guttmacher Institute says this drop “is likely due to an overall increase in contraceptive use and the use of highly effective contraceptive methods.” 

Unfortunately, government legislation is moving in the opposite direction. The Trump-Pence administration set up a gag rule that undoes Title X, Feb. 22, 2019, a law that gave federal grants to healthcare providers, such as Planned Parenthood, to administer inexpensive birth control, aid for STDs, and cancer screenings. The gag rule also prevents people from going to clinics where they can be aided in getting a safe abortion and removes funding from clinics that provide abortions. This is part of the administration’s plan to defund clinics like Planned Parenthood.

Unfortunately, government legislation is moving in the opposite direction.”

When individuals focus on attacking doctors and companies that administer abortions and removing their funding, it overshadows all the work they do to protect the health of their clients and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Politics are too focused on whether one should be able to end an unwanted pregnancy, but it would be much easier to prevent them by increasing access to birth control and health screenings, which Planned Parenthood has done for years. The title X gag law achieves the exact opposite of its goal, it decreases affordable access to birth control, and this increases unwanted pregnancies, which increase abortions nationwide.

Abortion is an emotionally charged topic for people of all genders, ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. But if arguments and differences overcome the facts, we can fail to see that we can prevent abortions while keeping them legal by increasing contraceptive access nationwide. This is the middle ground we have fought to find for years.