Archive for January 19th, 2008

The Guttmacher Institute released its latest report on abortion numbers in the US last week, and because they are down to the lowest rate since 1974, the report is getting press.

The latest figures are from 2005, and the study found a 25 percent drop from an all-time high of 1.6 million in 1990, although still adding up to more than one in five pregnancies being terminated.

A convoluted issue that has long been hijacked by various factions looking to provide traction for wider agendas, abortion is, to say the least, a contentious topic.

Having experienced an unplanned pregnancy in the days before Roe v. Wade, I feel I have more than a little right to my own take on abortion, and I have aimed some writing at it in the past, albeit in tandem with work on adoption.

I am always made very uncomfortable when a direct link is drawn between adoption and abortion, as the hot potato of the first can’t help but be backlit by flame throwers targeting the second, and adoption burning to a crisp in the crossfire is far too dangerous a potential to let the connection weld without comment.

The idea that adoption is a likely consequence of restraint against abortion feels intuitive to many, but is very shaky ground and seems unhelpful in the extreme when trotted out before someone in the dire circumstance of a crisis pregnancy.

Unlike the stereotypic picture of the clueless knocked-up teen … that was me in 1969, thankyouverymuch, when birth control was illegal for anyone under 18 … 61% of women who have abortions in the US are mothers, half have two or more children, and additional children may be considered a cause for compromising care for existing kids.

Without being asked directly, several of the women indicated that adoption is not a realistic option for them. They reported that the thought of one’s child being out in the world without knowing if it was being taken care of or by whom would induce more guilt than having an abortion.

I’m guessing that explaining a full term pregnancy not resulting in a new addition to the family would be an issue, as well.

Clearly, the answer is to prevent as many crisis pregnancies as possible, and education and availability of contraceptives are the keys to this goal.

For those interested, I freely admit that had abortion been a legal option for me in 1969 I would not have chosen it, just as I did not choose to relinquish my daughter. Both facts relate only to me personally and neither are laudatory, but rather simply a reflection the cumulative process that made me me at that given point in time.

If I had found myself pregnant in 1974, the last time the rate of abortions was as low as it was in 2005, I would have carefully considered and very possibly opted for an abortion. At that time I was a divorced 23-year-old struggling to raise two kids on my own, working three jobs to make ends meet, taking classes as I could. Luckily, I dodged that bullet.

I will not get into the abortion fray here, as I have more to address on this blog than leaves time for that endless loop, but I will mention a couple of niggles I can’t keep my mouth shut in front of …

Speaking authoritatively on abortion takes a uterus.

Beethoven was not the third or fifth or whatever offspring of a syphilitic tuberculin.

The more power women have, the better the world gets.

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