Would you like there to be 0 abortions this year? Me too.
Since that’s not a reality, would you agree that fewer abortions are better than more abortions? Me too.
Please read with an open mind.
My entire life, I have been staunchly pro-life. That has not changed, and likely never will (unless God suddenly changes His Almighty mind and decides that death is better than life).
All my life, I thought that the binary voting options we are presented with made the abortion issue simple:
Republicans=fewer abortions; Democrats=more abortions.
Christian leaders like Ray Comfort indoctrinated us into thinking that politics were so black and white.
Vote pro-life, good. Vote pro-choice, bad.
You would think this was the case from all the rhetoric employed by the right to get you to vote them. “A vote for the right is a vote for life” or something. And while it may be true that Republican politicians are verbally opposed to abortion, as they see the life in the mother’s womb as a person from conception (as do I), it is not true that they have done the most effective job of stopping abortions from happening.
If you look at some statistics on the number of abortions performed, the numbers are staggering. To summarize them, the number of abortions performed per 1,000 women dropped significantly under Democratic presidents and either stagnated or only marginally went down under Republican presidents.
I have come to realize that there is a hefty strawman argument employed by the Republicans in order to sway single-issue voters, and it paints an incorrect picture of their political opponents. It goes like this: “Because personhood begins at conception, anyone who kills a human after conception is a murderer. Democrats are not trying to outlaw abortions, so they are evil murderers. They want there to be more abortions!”
In conversing with Democratic friends of mine for several years, I have found the opposite to be true. The truth is, nobody wants there to be more abortions! Even if you don’t believe the fetus is a person, the procedure is risky and dangerous and painful for the mother. Why would anyone wish for more of those operations?
So then the question remains: Why would abortions fall more dramatically under Democratic presidents? The answer is simple. From Bagri:
“Access to contraception is more effective in reducing the number of abortions than regulation that controls access—and under Democratic leadership, access to affordable contraception has increased.”
Let me put it like this:
The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to give out free condoms and make them easy to obtain. One place these could be acquired is at clinics like Planned Parenthood. When people have easier access to the free condoms, they are less likely to get pregnant and therefore less likely to have an abortion.
The Democrats’ way to fight abortion is to make this access to contraception easy and universal.
More free condoms=fewer unwanted pregnancies=fewer abortions.
The Republicans’ strategy is to put more restrictions on these clinics, therefore decreasing the number of free condoms given out.
Fewer free condoms=more unwanted pregnancies=more abortions.
It’s painfully ironic. The question then is, why haven’t Republicans (and by extension, Christians) embraced the method that results in fewer abortions? I think the answer is equally painful and obvious: Because embracing the Democrats’ strategy would mean encouraging extramarital sex (or at least, contraceptive sex) and downplaying the abstinence method.
I am still a proponent of waiting until marriage to have sex; I think everyone should wait for a plethora of reasons. However, at some point we need to admit that we live in the real world, and therefore need realistic solutions, not ideal ones. People won’t magically stop having sex, so shouldn’t we do our best to prevent those accidental knock-ups?
This means asking the question, Which is more important to me: promoting sexual abstinence [to people who aren’t even Christians], or preventing the deaths of more babies?
I believe life and death is more important than monitoring the sexual activity of non-Christians.
I believe we should fight for both, abstinence and a reduction of abortions, but we are simply not there yet.
I am still pro-life and pro-abstinence, but I think our methods need to change.
We can’t expect unwed parents to simply stop having sex, which is apparently what the Right has been hoping for decades. At what point will we wake up and see that reducing the number of abortions is more important than sexual purity? Sadly, in 2019, Planned Parenthood performed a record high number of abortions. Clearly whatever the current administration is doing to combat this issue is not working.
If you are interested in reducing the number of abortions, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on now, wouldn’t you want to be on the side which has proven to be most effective? This isn’t just an “Obama vs. Trump” debate; these statistics span 40 years and the data shows where the more effective methods have worked.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this whole issue is how many single-issue voters have been cultivated by this false dichotomy. If someone is reading their theology and politics correctly, there should never be one simple answer. Jesus refused to be put into a political category, and I believe we should as well.
However, if you are going to vote based on one single factor, you should at least look at the data and see which side has been the most effective at accomplishing what you’d like.
Thanks for the content, especially since a lot of this is controversial. Your opinions on these issues always help me learn something new.
This is so important, especially because there is much misinformation and politicians tell the story that favors them. Unfortunately evangelical leaders are largely responsible for shaping opinion on this issue and they are still idealistic about these issues.
So in a nutshell all the atrocities and abuses planned parenthood has committed and continues to, simply is nullified cause they dispense free condoms? The farce that the organization is a healthcare provider, all the while being the largest chain of abortion facilities in the US. An organization that Is less about health and more about politics.
Are you simply going to ignore this very organization butchers aborted babies, then haggles over prices for aborted baby parts, they participate in fetal harvesting under the guise of fetal tissue research.
Reports found that PP has been caught failing to report child sexual abuse, also found that victims of sex trafficking are sometimes taken to PP centers for forced abortions by their pimps.
All this leaves me profoundly disturbed at why you’d be championing this Leftist organization that truly in-fact represents the depravity of humanity rather than healthcare provider it try’s to portray itself as.
Bottom line is yes abortions are going to occur, but don’t sugar coat an institution by saying the very little they do, handing out contraceptive tools, out weights the long-standing detriment it inflicts on its victims, the defenseless babies. I am all for finding middle ground and doing what statistically proves to result in fewer abortions but NO COMPROMISE ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD is something that should remain.
Not trying to start a different argument, but I think you’ve completely missed the point of this article. And to counter your first statement: I did not have health insurance for a good four years of my life and planned parenthood was the absolute cheapest option for me. I was treated well, received the medical care I needed, and not once received an abortion. None of the care I experienced had anything to do with politics and the majority of the people I know who have sought treatment did so because there was no other choice. You make a lot of arguments with nothing to back it up, I think you may need to do a bit more research on this subject.
I’m not sure it’s fair to blame/credit a presidential administration for the availability of condoms because of actions for/against Planned Parenthood. State, local and Conressional actions also must be considered. I work security in an urban school district noted nationally for its poverty level and there is certainly never been a shortage of condoms available to our students in the 6 years I have been there. I see dozens in backpacks when I scan bags through an x ray machine and there are days in which there are hundreds in the halls, all through the building.
I agree that abstinence is just not going to happen but blaming/crediting a presidential administration is too simplistic
And I forgot to note that the condoms in my school are freely distributed by the health clinic that operates in the building and is totally unrelated to Planned Parenthood
Pingback: Changing My Stance On Abortion — ethan renoe | Talmidimblogging
Unfortunately Planned Parenthood has so many dubious tentacles, as stated by Sharon. Ethan’s post is very simplistic and strides have been made in small ways by the pro-life movement. The President does not have a lot of control as far as changing laws. The current one did cut funding to Planned Parenthood, who can survive very wealthy without taxpayers money. Contraception should be available but abortions should not be so easy to obtain. And now by giving the Democrats accolades, does this mean Ethan condones their recent third trimester and at-birth infanticide? Democrats now parade that as their mantra (sick, so sick). Just because abortions have fallen by a particular president doesn’t mean we should support that party. That’s ridiculous and destroys all the ground work laid by the entire pro-life movement for decades. Contraception should be readily available. Abortion should be difficult to obtain; legal, safe, and RARE. I am totally against it but life must be deemed precious and therefore there needs to be a price paid and limitations. But Democrats have totally debacled the entire issue by their support for unlimited abortions, any time, even up to the day the baby is born. And then there’s even this notion of immediately after birth—infanticide. Not one vote should go for their folly. Not just this but many issues. I don’t even know what they stand for anymore.
Ethan, you usually don’t venture into politics in such a simplistic manner. I’m surprised. The decreases in abortion have more to do with the pro-life movement’s persuasive and common sense arguments than anything the government might do. The people are rising up over this issue and getting things done. The younger generation, Christian and secular, are largely pro-life now.
Thanks for further perspective Alexandria.
Pingback: Abortion is anti-human, anti-women, racist and classist. – ethan renoe
Interesting post, thanks for sharing your opinion and these statistics. I’ll be thinking about these.
A few thoughts off the top of my head:
#1: Abortion rates have been falling steadily since the 80s. A big part of this might be improved ultrasound imaging, more available information on the internet about fetal development, etc. How can the author of the QZ article assume that “The reason for the trend is simple: access to contraception is more effective in reducing the number of abortions than regulation that controls access.” It’s probably much more complicated than that and there are a lot of factors in play. Seems like a huge leap to a conclusion without evidence.
#2: Republicans have repeatedly failed to actually put limits on abortion, on Planned Parenthood, etc. when in power to do so. Have ANY federal limitations on abortion, PP, contraceptives, etc. been enacted when a Republican president has been in office? I know they “oppose” these things in speech (as the article stated many times), but have they ever changed anything substantial while in office? Also, wouldn’t these changes (sex ed curriculum in school districts, local health clinics giving free contraceptives, etc.) be under the State government’s jurisdiction rather than the Federal government, therefore making the president’s party affiliation irrelevant?
#3: 51% of abortion patients in the US are using contraceptives when they become pregnant, so they’re not super reliable (https://www.guttmacher.org/news-release/2018/about-half-us-abortion-patients-report-using-contraception-month-they-became)
#4: The more I read and think about the topic, the more I’m convinced that contraceptives (and our culture’s “birth control mentality”) are not only linked to abortion rates, but the MAIN reason that abortion is legal and accepted. I challenge you to think about contraceptives not as an individual thing (if Mary takes birth control pills she won’t get pregnant and therefore won’t get an abortion) but as a societal thing (Mary learns in 8th grade it’s normal to take birth control which means it’s normal to have sex at that age and everybody knows your whole life you always have to prevent pregnancy unless you specifically plan to have a baby [once your career is going well and you’re happily married and you have been able to purchase a house together and have enough saved up] it which means that since all of this is in my hands, it’s also my decision to abort if it’s unplanned or not convenient at the moment). Our mindset regarding children and pregnancy is WAY off as a society, and our “birth control mentality” led us there.
#5: Here’s a cool article giving evidence that pro-life laws decrease both abortions AND unintended pregnancies (http://blog.secularprolife.org/2018/07/link-collection-evidence-that-pro-life.html?fbclid=IwAR0UjDKNBdFlyesnJ5dsefaSnVk-OsNUMIRKhf2atXhnVVNc2JF2OF49zps&m=1)
#6: Here’s an article and also a video by Abby Johnson talking about how contraception leads to more abortions. Some evidence of this is how much Planned Parenthood (which obviously profits mainly off of abortions) pushes to have free contraceptives given to kids in elementary/middle school. Why would they push so hard for something that they know would decrease abortion rates and thus cut their profits and put them out of business?
Anyway, thanks for the discussion and for your blog. Hope this comment was helpful to further the conversation. 🙂