Why I support safe, legal and compassionate abortion for all who choose

Alison Cole

Though you may be uncomfortable with the concept of abortion, please recognize that making abortion illegal does not end abortion.  It only leads to criminalization of women and death. 

(first posted on my blog  http://alison-cole.livejournal.com/)

First, some resources which inform or reinforce my personal beliefs on this matter: 

National Advocates for Pregnant Women

from Guttmacher, which does scientific research on abortion:

Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence. For
example, the abortion rate is 29 in Africa, where abortion is illegal
in many circumstances in most countries, and it is 28 in Europe, where
abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. The lowest rates in
the world are in Western and Northern Europe, where abortion is
accessible with few restrictions. [1]

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Where abortion is legal and permitted on broad grounds, it is generally
safe, and where it is illegal in many circumstances, it is often
unsafe. For example, in South Africa, the incidence of infection
resulting from abortion decreased by 52% after the abortion law was
liberalized in 1996. [3]"

There’s also a great NYT piece on maternal mortility due to unsafe abortion, but you have to sign up to access it.  

Protestant Christians will find religious doctrine supporting the pro-choice perspective at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.  If you dig around the site just a little, you can probably find the pro-choice perspective from any organized religion. 

And here is what I have to say:

am an absolute pacifist; I think that all war is wrong.  I oppose the
death penalty in every situation.  I support social welfare programs
because I believe we must end poverty and health-care disparities.  My
religious faith has taught me that we are all manifestations of the
Divine, and as such I seek in all things to act out of love for my
fellow beings.  I have deeply held moral convictions which honor the
divinity of life. 

As part of this, I believe very strongly in
the rights to self-determination, autonomy, and bodily integrity.  I
have no right to exert my will over the will of another with regard to
what happens with their own being.  This is why I believe that informed
consent in health care and public health education are so important —
we need to be informed health-care consumers who take up our own power
over our bodies, rather than abdicating our power to a health care
provider who tells us what to do.  This is why I am working toward
midwifery — birthing women and their babies need care that honors
their unique humanity and wisdom instead of honoring routines,
protocols and institutional guidelines.  And this is why I believe that
women choosing abortion deserve to be able to make that choice without
danger, fear, or shame. 

Whether or not I believe abortion is
right, whether or not it is legal, women will still have abortions. 
Look around the world, where a significant percentage of maternal
mortality is caused by illegal abortion.   Living children will lose
their mothers.  Making abortion illegal again will not end abortion. 
Though you may be uncomfortable with the concept of abortion, please
recognize that making abortion illegal does not end abortion.  It only
leads to criminalization of women and death. 

No one would undertake such a dangerous choice as illegal abortion lightly, and yet it is
undertaken because women know when they cannot mother one child more.
In our country, where abortion is legal, opponents seek to create a
similar climate of fear, shame and silence as though abortion were a
crime; they call it "murder," which is a crime.  I suppose that I am
grateful that women only have to contend with shame when they choose
abortion in the US, rather than shame and death.  Abortion
care workers, it seems, are the ones who have to worry about dying as a
result of legal abortion.  I wish that women and care providers could
both approach abortion without shame or fear of death. 

Tiller said, "Trust women." Yes.  Trust women to make the best choices 
for their own families  Trust women to make their own private moral
decisions. Trust that another individual might know their own life
better than a stranger.  Trust that your fellow humans make choices
that seem just as absolutely right to them as your truths do to you —
and entertain the possibility that the values of another hold more
truth in their own life than your values.  In our own lives we live by
our own truths.  I would never try to force another person to have an
abortion, just as I would never force another person to have an
unwanted child.  It is a dishonor to the humanity  (and to the
divinity) of another to enforce that your will be done in their life. 
Each of us deserves the dignity of self-determination, if we are
choosing to continue a pregnancy and give birth, or if we are choosing
to end an unwanted, unwelcome and/or unhealthy pregnancy.

Thanks for reading.


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