The Right Course?

Guest Commentary
Matthew Wagner
Class of 2016
Politics Major

Today is the March for Life and the 42nd anniversary of the Roe V. Wade case that legalized abortion in the United States. Today many of us will simply be at the Pryz and turn into Damian from Mean Girls as we wait longer than we should to get lunch because there are many visitors and “she doesn’t even go here.”

I have always considered myself pro-life. But it is important to ask what it means to be pro-life as well as ask what the goals of the pro-life movement are. It seems like an obvious answer, but the goal of the pro-life movement is to end abortion in the United States. To me this seems like a good goal. Since abortion has been legalized, there have been over 50 million abortions in the United States. That’s more than the population of California and averages over 1 million per year.

With this all said, it may surprise some that I support legal abortion though I consider myself pro-life. This is a view many might have, that they are personally pro-life but don’t believe in enforcing their beliefs on others. I sympathize with this view though it is not my reasoning. I support legal abortion because I do not believe that making it illegal will solve the problem.

If the goal of the pro-life movement is successful in ending abortions, they must work to lower the rate of unintended pregnancies. And the way to do this is not through abstinence only education. It is through an increase in birth control and teaching proper sex education in grade schools and high schools. Statistically, abstinence only does not reduce the rate of people engaging in sexual activities, it only increases the rate at which those who do engage in such activities do not use protection. Proper sexual education about birth control would increase the amount of people who understand how to use protection and consequently reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies and with it, abortions.

But clearly the abortion rate will not be lowered solely by increasing the use of birth control and proper sex education. We must also as a society create an environment where, even if abortion is available legally, it is not chosen as often. This means health care so women can afford the costs of being pregnant as well as healthcare costs after the child is born. It means paid family leave so that women do not have to choose between being employed or being pregnant. It means universal early childhood education programs so the child gets the best start in life and the woman does not have to worry about whether their son or daughter will succeed.

Ultimately, a person has to look at legal abortion and ask whether it is the problem or the byproduct of the problem. If it’s the problem, the answer is simply making it illegal. But if it is the byproduct of the problem, you must then solve the problem. I believe firmly that it is the byproduct. Creating a society where women don’t feel trapped with an unintended pregnancy as well as reducing the number of unintended pregnancies as a whole through proper sex education and birth control would do more to achieve the goals of the pro-life movement than legislating away abortion rights.

At the end of the day, we all want to same thing which is less abortion. This in a sense makes us all pro-life. And I believe the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies as well changing the way society treats women who are pregnant.

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