The Truth About Women's Reproductive Rights

I could say this about many things in the political realm, but talking about abortion is an incredibly dangerous and taboo topic for a male with a significantly conservative extended family. Nevertheless, I want to talk about some of the facts and address some of the misinformation that is out there.

One of the biggest misconceptions about a woman’s right to choose is a blatant demonization of the women who exercise those rights. Whether it’s access to birth control and family planning tools, education on how to use said resources, or support for women placed into terrible socio-economic situations, the fact is we’ve made women’s rights taboo. Shopping for birth control has become an embarrassing covert action couples have to take, or women are sent alone to inhospitable and cold ten-minute appointments with doctors too busy to answer their questions.

As a man, I know it is my job to take an active role with my partner to ensure we are practicing protected sex. Yet, despite that educated and positive approach, a prude and often hypocritical minority of parents are still the most vocal group in schools, fighting against healthy and accurate sexual education. Before we delve into any of these topics, I think it’s most important to say we have to be more open about these issues and we need to ensure we make these resources more readily available to men and women – especially at a younger age when they’re still pliable and accepting of the knowledge.

Opponents of a woman’s right to choose often try to make a case stating abortion is repeatedly used as a form of birth control. Realistically, pregnancy and abortion would be much more prevalent if the intent was to use an abortion as a birth control alternative. Nancy Standwood M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine did the math: a woman not using birth control would have twenty abortions in their lifetime if they were using the procedure as a form of contraception instead of conventional barrier or hormone-based methods. In fact, the majority of pregnancies occur when at least one form of contraception was used in the first place. Statistically, the majority of women having an abortion are actually having one for the first time – indicating it’s not a trend or habit, but rather a result of poor circumstances.

Only eight percent of women having an abortion have never used contraceptives before. Let’s face it – most of the individuals seeking this procedure are actually from the very political leanings, religions, and socioeconomic demographics vocally opposing the activity. This is where the statistics get interesting. Fifty-five percent of moderate republicans support the Roe Vs. Wade decision, and sixty-five percent of abortions are actually sought by women self-identifying as Catholic or Protestant. Alternatively, only twenty-five percent of all abortions are sought by individuals of an unidentified or atheistic belief system. Speaking to that measure, it may be worth noting the behavior of atheists in not publically shaming and humiliating those having children out of wedlock seem to have more positive outcomes in the eyes of their toughest critics.

To dig a little deeper on the Roe vs. Wade court decision, sixty percent of Americans stand by the decision for women’s rights. It’s the minority of Americans then, arguing for the abolishment of something the courts have already validated numerous times as strongly supported by the US constitution. ‘Roe’, or ‘Jane Roe’, was a pseudonym in the monumental court case, as individuals feared for the safety of the plaintiff in the 1973 decision. It’s worth noting a supreme court decision is unquestionable and irrevocable except under a constitutional convention or amendment. I say “unquestionable” because the court had almost no dissent in the 7-2 decision. It stands to this day that women have the right to make decisions concerning their body. Jane Roe was actually a conservative evangelical having children outside of wedlock and being pressured by her friends, family, and economic position to make this decision. In the end, she never followed through with an abortion after the case and never exercised her right to an abortion in the following years. Nobody wants to have an abortion, and nobody takes the decision lightly.

As for the medical procedures, it appears the opposition once again doesn’t have a full understanding of the process, and continues to cause public outcry based on partial truths and incomplete information. While later term abortions are often the most publicized, only eight percent of abortions occur outside of the first trimester. It is the scientific consensus of medical professionals that fetal brain development doesn’t occur until the third trimester of a pregnancy – the time where the debate on life, consciousness, pain, and independence can even start to be considered. Additionally, those who paint Planned Parenthood and the medical industry as profiteers of pro-choice decisions are vastly misaligned with reality. The average cost of the procedure is approximately five hundred dollars, while other common procedures like an appendectomy cost $14,000. A conventional birth or cesarean section ranges from ten to fifteen thousand dollars. I don’t see the profiteering occurring anywhere except from conventional term pregnancies in the first place.

Finally, all of this public outcry to cut federal funding of abortions is deftly misdirected by closed-minded conservative leaders. I will state this as clearly and plainly as possible: Medicaid does not pay for abortions unless in the case of rape or bodily endangerment of the mother. On top of that, only fourteen percent of procedures are paid for with public funds – most of which come from state-level funding and not from the federal government.

I have one last point I’d like to raise as a part of my conclusion. I dug online for weeks in collecting the substance and content of this post. I was incredibly disheartened and frankly embarrassed by the amount of misinformation out there. In a day and age where we talk often and in-depth about the dangers of fake news, we should also be worried about the effect of those participating in shaming and trolling of individuals forced to make this decision. The only person in such an exchange of words in need of being publically humiliated is the one choosing to disregard the facts and perpetuate their own agendas for the sake of their ignorance.

Opposition to a woman’s choice to decide is a disservice to women, a disservice to our children, and a disservice to society by painting good, struggling women in anything but the praising and respectful light they’ve earned.