Opinion

I’ve worked at a science museum for children over the past year, which means I get to play with babies and pregnant moms every time I go to work. From field trips to family visits, the more babies and children I see, the brighter and fuller my day is. I love all of them, regardless of socioeconomic background or behavior.

I am frequently entrusted with watching these children, some whom I have just met, as their parents or chaperone runs an errand, and each second I am given to watch these amazing kids feels so precious. Every day I see the care and devotion it takes to raise life in this big, unsafe world, and it makes me feel protective and partially responsible for every child in the museum.

As the Arkansas Senate deliberates over Senate Bill 149, a so-called “trigger law” that would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, I am left thinking about mothers, babies and what we can do to stop injustices against them.

Now, this might shock you, but I am also pro-choice. No, I am not a baby killer. Actually, every time I see the freshest of tiny baby fingers or hear their startled cries, I am reminded exactly why I am pro-choice.

First, because abortion rates go down in countries that make abortion legal.

Seriously, the countries with the highest abortion rates in the world are countries where the procedure is completely illegal to get. This isn’t my opinion, but a fact that is backed up by data from reputable institutions like the Guttmacher Institute.

Now that we know banning abortion doesn’t make it less prevalent, let’s discuss what it does do: It kills more women. When abortions are banned, more women die from complications due to unsafe and unregulated abortions. A whopping 22,800 women died last year from unsafe abortion related procedures.

How does that affect a pro-life worldview? For just one second, let’s try to conceive that pro-choicers aren’t for killing preborn babies. Trust me, humanize me, as someone that has worked with maybe your kid or grandkid or niece or nephew, I love and cherish babies. I want there to be as few abortions as possible, too, because my job is better when there are lots of babies for me to play with.

I just believe the clear evidence that states making abortion legal leads to fewer abortions and that a woman’s life is just as important as her baby’s. In fact, my suggestion for getting rid of abortion is to generally support methods to make abortions more unnecessary, like making contraceptives available and teaching comprehensive sex education.

These two factors are common threads in countries with the lowest abortion rates, according to studies on the Netherlands, where the abortion rate is much lower than the U.S. State Rep. Aaron Pilkington filed a bill to give pharmacists permission to dispense birth control at pharmacies, which is a common-ground way to reduce abortions. Instead of worrying about a ban, let’s try focusing on policies like this.

Let’s actually go to the root of the problem and figure out why abortions happen at all. In a study of 14 countries from 2017, the most common reason women gave for getting an abortion is because of socioeconomic reasons. How many more mothers would carry to term if daycare was affordable? If policy makers created a world where housing is more available and affordable, I imagine a lot more mothers, especially young ones, would choose to carry their children to term.  I’d bet even more would if having a career and a child was made possible by more generous maternal-leave policies.

The stigma that still exists against unwed mothers, particularly from those who claim to despise abortion like the evangelical right, is noteworthy as well.  If our legislators would use their time to address Arkansas being ranked number one in teen pregnancy, I think it is pretty safe to say abortion rates would go down as well.

Ultimately, if pro-lifers want pro-choicers to believe that they genuinely love children, pro-lifers should be caring for immigrant children and those in poverty.  Let’s worry about the 1 in 4 children wasting away without food in their stomachs in Arkansas. Let’s think about taxing the careless businessmen hoarding billions of dollars while the beautiful babies all Arkansans seem to care about so much live in poverty.

That seems pretty pro-life to me.

The abortion issue might appear easy, but reality is a lot more nuanced. Loving babies and loving women is a lot more complex than just banning abortion, and it is going to take many different policy proposals to actually stop it from happening.

In the context of Senate Bill 149, a callous and heartless bill that doesn’t even give exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest, it is clear that there is a huge difference between supporting this bill and actually talking about compassionate policy measures to solve the problem of abortion.

Americans need to work together to minimize the amount of abortions, and it starts with everyone realizing that being pro-life entails saving women who would die from unsafe abortion procedures, too. As a politician, you are not winning any points if you save a fetus but kill the pregnant woman who was forced to get an illegal and dangerous abortion because of your policy decisions.

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