I’m pro-choice, but…

The polarizing nature of politics forces us to choose sides. When it comes to the legality of abortion, you are either pro-choice or pro-life. Neither title comes close to encapsulating all of the nuances, all the subtle shades of grey, that the issue poses. If I’m forced declare a side, I would have to say pro-choice because I don’t believe abortion should be illegal, but that trite title does nothing to capture my views on the issue.

I believe women have the complete and total rights to their body. I believe they should have access to accurate information and different methods of birth control so they can choose the safest and healthiest option for themselves and their partner(s). While abstinence education may work for some, the fact is that people are going to have sex, often out of wedlock or in less than ideal circumstances. It’s important to have organizations that can help mitigate the negative or unintended consequences of those actions, especially since this helps reduce the number of abortions.

It is here where it seems like some common ground can be found. Abortion is, after all, the killing of a fetus. It’s an unpleasant thought, and it seems like most reasonable people would want the number of times this happens to be lower. If any compromise can ever be made in such a divisive issue, this seems like a good start.

Why not make it illegal then? Wouldn’t that make lower the number even more?

I’m not convinced it would, and I’m not sure it’s wise to return to the days when an abortion was something sought out on the black market. If one is to be done, it should be done as safe as possible. I also don’t believe that we should be criminalizing women who are considering one; I think we should help them.

Yet I’m sympathetic to some points on the pro-life side. The debate about when life begins is intricate and will continue to rage on. There are compelling arguments for a number of different viewpoints, both scientifically and ethically. What defines life? How is a zygote or a fetus different from a baby? Is there a time in the development of a fetus that an abortion should not be done, or is it at conception? These are the questions people have to wrestle with, and if you believe that life begins at conception, then it would be difficult to get past the idea that abortion is the taking of a life. I’ve thought about these questions, read the research, and fumbled over the ethics, and I still don’t have a definitive answer to all these questions.

Suffice it to say, it’s a difficult and complicated decision. Let’s ensure it’s made less often. There is a lot of passion dedicated to this issue, but very little that energy goes toward finding a path that both sides can agree to. Reducing the number of abortions by all available means should be what the abortion debate is focused on. This should be our goal.