Anti-choice proponents espouse the need for "personal responsibility" in reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion. What they seem to overlook is the role government plays in establishing effective infrastructure that builds and sustains a strong society.
When a woman is pregnant, there is no doubt that her life changes. She asks herself a multitude of questions. If she is in a sustainable relationship, she and her partner may consider these questions together.
Pregnant women, those with intended or unintended pregnancies, ask such questions as:
Will I be able to care for and support a new child and my older children? Is our housing adequate? Are our jobs stable? Do I need more education to better support a growing family? Do I have health insurance? Will my child have health insurance? Is maternity leave available to me? Will I have my job after my child is born? Can I keep this job or will I need one more suited to raising a family? Can we find quality, affordable child care? Will my child/children have access to a good public school? Will we have the transportation needed for work and other essentials? In other words, can I or can we be ready in these and other respects to raise and support a family?
Necessary policies for reducing abortion are not only those that prevent unintended pregnancy and provide comprehensive sex education, but policies that establish opportunities and tools to promote strong families and communities. Yet, anti-choice elected officials, who work against keeping abortion safe, legal and accessible, are often the same lawmakers who vote down legislation that is critical to strengthening society.
How can lawmakers vote against legislation that helps sustain and advance working families? How can they vote NO on job training and employment services for dislocated workers--especially in these dire economic times? How can a lawmaker, in all good conscience, vote against health care reform? It's apparent that, from an economic standpoint, lack of health care and coverage has put this nation at a competitive disadvantage and resulted in company closures and job loss. And what about support for new and expanded tax credits for lower- and middle-income families, freeing up much-needed money for their basic needs?
How can so many anti-choice lawmakers justify denouncing or failing to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening the United States? You cannot be against abortion, contraception, comprehensive sex education and be against establishing the necessary infrastructure for a sustainable society.
Reducing the need for abortions is clearly everyone's goal. However, the true path to achieving that goal is through public policies that promote strong, healthy, self-sufficient families. Only then will a pregnant woman answer these questions and have all of her possible choices become true, realistic options.
Anything less is disrespectful to our shared values of family and community.
Follow M. Tracey Brooks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WomensHealthNY