Abortion is, at the best of times, a touchy subject. On one extreme there are people who think having an abortion at any stage is tantamount to murder, and on the other side there is belief that any law that dictates what a woman can and cannot do with their body is unjust (with a whole spectrum of opinions in between). So without rehashing the same arguments and ultimately changing no one’s minds about the topic, I want to look at how both major political parties purport to reduce/end abortions, the feasibility of their respective ideas and which policies people should get behind if they are serious about cutting down on abortion.
The difference between how Republicans and Democrats, in general, tackle the issue of abortion can best be summed up by looking at the two main ways to reduce the number of abortions: by making them less available or by making them less necessary. Republicans are primarily of the former camp. They are focused on passing laws that limit the time frame within which a woman can have an abortions, imposing waiting periods, barring public funding and many other actions intended to make sure there is as little access to abortion as possible.
While Republicans do much to reduce access to abortions, they do next to nothing in regards to removing the need for them. Over the last several decades they have often pushed abstinence-only sex education, despite the fact that states which emphasize this have the highest rates of teen pregnancy and teen birth. Trump appointees in the Health and Human Services (HHS) department recently tried to end the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Republicans also fought provisions under Obamacare that required certain employers to cover contraceptives. Furthermore, they consistently attempt to defund Planned Parenthood despite the fact that a place called Planned Parenthood is obviously going to help people avoid situations where they would be considering an abortion (regardless of whether they provide abortion procedures or not).
Only focusing on making abortions less available will never work in the long run; there is irrefutable evidence that women in countries where abortion is illegal will continue to undergo the process. The difference is that they must do so under unsafe conditions; tens of thousands of women worldwide die from unsafe abortions and many other suffer serious injuries.
Democrats do not get much love from so-called “pro-life” advocates because they are widely opposed to restricting access to abortion. But while Democrats affirm the right for a person to control their own body, they’ve done much more to actually solve the problem of people being put in situations where they might consider an abortion in the first place.
They widely endorse investing in comprehensive sex education, not just abstinence-only policies. This leads to young people being more informed about how to prevent pregnancy (as well as STDs and STIs) when they do decide to have sex. Democrats have also pushed contraceptives, for example in the Affordable Care Act employer mandate, as a way for people to engage in sexual relations while staying safe and avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. And they make sure that people have access to family planning services like Planned Parenthood so they have the resources to make informed decisions about sex.
Pretty much everyone on both sides can agree that reducing abortion is a good thing, whether it is because you believe that abortion is morally reprehensible or because you believe nobody should have to go through the emotional pain that the process so often entails. Outlawing abortion outright will never work, because all the evidence points to the process going on regardless of what the law says and occurring in a manner that endangers the woman.
But we can work towards building a society where no woman feels like she has to get an abortion, where access to affordable contraceptives and birth control (maybe we’ll have male birth control by then) is such that the number of unintended pregnancies is at a minimum, and where people are informed on what steps they should take whether they are looking to have children or not. If you are truly pro-life, then this is the future you should be working towards.
Jacob Kowalski is opinion editor for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.