A path to reduce abortion | Ott Observations


A friend of mine recently asked me why I was for abortion. I told him I wasn’t. He got a puzzled look and said that was what I said in a column. I told him what I said was that I didn’t think the government should be making the decisions.

Specifically, I criticized the Supreme Court for opening the door for government restriction with a very weak argument. This court currently has the lowest public confidence rating since they started measuring it, which I would suggest further supports my criticism.

I think it is legitimate to be protective of an unborn life. But there is another life that deserves at least equal consideration. That other life is a woman who is already born, has a name, has a network of loved ones, and can communicate about any health issues affecting her.

Some wanted pregnancies threaten a woman’s health – presenting both physical and mental health issues. I don’t know how you weigh one life vs. another. I suspect even King Solomon would be stumped. But I’m certain that the least qualified decision-makers are legislators and judges pursuing agendas, uninformed of the specifics affecting any such decision. 

That leaves us with respecting the lives of the already born and trusting the decisions they make with their physicians.

The second reason I don’t agree with what government dictates is that it doesn’t work. If people want to do something, laws against it don’t stop them.  It’s the laziest and least effective way to change people’s behavior.  

I think there is a better path, but it’s a lot harder and will take a lot more work.

The root of the problem is unwanted pregnancies.  There are some things we can do to dramatically reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.  The first is to aggressively pursue sex education in our schools, and to make contraception available to anyone who wants it. 

I know there are parents that insist this is their job, but not all parents do their job. They’re part of the problem. 

I also have heard the argument about sex education encouraging sex. I believe you can instruct children to abstain from sex and provide all the reasons why, but also tell them that if they decide to ignore your advice they should at least protect themselves and be responsible.

Another root of the problem is women who become pregnant and lack the necessary access to healthcare and/or economic support to carry the baby through birth. 

There are many people struggling to exist month to month. They may have jobs that don’t provide time off to see a doctor, much less provide maternity leave.  They may have jobs too physically challenging for a pregnant woman. They may have other children they’re already struggling to support. Their husbands or boyfriends may have abandoned them. 

They may have travel limitations, not owning a car. Healthcare may cost too much, or may be too far away in rural areas to practically access.  They may be struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. They may have mental health issues.  They may belong to a strict religious community that will ostracize them – including their own family.

Any of us can judge these people and hold an opinion that an unborn baby is more important. But to people living life as a constant struggle to survive, getting pregnant is a truly desperate situation. 

One of the more frequent anti-abortion letter writers to this editorial section called for more support of people in these circumstances so they see a path other than abortion.  I agree, but what have we been waiting for? For 50 years, women have been getting abortions because such a support network wasn’t available.

There’s another category of children I’ve been more concerned about than the unborn. Over 10 million children in the U.S. live in poverty.  They have names, they can tell you when they’re hungry and you can hear them cry when there is nothing for them to eat. 

And our child poverty numbers are far lower than those in many other parts of the world. Part of our pandemic recovery stimulus was an increase in the child tax credit. The social worker community said this made a significant dent in child hunger. Yet, our Congress has yet to renew it.  If we all call for this and vote accordingly, it will happen.

These children live in vulnerable environments.  Besides lacking basic necessities, some are abused and others struggle with learning and behavior control that will affect their economic circumstances for life. 

I support an organization called Family Forward that helps vulnerable families. I encourage you to check them out, or similar organizations.

For almost 50 years, we’ve expended a tremendous amount of energy, activism and financial support to get anti-abortion laws established. Imagine if all that effort had gone into support for potential mothers desperate for support.  I suggest we would be in a much better place today and we would’ve saved a lot of lives over those past years.

Why is it that when we disagree we leap to the conclusion that someone is 100 percent against what we are 100 percent for?  I think life is very messy and continually confronts us with difficult choices that are never perfect. 

Our best chance at navigating this mess of options is to listen to others that offer differing perspectives.  That’s the only way we’ll ever find the best and most effective approach, however imperfect, to any complex problem. 

This is one of the reasons I write this column. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email