[Today's guest post is a word of encouragement from K. M. Misener.]
At times, being a pro-life advocate can be very discouraging. The abortion industry has considerable financial resources to use to aggressively market itself, and hence marketing slogans such as “choice” and “the war on women” that seem to have been carefully crafted with an eye towards appealing to a focus group have become ubiquitous. Despite this, I truly believe that ultimately the culture of abortion acceptance will end sooner or later. It may not happen as soon as we who are pro-life would like, but I believe that the decline of abortion is inevitable if human development continues its historical trajectory of eventually coming to reject violence and barbarism. I do believe there will come a day when abortion will become not just undesirable or logically indefensible but simply obsolete.
For all their rhetoric about women having control over their bodies, so often pro-choice advocates speak of unplanned pregnancy as if it were a random, unavoidable accident. Pro-lifers have been accused of supporting “forced birth”, as if abortion were the one option to prevent women who don't want to bear children from having to do so. Can we truly say that a woman has control over her body if the specter of an unplanned pregnancy is a constantly looming threat that she is helpless to prevent? If a tornado were to destroy your home, it would be absurd to insist that you were “in control” of the weather just because you had the means to rebuild your home after the tornado struck. Likewise, it is absurd to call abortion “control over a woman's body” when abortion does nothing to address the loss of control over reproduction that results in an unplanned pregnancy in the first place. Rather than a proactive liberation of women from the stress of an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is merely a reactionary attempt to try to repair the “damage” that the discovery of an unplanned pregnancy causes in a woman's life. Abortion is a symptomatic of a loss of control, not a triumph of female empowerment.
I see abortion as regression towards humanity's history of using crude methods such as infanticide in an effort to deal with the “problem” of unwanted children. In ancient times, infanticide was a widespread and common practice. Today, almost all people in modern Western societies find the idea of killing or abandoning a newborn infant horrifying. What changed? I believe that infanticide essentially became obsolete as people found alternative ways to deal with the “problem” of unwanted children: prevention of pregnancy and abortion. While pro-choicers are satisfied to stop there, those of us who are pro-life are not content to accept abortion as a “good enough” answer. We who are pro-life believe that humanity has the potential to continue to evolve beyond violent answers to unplanned pregnancy.
As people begin to recognize that we can live well without relying on abortion, I believe that the abortion industry's efforts to justify its existence and “the need” for abortion will ring hollow with most people. Just as people began to abandon horse-drawn carriages when the automobile offered a better way, I picture our society abandoning abortion and all the messy cognitive dissonance that its defense requires as we move beyond it.
I think this trend will accelerate as advances in contraception make pregnancy prevention simpler, but even with the current state of contraception technology, there is a great deal of room for improvement in preventing unplanned pregnancy. Statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute show that, as of 2000-2001, 46% of American women who had abortions were not using a form of contraception. Of those who did use contraception, 76% of oral contraceptive users and 49% of condom users acknowledged that they used birth control inconsistently. The reasons behind this lack of contraceptive use are no doubt multi-faceted, but perhaps if we as a society could discuss abortion honestly – starting with an acknowledgement that our high rate of abortion is pathological, not a sign of women's liberation – we could move beyond a culture of abortion faster.