Let me be unequivocal about the fact that I believe any woman should be able to choose abortion for any reason whatsoever. I certainly did not intend for yesterday’s post to imply that some women are more “deserving” or at least less condemnable than others for making make this choice. We do not need to divide women into the whore versus Madonna, saint versus sinner dichotomy that has been used for centuries to persecute and oppress women.

But while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about what we can do do to reduce the number of abortions. No, not reduce the number of abortions but reduce the need for abortion in the first place. First and foremost, and I think most reasonable people would consider this fairly obvious, we absolutely must commit to honest, fact-based sex education. Then we must ensure that effective contraception is available and accessible to all women, men and, yes teenagers, who need it.

Those are the obvious first steps: reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and you’ll naturally reduce the number of abortions. But the next step, which is somehow overlooked by so many politicians and policy makers, deals with the way we, as a society, value the lives of women and children.

Women must be assured high quality and affordable health care, both for pre-natal care, labor and delivery, and then for their growing children. Women must have access to high quality jobs that pay a living wage and allow for time off to bear and care for children. Families must have affordable housing in safe neighborhoods where they can send their children to high quality schools.  Families must live, work and play in safe and clean environments in order to thrive. 

Proving that we value the lives of women and children after they’re born  will reduce the number of abortions (and it is just plain the right thing to do). And for all the people who rant and rave and commit murder in the name of life, unless they’re working and fighting for greater social and economic justice, they’re hypocrites. Demonizing and criminalizing the women who seek abortion and the doctors who provide it harms many and helps none.

How about doing some good for once?