Transforming Conflict into Creativity: Abortion
The argument about the morality and legality of abortion is an interesting one. In American culture, the issue is introduced to each generation and then rehashed by each generation with very little progress. This is because the issue is very complex, involving the perfect storm of personal beliefs, science, and cultural considerations.
I would never attempt to argue for one side or the other, too many people have done so already. What I wish to do is progress the abortion issue in the hearts and minds of my readers. This is the first step to transforming conflict into creativity.
I would never ask pro-choice or pro-life groups to set aside their respective viewpoints, but I do insist they make an effort to discover what they have in common with each other. To find the commonality between pro-choice and pro-life, we need to transcend the arguments about individual rights, when life begins, and God. Beyond these differences, there is a way to move this conflict forward.
A collaboration between pro-life and pro-choice begins with the shared belief that abortion sucks. It does not matter if you are pro-life or pro-choice, you can agree that abortion sucks. Creativity starts with the acknowledgement that abortion itself is the shared enemy of pro-life and pro-choice.
Abortion is Necessary
Abortion sucks, but it is also very necessary. In some cases, abortion actually saves a woman from unfathomable suffering. Abortion can prevent unnecessary miscarriages, still births, death of a child shortly after birth, and death of the mother. The suffering that can result from any of these scenarios is not necessary and abortion gives us a practical way to avoid these situations.
If pro-life and pro-choice groups are to work together, they must agree that there are terrible situations that can occur during pregnancy that necessitate an abortion procedure.
Finding Common Solutions
If both sides believe abortion sucks and that in some cases it is absolutely necessary, then the common goal that remains is to minimize the number of abortions. If we are going to have a collaborative effort, we can only use methods that each side can fully endorse. This rules out solutions like outlawing abortion or promoting “unnatural” forms of birth control. These solutions can still be pursued by each side separately, but they are not solutions that can be pursued collaboratively.
To find solutions that both sides can get behind, it helps to look at the reasons women choose to have abortions. I did a little research and found a study from 2004 titled Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives.
The study cites the following most common reasons women in the U.S. have abortions:
- A child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents – 74%
- She could not afford a baby now – 73%
- She did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems – 48%
The study concluded that “the decision to have an abortion is typically motivated by multiple, diverse and interrelated reasons”. It further stated that “the themes of responsibility to others and resource limitations, such as financial constraints and lack of partner support, recurred throughout the study”.
This study shows that the decision to have an abortion is a very complicated one, with the overarching reason being a lack of financial and emotional security.
Creating a society where women feel more secure in having a child is a solution that both pro-life and pro-choice groups can endorse.
Here are a few ideas that both pro-life and pro-choice groups could collaborate on to create a society where less women have abortions.
1. Universal Healthcare
Babies are expensive. Prenatal care and delivery alone can cost up to $17,000 for an uninsured woman (see this article on WebMD). This is a lot of money and a significant factor in the decision making process to end a pregnancy.
If healthcare was available to all Americans at no direct cost, prenatal and delivery costs would not be a factor in any woman’s decision to end a pregnancy.
I don’t care if this is a government program or a private program, focusing on political differences only furthers the divide. Universal healthcare is a surefire way to decrease abortions and can be supported by anyone who is committed to ending abortion, regardless of political leaning.
2. More Programs for Low Income Women
Low income women need financial support if they are going to have a baby. Even if a universal healthcare program was implemented, there would still be women that could not afford to raise a child.
Support could come form a public or private program that provides cash grants, supplies, or related services to women that cannot afford their child. The more support we provide to pregnant women, the less likely they are to have an abortion.
3. Cultural Shift
All the money in the world will not change a culture issue. The study I mentioned above showed that many women decide to have an abortion because their relationship is on thin ice or their partner is unwilling to provide any support. We need to create a culture where it is not acceptable for a man to impregnate a woman and then leave her high and dry.
A cultural shift would start with an educational campaign about the responsibility we all have to support the women in our lives. If more men were willing to provide emotional and financial support to women they impregnate, more women would feel secure in the decision to bring their baby to term.
The Poster-Child for Collaboration
Pro-life and pro-choice working together is not a simple endeavor, but it is the only way to make real progress. More importantly, this collaboration would be an inspiring example of what can be accomplished when enemies focus on their similarities instead of their differences. There are creative solutions to every major conflict that can resolve the situation without infringing on individual beliefs and rights.
The key is to look beyond the differences and find the common problem. Once a common enemy is identified, adversaries can become collaborators by working towards solutions that both sides find acceptable.
An attitude of collaboration and wholeness can transform conflict into creativity. This is the only way to progress issues that don’t seem to be going anywhere.
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