There's no doubt about it- abortion is one of the most important issues on the minds of Christian conservatives in America. This is so much the case that the Republican Party (which is currently dominated by pro-life candidates) gets a great deal of support from Christians.
The rationale is simple: Christians don't want to have blood on their hands by voting for someone who is pro-choice.
This is an understandable position. Christians feel like they can sleep at night by voting for candidates that are pro-life, even if the abortion laws don't change. But which is more important: being pro-life or lowering the abortion rate? Is there a difference? Let's start with a fundamental question.
Why do women get abortions?
Between 2008-2010, Biomed Central conducted a study of 1,000 women who were getting abortions and asked them why. The results were interesting:
Women’s reasons for seeking an abortion fell into 11 broad themes. The predominant themes identified as reasons for seeking abortion included financial reasons (40%), timing (36%), partner related reasons (31%), and the need to focus on other children (29%). Most women reported multiple reasons for seeking an abortion crossing over several themes (64%).
The number one reason women gave were financial. It's worth noting that 40% of women who have abortions are below the poverty line. Take a look at this short overview of the women in America who are having abortions:
Not only are 4 out of 10 American women who have abortions below the poverty line, 10 out of 10 women are unable to take a paid leave of absence when they have a child. The United States is dead last in this area:
The economics are clear: Many women are having abortions due to money problems. They can't afford to have and raise a child.
If we could reduce poverty in America and give women paid time off when they give birth, we would reduce the abortion rate.
But what if we just repealed Roe V. Wade? Couldn't we just do that to stop the abortions?
Can we stop abortion by making it illegal?
Surprisingly, it turns out that the abortion rate is often higher in countries with restrictive abortion laws. This seems to go against conventional wisdom. Let's look at the data to understand this paradox.
Africa and Latin America, have restrictive abortion laws. Their abortion rates are 29 and 32 respectively per 1,000 women of childbearing age, while Eastern Europe (which has very broad abortion laws) has only 12 abortions per 1,000 women. (source) Additionally, this procedure results in a much higher rate of death in countries where it is restricted because women find other, less safe abortion clinics.
It is well documented that morbidity and mortality resulting from abortion tend to be high in countries and regions characterized by restrictive abortion laws, and is very low when these are liberal.
(source: Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008)
Women WILL have abortions whether it's legal or not. They will tend to have MORE abortions in countries where it is illegal, and those abortions will result in more deaths.
Making abortion illegal in the United States will result in more babies and mothers being killed.
So if we can't stop abortion by making it illegal, what can we do?
How to lower the abortion rate
There are a number of ways we can attack abortion. Here are the proven methods:
- Attack poverty
We need to provide as much assistance as we can to the impoverished in this country. For starters, raising the minimum wage would help out those who need the most aid. Bernie Sanders wants to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. This would help struggling single mothers get out of poverty and provide for their children. Sanders has a number of other ways he plans on attacking poverty in America.
- Provide paid leave for women who give birth
It's an absolute travesty that women can't take paid time off to have a child. Yet again, Bernie Sanders hopes to take on this problem by providing fair paid time off for a woman who is having a child.
- Provide universal healthcare so women are not impoverished by hospital stays
The average 3 day hospital stay costs $30,000. One in five women you meet walking down the street does not have health insurance and would be put into crippling debt by a hospital stay. This high cost of health contributes to the feeling of hopelessness women have when they consider the financial burden of having a child. Bernie Sanders is working to move the US to a single payer health care system like most of the rest of the developed world. This would mean that all of these women would be covered and could rest easy that a hospital stay would not ruin their lives.
Should we be merely 'pro-life' or seek to lower the abortion rate?
Simply being 'pro-life' won't decrease the number of abortions. The blood is on your hands if you do not do your part to lower the number of children being aborted. Being pro-life won't do anything to stop abortions. You may have been able to sleep better at night before- but now that you know how to lower the abortion rate, what will you do? If you are ready to fight abortion, vote to make life easier for women. Vote for Bernie. Visit berniesanders.com and feelthebern.org for more info!
Daniel Allen is a Chicago area designer. He is in no way affiliated with the Bernie Sanders campaign, but truly believes that working to reduce the rate of abortions is the right thing to do.
Please share this article with your Christian friends!