Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Human Face of Abortion

I’m currently working on an article on the societal impact of contraception, for Salvo 6, and I’m particularly struck by the connection between the rise contraception and abortion and the long history of oppression and abuse of women, particularly poor and minority women (cf. Rickie Solinger’s Pregnancy and Power: A Shorty History of Reproductive Politics in America). Too often, those of us who oppose abortion on moral grounds fail to grasp, much less address, this tragic history, and ignore the real social struggles that still lead to abortion. Since long before Roe v. Wade, countless women have sought contraception and abortion because they saw them as their only defense against destitution or abuse. No amount of moral condemnation has changed this fact, for it only addresses the symptom without solving the root problem.

Yet the truth is that abortion is not a solution to this history of abuse and oppression; it is a short term “fix” that perpetuates it. This is well illustrated by a heartbreaking piece at The New University (HT: Mark Shea). It’s the story of a college student forced into abortion by just such circumstances – fears for her future, an abusive boyfriend and father, a mother who doesn’t understand – yet it doesn’t solve them for her, it only adds to them. For the real problem that needs solving is not the girl’s pregnancy, but the abusive system in which she feels trapped.

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