Any complex problem has deeper roots than the surface issue. We want a Big Solution for a Big Problem, but a big problem needs many intricate little solutions working together to address the issues at the root. We can't shortcut a solution without missing key human needs that are rotting at the deeper roots.
I wish abortion wasn't treated as the failure or the solution. Our issues start way before that - so starting at abortion is trying to work backwards.
I found this article helpful to read, more brief than my thoughts below, and resonant with what I'm longing for. But that was written in January 2020... can we change?
... unequal accountability where there should be mutuality
Outside of marriage or social pressure, nothing holds both partners' choice to have sex accountable to the potential of pregnancy.
(For the most part) Sperm-producing folk can have intercourse freely without repercussions - whereas those with the ovaries' entire lives, bodies, etc. can be upended - by a choice they mutually made (hopefully. Although even outside of force I believe there is much more nonconsensual sex than we'd want to imagine).
It's complicated. And a Christian answer can't be simply to restrict abortion access (unsafe abortions abound nonetheless). The authentic Christian answer would be something like nobody having sex before they're committed to each other for life, mutually understanding of the potential of children, and having sex as an act of mutually giving to one another. We don't live in a world like that. We don't live in a country like that. We don't even live in churches like that, often.
In the country and culture we live in, it's extreme to enforce that one person must shoulder the entire burden of pregnancy and parenting. Particularly when we fail to support pregnancy, parenting, and families both structurally and socially.
... A Grander View
I think talking about pregnancy in terms of risk/consequence like this is sad, though. Instead of an opportunity or possibility. It's a wild, beautiful thing that our bodies are capable of creating new life through intercourse. It is also a serious thing, but serious in the sense of being a high calling and responsibility - that shouldn't be taken lightly or ever done alone (in my opinion, even a nuclear family isn't enough - but that's a separate convo) - but not serious like a consequence or punishment. If we talk about pregnancy like that, what are we really saying about life?
I would hope pregnancy and parenting could be a whole community experience of shared joy in bringing new life into the world, and then caring for that little person to become someone who contributes right back to the community that's cared for them.
What if we talked and learned about, sex, pregnancy, and parenting like that?
... Mutuality in Fertility, Sex, Pregnancy, Community
Everybody needs better education about sex,
and especially about our bodies, fertility, and sexuality.
What if we didn't view fertility as a threat of getting pregnant (that needs to be squashed with side-effect riddled pills or invasive, uncomfortable, even dangerous contraceptive devices)*, but as a gift to be respected, treasured, understood, and cared for?
*To be clear: not against contraception on the whole - but skeptical that it's a further burden on one person's body for something I firmly believe should be mutual. And ironic that we shoulder that burden on those who are only capable of pregnancy occasionally, while those who are fertile 100% of the time often have no expectation to take responsibility for their fertility.
I imagine if partners were equally accountable to the responsibilities of pregnancy and parenting, then they'd both be motivated to explore and understand their fertility.
What if everyone knew when their partner was fertile and were always aware of when a pregnancy was truly possible so they could consent to, engage with caution (or additional contraceptive measures), or abstain from sex with that knowledge?
All forms of birth control have different efficacy rates - but the fertile window (when an egg is released from an ovary and available to be inseminated - lasting about 7 days each month) is the only time someone is physically capable of getting pregnant.
I imagine if partners were held equally accountable to the responsibilities of pregnancy and parenting, then they'd want to know when it's possible for their partner to get pregnant.
What if we only had sex when there was mutual consent and understanding of the possibility of pregnancy?
I imagine partners would prioritize consent more if they were held equally accountable to the responsibilities of pregnancy and parenting. I imagine partners capable of pregnancy could more joyfully engage in sex, knowing they and their partner have mutually chosen to do so, with knowledge and clarity about whether or not pregnancy is a possible outcome.
AND what if there was true support in place for people to choose pregnancy? Not just if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. Many folks, even if happily married and excited to parent, don't feel supported enough (medically, socially, financially, etc.) to make that choice.
What if these questions were about all people (men, women, nonbinary, married, single, partnered) working together instead of fighting against one another for power, respect, love, dignity, space in this world we share?
I get that these are all ideals. I know we don't live in a world like this. But what if we did?
From the left: What if abortion - a traumatizing thing in itself - wasn't seen as a last-ditch-effort to stop the pain and ongoing trauma of our broken relationships?
From the right: What if abortion wasn't used to value the life of a fetus over the life of the pregnant person - and to pit these two lives against each other?
What if, instead, abortion wasn't the place we argued from.
What if we looked at, and reconsidered, and restored, these rotten roots instead.
... Longing, Fearing, Wondering, and Choosing
I wish we were working forwards from the source of our issues rather than backwards from the final results. That's what I long for.
But instead (I'm afraid) we're gonna keep fighting about laws and leaving pregnant folks (and even potentially pregnant folks) desperate for a bandaid to cover the bullet-hole.
And leaving the ones - who are fertile 100% of the time and often looking for (or demanding, or even selfishly stealing) sex in the first place - completely out of the equation.
Partisan politics thrives on us hating and blaming one another to garner votes. I despise this dehumanizing game and wonder if it can change. I will keep looking for - and choose to act on - things that drive towards community and love. I will not cave to despair or convenient answers, even when it feels far easier to do so.
This is all a little more harsh and heavy, and a lot less hopeful, than I'd want to be. But it's how it is, for now.
But, again, I found this article helpful to read, more brief than my thoughts above, and resonant with what I'm longing for. But that was written in January 2020... can we change? Can we change?