Saturday, August 31, 2013

What You Haven't Heard About Abortion

If you are looking for confirmation for your passionate pro-life, anti-abortion, anti-contraception beliefs, read no further.  If you are still looking for information, or are a discouraged pro-choice, pro-contraception, pro-women's-health-as-a-private-matter person, I've got some links for you!

"How I Lost Faith in the 'Pro-Life' Movement" by Libby Anne at  She explains:
I was raised in the sort of evangelical family where abortion is the number one political issue. I grew up believing that abortion was murder, and when I stopped identifying as pro-life I initially still believed that. Why, then, did I stop identifying as pro-life? Quite simply, I learned that increasing contraceptive use, not banning abortion, was the key to decreasing the number of abortions.
Libby Anne continues with a very articulate and researched (although I can't verify where her statistics come from on either side) rebuttal to all the arguments she passionately accepted in her pro-life mode.  I learned a lot about pro-life thinking from her post.

“Pro-Life” Anti-Abortion Myths Debunked" by Sarah Moffat (one of the founders of Sexpression:Edinburgh in 2012. The organization is passionate about providing high quality sex and relationships education to students and young people around Edinburgh.) I found it very helpful to get off the continental US and see how our European neighbors are responding to pro-life arguments.

Back in the US, Emily Bazelon wrote this long article in 2010 about the upcoming generation of doctors who refuse to accept the lay-low attitude of medical schools which marginalize or outsource women's health issues like contraception and abortion.  She gives a great history of how this happened and the push-back by young doctors. Here's part of the hopeful story she details:
When Salt Lake City and Atlanta are [now] home to programs that train doctors to be expert in abortion and contraception, the profession sends a signal that family-planning practices are an accepted, not just tolerated, part of what doctors do. That helps draw young physicians. The first generation of providers after Roe took on abortion as a crusade, driven by the urgent memory of seeing women become sick or die because they tried to induce an abortion on their own, in the days before legalization. Out of necessity, the doctors pushed ahead with little training or support. “We did it by the seat of our pants,” says Philip Ferro, an 82-year-old OB-GYN at the S.U.N.Y Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. “There was no formal source of knowledge.”

As Ferro wryly puts it, “That would not stand today.” Abortion and contraception have become the subjects of rigorous, evidence-based research. The younger doctors who are coming through the residency training programs and the Family Planning Fellowship “have invigorated this field beyond my greatest expectations,” Grimes, the researcher and abortion provider, says. “We are cranking out highly qualified, dedicated physicians who are doing world-class research. There is a whole cadre of people. I helped train some of them, and I’m very proud of that. In the 1980s, I wasn’t sure who would fill in behind me when I retired. I’m much more optimistic now.”
That was written three years ago.  Right now, in the September, 2013, issue of American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Time reports, there's a statement in which
"100 ob-gyns condemn new state restrictions on abortion as a 'political regression.' The article...criticizes hospitals for relinquishing abortion to stand-alone clinics that are easily targeted by abortion activists, and calls on the medical community to integrate the procedure into women’s-health services and medical training."

“In our view, hospitals have disregarded the responsibility that our academic predecessors expected them to assume,” the professors write. “The savings in lives and money from legalization were soon forgotten and many hospitals now claim they cannot afford to provide abortions even if they wanted to …”
The article has more statistics that show how important this unusual call to action really is.

Amanda Marcotte at Daily Beast ("Blue States Buck Abortion Trend") notes the leading-edge West Coast of the US is not just place-holding in the tug of war over women's bodies:
In general, the West Coast is trending toward decentralizing abortion and making it as widely available as possible. Oregon has no abortion restrictions—it treats abortion as it should be treated, as just another medical service—and Washington is now requiring all public hospitals to provide abortions. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t do much to reduce the cost, but the move does help spread the message that there’s nothing about an abortion that requires it to happen only at a specialized abortion clinic.
California's Governor has signed a law allowing specially-trained nurse practitioners and others to do early terminations, making low-visibility abortions available all across the state, much of which is rural (although we don't think of California as rural).

WNL:  What's the new news in all this?  Articulate, informed people are speaking out about the fake science and scare tactics used very successfully by pro-life supporters to make their views laws that other people have to live by.  The upcoming generation of doctors (many of them women) is not willing to put up with suppression of medical care to women.  Half the country has moved on.  Yay.

Picture "Muse" by Lyn Southworth.  More here.