Bender: Conservatives block solutions to unwanted pregnancies – InForum

Thank God we don’t live in a theocracy. That was my thought after reading my colleague Roxane Salonen’s February 21 Inforum column, in which she bemoaned a couple’s celebration of the man’s vasectomy and her decision to remain childless.

Roxane vowed not to judge, but wrote, “Her isolation from life seems dim to me, similar to the desolation I feel when I pray at North Dakota’s only abortion facility.”

Well, that seems pretty judgmental to me. So are we now equating birth control with abortion? For real? You just can’t win with these people.

However, I am sure that Roxane and I agree on some things, for example that parenting is the best job in the world. I know that being a parent has made me a better person.

But I also witnessed the loss of a child who was aborted when we learned his condition was “incompatible with life.” I’ve walked the ugly gauntlet of protesters with no empathy for those between a rock and a hard place. I remember Bill O’Reilly inciting hatred for “George Tiller the Baby Killer,” the only man in America who took our case, and I remember years later when Dr. Tiller was murdered. In the church. The bitter fruit of politicized abortion.

Like Roxane, I would like to minimize abortion, but how can we do that when every path from sex education to contraception is blocked by religious extremists and lawmakers? They seem intent on forcing women to give birth, so how can a woman possibly achieve her constitutionally guaranteed equality when the government controls her reproductive choices? Of course, the practiced answer is that there is another human being to consider, including the moral certainty that life begins at conception.

No. At this point it has become a religious argument, irrelevant because nobody really knows. Different religions see the issue differently. Many Jews do not believe that fetuses have a soul, so in their view abortion is not a sin.

The Constitution and a Christian theocracy are incompatible. Laws cannot and should not be based on religion. You have freedom of religion, yes, but you are not free to stuff it down the throats of others like they do in the Middle East. Under a just secular legal framework, a woman’s rights cannot be secondary to those of a fetus, which cannot survive without them.

Laws banning abortions before a woman even knows she’s pregnant serve no purpose other than to subdue a vulnerable, poorer class of women. Women of wealth will always have access to legal or other abortions. Poor, desperate women will die trying.

If you really want to reduce abortions, embrace sex education and contraception and stop belittling people for choosing vasectomies over parenthood. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent, and anti-abortion laws — unfunded religious mandates — shouldn’t require it. It costs $235,000 to raise a child up to the age of 17. Well, if you pull yourself together and send parents $1,150 a month per child, there will be fewer abortions. Guaranteed.

It’s a difficult issue, more gray than black and white, but progressives need to face this political wedge head-on and thoughtfully promote ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies rather than be bullied by the bogus “baby-killer” story. Snatch the high ground from the sanctimonious church ladies. Grab the narrative. Address the issue. Don’t run away.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for the Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication or the ownership of Forum Communications.

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