POLUMBO: If You’re Pro-Life, You Should Be Pro-Birth Control


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Most conservatives have one thing in common: we don’t believe in abortion. But on this issue, the agreement often stops there.

The conservative camp is divided. What is truly immoral? The day after pill? Birth control pills? Unfortunately, the result of this debate is that many in the pro-life movement embrace a self-defeating strategy, and wage war against abortion in the least efficient way: by attacking birth control. Pragmatically, if you want to reduce abortion, you should support contraception wholeheartedly.

Think about it simply: Why do women get abortions? Most women don’t want abortions, and even those who are pro-choice acknowledge that abortion is a difficult and often traumatic thing for a woman to go through. Yet some women find themselves pregnant against their intentions and feel like they’ve been given a challenge they can’t handle. It’s the unintended pregnancy that drives the abortion — and luckily, there’s a pretty easy solution that can eliminate unwanted pregnancy. When used properly, the birth control pill has a 99 percent success rate, often with minimal side effects. So if we want to reduce abortion, we should be handing out little round pills like they’re candy on Halloween.

But some, like Stefanie Nicholas of Human Defensive Initiative, point out a fact that’s quite inconvenient for my argument: nearly half of the women who get abortions report that they were using birth control pills. She argues that birth control liberates people from the consequences of sex, and then paradoxically creates an atmosphere where sex is viewed detached from its original purpose of child-rearing. Nicholas supposes that this actually results in more unintended pregnancies and a cavalier attitude toward abortion.


She writes: Women go on to have abortions when their birth control ‘fails’ because the very attitude most women have about birth control sets them up for this exact outcome: sex is not for babies and pleasure inherently, but for babies or pleasure depending on circumstance. And if that is the attitude a person has toward sex, is it any wonder how easy it becomes to justify the next step?”

This logic is easy to follow, and represents the view of most pro-life people who oppose birth control. Yet while their perspective may be well-founded, it falls apart under closer inspection. It naively assumes that birth control creates a culture where people view sex irresponsibly, in reality, that culture already exists, and birth control is our best hope at mitigating the damage. Teaching “abstinence” is both admirable and hopelessly naive.

We’ve spent $2 billion on abstinence-only education since 1982, but it doesn’t work. A CDC report found that abstinence-only sex education doesn’t delay teenage sexual initiation, but that comprehensive forms of sex-ed do increase the likelihood that teens will have safe sex, and make smart decisions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine both reject abstinence-only approaches, and for good reason. Discouraging hormone-filled teenagers from using birth control won’t stop them from having sex — it will just stop them from doing so safely. Inevitably, that will result in unintended pregnancies, 50 percent of which end in abortion. The abortion rate has been declining for decades, and is now at an all-time low, and experts agree that contraceptive use is the cause of this decline — especially new forms, like IUDs and other implants.

Yet if birth control is really a magic solution, why do so many abortions occur among women who were taking contraceptives? It’s simple: birth control pills often aren’t used properly, if they were, they would be 99 percent effective. Furthermore, not enough women are using birth control in the first place — the 50 percent of women who get abortions that weren’t using birth control probably wouldn’t have had to seek an abortion if they’d had safe sex. So the solution isn’t to further stigmatize birth control, it’s to make it easier to access and make information more available.

The pro-life cause is an important one. Every year, nearly 56 million abortions occur worldwide. That’s 56 million lives lost, 56 million humans that never get to be. Abortion is a tragedy, but unlike most global catastrophes, it is mostly preventable. Yet this will never happen unless the religious right ends their war on birth control. Religious conservatives can’t change the law overnight, but they still can reduce the number of abortions — if they embrace pragmatics over principle, and choose reality over obtuse morality.

Brad Polumbo is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is an outspoken critic of PC culture and a free-speech advocate. His focus is on cultural issues and civil liberties.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Bradley Polumbo

Brad Polumbo is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is an outspoken critic of PC culture and a free-speech advocate. His focus is on cultural issues and civil liberties.

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