New York Abortion Assistance Fund is "going broke" and they are making pleas for financial assistance. The non-profit organization provides money to low-income women for them to seek an abortion.
A couple things bugged me, and continue to do so. First, as a Christian, I have a problem with abortion, but - a BIG but - realize that sometimes there is no choice. An ectopic pregnancy, for instance, can threaten your chances of getting pregnant in the future and even kill you if left untreated. Although rare, they do happen, and apparently from some figures, are on the rise.
This is a topic that I tend not to write about, simply because it crosses over into difficult territory when it comes to matters of morality, politics, and spirituality. (I hesitate to use the term 'religion,' because there is a difference.) But this time, I couldn't help myself and it weighed so heavily on me that I had to say something.
I went to the NYAAF's website and saw they were having a number of fundraisers to help their cause. They spoke of a recession being to blame for donations being down, and were holding a bowl-a-thon and some kind of event with alcohol (wine tasting, maybe?) to raise funds. I kind of frowned, because the whole idea of a "bowl-a-thon to support abortion" seemed so bizarre and to almost trivialize the whole thing. That, and kind of thought, "Isn't one of the main attractions of their fundraiser - alcohol - probably what aids in more unplanned pregnancies all over the world?"
Ironically, the very recession that's causing funding of this program to dwindle should be the biggest motivator for people to make even more of an effort to prevent pregnancy.
I then went a little further by researching some of the reasons most commonly cited for abortions. Economics is definitely one of them, where many low- and middle-class women decide to have one because they just can't afford to keep the baby. Only five percent, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, are done because of situations involving rape or incest, and an equally small number are performed for life-threatening medical conditions.
Fetal abnormalities and sexual assault aside, the greatest number of abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, are done because of convenience reasons. I won't so much go into that as much as I am blown away by those who claim 'they had no idea' about access to pregnancy information, how to prevent one, or even claiming that birth control is "inaccessible."
I'm not sure I can believe this.
In today's age, we have unlimited access to the internet, computers, libraries and publications - the works - all at our fingertips. I am willing to bet a large percentage of those people who fall into the "low-income" bracket have a computer at home. At the very least, they can obtain a library card, which gives them unfettered access to library computers, magazines and other publications that can tell them all they need to know and more about birth control and its proper usage. I am wondering why more people don't take advantage of these resources.
You can also go down to any corner drugstore in probably every small town and big city in North America and buy a box of condoms or spermicide. Heck, you can even get them in a vending machine at the truck stop. I mean, is limited finances really a valid excuse anymore? Why not do something to prevent a pregnancy in the first place - because, we should all know that what goes in must come out - and avoid the heartache, emotional and psychological pain, as well as social stigma, whether right or wrong, of having an abortion?
In today's American classrooms sex education classes are usually offered. I have mixed feelings about this: personally, I think parents need to do a better job in educating their children about this stuff and tell their kids the facts, instead of letting them hear it on some talk show or off the street. It doesn't mean you have to hand out birth control; it just means you need to tell your kids that there is always a risk of getting pregnant any time you have sex. Period.
I can't help but think of a couple friends I have on FaceBook who gave birth before their twenties and are now entering grandmotherhood at age 34.
It's estimated that about 18 percent of abortions are performed on teens. And I'm guessing that a growing number of those teens fit the "low-income" category the NYAAF is talking about because they feel they cannot go to their parents for financial assistance when it comes to either having an abortion or raising a baby.
Conversely, I'm wondering just what parents are telling their kids about sex these days. From the looks of it, based on the questions I see on the birth boards I frequent, not a whole hell of a lot. One classic question came up the other day: "Can I get pregnant from having anal sex?" Excuse me? I hope this is bogus. As I told the person, "If you have to even ask this question, then you probably shouldn't be having sex in the first place." If we have such basic misunderstanding or complete lack of knowledge about our anatomy, it's not a wonder teens - and even adults - get pregnant.
Aside from the anal sex question, I have seen more than my fair share of "Am I pregnant?!" questions, including "Can I get pregnant from skipping two pills in my pill pack?" That's usually pretty common. I don't know what's going on here - either the sex ed they're doing in school is not working, or people need to read basic instructions. If you've ever had a prescription filled, you know that the pharmacy includes basic patient information on how to take your medicine. And even if it's not a prescription, there are the package inserts that come with condoms, spermicide - heck, sometimes it's even written on the outside of the box - that plainly say how to use it, when to use it, and that it could fail. Therefore no one can ever say "I had no idea," because it's all right there. Perhaps a milk carton campaign is in order - whatever it takes to get the word out. But its genesis has to start somewhere - and I do think that's squarely with the parents.
Unfortunately I think some parents believe this role should be approached by the public school or the government. And abstinence is always an option, although people quickly dismiss it and say "it doesn't work." As my physician father-in-law says, "Abstinence works every time it's tried." The problem is, it doesn't work because no one's trying it. I've heard the argument "that's unrealistic - humans are sexual beings," as if to justify why it's normal for someone to have sex even though they shouldn't be, as if they just can't help themselves. I'm sorry, but we aren't animals, and unless you're capable of either seeking treatment for an STD, preventing an unwanted pregnancy, taking care of a baby, or dealing with any of the other myriad problems that sexual intercourse presents, you shouldn't be having sex.
And not surprisingly, a lot of teens take a very cavalier approach to sex and pregnancy, comprising a growing number of people affected by STDs before they're even 18. Some I've read questions from use terms like "getting rid of it" to describe what to do in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, and many describe situations about having an abortion only to suspect that they're pregnant just a few months, or even weeks, later. I wonder, does the NYAAF endorse this kind of behavior?
Statistics say that half of American women will have had an unintended pregnancy by the time they are 45. I can say, that two summers ago, I became one of those women. I am happily married, but for whatever reason - namely, because I wanted to lose more weight - I was not planning on getting pregnant. Thinking I knew my cycle like clockwork, I got pregnant. That was a major shocker - I was totally unprepared, in denial, and scared. Then, after a few days of fits of weeping and sadness, I pulled my head out of my ass and realized that maybe this could work better than I thought it could.
As a woman who lives in New York State, I technically (probably) meet their "low-income" requirements. (We already qualify for WIC, which seems kind of laughable, actually.) However, I know that I can easily get reliable birth control, even without a prescription. I know that I have choices - they include not having sex, or protecting myself. And, ironically, the one time birth control failed me was when I did not use it.
Because I don't have a money tree growing in my yard, I sought out an alternative to getting prescription birth control: one that doesn't involve hormones, and is fairly convenient and easy to use. You can get it at Target, Walmart, and I'm sure lots of other places. I know people of all economic backgrounds shop at Target and Walmart, and so I'm wondering where the idea of having limited access to reliable birth control comes in.
Of the women surveyed by the Guttmacher Institute, "fifty-four percent of women who have had abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently."(emphasis mine) A certain percentage reported getting pregnant while using those methods, and reporting consistent usage; we can assume that a) these people contribute to the reported failure rate of certain forms of contraception, or b) that perhaps their idea of 'consistent' isn't all that consistent. And, "each year two percent of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; half have had at least one previous abortion." That's quite a large number, when you consider the entire female population of the United States.
Even more alarming, is that of those surveyed, nearly 50 percent of them had used no contraception whatsoever. "Of these, 33 percent had perceived themselves to be at low risk for a pregnancy." Scary. The study goes on to say that, statistically, those people for whom non-use of contraception is greatest are those who are "young, poor, black, Hispanic or less educated." That opens up another can of worms for sure, a can so big I could devote an entire blog to it.
Interestingly enough, when I googled "pregnancy prevention" I found a lot of resources that dealt with teenagers. However, statistics show that women between the ages of 20 to 24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and around 24% of women aged 24 to 29 obtain one. As if to reflect the trend of abortion for convenience sake, one particular website offers the stories of unremorseful women who've had abortions - many, if not all, of which featured stories from women who got pregnant because of extreme lapses in judgment involving alcohol use, or because they simply did not use contraception (or both). I went round and round with one woman who supports the site not that long ago, who's newspaper editorial on the subject - and her rather blase attitude about the whole thing - started off a veritable firestorm of fury.
Of course we know birth control can fail. Prescription, non-prescription; we know it can happen. I remember one woman on a birth board who had like six kids, all of which were conceived while she was taking some form of birth control. If you are concerned at all about preventing pregnancy, then at the very least, use it. The Guttmacher Institute and others say that even though there is some margin for failure when using protection, it's still much better than not using anything. And if you're really concerned about getting pregnant, double up. If you have a known medical illness that could pose serious threats to your health should you get pregnant, double up. It seems rather simple, really.
It's hard not to draw some conclusions here: that people who choose not to use birth control and have sex, yet wind up pregnant unintentionally, are somehow not taking responsibility for themselves. Blaming an inability to afford it seems like a weak excuse when you consider the growing number of cheap, effective ways of preventing pregnancy. Coupled with ignorance about basic bodily functions and a complete lack of motivation to find out about them, it presents an alarming trend.
You don't really have to be a rocket scientist to prevent a pregnancy. I guess it just means you have to want to prevent one. I would (and probably do) dole out taxpayer money to educate women (and men!) to become better advocates of their own health - and to take charge of their fertility - before it's too late.
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