Rebuttal to PalMD’s "I have a problem with this"

I’m a regular reader of the blog "White Coat Underground" and I highly recommend you subscribe and read the blog as well. It’s written and run by a physician going by the moniker "PalMD", who has made it no secret his liberal-leaning politics as well, typically voicing where politics and medicine overlap – which in today’s society, there’s a tremendous overlap, as I’ve seen personally working in the medical industry.

Recently he wrote an article called "I have a problem with this" in which he responds to New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff. Much of the article is spot-on in the point that we have a culture that "assumes that rape, abortion, and any decision that involves women’s lives and autonomy is up to men to legislate, decide, judge."

But where he deviates from this point and enters the realm of being off the mark is when he says this:

This is about women in a culture where even abortion supporters think abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare" instead of "safe, legal, and none-of-your-damned-business."

The fact that abortion numbers per year are still above the 1 million mark, despite being on an – albeit slow – downward trend for the last 20 years, is why abortion is far from "none of your damned business". The only part of the abortion decision that is "none of your damned business" is the reason behind the decision. The fact a woman (or a couple) chooses to abort a pregnancy is far from this, if for no other reason than the simple fact that it shows that people are making poor decisions. Allow me to clarify before anyone jumps down my throat about this.

I’m not calling the abortion decision itself a "poor decision". It is certainly not one. A poor decision, in my opinion, is one that is made without consideration for all consequences and alternatives that could be reasonably considered. Often poor decisions are made haphazardly, spur of the moment, spontaneously or on impulse. In the case of sexual choices and decisions, often our hormones make it difficult to actually make sound decisions, including the decision on whether to employ a condom. If inebriants come into play, there might not be an opportunity to make a sound decision. And it is also possible to be so inebriated that one does not recall consenting to sex.

The fact that over 1 million abortions occur just in the United States alone per year is a symptom of a greater problem, a problem that starts before the women obtaining these abortions are even old enough to conceive a child, let alone physically carry it to term. It is a symptom of a problem that is exacerbated in our public schools that tell our students to just abstain from sex without explaining in the necessary detail why they should abstain – it’s as if adults have taken on the fallacy of "if they don’t learn about it, they won’t do it". Which given some of the most religious States in the US are ones with the highest teen pregnancy rates, it really makes you wonder if the biggest problem of stupidity is not realizing you have it.

This is why those of us who are pro-choice, or at least not so pro-life that we want the legislatures to intervene, call for abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare". We see abortion as a symptom of a greater problem, a problem that society not only can address, but must address. However addressing the problem is not going to be easy and, in my opinion, should not involve government.

Most people who identify as pro-choice, or, again, at least not so pro-life that they want legislatures to intervene, want to see the numbers of abortions continue to decline. To do this, it is well known that education is involved. This means teaching teenagers about sex rather than avoiding the topic by just vapidly saying "wait till you’re married". This means teaching teenagers the actual facts about proper methods of contraception and how well they work, while also stating that abstinence is the only 100% guaranteed way to prevent not only pregnancy but the spread of STDs. This means also teaching teenagers about masturbation as an alternative to sex.

This basically means not lying to our children and teenagers. But unfortunately we do a lot of lying to our children and teenagers. Parents, clergy and religious leaders lie repeatedly to our children. Governments do so as well. And given that governments are operated and instituted by parents, clergy and religious leaders, this is no surprise.

The question is when we’ll stop lying to not only ourselves about the problems we face, but stop lying to the next generation about the natures of those problems and how to solve them.