Though Conservatives and Liberals may never agree on the morality of abortion, we can unite on the importance of reproductive health in Oklahoma. If we truly wish to prevent abortion in Oklahoma we must first understand that Personhood legislation, will not only negatively effect Oklahoma in a psychological manner but will, in no uncertain terms, only lead to a higher demand for abortion.
Abortion in America: In order to prevent the need for abortion it is important we understand why the need exists. Both the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute have reported that close to half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and according to a study published by the Guttmacher Institute nearly half of these unintended pregnancies end in abortion. By these statistics, we can infer that the most effective way of reducing the number of abortions in America is by reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies. The most effective way of accomplishing this is through education and contraception.
- Sex Education and Unintended Pregnancy: A study by Kathrin F. Stanger-Hall and David W. Hall report that the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate among developed nations across the globe. Statistics on comprehensive sex education programs show that teens receiving this kind of education did not begin sexual activity at an earlier age, had lower pregnancy rates, and reported a greater number of contraceptive use as well as lower rates of STD infection. Though no one can teach children the ethics of sexual intercourse but parents we can ensure they receive education on the biology of sex by educated professionals. We owe our children access to the tools necessary to make educated decisions before choosing to engage in sexual activity. Providing young adults with the facts regarding pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and contraceptive use is key to ensuring healthy sexual habits that can prove to lower the need for abortion services in their future.
- Contraception and Abortion: A study by Cicely Marston and John Cleland, published by the Guttmacher institute, shows that contraceptive use lowers a populations abortion rate. By preventing access to any form of effective birth control we can only increase the number of women seeking abortions in Oklahoma. Therefore preventing legislation that restricts our access to birth control should be our primary objective should we wish to prevent abortions in Oklahoma.
Personhood and its Effect on Contraception: Personhood USA’s ballot initiative currently seeks to ban “Plan B” emergency contraception and the IUD because they prevent implantation, but this leads us to an uncomfortable truth. If we allow this legislation to pass we could potentially live in a state where all forms of birth control are illegal. The FDA has this to say in industry regulations for the labeling of combined oral contraceptives:” OC’s (oral contraceptives) lower the risk of becoming pregnant primarily by suppressing ovulation, other possible mechanisms may include cervical mucus changes that inhibit sperm penetration and endometrial changes that reduce the likelihood of implantation.” This means that even the forms of contraceptives regularly used and supported by Liberals and Conservatives alike can contain chemical mechanisms that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and thus could be outlawed under this legislation.
- The IUD: The IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control available to women. ParaGard, the copper version of which, has a failure rate of only .6% and is the only safe form of birth control for women with factor five. By banning ParaGard, we are taking away the only viable option for these women. Mirena is a small plastic version with a failure rate of .2%, making it the second most effective contraceptive next to Implanon.
- “Plan B”: “Plan B” is not RU486, the abortion pill, and cannot terminate an existing pregnancy. It can be taken after a primary form of contraception fails, such as condom, to prevent pregnancy. Currently it is provided to victims of sexual assault in Oklahoma, thus preventing the need to obtain an abortion to terminate an emotionally distressing pregnancy. According to The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, there were 1,467 reported rapes in Oklahoma alone in 2010. Under this legislation not only would victims of rape and incest not be able to obtain an abortion, but they would also be barred access to contraception that prevents the need for one.
The Adverse Psychological Effect of Personhood: Personhood legislation not only promotes a lack of responsibility in procreation for the male gender, but negatively effects both the civil liberty and self esteem of all women. By supporting this legislation we will tell our daughters they are simply vessels for another human being. We remove any, and all, control they have over their bodies. If she is raped, it will be her attacker who chooses whether or not she becomes pregnant. Standing against this kind of legislation is the only ethical choice for Oklahomans. Supporting our loved one’s ability to make their own decisions in regards to reproduction is not to support or encourage abortion.
Unintended Pregnancy, CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/
Unintended Prenancy, Guttmacher Institute: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3002498.html?pagewanted=all
Teen Preg/ Sex Education, Stanger-Hall, et al.: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0024658
Contraception and Abortion, Guttmacher Institute: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/2900603.html
Oral Contraceptives, FDA: www.fda.gov/downloads/ScienceResearch/SpecialTopics/WomensHealthResearch/UCM133346.pdf
Contraceptive efficacy: http://www.contraceptivetechnology.org/table.html
Reported Rape in OK, OSBI: http://www.ok.gov/osbi/documents/2010%2oucr%20Annual%2oreport.pdf
Facts on Induced Abortion, Guttmacher Institute: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html
Sex, Pregnancy, And Abortion, Guttmacher Institute: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Teen-Sex-Ed.html
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