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My Side

Carolyn D. Cockey

As a woman, I found the headline, “Anti-abortionist doing God’s work” (Glenwood Post Independent, Sept. 26) offensive and naive. Regardless of Ms. Huck’s religious mission, can anyone who cares about the health and well-being of women be “pro-abortion?” This headline demonstrates the gross misunderstanding of the implications and consequences of abortion upon women.Women who are aware of their own health and wellness know abortion is not a solution to reproductive health issues. Rather, that abortion is so pervasive is a symptom of a much larger sociological problem: Our great society is still failing women and their needs and rights.Abortion is not a one-time event. It has ongoing health and socioeconomic implications for women who undergo the procedure. The medical literature has well documented the negative effects of abortion on later fertility and noted ongoing grief, and higher rates of depression and suicide – as much as twice as high – among women who undergo elective abortion. Research is less definitive about abortion and cancer risk, particularly breast and reproductive cancers; until those answers emerge, we must err on the side of caution for the sake of women’s health.Abortion has been legal since 1973, but it’s not really any safer. Women still die from abortion in America. Prior to 1973, approximately 20 to 30 women died each year from abortion or related causes. Surveillance statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show five to 15 women still die each year from abortion or related causes. Because states aren’t required to report abortion statistics and outcomes, those numbers are likely understated as not all states are represented among the data.The slogan: “Abortion: one dead, one wounded” rings true. That we would accept the physical and mental health outcomes associated with abortion, including the risk of death to women and certain death to their developing fetus, portrays the callousness with which our society deals with reproductive issues. Politicians rally under “choice” as a cheap and easy way of saying “I support women’s rights” without doing the hard, revolutionary work of creating true equities. Our health care system doesn’t support access to birth control, and our society turns its back on women with unplanned pregnancies, abandoning them to the realities of the workplace, which forces abortion as the only option for individual economic security.Suffragette Susan B. Anthony, writing in 1869 for women’s rights, opposed abortion, criticizing men, laws and a social double-standard for forcing abortion upon women: “When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged.” Fewer than 7 percent of the 1 million-plus abortions performed each year are for reasons of maternal or fetal health; 93 percent of reasons given by women for abortion are for the sake of convenience or economy, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, such as lack of partner support, community support, job interference or inadequate economic resources – all of which are tied to how our culture respects and treats women: from relationships to workplace equities. Sadly, organizations that posture in support of women’s rights steal women’s true right to “choices” when they fail to move away from abortion as the dominant solution for reproductive health issues. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is quite like the National Rifle Association when it comes to any restrictions on abortion – any limitations are perceived as a slippery slope toward greater restrictions regardless of the high sociological costs.As bioethicist Carrie Gordon Earll has so eloquently stated: “Society’s acceptance of abortion denies women a true choice in an unexpected pregnancy. Abortion will never be rare as long as we allow it to be the cultural default position.”Are we willing as a culture to support abortion regardless of the costs to women? No one who truly understands the health implications and the sociological costs of abortion upon women can ever truly be “pro-abortion.” For the sake of women in our society, would that we all be “anti-abortion!”Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, is a women’s health editor for several consumer and nursing publications produced by an international health-care organization. Cockey and her family have lived in Glenwood Springs since June 2003 and are great fans of the valley’s Pregnancy Resource Center, which provides women with unplanned pregnancy access to health and economic resources for true “choices” about their own reproductive health and future.Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, is a women’s health editor for several consumer and nursing publications produced by an international health-care organization. Cockey and her family have lived in Glenwood Springs since June 2003 and are great fans of the valley’s Pregnancy Resource Center, which provides women with unplanned pregnancy access to health and economic resources for true “choices” about their own reproductive health and future.


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