People will do it anyway, so let’s make it legal

By | January 21, 2014

A few minutes ago, I read a comment that said, “a woman who wants to abort a child will find a way even if it’s in back alleys.” She didn’t outright say it, but she seemed to be arguing that it’s not worth going to the effort of making abortion illegal, because people will do it anyway, and we should instead “educate, prophesize and love those who are in a situation of having to choose abortion or not.”

This logic strikes me as, well, not logical. A man who wants to murder his neighbor will find a way, even if it’s in back alleys, but surely we shouldn’t make that legal! Granted, she is not arguing for making something legal, simply for *not* making something *illegal*, but I think that’s a distinction without a difference.

The thing is, her argument is based on a fundamentally flawed assumption. Yes, a woman who really wants an abortion will find a way, even if it’s illegal, but that’s not the same as claiming the same number of women would get abortions if it were illegal. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite: if abortion were illegal, far fewer women would get an abortion. It might even make people more careful about avoiding accidental pregnancy in the first place.

As for the subset of people who will get abortions anyway, the solution is not to keep abortions legal, it’s to make the alternatives to abortion much more appealing. The real question is, *why* would people choose to have abortions? Let’s address those problems, not make sure the currently-socially-preferred solution remains legal.

So, how can we make the alternatives more appealing than abortion? I have a few suggestions off the top of my head:

  • Make abortion illegal except in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. Abortion should be the exception, not the rule, and in those cases it should be a tragic necessity, not a convenient escape from responsibility. Even if we do nothing else, this will lead a large percentage of women to choose other solutions instead, because most people are good people who don’t break the law.
  • Redirect all government funding currently allocated to abortion-related organizations. Instead direct the money to organizations and programs that assist with helping women get through pregnancy, placing unwanted children with adoptive families, and so on.
  • Make adoption cheaper. There are thousands of good parents that would be thrilled to adopt, if only they could afford it. The cost of domestic adoption should not be anywhere near today’s average of $30,000. (This sounds like a good place for that government funding to go.)
  • If the mother can’t afford the costs associated with pregnancy, and doesn’t want the child, have the government pay those costs in exchange for an agreement to place the child for adoption. (If the mother changes her mind, require her to pay back the money.)

The best thing is that most of these ideas can be implemented regardless of whether abortion is illegal.

There are probably other things we could do to discourage abortion and encourage alternatives; what are your ideas?

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