By Sarah Yacoub. Sarah Yacoub is an attorney at Equal Justice Inc.
There's always a sense of desperation in the air when elected officials start playing the abortion card during election season. It's flown like a giant flag that serves as a cover for indefensible records and a distraction in hopes that voters will be so emotionally overcome that they will blindly vote for these politicians again. It's a "pro-life" banner seen during campaign season followed by absolutely no action that reduces the number of abortions in this country.
So let's flush this out. What does making abortion illegal look like? Surely these politicians have more than just a cue card of talking points and have thought this out. How many years of prison does a woman get for terminating her pregnancy? What about the man who got her pregnant and contributes to the circumstances in which women feel the need to terminate a pregnancy? For how long will he be imprisoned? At a rate of about $40,000 to incarcerate one person for one year, where are these politicians planning to get the money to imprison these people?
What if a married couple has (7) kids and are barely treading water? What if the wife cannot afford to take off of work to recover from the birth of another child? What if this couple does not have access to affordable healthcare? Without access to affordable healthcare and the financial ability or job security to take a leave of absence, adoption isn't a realistic option.
What if we're talking about a woman in an abusive relationship? What if she's familiar enough with the local justice system to know that it's an expensive never-ending nightmare or that we routinely make people co-parent with their rapist and with abusive sociopaths? What if she knows the statistics of the prevalence with which we send children back into abusive homes? For how many years and at what cost to taxpayers would these politicians have that woman sit in prison for her decision to seek an abortion at (5) weeks?
What about the young married couple who is told at (26) weeks that their beloved child, for whom they've already set up the nursery, has a brain growing outside of her skull, her spine is malformed, she will die upon birth if not sooner and continuing the pregnancy not only risks leaving this young woman infertile but dead? What if her doctor advocates for ending the unborn child's life? What if her husband agrees? For how long and at what cost to taxpayers will this young married couple and doctor sit in prison?
It's easy to wave a "pro-life" flag because the end of life is tragic and babies are God's greatest (and cutest) gift to us. It is, however, abundantly clear that this is but an election tactic to get elected and nothing more. The politicians who wave this flag, once elected, do nothing but contribute to the desperation that so often goes into the decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Do we see these politicians advocate for joining the rest of the industrialized world with universal healthcare to allow for more families to feel free to have the baby and give him or her up for adoption?
Do we see these politicians advocate for paid medical leave following the birth of a child?
Do we see these politicians advocate for policies to streamline the adoption process?
Do these politicians support conservation efforts to ensure we're not drinking and bathing in tainted water leading to terminal birth defects?
Do we see these politicians fight for criminal justice reform to improve the handling of domestic abuse and sexual assault?
Do they fight for family law reform to ensure that rapists and sociopaths aren't entrusted with children?
And, why not? If the politicians waving the "pro-life" flag truly care to reduce abortion, why wouldn't they fight to remove the barriers that we know lead to abortion in this country?
I hate abortion like I hate violations of the other nine commandments. My heart breaks for abortion like my heart breaks for divorce, war, evil. Perhaps that is why it's hard to sit quietly by while politicians use abortion as a pawn to get elected. I invite folks to look at the candidates with the platforms that lead to the lowest number of abortions and that help alleviate the reasons people seek them. Look to voting records once elected and not just the slogans they pull out come election time.