More than 1.2 million abortions occur annually in the United States, with a disproportionate number concentrated in our poorest communities and among women of color, as Helen Alvare recently highlighted during testimony on Capitol Hill. Though it may have been received differently by some of the more adamant abortion-rights activists on the committee, her testimony was a valentine to women. The George Mason University professor called for "a thoughtful conversation about the meaning of health care."
Alvare highlighted "an emerging scientific and cultural awareness that abortion is not health care," noting that even "Many abortion providers and advocates of legal abortion" call it "killing."
Alvare continued: "According to leading scholars, it certainly appears that more easily available abortion has led to expectations of more uncommitted sexual encounters -- a situation which itself contradicts women's demonstrated preferences -- and thereby to more sexually transmitted infections, more non-marital pregnancies and births, and more abortions."
Throwing contraception at the problem, as Johnson knows all too well, isn't a panacea. The problem of why women ever feel like they need an abortion has deeper roots -- in individual lives and in our culture.
As Johnson writes: "From my first days at Planned Parenthood, I'd told myself I was there to decrease abortions. Now, the absurdity of that logic -- or lack of logic -- screamed at me. Not only had I been a leader in abortion efforts here in Texas, lobbying at the capitol, repeating clever talking points to the media, and running an abortion clinic, I'd even aborted two of my own children."
It's not a problem that's going to be solved in a day, or a column, a debate or a bill. But we might make a first step by taking a deep breath. We've had a series of wake-up calls lately: a brutal clinic in Philadelphia and disturbing undercover videos about the callousness inside some of the most mainstream, taxpayer-funded clinics. And yet, proponents of these modest legislative moves are accused of "assault" on women by purported leaders who should know better. Unfortunately, somewhere in all the violent, reckless rhetoric, lives are lost, and women and men are living in misery.