Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Abortion battle the wrong fight

For the past six years, former Gov. Janet Napolitano’s veto stamp has stood in the way of abortion opponents in Arizona. She rejected at least nine bills that would have restricted abortion in some way.

Abortion opponents hope this year will be different now that Jan Brewer, who has stated her opposition to abortion, is governor.

There are five bills moving through the Legislature. Among the restrictions they would impose is a 24-hour waiting period and requiring minors to get written permission from their parents or guardians.

It’s unfortunate that the Legislature consumes itself each session on this topic because it is mostly futile. It’s a fight being waged on the margins that will have little effect on the core issue – abortion.

The country is too evenly divided for the passage of a Constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade. And the Supreme Court, though given numerous chances to overturn or reel in Roe, has failed to do so and is unlikely to do so.

Abortions will remain legal in Arizona regardless of legislative tinkering.

Moreover, the effort expended by both sides on these peripheral fights is wasted because abortion is not the problem, it is merely the symptom of a larger disease – unwanted pregnancies.

It need not be a zero sum game. There is common ground to stand on. First of all, abortion is abhorrent.

Second, some abortions are medically necessary to save the life of the mother.

Third, no woman who conceives a child as the result of rape or incest should be forced to carry the child to term.

Fourth, abortion as birth control is an outrage.

These tenets make up the vast middle ground of American attitudes toward abortion. Those who advocate for abortion for any reason at any time during pregnancy are extremists. Likewise, those who insist all pregnancies, no matter the danger to the mother or the crime that created them should be carried to term also are extremists.

The key to the debate is how to prevent unwanted pregnancies that aren’t the result of crimes.

Abstinence only programs have been only marginally successful and that’s not good enough if the goal is to prevent the need, or demand, for an abortion.

Clearly the answer is open and honest sex education in schools and at home and free, universal access to birth control and so-called morning after medications.

We can teach, ask, beg, plead or cajole our children and unmarried young adults not to have sex but we’ve been doing that for hundreds of years and it has yet to work.

Bristol Palin being a prime example.

If we can’t keep them from having sex, we should at least give them the tools, so to speak, to keep them from conceiving a child when they do.

It’s wrong, if not extreme, to argue that pre-marital sex and contraception are the evil equivalents of abortion.

This effort is not without its pitfalls, to be sure. At what age do you start said open and honest sex education? At what age do you make birth control of all types available? Should young girls be handed a free prescription for birth control pillsĀ  immediately after their first menses? Should boys get handfuls of condoms right after their voices change?

Unfortunately our biology betrays us. It’s almost a cruel joke that we become sexually mature at 12 and 13 years old but don’t become emotionally, physically, economically and socially mature until our mid 20s.

But these debates are all much simpler problems to overcome than the one over the legality of abortion.

We’ve had enough of extremism. It’s time for reasonable people to solve the real issue and in so doing, solve the false one.

Let us resolve to make it so that the only abortions that occur in this country are those rare times when it is medically or morally necessary.

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