The basic principles of Dougintology include a variety of bumperstickers. This is the one of several short essays in which I plan to flesh out the meaning behind them.
Make abortion unnecessary, not illegal.
Nobody likes abortions. You don't pick up the newspaper and say "Look, Bob! There's a 2 for 1 sale at AbortionHut today! Gosh, I haven't had an abortion in forever. Let's call Harold and Janice and see if they want to come with us." It's an unpleasant and embarrassing medical procedure in the best of circumstances and it's a dangerous and life threatening one at worst. And that's leaving out whatever thorny ethical dilemma that arises from the question of whether the fetus is alive and if it is do it's rights trump those of the host.
If at all possible most people would prefer to be able to choose when they get pregnant or avoid it entirely. But American society, or at least the people who hold sway over the schools and law makers, have this thing about anything having to do with sex. "Sex is bad" they say. "Nudity is bad" they tell us. They work around the clock to make sure that they can leave their kids alone for a few minutes and the kids won't have the opportunity to see or hear anything they couldn't see or hear under their strict, watchful eye.
This includes controlling what is taught in schools. They'd rather their kids never hear the word condom lest they be tempted to try one. Any sex education program must be "abstinence only". Teachers are to spend the entire semester not teaching anything about birth control pills, condoms, foams, jellies, IUDs, diaphrams, etc. or the ways that oils, antibiotics, and the like can cause them to fail. The entire semester has to be spent on "sex.... er, DON'T HAVE IT" and possibly some of the basic reproductive anatomy.
When these kids finally start having sex, whether at age 14 or age 24, they have no idea how not to get pregnant or avoid STDs. What they think they know they got from the locker room.
"You can't get pregnant the first time."
"You can't get pregnant if you douche with toothpaste."
"You can't get pregnant if you don't orgasm."
"You can't get pregnant if I pull out."
"Condoms fail 60% of the time."
Most abortion clinics have a file of people who stood outside protesting and then had to bring their "innocent little girl" in because she believed she couldn't get pregnant if she peed immediately afterward and the parents believed their daughter wouldn't want to have sex until she'd been married for five or ten years.
The fact of the matter is that abstinence only programs do the exact opposite of what they're expected to do. Study after study has shown that teen pregnancy and STDs are more prevalent among teens who took those programs.
Let's get out of the schools. There are lots of programs for advising people about pregnancies. How to get pregnant, what to do if you are pregnant, stuff like that. They all claim to be unbiased groups trying to help inform people. The only one that I've found that lives up to that claim is Planned Parenthood. The others I've dealt with have just been Christian organizations in disguise.
They tell some of the worst lies, too. The worst rattled off a long list of all the diseases you could get from having an abortion. Nearly all were diseases that were more common in completed pregnancies than aborted ones. The remaining diseases were nonexistent conditions such as lycanthropy. That's right. They said if you get an abortion you can become a werewolf.
Then you get out into society at large. There was an effort to pass a law in Canada that would have made it illegal for a woman to have a tubal ligation (e.g. get sterilized) unless she'd already had at least one child. Canada. These are the liberal ones. You really don't want to know the sort of laws that are circulated in the states.
It's tough for a man to get sterilized even after he's had a few kids. I spent a couple of days calling around to find someone who'd perform a vasectomy. I was working through Planned Parenthood to find these people, too. Most of the offices I called just gave me someone else's phone number. Several of those numbers were disconnected. But I finally found someone who could do it. He was good, too. A few pokes and tugs, but that's all I felt. Sure, there was soreness after, but that passes after a few weeks. Not even a scar now.
I was lucky. I was a man. If you're woman things get much harder. Most doctors refuse to do it unless you've had several kids already. They give different reasons. Some say you'll change your mind. Some say it's against their religion. Some say you'll come back and sue even after you sign all the waivers. Some require you to go to a psychologist and come back with a note declaring you sane. But while I could find someone after a few days of phone calls most women I've talked to have had to spend three to nine months of personal visits to one doctor after another before finding one who was willing to do it. They say the female doctors were even more patronizing than the male doctors.
I had to pay out of pocket, too. The insurance company said I'd have to change my insurance and then wait another 6 months. It was cheaper just to get it done. Tubals are more expensive, though. Some damn fool put all their reproductive organs way up inside where they're hard to reach. I could have gotten insurance to cover it eventually if I needed it. Many insurance companies won't pay for a tubal. If you're trying to get pregnant they'll throw tens of thousands of dollars, but if you want a way not to get pregnant, either temporary or permanent, they'll offer you their middle finger and charge you for it.
Then there's stuff like the Morning After Pill and RU-486. Both had FDA approval delayed for years for political reasons. The FDA denies this, but that doesn't change that people were selected to head this agency based in part on their stand on whether they should be approved or not. The Morning After Pill was recently approved, but Wal-mart refuses to stock it (or RU-486) (except where required by state law) and individual pharmacists are given the choice about whether to fill the prescriptions or not. This means that in some pharmacies whether you can get it or not depends on who's working when you go in.
So far I've talked about how many schools won't tell you how not to get pregnant and the difficulty getting sterilized or birth control. What else? Oh, right, legislation, and fiscal ability. You know what? I'm gonna leave legislation alone. That's more about making abortions illegal than making them unnecessary.
Of the various reasons that people give for having an abortion is their fiscal situation. The stories include "I can't afford the 5 kids I have", "I'm working two full time jobs just to live in my parent's basement", and one that I see frequently "I'm living out of a shopping cart, sleep on a grate, and am pregnant." There's others, but you get the basic idea. The modern American economy is often not suited to being able to afford a kid or even the health care to carry it to term. If you're reading this you're probably not one of them. You probably have trouble relating to these people and don't really want to admit that they exist. After all, you can afford a computer and an internet connection.
Still, our legislators fight any effort to increase the minimum wage and have to be sued to spend what little money is already legally mandated for child health care. The days of "a rising tide floats all boats" is over and has been for several decades now.
You may see a conflict here between my desire to see potential parents able to afford those kids and the position you'll hear me take later about the government subsidies for kids. I think that the subsidies for taking care of children and the elderly should be made equal. The issue comes from me thinking that the subsidy for the second kid should be half that for the first and nothing for the third.
While I think people should have fewer kids and should be encouraged to care for their infirm parents when possible I think everyone should be able to make a living wage. Increasing minimum wage isn't just for people who have kids, it's for all the people who would like to be able to afford both food and shelter.
So now that's I've rambled on for screens and screens what is it that I'm suggesting? First, all public school students should get a complete sex ed program instead of just the word "don't". They may still choose to listen to their religious leaders and not use any, but whatever consequences will be because of their informed decision instead of blind ignorance.
Second, outlaw deliberate misinformation campaigns. This could also be read as "shut down Fox News", but that's another campaign altogether. What I mean is that any group posing as a family planning clinic that tells lies just to get people to do things their way should get heavily fined. Alas, certain religious views such as "Your zygote has a soul" can't be fined under this plan since there's no proof either way.
Third, support the most needy in society so that having that child won't mean giving up eating. This includes increasing the minimum wage and altering the welfare program so that going to work is more profitable than staying on welfare. This may mean an affordable daycare program so that they don't spend more on daycare than they make at work.
Fourth, provide low cost birth control. Many states have been slashing their funding for birth control because of their own dislike of condoms instead of any consideration for what impact that decision has on the poor in their state. Really, the cost of a box of condoms is nothing compared to the cost of covering the birthing and care of the baby. If the mother can't afford a condom what makes you think she can afford to pay the hospital bill.