The third American presidential debate left me with a burning desire to set the record straight about abortion.
For those who missed it, Donald Trump said “you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.”
I agree. And while I never thought I would say this, Trump is right. That is not acceptable! And that is why it does not happen – not in the the United States and not in Canada.
Abortions are safe medical procedures conducted by licensed, empathetic physicians in hospitals and clinics. There is no ripping, no cutting, no tearing. The uterus can be reached through the vagina and the cervix. The vagina, cervix and uterus all stretch. They must in order to carry and deliver a pregnancy.
I spoke with Lyndsey Butcher, the executive director of SHORE (Sexual Health Options, Resources and Education) Centre, the pro-choice, sex-positive and inclusive local non-profit organization where I work. SHORE has supported hundreds of people facing an unplanned pregnancy by providing up-to-date, evidence based information about abortion, adoption and parenting, to allow people to make their own healthcare decisions.
“People in our community who have chosen to have an abortion face stigma and isolation. When they seek out information online or from crisis pregnancy centres, they are bombarded with false information about the effects of abortion, [like] breast cancer, post-abortion syndrome [and] infertility. All claims that are false and have no basis in medical science or research,” explains Butcher.
Credible research has shown that abortion is a safe, routine procedure that one in three people with a uterus will choose in their lifetime. In Canada, most abortions take place within the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Less than one per cent of abortions take place after 20 weeks. A recent study out of the University of California followed people over three years, after having an abortion, and found that 95 per cent felt it was the right decision. Their main feelings were of relief, not regret.
Accessible abortion services are a necessity in our society, and comprehensive sex education prevents abortions. Abortion prevention is something I think we can all agree on. Comprehensive sex education would include teaching young people about their anatomy and how pregnancy happens, and the many ways to prevent pregnancy, including the use of birth control and emergency contraception. Sex education should also discuss gender and how gender roles can influence our relationships. Practicing consent, assertiveness and healthy decision making in the classroom can fine tune the skills young people need to navigate youth culture and social media. Making young people aware of the services and supports available in the community is also essential.
Abortion is a difficult decision for many people to make, one that is usually not taken lightly. It is also a basic healthcare service that should be accessible to all. And even if you are anti-choice, don’t mindlessly agree with rants like Trump’s. Instead, support comprehensive sex education, because it decreases unplanned pregnancies, which in turn decreases abortions.