IS ABORTION "RESPONSIBLE?"

There's so much wrong with this short Time comment piece on the supposed "pregnancy pact" at Gloucester High School that I don't know where to begin. Author Nancy Gibbs thanks crisis pregnancy centers for helping young women make the "responsible" choice when faced with an unexpected pregnancy -- the choice to carry the baby to term.

Whether a girl--or a woman--decides to end a pregnancy or see it through is as complex an emotional and moral and medical calculation as she ever faces. But I wonder if some soft message has taken hold when the data suggest that more women facing hard choices are deciding to carry the child to term. This has been the mission of the crisis-pregnancy-center movement, the more than 4,000 centers and hotlines and support groups around the country that aim to talk women out of having abortions and offer whatever support they can. If not in Hollywood, then certainly in Gloucester, teen parents and their babies face long odds against success in life. Surely they deserve more sympathy and support than shame and derision, if the trend that they reflect is not a typical teenager's inclination to have sex but rather a willingness to take responsibility for the consequences.

Where do I start? Ah, yes, the idea that becoming a mother before you've even graduated high school is akin to "taking responsibility for the consequences" of sex. This sounds a lot like the underlying rationale of the anti-abortion rights movement: that women who have sex should be punished for it with children they may not be financially, emotionally, or psychologically ready to care for. Abortion can be the most responsible choice a girl or woman can make if she's not ready to be a committed parent, both in terms of responsibility to herself and responsibility toward her existing and future children.

And what about those CPCs? Research shows that they offer very little actual parenting support to pregnant women once their babies are born; rather, they peddle misinformation about abortion, telling women it increases their likelihood of committing suicide or getting breast cancer and endangers their ability to carry future pregnancies to term. Abortion doesn't do any of those things. Convincing scared, vulnerable women that it does is what's irresponsible.

Hat-tip: Feministing.

--Dana Goldstein

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