Monday, September 5, 2005

Moving Beyond Politics to Assist Women Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

Each side of the abortion debate is quick to find fault with the other as to what they need to do to assist women facing unplanned pregnancy. However, persons in the pro-life movement as well as the pro-choice movement are working to reduce the number of abortions and provide assistance to women in an unplanned pregnancy situation. Family planning clinics on the pro-choice side offer low-cost prenatal care, gynelogical care, and general health care. However, their services are limited in scope and the focus is primarily on contraceptive and abortion services, while a woman may occasionaly be referred out for adoption and practical assistance for continuing the pregnancy. On the pro-life side there's various pregnancy resource center agencies who are able to offer limited practical needs care including materinity clothes, baby clothes, formula, baby blankets, diapers, cribs, and strollers/car seats as well as parenting preperation courses and refferals to community and government organizations. However, pregnancy resource centers largely rely on donations are there's a strong stigma surrounding them because some centers have stepped out of line in religous evangelism and politics. The Nuturing Network, an independent organization unrelated to PRCs, has over 42,000 volunteer members, in all 50 states and 25 nations, whom form an extensive employment, medical, educational, counseling and residential network which enables a mother to continue her pregnancy without sacrificing her own hopes and dreams. Services include: counseling (by licensed nurses, counselors and social workers), maternity homes, medical assistance, financial assistance, assistance in continuing her education, employment assistance, adoption counseling, adoption services, and parenting prepardness education.  Feminist for Life lobbys for higher mininum wages, against domestic violence, and for equal employment opportunities rights for women with children. Both sides are contributing in a way that supports their political views and each has something to offer. But each side is unable to move past seeing their opponents only for their idealogical views, and unable to work together. Political differences are keeping women from being able to completely explore avenues of resources. Will we be able to set politics and rhetoric aside to really be able to focus on and assist women in an unplanned pregnancy situation?

Original Comments Made for This Entry...

The Pro-Woman Pro-Lifer wrote on 09-06-2005:
I think it goes deeper than the "politics and rhetoric" for many who are pro-life, because we believe that abortion clinics are wrong on a moral level and that they harm women (and children) on a routine basis.
I'm glad that they are able to care for some of the women who aren't there for abortion services, but that doesn't mean that I support them. I cannot, because that would mean that I would support something I believe harms women. I'd much rather see a woman who needs basic medical care go to a community health center. Some pre-natal care can be given from medical pregnancy centers, and the rest really should be from an OB/GYN anyway.
Can you see how there might be more to this than mere politics and rhetoric? Do you agree that some might think that sending a woman to PP gets her one step closer to choosing abortion if she were to become pregnant, since she is aware of the clinic, has been indoctrinated with thier information, etc. Can you see how referring a woman elsewhere would be better? What do we need to work together on? Why can't we just be sure that we offer all the support a woman needs?
Looking forward to your reply. ;) Interesting topic!

Rachael wrote on 09-09-2005 (01:34:03):
Unfortuantly, the focus of the mainstream pro-life and pro-choice movement seems to be focused on influencing legislation, rather than assisting the woman facing the unplanned pregnancy. The debate has become so polarized, abortion rights versus the rights of the unborn that often times the woman with the unplanned pregnancy is forgotten. And at the same time, for the most part, both sides feel hostility towards each other. Most pro-choice persons wouldn't refer a woman to a PRC for aid because they don't share their ideological views. At the same time, as you make a point of, most pro-lifers wouldn't send a woman a woman to a health clinic unless they were pro-life. Well, not all family planning clinics provide abortions (such as community health clinics) and may provide necessary health services that may be otherwise unaffordable for the low-income and uninsured. No, I'm not advocating PP's since their political agenda is their priority. However, as mentioned above, community health clinics are usually a good place, since they are usually run by the local health department or hospital. Yes, some PRCs provide health care services, however it's usually limited to pregnancy tests, ultrasound and prenatal care (no immunizations, STD testing and treatment, or regular preventive screening) and these centers are few and far between. Rather than blaming the other side for inaction, both sides need to refocus and find common ground in addressing the social issues that led women to have unplanned pregnancies and drive women to have an abortion. Only then we can begin to care for the woman's needs and reduce the abortion rate.

The Pro-Woman Pro-Lifer wrote on 09-09-2005 (09:24:54) :
So you're talking about groups like NARAL and RTL rather than the local pregnancy centers and family clinics. Yes, the legislative groups are more interested in getting laws passed that further their beliefs. I don't think that will change, and I do agree that that is unfortunate. But this isn't only occuring in the abortion debate - all issues have people that lobby and people that work hands-on.
The pregnancy centers around here make referrals to the community health department. I don't think there's a problem with that, but they aren't going to refer to PP, which is what you were wondering about. This isn't due to hostility as much as out of concern for the woman...we want to make sure that women are helped and not hurt. They, conversely, think that the pregnancy centers will hurt and not help. That's the reason for the divide.
You're not going to find common ground within the abortion clinic/referral agency and the pregnancy center the way things are now. They are on polar opposites for a reason. Instead, I think it'll take a new "breed" of support.

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