America’s Binary Political Response to Unintended Pregnancy

January 4, 2019  |  Viable Options

Unintended pregnancy. These two words encapsulate worlds of emotion, experience, ideology, and belief, threading them together into the tapestry of American conflict and political struggle.

Yet it is not merely the state of unintended pregnancy that entangles these worlds together, but rather, the decision that accompanies it – to carry to term or to abort.

We are at a moment in our history where the intensity of the clash between personal ideologies, beliefs, and political convictions has rendered many staunchly unwilling to converse with those holding opposing views.

A Political Front

For over forty years, America has been divided in a binary contest over morality and ideology – looking to politics as an ultimate solution for the issues of unintended pregnancy, as communities and culture have frequently failed to meet the needs of those facing pregnancy decisions.

And as Americans withdrew from conversing with one another, retreating deeper into the political echo-chambers of their own party, the divide between ideology and holistic care has only deepened.

While our society will (and should) continue to examine this issue politically and morally on some level, we must confront a sad and alarming reality: in the midst of this debate and turmoil, many women facing pregnancy decisions are being ignored or, even worse, used and abused as pawns in a political war.

The outcome of a woman’s decision has become of such paramount importance within our culture that many will sacrifice anything in order to influence it. So, even if many women facing unintended pregnancies are abandoned, or even misused and mistreated amidst this relentless struggle, those on either side often assuage their consciences with the salve of moral superiority, reminding themselves that, “it’s for women’s rights” or “it’s for the babies”.

Our Echo Chambers

The popular slogans still center around women’s empowerment and health, but most have stopped asking women what their needs are or what empowerment means to them. Rather, each side often tells a woman what she should do, ready to promote their preferred outcome as healthiest and best – having become so entrenched in their personal ideology that they no longer question their own definition of “empowerment”.

And at the end of the day, each person’s views are frequently reinforced by those who are of the same mind – faithfully reminding them why they believe what they believe and why the other side is so wrong.

At a seemingly impossible impasse, with no end in sight, it is clear that no progress can be made until there is an intentional shift in the conversation surrounding these issues and a thoughtful, honest, and holistic perspective is adopted by our culture.

Unintended pregnancy must be reclaimed from the political arena and the responsibility of women’s care returned to communities, families, and professional, non-political agencies.

The Third Choice

The solution for the ever widening gap between ideology and holistic care lies in The Third Choice – an approach to unintended pregnancy that is non-political, non-manipulative, and relational. An approach that looks to you, to me, to communities across the nation as the answer and the hope for those facing an unintended pregnancy.

No longer can we simply vote our conscience or give money to the nonprofit of our choice. We must now seek to become, in some way, the answer to the needs of women, men, and families facing pregnancy decisions.

Bringing true justice to those facing an unintended pregnancy extends well beyond a set of convictions, beliefs, or political preferences. It demands an intentional investment that is costly. It requires our time, energy, influence, money, and resources. It reaches so much further than the voting booth and must be lived outside of pews and political conventions. It requires that we curate an environment around us where anyone who faces a pregnancy decision knows they can come to us without the fear of being pressured, rejected, or manipulated toward a specific outcome. And it is ultimately realized in our simple, daily interactions, and in our willingness to provide a space, to be a space, that is safe for those facing an unintended pregnancy.

A Culture of Relationship

The Third Choice does not seek to dismantle the political and moral conversation surrounding this issue as irrelevant or unimportant. But it aims to enable people from every background and belief to engage in real, genuine relationship with their friends and neighbors, and to recognize that there are many factors that play a role in a pregnancy decision, which cannot be addressed by moral or ideological argument alone.

It is communities that change communities. And that’s where The Third Choice will take us – a culture of hope permeating every corner of our nation through women and men everywhere becoming the answers to the needs of those around them, one day soon having a society where no one has to walk through an unintended pregnancy alone.