Women’s Health Is More Than The Abortion Wars

A new article in the Christian Science Monitor trumpets that abortion is becoming a major issue in the 2012 Presidential campaign. The Republican candidates are all stating and restating their opposition to legal abortion while at the same time the Obama administration is enforcing rules broadening access to contraception, bringing his views on contraception and abortion back into sharp focus.

I can applaud the administration for increasing access to birth control for all insured women by mandating coverage and removing co-pays for the medication but I cannot get behind, once again, turning abortion into a major campaign issue.

It’s no secret that I am pro-choice. I do, to a degree, understand the urgency anti-choice activists feel when they contemplate what, to them, amounts to the murder of the unborn and their desire to keep the issue in the political limelight. But I still think they need to expand their focus onto the other areas of women’s health care that make up the bulk of medical treatment to women in this country.

According to the CDC, in 2008 there were approximately 825,000 induced abortions in the US. In the same year, there were approximately  4,247,000 live births. That means abortion amounted to only 19% of maternal health care in this country.

So why does it amount to nearly 100% of the policy debate about maternal and infant health?

I have yet to hear the candidates talk about bringing easier access to quality gynecological and obstetrical care to all the women of childbearing age in America. There is no discussion about recent studies that show the efficacy of certified midwives in caring for women seeking a home birth. No conversation about expanding rural health centers to make sure women in remote areas have adequate access to prenatal, perinatal and pediatric care. No talk of expanding clinic access in urban areas. No one has said anything about the implications of state and federal cuts to WIC, SCHIP, and Medicaid and their effect on maternal and infant health. There’s no talk about outreach into at-risk populations to assist with contraceptive education, STD prevention, and prenatal care, all of which makes for healthier women and babies.

The only conversation about women’s health that I ever hear from politicians is about abortion and I am sick of it.
As a woman, I am a whole person with a whole set of health needs. I am not simply a creature who either will or won’t get an abortion. There is much more to woman’s health that the binary calculus of pro- or anti-legal abortion access.
As women, it’s time we demand that health care for us, for our whole bodies, reproductive systems and everything else, too, be a campaign issue. We need to recognize that the health of women impacts the health of future generations.

So does everyone running for President.

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9 comments for “Women’s Health Is More Than The Abortion Wars

  1. Amy Hart
    February 7, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I personally am pro-life, but realize every woman has to decide what is right for her. What really bothers me is the GOP trying to say they are pro-life (while being pro-capital punishment) and the idiot pro-lifers who will vote for them just because they say they are pro-life. Since Roe v Wade we have had 3 multi-term Republican supposedly pro-life presidents, and 5 out of 9 justices on the supreme court are GOP appointees and abortion is still legal (not saying whether is should be, just showing how they are hypocrites.) Also they “appear” to care about the unborn, but could care less about the born. They want to cut Social Security, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Restrict access to healthcare etc. That alone shows me they could care less about people, and are just jumping on whatever bandwagon they think will get them elected, and thus get all the money and power. I agree that fundamentally we need to take care of everyone and women’s health care is so important.

  2. February 7, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Very well said (as always). There is far to much focus on the abortion debate and not enough on the many, many other facets of women’s health care.

  3. February 7, 2012 at 10:52 am

    ::Begins slow-clap::

    Love this. Love it, love it, love it.

    I have ALWAYS been confused about why we should ban abortion while still failing to provide access to birth control or resources AFTER the baby is born. Love the fetus, hate the mother and child, you know?

  4. Donna
    February 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Amy – you hit the nail on the head! For years I have been wondering if I was the only person who noticed a vast difference between what the GOP says and what they do on this issue. They go on and on about limited government except, apparently, when it come to my bedroom and my body. Then they rail against pro-choice just to abandon those same lives once they are born. if it weren’t so maddening I’d think it was hysterical.

  5. February 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm


    Sadly, they are afraid of sex, and even though broadening access to birth control would very likely reduce the number of induced abortions, they can’t get behind it.

  6. amy
    February 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Well said.

  7. February 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    This may be a bridge too far, but hell, I wish that somebody, somewhere would recognize that our(*) refusal to provide even a minimum of paid maternity leave is a health care issue–affecting breastfeeding success and mental/emotional health AT A MINIMUM. Additionally, I would love to hear some recognition of the fact that women’s health care involves the non-uterine parts of our bodies as well, and implicates issues like access to health care, mammograms, appropriate representation in research studies, and the like.

    (*)By “our” I mean the USA because I am still a citizen even though I don’t live there anymore.

  8. February 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I am always baffled that abortion is brought up in ANY political race. I feel like it’s just a bunch of hot air because both sides know that it will never be made illegal now that it’s ALREADY legal. Criminalizing abortion would lead to nothing but dead women and shady doctors being thrown in prison. Politicians knows this in their logical brains, but they like to use it to get folks riled up anyway.
    But you’re exactly right–forget about talking about abortion. Let’s talk about the other lady parts! (There are just SO MANY.)

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