I am a Democrat, my wife and I do not believe in abortion and we share Christian values. However, that does not give us the right to infringe or “tread on” the rights of women to make that decision for themselves.
To be clear, there are valid arguments to be made regarding anti-abortion state laws and First Amendment rights, and Georgia's controversial new law banning abortions when heartbeat activity is detectable (typically about six weeks into a pregnancy, and prior to many women knowing they're pregnant) is proof that American society needs to engage in a constructive conversation about abortion, moral law and the First Amendment.
We like to make this about Democrats versus Republicans, but personally, I believe the new law is aimed at low-income families who live in rural and certain minority communities, especially people least likely to have access to medical care and least able to overcome the challenges of this law.
First of all, abortion is an argument that no one can win. Why? Because the decision is not a sport, and an individual’s values and choices are their own. Some would like us to think Republicans have fewer abortions than Democrats. The truth is, nearly one in four American women will have an abortion by age 45, regardless of political affiliation, according to Guttmacher Institute.
Far too often, the faces of abortion tend to be solely portrayed as poor women, women of color, irresponsible women or godless women who hate babies … and that’s just not true. However we feel about abortion, it’s not our place to judge someone else’s decision to end their pregnancy, especially when we don’t know their circumstances. It is better that they are able to make that decision with those they trust, with the full knowledge of their options as well as the implication of their decision, and according to their own faith.
Additionally, those of us that love freedom should be willing to allow women that same freedom to make the heart-wrenching personal decision of whether to continue or end a pregnancy without politicians interfering and making it more difficult for people to get the care they need.
So instead of taking the “us versus them” approach, or assuming that Democrats are on one side of the abortion debate and Republicans are on the other, I would like to focus on the economics of the issue.
Writing for the United States Supreme Court in 1992, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” I would argue that the business community must play a critical role in this issue, because businesses employ many of the American women who will have an abortion by age 45.
For example, supporting pregnant employees with clear policies that allow them to manage their pregnancy with dignity and respect leads to higher retention and recruitment. Also, paid parental leave helps companies recruit and retain talent, as well as empower new parents to raise healthy families without having to sacrifice their careers.
In Georgia, not only are we are facing a rural health care crisis, federal data ranks our state worse than the national average for areas short of primary health care providers. Of the 159 Georgia counties, 64 have no pediatrician and 79 have no obstetrician/gynecologist. That’s right – 50% of Georgia’s counties have no OB-GYNs. Even more alarming, 10 counties have no doctor.
Still not convinced we are facing a crisis? Consider the maternal mortality for white women in Georgia is more than twice the national average for white women, while the maternal mortality rate for black women in Georgia is nearly six times the national average for white women which ranks Georgia 50th of 50 in U.S. maternal mortality rates.
Remember the argument made earlier in this article, that the new law is aimed at low-income families who live in rural and certain minority communities, especially people least likely to have access to medical care and least able to overcome the challenges of abortion restrictions? Well, Georgia ranks 48th in the U.S. in health insurance coverage for women and 40% of all labor and delivery facilities in Georgia have closed over the last 20 years.
And while there may be no correlation, a recent Public Policy Poll of 605 voters surveyed from Georgia swing House districts (43, 49, 97, 98, 106, 109, 117, 119, 128, 147, 151, and 164) showed that 86% of Democrats surveyed, 69% of independents surveyed and 52% of Republicans surveyed believe abortion should be legal.
These are facts, not partisan talking points, and I am certainly not naïve to the fact that life and freedom are to be fought for. I too believe in the "unalienable rights" which the Declaration of Independence says have been given to all humans by their creator and which governments are created to protect "life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Reproductive freedom means having affordable access to all reproductive health care options, and regardless if we agree or not, a woman’s body is her own.
A woman is a person, not just the container for the fetus. We should, therefore, give as much if not greater consideration to her rights and needs as well as those of the unborn.
Daniel Blackman is a Forsyth County resident and business owner who has previously run for elected office. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.