How To Talk About Our Lower Abortion Rates Without Throwing Abortion Under the Bus

You may have heard the news- abortion rates are on the decline. This is no surprise to people who work in the field. People are using LARCs (long-acting reversible contraception- the most effective reversibles on the market) at twice the rate they were in 2002. For the reproductive justice community, this is a victory in many of our eyes. We’ve said it over and over again- the lower abortion rate is thanks to contraception access, not anti-abortion legislation. Overall, it’s a good thing that people are using contraception, thus reducing unplanned pregnancies- of which, four in 10 end in abortion.  Plus, with the elimination of co-pays for birth control under the Affordable Care Act, I bet we’ll see the number of unplanned pregnancies, and therefore abortions, decline even more.

The problem is here: when the pro-choice community uses rhetoric that makes abortion seem like something that needs to be reduced (remember “safe, legal, and rare“?), it makes it easier for the average American to stomach restrictions from the right- mandatory ultrasounds, gestational age limits, waiting periods, etc.  Many of these restrictions may seem arbitrary to people who are not/have not been in these situations. What anyone who works with abortion can tell you how these restrictions wouldn’t do as much to deter pregnant people as to make more arbitrary processes for a time-sensitive procedure. These bills gain traction from the same “rare” rhetoric that was used in the past to say, “I want it to be safe and legal, but don’t worry- it’s going to be rare.” The rare part stigmatizes a very normal experience for Americans . About half of all female-bodied folks will experience an unintended pregnancy by 45. Three in 10 will experience an abortion by age 45.

Celebrate contraception’s affect on lowering our unintended pregnancy rates. Tell everyone you know that it’s going to get even better under the Affordable Care Act. Just not at the cost of letting other abortion restrictions slide by the public in the name of “rare”.

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