Related topics

Singer: Limiting abortion by increasing public resources

October 13, 2018 GMT

How does compromise work in such a polarized political climate? I submit that it comes by reframing our most passionate discussions while preserving their integrity. As a sociologist, I believe that examining social systems and institutions can help us better understand the root causes to our most pressing problems.

As an example, abortion. When I talk to both moderate and conservative voters in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, they respond with, “James, I really like your stances on so many things and you are a stand-up guy, but I can’t vote for a Democrat because of the whole ‘abortion’ thing.”

Now, I’ve had all sorts of advice about how to give some of the best non-answer answers that I am reminded of why politics is such a turnoff for so many people. Instead, I engage with them in the reframing of this important issue and it is definitely not the way we have talked about it to this point.

In my experience, people from both sides of this debate do not want to see abortions happening. Here is something we can all agree on. The arguments, however, have primarily been focused at the level of the individual: I choose to have an abortion. Or, the unborn child has the right to life.

The argument at the level of the individual is very American of us, but it also blinds us to some very important social factors that go into why this is a social phenomenon. If we are to look at the social forces that influence personal decisions, we can better satisfy the demands for a woman’s right to choose and for the rights of an unborn child. The root causes of this issue can better be resolved at the institutional level, not at the individual level. To create the right conditions to lower abortions, then, the following policies make the most sense:

Access to free birth control for both men and women.Access to high-quality women’s health care, free at the point of delivery.Provide early, high-quality education about sex and preventing pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections as a matter of public health. I advocate for families to teach the morality about sex and its consequences according to the dictates of each family’s belief system.

The reasons for abortion are different than what you may think. For most people, it is an economic matter. The cost of having a child can be overwhelming, especially for those families who already are raising children. That is why I propose eliminating financial hardship as a reason to choose to have an abortion by doing the following:

Access to health care for all children, free at the point of delivery.At least 16 weeks of paid parental leave, in addition to the FMLA policies for all parents, irrespective of social class, gender, race and so on. If you have a child in our country, parents should be able to bond and care for their newborn during the first important months of their lives.Access to affordable or free childcare so that parents can return to work and that children are in safe environments.Access to health care throughout our entire lives, free at the point of delivery, so that we can use our income on things other than paying off costly medical debt.Education from preschool through college, free at the point of delivery, so that both children and parents can get the education needed for good-paying jobs.Adjusting our national poverty levels to actually reflect the costs of living so that families can be supported with public resources to get them on their feet when they face hardships and then give back to society when they become prosperous.Adjust our wage policies so that they are fair to the amount of work produced, regardless of gender or race, and so wages can actually bring people out of poverty and stimulate social mobility.Set up wealth redistribution through a fair and progressive taxation system to create financially solvent programs in a public resource system.

In Congress, I want to make abortions the least desirable option for people to have to make, and that is done by making sure that public resources are available to make our personal lives prosperous. Consider the policies I propose here, both before pregnancy and after birth, as preventative measures. By providing these basic and practical protections for every person, we can respect the individualist arguments from both pro-choice and pro-life advocates. As your elected representative, my job is to create as many win-win scenarios as possible by utilizing our government to protect and empower its citizenry.