Letter to the Editor

Family planning often requires difficult decisions

Friday, March 2, 2012

To the Editor:

The radical right-wing wants to mandate that personhood begins at conception. The proposed law is dishonest. It twists the definition of a person to serve a religious agenda. Cows and pigs exhibit more traits related to personhood than do newly conceived fetuses, yet I see no conservatives advocating for animal rights. The law pushes a Christianist doctrine that is not literally found in the Bible (the notion of conception did not exist in Biblical times).

With world population at 7 billion the radical right have also come out against contraception. They apparently think the best way to construct a family is via a sexual crapshoot. In the 21st century, at least in the developed world, intelligent people try to plan their families. They do this to minimize compromising the mother's health, to maximize the health of the newborn, and to maximize the ability of parents to raise their child in a nurturing environment.

Family planning requires contraception. And sometimes family planning requires abortion. At this point I hear the radical right screaming about abstinence. The subtext of their wail is the quaint and idiotic idea that sex is an evil enterprise that should never be done for pleasure but only to procreate. We've means tested abstinence education. The results are more unwanted pregnancies, more teen pregnancies, and an explosion in cases of sexually transmitted diseases. Only fools, the naive, or someone with a hidden agenda advocates for abstinence as a family planning method.

It is immoral to force a family with both spouses working and barely making ends meet to have a child they don't want. It is immoral to force a woman with health problems to risk her life in childbirth. It is immoral to force mental and physical anguish on a family by requiring them to bring a baby with Down's syndrome, Edward's syndrome, Fetal Alcohol syndrome, or other genetic or environmentally caused problems into the world. And it is immoral to force financial devastation on a family because they are uninsured, underinsured, or just too poor to properly take care of such children. It is immoral to bring a child into the world whose only prospect consists of a short life of suffering. If a family wants to do these things it is their choice. But no one should be forced to do such things.

It's also bad social policy. Unwanted children are statistically correlated with higher crime rates years later. We already have the most expensive healthcare system in the world. Increasing the number of pregnancy complications and unhealthy babies only makes the system more expensive. And increasing the number of children needing special education classes puts even more strain on an education system teetering on the edge financially.

To conclude, the Rick Santorums of the world believe Satan is having an undue influence on our society. They need only look in the mirror to find the people being so influenced.

Bruce Sanders