There is perhaps no conversation more difficult to have than the one where a single woman must say to her parents or her lover that she is unexpectedly pregnant.
Can you imagine what it would mean if no woman ever had to have that conversation?
There is no one single answer to the problem of unplanned pregnancy that will ever fit every woman and every situation. Our current public conversation, with its polarized positions, is never going to lead to any answers other than the situations we have now: unplanned pregnancies, forced marriages that rarely last a lifetime, single mothers raising children, and abortions.
This issue, like every other issue, is based far more on beliefs than on facts. What bothers me is that neither side states its true beliefs in the public conversation on this polarizing issue.
A more truthful conversation might frame up the two sides as the Right to Punish vs. the Right for a Woman to Enjoy Sex.
Can you imagine what kind of conversation might take place between two people of opposing beliefs if they started from a point of honest expression?
If that were to happen, then one person might say something like this:
I believe in a strict moral code that says women should only have sex inside of marriage and those who do not, deserved to be punished. Because women should not be allowed to freely enjoy sex, I oppose contraception also. Women who freely enjoy sex and become pregnant and want an abortion must be punished by experiencing unnecessary and invasive medical procedures. Medical personnel who assist them may pay for their actions with their lives.
I believe that the unplanned children also deserve to be punished for the sins of their mothers. Their lives should not be made easier by social programs that provide food, medical care, education or shelter.
I believe the male partners are entitled to experience sex whenever they want, without any consequences or responsibility. I do not favor requiring fathers to be financially responsible and physically involved for the children they sire. For these reasons, I do not actively work to require fathers to take on the same life-long commitment to parenthood as mothers.
The other person might say this:
I believe the ability to experience sexual pleasure was given by our creator for the enjoyment of both men and women. I do not see pregnancy and child-raising as a punishment for sexual enjoyment, but rather a natural outcome. Therefore, I believe pregnancy prevention should be taught and contraception readily available, including morning-after options.
Accidental pregnancies are still inevitable. Rape is an act of violence, not of sex, and will still happen. Medical problems will still arise during pregnancy. I believe women are fully capable of and have every right to make decisions about their own bodies.
I believe every person deserves a basic standard of living and care. I support programs that provide food, medical care, education or shelter assistance to underprivileged families – including single mothers raising children without the financial and physical support of the fathers, for whatever reason.
Babies have both a father and mother. Therefore, I believe fathers are morally, and therefore should be legally, obligated to take on financial responsibility and be physically involved in caring for their children.
No matter how complex the problem or how far apart the points of view, conversations based on the full and honest expression of beliefs open doors to resolutions. This is true whether we’re dealing with an issue as complex and polarized as the right to life vs. the right to choose, or the more common problems we encounter in our relationships with our partners, our children, our parents, or in our places of work or worship.
When we start by talking about our beliefs, we are engaging in honest and open conversation, and that is always the first step to achieving resolution to any problem.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: The next time you’re invited to express your opinion on this, or any other divisive issue, what will you say? Will you limit yourself to polarizing slogans, or will you find a way to honestly express your beliefs and seek to engage in a real conversation?
Related Post: Honest Conversations