CJ Taylor: Why the urge to punish women who are pregnant?

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Dan McKay, R-Riverton, is sponsoring legislation that would require organizers of Our Schools Now to list additional tax information on its ballot initiative.

An article in the Feb. 8 Salt Lake Tribune quoted state Sen. Dan McCay stating, “We tend to overvalue the people that are here and undervalue the people that aren’t here yet.”

This statement is not based on facts.

In the United States, according to the Census Bureau, 13.6 million children live with a single parent. Of these, 84% (about 11 million children) are living in homes with a single mother caring for one or more children. Only 48.7% of women receive legal or informal child support, leaving 5.7 million women with no financial support to raise their child/children.

According to Kids Count, children who grow up in a single-parent household do not have similar economic and human resources compared to children in a two-parent household. These children will also be more likely to drop out of school, have or cause a teenage pregnancy and experience a divorce in adulthood.

Do we really value people who are here? Where did the men go who contributed the sperm for these pregnancies?

The proposed bill to ban elective abortions in Utah is concerning for all women, especially those living on the financial edge with little to no access to affordable health care. If our country guaranteed that all women (and men) receive appropriate sex education during adolescence, all women have access to adequate health care and information about affordable, or free, methods of birth control, we would all benefit.

But, this is not the case in the U.S. Because we struggle to provide appropriate information and services, many women seek abortions for unplanned pregnancies.

On May 30, 2019, The New York Times published an op-ed by Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister. Schenck explained his previous efforts to ban abortion, his time spent in jail for his anti-abortion activities, and his eventual recognition that pro-life is more than abortion that grew from conversations with individuals who were deeply affected by anti-abortion activists, policies and laws.

I recommend those on both sides of the abortion debate read Schenck’s article. His approach to this decisive issue is critical and timely.

Personal Issue and Pro-Life: To seek an abortion is a personal, difficult decision for women and should be considered with the partner and physician. Society should not interfere or determine what is right. The couple’s, or the woman’s, decision should be based on accurate medical information. Being pro-life should not only include the fetal life, but should encompass what the needs are for the infant/child after birth. We lack a social and health care system that provides a safety net for those in need. One might think that adoption is an answer – but not all women who have an unplanned pregnancy want to give their child away after delivery. When children are not raised in a loving and protective environment, the society as a whole suffers.

Why are legislators so quick to punish women who become pregnant? Rarely discussed in the efforts to ban abortion are the roles men play in pregnancy. Sperm is required to fertilize an egg. The woman is required carrier of this embryo/fetus until delivery. Because it takes both an egg and sperm to create a human being, we must ask what other options might be possible that could prevent abortions?

Until we discuss the issues that are necessary for appropriate sex education during adolescents, access to affordable or free birth control for all women, and caring for all children in the US, the divide between pro-life and pro-choice will not change. And, until such time, government should not determine what is best for a woman when she discovers she is pregnant.

CJ Taylor, Salt Lake City, is a concerned senior citizen and a past board member of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.