This morning while getting ready for work I read The Deadly Toll of Abortion by Amateurs by Denise Grady on nytimes.com. (I do miss my paper subscription but alas, it wasn’t worth buying it for the 3 weeks I’m in the city.) As I read it I was astounded and reminded why it’s so important for abortion to be legal.

For those of you that have yet to read it, I’ll give you a quick synopsis: women in Africa, in this instance, are getting botched abortions by people that literally poke them with sticks, then sending them to rural hospitals and clinics to basically finish the job. It is a heart wrenching tale and these women should not have to go through this. They should be able to go to a doctor that can properly perform the procedure that they want.

But this isn’t just about being able to get an abortion safely so that the mother can live and possibly give birth when they are ready, no, it’s about teaching contraception. A line in the story says that women in many of these countries think that birth control is unsafe, will give them cancer or that condoms are unsanitary. Another line says that the more available contraception and education is to everyone, the lower the abortion rate is in general, legal or illegal.

I don’t think that abortion should be used as birth control. I think that it should be used as a last resort or for the safety of the mother and/or child. But the only way that abortion won’t be used as birth control is if women (and men) learn about all of their options when it comes to sex. My sex education consisted of one week of abstinence education and a whirlwind of information about STIs, contraception and other information. Honestly, I don’t remember much of that information from week 2. But people decide everyday to have sex or not to, but when they make that decision they should know everything there is to know-what their options are for contraception, what they do (at least the main ones) and what happens and where they should turn to if something goes wrong. I was talking to a friend the other day about birth control, contraception and abortion and we both agreed that yes, abstinence is the only way to not get pregnant and basically not get a STI BUT everyone deserves to know and have options when it comes to sex. You make the decision to have sex, why not have all the options available when you are having sex. If more people knew about how to have safe sex, we would see fewer abortions around the world (according to Grady’s article).

Sorry, I think I digressed. But I don’t think that any woman should ever have to receive an abortion like these women in Africa (and other parts of the world too). It’s a medical procedure-yes, it’s a morally complicated issue, but, it should be legal and available just in case. There are other options, but why exclude one option that is the most dangerous? Regulate it, educate people, and hopefully it won’t be used that often. I never want to be in a position where I would even have to consider having an abortion and am glad that I got some more sex education outside of my Health classroom (thanks to very involved parents-mine and friends). I don’t think that abortion should be used as birth control–that’s what birth control is for-so let’s teach everyone about it so that we don’t see as many abortions, and let’s legalize abortion so that women don’t have to go to some back alley to be in a terrible condition afterwards or even worse-die.