February 26, 2012

Stop Blaming, Start Educating - Catholic Identity and Abortion

As a woman and a Catholic, I'm very frustrated that diocesan churches preach the evils and horrors of abortion rather than teach ways to use love, care, and education to prevent unplanned or unwanted pregnancies or find loving homes for unwanted babies.  My fiance and I have discussed this at length and how being pro-choice both fits into our Catholic identity and does not make us pro-abortion.  I support a woman's right to choose, but I think we, as a society, could be doing more.

After much discussion with my fiancĂ©, we have come up with an idea to reduce the abortion rate, thus creating a culture of life that is centered around Christ's primary teaching - love.  Neither of us have any experience in running a non-profit, though we both have volunteer experience, so this is where, hopefully, a blog can help us recruit others to help us with our mission. We are not sure what we would call our organization, but here is what we are all about.

First we would like to give boys and girls more education about sex before and during the onset of puberty, ideally between 4th and 7th grade.  Sexuality is not something for children to be embarrassed or ashamed of, rather it is a part of how we identify ourselves and should be valued in all people.  Children need to be taught anatomically correct language and accurate scientific information regarding pregnancy.  Children should also be taught how to correctly use condoms and birth control, and told (*not taught because there isn't anything to teach besides one sentence) that the only way to 100% prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancy is to practice abstinence.  I believe condoms and birth control should be used but that we need to break the myth that they are 100% effective.  Speaking from experience, I have a friend with three children who became pregnant with two of her children while she was on birth control, not knowing that their effectiveness decreases when taking other prescription drugs.

Second, we would like to empower young men and women to communicate their sexual wishes, or as I like to call it, teaching girls how to say "No means no."  This also means making females aware of situations that increase vulnerability that can lead to unwanted sexual contact or rape such as alcohol and or drug consumption, peer pressure, or being alone or isolated from peers.  This area also includes teaching young men what constitutes consensual sex versus what they are seeing in the media.  It also means viewing females as equals in terms of wants and desires, relating to the previous blog post about the misrepresentation of women.

The third and final area is dealing with unwanted or unplanned pregnancies in a way that fosters the female's mental health and physical health.  Domestic adoptions can be made more accessible (though I know little on this topic) and clinics that offer prenatal care can also offer free counseling services and access to networks. Young pregnant women can be partnered up with a mentor who can offer them advice on child-rearing and realistically discuss finances and family involvement.  Regardless of what young women decide, they need to know that we are a country that takes care of each other and that
their child's life is one of value.

In conclusion, this is not just a women's issue.  It is political, social, community based and media influenced.  A recent article in the New York Times (Feb. 17, 2012) by Jason Deparle and Sabrina Tavernise stated that 52% of babies born today in this country to women under 30 are to single women.  The study also cites major racial and educational imbalances related to this number.  As a nation, we need to stop passing the blame and start educating and taking action to help one another.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Deanna is a an early childhood educator with a degree in Communication from Temple University and a Masters in Education from Arcadia University.  She lives in Ardmore, PA.  For more information, please feel free to contact us at hello@womenscollaborativecircle.org and we will pass along your interests, thoughts and ideas to Deanna and her fiance Brian!