Ryan Bridge: Why I'm anti-abortion

Doctor ultrasound stethoscope
Opposing abortion by picketing clinics does nothing, says Ryan Bridge (Getty file)

OPINION: I don't like abortions and I'd prefer they didn't happen.

But I'm not an unreasonable moralist. 

I can differentiate my personal views from the values and societal factors that shape our laws on abortion. 

And on the issue of whether abortions should be legal, I am pro-choice.

One must weigh the impact that terminating a pregnancy would have on the unborn child against the impact an unwanted or unexpected soon-to-be human has on the woman carrying it.

If a woman accidentally falls pregnant and doesn't feel it would be in her, or the baby's, interests to have the child then she should be free to terminate the pregnancy. 

Likewise in the case of rape and incest, obviously.

I don't know anybody that likes abortions, but that doesn't mean they should only be allowed in such limited circumstances as they are currently. 

Many people don't believe in abortion

But in my view, opposing abortion by picketing outside an abortion clinic or writing nasty comments against liberals on social media only satisfies one's conscience. It does nothing to reduce the number of abortions.

If pro-lifers really cared about reducing the number of abortions in this country, they'd help tackle the underlying issue.

The underlying issue 

Abortion is a misnomer: the real issue is unplanned pregnancy. 

The abortion debate is to unplanned pregnancy what gun control is to poverty. What marijuana decriminalisation is to mental illness; a symptom of a wider problem, not the underlying cause.

These side-track debates are emotive and appealing to moralists but do little to resolve the issues people purport to care so deeply about in the first instance.

Unplanned pregnancies are by and large what lead to abortions, 13,000 of which took place last year.

If you really want to reduce the abortion rate you might start by trying to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies.

How do you do that?

Education and better access to contraceptive implants like IUDs.

Did you know there is a month-long waiting list in some parts of the country for women to be fitted with IUDs? 

Did you know, although a direct correlation is difficult to establish, that family planning advocates largely attribute a recent fall in the number of abortions taking place in NZ (from a high of around 19,000 in 2007) to public funding of contraceptive implants? 

That, along with better sexual education for both males and females from a young age has helped reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortions taking place.

Beat the problem, beat the symptom.

I think we can all agree that nobody likes abortion. It's unnecessary. So let's, instead of preaching moral outrage, put all that effort into helping people make informed and, preferably, funded contraceptive choices so there's nothing left to be outraged about. 

Ryan Bridge is the host of Your Sunday on Radiolive. Tune in from 10am-2pm to hear in-depth analysis and expert opinion of the real issue behind New Zealand's abortion debate.