‘Nice’ and ‘Nasty’ Have Nothing to Do with Women’s Reproductive Choices

Thank you, Catholics for Choice, for providing a platform in “Family Planning vs. Abortion” (Vol. XXXV, No. 3) for a truth that many people find inconvenient: that contraception will never make abortion rare, and that this is not a problem if abortion is legal and safe.

The notion that “nice” contraception can prevent “nasty” abortion is a myth that many influential policymakers and donors believe. The reality is different. The experience in countries like the UK may well demonstrate that when women expect to control their fertility, they are more likely to resort to abortion when contraception fails (as it does, often), or when they fail to use it. It is not helpful to shield people with power and influence from this reality. Abortion has been, and remains, a means of birth control for millions of women across generations and across continents.

Support for reproductive choice requires that we respect women’s decision to use any method of birth control—or none at all. When donors and politicians pledge support only for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, but not for the termination of an unwanted pregnancy, they are not supporting women’s reproductive choice. They are using their power to nudge projects promoting the choices that they believe to be right, regardless of whether it addresses people’s needs.

It’s wrong for us to indulge the prejudices of the powerful by playing along with their self-deception. The truth is plain: abortion is a fact of life in every society where birth planning is valued.

Chief Executive, bpas
London, England

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