The Least Harm: Why I Support Safe Legal Abortion

Teenage Girl Lying On Her Bed With A Pregnancy TestRecently, I’ve been asked outright why I support legal abortion. I was startled.

I’ve been a vocal supporter of abortion rights for so long that I’ve stopped thinking about the reasons why, much less articulating them. I tend to get sucked into debates where I argue the points at hand rather than getting to the root of my position. I realize I do that because the words that express my feelings are stark and ugly. Saying them aloud, especially saying them to someone who is anti-choice, makes me look compassionless; they make me sound just as heartless as anti’s believe pro-choice advocates to be. But the words are true and they get to the heart of what I believe: I care more about the already-born than the unborn. I advocate for their welfare first.

Let me tell you what I mean.

First, I don’t advocate against those women who would consciously and willingly lay down their life to complete a pregnancy. If a woman has made the choice to carry a pregnancy and will do anything in her power to protect the baby she carries, I will support her. She made a choice. I do not care why she made the choice. It is not my place to criticize her choice. My feelings are not relevant. Instead, I would advocate that she and the baby get the best possible care.

But the woman who chooses to end a pregnancy, who does not want to carry it to term, who can stand before me and say, “This must end” — the woman in that case is my sole focus. She made a choice. My feelings about the ‘why’s’ of her situation are not relevant. I do not care why she is pregnant. I do not care why she wants to end the pregnancy. Those stories are her own and have nothing to do with me. My feelings are not relevant. Instead, I advocate that she get the best possible care.

The heartbreak of both of these extremes is that a life or potential life will end in either one. It is my mission to see that it is only one life that ends.

The thing I know from years of reading and listening, is that a woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant will find a way not to be pregnant. The morality of you or me does not affect her choices. Our words are shouted into the wind. If a woman wants to end a pregnancy badly enough, she will do it, no matter the risk. You can read stories about these women here, or here, or here. The coat hanger legend is real. The back alley clinic is real. And now, in the internet age, black market RU486 is real. Desperate women will take desperate, dangerous measures to end pregnancies. They do it all over the world. They will do it if abortion is legal or if abortion is not legal. The babies in those pregnancies are not going to be born no matter what we think or say.

Abortion will not vanish. Babies will be swept from the womb before their term. This is the fact.

Here is the question, then. If the harm of abortion cannot be eliminated, how can we do the least harm? The answer for me is that safe, legal abortion in sterile conditions overseen by professionals exercising best practices as determined by medical authorities does the least harm. In a safe abortion, the pregnancy ends, yes, the baby’s life or potential for life is extinguished. But the woman survives, her womb intact.

For me, that is the least harm. For me, that is the only tolerable outcome. It does not matter if abortion is right or wrong. It only matters that abortion is safe. It needs to be safe because the already-born matter. To me, they matter the most.

Rebekah Kuschmider is a D.C. area mom with an overdeveloped sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector.  Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.

Image via iStockphoto

  • You have put how I feel so much more succinctly than I could ever do it. Care about the woman. Cry for the unborn child if you must – and I do, because abortion is heartbreaking no matter the circumstances – but care for the woman.

    Educate women about their choices, and provide access to all of their options. This starts with basic sex education, moves on to contraceptives and safer sex options, and continues after sex and pregnancy. Even birth. And motherhood.

  • Safe, legal abortion – AND access to reliable and affordable contraception, so that there will be fewer unwanted pregnancies in the first place. I have a hard time understanding why so many of the same people who want to strike down Roe v. Wade are also against the contraceptive provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

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