What we should really be afraid of is those who support governmental control of our bodies. Don’t be fooled, because that’s what many of the falsely called “pro-life” members of our Legislature are after. It is their ideology that government can dictate to a person what they can and cannot do in matters of their own health.
Last year’s Senate Bill 1878 made the ideology abundantly clear. It forces women to undergo a medically unnecessary, invasive procedure where an instrument is inserted vaginally in order to perform an ultrasound, even if it is against her wish and not recommended by her physician.
A healthy civil society is one in which people are free to make their own health decisions, not have them dictated by the government. Genuine freedom also includes access to health care and the education to make healthy decisions. These are areas in which Central Oklahoma is seriously lacking.
The 2007 “Vital Signs” report published by the United Way of Central Oklahoma highlighted the poor educational achievements of new mothers in Oklahoma County, measured by the percentage that hold a high school diploma. According to the report, 26.7 percent of new mothers in the county do not have one, which is more than 9 percent worse than the national average. “Vital Signs” called this measurement “one of the most important predictors of positive outcomes for children.”
Oklahoma ranks 44th in the nation for health care, and 21 percent of Oklahoma County residents are uninsured. In a wide array of measurements on health and access to health care, we rank low and trends are not improving. Nor do most of our public schools offer comprehensive sex education.
The report also stated that 50.39 percent of live births in Oklahoma were the result of unintended pregnancies in 2005. It is reasonable to conclude that the incredibly high incidence of unintended pregnancies partially results from the combination of poor access to both health care and comprehensive health and sex education.
As even The Christian Century reported in a 2005 article, the societies with the lowest abortion rates are precisely those with wider access to health care, comprehensive health and sex education and greater resources for child care. The societies with the highest actual abortion rates are those with the most legal restrictions. In other words, you are either for legal or illegal abortion; there is no such thing as a society with no abortion.
If our Legislature really valued life as anything more than an empty political slogan, then they would work diligently to improve access to health care, provide comprehensive sex education and improve various social services.
The evidence is clear: A society that empowers individuals to make their own health decisions is a society that values life. What we so often have here in Oklahoma is the exact opposite ” an ideology of governmental control of our bodies that would rob us of our freedoms and our health. That’s truly frightening.
Jones, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma, is pastor of the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.