In considering abortion, conservatives have skewed the focus. They have ignored the kind of life a woman would have to live if she were forced to give birth, especially if she is unwilling or unable to raise a child into adulthood. And, more importantly, children born into such chaos would start life with the cards stacked against them.

The only form of birth control that is 100 percent effective is abstinence (although with careful monitoring, vasectomies are 99 percent effective). Nationally, more than 19 million women live in areas with no access to the full range of birth control. Given the stress on a woman of being forced to have a child she may not be able to care for, then it becomes likely her child will become one of the more than 400,000 children in the United States’ broken foster care system.

The core issue is do we, as a society, owe children and women the greatest possibility for a life worth living? Do we owe them happiness? The Declaration of Independence lists our unalienable rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Although the Constitution does not mention happiness, there is precedent for its consideration at the Supreme Court. Loving v. Virginia, Meyer v. Nebraska and Obergefell v. Hodges were decided on a happiness argument.

Considering the inconsistency of birth control and the challenges of foster care, abortion ensures that a woman can live the life she chooses in the pursuit of her happiness. And abortion prevents a child from being born into a situation where the child’s happiness could likely be at great risk.

Sen. Susan Collins is turning her back on the women struggling to create a life worth living. And she has completely abandoned the children.

Jo Trafford
Portland

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