It's the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, you know.
You know, I was going to post a long thoughtful and probably not terribly coherent ramble about the existential oddness that is pregnancy, (perhaps leading off with this story about a woman with a double uterus who gave birth to triplets, as noted by midwifery site a womb of her own), prefaced of course by the requisite yes i am pro-choice and here's why.
After having witnessed/partly participated in a particularly fugly thrash about this subject with people i really didn't want or expect to see thrashing just now, though, i kind of am not really in the mood, and i don't imagine it'd go over real well today anyway.
so, instead, i'm just gonna put up some pointers to some other people.
Well, first of all, the official list of bloggers signed up to participate is here, Bush v. Choice.
Jill at feministe answers the question:
I am pro-choice because “pro-life” policies kill and maim women. I am pro-choice because abortion rates are no higher in countries where abortion is legal than in countries where it is outlawed — but countries where abortion is legal see lower maternal mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates, greater economic prosperity, and greater gender equality.
...I am pro-choice because many countries where abortion is illegal or highly restricted have significantly higher abortion rates than we have in the United States, and astronomically higher rates than we see in Western Europe.
...I am pro-choice because 80,000 women die every year from complications from illegal abortion, and hundreds of thousands more are injured.
...I am pro-choice because if Roe is overturned, abortion will be illegal in many states. Even with Roe in place, states like Georgia are considering legislation which would impose life in prison or the death penalty as punishment for women who have abortions and doctors who perform the procedures.
...I am pro-choice because it’s the pro-choice movement that has advocated for policies which actually decrease the need for abortion, and which make it easier for women to have children: comprehensive sexual health education, affordable and accessible contraception (including emergency contraception), pre-natal and well-baby care, social support for pregnant women and women with children, affordable child care, fair pay for working women, supporting pregnant girls, and gender equality.
...I am pro-choice because I believe that my body is mine. I want women, girls, men, and children to be healthy, valued, and cared for. I want families to be healthy.
I want to live in a country that values the lives and well-being of all of its citizens.
I am pro-choice because it is life-affirming. I am pro-choice because it is fundamentally just. I am pro-choice because to be anything else is to devalue and harm women, children, families, and my country.
I am pro-choice because my life is worth something.
...and in passing, Jill links to a number of other worthy articles, for instance, an AlterNet review of a new book coming out, How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Policy and the War on Sex, by Christina Page.
(from the review/interview)
Page, a veteran of the editorial departments of Glamour and Ms. magazines, and the current vice president of the Institute for Reproductive Health Access at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, describes how she had been searching for a pro-life counterpart with whom she could engage in a reasoned, honest search for common ground. She found one: a feminist-identified woman who worked for a Right to Life chapter, and on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2003, they published a jointly authored op-ed in the New York Times.
"The Right to Agree" laid out a series of shared goals, including pro-family and pro-child policies like affordable child care and support for single mothers, an end to violence and violent language in the abortion debate, and the adoption of legislation mandating that health insurance cover contraceptives. While pro-choicers responded with mild support, pro-lifers were outraged, particularly at the statement of support for broad access to contraception. It was then that Page realized that the anti-contraception pro-lifers were not, as she'd assumed, on the fringe of the movement but rather the ones who set its agenda.
...Cristina Page: What I tried to do in this book is to say, Let's put on the table that [abortion] is something we don't want to have happen at the frequency that it is, or even at all. Those are the terms with which we'll discuss this. And when that happens, you begin to realize that [the pro-life side] is not interested in that. The greatest irony is that reducing abortion has become problematic for them, and it's because their aim is not pure.
Their aim is not about reducing abortion -- it includes restricting people's access to contraception, it includes transforming our sex lives, it includes transforming our families. That's the goal, and [restricting abortion] is just one vehicle toward that end.
RF: When you talk about the pro-life movement, you're really talking about the leaders of organizations like the American Life League and National Right to Life, who are going further than what many Americans want to see happen. It seems like there's a disjunction between the leadership of the pro-life organizations and the mass of Americans who are deeply ambivalent about abortion -- the ones who in the polls say they think abortion is wrong, but who also say they don't want to lose Roe.
CP: I tried to make a very clear distinction between pro-life Americans -- the [people] who believe that abortion needs to be prevented and [its rate] reduced -- and pro-life organizations, who have political gains outside of this issue. They're very different, in large part because if pro-life Americans actually knew what their handiwork resulted in, they would not be sending donations to these groups. If they knew that the pro-choice movement was doing a better job at what they understand to be pro-life goals than the pro-life movement is, then they would act accordingly.
Recent statistics say that 66 percent of Americans don't want Roe v. Wade overturned, [yet] only 51 percent consider themselves pro-choice. So what we're seeing is an unreported-upon third of the pro-life movement that wants to keep abortion legal but find ways of preventing the need for it, which I think is so important for us to understand at this point.
...and another AlterNet article: "When There Was No Choice" [in the U.S.]
At 77, Dr. Harry S. Jonas can still pinpoint the exact moment when he understood the importance of making abortion legal. The year was 1952 and he was an eager, young obstetrics-gynecology intern in Independence, Miss.. The specialty promised exciting pregnancies and bouncing babies, but his very first patient entered the hospital extremely sick. A mother of 12 children, she had tried—unsuccessfully—to induce an abortion. "She came into the hospital with her intestines hanging out her vagina," recalls Jonas. "Then she died."
For Mildred Hanson, the belief that abortion laws had to change came more gradually, even after she first learned about the danger of illegal abortions as a girl in rural Wisconsin. In 1935, when Hanson was 11, a woman on a neighboring farm died at home after having an illegal abortion. Hanson remembers her mother going next door to help the ailing woman, holding her while she died. The widower was left with six children, two of them in diapers.
...Eugene Glick's first experience with illegal abortion was personal. His wife, who was then his girlfriend, was 19 when she got pregnant in 1951. Neither was ready to have a baby—she wanted to finish college and he was planning on going to medical school. They thought they were lucky to find an OB-GYN willing to perform the procedure illegally, but "he didn't even sterilize the instruments," as Glick remembers. Glick's wife got a serious infection and wound up needing major surgery.
...If their paths toward providing abortions were different, Hanson, Glick and Jonas have a few things in common. Like many other doctors committed to choice, they witnessed the devastating consequences of illegal abortions firsthand. This week, the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutional right to end a pregnancy, will occur just two days after our anti-abortion president celebrates his inauguration. With several Supreme Court appointments potentially at stake, it's worth remembering what those pioneering physicians learned through treating thousands of women who'd had unsafe abortions: Outlawing the procedure doesn't make it go away.
at a link to another article, originally a Ms. story, "The Women Who Came Before Roe," a commenter called mirmiac notes:
"As long as there have been pregnancies, there have been abortions. It didn't take Wise Women long to discover the herbs that would induce a miscarriage.
...My Great-grandmother was a Wise Woman/Midwife in the late 19th century. Her live births far outnumbered the stillborn, and the stillborn far outnumbered the terminated pregnancies. In my Grandfather's journals he writes that girls got pregnant just as today. If it was a boyfriend, they usually got married in the church with the blessing of the community -- no condemnation. In any other case, people knew but didn't discuss what would most likely happen. It would never be discussed, particularly from a church pulpit.
But those unfortunate girls who lived too far away to receive my Great-grandmother's help, were tended to by their mothers and usually died in the process.
At the National Museum of Women's Rights, a National Park site in Seneca Falls, NY, there is a marvelous exhibition on the second floor of the slow march forward for women. Interestingly enough, there is nothing there from 2000 onward. When I asked the Park Ranger why, she replied that the government hasn't considered it important enough to fund for the past six years. .Surprise, surprise, surprise. A documentary film is shown on the first floor and there is a telling point when a woman's letter is read aloud. She says that she had a very difficult time regaining her strength since the birth of her fifth child and fears that another child will see the end of her. She hoped sincerely that her husband would no-longer "find favor" with her. This was also in the 19th century.
Roe v Wade made it possible for women to receive safe and legal abortions. Stopping the need for abortion is a much larger problem that can't be solved by overturning the Court's decision. Just as the country discovered during Prohibition, the government may try but it can't , nor should it attempt to legislate morality.
and another commenter called willymack adds,
How many of the rabid anti-abortionists of today are old enough to actually remember what it was like in the bad old days before abortion became legal and safe. I'll warrant, precious few. When I was a boy, I lived not far from a "Home for Unwed Mothers". As I walked by this place, I'd occasionally chance upon girls and young women, either with child or pushing a baby carriage. The look of shame on their faces and downcast eyes when encountering me-just a boy-is still fresh on my mind today. I knew something was very wrong about this, but lacked the knowlege and sophistication of an adult. For those of you who would return to those days, Ive got news for you; it's WRONG, dead wrong.
The bloggers at the group lj livejournal for choice has a lot more than the day's bulleted list of "why I am," obviously.
noted among earlier entries:
the news that RU486 ("the abortion pill") could help prevent breast and/or ovarian cancer.
How the Bush administration's "gag rule" is affecting lives around the world:
Legal abortions are extremely safe. And when abortion is made legal, it does not increase the number of abortions, she says, citing the South African experience as an example.
However, by making abortion legal, South Africa is no longer eligible for US Agency for International Development funding for sexual and reproductive health programmes, including some HIV/Aids programmes...
Officially termed the Mexico City Policy, the Bush administration mandates that no US family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to perform, recommend or refer women for abortions.
The destructiveness of US policy is hard to understate, says Steven Sinding, former director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
The IPPF lost $15-million in funding because of this policy, known as the "gag rule" because it stifles free speech and public debate on abortion-related issues. "Three of the five family planning facilities supported by IPPF in Kenya were forced to close as a result," Sinding says.
The direct consequences of those closures were "a dramatic rise in unsafe abortions and substantial increase in unwanted pregnancies", he says.
"The US stands embarrassingly alone on this," agrees Stan Bernstein, senior policy adviser at the United Nations Millennium Project. "No other country supports denying access to sexual and reproductive health services over issues around abortion."
But because it is the world's wealthiest nation and donor, US policy has a major impact on the delivery of those services.
What is often forgotten in debates over policy and ideology is the fact that unwanted births and the subsequent health consequences are a major impediment to development. Low-income countries cannot keep pace with the present health needs of their young, and cannot improve without family planning, Bernstein says...
Pregnancy-related complications kill more than half a million women every year, and leave approximately 210-million women with disabilities..
and here is a link to another website further detailing the effects of the "Gag Rule"
brownfemipower has a somewhat different take on the notion of "choice," as she quotes from Andrea Smith:
The consequences of the “choice” paradigm is that its advocates often take positions that are oppressive to women from marginalized communities. For instance, this paradigm often makes it difficult to develop nuanced positions on the use of abortions when the fetus is determined to hae abnormalities. Focusing solely on the women’s choice to have or not have this child does not address the larger context of a society that sees children with disabilities as having lives not worth living and that proveds inadequate resources to women who may otherwise want to have them…If our response to disability is to simply facilitate the process by which women can abort fetuses that may have disabilities, we never actually focus on changing economic and social policies that make raising children with disabilities difficult….
As betsy Hartmann has argued, while contraceptives are often articulated as an issue of “choice” for white women in the First World, they are articulated as an instrument of population control for women of color and women in the Global South. Indeed, in her book The War on CHoice, Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, equates opposition to Norplant and Depo-Provera as opposition to “choice”. Planned Parenthood and NARAL opposed restrictions against sterilization abuse, despite the thousands of women of color who were being sterlized without their consent, because such policies would interfere with women’s “right to choose”.
...The prevalent ideology within the mainstream pro-choice movement is that women should have the “choice” to use whatever contraception they want. Yet, mainstream activists often do not consider that a choice among dangerous contraceptives is not much of a choice. In a study commisisoned in 1960, Planned Parenthood concluded that poor people “have too many children,” and something must be done to stop this trend in order to “disarm the population bomb.”
...Of course Planned Parenthood does provide valuable family planning resoures to women around the world as well, but it does so through a population framework that inevitably shifts a focus from family planning as right in an of itself to family planning as an instrument of population control Groups that advocate population control, such as Planned Parenthood, have become increasingly more sophisticated in their rhetoric and often talk about ensuring social, political and economic opportunity. However, the “population” focus of this model still results in its adovates focusing their work on reducing population rather than in actually providing social, political and economic opportunity.
...Planned Parenthood is often championed as an organization that supports women’s right to choose, and one with whom women of color should ally. Yet, the roots of the organization are in the eugenics movement. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, collaborated with eugenics organizations during her career, and linked the need for birth control to the need to reduces the number of those in the “lower classes.” Today Planned Parenthood is heavily invested in the population establishment, and continues to support population control polices in the Global SOuth.
In contrast, the North Baton Rouge WOmen’s Help Center in Louisiana, a crisis pregnancy center, articulates its pro-life position from an antiracist perspective. IT argues that Planned Parenthood has advocated population control, particularily in communities of color. IT critiques the Black Church INitiative and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice for contending that charges of racism against Sanger are “scare tactics.” It also attempts to proved its services from a holistic perspective–it proveds education and vocational training, GED classes, literacy programs, primary health care and preganancy services, and child placement services. Says one of the Help Center’s leaders, “We cannont encourage women to have babies and the continue their dependency on the system. We can’t leave them without the resources to care for their children and then say, ‘Praise the Lord, we saved a baby.”
WHile both groups support some positions that are benefical to women of color, the both support some positions that are detrimental to women of color. SO, if we are truly committed to reproductive justice, why should we presume that we should necessarily work with Planned Parenthood and reject the Women’s Help Center? Why would we not instead position ourselves independently from both of these approaches and work to shift both of their positions to a stance that is truly liberating for all women?...
Trin responds in the comments,
So often when WWD bring up these issues we are called anti-choice or told we “expect” women who want nondisabled children badly but don’t want us to “make sacrifices” or “be saints” and “deal” with gestating and birthing a child that will, it’s automatically assumed, be a terrible problem. We must not realize that parenting of PWD is difficult and we must be claiming that any woman who wants a child has some sort of duty to face those difficulties with an altruistic grin.
I can’t think of a single one of us who claims that women should be forced to gestate against their will. But that’s what’s imputed to us. We must be “anti-choice” for even bringing up the question “but what does this choice mean in an ableist world?” We must be telling women what choices to make, not critiquing systemic problems that continue to devalue our lives.
The flip side of eugenics, of course, is exactly that: women being forced to gestate against their will. Possibly one of the cruelest mass examples of this in recent history was the regime under Romania's Ceausescu.
Overplanned Parenthood: Ceausescu's cruel law
Nicolae Ceausescu loved nothing better than a monument to himself. But his ministerial palaces and avenues paled next to another of his schemes for building socialism: a plan to increase Romania's population from 23 million to 30 million by the year 2000. He began his campaign in 1966 with a decree that virtually made pregnancy a state policy. "The fetus is the property of the entire society," Ceausescu proclaimed. "Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity."
It was one of the late dictator's cruelest commands. At first Romania's birthrate nearly doubled. But poor nutrition and inadequate prenatal care endangered many pregnant women. The country's infant-mortality rate soard to 83 deaths in every 1,000 births (against a Western European average of less than 10 per thousand). About one in 10 babies was born underweight; newborns weighing 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces) were classified as miscarriages and denied treatment. Unwanted survivors often ended up in orphanages. "The law only forbade abortion," says Dr. Alexander Floran Anca of Bucharest. "It did nothing to promote life."
Ceausescu made mockery of family planning. He forbade sex education. Books on human sexuality and reproduction were classified as "state secrets," to be used only as medical textbooks. With contraception banned, Romanians had to smuggle in condoms and birth-control pills. Though strictly illegal, abortions remained a widespread birth-control measure of last resort. Nationwide, Western sources estimate, 60 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion or miscarriage.
The government's enforcement techniques were as bad as the law. Women under the age of 45 were rounded up at their workplaces every one to three months and taken to clinics, where they were examined for signs of pregnancy, often in the presence of government agents - dubbed the "menstrual police" by some Romanians. A pregnant woman who failed to "produce" a baby at the proper time could expect to be summoned for questioning. Women who miscarried were suspected of arranging an abortion. Some doctors resorted for forging statistics. "If a child died in our district, we lost 10 to 25 percent of our salary," says Dr. Geta Stanescu of Bucharest. "But it wasn't our fault: we had no medicine or milk, and the families were poor."
Abortion was legal in some cases: if a woman was over 40, if she already had four children, if her life was in danger - or, in practice, if she had Communist Party connections. Otherwise, illegal abortions cost from two to four months' wages. If something went wrong, the legal consequences were enough to deter many women from seeking timely medical help. "Usually women were so terrified to come to the hospital that by the time we saw them it was too late," says Dr. Anca. "Often they died at home." No one knows how many women died from these back-alley abortions.
"Celibacy tax": A woman didn't have to be pregnant to come under scrutiny. In 1986 members of the Communist youth group were sent to quiz citizens about their sex lives. "How often do you have sexual intercourse?" the questionnaire read. "Why have you failed to conceive?" Women who did not have children, even if they could not, paid a "celibacy tax" of up to 10 percent of their monthly salaries...
This is not a single post for this designated day; this is an entire blog on the subject of reproductive equity, from a woman who's been working for The Lilith Fund, detailing stories of various women (names changed) who needed their fundraising services. Some highlights:
Claudia is in her late 20s and has two young children. She had been living with her common law husband when the relationship turned violent, ending with her being taken away in an ambulance. When she first found out she was pregnant, she wanted to get an abortion right away, but her abusive, controlling partner was forcing her to go through with the pregnancy. With the help of her mother and the local women's crisis center, she was able to escape her batterer and start to rebuild her life. The first step was to get the abortion she had originally wanted, a necessary action to break off the ties to her abusive ex-spouse. However, a sonogram revealed that she was already at 20 weeks gestation and she had just days to get the money together before she would no longer be legally able to obtain an abortion in Texas...
[n.b. that is, as things stand; if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the move to ban abortion in Texas completely is already in full swing].
Lizzie is 14 years old and 11 weeks pregnant. Both of her parents are in jail and she lives with her great grandmother and uncle. Because no one has custody of her, she needs a judicial bypass for the abortion. Her uncle has come up with $150, but the procedure will cost $390. Lilith, among other funding orgs, will help fund her abortion.
Adrienne is 7 weeks pregnant. Her boyfriend intentionally impregnated her without her permission or knowledge by taking the condom off during sex. When confronted, he claimed he wants a child with her and he thought she would be happy. Adrienne already has an infant son and was outraged at his violation of her trust. In the beginning, her boyfriend offered to pay for the procedure, but over the past week has refused to speak to her. Their most recent communication ended in a screaming match where he threatened that if she went through with an abortion he would go to her job to tell her boss and co-workers that she is a "baby killer." Adrienne has already made the choice to remove this toxic person from her life and she has chosen not to have his child. Lilith pledged $50 towrd the cost of her procedure.
Autumn was being treated by MHMR for insomnia and bipolar disorder with Seroquel, a psychotropic medication shown to be effective in the treatment of many symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as in the treatment of acute mania associated with Bipolar I disorder. Autumn had been prescribed this medication for depression and insomnia and was date raped by an friend while sedated. She didn't know she was pregnant until she was at 12 weeks. The rape was unprovable without an invasive DNA test because she had inadvertently washed away the evidence, having been unconscious during the sex act. Autumn has been dealing with her assault not only emotionally, but is also dealing with the legal system to prosecute her attacker....
Sarah Beth is a 34-year-old single mother with 3 children. She is on welfare and can't mentally, emotionally or financially support another child at this time. She went to a crisis pregnancy center in her city to take a pregnancy test where she was shamed and forced to look at images of aborted fetuses and made to feel awful for wanting to terminate her pregnancy. Sarah Beth just wants to be able to continue to care for the children she has and felt that termination was the responsible option.
Here is another personal site from an activist, abortionclinicdays
recently i had occasion to speak by invitation to a few graduate school classes. since their questions might be your questions, i thought i'd try to synopsize what we talked about. i first told them how and why i love my work. there are so few jobs that make a difference in women's lives...
and i told them, too, of the woman i had just sent home because she was not sure of her decison. at first i thought she was at the clinic just to please her boyfriend who let her know that he is not at all interested in parenthood. i told her that that are plenty of resources should she want to continue the pregnancy and she, in turn, told me that her mother wants her to have the baby and has promised to help her. with such a degree of uncertainty, and the possibility that she was considering abortion only to please a boyfriend who might be out of her life soon anyhow, i sent her home along with a decision making workbook.
...i got a lot of questions about the mandatory delay laws in our state as well as the process by which a minor who feels she cannot or does not want to tell her parents can go to court to have a judge declare her mature enough to make her own decision. in fact the kinds of reasons that a minor might choose not to involve her parents often is either because the parent would not grant permission or they don't have such a great relationship, or the parent is overwhelmed with their own problems, has a drug or alcohol problem or is caring for an ailing parent or partner themselves. my years of experience have taught me that the great majority of teens do involve a parent and the few who do not have very good reasons for not doing so.
whether or not the women were using birth control was also a question and of course, most were using some method of birth control, thinking that the pill or condoms could protect them, which it does in most cases, but not nearly as well as the better forms of birth control such as the Mirena IUD or Implanon, the two most effective (and long lasting) methods on the market today.
i very much appreciated the questions about what my life as a provider is like, asking how am i treated in social situations, and if i tell people what i do. and of course i tell anyone who cares to hear about my work what i do as readers of this blog can tell. this is my life's work. i am proud of it. my family, which is probably more religious than many, has come to accept my work, but only after many years of my being a provider. at first i think they were concerned for my safety, but as i let them know that that was not my focus, they have come to see that my mission is much greater than just the provision of the service, that it is more about telling the women's stories, of their decision making, and of their wanting to stay in connection with their god, their religion. my own children did suffer, but it was at the hands of anti-abortion threats against them when they were young. i guess i never believed that anyone would kill them, but rather wanted to scare me. and scare me they did. more like terrorize. my husband has always been supportive of my work; if he were not, i never would have made it. he always believed in what i have chosen as my life's work, just as i respect his work.
Finally, a few more highlights from individual bloggers.
elle, abd says:
Why am I pro-choice? I don't often examine my reasons, am usually content to offer a "because women should have autonomy over their own bodies" as sufficient cause. But what about me personally? Yes, I've had an abortion. Yes, I've had a child. In both cases, I chose what I wanted to do, and I believe that every woman should have that right.
There was no incapacitating post-abortion syndrome (or whatever the "pro-certain-life" crew is calling it lately). What I did feel was relief. And here is another reason I'm pro-choice, because the discourse around pregnancy, abortion, and motherhood is such that, while I didn't feel guilty about the abortion, I felt guilty about not feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I had no business being pregnant anyway--I should've known better. I felt guilty because one of the factors in my choice was that I was a college student on scholarship far from home and I knew that I wouldn't have been able to stay at my university. Was that selfish? And as a woman, defined largely as a potential mother, wasn't I supposed to be infinitely selfless? I don't want other women going through that "ashamed of not being shamed."
But I am learning that the way I conceptualize choice is influenced somewhat negatively by my privileged-in-some-ways status. First is my previously narrow definition; when I talk of reproductive freedom, I usually mean access to birth control and abortion. Though I know that there are other issues, I prioritize those, because they have been my concerns. But recently, I found this definition from INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence
REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM INCLUDES: Free and low cost drug treatment for pregnant and parenting women that offer neo-natal care, pre-natal care, and childcare. * Freedom to seek health care services without the fear of being reported to the police, welfare officials, child protection services (CPS), or immigration law enforcement. * Harm reduction strategies that reduce the risk of babies being born drug exposed. * Resources to address the root causes (rape, poverty, trauma, oppression)for which pregnant women use drugs. * The TRUTH about the risks of choosing long-term birth control methods like Norplant and Depo-Provera. * Supportive community environments where women can make healthy and non-coercive reproductive choice...
Yes, I thought. I agree with every bit of that. So why haven't my words and thoughts reflected it? But rather than dwell on why I haven't prioritized these issues, I have to work to make them part of my own definition of reproductive freedom.
Jack Goff explains his journey from extreme pro-life Catholic to pro-choice, pro-feminist:
What arguments for banning abortion do, as I learned, is put women in the role of either the "slut" or the "mother". The slut fucks, has no shame, and abandons all responsibility. The [married] mother is the anti-slut, the glorious achievement of womanhood. These pictures of women are, of course, merely the tools by which women are further shown their place in society, one as always the lesser person, the one that must do as she's told and accept her lot in life, whether because of biology or some other slut ate an apple she shouldn't have. Either way, it's hateful, it's manipulative, and it's, above all, misogynist.
Since women are the ones whose body bears the burden of pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative that a woman has complete body autonomy. Pregnancy can kill. Pregnancy produces multiple consequences that many women cannot deal with and that many women do not wish to deal with. To tell a woman that what her body does is not up to her is the essence of the patriarchical system. It all hinges on this one issue, whether women get to decide what happens to them.
To say that they don't implies that they are lesser people. As I grew in empathy, I realized that this is an inhuman way of thinking, the robotic denial of the humanness of others. No one gets to tell me that I can't take medicine if I get sick, nor do they get to tell me that I can't go to the emergency room to get a broken bone fixed. Why do they get to tell women that, if they have intercourse and get pregnant, for whatever reason (bad birth control, no birth control, whatever) that they can't address medically the consequences of those actions? I should have known that climbing that tree could result in me falling out of it. Why do I get treatment for the consequences of my climbing a tree?...
trinityva had a different journey:
After all, I think that whatever reservations a person might have about abortion -- disability rights-type worries about selective abortion based on prenatal testing, concern for beings one believes to have souls, concerns about the sanctity of life or the way we should value life, full stop -- none of it dictates governments deciding that any individual woman must gestate.
But I didn't come easy to this. As a young girl I couldn't understand.
...And there still is no bright line for me. No, a fetus is not a person. But neither is Ashley X, if we use the definition of "person" our society is used to -- which is deeply ableist. Yes, a fetus is not fully developed, and some truly are "lumps of cells." But the preemie me was not fully developed when she was born either. Part of my brain still is not "fully developed", and never will be. Even now that I am pro-choice, I do not like those "person" and "clump" arguments, and I never will.
I remember being one of two "pro-life" young girls at school. A group of other girls cornered me, bullied me, yelled in my face and the face of the other "pro-life" girl, a Catholic. They laughed at me too, called me names. I don't remember clearly, but I know they threatened me. What they said they'd do to me exactly, I can't recall. But I know I was terrified, and proud of myself after for sticking to my guns, and worried they'd harass me again. I remember really feeling the fear of violence from a crowd of others that day, for the first time in my life.
This is why I'm soft on pro-lifers now. I don't think they've no right to use the word (I use quotes above simply because we were children, and didn't have fully formed opinions), and I don't think they're all stupid, senseless, or hateful. I can't bring myself to feel that way about other women, knowing that the first time I was terrified of a group it came from that issue, that cesspool of rage. I think pro-life women are wrong, but I don't hate them. I hate the intimidation and guilt tactics many use against other women, women who are often fearful and suffering, and decry them utterly. I hate the men who ringlead most of them, spreading lies and delighting in destructive control. But not them.
Mombian: Sustenance for Lesbian Moms looks at it this way:
Bush is ignoring the multiplicity of religions and religious interpretations that make up the fabric of our country, not all of which agree with his connection between the Creator’s will and the right to life of a fetus. He’s also in dubious historical waters when he says the founders of our country believed in the “right to life” as interpreted by the anti-abortion movement. He’s blind to the evidence that abstinence education doesn’t work. And despite his commitment to promoting adoption, his brother governs a state in which same-sex parents are banned from adopting or fostering children.
Taking a broader perspective, how can a president who has overseen a fruitless war causing the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, American troops, coalition forces, and Iraqi police (not to mention thousands of deaths from the “worsening health and environmental conditions directly related to the conflict”) really talk about “respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being”?
Finally, there’s something wrong with an administration that says I must carry a fetus to term if I conceive, but will not give me permission to raise that child in a legal relationship with the person I want, whom I know will be a responsible, loving parent.
Sylvia at The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum says:
I identify as pro-choice, but my reasoning for it is different from the feminist party line. I don’t particularly need or want an abortion right now. I don’t subscribe to the convenience argument because I think it’s equivocated with the idea of it happening early in the developing person’s life and happening when the woman needs it. Too easy to confuse frequency with access. There’s too much of a good connotation associated with convenience despite the very real problems with access; abortions aren’t convenient in the slightest.
Abortions eliminate developing people, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the reasons women feel shame for being pregnant. It doesn’t deal with women worrying themselves sick with caring for a child and figuring out how to feed him. Talking about personhood and the abortion process takes a lot of attention away from the act — the mental consequences, the emotional consequences, and yes, the moral consequences of pregnancy and choosing to terminate it. If these issues received more attention than the soundbyte of “pro-choice,” perhaps the knot in my stomach would ease up.
...I personally do not like abortion. I don’t think many women like abortions. I side with the camp that considers abortion a necessary evil. I hope never to enter a position where I have to get an abortion. I’ve chosen abstinence from vaginal sex currently and primarily to reach that end. Pregnancy is nothing to really fuck with, in my opinion...
But at the same time, I don’t want some teenager in a back alley hemmorrhaging or some woman overdosing on meds that force miscarriages and God knows what else....
Women receiving abortions should have resources to protect all aspects of their health afterwards. They should have support from spiritual leaders if they require it. No woman left behind for party lines and fetal gore. Hell, all women should have these resources anyway. That’s what I support for ALL women who require it. That’s what pro-choice means to me — pro-choice extends beyond abortion.
When you hear about these women who have abortions ‘as birth control’, what kind of woman do you picture? Is she:
a) a woman of color
d) someone with a criminal background
e) all of the above?
Uh-huh. But the important thing is she’s treating that clinic like a revolving door. Right? Let’s throw the foetus out with the bathwater. And by foetus, I mean the circumstances that are getting this woman pregnant and bringing her to the clinic. Maybe twice. Maybe half a dozen times. (Although we all knows this woman is an anti-choice bogeyman chosen to shame any woman who has an abortion and make her worry that she might be lumped into that category.)
Now, just so we know I’m not making this all about the choice to have an abortion, and that choice only, what kind of woman do we picture who has a lot of children? Uh-oh. Do some of those above descriptors still fit? So maybe these women who can’t stop having babies or abortions (whether or not that is actually the case) are actually the best test subjects for new, experimental birth control. Right? I mean, it’s not like there’s no medical precedent for performing dubious medical tests and trials on the powerless. Tuskegee, anyone?
I understand every argument that presents the pro-choice movement as having a single-issue focus, because, just like mainstream feminism, the pro-choice movement mainly voices the needs and concerns of middle-class white heterosexual women. I am pro-choice, and this is what I want for my pro-choice movement:
This movement must be centered in the larger struggle for safe, available, affordable and legal medical treatment for all people.
I deserve access to an abortion just as my transgender friends deserve access to sex reassignment surgery just as my friends deserve access to cancer treatment (if you aren’t reading As the Tumor Turns, start now). How do we make medical treatment safe, available legal and affordable for all people?
We have to address issues of social inequality in our society that may seemingly have nothing to do with medical treatment. I am talking about political participation, I am talking about economic equity, I am talking about cultural competence, and I am not using these phrases as buzzwords. As progressive bloggers, we all work towards and support these goals, often through sharing information.
We have to recognize that there are charlatans and assholes out there who will provide misinformation and/or perform needed services without adequate training and supplies, and they will rob people worse than a Payday Loan store while placing their lives in danger. We have to expose ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’, we have to expose dangerous abortion doctors who prey on women’s lack of education, doctors who prescribe prescription drugs for money… so many more examples.
We have to look at the prison system, how we treat people who are incarcerated, and how we limit their options for reintegration. This includes needed medical treatment — and yes, this means mental health and substance abuse treatment — that most incarcerated individuals do not receive during or after time served.
We have to value people in our medical profession - not just doctors, but nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, and nurse’s aides. These are the people who will be giving us the information we need, the thorough explanation the doctor is (all too often) too busy to provide.
It is overwhelming, all that we have to do. This is not nearly all that we have to do, but I want to write this down to show how my pro-choice movement can include the choices of all women - how it can give all women a choice. That is what I mean when I say ‘I am pro-choice’. That is what I want to work towards, and protect.
and Black Amazon rounds it off with an observation in the middle of a typically glorious multithemed post:
I have a pussy , I have a brain, and I can use them AT the same time. Though every now and again I request someone fuck one till I lose the other. My body , my choice doesn't just start at my uterus sister.