• marysia

    Frances writes:
    “But it is hard to claim that those opposed to abortion have been advocating for comprehensive sexuality education, reducing maternal mortality or providing family planning in the US or overseas.”

    Frances, I am opposed to abortion and I have been advocating for precisely these things for years, in whatever small ways a person of my limited energy and funds can. There are others like me, too.

    But we are rendered invisible because religious and political conservatives don’t like to be challenged to respect life after birth. And many in the prochoice movement assume we can’t *possibly* genuinely advocate for *any* reproductive justice issue because our stance on abortion somehow, supposedly invalidates the rest.

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • invalid-0

    Marysia, I have followed your comments on this site and I appreciate your many attempts to highlight your own views. There are individuals and some smaller organizations of those who are “opposed to abortion” who favor family planning, etc. However, we need to be clear that the largest organizations from the Catholic church to Focus on the Family, etc do not support family planning ( the Catholics church for no one and various evangelical groups only for married couples.) or other services and choices we would call reproductive freedom.

    I would really like to see you tackle this in your posts. You no longer need to let us know that you are for family planning, etc. We know that. You have made that point over and over again. Go deeper and deal with the fact that you represent a very small minority of those opposed to legal abortion.

    It might also be useful for you to explore why this is so. Why is it that the majority view of those opposed to legal abortion or who believe that abortion is immoral also oppose sex out side of heterosexual marriage and birth control. Why is it that they oppose all these things? Do you think they are opposed to abortion only because they think the fetus has a near absolute right to be born or do you think there is intense hostility to women’s sexuality and a desire to control women’s lives? It would be great if you would start exploring the motivation of those in your movement who are opposed to the full range of reproductive rights and choices.

  • colleen

    “Of course Third Way, which is pro-choice, is also listed.”

    What does this mean? What about Third Way is pro-choice?
    Third Way lists it’s federal politicians as Honorary Senate Chairs and Honorary House Chairs. Of their Senate Chairs (where anti-choice Democrats can and will do the most damage) all but one, Claire McCaskill has what they call a mixed voting record and Mark Pryor is actively hostile to women’s reproductive rights (which is to say that he believes like most of the GOP and the odious Bob Casey that women should only be allowed legal abortions in cases of rape, incest or to save her life)
    The House list is somewhat better but there are a couple of men on that list (Crowley and Davis) who are anything but pro-choice. The Senate list concerns me a great deal.
    If the organization is ‘pro-choice’ why aren’t the politicians supported by the organization ‘pro-choice’? How much ‘common ground’ are pro-choice women going to find with Mark Pryor or a think tank which tells us we’re behind the times and then does not bother with a response or any real particulars?

    I was very uncomfortable with the essay from ‘Third Way’, I don’t believe that welfare deformation was a great success if the needs of women and their children is of any concern and have never forgiven the Democrats for their part in it. This sounds like a repeat of the horror of that piece of legislation which took me 5 days to read because I kept crying. At some point this country is going to have to stop treating poor women like trash.

    I think it’s a given that religious groups don’t want any common ground, they want money and thjey want power over others. Indeed a defining characteristic of present day Christianity is controlling women and they’re not going to stop until politicians stop enabling them.

  • amanda-marcotte

    And even then, you’ve shown up on this site trying to discourage women from using effective contraception.  So far, I’ve been batting 0 when it comes to anti-abortion advocates who fully, completely, and actually support effective contraception.

  • invalid-0

    I doubt that after 30 years of polarization from both the far left and far right on abortion that anyone has found common ground, yet.

    This piece seems to pour water on the notion it is possible. As someone who is adamantly pro-choice, that is too bad. We have an opportunity to get beyond the narrow beltway mentality that says this is all about politics and policy, and remember that for the vast majority of Americans, a common sense approach that supports family planning, womens rights and seeks to help people make good choices BEFORE having sex, is the best course. Polemics haven’t gotten us anywhere for 30 years, they won’t get us any where now. I read this site because it gives me hope that common ground can be found.

    No, there is isn’t common ground yet, but how refreshing it would be to see people open up to the possibility instead of throwing their weight around trying to prevent a conversation from even starting. President Obama is seeking common ground not because he is caving to the right, but because he understands the middle. The left should open its eyes and seek to grow their support in the middle instead of alienating everyone because they know best. That’s the sort of elitism that always gets the left in trouble.

  • marysia

    Frances, I am all too aware that views like mine are not represented by the Catholic Church or other conservative groups.  I am all  too aware of that hostility towards women and sexuality that you describe.  And I have challenged these attitudes, both publicly and privately, perhaps more often than you seem to know.  For example, I have challenged Feminists for Life on its refusal to engage with the issues of prevention and contraception.

     Frankly, I do not identify myself or other prolife progressives with "their movement."  I cannot be held responsible for "their movement."  But I do have a responsibility to challenge everything I believe it does wrong, and I have, and I do.  

     In the space of RHRealityCheck, there is such a widespread assumption that  all abortion opponents are alike, that the motive is hostility to women rather than concern for the fetus.  I feel as if I cannot even begin to engage with prochoicers here unless I first address these stereotypes.  So that has been my emphasis and my contribution here.  I hope you can understand this.



    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • marysia

    Amanda, you are either not understanding or you are willfully misrepresenting my position on fertility awareness.  You can try all you want, but you cannot make me into something I am utterly not just by the force of your will.

     I actively advocate for ALL methods of pregnancy prevention and freedom of choice among them.  I do *not* discourage women from using methods other than fertility awareness.  

    Fertility awareness is one method and one choice among many forms of contraception.  There are *prochoice* women on this site who have spoken about its potential benefits for *some who choose it.* 


    There is a lot of misinformation out there about it, so I’m glad people spoke up about it.  Not because I want to repress other methods, but because people should have full and free information about *every* method.  People on this site have also challenged the right-wing myths about condoms and emergency contraception, and that’s good, too.


    As for effectiveness…If you look at Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers–the secular, evidence-based manual used by the World Health Organization–http://www.infoforhealth.org/globalhandbook/–the effectiveness compares favorably with that of the diaphragm, male condoms, and female condoms. 

    Of course one must practice fertility awareness diligently and careful for it to be as effective as possible in preventing pregnancy, and be thoroughly educated about the method.  But that is true of any method one chooses. 


    Also, there’s a critical difference between fertility awareness and natural family planning as it is taught by the Catholic Church.  fertility awareness teachers are open to teaching single people and lesbians about it, and speak of resorting to barrier methods and forms of sex other than penis-vagina intercourse during the fertile period.  nfp teachers often restrict their students to heterosexual married or about-to-be-married couples, and vaguely counsel them to "find other ways of loving each other" during the fertile period, or forbid resort to "sodomy" then.


    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • marysia

    Beautifully said!


    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • invalid-0

    Dear Susan, I really agree with you that if we are to find common ground it is going to be as a result of sharing our values and beliefs about abortion itself, women’s rights, the concepts of choice and life. It is not likely to be found in the political realm. However, it is in the political realm that those who are currently the most ardent supporters of common ground want to play, thus, this piece analyzes that effort.

    In this political approach I am afraid we cannot let our president and his staff off the hook. If they seriously want to find common ground, they need to bring in the expertise of those who have done that work. They cannot say as they have to date, that talking about abortion is off the agenda. Common ground for the administration means agreeing to disagree about abortion and talking about other things. Now I am so invested in common ground that I think we can talk to people we disagree with about abortion and we might find some common ground about abortion itself.

    This is much harder than covering over differences and stressing shallow apple pie agreements that often fall apart when we try to apply them. It also takes tremendous commitment of time and resources which neither the administration nor various current common ground groups are willing to invest. The Public Conversation Project (check out their web and articles) spent two years meeting with just eight local activists in Boston who held different views on abortion. Their goal was not common ground but mutual understanding of the other. That gives you a sense of the kind of investment we need to make.

    Let me also pitch http://www.religiondispatches.org where a very lively discussion of common ground is going on.

  • marysia

    Frances, I also want to say this to you: while I disagree with you about abortion, I am deeply grateful for your enduring commitment to the "other choices."   And as someone who may myself need a kidney transplant–hope your health is improving.



    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • jodi-jacobson

    Hi Susan,

    I did not read Frances as rejecting common ground, at all.

    Instead, as she has not ed, there is a difference between talk and reality, and the devil of these details is in the actual policies and programs and funding streams that come out of these types of efforts, about which I have beforeand am now again writing myself.


    The issue is: "what does common ground" mean very specifically among people many of whom don’t even agree on the definition of what is a "contraceptive"? if in fact there were a group of people from different sides who came together and said, ok, we realize that women need to be able to choose to terminate a pregnancy and will protect that right, but we want to do everything we can to ensure all people are informed and empowered to have healthy, safe sexual lives, and have all the tools they need, and one outcome among many good ones of this would be a reduction in unintended pregnancies, then we could move forward.But it is astonishingly difficult even to agree on whether non-married sexually active people should be "allowed" to be sexual and have access to services.

    I have been in 4 different common ground exercises in the past 15 years, on reproductive health and HIV and AIDS issues.  What is striking is that we all want to feel good about agreeing that "we all care about people." but the reality is, some see the definition of "caring" for people as enabling them to make their own choices safely, and others see that as making sure they make only the "right" choices as defined by a specific subset of people.  In other words, "caring" comes to mean controlling according to a certain ideology.


    This issue is like "bipartisanship." You can’t make compromise the ultimate goal because you never serve anyone. You need to focus on your values and goals, see where there is some overlap and if a compromise is possible, but realize this is a political issue involving real funding, real policies, and real lives and that is where I think this examination of "common ground" is so very critical, because instead of serving the needs of the very people who seek services, we instead serve the needs of politicians and lobbyists.

    Best wishes and thanks for engaging the debate.  I hope you will continue to engage it.   Jodi

  • amanda-marcotte

    How people who are hostile to abortion are routinely fanatical about the wonderfulness of the least effective form of contraception out there.  It’s consistent with a general hostility to women having sex without "consequences" more than it’s consistent with a genuine commitment to the wee lives of fertilized eggs.


    In fact, if fertilized life is a major concern, you should be hostile to NFP, which most likely results in more fertilized deaths than any other form of contraception.


    But if you were motivated by a discomfort with female sexuality and a desire to make sure that women risked turning their lives upside down with undesired child-bearing every time they had sex, you’d be 100% behind promoting the least effective contraception out there.

  • invalid-0

    It’s consistent with a general hostility to women having sex without “consequences” more than it’s consistent with a genuine commitment to the wee lives of fertilized eggs.

    So very, very yes, Amanda. Though it’s rarely stated directly, in what I’ve seen of the whole abortion/contraception/sexuality debate, the greatest bete noire of the “pro-life” community is a woman who openly relishes sexual pleasure, responsibly and lovingly indulges her desires without kowtowing to the “proper” social arrangements (read: marriage), holds her head high with indomitable confidence and self-assurance, disregarding their moralizing as utterly irrelevant and vapid—and suffers none of the so-called “consequences” that they believe she deserves, be it [an unwanted] pregnancy, STDs, or a loss of self-respect.

    Not to go all the other way and say that all women can or should be like that, but in that fictitious, idealized person, you see everything that our opponents fight against. Everything that keeps them up at nights and drives their campaign of misogyny.

    (I don’t know what kind of symbolic value such a character might have to others, but for me, it’s a touchstone. So much of society is terrified of a woman like this, and I ask myself, why? Why should I be afraid of her? Why should I not embrace and celebrate her? It brings to the surface all the hidden assumptions and beliefs that I’ve held, and lets me examine them.)

  • marysia

    But this kind of argument is not the only one for so called "natural methods."  It is not the particular argument that I have presented you with.  You are not dealing with or engaging with the particular argument I’ve presented you.

    You are resorting to a logical fallacy of "guilt by association" that presents itself as a QED proof that anyone who opposes abortion must therefore be a rank, sex-hating, life-disrespecting hypocrite.

    I just presented you with scientific evidence that FAM can be as effective as other, well-respected methods of contraception.  I can supply you all the evidence in the world that these are not the reasons why I and others, some prochoice and even some prolife, advocate FAM as a *choice among other choices.*  Some women speak of getting to know and love your sexual body better as an advantage of FAM, especially through practicing other forms of sex than penis-vagina sex during the fertile period.


    Is this woman-hating fanaticism?  or is it addressing misinformation about one choice among many and therefore seeking to *expand* informed choice and freedom of conscience?


    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • marysia

    a large majority of people who identify as "prolife" also support contraception.  The problem is that others hostile to contraception have largely hijacked any agenda of real concern for pregnant women and fetuses.

    There are many more people who oppose abortion and yet support other aspects of reproductive justice .  Sometimes movements don’t really do a good job of representing the people they are supposed to represent: case in point.

     And anyway, just because someone’s in a "tiny minority"–assuming for the purposes of argument that people like me are–that doesn’t in and of itself invalidate our position.  The validity of a position cannot be properly determined merely through a popularity contest. There are other considerations.

     And I’m already in a lot of "tiny minorities." So be it.  For example, I am a longtime vegetarian.  I.e., in large swathes of US culture, people find me bizarre and unsettling, even though I am not militant about how I eat.  But I have had people go off on me for example just because I have taken a plate of nonflesh foods only at a picnic, and I haven’t said a word or done anything to call attention to the diference in what we’re eating.

    But just because other people eat lots of meat, and get upset with me cause I don’t—that doesn’t in and of itself determine whether flesh eating is valid behavior, i.e. harmless or constructive behavior.


    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • invalid-0

    I did feel as though Frances was offering little hope of finding common ground. I’m not sure what reason is used by anti-choicers signing off on a bill that will help provide contraception. I don’t care why they do, as long as they do it.

    No, I don’t see why these Christian crisis centers should need to have ultra-sound equipment provided for them. But if you think the bill is good enough that you can hold your nose and support it as a positive thing then I don’t/won’t care if they get what they want.

    There’s got to be some way to dial down the rhetoric between the two sides. Seems like pushing contraception is the way to go. It’s sad that even this pathetic bill hasn’t been brought out of committee. Members of Congress obviously don’t want to touch the topic. As someone said it all comes down to not respecting women and their choices.

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