How to Stop the Abortion War Killings


On May 31, 2009, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was shot in cold blood inside his Wichita, Kansas church.  The suspect, Scott Roeder, reportedly cites his antiabortion views as a motive. On September 11, 2009, Jim Pouillon was shot in cold blood in front of Owosso, Michigan High School while engaged in an antiabortion protest. The suspect, Harlan Drake, reportedly stated an objection to Pouillon’s use of aborted fetus photos in his protests outside the school.

Drake also allegedly killed Mike Fuoss, a gravel pit owner, who upset Drake for undisclosed reasons.  Last week, Tonya Johnson, an Arlington, Tennessee schoolteacher in her eighth month of pregnancy, was shot to death with her baby.  The suspect is her boyfriend, Terence Nelson, who reportedly was enraged at her refusal to have an abortion.

Pro-lifers and pro-choicers in the U.S. are bickering over whose side has the most martyrs and whose has the most blood on its hands.  This is disrespectful towards the dead. It is also unfortunate and unnecessary and could even set the stage for further homicides. Unfortunately we cannot join together in raising the dead. Yet there are many other and better responses that both "sides" can together have to abortion war killings.

We can listen more respectfully and profoundly to one another and our self-definitions. In response to Pouillon’s murder, or that of Tonya Johnson, many pro-choicers feel a deep, visceral sense that this action is dissonant with their movement and their values.  This is exactly how peaceful abortion opponents —the vast majority— feel about the killings of abortion providers.  No one wants to be blamed for or associated with actions they deem antithetical to their most cherished values.
And if neither “side” is about killing those who disagree, what, then, are pro-lifers and pro-choicers each about, as they themselves see it? 

Pro-lifers say they are about respecting life, which can and often does encompass respect for women’s right to make non-abortion choices. Pro-choicers say they are about fostering sexual/reproductive choice, which to their view is crucial to respect for life, especially women’s lives.
In other words: there is a lot of overlap possible here.  If we approach one another not only without weaponry, but with active, outspoken disavowal of weaponry, we are all the more readily to discover and build upon those areas of overlap.

We can– and must!–cooperate in the prevention of further homicides. Living as I do in an urban neighborhood with
rampant gun violence, I cannot help but relate all the abortion war killings over the decades to the larger picture of gun violence in the U.S., to the thousands of deaths and injuries annually. Bringing up gun control in the context of abortion may have the sound of pouring gasoline onto an already raging fire. I do acknowledge that this is
tricky. There are many pro-choice liberals who support gun control and pro-life conservatives who oppose it. There are also pro-choicers who invoke gun rights out of respect for personal choice, and pro-lifers like me who support gun control out of respect for life. 

But no matter how tricky it may be, if we all agree that killing one another is not the way to address our disagreements, we must therefore assume the responsibility to prevent further killings.  Even if we are not personally
responsible for the homicides themselves in any way! That means personally committing to alleviate the reality of gun violence, or, as some would have it, the reality of people who abuse their Second Amendment freedoms.

Now, I passionately advocate gun control and my vision of reverence for life goes beyond humans, born and unborn, to eco advocacy, vegetarianism, and a general opposition to hunting and fishing.  But no doubt, along with
like-minded pro-lifers, and pro-choice gun control advocates,  there are also avid hunters, fishers, and gun bearers, both pro-life and pro-choice, who ask the same question as I do: How did people like suspects Scott Roeder, Harlan Drake, and Terence Nelson get their hands on guns? How is it that their plans for violence were not thwarted in time?

Even those of us who are sickened beyond measure at even the thought of wounding or killing must deal with such questions.

We can find reciprocally acceptable ways to disagree with one another. Not killing one another is the most basic
and necessary form of nonviolence between pro-choice and pro-life. But the practice of nonviolence towards one another hardly stops there. Nonviolence needs also to be present in our speech towards one another. Without treading on one another’s freedoms of speech and association, pro-lifers
and pro-choicers need to work out a better understanding of how to express our disagreements. 

How to begin or continue in that process? 
Pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike have had quite parallel reactions to Jim Pouillon’s killing: a combination of horror over his murder and profound objection to his particular
means of protesting abortion. No doubt to the immense relief of pro-choicers, I am one of many pro-lifers who object to the indiscriminate brandishing of giant, bloody fetus photos in the public space. Yes, disturbing images are
a valid part of many political causes, including the peace movement, and eco advocacy/animal rights. Pro-choicers themselves sometimes resort to coat hanger imagery to convey the urgency of their cause. 

I am not advocating legal censorship by any means, but I personally think it is better, in general, for activists to offer people a choice about whether, when, and where to view such images.  Fear and disgust are not the only or even the most positive ways to appeal to people’s hearts and minds anyway, especially in a culture that is so deeply polarized and already saturated to
the point of desensitization with graphic images.

Even as I am sickened by Pouillon’s murder, even as I oppose abortion, and even as I understand the desperation and despair of some protestors who feel that no one really cares enough about a matter of life and death…I would recommend something different for people who wish to protest abortion in any sign-holding kind of way—by no means the only way to take real action. They can stand quietly under placards that non-judgmentally offer substantive help with preventing and going through with difficult pregnancies. 
And they must be fully prepared to give such help at every level from the individual to the global—whether they pass
out condoms;  offer to personally pay a woman’s back rent or offer her an open adoption of her child;  give referrals to sound programs, including ethically run pro-life pregnancy
centers, that aid with basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, and health care; gather signatures in support of prenatal care coverage, birth mother’s rights, or UNFPA funding; and/or do something else. I know many pro-lifers who commit such deeds constantly, but behind the scenes. Pro-choicers who truly believe in choice also are deeply engaged in creating and offering the other choices.

Since the shooting, Pouillon’s son James M. Puillon has come forward and stated that the murdered protestor was not motivated by concern for the unborn, but by hostility and violence towards women, including his late ex-wife. If this characterization is indeed true, it raises another, connected issue around bringing anti-abortion beliefs into the public sphere.

Pro-life and pro-choice do have valid disagreements over the exact parameters of universal human rights in regard to abortion. But even as we apply a universal human rights approach differently, we can agree that hatred of women has no place on either; whether the misogyny hides behind an allegedly pro-life but woman-blaming “concern” for unborn children, or whether it hypocritically seeks to clothe male coercion and violence in the rhetoric of pro-choice.

When we agree on the importance of women’s rights, we can cooperate on alleviating such unfortunately widespread problems as the heightened rate of domestic violence during pregnancy. We can and must ensure that no more pregnant
women and their babies suffer injury and even death, whether the perpetrators have the motive of coerced abortion or another motive. 

We can and must draw on wisdom such as that gathered by the kNOw MORE campaign of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, which documents the links among domestic violence and reproductive health dilemmas like unintended pregnancy, abortion, and unsupported motherhood.
The rights and well-being of women from a universal human rights perspective, open to people of all faiths and none, must be central to abortion discourse, or we will go nowhere. 

We may not agree precisely about the nature and status of prenatal lives, or about the roles of abortion in female lives and welfare, but we are disagreeing within a shared and humane framework that highlights commonalities. As a pro-lifer, I am also well aware that if one wishes to help the unborn, then one must attend abundantly and simultaneously to the needs of the already born too, especially women. Pitting the unborn against the born, as if
prenatal lives just simply floated around in the air somewhere and then mattered no more after their purportedly invisible, inert mothers birthed them…that does not help a soul.

A universal human rights approach also brings something else quite valuable to common ground. Throughout almost all the world–most thankfully, in my personal, abolitionist view—this framework rejects the death penalty as a solution to societal problems and conflicts, whether it is administered by vigilantes or through legal due process.

I
cannot claim to have all the answers.  But I do know that if pro-lifers and pro-choicers get further and further caught up in ad hominem arguments over who is more bloodthirsty, we will harden even further against one another. Meaning that violence becomes more likely to happen again in the name of the abortion war, even if we fervently hope that it does not.

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  • paul-bradford

    That was one suberb piece you wrote! You highlighted the many aspects of non-violence that need to be employed in order for advocates on both sides (I don’t like to think of them as "sides") to find common ground in building a more just, more peaceful world.

     

    I’m at work now so I don’t have the opportunity to praise you as much as you deserve, but I would like to underline one very important point that you make: 

     

    Nonviolence needs also to be present in our speech towards one another. Without treading on one another’s freedoms of speech and association, pro-lifers and pro-choicers need to work out a better understanding of how to express our disagreements.

     

    The seeds of peace have to be present in every single human encounter.  I try, as best as I am able, to maintain a high regard for the lives of people who take a different viewpoint than I do.  I expect to learn from people who disagree with me.  I look to support ways that my "opponents" are working against discrimination and for non-violence.

     

    We shouldn’t be butting heads against each other.  We should be thanking God (or, if you prefer, Darwin) that the people we’re communicating with are intelligent and well-meaning.

     

    Keep up the good work!! 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • gravitybear

    We should be thanking God (or, if you prefer, Darwin)…

    Paul Bradford,
    Do you know any atheists? I know this is off-topic, but I didn’t want to let this pass. Atheists don’t worship Darwin and don’t need to thank him for anything, except publishing a great scientific work.

  • paul-bradford

    G. Bear,

     

    I knew I was going to get a comment like yours when I posted.  Please consider giving me some credit for understanding what atheism is.

     

    My comment about ‘Darwin’ followed the lead of the Darwin Fish project.  I’m sure everyone has seen the bumper stickers.

     

    For you, G. Bear, I will amend my statement:

     

    We should be thanking God, or the blind forces of natural selection, that there are intelligent people to talk these things over with. (Although some of us still have some evolving to do).

     

    Feel better? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • hatmaker510

    Why must we be thankful to unseen forces at all?   

    And why do you seem to have such a strong need to define atheism as a religion?  By definition, it is simply a lack of belief in deities; nothing more, nothing less. When it comes to any group of people, depending on their specific activities, that group may or may not have qualities to be labeled a religion.   

    Consider this:  for every atheist "activist" (the ones you hear the most from), there are several others (the majority actually) who simply don’t believe in god.  For this group, their lack of belief takes on no greater a role in their life than that.  This doesn’t mean I don’t agree that there are some atheist groups exhibiting the characteristics of a religion (the ones I called "activists").  But don’t you agree that making such broad, sweeping generalizations about ANY group of peoplel is always a mistake?  

    It is my experience that this majority of atheists, the "non-activist" ones, usually remain unheard and unseen.   They don’t form groups, don’t go to meetings, don’t take part in any sort of atheist politics, and don’t have any atheist-based agenda.  This majority of atheists simply don’t believe in a god. 

    Looking at it this way, I just don’t see how any logical arguement could be made that atheism as a whole is always a religion.  

     

  • eternalskeptic

    As a pro-lifer, I actually wanted to attend a vigil for George Tiller. But organizers made it clear that I was not welcome; it was strictly an event to glorify the pro-choice position. This exclusion speaks volumes about the state of our nation’s abortion war; the victims serve as political tools. But there can be no solidarity in mourning those who have died unjustly. I find this notion as tragic as the deaths themselves.

    What also saddens me is how each side of the abortion debate has an extremist contingent that actually seems to *rejoice* in these deaths as an opportunity to score cheap political points. When Dr. Tiller was murdered, pro-choicers reported with glee that pro-lifers should shut up about their views so that they don’t “cause” more of these killings. When Pouillon became a victim, a handful of pro-lifers enjoyed a cheap stab against pro-choicers, claiming, “Ah-ha! You do it to us, too!” Common ground will come only when we both step forward to condemn *all* abortion-related violence, genuinely mourn the deaths of *all* victims, and move forward. But it is unconscionable to turn these victims into human mascots for one’s cause.

  • jayn

    Off the top of my head, is it possible they didn’t want you at the vigil because as a pro-lifer, they were afraid you might cause trouble? (Not saying you would, just that that might be a concern for them).

  • marysia

    EternalSkeptic, that is sad, it speaks volumes about the levels of suspicion & mistrust that exist…
    I wish US culture could get beyond this, one reason why I am glad to participate in On Common Ground.

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

  • bj-survivor

    I cannot take seriously someone who claims that a man who kills his pregnant girlfriend because she refused to obtain an abortion is the work of a pro-choicer. Or that Pouillon’s murder was also the work of a pro-choicer, disregarding the fact that the murderer was a lunatic who shot two other men against whom he also had personal grudges who had no connection whatsoever to “pro-life” activism and that he was never in contact with nor was ever visited by pro-choice activists, unlike Dr. Tiller’s murderer. But, typical of “pro-lifers” I know you won’t let the facts stop you from continuing to spout the drivel you’ve just spewed right here.

    I know this will fall on deaf “pro-life” ears, but I’m going to attempt to explain, yet again, that pro-choice is just that, pro-choice. Not pro-ABORTION. Not “woman, do what I or some random strangers believe you should do with your pregnancy.” Pro-choicers believe that the decision over whether to terminate a pregnancy belongs in the hands of the pregnant woman whose body is creating that new human life, because a woman’s body is neither community property nor the property of the church, the sperm donor, or the zygote/embryo/fetus. A woman’s body, including her womb, belongs to her and her alone.

    This inability you forced-birthers have to comprehend that because pro-life = forced birth, then naturally pro-choice = forced abortion is the reason there can never be common ground between us.

  • marysia

    bj survivor, i do not state anywhere in the above article, or anywhere else, that prochoice = proabortion. i don’t believe that for one minute. please don’t make assumptions that all your “enemies” think so ill of you.

    and please don’t make assumptions that necessarily prolife = coercion of women.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • bj-survivor

    The problem I have with the above article is that it seems to assert that both Pouillon’s and Johnson’s murders were the work of pro-choice extremists and not one of you “pro-lifers” corrected that erroneous assumption. Drake has never self-identified as pro-choice, unlike Roeder who considers himself a pro-life warrior, nor has he ever been visited by or seemingly been in collusion with pro-choice activists, again unlike Roeder and many other “pro-life” terrorists. Drake’s objection to the bloody fetus pictures is not proof of pro-choice sentiment, as even many abortion rights opponents object to them. Drake’s murder spree also included two other men, totally unrelated to the forced-gestation movement, against whom he also held grudges.

    And then this article gets even more offensive in its implication that Nelson, who allegedly killed his girlfriend over her refusal to have an abortion, is somehow pro-choice. Again, I can find no evidence that he self-identifies as pro-choice. To even imply such a thing, as the author of this article does, is disingenuous at best.

  • bj-survivor

    True, you do not outright state that "prochoice = proabortion" but it is implicit in your implication that the murder of a pregnant woman by her boyfriend due to her refusal to terminate the pregnancy is somehow the work of a pro-choice extremist.

  • bj-survivor

    Couldn’t be that “pro-lifers” weren’t welcome because it was self-professed “pro-lifers” who have repeatedly stalked, harassed, shot at, and ultimately succeeded in slaughtering Dr. Tiller?! Nah, couldn’t be that. It’s just further proof that poor-choicers want to glorify themselves and never attempt to find common ground with pro-lifers!

    Frankly, I don’t care to compromise with people who want to take away women’s right to decide what happens to their very own bodies, but that’s just me. The only common ground is prevention and expansion of the social safety net, which your side stymies whenever given an opportunity.

  • bj-survivor

    Deleted due to annoying and odd formatting errors. Sorry.

  • bj-survivor

    Deleted due to inadvertend duplication. Sorry.

  • the-same-profile

    I agree completely with everything you’ve said here, BJ Survivor. I just wanted to let you know that.

     

    The conflation of a couple of random whackjobs who murdered people for completely unrelated reasons and the pro-choice movement is ridiculous and offensive. I think the author of this piece owes pro-choicers an apology for making those statements, especially in their use here to illustrate some false "equality" wherein pro-choicers and anti-choicers have similar levels of violence against one another – an equality which does not exist and never has.

     

    So-called "pro-lifers" have always been more violent towards pro-choicers than vice versa.  I don’t seem to recall any pro-choicers bombing those hideously inaccurate, misleading, hyocritical "pregnancy help clinics" that anti-choicers run, but I’ve seen plenty of stories of so-called "pro-lifers" bombing abortion clinics. I’ve heard a lot about "pro-lifers" assaulting and using violence against pro-choicers. I’ve heard of and seen "pro-lifers" physically assaulting, harrassing, and otherwise intimidating any woman to even so much as enter a Planned Parenthood clinic, regardless of her purpose there. I’ve heard "pro-lifers" scream at innocent women that they’re going to Hell because they went to the clinic to get a pap smear.

     

    There is simply no comparison, I’m sorry. The author’s assumptions are patently false, and I will not be willing to "sit down and hear what the other side has to say" until the other side stops telling me I’ll burn in Hell for picking up my birth control prescription, until they stop shooting at doctors whom I consider to be my heroes just for being willing to continue their work in the face of so much violence and vitriol from people who say they support life, until they stop telling me I’m a murderer for supporting a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Then maybe we can talk.

  • marysia

    bj survivor & same profile,

    of all the killings mentioned in my column, yes, the one with the most established tie to a particular ideology is that of dr. tiller. i am not denying that. i am simply pointing about that pouillon’s killing & that of tonya johnson have been swept up into the abortion debate, too, & all three of these killings have been allocated, rightly or wrongly, to one “side” or another.

    i am describing how these killings have been perceived & dealt with–not grappling with the issue of which specific killing has which specific ideological connection.

    and then i make this most essential point:

    — We can listen more respectfully and profoundly to one another and our self-definitions. In response to Pouillon’s murder, or that of Tonya Johnson, many pro-choicers feel a deep, visceral sense that this action is dissonant with their movement and their values. This is exactly how peaceful abortion opponents —the vast majority— feel about the killings of abortion providers.–

    in other words, *neither* movement is about such killings. those who harass, assault, & kill abortion providers do not merit the name “prolife” even if they brandish it about…they may be antiabortion, but they are *not* prolife. every opportunity i have had, i have personally challenged such people & pointed out their hypocrisy.

    the gulf between people who do this sort of thing & people who really do seek to respect life before, during, & ever after birth is as great as that between real prochoicers, who seek to provide a wide range of choices, including relief from domestic violence, & those who try to force women to have abortions.

    this is *very different* from saying prochoice = boyfriend shoots pregnant girlfriend who refuses abortion.

    i mean, i call for more respectful & profound listening to one another’s self-definitions. when real prolifers listen more deeply to real prolifers, they understand that prochoice means what it says.

    by the same token, when real prochoicers listen to real prolifets. they understand that prolife means what it says. i don’t know, maybe because of the ugliness you have witnessed, maybe it is hard to believe “prolife” could mean something quite other than, even opposed to, that ugliness?


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • colleen

    the one with the most established tie to a particular ideology is that of dr. tiller

    The only one with an established tie to ANY movement is the murder of Dr Tiller. Those ties are to Operation Rescue (and a convicted felon in OR who happens to be their Senior Policy Analyst) and, if Roeder’s visitors in jail are any indication most of the anti-abortion movement which, in turn, has a well established decades long history of felonies (including but hardly limited to murder) and terrorist tactics which are used to bully, intimidate and to make it’s point.

    i am describing how these killings have been perceived & dealt with–not grappling with the issue of which specific killing has which specific ideological connection.

    On the contrary you are CLEARLY pretending that the tendency towards murder is mutual. It’s implicit throughout the entire article. Likewise, nowhere did you point out that abusive men who murder their pregnant wives and girlfriends (the most common form of death for pregnant women in the US) have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the pro-choice movement.
    They aren’t ‘abortion war killings’ They are pro-life killings, bombings, arsons, acid attacks, assaults, stalkings etc.
    So may I respectfully suggest that you grapple with those issues? Because it seems to me that you’re lecturing the wrong folks.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • marysia

    colleen,

    if you care about fair representation, then please consider that maybe not everyone who identifies as prolife = the taliban. hmmmm, last time i checked, neither i nor any of my likeminded friends was bloodily imposing a fascist intepretation of sharia law. nor wanted to.

    in this article i am dealing with the ugly *perceptions* prolife & prochoice often have of each other. i am dealing with the *perceptions* that large numbers of people have that all these killings have something to do with the abortion war.

    these perceptions of the “other” as inherently, by-definition bloodthirsty *on both “sides”* hinder the recognition of common ground & cooperative action to reduce abortion. that is my concern in the above column. do i have to take on absolutely everything in one or two breaths?

    i have & i do challenge antiabortionists who resort to tactics that are anything but life-revering. just because you didn’t hear me –that doesn’t mean i haven’t done this.

    so why i am here on this prochoice website? because someone prochoice, cristina page, asked me to be part of on common ground. common ground is about engaging both “sides” not just expressing the prochoice one. both prolifers & prochoicers read this website.

    and i am saying these things for anyone who cares to listen, whatever their position on abortion itself, anyone who wishes to seek peace in the abortion war & alleviate the root causes of abortion.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • colleen

    maybe not everyone who identifies as prolife = the taliban. hmmmm, last time i checked, neither i nor any of my likeminded friends was bloodily imposing a fascist intepretation of sharia law. nor wanted to.

    The Taliban aren’t fascists, they’re fundamentalist theocrats who wish to impose their religious views by force on their society.

    The fact that the anti-abortion movement in the US is overwhelmingly fundamentalist Christian rather than fundamentalist Muslim does not change the fact that it’s mainly led and peopled by theocrats who wish to codify their religious views into law and impose them on the rest of us by force. This is the parallel you appear to have completely missed. Dr Hern spoke an unpleasant truth.

    The sig is a quote from Warren Hern, a brave man and one of the few doctors still performing medically necessary late term abortions in this country. Others have been murdered or intimidated into retirement by the terrorist strategies of the anti-abortion movement. Dr Hern receives regular death threats from the ‘pro-life’ movement. I have several friends I’ve been close to for many years who work at Planned Parenthood offices and clinics (and not even ones where abortions are performed) They also are forced to endure regular threats to their lives, persons and property. I want the violence and threats to stop and see no way for that to happen without you folks acknowledging the truth and the truth is that much of the progress of the anti-abortion movement has come as a direct result of a strategy that condones and encourages bullying, intimidation and violence. And no, I don’t believe that pretending the violence has been mutual or sitting around and singing kum-ba-ya will be at all helpful.

    do i have to take on absolutely everything in one or two breaths?

    I think you should probably rethink and apologise for statements like this:

    In response to Pouillon’s murder, or that of Tonya Johnson, many pro-choicers feel a deep, visceral sense that this action is dissonant with their movement and their values.

    In this and several other places you were CLEARLY implying that both murders were linked to the pro-choice movement. I find your continued refusal to even acknowledge that, in your mind these murders are ideologically linked to the pro-choice movement odd when your bias is glaringly apparent and permeates the entire article.

    I most certainly do not believe that “many” pro-choice men and women agree with you on this. Indeed when you wrote this article originally I researched the Tonya Johnson murder because I was curious about who was agreeing with the notion that abusive men who murder their pregnant wives and girlfriends are somehow ideologically tied to the pro-choice movement. I found that outside of the local news in Ms. Johnson’s community the only ‘news’ sites carrying this story at ALL were ‘lifenews’ and ‘lifesite’ and that those two sites were the ones attempting to link the murder with the pro-choice movement. No surprise there.

    I found no mention of “many prochoicers feel(ing) a deep, visceral sense that this action is dissonant with their movement and their values” because I found no instance of ANY pro-choicers acknowledging a link between these murders and the pro-choice movement. Because there wasn’t/isn’t one. So yes, I expect you to at the very least to acknowledge this.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • bj-survivor

    Thank you, Colleen, for your restrained response, because I’ve had it up to here with Little Miss Forced Gestation Feminist’s obfuscation and outright lies nuance and complexity.

  • marysia

    bj survivor–whatever our disagreements about the parameters of feminism, somehow how i doubt that disparaging a woman in her 40s as “Little Miss” comes under the rubric of feminism.

    and what does it accomplish to use character assasinating words as lies, obfuscation, forced gestation? it surely does not help further cooperation on alleviating the root causes of abortion.

    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • marysia

    colleen, i may not agree with what dr hern does for a living, but i see his bravery, just as i as a pacifist can see the bravery of people in the military. i hope he lives out his lifespan. i work for gun control, i challenge people who protest abortion in ugly ways, i reported someone recently to the fbi even….because i don’t want dr hern or other providers to be subjected to the violence that no human being deserves, no matter what.

    i wish i could communicate to you how awful violence against providers is considered by many on my “side.”

    i wish i could communicate to you the prolifers i know who recognize that prochoice means what it says. or the fact that i personally feel utterly responsible & obligated every time i hear a prolifer equate prochoice w/ forced abortion, to challenge that equation, because it’s unfair.

    if you aren’t persuaded by what i have to say, that’s your prerogative. i am sure you have your own heartfelt reasons for the stance you take. but i wish you would at least recognize that others may have their own equally deep reasons for thinking differently. character assasinating language towards someone who disagrees is a setback, not progress.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • colleen

    i wish i could communicate to you how awful violence against providers is considered by many on my “side.”

    I’m not disputing that some people in the anti-abortion movement abhor violence. I’m saying that the use of intimidation, bullying and violence has been an effective strategy of the ‘pro-life’ movement since the ’70’s. I’m also saying that political violence has not been a strategy of the pro-choice movement and am appalled by those who are so anxious to avoid looking in the mirror that they make outrageous claims or pretend that there has been some sort of paralleled violence from the pro-choice movement. An example of what i mean by an outrageous claim is the notion that men who murder their pregnant wives and girlfriends because they wish to avoid the responsibilities of fatherhood are in any sense connected to the pro-choice movement.

    character assasinating language towards someone who disagrees is a setback, not progress.

    I am sorry that you translate thoughtful criticism written out in a logical manner and with examples as “character assasinating language”. The fact nevertheless remains. The pro-choice movement had nothing whatsoever to do with those two murders and, despite your claims to the contrary, that claim plus the notion that both sides are equally violent permeates your entire article including the title.
    Today we learn that the anti-abortion movement intends to hold an ebay auction to help pay for Scott Roeder’s defense. Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
    the pro-choice movement does not kill people, set buildings on fire, make death threats or blow stuff up etc. The ‘pro-life’ movement has done all of these things and more for a good long time. Pretending that pro-choicers need a little talk so that we can help prevent ‘abortion wars murder’ not at all helpful and is insulting to your audience.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • cristina-page

    This forum was created to give a platform for people like Marysia; pro-lifers looking for peaceful solutions in the abortion conflict and a way to share ideas with pro-choicers who are also looking for a better way. Marysia is far more representative of the pro-life public than the pro-life establishment. She supports contraception (not only that, she is an outspoken critic of the pro-life movement’s opposition to contraception), she actively opposes violence, she calls for supports for poor-pregnant women and their families. I don’t see Marysia as the enemy. To me, she’s the solution. We’d all be a lot better off if this national debate were headlined by Mary Derr than Troy Newman, Randall Terry and Judie Brown. Dr. Tiller would probably still be with us if the invective didn’t originate with, and encouraged by, national anti-abortion leaders. Which makes the way Marysia has been treated in this discussion all the more unfortunate. As pro-choice people interested in common ground, if we cannot have a respectful dialogue with Marysia, we can have it with no pro-lifer. Which prompts the question, are those engaged in the dialogue here interested in common ground? If not, and instead this is simply being transformed into another boxing ring, I ask that you take the aggression elsewhere–like jillstanek.com or lifeblogs.com. Those who take part in the discussions there rejoice in the sparing and name-calling. If, however, you are indeed interested in having a productive discussion, we are all for it. But the name calling has no place here, it also belittles the important points you deserve to make.

    We are working to create a space where the built-in hostilities are checked at the door. We realize not everyone wants that, but we ask to at least allow this forum devoted to a productive dialogue between pro-choice and pro-life people, the only one in existence, the chance to try the exercise in earnest. Marysia will continue to play a primary role in shaping this unique discussion. We hope you all will too. So, please let’s ratchet down the vitriol if even just to try something new for a change. Thanks, Cristina Page, Moderator, OnCommonGround

  • bj-survivor

    Pray tell me, Marysia, just how it is that lying, as you have done in this pile of drivel, contributes to cooperation in this common ground experiment? Can you not understand how it is that continuing with that lie will cause others to become very angry with and antagonistic toward you?

    When you claim that Drake and Nelson are examples of pro-choice violence against pro-lifers, you are lying. It has been pointed out to you repeatedly that neither of these men either self-identified as pro-choice nor had any ties to pro-choice activists/organizations, yet you refuse to acknowledge this. Instead, you obfuscate by claiming:

    of all the killings mentioned in my column, yes, the one with the most established tie to a particular ideology is that of dr. tiller. i am not denying that.

    And then refusing to acknowledge the fact that it is Roeder alone who has any ties to a particular ideology, and that ideology is “pro-life” and that organization is Operation Rescue.

    So, I apologize for the “Little Miss Forced Gestation Feminist” comment. It was childish and inappropriate. But I will not apologize for calling a spade a spade.

  • marysia

    cristina, thank you for the vote of confidence.

    bj survivor, i accept your apology over the “little miss” remark.

    as for the rest–i can only hope that, even if it takes time, we can learn to talk with one another in a friendlier way in this forum. you obviously have very strong feelings on this subject & i’m sure you have your reasons for that.

    i am genuinely interested in understanding & dialogue with you, even if i have failed to convey that aspiration to you somehow. of course, if you don’t want to go in that direction, that is your prerogative, but please keep in mind why cristina started on common ground.

    and colleen, i would like to tell you the same thing.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • bj-survivor

    I certainly appreciate that Marysia is one of the silent majority of abortion rights opponents who is vocally pro-contraception and pro-social safety supports. That seems only prudent if one’s goal is to truly reduce the need for abortion and to support the health and well-being of women and families. I just don’t see how it enhances a productive dialog to let stand the patently untrue claim that pro-choicers are guilty of an equal level of violence against pro-lifers, especially using the above two examples. It was pointed out to her again and again just how wrong those examples were and how insulting, but she continued to ride with it.

     

    I should think that as a regular columnist, she should be held to a higher standard of truth and evidence than the rest of us. Frankly, this article reeks of vitriol; the passive-aggressive, sickly-sweet kind, but vitriol nonetheless.

     

    So am I to understand that it is okay for "pro-life" columnists to spout lies and passive-aggressive insults while we pro-choicers just nod and agree or remain silent because we’re to assume they are acting in good faith?

  • bj-survivor

    i am genuinely interested in understanding & dialogue with you, even if i have failed to convey that aspiration to you somehow.

    It’s very simple actually. You could start by acknowledging and apologizing for the false assertions that you make in this article:

    1) Pro-choice extremists are equally guilty of violence toward pro-lifers as pro-life extremists are toward pro-choicers.

    2) Drake and Nelson self-identify as pro-choice and/or have any ties to pro-choice activists.

    It’s really difficult to take what you say or do on good faith if you have no compunction with spreading lies, even if such action was inadvertent and especially after the lie has been repeatedly pointed out to you. Or maybe you could just:

    3) Delete the article and the entire thread if you are unwilling to acknowledge or apologize for the falsehoods.

  • cristina-page

    Thanks BJ. I wouldn’t characterize Marysia’s claims as lies, but opinions, and in your view–unfair ones. I think you have many valid points–most of which help illuminate why the discussion often breaks down and we wind up making little progress. I, by no means, want you to "just nod and remain silent" about anything–that would be one of the worst possible outcomes. I think that your points are more persuasive, especially in this forum, if you take up Marysia’s respectfully.  

     

  • crowepps

    So am I to understand that it is okay for “pro-life” columnists to spout lies and passive-aggressive insults while we pro-choicers just nod and agree or remain silent because we’re to assume they are acting in good faith?

    If you assume that they are acting in good faith and they make a statement which you know to be untrue or believe insulting, then the most persuasive (and respectful) thing to do would be to provide them with the truth or point out the insult instead of attacking them personally.

     

    As an example, the assertion that the men who kill or assault their girlfriends/wives in an attempt to FORCE them to have an abortion are demonstrating ‘ProChoice values’ is ridiculous on its face. Attempting to FORCE someone to do something has as little to do with Choice as attempting to prevent them from being able to do it. In either case, the person is acting to TAKE AWAY that person’s choice, ignore that person’s agency, and meet their own needs instead.

     

    I think CPC’s perform a valuable service in any case where they help a women who does NOT want an abortion to avoid having one by providing her with assistance, even if that assistance is merely assisting her to qualify for welfare. I think CPC’s are a disservice to women when they enshrine their own ideology as the ‘good’ they are trying to promote, ignore the real life consequences, and congratulate themselves on being ‘successful’ because they have prevented an abortion even though the end result is a child permanently damaged by the unmediated consequences of being unwanted.

     

    Certainly to insist that one’s personal moral code is ‘natural law’ and to take advantage of the distress of someone who is vulnerable in order to ‘convert’ them into believing the same thing is something that’s so traditional for religions that the monstrous lack of ethics involved isn’t even noted unless the reverse happens. “Mother Theresa takes care of the dying without trying to get them to change religions!! How astonishing and unusual!” How sad that it is.

     

    With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    – Steven Weinberg

  • jodi-jacobson

    I have watched this conversation with interest.
    I think there is a problematic disconnect here.

     

    When someone states what is called "an opinion" based on and presented as "fact" it is highly problematic. It may be Marysia’s opinion that life begins at conception and that she herself would not resort to abortion under any circumstance; it may also be her opinion that she should act to change laws that reflect her personal ideological and political views.

     

    As I have said before elsewhere and continue to say: I can and do respect Marysia’s personal views and would and do defend them as she applies them to herself.  I can not defend her application of her personal ideological or religious or moral opinions as legal writ to take away the choices of others. But her opinion on this is her opinion.

     

    However, we are talking about something very different here.  What you are asking is that there be respect for what you are calling "opinion" and what I see as serious twisting….a complete disfiguration…of facts, then asking people to respect that set of opinions-turned-into-facts as legitimate grounds for debate, and asking they not get angry over it. 

     

    There is no room for "opinion" in taking the facts of a case of systemic violence against providers over a long period of time, plucking two unrelated examples of violence (one against a woman by an abusive partner; the other by a deranged man who killed two and intended to kill at least three people for reasons of personal grudges) and turning those into "fact-informed opinions" about the "equivalency" of anti-choice extremist violence with a "created" pro-choice violence where none exists.

     

    To suggest that there is pro-choice violence used as a political strategy or even on a small scale is not an opinion. It is an abuse of facts that, when stated as "opinion" and repeated takes on its own life because there are ideological reasons for perpetuating such an interpretation.

     

    I think we are way too far down the road of equivalency in regard to the justifications of political views grounded in no or next-to-no facts on many levels in our political discourse, including but not limited to issues of choice.  To ask someone to find "common ground" on an "opinion" that serves to misrepresent facts which in turn are used to effectively slander a movement is not the ground on which to share any kind of commonality.

     

    I think it is hard to ask people not to get angry or have really deep and legitimate concerns when equivalency is used as a political tool in the substitution of facts.

     

    I also think that while it is very nice to know that someone like Marysia supports contraception, etc. it is politically naive for us to equate her own position with those of some mythical balanced "pro-life movement" out there.  The reality is this: There is a single-issue ideological movement funded and fueled by fundamentalist rhetoric and efforts to turn back human rights in a range of areas, including but not limited to women’s rights.  They are focused and they are relentless, not just on abortion, not just on contraception, but on marriage, social safety nets, discrimination, hate crimes and a range of other things. 

     

    There is simultaneously a majority of people in this country who, whatever label they are asked to apply to themselves in some survey, might say "pro-life" but are not politically motivated, activated or relentless in pushing some single-minded agenda to make sure all women get access to contraception.  They do not counterbalance the other.  They are not single-issue.  Nor are most of the people I know who are pro-choice.  That is the problem.  The pro-choice movement has to be far better at pushing back and framing from the outset, and we ourselves have to be willing to call ill-informed "opinion" just that and not accept equivalency in that regard.  I just think otherwise we are fooling ourselves.

     

    Jodi

  • bj-survivor

    If the men Marysia mentions as representatives of pro-choice violence actually self-identified as pro-choice or had ties to pro-choice activists/organizations who encouraged their violence, then I would have to acknowledge that ugly truth, much as I wouldn’t like it. Obviously, these actions are the furthest thing from the pro-choice ideal, but to deny their self-identification and ties I would be falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy, into intellectual dishonesty. I would feel compelled to analyze what about the pro-choice movement encourages such violence and change it, or failing that, would no longer in good conscience be able to self-identify as pro-choice.

    Bombing, assaulting, stalking, and murdering abortion clinic doctors and workers is also the furthest thing from the pro-life ideal, but these actions are nevertheless endemic amongst pro-life extremists. Unfortunately for the pro-life side, these lunatics not only self-identify as pro-life but have verifiable ties with pro-life organizations and are even visited by them and hailed as heroes by pro-life television and radio personalities and pro-life supporters all over the Internet. It also doesn’t help that pro-life websites publish aerial photos of abortion providers’ homes, their itineraries, and pictures of doctors’ faces within rifle sights. For pro-lifers to deny this is the work of pro-lifers is indeed an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy, of intellectual dishonesty. And for them to try to tar pro-choicers as having the same history and propensity to violence toward their opponents is not only intellectually dishonest, but outright insulting when they are participants in a forum that seeks to broach common ground and encourage collaborative dialog. I would expect this behavior on a pro-life site (in that context it would be expected), but not a pro-choice one. I don’t hang out at "pro-life" sites, because I don’t care to engage with people who want to take away my and every woman’s right to their very own bodies. But when they come onto pro-choice boards, I’m not going to sit silently by while they spout false equivalencies, obfuscations, and outright lies.

    Now, had Marysia presented the very real, documented phenomenon of self-identified pro-choicers forcing their teenage and young adult daughters to have abortions rather than supporting their choice to continue a pregnancy and parent the child, then she would have been entirely correct. This is violence and it is violence perpetrated by pro-choicers (again, they are certainly not ideal pro-choicers, but they do self-identify as pro-choice). It is not insulting to pro-choicers to point this out, painful as it is, because it is the truth. Unlike the claptrap that she wrote in this article.

  • bj-survivor

    I wouldn’t characterize Marysia’s claims as lies, but opinions, and in your view–unfair ones.

    With all due respect, Cristina, you are mistaken. “Purple is the prettiest color ever” and “Gattaca is the best movie ever created” are opinions, as they only identify personal preferences. When an opinion treads into the territory of verifiable fact, then it ceases to be merely opinion and instead becomes an assertion. And you’d better be able to back up your assertions with evidence if you want to be taken seriously, especially when we are attempting collaboration between ideological opponents. It’s not that difficult and it’s not unreasonable to expect this.

    If I were to say, “Religion is stupid and all religious people are mentally defective,” then I’d expect to be thoroughly trounced and I wouldn’t expect to be able to hide behind “well, it just my opinion.” If one were to say, “I don’t believe the Holocaust ever happened,” they’d better damn well provide evidence for that ‘opinion.’ Same goes for those who say, “I don’t believe in evolution and it needs to stop being taught in schools.” Et cetera. Ad nauseum. Those are opinions, but they are also assertions for which evidence that clearly refutes them abounds, just like Marysia’s assertion in this insulting article.

  • bj-survivor

    Thank you, Jodi. I had just written something similar before I saw your post.

  • crowepps

    The pro-choice movement has to be far better at pushing back and framing from the outset, and we ourselves have to be willing to call ill-informed “opinion” just that and not accept equivalency in that regard. I just think otherwise we are fooling ourselves.

    One of the things that makes this discussion particularly difficult is that in my experience too many ProLife advocates want to bring their own ‘facts’ as well. Statements like ‘abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life’ and ‘hormonal birth control causes insufficient uterine lining which makes implantation fail which is abortion’ are NOT fact, according to copious medical research easily available are demonstratively not fact, but are rejected because the person promoting these arguments hasn’t done their own research and is relying on someone else’s opinion (‘I read that Dr. So-and-so said’) or someone’s baseless assertion (‘they haven’t proven it ISN’T true’). When the people discussing an issue can’t agree to use the same set of facts, trying to reach consensus is pretty near impossible.

     

    Another problem is that too often emotional investment is argued as though it were a fact. ‘I feel really strongly that’, ‘it really upsets me when people believe’ and ‘I really care about’ are not facts. Those types of statement are the debating equivalent of ‘I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue.’

     

    The third type of argument that persistently is confused with fact is the unjustified philosophical argument, usually presented as if/then. ‘If abortion is legal then it’s okay to kill old people.’ ‘If abortion is legal then euthanasia of two year olds is okay.’ ‘If birth control is legal then all women hate children’.

     

    I won’t even get into why religious dogma isn’t fact because there’s no way you can get through to people who insist there must be universal moral standards because what they want is not rules to live by themselves but instead rules that they can use to justify their urge to punish other people.

  • paul-bradford

    Marysia,

     

    You are, without a doubt, my favorite poster/columnist at this ‘site.  Your determination to remain peaceful, joyful and loving in the face of obstacles is an inspiration to me.  I can only wish that the very young had a million more Marysias to advocate for their just treatment.  Keep up the good work, and continue to treat everyone with respect and thoughtful concern.

     

    I think it is utterly unproductive to assign people to one of two warring "camps".  As if Pro-Choicers all thought the same way.  As if Pro-Lifers all thought the same way.

     

    A great deal of what many people do in the name of ‘Pro-Life’ utterly revolts me.  I’m not just talking about the obviously ghastly stuff like violence at women’s health centers, or harassment, or intimidation.  I’m also talking about an attitude that says to women, "You made your bed, now lie in it!"  If I could get Pro-Lifers to listen to me (which only happens in my dreams) I would remind them that it’s utterly impossible to be good to the unborn unless you can figure out a way to be good to their mothers.

     

    The only way to safeguard the protection of human life is to follow the path of peace.  There is room in this world of ours for the rights of women as well as the rights of their children.  It’s a characteristic of hopelessness to imagine that somebody has to be treated shabbily.  I see such hopelessness on both sides because I know many Pro-Lifers who have all but abandoned any commitment to advance the status of women and it’s apparent to me that many Pro-Choicers are not serious about protecting the lives of the unborn. 

     

    Women who are treated well, women who have access to adequate health care, women who have a good education, women with financial security, women who have supportive relationships with men and with other women are less likely to have abortions than women who are treated poorly, or who can’t get health care, or who are denied education, or who are poor, or who are abused by men. 

     

    If you want to protect the unborn you can’t do it by taking aim against women — you have to begin by making their well-being a top concern. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

    To ask someone to find “common ground” on an “opinion” that serves to misrepresent facts which in turn are used to effectively slander a movement is not the ground on which to share any kind of commonality.

    I think it is hard to ask people not to get angry or have really deep and legitimate concerns when equivalency is used as a political tool in the substitution of facts.

    Thank you for this Jodi.
    As I see it, the problem with any ‘common ground’ effort is that, along with violence, threats and intimidation the pro-life movement’s other cottage industry is propaganda and lies. When I read that pro-choicers were encouraged to “speak up to counter the misinformation coming from the oppositon” I took it seriously. I wasn’t aware that in the ‘common ground’ section pointing out dishonesty and propaganda was ‘disrespectful’. My bad.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • paul-bradford

    ‘abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life’

     

    This is completely and utterly false!  There are occasions when abortion is a medical necessity.  In those cases it is impossible to save the life of the child — and the loss of the child, although tragic, is inevitable.  If a woman’s life can be saved it must be.  The only occasions where it is possible to protect the life of an unborn person is when the pregnancy does not threaten the mother’s life or seriously compromise her health.

     

    ‘hormonal birth control causes insufficient uterine lining which makes implantation fail which is abortion’

     

    This is baloney!  In the first place, implantation is only a possibility if there’s a conception and that would indicate that the birth control had failed.  Are you talking about situations where a woman comes off of birth control and then attempts to get pregnant?  Is there any reason to think that the hormones released during the last period would cause problems twenty-eight days later?  I have NEVER understood this concern.  If it’s even possible, which I doubt, it is so improbable that it’s foolish to worry about.

     

    ‘I feel really strongly that’, ‘it really upsets me when people believe’ and ‘I really care about’ are not facts.

     

    This, crowepps, is completely true — but I think you underestimate the importance of emotion in a discussion about these topics.  For example, the assertion that 530,000 women die every year due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth is a fact — but so what?  The fact is only interesting to people who feel ‘really strongly’ that women ought to be safe, or who are ‘really upset’ by the thought of such suffering, or who ‘really care about’ this loss of life.  Facts of themselves don’t make policy — it’s our reaction to these facts that brings meaning to them.

     

    ‘If abortion is legal then it’s okay to kill old people.’ ‘If abortion is legal then euthanasia of two year olds is okay.’ ‘If birth control is legal then all women hate children’.

     

    I’ve heard people make arguments that are this stupid and it tries my patience for two reasons: 1) the people proposing the argument do nothing to protect the unborn and 2) the people justifying abortion can get worked up about how ridiculous the comments are. 

     

    people who insist there must be universal moral standards because what they want is not rules to live by themselves but instead rules that they can use to justify their urge to punish other people.

     

    crowepps, if some people are looking for ways to indulge their ‘urge to punish people’ what happens to the rest of us who are hungry to find a basis for forming rules that will make everyone safe? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • cristina-page

    Thanks for all of your comments. My view is that it’s particularly important to look for areas of commonality. If there are pro-lifers who believe that violence against abortion providers is wrong and immoral, that’s an idea to foster and discuss since it really does deviate from a lot of the hardline rhetoric that’s out there. My view is also that Marysia was not endorsing any equivalence of these two movements as it relates to violence—but rather expressing the perceptions each side has of the other, even if the perception is wrong. I agree, there’s clearly a difference between pro-life endorsed violence and the actions of individuals who have no political affiliation or motivation — but I think Marysia’s larger point is that it is possible for people on both sides of this issue to agree that violence is no solution. I don’t hear all that many pro-life voices condemning violence against providers and also suggesting steps against violence to take together so I welcome hers (I’m sure most abortion providers out there do too.)

    The danger is to fight over one particular point, even a valid point, and short circuit the chance of larger, tangible agreements. For example, Marysia’s call for pro-lifers to pass out contraception and to further break with their hardline, most vocal leadership by calling for them to provide social services to women (this passage pasted below) is simply calling her movement accountable. I also recently wrote about how the most ideologically vehement pro-life leaders consistently oppose the very supports that assist struggling families. I’m grateful to hear Marysia speak for the moderate, but usually unheard, pro-life majority on this point. I’d be interested to hear others’ views on how we can get people to move towards a pro-women agenda, and in particular pro-life members of Congress.

    From Marysia’s piece:

    I would recommend something different for people who wish to protest abortion in any sign-holding kind of way—by no means the only way to take real action. They can stand quietly under placards that non-judgmentally offer substantive help with preventing and going through with difficult pregnancies. And they must be fully prepared to give such help at every level from the individual to the global—whether they pass out condoms; offer to personally pay a woman’s back rent or offer her an open adoption of her child; give referrals to sound programs, including ethically run pro-life pregnancy centers, that aid with basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, and health care; gather signatures in support of prenatal care coverage, birth mother’s rights, or UNFPA funding; and/or do something else. I know many pro-lifers who commit such deeds constantly, but behind the scenes. Pro-choicers who truly believe in choice also are deeply engaged in creating and offering the other choices.

  • crowepps

    This, crowepps, is completely true — but I think you underestimate the importance of emotion in a discussion about these topics. For example, the assertion that 530,000 women die every year due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth is a fact — but so what? The fact is only interesting to people who feel ‘really strongly’ that women ought to be safe, or who are ‘really upset’ by the thought of such suffering, or who ‘really care about’ this loss of life. Facts of themselves don’t make policy — it’s our reaction to these facts that brings meaning to them.

    That fact is compelling on an emotional level to the women themselves and their friends and family. It’s totally unnecessary for anyone else to be emotionally invested in caring about it. My position is that those women and their friends and family who are actually involved in the situation should have every option possible and no limits on their decisions because of the emotional reaction of those who are not involved. The emotions of strangers are totally irrelevant to the situation and unpersuasive as an argument supporting the ‘right’ of those strangers to interfere.

  • crowepps

    crowepps, if some people are looking for ways to indulge their ‘urge to punish people’ what happens to the rest of us who are hungry to find a basis for forming rules that will make everyone safe?

    You could make a good start in the right direction by protecting them from the people who use religion as an excuse for their urge to punish.

  • bj-survivor

    It is neither peaceful nor joyful nor loving to spread propaganda and lies.

  • colleen

    My view is also that Marysia was not endorsing any equivalence of these two movements as it relates to violence—but rather expressing the perceptions each side has of the other, even if the perception is wrong

    With all due respect, I’ve reread this piece 4 times and I honestly don’t see how it’s possible to hold this view. The notion of an equivalence of violence between the two movements is central and implied throughout this piece. If that wasn’t what she was attempting to imply that I think it’s safe to say that the misunderstandings were not the fault of the readers.

    Indeed when she says “In response to Pouillon’s murder, or that of Tonya Johnson, many pro-choicers feel a deep, visceral sense that this action is dissonant with their movement and their values.” she is, as far as I can tell, pretending that ‘many” pro-choicers have accepted the premise that these murders are somehow linked to the pro-choice movement. How is that sentence “expressing the perceptions each side has of the other even if that perception is wrong”?

    I also don’t believe that this is was a peripheral or minor point but is, rather, a central premise of this piece.

    Anyone who wishes to to grapple with ideas about reducing culture wars violence should at least be able to identify where said violence originates and why.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    Considering the vehement protestations of non-violence from various ProLifers, they might want to direct some of their energy towards shutting down this particular publicity stunt:

    “Abortion foe urges ‘Burn in Hell’ protest

    By ANN SANNER, Associated Press Writer Ann Sanner, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 49 mins ago
    WASHINGTON – Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is calling on people to burn effigies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this Halloween, as part of a “Burn in Hell” video contest to protest the health care legislation in Congress.

    Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, said Tuesday that the contest serves as a political and spiritual statement that “gives people a chance to peacefully vent their rage.”

    “If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid force us to pay for child killing and they die unrepentant, they will burn in hell for this,” Terry said in a telephone interview.

    But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the contest “unfortunate.”

    “I don’t think appealing to people’s anger and in effect inciting them to acts which either display or in any way project violent acts is consistent with rational discussion of very critical issues,” Hoyer told reporters.

    A YouTube video of the contest instructions shows how to print a poster of Reid and Pelosi and construct a stand for it. The clip shows a person dousing the Democratic leaders’ images with flammable liquid. The next scene shows their picture going up in flames. People are then encouraged to take pictures, record and submit online the footage of their Oct. 31 protests.

    “No, this is not a threat to their body,” an unidentified man says in the instructional video, “but it is a threat to their soul.”

    Terry insisted the contest was not a threat to Reid or Pelosi. He contended that the Democrats’ plan to overhaul health care would allow federal funding of abortion.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091027/ap_on_go_co/us_health_overhaul_burn_in_hell;_ylt=AoIajmEj8xdsDPpy9HcztWJvzwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTM1a3A1MGNqBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkxMDI3L3VzX2hlYWx0aF9vdmVyaGF1bF9idXJuX2luX2hlbGwEcG9zAzExBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDYWJvcnRpb25mb2V1

  • marysia

    colleen writes:
    –Indeed when she says “In response to Pouillon’s murder, or that of Tonya Johnson, many pro-choicers feel a deep, visceral sense that this action is dissonant with their movement and their values.” she is, as far as I can tell, pretending that ‘many” pro-choicers have accepted the premise that these murders are somehow linked to the pro-choice movement. —

    colleen, that was not *at all* my intention in making this statement. my intention was this: some prolifers have thrown these murders into prochoicers’ faces, as if these murders were somehow the agenda of the prochoice movement. i wanted, & still do want, to acknowledge the validity of prochoicers’ response that these killings are not at all what prochoicers seek.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • marysia

    I disagree that a universal ethic is necessarily a tool of authoritarian control used to punish rule-breakers.

    it can be, as a participant in the parliament of the world’s religions, i have borne witness to a very different sort of universal ethic, one that emerges organically from the hearts of the worlds’ religion & the best of its secular philosophies, & is endorsed by people from all of these groups:

    http://www.weltethos.org/dat-english/03-declaration.htm

    i have long thought that this global ethic provides an excellent framework for common ground in the abortion debate. my prolife position is based not on sectarian religion–but on these values that can be shared by people of all faiths & none. a prochoice person may also base their beliefs on these values–but we’re both encomapssed by this global ethic & so we can engage one another.

    the global ethic is proving helpful now in mobilizing people from all these backgrounds to join in action on shared concerns like the global environmental crisis.

    that is my test for bringing any belief of mine into the public sphere: is it something people of all faiths & none can & do endorse? prolife passes this test as far as i can tell. i know people of all faiths & none who are prolife.

    and by the way, i belong to a minority religion that would definitely get persecuted if “christian” theocrats have their way. my ancestors were denied religious freedom by occupation governments. i could never turn around & do that to someone else, it would desecrate their memory.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • crowepps

    There is a big difference between a ‘universal ethic’ – my favorite is ‘do unto others’ – and ‘universal moral standards’. The first is something which people voluntarily adopt – the second is something which people attempt to ENFORCE.

  • mechashiva

    I think it is highly inappropriate to lump the murders of Pouillon and Johnson together with the murder of Dr Tiller. Neither of those murders mere motivated by an ideological position on abortion whereas Dr Tiller’s murder obviously was.

    Pouillon’s killer takes no firm stand on abrotion, but rather was opposed to the style of his protests in front of minors. Johnson’s killer was motivated by an attempt to avoid responsibility and exert control over her actions. These were not “pro-choice violence” by any stretch of the imagination. I often see pro-life websites that claim to have statistics on “pro-choice violence,” and they are almost entirely made up with murders similar to Johnson’s. The men responsible for the murders are not pro-choice, and their actions were not based on any ideology. They are in direct conflict with the pro-choice position.

    As far as I can tell, there have been no murders motivated by a pro-choice ideology. So, to suggest that pro-choicers need to be more understanding and compassionate towards pro-lifers in order to prevent further violence is ridiculous. Change must come from withing the pro-life community. You must go after your own people and condemn them. You must refuse to place convicted felons in positions of power within your organizations. You must cease protests that incorporate things such as symbolic violence, stalking, and intimidation. Your leaders are responsible for escalating violent tendencies, and you are responsible for who you choose to be your leaders. You are responsible for your own movement.

    So, pro-lifers, take some responsibility. Form an organization and go toe-to-toe with Operation Rescue and all the rest of the super-conservative groups that you say do not represent the majority of people who identify as pro-life. Take away from their membership by making a grassroots effort to put forth your own (supposedly more common) ideology about reproductive issues. Work together to take down CPC’s that spread lies about abortion and contraception. Lobby for comprehensive sex education. Make contraception more readily accessible for all sexually active women (particularly those groups most likely to have abortions in the event of a pregnancy, such as teens and the poor). Increase access to pre-natal care and legitimate, non-exploitative adoption services complete with post-adoption counseling. Encourage peaceful, non-intimidating, non-violent protest to abortion that does not stoop to handing out pamphlets full of lies or treating women like they are ignorant of what pregnancy is (and actively work against inflamatory protesters outside clinics). If you are able to do this, it will prove that pro-lifers are what you say they are. Until then, talk is cheap.

  • paul-bradford

    I’m saying that the use of intimidation, bullying and violence has been an effective strategy of the ‘pro-life’ movement since the ’70’s.

     

    collleen,

     

    I find this comment a bit odd.  Do you think that ‘intimidation, bullying and violence’ has saved lives or otherwise protected the unborn?  Do you think these strategies have increased a respect for life on anyone’s part? 

     

    Maybe you’re drawing a distinction between Pro-Life and ‘pro-life’.  The movement you’re putting quotes around may be the movement dedicated to inciting violence, degrading women, curtailing communication and, in the end, causing more abortions.  I know who those people are — although I would never choose to spend time with any of them.  We’ve both read plenty of stories about people in the ‘pro-life’ movement.  Can you and I agree that people like Terry Randall and Scott Roeder are members of the ‘pro-life’ movement?

     

    What in the world can be done to stop ‘pro-lifers’?  These people dismay me for all the reasons they dismay you — plus one more reason that may not be important to you.  They make life a lot less secure for the very young! 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I just don’t see how it enhances a productive dialog to let stand the patently untrue claim that pro-choicers are guilty of an equal level of violence against pro-lifers, especially using the above two examples.

     

    BJSurvivor,

     

    I’m all for productive dialogue.  Let’s begin by finding ‘common ground’.  I think you and I can agree that it strains credulity to equate the violence, intimidation and harassment perpetrated by people calling themselves ‘pro-life’ with any misdeeds done on behalf of the reproductive rights movement.  I think you and I can also agree that neither Harlan Drake nor Terance Nelson have ever had any connection to people or organizations interested in safeguarding abortion rights for women so nothing they have ever done can possibly be counted against those who are Pro-Choice.

     

    Once you and I have agreed on those points, will you be willing to discuss my issue?   I’m talking about the fact that it really sucks for me to be concerned about a particular injustice when deranged terrorists have taken up my concern as their ’cause’.

     

    If the only ‘allies’ who were making life miserable for me were anti-abortion fanatics it would be bad enough — but I get this from another source as well because, in addition to advocating for the unborn, I’m also someone who speaks out against the injustices done to the Palestinian people.  How can I possibly make any headway with Israel’s apologists when violent Arab hate-mongers are constantly turning them into objects of sympathy?

     

    Please consider this, because I can tell you are a person of intelligence, conviction and compassion:  How can I work for justice when my ‘friends’ do the cause of justice so much harm?  How can I engage in respectful and productive dialogue when my ‘allies’ work so hard to shout down all avenues of communication? 

     

    Like Marysia, I am "vocally pro-contraception and pro-social safety supports."  I take these positions because contraception saves lives and because social supports for vulnerable women drive down the rate of abortion.  I wouldn’t care a fig about contraception if I weren’t convinced that a lack of contraception increases the incidence of unwanted pregnancy and that increased unwanted pregnancy not only puts children at risk of dying in an abortion but consigns those children who survive the abortion threat to lives that are infinitely more troubled than the lives of children who are wanted by their parents.

     

    I’m interested in dialogue.  I’m craving dialogue because I can’t see any way to protect the unborn that doesn’t involve communicating with people on the Pro-Choice side.  There’s a tremendous overlap between abortion rights’ advocates and women’s rights’ advocates — and if I didn’t already have a million reasons to support women’s rights, the fact that the only chance for the unborn relies on having mothers who are treated well would wise me up to the need to promote women’s interests. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    It is neither peaceful nor joyful nor loving to spread propaganda and lies.

     

    It’s certainly neither peaceful nor joyful nor loving to spread lies.  Propaganda, on the other hand, is needed by any movement that wants to ‘get the word out’.  Propaganda gets a bad rap, but anyone who really cares about something bigger than her/himself has to rely on it.

     

    RHReality Check wouldn’t exist unless there were Reproductive Rights advocates who wanted to spread propaganda. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    It’s ‘effective’ because it brings the contributions rolling in. There’s nothing else that motivates people quite like the feeling of vicariously participating in slut-shaming or a lynching.

    As to whether it actually ‘saves lives’, of course not, but that isn’t the point. The point is for Randall Terry to be able to afford that “$432,000 home near St. Augustine, Fla., in South Ponte Vedra Beach.”

    http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/945796/posts

  • paul-bradford

    I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one to notice the immense good in Marysia’s piece.  Her suggestions for finding a way forward are truly inspired and I commend you for giving her voice a chance to be heard. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • bj-survivor

    Not only are “these killings are not at all what prochoicers seek,” you still refuse to acknowledge that these men neither self-identify as pro-choice, nor were they in seeming collusion with extreme pro-choice factions. It is only Roeder who both self-identifies as pro-life and who was/is in seeming collusion with pro-life extremists. Additionally, as Colleen pointed out to you “outside of the local news in Ms. Johnson’s community the only ‘news’ sites carrying this story at ALL were ‘lifenews’ and ‘lifesite’ and that those two sites were the ones attempting to link the murder with the pro-choice movement.” To reiterate myself:

    If the men [you] mention as representatives of pro-choice violence actually self-identified as pro-choice or had ties to pro-choice activists/organizations who encouraged their violence, then I would have to acknowledge that ugly truth, much as I wouldn’t like it. Obviously, these actions are the furthest thing from the pro-choice ideal, but to deny their self-identification and ties I would be falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy, into intellectual dishonesty. I would feel compelled to analyze what about the pro-choice movement encourages such violence and change it, or failing that, would no longer in good conscience be able to self-identify as pro-choice.

    Bombing, assaulting, stalking, and murdering abortion clinic doctors and workers is also the furthest thing from the pro-life ideal, but these actions are nevertheless endemic amongst pro-life extremists. Unfortunately for the pro-life side, these lunatics not only self-identify as pro-life but have verifiable ties with pro-life organizations and are even visited by them and hailed as heroes by pro-life television and radio personalities and pro-life supporters all over the Internet. It also doesn’t help that pro-life websites publish aerial photos of abortion providers’ homes, their itineraries, and pictures of doctors’ faces within rifle sights. For pro-lifers to deny this is the work of pro-lifers is indeed an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy, of intellectual dishonesty. And for them to try to tar pro-choicers as having the same history and propensity to violence toward their opponents is not only intellectually dishonest [as it is completely unsupported by historical precedence and current facts], but outright insulting when they are participants in a forum that seeks to broach common ground and encourage collaborative dialog.

  • paul-bradford

    There is a big difference between a ‘universal ethic’ – my favorite is ‘do unto others’ – and ‘universal moral standards’. The first is something which people voluntarily adopt – the second is something which people attempt to ENFORCE.

     

    crowepps,

     

    It’s remarkable how well your thinking lines up with my approach to protecting the unborn.  I dismiss all strategies that are unfeasible, inappropriate or ineffective.  This rules out anything that has to be ENFORCED.

     

    I would never expect, or want, any mother to preserve the life of her child if she weren’t voluntarily appreciative of the value of that child’s life. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels.”
    —Richard Alan Nelson, A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda in the United States, 1996
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda

    I don’t have any problem with “purposeful persuasion” but the “controlled transmission of one-sided messages” is kind of 1984, don’t you think? When you actually have a good case, it isn’t necessary to slant, obfuscate or avoid the facts.

  • crowepps

    How can I work for justice when my ‘friends’ do the cause of justice so much harm? How can I engage in respectful and productive dialogue when my ‘allies’ work so hard to shout down all avenues of communication?

    Reconsider the idea that because they assert they are on ‘the same side’ that they ARE friends and allies.

    Reasonable ProLife advocates are counted in polls as ProLife and as SUPPORTERS of these violent nutjobs, and the media lumps you all together as a monolithic block that “wants Congress to do” this or that.

    I don’t know whether it’s a message problem or a media problem, but the reasonable ProLife advocates are NOT effectively communicating that they will accept contraception, sex education, etc., in order to lower the abortion rate.

  • paul-bradford

    I would feel compelled to analyze what about the pro-choice movement encourages such violence and change it, or failing that, would no longer in good conscience be able to self-identify as pro-choice.

     

    BJSurvivor,

     

    I take a Pro-Life stance even though it is obvious to me that there must be something in the "Movement" that encourages violence.  I’d love to stop the violence, and I’m continually looking for opportunities to stop the violence, but the violence continues unabated. 

     

    If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that my conscience ought to compel me to stop calling myself ‘Pro-Life’.  Where do you suppose I should channel my conviction that a terrible injustice is being done to members of our human family by the fact that the unborn are chronically faced with disrespect and discrimination?

     

    Frankly, I don’t like Pro-Lifers any more than you do.  But Pro-Lifers haven’t convinced me to be Pro-Life.  The unborn have convinced me to be Pro-Life.  They’re not going to be any safer if I deny my convictions simply because I don’t like the company I’m keeping. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    So, pro-lifers, take some responsibility. Form an organization and go toe-to-toe with Operation Rescue and all the rest of the super-conservative groups that you say do not represent the majority of people who identify as pro-life. Take away from their membership by making a grassroots effort to put forth your own (supposedly more common) ideology about reproductive issues. Work together to take down CPC’s that spread lies about abortion and contraception. Lobby for comprehensive sex education. Make contraception more readily accessible for all sexually active women (particularly those groups most likely to have abortions in the event of a pregnancy, such as teens and the poor). Increase access to pre-natal care and legitimate, non-exploitative adoption services complete with post-adoption counseling. Encourage peaceful, non-intimidating, non-violent protest to abortion that does not stoop to handing out pamphlets full of lies or treating women like they are ignorant of what pregnancy is (and actively work against inflamatory protesters outside clinics). If you are able to do this, it will prove that pro-lifers are what you say they are. Until then, talk is cheap.

     

    MechaShiva,

     

    I agree with absolutely everything you say!  What do I have to do to get you to join PLCC?  (I’m not trying to be funny).

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • jodi-jacobson

    Again we are conflating two sets of issues.

     

    There is no "propaganda" out of the prochoice movement in the same way as there is out of the anti-choice movement.  There is a basic platform of ensuring the freedom of choice and decision of all persons, equipped with accurate information and with access to health services, in the interest of supporting basic human rights and public health.

     

    The pro-choice movement is built on evidence and fact. Facts such as that real access to contraception will reduce unintended pregnancy and hence the need for abortions.  Real facts that comprehensive sexuality education improves both sexual and reproductive health and results in population-wide gains in reduced infections, unintended pregnancies, complications in pregnancy, unsafe abortion and so on.  Real facts that in places where abortions are made illegal, complications of unsafe abortion are the leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity.  These assertions are based on data and evidence and facts that are found in many, many peer-reviewed studies.

     

    Propaganda = (as someone on another current thread on RHRC states) "offering contraceptive information and supplies to people ‘promotes promiscuity." (Not true).  "Abortion causes breast cancer." (Not true).  "Adultery" is responsible for rape." (not true).  "Emergency contraception is an abortifacient" (not true).  "A zygote is a person"….this is a personal religious or theological or ideological belief, not a scientific fact and not held to be true by the majority of people.

     

    The anti-choice movement is built on personal and religious ideology which people seek to impose on others, and often against any evidence or fact.  Personal beliefs are one thing; imposition is a totally different thing.  Without propaganda, the anti-choice movement could not be where it is today.

     

    We can not equate the dissemination of scientific evidence and data collected through (largely) objective means with what is done by the anti-choice movement (the tea party people, the anti-climate change people, and so on….).  Just not the same things.

    Jodi

  • colleen

    colleen, that was not *at all* my intention in making this statement. my intention was this: some prolifers have thrown these murders into prochoicers’ faces, as if these murders were somehow the agenda of the prochoice movement. i wanted, & still do want, to acknowledge the validity of prochoicers’ response that these killings are not at all what prochoicers seek.

    You are certainly the expert on the subject of your intentions.
    Judging by what you say were your intentions I would suggest that you and Christina acknowledge that many people failed to understand what you were attempting to convey when you wrote this article and that the responsibility for what you are now claiming were extensive miscommunications does not lie with the readers and most certainly does not lie with me, however intense your personal animosities.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • paul-bradford

    It’s ‘effective’ because it brings the contributions rolling in.

     

    crowepps,

     

    You do realize how cynical you’re being, don’t you?  Your line of thinking would lead one to think that a religion is successful based on how much money it makes rather than on whether or not it’s successful in getting people to love their neighbors. 

     

    You’re a very well-read, thoughtful person.  Surely I’m not the first person to point out to you the fact that a mind that’s overly attuned to money isn’t fit to work for justice.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    It’s not necessary to deny your convictions — it’s only necessary to distinguish yourself from that company by making it clear you don’t support their counterproductive tactics and by convincing ProLife people who agree with you that donating to them, housing them, etc., makes things worse overall and instead they should direct their dollars to somewhere working non-violently.

    When the money drys up, those leading the violent protestors will evaporate all on their own. They’re not going to continue making ‘saving the unborn’ by harassing clinics their full-time job if there’s no cash in it.

  • paul-bradford

    That fact is compelling on an emotional level to the women themselves and their friends and family. It’s totally unnecessary for anyone else to be emotionally invested in caring about it.

     

    crowepps,

     

    We’re talking, here, about the abject suffering of the poor and the neglected.  Somebody’s going to have to get emotional in order for things to improve!  You can’t possibly believe that logic and reason in and of themselves are going to right the world’s wrongs. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • mechashiva

    In order to get me involved with anything related to Catholicism, you’d have to go back in time almost 20 years and catch me when I wanted to be devout. Since that is impossible… You’d have to first erase all the negative impressions I gained of religion in general, get me to believe that there is a God entity, get me to believe that God is the Abrahamic God, convince me that I want a relationship with God, and then convince me that Catholicism is the best way doing that.

     

    I can tell you now, it’s a lost cause. I’m quite comfortably agnostic (leaning towards atheism, but highly appreciative of Buddhism). Thanks for the props, though.

  • crowepps

    Just how successful HAS religion been at getting people to “love their neighbor”? How did that work out in The Crusades? In Paris on St. Bartholemew’s Day? In Northern Island? In Bosnia? In Jeruselum? How are the toddlers suspected of being witches doing in Nigeria? Funny how when something has never worked in the past, people insist that the solution is MORE of what has never and doesn’t now work.

     

    But how successful has religion been at getting those contributions rolling in by first teaching them they’re ‘damned’ and then promising them ‘salvation’? Ever seen the gold chapels of Portugal or the Golden Buddha? It’s almost embarrassing to check out the lavishness of the Vatican in times of famine. Funny how somehow the focus of religion at its most exalted is rarely on the poor but instead by holding ceremonies in front of the amassed gold gathered ‘in His honor’.

     

    There are a lot of people out there who measure out justice according to the cash stake of the participants. You’re surely aware that there aren’t too many upper-middle class white kids in jail for snorting cocaine because they get
    ‘diverted into treatment programs’ as compared to the number of poor redneck or black ghetto kids who are serving many years for the felony of having a few Oxys, a rock of crack or a baggie of grass.

     

    Surely you’re aware that fraudsters FOCUS on devout religious people because their credulous, loving nature makes it easy to take advantage of them? You surely don’t still believe that Jim and Tammy Fae were REALLY ‘called to the ministry’ instead of the trough?

     

    Frankly, after years of disappointed idealism, when somebody tells me that God has given them ‘a revelation’, the little PayPal button over at the side or down at the bottom completely negates any possible good that might be contained in their message. I have seen enough enthusiasm over ‘inspired paintings’ (voluntary contribution before viewing), self-published ‘inspired words’ (volumes 1 through 3 at $50 per) and ‘inspirational lectures’ (voluntary contributions required) to believe with PT Barnum that there’s a sucker born every minute.

  • crowepps

    We were actually talking about women whose lives were at risk because of pregnancies.  The emotionalism or sentimentality of other people is totally irrelevant to their situations or their decisions about the recommendations their doctors make to them.

     

    You can’t possibly believe that logic and reason in and of themselves are going to right the world’s wrongs.

     

    We’ve tried sentimentality, emotionalism, judgmentalism and theology for 10,000 years unsuccessfully.   Abandoning what has been proven to make things worse and instead trying logic and reason may seem extreme, but let’s give it a chance.

     

    Personally, if I had to choose between getting help from someone who really, really, really CARED and someone who was helping because logic and reason indicated it was his or her best interest to do so, I’d take the second every time.  They would be unlikely to flitter off and go really, really, really CARE about someone else if I wasn’t obsequious enough.

  • bj-survivor

    It’s only what I, personally, would do. Some would relentlessly fight to retake ownership of that title, remove it from those who pervert its ideals, and that’s great, too. Perhaps that is the the more courageous option, but I just wouldn’t want to be associated with a movement full of murderous lunatics.

  • bj-survivor

    Paul, thank you for that acknowledgment. We are miles apart in opinion regarding women’s roles and their duty to consider themselves perpetually pre-pregnant, but it is apparent to me that it has not/is not/will never be your intention to force your beliefs down women’s throats. I also appreciate that when erroneous assumptions that you have had (such as how EC works) are corrected via presentation of evidence, that you don’t continue to hold onto those false beliefs. I very much respect that.

    Now, I acknowledge that I am hotheaded and usually insulting toward pro-lifers. Now, when they say really imbecilic things and show no signs of making arguments in anything remotely resembling good faith, as GrayDuck always does, I am not at all apologetic. But I came into On Common Ground, a part of the site dedicated to respectful collaboration, and did not even try to proffer the benefit of the doubt and cordially state my reasons for being offended at the assertions and implications that Marysia made in this article. That was wrong and exceedingly assholish and I apologize for that. From now on, I will temper my language when posting in On Common Ground. I will refer to my ideological opponents by either pro-lifer(r) (without the quotes) or abortion rights opponent(s). I will continue to point out what I consider to be obfuscations, false equivalencies, distortions, and lies ON BOTH SIDES, but I will do so in a manner that is respectful and not deliberately insulting.

    Now, as to spearheading a collaborative movement that works to reduce the need for abortion, here’s how I see it (this is by no means comprehensive, just a very rudimentary start):

    (1) All that MechaShiva said.

    (2) We all agree that unfettered access to contraception, including emergency contraception, is vital.

    (3) We all agree that abstinence-only sexuality education is a proven failure. To that end, we endorse evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education for all our youth.

    (4) Work for open adoptions, for those birthmothers who want them (women who were raped may wish to have no further contact with the child they create), that are legally enforceable across all 50 states.

    (5) Work for comprehensive healthcare coverage for all.

    (6) Work for heavily subsidized, high quality preschool and daycare.

    (6) Though we differ in our ideologies regarding the morality of abortion, we recognize that some abortions are medically necessary and that outlawing abortion only drives it underground and results in increased deaths of women and fetuses. Therefore, we do not advocate outlawing abortion; rather, we seek to reduce and ideally eliminate the need for it by reducing/eliminating unintended pregnancies and enhancing social safety nets so that those women who prefer not to terminate their pregnancies will have support to continue their pregnancies and either parent or place the children they create for adoption.

    Now, I would never want to be called a pro-lifer and I’m certain that pro-lifers feel the same about being called pro-choicers. Perhaps an appropriate name for a collaborative movement could be “Pro-Prevention?”

  • paul-bradford

     

    Surely you’re aware that fraudsters FOCUS on devout religious people because their credulous, loving nature makes it easy to take advantage of them? You surely don’t still believe that Jim and Tammy Fae were REALLY ‘called to the ministry’ instead of the trough?

     

    crowepps,

     

    Surely, by now, you realize that I don’t have a book to sell you, a shrine for you to visit or an icon for you to buy.  If I say to you that I believe that the secret to a happy life is to follow the precept to love your neighbor I’ve given away the entire store of my knowledge about religion and I’ve got nothing left to offer you — either for money or for other considerations.  Maybe I have one other thing to offer, but it’s something you already have — and that’s the conviction that people who try to add something more to religion are running a scam and you ought to be wary of them.

     

    I am a fifty-five year old heterosexual white man living in a society that favors men over women, favors straight over gay, favors light-skinned people over dark-skinned, and favors people in their middle years over the young or the old.  What reason would I have to rail against injustice if I hadn’t swallowed the ‘love your neighbor’ kool-aid?

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    What reason would I have to rail against injustice if I hadn’t swallowed the ‘love your neighbor’ kool-aid?

    Making speeches about how people shouldn’t have sex without considering the ‘grim fact’ that a pregnancy might result or insisting that women should love their zygotes doesn’t sound like a demonstration of loving your neighbor to me. It has more than a tinge of self-righteousness.

  • paul-bradford

    It has more than a tinge of self-righteousness. 

    crowepps,

     

    It would certainly be a shame if any shortcomings I have in the self-righteousness department got in the way of you and I having a constructive discussion about how someone would act, or think or feel if s/he truly considered zygotes to be her/his travelling companions along life’s path.  Suppose I include zygotes in my definition of ‘neighbor’.  Would it not be loving for me to urge people to take my neighbor’s needs into consideration before making potentially life-altering decisions?  You use the word ‘grim’ — let’s pick a different word.  Can we say that contemplating the effects an unwanted pregnancy would have on a developing zbef should be ‘sobering’.

     

    I want people to exercize sober judgment when their behavior has profound effects on their neighbors.   Is there any room to plead for sobriety without being self-righteous?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Suppose I include zygotes in my definition of ‘neighbor’.

    Feel free to treat your own zygotes as your neighbor. Except, of course, that you no longer can create any.

    Would it not be loving for me to urge people to take my neighbor’s needs into consideration before making potentially life-altering decisions?

    The problem here is that you’re not talking about YOU treating the zygotes as neighbors. You’re talking about lecturing OTHER people to treat them as neighbors. The self-righteousness comes not from the idea, but from the fact that you have several times defined those who agree with you (and by implication yourself) as "more fully human", "further evolved morally", etc., while focusing your attention on a situation in which you personally will never have to take the risk. You feel really good about yourself for doing so but have selected the one ‘neighbor’ to care about who will never make any demands on you whatsoever, while pretty much ignoring the fact that the women ‘neighbors’ whom you are lecturing are the ones who have to come up with and process the 50,000 calories of the pregnancy, have to endure labor, and that it is their health and life at stake.

    You use the word ‘grim’ — let’s pick a different word.

    It was your word. If you want to abandon it, pick another.

    Can we say that contemplating the effects an unwanted pregnancy would have on a developing zbef should be ‘sobering’.

     

    I want people to exercize sober judgment when their behavior has profound effects on their neighbors. Is there any room to plead for sobriety without being self-righteous?

    I have no problem with pleading for sobriety, but it tends to ring a little hollow when the plea is coming from someone who was irresponsible when young but who now is older and can’t drink anymore.

     

    As you know I am an omnivorous reader. I am well aware of the long list of things that have been considered ‘Mom’s fault’, miscarriages and stillbirths, birth marks and birth defects, physical ailments and mental illnesses, children’s personalities and husband’s brutalities, etc., etc., all the way back to Eve ‘dooming’ humans by eating the apple. It just seems to me that your promotion of the idea that women should eagerly seek and act upon research that can tell them monthly ‘zygote created’ to be followed more than half the time with the news ‘zygote lost’ and that their proper womanly response to this process should be agonizing over ‘a lost child’ is one more in a long list of ways historically to restrict women to a focus on their reproductive organs and to set up them up with the scientifically impossible task of ‘gestating correctly’ so they can internalize another way of being labeled inadequate.

  • ahunt

    I want people to exercize sober judgment when their behavior has
    profound effects on their neighbors.   Is there any room to plead for
    sobriety without being self-righteous?

     

     Oooooh Paul…in short…no. because insisting that we all view zygotes as "neighbors" is wildly self-righteous. By all means… mourn the loss of  so many of your "neighbors," but allow the rest of us to live unencumbered by your excesses.

     

     

     

     

  • paul-bradford

    I would never want to be called a pro-lifer and I’m certain that pro-lifers feel the same about being called pro-choicers.

     

    BJSurvivor,

     

    I can’t be so choosy!  Pro-Choicers insist on calling me Pro-Life and Pro-Lifers insist on calling me Pro-Choice.  I no longer take offense either way.

     

    You’re suggestions are not only wise, but they demonstrate a willingness on your part to find some common ground.

     

    A lot of people on this ‘site don’t believe me, but I really derive no pleasure at the thought of women being constrained or miserable.  It’s actually very important to me that a woman gets to exercise choice over whether she wants a child (or whether she wants another child).  Likewise, it’s important to me that a man gets to decide whether or not he wants to be a father.

     

    I depart from the orthodox line at this ‘site because I believe that a child, once s/he’s conceived, has rights that ought to be protected.  I’ve said this many times before, but I believe that every zygote should be a wanted zygote.  The unfortunate zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus who is unwanted is likely to be treated like garbage (literally!) — and that’s what I complain about.

     

    I try to listen with both my heart and my head to everything that people say here — and I respond in the most honest way I know how.  Maybe people will eventually consider the possibility that I’m not a knuckle-dragging hater who thinks the Bible provides a perfect excuse for all kinds of dehumanizing behavior. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Feel free to treat your own zygotes as your neighbor. Except, of course, that you no longer can create any.

     

    As you know, I got a vasectomy some time ago so I’m not going to be creating any more zygotes.  Is it hard for you to understand that my vasectomy is an expression of concern for zbef’s?  I care enough about zygotes that I wouldn’t want one to be put in the position where s/he was either going to die or live with a father who wasn’t in a good position to do a superior job of raising her/him.

     

    There are, and I’ve pointed this out before, roughly 500,000 zygotes and blastocysts living in the United States right now (or at any given time).  Two weeks from now each and every one of these young people will either have succeeded in implanting and be entering into a new phase of life with its own health and safety risks or s/he will have failed and have died an unmourned death.

     

    What you think about these people matters.  If you think that their lives have intrinsic human value you will oppose the administration of drugs that are designed to eliminate their chance of success.  The more people who take that attitude, the more likely it will be that any particular woman will conclude that the use of such drugs is morally indefensible.  People don’t make their decisions in a vacuum.  

     

    A woman’s determination to treat zygotes like humans will be influenced by the ideas of the people around her.  If there are plenty of people around who claim that it’s unreasonable for her to treat a fertilized ovum with any more concern than she treats an unfertilized ovum she won’t hesitate to eliminate one of her own in the event she doesn’t want to bear her/him or raise her/him.  On the other hand, if there are plenty of people around her who understand that a zygote’s life is as respect-worthy as that of a baby’s she will treat her zygote with the same sort of care as she would treat her/him when s/he reaches infancy.

     

    I have no problem with pleading for sobriety, but it tends to ring a little hollow when the plea is coming from someone who was irresponsible when young but who now is older and can’t drink anymore.

     

    crowepps, my life is an open book.  I lost a child to abortion and I now fault my own behavior on two counts: 1) I didn’t fully consider the danger that an unwanted pregnancy has on other people and didn’t take the need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy seriously enough and 2) When it came to my attention that I had fathered a child I didn’t do everything I could to plead for her/his life.  Am I sad now about what happened then?  Yes, very much so.  Do I think my experience might prove valuable to a young man who has the opportunity to avoid walking down the road I followed?  Absolutely.

     

    The fact that I encourage young people to be responsible doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten the evidence of my own youthful irresponsibility.  I actually try to be as upfront as I can be about that.  I don’t say, "save yourself some trouble" because it makes me feel like I never got myself into trouble.  I say it because I want other people to be happy.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • marysia

    colleen wrote:

    –You are certainly the expert on the subject of your intentions.
    Judging by what you say were your intentions I would suggest that you and Christina acknowledge that many people failed to understand what you were attempting to convey when you wrote this article and that the responsibility for what you are now claiming were extensive miscommunications does not lie with the readers and most certainly does not lie with me, however intense your personal animosities–

    colleen, “intense personal animosities”? i may feel some anger, frustration, & exasperation here at specific words & actions of some folks here, including, yes, yours…but….that’s something that goes with the difficult process of common ground. or any other worthwhile endeavor.

    and everyone here is a human being who deserves respectful treatment, even if i still have a lot to learn about what it means to be respectful in this forum.

    i am trying to learn, i apologize if thus far i am not educated enough. always always i feel the immense responsibility to learn what each person here has to offer, even if it’s something uncomfortable to me. every living being is my teacher.

    i *am* disturbed that prochoicers would automatically leap to such an ill conclusion about a prolifer, even someone who advocates nonviolence & substantive alternatives to abortion for women. i do feel angry & frustrated, as if i am not being listened to, as if my good will is not being respected.

    at the same time, & this is the most important thing of all–i apologize that i was not as clear as i needed to be for you & for anyone else.

    at the time i wrote the column, the motives & political affiliations of only one of the killers were known. therefore i did not feel qualified to comment on that–only qualified to comment on the fact that all these killings were *perceived* as part of the abortion war.

    however, my own personal hunch has been that the other killers were not prochoice activists, why would they be? by temperament i do not like to state any hunches about say a legal case or a scientific question unless i have verifiable facts to back it up.

    but that was not what some readers of this column required of me. i apologize to you & to anyone else offended, for not stating this hunch in terms that were more obvious & shaped to how you all think/feel. i apologize for this deficit of empathy.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • marysia

    crowepps wrote: –There is a big difference between a ‘universal ethic’ – my favorite is ‘do unto others’ – and ‘universal moral standards’. The first is something which people voluntarily adopt – the second is something which people attempt to ENFORCE.—

    crowepps, sometimes it is necessary to challenge a particular sort of action in order to realize the golden rule, otherwise there wouldn’t be global human rights or peace or environmental movements. abortion opponents consider the fetus/unborn child someone covered by the golden rule.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • jeornom

    The anti-choice movement is built on personal and religious ideology which people seek to impose on others

     

    According to Gallup, 78% of Americans support restrictions on abortion. There is no ideological group big enough to hold that many people, other than simply “human beings with a biological instinct to protect fragile human life”.

     

    The RHRC peanut gallery blames macro anti-abortion sentiment on misogyny or a desire to control others, instead of a good faith desire to protect living fetuses from the ultimate imposition.

     

    If you want to be viewed as anything more than a propagandist yourself, your representation of anti-abortion motivation will acknowledge that, for the typical person, the concern is to prevent human lives from ending up in the biohazard bag. Period.

  • ahunt

    It just seems to me that your promotion of the idea that women should
    eagerly seek and act upon research that can tell them monthly ‘zygote
    created’ to be followed more than half the time with the news ‘zygote
    lost’ and that their proper womanly response to this process should be
    agonizing over ‘a lost child’ is one more in a long list of ways
    historically to restrict women to a focus on their reproductive organs
    and to set up them up with the scientifically impossible task of
    ‘gestating correctly’ so they can internalize another way of being
    labeled inadequate.

     

    Did you miss this, Paul? You must have…otherwise you would not (again) treat us to: if there are plenty of people around her who understand that a
    zygote’s life is as respect-worthy as that of a baby’s she will treat
    her zygote with the same sort of care as she would treat her/him when
    s/he reaches infancy.

     

    Tell us, Paul…are women to grieve the loss of the zygote as we would grieve the loss of an infant? Are women to define their lives solely in terms of their reproductive capacities, living in a state of perpetual pregnancy until menopause, and always, ALWAYS knowing that we can never, ever measure up to the medical, social and moral standards you set because it is scientifically IMPOSSIBLE?

     

    Cripes!

     

     

     

     

     

  • crowepps

    And yet human rights, peace and environmental movements that (mostly) rejected violence as a way to reach their goals and have concentrated on persuasion.

     

    Just as one example, if the fetus/unborn child is someone covered by the golden rule, it would seem to me a slam-dunk to enforce the laws against pollution where it’s been shown to have a direct corrolation to increasing miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects such an anencephaly.  Interestingly, so far most of the rhetoric I have heard about applying the ‘golden rule’ to fetuses is an effort to extend to the fetus a ‘right to life’ by transferring that right away from the woman bearing it, but not in situations where it might ‘disrupt the economy’ by being ‘bad for business’.

     

    http://www.wpi.edu/News/TechNews/010123/pollution.shtml

     

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/1216-01.htm

     

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020102075340.htm

     

    http://ipsnews.net/africa/interna.asp?idnews=24631

  • marysia

    crowepps, i don’t disagree with a thing you say here!

    concern for the unborn can never be separated out from concern for the already-born. once again, violence in the name of prolife is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong…and downright hypocritical…

    as for pollution that harms unborn as well as already born lives, well, that should be a no brainer too, & it’s one big reason why i have been deeply involved in environmental causes for a long time. there are other environmentalists/prolifers who feel exactly the same way!

    prolife carried to its logical conclusion of respect for all lives is actually quite a radical thing, in a good way, and it challenges the harms of unbridled capitalism, to be sure.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • crowepps

    If Operation Rescue wants to really save some babies, they’d make some posters with photos of anencephalic infants and go picket for a cleanup of Metales y Derivados in Tijuana.

  • jen-boulanger

    Although there is no way we are going to agree on every point in this piece, I think we need to acknowledge that some of these points that we all agree on are worth further exploration. I would certainly prefer our protesters to share Mary’s perspective as opposed to Troy Newman’s.

    So the things I found that I think any reasonable sane person (pro-choice or not) can agree with include:
    1) "No one wants to be blamed for or associated with actions they deem antithetical to their most cherished values."
    2) "We can– and must!–cooperate in the prevention of further homicides."
    3) "Nonviolence needs also to be present in our speech towards one another. Without treading on one another’s freedoms of speech and association, pro-lifers and pro-choicers need to work out a better understanding of how to express our disagreements."
    4) "Fear and disgust are not the only or even the most positive ways to appeal to people’s hearts and minds anyway, especially in a culture that is so deeply polarized and already saturated to the point of desensitization with graphic images"
    5) "hatred of women has no place on either"

    It’s a start. From the terrorism I experience on a daily basis hearing some of this is a sigh of relief. No one is asking anyone to give up their core principles or "switch sides". And we must remember that all of what we talk about affects real women.

  • jen-boulanger

    "Women who are treated well, women who have access to adequate health
    care, women who have a good education, women with financial security,
    women who have supportive relationships with men and with other women
    are less likely to have abortions than women who are treated poorly, or
    who can’t get health care, or who are denied education, or who are
    poor, or who are abused by men.

    If you want to protect the unborn you can’t do it by taking aim
    against women — you have to begin by making their well-being a top
    concern."

     

    This was beautifully stated, Paul.  Thank you.