A Wish List for the Pro-Choice Movement’s Next 10 Years


2009 ended with every writer under the sun reviewing the
past decade: the best, the worst, the bizarre. I guess we as a world are going
to ignore the fact that there was no year "0" and pretend that this means that
2010 is the beginning of a brand new decade. And who am I to buck popular will
on what is fundamentally an irrelevant question? Since this is the start of a
new decade, I’d like to take the time to look forward towards the next 10 years
in the struggle for reproductive rights and justice.

After all, the past decade was a pretty bleak one. The
pro-choice movement didn’t advance the ball down the field, and even our
defensive maneuvers didn’t work so well at times. We rounded out the decade
taking a timid position on health care reform in hopes that things wouldn’t get
worse, and unfortunately it looks like they will. But if we stop playing not to
lose and start playing to win, I suspect we might send the right wing into
retreat and actually gain ground in improving women’s lives and the sexual
health of a nation.

With that in mind, here’s my wish list of things the
pro-choice movement should set out to do in the next 10 years. And I mean set
out to do, not just pay lip service to.

Repeal the Hyde
Amendment.
The health care reform debate demonstrated that standing on the
ground we’ve already lost doesn’t do us a bit of good. Pro-choicers should have
demanded that health care reform include abortion funding for everyone covered
by the federal government who is currently cut out of the loop — including
federal employees, Medicaid recipients, and our veterans — but instead we just
asked for the status quo. The result was the Stupak-Pitts amendment and the
potential for women on private insurance to lose abortion coverage. Obviously,
timidity doesn’t work.

More importantly, the pro-choice movement needs to stand for
justice. The way that Medicaid recipients and soldiers are left financially
abandoned when seeking abortion is a travesty of justice, and it’s not enough
to simply complain about it. We need to start taking action to pressure
legislators to repeal the Hyde amendment, and create the public will to do so.

Institute
comprehensive sex education in all public schools.
Abstinence-only is a
zombie that keeps coming alive, and we keep valiantly fighting to kill it. But
getting rid of abstinence-only — with its retrograde attitudes towards gender,
homophobia, and blatant lies — is not enough. We need to demand that our kids
get real sex education that will help them make healthy choices while also
respecting their autonomy and individuality.

Address the shortage
of abortion providers.
We all know the drill: the average age of an
abortion provider in this country is soaring upwards, and many doctors who
deserve to retire and spend their days playing golf stay in the business
because there’s so many women who need abortions and so few people to provide
them. Few counties have abortion providers, and many women have to travel
hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to get one. And it’s because younger
doctors don’t want to perform abortions. They don’t have any memories of the
horrors of septic abortions (unlike many older doctors), and the harassment
they face if they join up seems like too much trouble.

The problem is complex, but not unfixable. We should lobby
for stronger protections for abortion clinic workers, so that fear doesn’t
drive would-be providers away. More importantly, we need to find a way to get
people with the right attitudes and the right skills into the business. Programs
encouraging bright, young pro-choice people into medical school to train as
ob-gyns who perform abortions is a good start. Pushing medical schools not only
to teach the procedures for abortion, but also to highlight the dangers of
self-abortion would also help. Perhaps a scholarship program for medical
students who train to be abortion providers, or a debt forgiveness program for
those doctors that provide abortion? There are endless possibilities, and we
should undertake them.

Reduce the unintended
pregnancy rate.
Bluntly put, the provider shortage is a matter of not just
too little supply but also too much demand. As a nation, we have way more
unintended pregnancies than we should, because we as a nation aren’t using
contraception as much or as effectively as we could. Luckily, this is a fight
that we are already fighting, right now by extensively researching why it is
that contraception intentions so often fail.

Getting people to a place where they can and will use
contraception more effectively when they don’t want pregnancy will be an
enormous task. A lot of it will require cultural shifts, mainly getting past
hang-ups about sex that cause people to feel that preparing is "slutty," and
moving towards a culture where having a child is seen more as an active choice
and not so much something that just happens to you. It will require a culture
where women are empowered to demand that their male partners take their health
and desires into account, where condoms are just a sign of respect and not some
emasculating bummer. But we shouldn’t fear that this is too much to take on;
the feminist movement has produced remarkable changes in a short period of time
before, and we can do it again.

Dramatically reduce
the STD transmission rate.
The same sort of cultural and economic changes
that will help lead to lower rates of unintended pregnancy will help result in
fewer STD transmissions. More openness, less shame, more backbone in the
bedroom-all of these things make it easier to use condoms every time, get
tested regularly, and get treated as soon as you exhibit symptoms, all of which
are factors in reducing the transmission rate.

These are just some ideas for a 10-year pro-choice agenda to
move the ball down the field. The comment section is open; I’m interested in
hearing what you want to see made priorities and what should be done to reach
those goals.

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  • religiousinstitute

    For a look at how sexual justice faired in faith communities in the past decade, see Rev. Debra Haffner’s Blog: http://bit.ly/RpexP

  • paul-bradford

    Amanda,

     

    It may seem as if this is too obvious to bother mentioning, but the Pro-Life movement will be around for the same ten years that the Pro-Choice movement will be attempting to fulfill its wish list.  Shall we have another decade of conflict, or will this be the point in history where we work together to achieve common goals?

     

    Allow me to consider your points:

     

    Repeal the Hyde Amendment

     

    Before we think about repealing it, maybe we should contract some unaffiliated social scientists to investigate what the actual impact of the amendment is.  I, for one, find it hard to believe that a significant number of women are carrying their babies to term simply because their health plans didn’t cover elective abortions.

     

    What ought to matter most is coverage for comprehensive women’s health concerns.  What percentage of the total OB/GYN health care bill comes from abortion services.  I’ve got to guess it’s tiny.  Arguments about the Hyde Amendment serve as a distraction from the main issue which has to do with the fact that millions of women who have no coverage at all. 

     

    The Hyde Amendment is a trifling matter.  It does nothing at all to reduce abortions and it does virtually nothing to get in the way of women’s health coverage.  Let’s stop arguing about it and start working together for comprehensive care. 

     

    Institute comprehensive sex education in all public schools.

     

    The issue isn’t whether this should happen, but how.  Reproductive Health Advocates won’t get it done all by themselves — they need a boost from Pro-Lifers.  That means we’ve got to learn to speak to each other more respectfully.

     

    Better sex education means fewer unwanted pregnancies.  Fewer unwanted pregnancies mean fewer abortions.  Why haven’t you gotten more support from Pro-Lifers.  I’ll tell you why — it’s because you don’t respect us.  I read an article of yours recently where you described Pro-Lifers as ‘sex panickers’ and ‘anti-intellectuals’.  Do you think you’re going to win political allies with that sort of rhetoric.

     

    For some reason, you want to tar all Pro-Lifers with the same brush.  Your radar is tuned to the losers who oppose abortion because they want to punish college educated women who have sex before they’re married or who choose to pursue a career after their married.  Has it ever occurred to you that most Pro-Lifers are as fed up with that set as you are.  I suggest you start looking for Pro-Lifers who are more interested in saving lives than they are in turning the clock back to Victorian days.

     

    Address the shortage of abortion providers

     

    You won’t find a solution to this particular problem by blaming young doctors for not understanding the gruesome history of illegal abortion.  Young doctors are shying away from abortion because they got into the doctoring business to promote health and to preserve life — not to subvert health and destroy life.

     

    As you yourself pointed out, the problem with abortion services isn’t with the deficit of supply, it’s with the surplus of demand.  It’s to everyone’s advantage to reduce the demand for abortion.  This certainly is an area where Pro-Lifers could cooperate with your goals.  Please stop treating us as if we were devil’s spawn.

     

    Reduce the unintended pregnancy rate.

     

    We’re only going to get this done if we explore all avenues.  Yes!  Let’s make contraception more available but let’s be realistic and take note of the fact that the more years an unmarried woman is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • dadumdumdada

    Great article. Thanks!

    Personally speaking, I believe that comprehensive sex education is key: especially abolishing abstinance-only sex education. For instance; if men were taught that using condoms extends their endurance, then they might not be as illogical regarding their use. If younger doctors were as aware of the horror stories of the past, then they might be more willing to provide abortion services, especially as they wouldn’t have as much competition.

    As far as Paul Bradford is concerned: liberals have long spouted the line that we want to make abortions safe, legal and rare. Yet everytime we introduce legislation to provide funding for contraceptions and comprehensive sex education, the right-wing always runs interference. I don’t doubt that you are sincere in wanting to make abortions rare as well, but please tell me: where is the right-wing outrage that Orin Hatch(sp?) snuck-in 150 million dollars for abstinance-only education in the health-care bill?

  • soclosetolife

    Address the shortage of abortion providers

     

    You won’t find a solution to this particular problem by blaming
    young doctors for not understanding the gruesome history of illegal
    abortion.  Young doctors are shying away from abortion because they got
    into the doctoring business to promote health and to preserve life —
    not to subvert health and destroy life.

     

    Okay you almost had me until that last line. Abortion neither subverts health nor destroys lives. I will only vouch for myself and my soon to be M.D. that most young doctors don’t want a life of lying about what they do, taking new routes to work each day, having body guards and facing death each day from what you have so generously decided is a "pro-life" movement that somehow isn’t actually part of the movement.  I am passionate about reproductive justice and health but I don’t think I can put my husband through that.

     

    Has it ever occurred to you that most Pro-Lifers are as fed up with that set as you are.

     

    No. Actions speak louder than words and there are no actions being made by the "pro-life" crowd to support a civilized conversation with any kind of intellectual vigor.

  • jayn

    "let’s be realistic and take note of the fact that the more years an
    unmarried woman is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an
    unwanted pregnancy. "

     

    Why does this only apply to unmarried women?  Any woman can have an unwanted pregnancy, and unmarried women aren’t necessarily trying to avoid becoming pregnant.

  • colleen

    Why does this only apply to unmarried women? 

     

     For much the same reason Paul only speaks of women and not men when it comes to ‘solutions’ to reducing the rate of unwanted pregnancies.

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • prochoicegoth

    I agree with this wishlist. There needs to be abortion coverage through insurance and medicaid. They cover one outcome of pregnancy, why not the other?


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • colleen

     Young doctors are shying away from abortion because they got into the
    doctoring business to promote health and to preserve life — not to
    subvert health and destroy life.

     Paul, just because you are unable to recognise or acknowledge the decades of bullying, intimidation, dishonesty and manipulation, of course, and dehumanization of both the women who seek abortions and the Doctors who provide them employed by the domestic terrorists of the ‘pro-life’ movement does not mean that such tactics don’t exist and haven’t been a successful strategy in the ‘pro-life’ movement’s ongoing attempts to damage and diminish the lives of countless women. After all, you employ some of them yourself here on an almost daily basis.

    I can see why trying to end the pervasive violence, disrespect and misogyny of the’pro-life’ movement isn’t one of your goals. 

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • amanda-marcotte

    Young doctors are shying away from abortion because they got into the
    doctoring business to promote health and to preserve life — not to
    subvert health and destroy life.

     

    This comment assumes that women do not have lives and health worthy protecting.   If you really want to be a responsible person on this issue, you need to really reconsider the way you casually disregard women’s lives and health—including their mental health and their right to full, fulfilling lives.

     

    Unfortunately for you, really, truly believing women are full human beings who have as much right as men to sexual pleasure, fulfilling lives, career ambitions, and bodily autonomy will probably move you from being so invested in fetuses, who, unlike women, don’t have a subjective experience of the world that deserves respect.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Let’s make contraception more available but let’s be realistic and
    take note of the fact that the more years an unmarried woman is
    sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy. 

     

    Your slip is showing—your anti-woman, anti-pleasure, pro-patriarchy agenda.  Do you think that marriage means an end to sex, or do you think that the marriage band somehow magically prevents contraception failure? 

     

    Oh wait.  You weren’t actually thinking.  You were casting around for a reason to pressure women to marry young, with the full knowledge that it’s easier for women to having fulfilling lives and careers if they marry a little later, when they have more of a backbone and an investment in the world.

  • rachel-roth

    Check these sources to see the negative impact of the Hyde Amendment in action:

     

    Report from GuttmacherInstitute

     

    Report from NationalNetwork of Abortion Funds

     

    And there’s lots of good information right here at RH Reality Check documenting the toll of the Hyde Amendment on low-income women.

     

     

     

  • stacey-burns

    I, for one, find it hard to believe that a significant number of women are carrying their babies to term simply because their health plans didn’t cover elective abortions…The Hyde Amendment is a trifling matter. It does nothing at all to reduce abortions and it does virtually nothing to get in the way of women’s health coverage.

    I’d say that 25% of all pregnancies among Medicaid recipients represents a fairly significant number. The aim of the Hyde Amendment has always been to reduce abortions simply by removing them from the reach of the poorest and most vulnerable women, and while you may find your beliefs challenged by the facts, there is indeed ample evidence that at least one in four women on Medicaid who wants an abortion is instead forced to carry her pregnancy to term (evidence here, here, and here.)

     

    Far from a trifling matter, abortion coverage is central to women’s health, and is hardly limited to the "OB/GYN health care bill," as Paul puts it. All primary care practitioners, from the pediatrician who sees adolescents in her practice to the ER physician who treats a woman presenting with sepsis due to a self-induced abortion, to the midwife who helps her patient manage a miscarriage safely, need to treat women who are in need of abortion care.

  • harry834

    what are you supposed to do with the idea (assuming its true) that "the more years an unmarried woman is
    sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy"?

    I don’t see any form of positive advice being generated from this, except for women to marry sooner rather than later…which points to what Amanda said. 

  • frolicnaked

    … and take note of the fact that the more years an unmarried woman is
    sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy.

    For a lot of married women too, the more years she is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy. Not every married woman/couple wants children at all. And even among those who want children, not every married woman wants (or is able) to carry every pregnancy to term. 

  • princess-rot

    Let’s make contraception more available but let’s be realistic and take note of the fact that the more years an unmarried woman is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy.

    Why the f-ing hell is this dumb attitude so pervasive? We all want a safety net from things that may be difficult, but truth is there really aren’t any. A piece of paper, a ring and a head full of fluffy romantic ideals will not protect you. As I read on Pandagon today, institutions exist for people, not the other way around. I’d like to add to that comment that "people" includes females, and that our personhood is not negotiable for a fetus.

     

  • crowepps

    I, for one, find it hard to believe that a significant number of women are carrying their babies to term simply because their health plans didn’t cover elective abortions.

    The fact that you find it "hard to believe" demonstrates that you haven’t done the necessary research, not that it isn’t the truth.

     Why haven’t you gotten more support from Pro-Lifers.  I’ll tell you why — it’s because you don’t respect us.  I read an article of yours recently where you described Pro-Lifers as ‘sex panickers’ and ‘anti-intellectuals’.  Do you think you’re going to win political allies with that sort of rhetoric.

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    For some reason, you want to tar all Pro-Lifers with the same brush. … Has it ever occurred to you that most Pro-Lifers are as fed up with that set as you are.

    Unless you include yourself among those described as ‘sex panickers’ and ‘anti-intellecturals’, both types easily found in the ProLife movement, then YOU are the one tarring all Pro-Lifers with the same brush.  Your argument is that because some Pro-Lifers are reasonable, then none of them should be criticized.  I would argue that if you believe these people are hurting the cause of those more responsible, then YOU are the ones who are responsible to prevent their doing so.

    Young doctors are shying away from abortion because they got into the doctoring business to promote health and to preserve life — not to subvert health and destroy life. … Please stop treating us as if we were devil’s spawn.

    Anyone who describes doctors who learn the technique of abortion as doing so to "subvert health and destroy life" has the whiff of devil’s spawn about them.  It’s a short step from promulgating that description to shooting them down in church.

     Let’s make contraception more available but let’s be realistic and take note of the fact that the more years an unmarried woman is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy. 

    Aside from the fact that marriage doesn’t prevent unwanted pregnancy, but rather may make it MORE likely, since married people have sex more often, let’s take note of the fact that the more years a man is sexually active, the more likely he is to generate an unwanted pregnancy.  This sort of statement makes no sense unless the context is provided by a subsequent "therefore".

    Therefore women shouldn’t have sex?

    Therefore men shouldn’t have sex?

    Therefore massive funding should be made available to research new and more reliable contraception?

    Therefore massive education efforts should be devoted to promoting correct usage of contraception?

    Therefore sterilization procedures should be provided free to all who desire them?

  • paul-bradford

    For some reason, the bottom half of my post was deleted.  Here’s the rest of what I had to say:

     

    Reduce the unintended pregnancy rate.

     

    We’re only going to get this done if we explore all avenues. Yes! Let’s make contraception more available but let’s be realistic and take note of the fact that the more years an unmarried woman is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy.

     

    If women delayed the onset of sexual activity — no! let’s say it this way:  If people delayed the onset of sexual activity, there would absolutely be fewer unintended pregnancies.  Sexual mores can change from one generation to the next.  Sex prior to marriage is common in the US in 2010.  This wasn’t true in 1946, and it’s not true in other countries.  Human behavior is heavily influenced by societal norms.

     

    When I was young, almost every TV show and movie that was available showed people smoking cigarettes.  It was considered a ‘normal’ thing for folks to do.  Now it’s very rare to see such depictions.  We’ve made a deliberate effort to discourage people from getting the idea that smoking is ‘normal’.  Now, almost every TV show and movie depicts unmarried couples having sex.  That’s considered ‘normal’.  But the definition of ‘normal’ can change.

     

    We ought to consider whether our current high rate of premarital sex is a totally good thing.  If we thought about it, we might realize that there’s a downside.  One downside has to do with unintended pregnancy.  In 1946 the pregnancy rate among unmarried women was 9.27 per 1000 unmarried women of childbearing age.  Now it’s 78.31.  Some change!  The rate is actually an improvement from 1991 when it was 92.24 (Do you think it’s any coincidence that there’s been a big push, since ’91, to lower the rates of teen pregnancy?) 

     

    Promote Contraception?  Yes!

    Combat Teen Pregnancy?  Yes!

    Encourage Abstinence? Yes!

     

     

    Dramatically reduce the STD transmission rate.

     

    You say: More openness, less shame, more backbone in the bedroom-all of these things make it easier to use condoms every time, get tested regularly, and get treated as soon as you exhibit symptoms, all of which are factors in reducing the transmission rate.

     

    I got nothing to gainsay that!

     

    Reduce the Abortion Rate

     

    You didn’t mention this one, but I will.  It’s high time that people who cared about women’s autonomy and reproductive health took note of the fact that a high abortion rate is a sign of illness, not wellness.  The countries with high abortion rates (take Nicaragua as an example — it’s rate is twice that of the US) are countries where women fare poorly.  The countries with low abortion rates (take the Netherlands as an example — it’s rate is half that of the US) are countries where women are treated very well.

     

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence.  The ONLY way to effectively lower the abortion rate is to improve conditions for women.  Education, health care, aid to poor, protection from domestic violence, guarantee of paternal support of children, contraception.  Every time you take one of these issues and make things better for women, you lower the abortion rate.  Every time you take one of these issues and make things worse for women, you raise the abortion rate.

     

    Those of us who want to lower the rate of abortion can be the best of allies of those who care about women and reproductive health.  Stop treating us as if we were raving idiots, foaming at the mouth!

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    there are no actions being made by the "pro-life" crowd to support a civilized conversation with any kind of intellectual vigor.

     

    soclosetolife, 

     

    I founded PLCC because I couldn’t find a Pro-Life group I would actually feel comfortable joining.  I set a goal, for the organization, of promoting respectful and productive dialogue.  It’s harder than it sounds!  

     

    As far as ‘intellectual vigor’ goes, you’re going to have to consider the fact that we all have to make due with the brains we have.  It would be nice, every now and then, if you all took a little break from reminding me how much smarter you are than I am. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Why does this only apply to unmarried women? Any woman can have an unwanted pregnancy, and unmarried women aren’t necessarily trying to avoid becoming pregnant.

     

    Jayn,

     

    Well, first of all, my post got cut off.  Please read the remainder of it below.

     

    Your comment is 100% accurate.  Married women can (and do!) have unwanted pregnancies and some unmarried women want to get pregnant.  Do you think those facts dispute my contention that a woman who starts having sex ten years before marriage is more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy than a woman who doesn’t start having sex until she’s married?

     

    Pop quiz:  What percentage of abortions are procured by married women, and what percentage are procured by unmarried women? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    colleen,

     

    Time and again, you have asked me to honor your decision not to engage in conversation with me, and time and again you have inserted yourself into my conversations with other people.  Let me point out to you — because, for some reason, it seems to have escaped your notice — that you aren’t playing fair.

     

    As it happens, you are 100% wrong about my beliefs with regard to male responsibility for unwanted pregnancy.  I’ve always maintained that every unwanted pregnancy is initiated by a male who failed to protect his partner.  I’ve pointed out that men themselves could end abortion by not having sex unless they had worked out a plan for child rearing with their partners.  I know you just LOVE it when I talk about myself, so I’ll share with you this personal detail: I used a condom to prevent unwanted pregnancy until I got a vasectomy.  

     

    Once more, I prove to you how right you are in pegging me as a knuckle dragging Neanderthal.  

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Paul, just because you are unable to recognise or acknowledge the decades of bullying, intimidation, dishonesty and manipulation, of course, and dehumanization of both the women who seek abortions and the Doctors who provide them employed by the domestic terrorists of the ‘pro-life’ movement does not mean that such tactics don’t exist and haven’t been a successful strategy in the ‘pro-life’ movement’s ongoing attempts to damage and diminish the lives of countless women.

     

    colleen,

     

    Let me speak in my own words instead of you putting words in my mouth:

     

    There is no, let me repeat, no doubt in my mind that Pro-Lifers regularly engage in bullying, intimidation, dishonesty, manipulation and dehumanization.  Nor is there any doubt in my mind that if you balanced the crimes of Pro-Lifers against the crimes of people on the Reproductive Rights’ side, the crimes of Pro-Lifers would be far, far heavier.

     

    I agree with you that these tactics have been successful in damaging and diminishing the lives of women; but I would like to point out that they haven’t been particularly effective at saving unborn lives.

     

    You say,  I can see why trying to end the pervasive violence, disrespect and misogyny of the ‘pro-life’ movement isn’t one of your goals. 

     

    Man, you’re good!  You say "black is white" and I pop up like a jack-in-the-box!  In actual fact, I believe that the violence, disrespect and misogyny of some Pro-Lifers is the #1 reason that the unborn are at risk.

     

    My goal, every time I post here, is to demonstrate respect, non-violence and support for the health and happiness of women.  Those are the standards I set for myself, and those are the standards I expect to be judged by. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • brian

    Paul said, "Sex prior to marriage is common in the US in 2010. This wasn’t true in 1946…" That’s just wrong. Sex before marriage is and has been common in this country for generations. Sure, the actual percentage of people having sex before marriage today is slightly higher — probably because people are marrying later. That’s not a bad thing. See http://www.publichealthreports.org/userfiles/122_1/12_PHR122-1_73-78.pdf So please. Let’s stop the hearkening back to a better, purer time that never was.

  • paul-bradford

    This comment assumes that women do not have lives and health worthy protecting.

     

    Amanda,

     

    I’ve said this before, and I’m going to keep saying it:  The attitude that caring for women requires us to throw the unborn under the bus is an example of hopelessness.  It assumes that 1) we can’t do a better job than we do of protecting women from unwanted pregnancy and 2) we can’t do a better job than we do of supporting women who are unfortunate enough to have an unwanted pregnancy.

     

    Let me tell you, Amanda, I do not have the least bit of trouble understanding how horrible it could be for a woman to become pregnant when she doesn’t want to be.  It can be horrible emotionally, socially, financially, sexually, physically.  I’m not saying that it’s not a vital concern that we all ought to be concerned about.  What I’m saying is that we all ought to put our thinking caps on and figure out a way to help women that doesn’t involve destroying a living human body.

     

    My gripe with the lot of you is that you think there’s a simple solution to a complex problem.  Abortion is the wrong solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy.  Finding effective solutions will take a lot more out of a lot more of us than simply making sure abortion is available.

     

    fetuses, unlike women, don’t have a subjective experience of the world that deserves respect.

     

    Unfortunately for you, really, your entire body of thought is predicated on the notion that a person needs to be capable of subjective experience in order to have her/his rights respected.  That notion doesn’t hold any more water than the notion that a person needs to have a penis in order to have his rights respected. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Your slip is showing—your anti-woman, anti-pleasure, pro-patriarchy agenda.

     

    Amanda,

     

    You couldn’t be more wrong about me!  I happen to have a daughter and my earnest hope for her has always been that she completes her Ph.D. studies and gets established in a scientific career before she thinks about supplying me with grandchildren.   I also earnestly hope that she doesn’t have so many children that it interferes with her ability to pursue her career.  And if she doesn’t want children that’s OK, too — I’m much more interested in seeing her make a splash in the medical world than I am in seeing her with a baby in her arms.

     

    But why do I have to make these revelations???  Why are your assumptions so utterly wrong about me?

     

    What I have to say about sex is what I have to say about life.  It’s an exercise in risk/benefit assessment.  The upside of sex is that it gives us pleasure, and affection, and creativity, and humanity, and warmth, and gratification, and a sense of oneness, and wholeness, and an opportunity to give to someone we love.  The downside is that there is some risk of unwanted pregnancy.  What to do?  What to do?  Well, you could lower the risk.  Wouldn’t it be great to eliminate it entirely.  I’ll say it would be!  Just yet, that’s out of the question.  My ‘science fiction’ solution is that we perfect surgeries for reversible vasectomies and make it our habit to turn the "spigot" off for every boy before he reaches puberty.  Then we turn it back on for him when he’s ready to be a father.  Maybe you’re fantasy is better than mine.  Sadly, we’re still in the fantasy stage.

     

    Why, why, why am I so misunderstood? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    So your solution is to encourage teenagers to delay the start of sex?  Until when age?  The average age of first marriage is 27 for men and 25 for women.  Are they supposed to delay that entire 10 or more years?

     

    The idea of censorship to remove depictions of teen/premarital sex from movies and TV seems promising, but considering that less than 25% of the population is children, and that teens are only about 22% of that group or about 5.5% of the population overall, and that apparently all that sex is very popular with older groups, what’s the motivation for the media companies to clean up their act?  Demographically, most of the country is adult and apparently wants ‘adult’ entertainment.

    http://www.census.gov/population/projections/SummaryTabB1.pdf

     

    Massive studies have shown that the biological imperative tends to kick in at about the same age in most cultures.  Sex prior to marriage may not have been common in the ’40s, but the age of first marriage was much, much younger, men at age 22 and women at 20.  Do we really want to encourage people to get married at such a young age just so they can have socially approved sex?  Are those contraceptive failures and unwanted pregnancies less of a problem just because the people are married?  Particularly when marriage at any earlier age is likely to lead to divorce and those children experiencing broken homes?

    Those of us who want to lower the rate of abortion can be the best of allies of those who care about women and reproductive health.  Stop treating us as if we were raving idiots, foaming at the mouth!

    Disagreeing with your stated positions on this forum is not the same thing as treating you as if you are a raving idiot.  If you want uncritical acceptance of your views, this isn’t the appropriate place to look for it.

     

    You’ve said yourself you had to start your own blog because you couldn’t find any ProLifers who agreed with your positions, so who is the "us" you reference?  Some Pro-Lifers ARE raving idiots, foaming at the mouth, and they use that fact to raise funds from moderates who ‘support’ their ‘sidewalk counseling’ so that they won’t have to actually work.  You have stated that you find those people’s actions counter-productive and disgusting.  Why do you include yourself in their group?

  • crowepps

    As I understand the statistics on insurance, in the majority of cases they DON’T cover the other outcome of pregnancy either.

  • crowepps

    I’m not sure ‘intellectual vigor’ is the correct term for what’s missing, but I don’t think what she was referring to by that phrase was raw intelligence, but rather a grasp of the actual facts underlying discussion.  The debate could certainly use a lot more intellectual honesty and logic.

     

    Personal feelings and personal/group spiritual beliefs cannot be the basis for a helpful dialogue about what other people are to be allowed to do legally, since those other people have an equal right to their own personal feelings and spiritual beliefs.  If the abortion controversy is ever going to be resolved, it will have to be done in part by acknowledging that each person involved has an equal right to their own opinion, even when you believe that opinion is wrong.

     

    I don’t believe there’s anybody on this site who advocates forcing women to have abortions when they don’t want them, because most of us would find such a position repulsive.  Try to understand that some of us find it equally repulsive to force women to continue a pregnancy when they don’t want to do so.

     

    You keep saying that society should be providing the means so that women can make a different choice.   I agree.  Pontificating on this board about how young people shouldn’t be having sex and women with unwanted pregnancies should be persuaded to complete those pregnancies doesn’t seem to me to advance that goal in any way.

    Those statements actually reduce possibilities that society might provide that necessary support by labeling young people as carelessly promiscuous and women as immoral, labels to which society reacts negatively and groups it is less likely to want to support.

  • princess-rot

    That’s nice, Paul. Really. Your wonderful and altruistic goals for the betterment of mankind is done largely at the expense of women. You cannot deny that. Your excrutiatingly irritating desire to try and divorce the biological processes of women’s bodies from actual women is bordering on pathological. There is no making zygotes and blastocysts into "people" without destroying the rights of women and reinforcing the status quo that we exist primarily as self-sacraficing caregivers.

    Every day, we are told in subtle and unsubtle ways that our lived experiences are not objective and if only we could just understand that, basically, we exist as a vehicle for the betterment of everyone else and if only we could elevate ourselves above our imperfect humanity everyone and everything else would evolve along with us. A lot of the time I scroll through your posts thinking; "Here is somebody windbagging about how women can metaphorically rid the world of death by sacraficing themselves to shield others."

    All of us here are heavily invested in reproductive rights and feminism because we know the sad truth that female humans are not understood to be full human beings in the same irrevocable way that men are. If we were there would be no need for us to be having this discussion. Pray tell, what is that you think makes you qualified to tell women what we need? You think you are here to help us, as if we are ignorant children who have not thought this through, don’t know how to be objective, don’t know how to think critically. We do not need you to play devil’s advocate.

  • harry834

    and didn’t want ot listen to anything you said to pursuade her otherwise, would you support her in getting the abortion? What if she didn’t have the money?

  • prochoicegoth

    Insurance companeis should cover BOTH prenatal/antenatal care and abortions. I’ve heard of insurance companies covering viagara and other things men need. They should cover what a woman needs as well, whether it be prenatal care or an abortion. 

     

    It’s pro-choice or NO choice.

  • harry834

    My understanding is (correct me if I’m wrong) is that being "pro-life" means wanting other people to be stopped from having abortions or denying them support when they do seek abortions. This is different than what many other define pro-life: some people think they are prolife because they would never abort their own pregnancy, but these people would never want other woman to be blocked from getting an abortion, either by money or by law. Guess what? These "pro-lifers" are really pro-choice? The definition of pro-choice is that you believe each woman facing an unplanned pregancy ought to decide for herself and be supported in her decision.

    Paul, I know (correct me) that you don’t want pregnant women to get public funding if they chose abortion, but you would want them to get public funds if they chose to continue their pregnancy. 

    It also seems that you are reluctant to accept that a woman would want to get abortion even if she was provided with all the things a pregnant woman would be provided with. And we all agree to that maternal support. 

    Where we disagree is that you advocate for the support to be taken away if she chooses abortion, and I think that’s what is getting everyone upset.

  • frolicnaked

    My gripe with the lot of you is that you think there’s a simple
    solution to a complex problem.  Abortion is the wrong solution to the
    problem of unwanted pregnancy.  Finding effective solutions will take a
    lot more out of a lot more of us than simply making sure abortion is
    available.

    And Paul, my concern is that you’re willfully ignoring a lot of what you read here. Where does anyone in the article or in the comments to it suggest that abortion is either necessarily simple or the entire solution to issues of reproductive justice?

    In the article, Amanda already discussed more comprehensive sex education and increasing the effective use of contraception, which includes both making it more accessible/affordable and creating a cultural climate where contraception and safer sex practices are a sign of empowerment. (And, not insignificantly, where a woman’s active and willing consent — or withholding/withdrawal of it — is more often and more fully respected.) That’s huge. Fully implemented, it may well be far more effective than abortion. But it’s inherently a huge investment of time and resources, since it involves changing people’s attitudes.

     

    And, when all is said and done, it’s not enough to be a complete solution in itself. There is no surefire way to avoid unwanted pregnancy, and some people dealing with pregnancy will continue to choose abortion as the right solution for them. Because of that, it needs to remain part of a comprehensive discussion of reproductive rights issues. 

  • harry834

    The ProChoice Goth is right :)

  • colleen

    Time and again, you have asked me to honor your decision not to engage
    in conversation with me,

     

    For the 2nd time I ask: where did I say I had made the decision to not engage you in conversation?

    I’ve always maintained that every unwanted pregnancy is initiated by a male who failed to protect his partner.

    You seldom maintain this and when you do it’s because someone has called you on your bullshit blind spots. Note that your ‘pro-life’ wish list says NOTHING about male responsibility and nothing at all about altering the overt and conscious strategies of bullying, intimidation, violence, dishonesty and overt domestic terrorism which have been the purview of the ‘pro-life’ movement for decades.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • amanda-marcotte

    As hating life itself……

     

    Pro-woman=anti-life?  I fail to see how that assumption on your behalf doesn’t betray the fundamentally anti-woman views beneath your concern for fetal life.  Your hostility to women whose sexual behavior you don’t approve of betrays your motivations, even if you stake out the "reasonable" ground.  I have really yet to meet someone whose hostility to abortion wasn’t basically a cover for their hostility to women whose sexual behavior isn’t controlled by the patriarchy.  That you feel female sexuality should be legal doesn’t change that you find it disturbing.

  • colleen

    My gripe with the lot of you is that you think there’s a simple
    solution to a complex problem.  Abortion is the wrong solution to the
    problem of unwanted pregnancy.  Finding effective solutions will take a
    lot more out of a lot more of us than simply making sure abortion is
    available.

     

    This paragraph illustrates one of my conclusions about your participation here which is that you do not listen to or think about what  others have to say at all and particularly not if you dislike what others have to say.

    The notion that anyone here views the problem of unwanted pregnancies as a problem with a simple solution complete with the implication that you alone comprehend the complexity of the problem is so grandiose and so at odds with the reality of this blog that it’s impossible to come to any otrher conclusion then the notion that you are incapable of listening to the women who post here.

     

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • colleen

     

     

     

    Let me speak in my own words instead of you putting words in my mouth:

     

     

    Oh, please. I put your statement about the imagined reasons for a shortage of abortion providers in blockquotes.I believed you would be able to connect the dots. Clearly you were not.

    The main reason there is a shortage of abortion providers is because the ‘pro-life’ movement  is engaged in a multi-decades long strategy of bullying, intimidation, reflexive dishonesty, political machination  and domestic terrorism directed towards the persons of abortion providers and towards those who train abortion providers.

     

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    Why, why, why am I so misunderstood? 

    You might want to spend a little contemplating the idea that perhaps the people here, who have nothing available by which to evaluate you but your own words and stated positions, see something there of which you are not aware or which you are not willing to acknowledge, and that YOU are the one who isn’t seeing himself or the contradictions in your own positions clearly.

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    Since my complaint is that I’m being misunderstood, I really ought to make sure I’m understanding you before getting any more worked up than I am.

     

    The debate could certainly use a lot more intellectual honesty and logic.

     

    The thing that comes to my mind when I think ‘intellectual honesty’ is a willingness to disclose to others the conclusions that your own mind gives you.  For example, if someone were to express a desire to see abortion criminalized, and it were pointed out to him that criminalization does little or nothing to reduce abortions, anyone with reasonable intelligence could figure out that a desire to protect the unborn wouldn’t lead someone to want to criminalize abortion and that, in fact, a person who wants to criminalize abortion must obviously have some other agenda than protecting the unborn.

     

    That’s logic.  That’s irrefutable logic.  If someone says that his reason for wanting to criminalize abortion is that he wants to protect the unborn it wouldn’t be a lack of intelligence that caused him to make that claim, it would be a lack of intellectual honesty.  Have I got you right?  I ask because I myself get so frustrated with fellow Catholics who vote Republican with the excuse that the Republicans promise to work to criminalize abortion.  I know these Catholics aren’t idiots, and I’m sure they can figure out that criminalizing abortion won’t do anything to make life better for the unborn, so I can’t help but think that they’re being intellectually dishonest (maybe they’re just stupid, but I can’t see how they could be that stupid!).

     

    Is that what you’re talking about when you use a phrase like ‘intellectual honesty’? 

     

    Personal feelings and personal/group spiritual beliefs cannot be the basis for a helpful dialogue about what other people are to be allowed to do legally, since those other people have an equal right to their own personal feelings and spiritual beliefs.

     

    I wish I understood better than I do where you draw the line between ‘personal spiritual beliefs’ and ‘morality’.

     

    Please allow me to give this example.  Say Person A states, "I believe in the Bible.  I believe in the Ten Commandments.  I believe that God said, ‘Thou shalt not steal’".  Person B, on the other hand, says, "I believe in religious liberty, and my belief is that the Bible is not the word of God.  Therefore I don’t think I should be punished when I take other people’s things."

     

    I really, truly, am not playing games with you.  I fully respect a person’s right to dispute what s/he reads in the Bible, but — this is my thought — it would be intellectually dishonest for someone to deny that there are some things in the Bible that everyone needs to believe.  Everyone needs to believe that it’s wrong to steal.  We can get by with some people agreeing to ‘keep holy the Sabbath’ while other people ignore that stipulation; but we can’t get by if there’s a dispute over whether or not we’re allowed to take other people’s stuff.

     

    Please, please, please explain to me how you work this out for yourself.  I say that religious liberty ought to free us to reject certain religious tenets, but there are some "religious" tenets that we can’t reject.  Do you agree with me? 

     

    I don’t believe there’s anybody on this site who advocates forcing women to have abortions when they don’t want them, because most of us would find such a position repulsive.

     

    crowepps, do you believe me when I tell you that I would never in my wildest dreams think anybody on this ‘site is advocating the idea of forcing women to have abortions when they don’t want them.  You say, "most of us would find such a position repulsive".  I say, "all of us would find such a position repulsive."

     

    My question is this:  "Are you being intellectually honest with me?  That is, when you wrote that did you honestly think that you needed to tell me something that obvious?"  If you asked me what time it was and I showed you my watch and said, "The big hand tells the minutes and the little hand tells the hours", you would rightly feel insulted.  My decision to tell you something that everyone knows without having it explained is almost the same as saying "You’re an idiot!"

     

    Were you doing that to me when you put that comment in your post?

     

    Try to understand that some of us find it equally repulsive to force women to continue a pregnancy when they don’t want to do so.

     

    This is where I get twisted into a knot because it seems to me that you’re playing mind games.  I don’t have to "try to understand" that it’s repulsive to force women to continue a pregnancy.  I myself find this repulsive!

     

    I must have said a thousand times that if you want to end abortion you can’t force a solution by attacking the symptom of the problem, which is a woman terminating her pregnancy — you have to address the cause of the problem, which is whatever is going on in the woman’s life and in the society that makes it impossible for her to continue the pregnancy.

     

    You’re welcome to disagree with me if you like, but I get very, very frustrated when you insist on disagreeing with something I don’t even believe.  My belief is that in order for a pregnancy to continue it needs social support — from the family, from the community, from the society, from something.  My belief is that abortions happen when social supports collapse.  My belief is ALSO that social support means support both the mother and the child.

     

    I want you to tell me how you get from what I believe to the idea of "forcing" a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn’t want.  I really, really, really, can’t follow your train of thought.

     

    Pontificating on this board about how young people shouldn’t be having sex and women with unwanted pregnancies should be persuaded to complete those pregnancies doesn’t seem to me to advance that goal in any way.

     

    This is where I get worked up and see red and lose the use of the tiny amount of intelligence that God gave me.  When you use the word "pontificating" you press my buttons.  In my book it’s an insult to my Church and to my sense of humility.  It’s as if you’re saying, "Paul’s so full of himself that he thinks he’s the pope and, by the way, the pope is a jerk."

     

    By the way, I don’t say that ‘young people shouldn’t have sex’ I say that if you’re interested in preventing teen pregnancy you need to put the idea of encouraging abstinence into your arsenal.  Actually, I don’t think you have to actually encourage abstinence.  It would be enough if we simply STOPPED encouraging sex.

     

    Kids have hormones that rage out of control.  Guess what?  Kids today are made up of the same stuff that kids have always been made up of.  In some social settings, a high percentage of teenagers have sex — in other social setting the percentage is lower.  It isn’t entirely "up to the kids".  The society sets standards.  You and me and the other old farts are the ones who should be thinking about what sort of standards would be in the best interest of the society in the long term.

     

    Look, I’m going to stop here and pray that you take the time to answer my questions with some sympathy for my short fuse.  I was thinking, just this morning, that I really, really appreciate this ‘site and the opportunity I have to engage on this topic with people who are smart and earnest.  I never doubt that the people here care about reproductive health and about the well being of women.  Those are thing I care about as well so I have to tip my hat to all of you.

     

    Bye for now. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Just so you know, Paul, and semi-off topic…you were acquitted of harboring malice and ill-will towards women awhile ago.

     

    On topic:

     

    The problem is that you think of women as possessing some sort of hive mind…that is…all women will respond as you think they SHOULD respond if society just did X,Y and Z.

     

    This is where intellectual honesty comes in…you appear to be unable to wrap your mind around the concept that no matter what social supports are available, women will WANT and CHOOSE abortion because they do not wish to be pregnant, or give birth, or become mothers…at THAT particular point in  their lives. Pretty simple.

     

    it would be intellectually dishonest for someone to deny that there are
    some things in the Bible that everyone needs to believe.  

     

    Oh c’mon, Paul…we’ve all heard it: "One does not get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible one believes." It is a standard line for challenging the "luke-warm" and it is as annoying as all get out. Permit me to point out that there are some things in the texts of all the major religions that are good and right and rational. The devil is in the picking and choosing…and you’ve been around long enough to witness the "all or nothing" guilt trips.

     

  • paul-bradford

    Just so you know, Paul, and semi-off topic…you were acquitted of harboring malice and ill-will towards women awhile ago.

     

    You know, ahunt, that’s nice to hear.  I mean, really, really, really nice to hear.  I do, in fact, care about women.  I care about women who are pregnant, I care about women who want to avoid getting pregnant and I particularly care about women who become mothers without wanting to.  I also care about their children.  So, I thank you very much for your ‘off topic’ comment.

     

    you appear to be unable to wrap your mind around the concept that no matter what social supports are available, women will WANT and CHOOSE abortion because they do not wish to be pregnant, or give birth, or become mothers…at THAT particular point in their lives.

     

    I’d like to know how you respond to this comment: If our society did a better job of supporting mothers and their unborn children there would be fewer abortions.  How about this comment?  Not all women will respond to improved social supports the same way — some will be inclined to bring their pregnancies to term, others will be unaffected by the supports and choose to abort anyway.

     

    You say, "Women will WANT and CHOOSE to have abortion".  I look at this in a little different way than you do.  I think that women want reproductive choice (so do men for that matter).  When a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant and, in fact, doesn’t get pregnant she has reproductive choice.  On the other hand, when a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant but unfortunately does get pregnant and responds to that pregnancy by ending the life of her child she isn’t enjoying reproductive choice.  She didn’t get her choice, which was to avoid pregnancy.  What she got was an abortion which isn’t really what she chose.  The abortion was, for her, an attempt to make the best out of the bad situation of not getting her choice. 

     

    Pretty simple.

     

    Let me share with you one of my favorite sayings, "For every complex problem there’s a simple solution.  And it’s wrong."  The problem of giving women reproductive choice is extremely complex, so is the problem of protecting the unborn.  If you’re someone like me and you won’t be satisfied unless women have reproductive choice AND the unborn are protected you’re looking at a very complex problem.  Simple answers just won’t cut it.

     

    From my Pro-Life Catholic for Choice perspective, both sides seem to me to be looking for a simple solution.  Pro-Choice folks say, "Pregnancy decisions are a woman’s private health business.  For somebody to insert himself into these private matters is a severe violation of her personal boundaries."  That’s a very simple way of looking at things and it gives one the illusion of solving all the problems.  "Pregnant women can do as they like.  I don’t care."  That’s not only simple, it’s easy.  Nothing is required of anyone but the woman who is pregnant — the rest of us are off the hook, the rest of us don’t have to care.  

     

    Once you adopt that view you’re tempted to overlook the fact that it leaves a few inconvenient loose ends.  For one thing, pregnant women are particularly needful of care.  For another, people who are preparing to be born are left very much at risk.  The view leaves people free to ‘not care’ about pregnant mothers and to ‘not care’ about their children.

     

    Pro-Life people are also seduced by simple solutions.  "Just make abortion illegal."  Trouble is, criminalization has never been shown to reduce abortions.  It wouldn’t be effective.  Not only that, it’s politically unfeasible.  There simply isn’t enough muscle on the Pro-Life side to overturn Roe or to pass restrictive legislation.  As if that weren’t enough, it’s entirely inappropriate to take a coercive approach to women.  That approach worked in the ‘good old days’, but it won’t work now.  Our society is far too invested in the ideals of female equality, female autonomy and female dignity.  Going back to the caveman days is not an option. 

     

    Oh c’mon, Paul…we’ve all heard it: "One does not get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible one believes." It is a standard line for challenging the "luke-warm" and it is as annoying as all get out.

     

    Damn right it’s annoying as all get out!  When someone who wants to develop a satisfying spiritual life asks me for my advice I say, "Avoid literalism like it was cancer."

     

    But there’s an ‘annoying as all get out’ attitude on the other side.  Some people reject everything that’s in the Bible.  If it’s in the Bible, that’s reason enough not to believe it.  For my money, that’s just as simplistic and dangerous an idea as the idea of accepting everything that’s in the Bible on face value.

     

    I certainly don’t believe that my way of answering the ‘big questions’ is the right way for everyone.  I do, however, believe that human beings have an obligation to uphold each other’s rights and to develop some concern for each other’s well-being.  That’s certainly a ‘Catholic’ idea, but I think it’s an idea that non-Catholics need to adopt as well. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    You seldom maintain this and when you do it’s because someone has called you on your bullshit blind spots. Note that your ‘pro-life’ wish list says NOTHING about male responsibility and nothing at all about altering the overt and conscious strategies of bullying, intimidation, violence, dishonesty and overt domestic terrorism which have been the purview of the ‘pro-life’ movement for decades.

     

    You know, colleen, I was thinking about you two hours ago when I was sweeping my back steps.  I was thinking about the fact that you keep pointing out to me that "It’s not what you say, it’s what you don’t say."  The fact of the matter is that I utterly loathe the "overt and conscious strategies of bullying, intimidation, violence, dishonesty and overt domestic terrorism"  

     

    I hate these things for all the reasons that you hate them but I hate them for two more reasons besides: 1) These tactics put the unborn at more risk than ever.  Pro-Lifers don’t have the political clout to get what they want.  (They only have enough clout to help out Republican office seekers who are much more interested in lining the pockets of the rich and raping the environment than they are in protecting the unborn.)  Pro-Lifers need to be building bridges to mainstream America.  Burning bridges is stupid.  2) Virtually all the women in my set are Pro-Choice.  Pro-Life antics have given these women a virtually unshakeable idea that to be Pro-Life is to be a pervert and a sociopath.  This makes it very hard for me to ‘come out’ about the fact that I think it’s a noble thing to work for the well-being of the very young.  I ‘hold my tongue’ more than I should.  After all, I’m too addicted to the high esteem women hold me in to run the risk of having them think I’m a creep.

     

    You play an important role in my life, colleen, because I take the risk of saying things to you that I don’t dare say to women I have significant relationships with.  I may be thick as a brick but I actually am learning things from you.  I’m slow and stubborn — but I’m persistent.   

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Paul, let me deal with this issue first and separately.

    "before getting any more worked up than I am"

    "I get twisted into a knot"

    "I get very, very frustrated"

    "This is where I get worked up and see red and lose the use of the tiny amount of intelligence that God gave me."

    "you press my buttons"

    "sympathy for my short fuse"

    I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever for your or anyone else’s emotionalism.   Certainly someone who advocates sexual self-control to prevent abortion ought to recognize that in discussing a controversial subject, an equivalent emotional self-control is necessary.  Your reactions to what you read are internally generated and arise from your own history and are your own responsibility.  It is unreasonable of you to keep reporting the state of your emotional barometer because, to me at least, it comes across as your attempting to put the responsibility on other people to tippytoe around trying to avoid your ‘buttons’.

     

    This is the internet.  We are discussing a controversial subject.  We are doing posts with inevitable time-delays between them as the rest of our lives allow us time to squeeze them in.  When I read a post and become enraged, I walk away and delay my reply until I can reread it while remaining calm.  Then I often don’t bother to reply at all.

     

    You and I and the other posters don’t have a ‘personal’ relationship.  We relate only through words on a page.  If our words are inartful, the worst that should happen is that we don’t get our point across.  Taking something as trivial as the use of the word ‘pontificate’ so incredibly personally and reading such a huge amount into it is, frankly, investing a lot more in this forum than one should.

     

    Have to go – won’t be able to reply to the rest until Monday – actually taking ENTIRE weekend off!!  To clean and sew and read, but still, NO computer!!

  • soclosetolife

    "My gripe with the lot of you is that you think there’s a simple
    solution to a complex problem.  Abortion is the wrong solution to the
    problem of unwanted pregnancy."

     

    Paul,

    Perhaps we are not all being honest here. You say you support choice in the matter of reproductive justice. However as you have clearly demonstrated above you refuse to acknowledge that for someone abortion can be the right choice. Please be honest about your own views (consistently). 

     

    And to Crowepps,

     

    Thank you for supporting my "intellectual vigor" remark. I did in fact mean discussion with intellectual honesty. I do dislike it when the "haughty liberal" card is played, as Paul was happy to do in his reply. Thank  you for being the voice of reason and asserting that intellectual honesty does not hinge on IQ points.

  • paul-bradford

    It is unreasonable of you to keep reporting the state of your emotional barometer because, to me at least, it comes across as your attempting to put the responsibility on other people to tippytoe around trying to avoid your ‘buttons’.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Yeah.  I’m sorry that I gave you the idea that I wanted you, or anyone else, to ‘tippytoe’.  Instead of getting mad that you used the word ‘pontificate’ I should have asked you why you used that particular word when it would have been just as easy for you to write something like ‘express your opinion’.  Asking you a simple question would have been a lot smarter than doing what I actually did, which was to assume that you were engaging in name-calling.

     

    If our words are inartful, the worst that should happen is that we don’t get our point across.

     

    Well, the point I was trying to get across is that there is a lot of common ground between people who want to expand reproductive health and reproductive choice on the one hand and people who want to improve the safety of the unborn on the other.  The point I was trying to make is that I wanted the next decade to be marked by more ‘partnering’ between advocates of the very young and advocates of reproductive choice.

     

    You may not be willing to believe this, but I consider you a pretty good poster and not at all inartful.  I wonder if you would consider reviewing some of what I wrote on this thread and suggest ways I could have gotten my points across more ‘artfully’.

     

    Enjoy your weekend! 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    And, not insignificantly, where a woman’s active and willing consent — or withholding/withdrawal of it — is more often and more fully respected.

     

    I wonder if you’ve ever considered the thought that an effort to support women in asserting themselves to express whether or not they are willing, combined with an effort to encourage men to be more respectful of a woman’s choice in this area would simultaneously advance the causes of reproductive choice and safety for the unborn. 

     

    From your post you gave me the idea that you agreed with me that solutions are complex.  Is that right?  Do you think that one tiny piece of the complex solution would be to help young women and girls hold their own in sexual negotiations?  It seems to me that people who support a woman’s choice over whether or not she becomes a mother would also support a woman’s (and a man’s) choice over whether or not s/he wanted to engage in sexual behavior.

     

    Do you agree with me that women would actually have fewer abortions if they restricted their sexual behavior to times when they were truly willing?  Do you agree with me that ‘comprehensive sex education’ ought to include helping young people to know what they actually feel comfortable with and expressing this in an accurate and respectful way? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    The notion that anyone here views the problem of unwanted pregnancies as a problem with a simple solution complete with the implication that you alone comprehend the complexity of the problem is so grandiose and so at odds with the reality of this blog that it’s impossible to come to any otrher conclusion then the notion that you are incapable of listening to the women who post here.

     

    colleen,

     

    Do you suppose I would be assuming too much if I suggested that you and I agree that more avenues need to be explored with regard to helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy?  Would I be assuming too much if I thought that you and I don’t disagree about EVERYTHING?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    However as you have clearly demonstrated above you refuse to acknowledge that for someone abortion can be the right choice.

     

    soclosetolife,

     

    I’m sorry.  I obviously didn’t make myself clear.  I operate under the assumption that no woman chooses to have an abortion, that the ‘choice’ she wants to assert is the choice not to have a child.  I consider this a very important distinction.  When I say "I support choice" I mean that I support the idea of empowering people to choose whether or not they want to become parents.  Do you agree with me that when a woman doesn’t want to have a child it’s a lot better for her not to become a mother at all than it would be for her to be a mother for four, or six, or eight weeks and then get an abortion? 

     

    I do dislike it when the "haughty liberal" card is played, as Paul was happy to do in his reply.

     

    When I read this comment I felt bad because I don’t know what you mean when you say "haughty liberal".  I’m sorry you dislike it and I promise I won’t do it again if you explain what it is.  I dislike it when people use expressions I don’t understand when they talk about me. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Princess Rot,

     

    I mean this sincerely.  When I said "the more years an unmarried woman is sexually active, the more likely she is to have an unwanted pregnancy" I didn’t think about the idea of women marrying sooner.  The only idea that came to my mind was the idea of women starting to have sex later.

     

    So, I’m sorry you got the wrong idea.  The evidence I used to come to my conclusion is the fact that sexually active, unmarried women account for 80% of the abortions in this country.  Do you agree with me that the number one area to look at if you’re interested in reducing unwanted pregnancy is with sexually active, unmarried women?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • prochoicegoth

    That’s what I seem to get from your posts. You think sex is ONLY to be enjoyed by married couples with the intent of procreation. You live in a fantasty world if you think that’s how it should be. Sex is a fun thing, a pleasurable thing. It’s a thing NOT to be shamed. The ONLY way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is to work on BETTER birth control that is more available and affordable. BETTER sex ed in schools that educate students on safe sex. It should not matter whether or not a woman is married. She has the right to have non-procreative sex and she has the right to abort a pregnancy she does not want. 

     

    Come out from under your rock. 

     


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • paul-bradford

    You characterized people who help women……As hating life itself

     

    I’ve got to tell you, Amanda, I can’t follow you at all.  I’m not saying I disagree with you, I’m saying I don’t even understand what you said!  When you say "people who help women" who are you referring to?  When you say "hating life itself" what sort of behavior are you talking about.

     

    I would consider it a help to women to empower women to be able to choose not to become mothers when they don’t want to.  I would consider "people who help women" to be people who equip women with the power to avoid pregnancy when they don’t want to have a child.  For that matter, I would consider people who help men avoid becoming fathers when they don’t want children to be "people who help men".

     

    Where is the "hating life itself" part?  One part of life is to give life to another — but there’s a whole lot more to life than that.  My intention, in the post I made before your response, was to share with you my joy and enthusiasm for aspects of my daughter’s life that don’t involve her becoming a mother — aspects which, in fact, would be probably have to be put on hold if she DID become a mother.  I really, truly, honestly can not understand how you got from what I said to what you said. 

     

    I spend a lot of time trying to look for policies which would simultaneously lower the abortion rate and improve reproductive choice and reproductive health.  My assumption is that you care a great deal about helping people, particularly women, achieve reproductive choice and reproductive health.  My other assumption is that lowering the abortion rate doesn’t concern or interest you very much.  Tell me if I am right in my assumptions.  I wonder if you would support a policy that lowers the abortion rate if, simultaneously, it improved a woman’s capability to exercise reproductive choice when she doesn’t want to become a mother?

     

    Your hostility to women whose sexual behavior you don’t approve of betrays your motivations

     

    Would you be so kind as to point to something I have said that tells you what female sexual behavior I disapprove of?  I don’t know that I’ve ever shared that.  Let me consider it….

     

    If a woman who was quite certain that she didn’t want children were to consider having unprotected sex, during her fertile time, with a man she didn’t know, or whom she knew to be the type of man who wouldn’t make a good father, I would consider her opportunity to have a big downside.  The downside is that she would be running a high risk of becoming the unhappy mother of a child with great disadvantages.  On the other hand, she might value the ‘upside’ of such an encounter.  She would be facing a risk/benefit trade-off. 

     

    Someone who helped her lower the risk, or improve the benefit, or make a good assessment of the risk/benefit trade-off would be among the "people who help women".  I can’t say whether I’d "disapprove of her behavior" but I approve of the idea of someone helping her. 

     

     

    I have really yet to meet someone whose hostility to abortion wasn’t basically a cover for their hostility to women whose sexual behavior isn’t controlled by the patriarchy.

     

    Is a desire to see the abortion rate decline the same as having "hostility to abortion"?  My desire to see the abortion rate decline is rooted in my belief that the lives of young people are valuable and worth protecting.  I’d like the rate of spontaneous abortion to decline as much as I’d like the rate of procured abortion to decline.  A child who dies as a result of a spontaneous abortion is just as dead as one who dies as a result of a procured abortion.

     

    I would support a development that simultaneously lowered the abortion rate and improved a woman’s capacity to have satisfying sex.  Would you?

     

    My own belief is that a woman’s sexual behavior should be controlled by her desire for happiness.  The "patriarchy" is probably not the best vehicle for achieving that desire. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    ProChoiceGoth,

     

    I’m truly sorry if you got the idea that I hate sex.  Do you think my concern that people ought to try and lower the risks associated with sex is the same thing as hating sex?  If sex results in a child coming into the world whose parents aren’t ready, willing and able to do a good job of raising her/him I would consider that a pretty bad thing — bad enough so that I’d have a hard time believing that the sex was so good it was worth the trade-off.  If sex results in contracting an STI that’s also a pretty bad thing.

     

    I don’t hate the upside of sex.  I "hate" the downside.  I’m all for coming up with strategies that lower the risks of the downside. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    My understanding is (correct me if I’m wrong) is that being "pro-life" means wanting other people to be stopped from having abortions or denying them support when they do seek abortions.

     

    Harry,

     

    Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that you’re wanting to talk about the fact that Pro-Lifers are concerned about the well being of unborn children who aren’t their own unborn children.  Is that right?  

     

    I don’t believe that the only, or even the best way of protecting unborn children is to try to get in between a determined woman and an abortion.  If a woman isn’t "stopped" by the awareness of her own moral responsibility to her child I really think the child is all but doomed.  Women have a moral responsibility to their unborn children, so do their partners, so does the society.  I rarely have the opportunity to support a mother’s acknowledgment of her responsibility — but I am a citizen and I can support the society’s acknowledgment of its responsibility. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Well, don’t get too excited, Paul. While I’m convinced that you sincerely do not wish harm to women, I have no doubt that your determination to accord the BZEF greater rights than women would result in profound and permanent damage to half the people on this planet, no matter what social supports are available.

     

     On the other hand, when a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant but
    unfortunately does get pregnant and responds to that pregnancy by
    ending the life of her child she isn’t enjoying reproductive choice.
    She didn’t get her choice, which was to avoid pregnancy.  What she got
    was an abortion which isn’t really what she chose.  The abortion was,
    for her, an attempt to make the best out of the bad situation of not
    getting her choice.

     

    Paul, the ponies have bolted the barn, and your response seems to be one of closing the barn door. Reproductive health and autonomy can involve a series of choices… and your paternalistic conviction that abortion is not really a carefully considered choice, but rather, some mindless response to  unwanted pregnancy…reflects your inability to perceive women as competant individuals able to judge their own circumstances and make rational decisions.

     

     

    Nothing is required of anyone but the woman who is pregnant — the rest
    of us are off the hook, the rest of us don’t have to care.

     

    Not at all. By all means, let us implement the kind of policies that will facillitate motherhood for all women who would choose it. 

     

    Our society is far too invested in the ideals of female equality,
    female autonomy and female dignity.  Going back to the caveman days is
    not an option. 

     

    Ya think? The question remains…imagine the social supports you hope for are in place, and then tell us what you would say to the women who would still choose abortion.

  • paul-bradford

    Brian,

     

    First of all, thank you for the link.  I love surveys like that!

     

    I noticed that the percentage of teenagers who had had sex by age 18 was 59% for those turning 18 between 1987-1996.  The fertility rate among unmarried women under the age of 20 was 45.35 births per 1000 women of childbearing age.

     

    Compare that with the percentage of teenagers who had sex by 18 who turn 18 between 1957-1966.  It was 26% (less than half) and the fertility rate was 17.08 (less than half)

     

    The fertility rate for unmarried women under the age of 20 was 8.88 in 1946 (a little more than half of what it was in the 1957-1966 era).  I extrapolate that the percentage of teens having sex was probably around 15-18%.

     

    By this reckoning, both the fertility rate and the percentage of teens having sex quadrupled between 1946 and 1992.  I will keep that in mind the next time I feel like "hearkening back to a better, purer time that never was."

     

    By the way, the percentage of teens having sex dropped from 59% to 52% for those turning 18 between 1997-2006.  The fertility rate also dropped from 45.35 to 35.83.

     

    So, lots of teen sex around ’92 and a very high fertility rate.  Less teen sex around ’02 and a slightly lower fertility rate.  Much less teen sex in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties and a much lower fertility rate.  Every reason to believe that the teen sex rate in the ‘forties was even lower since the fertility rate was VERY low.

     

    Conclusion: social mores change and as the rate of premarital sex goes up so does the rate of premarital fertility. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • harry834

    I’m glad for the reply to my post.

    I see this part:

     

     

    I don’t believe that the only, or even the best way of protecting unborn children is to try to get in between a determined woman and an abortion. If a woman isn’t "stopped" by the awareness of her own moral responsibility to her child I really think the child is all but doomed.

     

    This is definitely what the pro-choice folks here, myself included, are concerned about. We don’t want anyone trying to block the way to a woman’s abortion. 

    I’ve read a lot of what you written, and as I understand you consider the organism to be a child even as a blastocyst or zygote. We both know these are micro-entitites. We also know that fertilized eggs wash away in woman’s menstruation. If these fertilized eggs are unborn children, isn’t the washing away of them a natural disaster? Might it have been caused by the woman’s actions – diet, etc – that might indicate a lack of "moral responsibility"?

    Neither of us want to prosecute these women for murder, but then we have a weird situation because abortion then becomes the only method of murder where the perpetrator is not prosecuted. Perhaps you want to put the blame on the doctor, but you can’t seriously believe the woman’s own brain is directing her actions. Doctors don’t seek out women, women seek out doctors. Even symapthetic murderers like a mentally-tortured Andrea Yates was presented with the minimum punishment of a mental instition outside of jail.

    This argument about judicial consequences for muder has been made before, and it is dodged. Why? Is it because pro-lifers don’t want stand behind such an unpopular idea as jailing these women? To the credit of many (if not most) pro-lifers, the feeling of unpopularity comes from within as they themselves don’t want to jail these women. At least we share that in common.

    Though we’re still left with the issue that the punishment of murder or manslaughter for a particilar case (or in this case, all instances of the case) can’t be a matter of public opinion.We don’t do a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to determine how criminal justice is done.

    Though even absent of the legal punishment, we still have the issue of social stigma of the worst kind: the pro-life view holds that a woman who gets an abortion is a woman who has killed her child.

    Many of us have obvious reasons why we may distrust – or even dislike – anyone who claims to support a woman while simulatanously believing she shas killed her child. How can such a person even look that woman in the eye? This is probably why they prefer to shift blame to the doctors, the boyfriends…anyone but the woman. It creates too hard of a cognitive dissonance to try to support the woman and also claim that she has killed her child.

     

  • harry834

    it is fair to say that since individuals need to be around like-minded others at times of personal pain, I think that a woman who is pro-life but has an abortion (because this does happen whether we know it or not) may prefer to be comforted by her fellow pro-lifers rather than one of us. And we pro-choicers have never contested this choice of comfort in this situation.

    There are stories of such pro-life women who never get such comfort, because they never admit what they did to their people. 

    Though it ought to be a consensus value that whatever we feel about abortion, whatever we think about the women who choose it, we should give the financial support that we would give to any of their medical care actions. Why? Because, if nothing else we want her to have good medical care when she goes to the clinic.

  • harry834

    I’ve heard some pro-lifers on this site defend themselves by saying, "I’ve never called anyone a baby-killer". But since the pro-life view is that abortion is killing, than expression of that view is saying that women are baby killers, isn’t it?

    Is abortion killing, or isn’t it? If you say "yes", then you say those that get abortions are killing. 

  • emma

    So, Paul – consider my circumstances: I’m 31 years old, and I’ve had two long term relationships (both approx five years, funnily enough). In both my long term relationships, my partner and I were absolutely clear that we did not, under any circumstances, want children. While we were always extremely careful with contraception, we were aware that any contraception can fail, and we both knew that, were I to accidentally become pregnant, the likelihood that I would have an abortion was extremely high.

     

    On this issue, my next partner and I will be very clear on all of this. There is a possibility that I may at some point change my mind and decide to produce a kid, but the chances of this are rather low (and honestly, to the extent that I’ve considered changing my mind, it’s been largely due to social pressure – most of myfriends either have kids or are planning to, my mother would like a grandchild, and so on and so forth). I do not wish to undergo any sterilisation-type surgery, because all surgery is somewhat invasive and I want to able to change my mind. Nor would I expect a partner to undergo a vasectomy if he didn’t wish to do so.

     

    In your ideal world – would I want to remain celibate for life? Find a man who would attempt to pressure me into continuing a pregnancy I didn’t want? I want/ed to have sex with my partners, and they want/ed to have sex with me. What is your prescription for women like me, other than some kind of lobotomy after which I’d experience a miraculous revelation that zygotes are actually people?

     

    I’m not sure what you want from women like me, Paul. 

  • crowepps

    If someone says that his reason for wanting to criminalize abortion is that he wants to protect the unborn it wouldn’t be a lack of intelligence that caused him to make that claim, it would be a lack of intellectual honesty.  Have I got you right?

    Well, yeah, any time someone says "it’s been tried many times in the past and while it’s true that it never worked before, THIS time it will be different", the only two options for their statement are ignorance of history or lack of intellectual honesty.

     

    An intellecturally honest discussion would use a shared mutual vocabulary which the participants agreed was congruent with the truth, would argue public policy decisions based on a knowledge of historical public policies and how they had worked, and would restrict its arguments to the possible.  Any idea that is grounds in "if people would just change so that they no longer thought/behaved the way they always have in the past then…" is not intellectually honest.

     

    It would also be extremely helpful if people were capable of being honest with themselves about, or perhaps just had some minimal awareness of, their own biases and underlying assumptions.  There are repetitive themes in some of the posts revealing posters who, for instance, think that women who enjoy sex ‘degrade’ themselves, posters who think of pregnancy in ‘spiritual’ terms instead of as a biological process, and posters who believe that everyone should conform to their pre-determined archtypes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and that anyone unable to whittle themselves small enough to fit in those restricted roles is ‘deviant’ and must be persuaded, shamed, bullied or punished until back into line.

  • crowepps

    Please, please, please explain to me how you work this out for yourself.  I say that religious liberty ought to free us to reject certain religious tenets, but there are some "religious" tenets that we can’t reject.  Do you agree with me? 

    Civilization is a process by which people discover that in order to be permitted to live peacefully with others, it is necessary to restrain one’s own behavior to a mutual standard in order to maintain that peace.  It isn’t necessary to hook those mutual standards to a religion at all in order for it to work.

     

    Just as an example, there are people who have a personal spiritual belief that eating meat and animal products is ‘immoral’ and who therefore do not do so.  Some of those people actively try to change the law so that everyone will have to live by their rules, some of those people annoy everyone around them by proselytizing and trying to shame others, and some of those people are content to live their beliefs personally and let others live their own way.

    it would be intellectually dishonest for someone to deny that there are some things in the Bible that everyone needs to believe

    Sure there are.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  Any society that works well enough to survive until it can codify its laws is going to have those basic things in it.  Probably even the extinct inhabitants of Easter Island had a rule about ‘no stealing’.

     

    There are lots of commandents in the Bible that Christians ignore, certainly I haven’t seen much attention to the ‘Biblical morality’ of most of the 613 the Jews have identified.  If you’re interested, a list is here:

    http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

    The insistence of some conservatives on picking a few and trying to legislate them based on an argument that they are ‘Biblical morality’ is annoying considering that they simultaneously dismiss others as ‘just for the Jews’ and ignore explicitly New Testament ones like ‘no divorce’ and ‘feed the poor’, which I would note Christ never qualified by the terms ‘worthy’ or ‘deserving’.

    It would be intellectually dishonest for someone to deny that there are some things in the Bible that everyone needs to believe

    There are some actions that everyone needs to understand they must do, and some actions that everyone needs to understand that they cannot do, but they are not required to ‘believe’ anything more about them than that some will make things better for themselves and others and some will make things worse for themselves and others.  The fact that some of them are included in the Bible is irrelevant because they are also included in all the OTHER religious traditions.

  • ahunt

    Pretty much, Harry. We have all, in our own ways, tried to get down to the fundamental question: do women have the right to determine, absent coercian and public pressures, whether they will become mothers.

     

    The "other viewpoint" will not address this question because it obliges one to come to terms with the reality that women have other plans for theirs lives.

     

    So the pro-life crowd clings to the image of the evil boyfriend/abortion provider as the villain in the process, because the alternative is acknowledging that women are in fact people and not children.

     

    This determination to infantilize women goes  hand in hand with the efforts of fundamentalist religious organizations to return women to uneducated, uncontracepting,  household servants.

     

    To his credit…Paul is distainful of such nonsense. But his inability to acknowledge that women DO have other plans for their lives,  and that those plans take precedence…reflects the conviction that women are by nature first and foremost mothers. Everything else is subordinate.

     

    "Nature" is an uncooperative bitch…huh?

  • crowepps

    My belief is that abortions happen when social supports collapse.  My belief is ALSO that social support means support both the mother and the child.

     

    I want you to tell me how you get from what I believe to the idea of "forcing" a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn’t want.  I really, really, really, can’t follow your train of thought.

    Your underlying assumption here is that the decision about wanting to be pregnant or not wanting to be pregnant is dependent on conditions in society, outside of the woman involved, and that if society was willing to provide the necessary support and approval, ALL women would choose to remain pregnant and there would be no need for abortion.

     

    There certainly are cases where women have abortions for economic or social reasons, and the necessary changes there would probably allow those women to continue their pregnancies.  However, your assumption is the disadvantages of pregnancy are all external, that once society creates economic and emotional support, that women will PREFER the state of being pregnant to not being pregnant, and I’ve got to tell you, that just isn’t true.  Pregnancy is something that women tolerate because they want to have babies and raise children.  There are many women who absolutely do NOT want to be pregnant and who do NOT want babies or children.  Those women are going to continue to have abortions if their birth control fails.  There are women who find themselves pregnant after a rape who are so repelled by the idea that any part of their rapist is still present inside them that they are eager to remove it through abortion.  There are also women who want to choose the optimum time to have their pregnancies and who want to limit the number of children they raise, and those women are going to continue to have abortions when pregnancies happen outside their parameters because approval and support from society does not sufficiently outweigh the personal negatives of pregnancy.

     

    And of course we must always keep in mind that there are always a certain percentage of pregnancies that will go tragically wrong and that those women will need abortions.

     

    I would also note that so far as I can see at this time, the changes in society that might be helpful in reducing abortion are absolutely not happening at this time, and in fact there is huge pressure to INCREASE the penalties to women for ‘illicit’ pregnancy, which doesn’t make me very hopeful for the future.  Instead, what I see happening is a conservative effort to physically ‘force women to stay pregnant’ such as is represented on this board not by you, but by those like Jim Grant, and those who agree with you to limit efforts to the use of ‘moral force’, proselytizing, guilt-tripping and labeling.

  • paul-bradford

    What is your prescription for women like me, other than some kind of lobotomy after which I’d experience a miraculous revelation that zygotes are actually people?

     

    Hi Emma,

     

    I’d hate to have to resort to a lobotomy!  You have no idea how much I value your intelligence and sense of humor.

     

    Thank you for sharing these little details about yourself.  As you point out, you’ve been sexually active for ten years during which you’ve been absolutely clear that you don’t want to become a mother.  Given what you’ve told me, I would have to suspect that you becoming a mother would not only be bad for you, it would be bad for your kid.  Want my opinion?  I hope you don’t become a mother!  There are too many kids already who have ‘willy nilly’ mothers.

     

    The obvious problem, of course, is that you’re a woman who is capable of having an adult relationship with a man and — assuming you find the right guy — you would certainly want to have sex with him.  You could protect yourself from the risk of becoming a mother by denying yourself (and him!) sex and that’s certainly one way of handling things.  I could talk to you about that particular strategy, but when you come down to it you’re the one who is going to have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

     

    The good thing about you having sex is that it gives you an opportunity to cultivate and express a loving relationship with a man (Correct me if I’m wrong.  I may be assuming too much here.)  The bad thing is that you run the risk of becoming a mother, which you don’t want.  You can reduce the risk, but you can’t bring the risk down to zero.

     

    What do I want from you?  I want you to avoid becoming a mother.  Of course, if you DO become a mother my attention will shift away from what I want from you and toward what I want for your unborn child — which is that s/he will be able to grow and develop and live.

     

    Is any of this a surprise to you? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Paul…just wondering.

     

    Did you take Tap Dancing for your phys ed requirement?

  • sschoice

    What we’d like to see the pro-choice movement take on is seriously supporting a national pro-choice agenda that does not accept politicians writing off reproductive rights losses in conservative states and communities as somehow tolerable if rights are at least preserved (or losses minimized) in less conservative areas. We’ve seen that again with the battle over Rep. Stupak’s amendment turning into near acquiescence over Sen. Nelson’s amendment.

     

    Why don’t we hear ‘Stop Nelson’ like we freaking CONTINUE to hear ‘Stop Stupak’ even though the bill is out of the Congressional body that created the Stupak amendment? Hopefully it’s not because ‘Stop Nelson’ doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it as ‘Stop Stupak’.

     

    There’s rhetoric to be heard condemning Nelson’s amendment, but no real interest we’re seeing in saying we don’t support health care reform overall if it comes at the cost — which this does — of affordable health care insurance that covers elective abortion, a restriction which may be very soon be law in many more states than the some half-dozen that do that have that restriction in place already for private insurers in general.

     

    For pro-choice activists who live in conservative states and communities, what sense was there in supporting national health reform and ‘Stop(ping) Stupak’ if that leads to another compromise which negatively affects people in our states and communities?  Is it supposed to be some consulation to young people who in particular will disproportionally pay for insurance for conditions they don’t really need insurance for yet that there will be coverage for something like cancer when the insurance that they might get with government subsidy won’t cover elective abortion (and what’s next – hormonal contraception?) at least without writing separate checks, with the discouragement that will provide insurers and some of the insured, particularly men, from paying into policies that do cover elective abortion?

     

    Without this — without priorities that don’t compromise the welfare and reproductive rights of people everywhere in the country — and we’ll admit that’s a pretty broad wish — does anyone really think we’ll see the Hyde amendment overturned, comprehensive sex ed in the schools, an increase in the number of abortion providers, etc, at least in a way that would affect the geographic areas where it would make the greatest difference, in conservative states and communities?

     

    We can’t share a wish list that doesn’t include that, and if one wanted to go further we could expand the list to include a number of other ‘wishes’ that would no doubt antagonize much of the Democratic party policy and platform-makers that unfortunatly seem to set the pro-choice agenda, wishes like (a) blocking further enactment of abortion laws requiring parental notification or consent, and working for the repeal of existing laws, (b) overturning anti-choice abortion restrictions like waiting periods, ‘informed consent’, mandatory sonogram viewing, etc, (c) supporting OTC access to emergency contraception for all ages …why does it seem so few pro-choice activists are creating an wishful agenda that includes any of that?

     

    Lastly, what’s in the headlines we’re reading today that we’re supposed to be supporting, with Senator Clinton supporting the "Global Fight for Reproductive Justice"?

     

    How does anyone expect pro-choice support from communities in the US which are seeing losses in reproductive justice to go to fighting for justice in other countries?

     

    Talk about wishful thinking.

     

    — southern students for choice, athens

  • princess-rot

    I do not look at vast swathe of the population and conclude that because they do not subscribe to a certain institution, we have the right to label them and attempt to control them and shoehorn them into a little box labeled "Acceptable Womanhood".

    I didn’t think about the idea of women marrying sooner. The only idea that came to my mind was the idea of women starting to have sex later.

    That doesn’t surprise me. It wouldn’t occur to you because you are not the recipient of thousands of messages from birth onwards that your body, sexuality and gender are deviant and need to be sanitized and controlled. That women’s oppression can be controlled by us limiting and policing ourselves is not a new, or indeed helpful, idea.

  • julie-watkins

    … that women are second class and pregnant women are community property and intersex are !freak-out!freak-out! because the she-or-he can’t be assigned to his/her Place in Life.

    My science-fiction idea is that (if Nature wasn’t Sexist) that humans would be born without gender, and one’s gender wasn’t revealed until puberty — after primary education would already have happened. Or, even better, *any* time full intercouse it was 50/50 whether Person A or B would get pregnant. The world might be better!

    On the other hand, the “thousands of messages from birth onwards” would be how the rich elite deserves to live off the work and resources of those less worthy. No, wait, that’s already happening. All the “gotta control your womem” stuff is one of the distractions to keep the vast majority of people-being-fleeched from seeing, comprehending, and doing something about the massive corporate welfare (Big Business, Big Agra, Big Pharma, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complet, Wall Street, etc.).

  • crowepps

    I didn’t think about the idea of women marrying sooner.  The only idea that came to my mind was the idea of women starting to have sex later.

    The underlying assumption here is that the woman is supposed to function as the pregnancy gatekeeper by being the only one in the relationship expected to cleave to ‘moral values’, and that trying to promote men VOLUNTARILY ‘starting to have sex later’ is pretty much a lost cause.

  • crowepps

    Pontificating on this board about how young people shouldn’t be having sex and women with unwanted pregnancies should be persuaded to complete those pregnancies doesn’t seem to me to advance that goal in any way.

    This is where I get worked up and see red and lose the use of the tiny amount of intelligence that God gave me.  When you use the word "pontificating" you press my buttons.  In my book it’s an insult to my Church and to my sense of humility.  It’s as if you’re saying, "Paul’s so full of himself that he thinks he’s the pope and, by the way, the pope is a jerk."

    Although the root word for the verb pontificate is pontiff, most people don’t automatically connect it with the Pope, but instead use it in a more general sense:

    "Pontificate (intransitive verb) To express opinions or judgments in a dogmatic way."

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pontificate

    When you assert that your personal belief that Zygotes Are Children is The Truth and that you cannot tolerate it when other people don’t agree with you, or that Abortion Is Immoral and you cannot tolerate it when other people don’t agree with you, those are dogmatic opinions and pontificate is a correct description of them.

     

    I must say, your plea that I not affront your ‘humility’ rings a little false when apparently the only person you recognize as your moral superior is the Pope.  Viewing yourself as occupying the Number 2 position isn’t my conception of humble.

  • crowepps

    I do dislike it when the "haughty liberal" card is played, as Paul was happy to do in his reply.

     

    When I read this comment I felt bad because I don’t know what you mean when you say "haughty liberal".  I’m sorry you dislike it and I promise I won’t do it again if you explain what it is.  I dislike it when people use expressions I don’t understand when they talk about me. 

    This is more usually described as the "overeducated liberal" card:

     

    It’s evidenced by things like an accusation that the other poster is ‘using big words to make me feel stupid’.  Ironically, the person accused probably can’t figure out which ‘big word’ the person is referring to, since all the words are a normal part of their vocabulary.

     

    The next card played is usually something along the line of ‘with all your education and facts you think you have the right to tell people how to live’, which is pretty funny coming from conservatives who keep insisting the only way civilization will survive is their imposition of Traditional Values/Christian Law.  Of course, they would argue that they would never presume to ‘tell people how to live’, that instead it is GOD telling people how to live.

     

    Then a final defense is made along the lines of ‘you all act like you’re smarter than I am.  Well, I may not be a genius, but at least I sincerely BELIEVE’, explicitly labeling the over-educated as not only insincere but probably godless and ready to commit atheistic genocide, that being so much worse than the various religious genocides, all of which were obviously motivated for people’s own good.

     

    In a discussion about public policy, it is always more productive to actually discover and discuss the facts underlying public policy instead of attacking the other posters or assuming the statements of others must be personal attacks.  It is very helpful to keep in mind that a civil discussion would focus on unwanted pregnancy and abortion, not the life circumstances/personalities/moral standards/mental health of the posters having the discussion.