The Longer I’m a Mom, the More I Am Pro-Choice


I remember once, when I was twelve or so, I told my mother that there was absolutely no way I would ever have children when I got old.  “I would be a horrible mother,” I explained to her with all of the earnest surety that comes unbidden as an adolescent girl.  “I don’t like dolls, I don’t like to cook, I’d rather go without money than babysit.  Why would I want to have this screaming, peeing thing dependent on me all of the time?”

She smiled at me, telling me that she totally understood, but someday down the road, when I was older and had more life experiences, I shouldn’t be surprised if I change my mind.

Now, here I sit, a mother of one and hoping that by Christmas I will be a mother of two.  But one thing that has never changed is my unwavering belief that each woman should be able to decide when and if she wants to have a child, regardless of the circumstances in her life.

“You’ll rethink your beliefs on abortion once you feel that baby move,” I remember a conservative friend telling me when I announced I was pregnant.  To her, it was impossible to think that you could have a child growing inside of you and think of it as anything but a life.

In some ways, she was right.  I thought more and more about my assumptions I had regarding abortion.  The longer I was pregnant, the more I experienced what a joy my child would be, and how happy and complete she would make my family.

But lets be honest.  Pregnancy is hard.  It is uncomfortable.  It is awkward.  It is painful, emotional, exhausting and often vomit-inducing.  I was able to work through all of those bad times, which, again, is a majority of pregnancy, knowing that this is what I needed to do to have the addition to the family we wanted so badly.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to experience all of those moments – the sickness, fatigue, elbows and feet in my bladder, or the even worse issues I managed to avoid like diabetes, preeclampsia, or even bed rest, all while not wanting the child that was living inside of you.   To be forced to go through the pain, the stress and the sickness not out of joy, but because you had to, because someone else made that decision for you, because someone else wanted that baby and that person’s opinion, wants and needs mattered more to the world than what you wanted for yourself.

Pregnancy didn’t change my views on abortion, but made them stronger.

“You can’t still be pro-choice.  You had a miscarriage,” another woman told me months ago, when we discussed all of the ways our losses had affected us.

I understood somewhat where she was coming from.  In the world that I was exploring, full of support for women who had conceived and lost, or had difficulties conceiving at all, to hear that I wrote about abortion rights was a bit of a shock to many who want nothing more than to have a healthy take-home baby. 

But just as pregnancy and motherhood made me more adamant about a woman’s right to choose for herself, my miscarriage also reinforced my beliefs.

I found comfort in the medical terms of “products of conception” and spontaneous missed abortion.  From the point in which we realized that the heart had stopped beating, my only thought was that something had died inside of me, and that I desperately and with every fiber of my being needed it to be removed.  It wasn’t a baby.  Although I was nearly 12 weeks what was inside of me was only the size of a grape, and yet I was still helpless and in panic.  It had been dead for weeks, maybe, and could be there for weeks longer, and without the aid of a doctor it was just going to stay inside me, festering, for who knew how long.

That I needed medical permission to remove it was galling to me.  The baby was dead and my body had betrayed me.  Now I had to undergo surgery just to make it end.

No one should ever lose a wanted pregnancy.  Although the physical pain was minimal due to the D&C, the emotional pain was nearly viscous.   No one should be forced to carry on with something unwanted inside their body, asking for permission to have it removed, to have your life back to normal, to start again.

I want to be in a world where everyone who wants a child can have one, and no one who doesn’t want a baby ever gets pregnant.    But until that happens, I need to fight for a world where abortion is an option, because pregnancy should belong to those who want to be pregnant, and not be forced on someone against her will because she has no other options.

I’ve had a baby, and I’m pro-choice.  I lost a baby and I’m pro-choice.  I am pregnant after a loss, and I am still adamantly pro-choice.  I doubt that growing any older, or any life experience will ever change my beliefs.

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  • rachel-larris

    Your description of pregnancy reminds me why a significant portion of women who have had an abortion were already mothers at the time. Precisely because they understood the entire journey of pregnancy & birth is why they could be as fully informed about their choice as they could. I wonder if being a mom or going through a pregnancy actually makes women more supportive or pro-choice positions rather then less (which the anti’s would have you believe).

  • ack

    Thanks for writing this and offering a personal perspective not only of pregnancy, but how it fits into the pro-choice movement. I feel like the piece that so many anti-choicers miss is that pregnancy, even healthy, normal, WANTED pregnancy, is not an easy process. Being forced to go through that because someone else thinks their opinions about your life are better than your own would be beyond unbearable.

     

    I’m sorry for your loss, and I wish you the best in the coming months and beyond.

  • squirrely-girl

    for finding the words to express my own sentiments on the issue. After having a child, I am more pro-choice than ever before. :)

  • paul-bradford

    I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to experience all of those moments – the sickness, fatigue, elbows and feet in my bladder, or the even worse issues I managed to avoid like diabetes, preeclampsia, or even bed rest, all while not wanting the child that was living inside of you. To be forced to go through the pain, the stress and the sickness not out of joy, but because you had to, because someone else made that decision for you, because someone else wanted that baby and that person’s opinion, wants and needs mattered more to the world than what you wanted for yourself.

     

    Robin,

     

    Individual women make pregnancy decisions.  Women have the authority and responsibility to determine whether to commence a pregnancy and whether to terminate one.  (Obviously, there are cases when violent criminals override a woman’s decision; but let’s set aside sociopathy as a special case).  It’s a woman’s job to make these decisions, which is the way that it should be and, actually, this is the only way it can be.

     

    A pregnancy decision, however, impacts a lot more people than merely the woman — the most obvious one being the other person participating in the pregnancy.  To say a woman should decide is one thing, to say a woman should decide for herself is another.  A woman has the responsibility to make the choice that is best for all people involved — and when she makes the choice that is best for herself she runs the risk of making the wrong decision.

     

    Women make decisions.  Some make the right decision, some make the wrong decision.  The fact that so many women make the wrong decision is no reason to take the decision away from women — but it should cause us to look at ourselves and determine whether what we do and say supports women making right decisions, or supports women making wrong ones.

  • squirrely-girl

    A woman has the responsibility to make the choice that is best for all people involved — and when she makes the choice that is best for herself she runs the risk of making the wrong decision.

    I don’t think YOU personally get to decide what’s “right” or “wrong” for OTHER people. A bit judgey-mcjudgerton on your part don’t you think? If you truly believe in a god or some form of judgement, leave it them. Otherwise it just comes across as casting stones.

    A pregnancy decision, however, impacts a lot more people than merely the woman — the most obvious one being the other person participating in the pregnancy.

     

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means… I’m certain I’m not the only person to have ever said this and I’ll likely not be the last… but the only “person” we’re talking about here is the woman. Try as you might, you’re going to continue to have a VERY difficult time convincing me or most every other PERSON on this site that a fetus is a “person” PARTICULARLY in the early stages of a pregnancy. 

  • margaret-conway

    Robin, thank you for this beautiful piece.  I feel exactly the same way and have had similar experiences.  I’ve chosen to end a pregnancy when I was way too young and poor to parent.  I’ve had a miscarriage when I was trying desperately to conceive.  I’ve faced infertility.  And after adopting, I feel more prochoice than ever. I too have heard the “well, adoptive parents just feel much less supportive of abortion” and I am simply stumped.  Parenting takes all you have and I can’t imagine anyone being forced to parent, or be pregnant, against their will.  Nor would I ever suggest to a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy that adoption is somehow better or morally superior, especially living through the impact it has on everyone involved.  Thanks for fighting the myth-making out there that parenting is somehow contradictory to being pro-choice. 

  • paul-bradford

    I don’t think YOU personally get to decide what’s “right” or “wrong” for OTHER people. A bit judgey-mcjudgerton on your part don’t you think? If you truly believe in a god or some form of judgement, leave it them. Otherwise it just comes across as casting stones.

     

    s. girl,

     

    You don’t have to wait for a supernatural intervention from a powerful god to get a taste of justice.  Rest assured that I am not waiting for any such thing.  It’s better to use your own talents and your own efforts to work for justice in the here and now.

     

    We deserve better than the reproductive situation we have now.  Women deserve better.  Certainly, the unborn deserve better.  Do not imagine that things are bad now because there’s something defective about women.  The trouble is that women are being infantilized.  They are entrusted by nature and by society with vitally important decisions — decisions that are important to EVERYBODY — but too many respond to their decisions as if any decision they make is the “right” decision.  That’s the way to treat women as children.

     

    Two million pregnancies in the US are commenced every year by women who aren’t ready, willing and able to do a good job raising a child.  These are very poor pregnancy decisions and you are foolish to accept the situation as if that’s the best we can expect women to do.  Low expectations are disrespectful to the capacity of women.

     

    1.2 million abortions represents 1.2 million preventable human deaths.  Why does it happen?  Because there’s something wrong with women??  No!  It’s because there’s something wrong with the way we support women.  It’s far, far easier for us to encourage women to take the ‘cheap and easy’ route of abortion than by assisting them to do something that will require a great deal of support.  It’s far, far easier to dehumanize the very young by claiming that a fetus isn’t a person.

     

    You are a person, and you were a person when you were a fetus.  To recognize the humanity of the unborn is to recognize your own humanity, and the depth of your own dignity.  You, and others on this ‘site, resist the conviction that we can uphold a right to life for four million of our sisters and brothers (and more than 100,000,000 worldwide) but you’re resisting the conviction of your own right to be respected.

  • swilatowska

    for posting this. I’m not a mother, but I can appreciate it. :) It’s a refreshing change from, “you’d feel differently if you just had one of your own,” which is what I hear most of the time.

    I also wish you the best of luck in the coming months and beyond. ♡

  • ks

    1.2 million abortions represents 1.2 million preventable human deaths.  Why does it happen?  Because there’s something wrong with women??  No!  It’s because there’s something wrong with the way we support women.  It’s far, far easier for us to encourage women to take the ‘cheap and easy’ route of abortion than by assisting them to do something that will require a great deal of support.

     

    I don’t think this is quite right.  Sure, if women had more support to carry unplanned pregnancies to term and to raise children, then there would be fewer abortions.  But there will always be that subset of women who, no matter the support they have, will always choose abortion, because they do not wish, whether ever or at that particular time, to be pregnant and give birth. 

     

    Trust me on this, because I’m one of them.  I have two children, planned, very much wanted, and very much loved.  But I will never have another child.  Ever.  And it isn’t because I don’t have the resources to do it, as I’m middle class with a good and flexible job, a stable partner who also has a good job, house, health insurance, etc.  I’m also hyper fertile and really obsessive about birth control, but accidents happen, the world isn’t perfect and neither is any form of birth control, and if one does, I will be visiting the clinic.  Because, having had children, there are absolutely no circumstances that could induce me to go through another pregnancy.

     

    And it isn’t infantilizing me to support my decision, whether you agree with it or not.  It is more infantilizing and marginalizing of my life, my dreams, my hopes, my free will, and my body to blithely go on about how if they only knew better, women would make the “right” choice.  As if the only “right” choice for me or anyone else is to always reproduce, whether we want to or not.

  • saltyc

    Robin (of course not the troll) thank you so much.

    I think the more real women’s stories are told, the more surprised both sides of the political struggle will be.

     

    Now as to the troll who really doesn’t listen, I’ll just say my peace and be done. I aborted and I had a baby. Both decisions were made with full consideration for what you would define as the other person involved. Full consideration. So your aim is pushing an already open door.

    The one I aborted stays with me every day of my life. I gave her a name” Ruby, because I initially wanted to have her. I gave her a gender and constructed what she would look like in my life. And I never stopped loving her. I cried many times. Trust me, more tears are not needed, though your philosophy and if I allowed what you say to sink in it would only bring more tears. But I don’t really know if she would have developed into a female or what she would have looked like, it wasn’t to be after all. I wished it could have but it didn’t. I did not want her coming into a world of tears. No amount of emotionally charged moral appeals would have changed the fact that she would have been born into a world of tears. I would not want that for myself, yes even myself though you accuse women like me of thinking primarily of ourselves and of not being prinicpled, it wasn’t about me.

    We come into this world like the Little Prince: carried by a flock of birds. No one is alone when born. But we don’t leave this world as pleasantly. We die violently, sick, lonely. My Ruby was never alone, she was with me her whole life, close to me and all I wanted was to protect her, and I know I did right by her. You say you should support women but you simply can’t, not to the extent that would be needed. To even think that is to not truly consider what it takes to make and raise a person. All you really have is this emotional appeal to a woman’s “morals” thinking we’re missing some information that you have. We’re not. What we are missing you can’t give us.

    That’s the last I’ll say addressing you, troll. Because you really don’t listen, you already have all teh answers. Really you stopped asking questions.

  • arekushieru

    Robin, thank you for this article.  Just something I want to expand on, though.  I will never carry a pregnancy to term.  How do I know this?  I am 34, I have been saying since I was 11 years old that I will never get pregnant or have a child, my thoughts on pregnancy and childbirth just continue to grow in opposition and I am getting close to that time that most women say they feel their biological clock ticking, yet I still don’t feel it.  I am not likely to ever get pregnant, either.  How do I know that?  Let’s just say that I have never participated in any form of sexual activity nor have I ever felt the desire to.  So, the only way I would be likely to get pregnant is if I chose to go through IVF or was raped and given the former information getting pregnant and continuing the pregnancy to term is highly unlikely to ever happen.  If I did get pregnant my first choice would be to abort.  And it would be an easy decision as a solution to a difficult problem.

     

    Thanks for letting me share my thoughts!

  • suburbangrrrl

    I am an adoptive mother. Many people assume I am opposed to abortion. No way. I had one in my twenties. For my ex-husband and I it was probably the only mature decision we made besides that of divorcing and deciding to be true to ourselves and grow up. Twenty years later with very supportive husband we adopted a child. I don’t regret the abortion. It was the right decision at the time. Actually without that abortion I wouldn’t have the life I have today and the daughter who joined my life. There are so many losses for a child who is adopted. I have done grief and loss work for many years. I know many parents who would have a hard time dealing with her intensity. Many parents feel they have a child who takes them both on a life and spiritual journey–the magical mystery tour of parenting. Our children teach us things about ourselves. Our abortions teach us positive things about ourselves as well. My child is a gift to me. Who says that the pregnancy I chose to abort 20 years ago was also not a gift to learn about myself?  (Gasp!! is a frequent response I get to this viewpoint. Some folks can’t wrap their minds around the fact that I’m not fraught with guilt and shame and can take a positive philosophical perspective.)

     

    Secondly, I have zero tolerance for people who think that adoption is a magical solution to abortion. No woman should be forced to continue her pregnancy and place her child for adoption. Period. And I can’t stand some of the infertile couples I’ve met who resent the “unfairness” of abortion when while they struggle to conceive and think that women who don’t want their pregnancies should place their child for adoption.  They never consider the unfairness to the child, and the emotional struggles the child will go through.

     

    One more story–I have a close friend who in the course of 25 years had an abortion, a miscarriage, a baby who died at 3 weeks, and a child whom she adopted.  She regards all those experiences as part of her life journey and does not regret a one. 

     

    We need to allow each other to decide the meaning of their own experiences and the lessons we take from them. I have never understood these anti-choicer’s who feel this need to meddle, control, and impose their experience, beliefs, feelings onto others. Life is both beautiful and tragic. A “pro-choice” path allows us to experience the fullness of our humanity. The “anti-choice” path is the equivalence of “protecting” animals from “harm” but forcing them to live in a zoo.  

  • paul-bradford

    It is more infantilizing and marginalizing of my life, my dreams, my hopes, my free will, and my body to blithely go on about how if they only knew better, women would make the “right” choice.

     

    ks,

     

    I read your post several times trying to get a full appreciation of how you managed to express yourself in a way that felt like a slap in the face.  Believe me, it felt like a slap in the face!  Your rhetorical skills are excellent.  The elaborative list of 1) life, 2) dreams, 3) hopes, 4) free will and 5) body combined with the very effective use of the word ‘blithely’ give the tone a ‘slam-dunk’ feel.  I also came away convinced that your post was fashioned as an ‘exit speech’ rather than a point along the path of discussion.  The expectation now is that you’ll leave to applause and I’ll sputter out some sort of drivel you will never hear.

     

    The reason your post packs a wallop is because people really care about reproductive justice for women — and we generally expect that those who do not care about reproductive justice for women deserve to be stunned into silence.  Unfortunately for me, I’m in the position of having to endure the punishment without committing the crime.  You misread me if you believe that I don’t care about reproductive justice for women.  I understand as well as anybody that it’s abominably unfair for a woman to be denied access to her own life, dreams, hopes, will and body.  Women have every right to be protected from an injustice that no man ever has to suffer.  Justice demands that women be protected from such a fate.

     

    We all know that it’s wrong for a man to have sex with a woman against her will.  It’s also wrong for a man to impregnate a woman against her will.  It’s wrong because it puts the woman in the position of — as you so eloquently expressed — being infantilized and marginalized.  I’m of the opinion that a man has to take responsibility for what his sperm do.  To me, this is the attitude one takes when one expects adult behavior from those who are sexually active.

     

    Women have the authority, and the responsibility to make the right choice when it comes to pregnancy termination.  Women and men together have the authority, and the responsibility to make the right choice when it comes to pregnancy commencement.  The way to get reproductive justice for women isn’t by denying reproductive justice to the unborn — it’s by entrusting their right to justice to trustworthy individuals.

     

    Ah yes!  You say, “the world isn’t perfect and neither is any form of birth control“.  I’m certainly not going to disagree with you about that, but I am going to point out that if you’re concerned about the injustices that are done to women you might also consider the injustice of making a person pay with his life for the ‘imperfections of the world’.

     

    People tolerate injustice and tell themselves, “that’s just the way it is” until they begin to glimpse how things might be if that injustice were removed and begin to hope that justice will be done.  Men have it in their power to protect women from reproductive injustice.  To me it makes more sense to punish men when a woman endures reproductive injustice than it does to punish the unborn.

     

  • paul-bradford

    We come into this world like the Little Prince: carried by a flock of birds. No one is alone when born. But we don’t leave this world as pleasantly. We die violently, sick, lonely. My Ruby was never alone, she was with me her whole life, close to me and all I wanted was to protect her, and I know I did right by her.

     

    Salty,

     

    I wish you hadn’t promised not to read my response because I want you to know that you have done more than you needed to do to prove to me that you’re sensitive, caring, unselfish and maternal.  You’re also wrong about death.

     

    You believe that you do someone a favor by affording them a “pleasant” death and denying them an unpleasant life.  This is a really important belief that you have — particularly since it’s a belief you share with many, many people.

     

    One of the foundations of our society is the robust protection of the right of free expression of religion.  People of different faiths have to learn to tolerate, rather than subdue each other.  The right of free expression has led people to the idea that we all have a right to believe whatever we like.  You, and others, have a belief about death that has profound implications for the way one views life.  Please understand, that it is very, very hard for me tolerate certain beliefs about death.

     

    You, and others, have said that I don’t listen and I accept that as a valid criticism which I am earnestly trying to address.  I want to ask you a question and I want to try my best to listen to your answer.  Do you have any hope that people can accommodate each others beliefs about death if there are a lot of people who believe that sometimes death is better than life and a lot of others who make a defense of life their top priority?

  • ks

    My reply wasn’t meant as a slap in the face or as an exit speech.  It just seemed like (and still seems like) you are discounting those of us who will never consent to carrying a pregnancy to term, no matter the circumstances.

     

    Also this:

    To me it makes more sense to punish men when a woman endures reproductive injustice than it does to punish the unborn.

     

    This still discounts the fact that a pregnancy happens inside my body and punishing some man for impregnating me has absolutely nothing to do with that.  I’m still the person here who has to go through all the minor and major issues that come with pregnancy and really, it has very little to do with the man.  So unless you can come up with a way to get the fetus out of me and into him, causing less damage to my body than an early term abortion would, that whole punishing the man thing is less than useless.  It may make you feel better, but it does nothing to fix the injustice of my being pregnant when I don’t consent to it.

     

    Finally,

    if you’re concerned about the injustices that are done to women you might also consider the injustice of making a person pay with his life for the ‘imperfections of the world’.

     

    Honestly, and feel free to think me a callous, horrible, unfeeling person for this (you certainly wouldn’t be the first), but I don’t particularly care about injustice to the fetus or its life.  Really, I don’t. We can argue all day about whether a fetus is a person with the same rights as everyone else, but so long as it is living inside of me and I don’t want it there, I will do whatever I can to get it out.  And if it dies in the process, well then, so be it.  I know it’s been said before, but nobody else has the right to commandeer my body without permission, whether it be for blood, organ donation, or whatever.  Even if that person will die from the lack.  I don’t see why the unborn should get special rights in that regard that nobody else gets to have.

     

    The problem here seems to be that we’re arguing from diametrically opposed points of view.    I put women first in the calculation of who has the most to lose (or the most to gain) from a pregnancy and so I think that whatever choice a woman makes, it is probably the right choice for her.  And since she’s the one who has to do all the work of making (and raising, usually) a baby, the right choice for her is the right choice, period.  Also, having been pregnant and given birth twice, I am horribly unsentimental about the entire process.  You seem to be arguing for the primacy of the fetus, with everyone else coming second.  That’s your right and I don’t necessarily fault you for it, although I think you are very, very wrongheaded there.  But I seriously don’t think either of us will every convince the other of the moral rightness of our views.

     

  • crowepps

    Do you have any hope that people can accommodate each others beliefs about death if there are a lot of people who believe that sometimes death is better than life and a lot of others who make a defense of life their top priority?

    A better question would be is there any hope that people can accomodate each others beliefs when some people insist that while they can reluctantly ‘tolerate’ the fact that other people have different opinions and beliefs, they cannot ‘tolerate’ the fact that other people choose to act in accordance with those beliefs. There is no religious freedom in ‘It’s okay to believe what you want so long as your behavior always comports with my values’.

  • crowepps

    Tell you what, Paul, if women promise to always attempt to complete pregnancies caused by rapes, then the penalty for an accusation of rape should be execution without trial.  At least that will remove any possibility that this kind of vile creep will be attempting to invade her life again by whining about his “parental rights”.  In addition, killing suspected rapist seems like a proactive solution from the public safety viewpoint.  Society doesn’t need people like that in it.

     

    Since she had no choice about the sex, and you want to remove her choice about the pregnancy, shoot, why should HE have any protection either?  Getting rid of the lawyers, courts, excuses and appeals and just allowing the cops to shoot these guys out of hand would solve the problem in no time at all.

  • colleen

    Please understand, that it is very, very hard for me tolerate certain beliefs about death.

    For instance, your hostility towards the beliefs of many Buddhists has been obvious for some time. Indeed intolerance and hostility towards other beliefs and a tendency to seek out and punish heresy has one of the consistent attributes of Catholicism.

    Why not find another blog? Your cultivated ignorance of and hostility towards beliefs not held by a church whose clergy cannot even find the wisdom and self control to stop physically, emotionally and sexually abusing children renders you the LAST person anyone wants to discuss their beliefs with. What would be the point?

  • saltyc

     

     

  • saltyc

    You believe that you do someone a favor by affording them a “pleasant” death and denying them an unpleasant life.  This is a really important belief that you have — particularly since it’s a belief you share with many, many people.

    <buzzer sound> WRONG. That’s not what I believe at all. It wasn’t someone, and it wasn’t death, you are totally wrong about what I believe, THAT is your problem: YOU believe that a zygote is a person, YOU define abortion as death and YOU construct what I believe around what YOU believe. Like saying Buddhists believe that jesus’ birth was announced by a white elephant holding a lotus blossom. That is YOUR arrogance, you ask questions that have flawed assumptions, you construct what others believe around what you believe. I think I sufficiently explained my situation and don’t feel compelled to explain it any more to you because it’s screaming into the void, you just don’t listen. It may surprise you to know that I have not formed an opinion on doctor-assistent suicide. It’s just not related to my well-formed views on abortion.

  • squirrely-girl

    Just wanted to see it again :)

     

    You seem to be arguing for the primacy of the fetus, with everyone else coming second.  That’s your right and I don’t necessarily fault you for it, although I think you are very, very wrongheaded there.  But I seriously don’t think either of us will every convince the other of the moral rightness of our views.

  • paul-bradford

    that whole punishing the man thing is less than useless. It may make you feel better, but it does nothing to fix the injustice of my being pregnant when I don’t consent to it.

     

    ks,

     

    Less than useless??  Is it ‘less than useless’ to punish men for raping women?  Do laws against rape do NOTHING to protect women from the injustice of actually being raped?  My guess is that you think women ARE protected (at least somewhat) from injustice due to these laws.  Wouldn’t a law against impregnating a woman against her will do SOMETHING to protect a woman against becoming pregnant?

     

    Laws against involuntary pregnancy would do more than simply ‘make you feel better’.  They would mean that fewer women would actually suffer the injustice of an unwanted pregnancy — and that would be good for EVERYBODY: women, society and the unborn.

  • paul-bradford

    squirrely girl liked this:

     

     

    You seem to be arguing for the primacy of the fetus, with everyone else coming second. That’s your right and I don’t necessarily fault you for it, although I think you are very, very wrongheaded there. But I seriously don’t think either of us will every convince the other of the moral rightness of our views.

     

    I claim that there’s no conflict between two views of ‘moral rightness’. It’s unjust for a woman to be pregnant against her will and it’s unjust for a fetus to be denied her/his life. To care about justice is to care about both.  The answer isn’t forced childbirth. The answer is an end to unwanted pregnancy.

     

    The imperative to protect women from injustice allies with the imperative to protect the unborn from injustice when we take steps to eliminate unwanted pregnancy.  This is the only complete ‘Pro-Life’ option.  People who shrug their shoulders and say, “accidents happen” are showing a disrespect for life.  These are accidents that should not be tolerated.

     

    The woman who is pregnant for a few weeks and then gets an abortion is as much a victim of injustice as the woman who becomes pregnant against her will and then carries the child to term.  Both women are denied the right and power to decide for themselves about pregnancy commencement. Abortion doesn’t make the injustice go away — it just makes the child go away.

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    You’re determined to make my ideas seem ridiculous.

     

    It’s wrong for a man to impregnate a woman against her will and we can take steps to make it worth a man’s effort to be more careful.  The man who causes an unwanted child to come into the world does more damage to the society than a man who robs a bank.

     

    I say that we should regulate harmful behaviors.  You act as if my proposal is as stupid as giving cops ‘shoot to kill’ orders.

  • paul-bradford

    THAT is your problem: YOU believe that a zygote is a person, YOU define abortion as death and YOU construct what I believe around what YOU believe.

     

    Salty,

     

    One possibility is that I’m unable to view your behavior without imposing my assumptions.  Another possibility is that I derived my opinion about your assumptions by reading your words:

     

    “My Ruby was never alone, she was with me her whole life, close to me and all I wanted was to protect her, and I know I did right by her.”

     

    Is it really so hard for you to see where I got the idea that YOU thought Ruby was a person.  No doubt that I think she was a person, but I’m really not so dense that I don’t realize that there are actually people out there who believe that Ruby was not a person.  The question is, did YOU think she was a person?  You claim that you were thinking about what was in her best interest.  That’s a noble and right thing to do if you believe she’s a person.  If you believe she’s not a person, how does she have a “best interest”?

     

    I’m not trying to impose my view.  I’m trying to figure out yours.

  • paul-bradford

    your hostility towards the beliefs of many Buddhists has been obvious for some time.

     

    colleen,

     

    This is the latest example of you misunderstanding and/or distorting something I said.  The only conversation I ever had about anything that might be construed to be a ‘Buddhist belief’ was a response I made a few months back to Heather Corrina’s musings about the reincarnation she might have had if she’d been aborted.

     

    Different people have different ideas about what happens after we die.  Some believe in Paradise, or reincarnation, or Hades, or Nirvana, or resurrection, or rapture, or oblivion.  I have nothing to offer that might confirm or refute anyone else’s speculation.  I do, however, have no trouble taking on somebody who claims that s/he or someone else would be “better off dead” or that “death really doesn’t matter”.  I have nothing to say about what happens after we die — but I actually AM hostile to attempts to bring on death.

     

    People can make up their own minds as to whether that makes me intolerant of other religions.

  • ks

    Again, we’re arguing about two different things.  I was thinking of accidental pregnancy coming from consensual sex, not rape.  A pregnancy resulting from consensual sex is unfortunate, but I don’t see how punishing the man for that helps anyone.

     

    However, rapists should be punished, to the fullest extent allowed by the law and then some.  But all rape does not always lead to pregnancy, and most unintended pregnancies are not the result of rape.  And well, rapists should be punished for the rape. 

  • colleen

     

    The only conversation I ever had about anything that might be construed to be a ‘Buddhist belief’ was a response I made a few months back to Heather Corrina’s musings about the reincarnation she might have had if she’d been aborted.

     

    It does not matter for the purposes of this discussion but this is not true. There have been at least three Pauline  fits  when someone expressed a belief you disagreed with. The incident you’re able to recall was when you started  calling other people’s beliefs “horseshit”. On another seperate occasion you refered to some woman’s religion (it was either the UCC or UU) as a “cult”.  I do believe that you haven’t understood your rejection of some ideas as a rejection of Buddhist ideas.

    My point was intended to agree with the established reality that you have a great deal of trouble listening to or tolerating other people’s beliefs and that this is particularly ironic because this is a torture you  inflict on the readers here several times a week. 

    Thus my suggestion that you find another blog.

     

     

  • saltyc

    I will just repeat what I posted already.

     I gave her a gender and constructed what she would look like in my life. And I never stopped loving her. I cried many times. Trust me, more tears are not needed, though your philosophy and if I allowed what you say to sink in it would only bring more tears. But I don’t really know if she would have developed into a female or what she would have looked like, it wasn’t to be after all. I wished it could have but it didn’t. I did not want her coming into a world of tears.

    You idiot, why don’t you read? Why do you keep insisting that women go over and over and over the trauma, because you are too lazy to read? How do you or I even know what gender the embryo would have developed? We don’t because it didn’t happen. I did right by what she would have become. I would not want to be created half-heartedly. Your worst crime is your narrow-mindedness. Life does not conform to your black and white, stodgy definitions. It’s poetry, stupid. Many times when the definitions we’re used to in our born, breathing life fail in the embryonic stage, and we resort to poetry. Different worlds require different ways of seeing, but you would demand that quantuum physisicst see the world through newtonian definitions. The only difference here is you say I’m immoral for not seeing life in your rigid, clunky, satisfied and ignorant way.

  • saltyc

    Your truth is very welcome here, though the small-hearted have no room for it. Some would rather we not live life the best way we know how to. They’d rather we live life the way they know how to, and what she calls a mirror is a window into herself, and I don’t suggest looking through it because when you stare into the abyss, it stares back.

    We are awesome, I have tasted their bitter pill, which they call salvation but it’s really a cage. They want us in it too because, you know, misery loves company.

  • harry834

    when I think of potential lives, I think of what all these individual women can become – emotionally, career-wise, altruistically, relationally, independently.

  • crowepps

    I don’t have to put a lot of effort into ‘making’ your ideas seem ridiculous.  I simply point out their obvious flaws and their ridiculousness becomes apparent.

  • crowepps

    Do laws against rape do NOTHING to protect women from the injustice of actually being raped?

    Considering that fewer than 40% of rapes which occur are reported, and of those 40%, only 6% of the men accused ever spend a day in jail, laws against rape actually don’t do much to protect women.

  • the-abortioneers

    Harry – yes! I *love* that you posted this comment. It’s something we ask each other all the time in my circles: how is it that anti-abortion agitators are so fixated on “potential” life yet they don’t see the life — full of both already-accomplishment and yet-potential — in the woman right in front of them? Or, put another way, when they pull out the tired cliche that a fetus “might grow up to cure cancer,” well, how come they never think that that pregnant woman might grow up to cure cancer? 

     

    Anyway, thank you so much for saying it. 

  • elyzabeth

    Why is the idea that my life and my plans matter so narcissistic?  I’m in college and I plan on going into medical research.  Sure, I’m not likely to cure cancer, but there is a good chance that I would contribute to something that would save lives. That wouldn’t be possible if I had a baby now.  If I took time off, my scholarships would go away and I wouldn’t be able to afford to finish school.  Pregnancy plus lab classes with teratogenic chemicals don’t mix, so staying in school isn’t an option.

     

    If god came in and pissed all over my carefully-laid plans like an unhouse-broken puppy by giving me an unabortable pregnancy now, I’d be royally ticked off.

  • princess-rot

    You aren’t supposed to improve yourself and attain better standing in life so you can better provide for yourself and any children you may eventually have – that’s selfish! Don’t you know you should be poor and working two minimum-wage jobs for life? Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to work for the betterment of anyone if they are not in the womb? Don’t you know that it’s God’s will your child should have an inadequate life experience and be unwanted and resented? Don’t you know you’re supposed to shut up and get in the kitchen?

     

    God, that hurt my head to type out.

  • arekushieru

    I forgot to mention the reason for my last post.  My mom is very outspoken, yet she has never suggested that I will ever change my mind on pregnancy or abortion and she has never suggested that I best get working on grandchildren, that even though I have a brother who will never have children, himself.  She has also had an abortion. 

    By the logic of ‘ConcernedMom’, my brother should never have been born (since he would never have been born if my mom had not had an abortion).  So much for THAT potential life (that turned into actual life), eh?  Unwanted potential life is so much more important than wanted potential life, I suppose.  And potential life is so much more important than actual life, full stop, to her mind.  Not to mention the FACT that she is just furthering the imposition of suffering and pain on unwanted children and then advocating that termination of life AFTER one has experienced pain OR joy is MORE compassionate.   That logic does NOT compute.

    By relegating women to mere incubatory status by removing the rights that everyone else has simply because they had consensual sex for purposes other than procreation, makes the term ‘ConcernedMom’ a misnomer (if you can’t see why, I can’t put it any more simply TO explain it) and the reason why I put it in quotes earlier.

    Oh, and if the women WANTED the pregnancy, then choosing to carry it to term for herSELF is absoLUTEly something ProChoicers advocate for, *ob*viously.  ProLifers advocate for forced gestation, whether it’s wanted or not.  A truth that so many PLers sadly continue to deny, deny, deny…. *Sighs*  :(  

  • paul-bradford

    I would not want to be created half-heartedly.


    Salty,

     

    What are you thinking about when you talk about being created half-heartedly?  Are you thinking about developing through the phases of zygote, blastocyst, embryo, first term fetus, second term fetus, late term fetus and, finally, newborn in a “half-hearted” way?  Are you suggesting that women who aren’t happy about being pregnant give birth to miscreated infants?  Honestly, I’m not being fresh — I really don’t understand what you’re suggesting when you use the term “half-hearted”.

     

    Trust me, more tears are not needed, though your philosophy and if I allowed what you say to sink in it would only bring more tears.

     

    Salty, recognizing the humanity of your unborn child might cause you to shed tears — but I would suggest that the upside is well worth the tears.  The more fully you acknowledge your child’s humanity, the more appreciative you will be of your own — and that’s a good thing!  You’re convinced that, by suggesting that you deepen your respect for life, I am coming at you from a perspective of ignorance.  How firm are you in that conviction?  “Life”, you say, “does not conform to my black and white, stodgy definitions.”  What do you suppose life would look like to me if I weren’t so ignorant?  Would I stop taking delight in the lives of the unborn and begin to adopt a more ‘knowing’ viewpoint?

     

    These days, when I’m told by a woman that she’s recently learned she is pregnant, my response to her is informed by my belief that a sister or brother in the human family is growing inside her womb.  How do people with viewpoints that are less “satisfied” than mine determine how to respond to such a woman?

     

    Has it ever occurred to you that there might be an advantage to taking a rigidly positive stance toward life?  I respect the lives of zygotes, I respect the lives of those with profound disabilities, I respect the lives of people at the end of a terminal illness, I respect the lives of those who have committed atrocious crimes, I respect the lives of people who tightly hold on to beliefs that I am convinced are limiting and destructive.  It makes sense to me that you would describe my approach as ‘rigid’.  It would basically be impossible for someone to convince me to disrespect your life.  I’m that rigid.

     

    I suspect that this post will annoy you as much as my other posts have done — but I notice that you are someone who is committed to having a productive conversation despite difficulties and I applaud you for that.

  • saltyc

    recognizing the humanity of your unborn child might cause you to shed tears — but I would suggest that the upside is well worth the tears.

    OK I stopped reading right there, I’m done with your abuse. Done. I have dealt with enough passive-agressive abusers in my life.

  • crowepps

    The more fully you acknowledge your child’s humanity, the more appreciative you will be of your own

    It’s been apparent to a lot of us for some time that your ‘respect’ for the humanity of zygotes is self-referential; that is, it’s all about how you appreciate YOURSELF because you crave constant confirmation of how special YOU are.

    Has it ever occurred to you that there might be an advantage to taking a rigidly positive stance toward life?

    No, no advantage, because rigid stances almost always are based in fear, preclude actual thinking and exclude compassion.

  • crowepps

    Isn’t it interesting how often that personality profile fits those who assign themselves to the position “priest”, and obsess about getting strangers to ‘think correctly’?

  • colleen

     

     It would basically be impossible for someone to convince me to disrespect your life.

     

    You’re welcome to believe that but, in reality, your rigidity and ‘faith’ lead you to do things like stridently rationalize forcing a pregnant 10 year old to carry a pregnancy to term in full awareness of the fact that such a course of action would necessitate great suffering and would likely lead to her death. What use is your ‘respect’?

     

  • julie-watkins
    I have a similar opinion about Paul’s ‘respect’. Back on that thread when there were many posts saying the same thing — it’s a bad medical decsions not to advise abortion for a 10yo get an abortion — Paul skipped ahead, and asked with usual senimentality:

    Paul:

    I’ve asked this before.  If both lives are saved in this instance, what would you say to the baby when s/he is grown up?  Would you admit that you were willing to toss her/his life away?

    So I answered him (he specificially asked for an answer; note the “I’ve asked this before”)

    Julie:

    I would say: “The cost to give you life was almost too high. You’re mother’s doctors took an unethical decision to risk tossing your mother’s life and health away on the 5% [or less, this is a generous guess] risk that there would be a miracle and we have this good outcome. Would you make that choice for your daughter?”

    I further chided him for that “toss [the fetus'] life away?” manipulation:

    Julie:

    It isn’t “tossing away” if it’s to protect the pregnant child’s life and health. So, no, I would not “admit that you were willing to toss her/his life away” when I was hoping the doctors would realize the risk to his/her mother and would advise an abortion as soon as possible.

     

    And then he didn’t answer, even after I reminded him he didn’t answer. (So this is my 3rd time posting this and the 2nd time specifically asking.)

  • crowepps

    ‘Respect for life’ isn’t supposed to actually be USEFUL.  It’s not even supposed to actually save any lives.  What it is supposed to do is affirm that Paul is morally superior to all those people making tough real world choices.  His principles are so rigid that he never has to actually THINK about anything!

     

    Of course, he has firmly commited to feeling really, REALLY sad when neglecting to make realistic choices and take action based on them ends up killing people.

     

    “Golly,” the sheeple bleat, “This is just so terrible that it appalls any decent person,  but we REFUSE TO PREVENT IT and work to accept it because humility means that ‘God’s Plan’ is forever beyond our understanding.  The pain and suffering and death caused by our refusal to ‘interfere’ surely must have a ‘Divine Purpose’!”  Pfffft –

  • wendy-banks

    What Is A Troll?

    The term derives from “trolling”, a style of fishing which involves trailing bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The troll posts a message, often in response to an honest question, that is intended to upset, disrupt or simply insult the group.

    Usually, it will fail, as the troll rarely bothers to match the tone or style of the group, and usually its ignorance shows.

    Why do trolls do it?

    I believe that most trolls are sad people, living their lonely lives vicariously through those they see as strong and successful.

    Disrupting a stable newsgroup gives the illusion of power, just as for a few, stalking a strong person allows them to think they are strong, too.

    For trolls, any response is ‘recognition'; they are unable to distinguish between irritation and admiration; their ego grows directly in proportion to the response, regardless of the form or content of that response.

    Trolls, rather surprisingly, dispute this, claiming that it’s a game or joke; this merely confirms the diagnosis; how sad do you have to be to find such mind-numbingly trivial timewasting to be funny?

    Remember that trolls are cowards; they’ll usually post just enough to get an argument going, then sit back and count the responses (Yes, that’s what they do!).

    Troll – Angler or Underbridge Dweller?

     

    How can troll posts be recognised?

    • No Imagination – Most are frighteningly obvious; sexist comments on nurses’ groups, blasphemy on religious groups .. I kid you not.
    • Pedantic in the Extreme – Many trolls’ preparation is so thorough, that while they waste time, they appear so ludicrous from the start that they elicit sympathetic mail – the danger is that once the group takes sides, the damage is done.
    • False Identity – Because they are cowards, trolls virtually never write over their own name, and often reveal their trolliness (and lack of imagination) in the chosen ID. As so many folk these days use false ID, this is not a strong indicator on its own!
    • Crossposting – Any post that is crossposted to several groups should be viewed as suspicious, particularly if unrelated or of opposing perspective. Why would someone do that?
    • Off-topic posting – Often genuine errors, but, if from an ‘outsider’ they deserve matter-of-fact response; if genuine, a brief apposite response is simply netiquette; if it’s a troll post, you have denied it its reward.
    • Repetition of a question or statement is either a troll – or a pedant; either way, treatment as a troll is effective.
    • Missing The Point – Trolls rarely answer a direct question – they cannot, if asked to justify their twaddle – so they develop a fine line in missing the point.
    • Thick or Sad – Trolls are usually sad, lonely folk, with few social skills; they rarely make what most people would consider intelligent conversation. However, they frequently have an obsession with their IQ and feel the need to tell everyone. This is so frequent, that it is diagnostic! Somewhere on the web there must be an Intelligence Test for Trolls – rigged to always say “above 150″

    Who is at risk?

    Any newsgroup, bulletin board, forum or chatroom can attract trolls, but they don’t have the brains to attack nuclear physicists, and they are drawn to the quick response where sex, religion and race are found; so politics is easy prey.

    One troll famously tried to infiltrate a mensa group; the results read like 100 trolls and one regular, it didn’t have a chance – but it was stupid enough to persist until removed.

     

    When Should You Be Concerned?

    Usually, no, though fractured funny bones and occasional waves of nausea have been reported.

    When a troll become persistent and personal, you may need to consider the possibility that it has fermented into an Internet Stalker – equally pathetic, if not more so – but sometimes requiring weedkiller.

    Enjoy, and don’t feed the trolls.

  • j-parker

    Robin, thank you so much for sharing your perspective and articulating why being a mother only makes many of us more pro-choice, not less.

    Certainly experiencing first hand the challenges of pregnancy and mothering has made me even more committed to the idea that no woman should be forced to undergo these things unless she wants to. Being pregnant also increased my humility and my respect for women making the decision to have an abortion. I know everyone’s experience of pregnancy is different, but for me it was very powerful, physically and emotionally. And I felt that, if a woman is pregnant and wants an abortion, her reasons must be respected. And I mean no matter what her reason is. She knows she is pregnant, she is experiencing it, and she knows that for whatever reason she cannot continue. To act as if she doesn’t know what she is doing is disrespectful and delusional. I trust women. Period.

    Certainly too many women get pushed into having an abortion they don’t want because of coercive partners or parents, or because our society doesn’t support mothers and families, especially if they are young or low-income or people of color. But many women are also pushed into having children they don’t want or feel ready for due to stigma and lack of abortion access. The bottom line is that all women should have real options, and the support to carry their decisions out with dignity. If only that were the world we lived in…

  • j-parker

    I wonder if there is a way to choose to hide the replies under an individual comment? Or if not, could we add that feature? I loved this piece and wanted to read the actual responses to the article, but I had to scroll through pages of comments and arguments to find the ‘real’ comments…

    I second Wendy’s sentiment of not feeding the trolls, if only because it completely distracts from our ability to have dialogue about the actual posts here. I’d encourage people to resist the urge to engage in debate (which we know is pointless in this venue anyway). And have the discussions we need to have about the issues at hand!

  • crowepps

    Yahoo used to have an option called ‘ignore this user’ but that didn’t work well since you would still see all the replies to the posts you were skipping. 

    I have also seen some sites where you can mark a post ‘inappropriate’ and a sufficient number of negative designators makes the post poof.

     

    Part of the problem is that sometimes people post a reasonable question askng for clarification and only after a number of exchanges do they suddenly declare “now that you’ve taken the time to explain your position, I’m Pro-Life, you’re all evil and I have some scripture/insults/bumper sticker slogans I feel compelled to post”.

     

    I’ve got to agree that these debates are so repetitive that they are rarely worth reading, since there is very little new information ever contained in them, and rebutting the same misinformation over and over gets old quickly.

  • paul-bradford

    There is no religious freedom in ‘It’s okay to believe what you want so long as your behavior always comports with my values’.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Do you think that the right to free exercise of religion is the same thing as the right to believe whatever you want to believe about essential human values?  Doesn’t membership in a society require one to adopt that society’s values?

  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    Please stop imagining that when I don’t respond to you I’m ignoring you.  I don’t notice all the posts that are addressed to me and I didn’t notice the one you’re referring to.

     

    First of all, if the chance of a ‘good outcome’ is less than 5% then an abortion makes perfect sense.  I always prefaced my remarks about continuing the pregnancy on the assumption that the best medical advice determined that there was a better chance than not that both baby and mother would survive.

     

    You forget that I am not of the opinion that pregnancy decisions ought to be made by anyone other than the one who’s pregnant.  My comments were only that an unborn child conceived in rape whose mother is at high risk has as much right to live as you or I do.  Does that answer your question?

  • crowepps

    Doesn’t membership in a society require one to adopt that society’s values?

    Absolutely not.  If it did, there would still be slavery in the South and women wouldn’t be allowed to control their own money or vote.

     

    I would hope that membership in a society would come with an obligation to IMPROVE that society’s values where the person believes they are deficient, including those occasions where the lives of pregnant women are considered of less value than their zygote.

  • colleen

    Do you think that the right to free exercise of religion is the same thing as the right to believe whatever you want to believe about essential human values?

    Your dogma is not “essential human values”. Part of what freedom of religion means is that we can reject your beliefs entirely or in part. What other people believe is none of your business.

  • crowepps

    It is an interesting concept of “free exercise of religion” that one is only entitled to it AFTER one has subscribed to the ‘essential values’ believed by the majority (or a loud minority).

     

    It’s kind of mind boggling that some one could possibly believe they can  reconcile “freedom of belief” with their desire to require others to affirm the ‘truth’ of something those others DON’T actually believe.

  • julie-watkins

    Thanks for answering. I hope you see this response and answer my question at the end of this post.

    .

    I think you mostly repeated what you wrote in the earlier thread. You were writing things like:

     I always prefaced my remarks about continuing the pregnancy on the assumption that the best medical advice determined that there was a better chance than not that both baby and mother would survive.

    as if there could be a better than 50% chance that both baby and mother would survive. What I and most of the other people in the thread were writing was that, with a 10 year old body, that’s a cruel risk to take. I suppose it depends on your definition of “survive”. I don’t think “live with permanent damage” is “surviving” in a good way. Besides, with the kind of doctors that would decide that a 10 year old body has a better than 50% chance of an acceptable outcome — by the time those kind of doctors are going to intervene because the pregnancy is going to fail, damage has already been done and the theraputic abortion is only going to slightly improve the 10 year old girl’s chances of surviving.

    .

    All the above was written before … but your response was minimize our fears and to chide us about “toss her/his life away” — in reference the fetus. That was really a false and manipulative description of our motives. If you’re going to accuse “tossing away” that’s something you should write about my elective abortion. I would humpf and respond “meddler”, but I wouldn’t be so insistant that you misrepresended — we have a difference of opinion about whether a pregnant woman (the 10yo is a pregnant child, preteen) has an obligation to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

    .

    No. the first time (that I can remember) that you write “tossing away” you’re lecturing us when what we’re complaining about is the doctors who have chosen to toss away the pregnant child’s health and we’re scared the end result will be tossing away the pregnant child’s life.

    .

    Do you still insist on the “tossing away” phrase in response to our concern for the pregnant preteen’s health and probable risk of permanent injury & high risk of death?

  • julie-watkins

    [text deleted]

    I made a unnecessary PS to “answer” a question that was a statement not a question. I’m in too much of a hurry this morning.

  • colleen

    First of all, if the chance of a ‘good outcome’ is less than 5% then an abortion makes perfect sense.

    So, if the chance of what you call a ‘good outcome’ (and I’m sure our definition would differ) is 10% than she’s good to go?

    I always prefaced my remarks about continuing the pregnancy on the assumption that the best medical advice determined that there was a better chance than not that both baby and mother would survive.

    So, if a ‘pro-life’ Catholic doctor says there’s a 51% chance she will survive abeit with severe, permanent damage then she’s good to go?

  • crowepps

    True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can’t disarm their enemy.

     

    The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us.

     

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/menck05.htm#SCOPESD

  • paul-bradford

    The incident you’re able to recall was when you started calling other people’s beliefs “horseshit”.

     

    I would like to make this as clear as I possibly can.

     

    Buddhism — Not Horseshit

    Belief in Reincarnation — Not Horseshit

    Taking the position that ‘death doesn’t matter’ because you believe that there’s more life after this one — HORSESHIT

     

    By the way, I have never participated in a thread where the topic of Unitarians or Unitarianism came up nor have I ever referred to any organization, community or religion as a cult.

     

    colleen, you are fifty times as smart as you need to be to appreciate the distinction between being intolerant of other people’s religions and being intolerant of a welcoming attitude toward death.  I have explained myself to you on numerous occasions but you’re determined to misunderstand me.  In fact you need to misunderstand me.  If you’re compelled to see me as anything other than a small-minded, bigoted, right wing religious nut job you won’t be able to dismiss me out of hand.  And if you can’t dismiss me out of hand you won’t be able to dismiss the idea that the unborn have a right to live.

     

    It’s not me you’re opposed to — it’s an idea.  I’ve got all sorts of shortcomings and character flaws for you to focus in on — you don’t have to make crap up about me.  But my inadequacies are totally irrelevant.  You simply don’t want to open your mind to the thought that a fetus has a life that is as precious, as valuable, as significant and as dignified as your life.  If you did that you’d have to change your mind — and that would entail admitting that you’re wrong.

     

    People are wrong all the time.  People make mistakes all the time.  People make mistakes that cause other people harm.  All the time.  It’s part of the human condition.  You’ve been making the mistake of not cherishing the lives of the unborn.  You’re the poorer for it; but you don’t have to keep making that mistake forever.  It won’t kill you to have to say, “Oh.  I learned something.”

     

     

  • colleen

    Your comments referring to another poster’s church as a “cult” were made early on in your ongoing proselytization of this blog. It was about the same time when you first announced your role as spiritual mentor.

    It won’t kill you to have to say, “Oh. I learned something.”

    It wouldn’t kill me but it would also be dishonest of me. I believe that deliberate lies and dishonesty operate as social and spiritual toxins.
    I also understand precisely what it means when someone announces that a zygote is a ‘very young person’ whose needs trump the needs of the woman (or little girl) in whose body said zygote resides. I understand the ways a belief like this shapes a culture and diminishes the lives and persons of all women. The fact that you’ve always been unable to admit the real life consequences of your beliefs does not mean those consequences don’t exist.

    I also understand that, despite the fact that I have always and repeatedly been honest and clear about my complete rejection both your church’s moral authority and you personally as a teacher, the notion that I will come to agree with you is as cherished a fantasy as the notion that my problem is that I misunderstand. I do not misunderstand your beliefs; I rejected them long before you decided to instruct the women here. Yours is a fantasy is baselessly grounded in arrogance and hubris.

  • heather-corinna

    Here is that comment of yours, Paul: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/09/29/because-not-in-spite-my-faith

     

    By the way?  You continue to misrepresent my own statements about the conversation we had where I was discussing my own personal and Buddhist beliefs about birth or a lack of birth, not about death (something I personally believe can only happen after a birth).  I understand that we don’t believe the same things regarding birth and death, but it is dishonest and intolerant — the kind of intolerance others have been expressing quite precisely about you and a good deal of what you say here — to represent what I think and believe only through the lens of what you do or your religion/spiritual belief system does.

  • faultroy

    If everyone took your perspective, we wouldn’t have these vicious wars in which nothing is accomplished but more hate and resentment. Let’s hope your perspective is studied by both sides of the debate.

  • julie-watkins

    Paul keeps statingng the same things. OK, I keep stating the same things. Here’s what I think the difference is: I state: “if you believe ZBEFs are people that’s sex & class discrimination”. Now Paul states, “if you think it’s a choice not a child, that’s an injustice for the very young.” And he states: “no one gets to choose which people do and don’t get rights”, so he keeps, as you observe, acting as if we only Saw the Truth we’d admit we’ve “learned something”.

    I’m not writing similar things about how no one can allowed to be sexist/classist. My personal imperative is I’m continue to call such people sexist & classist, even if they protest they’re no such thing.

  • wendy-banks

    I’d encourage people to resist the urge to engage in debate (which we know is pointless in this venue anyway).

    Debateing RTL’ers is pointless– Because, they run under the ‘I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with the facts.’ meme. Sad, isn’t it?

  • paul-bradford

    Heather,

     

    I’m really at a loss as to why there is so much misunderstanding here.  I have realized for some time, because you and I had a conversation about this when it happened, that your comments about reincarnation did not constitute a statement that ‘death doesn’t matter’.  I misunderstood your comment, you explained yourself, I apologized and you accepted my apology.  The reason this keeps coming up is that OTHER PEOPLE keep bringing the conversation up as evidence that I’m intolerant of Buddhist beliefs.

     

    I don’t hold the opinion that your beliefs are horse shit.  If someone who believed that the unborn are persons tried to defend the practice of procured abortion by pointing out that an aborted fetus will be reincarnated, or go to heaven, or achieve Nirvana, or rise on the last day, or abused any religious belief by asserting that death doesn’t matter I would express my intolerance of THAT belief.

     

    Heather Corinna does not believe that death doesn’t matter.  Heather believes that an abortion does not constitute a death and that the unborn are not persons.  We disagree, but I acknowledge the fact that — according to your own perspective — you are being respectful of life.

     

    There is no dispute between Paul and Heather.  There is a pointed dispute between Paul and those who claim that I’m intolerant of other religions.  Please understand!  I am intolerant of the beliefs of CATHOLICS who use their belief that the soul of an aborted fetus will go to heaven as an excuse for abortion.  I have NOTHING WHATEVER to say about the afterlife.

     

    My determination to respect life, to respect ALL life, is independent of my thoughts about God, or Jesus, or the Church, or the afterlife, or the Bible.  I do not have any desire to share or propagate my beliefs about these things.  A person can live a long and happy life without ever giving a thought about these things; but NO ONE can live without being challenged to respect the lives of other human beings.

     

    I am not intolerant of religion.  I am intolerant of a disrespect for life.

  • paul-bradford

    he keeps, as you observe, acting as if we only Saw the Truth we’d admit we’ve “learned something”.

     

    Julie,

     

    You certainly understand that about my belief!

     

    The reason you and I keep getting into these conversations is that you and I both care about seeing the Truth.  It matters to you, and it matters to me, whether a particular belief or mode of thinking is sexist — or any other sort of limiting thinking where people are seen to be unequal.

     

    People of different sexes are equal.  People of different religions or no religion are equal.  People who have or haven’t gotten abortions are equal.  People who do or don’t read the Bible are equal.  People who are liberal or conservative are equal.  People who have or haven’t been born are equal.  People are equal.  Period.

     

    Ideas, on the other hand, are not equal.  Some ideas are life-affirming and joy producing.  Some are life-denying and misery creating.  The belief that people are equal is a joy producing belief.  The belief that some people’s lives and deaths matter more than other people’s lives or deaths is a life-denying belief.  The first belief is SUPERIOR to the second.  They’re not equal.  I promote superior beliefs and I reject inferior beliefs.

     

    I hope you do too.  I hope you will agree with me that there is no virtue in tolerating discriminatory beliefs.  You can’t just say to somebody, “Oh, I see you’re a sexist.  That’s cool!  I’m not a sexist myself but some of my best friends are.  Different strokes for different folks.”  Tolerating sexism, or classism, or racism, or able-ism, or ageism, or any other sort of bigotry is NOT COOL.

     

    Julie, I really admire you.  You’re caring and honest.  It shows in the way you write.  You particularly care about women and the poor and I always admire people who care about those who get the short end of the stick.  Women suffer more injustice than men do, and the poor suffer more injustice than the rich do.  Caring about these things MATTERS.  There are a lot of people at RHReality Check who really care about justice and that’s why I like posting here.

     

  • colleen

    Heather provided a link to the post where you did indeed publicly disparage the UU church by referring to it as a “cult”.
    Your response is to ignore the fact that you accused me of “making crap up”, ignore the evidence and, presumably, hope that no one else noticed.

    And, Paul, in response to Heather when she says:

    You continue to misrepresent my own statements about the conversation we had where I was discussing my own personal and Buddhist beliefs about birth or a lack of birth, not about death (something I personally believe can only happen after a birth).

    You call it a misunderstanding and then proceed to blame “other people” for recounting this incident as yet another example of the fact that you’ve often demonstrated a remarkable degree of religious arrogance and intolerance on this blog and are wont to occasionally fly into rages when someone here expresses a belief which conflicts with Catholic dogma. You don’t even bother to ask Heather how she feels you’ve misrepresented her statements.

    And once again the problem is not that others ‘misunderstand’ you but, rather, that you refuse to take responsibility for what you say and do.

  • crowepps

    If you’re compelled to see me as anything other than a small-minded, bigoted, right wing religious nut job you won’t be able to dismiss me out of hand. And if you can’t dismiss me out of hand you won’t be able to dismiss the idea that the unborn have a right to live.

    You are making the quintessential logic error — ‘if you agree that I am a ‘good’ person then you will agree that all my opinions are well-founded.’ It is not at all necessary to dismiss you or your character out of hand in order to disagree with your insistence that the proper way to make moral decisions is to base them on which persons are the most emotionally outwrought about the issue.

     

    You have a very strong personal opinion with which other people disagree. Your continuing insistence that the only reason people continue to disagree with you is because there is something WRONG with anyone who doesn’t agree with you is not only insulting but also the reason people keep posting that you are disrespectful.

     

    Just as your being a ‘reasonable person of good qualities’ does not necessarily mean every single one of your personal opinions is valid, the fact that someone disagrees with one of your opinions does not mean that they are necessarily an ‘unreasonable person of bad qualities’ and yet that has been repeatedly the summary of your reaction.

     

    If someone doesn’t agree with you then you assert they are too stupid to understand your opinion, too close minded to be willing to hear your opinion, too selfish to accept being discommoded by the logical consequences of your opinion, too psychologically damaged to be entitled to their own opinion, etc., etc., or, in a major logic fail, that they disagree because they don’t personally LIKE you.

     

    I don’t misunderstand your opinion at all. You have explained it many times and I do indeed know what it is.  I don’t DISlike you.  I simply don’t agree that your idea is valid.  It does not acknowledge the realities of reproduction and is based in a religious tradition that promotes misery in order to motivate the ‘customer’ to buy ‘hope’.

  • emma

    I have explained myself to you on numerous occasions but you’re determined to misunderstand me. In fact you need to misunderstand me. If you’re compelled to see me as anything other than a small-minded, bigoted, right wing religious nut job you won’t be able to dismiss me out of hand. And if you can’t dismiss me out of hand you won’t be able to dismiss the idea that the unborn have a right to live.

    Actually, you might want to consider the possibility that it’s comments like this that make people inclined to ‘dismiss [you] out of hand’. You keep insisting that we’re all just ‘misunderstanding’ you, and that if we could just understand what you’re saying then we’d be forced to see that you are Right and we are Wrong and that The Unborn are people with rights, and I’m not really sure why. It is very possible to understand you perfectly well, but to disagree with you. Quite aside from anything else, most of us have encountered beliefs like yours prior to encountering you, have given them careful consideration, and still found them wanting.

     

    On another note, I was kind of shocked to see you expressing admiration for Jill Stanek the other day. Disagreeable as I find your beliefs, I wouldn’t have expected you to enjoy reading that hate-infested fascist.

  • julie-watkins

    Actually my point was different than how you restate it … but then I was writing to Colleen, not you. I’m willing to discuss my above point after we complete a discussion of “tossing away”. Until you sufficiently defend or withdraw your “tossing away” accusation I do not plan to engage in any other discussions with you (though I may comment about you to another commenter). I’m also watching to see if you reply to either of the two comments about you naming UU as a “cult”.

    Here’s the question (for the 5th time):

    (Julie asked:)

    Do you still insist on the “tossing away” phrase in response to our concern for the pregnant preteen’s health and probable risk of permanent injury & high risk of death?

    link to reply:

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/comment/reply/13409/42420

  • amyc

    I had a miscarriage two years ago. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until the  miscarriage. If I had known I was pregnant, I probably would have had an abortion. And you know what, it wouldn’t have affected anyone but me.

    When a woman has an unwanted pregnancy she doesn’t go around telling everyone she knows. She tells maybe the would-be father, and sometimes a couple of friends. In the end, it is her decision. The only reason she would tell anyone is if she feels she needs support from somebody she trusts. In which case, if I told somebody, I would make sure it was somebody who would support whatever decision I eventually made.

    You act as if women are being selfish. Yet how selfish would it be if my sister was not supportive of me and I had a baby just so she could be an aunt? To me that is selfish. These other people you talk about are not the ones who would have to take care of the child. They are not the ones who would have to go through the pregnancy. My boyfriend would never force me to have his child if that is not what I wanted or what we planned together.

  • crowepps

    One fact a lot of people fail to take into account is that 15-20% of people who have abortions if they had instead continued their pregnancies would have had a miscarriage or stillbirth. Ignoring this fact allows ProLife advocates to vastly overinflate the number of ‘missing babies’.

     

    Just as their repeated claim that “abortion is never necessary” ignores the fact that since abortion IS legal and IS an option when medically necessary (as in ectopic pregnancy) they can’t possibly KNOW whether women would have died. What we do know is that 600 women die every year from pregnancy complications NOW, and even using the extremely low-ball figure of 1% of abortions being medically necessary, out of 1 million abortions, 10,000 may be absolutely necessary to save women’s lives.

  • t-answerer

    You acknowledge that the person  inside a mother is a separate person, with it’s own dna, it’s own drive to live, it’s own potential, that it is as dependent on another person for it’s life as you were dependent for yours (you simply couldn’t have learned, fed, grown up and thrived without a whole bunch of people, in fact), and yet you are advocating murdering a child due to the inconvenience it has on a mother.

    Seriously – the vast majority of the things you quoted are just inconveniences. But, of the more serious ones, any of those things that you mentioned could happen (terrible pain, emotional suffering, vomiting, surgery, etc) to someone entirely randomly without a child – say, they get cancer or into a car accident or whatever.

    The difference is that in those cases – THERE ISN”T ANOTHER HUMAN BEING TO KILL.

    In this case, there is. You are intentionally ending the life of a human. Not a theoretical human – an actual human. There is no getting around the fact that from the instant of conception everything that gave  you the opportunity to be you was wrapped up in that little fertalized egg. Without that, and a whole bunch of other things, you wouldn’t be here – who the hell is anybody to deny anybody else that opportunity? How selfish, how foolish, how intrinsically evil do you have to be to say ‘nah, saving your life is less important than getting my 4:00 pedicure’, or whatever else you think being pregnant keeps you from doing

    Beyond that, in all those cases, there _are_ ways to assuage the suffering _without killing another human being_. Medical science is pretty good that way.

    But, seriously, the fact that someone you might have a slightly more difficult time of life while pregnant should be addressed by rearranging life, rather than arranging a death.

    Why aren’t feminists up in arms that pregnant women and mothers of young children can’t go to school, go to work, do everything that will bring them fulfillment in their lives? It would be _trivial_ to change society to accomodate. But you know why not: because feminism of that stripe was never about anything good – it was never about fulfillment, it was about power and control, it is always about hatred rather than a love, and its fruits are destruction. It’s false to equate what being a woman is with what feminism claimed it to be: in fact, feminism of that stripe is subhuman, inferior, self- and other-destructive.

    If you really doubt ‘any experience will ever change my beliefs’ then you’re in the realm of religion. You’ve made power and control your God, like so many before you, and you’re in bed with all those who advocate and encourage what history will call the American holocaust. Congratulations.

     

  • crowepps

    Beyond that, in all those cases, there _are_ ways to assuage the suffering _without killing another human being_. Medical science is pretty good that way.

    This is just a blatant lie. In the case of serious pregnancy complications, like ectopic pregnancy, there simply is no other medical solution than ending the pregnancy. Women die NOW from pregnancy complications.

    But, seriously, the fact that someone you might have a slightly more difficult time of life while pregnant should be addressed by rearranging life, rather than arranging a death.

    If rearranging life so that all those social, employment, educational and medical problems disappear is “trivial” and that would dry up any need for abortion, why ever are conservatives and ProLife activists waiting around to see if feminists put those solutions in place? Feel free to swing the mighty weight of your movement into solving all those problems and watch the abortion rate plummet! If you’re sure it will work and it’s really important, go right ahead and get it done.

  • colleen

    This is just a blatant lie. In the case of serious pregnancy complications, like ectopic pregnancy, there simply is no other medical solution than ending the pregnancy. Women die NOW from pregnancy complications.

     It’s only occasionally that one of them is honest enough to admit that he believes that women (or preganat child) should die rather than be allowed to have an abortion.

    Imagine the contempt and hatred towards women and towards their own sexuality  these guys must carry around. This blog has become of of the places they can give voice to their sickness and all under the guise of superior morality.

    One of the benefits of reading conservatives on this blog has been that I’ve come come to more fully understand that part of human nature which fueled the  excesses of the Inquisitions. They do so love to work themselves up into a frenzy or foaming hatred and their peers are so appreciative.

  • crowepps

    One of the benefits of reading conservatives on this blog has been that I’ve come come to more fully understand that part of human nature which fueled the  excesses of the Inquisitions.

    A ways back, interested in anencephalic pregnancies, I did some reading on one of its causes, industrial pollution, and one of the concepts there was that companies can increase profits by doing something called ‘exteriorizing costs’ – in other words, dumping their pollutants into the air or water or onto land, or dumping injured or old employees onto the Social Security roles, so that the ‘cost’ of cleaning them up or supporting used up employees is shifted to the public at large instead of having to appear in their own bottom line.

     

    Once I was introduced to the concept, it was easy to recognize the  exteriorization inherent in congregations hiring a professional Christian as their proxy: a priest or pastor or reverend to be ‘good’ on their behalf, visit the sick, counsel the prisoner, feed the orphan and support the widow, while awarding themselves points for being ‘Christian’ and getting that surefire ticket to heaven for the change they throw in the collection plate on Sundays.

     

    Exteriorization is even clearer in sex/pregnancy/abortion, where the morality is exteriorized into another group entirely – where without spending one penny men can consider themselves ‘moral’ because they insist that women are supposed to be ‘pure’ and thus men can continue to sin so long as  they restrict their sinning only to ‘fallen women’, who deserve to be treated badly as punishment for not resisting the men trying to corrupt them.

     

    It’s an amazing bit of moral gynastics – the main body of the congregation is able to feel virtuous and uplifted because small groups of strangers (pregnant women, sexually active women, gays) are the focus of monitoring, and so long as the majority spend a certain amount of time harassing and railing against the ‘really bad people’ who commit the ‘really bad sins’, then they can ignore their own while they concentrate on screaming about how someone needs to do something to make those strangers ‘be good’.

     

    Certainly the screed from fautleroy about how what pregnant women do should be the entire focus of religion is a good example of that genre – men can continue to commit adultery, be obsessed with the vilest of pornography, rape women, etc., because the focus of morality is never THEIR actions but instead something FAR more important: whether or not women have abortion available to them to assist in solving the problems caused by all of that male ‘immorality’ that women are somehow supposed to stop.

     

    There is absolutely no support in the Gospels for being ‘good’ at secondhand, or by forcing OTHER people to be moral, but instead a great many admonitions that people are supposed to be focusing on getting their OWN hearts and minds purified and are supposed to treat other people with LOVE and COMPASSION which is exactly where UU keeps its focus.

     

    Certainly if Faultleroy wants to ‘stamp out lust’, he’d be far better off marching up and down in front of the nearest strip club or porno purveyor with a ‘sex is evil’ sign.   The drawback is that the customers there might not be as easy to bully as the average pregnant girl, and there’s a real danger of getting punched in the nose or stomped into the sidewalk.

  • saltyc

    Exteriorization is even clearer in sex/pregnancy/abortion, where the morality is exteriorized into another group entirely – where without spending one penny men can consider themselves ‘moral’ because they insist that women are supposed to be ‘pure’ and thus men can continue to sin so long as  they restrict their sinning only to ‘fallen women’, who deserve to be treated badly as punishment for not resisting the men trying to corrupt them.

    That’s very astute. It is so easy to insist that other people have babies without even doing anything to help them. That’s how someone can be against government-subsidized childcare and also against access to abortion. And it would be far stickier to address the situations that lead to an unwanted pregnancy or to look at the benefits everyone enjoys because women do have access to abortion.

    I help women who can’t afford abortions, and I usually ask them about their own resources, oftentimes they can’t ask their relatives for help or even mention that they are pregnant because of their relatives’ bloody helpful religion. So the relatives will never know how their cowardly self-serving “morals” impact on their own family members. They’ll never know how unhelpful they were in a time of real need. And they’ll never have to question their own beliefs. The real moral questioning is done by the pregnant woman, it stays with her. Along with all the other ways such women carry the burden for everyone’s pleasure and comfort.

    It also reminds me of how George W Bush could be “pro-life” when a woman he impregnated had an abortion. Because she absorbed all of the blame. Amazing how easy it is for us women to carry that, his freedom to judge is payed for by our lack of it. I’ve heard the same thing from friends I know, one liberal atheist anti-choice guy said how an ex-girlfriend of his had an abortion without telling him, because he would have been against it. This guy also never wanted children, and didn’t even want to stay with her. So he got to not be a father, enjoyed sex, plus got to feel guilt-free and judgemental to boot! Win-win-win! She got to have sex, bear the cost and blame for the abortion, win-lose-lose for her. kinda how our modern society works. It’s the hypocrisy, stupid!

    You can only exteriorize while someone else interiorizes. When will we women quit interiorizing and realize that we’re not the only ones benefiting from sex and access to abortion!

  • saltyc

    meant to post elsewhere