Is Dialogue on Abortion Useful? Response to Marcotte


I was catching up on my reading today and came across Amanda Marcotte’s piece declaring that dialogue on abortion can’t work if one side is dishonest. To know whether it could work you’d need to know the purpose of dialogues including the Princeton Open Hearts meeting. Then, you can evaluate whether it worked.  Simply put, one hopes that dialogue between those opposed to and in favor of a woman’s right to choose abortion would result in a more realistic public debate; less name-calling and attacking and more reasoned argumentation for each position. Some of us think a civil public debate that concentrated not on impugning motives but arguing from values, facts and outcomes would result in better public policy and in less tea party rage. In the course of such conversations, people connect with others who disagree with them and possibly continue the conversation with a view to making some contribution to the future of how the issue plays itself out. If one does not think working toward such goals is useful, then whether or not dialogue works is irrelevant.

For some in both movements on abortion, that is the case. There is nothing to be gained from understanding the other side. We understand each other all too well, the other is evil and the right course of action is to beat the crap out of them, prove to people how evil they are and just stick to our guns.  For me it’s a pretty brutal approach. The Italians have coined the expression “bruta figura” to describe it and apply it often to the Vatican. Amanda, I believe, is an advocate of this approach as is Austin Ruse, Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, Bishop Chaput of Colorado, Judy Brown of AUL and several colleagues on the choice side. I’m not in this camp. I have the instincts, but I’ve become convinced it is without humanity and whichever side uses it will lose.

So with that out of the way, let me offer some alternative thoughts about why dialogue has value and what it requires.  

Amanda claims you can’t have a successful dialogue with people who are dishonest. Without reference to whether people at Princeton were “honest” or “dishonest,” I’d suggest that the major successful dialogues (including those currently in process) have all had to deal with the fact that each side believes the other to be profoundly dishonest and has a long list of grievances. Part of the dialogue process is whether people can discipline themselves for a good outcome to put those lists aside as well as entertain the possibility that they also occasionally play fast and loose with truth. With an open mind, you may come to see that just as you see the other as dishonest, they honestly see you as dishonest.  

Two of the great dialogues of our time have been those between the IRA and the British and the Israelis and Palestinians. The first has concluded successfully and the second is ongoing. I am sure none of us believe that either side came to the table and did not at times lie, misinterpret or simply see the same “facts” differently.  And yet, we applaud the outcome.

Now, to what extent were people at Princeton both prolife and prochoice absolutely honest or forthcoming about their positions? By Amanda’s definition short of an opponent copping to her caricature of all prolifers as believing “that women exist mainly as breeding machines,” are “anti-sex,” have “ugly attitudes about women and feminism,” are “ willing to employ lies and other nefarious tactics for their ends” “ and “self deceptive” one needs to conclude that all of them were dishonest.

My own perception is that in a room of almost 400 people with video cameras going, most, not all, of the speakers who are opposed to abortion were pretty up front about their beliefs. They were no more likely to evade or gild the lily than the prochoicers.

When dialogue participants, including those at Princeton, hold back it’s not because they are “liars” as Amanda scoldingly calls them, but because dialogue requires restraint. Setting up through words old reactive patterns is not helpful. In this regard, I am glad Amanda was not there. I wouldn’t put my worst enemy in the room with someone who talked the way Amanda writes when she gets wound up about the “evil” antis.

Amanda also says you can’t “have a dialogue without agreeing on the facts.” In fact, you probably wouldn’t need a dialogue if you agreed on the facts. Fact fights dominate the life choice debate.

And those opposed to abortion are not the only ones who play fast and loose with the facts. I can just see Austin Ruse writing with the same venom as Amanda about a piece I read today by Catherine Epstein, writing about a film that is being shot about Drs Carhart and Hern makes the following claims:

The most frequent circumstances that lead to late abortion–which account for less than one percent of all abortions in the country–include fetal anomalies, in which a pregnancy is desired, but complications develop that endanger the mother or the potential life of the fetus. Fetuses are sometimes given devastating diagnoses, such as a one-year life expectancy in excruciating pain, creating an emotional and financial strain on the parents and other children in the family.

Young women and girls who are victims of sexual abuse sometimes don’t recognize their own pregnancy–or may feel too ashamed to tell others–before the second or third trimester. For other women the process of finding a provider, securing travel, getting time off work, and accumulating the necessary funds can take several months, by which time the pregnancy is in its later stages.

Factually, we have no data to support these assertions. After a web search did not reveal confirmation, I emailed  Guttmacher. Here is the response  “[we do not] know of any data to support these assertions about reasons for abortions post 20 weeks.  Reasons for second-trimester abortions may be very different than reasons for post-20-week abortions, but again there’s no info. We do know that young women (minors in particular) take longer to realize they are pregnant.”

Because I am prochoice I give Catherine Epstein some latitude. Some of what she speculates is reasonable. Some of it is the desire of an advocate to put the best foot forward but in my opinion strays from a rigorous approach to the “facts.” We do not know if there are more late abortions due to severe fetal abnormality or to denial and fear. We have no idea if denial by young women is the result of sexual abuse, none whatsoever. Claiming that lack of funding for a first trimester abortion is resolved with finding six times more money later in the pregnancy is highly speculative. The average cost of first trimester abortion is just under $500. On the website of one provider of second trimester abortions, a 24 week abortion is $3000. Abortions after that time are higher in price. Do we really think women who do not have the money for a first trimester abortion find the larger amount needed for a later procedure in any significant numbers?

Would Austin Ruse or Judy Brown be entitled to paint all advocates of choice as “liars” because of articles like Catherine Epstein’s?  I will leave it readers to cry out –“ but Cynthia’s is a rare example and the anti-abortionists lie all the time.” Each side believes the other side lies more. I believe the other side lies more; but I am biased in favor of our side. I know our people are essentially honest and dedicated to a good end.

Like Amanda, I want abortion to be legal and accessible. I want to “win.” Firm adherence to rights theory is part of the winning strategy; but it is clear that it has not enabled us to maintain the fullness of Roe’s promise. Some new things must be tried – from the reproductive justice frame to dialoguing with the enemy. Casting a “bruta figura” is a sure loser in my opinion.  

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  • amanda-marcotte

    But the problem is what “understanding” means. For me, to understand the other side is to know where they stand and why. This isn’t information that can be garnered solely by believing what they say without evidence. Some people you can trust, because they build trust by being truthful, diligent, and fact-based. Some people lose trust by repeated lying.

    The anti-choice movement doesn’t deserve trust, full stop. They claim abortion causes depression, that contraception doesn’t work, that abortion causes breast cancer, and that women don’t die from illegal abortions. These are all lies. People who promote them are liars. If they lie about this, I cannot trust anything else they say. To find out what they believe, I have to look somewhere besides what they say to what they do.

    What they do is fight against women’s health care access, contraception education, and the dissemination of scientific information. This is what I judge them on.

    That there are a few exceptions—the occasional fetus lover who is all for contraception—is great. But those folks are far too few in number to matter.

  • robin-marty

    They claim abortion causes depression, that contraception doesn’t work, that abortion causes breast cancer, and that women don’t die from illegal abortions. These are all lies. People who promote them are liars.

    Not to mention many of them claim abortion is never, EVER medically necessary. If that isn’t the most frightening lie of them all, the complete denial that there is ever a moment where abortion might save the mother’s life, I don’t know what is.

  • goatini

    I have followed and appreciated your posts on Salon.

    Unfortunately, I believe there can be no meaningful dialogue until the antis come to a common ground with us on contraception. For any kind of rational discussion on abortion to occur, the hysterical irrationality of the antis’ opposition to contraception MUST come to an end.

  • saltyc

    If “common ground” means that both sides agree on some things: that we should make contraception more available and to educate on its use, and that we should fund mothers in need, then I’m all for it. But as it turns out from what I read after the conference, that’s not what it was about at all, but rather the anti’s again trying to take away rights from women. That money would have been better spent.

  • saltyc

    Claiming that lack of funding for a first trimester abortion is resolved with finding six times more money later in the pregnancy is highly speculative. The average cost of first trimester abortion is just under $500. On the website of one provider of second trimester abortions, a 24 week abortion is $3000. Abortions after that time are higher in price. Do we really think women who do not have the money for a first trimester abortion find the larger amount needed for a later procedure in any significant numbers?

    I don’t think that was the claim. The statement was

     

    For other women the process of finding a provider, securing travel, getting time off work, and accumulating the necessary funds can take several months, by which time the pregnancy is in its later stages.

    I know from volunteering for a grass-roots abortion fund that I have lately only been funding women in the second trimester due to very limited funds, and the #1 reason from my calls that they delay the procedure has been a lack of funds to do it earlier. No one chooses a $2700-procedure over a $350-procedure. But if you don’t have the $350 the day or few days after you find out you’re pregnangt, you don’t get the procedure and you spend all your time & effort trying to put the money together, and a large number never do and are forced to have a baby against their will. Just thought you might want to know what it’s like in the front lines. I can’t help but to question the motives of someone who works hard to put women in this situation, I can’t imagine they understand.

     

    Do we really think women who do not have the money for a first trimester abortion find the larger amount needed for a later procedure in any significant numbers?

    If you have funds in your bank account or credit card or have a middle-class aunt, you can make the comparison between 350 and 2750. But if you don’t have any of that, coming up with 350 in a matter of days is harder than coming up with 2700 in two months. But the fact that many don’t come up with the funds in time ever, is that being discussed? That’s  a real question I have:

     

    Are the of number women forced to bear a child against their will brought up in these discussions? Because I for one am straining to see the benefit of such discussions. Were they brought up in Princeton?? You said you’d explain why this discussion has value but I don’t see where you stated what the value is. What is the value you expect and at what point do you realize it’s not coming? I mean, not all dialogue is valuable, my dialoging with my abusive ex is of no value to me, and has negative potential.

    Also, the comparison with IRA-British or Isreal-Palestine fails because it’s not the rights of the anti’s versus the rights of pro-choicers in question. Pro-choicers aren’t representing pro-choicers, we’re representing all women . Because you don’t have to be pro-choice to need an abortion.

    The same cannot be said of the anti-side, that they are representing all embryos. Unless, please correct me if I’m wrong here, they are seeking to liberate all embryos everywhere including those frozen in Fertility labs and in stem-cell research labs. Was that brought up? Are fertility doctors wearing bullet proof vests? Is ending embryonic stem cell research, even privately funded, a major goal of the anti’s at the summit? No. So really they’re only invested and actively fighting in keeping Embryos alive that exist against the will of the woman who’s bearing them. So they’re wishing to invade someone else’s territory, as such the fight is more akin to white colonist-versus-native population. Also, both IRA and British killed each other, as have Israelis and Palestinians. The Anti’s are the only ones who have killed and maimed and otherwise terrorized pro-choicers and this must be acknowledged and owned by the anti-side or it’s a charade.

    Maybe you want us to have compassion for these people because you see their faces and talk to them. I don’t know but have you spoken to women who can’t afford an abortion lately? They are faceless to the general public and their own families often don’t know their situation and they need so much more compassion than do the suits at that conference. They’re the ones we should be talking about more.

  • invalid-0

    They claim abortion causes depression, that contraception doesn’t work, that abortion causes breast cancer, and that women don’t die from illegal abortions. 

    I personally don’t claim any of those things, and neither do any pro-lifers that I know.  None of those issues really address why we believe abortion should be illegal in the first place, so I’m not sure why you allow it to be a barrier to meaningful dialogue.

  • france-kissling

    Thanks to the early respondents.

    First, I never mentioned common ground and I think seeking common ground with those opposed to abortion is futile. I do seek some agreement between those of us who are in the 20% or so of the population who  support abortion in all cirucmstances without any restrictions and the 60% of Americans who beleive abortion should be legal but regulated. Without that detente we will, I believe, continue to see more regulations than we have now and very stupid ones.

    On questions, indeed assumptions, abou who I am – an elite Princeton lady who has no idea what happens in abortion or whether women can find the money, I’ll add this: I grew up in a working class family that moved every two years, one step ahead of eviction. At times we were poor and I remember my mother weeping one night after the welfare lady left telling her we made a few bucks a month too much to qualify for assistance. I am now comfortable as are my siblings. I worked in abortion clinics for four years from 1970 to 74 and we did abortions to 24 weeks.

    Not only do I contribute to abortion funds and pay for abortions privately when I know of a need, I have advocated with success for major funding to pay for abortions for women who need them. When I left CFC, I visited various foundations to discuss what I saw was the greatest need domestically and ask them to respond. What I said that need was was funding for women who needed abortions and did not have the money; particularly to prevent the wait that many experience. I say with absolute confidence that no one in this country haas done as much as I did to get abortions funded nor had the success that I did.

    I take a back seat to no one on the commitment to see that women who cannot afford abortions get one. 

     

    I have unconvential views on abortion; not easy to stereotype, not neat, even for me. I question certitude on an issue as complex as abortion and am grateful that I don’t hace to represent an organization, but have the freedom to explore ideas in the public square. Sometimes those ideas are met with disdain and anger, sometimes with agreement, that’s what public discourse is about , but no one ever said life was a popularity contest.

     

     

     

  • prochoicekatie

    There should be common ground between the pro-choice and the anti-abortion groups. Access to contraception. Access to comprehensive sex education. Resources for new and single mothers being considered a legal, political, and organizational priority.

    When I see anti-abortion groups agree that these things which would greatly reduce the need for abortion are worthy goals – and both their actions and their words support these ends, I will believe in ‘common ground.’ I will believe in ‘dialogue.’ However, I have seen NO organized anti-abortion or pro-life group move towards these goals. Not once.

  • prochoicekatie

    However, surely you realize that most large, national pro-life organizations do make these claims, right?

    Even if you and the pro-life individuals you know do not make these claims, the organized pro-life movement often does. And perhaps because others in your movement believe, as you have stated, that those issues really don’t address your position, you do not take the time to address those statements being made by your own ranks.

    But you should. Frances is right is arguing that we must recognize the lies or unsubstantiated statements that our brethren are making.

    We allow those claims to be a barrier to dialogue because they attempt to paint abortion as something it is not. Why would the pro-life movement continue to use them if they didn’t affect the dialogue?

    While I commend you for recognizing the invalidity of those claims, I encourage you to make a point of sharing that message with your pro-life cohort.

  • prochoicekatie

    To back up Catherine’s assertions, I recalled a passage I had read a few years back. It does provide some useful statistics and research that demonstrates reasonable evidence to suggest that her claims about later abortions have merit.

    Rigel C Oliveri’s article, ”Crossing the Line: The Political and Moral Battle over Late-term Abortion,” discusses those numbers. (To be fair, however, it is over 10 years old.) Perhaps it is time for some new research?

  • prochoicekatie

    Also, we can assume that most abortions because of fetal anomaly are late-term, as it overwhelmingly takes that long to discover many of said anomalies.

  • invalid-0

    Katie, let’s suppose you’re right and most large pro-life groups DO make these claims.  They are NOT relevant to the actual disagreement between us, which is – in my own summary (I apologize for any apparent bias) – whether or not the unborn are living beings deserving of a right to live that is superior to the mother’s right to bodily autonomy.

     

    I ask you: what do depression, contraception, breast cancer or survival rates really have to do with that legal and philosophical question?  

     

    The point here is to not disengage, which is where I agree with Ms. Kissling and disagree with Ms. Marcotte.  Quit running from the conversation and instead call them on their bullsh*t.  ”Ok [pro-lifer], let’s say you’re right and abortion does cause depression and breast cancer.  So do cigarettes and alcohol, but they’re legal.”  Move on to the substance. 

     

    Likewise, let’s say you’re all right and giving contraceptives out in classrooms will reduce abortion rates; that abortion empowers women; that making abortion illegal would cause millions of coat-hanger deaths; whatever.  I don’t care.  That doesn’t address the original question.

     

    The point is to see which of us can spend less time patting ourselves on the back for being right and rallying our supporters and friends around us to instead turn around and engage on the issue at hand.  

  • colleen

    I personally don’t claim any of those things, and neither do any pro-lifers that I know.

    I would point out to you that  many ‘pro-life’ folks who post at this very blog have made those precise claims but I know too well how, when you’re confronted with evidence and actual facts, repeated and adamant denial and then avoidance substitute for ” meaningful dialogue”.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Forgive me but I have to ask flat-out if you are being disingenuous.

     

    The Vatican itself has spread lies about the (non) connection between abortion and “adverse outcomes” on women (not to mention its misinformation campaign on hormonal contraception). Concerned Women for America, Jill Stanek, Family Research Council, AUL, Susan B. Anthony List….all of these and others have perpetuated blatant lies about links between abortion and breast cancer, depression, suicide, blah blah blah.

    Are these among the “none that (you) know?”

  • squirrely-girl

    … isn’t even done until about 18 weeks. Which then would result in potential retesting/confirmatory testing, etc. It’s pretty easy at that point to push the date pretty far back :(

  • crowepps

    Katie, let’s suppose you’re right and most large pro-life groups DO make these claims.

    Well, it’s pretty easy to go to the websites of “most large pro-life groups” and find those claims right there in black and white and certainly there are lots of handouts available to purchase that make those claims so why don’t we agree to accept that those claims indeed are part of the conversation?  The question then would be, why?

    They are NOT relevant to the actual disagreement between us, which is – in my own summary (I apologize for any apparent bias) – whether or not the unborn are living beings deserving of a right to live that is superior to the mother’s right to bodily autonomy.

    And your clear statement of your position explains why, because the vast majority of Americans REJECT THIS POSITION.  The average American will not agree with the statement that so long as a pregnancy exists, the fetus is a ‘person’ with rights and the woman in which it exists has no rights.  Since your fringe position, held by at most 15% of Americans, has been rejected by the majority, THEN It becomes necessary to sidestep to propaganda full of lies so the ‘movement’ can assert ’we oppose abortion/contraception because it’s bad for women’.

  • julie-watkins

    Fact fights dominate the life choice debate.

    I believe world-view differences fuel much of the disagreements of “fact”. The people of good will that I have had discussions with who are uncomfortable with abortion — they don’t want to make abortion illegal, they don’t want to force women to continue pregnancies and don’t think women and doctors are lying when they say an abortion needs to be done because the woman’s health or life is under risk. Rather, they think it’s a failure of culture that more women with unexpected pregnancies don’t choose to continue. For people who think “things happen for a reason” I can see how they’d have an expectation of how those women should choose.

    I do argue ideologically on early abortion & contraception. I believe that people who argue that ZBEFs are people and pregnant women are obligated are essentially arguing that women and poor people are second class, and I have little patience — especially when contraception is targeted as well, or certain methods (the most effected) of contraception are being redefined as “abortion” in an attempt to make them unacceptable or illegal.

    On the other hand, I argue pragmatically against accusations of “you support abortion on demand, with no limits!” There’s a wildly varying point (depending on context and who’s debating) past which abortion becomes problematical. That’s why I think those questions should be determined by medical standards, not laws.

    From my point of view, reproduction matters are the large social & political problem it is because the issue is part of the larger Class Warfare being waged by the ruling class against the producing class. Once reproductive rights were seen by capitalists to be a threat to the bottom line, they are using all their persuasive, agri-business-type social engineering to push for restrictions. Economic growth needs housing starts so a high birth rate is good for profits. Poverty is good for cheap labor. Astroturf groups are set up; conservative groups with useful goals get uses & — along with funding — get nudged in certain directions. (These groups, even if they don’t know it, can be said to be “being used” when the funding source is shown to be funding groups with contradictory goals … except for helping the funding groups goals.)

     

    For this reason I believe any substantive effort for real “dialog” discussion (whatever that might be) is being watched for so it can be instantly overpowered by agents (knowing or unknowing) of the Class Warfare contingent.

    As long as the top 1% owns the legislative process (ie, the cumulative effect of legislation is to write laws/policies that taxes are disproportionately spent to profit the top 1% but taxes are collected disproportionately from poor & middle class) there’s no effective or safe way to dialog. Women & non-rich families that are having resources taken away & see barriers getting higher & basic rights being attacked are going to dig in & not cooperate.

    For a parallel, look at the attacks against progressive churches. A social justice church can — and did — have great potential to help positive change. That’s why there are Astroturf conservative groups trying (& succeeding) in steeple-jacking and defusing these church’s abilities to make change. Right now I can’t think of a “dialoging” group which doesn’t seem in danger of or has been compromised or made ineffective by forces equivalent to these “steeple-jacking” actions.

     

  • crowepps

    Most physical malformations that result in a fetus unable to live after birth aren’t caught until the fetus is large enough to image the internal organs clearly, or lack of internal organs.  There isn’t a clear understanding of the lifelong damage that is caused by earlier delivery either — the people cooing about ‘the smallest premature baby who ever survived’ and how special that is don’t grok that the actual child, and parents, have to cope with profound retardation, blindness and seizures.

     

    I would add 18 weeks isn’t even the halfway point.  The stats look different if you reserve ‘late term’ only to anything after 21 weeks and refer to anything earlier as ‘first half of the pregnancy’.  Suddenly there are almost NO ‘late term’ abortions and they are all fetal malformation, life of the mother or rape/incest except in rare instances.

  • on-the-issues-magazine

    “I have discontinued labeling myself as pro-life, as I realize there is more ambiguity in the abortion experience than I was ever aware of.”

    This was from a person I met at the Princeton conference who, at the time, labeled herself “pro-life.” Following the conference and correspondence I had with her in the weeks after, one heart and mind was opened and changed. One small step for women…….we will have to wait for the giant leap!

    - Merle Hoffman, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, On The Issues Magazine

     

  • saltyc

    Thank you for your reply.

    I just want to say that I think while you were writing this post, I was moderating some of the more inflammatory accusations (implied mostly) I made against you re: relating more to those “suits” in Princeton than to women who can’t afford a timely abortion, so in case anyone wonders where your reply was coming from, I edited my original post.

    But you are right, and I want to acknowledge your huge contributions to women, I can’t hold a candle to your work.

  • jayn

    While Amanda is not my favourite blogger (she’s too confrontational for my tastes), I find her characterization of the pro-life movement interesting as a way of understanding the underlying worldview that leads to the values they hold.  To label them as dishonest is perhaps a bit much–I suspect a fair few of them don’t realise the patriarchal ideals that created those value systems in the first place.  Absent that, I can understand how they come to the conclusions they do, and I think that’s true of most pro-choicers.  What I’ve yet to see is the pro-life side showing understanding of our values.  While I can respect the value system at issue, I have more trouble respecting the people who expouse it–largely because I don’t think they have any respect for us, and possibly never have.

     

    What really frustrates me is how often their values seem to be tied to Christian ideology.  It’s like they forget that there are other belief systems out there (again, I suspect that fact evades them–it certainly evaded me for quite a long time) and that arguments rooted in religious tenets fail for that very reason.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard pro-life arguments that didn’t bring religion to the table.

  • invalid-0

    No, I’m not being disingenuine.  And seeing as how I don’t know any of those people/groups, Jodi, then no, I can’t speak for them.  No pro-lifers I know make the claim because, best as I/we can tell, while both sides spit out tons of facts, there is no consensus on conclusion.  We each have a story to tell, and we see more clearly those facts which support our story.

     

    Some people on this site have an incredible ability to mix up fact and conclusion.  Does abortion cause breast cancer?  Does it cause depression?  Do added restrictions lead to unsafe abortions being committed?  The answers to those are conclusions, not facts.  Two people can look at the same set of facts and draw two sets of conclusions.

     

    But when people like you and Amanda draw the conclusion (not fact) that abortion and breast cancer are unrelated, and refuse to dialogue with those who disagree, you’re part of the problem, not the solution. 

  • crowepps

    I’ve read a number of ProLife arguments which didn’t bring OVERT religious arguments in, but they almost always relied on egocentrism (I feel squicky about abortion), sentimentality (babies are cute and women ought to WANT to be Mommies) or entitlement (continuation of my superior ’culture’ and/or support for my old age depends on a sufficient number of workers/soldiers/taxpayers so women OWE me reproduction).

  • catherine-epstein

    and for yours, Amanda. I want to highlight that the reasons I gave for late-term abortion were given with the phrasing, “The most frequent circumstances that lead to late abortion—which account for less than 1 percent of all abortions in the country—INCLUDE fetal anomalies…” I don’t believe it is “straying from the facts” to list these reasons as being included in frequent circumstances. I don’t want to get caught up in syntax, but I don’t think my piece deserves to be held as an example of pro-choice dishonesty.

     

    As expressed in the quote that Frances provides from Guttmacher, there is no hard and fast data. My data came from Dr. Hern and Dr. Carhart, and it’s based on their experience.

  • jill-stanek

    As one of those from the other side who acknowledges she can get snippy, I venture into this discussion without that intent tonight, to speak frankly with my guard down in the spirit of Frances’s post.

    Amanda, Jodi, my colleagues and I honestly believe all that you accuse of “blatantly lying” about, that:

    … abortion causes depression, that contraception doesn’t work, that abortion causes breast cancer, and that women don’t die from illegal abortions.

    Well, we do believe mothers die/died from illegal abortions but not to the extent your side claims.

    But whatever, I’m not here to debate those topics because they aren’t really the point of this conversation. The point of this conversation is availing oneself to the possibility of understanding the other side.

    And so you should know we think that you who deny the aforementioned are lying or blinded as well. So we’re all even on that front.

    Here is a point about which we agree, quoting Frances:

    First, I never mentioned common ground and I think seeking common ground with those opposed to abortion is futile. I do seek some agreement between those of us who are in the 20% or so of the population who  support abortion in all cirucmstances without any restrictions and the 60% of Americans who beleive abortion should be legal but regulated.

    Even Barack Obama in his Notre Dame speech acknowledged we will never reach common ground on this subject. I don’t know any pro-lifer who cares to, although it appears there were some at the Princeton event. If one believes human life begins at conception, there can be no common ground with those who do not believe that, or with those who acknowledge the science but still think it acceptable to abort.

    We realize we will never reach the 20% on your far end, so we, too, focus on reaching those who are conflicted about abortion (“I would never have one but would never tell another woman she couldn’t”) or who think abortion should be more regulated. These people are obviously persuadable, and pro-lifers believe we’re making headway. So I guess I have found some common ground. We’re all trying to convince the same people.

    So here we are. I have no closing words of wisdom except to say pro-lifers will never give up. And I expect many of you will never give up fighting for what you believe makes women equal to men and autonomous. It is what it is. Sometimes truces are possible, such as between the IRA and the British, and sometimes they are not, such as between the… well, never mind. I’ll just say that right always prevails. And we shall one day see who’s right on this issue. There will never be compromise.

    Oh, one final point. Although Amanda horrifies me most of the time, I do sometimes find her entertaining, and I do often find her thoughts intriguing, even if erroneous. And I’m impressed by her knowledge and love of music. And I think Frances is good for Amanda.

    Over and out, bash away… :)

  • crowepps

    Some people on this site have an incredible ability to mix up fact and conclusion.  Does abortion cause breast cancer?  Does it cause depression?  Do added restrictions lead to unsafe abortions being committed?  The answers to those are conclusions, not facts.  Two people can look at the same set of facts and draw two sets of conclusions.

    Whether or not there is a link between abortion and breast cancer or abortion and depression are medical questions which can be answered through the science of epidemiology.  There have been a GREAT NUMBER of studies to check these claims, because the purpose of medicine is to prevent people from becoming ill.  Scientists whose field this is, with no stake in the outcome either way, have reached the conclusion that at the present time the fact DO NOT support either link.  There is an EXCELLENT explanation of how these studies work and how to read the results here:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2749

    The only way two people could ”draw two sets of conclusions” from scientifically determined facts is if one of them rejects the science and insists that because he/she believes something SHOULD be true then he/she gets to believe in it DESPITE what the evidence shows.

    We each have a story to tell, and we see more clearly those facts which support our story.

    I absolutely agree with you there, but you might want to consider just what happens when a person knows that he/she will first “see…clearly those facts that support our story”.  It doesn’t mean that the other facts don’t exist or aren’t valid.  It means instead that unless you make a purposeful effort to COMPENSATE for that bias and STOP cherrypicking, you might as well have your eyes shut and your fingers in ears while you sing lah lah lah, because KNOWING that you are using only the facts you like is refusing to face reality, and there is no possibility of a meaningful discussion, but instead just two people doing simultaneous monologues about their personal mythologies.

  • kate2

    I have come to the conclusion that dialogue is important on the issue of abortion for several reasons that I outline in my piece on OHOM at http://blog.ansirh.org/2010/11/open-hearts-open-minds-princeton/

    In my work, I have observed that for women who have abortions, the perception of controversy around abortion (the fighting, the anger, the name-calling, the judgment) contributes a great deal to feelings of isolation and misunderstanding.   In my personal life, I have experienced this as well. I’m an abortion researcher and my father is a pro-life minister. We struggle to communicate about abortion and remain loving toward one another. We lack a language or process for communicating that supports our relationship in light of our very different views.

    I think that engaging with an open heart and open mind on the issue of abortion is a radical act. It acknowledges that most people have personal feelings and experiences on abortion that have a need for expression. It acknowledges that people of all kinds (prochoice, prolife, unaffiliated) long for connection and want to be seen as good.

    I agree with Frances (and many of the writers on RHReality Check) that the “common ground” we seek does not exist in politics at this moment. I’m not a fan of the horse trading strategies promoted by Will Saletan and the like (eg. We’ll give you second trimester abortion if you give us Title X). More than the way we advocate (or even vote), I believe that the way we choose to communicate about abortion can have important impacts on the experiences of real people.

    Data can tell us a lot and it can be the best tool for guiding policy.  However, abortion is both a matter of policy and a matter of the heart. Abortion is not just a political experience, but a social and emotional one as well.  We do not have to agree on data (or anything else) to have dialogue on abortion. 

    The debate around abortion has enough oxygen to live on forever. Posts like Marcotte’s only fan this flame and add to a sense of futility. Though I don’t think that OHOM was completely successful in working toward sustainable dialogue, or dialogue which invites all voices. I sincerely appreciate the effort and the work by the organizers. To see a change in our culture around abortion, we need more spaces such as these to explore our values and model new approaches to communicating peacefully about difficult issues.

  • crowepps

    I’m not a fan of the horse trading strategies promoted by Will Saletan and the like (eg. We’ll give you second trimester abortion if you give us Title X).

    Personally, I found his column incredibly offensive.

     

    Will, who cannot get pregnant and will never be affected by his suggestions, agrees with a couple OTHER men who cannot get pregnant and will never be affected by their suggestions, that ‘we’ can make a bargain about ‘they’ will be allowed to do — if ‘we’ agree to allow women to get/use birth control then ‘they’ have to pay us back for our tolerance by agreeing to sell their sisters down the river and bring back stigma for the twits who need a second abortion because they’re too stupid to understand why they got pregnant.  Of course, there’s no mention of the men too stupid to figure out that they’re involved in starting those pregnancies.

     

    The implication is that the issue can be settled by some kind of ‘deal’ among the ProLife men and reduces women to placeholders in a male game.  It reminded me of Yalta, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill reached a ‘deal’ about who got to be boss of which Germans for the next 50 years. 

  • svalexis

    I’m pro-life, and I’ve never heard anybody say that abortion is never medically necessary.  However, I would like to say that the argument for abortion in the endangerment of the life of the mother is specious, at best.  If the mother dies and the baby isn’t viable, then the baby would die anyway when the mother dies.  If the baby is viable then the answer is to deliver the baby, not kill it.

  • brandolyn-borgstadt

    Sometimes I think we do more talking than we do listening.  Sometimes we try to listen to the side that is opposite of our own personal views, but usually that ends up at an impasse because there are core values and issues on which we will never agree.  So, here’s an idea.  Why don’t we listen to the women who have had abortions?  Abortion has been legal in the US for nearly 40 years now, and there are millions of women who have had abortions.  Why don’t we engage in a conversation with them?  Personally, I have heard many, many testimonies of women who are post-abortive and I know of no woman who says her abortion was the best thing she ever did.  There are lingering affects to this procedure.  There is depression, anger, anxiety, self-hatred, etc, and all these things lead to a whole host of problems like alcohol abuse, drug additions, sexual promiscuity, and even suicide.  If there was another procedure or drug that did as much damage to women that abortion does, women’s groups would be up in arms calling for it to be eradicated – and rightly so! 

  • colleen

    Posts like Marcotte’s only fan this flame and add to a sense of futility.

    Amanda did not attend the conference in which you allowed a couple of men to agree to increase the maternal mortality rate, men who, as far as I’ve been able to tell never once suggested that men could do ANYTHING to decrease the rate of unwanted pregnancies. (Indeed, as far as I can tell the implicit assumption was that women become pregnant through parthenogenesis)

    You know who did attend? Will Saletan. Have you read his posts on Salon? Talk about being filled with a sense of futility…

    You could make abortion a hanging offense tomorrow and Mr Saletan and his buddies would be arguing for burning at the stake. It’s so traditional.

    The ‘pro-life’ movement is fueled by bullies like Will Saletan. You don’t protect others from bullying by placating and enabling. I’ll take Amanda’s approach any day.

  • ahunt

    By all means, Brandon, let’s ask them!

     

    Oh wait…we are asking, and there is no credible research to support  the assertions that abortions are responsible for “depression, anger, anxiety, self-hatred, etc,” or ” lead to a whole host of problems like alcohol abuse, drug additions, sexual promiscuity, and even suicide. “

     

    What studies do indicate is that these conditions tend to exist pre-abortion.

  • crowepps

    there are core values and issues on which we will never agree.

    This is absolutely true.  Which is why, personally, I am ProChoice.  In a country with freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, there is absolutely no justification for me or anyone else to impose their core values on other people who do not agree.

     

    I agree with you that many women regret their abortions, just as many women regret having children.  There are also lots and lots of women who do NOT regret their abortions or are happy they had children.  Women are not all the same and so they do not all react in exactly the same way.

  • crowepps

    I’m pro-life, and I’ve never heard anybody say that abortion is never medically necessary.

    Well, here’s a bunch of ProLife Physicians explaining exactly that at GREAT length.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5bSL25iQt_UJ:www.prolifephysicians.org/rarecases.htm+abortion+never+medically+necessary&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

  • jodi-jacobson

    I have had an abortion. I did not regret it for one second, and have never regretted it.

    I have not become depressed because of it, nor do i have problems with drugs, alcohol, or sexual promiscuity.

    I had an unintended and untenable pregnancy due to contraceptive failure at a time in my life when I was not equipped to bear a child.

    It was the best thing I did for myself at that time, and the best thing for my now family.

    These kinds of arguments are really self-defeating. An abortion is a life choice and a choice for life at a time when it is a necessary action. If we want to ask women then let’s turn to the large majority of women who have had abortions who are now or were then mothers and who underwent abortions because they could not bear and raise a child or another child at that point in their lives.

    This is the way it always has been and the way it always will be, whether or not abortion is legal. The reality is that we can reduce the need for abortion –and I am all for that–but we can never eliminate it and even more than that, we can not “cherry pick” who is going to be allowed to exercise her fundamental rights and who will not be allowed to do so.

  • ahunt

    Jill, this quote:

     

    I have no closing words of wisdom except to say pro-lifers will never give up…

     

    …is why we have no faith in dialogue. No matter what common territory we may find, it will never be enough. What point is there in seeking compromise with those who will simply continue efforts to chip away at what we believe to be the most basic right of women?

     

    I’ve always wanted to ask you what you think a world without Roe v Wade will look like.

     

    So now that you are here…what do you think?

     

  • crowepps

    It would sure be interesting if somebody did research to see what the long-term effects are of getting counseling from amateurs with an axe to grind. 

  • ahunt

    Ya think? This is what is so infuriating to me…

     

    Let there be credible follow-up research to the fates of “persuadable” women sucked into these faux counseling centers!

  • goatini

    It is a point of being a fully equal *citizen*.

    It is a point of all that full and equal citizenship entails: full participation; full rights, and full opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Without full autonomy, women are and will remain, de facto, less than fully equal citizens.

  • crowepps

    My guess is “depression, anger, anxiety, self-hatred, etc, and all these things lead to a whole host of problems like alcohol abuse, drug additions, sexual promiscuity, and even suicide.”  Unless they ‘find Jesus’, of course.  Sigh.

     

    I really, truly wish they would pass a law reserving the term ‘counselor’ for professional therapists, instead of letting every idjit that wants to make a quick buck call him or herself a ‘counselor’ and prey on vulnerable people.

  • ahunt

    instead of letting every idjit that wants to make a quick buck call him or herself a ‘counselor’ and prey on vulnerable people.

     

    … or any unpaid idjit with an agenda!

     

    Indeed…any failure of this “counseling” to produce adequate results is no doubt  put down to the failure of the individual to truly accept Jesus into their lives. The “counseling” didn’t fail. The individual failed the “counseling.”

  • crowepps

    Look at the whole ex-gay scam — amateur counselors raking in tens of thousands of bucks by pretending that they can pray the gay out of kids — causing enormous damage, and then confessing that the ‘therapy’ never worked for them either but they continued to pretend it did because they liked the money.

  • crowepps

    The really depressing scenario is one where the person sets up a nonprofit corporation/’church’, purports to give free ‘Christ centered counseling’, and then in addition to inflicting his/her amateur psychology insights on someone who may actually need professional therapy, solicits donations from little old ladies to ‘help save a sister who made a poor choice’.  He/she gets to rip off the taxpayer, claim a ‘freedom of religion’ right to inflict damage on the ‘patient’, AND scam old ladies, while using the entire fraudulent enterprise to support him/herself.

     

    After they’re arrested for fraud a couple times, scam artists figure out REAL QUICK that the way to get away with ripping people off is to get a mail order diploma and pretend to be a ‘pastor’.

  • arekushieru

    And, not only is it rejected by the 85% in this specific circumstance, but it is rejected by that 15% in all OTHER circumstances.  Even most of the ProLifers, on here, disagree that anyone else’s right to life should trump another’s right to bodily autonomy, let aLONE their own right to bodily autonomy.  That dishonesty is why I cannot agree that any dialogue can be had between an anti-choicer and a pro-choicer.  It is also the reason why I have difficulty believing any dialogue can be had between a ProChoicer, such as myself (who believes that a woman should be able to have an abortion at whatever stage for whatever reason), and those who believe that any kind of restriction must be placed on abortion.  Anyone who has seen such a discussion between myself and another, will understand just how difficult it is, but, yes, difficult for just me, PERsonally.     

  • plume-assassine

    It’s nearly impossible to find common ground with the anti-choice, because as a whole, they have consistently shown that they will resort to acts of violence and terrorism when they don’t get their way. Until the threats, the violence, the stalking, the clinic blockades, the harrassment, and the misogyny stops.. there is no room for one-on-one, “nice,” “open heart” dialogue. That is why I go the ‘bruta figura’ route when writing about reproductive justice, hence the name I chose… la plume assassine, (in reference to the adage, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”)

     

    I do wish that rationality will win out over violence and emotionalism, and hopefully we can all at least find common ground on:

    …Access to contraception. Access to comprehensive sex education. Resources for new and single mothers being considered a legal, political, and organizational priority.

    as pro-choice-katie said above.

  • arekushieru

    I have met a number of ProLife Christians on Facebook who don’t use religious arguments in opposition to abortion.  In fact, they’ve agreed that there is just as much support for abortion in the bible as there is opposition.  However, the one value that even the majority, there, cannot seem to comprehend, is that of bodily integrity over life, even though they promote it in all other aspects of their lives.  They should get to choose when and how their body is used and who uses it, in the case of organ donation, after all, but, because a woman’s body forces her to opt-OUT of (rather than opt-in to) organ sharing, here, she should be denied that same value we all hold dear. 

    It’s like Julie said.  This is a medical issue and should, thus, be determined by the appropriate medical standards.  Standards that weigh the health concerns of each woman on an individual basis, whether or not she is terminating the pregnancy, not on a one-size-fits-all basis.  

  • ahunt

    La Plume…there is also the strong conviction among many of these pro-lifers, and particularly among the violent type…that women have but one purpose; that women are not individuals in their own right.

     

    “Rational” pro-lifers need to rethink just who they are jumping into bed with…

  • arekushieru

    But, you’ve missed the point.  If an abortion is performed, the woman DOESn’t die?  Her life is worth no more than the fetus?  That is sad. 

  • ack

    /points at crowepps

  • ack

    Julie, I always appreciate your ability to discuss the abortion debate in an anti-oppression framework. I think we, as Americans, fail to do so in far too many places. We silo oppressions, when we need to be discussing kyriarchy (the layers of oppression that various people in our society experience) in a much more widespread way.

     

  • ack

    One of the most frustrating parts for me is that those who do deeply tie their views on a (completely erroneous) interpretation of the Bible is not that they’ve forgotten that there are other viewpoints. They are just so convinced that those viewpoints are wrong.

     

    If faith is a mountain, does “god” really care how you get up it? Whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, or any of the other COUNTLESS belief and/or religious systems out there, does god really care? It was mere chance where people were born. Any Christian in Nebraska could just as easily have been born in China, and to think that somehow, those in the western world are favored is just ethnocentrism.

  • ack

    If one believes human life begins at conception, there can be no common ground with those who do not believe that, or with those who acknowledge the science but still think it acceptable to abort.

     

    I choose to believe in both science and the law as it pertains to bodily autonomy. And I have chosen not to engage with people like you. This may be detrimental to the larger conversation, but I think that the one thing we can both agree on is that we have little, if any, common ground.

     

    Start by supporting contraception. I can start there, too, and we can move forward.

  • ack

    I’m pretty sure unwanted childbirth would have those same effects. And since we’re rocking anectdotal data, every woman I know who has had an abortion has NO regrets. Some of them struggled with the decision and made it after careful analysis of her current situation. Others saw the positive pregnancy test and knew right away that pregnancy and childbirth were not for her at that time.

  • ack

    I didn’t want to just edit, but perhaps our common ground can begin with fair pay. Women shouldn’t be penalized for their gender identity. And women who want to be mothers shouldn’t be penalized for wanting to be mothers.

     

    I’m 28. Greener than green in my career, but also thinking that I might want kids someday. The timing hinges not on when I get pregnant, but on when it would be least detrimental to my career goals. Let’s start by supporting fair pay and ending employment discrimination. Let’s move to contraception access. And then maybe, just maybe, we can have a real conversation about pregnancy and the role it plays in women’s lives.

  • jill-stanek

    Hi Ack,

    I think we all agree that some contraceptives measures work very well, if used properly. But they’re not used properly – and never will be. 50 years of evidence following the launch of the “free love” experiment bear this out. Pro-lifers aren’t saying contraceptives don’t work. We say the contraceptive mentality doesn’t work. The Feminist Majority Foundation recently wrote on it…

    http://feminist.org/news/newsbyte/uswirestory.asp?id=12730

    … linking to a pretty damning CDC report…

    http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/contraception.htm

    Actually, abortion is a symptom of a larger problem – the contraception mentality of having sex whenever and with whomever one wants. This is the basis of the unsafe, unhealthy, and even deadly 50-year experiment. Just one example: 50 years ago there were only 3 STDs. Now there are over 20,  many resistant to drug therapy, some (herpes, etc.) incurable, one (HIV), as I said, deadly.

    The other problem with hormonal contraceptives is they may abort an early developing human. The IUD most certainly does.

    The point of Kissling’s piece was to encourage debate in good faith and with lowered rhetoric. She and I agree there will never be common ground with those most supportive of the opposite ideology.

  • jill-stanek

    Hi ahunt,

    I agree with you, as I stated in my comment is so many words. Our two sides will never find common territory or compromise. Frankly, our side isn’t seeking compromise. How can you compromsie on whether a human lives or dies? We seek to win. But we do seek to help you understand.

    So to answer your question, we recognize a world without Roe v. Wade will not be a panacea. There will still be unplanned pregnancies, and there will still be illegal abortions. (But why do pro-choicers promote the frightening concept that illegal abortions are always committed by scummy people?)

    But people will be much more careful. The unsafe, unhealthy, deadly “free love” experiment will be over. The world will automatically become a more sexually chaste place, which is better for us all.

    That said, the pro-life movement already has a good foundation in place to help mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies – 3,000 pregnancy care centers already provide maternity/baby clothing, food, diapers, formula, shelter, parenting education, and financial provisions for medical and legal help if need be.

    Of course, a world without Roe v. Wade will see many more children live than die. As a result, our society will be healthier and more stable.

  • josie

    Face it, my fellow pro-choicers: we’ve lost the battle and it’s because of language. Whenever I read an article about the abortion discussion, pro-lifers are referred to as being against abortion. The news does it, politicians on both sides of the aisle do it and PEOPLE WHO ARE PRO-CHOICE EVEN DO IT.

    We’ve allowed our discussion to be trumped and that’s why we can’t have a discussion and no civility is going to change that. 

    We allow them to bring up depression and late term and the rights of the “father” and we get all involved in debating all those things. They’ve got us right where they want us, arguing on the fringes about things that are irrelevant. Meanwhile, they’re plotting away and winning the public conversation by painting pro-choicers as being in favor of abortion and pro-lifers being against abortion.

    I wish we could bring the debate back to reality: do you want to put women and doctors in prison for having/performing an abortion? Do you want to put people in prison AFTER an abortion or work to reduce the number of women who choose abortion for economic reasons by passing family friendly programs? And, of course, the only question that really matters: who gets to decide whether a woman is put in prison for having an abortion – her or a bunch of people who don’t know her?

     

    I’m not a good writer so I hope this makes sense. Even Sarah Palin is pro-choice because she said in an interview that she doesn’t want women to go to prison. We never press them to explain how they can want laws that outlaw abortion but not have any punishment. We let them get away with it everyday. And then when I tell people I’m pro-choice, that I don’t want to put women in prison for having an abortion, their response is to call me a baby killer. It’s going to take those of us who feel as I do to quit responding to the irrelevant parts and try to get what’s important to rise to the front: what should the prison term be and what will happen to their other children while they’re incarcerated (since most women having abortions already have children)?

     

    Thanks for reading.

     

     

  • saltyc

    Hey Jill,

    What exactly are you doing to liberate the thousands of frozen children in fertility labs? Because you are really interested in having us make more babies, which more babies actually lead to more poverty and misery.

  • josie

    Along the vein of sticking to the basics in the discussion:

    My neighbor’s religious beliefs prohibit her from having an abortion unless her life is at risk.  

    My neighbor’s religious beliefs are that if she has children who will become homeless if she continues her pregnancy, she is morally and ethically commanded to put her living children first and have an abortion.

    My other neighbor has a Down’s syndrome child and the family lives on the brink of financial disaster. If she becomes pregnant with another Down’s syndrome child and loses her insurance in order to carry the new baby to term, her other child will no longer have food, clothing or shelter. 

    My religious beliefs are that I am to love my neighbor as myself; putting mothers in prison and their kids in foster care because their religious beliefs are different from mine is a major sin.

    Why do we allow religious beliefs to be a topic in the abortion debate? If someone thinks me following MY religious beliefs is a sin, then it is between me and my God. I don’t understand where they get the idea that they can pass laws forcing me to follow THEIR religious beliefs. 

  • saltyc

    In my work, I have observed that for women who have abortions, the perception of controversy around abortion (the fighting, the anger, the name-calling, the judgment) contributes a great deal to feelings of isolation and misunderstanding. 

    I heartily agree, and I find unfortunately, that that is what “dialogue” often succumbs to.

     

    Also, the oxygen in the debate is fueled by capitalists who want us to breed more, not by the actual issues. If you look at the debate, it doesn’t look at real women talking about their lives. If you had a relative who wanted an abortion, would people feel it was their place to actively stop her? No they wouldn’t, unless they’re bad people. So the debate removes the woman from the equation and is not a natural issue  the way unemployment or the economy is. Issues with oxygen are those that affect the people heading the fight, like civil rights. The debate is exceedingly abstract and hair-splitting (note BrainH’s love for the zygote one second after union and complete disregard one second before.) It’s a fake issue promoted by conservative capitalists.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ Not for women, little girls, and pregnant rape victims. ~

     

    ~My mother had me, she did not protect me, she let me get raped because she did not “want me”. I am one of those who was not aborted, instead I endured the first ten years of my life being used for sex because my mother did not “want me”. You pro-life people do not care at all about raped unloved children. Most of the kids I grew up with were raped before their tenth birthday boys included, you do not give a shit about them. *You are all just pure concentrated pro-rape.*

     

    ~ You make me sick, telling me some one who had no choice not to have unwanted genital pain, you have to have unwanted genital pain to save a so called life because it gives me, a pro-lifer pleasure for you to have unwanted genital pain. I do not like you any more then I like the rapist I grew up with. ~

     

    ~ I know from experience there is no ever good reason to force a female into having unwanted vaginal pain. It hurts and is very scary having some one else dictate your life, body, and genitals. My mother should have aborted me if she was not going to love and protect me. ~

     

    ~ If a female has custody of her own body she can say “NO” I will not have sex against my will because I own my own vagina, and no one can use or hurt my vagina against my will. If she does not own her own vagina some one can say, no it is going to be used and hurt against your will.

    If a female has custody of her own vagina she can say no I will not give birth against my will, I do not want to have that unwanted vaginal pain or my vagina to be used that way. If she does ot have custody of her own vagina someone can say no your vagina is going to be used and hurt that way to save a life. That is extremely gross, abusive, and vile to the poor woman, little girl, or pregnan rape victim all of which have actual physical and emotional feelings.~

    ~ The pro-life movement is just a Huge Pro-Sadomasochistic Rape Movement.~

    ~ I would rather be aborted then born to a pro-lifer. Just like I would rather be aborted then born to a mother who was going to let her family rape me as a kid, and not love and protect me.~

  • robin-marty

    .

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ And more child neglect and child rape. But if there is anything we know it is pro-lifes do not give a tiny damn about child rape. ~

    ~ My Aunt had lots of children, they wanted her to love them so very bad, but she hated them with a passion. Pro-lifers do not care if kids suffer.~

  • rebellious-grrl

    One more round of applause for Julie!

    From my point of view, reproduction matters are the large social & political problem it is because the issue is part of the larger Class Warfare being waged by the ruling class against the producing class. Once reproductive rights were seen by capitalists to be a threat to the bottom line, they are using all their persuasive, agri-business-type social engineering to push for restrictions. Economic growth needs housing starts so a high birth rate is good for profits. Poverty is good for cheap labor. Astroturf groups are set up; conservative groups with useful goals get uses & — along with funding — get nudged in certain directions. (These groups, even if they don’t know it, can be said to be “being used” when the funding source is shown to be funding groups with contradictory goals … except for helping the funding groups goals.)
     For this reason I believe any substantive effort for real “dialog” discussion (whatever that might be) is being watched for so it can be instantly overpowered by agents (knowing or unknowing) of the Class Warfare contingent.

    So true! Thank you Julie for the outstanding post! Bravo!!!!!!!

  • robin-marty

    First of all, I want to say that this is a really interesting dialogue to me. But I do have a question about this statement.

    Actually, abortion is a symptom of a larger problem – the contraception mentality of having sex whenever and with whomever one wants. This is the basis of the unsafe, unhealthy, and even deadly 50-year experiment.

    A vast number of people who use contraception are actually in monogamous, long term relationships/marriages. I myself used contraception for the first 7 years with my husband, as well as between the birth of our first child and our second pregnancy. We will be returning to contraception again shortly after having our second child, until we decide when and if we wish to have a third.

    I like to have sex whenever my husband and I choose, with the person we choose (each other). I’m not sure I understand why this is an “unsafe, unhealthy” lifestyle. It seems to be very healthy for our marriage, which is going strong.

    I can see why you would believe that your arguments address a particular segment of the population, but it doesn’t address the great portion who believe that sex with their partners is a healthy part of marriage and makes the relationship stronger. I love my husband. I love my relationship with him, both emotionally and physically. And I do not wish to have a baby every year that I am with him.

    I don’t agree with your assessment of the dangers of contraception on society, but even if I did, there is a very large population who relies on it that goes unaddressed in your argument.

    Married people tend to like sex. And they don’t tend to want a baby every time they do it.

  • rebellious-grrl

    And for those of us who consider ourselves reproductive freedom fighters who continually fight for women’s right to bodily autonomy WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP. I have no illusions about reaching any “common ground” with you or any other anti-choicer. I wholeheartedly agree with Amanda.

  • invalid-0

    Scientists whose field this is, with no stake in the outcome either way, have reached the conclusion that at the present time the fact DO NOT support either link.

    Ah, yes, the whole “scientists that support MY conclusion are the unbiased ones” delusion.  Look, I would love to back and forth with you on the research and epidemiology behind the abortion-breast cancer link.  I really would, but I wouldn’t know what I was talking about.  I know that I have seen doctors, and citations to research on both sides of the debate and neither side has convinced me thoroughly.

    ——-

    Just read your article.  And although it ends with a just outstandingly confidence-inducing conclusion, “although it is still possible that there may be a link between abortion and breast cancer, it is unlikely that there is”, I’m going to have to say that I still don’t believe there is complete consensus on the answer.  If even your own links are going to indicate that there may be a link, can we still look into it?

     

    Anyway, you still miss the difference between fact and conclusion.  Facts, by definition, CANNOT be disputed.  It is the body of data upon which we BOTH agree.  I may read your stats, and dispute them, or qualify them – and then draw a different conclusion from them, but I cannot deny them if they are truly factual data, or statistics.

    If I do truly ignore fact, that is my problem, and I’m not being genuine in my approach.  However, if I review the facts and draw a different conclusion than you, that’s a genuine disagreement, and we now have a basis for dialogue.

  • beth-saunders

    You say after Roe is gutted,

    people will be much more careful. The unsafe, unhealthy, deadly “free love” experiment will be over. The world will automatically become a more sexually chaste place, which is better for us all

    Really? Is that kind of like how the minute the 18th amendment was ratified,  people completely stopped drinking?

    In this new, sexually chaste world – exactly who is better off? The people who are already sexually repressed in the first place? That way, they’ll know for sure exactly who is having sex and those women can be adequately judged and shunned? Is contraception illegal in this new world? Why do I feel like I’m in a Margaret Atwood novel all of a sudden? Help! I don’t want to be in your creepy, chaste world.

  • rebellious-grrl

    This is exactly why I agree with Amanda! This is a perfect example of what she discussed in her article!

    So to answer your question, we recognize a world without Roe v. Wade will not be a panacea.

    No it will be HELL for women. But do you care? Hell no. Life without Roe v. Wade will be detrimental to women. Do you plan to throw all women who have abortions in prison? Are we criminals? Jill do you realize that abortion has existed for thousands of years. (http://4000yearsforchoice.com/4000/timeline/) You can’t make abortion go away.

    But people will be much more careful. The unsafe, unhealthy, deadly “free love” experiment will be over. The world will automatically become a more sexually chaste place, which is better for us all.

    You are seriously living in a fantasy world. No wonder why you can’t stand Amanda. She calls you out on the crap you say. You want all women to be chaste virgins until they are married. You are afraid of women’s sexuality. Are you jealous that we might me having awesome multi-orgasmic mind blowing sex without worry of getting pregnant? 

    That said, the pro-life movement already has a good foundation in place to help mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies 

    Oh sure by giving them piddly little scraps and lying to them.

    Of course, a world without Roe v. Wade will see many more children live than die. As a result, our society will be healthier and more stable.

    That is complete bullpucky! And you say Amanda is “snippy.” At least she understands the world, you on the other hand are clueless. Jill, you disgust me. 

     

  • invalid-0

    Robin, as a Catholic, I’ll state off the bat that I believe contraception is wrong even inside the context of a monogamous marriage.  With that bias stated, I’ll try to address your point.

    You seem to be using contraceptives as responsibly as one could reasonably expect.  Likewise, I would tell you my own story about how effective abstinence has worked for me.  We would both be the ideal examples for each other’s talking points.

    So, the question is how to approach the general public.

    Inside the context of your marriage, that seems to be a fine, practical approach.  But contraceptives in high schools?  On college campuses?  I would hope we could all agree that the purpose of contraceptives is, in fact, to enable more sex, with less consequences.  I submit to you that such a promotion in those environments has dangerous implications.

    Now, I’ll ask you to place yourself in the mind of a pro-lifer.  If abortion were illegal, I honestly wouldn’t care one lick about contraceptives.  But the fact is that if we support the promotion of contraceptives, we support a method that WILL – regardless of how well it is taught – result in at least some unwanted pregnancies and consequently some abortions.  How can we possibly be blamed for having an opposition to that?

    To propose that one must either (a) support contraceptives or (b) admit they have no interest in reducing unwanted pregnancy is to propose a sucker’s choice.

  • saltyc

    I would hope we could all agree that the purpose of contraceptives is, in fact, to enable more sex, with less consequences.  I submit to you that such a promotion in those environments has dangerous implications.

    Wrong. The purpose of contraception is to prevent pregnancy. People will have lots of sex without it. As I said before, contraception was a response to the needs of women after People started having more sex in the early 20th century. Look at Southern States, where there’s less contraceptive use, there’s not less sex, just more unwanted pregnancy.

    Again, you would blame umbrellas for rain.

    Now, I’ll ask you to place yourself in the mind of a pro-lifer.  If abortion were illegal, I honestly wouldn’t care one lick about contraceptives.

    You wouldn’t care about contraception if abortion were illegal……because…. in your twisted and false logic, contraception results in more unwanted pregnancy but that doesn’t matter… because unwanted pregnancies would always result in babies and…. that’s good.

    Wow putting myself in your mind was like looking at a carnival mirror hall. Kinda interesting but kinda nauseating.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ You just like women having unwanted vaginal pain by way of child birth, and you do not want them to be able to prevent themselves from having the unwanted vaginal pain. I know from experience arex it is very hard for a lot of people in he world not to have sex when they do not want to, and you and your people are making life a million times worse for us that have already had more then enough. ~

  • beenthere72

    Hi Brandolyn,

     

    I’ve had 2.   Ask me anything.   I’ve had a host of those issues but NONE of them are because I had abortions.     Those issues existed BEFORE I had an abortion.     It’s been over 10 years since my 2nd abortion and I’m a completely different person now – for the better.   And I still don’t want a baby, but thankfully my husband is snipped.   ;-)

  • saltyc

    You have your horse and carriage mixed up.

    People started having more sex before the pill. It was the looser social mores that created women’s need for contraception.

    You would claim that umbrellas cause rain.

    50 years ago was 1960. The first issue of playboy came out when? (google search) Oh!…. 1953. So you only want to look at the medical response to increased sexuality, not the … actual… increased sexuality. Also, was the pill available to all women in 1960? (quick google search) no it wasn’t. Wow it took me 3 seconds to show that sex came before contraception. Now tell me how many love scenes in movies feature contraception prominently? I can’t remember one, though I don’t watch a lot of movies.

    No, the sex sex sex “mentality” came partly through entertainment and capitalism.  I agree it is overblown and detrimental to children who exhibit precocious sexuality. But to blame contraception is the height of foolishness.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ They want women to hate sex, dread sex, know nothing about sex, and this is the guarded secret, they want women to have pain when they have sex to make the man feel like a man, basically be seven-year-old little girls about sex. Of course they keep these wants in the closet because real America would hopefully find it disturbing, since I grew up with these people I am telling thier vile ideals for women. ~

    ~ It is the abrahamic religions obsession with virginity, such as they want seventy-two virgins when they die because all females should be virgins, and all men deserve their much desired sex with a virgin. They are obsessed with female submission. The men in my southren baptist family were consumed with female submission and pregnancy. It all scares me very much. ~

    ~ Like that Kevin pro-lifer catholic said, rape is no more shocking then a woman consenting to sex out side of marriage. They want all women to dread sex. ~

  • rebellious-grrl

    beenthere72 me too, and I have NO regrets whatsoever! I’ve struggled with depression all of my life. Being pregnant only exacerbated my mental illness, having an abortion saved my life. People like Brandolyn want us to feel ashamed and regretful. Like you I’m very happy being childfree! Thanks beenthere72!

  • ldan

    If the mother dies and the baby isn’t viable, then the baby would die anyway when the mother dies. 

    And if an abortion would save the mother, why should they both die?

     

    If the baby is viable then the answer is to deliver the baby, not kill it.

    Even if delivery would risk the mother’s life?

     

    And where is your threshold of viability? Should a woman whose health is at risk be forced to deliver a 20, 21, 24 week-old fetus, knowing that it’s guaranteed to have a long hospital stay and possibly have physical and developmental problems due to such early delivery–on top of whatever financial and physical issues she’s going to be dealing with due to her own diagnosis?

     

    Why do people think they have the right to make decisions like that for someone else? If your existence were threatening my life, I’d generally be considered completely within my rights to defend myself.

  • saltyc

    I had one, and it was very sad for me. I did feel regret, because I really wanted a child. I wanted the guy to love me but he didn’t. I cried a lot and felt a huge loss. I wanted to protect the little embryo. But I did a lot of work, learned everything I could about what could happen, stages of development, ontogeny, ontology, morals, philosophy, spoke to everyone I knew and was sure that the right thing was to abort, and I was SO lucky that a. my insurance covered it and b. I was able to make a fast appointment and get it done quickly. I always wanted a baby, always wanted to have a family. But I was wise to know that it was not the time or the place.

    People like the anti-choicer here only are interested in stories of regret in order to promote policies that will only punish women like me worse.

    I was very upset about having an abortion, but mostly upset at a culture that pretends it’s fine with sex, but will turn its back on women who get pregnant at the wrong time. We are stuck with the hot potato. Throwing us in jail, as they do in countries where it’s illegal, won’t help our suffering. Forcing us into a life of poverty and shame won’t help our suffering. I was also upset by so-called liberal friends who said I should do “the wrong thing” and get an abortion for “practical” reasons. Pure hypcorisy. They wanted me to do it and feel guilty. (Ex-friends) OK I have work to do, thanks

    PS Jill Stanek says if more women are forced to have babies everything will work itself out. Well lots of women are being forced to have babies, and life is not working out for them.

  • ldan

    Best thing I ever did? No. I mean, that’s a pretty high bar there, isn’t it?

     

    High up on the list of decisions I have zero regrets about? Yes. And let me tell you, I’ve lived long enough to have plenty of decisions I do regret. As do most people who don’t live in bubbles.

     

    imnotsorry.net = a whole lot of women who don’t appear to have fallen into the swamp of depression and pain you seem to indicate is a huge problem with abortion.

     

    You know, there are a whole host of things that cause women depression, anger, anxiety, and self-hatred–a huge chunk of the advertising industry, a not insignificant chunk of pop culture, outdated gender norms, impossible beauty standards, low pay, rape and other abuse, oh, and not being able to access information and tools to control our own reproductive life. And…women’s groups are up in arms about all of that.

     

    A large percentage of women have had abortions; yet no study shows an epidemic of depression, drug abuse, etc. to match that number. Maybe because women seeking abortions end up depressed and anxious at about the same rate as women who don’t? I’m sure there are women deeply affected by their abortions, and my wish is that they find the care and support they need. I’m also sure that many are affected more than they might otherwise be because of the stigma and the fact that they can’t find that care and support among their pro-life friends and family.

     

    Just to put regret over life decisions in context: There are people deeply affected by the economy right now because they bought houses they couldn’t afford. There is depression, anxiety, people turning to the solace of drugs and the despair of suicide. Is anyone suggesting we ban home-ownership?

  • prochoiceferret

    Look, I would love to back and forth with you on the research and epidemiology behind the abortion-breast cancer link.  I really would, but I wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

     

    Indeed. Fortunately, there are people out there who do know what they’re talking about. And they say that the A-BC link is just a made-up controversy.

     

    If it’s nice and straightforward conclusions you want, however, you can always see what the National Cancer Institute has to say. Interestingly, on this page, they do say this:

     

    Abortion has been suggested as a cause of subsequent breast cancer. Studies showing an association used recalled information in populations in which induced abortion had a social or religious stigma, differential reporting of prior abortion by breast cancer patients, and controls. Trials conducted in social environments where abortion is accepted, however, have not shown an association with breast cancer.

     

    So if you’re really concerned about women and breast cancer, you can help the situation by working to eliminate the social and religious stigmas surrounding abortion.

  • ack

     If abortion were illegal, I honestly wouldn’t care one lick about contraceptives.

     

    So your goal isn’t, even remotely, to prevent unwanted pregnancies? Excuse my language, but that is seriously fucked up.

     

    And you do realize that induced abortions have been taking place since female humans started gettin preggers, right? (Possibly before in other animals, but I can’t be sure.) Making abortion illegal won’t stop them. It will simply make them unsafe.

     

    Why are you here?

  • princess-rot

    I would hope we could all agree that the purpose of contraceptives is, in fact, to enable more sex, with less consequences. — arex

    For the ones who are supposed to care about babies, there is an awful lot of rhetoric about those bundles of joy being vehicles of punishment for women. Perhaps because “Pro-lifers care about human life” is an incomplete sentence? Pro-lifers care about human life only when it can be cynically used to furthur the quest for political power and social control.

    I give up trying to explain intersectionality and overlapping oppressions to pro-lifers. It’s always so damn simple to them: sex should be male-centric and reinforce gender roles. For women, coitus should always come with a punishment of pain, whether she followed the “rules” like a good girl or not. Pain is vindicating, servitude to men and children is what women are here for.

  • rebellious-grrl

    You say “free love” like it’s a bad thing. My sexuality is not bound or tied to the patriarchy.

    Jill, hun, look at the bigger picture. Free your mind from the chains of the patriarchy. The “free love experiment” has been going on a lot longer than 50 years, so has birth control and abortion. I take it you are referring to the “free love” movement of the late 1960s. The “free love” concept originated in the mid-nineteenth century. 

    A concept that originated in the mid-nineteenth century, free love meant an absence of legal ties rather than promiscuity, as frequently misunderstood and more frequently charged in the anti-socialist press. A mark of bohemianism until the 1960s, free love had become by the 1970s-1980s a historical predecessor of the radical critique of sexuality notably carried on by feminist and gay liberation movements.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldman/peopleevents/e_freelove.html

    (Bold emphasis mine)

    Free love particularly stressed women’s rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women: for example, marriage laws and anti-birth control measures[15].”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualist_anarchism_in_the_United_States

     

     

     

    … linking to a pretty damning CDC report…

    How is the CDC report damming? What are you talking about?

    The contraception mentality of having sex whenever and with whomever one wants.

    This is not the true definition of “free love.” I suggest you read up on the history of “free love” before you parade it around as evil.

    Just one example: 50 years ago there were only 3 STDs. Now there are over 20,  many resistant to drug therapy, some (herpes, etc.) incurable, one (HIV), as I said, deadly.

    Do you have any facts to back this up?

    The other problem with hormonal contraceptives is they may abort an early developing human. The IUD most certainly does.

    BULLPUCKY! This is a HUGE point of contention and a major road block in forming any sort of understanding between anti and pro-choice sides.

  • crowepps

    Of course, a world without Roe v. Wade will see many more children live than die. As a result, our society will be healthier and more stable.

    First, I’ll point out that contraceptives were around long before the pill came out in the 60′s, and certainly many married women used diaphragms from the 20′s onward as the drop in the birthrate then demonstrated.

     

    However, say abortion was made illegal, and contraceptives were banned, and nobody got any sex unless they were married so most people married at 18 just to get some,  and wives went back to having the standard 5 to 7 children and staying home to take care of them.

     

    On what basis do you assume that this enormous increase in larger families and the subsequent burden on the social welfare, educational and medical systems is going to make things “healthier” or “more stable”?  It seems to me that eliminating the majority of two income households and watching most of the middle class slide down to the poverty level would make things LESS healthy and stable.

     

    The wealthy, of course, able to travel to access abortion, wouldn’t be affected in the slightest.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Good thing for you you’re a man.

    arex, I’m an ex-Catholic who when to Catholic school K-12. With that said, the kids I went to Catholic school with had just as much sex as kids in public school. I knew kids in eight grade that were sexually active. The Catholic school I went to offered the bare minimum in sex ed. and was outspoken in its opposition to ANY outside distribution of condoms or birth control to students at the school.

     

    The notion that Catholics aren’t having sex outside marriage, or are waiting until marriage to have sex it not accurate. Catholic women use the pill, and other forms of birth control just as other women do. You can think Catholics are “special” because you think they hang on every word the Pope says and follow his orders.

  • squirrely-girl

    If the mother dies and the baby isn’t viable, then the baby would die anyway when the mother dies. 

  • julie-watkins

    I fushed with that paragraph a long time. I’m glad you liked it & quoted it back.  *grin*

  • julie-watkins

    There’s a lot of different people and groups trying to do some good in many different ways depending what’s the best match for their goals, abilities & how they work. I think that’s good. However, I think it make success less likely if one of the first (& oft revisited) topics of examination are external constraints. I believe this is especially true if external forces are manipulating things so their goals are easier and yours are harder.

    This is why I often sound like a broken record on some subjects.

    We silo oppressions,

    I like that phrase.

    In general, I would advise anyone feeling frustrated in a conversation to pause and see if there’s a Distraction going on, and maybe you should drill down & check if there’s an underlying class warfare issue.

  • pilar608

    I’m so sorry that you had to make a choice that was so heart-wrenching for you.  

  • ahunt

    Thank you, Robin.

     

    I’ve always found it interesting that traditionalists are all over “wifely duty, ” whether a wife enjoys it or not. Funny how these same folks get all huffy when the wife takes steps to ensure she will enjoy it.

  • ahunt

    Well, where to begin?

     

    I confess that I am unable to follow your breathtaking leap from… forcing women to bear children against their will to… a healthier and more stable society.

     

    So let us back up. I agree that illegal abortion will most certainly be safer, at least in the first trimester. Black market abortifacients will proliferate, and women will abort in the privacy of their own homes. And this reality is why you can never  “win.” Modern medical technology has provided women the means to abort safely and privately…unprecedented in the history of abortion.

     

    Add to the equation the fact that women are no longer deprived of education, isolated from the larger world, and economically dependent. These factors render your blithe assumption that women will meekly submit to forced gestation a trifle ridiculous. These days, women possess the knowledge, connections, resources and will to circumvent a ban on abortion, unlike the “bad old days”

     

    As there has never been a chaste society that did not strip women of all civil liberties, cloistering them in the home, and  denying them participation in the public realm, I’m not sure where you get the idea that simply outlawing abortion will produce a chastity-minded population. Such did not exist prior to RvW…why would you think it would exist post-legal abortion?

     

    Oh don’t get me wrong. Some women will be caught. ..and prosecuted. Outlawing abortion will most certainly create a two-tiered system of justice, and I’m pretty sure we can agree  that it will be low-income women of color targeted in this “world” you envision.

     

    I’m just scratching the surface here, Jill.  The truth is that you can never “win.” Women will do whatever it takes to control their fertility. The pre-RvW distinction is that we are no longer lacking in the technology and resources to do so.

  • ahunt

    Josie, you are fine writer. Well done and please continue to participate.