Dear readers, some of you have expressed confusion about the apparent lack of consistency between the views expressed here and the view expressed elsewhere on this site. The answer is simple: I am pro-life. My friend Julie is pro-choice. Neither of us like those terms per se, but that is the most universal way to put it. As part of this guest blogging series I invited her to share her perspective so that we can better understand each other.
My name is Julie, and I’m writing about the abortion debate (insert scary music). I grew up in Dallas, but have lived in New York for the past 6 years. I grew up in churches, hearing all the pro-life rallies and speakers, and always assumed I was pro-life. I have since gained other perspectives on this debate, and I now consider myself pro-choice.
One thing I have learned is that there are some major misconceptions the pro-life have about the pro-choice, and it’s hurting their cause. Until I moved to a pro-choice land, I, like many others, got all my info on the pro-choice from the pro-life. This is like asking a vegetarian for a steakhouse recommendation. So I am NOT here today to convince you to change your position.
I am here today to give you a glimpse into the heart and mind of the pro-choice movement, as is my experience of it, to dispel some misconceptions pro-lifers have, and to let you know that despite what you have been told, the pro-choice movement is not your enemy, and that we would love to work with you to reduce or even eliminate instances of abortion. I appreciate you reading this, and ask simply for an open mind and heart.
Misconception #1: Pro-choice really means pro-abortion (and “reproductive rights” is really code for “abortion rights”).
Several years ago, I read a simple quote from a pro-choice advocate that completely changed my thinking. I wish I could remember where it came from, but several Google searches have proved fruitless. The quote went something like this: “I want abortion to be perfectly safe, perfectly legal, readily available and never used.” Emphasis mine. I was so floored. Doesn’t pro-choice mean pro-abortion? That’s what I’d always been told. No, it most certainly does not. My conversations with pro-choice women and reading feminist blogs have only served to reinforce this notion. Choice means choice, and choosing to deliver the baby is a perfectly valid choice.
Misconception #2: The abortion debate is about the life of the unborn.
The abortion debate has never been about life; it’s about choice. Pro-choicers believe that we humans begin as an embryo at conception. It is a huge waste of energy trying to convince us of this, because we already know. There is debate about when pregnancy really begins, and I’ve also heard debate about the separateness of the unborn baby prior to viability, but my key point is that no one debates or disputes what abortion fundamentally is. The debate is about whether or not the act of abortion is morally okay. There is a difference. The history of abortion, while somewhat complex, does demonstrate one thing: societies have never agreed on the morality of abortion. This goes back as far as Roman times.
So here is my radical idea:
Let’s all stop talking about the moral issue. If history is any teacher, it shows us that we are never going to solve that dilemma satisfactorily. So let’s stop beating a dead horse and trying to convince each other that we’re wrong. Let’s instead work together to reduce the need for abortion. The truth is that we can, and we should. The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether we have the same moral value system.
We all want a better society. We all agree that abortion is a result of a less than ideal situation. So let’s work on that problem together, and get to the root cause. Trying to legally ban abortion is fruitless. Look at what has happened since banning drugs. It hasn’t reduced the demand one bit, and has only made them more dangerous; abortion will be no exception. So let’s not eliminate it through legal channels, because that will have horrible legal ramifications for all women as I will demonstrate later. Instead, let’s work to reduce the demand for it.
What the pro-choice movement is REALLY about
The pro-choice movement is not about trying to convince women to have abortions; it is about empowering women to be able to make their own reproductive choices, free from state interference, regardless of their belief system. And people who are morally opposed to abortion are perfectly welcome here. In fact, many of my pro-choice friends believe abortion is immoral and have stated they would never do it themselves. I’ve even seen several of them have VERY unintended pregnancies and keep their babies without a second thought.
“I Was Raped by the State!” –Laura Pemberton, abortion opponent and pro-choice advocate
Making abortion illegal necessarily means giving a fetus personhood status under the law (meaning it would have the same rights as any born person). This is a horrible idea. Just ask Laura Pemberton. She is a devoutly religious woman, morally opposed to abortion, who now works with pro-choice groups to fight these pro-life efforts. She has many children, one of whom was born via caesarian. On her following pregnancy, she wanted a VBAC. Her local hospital would not accommodate her, so she found a midwife and opted for a home birth.
During labor, she became dehydrated and went to the hospital for fluids. They told her she had to stay and have a c-section. She sneaked out and went back home. The hospital sent the sheriff to her house, and he literally shackled her legs together and took her back to the hospital, where she underwent the forced c-section. She sued and LOST. The hospital argued that a c-section was in the baby’s best interests, and that she had no right to decide for herself. Due to the state of Florida deciding to give a fetus personhood rights, the court agreed with the hospital, and they ruled that the fetus’ rights TRUMPED the mother’s rights! Oh yeah, and while this was happening, the hospital appointed a lawyer for the unborn baby, but not one for her. Think about that: this woman was in heavy labor, and she was forced to either find a competent lawyer right then, or represent herself. She attempted to argue her case between contractions. How well do you think she did?
Giving a fetus personhood status under the law will erode nearly ALL personal reproductive choice. Gone will be the days of home births, VBACs, refusal of petocin, refusal of sonograms and Dopplers, and midwives. Doctors will no longer be obligated to listen to you, the paying customer, but instead will have to do what is in the best interests of the unborn baby, as THEY, not you, see fit. And you know full well they can easily make a compelling argument that being “crunchy” is not in the unborn’s best interest.
Women will be investigated every time they miscarry, because they might have committed manslaughter, or even murder. If cops see an overweight woman smoking or drinking, she will be cuffed and hauled in for questioning because she might be pregnant. Do you want to be a woman in any of those scenarios? Do you want your tax dollars going to investigate a woman who just lost her pregnancy and needs to grieve? Or would you rather spend your tax dollars on police investigating real crimes, like burglary, rape, murder, and kidnapping? As you can see, the term “reproductive rights” isn’t code for “abortion rights”. It encompasses a LOT of things that are extremely important to a lot of different women. It is vital that we protect them. Making a fetus a person legally speaking may sound harmless, even virtuous, but as you can see, it’s anything but. It’s a slippery slope no one wants to slide down.
I Hear What You’re Saying, But I Still Find Abortion Morally Repugnant…
Fair enough. So what can we do to reduce/eliminate the need for abortion while keeping our reproductive rights intact? There are many things we can do, but I’m only going to focus on one avenue, because it’s not discussed openly much. Society must begin encouraging transracial adoption, particularly of African-American children. Did you know that it is cheaper to adopt a black child than a non-black child? Did you know that a Caucasian couple is 7 times more likely to want a non-black child than a black one?
Did you know that African-American children make up 1/6 of the American population, but make up 1/3 of all children in foster care? I think that’s horrible. We’ve got to start educating and encouraging people to adopt these children. I know that many in the pro-life movement champion adoption as an alternative to abortion. But that logic, while very well-intentioned, breaks down in the case of these children. They very likely won’t be adopted by a nice, wealthy, infertile couple. They will very likely rot away in the foster care system and then be turned out onto the streets at age 18. If you’re the birth mother and you know what’s likely to happen, terminating a pregnancy looks pretty good in that instance. We’ve got to make adoption a real alternative to abortion for these women. And since an African-American woman is five times more likely than a Caucasian woman to seek an abortion, this is a very important step that can make a huge difference.
Thank you so much for reading. I’m anticipating that some of you may leave me comments like, “I talked to/read about a pro-choice advocate who said such-and-such and that contradicts much of what you said.” Okay. That may be true. I certainly cannot speak for everyone affiliated with anything pro-choice. There are outliers. But I firmly believe those outliers don’t invalidate what I’ve proposed.
My point is that agreement on the morality of abortion is not a prerequisite to work together on the problems that lead women to opt for it. My point is that the pro-choice movement is working on fighting laws that will hurt women who are morally okay with and opposed to abortion, so why not join us and protect yourself and your choices too? If you are morally opposed to abortion, ask yourself this: Are you willing to give up your rights just so women can’t procure legal abortions? Or is there another way for you to protect the unborn, one that leaves both your rights and your conscience unharmed?
NOTE FROM MOMMYPOTAMUS: Leave a comment below to help Julie win the Blog For Mommypotamus and Win Your Own Blog” Contest!