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Posts Tagged ‘Pro-choice’

“Rape, incest or the life of the mother”

In behavior, children, domestic life, life, parenting, politics, religion, women on October 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm
Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who watched the debate this week between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan heard this phrase repeatedly from Ryan. If Mitt Romney wins, the only way an American woman will be able to get a legal, safe abortion in this country is for those three reasons — she is pregnant through rape, incest or her life would be threatened if she carried to term.

Here’s Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker on Ryan’s comments in the debate:

Ryan then went on to say something oddly disarming in its inherent lack of self-awareness. He talked about how, looking at a first sonogram of his daughter, he was thrilled by the beating heart in the tiny “bean” on the image, so much that he and his wife still call that child “Bean.” …Ryan’s moral intuition that something was indeed wonderful here was undercut, tellingly, by a failure to recognize accurately what that wonderful thing was, even as he named it: a bean is exactly what the photograph shows—a seed, a potential, a thing that might yet grow into something greater, just as a seed has the potential to become a tree. A bean is not a baby.

The fundamental condition of life is that it develops, making it tricky sometimes to say when it’s fully grown and when it isn’t, but always easy to say that there is a difference and that that difference is, well, human life itself. It is this double knowledge that impacts any grownup thinking about abortion: that it isn’t life that’s sacred—the world is full of life, much of which Paul Ryan wants to cut down and exploit and eat done medium rare. It is conscious, thinking life that counts, and where and exactly how it begins (and ends) is so complex a judgment that wise men and women, including some on the Supreme Court, have decided that it is best left, at least at its moments of maximum ambiguity, to the individual conscience (and the individual conscience’s doctor).

I am solidly and unmovedly pro-choice.

I think the right to a safe, legal abortion is a fundamental right for women who — as we do — want to control when, how or if we become someone’s parent. We might get pregnant, unplanned, at 13 or 18 or 28 or 37 or 42. An unplanned, unwanted pregnancy is one of the most fundamentally life-altering events in any woman’s life.

The right to abortion is the most important way for us to preserve the most essential autonomy we have over our own bodies.

“The life of the mother” ignores a basic fact women know intimately  — it is the sudden death of our dreams, hopes, plans and ambitions that, for many of us, determines the difference between “life” and death.

A woman with no:

– money

– reliable income

– clean, safe home

– partner, whether male or female, married or unmarried

– family to help her with baby-sitting or childcare

– education or access to education

– safe, loving marriage

is not a woman who wants to, or should — weak, scared, broke — become someone’s mother.  Women’s role on this earth is not simply to create children, no matter their emotional or intellectual strength.

Women become pregnant through laziness, ignorance, ambivalence — and a lost, broken or unused condom. Women get pregnant if they screw up their birth control or never knew exactly how to use it properly in the first place. Women get pregnant when they least expect it. (My husband was born to a woman who was 49.) Women get pregnant by men who, they soon realize, or already know, are absolutely unfit and unready, emotionally, financially, professionally, to become someone’s father and assume those lifelong responsibilities. Women get pregnant by men they are married to who are, they discover, having an affair. Women get pregnant by men who turn out to be scary shits, even abusive.

And single mothers are those most likely to fall into poverty.

No woman wants that for her future, or a child she might be forced to bear.

I do not think choosing abortion is a decision to be taken lightly, without a clear understanding that you are making the choice to end a life. It is no substitute for intelligent, thoughtful, responsible, consistent use of effective birth control. If you’re too scared to ask your partner to use a condom or find and use an effective form of birth control, your decision to abort is, in my mind, a sad, painful consequence of your own unresolved ability to handle your own sexuality.

Pregnancy is no joke.

From the non-profit Guttmacher Institute’s most recent report:

• Of the approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies that occur each year,[3] 82% are unintended[5]. Fifty-nine percent end in birth and more than one-quarter end in abortion.[3]

• The 2008 teenage abortion rate was 17.8 abortions per 1,000 women. This figure was 59% lower than its peak in 1988, but 1% higher than the 2005 rate.[3]

• Compared with their Canadian, English, French and Swedish peers, U.S. teens have a similar level of sexual activity, but they are more likely to have shorter and less consistent sexual relationships, and are less likely to use contraceptives, especially the pill or dual methods.[7]

• The United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world (68 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2008)—more than twice that of Canada (27.9 per 1,000) or Sweden (31.4 per 1,000).[8]

From the American on-line magazine Salon:

There is hope for America yet: A new survey finds that most adults in this country believe that teens should be taught about both abstinence and birth control. What’s more, seven in 10 adults agree that federal funds should go toward teen pregnancy prevention programs that have been “proven to change behavior related to teen pregnancy” (i.e., actually work). And three-quarters of teens and adults think that antiabortion policymakers “should be strong supporters of birth control.” Sanity prevails!

Now here’s the bad news: Most teens “say they have all the information they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy,” according to the report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and yet “many admit they know ‘little or nothing’” about contraception. Forty-seven percent feel clueless about condoms, and a whopping 72 percent admit ignorance about birth control pills. Worse still, 42 percent of teens believe contraception doesn’t matter all that much, that you just get pregnant “when it is your time,” says the survey.

I do not want men in positions of power telling women when they may become a mother.

Here’s a new memoir by Merle Hoffman, an American woman considered one of the nation’s leaders in the pro-choice movement.

What do you think?

Can Feminists Be People Whose Views You Hate?

In behavior, women on June 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm
This handout image received on September 8, 20...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

Love this thoughtful and insightful rant (they can be all those at once) about the death of third-wave feminism — by Mark Morford at sfgate.com, commenting on an Atlantic magazine think-piece by a woman:

It is something to behold. Right now I’m vainly attempting to cross-reference Hanna Rosin’s fascinating mixed-bag article from the Atlantic that ran under the delightfully obnoxious headline “The End of Men: How Women are Taking Control of Everything,” and mixing it with all the feverish stories about California’s landmark political races, Carly and Meg and Pelosi, too, influenced by everyone’s favorite winkin’ ditzball from hell, Sarah Palin.

And I’m tossing in a dash of pop culture, all the MIAs and Lady Gagas and Miley Cyruses, the Kathryn Bigelows and the ditzbombs of “Sex and the City,” trying to parse and understand and see some sort of through-line.

I am not having much success. Most women — and many of us men — are cheering madly at all the newfound roles, powers, titles, successes and attentions, from Hillary’s stunning presidential run to Bigelow’s Oscar to (even) Meg Whitman’s pile of billions that could very well buy her the election.

But…many are…entirely furious that many of third-wave feminism’s cornerstone values — abortion rights, humanitarianism, anti-racism, don’t kill stuff — are being violently, stupidly co-opted, inverted, perverted, repackaged…

In short, most progressive women are right now discovering a brutally painful truth, one that men have known for millennia: With power, glory and long overdue cultural advancement, comes a whole delightful s–bag of downsides, drawbacks, jackals and bitches to poison the party. Fun!

See, long was it believed, via some utopian/naive vision held by “enlightened” men and women alike, that if and when the feminist movement — all three waves of it, really, from Virginia Woolf to Betty Freidan, bell hooks to riot grrls — finally started to get everything it desired, there would surely be some wonderful sea change in the culture, a new paradigm to replace all the ugly, outdated structures of power and ego erected by old white men, something far more fluid and interesting, liberal and heartfelt and, well, nonmasculine.

Well, as if!

One of the delightful issues with power — wanting it, buying it, voting for it, getting it, keeping it, getting it back after you’ve blown it — is…you have to flex some serious muscle to get, own and keep it. Whether that power is physical, emotional, financial, political, intellectual (and they’re usually fairly entangled) sexual, or spiritual, some of it, if not all of it, is going to freak out and piss off a bunch of other women who think naked raw power — and showing how much you really want it — is a male thing.

That women are de facto gentler and kinder and all dance to the moonbeams’ glow. Snort.

While some women have been exercising whatever limited powers were granted to them (sexual, emotional) from the dawn of time — resentful others have silently seethed in the corner for having less-to-none of it.

If there’s anything more annoying than not having the power you so crave, it’s watching women whose behavior and values you loathe have tons of it and mis-using it. The economics of scarcity make it ugly.

But…claiming (your) power takes guts, putting your value out in front of others to judge. They may very well find you wanting.

That’s the price of admission to the boxing ring of power. Someone’s going to punch you in the face and you need a skilled and loyal cut man to keep you in the game.

Which is why I loved Hilary Swank in the 2004 Clint Eastwood film “Million Dollar Baby”. It’s nominally about a female boxer and her trainer but it’s just as much about finding a man (could be a woman) who knows what it takes to hit your peak and will push you to achieve it.

I hate Sarah Palin, Lady Gaga and many of the women who keep attracting media attention for polticial views I loathe, rampant stupidity and/or and tacky, skanky behavior.

But that’s the price of feminism, isn’t it? Everyone gets to play.

Don't Want Your Baby? Utah's New Law Would Criminalize 'Miscarriage'

In Crime, politics, women on March 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm
A pregnant woman holds her ballot before votin...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Because a woman’s body is never hers.

A new Utah bill would make it a crime for a woman to try and terminate her pregnancy through deliberate self-harm.

From The New York Times:

But critics say legislation inspired by an unusual, perhaps even freakish criminal case, could open up a vast frontier around the question of intent and responsibility and give local prosecutors huge new powers to inquire about a woman’s intentions toward her unborn child.

For example, if a pregnant woman gets into a vehicle, goes on a wild ride way over the speed limit without wearing a seatbelt and crashes and the fetus is killed, is she a reckless driver? Or is she a reckless mother-to-be who criminally ignored the safety of her fetus?

Under the bill, a woman guilty of criminal homicide of her fetus could be punished by up to life in prison.

“So many things can happen, and it’s all in the eye of the beholder — that’s what’s very dangerous about this legislation,” said Marina Lowe, the legislative and policy counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, which has urged Mr. Herbert to veto the bill.

Some women’s advocacy groups say the bill simply codifies what many states are already doing, using existing laws about the unborn to prosecute apparently errant mothers.

Just last month in Iowa, for example, a pregnant woman who fell down the stairs at home confided to emergency workers that she was not sure she really wanted to have her child. Though the woman did not immediately miscarry from the fall, she was arrested anyway under a state law that makes it a criminal act to harm a fetus. She was released after two days in jail, and the charges were dropped.

At least 38 states have laws against fetal homicide, generally intended to create additional penalties when a pregnant woman is assaulted or killed. And two states, Delaware and New York, also have laws specifically making self-abortion a crime….

Lynn M. Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit group based in New York, said the focus on the child obscured the bleak story of the teenager, who also deserves, she said, empathy from the world, and the law.

“Almost nobody is speaking for her,” Ms. Paltrow said. “Why would a young woman get to a point of such desperation that she would invite violence against herself? Anybody that desperate is not going to be deterred by this statute.”

Here’s the tricky part.

That “u” in the word uterus? Even in the word fetus?

It’s not the same “u” as in “any of your f——g business.”

Leave our bodies alone.

Scott Roeder Found Guilty Of Murder of George Tiller, Abortion Doctor

In Medicine, news, women on January 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm
Cropped from a news photo of George Tiller, Dr.

Dr. Tiller, Image via Wikipedia

It took the jury 37 minutes to reach their verdict on the man who described planning the shooting death of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller as “a relief” after he’d pulled the trigger, reports The New York Times:

Abortion rights supporters lauded the ruling, saying it sends a strong, unambiguous message to others who believe violence against abortion doctors is justified that such acts will be punished. Abortion opponents, meanwhile, said that Mr. Roeder — who admitted to the killing in open court but said that was the only way he could stop the deaths of babies — had not received a fair trial, and that the outcome would only encourage more violence.

During closing arguments on Friday morning, Mr. Roeder sat silent and expressionless as prosecutors portrayed the shooting of Dr. Tiller at his church on May 31 as not just premeditated murder but as “a planned assassination” that had been proven “not only beyond a reasonable doubt but beyond any doubt.”

“He claims justification,” Kim Parker, a prosecutor said, calling on jurors here to uphold the law, not Mr. Roeder’s views of abortion, which, she said, he had proudly trumpeted on the witness stand. “These are not the acts of a justified man. These acts are cowardly.”

Mr. Roeder’s lawyers had called for acquittal. Mark Rudy, a public defender, told jurors that Mr. Roeder, 51, had developed such strong feelings about his religious faith and against abortion that he had ultimately felt compelled to shoot Dr. Tiller, who had performed abortion for three decades and was a focal point for controversy nationally.

The entire “debate” manages to omit the key player in these narratives — the women who feel an abortion is necessary and who seek a safe, legal way to obtain one. It’s a woman’s body and her right to determine what happens to, and within it. Roeder and his ilk are terrifying in their self-righteouness.

Here’s the full story.

New Oklahoma Law Further Restricts Access To Abortion

In Health, women on December 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 22:  Pro-choice supp...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Oklahoma’s new abortion law is overly invasive, says a report on NPR.

In Oklahoma, a new law requires any woman seeking an abortion to first answer dozens of personal questions, including why she wants the procedure. That information, names omitted, would eventually be posted on a state Web site.

Those who support the measure say it will help them better understand why women are seeking abortions. Abortion rights advocates call the law intimidating and invasive, and this week, they are challenging it in court. Legal experts say the law is another test of how far states can go to regulate abortion.

A Necessary Law, Or Intolerable?

The survey in Oklahoma’s new abortion law includes some of the following questions: Would having a baby dramatically change a woman’s life, or interfere with her job or education? Is she unemployed, or unsure of a relationship with the father?

How can we counsel, how can we treat, how can we offer counseling to mothers to be that are choosing abortion, if we don’t have hard-core facts?

- Oklahoma state Sen. Todd Lamb

“This is not going in and getting a wart removed. This is a procedure that ends a human life,” says Oklahoma state Rep. Dan Sullivan. He says the law is valid and necessary.

“And because it’s a special procedure, we believe that it’s appropriate to be able to find out why these are going on and if there is something that we can do to change that,” Sullivan says.

But abortion rights activists call the law — and the survey — intolerable….

Forty-six states have laws that require clinics and hospitals to submit some kind of reports about the abortions they perform. But clinics in Oklahoma say this law is an invasion of privacy that goes far beyond abortion reporting requirements in any other state.

Linda Meek, executive administrator of Reproductive Services in Tulsa, Okla., says it’s discouraging and intrusive to patients.

“If they want to reduce the number of abortions, then they need to concentrate on educating women about preventing unwanted pregnancies, educating them about emergency contraception, birth control — and making birth control more accessible,” Meek says.

Abortion rights groups also fear that women could be identified based on the information they provide, especially women who live in Oklahoma’s small rural communities.

How much should a woman be asked before she can have an abortion? Are any questions fair?

A Searing Letter to The NYT Explains Why Women Need Access To Safe Abortions

In Health, women on December 7, 2009 at 12:20 pm
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 22:  Mary Beth O'Don...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The letters page of The New York Times is almost always dominated by confident male voices. Women — why? — rarely take up more space in this coveted bit of real estate. This letter today, from a woman who had her abortion on a veterinarian’s table in 1962, left me wanting to cry, and to share it more widely:

A Pregnant Pause” (Week in Review, Nov. 29) gives an incredibly accurate picture of the generation gap on abortion rights, one that I had trouble understanding until I read your article.

I am nearing 70. In 1962, as a married lady of 20 with one more year of college to go for my degree, our birth control failed. I was pregnant. We were frantic. My husband and I were barely surviving financially, and we were struggling to support ourselves. If we could have supported a child, we would not have been using birth control.

We had a friend, a veterinarian, who offered to help us. I climbed onto the dog table, weeping, my husband holding my hand. After the procedure I hemorrhaged and we rushed to the emergency room. I told them the story, just leaving out how the hemorrhaging started, and they classified it as a “spontaneous abortion.”

Our lives went on, we’re still happily married, and we have two successful adult children. But as I watch the assault on reproductive rights, my heart is still filled with dread, and my memory returns to that morning on the dog table.

I hope no young woman ever has to handle her reproductive choice as I was forced to. They can make any law they want to make, but they can never make a woman have a baby. We will do what we have to do, and for today’s young, access to abortion must remain safe, affordable and legal.

Barbara Russakov
Anaheim Hills, Calif., Nov. 29, 2009

Fifteen Abortions Later, Her Memoir Is Born

In culture, women on November 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm
LONDON - MAY 20: A lady bears her stomach with...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Can you imagine terminating, or accepting someone who did, 15 healthy pregnancies? Irene Vilar made that choice beginning as a student at Syracuse University while dating a much older professor, and her decisions are the basis for her new, and highly controversial memoir. She is now the mother of two young children.

The Washington Post writes:

That Irene Vilar embraces the role of motherhood is a grand incongruity, a mind-blower. She has just published a precariously nuanced, intellectually ambitious and unnervingly frank memoir titled “Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict.” In the book, Vilar writes about a “shameful” period in her life — before she became a mother — when she says she underwent 15 abortions in 15 years. What she now sees as her “nightmare” began with a teenage affair with a Syracuse University professor who was 34 years her senior.

The almost unimaginable claim — vetted by her publisher’s attorneys, who say they have been able to confirm all but two procedures done in now-defunct clinics — places Vilar at the outer extreme of the phenomenon of multiple abortions. It has also made her a sudden target of blogospheric vitriol and disapproval.

I haven’t yet read the book and am not sure I will. Not because I disapprove of her choice — it was legally hers to make, and ethically and morally hers to live with — but because the decision to end any pregnancy is deeply personal. There’s no doubt in my mind that Vilar chose to end the lives of 15 potential children. As much as her choice(s) may horrify many, if abortion is legal and a woman has the right to choose — the meaning of pro-choice — it leaves her free to make choices that many of us would abhor.

The First Amendment and the skills and passion of the ACLU are sacred ground for many. If the essential principle is freedom, what are its limits?

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