A rally cry for all pro-choice voters during this election cycle! Pro-choice men, our dear brothers, we need you too. This issue is far more in play than you might realize. We are losing the battle to keep abortion safe, legal, early and available. Hundreds of thousands of women have been forced to take matters into their own hands and some are now locked up in prison because of it, due to the unavailability of local early abortion. New laws, changes in law enforcement and the Internet have altered everything. NOW is the time to act and vote. We mustn’t go back to the wire hanger. To Pro-life believers, I encourage you to read through this, as very few Americans fall on either extreme end of the belief spectrum that is conception, abortion and birth. In the end, we might agree to disagree, but perhaps we can all gain better understanding.
- SOURCE: GUTTMACHER INSTITUTE
It’s presidential election time again. YAY! Every four years I listen to the candidates’ stances on abortion. Every four years I try to keep a level head, and I feel that I do, except with this one issue. When abortion is debated, I feel the bile in my stomach churn. The vicious vitriol brings out the worst of anti-abortion activists, from the crazies to the occasional murderer. As a fierce independent voter, I take pride in hearing out each and every candidate on both sides, on all of the issues. I listen to their personal beliefs and pay particular attention to how they intend to legislate them, if elected. Last night I came upon an article about Marco Rubio and almost spit out my chamomile tea!
I always try to find common ground with people. Sincerely, I do. I agree with him when he says:
“Abortion to me is not a political issue,” Rubio insisted. “It’s a human rights issue. And so, if [Jeb Bush] wants to make it a political issue, that’s his right. For me, it’s not.”
Abortion IS a human rights issue and should NOT be a political one, though we don’t see eye-to-eye, when reading further through the article. Women’s rights ARE human rights. We live in the “land of the free” where women are not the property of men; where children are not the property of the parents or government; where men, women and children are not the property of other people. A woman’s body belongs to her, and no one else, at least that should be the case. With men holding much of the world’s power I sometimes wonder what this issue would look like if they were the child bearers.
According the Guttmacher Institute:
At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and at 2008 abortion rates, one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45.
But in the past decade our government has legislated women’s bodies at an alarming rate. Several states have introduced “fetal heartbeat” legislation that seeks to ban terminating a pregnancy if one is detected. This has happened in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming. North Dakota’s legislation reached the Supreme Court and was struck down on January 25, 2016. That is why electing a pro-choice candidate is essential, as the next president will nominate up to four justices. The way I see it, “who cares” if I save money on my taxes or if I am safe from terrorists if I first need to worry that somehow my body will, in actuality, no longer belong to me. I am 46 and at the end of my procreating years. Now that my job is done, I could turn my attention to voting on other matters — finally! That would be extremely selfish, though. I have daughters and their bodies to worry about, too. First things first: If I were a slave, my freedom and that of my loved ones would be my first concern. If I were a freed slave, I would still fight for the freedom of my brothers and sisters.
Roe V. Wade At Risk?
Many pro-choice women (and men) I know and love vote on other issues, taking Roe v. Wade for granted. However we are heading down a very slippery slope of enslaving the bodies of American women. Really. Twenty-two states adopted 70 different restrictions in 2013 alone with unforeseen disastrous effects. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to read about 7 American women prosecuted for having miscarriages. Yep, you read that right. According to the New York Times article, between 2005-2014, Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women identified an additional 380 cases, “with more arrests occurring every week.” This significant increase coincides with what the Guttmacher Institute describes as a “seismic shift” in the number of states with laws hostile to abortion rights.
Rubio, Really? Even in Cases of Rape?!
Alas, I digress, so back to Rubio. This dude, who has a lot of power, believes that a woman or even a GIRL, who has been RAPED, should have less of a right to her own body than a rapist’s fetus:
“It is a horrifying thing what you’ve just described. It’s heartbreaking. It is unimaginable, quite frankly. I get it. I really do. And that’s why this issue is so difficult. But I believe a human being, an unborn child, has a right to live irrespective of the circumstances by which they were conceived.”
You GET IT? I don’t think you do, Marco. Then I wondered if you have daughters. I was laughing-out-loud at the absurdity as I “Google searched” you – I stopped laughing. You have two beautiful daughters… I thought of Florida’s Parental Notification Law…Then, I wondered what ever happened to that 11 year old girl from Paraguay who was denied an abortion in a court of law after being raped by her stepfather. He was jailed and she went home a mother, with her mother (now a grandmother). Is this, sincerely what you want for the United States Senator Rubio? No abortion for any reason, “irrespective of the circumstances,” ever? Though the legality of abortion differs in other countries around the world, do you truly want our abortion laws to reflect the values of the third world? I have followed you along the campaign trail. You have seemed like an intelligent and thoughtful man. This belief you have is not only cruel, but also deviant, and certainly not becoming of a president. Unfortunately, you are far from the only public servant with this disturbing belief.
Let’s not forget former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s sincerely-held belief that a woman’s body “shuts down” and can’t conceive if it is a “legitimate rape:”
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Wait for it…it Gets More Insane….
The reason why we must rally the troops to vote pro-choice is that our very own Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, agrees with them – so much so, that he re-introduced a Fetus Rights Bill in 2013 (a.k.a., Sanctity of Human Life Act, H.R 23). The bill proposes to give the male partner and the fetus more rights to her body than the pregnant woman herself:
(B) the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and
(2) the Congress affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.
What this vague section means, is that a man could sue a pregnant woman to prevent her from seeking an abortion in another state (or country) that would allow it. For affluent pro-choice women who vote on other issues, this law would effectively erase their economic privilege, making inaccessibility an issue for all of us, not just the poor. What is more troubling is that a rapist could sue his victim to prevent her from aborting the rape’s resulting pregnancy.
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones:
He’d argue that the fetus was legally a human being, and the court has no power to discriminate between one human being and another. He’d probably win, too.
Luckily, this didn’t pass – this time – but what in the world could these politicians be thinking? What are their true motives? No wonder many feel there is a war on women and that we are losing more battles than not . Our nation has a dark history in its battles to legislate and control women’s bodies, from Eugenics and forced sterilizations on the poor, black, Native American, Hispanic, imprisoned and mentally ill that continue to be performed, to enforced waiting periods for those choosing sterilization, to this day.
If two-thirds of pregnancies resulting from rape are aborted that means one-third of these pregnancies proceed to full-term, around 10,000 a year. When a woman chooses to continue with a pregnancy as a result of violence, it is her business and absolutely her right to choose what to do, no matter her age. Some rape victims feel that abortion would be inflicting more violence on their bodies and that the hope of a life is healing. How the human spirit amazes me! I have more respect than words can say for these mothers. The incredibly-unjust kicker is that as of 2012, 31 states allowed the rapist biological “father” to sue for parental rights of these children and many of them have succeeded. One rape victim named Shauna Prewitt, eventually became an attorney and is fighting back. That number of states is now down to 23. Finally, some good news and hope!
Tough, Brave Choices
If a woman finds herself unintentionally pregnant from consensual sex and she chooses to keep being pregnant, that is her business. People should use birth control if they don’t want sex to result in pregnancy, though birth control often fails. If a woman has the courage to endure a pregnancy, and make the brave decision to choose an adoption plan, I am truly in awe of the selflessness of the act! I also believe that choosing to have an abortion is sometimes the brave thing to do. If a woman feels she can’t mentally, physically or economically come out of a pregnancy intact, I argue that it is brave to have an abortion. Is it selfish? Yes, but sometimes being selfish is brave. Sometimes people with big problems have to make tough choices. Think of the metaphor of putting on your oxygen mask first on an airplane. Women and girls are trained to put others before themselves, but if our lives fall apart we become a burden on others and society. As the United States Supreme Court said, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” If you know your limitations and are honest about them, you give yourself a chance to be responsible and grow. Self-love is important so that you can love others more effectively.
Carrying a pregnancy is a tremendous responsibility that not every woman is either mentally or physically capable of doing. I have four loved children and am a dedicated mother – I lactated for 9 years straight. Their father and I are their greatest advocates, in all aspects of their lives, though we are far from perfect. When mothers fail in their responsibilities our society suffers. When fathers fail in their responsibilities society suffers as well, though fathers don’t bear the burden as much as mothers seem to. Unintended pregnancies too often result in unwanted babies, who, too often grow up to have a negative impact on society. Is it any wonder that the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis that asserts “abortion reduces crime” has been supported by statistical evidence in Canada, Australia and Romania? “Studies have shown a reduction in infanticide, teen-age drug use, and teen age childbearing consistent with the theory that abortion will reduce other social ills similar to crime.” (link)
Nobody WANTS An Abortion
Getting an abortion, under the best of circumstances, is sad and scary. When performed in the first trimester, as are 9 out of 10 abortions in America, it is a 3-5 minute procedure. An unplanned pregnancy is something that can make a woman feel at her most gut-wrenchingly vulnerable and desperate. It can make her feel intense betrayal by science and her own body, when birth control fails her. She might feel deep-seated guilt, trapped, with no one to understand her feelings of helplessness and rage. She might feel angry at the fetus itself, not at all maternal or motherly. Some women who don’t want to be pregnant have described it as feeling like an intruder has taken residence, inside her body, against her will. She is probably ashamed at having this multitude of feelings. Ultimately, this is a private decision to be made between a woman and her doctor. There have been over 50 million legal abortions performed since Roe v. Wade. I challenge anyone to find any female, who has ever had the procedure, who joyfully exalted about the experience: “Yay! I am going to go have an abortion! I have always wanted one!”
Who Gets Abortion
Most unintended pregnancies are not conceived by rape. Young unmarried women in college have abortions. Married mothers have abortions. Single mothers and girls under the age of consent have abortions. Rich, poor, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, young, middle-aged…All, for a myriad of reasons. A disproportionately high number of poor black and Hispanic women have abortions. This is one of the reasons why politicians can debate this with impunity. Poor women don’t exercise their right to vote, and if they did, the rhetoric would die.
The statistic is that one out of three American women have had at least one abortion by the age of 45. Pro-choice and pro-life groups tout these numbers. You can read and share stories here on the 1 out of 3 campaign website.
You might be wondering if I have ever had an abortion. Have I? Yes, Will I talk about that here and now? No. I don’t have the courage to, at least not yet. It is something I have difficulty talking about with my most trusted family members and friends. Many women I know have had abortions, in fact I helped a few through the experience in my teens and twenties, and their secrets will die with me. It is something that doesn’t exactly come up in polite conversation and when it has, there’s been more of a quiet acknowledgment, than a desire to share. I have tested talking about it over the years and it is hard to do, though I am blessed to have deep friendships with many women today. It is a deeply private matter.
That is one of the reasons why I resent having a government full of men openly debating on this topic, some more sensitively than others. Too many swipe the feelings and circumstances of tens of millions of American women (and their male partners) under the rug. For too many people, on both sides, it is a black or white issue. Let me rephrase that, in terms of debate it is not a black or white issue, in terms of race it most certainly is, but I’ll get into that later.
The Problem With “No!”
Our society has a problem with women who say “NO!” and it is pervasive. Women who say “NO!” to harassment on our streets are often told they are stuck-up for not appreciating a complement. Women who come forward with stories of sexual abuse are blamed for not coming forward soon enough, for not seeking medical treatment at the time, for being at fault for trusting a man who has taken advantage of her: “What did you think would happen if you met Bill Cosby in his hotel room?!” Response: “Uh, I don’t know, not be drugged and sexually assaulted while I was unconscious?” When a woman dresses provocatively, she is not saying: “Free sex for everyone!” No means no. If you are, at all, confused by what consent is, please watch this entertaining PSA produced by British police.
If a woman consents to having sex, she is not automatically consenting to have a baby. Think about it this way: if every time two people have sex and that act results in the birth of a child, what would our world be like? Ridiculous, right?! For people who actually believe abstinence is the answer, make sure to read up on Bristol Palin’s failure with that.
If you still believe women who don’t want to become pregnant, should simply abstain from having recreational sex, I ask for your stance on legalizing prostitution. If men can’t get it for free, they will be forced to buy it. They don’t call it “the world’s oldest profession” for nothing!
Pro-Life or Pro-Death?
Abortion rights advocates dropped the ball when they allowed the anti-abortion movement to refer to themselves as “pro-life,” as abortion rights activists are not “pro-death” and are most certainly concerned with life. Perhaps we need to widen the conversation of abortion from simply anti-abortion to pro-abortion, anti-choice to pro-choice and pro-life to pro-death.
“From sperm to zygote to fetus to baby, isn’t it time we brought some precision to the language of the reproductive rights debate?…I offer the following modest proposal: we should dispense with all-encompassing and ultimately meaningless labels like pro-life and pro-abortion. I’ve never met anyone who is anti-life, and very, very few who might be considered pro-abortion. Engage the issues involved more precisely. Label people based on where they fall in the chronological continuum between life and birth.”
Too often anti-abortion politicians are, in fact, pro-birth, passing laws restricting women’s choice while denying funding when it comes to taking care of these resulting children. Catholic Nun Sister Joan Chittister says it best:
“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
We now have a problem with there not being enough abortion providers for those who need their services. Of course this affects our young, poor, women of color, and rural female populations at an alarming rate. This has the effect of making abortions take place later during pregnancy, something most people on both sides of the debate dislike. Rich white women have always had an advantage in obtaining quality healthcare. If abortion were outlawed, a quick trip to Canada would probably become common. Before Roe v. Wade, women of means could fly on an airplane to get the procedure. Sweden offered excellent care and many private physicians would quietly perform the procedure for wives and daughters. With parental notification laws common across the land, America’s rich white daughters are at risk too. Who can forget about the tragic death of Becky Bell?
Kasich, Less Access Means Later Term Abortions!
John Kasich, the Republican candidate and Governor of Ohio and less far-right-winged than his running mates, is dangerous to women’s reproductive rights.
Under his leadership Ohio has gone from having 16 abortion providers to 8 in the whole state.
According the the Guttmacher Institute:
Fifty-eight percent of abortion patients say they would have liked to have had their abortion earlier. Nearly 60% of women who experienced a delay in obtaining an abortion cite the time it took to make arrangements and raise money.
The problem is even worse in Texas. This heroic doctor describes the horrible state of affairs there and I highly encourage you to read it. He describes all of the un-just hoops women must jump through to carry out their rapidly declining reproductive rights. Because there are now so few providers, women are waiting 3 weeks for their appointments, traveling long distances to endure enforced waiting periods (Motels near abortion providers are enjoying an uptick in businesses to the dismay of some pro-lifers while springing this young woman into activism), pushing their procedures well into their second trimesters – making them riskier and cost more, causing undue burden.
Abortion Laws Are Changing (Don’t Move To Texas)
Increasing numbers of American women are being forced to take matters into their own hands — and are even being prosecuted for it. Today, the law is being crueler to women than it was before Roe v. Wade. In the old days of wire hangers and back-alleys, women were charged with the crime of “abortion,” not “murder” and rarely prosecuted, let alone incarcerated. Today, black-market induction drugs have largely replaced the wire hanger for desperate women, and the laws designed to “protect, not prosecute” are having the exact opposite affect. Parental notification laws are forcing teens to take risks. Texas, in particular, is cruelly failing the health of its citizens, causing them undue cost, time, hardship and heartache. Texas is not a true pro-life state and as far as reproductive rights go, is like living in the third world. In a perfect world we would not need abortion clinics and so much of this hardship and tragedy would disappear. With precious few OB/GYNs willing or able to provide this necessary service, girls and women are missing a very important part of reproductive healthcare.
Abortion: A Necessary Evil
Abortion might be evil and even morally wrong, but it is a necessary evil, and has been one since the beginning of time. It is debatable if abortion is a sin. If you do believe in the Bible, scripture tells us that God is merciful, even if our court system is not. Regardless if abortion is, in fact, a religious sin, it is a civil liberty that must be protected. As our founding father Thomas Jefferson wrote,
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Roe v. Wade must be upheld. Are there exceptions and time limits? Of course there are and should be. With modern technology we have seen incredible advances in neo-natal intensive care, and pre-mature babies are surviving outside the womb at earlier gestational times. Viable humans should not be aborted. No one likes to watch testimony from what an abortion post 20-weeks entails. It is barbaric! In our modern society we must do better. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 89% of abortions are performed during the first trimester. We should strive to give women easier access to abortion services so that number is even higher. Inaccessibility causes abortions to take place later in pregnancy. We must do better as a society. A pro-life article that looks at the current paradigm of carrying a fetus from the scientific angle raises valid points. However, a woman is not an incubator and if she is not willing or able to host another potential life, the rights of the human being who has already been born must trump those of the unborn, until the point of viability.
The General Election is Soon! Women’s Lives Matter!
Presidential candidates who vow to continually chip away at it must be challenged, as women have already begun to lose their lives due to abortion’s increased unavailability. Women are increasingly taking matters into their own hands. The Supreme Court decides by late June (4 months before the general election) if Texas’ new laws are constitutional, after it’s 2013 law forced the closings of 41 abortion clinics. More closings will follow if the law is upheld. I shudder to think what will happen to women’s reproductive rights if Marco Rubio or another like-minded candidate wins and nominate more anti-choice judges to the court.
Consent To… Give Birth
I hereby declare that every pregnant woman must willfully CONSENT to have her baby. If she does not consent, she may have a safe, legal, early abortion performed by her own OB/GYN. This is how it should be!
My Call To Action, Whether Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, or BOTH
I know and love people who are personally against abortion. I am pro-choice in a legal sense, but I am pro-life in the sense of Sister Joan Chittister. Instead of rallying to pass laws that endanger the lives of American women in defense of the unborn, I implore you to help reduce unintended pregnancies and help the needy of our beautiful country. Abortion rates are lower than they have been since Roe v. Wade was enacted. We can get those numbers lower, by contraception education and health services. An estimated 49% of teens and women seeking abortion, report not using birth control in the month prior to conception. This is a shocking statistic in this day and age. If birth control pills were available and affordable to all sexually active couples, this number would drop dramatically.
Support family planning as a pro-life supporter, as some Conservatives have vowed to do. Fight for easy access to affordable childcare, comprehensive sex education, reliable birth control methods and good prenatal care. Volunteer to council at risk youth. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Help out at shelters. Volunteer at your local prison. If you can, become a foster parent or adoptive parent. I have done most of all of these things and they are incredibly rewarding. And, most importantly they will help to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, thereby reducing the number of abortions. That benefits us all.
Get RADICAL with Me
As for me, I will no longer be complacent, and therefore, complicit in this fight for life by becoming an activist. Join me and vote this issue! Remember “Voters For Choice?” They don’t seem to be around anymore, but it looks like NARAL has picked up the ball with hashtag #OwnIt. Emily’s List is known for getting pro-choice candidates elected to office. The Women’s Information Network (WIN) where pro-choice advocates can get more active by providing opportunities for networking, phone banking, and other ways to get involved with local and national issues. The 1 out of 3 campaign website encourages women to come out of the shadows of secrecy to share their abortion stories. Planned Parenthood has been through the wringer lately — they could probably use some help on their Activist Council in New York. I hope you will join me in checking out the ACLU, National Organization for Women, Ms. Foundation for Women, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for Choice, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Networks for Abortion Funds, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, Medical Students for Choice, The Center for Reproductive Rights, National Advocates for Pregnant Women and other worthy organizations.