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It appears that perhaps pro-life and pro-choice groups may actually try to work together. From The Washington Post:

Frustrated by the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, a growing number of antiabortion pastors, conservative academics and activists are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions.

Some of the activists are actually working with abortion rights advocates to push for legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education -- services that could encourage them to continue their pregnancies.

Their efforts, they said, reflect the political reality that legal challenges to abortion rights will not be successful, especially after Barack Obama's victory this month in the presidential election and the defeat of several ballot measures that would have restricted access to abortions. Although the activists insist that they are not retreating from their belief that abortion is immoral and should be outlawed, they argue that a more practical alternative is to try to reduce abortions through other means.

All I can say to this is, "It's about freakin' time, " and then, "Yay!"

However, believe it or not, some people are OPPOSED to this:

The new effort is causing a fissure in the antiabortion movement, with traditional groups viewing the activists as traitors to their cause. Leaders worry that the approach could gain traction with a more liberal Congress and president, although they do not expect it to weaken hard-core opposition.

Feministe had an excellent analysis on the issue, but it boils down to this: is the goal for pro-lifers really to reduce abortion or criminalize women? For some, reducing abortion is the obvious goal, but you have to wonder about people opposing this effort at cooperation.

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( 11 Transmissions — Comment )
Nov. 19th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
Hmm... I'm also for letting women know they have alternatives and helping them make the best choice, and all that. I'm totally against "criminalizing women" (which sounds kinda... umm... bogus to me. Who wants to make *women* criminals? I think people want to make acts--and only women can perform this particular act--a criminal offense. But a movement against women? I'm not buying it. But that's another issue. Where was I? Oh, yes)...

But I can see why some pro-lifers would oppose "legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education." I'm a pragmatist myself, and in today's economy, I'm really not in favor of "baby bailouts" too... unless there is a pragmatic way to do so. And I'm also leery of legislation that starts giving stuff away because I ask the obvious question: Where does that stuff come from?

I'm also less convinced this is a good idea since we are told that "[these] services ... could encourage [women] to continue their pregnancies." Well, they could. But no one knows. And my guess is that this won't be nearly as effective as people think. Why?

Because here's what I know does work: People loving each other, far more than government subsidies and legislation. Churches need to step up and help these women out voluntarily. Friends and family need to support these women and encourage them to make the right choice. And ultimately it's got to be heart change.

What the quoted paragraphs remind me of is that children are seen as an inconvenience, a burden, and a problem to be "helped out with" instead of the joy and blessing that they are... or should be.

So, that's my guess why some people are against these measures. Having no further data, I can't say where I stand. I'm just guessing that's part of the "other side" of this discussion.

Nov. 20th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC)
But a movement against women? I'm not buying it.

And yet people often view women dying from botched abortions as "collateral damage". It's okay for a woman to die and not a baby? That does seem to imply some sort of bias against women.

Here's a thought: if a woman has an abortion because of some threat from a lover/boyfriend/husband/male family member, no one would ever prosecute him. In fact, I doubt you could because it would just be hearsay. But I know that there are a lot of men who do this. Doesn't it seem odd to punish a woman while the man gets off for pushing her into it simply because he is biologically immune?

I agree that what you propose is the way it "ought to be"...but keep in mind some of these facts: abortions are far less frequent in countries in Europe where the abortion laws are as or more liberal than the US but which have more social nets in the form of money for school and child care; abortions have not decreased any in African countries which have made the practice illegal.

Less than half of the US population attends church regularly. Are churches going to start caring for people who have no interest in being involved?

I'm not saying that implementing these policies is a silver bullet, and it isn't going to get rid of all abortions. However, given the evidence above, it's worth a try.

As far as children being a joy and a blessing, you're right. However, children are also an inconvenience and a burden...as in, they are a responsibility. Taking another person's life into your care is not something that will always bring you joy, and it can be incredibly taxing both physically and emotionally. When a woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, it's the fact that they are a burden, a responsibility, that she has to deal with. If they really were a joy all the time, I doubt abortion would exist. But practically speaking, children are also a lot of work and heartache (look at the parents who are dropping their kids in Nebraska). Unless you can convince a woman that there really is a way to make sure she lives up to that responsibility, that despite her personal circumstances, she can take care of a child (and it isn't easy because I've been there), you're fighting an uphill battle.

I agree that these may be some of the reasons for opposition, but it seems that a more pragmatic approach, to me, is to try to eliminate the reasons women get abortions rather than just criminalizing it (and thus the women involved).
Nov. 20th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
I love reading this blog! So much good stuff.

Time for some counterpoints [smile]:

"And yet people often view women dying from botched abortions as 'collateral damage'. It's okay for a woman to die and not a baby? That does seem to imply some sort of bias against women."

People also die from ODing on illegal substances, and that is the "collateral damage" of using drugs. If you do something illegal/dangerous (which all abortions are) there is risk.

This issue comes down to the question of "is a fetus a baby?" If so, the woman who dies in a botched abortion is dying in the act of murder... albeit murder of her offspring. If she did not have an abortion she would not die of a botched one. The bias I see is not against women, but rather against children... and that bias is on the side of those who want to make abortion legal and safe.

"Doesn't it seem odd to punish a woman while the man gets off for pushing her into it simply because he is biologically immune?"

Yes! So let's start legislation of that. These men are potentially accessory to murder, and so could be prosecuted.

Still, life isn't fair. Why do we distort reality to try to make it so? We don't say, "These kids didn't have a good father figure, so it's okay that they like to shoot people. You, Luke, were socio-economically inoculated. So, we can't punish the kids who weren't." I realize the analogy is flawed, but I'm trying [smile].

"...keep in mind some of these facts..."

True. Now, since I'm in the middle of the adoption process, I would make it easier/cheaper to adopt. Given that a fetus may be a child, I'd rather they be given to the families who desperately want children (like me [smile]).

And, yes, you can't legislate morality, and so it comes as no surprise that efforts have been ineffective in Africa. As I said: It has to be a heart change. And one way to start that is to get people to believe that killing children is wrong (hence, why the pro-lifers use that phrase).

Also, I still stand by my plea for pragmatism: If we could eliminate these women's fears by buying them a house, paying for a maid and a chef, making it so they don't need to work; giving them a whole community of emotional supporters... yes, we would see a dramatic drop in the number of abortions. And that would be great! But I ask: How is that possible pragmatically? In the words of college students everywhere: Whose buying?

"...they are a responsibility."



And efforts to make abortion legal and safe make children an easily removed consequence of less than ideal behavior. I have to smile at the phrase "unexpectedly pregnant" ... because by the time we're old enough to be pregnant, we're old enough to know where they come from. It may be "inconveniently pregnant" or "unintentionally pregnant" ... but if you don't want to get pregnant, as my biology teach in high school would say: Keep your legs closed.

This is an uphill battle because no one likes responsibility or dealing with imperfect people--Nebraska is a perfect example. But does that mean that, instead of holding parents responsible for taking care of their kids, we say, "Bring the kids to the hospital and we'll 'put 'em down' for ya"? No. In fact, we go after people who neglect their children. ...and we have adoption and foster care for those children.

Which goes back to my pragmatic solution: Make adoption easier for us who want kids.

...and let's start holding people (men and women) accountable for their choices instead of writing their pregnancy off as a matter of happenstance.

Pragmatism, to me, involves financial viability... and if these groups working together can come up with that on their own--fantastic! But asking for a "bailout" in whatever form is not pragmatic.

I agree that we should eliminate the reasons women get abortions, and holding them responsible for their child's life would do that (women get abortions because they do not want to have to be responsible, but if abortions just lead to another kind of more significant responsibility, they would not so readily pursue it). And if aborting a fetus is a criminal act, it is criminal, and we can't change that just because there are women involved.

Two more cents into the coffer of discussion [smile].

Nov. 21st, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
I grew up in poverty where many times we didn't have money for food or housing. I spent one of my birthdays sitting at the local food pantry. There were occassions where I slept in my family's car. I could not have blamed a family in this situation one bit if they chose to have an abortion as a response to an unexpected pregnancy (because, frankly, I think that married people have the right to have sex). Ideally they will use protection, but that doesn't always work). If my parents had a kid when we were going through that, I'm pretty sure I would have hated it because there already wasn't enough to go around.

So yes, I believe that when poverty makes abortion 300% more likely, such as was found in the Catholic study mentioned at Feministe, there's a very good reason.

I also can't imagine that it would have done my mother very much good to go through a pregnancy, especially under those conditions, and then turn around and have to give it up. I had the same dilemma when I ended up pregnant unexpectedly. (And given I can't use chemical birth control, the only real option for me is using a condom...and let's be honest: most men don't like them and don't feel a strong need to take responsibility for birth control, probably because they don't ever have to deal with the full-blown consequences of getting pregnant. Men do a lot of shitty things to women for very selfish reasons, and sometimes those things end up getting the woman pregnant. But she's at fault for not keeping her legs closed.)

I could not give up a child to a stranger because that felt far more like betrayal than having an abortion. In the long run, it was having the support of family members, including financial if need be, that made me change my mind. Yet after that, I still had to live for several years with other people who told me that I had ruined my ex-husband's life and should have gotten an abortion.

And the icing on the cake was when I went on welfare because I couldn't afford to feed my child while I was trying to get an education so that we wouldn't need to be on welfare forever.

Maybe I am equivalent to a murderer because I thought abortion was the best option for a while and because I don't believe that life begins at conception. Maybe I ought to have "kept my legs closed," but no one ever told my ex that he was responsible. Does that mean I deserve to die, or that it's no big deal if I had? (I again don't think this is the view of someone who "values life.") I don't think telling a person that they shouldn't have an abortion is any better than telling them they should have one. Really, each person has to come to terms with what they can endure...and in that situation, it really is endurance. I made my decision because I knew it was the only thing I could live with...and knowing how agonizing it was for me, I could never tell someone else that they need to do what I think they should do. I don't doubt that it is something that everyone agonizes over, and they are the only ones who can ultimately decide how much heartbreak they can tolerate.

Anyone who thinks that the decision to have a potential life sucked out of you is made lightly is completely fooling themselves.

I have endured so much negativity for doing the "right thing" that I could never push someone else into doing it. I can completely understand why a woman would get an abortion: at least then her pain is her own, and if no one knows about it, they can't judge you. And if you have kids, oh my, will they judge. Getting an abortion, not getting an abortion, having a child, how you raise it...frankly, it's no one's business but your own until you've been asked to be involved in the decision making process. Until people can learn to keep their snap judgements to themselves and *listen* to what these women are going through, I personally think they are as guilty of causing murder as the woman in the stirrups.

I'm sorry if I sounded harsh, and I honestly didn't mean this to be so long. This really is a personal issue for me: I feel this way because that's what I went through.
Nov. 21st, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Okay, I really went off last night. In doing so, I think I made some statements that were less than clear.

The point I'm trying to make is that part of the way to stop abortion is to quit shaming women. As one blogger I know stated, the choice is not to get pregnant, it is NOT getting pregnant. Biological systems are pretty efficient, and if you're having sex at all, there's a good chance you'll get pregnant.

Saying that pregnancy is a punishment for sex actually encourages abortion, IMO. Inflicting the "consequences of your choices" line is only going to encourage women to hide from those consequences, remove the evidence, to prevent further shaming. It also ignores the fact that a sizeable chunk of women who get abortions are married and already have children. (If they are married, aren't they entitled to have sex?) Finally, it ignores the fact that men do not have to face the consequences of the outcome of their physical behavior at the very least...and, more importantly, the fact that the pregnancy may be due to some of their emotional-based decisions, not just the woman's.

If we keep labelling women because they get pregnant, they are going to hide from that label. If children really are a blessing and a joy, we shouldn't be saying horrible things about their mothers or viewing their lives as superfluous. We shouldn't be saying that being alive is the best choice when ignoring the fact that children born to teen mothers, for instance, are at very high risk for poverty and abuse. And finally, we as a society should be willing to help take care of them if we really view their lives as valuable and worth continuing.

Unfortunately, the message that society sends, pro-life people in particular, is that none of these things are important, that the one act of abortion is the only thing of import and everything else is inconsequential. It denigrates the lives they are trying to save as well as the one providing the means to that life, and it belittles the fact that there are harsh consequences no matter what a mother chooses.

I hope that is more clear.

Edited at 2008-11-21 02:12 pm (UTC)
Nov. 21st, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
As I read your comments, both the "rant" and the clarification, I was deeply saddened. I could feel your pain through your words, but only in the faintest echo of what, I'm sure, you've been through.

And I fear that I did not communicate well; or, as is probably more accurate, I said something that addressed the issues I see, but ignored the issues you've actually dealt with and so I came across as a heartless jerk. I do not ever want to be a heartless jerk. I'm sorry that I came across that way.

I just went back and re-read my comment. I think I see where many of your points came out of what I said, but none of my points dealt with your rebuttals. That being the case: I can agree with every point of complaint/struggle you made. You are right. And please believe me when I say that I have no ill will toward you for the choices you considered. I have no ill will toward women who have had abortions.

I would, however, like to stop future abortions. Not because I hate women, want them oppressed, to take away rights and freedoms, or to make them feel bad in any way. Rather, I'm against abortion because I love children and expecting mothers, and would rather not see harm come to either. This same feeling continues even if the fetus is discarded: I still care for those hurting women.

And I care about your pain as well.

And I'm sorry there is so much negativity surrounding this. I wish it was more positive, that people would love and support one another, and I love and support you.

The problem is that the moment we start talking about this issue on a more global scale (e.g. beyond personal experience) we must start talking about it from a global perspective. That's why words like "freedom" and "murder" are tossed around: Both sides challenge the presuppositions of the other.

...ugh... I'm doing a horrible job expressing myself. I should just shut up after saying:

Cherish, I love you. I want what's best for you. I'm sorry for your pain. And I'm sorry you have felt so much animosity. It is to our shame that we are not more loving.


P.S. This is exactly why I love reading your blog and comments: Your perspective is so much more informed with experience than mine, and I feel honored to be able to learn from you. Thank you!
Nov. 22nd, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
Let me start by saying that you don't know how much I appreciate hearing this. It's a deeper feeling then that sentence communicates, but that's all I can really say.

I said something that addressed the issues I see, but ignored the issues you've actually dealt with and so I came across as a heartless jerk.

Before I went through the experience I did, I was actually quite opposed to abortion myself. I have often wondered if, until you've been in that situation, you may have a difficult if not impossible time understanding how people on the other side of the issue feel.

In all honesty, I think that both sides really are trying to do the "right thing". However, what the "right thing" is differs for those sides and they simply refuse to look across the isle and see that there may be incredibly good motivations for both stances. As I mentioned in my other thread, I, at some point, do see abortion as murder, but I also think that it may be necessary in some cases. There is no black and white for me because I there are serious ethical issues with both sides. I feel we do a disservice to our own side by ignoring that point.

Unfortunately, I tend to shy away from the pro-life side because of exactly what you said: they tend to come across as heartless jerks. I am very bothered by this because so many of them claim to be Christian. I grew up in a Lutheran home and even wanted to become a minister at one point. I took my religion extremely seriously, but what I took away from the Bible so completely contradicts what has come to be known as "Christian" that it left me appalled. I don't think I was meant to be a minister, but listening one day to my minister having a discussion with a church member about some political issue, I was horrified to hear what the the stance that this parishioner took as the "Christian view". And yet I hear opinions like this all the time.

When I read the Gospels, Jesus comes across as the world's biggest liberal. Even though I know it's a controversial passage, the story about the mob that wanted to stone the prostitute sums up, in my mind, what Jesus was all about: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Even though that passage may or may not be "valid", it is not at all out of character given everything else we've read about Jesus. And yet I see so many people casting stones, especially when it comes to abortion.

Jesus didn't run around screaming at the poor and the rejects of society, blaming them for their state, calling them lazy. He talked about the hypocrisy and greed of the rich and powerful in society. He protected and healed the poor, associated with tax collectors, and more or less aligned himself with the dregs of society. Why aren't followers of Christ doing the same thing? Why are they bandying about titles like "murderers" and "sluts" for those who are in the very unenviable position of trying to do what is best for themselves and the people around them? Why are they calling them "collateral damage" if they die in the process of a botched abortion?

These women are people's daughters and sisters and mothers. They already have people who do care about them. They are just as much, if not more, of a human being than the life inside them, and we ought to be treating them more than as a vehicle for a baby.

I don't think that being a Christian is a bad thing, but when these things are being said, I really wonder where they got their message about Christ. I think that we ought to be protecting the vulnerable in our society, including the women. I think that we live in a society where it is more plausible they should take responsibility for themselves (much more than in Jesus' time), but there are still a lot of things in our society that leave them in a helpless position.

more to come...
Nov. 22nd, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
When we get into a discussion where we are insisting that our view is the absolutely only right view without compromise, and especially when it affects the lives of people we know nothing about, it stops being about morality and religion. It becomes more important to be right and be making the rules than it is to actually understand what's going on and how to best help everyone involved.

I think you really want to help people. In fact, I know it. And you are so much more willing to try to understand perspectives outside your own than many of the Christians I've met. I think this is so critical in order to really solve problems: Jesus said we are supposed to love and respect each other. God gave us brains to solve tough problems because these aren't easy issues. My sense is that ignoring the fact that people on the other side of the issue do deserve love and respect or that these are not cut-and-dried issues, we are, in fact, ignoring a big part of what Christianity is about. That makes me very angry and frustrated.

Edited at 2008-11-22 05:26 pm (UTC)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
Great points. I'm with you on all of that, though I'm pretty sure we would disagree on some of the practical applications of these ideas. But overall: You're absolutely right.

And you nailed it with Jesus and the religious: Christ is absolutely brutal to the religious leaders who "don't get it" and incredibly gentle with the "irreligious" so they can get it. That is something people who are interested in holiness--as I have long been--often completely miss when they read their Bibles.

Nov. 20th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
Compromise on the abortion issue? Isn't that the seventh sign of the apocalypse? ;o)

Seriously, whatever it takes to reduce the number of abortions, I think is great. Here are some other ideas I've thought of:

* Hold men more responsible for impregnating women. Make them pay for the prenatal care, for the woman's lost work time, for the birth, for the child support.

* Sponsorship programs (I think these already exist.) Let's say you can't support a kid, but don't want to abort. If you can get matched up with a couple who want to adopt, then they could help you with expenses and medical bills, then adopt the baby. Everyone is happy!

* We already have Medicaid, but maybe make it more inclusive, so it's not so expensive for poor moms to give birth.

* Breastfeeding or breast pumping needs to be allowed for all moms, regardless of job type. I want a law about that. That would be good for moms (cheaper than formula) and babies.)
Nov. 20th, 2008 03:30 am (UTC)
* Hold men more responsible for impregnating women. Make them pay for the prenatal care, for the woman's lost work time, for the birth, for the child support.

If only it were that easy. At this point, the most a man has to do is pay for half of the child's medical expenses. What's worse is that the only way to get it is to go to small claims court. For some reason, medical expenses are treated differently than normal child support, so even if you have someone enforcing child support (which, from what I understand, is horribly difficult in a lot of other states...North Dakota tends to be a lot better), they won't do anything about medical expenses. It's all on your own.

So, yes, I concur. This is something that needs a LOT of improvement.

As far as the sponsorship programs go, they already have those. (I've looked into adopting, and that is one of the options.)

It's ironic you mention Medicaid. In most states, as part of welfare reform, they have cut back the assistance for medical and living expenses, and if you get pregnant while on welfare, they will not give you additional benefits. I don't know if that deals with medicaid specifically, but as far as most other types of assistance, this is the case.

Amen on the breastfeeding. I really wish there was a lot more support out there for nursing mothers. (Sadly, I think the best support, and sometimes the hardest to come by, is a supportive husband.)

But yes, all those things are good!
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