On Being Pro-Choice, and Proud of It.

When I started this blog twenty-three days ago, I told myself I wouldn’t let it get too political. Then this happened. And this. And also this. If you think I was political before? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

***

Friends, today we’re going to talk about abortion. In particular, we’re going to talk about this article that has been blowing up my Facebook newsfeed over the past few days. If you don’t feel like reading it, let me boil it down for you: ‘I’m a feminist, except for the fact that I am vehemently anti-choice because of my own personal beliefs that I now want to impose on you. Therefore I couldn’t possibly attend or support the Women’s March. Here’s some bible verses to back me up.’

Nope. Nope, nope, nope. World, please let me use this, my personal soapbox, to say something; I am done. I am 150% done with conservative folks telling me that they believe in small government, except when they want big government to support their agendas. I am done with religious zealots telling me that the government has no right to regulate their guns or their hateful speech, but does have the right to regulate my body. I am done with people telling my that they are ‘pro-life’ when they really mean that they’re pro-birth. I am done with people telling me that fetuses are ‘pre-born’ children. I am done with people eschewing facts and ignoring science. I am just so, so done.

I believe in your right to believe as you will. That is a fundamental tenet of American society, and I will support it with everything I have. But that ideology goes both ways. If you want the right to believe what you do without governmental pressure or oversight, then you must extend me the same courtesy. To do anything else is pure hypocrisy. In our current political climate, I am totally over that nonsense.

Of course, I am also sure that none of my righteous indignation matters to the woman who took the time to post the aforementioned article on the…very interestingly named website, “For Every Mom” (which, I guess means every mom with identical ideas on religion, childrearing, and society? But sure, let’s go with it). For her, I’d like to take the time to address each of her points individually:

The pro-abortion doctrine says “I am not ready to have a child. This is not the right time to become a parent. If I have this child, I will have to put my life and dreams on hold.” [My doctrine] says, “I need to think of myself last. I need to put others first.

Whoa, hold up. While certainly some women in the US have abortions merely for the sake of their own dreams and livelihoods (which, side-note, is a fully valid choice considering, you know, it’s their bodies and their futures — but, I digress.) reducing abortion to pure self-interest ignores the statistical reality of women’s (and trans-men’s and gender fluid folk’s) reproductive choices across our country. According to the CDC, anywhere between 10-30% of abortions in the US are had by married women who have already had 1, 2, or more children. These women may not have access to adequate family planning resources, even if they are engaged in a societally idealized, traditionally acceptable monogamous, heterosexual marriage, due to the realities of healthcare in our nation. Oftentimes, they make the decision to have an abortion because they know they will be unable to care for the children they already have if they carry another fetus to term.

I wholeheartedly believe that the choice for life is ALWAYS the right one, and that if [abortion] were outlawed today, hundreds of thousands of [Christians] like myself would rise to stand in the gap with these parents who are having children on a timeline they did not mean to choose. I so believe that if given the chance, we could figure this out, together.

I appreciate the author’s optimism, and her seemingly genuine belief that our communities can come together to assist women who are forced to carry unwanted fetuses to term. Unfortunately, experience tells us that’s just not true. Indeed, the majority of women having abortions (approx. 58%) are aged 20-29. Many of these women chose not to carry a fetus to term because they know they do not have means to properly provide for a child at this stage in their lives. This article claims they should put those children up for adoption. While wonderful in theory, there are currently over 500,000 children in the US foster care system (a number calculated annually). Of those 500,000 children, only a little over 100,000 are annually adopted. Of the remaining 400,000, only about 100,000 more are homed permanently or semi-permanently in foster homes. That leaves 300,000 children across the United States living in understaffed, underfunded group homes. The author claims that, if abortion were once again made illegal, Christians across the US would stand together with women forced to have children against their will. Unfortunately, a scad of new laws across multiple states have functionally made abortion illegal in many areas already, and no one — Christian or otherwise — has provided extra care, funding, or assistance to women who now have children they may be unwilling or unable to care for. So it’s great to assume that people will come together and provide loving, stable homes for children given up by their birth mothers, but over 300,000 children currently in the care of the state show us that’s not going to happen.

I will pray that their unity principles that I wholeheartedly agree with like, Gender Justice and Racial Justice, have a loud, strong voice. I pray especially that our country gives ear to this one: “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of violence against our bodies.” But I cannot pray that abortion rights will be advanced.

The thing is, though, that by being anti-abortion, these women who claim to be pro-life are actively working against achieving full, healthy, violence free lives for all women. Let’s look at the facts. Before Roe v. Wade, 200 in 100,000 abortion procedures resulted in the death of the mother — that was over 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth in 1965. Additionally, over 1,700 women were admitted to hospitals due to complications from abortion in New York City alone, where more than 1 in 4 white women who died in childbirth died from abortion-related complications. Today, less than 1 in 100,000 women die from abortion procedures (it is in fact 0.7 in 100,000). That improvement is directly correlated to the legalization and regulation of abortion according to the CDC, the NIH, and non-governmental groups including the Guttmacher Institute. All this to say: is the life of the fetus more important than the lives of women who will undoubtedly continue to have abortions, whether or not they are illegal? Do we have the right to judge and punish women who make personal choices about their bodies, their families, and their futures?

I want the author of that article to know that the Women’s March on Washington, and many other progressive women’s organizations make bodily autonomy and reproductive rights a bulwark of their movements because without them, women’s lives are literally at risk. For many, taking away a woman’s right to choose is the equivalent of saying that they are incapable of controlling their own bodies, and in a movement about equal rights, that is found to be unacceptable. To tell a women that the right of a fetus — an entity proven scientifically to, up to a certain period of gestation, be far, far different from a child — supersedes her rights as a person is not only ludicrous, it’s misogynistic and dehumanizing. It’s not pro-life, it’s pro-birth. 

I know many, many people across the country disagree with me. That’s fine. They have that right. What they don’t have is the right to use their beliefs as an excuse to stifle mine. I am here. It is my body and my choice. We are here. These are our bodies. Don’t tread on us. Don’t tread on me.

Women's March for America.
We believe in a woman’s right to choose.

–S

Day 23: January 23, 2017

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