Monday, October 11, 2010

Kid Gloves


It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who famously said that the test of a first rate intellect is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. I've certainly done my best to adhere to this standard -- to compartmentalize the separate sides of the various cognitive dissonances that have presented themselves throughout my life, all in an effort to avoid the gears in my brain grinding to a halt. Trust me when I tell you that this is an important skill to master when you've got a past filled with positively atrocious behavior that you feel like you need to rationalize.

With that in mind, there's one bit of intellectual dishonesty that I've never been able to get my head completely around -- I'm talking the kind of crossed signals that leave me feeling like NOMAD the killer robot from Star Trek, bouncing off the walls, smoke coming out of my head, shrieking about how I must -- STERILIZE. And maybe that's why it's the one subject I've for the most part avoided writing about.

Abortion.

The other day, I was driving through Fort Lauderdale when I happened to come upon a protest outside of what I assume was an abortion clinic. If it wasn't, then the poor people inside the place had to wonder why some guy was standing on their sidewalk holding up a six-foot-tall picture of an aborted fetus and a giant wooden cross. My first reaction was, of course, anger, because regardless of how I myself feel -- or anyone feels -- about the abortion issue, it's unconscionably offensive to display images of that nature in a place where children who happen to have made it out of the womb can ostensibly see them. Holding a public street corner hostage -- and in certain respects, that's exactly what these people were doing -- in an effort to make what is essentially a political point is a form of terrorism. And that's not even taking into account the fact that it feels like it can't be more than a short hop from being the guy willing to stand on a sidewalk holding a dead baby in one hand and a cross in the other to being the kind of True Believer devoted enough to take the fight to the next level, if you get my drift.

Oddly, and for the life of me I can't really explain why, my opinions when it comes to abortion have never really been swayed by the gruesome images of shredded fetuses that are so popular with the truly psychotic among the self-described pro-life crowd. Maybe that's because I feel like they shouldn't be necessary; it should be obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and an adherence to reality what abortion does to the tiny being whose image in a sonogram, under different circumstances, would bring intense joy to a woman, couple, etc.

And that's where the dissonance comes in: I fully support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion. I do this even though I think that, in many cases, abortion is an absolute wrong.

I realize I'm opening one hell of a Pandora's Box by saying this, and that I'll likely be accused of being a patriarchal monster who wants to deny women the right to control their own bodies and their own destiny, but let me stress once again that, particularly from a political standpoint, I think a woman has to have the last word over what happens to her. But by the same token, I do agree with those who say that abortion is a decision that should by no means be trivialized, which is why it's always made me queasy to hear at various feminist rallies the indignant cries of "abortion on demand," as if those calling for such unrestricted access to the ability to end a pregnancy have no real appreciation for the seriousness of the subject they're talking about. Getting an abortion isn't the same thing as ordering a pizza and it shouldn't be treated as if it were. I'm certainly not claiming that everyone, or even most women, are militant to the point where they approach an abortion with little or no understanding of or feeling for the significance of the decision they're making; on the contrary, I really do believe that terminating a pregnancy is an act that's rarely taken lightly and that those who choose it often do so for reasons that deserve unequivocal support and compassion.

But where I have the problem, where it all goes wrong for me and twists me up inside, is that it is simply impossible -- particularly with the kind of technology that now provides a veritable window to the womb -- to deny that a fetus is a human life. It is. That's just all there is to it. I'm of course willing to concede that in the earliest stages of a pregnancy, the fetus resembles a tadpole more than anything else, and since I'm not approaching this from the point of view of someone who's religious, I couldn't care less about whether a new soul is created at the moment of conception; that's complete rubbish as far as I'm concerned. But by the time the second trimester rolls around -- and abortions are still very much permitted at that stage -- that fetus looks quite a bit like what it is: a baby. You can call it whatever you'd like to make yourself feel better about it -- and I fully admit that I often do, simply to prevent the aforementioned cognitive dissonance from growing too loud and impeding my ability to function -- but that's a kid you're carrying. Just ask anyone who's thrilled about being 15 weeks pregnant.

But back to the religion question for a moment. I can't help but think that it's unfortunate that the Christian ultra-right has hijacked the abortion debate, because in reality this isn't a metaphysical question at all; it can be argued from the point of view of almost pristine logic. Even if you take the notion of God completely out of the picture -- and I'd highly suggest that you do -- you still have inarguable physical evidence of something growing during pregnancy that's completely separate from the mother in which it's incubating. Separate brain waves, separate limbs, separate life. The only question is: At what arbitrary cut-off point do you declare that that life is developed enough to deserve deference at the very least, protection at most?

Those protesters standing on the sidewalk had it all wrong. They didn't need the giant cross because they had the image of the dead baby. The didn't need religion on their side. They had reality.

And yet in the end I still can't bring myself to support their cause, either way.

46 comments:

Janiece said...

I think it's fair to say there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who understand that abortion is, by definition, an issue that causes cognitive dissonance, and those that don't.

If you don't, it doesn't matter which side of the issue you fall on - your view is too simple-minded to conduct an adult discussion on the issue.

Janean said...

I've felt conflicted about abortion for a long time, and it got worse when I was pregnant.

On the one hand I found out just how much a pregnancy can take over your life and body, and I can't imagine being forced to continue with a pregnancy I didn't want. On the other hand I can't imagine having an abortion personally unless my pregnancy was threatening my life, and even then I certainly wouldn't feel good about it. I'm never going to be protesting outside abortion clinics, but I can't see an embryo or fetus as anything other than a baby.

I've often told people that asked my opinion that I'm politically pro-choice, but personally pro-life. That really makes no sense and sounds very stupid, but I couldn't think of a better way to explain how I feel about it.

Holly said...

I share your cognitive dissonance. The reason I support legal abortion is that a right to life and a right to that which is necessary to sustain life are two very, very, very, very, very different things. A society which doesn't even allow those of us who want to be organ donors to do so after we're dead if our legal next of kin happen to disagree with our wish to be organ donors -- well, it simply cannot justify requiring live women to use their bodies to sustain other beings' lives against their will. The violinist argument is a sound one, in my view, and I say that as someone with a degree in philosophy who is very good at tearing apart arguments, if nothing else. (Google violinist defense of abortion if you've not read it.)

Anonymous said...

As a baby can survive outside the womb earlier and earlier, the second trimester abortions, save terrible handicaps in the child or to save the mother's life, do get hard to contemplate. I am so glad there is a morning after pill. My daughter has friends who have taken it (hell, she may have herself), and it's a standard part of a post rape examination. I am very pro-choice, but I have always seen it as the lesser of two evils, and not a day at the spa. I'm glad I'm old enough now that it likely won't be a question for me personally, and I'll be there for my daughter, if it happens to her.

Rivalen said...

I've always felt very similarly, on this issues, to you, Chez. Although I couldn't say that I truly understood the depth of the decision to have an abortion.

Then my son Joel died. An unidentified defect took him unexpectedly in the womb and my wife labored 26 hours to deliver our dead child.

Without a doubt, all of our perceptions changed. Except our view of abortion rights and issues. If anything, my belief that a woman should have the right to choose has strengthened. Some of us DB-parents abhor the idea of it, others of us have had to choose it for the sake of our child; to avoid suffering.

I agree that it is a human life, and I don't know the answer to 'when' it is or is not okay to terminate (that is, when theres no other reason than "unwanted"...whatever that means).

I've only walked a mile in shoes similar to those who have chosen abortion, and I know to judge not. We must all make our own choices.

Dissonance is the state of living in reality.

CNNfan said...

A Brother's Choice

Babies don't always die a quick death in a miscarriage. As a boy, I had to make a choice between killing my youngest brother before he was born or saving our Mother before she died giving birth.

It was a difficult choice, because I was really looking forward to having a little brother who we named Chaun. When the doctors said that both mother and brother would die. I chose to save the life of our Mother.

Still, it was difficult to let my youngest brother die before he was born. I hope when I die, and I meet my youngest brother Chaun for the first time in heaven, that he will forgive me for killing him.

Amy said...

I applaud your opinion. I applaud it because you don't believe it's the right decision, but you acknowledge that it is in fact the mother's ultimate decision. Why? Because it's HER life and HER body that will 100% change.

I don't believe abortions are wrong in the first trimester, MABEY into the early stages of the second trimester, but after that suck it up mama, you need to have that baby, because it is undoubtedly a baby. Don't want it? Give it up. But don't hem and haw for 6 months THEN decide this just isn't for you. That's just my opnion.

By the way Chez, you've been writing new stuff a LOT lately, and I'm loving it.

dsbs42 said...

Chez, I am a woman who feels the exact same way, and I hesitate to talk about it, because I don't want to be called a traitor to my gender. Abortion shouldn't be another form of birth control, and it certainly doesn't need to be a religious issue. You raised some excellent points about the arbitrary cut-off line for when it's acceptable or not, and I think, ultimately, THAT is what's most important about this sort of discussion - making sure people are educated and informed on the subject, and don't take it lightly.

No matter where you stand on an issue, there will always be someone on the same side as you who takes it to the nth degree, and makes all of you look bad. It's happening with the tea partiers right now, and I think it's happening on both sides of the abortion issue. If you ask reasonable, informed people on both sides, I'm sure they'd take umbrage just at the names each has been saddled with. Pro-choice? Are you saying because I think abortion should be treated lightly that I'm anti-choice? Pro-life? Are you seriously implying that those who believe abortion should be legalized are against life?

Fuck off.

This is the same reason I try not to get involved, even though I have some pretty strong opinions, about the Israel/Palestine situation. I'm not saying they're the same, but I think they're symptomatic of the same problem. Because no matter how reasonable your points are, they just are NOT being heard amid the constant noise of the two self-appointed black and write right and wrong sides SCREAMING at each other, and I'm sick of it. It feels like there's just propaganda now, just emotional ploys to tug at your heartstrings and sense of self-righteousness, because no one actually WANTS to talk, they just want to yell, and I say again, I am SICK of it!

Ahem. Excuse me. Sorry about that.

Clint said...

As usual, you have said it rather nicely and in a nuanced way.

I actually gave a talk in a Public Speaking class in college on this subject, saying much what you have (though the talk focused more on the details of the Supreme Court decision) and had a young lady say at the end, "I don't get it, are you pro-life or pro-choice?" All I could think to say was, "Morally, or legally?"

brite said...

One of the issues that constantly gets 'lost' in the abortion debate is that women have, and will continue to have, abortions whether they are legal, safe, approved of or not.Women have been aborting babies for about as long as we've been having them.The issue is, do we want to force women who have already chosen to end their pregnancies to be butchered,coat hangered, sliced, dranoed, bleached and often killed for their choice (which for many, many women it is more an imperative than a choice)?
Abortions happen...how society chooses to deal with that fact is very telling indeed.

Liquid said...

"Oddly, and for the life of me..." That just gave me a spark...like when Favre fumbled that second time tonight.
[Non Sequitur]I can't help thinking about where genetics will lead us. And that in fifteen or twenty years all the "guesswork" will be written out of childbirth.

French Anonymous said...

Shocking images - but are they of real abortions ? Or of body parts of foetuses that did naturally die in the womb in the second trimester ? When that sadly happens, the parents grieve for the dead baby, but it still has to be removed from the mother's womb - and you won't cut open a living person in order to extract as a whole an already dead one... very sad but it happens.

So. They hold you hostage. They push images of a fetus corpse in your face - I myself can't look at that, nor at other kinds of corpses. Was it an abortion ? Likely not.

In my country, abortion is a right of the pregnant woman, in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - the embryo, or tadpole stage - when she feels she's distressed by the pregnancy. It's mostly done by pills. After 12 weeks, it's an entirely different matter ; an assembly of doctors must decide.

So when dumb protesters come around our clinics carrying horrendous images of dead fetuses, it has no link to the reality of abortions - in my country for sure ; I don't know well enough US abortion laws. But will they persuade you, by showing you the real images : heavy menstrual blood with some undefined clots in it ? No. So they lie.

I'm also pro-choice, and if I can't imagine myself aborting, even in the tadpole stage, that only means that my pregnancies never were a source of acute distress. Better an aborted tadpole than a baby that will be hated inside the womb, and often also outside.

marija said...

If someone behaves like abortion is just another form of birth control, then maybe they shouldn't procreate at all.
I believe that the decision to get or not to get an abortion is one of the most difficult choices a person can make. But make no mistake about it, it's ultimately the woman's choice. Would I get an abortion? I don't know and hope I will never have to find out. But knowing that I can get one if I need to is very comforting.
As for religious psychos who value the life of a bunch of cells more than lives of doctors and medical staff performing abortions? Fuck you you twisted fuckers!

Amy said...

Amen Brite

L. said...

Though I can't imagine making that decision for myself, I am and always will be pro-choice.

When I was young, my mother had an abortion. She was 6 months pregnant with what would was to be another daughter, and the baby turned and got the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. My mom was given two choices: wait until her body was ready to expel the baby naturally or have an abortion. Her doctor gently recommended that she opt to have the abortion, and that was the choice my mother ultimately went with.

Fast forward to last weekend, when my sister and I arrived to my mom's for a dinner visit having a discussion about abortion spurred by some protesters we'd encountered on the drive. My mother was quiet for a minute and then said that she didn't think she'd have made it if she'd have had to carry the baby she lost and that she'll never respect a doctor more than the one who told her that making that decision was nothing to feel guilty about. She also got quite angry saying how the sources of those images on signs was likely a woman like her who lost the baby at a later point in pregnancy, and not the typical abortion case people think about.

I understand that this is not the type of case people most often associate with abortion, but it will always be the first that comes to my mind. Yes, it is possible that if abortion were to become illegal that there would be provisions allowing it in the case where the fetus is already dead, but it's just as possible that there wouldn't be any made. What about cases where the fetus is brain dead, but not actually dead?

I went to school with kids who were burned with cigarettes and shoved down stairs for fun by their parents. A girl who had her teeth knocked out with a baseball bat by her dad because she asked him to unlock her bedroom door so she could use the bathroom. A boy who was so severely and repeatedly raped by his mother's boyfriend that he had to use a colostomy bag. Every time I see abortion protesters, all I can think is, 'you want to protect the sanctity of life? How about spending your time and efforts fighting to save children from the adults who abuse them instead of making and carrying signs?' I'd love to know the adoption statistics for the people who regularly protest abortion. They always say adoption is a better choice, but how many of them do you think have adopted a child, let alone one who was born with a meth addiction because mom could only think of herself while she was pregnant? It is a woeful thing to suggest that death before life would be better in some cases, but I'm afraid it's something I've pondered on more than one occasion.



As a slight afterthought, there's something I can't really understand about the pro-life movement. They use the whole 'thou shalt not kill' thing for abortion, but why doesn't it apply to capital punishment? Is it only okay to murder if you kill vengefully?

zoe said...

I second the above: amen Brite.

I'm glad you said this about cognitive dissonance Chez, because it defines how I think about abortion. I mean, on the one hand, as a woman I have the right to make that choice (up to a certain point) because it is my body. I so firmly believe that, both because of my only personal belief system and also because, like Brite said, women will have abortions no matter what the law says. It's our duty to protect them as best we can.

On the other hand, I was born without a uterus (yet, still a girl. Who knew?), and by not allowing women the choice of abortion, I would theoretically be upping the number of babies up for adoption. Plus, if I was to miraculously become pregnant there's no way in hell I'd do ANYTHING to endanger that child. Yet I still firmly support a woman's right to choose. Like you said, it's a nearly impossible to reconcile those two positions, so I don't think about it.

And that's the thing that I don't see mentioned enough in the whole abortion debate (but has been mentioned at least obliquely by you and the replies) is that abortion is not like popping a pill. I've known 4 women who've had abortions, and not one of them treated it like it was no big deal. They are very well aware of what they were doing, and they still think about it today. Not every day, and not obsessively. But that knowledge is still there.

Mike said...

There are times when issues are so complicated, arguments on both sides so strong, that I genuinely believe the people who make a decision either way (assuming they've given serious critical thought to it) do so almost arbitrarily.

Abortion is at the forefront of those issues.

But it never works out that way --- it's damn difficult for even the first-rate intellects to give it serious critical thought without emotional responses coming into play.

I certainly remember having resolved in my youth that I was personally opposed to abortion and would never willingly be a party to one....until I was 21 and a one-night stand said "I'm late," and I ended up walking around my college campus at midnight, wondering in a panic if I could quickly get together the money for the abortion.

That, in the end, is the reason I err on the side of legal abortion. Not in case I panic and need one someday --- it's no longer an issue --- but because if I can't with consistency determine whether and when abortion is appropriate in my own (admittedly indirect) circumstances, I sure as shit can't do it for anybody else.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this. It is such an incredibly difficult issue - one that, more than almost anything I can think of, needs an insane combination of sensitivity and clear-eyed realism, compassion and ruthlessness. It deserves so much more nuance and care than it's ever given in the public sphere.

I've been pregnant twice, and I have two beautiful little girls. I thought of them as my babies from the moment I knew I was pregnant, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can think of it that way. But I am adamantly pro-choice and always will be.

The idea of abortion, when it comes down to it, sickens me. But so does the idea of yet another unwanted child in this world, when there are already so many children who are orphaned, abandoned, abused. And so does the idea of a child born with spina bifida or some other horrendous condition.

Besides, so many of these anti-choice (I refuse to call them pro-life) maniacs are also anti-birth control, and to me that is just unconscionable.

- Corey

Anonymous said...

While aboortion is not the choice for me (thankfully). I feel strongly that is should be a legal & safe choice.

I don't buy into the adoption option, because there are already too many kids out there waiting to be adopted. And many abused adopted children.

I also do not believe that bringing a severly handicapped child into the world to suffer is a fair choice for that child/family either.

While we are on the childbirth subject - I feel that having 6 babies at once should be reserved for mammals that have 6 teets. Otherwise it is a medical mistake, not miracle.

Anon said...

I was raised on the "pro-life" side all my life, and it's only recently that my opinions on the matter have begun to mature.

Like you, Chez, I do hold that fetus to be developing human life. Unlike members of my family, however, I'm clear thinking enough to realize that if the "religious" groups really, really want to end abortion; drawing lines in the sand on both sides doesn't serve anybody - it just puts us at a perpetual stalemate.

There has to be some sort of middle ground for those "prolife" and "prochoice" to reach or nothing will ever get solved. We have to work together to make abortion rare, and a last resort, and certainly not a decision that is made lightly.

Bill Orvis White said...

Oooh, you're almost there, Chez, but you must join the rest of Real America on this debate. We the majority believe that we should do all that is possible to protect the innocent. If that means informing the public with street signs, then so be it. If that means we save one woman from going into a clinic and ending a life, then so be it. If that means that good rulemakers tell those who go into a doctor's office to get a picture of that innocent unborn fetus, then so be it! The liberal media won't do its job so we must, Chez.

Now, come close to your computer and listen to me, I and many of those who are against abortion do not agree with those who kill doctors and blow up clinics. There I wrote it and don't forget it. You and those who are still in favor of legalized abortion try to get people to think that patriotic protestors like us inspire those who kill doctors and blow up clinics-wrong! We are simply informers.

I know in my heart that the new patriots who will be in Congress come January will work hard to get that big court up there to overturn that ungodly Roe v Wade deal.

Amen,
Bill

Anonymous said...

This is what I love about fertility rights. As men, we need to keep our mouths shut if a woman wants an abortion...because if they do get pregnant, its both our fault and responsibility, yet we have zero input into the decision as its not our body. We are simply supposed to be robots and completely secure in having a monumental decision made for us. Oh and pay for it. Yeah, we can't be anything but a fucking ATM machine facilitating the death of our child.

And in the same exact frame of mind, if a woman gets pregnant without our knowledge, puts our name on the birth certificate without ever informing us, and then waits 2 years to sue for child support...than we are supposed to be happy with paying for a child, even after we establish in a court of law through a blood test that it isn't ours. Want to talk about second class citizenship...look into child custody cases in the US. The mother has to basically be insane to lose custody and if the husband does manage to get it, he will never see a fucking dime from his ex-wife.

I love it...we get all the responsibility but zero input other than sticking our dicks in ya...I can't fucking wait for the male version of the pill getting FDA approval.

Amy said...

@ Bill Orvis White

I will say that I DO find it interesting that when I see a protester outside a clinic waving signs about abortion.. it's usually a guy.

Dear men of the world. Ending pregnancies has been going on as long as there have been pregnancies. And guess what. There will be women who end their pregnancies as long as there are women who will get pregnant.

And. Until you have your body basically destroyed (or at the very least greatly changed) because you got pregnant, I honestly don't care about your right wing "God" complex.

John Foley said...

Hahahaha, Bill said "Real America!" Talk about a conversation-killer.

J. Dack said...

I have the same problem, which is why I avoid this issue too.

I don't believe in souls and I am pro-choice, but at the same time I'm not saying "yeah abortion is awesome woo!!!" (although I do wish people would quit breeding so much but that's a separate issue.)

I'm close to someone who just went through an abortion a couple weeks ago, and it's the honest truth that it is, as you said, no trivial matter.

But I'm a guy and many women I know don't want to hear word ONE from a guy on the topic, so mostly I keep my trap shut.

As for my personal feelings, in the early stages when it's just a collection of cells, or a bit later when it's in the tadpole stage (my friends referred to theirs as "Peanut" when the first pictures came in), I personally don't think it counts as a person yet.

But once you've got the arms/legs/head/heartbeat thing, then yeah, it's hard for me to agree that it's "just a tumor feeding off of you."

Plus you could say that about any kid under 18 :)

Anonymous said...

As a man, I feel if you haven't made the choice to have an abortion by the end of the first three months of pregnancy, you've chosen to have the baby barring life-threatening health complications. That much indecision should be considered a decision on its own, in my opinion.

That's what I feel is morally right, though I wouldn't impose my view on others because I believe we all have a choice and our own moral compass to guide us through this sort of difficult choice.

Austin said...

Law should never be about right and wrong - it's about what we, as a society, need, what's in the best interests of the whole.

While some laws can be condensed down, ultimately, to some underlying notion of "fairness" or "morality", most are implemented in an arbitrary manner: the rules themselves don't always matter, but having rules does.

This is why we can look at something like abortion and, while we may be opposed to it morally (to whatever degree), still allow it legally: law is about what's in the best interests of society, and it's simply a fact that these things take place.

It's like sex ed - it doesn't matter that abstinence is the only sure-fire way to not get an STD; teens still have sex, so you make condoms and such available. Even if we agree that voluntary abortion is wrong, there are still fuzzy situations - where the mother's life is in danger, where there are known major deformities, etc. - where most reasonable people will waiver.

IF we could come up with a scientific definition of life, and could then make a definition of human life, we might be able to make a logical decision regarding abortion. But since we can't do either of those, it remains an emotional issue.

Anonymous said...

I remember the subject coming up in a conversation with my mom a few years ago. She doesn't go to church, but she believes and isn't in your face about it, unlike my born again aunt. Mom said, "I don't like it, but it's none of my business. If someone decides to have an abortion, it's between them and God." If only others thought the same.
-M

ErinM said...

Can't add much to the discussion other than to say that, while "on demand" may bring up images of ordering fries at the drive-through, the "demand" part is most often the end of a long process of soul-searching, heartbreak, prayer (if you're into that), and trying to find some way -- any way -- to make the situation different than it is. "On demand" means that once that horrible decision is made, you don't have to go through a mandated waiting period or jump through a series of hoops designed to make you think a little more (like you haven't already) about what you're about to do. Or drive to another state because you can't get an abortion in yours.

Abortion was the right decision for me; I don't regret it for a second. But it took me over a week of tears and sleepless nights to make the decision, and when it came my time to "demand" an abortion, I'm just grateful I was able to go in and get it done -- minimal trauma, minimal time away from my hourly job, minimal stigma and questions about why I needed the day off. That's what "on demand" means.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder when I see people protesting abortion clincs, who's raising your kids? Shouldn't you be at your own home taking care of your family and your own problems without taking on other people's problems.I am pro-choice, because it is none of my business what other people decide to do with their lives. If you can sleep with yourself at night after any hard decision you make then that is all that should matter. If you want to make abortion about religion then let it be between you and your God.
All you righteous people out there, who want to play judge and jury, I guess I'll be shaking hands with you in Hell.

NoxiousNan said...

(I’m writing this before I read all the comments, so forgive any redundancies. Reading first tends to make my comments longer than they already are.)

“Abortion on demand” is not a banner for those who trivialize what abortion is. Your brain supplied that assumption in the same way that Christian zealots hear an attack whenever someone disagrees with them. There is probably a more politically correct way to say what they mean, but there is no more succinct and accurate way that I can think of. What the term means is that our presumptions about a specific abortion or the reason for it, no matter how concerned or even informed they are, should not enter into the individual’s decision, and therefore those people, you, me, the government and religious folk, should not be trying to put limits on when it can occur. She should consider her partner’s opinions and her doctor’s, but never ours or the government’s. And because she should does not mean she will.

I have a question for the religious and non-religious alike that fight against a woman’s right to her body: How come you have not started a movement to encourage or demand women with unwanted pregnancies to transfer the fetus into the womb of a woman willing to take on the gestation? To me, the fact that this has never once been mentioned, encouraged or considered by any anti abortionists is because anti abortion is really about controlling women.

I certainly don’t think it would put an end to the abortion issue – I personally would never bring a human into being that I thought would likely be brought up in a fundamentalist household, and I know no fundamentalist woman would ever want her child raised by me (and yes, fundys have abortions too). Still, I imagine it would reduce the number of abortions considerably. I believe Chez might take that option if he were a woman with an unwanted pregnancy, or at least consider it.

I settled the question for myself when I was a teenager and undertook to write a pro-abortion rights letter to my local paper. I researched medical, religious and philosophical writings before coming to my own conclusions, which were still pro-abortion rights, but more informed and refined.

Rivalen said...

As a middle school teacher, I can say that I full support 44th trimester abortions.

the thought of ramming a wire hanger into some of these brats is what gets me through the day.


...that and the cuervo.

NoxiousNan said...

Ahhh poor Anonymous 11:27. Sounds like misogyny blew up in your face. You see, that whole name on a birth certificate thing is a product of an earlier day, a day when women were mere chattel and their offspring very useful and not costly. Even if the woman had children through affairs, it was important for the property owning male to have someone to work his fields. So inconvenient today, now that women have taken to use it to their own ends.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for you. But you are the victim of your own gender, my friend. And I’ll leave it to the Promise Keepers to change those laws since their ilk put them in place.

Also, sadly, your male pill still isn’t here even though we’ve had the technology for over a decade. Market research indicates that not enough men will buy it. You may have a very long wait.

Anonymous said...

My God, Chez. I love it when you write passionately. I love it when you're heated and angry and when you're thoughtful and pensive.
Here here! (Or hear! Hear!)
As one of your readers who has actually had an abortion (oh no, one who really admits it!), I can say to you that I am still in a world of cognitive dissonance and will never feel like what I did was absolutely right. There were elements of fear, anger, shame. And relief. Friends who have done the same -- women do tell one another occasionally -- feel the same. There is never an unalloyed feeling of having done the "right" thing. Only the "right-est" thing at the time.
For the people who carry signs in protest, I still think that they have not walked a mile in the shoes of others and no one can know where others are in their lives nor the circumstances surrounding their respective situations. Who knows -- maybe they themselves have had abortions or their wives or daughters have.
And echoing one of your readers, abortion will always exist. And echoing Joycelyn Elders (former Surgeon General who added "masturbation" to the common lexicon), abortion "should be safe, legal and rare."
Keep up the good work.

Che Grovera said...

You want cognitive dissonance, try talking to someone who claims to be against a woman's right to choose an abortion but in favor of the death penalty -- they're not hard to find. Pro-life my ass! It's the rare individual who is virulently anti-choice and who has also adopted someone else's baby. Frankly, it's just as well since a control freak of that magnitude makes for a lousy parent. These people are anti-choice, pure and simple, and it's disgraceful that they're allowed to frame the debate by cherry-picking the terminology.

Chez said...

Nan, I honestly appreciate your explanation of the phrase "on demand," although I do agree with you that something slightly less severe might've been a good idea.

And I'd lay off Anonymous if I were you. Call it the inevitable result of a culture of misogyny all you'd like -- he makes a damn good point. The wrong now often committed against men when it comes to "reproductive rights" doesn't make up for the wrongs committed against women -- it just makes one more wrong.

Chez said...

And by the way, thanks everybody for the comments. They're a lot more tempered than I expected. Good conversation.

Deacon Blue said...

Well, Chez, I'm 95% in agreement with you, and having been closely involved with the issue and being present for the pre- and post-procedure stresses and hand-holding, it is something that is very much a difficult decision, even if one really WANTS the procedure badly.

About the only thing I'd say is that religion does have a place here, but it's the same kind of place I'd expect religious types to be for illness, trauma, loss, etc. ... that is, be supportive, healing and uplifting, not judgmental and cruel.

That being said, I do find myself thinking that perhaps abortion, as difficult an issue as it is, may actually have a net positive impact in certain situation. I can't help but think how much better the world would be if someone had aborted Dora the Explorer and Diego, Scrappy-Doo and Flim Flam, and all of the Bratz girls.

Not to mention the cartoon characters that should have been aborted, like Glenn Beck, Ingrid Newkirk, Rush Limbaugh and a host of others.

Deacon Blue said...

I do think Anon 11:27 makes excellent points. But that speaks to things that are totally fucked up in other areas and have nothing to do with abortion. Still a woman's right to make the choice...she simply shouldn't ALSO have the freedom to use pregnancy and childbirth as a weapon. Two entirely separate issues, but Anon wants to tie them together, which is where he goes wrong.

em said...

I don't have much to add here--I think everything I am thinking has been captured in a much better way that I could ever try--but there were actually a group of protesters a block away from my workplace a few weeks ago (right near a major highway, and I work in the suburbs of Chicago). They were holding up a ton of those signs as well. You know who they also had holding up signs? Kids who looked no older than about seven, who should be, I don't know, playing? Eating ice cream? That disgusted me so much more than the images on their posterboards.

Anonymous said...

I guess I spoke my points to brusquely (I am the Anon 11:27). My point is that the default societal view is men must take a backseat and have no input into the decision, yet we are expected to live with the results. I am not suggesting that men who duck their responsibility should be viewed in any fashion other than that if utter contempt.

As per the male version not available due to a lack of interest...NoxiousNan, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. What magical technology are you talking about? Vasectomies? They aren't reversible. If your talking about Intra Vas Device, its still in animal testing, if your talking about a hormonal based pill, its still decades away, or if your just talking out of your ass...well keep doing it; you seem to be great at it.

But I guess having a nuanced opinion on this issue is just my crushing misogyny. I apologize for expressing myself and I let you get back to your SCUM manifesto.

Anonymous said...

The choice is always there. No matter what life's situation is, you make the choice. 46 years ago, I made the choice to give birth rather than to abort at 14 years old. Great decision. 5 years ago my birth-daughter found me. The best decision produced a wonderful daughter who has had a great life. I'm pro choice, just glad I made the right decision. Right decision, tough decision, sometimes the easy way out isn't so easy.

Deacon Blue said...

I have to say, though, Anon, what is the alternative?

If the man helped knock the woman up, and he doesn't want the baby...and she doesn't want an abortion...should he be off the hook?

Don't get me wrong. You brought up valid points before about men totally screwed over, sometimes who aren't even really the fathers.

But I don't think it makes much sense to give the man a "vote" as to whether the child gets yanked out of another person's body...and it also doesn't make sense to give men an out whereby they can say, "Well, I didn't want a kids..she got pregnant on purpose!"

My feeling is that if a man doesn't want to be on the hook, he should wear a condom even if the woman says she is on the pill. Shit happens, so be prepared or be prepared to be on the hook.

As for paternity, I think that when it's in question, neither the man nor the woman should have to pay trough the nose to figure out whether the man sired it. There should be a mechanism to affordably allow them to settle the issue and for him to be off the hook immediately if he ain't the father.

NoxiousNan said...

Chez (@7:56) – I did make light of a serious problem, true. Not because I am ignorant of it or think it’s cool comeuppance, but because irony is funny, even when it bites (as long as you're not the one being bitten).

To be serious for a moment, I don’t agree with women taking advantage of paternity laws to put the screws to innocent men. For what these women personally gain, all women must share in the losing (and men too, clearly). In NV one cannot add a man’s name to a birth certificate without proof of paternity if single. However, if married, the husband’s name can be added (unwillingly) no matter who the father is. That is wrong.

But it’s a losing battle to try and argue about it. I have generally found that women(people) hate losing any advantages they have gained, even if the gains are ill-gotten. In this case, they often refuse to admit they’re ill gotten gains!

NoxiousNan said...

@Anon 10:47 I was talking about was the male pill, just like you. You could tell because I specifically said, “male pill” after you specifically said, “male pill.” Your blustery rant seems to be over my usage of the word technology.

Check out “100% success for male pill trial”, BBC News, 7/17/2000. Or for the actual technical details, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol 86, No. 11 – “ Novel Male Contraceptive Pill-Patch Combination: Oral Desogestrel and Transdermal Testosterone in the Suppression of Spermatogenesis in Normal Men.” Hmmm, we’ve had the technology over a decade.

That said, I very much applaud and appreciate that you have researched and use male contraception. As this feminist has always told her two sons (junior members of SCUM, see our manifesto) that they are solely responsible for their own sexual well-being.

Oh, and I never implied you were a misogynist (or that you had a nuanced opinion for that matter), but rather that you were a victim of misogyny. But if you think otherwise, who am I to say otherwise.

Now, you may resume your apoplectic frenzy.

Ref said...

Whenever I see a protester carrying one of those "Smile, your mother was pro-life" signs, I want to tell them "My mother was strongly pro-choice, so I know she wanted me. Why did your mother have you? Fear of a patriarchal cult?"