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Blog for Choice Day -- Why I'm Pro-Choice

I covered the reasons for my belief that women must have the ultimate say in what happens to their bodies and my experiences in making those choices in my life in last year's Blogging for Choice Day.This year's theme is "Why I'm Pro-Choice" which I really felt I covered in last year's post.

My thoughts keeping coming back to "Why are some people 'pro-life'?" We already know that a good percentage of "pro-life" folks aren't really pro-life, as evidenced by many of those same folks eagerly embracing the policies of war and the death penalty, and the justification of the murder of clinic workers and doctors. Their creditability is further undermined by being anti-contraception and anti-comprehensive sex education, which would lessen the need for abortion. This group isn't so much pro-life as they are pro-punishment -- and what better way to punish a woman for being sexual than force her to go through a pregnancy against her will, and either suffer the emotional scars and uncertainty of giving her child up to adoption, or raise a child for 18 years, most likely in poverty.

Another group are the people who are "pro-life" that I've identified really do believe that there is a life lost with abortion. Many of these people's beliefs come from their religious background, which makes me wonder -- where is their faith? Is their God so incapable that each abortion is a threat to His/Her plan? Is a woman more powerful than God in their viewpoint? If God wants a certain soul to be born on earth, isn't He/She capable of making sure that soul gets born to someone who wants the child? How do we know that abortion isn't part of God's plan to make sure that each child is a wanted child, and to help us to balance out our impact on the planet?

In ancient times the human race perhaps needed every baby that was conceived to be born to ensure the survival of the race; this was a time when many babies and children died due to diseases and famine and just the dangers of living in those times. We now know that not only do we not need every child conceived to be born, but the survival human race may depend on a lot fewer of them being born.

I believe another group taking the "pro-life" side are those who want to see a return to unquestioned male dominance in our society. What better way to keep women in their place, than to force those of them unwilling into the role of producing and taking care of children? I've seen evidence of this in various "studies" of questionable method that have been publicized by mainly conservative media, that "prove" that women who stay home and raise the kids are happier than those that pursue a career -- my personal experience (which is likely as valid, if not more so, than these "studies") is that closer to 75% of the women I know are much happier haivng a career or working outside the home than doing the full time mom thing (of which I am one); I do know a few that do enjoy staying home with the kids, and I respect their choice -- I just do not want policy for the rest of womankind modeled around those few.

So we have pro-punishment people, religious folks with shaky faith, and the misogynists running this "pro-life" movement, as far as I can tell. Not exactly an opposition with a trustworthy authority.

Being out and loud about being pro-choice is more important now that just about any time in the past 30 years. We have to be adamant about our right to choose the direction of our lives, as the legislatures across the country that are  dominated by pro-punishment folks, shaky-faith folks and misogynists are planning legislation to to chip away or do away with legal and safe access to abortions.

I keep hearing conservatives saying that their policies are about personal responsibility. Disregading many of the policies that they support that aren't -- safe and legal contraception and abortion is about being personally responsible. It's about honestly confronting our strong, and very human sexual drives, and balancing that with what we can handle in our lives.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
Profound mischaracterization of the pro-life stance
It is troubling that you've adopted a pro-abortion stance with such a profound misunderstanding of the views of those who oppose abortion. I hope you don't actually believe what you've written here but are instead just trying to be provocative.

Have you ever held a newborn baby? Can you imagine killing that baby and feeling okay about it? Why would it be more acceptable one month earlier? It honestly escapes me. Which of the three groups does that put me in?

-Bradley Ross (http://www.lavalane.org/blava/)
Jan. 23rd, 2007 05:52 am (UTC)
Re: Profound mischaracterization of the pro-life stance
Hi Bradley, thanks for responding.

That's pro-CHOICE not pro-abortion -- big difference. Pro-abortion would mean that
I believe that every pregnant woman should be required to get an abortion. I believe that every woman has to make choices about her life and body for herself. Keyword is choice. I respect any choice -- abortion, adoption, raising the child -- a woman makes, because I have first hand knowledge of how difficult it is to make that choice.

I have two children, both of which I had to make difficult decisions about. Please see last year's blog for choice where I posted my personal story: it might give you a little more insight into what having to make that choice can mean.

"an you imagine killing that baby and feeling okay about it? Why would it be more acceptable one month earlier?"

Why are you making this about an 8 month old fetus? The only way to abort an 8 month old fetus is if it is a) already dead or b) is so deformed it would die before or shortly after birth.

Abortion usually needs to happen in the first 12 weeks or less. Abortion after any longer of a gestation is uaually only done in extreme circumstances, usually having to do with the mother's health.

"Which of the three groups does that put me in?"

Since you ask, I'd probably put you in the lack of faith group -- it's seems that you are genuinely concerned for potential life to the exclusion of the lives already in existence, but this is just a guess. I don't have enough information from you to make any other conclusions, and I'm far from an authority on the subject, just blogging about my perceptions.

Here's a quick test that might help determine which group you are in:

1. Assume that abortion goes back to being illegal, and women who cannot go through with the pregnancy decide to have an illegal abortions. Let's say that the illegal abortions lead to many deaths and injuries for these women. Do you feel like they got what they deserve? If so, you'd be of the "punishing women for their sexuality group" or the misogynistic group.

2. How do you feel about birth control and comprehensive sex education, which have been shown to reduce the need for abortions? If you don't like them, you may be part of the "punishing women for their sexuality group".

3. Do you think that women can have fulfilling lives without children? Do you think of women as whole and complete human beings of their own? Do you feel threatened or insecure around women who have acheived more than you have? Do you believe that women are primarily meant to be helpmeets to their husbands and nurturers to their children? Answers to these questions might give insight into whether or not you may identify with the misogynistic group.
Jan. 25th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Re: Profound mischaracterization of the pro-life stance
Jenni said, "Why are you making this about an 8 month old fetus? The only way to abort an 8 month old fetus is if it is a) already dead or b) is so deformed it would die before or shortly after birth."

According to an article on Wikipedia, only 16 states have enforceable, constitutional laws banning late term abortions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-term_abortion#Legal_restrictions).

I talk about a baby 1 month before his birthday because it should be clear to everyone, everywhere that this is a BABY. A person. Would you support laws banning late term abortions for all but a small sliver of exceptions? Everywhere these laws have been proposed, they have been opposed by pro-abortion groups. I just don't understand that moral calculus. Perhaps you can help me understand. At 1 month before birth, I'd hope we could all agree that this is NOT about a "choice." It is about killing a baby.
Jan. 25th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
Re: Profound mischaracterization of the pro-life stance
There is a great deal of difference between a ferilized egg, a clump of cells, and and 8 month term baby. For one thing, an 8 month term baby has a really good chance of surviving outside the womb. It also has developed a complete nervous system and brain.

Didn't Bush sign a big "late term" abortion law?

Abortions, as I wrote before, are never done that late unless the baby is dead, or will die either during birth or after. If it's a matter of the mother's health at that date and the baby is healthy, either labor will be induced or a c-section will be performed.

The late term abortion ferver by the right-wing is a deliberate spin to make you imagine that perfectly healthy babies are being massacred just a few weeks before they are due to be born. It helps drive up the passions of the pro-life/anti-choice crowd.

The reason they are opposed by pro-choice crowds is that the bans that most anti-choicers want to pass will make no exception for dead babies, or severely deformed (and about to be dead) babies. Can you imagine a woman being forced to carry a dead baby to term and then having to give birth to it?
Jan. 23rd, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
My personal choice story (from last year's "Blog for Choice"
I grew up in a conservative home and a conservative religion, so I think I have a pretty good grasp of where pro-lifers are coming from in their ideology. But essentially, the religion I was brought up in (LDS) espoused "free agency". Some of the stories I was told in Sunday school as a child were of a "pre-existence" -- a sort of heaven before the earth was created by God. In this pre-existence, I was told, there was a war over the idea of free agency of the earthly existence. The angel Lucifer asked God to let him lead humanity, that he would make them obey God's will. The angel Jesus told God that he would let humans have free choice serve God's will or not. At the end of this "war", Lucifer and his anti-choice followers were cast down into "outer darkness".

I always remember this story whenever I hear about our (mostly) Mormon legislators here in Utah passing legislation that limits our free agency in many ways, from reproductive rights to instituting a lottery to benefit schools, to allowing kids to organize gay-straight alliances. I wonder if they got the same lessons in church that I did, and how they reconcile their own actions with that theology.

The beauty of choice, I've often felt, is that it honors everyone's choice. My choice to have my children is just as valid as that of someone who chooses to have an abortion or give their child up for adoption.

That essential choice is not always an easy one. Both of my children were unplanned and I was not married to either of their fathers, although I did later marry the father of my youngest. I went through each of my options over and over, carefully weighing the repercussions of each. In the end, both times, I chose to have my daughters. I would never condemn a woman who made a choice that was different than mine.

Raising a child does not only entail hard word and expense, but it can be so draining mentally, emotionally and physically that, in my experience, you sometimes feel as if are losing yourself. There are some rewards and benefits to having children, but there are rewards and benefits that are equally as good for those pursuing other paths in life. And there are rewards and benefits to having children when the timing is right: after you have had ample time to discover yourself and enjoy your life, after taking time to work on career goals and come to feel mature enough to handle motherhood.

It's interesting to me that the issue of abortion is often bundled together with other reproductive issues. I would think that those most involved with the fight against abortion would at least champion birth control and comprehensive sex education that generally reduce the need for abortion, but most of these people are fighting women's access to these options as well. This makes me wonder if those opposed to abortion are more attached to the idea of punishing women for being sexual than to any issue of fetal rights.

The ideological shift and the growing power of this regressive segment of society frightens and angers me. I am a whole human being, with hopes and dreams that don't necessarily have anything to do with raising children, and in some cases, are hindered by it. I am vital and interested in doing much in the outside world; I refuse to be limited or imprisoned by a narrow role defined by my physical ability to get pregnant.

My ultimate goal in life is to leave the world better than I found it. I intend to raise my girls with the full knowledge of all their options in life. I intend to raise them with the awareness that they are whole human beings, and that motherhood is one option among hundreds or thousands that they may choose from. I hope for a world where women not only have choices, but one where they have a supportive society that honors their choices.

Jan. 25th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
Re: My personal choice story (from last year's "Blog for Choice"
Jenni, you talked a lot about free agency in your comment above. You said, "The beauty of choice, I've often felt, is that it honors everyone's choice. "

I'm having a hard time seeing a distinction between "anarchy" and your definition of "choice." If we accept your definition of free agency, what room is there for any law that restricts any choice? In my theology, the fight for choice has already been won. Now we are on earth to make the RIGHT choice. We can make any choice we want: murder, steal, donate to charities, love our neighbors, hate our parents--we can choose them all. But being free of the consequences of our choices was never part of the bargain. How could it be?

--Bradley Ross
Jan. 25th, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
Re: My personal choice story (from last year's "Blog for Choice"
How is forcing others to do what you believe is right help anything?

Who said there are no consequences to any choice? There are always consequences to every choice. Abortion has it's consequences, as does adoption and raising the child.
Jan. 23rd, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
Re: Profound mischaracterization of the pro-life stance
(a poem from my friend Eileen, that spells out what may drive the "lack of faith" group)

God Has a Plan B

I have figured out why

Bush, Ashcroft, Rove and Falwell

fear the woman with choice –

Because her god can beat their god

with one arm tied behind her back

Her god, my god has a Plan B.

My god is not foiled

by the knitting needle, the coat hanger

the pennyroyal, periwinkle, RU-486

or the compassionate physician.

My god does not stand helplessly by

wringing her hands and

whining to the next

Ghandi, Mother Teresa

Albert Einstein or Margaret Sanger

why they’ll never be born.

She just fills out a new boarding card

pats them on the head

and sends them on their way.

I have always known my limitations.

It is not for me to decide

which spirits will grace this earth.

But it is for me to decide

whether to invite them

into my body and into my life.

When the Great Mother comes knocking –

The answer can be no.

So to patriarchs everywhere –

Have a little faith in the powers that be.

Render unto God what is God’s -

But render unto Woman what is Woman’s.

Eileen McCabe-Olsen 04/26/2004 – 05/01/2004
Jan. 23rd, 2007 08:05 am (UTC)
Re: Profound mischaracterization of the pro-life stance
Bradley --

I noticed on OneUtah that you mention that you have a one month old baby. I respect you and your partner's choice in having that baby, and I'm glad that it's the right decision for you both.

Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
Pro Life - Alienated Wannabe

Dear Jen,

I welcome a respectful discussion of this topic, because, as you know, it can so easily degenerate into a name calling food fight. Thank you for allowing it to be something more.

I am pro-life.

The issue of free agency is also extremely important to me, so I believe I can understand and respect the values underlying the pro-choice position. I sincerely do not want to interfere in the personal choices of others. But, I have come to see that none of us live in a vacuum. What I do affects others. What others do affects me.

It has been my experience that Liberals are better at recognizing this truth in connection to the natural environment, while Conservatives are better at recognizing it in connection to the moral environment. Hopefully, each group can help compensate for the other's blindness, and as a society we will find the right balance between individual rights and responsibilities.

If an abortion only affected the woman who elected to have the abortion, then it would be easy to simply get out of her way and let her do what she wanted. But, it's not that simple.

Obviously, the consequences suffered by the unborn child are almost always far more severe than those endured by a mother who might be required to see her pregnancy to term. Having one's life taken trumps having one's life inconvenienced--even if it's greatly inconvenienced.

Beyond this, the father of the child is affected. The potential descendants of the child are affected. Society at large is affected. All of us are affected, personally and profoundly.

And, as past Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. observed, a person’s right to swing his or her fist ends where another person’s nose begins. Thus, since many other people are affected by a woman choosing to have an abortion, many other people have a rightful say in the matter.

To illustrate how all of us are profoundly affected by abortion, please allow me to give an example illustrating certain relevant principles:

I strongly believe in parental rights. I am convinced that it is very important to allow parents to raise their children as they see fit, without interference from the outside “village.” There are limits to this, however. If, for example, I learn that a father is forcing his fourteen-year-old daughter to marry her uncle, against her will, then I believe society has the right--indeed the responsibility--to step in and stop her rape.

Now, this man may cry out that I am interfering with his parental and religious rights. He may want me to simply leave him alone, to respect his free agency, but I cannot do that. I have the responsibility to intervene in order to protect the child. And, as important as it is to protect the innocent, such action also involves protecting me. You see, if I didn't interfere--if I simply turned a blind eye--then I would be an accomplice to his crime.

And, ultimately, the real losers are those who are the abusers. The victims ultimately do heal in eternity, it is the victimizers who have to live with themselves and the consequences of their sins--as a result, the ultimate tragedy is to become a victimizer. I do not want to do that. Thus, I do not want to become an accomplice to such a crime.

I have the moral responsibility to get involved. So, what this man does affects me and my world in the most personal of ways, because my response to him ultimately defines (reveals) who I am.

Thanks for listening, Jen. I appreciate the opportunity to give my side of story.


Alienated Wannabe
Jan. 24th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Pro Life - Alienated Wannabe
Thank you for sharing what your choice would be, Alientated. My choice, as you read above, was the same -- but for different reasons.

The problem we get into is when you say that your choice -- your opinion -- is how others should be forced to live.

You base the necessity to force your choice on other people on your religious/moral beliefs, which many don't share. There is no where near a consensus that a ferilized egg or clump of cells is equal to or greater than a living breathing human being. It's far more probably that the fetus becoming human is a process. I was quite startled to read something from Molly Ivins which perfectly described my beliefs on the subject:

" . . . approximately on fourth of all fertilize eggs are swept out on the mentsrual tide before they can even get near to implanting themselves in the uterine wall, and we do nothold funerals over Kotex or Tampax. I suggest to you that this means that the beginning of life is not a single specific event , but rather a process that desrves increasing respect as it continues toward birth -- preciely the tripartite system set up under Roe v. Wade . . . I respect those who oppose abortion, but I do not think they have a right to use law as an instument of coercion against people who do not believe (and it is a matter of faith) as they do. They have no right to mkae that decision for someone else, nor does the government . . . There were an estimated one million abortions a year in this country before ,i.Roe</i>. Abortion can be safe and legal, or dirty and illegal. It cannot be stopped."

So alienated, you are wanting to force all of womankind to live by your certain "moral authority" based on (as I put on One Utah) :

writings by a lot of fallible human beings {who are men} [that they claim] are direct words from God (and then to trust that a group of even more fallible human beings {who are men} [a few hundred years later] who decided what was included in the “collected works” weren’t using their own prejudices and were directed by God, and then again ditto for translators {who were men} ), and despite contradictions throughout the “collected works” to believe certain directives completely and utterly while disregarding other directives. And on top off all this, expecting everyone on the planet to follow those directives as intrepreted by a narrow segment of society {led my mostly men}, who have their own preconceived ideas and prejudices.

If your main scripture isn't the Bible, but the Book of Mormon, the moral authority of that book is just as problematic, and also created by a man/men, depending on what intreptation you take.

So, in part one, I strongly disagree that your religous/moral beliefs (as fallible as they are)are what should define the beginning of life. We are not talking about murder, in other words.

(I'll continue this in another comment, as livejournal has limitations on comment size)
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Pro Life - Alienated Wannabe
I am a vegetarian. I have as many (and probably more) moral reasons to believe that eating meat is wrong. If those who share my belief had the clout in the government that anti-choicers do, and we are getting progressively closer to making eating meat illegal -- how would you feel? Would you feel that my moral beliefs do not trump the right for you to control what you put in your body?

It's not exactly an equal scenario, as becoming a vegetarian wouldn't have the negative consquences on a life that forced pregnancy could have.

Just a few examples from the real world: By being forced to become a vegetarian, you wouldn't be economically ruined (unless you worked in the meat industry) something I learned the hard way by choosing to have my first child 12 years ago -- I'm still paying off debts from my 9 year stint as a single mom, and my credit can never be resurected. Being forced to become a vegetarian wouldn't make it either extremely difficult or impossible to follow your dreams, like completeing college, pursuing certain careers, travelling around the world. Being forced to be a vegetarian wouldn't interfere with discovering who you are as a person and what you really want out of life (unless all you really want out of life is to eat that cow . . .). Being a vegetarian won't kill you, and in fact will make you healthier -- did you know that you are much more likely to be murdered if you are pregnant? Did you know death rates are higher for giving birth than having an abortion? And that doesnt even come close to addressing the toll that pregnancy puts on your body.

"a person’s right to swing his or her fist ends where another person’s nose begins." Agreed -- your religous beliefs end where my body begins.

"Beyond this, the father of the child is affected. The potential descendants of the child are affected. Society at large is affected. All of us are affected, personally and profoundly."

Examples, please. This kind of reminds me of that Monty Python bit "Every Sperm is Sacred".

"he father of the child is affected"

If you really want to be a father, I would suggest that you have a good talk about your desires to the woman that you'd like to be the mother. If she doesn't have the same desires, it's probably not going to work. If you have a sexual encounter with a woman that results in a pregnancy, and you are certain that that particular ejaculation needs to become your child when she doesn't want it, I can't really help you there, as you can't force her to incubate in her body your desires against hers.

"The potential descendants of the child are affected"

This goes back to the lack of faith thing that I mentioned. I didn't realize that your God was so confined to having to follow specific genetic patterns. All the poor souls that can only be born to those who He/She has designated -- guess they'll be stuck in some weird nether existence because your God can't let them be born to someone who wants a child.

"Society at large is affected. All of us are affected, personally and profoundly."
Wow, I didn't know that I was affected by fertilized eggs. We must as a society be reeling from the effects of those 1/4 of all fertilized eggs that get detroyed by women's periods, and the horror all those miscarriages! If only every single fertilized egg were given the chance to grow into a human being, how much better our world would be.

Jan. 24th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Pro Life - Alienated Wannabe
While were on the subject, I also want to discuss my profound offense that many of you anti-choicers believe that my life as a living, breathing human being with emotions and memories and relationships is worth less than a fertilized egg or a clump of cells.

You see, I care about the living, breathing human beings already here. That's why I'm anti-war which kills many innocent living, breathing human beings, with fully developed nervous systems, who's agony on both the physical and emotional level we may never have to experience. That's why I'm anti- death penalty as, too many innocent people slip through our flawed system. That's why I'm pro-environment, because our greed and selfishness, causes long suffering death and other physcial damage to people and animals. That's why I'm pro-debt relief to Africa, why I'm for tight controls on corporate responsiblity, why I'm for feeding the hungry rather than paying for more death -- as in the form of war, as one example. That's why I'm pro-choice, because I believe that once that child is a child and here in the world, we should be focusing all of our efforts on making sure that that child won't be murdered, tortured, starved to death, forced to die slowly and painfully by preventative cancers from our pollution. Unlimited population is unsustainable and will destroy the planet -- and how much human suffering will accompany that?
Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Pro Life, Part 2 - Alienated Wannabe
Dear Jen,

The pro-choice arguments are not new. They are essentially the “states rights” arguments that were given in an attempt to protect the practice of slavery in this country. Those arguments were eventually exposed as being flawed, but not before millions of lives were victimized by this selfish practice. It was a national sin that stained, and continues to stain, all of us--not just those who personally held slaves.

Likewise, abortion stains us all. Thus, we all have a say in whether or not it is permitted.

Because I believe this, does it mean that I lack faith? Well, let's see if that argument holds water:

"Slavery is okay, because I have faith that God will somehow make it up to those poor slaves. I believe that he will erase the memories of the whip and the inherent torment, and allow these unfortunate folk to be born again into a beautiful new world free from pain. Therefore, it is okay that I selfishly abuse them now. This is so, because I really need a slave to be all that I can be. I need a slave so that I can be fulfilled as a person. Not having a slave would be very distressing to me."

In my opinion, that argument does not hold water. Even if God did completely make it up to a brutalized slave, or to child who was killed by its mother, that still does not change the fact that the practice was cruel, selfish, and immoral. And, it does not take away my responsibility to intervene in defense of the innocent.

Thanks, again.

Alienated Wannabe
Jan. 24th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Pro Life, Part 2 - Alienated Wannabe
Sorry Alientated, but this comparison is not only a really bad spin, but it is also offensive.

I am not a state -- I am a human being equal with all other human beings.

Both the pro-slavery and the anti-choice movements choose to force people into a lack of choice about their bodies based on their biology. In one scenario, the color of skin determines if a person is fully human or if they are property. In the other, reproductive organs determine if a person is a whole human being or breeding stock. In both of these scenarios, one group of people is subject to the will of another group of people.

"Pro-life" arguments aren't new either -- they've been used to keep women subjected and inferior to men for millenia.
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)

Dear Jen,

You are right, or course. That last entry of mine was written in an offensive manner. I am sorry that I didn't do a better job. Please accept my apology I was running out of time, and did got a little slopply in my rush to finish. I will try to do a better job in the future.

As for your three categories (caricatures of folks like me), you are smart enough to know that they TOO are offensive. I hope that I can convince you to be a little more generous in how you evaluate those of us on the other side of the fence.

Thanks, friend. You do a great job.

Alienated Wannabe
Jan. 24th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
Oh no, let's try that again!
Dear Jen,

You are right, or course. That last entry of mine was written in an offensive manner. I am sorry that I didn't do a better job. Please accept my apology.

I was running out of time, and became a little slopply in my rush to finish. I will try to do a better job in the future. (Now would be a nice time!)

As for your three categories (caricatures of folks like me), you are smart enough to know that they TOO are offensive. I hope that I can convince you to be a little more generous in how you evaluate those of us on the other side of the fence.

Thanks, friend. You do a great job.

Alienated Wannabe
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


Sunflower A
Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen
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This blog is an ever evolving project. I write about local and national politics from an independent-left point of view. I'm also exploring ways to live with less impact on the planet and trying new ways to be an involved and active citizen.

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