How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement

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The spring of my sophomore year of college I was president of my university’s Students for Life chapter. The fall of my junior year of college I cut my ties with the pro-life movement. Five years later I have lost the last shred of faith I had in that movement. This is my story.

I was raised in the sort of evangelical family where abortion is the number one political issue. I grew up believing that abortion was murder, and when I stopped identifying as pro-life I initially still believed that. Why, then, did I stop identifying as pro-life? Quite simply, I learned that increasing contraceptive use, not banning abortion, was the key to decreasing the number of abortions. Given that the pro-life movement focuses on banning abortion and is generally opposed advocating greater contraceptive use, I knew that I no longer fit. I also knew that my biggest allies in decreasing the number of abortions were those who supported increased birth control use – in other words, pro-choice progressives. And so I stopped calling myself pro-life.

My views on fetal personhood and women’s bodily autonomy have shifted since that day, but when I first started blogging a year and a half ago I was nevertheless very insistent that the pro-life movement should be taken at its word when it came to rhetoric about saving “unborn babies” from being “murdered.” I insisted that the pro-life movement wasn’t anti-woman or anti-sex, and that those who opposed abortion genuinely believed that a zygote/embryo/fetus was a person with rights in need of protection just like any other person. I believed that the pro-life movement’s actions were counterproductive, but that they were merely misinformed. I wrote a post with practical suggestions for opponents of abortion. I believed that the pro-life movement was genuine in its goals, but simply ignorant about how its goals might best be obtained.

I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong.

As a child, teen, and college student, I sincerely believed that personhood, life, rights, and the soul all began at fertilization. I was honestly opposed to abortion because I believed it was murder. It had nothing to do with being anti-woman or anti-sex. I thought that the pro-life movement writ large – the major pro-life organizations, leaders, and politicians – were similarly genuine. I thought that they, like myself, simply wanted to “save the lives of unborn babies.”

I have come to the conclusion that I was a dupe.

What I want to share here is how I came to this realization. And if you, reader, are one of those who opposes abortion because you believe it is murder and you want to save the lives of unborn babies, well, I hope to persuade you that the pro-life movement is not actually your ally in this, that you have been misled, and that you would be more effective in decreasing the number of abortions that occur if you were to side with pro-choice progressives. If this is you, please hear me out before shaking your head.

Changing Tactics and Breaking Ties

My journey began one blustery day in October of 2007 when I came upon an article in the New York Times. This article completely shook my perspective. It didn’t change my belief that abortion was murder or my desire to save the lives of unborn babies. Instead, it simply completely overhauled my tactical focus and made me realize that the current efforts of the pro-life movement are extremely backwards.

Banning Abortion Does Not Decrease Abortion Rates

The first thing I learned from that New York Times article shocked me: it turns out that banning abortion does not actually affect the abortion rate.

A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.

Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said.

The results of the study, a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a reproductive rights group, are being published Friday in the journal Lancet.

“We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,” Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.”

But the legal status of abortion did greatly affect the dangers involved, the researchers said. “Generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner,” Dr. Van Look said. “And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.”

I was flabbergasted upon reading this. I followed the link to the summary of the study, printed the entire thing out for reading over lunch, and then headed off to class. As I perused the study over a taco bowl in the student union later that day I wondered why I had never been told any of this. I was shocked to find that the countries with the lowest abortion rates are the ones where abortion is most legal and available, and the countries with the highest abortion rates are generally the ones where the practice is illegal. It’s true.

Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.

Banning abortion does not actually affect abortion rates. I was could not have been more shocked. I learned that all banning abortion does is make abortion illegal – and unsafe. I found that almost 50,000 women worldwide die each year from unsafe abortions, and that many more experience serious injury or infertility. These deaths happen almost entirely in countries where abortion is illegal – and thus clandestine. In fact, when abortion was made legal in South Africa, the number of abortion related deaths fell by over 90%.

Overturning Roe, I realized, would not make women stop having abortions. Instead, it would simply punish women who have abortions by requiring them to risk their health to do so. This is all well and good if the goal is to punish women for seeking abortions, but if the goal is to keep unborn babies from being murdered, this is extremely ineffective.

The Real Solution: Birth Control

But if banning abortion does not decrease abortion rates, what does? Why do some countries have low abortion rates while others have much higher rates? The answer, I found, was simple.

Both the lowest and highest subregional abortion rates are in Europe, where abortion is generally legal under broad grounds. In Western Europe, the rate is 12 per 1,000 women, while in Eastern Europe it is 43. The discrepancy in rates between the two regions reflects relatively low contraceptive use in Eastern Europe, as well as a high degree of reliance on methods with relatively high user failure rates, such as the condom, withdrawal and the rhythm method.

As I sat there in the student union reading over my lunch, I found that making birth control widespread and easily accessible is actually the most effective way to decrease the abortion rate. Even as I processed this fact, I knew that the pro-life movement as a whole generally opposes things like comprehensive sex education and making birth control available to teenagers. I knew this because I had lived it, had heard it in pro-life banquet after pro-life banquet, had read it in the literature. The pro-life movement is anti-birth-control. And opposing birth control is pretty much the most ineffective way to decrease abortion rates imaginable. In fact, opposing birth control actually drives the abortion rates up.

As I mulled this over, I realized how very obvious it was. The cause of abortions is unwanted pregnancies. If you get rid of unwanted pregnancies the number of people who seek abortions will drop like a rock. Simply banning abortion leaves women stuck with unwanted pregnancies. Banning abortion doesn’t make those pregnancies wanted. Many women in a situation like that will be willing to do anything to end that pregnancy, even if it means trying to induce their own abortions (say, with a coat hanger or by drinking chemicals) or seeking out illegal abortions. I realized that the real way to reduce abortion rates, then, was to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. And the way to do that is with birth control, which reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies by allowing women to control when and if they become pregnant.

I realized that the only world in which opposing birth control made any sense was one in which the goal was to control women’s sex lives. After all, birth control allows women to have sex without having to face the “consequences” of sex. But I had never opposed abortion in an effort to make women face the “consequences” of having sex. I had always opposed abortion out of a desire to save the lives of unborn babies. As a child, I had been moved to tears by the image of millions of babies murdered by abortion each year. If making it easier for women to have sex I personally believed was sinful was the price I had to pay to save the lives of unborn babies, it was a price I was more than willing to pay.

As my next class approached, I put the printout back in my backpack and walked out into the October sun. My mind was in turmoil, but there was one thing I knew for sure. I could no longer call myself pro-life, because I could no longer support the policies advocated by the pro-life movement and the major pro-life organizations. I no longer wanted to see Roe overturned or abortion banned. Instead, I wanted to work towards a world in which everyone has access to affordable birth control and unplanned pregnancies are reduced to a bare minimum. That day I became pro-choice.

What about the Zygote?

In the five years since that day in October, I have rethought many things. I no longer believe that abortion is murder because I no longer hold that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a “person.” I also came to realize that the focus on personhood ignores the fact that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is growing inside of another person’s body. For a variety of reasons, I see birth as the key dividing line. But even as my position shifted, I was still willing to give the pro-life movement the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because I believed that the pro-life movement’s opposition to birth control stemmed not from a desire to control women’s sex lives but rather from the belief that the pill was an “abortifacient.” This meant that the pro-life movement could oppose abortion as murder and yet also oppose birth control without actually being inconsistent. But in the last few months I have read several things that have shaken this belief.

Does the Pill Kill?

Let me preface this with a quick biology lesson. Every month, a woman’s body releases an egg into the Fallopian tubes. If there is sperm there waiting, the egg becomes fertilized, and this fertilized egg has its own unique DNA. This is when I was taught life – including personhood and the bestowing of a soul – began. This fertilized egg, or zygote, then travels from the Fallopian tubes to the uterus, where it implants in the uterine wall. That is when pregnancy begins.

Now, the birth control pill works primarily by preventing ovulation in the first place, and also by impeding sperm so that it can’t get to the Fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. But leading organizations in the pro-life movement argue that there is some chance that women on the pill will have “breakthrough ovulation,” and if this occurs and sperm somehow make their way into the Fallopian tubes, you could technically end up with a fertilized egg. Pro-life organizations further suggest that because the pill also thins the uterine lining, this fertilized egg would be flushed out of a woman’s body through her vagina rather than implanting in her uterus.

Here is how a Life Issues Institute article describes this:

The estrogen level is so low that it doesn’t suppress ovulation all of the time …, and sometimes there is what we call a breakthrough ovulation – ovulation which breaks through the effect of the drug and is simply a plain old ovulation. It just happens. Fertilization, then, can occur. But if fertilization occurs, implantation within the nutrient lining of the womb is prevented by another action of the same pill. That action is a hardening of the lining of the womb. What occurs, then, is an induced micro-abortion at one week of life.

How frequent is breakthrough ovulation in a woman taking a low-estrogen contraceptive pill? Well, let’s take a high estimate – 20%. Probably lower than that. How frequently does pregnancy occur when an egg or an ovum is waiting? Probably not much more than two or three times out of the twenty.

So if we use a high figure, a 20% breakthrough ovulation, that would mean a two or three percent fertilization rate. But, as a matter of fact, pregnancy occurs only about 1% or less of the time, so, in the other 1 or 2%, fertilization does occur, implantation cannot occur, and the little embryonic baby dies.

The bottom line, then, for the commonly used contraceptive pill is this: in 97 or 98% of the time, the effect is one of preventing pregnancy. But, in perhaps two or more percent of the time, the effect is abortifacient. There is no way in the normal clinical practice of knowing which is happening, or when.

When I learned that birth control, not banning abortion, was the best way to decrease abortion, I knew about this argument. However, I concluded that the small number of times this might happen was outweighed by the number of abortions the widespread use of birth control would prevent. Yet even though that was my conclusion, I could at least understand why those in the pro-life movement almost universally opposed the pill and other forms of hormonal birth control. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that, even though I thought they were misguided in their tactics, they really did simply want to “save the lives of unborn babies.” And give them the benefit of the doubt I did.

I later learned that an increasing pile of evidence suggests that the pill does not actually result in fertilized eggs being flushed out of a woman’s body. I began to feel that the pro-life movement had no qualms with twisting the scientific evidence if need be, which was confusing because there didn’t seem to be a motive for insisting on the belief that the pill causes abortions if scientific evidence indicated the contrary. I also found that the pro-life movement is not afraid of twisting the evidence when it comes to things like the supposed harmful side effects of abortion, such as depression and breast cancer. Cooking up “scientific facts” in an effort to scare women out of having abortions rather than working to encourage birth control use in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies seemed extremely backwards, and I became increasingly troubled by the way the pro-life movement treated science and their constant willingness to play fast and loose with the facts.

The Biggest Killer: A Woman’s Own Body

Because I knew that the pro-life movement believed that the pill causes abortions, though, I could on some level understand why they opposed it, and I continued to give them the benefit of the doubt on that score. That is, until I read this blog post by Sarah.

The anti-birth control crowd leaves out one very important fact: a woman’s body naturally rejects at least 18% of fertilized eggs. This means that if you have unprotected sex that leads to the fertilization of an egg (30% chance of successful fertilization), the resulting zygote has an 18% chance of being rejected by the uterus. The human body naturally performs “abortions” almost 20% of the time. So does taking birth control actually increase the chances of zygote abortion, or does birth control actually reduce the chances of this occurring? Let’s do the math.

Without Birth Control:

  • Out of 100 fertile women without birth control, 100 of them will ovulate in any given month.
  • Out of those 100 released eggs, 33 will become fertilized.
  • Out of those 33, 18% will be rejected by the uterus.
  • In a group of 100 women not on birth control: 6 zygotes will “die”

With Birth Control:

  • Out of 100 fertile women on birth control, around 6 of them will ovulate in any given month.
  • Out of those 6 released eggs, only 2 will become fertilized.
  • Out of those 2, 100% will be rejected by the uterus.
  • In a group of 100 women on birth control: 2 zygotes will “die”

So let’s get this straight, taking birth control makes a woman’s body LESS likely to dispel fertilized eggs. If you believe that life begins at conception, shouldn’t it be your moral duty to reduce the number of zygote “abortions?” If you believe that a zygote is a human, you actually kill more babies by refusing to take birth control.

I have to be honest, this blog post totally shocked me. I wondered about the numbers Sarah used, so I went looking for verification. As I did this I opted to use the pro-life movement’s own numbers on the rate of fertilized eggs that fail to implant for women on the pill. Remember, once again, that scientific studies have found again and again that the pill does not result in fertilized eggs failing to implant. However, I felt that if I used the pro-life movement’s own numbers I could not be accused of simply using studies with a liberal bias. And so I explored the numbers. What I found was that Sarah’s numbers were off. What I found was that for every 100 fertile women on birth control each month, only 0.15 fertilized eggs will be flushed out. In contrast, for every 100 fertile women not on birth control in a given month, 16 fertilized eggs will be flushed out. In other words, Sarah’s numbers were far too conservative. She was more right than she knew. It is the people not using birth control that are “murdering” the most “children,” not women on the pill.

After reading Sarah’s article and doing the math using the pro-life movement’s own numbers, I concluded that the idea that the pill is an abortifacient is used as a smokescreen. It has to be. If the pro-life movement believes that even a very small chance of a zygote being flushed out is enough reason to oppose the use of the pill, then there should be an extreme amount of concern about the much, much higher number of fertilized eggs flushed out of the bodies of women not using the pill. Anyone who really thinks about it cannot help but come to the conclusion that if your goal is to save “unborn babies,” and if you truly believe that a zygote – a fertilized egg – has the same value and worth as you or I – the only responsible thing to do is to put every sexually active woman on the pill. Sure, according to the pro-life movement’s figures a few fertilized eggs would still fail to implant and thus “die,” once again according to their own figures, an enormous number of these “deaths” would be prevented.

And yet, the pro-life movement still up the pill as a great evil. Pro-life doctors often refuse to prescribe the pill, and pro-life pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for it. This makes utterly no sense unless the point is not “saving unborn babies” but rather making sure that women who dare to have sex have to face the “consequences,” i.e. pregnancy and children. As I thought through all of the implications of Sarah’s article, the benefit of the doubt that I had been giving the pro-life movement began to falter. How could they justify opposing the pill when putting sexually active women on the pill would actually save the lives of unborn babies?

Why No 5K to Save the Zygotes?

A few months after reading Sarah’s article I came upon one by Fred Clark. In it, he argues that if those who oppose abortion really believe that every fertilized egg is a person we ought to see 5K fundraisers to save these zygotes. This is very much like what I said above, except that the focus here is whether the 50% of all zygotes – 50% of all fertilized eggs – that die before pregnancy even begins could be saved. Fred suggests that if the pro-life movement really is about saving unborn babies, and if those in the pro-life movement really do believe that life begins at fertilization, then pro-lifers really ought to be extremely concerned about finding a way to save all of these lives. But they’re not.

Name a disease and there’s a charitable research foundation committed to finding a cure, and for just about every such foundation there’s a corresponding 5k race or walkathon, lemonade stand, bake sale, golf tournament, banquet, concert, gala or festival to raise funds.

But for the biggest killer of them all, there’s nothing.

No 5k or 10k. No walkathon. No foundation promoting research. No research.

The deadly scourge that claims half of all human lives ever conceived is completely ignored.

Here’s Jonathan Dudley discussing this killer in his book Broken Words:

Due to hormone imbalances, genetic anomalies, and a number of unknown factors, between 50 percent and 75 percent of embryos fail to implant in the uterus and are passed with the monthly menstrual flow. If we agree with pro-life advocates that every embryo is as morally valuable as an adult human, this means that more than half of humans immediately die. This fact provides pro-life advocates with an opportunity to follow through on their convictions. Surely, a moral response to a pandemic of this magnitude would be to rally the scientific community to devote the vast majority of its efforts to better understanding why this happens and trying to stop it. Yet the same pro-life leaders who declare that every embryo is morally equivalent to a fully developed child have done nothing to advocate such research. … Even if medicine could save only 10 percent of these embryos — and we don’t know because no one has cared enough to ask — it would be saving more lives than curing HIV, diabetes, and malaria combined. One could say that this massive loss of human life is natural, and therefore, humans are under no obligation to end it. But it is not clear why the same argument could not be used to justify complacency in the face of AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and other natural causes of human death.

For anyone who genuinely believes the pro-life argument that “every embryo is morally equivalent to a fully developed child,” the sort of research Dudley describes ought to be an inescapable obligation.

And yet there are no charitable events to support the foundations funding such research. No such foundations exist to be supported. No such research exists to be funded.

Reading Fred’s article compounded what I had felt reading Sarah’s article. The pro-life movement is not about “saving unborn babies.” It can’t be. As someone who as a child and teen really did believe that life – personhood – began at fertilization, and who really was in it to “save unborn babies,” this is baffling. If I had known all this, I would have been all for this sort of research. I would have been all for sexually active women using the pill to cut down on “deaths.” But I didn’t know any of this. The adults of the anti-abortion movement, though, and certainly the leaders, they surely must know these things. This isn’t rocket science, after all. They must know these things, and yet they are doing nothing.

The Ultimate Hypocrisy

Reading Sarah and Fred’s articles and then thinking them through and doing some research made me realize that those in the pro-life movement, or at least the leaders of the pro-life movement, are incredibly inconsistent. You simply can’t be against the pill for fear that it will result in flushed out zygotes and yet not concerned at all about the vastly greater number of zygotes flushed out naturally every day. At least, not if you really truly believe a zygote has the same worth as an infant, toddler, or adult, and not if you’re truly motivated solely by a desire to save the lives of these “unborn babies.” Fresh off of these thoughts, I came upon two news articles on the subject in the last week that have completely shattered the last bit of faith I had in the pro-life movement.

Barack Obama, Pro-Life Hero?

Those who oppose abortion are all set to vote for Romney because he has done things like voice approval for the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion, but what they don’t seem to realize is that, as I found out for the first time last week, Obama has already done more to reduce the number of abortions than any other president ever has or ever will.

On October 3, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine published a study with profound implications for policy making in the United States. According to Dr. Jeffery Peipert, the study’s lead author, abortion rates can be expected to decline significantly—perhaps up to 75 percent—when contraceptives are made available to women free of charge. Declaring himself “very surprised” at the results, Peipert requested expedient publication of the study, noting its relevance to the upcoming election.

As most observers surely know, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) requires insurance coverage for birth control, a provision staunchly opposed by most of the same religious conservatives who oppose legalized abortion. If Peipert is correct, however, the ACA may prove the single most effective piece of “pro-life” legislation in the past forty years.

In the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, we have a previously unimaginable opportunity for satisfying compromise on abortion. In accordance with liberal demands, the procedure will remain safe and legal, and reproductive choices will be extended to those who have been unable to afford them in the past. In exchange, conservatives will see abortion rates plummet, achieving a result comparable to that of illegality but without the fierce controversy or government imposition in the lives of individuals.

I am not so naïve as to believe that this conclusion is likely to be reached soon, or without further contest. Nor do I anticipate that Tom Minnery or Bryan Fischer will embrace President Obama as a pro-life hero. But it seems to me that, if conservatives really believe in the evil of abortion, they are morally obligated to embrace a policy that stands to limit it so impressively.

Obamacare stands to cut abortion rates by 75%. And yet, the pro-life movement has been leveraged in opposition to Obamacare, and most especially in opposition to the birth control mandate. They don’t believe women should be guaranteed access to free contraception even though this access is the number one proven best way to decrease the number of abortions. That access would, to use the rhetoric of the pro-life movement, prevent the murders of 900,000 unborn babies every year.

When I was pro-life, I truly believed it was about saving unborn babies. If I had seen a study like the one above – that making birth control available free of charge would cut the number of abortions by 75% – I would have immediately supported the requirement that all insurance companies offer birth control without copay. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of lives. I cried about this as a child, cried about all the deaths. I felt guilty that I was one who had survived the abortion “holocaust.” Saving hundreds of thousands of these lives a year? I would have jumped at the idea!

And yet, the pro-life movement is fighting tooth and nail to repeal the very act they should be praising to the rooftops. In fact, some of them don’t even just think birth control shouldn’t be covered without copay, they don’t think birth control should be covered at all. When I read this study and thought about the pro-life response to Obamacare, I was baffled. Dumbstruck. But it gets worse.

Making It Harder to Afford Children

One thing I realized back in 2007 is that, given that six in ten women who have abortions already have at least one child and that three quarters of women who have abortions report that they cannot afford another child, if we want to bring abortion rates down we need to make sure that women can always afford to carry their pregnancies to term. Maternity and birth is expensive, adding your child to your health care plan is expensive, daycare is expensive, and on and on it goes. Raising children costs money, and women who have abortions know that.

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

I realized, then, that if the goal is to cut the abortion rate, the pro-life movement should be working to make sure that women can afford to have and care for children. After all, a full three quarters of women who have abortions say they could not afford a child. If we found a way to offer more aid to parents, if we mandated things like paid maternity leave, subsidized childcare, and universal health insurance for pregnant women and for children, some women who would otherwise abort would almost certainly decide to carry their pregnancies to term. But the odd thing is, those who identify as “pro-life” are most adamant in opposing these kind of reforms. I knew this back in 2007, because I grew up in one of those families. I grew up believing that welfare should be abolished, that Head Start needed to be eliminated, that medicaid just enabled people to be lazy. I grew up in a family that wanted to abolish some of the very programs with the potential to decrease the number of abortions. When I shifted my position on this issue, I was in many ways simply becoming consistent.

With the advent of the Tea Party movement and new calls for a small government and for cutting things like welfare and food stamps, those who claim to believe abortion is murder, who claim to want to bring abortion rates down, have only done further damage to what credibility they had left in my eyes. And lately, it’s gotten worse. You see, in some cases conservatives are actively working to make it harder for poor women to afford to carry unintended pregnancies to term.

A Pennsylvania House bill seeks to limit the amount of TANF assistance that low-income women receive based on the amount of children they give birth to while covered under the program.

Despite the fact that low-income women who give birth to children would logically need increased assistance to care for their larger family, Pennsylvania lawmakers — State Reps. RoseMarie Swanger (R), Tom Caltagirone (D), Mark Gillen (R), Keith Gillespie (R), Adam Harris (R), and Mike Tobash (R) — don’t want their state’s welfare program to provide additional benefits for that newborn. If a woman gives birth to a child who was conceived from rape, she may seek an exception to this rule so that her welfare benefits aren’t slashed, but only if she can provide proof that she reported her sexual assault and her abuser’s identity to the police

In other words, this bill would make it so that if a poor woman gets pregnant, she has to decide whether to have an abortion or whether to carry to term, have the baby, and see her welfare benefits slashed, taking food out of the mouths of the children she is already struggling to feed. I want to say I’m surprised, but I’m really not, because I’m remembering rumblings underneath the polished surface of the things I was taught. This idea that women shouldn’t “spread their legs” if they’re not ready to raise the results of their promiscuity, that the government shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for some slut’s inability to say no. As a teen and a young adult, I never thought about how inconsistent these ideas were with the “saving unborn babies” pro-life rhetoric I so strongly believed in. But they are. If it’s all about “saving unborn babies,” it shouldn’t matter how those unborn babies are conceived, or whether their mothers are rich or poor, married or not.

If those who oppose abortion really believes that abortion is murder, they should be supporting programs that would make it easier for poor women to afford to carry pregnancies to term. Instead, they’re doing the opposite. Overwhelmingly, those who oppose abortion also want to cut welfare and medicaid. Without these programs, the number of women who choose abortion because they cannot afford to carry a given pregnancy to term will rise. Further, they are working against things like paid maternity leave, subsidized daycare, and universal health insurance for children, programs which would likely decrease the number of women who choose abortion because they cannot afford to carry a pregnancy to term. And in this specific case, conservatives want to penalize a poor woman who chooses to carry a pregnancy to term by making it harder for her to make ends meet.

This makes utterly no sense if the goal is to save babies.


After reading that last article just a couple days ago, I realized something. I am done making excuses for the pro-life movement. I am done trying to explain that the movement is not anti-woman. I am done trying to insist that the movement really is simply trying to “save unborn babies.” I’m done because it’s not true. The pro-life movement supports the exact policies that will keep abortion rates high. It is those who believe in choice who support policies that will bring the abortion rates down.

I was a dupe. I’m ready to admit it now.

The reality is that so-called pro-life movement is not about saving babies. It’s about regulating sex. That’s why they oppose birth control. That’s why they want to ban abortion even though doing so will simply drive women to have dangerous back alley abortions. That’s why they want to penalize women who take public assistance and then dare to have sex, leaving an exemption for those who become pregnant from rape. It’s not about babies. If it were about babies, they would be making access to birth control widespread and free and creating a comprehensive social safety net so that no woman finds herself with a pregnancy she can’t afford. They would be raising money for research on why half of all zygotes fail to implant and working to prevent miscarriages. It’s not about babies. It’s about controlling women. It’s about making sure they have consequences for having unapproved sex.

But I am very sure that there are other dupes out there. If you’re sitting there reading this thinking “but I really am in it to save unborn babies,” I am sure you’re not alone. After all, I was one of you.

If you are one who has been a part of the pro-life movement because you really do believe in “saving unborn babies,” it’s time to cut your ties with the movement. You may be an honest and kind-hearted person, but you’ve been had. You’ve been taken in. It’s time to let go. It’s time to support Obamacare’s birth control mandate, it’s time to call off opposition to birth control, and it’s time to get behind progressive programs that help provide for poor women and their children. It’s time to make your actions consistent with your motives. While I am myself no longer morally opposed to abortion, I and others like me share your desire to decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies and to ensure that every woman can afford the option of keeping her pregnancy.

We’d love to have you join us.


Before commenting, see my comment policy. If you liked what you read here, have a look at my welcome note for new readers.

For followup posts on issues addressed here, see: 

A Response to Objections on my Pro-Life Movement Post

More On Laws And Abortion: A Response to Bad Catholic

If You Don’t Want a Baby, Just Don’t Have Sex?

Okay Then, Let’s Talk about Natural Family Planning

 A Paradigm Shift: My “Aha” Moment on Abortion

On Married Women and Separating Sex from Procreation

Why Does Lily Work Two Jobs while Carl is Unemployed?
Steve Is a Man: On Minecraft and Gender
How We Disagree
Did Ted Cruz Actually Ejaculate into a Cup? Some Thoughts on How We Cover Politics
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Christine

    I’m strongly anti-abortion. I’m also equally (perhaps more so) opposed to the pro-life movement, for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned. (I strongly support making contraception available to people to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and we need to actually teach people how it works – “use a condom” is a good message, but given how low the as-used effectiveness is perhaps we need to re-think it). I also think that the “pro-life” movement itself is making the problem worse – I don’t see any way in which the strong dichotomy that exists is really condusive to decision making as opposed to “no, never an abortion” or “of course I’m having an abortion”.

    I also am sick and tired of the “there’s nothing stopping you from getting an abortion at any point” rhetoric, because I’m really ticked at the government undermining the whole idea of self-regulating professions in general. So I have to give the movement credit for finding a whole other way to tick me off.

    • Paul Scott

      Excellent piece, thanks so much for writing it.

      I came to this conclusion some 20-25 years ago. I fought for the right to have easy access to birth control, but faced the opposition you described. Finally, I decided to just spend some money and get something done. I endowed a small vasectomy fund through the Lane County, OR (Eugene) Planned Parenthood office with the expressed purpose of offering free vasectomies to poor men who wanted, but could not afford a vasectomy. An article in the local paper resulted in many more donations, and a local urology group donated half the cost of the procedure, effectively doubling the fund. To date, many hundreds of vasectomies have been performed by that Planned Parenthood office and through funds set up in the Pasadena and Los Angeles offices of Planned Parenthood.

      I can’t say for certain how many unwanted pregnancies have been avoided, but it’s safe to assume there have been many.

      I encourage others to endow vasectomy funds with other Planned Parenthood offices. So often, the onus is on the woman to prevent pregnancy when it’s just as easy, and often cheaper, for the man to take this control.

      • Liberated Liberal

        That is amazing! What a great idea.

      • Nimbus Cloud

        I was there when that fund was just starting. I remember reading all the articles, and looking at all the fundraising. I never realized it was such a local effort, and that it changed the way Planned Parenthoods worked throughout the west coast. I’m not surprised, however, because Oregon, especially Lane County, seems to be very progressive; for example, my high school had the first multicultural program of any high school in the country. I am an adamant supporter of reproductive choice for men, as they have hardly any. Great work!

      • Kay

        Wow, that is amazing! So many people forget about the man’s role in all this. Kudos to you, sir! Someday, when I have disposable income again, I will donate to your endowment.

      • Emily

        Paul Scott, what good work. Thanks for putting your money and your heart into providing vasectomies. Readers of this blog may be interested to know that members of the Quiverfull Movement have an ongoing vasectomy reversal ministry.

      • Debbie

        I think that’s fantastic. I mean, it takes two to make a baby, so two should be responsible for preventing one. And what you’ve done is a big step in the right direction.

      • Marie

        Brilliant article with easy to understand studies and stats that are verifiable. I hope more women and men read this article and think if they really want to stop abortions, prevent them first with birth control. In Canada, the provincial governments pay for the abortions. Many of us believe that its best to have it a safe proceedure over a dangerous one, regardless of your stance on abortion. A savings to all would be prevention first – let’s get the Canadian govt. to pay for birth control too! But more of a response to the other comments below – at the end of it all abortion should be a decision made by the woman with help from family, friends and her doctor according to her own morals and beliefs. My job is not to condone or condemn her actions – but to act in a compassionate manner and make sure society provides her with safe alternatives be it legal abortions or birth control.

      • Sarah

        I think generally it is easier, not just as easy, for the man to do something about it. And frequently more effective. It’s been a while since I read the stats but as well as having the obvious benefit that the bits that need snipping on a man are on the outside, a woman having her tubes tied is overall less foolproof, and if she is unfortunate enough to get pregnant having been “done”, she’s far, FAR more likely to face an ectopic pregnancy or other complications.

        Libby Anne – great article, thank you.

      • TBrown

        Wow, thanks Paul Scott. I’m a recipient of a free vasectomy from Planned Parenthood. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I get to live life on my own terms and I never have to fear being thrown off track by unwanted pregnancy. The women I’ve been with have found it to be a relief too because they don’t have to take a bunch of hormones. I highly recommend vasectomy.

      • Melissa

        What a wonderful thing to do. My husband had that…er…procedure twenty years ago. I call it: Vasectomy–the gift that keeps on giving. To make it available to men who don’t have our comprehensive insurance is a boon to society.

      • Brenda Johnson

        Thank you, Scott, for what you’ve done and made available to many. My entire career has focused on women’s health, pregnancy and birth – I am a nurse-midwife and strongly believe that the only way to decrease abortions is to decrease the need/demand for them. Vasectomies are a perfect part of the solution.

      • Frankly

        Except the anti-choice people around here are also very much against vasectomies. I was hectored by some of them when I admitted I was going to have one.

        I do want to congratulate you on your personal growth though.

      • Natalia Martinez

        That was a brilliant and amazing act.

    • Shefali

      I am pro-life but also pro-contraception. I also think abortion should be legal in cases of rape or the mother’s life being in danger. I also think that people who are pro-life should be willing to help single women who get pregnant but can’t afford the baby – help her with her medical bills, for example. Help her put the child up for adoption, or, if she chooses to keep it, provide her with emotional and financial support as they can. I’ve been in congregations that are very loving where they actually do this – when a lady got pregnant out of wedlock, yes, there was some judgement (we are only human after all, only Jesus is 100% holy and forgiving) but there was also love and assistance. A couple of ladies went to birthing classes with her and were there for the delivery, several families in the church chipped in when her car broke down, etc. What I am trying to say – if the motivation is love (which is where Christ is coming from) then one must supplement one’s pro-life position with attitudes and actions that are also pro-woman and pro-mother. For example, perhaps a family planning approach that helps poor women and men get low cost birth control and provides education about all the options, but if the birth control fails that also provides help with adoption, medical care, etc.

      Also, one has to realize that just like pro-choice people run the gamut – from those who call themselves pro-choice but really only think first trimester abortions should be legal (I know a few people who think this way) to those who think partial-birth abortion is fine – so too do pro-life people run the gamut. I know pro-life people who are against abortion even if the mother’s life is in danger, which I think is appalling. However, I consider myself pro-life even though I think abortion should be allowed for rape or the mother’s life being in danger and doctors should be allowed discretion in other circumstances – simply because I know that real life isn’t neat and tidy, there are gray areas and even moral decisions aren’t always clear cut. For example, it is wrong to lie, but if a lie would save someone’s life, then it’s OK. Similarly, I think abortion is wrong, but what if a child is so seriously disabled it would only survive birth by a few hours, and in terrible pain? What if giving birth would disable the mother? There are situations where compassion and wisdom are more important than clinging to hard and fast rules.

      Not all pro-life people are anti-woman and not all pro-choice people are pro-woman. However, I do think the author of this article makes a very good point that for those of us who want to minimize abortions, we should seek to make birth control more readily available. I would add to that – we should also do what we can to provide women moral, emotional and financial support if having a child would create a hardship for them, for example, in the case of single women. If it is really about compassion for both mother and child, this should be a no-brainer.

      • Cammie

        I don’t care what you think. YOu never ever get to tell me that I am forced to carry a child against my will. Stop with the phony compassion.

      • Ash

        Nothing phony there. Agree with her or not, nothing phony. Something else you would like to add?

      • Silentbob

        @ Ash

        “Compassion” that denies bodily autonomy is pretty much phony compassion by definition. Something else you don’t understand?

      • Nancy

        Here is the key to the problem: ” I also think abortion should be legal in cases of rape or the mother’s life being in danger.”

        If you believe it’s a human life then why would you make an exception for rape? Oh right – because if she was raped, she did not want to have sex. You don’t want to allow abortions for those sluts who actively desired to have sex – only poor victims of unwanted sex. Only rape victims don’t deserve to be punished with pregnancy.

        Who do you think you’re fooling?

      • Alteredstory

        You say you want an exception for rape, but how would that work? If there’s an alleged rapist, which is often the case as most rapes are committed by people known to the victim, does the court decide? Does the woman have to wait until there’s a conviction? If not, doesn’t her abortion imply guilt, and wouldn’t that then affect the outcome of the case? What if she gets an abortion and the alleged rapist is acquitted – is she then tried for murder? What it evidence comes to light years later that he did or didn’t do it – If she was forced to give birth, does the court owe her damages and/or compensation for what she went through? If she had an abortion, is there a statute of limitations on that “murder”?

        I really can’t see a practical way for a “rape exception” to work. It just seems like a way to sanitize “no exceptions”, and a way to make a number of women’s lives into more of a hell than they would be already.

      • dumpstercake

        I found an article entitled “how I lost faith in the pro-choice movement”. I read it and, needless to say, it was far less convincing. So, I posted a link to your article in their comments. Let’s see what happens.

      • Morgan

        I am pro-choice, and will not be outright attacking you on your beliefs but commending you for using compassion as the basis for your argument. This is not typical of pro-life supporters in my experience and I applaud you for keeping your own views in focus. Thank you for seeing the logical arguments of birth control and assisted support. I applaud your rallying for human compassion, and while I believe that everyone should have a choice about bringing a child into this world based on when and if they truly want to, and the logical calculation of if they are able to support it; I believe that understanding this issue based on care and compassion, and taking into account each situation (as you pointed out each does have it’s own circumstances) is a step in the right direction. Not enough people are thinking about it in these terms, nor do they seem to view others with compassion as you do before they attack, make accusations and perpetuate the useless malicious accusations and finger pointing over this issue rather than having civilized discussion about possible resolutions. Thanks again.
        And thank you also Libby Ann for sharing your story.

      • Pienoceros

        My intention is to say this as a point of information, not debate or dismissing your opinions, please take it as such.

        No one “believes” in partial birth abortion. It is a late -term medical procedure that is used ONLY in the case of an already dead or dying baby or, in even rarer cases, to save the mothers life. Partial birth abortion is not, nor has it ever been, on the elective termination menu.

      • Pienoceros is wrong or mistaken

        “In a widely-publicized interview with The New York Times in 1997, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, estimated that in the majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother and healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along in development.”

      • Lbyrne

        Hi all, I read this really interesting article from a prosecutor about the reality of criminalizing abortion / having exceptions for rape etc which I found really interesting – I’d highly recommend a read whichever side you stand on!

      • Yewtree

        It is because of the attitude that “women can only have an abortion if giving birth would threaten their life” that Savita Halappanavar died. The law surrounding this exception was unclear, and the hospital refused her an abortion because the foetus still had a heartbeat, even though it was not a viable foetus anyway.

        “Pro-life” kills. End of story.

        My body, my choice.

      • Comadrona

        Shefali, from any way of looking at it, your stance doesn’t make sense. If you are pro-life, you are pro-life…not just pro-life as long as it was conceived with the woman’s consent. For me the issue is very simple. There are two lives in consideration. One is a fully-grown, breathing, functioning human, one is a morula of cells (in early pregnancy) which does not differentiate for a number of weeks and which, if it was born could not survive for a moment, nor become a human. So, morally, for me, the woman wins. I admit I do have a problem with so-called “late-term abortion” because these days a baby can survive if born at 24 weeks (however, quality of life is questionable for these little ones). Bottom line is: the body which is carrying the pregnancy belongs to the woman so it is her decision (and ONLY hers) what happens to her and the conception. Men who have an equal part in conception do not bear any of the consequences (except child support down the track), so they do not get a say as far as I am concerned. I am a mother of sons and I still feel this way.

    • Mary

      For the first 40+ years of my life, I was anti abortion. Now, I am much older (well into my sixties) and I hope that I am wiser in seeing the bigger picture. I’m still anti abortion, except now, if one of my daughters were to have an ectopic pregnancy, I would be he first to walk her into the hospital to have the abortion to save her life. Once I gave myself that one reason that I would allow an abortion, I asked myself who I thought that I was.? Am I God? Who gives me the right to set the bar? Each woman knows her own medical conditions, health, and individual needs. We must not take on the role of God’s enforcer. Each of us must use our own conscience, religious beliefs, and our doctor’s advice in making such a personal decision. In a perfect world, there is no problem that can’t be fixed, but we don’t live in that world. The religious right that demands that the government enforce our religious beliefs on others doubts our own ability, or that of our religious to teach those beliefs in a way that cements them into each members actions and so they are demanding the government enforce their beliefs on others. We don’t have a government like that. We have a Constitution that protects each of our rights, but those rights are guaranteed at birth or when we are free and independent of others. I’m anti abortion for me, but I don’t know what I would have done if my doctor had told me that I had a tubal pregnancy that would kill me and my baby, leaving my four children without their mom. I believe in miracles, but I also believe that God has given us brilliant doctors to care for us. They are true blessings and I believe that we must use their advice and our own circumstances to make all the difficult decisions we face. I am not God. I don’t set the bar for what is OK for others. I can only do that for myself.

      • RockyMissouri

        Thank you for a WONDERFUL comment…!

      • Jane Hartman

        Tubal pregnancies are considered life threatening for the child and the mother even by the Catholic church. Even in Catholic hospitals , they are given an operation, not considered an abortion since the child is unable to ever make it to full term. Your information is wrong.

      • Bill Samuel

        We do have a government like that. We have laws against murder of born persons, but generally have provisions for justifiable homicide. There are other criminal offenses with similar provisions. We don’t just say do anything you want to anyone, and it’s OK because we’re a democracy.We say there are certain acts which are unacceptable, and then we seek to define them appropriately. Laws can and do make distinctions based on circumstances and motivations. So doing that with respect to abortion is consistent with our Constitution and the way we regulate acts that we find harmful.

    • Guest

      This is a very powerful article. However, it is loaded with logical flaws. Please see this link

      • Mr T

        Yes and be sure to read other entries from this “thinker” too. He’s a real piece of work.

      • Shichi

        I started to read this “rebuttal” link, but stopped when it started comparing US states to each other as though they were different countries. See, here’s the problem with that: a poor woman is much more likely to be able to afford a bus ticket to a more liberal state than a passport and a plane ticket to a more liberal country. Thus, the more liberal states’ abortion numbers are falsely inflated and the more conservative states’ are falsely suppressed. It’s not that women in Louisiana aren’t GETTING abortions… it’s that they’re getting them elsewhere. And if the laws across the nation were the same (illegal all over) you can bet the numbers in Louisiana would rise, because there would be no difference between getting one in the alley at home or the alley in California.

    • Genevieve

      This essay is incredibly disingenuous. The pro-abortion medical establishment doesn’t even care about miscarriages–not even “habitual” spontaneous abortions from unknown causes, as they are so charmingly called–so how could anyone make it care about failed implantation?

      The tragedy of miscarriage, even multiple miscarriage, will never see funding or research in a climate in which this is called embryo “wastage” and is only viewed as unfortunate insofar as the woman is–wrongly, by the medical establishment’s view–saddened by this. As my children are the minority survivors of my (too) many miscarriages, I would gladly donate to research that might save future children from death. But there is no such research being done. I have at LEAST seven dead children, and let me tell you flatly that the medical establishment does. Not. Care. To them, my children and I don’t need medical support. At most, I just need psychological counseling to get over my imaginary loss.

      There is equally no interest in genetic therapy for the thousands of children affected by harmful mutations today–instead, they are to be killed, as this is much more efficient.

      Of the many, many pro-life people I know, almost none are against hormonal birth control for themselves or others precisely because early fears of post-fertilization implantation failure have proven to be unfounded. It’s a cute argument but one that is desperately out of touch. The fears about the morning-after pill were NOT addressed by the medical establishment but are equally unfounded, and I have reassured no small number of people that if the morning-after pill fails to suppress ovulation, which it sometimes does, there is no way that it will be able to prevent implantation.

      The women I know who are actively against hormonal birth control are against any kind of artificial birth control–IN THEIR OWN LIVES. (Now, there are plenty of women whom I know who rely on other methods from personal preference. I am not talking about those.) Some (the Catholics) are against it morally and use sex timing methods and extended breastfeeding because they still want to limit the number of children they have without going against the teachings of their church. A few (from various walks of life, though, yes, overwhelmingly Christian) welcome all children. This is far less than 5% of the pro-lifers that I know. Some just plain like having a big family and make the choice for themselves with no judgment of relative merit. I have a friend who joked that she always wanted a basketball team, for instance, and I think the final count of her kids ended up at 9. An even smaller number believe that every child in a marriage is an additional blessing to a family and should be actively sought as a gift from God. Some of the last–a very few–have expressed their wish that others would see things in the same light. But that is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction. We are talking 1 in 1000 at this point. And NONE of those have EVER expressed the opinion that birth control should be illegal.

      If this anti-contraception movement were any significant part of the pro-life lobby, the Duggars with their 19 kids would hardly be exceptional. Over half of all women are against abortion as a blanket means of birth control, and between 15 and 20% are against it in all cases. Given the positions of Americans on abortion, at the LEAST 40% of families would be having every baby they could. That doesn’t happen, and so the speciousness of the argument that the pro-life moment is anti-contraceptive is clear in those choices. Even among far-right homeschoolers, who are supposed to be the most radical of all, the median number of children is between 3 and 4. Given that average women would have 8 to 12 children today even with extended breastfeeding, that represents a conscious embracing of birth control.

      This isn’t new, either. My pro-life, extremely pious great-grandmother was also staunchly pro-contraception and had only three children, the third of whom was an oops and born in 1916. If she, who married at 16 and was the oldest of 12 surviving siblings (from a very fertile line), could manage only one “oops” in nearly 30 years of a fertility at the turn of the LAST century, women can manage to keep from having babies they don’t want today, too, without resorting to abortion. It isn’t education, and it isn’t availability that are leading to their bad choices.

      In addition, if our laws against murdering newborns do not actually prevent infanticide, it doesn’t mean that we should legalize killing children.

      I personally believe that hormonal birth control can mask or worsen hormonal disorders even while papering over them. It also carries risks of blood clots that can lead to stroke or death–my cousin (a pro-life Southern evangelical preacher’s wife, BTW) nearly died because of a blood clot caused by them in her early 20s. Too many women are also given hormonal birth control as a “fix” of a dysfunction that will affect their fertility status permanently if not addressed but that is almost universally ignored until the moment arrives that they want to have children. I dislike it not as a choice gone into knowingly but as a “solution” given to many problems that aren’t solved by it at all. Which has nothing to do with contraception and everything about trivializing female dysfunctions into mere symptoms to be managed.

      • MommyAlice

        I am saddened to hear of your multiple miscarriages. My brother and sister in-law also suffered that way, and I know it is devastating.
        However, I am confused by your opening paragraph. The article did not say that pro abortion doctors should be concerned about miscarriage and failed implantation. It said that if the ANTI abortion lobby was so concerned about saving babies, that THEY would be concerned about it.
        I am sure that there are many women that have their own thoughts about how they conduct their lives, but would never push that on other women. I am one of them. We do, however have compassion for those who are in other circumstances, and whose options are different.

      • Dee

        I know you say that you don’t know many pro-lifers who are opposed to hormonal birth control, but are you going to deny that limiting access to those kind of contraceptives is definitely on the pro-life national agenda? It’s certainly on the political agenda associated with pro-life, as Limbaugh’s nasty comments about Sandra Fluke clearly prove. It’s good that you and your friends believe hormonal birth control should be legal, but do you think it should be widely accessible? Do you think everyone should be able to be on it if they want to? Why do you deny that your own political movement has clearly been opposed to providing more free and low cost birth control?

    • Lillian Porter

      The people who are actively pro-life are few. Most people are too afraid to visibly practice dissent in front of an abortion clinic. Unlike Libby Ann who was actively pro-life for a year, these folks have been repeatedly arrested, jailed and tried and yet, for the love of women, industry workers and babies, they continue. They are called “fu***ing c***ts, are given the middle finger salute and are shunned in their churches. I participated in hundreds of abortions in the UK – 6 years before abortion was legalized here. I also took care of many women, who came off the street in labor, after having a Utus Paste induction. This was London and I worked in its largest hospital. Only once, do I remember one of these women (who had a back-street abortion) in trouble – she had a fever. I never heard of coat hanger abortions until I read Ms. magazine in the U.S.. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a founder of NARAL, who by self-admission, performed 60,000 abortions, stated that NARAL intentionally inflated the numbers of women who had died from illegal abortion. The reason there were not that many deaths, either in the UK or here, is because it was usually moonlighting medical professionals who did them. Read up on the death of Tonya Reeves, July 2012.
      Contraception is not as benign as the birth control corporations and government would have you believe. Check out some of the lawsuits – on Yaz for instance. I urge you to see the video, ‘What They Never Told You in Sex-Ed’. Skip the first five minutes and the last five and the rest is science. There you will learn about the work of atheist Dr. Lionel Tiger (true name), of Rutgers, who, with Dr. Gandestad at UNM, Dr. Maner at FSU and researchers in the UK, has been trying to inform the public about the risks of birth control. Dr. Tiger observed the behavior of Austin, a monkey, and nine females that he lived with. Austin had regular sex with three females. When two females were put on Dep0-Provera he dropped them and picked two new consorts. Then all the females were put on Depo. Austin began to act in a bizarre fashion – for a monkey anyway – he began masturbating, raping and finally acting out homosexually. Dr. Tiger then began to observe humans: Ovulating females could pick, out of several T-shirts, the shirt of the man with the greatest immunity and virility. Evolution likes that. Male testosterone levels increase int he presence of ovulating women. Contracepting women, tended to pick males who were genetically similar. These relationships usually fail when women quit contracepting – they are turned off to the partner. If such relationships do achieve permanence, they are prone to infertility, miscarriages and sickly kids.
      In the UK and here, I have seen young women who have had strokes, pulmonary emboli and malignant hypertension with kidney failure, which were attributed to contraception. The WHO lists estrogen, along with nicotine and asbestos,
      as a Class 1 carcinogenic which causes breast and liver cancers. Estrogen is implicated in large fish kills and in male fish producing eggs. Progesterone changes the vaginal mucosa of women and makes them susceptible to infections. This, is believed to be why third world women are getting HIV and HPV at a faster rate. These drugs were tried on third world women before being marketed in the West. This may account for the reason why these diseases appear to have arisen in those areas.
      The highly concentrated forms of progestins in morning after pills and abortifacients, have caused serious side effects, particularly in the third world where women are coerced into abortion and birth control. In these areas, The Gates Foundation and governments, are promoting contraception with greater and greater avidity, while there is inadequate medical care available in an emergency. First world women need to be less concerned about sex and have more care for their sisters.

      • machintelligence

        CAUTION: this comment contains highly concentrated bullshit. Note the proof by assertion, with no links or references cited. Since “pro-life” advocates are notorious for quote mining and misinterpreting results, this is a dead giveaway.

        The people who are actively pro-life are few. Most people are too afraid to visibly practice dissent in front of an abortion clinic. Unlike Libby Ann who was actively pro-life for a year, these folks have been repeatedly arrested, jailed and tried and yet, for the love of women, industry workers and babies, they continue. They are called “fu***ing c***ts, are given the middle finger salute and are shunned in their churches.

        This comment even starts with gibberish. The “facts” are wrong, and she seems confused about who is the target of slut shaming. BTW the most common epithet I have heard used to describe the pro-life protesters is “obnoxious assholes.”

      • Shichi

        So, I’ve been on birth control (actually, *gasp* Yaz!) for nearly five years. I have not had any medical concerns related to it. I have not had any relationship concerns relating to it. I met a man before I used it, but we’re actually still together, now married.

        But wait, you’re telling me that being on birth control will stop me from making relationship decisions based on which man is more “immune,” and instead choose a guy I actually like to be around? Well, shoot!

        As an aside, my husband has not increased his rate of masturbating, raping, or gayness, hahaha.

    • Natalia Martinez

      absolutely amazing piece. Thank you thank you thank you. I am and have always been pro-choice but have struggled with my own personal belief about what I would do and how I feel about the issue. I was pro-choice because of many the reasons you give to support the pro-choice movement, but also because I simply feel regardless of whether or not I think abortions are the most evil thing on the planet, your body is your choice. But for me- I was not sure. Your article made clear that all of my doubt, all of the guilt driving that doubt has been constructed and falsified, in an attempt to make us feel guilty not for aborting, but for choosing to have sex. the pro- choice movement is not about the choice to have an abortion but about the choice to have sex when you want to- including before you’re ready to have kids. thank you for helping me shed the guilt that has been imposed on me. the psycological economic and health CONSEQUENCES of the pro-life movement are the only consequences we should fear and work against.

  • Rookie Atheist

    Thank you for that. You said several months ago that you were hoping to find the time to get around to writing about your shift away from pro-life and towards pro-choice, and I’ve been waiting for it to pop up in my Google Reader feed ever since.
    It’s quite long so I’ll admit that I skipped over several paragraphs, and unfortunately I have little to contribute other than a tedious nitpick: you said that “The cause of abortions is unwanted pregnancies. If you get rid of unwanted pregnancies you get rid of the need for abortion”. While this is true for the large majority of abortions, there are of course other causes of abortion, e.g. threat to woman’s health/life, badly deformed fetus, strong possibility that baby will be severely handicapped (Down’s syndrome for example). If you have the time, here is a very substantial report on abortions in the UK (which I’ve only skimmed over):

    • Libby Anne

      Oh, good point! I’ll amend that.

      • imamann

        children with Down syndrome are NOT severely handicapped. so i recommend researching before you write. while 92% of prenatal diagnoses of Ds result in an abortion, it is because of widely used outdated and misinformation. and while i am passionate about it, if you include it in this article, and include it incorrectly, your comment section will fill with parents of kiddos with Ds who’s passion will result in angry replies.

      • Libby Anne

        imamann – The “point” being that getting rid of all unwanted pregnancies would not get rid of all demand for abortion, because there will still be demand for abortion from women whose fetuses are severely disabled or who have their health threatened by a pregnancy. I already amended the article to reflect this, and since you presumably just read it, you have already seen the amended version. And don’t assume I’m unfamiliar with Down syndrome or with disabilities in general. I’m not. Coming from a family as large as my family of origin, it would be surprising if I didn’t have a sibling with a disability, and as it so happens I do. However, since you bring up the topic of abortion and disabilities, I refer you to this post by a fellow blogger: Disability, Prenatal Testing, and the Case for a Moral, Compassionate Abortion.

      • MommyAlice

        And, as for the Zygotes, there are some genetic combinations that just are not viable. Mostly they spontaneously abort. For more about genetics in a readable text, a book called “The Violinist’s Thumb.”

      • Blue Dream

        This is a really good article. I will be recommending it.

        The link to the article about disability and prenatal testing is pretty drastically horrible, though. As a general rule you should proceed with caution on an article about disability written by an able person, they’re not exactly experts on disability.

    • Tiffany

      I cringed when you said “severely handicapped” and “down syndrome” together.
      I didn’t read the report so maybe I’m speaking from a place of emotion rather than fact, but those two from what I know, do not seem to belong in the same sentence.

      • jadehawk

        they do. the highly functional down syndome folks we think of as typical are actually the tail end of a distribution. at the other end, you end up with cases that only live for a very short time after birth.

      • ariel

        Downs Syndrome children can be severely handicapped. How do I know this? Well my sister has severe DS..She cannot speak, be potty trained, etc…I realize that there is a spectrum of disability levels but, that does not mean they are not handicapped. I love my sister to death but, how is not being able to communicate or go to the bathroom properly not a handicap? I may be completely misunderstanding what you mean here and if I am I apologize in advance. I treat my sister more like a normal person than anyone else in my family but, I am not blind to the fact that she is different.

      • Jenrose

        My severely handicapped daughter is in a special needs classroom with several children with Down Syndrome who are also quite handicapped. My daughter has a more rare chromosome disorder. We did not opt for prenatal diagnosis because we knew we would not abort. When I got pregnant more recently, I did opt for prenatal diagnosis, because I knew with my health and my daughter’s issues I could not handle another child with major disabilities. Not even Down Syndrome. We would not have gotten pregnant with my now-10-month-old son had prenatal diagnosis and abortion not been available. I wouldn’t have risked my health or sanity on a pregnancy I could not end if the news was bad. The time waiting for our CVS and then amnio results when the CVS failed was very difficult, and I realized then that if there was a major issue, staying pregnant would have put me into a suicidal state. I had full on panic attacks thinking about parenting another special needs child.

        And Down Syndrome is one thing… it is relatively well known, but not well understood by most people. Yes, many children with Down syndrome are reasonably functional, but many of them are not.

        It is not that my daughter’s life and existence are not worthwhile. They most certainly are. I just know my limits. She’s 7 years old and just recently potty trained. She learned to walk at age 5 1/2. She is very hard to understand and sometimes gets violent. I still have to carry her much of the time and she is 45 pounds. Her little brother is 20 pounds or so, but he will most certainly be walking on his own soon and within a year or two will be talking and passing his big sister in many areas.

        And he would not exist, were it not for legal, safe abortion.

      • Tiffany

        Thank you so much for sharing your perspectives. You are right – I fall into the “widely-known, not well-understood” category.

        I’ve seen much of the advocacy for it but it sounds like not enough of the other side of the story.

        I appreciate your candor and your education :).

  • Rosa

    Thanks for the info on the futility of anti-abortion laws.

    I stayed up way too late last night reading Scalzi’s rapists-view response to Mourdock last night, and the comment thread made me realize something about this recent spate of politicians talking about rape exemptions: they assume rape, which is illegal, will continue to occur. But they argue that banning abortion would stop abortions.

    • jose

      Same with gun control. See, banning guns won’t prevent people from getting guns, it will just punish law-abiding people and make them vulnerable! On the other hand, banning abortion will totes prevent people from getting abortions.

      The pro life stance is an attempt to legislate “contempt for sluts”. Those three words summarize the whole thing.

      • Julia

        Is there any evidence that you can share that banning guns does not reduce the number of people that own guns? Or even that banning guns does not reduce crime rate?

      • jose

        I’m pretty sure there isn’t, which is part of the point… they have it exactly backwards :)

      • Hijack

        Actually there is a lot of statistical evidence to support gun-rights laws. One example: Chicago has some of the strictest legislation on personal gun ownership but it has extremely high crime. It is not law-abiding citizens; it is illegally-obtained weapons meant for illegal purpose.

        How does that equate to abortion? By creating a society of fear and illegality, then the abortions performed will be ones that are dangerous and secret. However the argument “make it legal and it’s all okay” only goes so far. It cannot be applied to everything; Holland has learned that.

      • Eric

        Actually, Hijack, you’re citing a popular misconception about Chicago. The numbers tell the opposite story:

        The greater Chicago area started banning handguns in the late 1980s. Chicago passed its assault weapon ban in 1992. That year, a record 943 people were murdered in Chicago. The homicide rate immediately began to decline, dropping from 943 all the way down to 433 last year. The murder rate is still high, but it was cut more than in half.

        Near the end of 2010, Chicago and its surrounding suburbs got rid of their handgun bans, so there are no longer any towns in Illinois that ban handguns. This year, murders are up 25%.

        There are lots of factors affecting homicide rates in major cities, and gun control is just one part of it, but the evidence suggests that the handgun ban, and gun control in general, have been effective for the city.

        One main difference is that guns are difficult to produce, and thus cracking down on them is a lot easier. It’s not like drugs, which you can grow in your backyard, or abortions, which can be performed (horribly) with common household items. Because there are so few sources of guns, it’s more feasible to control their distribution.

      • Jacqueline

        I can see where you’d get the impression based on rape exceptions that anti-abortion movement is trying to punish the promiscuous- IF YOU FORGET how much time and money the pro-lifers put into helping pregnant women, almost all of whom are unmarried and many, many of whom have many children with different fathers. If pro-lifers were unconcerned about her or her child, why would they give so much to help her?

      • ithinktoomuch

        The problem with your stance on gun control, is that it’s gotten so bad toward your preferred political direction that we can’t even put any limits on extended clips (which we used to have, but it lapsed), or assault weapons (which we also used to have, but it lapsed too), despite their recent usages in several mass-shootings and no coherent benefit to anyone’s need for safety, or for hunting. I think right now it’s hard to find anyone who REALLY wants to ban guns in any real way. They are few, and marginalized. The problem is, lethal force always needs SOME regulation, and the lack of it is literally killing us.

      • Rosie

        I may be naive, but gun control seems to me like one of those things that’s best done in the middle, and not at either extreme. It makes sense to me to, for example, require a license for gun ownership much as we do for driving a car. It makes sense to install safety mechanisms even if they make the gun more expensive and more difficult to use, because accidents can be so deadly. A total nationwide ban, however, does not make much sense to me. For one thing, urban and rural areas have much different concerns about guns. I’ve never been attracted to guns, but since I moved to a rural area I’ve learned how to safely handle them and am even buying one (a .22 rifle). Because I have a little homestead, and “varmits” abound, and venison is tasty. My concern about guns is to make sure I avoid shooting the neighbor’s house, dog, or cow by accident. I realize cities are much different, and will have different concerns.

      • Kari

        Jacqueline, I have as of yet to see a pro-life movement office or group of people offer help with pregnant women- married or unmarried- unless they were members of their own church group of friends; however, I have seen many pregnant women- married or unmarried- receive lactation consultation, low to no cost pre-natal care, low to no cost post-natal care, post natal birth control, and assistance with filling out state aid program applications at Planned Parenthood.

      • MarkKB

        @Eric: You better inform the Chicago Police Department their graph is wrong, then:

      • LMM

        @Jacqueline: Pro-life organizations (like many conservative groups) tend to believe that people should rely on private charities. Pregnancy crisis centers and the like may help individual women, but they will never have the broad reach of the federal or state government — nor are they able to pay for the sorts of real reforms (such as free universal child-care) that would really help mothers.

        Private charity groups may do good work, but their scope is very limited and unreliable. Only government is capable of permanent reform. Supporting one and not the other is like paying for a single scholarship to a certain private school — while wanting to eliminate public schools altogether. It may give you warm fuzzies, but it doesn’t actually help most people.

      • Mahakali

        No, no, no, no, no.
        You CANNOT equate abortion and guns. That’s just not the same thing AT ALL.

      • CanAmFam

        Actually, Canada has much stricter gun control laws than the US, especially around handguns and assault weapons. And they have a much lower murder rate related to guns.

      • MommyAlice

        I agree, but I must say, I am fascinated by men’s ability to split themselves and not notice…they want to punish the “sluts”, but they still want to have sex with any woman that will have them…how can they expect to have both?!

      • Petra Van Goor

        Hijack, really? Holland learned what? Please enlighten this person form the Netherlands. If you are referring to our soft-drugs policy, you’d be wrong. Soft drugs are not legal in the Netherlands, just condoned under specific circumstances. Besides the percentage of people in the Netherlands that tried marijuana is half of that of people in the US that have tried it. Yes, it’s called the Netherlands, not Holland. That’s like calling the whole of the US ‘Texas’.

    • Sue

      Woah – good point!!

      • smrnda

        I’m a Chicago resident and the spike in crimes probably has more to do with the fact that the police (and probably the FBI) did a major operation and busted some ‘higher ups’ in some Chicago gangs, mostly the Gangster Disciples. Without top-down leadership (which kept gangs running based on idea of making a profit) there was less control and more conflict among competing criminal factions – there was nobody in management to arbitrate or sort out disputes, which resulted in more violence and more people trying to seize power and control. Gang factions split and more conflict ensues.

    • Desdemona

      Excellent point!

    • minnie
  • Paul D.

    Raised as an evangelical in Canada, I was similarly ingrained to treat the abortion issue as one of the most important political issues to be concerned about. In some ways, Canadian evangelical culture is very similar to that of the US, but it exists in a much more liberal, European-style milieu with a very different political scene. Anyway, for some reason, I don’t recall contraception *ever* being mentioned as a moral or political issue, and I’ve never met any Canadian who was against it. Perhaps the American scene is tainted by conservative Catholicism, whereas Canadian Catholics are possibly our most liberal demographic.

    • Tracey

      It’s not the Catholics who are opposing birth control and abortion. It’s the Protestants who proclaim Catholics not to be even Christian who are the ones behind 99% of the craziness.

      • Mark Temporis

        The upper tier of these organizations is overwhelmingly Catholic. I hate to blame Opus Dei, because it kind of feels like the Catholic version of the Learned Elders of Zion, but…

      • DanD

        The Catholic Church has a large disconnect from the majority of US Catholics. The Church (clergy/hierarchy) is THE major organization opposed to contraception, Catholics as a whole average much more liberal.

      • Wrenn_NYC

        Actually Tracey, it is the Traditional Catholics who are against birth control. It’s part of Catholic Doctrine. (Which is why Paul Ryan is against it, he says.)

      • Tracey

        Wrenn, the Catholics I know use contraception and many are pro-choice despite whatever the “official” stance is. If you want sign-carrying, balls-to-the-wall violent, aggressive craziness, look to the fundamentalists and evangelicals.

      • Valerie

        Nah, birth control is totally fine! … as long as you’re married. Then its just ‘family planning.’

        That was my evangelical protestant church’s view.

      • Denise

        The Catholics ADAMANTLY oppose birth control, and the Pope specifically speaks out against it:

        “At its 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church, swayed by growing social pressure, announced that contraception would be allowed in some circumstances. Soon the Anglican church completely caved in, allowing contraception across the board. Since then, all other Protestant denominations have followed suit. Today, the Catholic Church alone proclaims the historic Christian position on contraception.
        Evidence that contraception is in conflict with God’s laws comes from a variety of sources that will be examined in this tract.”

        Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race, often referred to as “natural law.” The natural law purpose of sex is procreation.

    • K W

      Here is a simple fact. Italy, home of the Catholic hierarchy, has a birth rate of about 1.4 children per family. That’s low. (Australia for instance is edging into 3 children, and I don’t think Australia is seen as particularly religious). I think it shows clearly how much of the Catholic majority actually cares about what the Pope has to say about what they do in the bedroom.
      Also, as a Catholic, I can say that the majority of Catholics are nothing like the vocal minority who think birth control is blatantly wrong. Most practice birth control of some nature. Finally even if you are Catholic and believe artificial birth control is wrong, you can still use Natural Family Planning, which when practiced correctly, is as effective as most artificial methods (it is not the rhythm method, far more sophisticated and accurate and more work, but it does work). The official position is this: Sex, in marriage, is perfectly okay nor does a couple have to want to have kids when they have sex, they just can’t do anything artificial to stop conception, but it is perfectly okay to have sex for pleasure and monitor the woman’s natural biorhythms to ensure that conception is only a minimal possibility (as minimal as when one is on the pill). The argument is, in this way we don’t stop God’s plan (whatever that is..personally I think if God wants you to have kids, the pill won’t stop the Almighty, but thats just my opinion).

      Think of Catholics much like most Protestants; mostly liberal with a minority which holds more extreme views.

      Historically Catholics have never been very good at listening to the Pope (remember Luther was Catholic :-), and discent in the ranks is common. Many times various orders have been disbanded, then brought back into the fold, then disbanded etc -its common enough historically. It took the church hundreds of years to establish control over marriage — and it only briefly was the sole authority for that for the majority of the population (Kings and queens got married in church but the common man often didn’t , the medieval ellesiastical courts attest to this, — modern marriages are as much a state thing, if not more so, as church thing ).

      So please don’t assume because the Pope said something and declares it dogma that most Catholics will do more then pay lip service (if even that). Many oppose his views.

      • Patti S

        I am Catholic and agree with much that you have said. But keep in mind, Catholics tend to take the Pope pretty seriously when he speaks Ex Cathedra, meaning he’s making a declaration of infallibility. The Humana Vitae’s (sp?) position on birth control was NOT one of those such documents so it wasn’t declared dogma. Rather, it’s a recommendation or teaching of the Church. So it’s arguable that it’s a decision ultimately between the couple and God, in order to be right with God. It’s not like believing in Christ or believing in the consecration of bread and wine.

        As for the right winged conservative parties that are pushing this position on birth control and abortion…I have to say it’s not mostly the Catholic church nor Catholics. I don’t think most Catholics relate to that level of conservatism, though there are some (and tongue in cheek, they are mostly all in politics if they are). However, Catholics are well in the news because of the decisions about Obama Care and having to pay for birth control. The really odd thing is that the Church doesn’t have any issues with birth control as long as it’s a health issue (e.g., taking medication under which you must be on BC, diseases that require you to take BC, etc.). So their teachings are obviously not set in stone as the US Conference of Cardinals would want you to believe…so they really shouldn’t have stood out on that, because they are just showing that they are discriminatory against people without diseases.

        This shouldn’t be that huge a debate. Catholics are called not to abort and are asked not to use birth control. That doesn’t meant the law of the land should be such. It just means Catholics shouldn’t do it. And that’s how most Catholics believe.

  • machintelligence

    It almost seems like the pro-lifers only value life from conception to birth. Note how many of them favor the death penalty…

    • Niemand

      Not to mention how many of them view drone attacks, first strike invasions of countries that have and indeed can do their country no harm, etc. I see no generalized love for life there.

      • usd2watch

        agreed, can’t tell you how many lifes I argue with pro-lifers about our foreign policy. They aren’t really pro-life, they are anti-abortion.

      • Russian Alex

        Don’t forget the glee with which they murder abortion doctors.

      • Genevieve

        Um, people who care about individual liberties are pretty freaking unhappy about the drone strikes. And being pro-death penalty is no more inconsistent with being pro-life than being anti-school choice is inconsistent with being pro-abortion.

    • TiminAL

      I can’t speak for all those in favor of life, but the way i reconcile my feelings about the death penalty and drone attacks, et. al., is that Pro-life folks believe in protecting the “innocent”, i.e. the unborn. While there may be some conjecture or disagreement on whether or not people sentenced to death or drone attack are “innocent” or not, at least you’re delaing with a known entity.

      • Patterrssonn

        I think it’s safe to say that the children and adults that live near those targeted by drone attacks are “innocent”. Unless you go by the terrorist cliche that no one is innocent.

      • Niemand

        Pro-life folks believe in protecting the “innocent”, i.e. the unborn.

        Are we talking about the same people who read the Pearl’s book and spend their time trying to “break the will” of their newborns? I realize not all pro-lifers are fundies and child abusers, but I bet all people who believe in the Pearl’s philosophy are “pro-life”.

      • Cammie

        Ah, okay, so you think (1) a woman who has been raped isn’t innocent and (2) who the heck are you to judget a living women who gets pregnant in ANY way shape or form? None of your damned business what she does after that. Period.

      • MommyAlice

        Hmmm. Judge not lest you be judged. I don’t think deciding who is really an “innocent” is up to us.

    • Jacqueline

      And you only value life after birth?

      • Anat

        Only after birth can a life be valued for itself. Before birth anything done regarding the embryo/fetus involves its would-be mother and therefore subject to her will, choices, preferences and rights. If anybody else is unhappy with her choices they can ask her *nicely* to reconsider, or ask her what changes in circumstances would encourage her to choose otherwise, but they have no business bullying or forcing her into their preferred choices.

    • Bob

      There is nothing inconsistent with defending the life of an unborn who has even had a chance to live, while seeing that it may sometimes be necessary sentence to death a person who has had a chance and has shown by his/her actions that they are a danger to society.

      • Cammie

        Yes there is. If you believe in life you believe in ALL life. Otherwise you just think you are God and get to judge everyone. By the way, did you read her article at all (especially the part about hypocrisy and birth control?) Didn’t think so. And anyway, BOBBY, you don’t get to force women to have babies against their will. You don’t get to turn us into incubators or reproductive slaves. And how you gonna enforce that law, exactly? Pregnancy police?

      • chris buchholz

        And yet, 75% of people on death row were abused as children. More and more research proves beyond a doubt that psychopaths have “defective” brains. The people we think the most as “evil” are actually the least in control of their actions, and most in need of help.

        And you think killing them is moral?

        Sequestering dangrous people is one thing, but killing someoe because they were born with a damaged brain that caused them to harm others late in life? How is that possibly moral?

      • MommyAlice

        I always thought that there could never be a reason to support the death penalty. Then came a case in CT where two convicts escaped and went to a house and raped and killed the mother and children, while they had the father tied up in the basement. When they came in to court, it was obvious that they did not care at all, saw nothing wrong with what they had done. One of the convicts was heard to boast to other inmates about what he had done. I support the death penalty in this case, because it is clear that there is not only no hope of rehabilitation for this man, there is a real risk of him persuading other inmates of the rightness of his actions, and them following his example. (I am a clinical psychologist, and very rarely do I lose hope for a person.)

      • Dee

        I mean, did you read this article?

  • Evenstar120

    As someone who struggles with infertility and the inability to conceive/keep a desperately wanted pregnancy, I’ve seen the flip-side of the “pro-life” movement.

    It does follow logically that if God somehow ordains every pregnancy, the with-holding of a pregnancy is also a divine pronouncement. I’ve been a little surprised at the vehemence I’ve met in some of the stronger ends of the “pro-life” movement against any type of fertility help, even clomid or IUI (not just IVF or selective termination). I have to wonder if the whole lackadaisical attitude towards preventing miscarriages stems somewhat from the attitude that just as an unwanted pregnancy is a punishment on women who dare to *gasp* have sex, a miscarriage/inability to conceive is a divine punishment on those of us sinners who desperately want a child. Nothing to do with “life”…

    • Christine

      I had never heard any objection to anything other than IVF, that’s really disturbing. (I had different reasons for not wanting to use IVF, but was pretty ok with other interventions). I know that I did receive a bit of a “oh, understanding your fertility will make it easy to get pregnant, don’t worry, it helps even if you’re having trouble”, but nothing to the “no more, never!” end of the spectrum.

      • Evenstar120

        I live in a very, very conservative area of the country (Richard Mourdock of the most recent hideous rape comment is running to represent my state – and in my area, I’ve actually, with my own ears, heard people defend him on that comment), so perhaps I’ve got a bit more than average of the extreme end of the debate.

        It is disturbing, though.

      • Jayn

        In Catholic doctrine, I believe, anything that results in a pregnancy without the couple having intercourse is taboo. Other treatments that improve fertility but still require intercourse for pregnancy to occur are fine (one of the women in our pre-marital counselling class had had surgery to try and be able to conceive). Which I still can’t quite wrap my head around, given that trying to reduce fertility is never OK in the same worldview. It basically comes down to assuming you know what God intends, and short of having a conversation with a burning bush I’d never be able to be that certain.

      • Jemand

        “In Catholic doctrine, I believe, anything that results in a pregnancy without the couple having intercourse is taboo.” That’s really curious, since the whole “miraculous conception of Christ” thing hinges on this idea.

      • ExCatholicChick

        Part of my “marriage and family planning” class in Catholic High School definitely discussed that fertility treatments were against the teachings of the Church. I don’t know about clomid and other drug use, but IVF was absolutely unacceptable. Masturbation is a sin and one cannot have IVF without masturbation, therefore IVF was unsanctioned and sinful.

    • ArachneS

      If that was true, then wouldn’t adoption be something they should be against for infertile couples? “thwarting god’s plan” and all that?

      • Anat

        Is actively getting out of bed (rather than waiting for God to get one out of bed) thwarting of God’s plan? And if God plans for people to get out of bed themselves how do they know he doesn’t intend them to adopt, or use fertility treatments, or have abortions or anything else?

      • Evenstar120

        Adoption seems to be an interesting sort of “gray area” for the pro-life movement. I’m speaking anecdotally here from my experiences, and as I stated above, my area seems to be particularly polarized on abortion.

        I think, based on some things people have said, that if a couple is able to go through the pain, difficulty, and expense of adopting a child, it’s generally understood that God has finally blessed them. It’s kind of that they took the “right path” to a child and didn’t use the evil fertility treatments to have a biological one. I’ve also run into a “lesser of two evils” sense, a sort of “well, you may be sinful, but you’re less of an evil than that teenage/single/drug abusing/poor biological parent and at least you’re exposing a child to the church and some sort of a nuclear family, so that’s how God is going to use this”. Naturally, I find that pretty damn offensive as well.

        Gay and single-parent adoptive families are generally considered problematic in this sort of paradigm. Some groups actively lobby that gay and single parents shouldn’t be able to adopt children at all – which again brings back to “pro-life” not being very…well…pro-life. After all, if saving babies/children is your real goal, shouldn’t it be better that a child is adopted by any loving family than to be aborted?

      • Nira Morning

        I’m sorry, but the above assertion is not correct. There is no moral gray-area about adoption. One of the central tenets of Christian charity (and I think all other religions) is caring for orphans. There is no “we’ll forgive you for thwarting god’s infertility plans for you by adopting because you didn’t use IVF.” It’s very simply an act of charity and there is absolutely no suggestion anywhere (in Catholic doctrine at least) that taking in an orphan and raising it as your own, regardless of your own fertility status, is any kind of “lesser evil.”
        Caring for the orphans, elderly and infirm is of such paramount importance in Catholic doctrine, that entire religious orders are based on running hospitals and orphanages.
        I am, personally, pro-choice and not religious. But, it does not help the cause to inaccurately represent the arguments of the other side.

      • Hedgehog

        But Natural Family Planing can’t work for every one. Your body has follow “normal” patterns but meny woman have irregular periods. My friend period can happen from two weeks to three month apart.

      • CrunchyMama

        @hedgehog; you are thinking of the rhythm method, which is not reliable. Natural Family Planning is as effective as the pill. It uses three ways of determining your ‘fertile days’; daily basal temperature, observation of cervical fluid, and palpation of cervix to dertimine position and density (a high and soft cervix means you are getting near ovulation). My husband and I have used this method for 7 years, not because of any religious conviction, but because I do not wish to use pharmaceutical birth control, we prefer to have skin contact on all but our fertile days, and we’re not ready for a vasectomy. We’ve had three planned pregnancies and no ‘oops’ moments during that time. Additionally, my health is vastly improved because of how in touch with my cycles I have become. I know that if I have a very long cycle, or an anovulatory one, I need to get in for a check-up and possibly do some self-care to de-stress. my cycles are not consistent, like your friend, but 7 years of charts helps me to see long-term patterns in my basic biological rhythms that is really helpful beyond family planning.

        The book by Toni Weshler ‘Taking Charge of your Fertility” is a great starting-place for more information, and in my opinion ought to be required reading for anyone with a uterus.

        Of course, just like with the pill, NFP is not effective for disease prevention, but that’s for a different conversation.

        Beautiful blog post! So much truth in there, and such grace-filled openness on your part to hear that truth and allow it to change your position…a hard thing to do.

    • Peter

      In other words, they believe “no babies without sex, no sex without babies.”

      • Dan

        Actually, that’s false. Growing up Catholic, I was taught that sex is wonderful (inside of marriage).

      • Doe

        But it is true, because you’re not allowed to have sex inside of marriage that uses contraception. Sex may be wonderful, but it requires that you be open to the possibility of babies.

      • Dan

        Hence why Natural Family Planning is taught. It works well for everyone I’ve personally talked to.

      • Nathaniel

        And if it works for you, that obviously means it works for everyone.

      • Dan

        No, that just means either my sample population is too small, or that the system is flawed.
        Not everyone I know uses it. Would they be better of if they did? I don’t know. They aren’t using it, so I have no data on how this alternative would work for them.

      • Evenstar120

        Nira Morning, I never mentioned Catholicism anywhere in my comment about adoption. I stated that my thoughts were based on personal, purely anecdotal experiences. Perhaps I needed to make that clearer. I don’t live in an area where there’s a large Catholic presence (mostly Protestants, both mainline and Evangelical). And for what it’s worth, I understand that anecdote does not equal data.

        It’s entirely possible that I’ve just been unlucky enough to hear some upsetting comments from a few idiots who don’t get it. But I’m not attempting to deliberately misconstrue. There are some very disturbing things coming out of various Christian groups about adoption, particularly concerning gay and lesbians adopting.

    • Genevieve

      I’ve been through the fertility wringer, and sorry, it’s people speaking for “nature” that say stupid things the most. “It’s nature’s way of telling you you shouldn’t have a baby.” “Nature” outnumbers “God” 10:1. And all it takes is, “So, you think God likes babies to die?” to shut up that 10%. Permanently.

    • MommyAlice

      Chalk that up to bible pounding…infertile women are “Barren” because they are sinners! Look where that got us! Rebecca urged Jacob to take her servant girl to have a child with, and then when, many years later, she had Isaac, she had the first child and his mother thrown out…the first child, of course creating the genetic line that created Islam…

  • victoria

    I agree with your overall thesis (and in fact reading similar studies was what changed my opinion about the legality of abortion as well). I do have a couple of nitpicks about your assumptions in the statistical part of the post.

    You say: “Without birth control, 85 out of 100 women will end up pregnant in a given year. So, if the 100 women currently using birth control go without for a year, 85 will become pregnant and 21 will have abortions. Probably more than 21 actually, since the fact that those 100 women would have otherwise been on birth control means that all 85 of those pregnancies would be unplanned.”

    1.) The population of women not using birth control includes everyone who is intentionally trying to conceive as well as women who are not necessarily trying to get pregnant but are positively disposed to the possibility (I’m thinking here primarily of people who have been treated for infertility without success or who have medical conditions that make pregnancy unlikely, not people who are QF.) So not all of those pregnancies would be considered unplanned or unintended, which would in turn affect abortion rates.

    2.) There are other methods of birth control that are non-hormonal and are not considered abortifacient under any circumstances — condoms, copper IUD, sterilization, NFP, withdrawal. Almost 60% of women who use birth control use a method in this category per the Guttmacher Institute, actually, and so it’s actually an even bigger disparity than your estimate.

    Also, I want to thank you for mentioning the statistic that most women who have abortions already have at least one child. So often when you read pro-life rhetoric on this topic people will say things like “well, women who don’t want to get pregnant should just keep their legs shut and stop being promiscuous! Problem solved!” Most women who get abortions are not teenagers; many are married, and a majority have children at home (and while I know some women do put babies up for adoption in that circumstance I would think that would be harrowing for everyone involved). Do they honestly think that married women should remain celibate until menopause if they don’t want to have (more) children?

    • God of the just, I’ll never win a Peace Prize

      “Do they honestly think that married women should remain celibate until menopause if they don’t want to have (more) children?”

      Yes. That is actually the stance that a Catholic acquaintance of mine used, when discussing abortion with a diabetic friend. “If you believe a pregnancy might endanger your life because of your condition, then you and your husband should simply abstain.”

      I believe it is also the Church’s official stance, although of course the vast majority of Catholics themselves would disagree (at least privately).

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        How does that square with the idea of sex being a requirement within marriage?

      • victoria

        I believe you’re right on that being the Catholic position (I was a cradle Catholic and observant into adulthood). But I thought the Catholic and Evangelical positions on sex within marriage differed. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Evangelical rhetoric that discusses married couples’ abstaining from sex, and I’m not sure what the theological framework for that would be.

      • Saffie

        Actually, my aunt had this very problem: After her fourth child was born, the doctors told her and my uncle that more children would likely kill her (and of course the child she was pregnant with) thus depriving the already-here children of their mother. Since Catholic doctrine is against birth control, even within marriage, she actually went to talk to the bishop about it, and was given permission – yes, permission by the church – to have a tubal ligation.

        I don’t know the name for that… but yeah.

      • jadehawk

        “But I thought the Catholic and Evangelical positions on sex within marriage differed. ”

        They do. in general, evangelicals are less likely to give a flying fuck about what you do within the confines of marriage, as long as it’s not “adulterous” (porn, polyamory, etc.), though the superfundies sometimes get squeamish about too much fun even in the marital bed. The Catholic Church on the other hand, by virtue of being run by a bunch of (supposedly) abstinent men, are pretty much with Paul on this issue: sex is best avoided altogether; but if you really HAVE to, then get married so you can gain permission to have procreative sex (and only procreative sex); kinkiness is still not allowed though. You’re not supposed to enjoy carnal pleasure, you’re just allowed a small outlet if you’re too weak to be abstinent.

      • Misinformed

        No, they are taught natural family planning.

    • Liberated Liberal

      “Do they honestly think that married women should remain celibate until menopause if they don’t want to have (more) children?”

      Yes. Absolutely yes.

      • SophieUK

        What about the implications for divorce? Clearly their stance would be “just live without sex for almost ever more and don’t get divorced” but for an individual, who cannot control her partners behaviour, only her own, how does she deal with the situation if she knows her partner will definitely leave if she says no to sex? Is she at fault in the churches eyes given the negative effect the divorce would have on the kids etc?

      • Misinformed

        NO Holy crap where the hell are you getting your information from

      • Misinformed

        The stance of the Catholic church on sex is not this at all. Get your facts straight before you start running your mouths off, people. If you are married but do not want to have children there is something called NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING that is taught to most Catholic couples before they get married. Kinkiness is also permitted during sex including oral or pretty much anything if it results in the arousal of the male so that he is able to preform intercourse.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        “If you are married but do not want to have children there is something called NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING that is taught to most Catholic couples before they get married.”

        Which, in the weird mealy-mouthed reasoning of the Church, seems to be okay because it still allows for “opennness” to conception. In other words, it’s okay because it not work and/or because it causes couples who don’t wish to conceive to turn contraception into an entire time-consuming, anxiety-inducing hobby. After all, kids, if you want to have sex without making babies, you’d better PAY for it! Can’t be too relaxed about the whole thing or having too much fun, now.

        “Kinkiness is also permitted during sex including oral or pretty much anything if it results in the arousal of the male so that he is able to preform intercourse”

        Oh, good. As long as it’s all about the menz! Female arousal and orgasm is not required for conception, after all, so it’s totally pointless.

      • Nathaniel

        Misinformed, your handle is quite ironic indeed.

        Natural Family planning has huge chances for pregnancy. Much more than barrier or hormonal methods. And it requires forbidding sex for up to 50-60% of the month, more if the woman’s cycle doesn’t fit the textbook.

        That’s of course, why the church likes it. If you truly can never risk pregnancy, than NFP is little better than no protection at all.

        But I doubt that you care.

      • Doe

        Misinformed brings up oral sex, which is interesting because the Catholic doctrine on oral sex is that it is only allowed if it leads to intercourse. If another pregnancy will kill you, you’re not even allowed to get around it by having sexual contact that doesn’t end in the male spilling his seed into the female.

      • WYSIWYG

        “Do they honestly think that married women should remain celibate until menopause if they don’t want to have (more) children?”

        And their husbands too… don’t forget…

      • victoria

        I know when I was taught NFP in Pre-Cana it was heavily emphasized that it was NOT to be used because the couple do not want children. Rather, it is to be used either to space children in a way that preserves the mother’s health per her doctor’s recommendations, or because of grave issues — health issues that are incompatible with pregnancy or abject poverty. This squares with the catechism:

        “A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

        When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.” (, 2368)

        There isn’t really any such thing as “not wanting children” in Catholic theology.

      • Niemand

        Ironically, use of “natural family planning” increases embryo wastage: embryos conceived at non-optimal times have a higher chance of failing to implant or spontaneously aborting than those conceived at the optimal moment. So if every embryo is a child, those using NFP are killing children by neglect at a ridiculous rate.

    • jadehawk

      “There are other methods of birth control that are non-hormonal and are not considered abortifacient under any circumstances — condoms, copper IUD, sterilization, NFP, withdrawal. ”


      the copper IUD actually is an abortifacient. It is sometimes inserted as emergency birth-control + future contraceptive, precisely because when inserted it will cause shedding of the endometrial lining, causing any fertilized or freshly implanted egg to be flushed out.

      • victoria

        Perhaps if inserted as emergency contraceptives the method of action is different, but research shows that the method of action is spermicidal:

      • drabbie

        For the last 7 years, I have used a copper IUD as my method of birth control. I was told in no uncertain terms by the physician that inserted the device that eggs would be fertilized then not implant because of the device. He also told me many doctors refuse this type of birth control to female patients because of that fact.

      • Scotlyn

        Someone I know very well was conceived and carried to term with a copper IUD “in situ” (in the late 60′s). The non-removal of the IUD on discovering the pregnancy, was the choice her mother made, having learned that its removal would lead to a miscarriage. As it happens, this person was born with a limb development abnormality known as arthrogryposis, for which the sharing of the uterine environment with the copper IUD is the natural (but not confirmed) causal suspect.

        This anecdote would seem to confirm that it is possible for this method to fail to prevent pregnancy, although doubtless there have been design improvements in the intervening 40 or so years.

    • LCForevah

      Yes, the rcc teaches that once children are out of the question, the married couple is to refrain from sex since there is no possibility of progeny. My mother had a hysterectomy at age 50, and lived to be 75. According to that dreadful, penis worshiping, woman hating, child molesting death cult. She was supposed to have been celibate those 25 years. My parents wore their catholicism lightly and ignored that edict for some 21 years until my mother’s health began to fail.

      Ninety-eight percent of rcc women use birth control at some point in their lives. The edicts of the rcc seem to be irrelevant to female adults who know how to lead their own lives.

  • Renee Davis

    I would love for you to contact me about being a guest blogger on our blog at – this is an excellent blog & you have an incredible unique perspective.

  • Meghan

    Excellent essay. I’ve been pro-choice since I was a teenager (and before that hadn’t really thought about it). When I first encountered anti-choice family members it was a shock.

    I’ve asked pro-life people about the body’s own (rather high) abortion rate. They have rationalized that it’s “God’s will.” I guess along the same line as opposing IVF and other fertility treatments. I’ve asked why isn’t cancer, HIV, really any disease/problem “God’s will,” why should we pursue modern medicine? I’ve never gotten a coherent response.

    • BCSWowbagger

      Perhaps that is because it is not really a coherent question. Medicine or treatment that would protect the lives of our youngest children would be a wonderful miracle — but it really would be something of a miracle. I’m having trouble even imagining what that treatment would look like, given that their mothers are not even aware they’re pregnant at that early stage. We don’t pursue it for the same reason 16th-century do-gooders didn’t pursue vaccines — modern medical science would not even know where to begin!

      In the long run, we’re all dead. We put our resources and fundraisers toward efforts that have the best chance of prolonging lives for the most people. Although the zygotic death rate is vast, our ability to fix that is non-existent. We have no more choice about it than Europeans did during the Black Death, before the rise of scientific medicine.

      • Niemand

        Although the zygotic death rate is vast, our ability to fix that is non-existent. We have no more choice about it than Europeans did during the Black Death, before the rise of scientific medicine.

        What a load of nonsense! We have vastly more that we can do about it than the Europeans did during the plagues.

        First, we can research the reasons for embryonic loss. We know that intensive research can lead to rapid improvements in survival for a given illness. Consider HIV. Thirty years ago, a person with HIV would be expected to die within a few years of infection. Now, their life expectancy with proper treatment is in decades. Because we didn’t just roll over and give up but rather found ways to combat the disease!

        Generally, people consider babies dying to be a bad thing. Most people of normal sensibilities will say that we should spend more money finding ways to cure sick children than sick adults. Where is the National Center for Prevention of Spontaneous Abortion? We’ve got one for heart disease, cancer, kidney disease/diabetes, and even for alternative medicine. If preventing miscarriage was any kind of national priority in the US, a country where many people identify as “pro-life”, we’d have such an institution. And it would be well funded. Where is it? Nowhere, because no one, not even the supposed advocates for zygotes really believe that they’re people in any meaningful sense.

        Occasionally I’ll have someone who is “pro-life” try to bypass this argument by arguing that the NIH shouldn’t exist. Ok, fine, that’s a bad idea, but that argument is way off topic. There are instances of preventable miscarriage that aren’t being prevented. We know, for example, that people with certain hypercoaguable states are at high risk of miscarriage. Currently, we test women who have had two or more second trimester miscarriages for hypercoaguability. If we really think that a fetus is a baby, shouldn’t we test every pregnant woman, regardless of history of miscarriages? We don’t wait until two babies have bled at circumcision to test for hemophilia and we test every baby for things like phenoketonuria. Why not prevent miscarriages by testing for hypercoaguability?

        In short, it makes you feel good to think that there’s nothing you could do about miscarriage, but it’s totally wrong. Do you not care enough about these “babies” to spend a little money in taxes or have your health insurance rates raised just a little bit to pay for saving them?

      • BCSWowbagger

        How would identifying hypercoaguability help us prevent miscarriages? We have no treatment for it that prevents miscarriage. All we would do is identify babies that are highly likely to miscarry, and then could do nothing about it except watch. Perhaps I misunderstand your meaning.

        “We know that intensive research can lead to rapid improvements in survival for a given illness.”

        That depends on the illness. With HIV, we were able to quickly identify a specific, foreign virus that was the cause of all cases, then design drugs to combat that virus. Our efforts to combat cancer, a far more diverse disease, which arises from internal causes, not external attackers, have been rather less successful. Our efforts to combat dementia, a very generic disorder with a vast array of largely untreatable causes (again, not a neatly identifiable virus) have yielded very little fruit. Since it is nearly certain that embryonic mortality results from a vast range of causes, many of them genetic, others the result of an inhospitable environment (which we already know, from our experiments in birth control, is very difficult to alter), and since it is impossible to diagnose in most cases *even after it has happened*, we are, in fact, much closer to the medievals than on this than we are with the diseases where the illness is obvious and the cause clear.

        Notice that there was no research organization dedicated to the fight against diabetes until the 1940s, centuries after the dawn of modern medicine. Was that because we didn’t think diabetics were human? No! It’s because we did not have the first idea of how to go about figuring out a cure. ALS was classified in 1824; Lou Gehrig died in 1938; the ALS association was founded in 1985; most major ALS research centers date from 1999 or later! And that’s *wonderful* — but it didn’t take 47 years between Gehrig and the ALSA because people didn’t *care*.

        That being said, if spending “a little money in taxes or have your health insurance rates raised just a little bit to pay for saving them” had even a modest chance of saving a modest number of those lives, I would gladly contribute — not just through my taxes, but also through my charitable donations. That’s an easy call, and I hope that, one day — maybe sooner than I think! — serious and effective research into preventing miscarriage at all stages of pregnancy will be feasible. We’ll save a lot of lives that way.

      • Sarah

        @bcswowbagger, hypercoagubility is easily treated by injection with heparin through the pregnancy, the success rate is very good. In addition to that, there are several promising areas of potential research in immune issues that cause miscarriage, but it’s niche research without a lot of money. If “prolifers” were actually prolife and funded it then there would be a lot of things they could work on.

      • Niemand

        How would identifying hypercoaguability help us prevent miscarriages? We have no treatment for it that prevents miscarriage.

        Wow. You really don’t know anything about biology or medicine, do you? Hypercoaguability can be treated during pregnancy with LMWH and the chances of a miscarriage drop dramatically. As I said, you really need to learn more biology if you want to discuss pregnancy or abortion intelligently.

      • Niemand

        Our efforts to combat cancer, a far more diverse disease, which arises from internal causes, not external attackers, have been rather less successful.

        Less successful? Quite a number of cancers are now curable. Men with testicular cancer have a nearly 100% chance of cure if they get treated properly. Men with early prostate cancer actually have a higher 5-year survival than men of similar age in the general population. It’s getting hard to distinguish whether newer treatments for HL are changing anything because the survival is already so high it’s hard to tell if a new treatment makes it any higher. These are all conditions that used to kill inevitably and quickly. And would still if people had sat around wringing their hands and claiming to be helpless against them. As you are doing with miscarriage.

        Overall, although “cancer” is not cured, many cancers are curable and many more treatable. The death rate from cancer is decreasing-though not as fast as that from heart disease. If we had worked on miscarriage and implantation failures in the same way we have worked on cancer, we’d likely have more treatments for miscarriage and more lines of research open. We don’t because there is no political will to do so. Probably because no one, not even the so-called pro-life movement, really thinks of 1-8 celled organisms as people.

        Our efforts to combat dementia, a very generic disorder with a vast array of largely untreatable causes (again, not a neatly identifiable virus) have yielded very little fruit.

        First off, the premise is false. Not every form of dementia is genetic. It’s not even clear that Alzheimer’s, which is what you’re probably thinking of and mislabelling “dementia” is. Some forms of dementia are readily treatable. For example, a common cause of dementia in the 19th century was tertiary syphilis. Now, it is extremely rare and very treatable. Same with hypothyroidism, B12 deficiency, pseudodementia of depression, etc. Even the currently more common multi-infarct dementia and Alzheimer’s are treatable, moreso than even a decade ago.

        I was tempted to give you ALS, but then it occurred to me…Stephen Hawkings is alive. Think a miracle occurred there?

        if spending “a little money in taxes or have your health insurance rates raised just a little bit to pay for saving them” had even a modest chance of saving a modest number of those lives, I would gladly contribute — not just through my taxes, but also through my charitable donations.

        Ah, but you don’t. You have about 1/1000th of a point when you say that miscarriage is a complex problem and won’t be solved by a single treatment. But the same is true of cancer. And, despite your complaint, cancer treatment is better today than it was even a decade ago. (Ask anyone with CML whether they’d rather have it now or before 2001.) Unless you think that ONLY complete prevention of miscarriage and failed implantation could have any worth, you should be actively advocating universal health insurance to make sure that no treatable miscarriage goes untreated and research to make sure that more causes of miscarriage become treatable.

        Will you go do that now? Vote for politicians that want to increase funding to the NIH? Start a 5K run for miscarriage? Lobby on the local and national level to shift funding away from things that might improve your life expectancy and towards research on miscarriages? Or will you close your eyes and pretend you never read this?

  • Niemand

    Occasionally, a “pro-life” advocate will slip and let the truth out: It’s not about saving lives, but about punishing women. Consider the case of the young girl in Nicaragua who got pregnant due to rape and precocious puberty. She was denied abortion despite the pregnancy being clearly life threatening. (She did eventually get an abortion, IIRC, at a private clinic.) In any case, one official opposing the abortion said, “It would have been better if she had died [during the rape]” Clearly, that person has no interest in saving lives, not even embryonic life, since if she’d died the embryo would have too. He just wanted the messy situation to go away and women and children could be thrown under the bus at any time as far as he was concerned.

    Another famous case was the recent case at a Catholic hospital in Arizona. The woman in question would have died without reaching anything close to the time at which a fetus might have survived early delivery if she didn’t get an abortion. Again, clearly not someone looking to save a fetus. Just to punish a woman.

    • Evenstar120

      I think this is an important point that needs to be reiterated over and over. It’s not about “life”. It’s about punishing women. I’ve seen those stories, and they’re horrific.

      And it goes the full circle. I’ve been told that women who can’t concieve/keep a pregnancy are somehow being punished by God. It’s incredibly upsetting and insulting, it’s like I’m somehow so bad that I need to be divinely sterilized as a punishment for whatever real or imagined sins I’ve committed. Because you know, there aren’t parents who torture, abuse, and even kill their children or anything. I’d really be worse than that? Really?

      While it’s not even close to as bad as those stories you talk about above (and it makes me furious to think of those poor women being killed for the sake of a fetus that’s not even going to survive), I think it’s also very revealing of the motivations of the “pro-life” movement and what that’s really about.

      • Cammie

        Yeah and those like me who never wanted kids and never had them are on the express ferry to hell in their minds.

    • KJC

      People may hold the same beliefs for different reasons. I don’t think you can necessarily look at what happens in one country (Nicaragua) and compare the stated reasons there to what people believe in all other countries. For example, in the documentary “Half the Sky,” they show that rape in Somali Land is very common and essentially not investigated. Many women are shamed and kicked out of their homes/communities. While there may be some shaming/blaming in the U.S., when you watch what happens to the women there, you can hardly compare it to the resources and attitudes here. The reasons it happens, including the history of recent civil war and the culturally ingrained attitudes are totally different. Similar with looking at attitudes towards abortion in any other countries versus in the U.S.

  • Ilene Flannery Wells

    Thank you very much for this well written and well thought out explaination of your transformation from pro-oppression of women to a supporter of women’s equal rights as free citizens of America.

    You see, that is how I see this struggle. It is not a pro-life, or pro-abortion, or even a pro-choice issue. The issue at hand is simple. I think if we can all remember this fundamental question, we can end this quickly.

    Does the State have the right to use its legislative Power to Control when, if and how many times a woman becomes a mother? How can any red-blooded American say the State should control this legislatively?

    When this essential right as a free citizen of this country is wrested from women, they are Oppressed, and your thoughtful post details that oppression.

    Thank you.

    • Karen

      That pretty much sums up the real situation in a nutshell.

    • mina

      Sadly, I have heard several people actually WANT the government to have the right to tell people if they were allowed to have kids- the idea being that people would apply for a child license and go to parenting classes. Yeah, kind of scary. Gee, wonder who would be allowed to have kids….rich or poor? Those who claim a certain political party?

    • Cammie

      But when you ask rabid pro forced pregnancy people this question, they deflect and never EVER address it.

  • Glia

    I was a dupe too, for way too long. The point when it broke for me was when I was a teen, and I realized how easy it would be for a girl who was raped to end up pregnant before she even left elementary school. I kept hearing about how it was “the life of the child” that was so important, and I realized that when we are talking about a girl of ten or eleven, deciding whether or not to allow an abortion could very well mean deciding whether to destroy the life of one child, or two. And once that had occurred to me, I had to face the question of why abortion seemed ok when the “mother” was a child (an innocent) but not when it was a woman who had chosen to have sex. When I came across a post (I forget whose) that outlined the contrast between how pro-lifers would act if saving children was their goal vs how they would act if punishing women for having sex was their goal, it all started making sense, and my pro-life beliefs fell apart very quickly.

  • Chris Buchholz

    I think if we could make implantable birth control that lasts years like we can make for women, and forced young and/or unmarried men to take it, and made it available, there would be little opposition, even if we made them use it.
    Just like there is little opposition to giving boys the HPV vaccine, but a huge amount of opposition to giving it to girls.

    Even worse I continue to read ridiculous and unsupported articles like this one: , conflating abortion with murder of adult women, that still couch all their anti contraception and anti abortion lingo as though it were “protecting” women and pretending to take the moral high road.

    I went through a similar evolution as you. I used to think it was murder, which was why I was opposed in rape and incest cases as well. But I didn’t understand how so many children could be languishing in foster care if so many people cared about children. And well the opposition to birth control made it obvious: it’s not just about saving lives, it’s about enforcing morality.

    The idea that paying for contraception actually saves money is totally lost on them. They’d rather spend more to pay for birth (not a cent before on prenatal care, or after to help though) than pay for contraception. Texas’ cost for women’s health care tripled after they stopped paying for contraception a few years ago.

    • RainbowHawk

      Chris, the birth control method of which you speak already exists, is 100% reversible and effective. . . and can’t get FDA approval in America, because laws are aimed at controlling the sex lives of WOMEN. Note that the overwhelming majority of rape rhetoric is aimed at women– watch how you dress, pay attention to your surroundings, and so on and so forth. You almost NEVER see anything directed toward men: No means no, hands to yourself, Don’t Be A Rapist, and so on. There is a great deal of opposition to male birth control even when it is much safer and much more effective than female birth control because we live in a society which treats men as though they are nothing but stupid beasts intent on copulation. All responsibility must, then, fall to women– regardless of whether or not they wanted to have sex at all.

      • jadehawk

        and I got my Mirena (twice now) without any problems despite not having a child. getting them at women’s health clinics generally tends to cut through the crap about needing to have children first (in case you didn’t know, the hormonal IUD is now approved for teens, too. childless teens.)

      • Julie

        Guys, for the record, in Australia we get cheap birth control and no-one has any issue with young women/teens getting birth control. However from the point of view of someone who prescribes birth control:
        1. The mirena is not widely recommended for nulliparous women because the cervix hasn’t been stretched yet so it can be painful/difficult/impossible to get the thing through the cervix. That said, if you insist they should be willing to try, but Implanon – a small rod that goes under the skin in your arm – is just as effective and lasts for 3 years. Ask for that instead.
        2. Mirena is not recommended for young, unmarried women from a medical point of view because it has two strings that pass through the cervix providing a track for organisms to pass through the cervix into the uterus, which would normally be much more difficult due to cervical mucous etc. It’s also much more likely to be expelled from a nulliparous uterus, leaving you unprotected. Young, unmarried women are statistically more likely to have more partners so are at risk from these factors. If you’re in a stable relationship and are likely to stay in it we’ll still give you the mirena if you want it, but we warn everyone about the increased risk of STI, and usually recommend a different method, like Implanon or nuvaring, or the pill.
        3. The copper IUD isn’t recommended much because it also increases risk of STIs and needs insertion through the cervix, but also usually causes increased menstrual bleeding, sometimes very heavy, which most people don’t want.
        4. We will absolutely not do a tubal ligation for a young woman without children. It has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to control anyone’s sexuality, and everything to do with the fact that it is IRREVERSIBLE. You may be 20, or 25, or 30 and be sure that you don’t want children. And I’m sure that there are people on here that were sure they didn’t want children and are still sure 20 or 30 years later. That’s fair enough and is your choice. But the number of young women who are determined they don’t want children and then change their mind is higher than you might think. And no doctor will provide you with an irreversible method of contraception when there’s a chance you might change your mind in 5 or 10 years.

        So I guess my point is, we don’t have any axe to grind over here, we don’t care who people have sex with or when, or if they’r e married. We just want to help people find the best and most appropriate method of contraception for them, and this is the advice we give.

      • Maggie H

        The risks of IUDs for women who have not had children have been highly overblown, and most of the more recent studies on them have debunked these concerns. I have the Paragard (copper T), which is a fantastic option for me and many other women. No hormones (which interfere with other medication I’m on, and can cause problems for some women), it lasts for 12 years, and it can be taken out at any time if I do decide to have children. I love it.

      • Jadehawk

        “Mirena is not recommended for young, unmarried women ”
        I know you were talking about Australia, but in the US this is luckily no longer the case:

        “It has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to control anyone’s sexuality, and everything to do with the fact that it is IRREVERSIBLE. ”
        In other words, it is about controlling people’s bodies because you don’t think they should be able to make that choice, Because ZOMG they might regret it. Is regret really a sufficient reason to deprive fully grown adults of the right to determine what happens to their bodies? I think not. I mean, we don’t tell young women that they can’t have children because they might come to regret it, so why are we telling them they can’t not have children?

      • Rosie

        Having a baby is just as irreversible as a tubal ligation, but for some reason the docs insisting on substituting a less permanent (and often less reliable) form of contraception in young women never seem to consider that. And if she decides later that she does want kids, well, adoption is always an option, as the pro-birthers like to say on their side of the argument.

      • aria

        I suppose this is more in line with the commenters discussing IUD’s and Tubal Ligation.

        Chalk me up as another mirena girl who has been turned down for sterilization. The pill makes me so sick that we can’t even tell if it’s EFFECTIVE. I can’t function past the crippling abdominal pain without the mirena. I have incredibly irregular cycles, and a host of medical problems. I have a genetic disorder that I’ve only encountered ONE doctor(the one who diagnosed me) who has heard of it.

        Because I’m poor, and uninsured, I can’t receive regular medical attention. Because I can’t see the same doctor twice, relying on free clinics, I have had to THOROUGHLY explain my medical record to each one, including the genetic disorder they’ve never heard of. And they all looked at me with skepticism when I sited the studies that have shown that 75% of the women tested with my disorder DIED or were CRIPPLED from pregnancy complications. Add into that the other health problems I have, and the BEST case, unlikely though it is(less than 10%), is that a fetus would die, and I’d be disabled, unable to walk or work. The far greater chance is that both me and the fetus would die. Even if I DID change my mind about wanting children, carrying a pregnancy to term will NEVER be an option for me.

        So to STILL be told “It’s too much liability to help you, because you might change your mind” is just incredibly patronizing, and shows a core dehumanization of ME, and my circumstances, as a patient. I would rather make the choice now to take care of my health and future BEFORE a potential child enters the picture. But even without that, the expense of the mirena is devastating, and it’s a bandaid over a far more serious injury. If my mirena gets too old, and loses its efficacy when I can’t afford to replace it, or if I can’t afford an abortion, I WILL DIE IN AN EXCRUCIATING WAY. That’s a tremendous burden to live with. For both me, and the fiance.

        A few months back, my pain worsened. I spent a month unable to work, even WITH the mirena. The pain was so bad, we feared it was an ectopic pregnancy. Mirena’s not infallible, and IUD’s do increase the risk that a pregnancy that happens anyways will be ectopic. He comforted me through the whole thing, until I could get in to the planned parenthood to make sure that we wouldn’t have to choose between having a home, or having my presence in his future. My sickness turned out to be a very severe kidney/UTI infection, but that night convinced I was going to die in the next six months, wondering whether it would be internal bleeding, hemmorhage, infection, wondering whether I’d spend my last months of life bedridden and crippled, whether I’d just commit suicide myself early in to save the pain later… It’s not something I wish on ANYONE. And promoting judgments within the medical establishment on the “deservedness” of birth control, abortions, sterilization, it just hurts everyone. That decision is ONLY between a woman and the medical professional(s) counseling her. There should be no justifying it to law enforcement(IE do you qualify for a rape exception. You can’t do it with public funding, regardless of the medical necessity), insurance companies, etc.

        I’ve certainly debated these issues with a fair number of people who DO feel that even in monogamous relationships, you should “accept the consequences of having sex, or just keep your legs shut”. And it makes me cringe every time. Because that isn’t what a partnership is about. Relating to someone sexually is a perfectly normal part of ANY relationship or marriage. Hell, even daily life as a single individual. But thinking of my current situation, of those who would deny it even to committed couples, cutting a partner out of that part of your life together is just cruel to both individuals involved. If I DID have to be completely abstinent to ensure my life and health, there’s no way I could take my fiance along for that ride. He deserves better. The world punishing him for the sin of my being “unable to accept the consequences of sex” is just not something I could let him face.

        I support every woman’s choice, and I hate seeing the little bits of misogyny and bias present in society, and in the medical establishment, that have the potential to ruin so many peoples lives. Men, women, and yes, children.

    • Erin Krumenacker

      They do it is called mirena and it is implanted into the uterus and prevents pregnancy for 5 years. The only catch is that you have had to already have one child because then the uterus is more pliable. I know because I have one.

      • Lizzy

        Not true at all, you can have an IUD without having had a child. I got one at 19. The doctors usually push that you’re in a monogamous relationship, though.

      • Heidi

        I have Mirena, too. And yes, the patient info says you have to have had a child to get one.

      • RainbowHawk

        You’re supposed to have had a child, but it isn’t necessary– I know people who have gotten IUD without having had any children. They generally report that the recovery period is longer and more difficult.

        That said, this poster was talking about implantable birth control FOR MEN.

      • jadehawk

        it’s not that you’re “supposed to” have a child before getting one; it’s that OB/GYNs in the US are too often influenced by sexist beliefs about women and fertility, and therefore won’t let you have long-term-contraceptives unless you’ve spawned at least once. it’s even worse for the copper IUD, and it’s nearly impossible to get your tubes ties if you’re young and childless.

      • ButchKitties

        I have Mirena, and I’ve never had children. The main medical concern was whether or not my uterus would be big enough to accommodate the IUD since it hasn’t been stretched out by a pregnancy. The nurse practitioner did a sounding, confirmed that my uterus was big enough, and then the IUD went in just fine.

        What I really want is to get my tubes tied, but that’s off the table because I’m childless. The IUD was the best I could get, and even that was a struggle until I was diagnosed with a type of migraine that comes with elevated risk of stroke, which meant I could no longer take birth control pills.

      • Rosie

        My ob/gyn asked if I’d considered the Mirena IUD when I went in to ask for a tubal. When I proved that I’d done my homework on my options, she gave me the tubal without arguing. It probably helped that I was near 40, had been married for 10 years, and had just recently had an abortion. I wish it didn’t take all that for the average doc to believe a woman really doesn’t want kids, though.

      • Doe

        The Mirena and similar IUDs are typically not recommended for people who haven’t had children because they are more likely to come out, leaving you unprotected and requiring a trip back to the doctor to insert another or choose another method. They are also recommended for people in marriages/monogamous relationships because they make you slightly more likely to contract a STI if you are having sex with someone who has one (contrary to my public school sex ed, you do not catch an STI 100% of the time if you have sex with someone who has one). That said, doctors definitely don’t recommend them as much as they could.
        Birth control for women is much easier (from the development side) than for men because there is only one ovulation event per month that needs to be suppressed vs. billions of sperm that are continuously produced. It will be interesting to see what happens with the technology coming out of India. I would love to see more options for men.

      • chelservoncoast

        As someone who does not want biological children, Mirena is the best thing that has happened for me from a reproductive rights perspective. I am 25 and have known since I was a young teenager that I didn’t want to raise a baby but would prefer to foster and/or adopt older children some day. Many people have a hard time taking me seriously and constantly tell me that my biological clock will tell me differently some day, which I find hard to believe since I know that I want children but not babies.
        I didn’t become sexually active until 17 when I was in my first “serious” relationship. At that point I was really interested in NuvaRing because I didn’t trust myself to remember to take a pill everyday, didn’t want to rely on a patch that could fall off, and didn’t like the idea of injections that are known to cause heavy periods. I studied all kinds of info online and in pamphlets about different birth control methods and the ring seemed like the best option. Unfortunately at that time my insurance only covered oral methods, so my OBGYN just kept giving me sample rings.
        Fast forward a few years to a new, healthier relationship and my body building up an intolerance to the NuvaRing. My OBGYN insisted that I continue using it even though I had severe rage mood swings followed by crying for no reason. I assume it was a hormonal imbalance and it really freaked me out. After jumping through some of her hoops and telling her that what I really wanted was to get my tubes tied and adopt when I’m ready (more biological clock nonsense) but would settled for an IUD she turned me over to another doctor in the same clinic and no longer talks to me. The new doctor agreed to give me Mirena after I underwent a trans-vaginal ultrasound (essentially a very invasive robot dildo) to make sure that my uterus was big enough. The process of insertion was incredibly uncomfortable and the cramps for the next few days were the worst I’ve ever had. But I’ve had it for almost 3 years and it works like a charm. Shorter, lighter periods and not a single pregnancy scare! My hormones have evened out quite a bit as well.
        I would love it if doctors were more willing to listen to women about our reproductive choices and opinions. I live in Washington in a fairly liberal county, yet my OBGYN really tried to pressure me into a short term contraceptive under the guise that I’ll want to have my own children some day.

    • Bix

      Long-term methods of contraception aren’t as profitable for pharmaceutical companies, and unfortunately that’s a big factor in what’s available on the market. The reversible male-user contraceptive that’s been developed in India (injection into the vas deferens, good for 10 years but can be reversed at any time) is very cheap to produce. What pharmaceutical company is going to go for something so cheap and so long-term? So that needs to change. There is a non-profit trying to get the technology produced and approved in the United States, though.

      I have often wondered how the national dialogue around contraception would change if there were reversible, highly effective male-user options available. Would Rush Limbaugh call men who use contraceptives sluts?

      • Bix

        Also, I have Paragard (copper IUD) and I’ve never had kids. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends IUDs for teens, so anyone telling you IUDs aren’t available for nulliparous women is selling something.

      • Lefi

        Seconded. I have never had children and was able to have a Paragard implanted four years ago. It was, btw, a good decision and every time I see a pill recall over mis-sequencing I am so thankful that there was another choice for me. I also agree on the male options: Men deserve to have a choice somewhere between a condom and a visit to Dr. Snip-it to control their reproductive potential!

  • Niemand

    I can see how it is easy to get drawn into the “pro-life” position. Who could be against saving babies? And the anti-abortion movement throws everything it has into making abortion sound horrible. Ripping the limbs from a baby? Stabbing it in the head? Ew! Sounds not just evil but gross! Then there are the rumors about health dangers: cancer, depression, infertility…sounds bad. Never mind that these claims have been thoroughly debunked-just as the “cell phones cause cancer” and “vaccines cause autism” claims are still around, so too do the “abortion causes X” claims stick in people’s minds long after the evidence has evaporated.

    And of course virtually everyone knows someone who has an “oops” baby that ended up really being happy that they had that baby. So it’s easy enough to extrapolate and think, “Once she has the baby she’ll be happy with it.” Because some people are.

    So while I think that the average “pro-lifer” on the ground is being duped, I don’t think that they’re stupid or evil. It’s an easy enough mistake to make. But that’s why education and countering the arguments are important. Because it’s not just a theoretical game. Women do die when abortion is restricted, children are born into hopeless situations, women do ruin their lives by giving children up for adoption, etc.

    • Misinformed

      Women ruin their lives by giving children up for adoption??

      • Anat

        Niemand may have been referring to Postadoption Depression. Or perhaps any other complication from unnecessarily bringing a pregnancy to term. Abortion performed early is much safer to the woman than full-term pregnancy and birth.

      • aelys

        I can’t speak from any personal experience, but here is an account of a woman who both gave up a child for adoption and also got an abortion:

      • Lefi

        Misinformed, I work in the sciences, specifically as an industrial chemist.

        Of the samples, reagents, and chemicals that I work with on a daily basis, a large amount are tetrogens (chemicals with a known or strongly suspected ability to cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus in ways that are not nice). A person who knows that they are carrying a child should avoid these chemicals, not go and work with them.

        Of course, we have engineering controls and protective equipment to mitigate the exposure to harmful chemicals. Of course, I have a birth control method in place to prevent pregnancy.

        But, accidents happen.

        If I wished to carry a child to term without putting it at risk of defect I would need to quit my job. My lab is not large enough to move me over to another task until a baby is born. I am the primary earner in my household, and we depend on my income to pay rent, meet our debt obligations, and buy food.

        I am not going into the emotional aspects of that decision, but merely stating the economic. I (and my SO) would lose our home. We would lose our car which we are still making payments on. We would not have health insurance, and I would have no way to pay for the appointments necessary during a healthy pregnancy, let alone the delivery. I am pretty sure that my SO would stand by my decision not to keep a child ( he does not want children either ), but at the same time, when I am unemployed and pregnant is not when I want to discover that I am wrong.

        My life: the job that I worked and studied so hard to be qualified for, the home that I love, the stability, the ability to pay my bills and provide for myself and for the people who love me and depend upon me, destroyed.

        That is how a woman (specifically this one) can ruin her life by putting a baby up for adoption, just in case you were curious.

      • Niemand

        Women who place children for adoption nearly universally experience a severe and long lasting depression. The data on it is not the best-few people research this issue, not surprisingly-but it is very consistent. No one who is even slightly honest has found anything but significant psychological damage due to adoption.

        A quick trip through medline or google scholar should confirm this for anyone who doesn’t believe me. If you’re looking for a popular book that shows the damage, Dan Savage’s “The Kid” shows pretty clearly what happens even to a woman who knew what she was doing and very clearly did not want to raise a child and in an open adoption situation with men who were honest and willing to let her participate in the raising of the child if she wished. She still nearly killed herself over the loss.

  • machintelligence

    As compelling and well reasoned as your argument is, I fear it will win few converts on the pro-life side. This is because it is based on science and math and crap like that, of which they are ignorant or willfully ignorant. It has no appeal to emotion or authority and so will be rejected with contempt for your over- educated and biased reasoning. Most of these people are closed-minded and no mere facts are going to sway them. Sorry to be so pessimistic.

    • Dan

      Or they will be like me and ask the following question:
      “What was the sample population of those statistics?”

      I’d like to make sure that it was a truly random sample of the demographics, thanks.

      • Anonymous

        Something tells me you wouldn’t be quite so ultra-careful if it was coming from your own side. Gotta take every excuse we can to reject inconvenient facts!

  • Nurse Bee

    I consider myself pro-life and have never had a problem with birth control, in fact, I wish the pro-life movement would embrace birth control and comprehensive sex ed. I realize there are parts of the pro-life movement who picket and want to shame women who have had abortions. But there are also those of us who do look at it and ask “why are women having abortions?” and “what can we do to decrease it?”

    • smrnda

      The reason I think this happens is that the main objective of many ‘pro life’ people is to make sure that sex outside of marriage, or non-procreative sex, is viewed as wrong and shameful. So to them, unwanted pregnancies are less of a big deal than having sex ed that just admits young people will have sex and that we should be realistic about it.

      • Dan

        And yet, they have a point on some things.
        Most of those who have sex outside of marriage will have multiple partners throughout their lives (if you all want to start the divorce discussion, we can go there too.) For many of the pro-lifers, it’s a matter of being monogamous, and staying with that person for life. But I digress. The main objective for many is to protect the innocent. You will naturally see those who’s objective is to shame. They are out there, and receive much more publicity because of how the media can make the story sensational. What you may not see if the

        Sex can be non-procreative. Why do you think Catholics teach Natural Family Planning?

        “Young people will have sex,” eh? Not so much. True that there will always be those that will, but we live in an age of instant gratification. We want what we want when we want it. And that attitude is being passed on to those young people. Teaching delayed gratification would help people avoid more than underage (or unwed) sex. For example, it would also help with financial planning and debt management (you can wait to buy that new video game until you have enough saved for 6 months expenses).

        Something to consider: “There is the world that should be, and the world that is. We live in one. And must create the other, if it is ever to be.” This world isn’t perfect, but if we don’t try to make it one that is right (for whatever definition of right any person has), what are we living for? I say this not to incite that all abortion is wrong, but rather to give a look at a driving force behind many people.

      • Dan

        To finish my first paragraph: (missed it while proofing)
        … What you may not see is the signs that tell how to get in touch with a counselor.

      • Doe

        Dan, I certainly see your point about instant gratification, but I have a hard time accepting reasoning that relies on instant gratification = unwed sex. Is there room in your worldview for couples who wait until a certain point in their relationship to have sex? What about couples who can’t or choose not to get married, or who are limited by certain factors affecting the timing of their wedding (finishing education, geographic issues, health care)?

      • Dan

        Doe, You are correct that it is not a one to one relationship with “instant gratification = unwed sex” What I meant to imply was that it may be one of the factors (I say may because I have not done any formal statistical work to confirm or deny the theory). As to room in my worldview. I am friends with a lot of people, many of whom have unwed sex. The determining factor is unique in most relationships as far as the point to have sex. For example, if people don’t believe that marriage is a necessary stage for their relationship, they may choose a different point. What matters most there is their commitment. Not sure what you mean by “can’t get married,” as the gay/lesbian couples don’t end up entering into this from an abortion sense. As for something affecting the timing of their wedding, if it deals with health, are they really healthy enough for sexual activity? if it deals with geographically, that would be a little hard to have sex over that sort of distance, and if they are finishing their education, should not their education be their priority? (if they are going to school in order to help support their family, that changes things)

      • Doe

        When I said health, I meant health insurance. I was thinking of a friend who is a Type I diabetic and would have had to postpone her marriage if not for the Affordable Care Act, because she would have been removed from her parents’ insurance and unable to afford coverage because diabetes is a pre-existing condition. Geographic separation or secondary education that forces you to postpone getting married doesn’t mean you can’t visit or have a relationship that includes sex, as I’m sure you know.

        When people like smrnda say that people will have sex and we should be realistic about it, which includes educating them and pointing them toward birth control, we’re not just talking about teens who haven’t mastered delayed gratification yet.

      • Carys Birch

        Uh, as someone who’s done a long-term, monogamous long-distance relationship (I was in graduate school in one state, he was at a different school doing a BSN two states away), I can assure you, there was sex. In fact, contraceptives are MORE important in that situation, because when you only see someone once every ninety days or so, you really do not want to be having those fall on “bad days” in NFP.

        (For the record, I am an ex-Fundie, adult-convert ex-Catholic, so I’ve seen this particular issue from just about every angle there is!)

      • Dan

        Ah, I got stuck thinking in terms of teens and basic college because of previous comments.

        I’ve not had opportunity to talk in detail with someone who has type 1 diabetes. However, this falls into whether they believe that marriage is a necessary step to take before having sex. If they espouse any particular religion that states you should be married before having sex, then they have two choices: either get married before having sex, or withdraw from that religion for as long as they believe that sex before marriage is all right. If they are not religious, it becomes much easier for them to decide to place sex before marriage. It’s their choice.
        And while I have visited, and plan to again, my girlfriend who is at a university in a different town than where I live, I have chosen to wait until marriage to have sex. That’s my choice though, I’m not going to force that on anyone else (though I would be quite happy if everyone waited until they were married or as deeply committed as to make no difference). The issue of abortion (the topic here) muddies what people can and should “force” upon others. Because there’s the question of when life starts. And depending on that answer, is preventing that cluster of cells from growing to attain the state called “life” terminating it or just as simple morally as cleaning your windows at your house?
        The question will be debated a long time, at heat, by people on both sides.

      • LMM

        The question is, do you care about preventing abortions or do you care about promoting a particular lifestyle?

        If you care about the latter, great! Just don’t claim that you prioritize preventing abortions above everything else — because you don’t; you care about promoting a particular lifestyle, in ways which encourage abortions.

    • Steven

      Dan, this age of instant gratification isn’t having more unwed sex than previous ages of apparent self control and long suffering. For example, the US Army lost 18,000 servicemen every day of World War One to venereal disease.

  • AztecQueen2000

    Given that this is the same group that requires women to provide their husbands with sex on demand and then wants to ban contraception, this issue is not just about the pregnant teen or college student. It’s also about the married woman who is stretched to the limit with her fourth/sixth/tenth pregnancy and could use either contraceptives or financial help dealing with all those little “blessings.”

    • Leni

      Exactly. Living in Ireland – in which the Catholic Church ensured contraception was outlawed and that husbands and wives followed the doctrine – a typical family size was until very recently about 8 to 10 children. I’m 25 and I have friends my age who have 8, 9 or 10 brothers and sisters.

      And yes it’s as depressing as it sounds – there’s always been a high rate of suicide, depression and mental health problems here, whatever about the poverty levels.

      Whatever happens in the USA, please don’t let it get that bad.

      • jadehawk

        it already is “that bad”.
        in order to get an abortion when living in Ireland you need to travel to Britain, which is moderately expensive and moderately far. Compare that to living in one of the large states with only a single abortion provider, where you might have to travel 10+ hours by car (flying only happens from moderately large towns, which may also be hours away by car; and it’s expensive as fuck), stay for several days because of waiting-period requirements, and pay for the abortion out of pocket. In those states, it’s worse than in Ireland already.

      • jadehawk

        or to put this in perspective: from Galway, Ireland to Liverpool, UK it’s 300 miles.

        from Williston, ND it’s 390 miles to Fargo, ND; 600 miles to Sioux Falls, SD; and 430 miles to Livingston, MT;

    • Dan

      “Sex on demand”?!??!

      Please clarify which religion you are talking about here. As a Catholic, I was raised with the knowledge that sex without consent, even while married, is rape and thus wrong. Forcing consent is wrong as well.

      • Liz

        Being raised Catholic myself, I’ll tell you that you have a man’s view of the religion. Consent is expected on the woman’s side. If the man asks, “no” is not an option. It’s her duty. She may be able to get away with declining now and again for specific reasons. You’re told you can say “no” to your husband, while you’re told that you are expected to say “yes”. It’s a false choice.

      • sandee

        fundie and evangelical protestants (IFB, SBC,etc)

      • Jadehawk

        A professor at my uni in fact did a study on why women sometimes had sex when they definitely didn’t want to. And some of her older, catholic respondents answered with “because that was expected of me”

  • Elise

    First, thank you for the article. I found it well thought out and written.

    Secondarily, I think for some people in the Pro-Life movement, it isn’t about saving babies, though that’s the rhetoric. I think it is about God’s sovereignty. Sure, 6-16 fertilized eggs will be flushed naturally without hormonal contraception, but God chose that. When the 0.15-2 fail to implant because of the oral contraceptive, it’s because of human action, not divine action. Effectively, I think the view is that abortion, and hormonal contraception, “plays God” in a way, and that makes it so heinous in the eyes of those Pro-Life, and why often both are demonized.

    Personally, I want to see abortion safe, legal, and rare. Why? I’m not sure when the product of conception becomes a person. I’m working through that myself. But I am fully aware that my view are based in my religion (not Christianity, for those who are wondering), my perception of the scientific data, and to a degree my gut instinct. I don’t have an investment in what someone else’s faith may tell them. If a Catholic doesn’t use contraception and doesn’t abort, I think they have a right to do so. Just as a Jewish person who (it is my understanding) believes the soul enters with the baby’s first breath may use that religious belief to color their decision. It’s not my place to tell other’s what their faith should be, and thus it’s not my place to tell others if abortion is right or wrong, as science hasn’t found a way to indicate when personhood begins and science is the closest thing we have to a mutual ground in our society.

    • Libby Anne

      Effectively, I think the view is that abortion, and hormonal contraception, “plays God” in a way, and that makes it so heinous in the eyes of those Pro-Life, and why often both are demonized.

      I do think you make a good point, but if someone tried to make that argument to me I wouldn’t let it go at that, because why, according to that way of thinking, is cancer treatment not “playing God”? How about surgery for a burst appendix? How about seat belts – those save lives – or even the existence of cars? I mean, where do we stop? I think it also comes back to an ethical question I’ve often heard: If killing one person will save the lives of a hundred people, is it moral, or even perhaps morally required, to kill the person? But I don’t actually think that any of this is something most people who identify as pro-life have even thought of.

      • Mark Temporis

        Great quote on this from a TV doctor:
        “Who asked you to play God?”
        ‘Every damn patient who comes through that door, that’s who! People come to
        doctors because they want us to be gods. They want us to make it better
        or make it not so. They want to be healed and they come to me when
        their prayers aren’t enough. Well, if I have to take the responsibility,
        then I claim the authority too.’
        – Sinclair and Dr. Franklin, “Believers” (Babylon 5)

    • ArachneS

      This is what it is. It’s authoritarian at its core. If God takes life, it’s ok because he’s in charge. If humans do for any reason other than “saving life”(in quotes because it seems only some lives are deserving of saving) than taking life is wrong. Despite what many conservative Christians say about evils of moral relativity, their own god and religion makes suffering and taking life a matter of relativity. “Because ______ says so” is more imperative a rule than the reasoning out the why. In the face of that, does suffering really count as a moral evil, if god is willing to inflict it on people via disease, natural disaster, and unexplained death(i.e. spontaneous abortion in embryos, SIDS, etc)?

    • Lana Hope

      Whether or not babies have souls before they come out of the wound is unsatisfactory to me because the babies clearly feel pain. Does an animal have a soul? I don’t know, but it can feel pain. They’ve recorded late term abortions with the baby screaming. Whether the baby has an eternal soul or not doesn’t change pain, and I oppose pain. So no, I don’t think the Jew should be allowed to abort just for religious freedom.

      • Monimonika

        Can you provide a link to where this recorded late term abortion of a screaming baby is? Do you happen to know the reasons for the abortion? Of was no context provided at all?

      • smrnda

        It’s true that animals can feel pain, but so far most cultures permit the killing of animals for food, and often for sport.

      • plch

        late term abortion are rare events and usually occurs when the fetus isn’t viable, most abortions are pperformed before the embryo develops a central nervous system and with it the possibility to feel pain.

      • chervil

        Translation: I want to impose my views on an entire religious group because of a recording “they” did that I heard about. Whoever “they” are. Doesn’t matter.

      • Niemand

        They’ve recorded late term abortions with the baby screaming.

        Citation, please. And “The Silent Scream” doesn’t count. That’s not a scream, that’s a manipulated image.

      • Christy

        Lana –

        I don’t know who the “they” is that you are referring to, but I can tell you that only about 1.3% of abortions in the United States happen at or after 21 weeks, so abortions in the final trimester are quite rare – and they’re hard to get. Most involve either a serious threat to the mother’s health or a serious fetal abnormality. A number of states completely ban abortions after 20 weeks, and most abortion providers won’t do late-term abortions. Just over 90% of abortions in the U.S. happen in the first trimester, well before the fetus has the capacity to feel pain – so your argument about a baby feeling pain does not apply to the vast majority of abortions.

        Source is Centers for Disease Control:

      • Dee

        You do realize that is your opinion though, and that other people will (and have every right to) believe differently? Just because you think something has a soul and shouldn’t be ‘killed’, does that mean everyone has to agree with you? For example, if I say animals have souls and therefore we should never kill them for food or any other reason, I would say that that’s also my opinion and I’m not going to impose it on you because belief in a soul is a personal philosophy, not some kind of proven scientific fact.

    • Barbara

      Is God so lacking in power that divine intervention cannot overcome a hormonal contraceptive?

      • Whammy!

        You win.

    • ABaker

      @Elise, please know I don’t mean this in an insulting way: Jewish belief about when the soul enters the body is not THE deciding factor on Jewish law about abortion. Talmudic law (sort of the guidebook for how to live a Jewish life though it is constantly evolving) has a LOT of nuances regarding abortion and birth control, some of which seem to support an anti-abortion position and some of which seem to support a choice-based position. Here’s some basic info:
      Also, you need to remember than the different denominations of Judaism will have different views on all these different issues. Again, I hope I haven’t come off sounding pedantic or arrogant. Just trying to clear up a common misunderstanding here. (Yes, I was raised Jewish. That’s why this kinda stood out.)
      Thanks, Libby, for the wonderful article. It’s getting shared as widely as I can.

  • Rachel Strietzel

    As a Christian who is rethinking my stance on abortion, I cannot thank you enough for this comprehensive look at the topic as a whole. I know many people who are voting for Romney solely because he is more “pro-life” than Obama. The irony k.i.l.l.s. me. Anyway, I’m keeping this post handy to share anytime the topic comes up.

    • machintelligence

      Get an irony meter. Replacing melted irony meters is cheaper than reanimation.

    • Tracey

      Link please? Late term abortions (which are only done to save the life and health of the mother, or when the fetus is too badly deformed to survive) are performed under general anaesthesia, which means the fetus feels nothing. I suspect this is a reference to the thoroughly-debunked schlock film “The Silent Scream”.

  • Charles E. Mac Kay

    I do not like this or the statements in it. Its like a farmyard, something from Animal Farm. You lot better get your heads examined. You cannot move the goal posts. It all revolves sound teaching. No sex before marriage. End of story. Stick to the rules. The rules are clear. No sex before marriage and thats it. There would be no abortion no contraception. For a woman there is big trouble in all this, you canot abort all over the place and pills ruin the human metabolism in later life. Throw in STIs and you get the picture – a big word seldom used is CHASTITY get real

    • Libby Anne

      Thank you for making my point! For you opposing abortion is about controlling women’s sex lives, not about saving babies. Isn’t a little honesty nice? I just wish your pro-life leaders would be as brutally honest as you.

      • JohnH

        I think he is also about controlling mens sex lives just as much.

      • Bruce McGlory

        how do you figure that, John? he’s only talking to women there. it’s women he wants to control. its women he wants to shame. Its women he wants to suffer the punishment of an unwanted child. Which is really weird since you’d think someone who wants to “save babies” would want that baby to grow up in a loving home, as opposed to being raised by an mother who was enslaved for Charles can pretend to be superior.

      • Silentbob

        Apart from the blatant disgust with sex, Charles seems to have the bizarre impression that married women do not seek abortions or use contraception.

    • Libby Anne

      Also, I have a question for you. I am currently married, and am faithful to my husband. My husband and I have two children, and we do not want any more for the time being, or perhaps ever – we’re still young, so we’re not sure. What do you propose couples in our situation should do? Just not have sex until after menopause? I’m genuinely curious.

      • plch

        you know what the catholics say, don’t you? count the days and trust god… like counting days was somehow more ‘natural’ than using a condom. According to them, in this way you still leave the door open to conception (although you are still trying to avoid it), I answered that condoms can break too… but it’s not *the same *, how it’s so it wasn’t clear. BTW: the friend I had this discussion with is a catholic that regularly use the pill (as most of the catholics I know).

      • Kacy

        I know you’re asking Charles and not me, but my guess is that he would say “Yes, don’t have sex.” Catholics are fine with “natural family planning” and also continence, which is celibacy in marriage if the circumstances call for it. Having lived this, I agree that Charles does prove your point. This is about controlling women’s bodies–because it’s better for a married couple to avoid intimacy if they cannot afford a baby than to “sinfully” use birth control. Charles may not be Catholic, but the mindset sounds very similar.

      • Dan

        From a strictly Catholic sense, use Natural Family Planning.

        It may block out half of each month as “safe” for sex. But it worked well enough that my parents were not only able to have exactly how many children they wanted (3), but also exactly when they wanted to have us. I’ve seen the old posterboard they used to plan out activities they wanted to do, trips they wanted to take, and children they wanted to have over the years. (they didn’t retcon it. I saw it before my sister was born).

    • machintelligence

      As I said before:

      As compelling and well reasoned as your argument is, I fear it will win few converts on the pro-life side. This is because it is based on science and math and crap like that, of which they are ignorant or willfully ignorant. It has no appeal to emotion or authority and so will be rejected with contempt for your over- educated and biased reasoning. Most of these people are closed-minded and no mere facts are going to sway them. Sorry to be so pessimistic.

    • smrnda

      Even with no sex until marriage, you’re assuming that nobody who is married will even use contraception or want to terminate an unplanned pregnancy. Got news for you Charles, every married couple I know uses at least one method of birth control. And thank you, as a man, for telling us women about the risks inherent in using the pill. It isn’t like there aren’t risks associated with every single medication. Thanks for explaining to me that ‘for a woman there is trouble in all this’ – not sure what it referred to.

      Also, why is ‘no sex until marriage’ a sound teaching? Lots of concussions result from football, and high school kids die in football preseason practice in the summer every year. Is “no football ever” a sound teaching? Nobody needs to play football, so the risks it presents can totally be avoided if we just shut down every and all football programs at every level, from the pros to the pee wee leagues. You are free to set your risk tolerance wherever you want, but I’m sure that your risk tolerance is only 0 for sexual matters.

      All the risks you mention can be avoided better than the risks present in lots of other activities.

      The other thing is, people engage in activities with risk all the time, we try to measure them and take precautions against them. I ride a bike a lot, and it’s pretty risky to do in city traffic at times. I do what I should – I wear a helmet, have lights on at night, keep the bike well maintained. Sex is the same, at least as far as I can tell.

      • anna

        do you love how his main focus in the possible side effects of the pill is that you might get fat? because what could be worse ladies? do you want to be a fat slut? do what i say!

      • WYSIWYG

        LOVE the football analogy!
        Football isn’t a biological drive necessary to ensure the survival of the species… It’s just a silly GAME men invented, for men to play, for their own entertainment (and obsession). It serves no other function or purpose. As you can probably tell, I am not a fan, but I doubt that many men (if any) would say playing or watching football is more pleasurable than having sex. Yet men can’t/won’t even give up football (despite its inherent risks)… How can they be expected to give up sex???
        Maybe using birth control is like playing flag or touch football instead…? Less risk, for those who choose it. Opposing birth control is like opposing helmets and pads, or banning flag and touch football and requiring everyone to play tackle football if they choose to play at all.

    • Niemand

      Where do you get the idea that marriage means desire or even willingness to give birth every 11 months? Some people get married and still don’t want children. Some only want one or two. Very few want 20 or whatever they would have without birth control.

      • Peter

        And why the hell is the Vatican so opposed to condoms even even when used by married couples, and even when it can save lives? That stupid, decrepit, elitist evil institution needs to fade away permanently. Why should a bunch of celibate, elite old men tell folks in this country to oppose the ACA as they protect their own pedophiles? LEAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH and give it the middle finger on your way out!!

    • Anat

      There would be no abortion no contraception. For a woman there is big trouble in all this, you canot abort all over the place and pills ruin the human metabolism in later life.

      Any evidence that modern birth control pills are not safe for long term use for the majority of non-smoking women? Besides, there are better – even more reliable, methods available these days – IUDs with local hormones, copper IUD, implanatables … the lower hormone levels mean even fewer side effects. Maybe it’s time you update your information to the 21st century.

      • John

        Abortion is wrong because it is the deliberate killing of the unborn child. Interesting how we have had an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases and infidelity since the advent of contraception. Of course when contraception fails the next step is abortion. 120,000 unborn children are aborted daily worldwide. This is a holocaust. You are looking at this from a secularist humanist perspective. You ignore God.
        We all get a soul to save. When we die we meet Our Maker(God). We then answer for our sins. You will answer for your sins I will answer for my own. Barack Obama wont be on hand to help you. Abortion as well as killing an innocent unborn child scars the mother psychologically/physically.
        Finally please remember that one of the major reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire was infanticide.

      • Anat

        Contraception works very well, though, especially with some methods (or combinations of methods). Do you have evidence for the existence of souls? And that embryos or fetuses have any? Or that a god of any kind exists? Or that people persist in any meaningful way once they are dead?

        As for the Romans, there is a reason they resorted to infanticide – their economic system became unsustainable. There is an interesting discussion here

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      “Stick to the rules. The rules are clear.”

      What rules? Whose rules? Oh wait, I see…YOUR rules. Got that everybody? Just stick to this guy Charles E. Mac Kay’s rules. He has spoken!

      “There would be no abortion no contraception.”

      Um, you think married women never have abortions or use contraception? Think again. Better yet, find some actual facts!

      “a big word seldom used is CHASTITY”

      ROFMLAO at “chastity” being “seldom used.” Right, seldom used, except by the hordes of sexuality cops shrieking at me (and other women) about my private sexual choices all the damn time.

      • Heidi

        I was thinking that, too. I don’t believe in gods, and I don’t accept the sovereignty of Cupcake Mac Kay, so whose rules? LOL.

    • Amethyst

      Another big word that would have similar results to these projections: LESBIANISM.

      • Rosie

        So true. And it makes me smile every time I check back with these comments and see it again. :)

      • Cupcake

        Hahahahaha thank you for that.

      • Niemand

        Need a like button. Lesbians are also relatively protected from STDs including HIV.

      • MommyAlice

        Amen, sister!

    • RowanVT

      My brother is married. He and my sister-in-law despise children. Utterly hate them.

      Are you telling me they should never have sex, even though they are married? Or were you unaware that sometimes people who are married do not want children?

      • Liberated Liberal

        Catholics, at least, believe you absolutely shouldn’t have sex if you don’t want children – ever. Beyond that, the entire existence of marriage hinges on children. If you don’t want children, you have no right to get married. This is their main argument surround gay marriage. Two men or two women literally can’t get each other pregnant, therefore, they have no right to be married or be having sex. Even using NFP with the intention of not ever having children is gravely immoral and will land you in hell.

        Don’t underestimate how far they go to justify that nobody should ever have sex unless they are trying to make babies – or at least willing to accept it when it happens.

      • Silentbob

        @ Liberated Liberal

        Catholics, at least, believe you absolutely shouldn’t have sex if you don’t want children – ever.

        So what is the catholic church’s position on vasectomies? I honestly don’t know, but if they’re opposed one still has to wonder why the focus is always on abortion or contraception rather than people deliberately making themselves infertile.

        There is a precedent here y’know. In the bible, Abraham’s wife Sarah, and John the Baptist’s mother Elisabeth, were both supposed to be infertile, but both conceived naturally, so presumably both were, eh, doing what comes naturally, despite their infertility.

      • Liberated Liberal


        The Church, officially, does not approve sterilization as a form of birth control. It is, after all, contraception. I know that individual priests approve it and will give permission, but those priests are routinely attacked for approving “sin.”

        Here is a story from a very conservative Catholic family, where NFP did NOT work for them, the woman’s health was in ruin, and they were devastated over an entire marriage of only having sex when her body really did not want it (and it didn’t work anyway). Her husband decided to get a vasectomy, because he couldn’t stand to see her suffer anymore. They are, many years later, relieved, but dealing with guilt and also believing there is a real possibility they will burn in hell:

        The site also has a few other stories of couples talking about how NFP was not a good thing in their marriage.

        Naturally Family Planning may work for some people, and I say good for them. I have NO problem with NFP, but to claim that it works for everyone and you are an evil, disgusting sinner if you don’t use NFP and decide to do something else is so, so wrong.

    • ButchKitties

      Married or not, I will abort every single one of my pregnancies because there is nothing about a marriage license that changes the health problems that make pregnancy very dangerous for me.

      • Jacqueline

        What health problems?

      • Rosie

        Ditto. Except I don’t have the validation of health problems, just a serious dislike for children. Which means, according to most fundies, that I shouldn’t exist. But I do, and I’ve rather got in the habit of it, so I’ve no intention of stopping my existence now just to please them.

      • ButchKitties

        Rosie, I was thinking in terms of why people who seemingly match Charlie’s idea of acceptable sex would still need abortion access, but I regret bringing my health issues up because “I don’t want to be pregnant” should be all the validation a woman needs.

      • RedHeadedGirl

        None of your damn business, Jacqueline.

      • MacStabby Jay

        Dang, RedheadedGirl, you beat me to it! ;-)

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        “What health problems?”

        Um, WOW, Jacqueline. Just wow. How on God’s Green Earth is that any of your goddamned business?

    • Cammie

      Charles is just a little boy who is angry at some woman. Just ignore him and he’ll cower and go away.

    • MommyAlice

      So, Charles, do you ever have sex? Are you married? Are you worried that medication will allow others to control your thoughts?

    • phantomreader42

      Charles, why should anyone follow YOUR “rules”? Are you even capable of imagining why such a question needs an answer, or are you just too arrogant to fathom the possibility of someone not mindlessly worshiping you?

  • Rob F

    Have any of you seen the chart here? It distills the same sorts of points made here. And we can easily think of additional points to add:

    (1) Pharmacy refusal clauses (these once caused an abortion). If they truly believed abortion was murder, then making someone give out birth control is perfectly justifiable on the grounds of preventing it. However, if your goal is to control women, then making access to birth control easier is something you don’t want to do. It’s not like forcing someone to do something (in this case, give out birth control), could possibly be worse than abortion, while simultaneously forcing someone else to do something (in this case, give birth) could possibly be less bad than abortion.

    (2) LGBT parenting. It’s quite beyond me how being raised by a same-sex couple could possibly be worse than death. Such reasoning applies even if LGBT couples are the worst possible parents (which they’re not; research since the 1970′s shows that same-sex couples are just as good parents as different-sex couples).

    • Liberated Liberal

      Great chart. And good points.

      I feel saddened that adoption centers would rather close than adopt to same-sex couples. They obviously care more about their own discriminatory practices than they do about the children.

  • Cecilia Anne

    I don’t think it’s just “punishing” women, although certainly there is fodder for that built into the American DNA via Puritanism. There is a larger goal in sight. When women gained control of their reproduction, via birth control and legal abortion, their financial opportunities flourished. With greater financial opportunities, there was a shift in the gender relations, as women no longer needed men to support them. Modern women can be more choosy in their mates, and can even choose to be single and not reproduce at all. So the payoff of the “Pro-Life” movement for men, would be wresting control over women’s reproduction away from them and making women reliant once again, putting reproductive choice only in men’s hands. Men could get back to acting as badly as they’d like, and with no women to represent women in government, women would lose all other rights they fought for. Would this happen? Absolutely not. Women won’t let it, and too many men are feminists now, even if they don’t call themselves that. But just think about this, the next time you see a picture of men carrying signage for “all the helpless murdered babies”, and grinning like idiots when they’re passing anti-choice laws ( Another food item for thought: why don’t “pro-life” men adopt children out of foster care? If they cared about babies and children soooo much? No, they care about passing on their own genes, and securing a woman to enable that, not raising some stranger’s baby.
    Thank you for a well-written article. You nailed it.

    • Karen

      Don’t be so confident that at least some of their retrograde policies won’t be enacted. There are many more loser men who would benefit from eliminating women’s rights than there are feminist men who support us.

  • Becky

    I agree with you that the primary goal of the pro-life movement is not saving babies, but I disagree that it is controlling women. One of the major goals of the pro-life movement is to protect and support Catholic doctrine. Most of the prominent pro-life organizations are Catholic or were heavily influenced by Catholicism. The moral views they are promoting align with the official views of the Catholic Church — doing something (ie taking the pill) and causing a death of a zygote is not morally the same as NOT doing something and causing the death of a zygote. Many believe the repeated lies that contraception actually increases the number of abortions. I believe that all the prolifers on the ground are sincere, or the ones that I know are. Many of the ones I know also support social services and would be opposed to such horrendous TANF measures as the one mentioned above. They are just sincerely believing people who are lying and twisting the truth in order to protect an ideology.

    • Rosie

      Seems to me that Catholic doctrine is, at least in part, about controlling women, so the end result is pretty much the same.

      • Jacqueline

        Catholic doctrine and tradition greatly reveres women and the doctrine regarding sexuality and reproduction applies equally to men and women. When I freely became Catholic, I certainly did not and have not ever felt “controlled.”

      • Katty

        Oh, Jacqueline, how cute! You *chose* to become catholic and therefore catholicism certainly isn’t controlling or denigrating to women AT ALL. Sure, that must be true. /sarcasm
        Let me guess, you’re probably also from North America or someplace else that has never been predominantly catholic. I could go on at great length about the misogyny and general sexual backwardness of the catholic church, but let me just mention one obvious aspect: There is no female clergy in the catholic church. The only woman that is revered in catholic doctrine is the Virgin Mary.

        Now, I’m not saying that because you’re catholic you must automatically feel controlled by the church or even that everything about the Roman catholic church is bad (though I am tempted). But I call bullshit on the assertion that catholic doctrine or much less (official) practice reveres women.

      • Rosie

        Jacqueline, if you choose a religion you do so because it suits you. Of course you don’t feel controlled; if you didn’t fit the mold you’d have chosen a different religion. It doesn’t follow, though, that all women will be comfortable in that same mold or religion. In fact, I’m seeing quite a lot of evidence in these comments that many women aren’t.

    • ScottInOH

      I understand where you are coming from. I have very close family members who are deeply and honestly committed to preventing the “mass infanticide” that is abortion. I have been in that camp, and it’s very hard to listen to any counter-argument when the drumbeat is “don’t kill babies.”

      A whole lot of people in the movement, however, are very anti-woman and anti-sex, not pro-baby. The only ones I can possibly take seriously are the ones who support making BC more freely available, providing significant material support for pregnant women and new mothers, and encouraging adoption for same-sex couples. Even then, however, they would need to explain (1) why they believe a newly fertilized egg is as much of a person as a newborn and (2) why we should require a woman to provide life support to someone against her will.

      The realization that very few “pro-lifers” even take these questions seriously was very important in my own thinking.

      • Jacqueline

        It is funny to me that couples with many children are labeled “anti-sex”- Where do you think those babies came from, dude?

        As for anti-woman, what is more misogynistic than telling women that their biology makes them inferior and in order to be “equal” to a man, she must be able to shut down her ovaries or have her uterus pried open and her child scraped out of her? Saying that women must have pills to make their unhealthy bodies unhealthy or surgery to expel their sons/daughters is inherently sexist.

      • Annalyn

        Jacqueline, I believe that when Scott means “anti-sex,” he means “anti-sex-in-all-circumstances-other-than-for-the-purposes-of-procreation-within-marriage-because-engaging-in-intercourse-for-any-other-reason—especially-for-pleasure-and-especially-if-you-use-contraception—is-a-sin.” At least, that’s what my abstinence-only Catholic school sex ed taught me.

      • Rosie

        Nobody here is arguing that any woman MUST use contraceptives or get an abortion. We only want the options to be available for those women who WISH to do so. Telling women they MUST do anything, just because they’re women, is sexist. Presenting a wide range of options and letting each individual woman decide is not.

      • ScottInOH

        Well said, Annalyn.

    • Evenstar120

      I’d agree with your assertion that the Roman Catholic Church has heavily influenced the pro-life movement. I’d also say that the Roman Catholic Church has made some very troubling statements about women recently (accusing nuns in the LCWR of “radical feminism” or stating that ordaining women to the priesthood is a “grave sin” on par with pedophilia just to name two). I don’t think that to say that the Roman Catholic hierarchy has some problems it needs to work out with regards to its treatment of women is much of a stretch. Thus, I’d say that the pro-life movement could very well be heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church and also have some big problems with women’s autonomy (not that I’m trying to pick on the RCC in particular – plenty of Protestant congregations have similar all-male authority structures and problems with women’s autonomy, but you singled out the RCC).

      As far as pro-lifers’ sincerity, I think there are some out there who are sincere, but I’ve also met quite a lot who are very against any sort of taxation to pay for social welfare programs and characterize people who use them as lazy or inferior. It’s been very interesting to see so much of the pro-life movement align with extreme versions of fiscal conservative ideology – Paul Ryan, for example, advocates cutting around 16% from “income security” programs including food stamps and housing assistance (per the Washington Post). To me, those things can’t be reconciled. And no matter how sincere your belief, if they are, in your words “lying and twisting the truth in order to protect an ideology”, it’s a huge problem and I’m not cutting them any slack just because of their “sincerity”.

      • WYSIWYG

        I call bullshit on the Catholic Church’s allegedly regarding pedophilia as a grave sin! But — then again — they have had much more experience with it than I have…

    • Beverly Diehl

      I believe many of the pro-lifers are sincere and underinformed/don’t think, too.

      Have you seen the video clip where some of the pro-lifers outside a clinic were ASKED, “So, if abortion were made illegal, what would you like to see happen to a woman who has an abortion anyway?” Most of them said they hadn’t thought about it. Even when prompted, “Should she go to jail?” The responses were mostly, “Well, I’m not sure we should punish the woman, there could be many reasons she had the abortion. I don’t think she should go to jail.” It would be hilarious if it were not so serious.

    • MommyAlice

      Men’s brains are wired differently than women’s. The fact that women have so much power now…they are in the armed forces working on an equal footing with men, they are CEO’s, they are in government, and they are the heads of agencies. They are not just elementary school teachers, they teach high school, college and at the PhD level. They are ministers and Episcopal priests. Men have had to sanitize their language in the workplace because there are women there, and there are laws against sexual harassment. There are few places where they can be in charge simply because they are men. This is distressing to the male mind. They feel there is no place for them. When women have access to birth control and abortion, they don’t even get to decide if their genetic material is passed on.
      Just as plants will hurry to set seeds if the plant is in danger, (that’s why we dead-head flowers, so they will bloom again in an attempt to set seeds) men are going frantic because the birth rate has been reduced so much since women have been liberated by birth control. This is not a conscious reaction, but an unconscious one, one that resides in the animal part of our brain. It is hard to fight.

  • Jireh

    Your flip-flop on abortion views and aligning with a party that has adopted the ” sins ” of Romans 1 .
    makes no sense to me. Passing out condoms so people can fornicate at will and for those who get pregnant in the process advocating that you ” kill ” the baby at the will of the mother up and including the ninth month? Romans 1 lays out clearly that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against those who advocate sexual freedom , sexual conduct outside marriage. Can you say divine judgment ? Get ready ! get ready !

    • machintelligence

      Your argument from personal incredulity wins no points.
      Get ready. Get set. Go away!

    • smrnda

      Romans 1 makes a bunch of unfounded assertions, basically, that everybody really *knows what god wants* and if they don’t agree with the orthodox Christian viewpoint, they are just in denial.

      And what’s with this sanctity of marriage nonsense? At the time Romans 1 was written, a ‘marriage’ was basically a man owning a woman, something that today would be considered a human rights violation.

      Plus, it’s possible to have sex outside of marriage and avoid pregnancy and disease, and you can do all this without harming anyone. So why is this god throwing such a hissy fit over sex?

    • Monimonika

      Jireh (decoded): Pregnancy is punishment to women! Punish the women! …oh, and something something about killing something-I-don’t-really-care… I really just want to f-ck a virgin…

    • chervil

      Really? The wrath of God is coming because sex so get ready?

      How many years did Mormons practice plural marriage in this country before it went out of mainstream and the Romney family fled to Mexico so they could freely collecting “wives” ? There’s only one response to your yammering. Yawn.

    • Cecilia Anne

      Romans 1 said what now? Which chapter, which verse? I went looking for it, but found this instead, in Leviticus 27:1-7, a price list from God about the value of every human life. And guess what? Fetuses aren’t on it. Neither are babies before 1 month old. So I guess God has changed his mind recently (like, VERY recently) about the value of fetal beings. We should request a new price list, perhaps?

      • Julia

        Here is a great site outlining all scripture regarding abortion. No where in the bible does it say not to do it.

      • Dan

        How about “Thou shalt not kill?”
        Defining this will require some questions to be asked
        Though that means we have to come to a common definition of what constitutes “killing.”
        If killing mean taking a life before it naturally passes away, we must now define what a life is. and what naturally means.
        Is life when conception happens, when the cells first divide, when it attaches to the uterus wall, when the child is born, or when the child speaks?
        Do only humans have life in this sense? If not, when is the “natural end” of a turkey? (Thanksgiving anyone?)
        Now what about the “natural end” of a human life? if a fetus and it’s mother will not survive birth, is that not the “natural end” for both? so one could terminate the one safely earlier to extend the “natural end” of the other? (whether this is “right” is a moral question.

        This of course, assumes that you have a reason to follow the “no killing” rule.

    • Lisa

      What about those of us who aren’t christian? Why should we be forced to follow your interpretation of a holy book we don’t believe in? If you think abortion is wrong don’t have one. If you think contraception is wrong, don’t use it. Row your own boat and let others do the same!

      • WYSIWYG

        Right on, Lisa!!!
        I consider myself Christian, am very familiar with the Bible, but I DON”T believe that ANY nation’s government must, or should, be based on what ANY religion believes, even my own.
        Otherwise, why not Buddhism, or Confucianism, or Islam, or Judaism, or Mormonism, or Wicca? Why Christianity???

      • bob jones

        to number 277, its ‘thou shall not murder’ which meant, its wrong to murder another Jew. Killing was ok, after all, animals and non-jews were killed back then. All the time in fact.

        as a matter of fact, God even tells his people to set about ‘ripping open pregnant women’ and ‘bashing infants head against waslls.’ so yeah, they had NO problem with wholesale genocide in the bible. none whatsoever

    • UrbanSidhe

      Yeah.. But God has no problem sending she-bears to slaughter naughty children… Or you know killing the first born to prove a point?


      Men have a lot more wrath of God to be concerned about than women do…

    • Cammie

      No one cares what you think, troll

    • MommyAlice

      so…your penis has never been outside your pants, right?

  • adele

    An excellent article. I am always curious that our pro-life friends are suspiciously silent on the death penalty and the Iraq war.

  • Karen

    For the people who seem to think that there are rules to be followed regarding sex (no sex before marriage, no fornication — whatever that means to you — etc.), I have two answers for you.
    1. Nobody elected you to make the rules.
    2. If you claim that your god made the rules, well, I don’t believe in your god.
    So, you have to give me legitimate, secular arguments before you can convince me you’re nothing more than hot air.

    • machintelligence

      True. Quoting scripture on an atheist site is less productive than bringing a knife to a gunfight.

    • Cecilia Anne

      Astute observation! I’ve got another one. As soon as “pro-lifers” start holding full-blown funerals for every potential miscarriage (i.e., spontaneous abortion), complete with death certificates for their lost blastocyst, I don’t believe a word of their spouted philosophy. They don’t believe that abortion is murder if they don’t believe that miscarriage is the same thing as accidental death. If their child died accidentally, say, by drowning, wouldn’t they have a funeral? Shouldn’t they invite all family and friends and rent the church and buy the plot and hire musicians and florists to mourn the passing of their four-celled little darling every time a period came a few days too late? THINK OF TEH BABIES!!

      • ScottInOH

        Interestingly (shockingly?), I know people who have done exactly this. Not inviting the family and friends, but they held a full Mass of Christian Burial for their miscarried child. They do believe a miscarriage is the same as an accidental death, and I’m sure they’d do the same if the zygote failed to implant, if they could ever figure that out.

        In general, I think that a lot of people in the pro-life movement are willing to carry out more of the implications of the “it’s a baby” belief than we would like to consider. I suspect they would, for example, be fine with prosecuting pregnant women for whatever they deemed to endanger the fetus. I suspect many of them would charge women who got an abortion as accomplices in murder. I think a lot of them are quite consistent in their beliefs, and when inconsistencies are pointed out, they try to correct them.

        What they DON’T ever do is drop the religious, misogynist, and anti-sex language that is ALSO part of their worldview.

      • Chris Buchholz

        I’ve only heard of ceremonies for miscarriages that are at least 6 or so months old, not for all the countless miscarriages that happen in the first few month. Most women will have at least one of those, and know it happened, yet never feel anything for the embryo.

      • ScottInOH

        I hear you, but I think (a) more of them feel something than you might suspect and (b) for those that don’t, if you forced them to consider it, they would tend to feel more sorrow for the “lost child” than a realization that they weren’t “pro-life.” That has been the direction I’ve seen things move in the past few years: pointing out inconsistencies (e.g., how can you support an exception for rape if it’s a baby?) tends to make them more consistent.

        The exception, though, is the one that matters: They don’t support easy access to birth control, even though that’s actually the best way to reduce abortion. They’re good at absorbing and/or directing guilt, not at public health solutions.

    • Jacqueline

      Here’s one: Reality is not based on your beliefs or perceptions. What is true is true regardless of whether you believe it or not. Likewise, just because you believe something to be true does not make it so. Natural law is true whether you believe in it (or the author of it) or not. Monogamy is healthy for people and it builds societies. Promiscuity is unhealthy and damages societies. Monogamous couples are free from diseases and substantially less likely to be impoverished- their children have stability and the opportunities to grow and contribute. The author’s childhood of having two parents to raise her gave her physical and emotional benefits that she would likely have not had if she were the product of a random hook-up or dating relationship. She now chooses not to promote monogamy so children could have what she had, but it does not change the reality that children of monogamous parents have infinitely more opportunities than fatherless children. For the monogamous, they have more opportunities as well and are less likely to struggle in poverty. With around 50% of people ending up with at least one STD before age 25 (and many of those last for life), you can see that the “rules” proposed by a God you don’t believe in are merely common sense guidelines to live a healthy, happy life. You don’t have to agree with them or abide by them, but you aren’t immune from herpes, the pain of abortion or the struggles of single parenthood. I don’t have to agree with the natural law of gravity, but since I am not immune from falling to my death, I choose not to teeter off the edges of cliffs to get my kicks. Some choose not to risk their health and future by eschewing monogamy- and we are all the better for it.

      • Katty

        Likewise, just because you believe something to be true does not make it so.
        Exactly. So how do you know the truth you believe in is the “true truth”? And since your argument is so very flawed, I’m not inclined to accept your conclusion. I say that your argument is flawed, because it starts off on a false premise. You equal women who have abortions with promiscuous women. Even if I agreed that promiscuity is always a bad, baaad thing (which I don’t, necessarily), in no way has Libby Anne promoted it. She herself got married young and stated in this very comment thread that she is faithful to her husband. So where do you get off, telling her that she’s a slut who’s being a bad example for her children?!? Really, I started out to reason with you, but writing this just made me angry.

        Also, your comment seems to imply that your revered monogamous women don’t have or wish to ever have abortions, which is blatantly untrue. It’s not just the slutty teenagers who weren’t taught the cure-all monogamy by their slutty, probably feminist mothers, who need abortions.

        Thirdly, it is perfectly posible to keep oneself free from STDs through other means than abstinence. Sex ed is helpful in this respect, you know.

        And lastly, I would really like to know what you mean by promiscuity. You know, the opposite of monogamy isn’t promiscuity, it’s polygamy. It is perfectly posible to have more than one sexual partner during one’s lifetime and still be monogamous in every one of your relationships, and also far from promiscuous by any reasonable standard. But I guess, for you, having more than one sexual partner during your lifetime already counts as promiscuous, unless the reason is that I was widowed and remarried.

      • Annalyn

        You know what’s harmful to society? Promoting one version of a family as the single valid ideal and claiming that other types of family relationships are somehow lesser or immoral. Plenty of kids grow up in a family that doesn’t follow the one-mother-one-father paradigm (maybe they have only one parent for whatever reason, or they have two parents of the same gender, or they’re raised by siblings or extended family members, or something else) and they turn out happy and healthy and stable, despite continued attempts by conservatives to devalue their family structure.

      • smrnda

        I think you’re confusing the Catholic doctrine of ‘Natural Law’ with real science. Natural law (the Catholic deal) is a statement about how things ought to be, largely drawing on ideas from philosophers from times when science was not particularly advanced. Reality is not based on my perceptions, but neither is it based on Catholic doctrine. The only difference between Catholics and Protestants is that Catholics dress up blatant assertions about what is good or bad in more verbose and obfuscating language.

        If you’re arguing that certain social structures are advantageous, it might be true, but there was probably a time when different social structures made more sense. The nuclear family isn’t an ahistorical norm, and you should look up the Na from China, a society where there were no marriages, no monogamy, and no fathers. They existed for quite a while until cultural imperialists from the rest of China tried to force them to change how they lived.

      • Anat

        ‘Natural Law’ isn’t natural at all. It is a religious doctrine. Comparing Catholic doctrine to gravity is a dishonest conflation of terms. In history there have been societies with a diversity of practices wrt family formation, so if you want to claim one form is superior to others please show the evidence. In practice, not in idealized form.

      • WYSIWYG


        You wrote: “you can see that the “rules” proposed by a God you don’t believe in are merely common sense guidelines to live a healthy, happy life. You don’t have to agree with them or abide by them, but you aren’t immune from (the consequences of your behavior)…” And then: “Some choose not to risk their health and future by eschewing monogamy- and we are all the better for it.”

        You just made a PRO-CHOICE argument!
        Whether (and when, and with whom) you have sex is (or, at least, should be) YOUR CHOICE, whether you choose to use birth control (and what kind) is YOUR CHOICE, whether you carry a pregnancy to term is YOUR CHOICE, whether you give up the baby for adoption or raise it yourself is YOUR CHOICE, whether (and whom) you marry is YOUR CHOICE, and on and on it goes. What right does anyone have to force THEIR choices on other adults?

        The poverty, instability, and lack of opportunity you ascribe to single-parent families stem — in large part, if not entirely — from MEN, FATHERS, not remaining in their children’s lives and exerting a positive influence on them (and on the mother(s) of their children). Thus, all the negative effects of FATHERLESSNESS on children (and on single mothers)… Why not put the blame for this where it belongs — on the MEN? Why blame the women who choose to bear and raise their children ALONE to the best of their ability? And why blame the women who choose not to bring a child into such FATHERLESS poverty, instability, lack of opportunity? No matter what the woman chooses, she’s screwed, but the man gets off scot-free because he’s nowhere to be found. And pro-lifers think the solution is to FURTHER limit women’s choices??? Their focusing on the wrong part of the equation.

      • Cammie

        Not one source sited. IN other words “I believe this and I think I should get to ram it down your throats and I pretend to sound all grown up but in reality sound like a blithering idiot”

      • mrs bkwrm

        My husband and I waited until we were married to have sex. We are monogamous. We had our fourth child when we were in our late twenties. My husband has always worked hard. However with only four kids we have spent plenty of time in poverty and near-poverty situations. We’re in our early forties now. If we had not used any contraception (which is basically what we did until our last child) we’d likely have ten to twelve kids by now. If I hadn’t been able to breastfeed my babies for their first year, we’d have more kids than that. If we had that many kids the only thing that could have kept us out debilitating poverty would be all the public assistance we’d be eligible for with a family that large. I can’t imagine that it would be great for our kids to grow up that way. I’m pretty sure our economy could not handle even a quarter of all married couples having a child every couple of years and helping to make up for the expenses for those families.

      • MommyAlice

        Where did the author say she was anti-monogamy? I agree that monogamy has a lot to offer. However there are millions of men that are more than willing to have sex with women they are not married to. It takes two to tango. Why should the woman have to pay (be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term) while the man goes back to his wife and says, “sorry dear, I had to work late”?

      • bob jones

        polygamy was pretty popular in the bible

        so was incest

        all ‘natural’ according to God, since he condoned that behaviour

    • Dan

      How about a conflict of laws?
      This needs to be resolved one way or another.
      Abortion is legal homicide acording to law in the following states:

      • Carys Birch

        Many of the laws you link to already include wording to say essentially “this doesn’t count legal abortions” Those that don’t are shown as excerpts, and I would bet you there’s something elsewhere that clarifies the subject.

        The final point is that abortion in the US is a constitutional right, as interpreted by the Supreme Court (who are the official and final interpreters of the US Constitution). State laws that don’t line up with this are unconstitutional and should be struck down. (So yes, if that is indeed what you’re seeing, though I don’t believe it is, it does need to be resolved, in favor of legal abortions.)

        Actually, that wasn’t the final point – trying to pretend that fetal homicide laws (which make it a crime for a third party, without the mother’s consent, to end a VIABLE WANTED pregnancy) have anything to do with the abortion debate is a red herring, and you know it. I can decide, legally, to do many many things with my own body that would be a crime if someone else did to me without my consent. This is no different. Derailing is silly and obvious.

      • Cammie

        How about this – how are you going to enforce it? Pregnancy camps? So you get your law passed – you are okay with women dying to give themselves abortions? Or you are fine with forcing a screaming woman begging not to be forced to have the child into chains in order to force her to? Because sweetie pie, you will NEVER EVER force a woman to have a child against her will. EVER. Pass whatever laws you want.


      You GO, Karen!

  • Jen R

    “It’s time to support Obamacare’s birth control mandate, it’s time to call off opposition to birth control, and it’s time to get behind progressive programs that help provide for poor women and their children. It’s time to make your actions consistent with your motives.”

    I am the co-founder of an organization that is in favor of birth control, the HHS mandate, and greater support for poor women and children. And we oppose abortion. We’d love to have you join us. (I don’t know if comments can include links here, but you can click my name.)

    • Libby Anne

      Your website is quite interesting! Two questions. What is your group’s position on banning abortion? Your focus is clearly on helping decrease abortion through pregnancy prevention, but do you also have a position on whether or not it should be banned? Second, what is your position on hormonal birth control? Do you make a distinction between barrier methods and hormonal birth control?

      • TooManyJens

        We don’t work either for or against an abortion ban as an organization because our members hold a variety of views on abortion’s legality. There’s more on this in the FAQ. Our focus is on prevention of unintended pregnancies and on support for women and children when and if unintended pregnancies occur.

        We have reviewed the evidence for the assertion that hormonal birth control acts as an abortifacient and found it lacking. In some cases, as with levonorgestrel emergency contraception, the evidence is heavily against an abortifacient effect. We feel that hormonal birth control, like other family planning methods, has its strengths and its drawbacks. We support its availability and believe that women should have all the information they need to choose the family planning method that is best for their health.

      • TooManyJens

        Oops, that was me. Jen R is the name I use at our site, and TooManyJens is the name I started using in blog comments because, well, it was getting confusing with all the Jens. :)

  • xcwn

    Presumably, pro-lifers should regard being a sexually active lesbian as morally more desirable than being a sexually active heterosexual woman. And, they should encourage bisexual women to explore their same-sex attractions as much as possible. Because women who have sex with women aren’t unknowingly killing zygotes. That is, if “saving babies” is really what it’s all about.

    • ScottInOH

      This is something else that struck me at some point. If what they’re really concerned about is accidentally creating a baby that might get aborted, “pro-lifers” should be encouraging same-sex coupling, as well as manual, oral, and anal sex.

      For Catholics, the teaching that non-marital, non-procreative sex is Wrong seems to be more important than the teaching that abortion is Wrong. (Sure, abortion is wrong, but not so wrong that we’ll teach you any way to avoid it except by telling you sex is wrong.) For Protestants, it’s not as clear to what the justification is for not emphasizing alternatives to PIV sex.

    • Jacqueline

      Don’t make unnecessary distinctions between two bad things. Who care if one bad thing is slightly better than another? Bad is bad.

      • smrnda

        Why is it bad? Could you explain to me why lesbianism is bad? Use clear, simple language because I get tired of ‘argument by obfuscation’ where the person employs lots of large, vague, meaningless words just as a means of prolonging arguments by leaving open the ‘you aren’t getting it right’ option. I’ll provide an example:

        It would be *bad* to expose workers in a factory to high levels of toxins without providing proper safety equipment because it would *cause physical harm to their bodies.* It would be bad not to inform them of the risks since people should *know whether they are in a dangerous area or not.*

        So please, tell me who is the victim when two women engage in lesbian sex.

      • Nathaniel

        “Who care if one bad thing is slightly better than another? Bad is bad.”

        Who cares if car crashes are worse than the discomfort of wearing a seatbelt? Bad is bad.

        Who cares if suicide is worse than the side effects from anti depressants? Bad is bad.

        Even you don’t believe the stupid crap you’re spouting.

  • David

    Sterilizing all the degenerate subhumans would be a better alternative and then getting some kind of culture back in our post-society society to save the rest.

    • Jacqueline

      Congratulations! You just summed up the mission of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. And also: Adolf Hitler.

      Tell me, what are your redeeming qualities that make you fit to keep your genitals unmutilated? How do bigots decide who is a “degenerate subhuman” (or as you bro Hitler called them, “useless eaters”). What makes a “human weed” (as Margaret Sanger called them)? Margaret Sanger, like Hitler, just considered anyone who isn’t Aryan or perfectly-abled to be subhuman. She also hated the poor. Since you are so much better than other humans, what is your criteria for whom to mutilate?

      • David

        Well first off I don’t go around having sex with anything that has a pulse to it for starters. And even if I did I wouldn’t expect the taxpayers to pay for it for me.
        I also am able to acknowledge that much of what Western civilization has achieved in history and the reason why we have the comfortable existence that we have today is because our ancestors actually had a degree of culture and a sense of stoicism that made them more disciplined and more humble in life and actually capable of achieving all that which we have today. They didn’t reward people for stooping to the lowest common denominator.

      • Nathaniel

        The mission of Margaret Sanger was to give reproductive choices to everyone. What you’re saying is anti abortion propaganda and slander.

      • Lily

        And Godwin’s Law was invoked.

      • Gretmar

        While it is true that Sanger’s motives were sometimes questionable, she is quoted as saying that reproductive freedom is a key ingredient in helping women out of poverty. Eugenics was pretty much the prevailing ideoplogy of the times, not just for Hitler and Sanger, but for most leaders and policy makers. But Sanger never advocated for the kind of Holocaust that Hitler did, and while she did use a eugenicist arguement (among many others) to support her beliefs, her statements in that regard have been wildly blown out of proportion by the Pro Choice movement as a way of discrediting feminism, Planned Parenthood, and contraceptive use. Case in point, the people most likely to compare Sanger to Hitler don’t really show much support in the way of practical solutions to ending poverty themselves. If they really cared about racism and genocide, they would be doing something about the extreme levels of inequality in our society in terms of infant and maternal mortality, domestic, sexual and street violence, addiction, malnutrition and hunger, education, income, etc., not to mention making some effort to end the wars overseas. Now, I am not saying that I agree with everything that Sanger ever said, but she was not any more of a Nazi than most at the time.

      • Niemand

        Hitler was anti-choice. He demanded abortion in some cases, forbid it in others but never allowed women to make their own choices. Much like the “pro-life” movement. He would agree with you in most areas.

      • Cammie

        Here’ s another Hitler for ya: “We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity.”Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Passau, 27 October 1928, Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf, [cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall's The Holy Reich]

    • MommyAlice

      You are spouting nonsense, and may get yourself elected as one of the “subhumans” that need to be sterilized.

      • David

        Saying that my comment is “nonsense” without giving any kind of intellectual explanation to your reasoning only proves that you yourself are a subhuman.

  • Ramswrsw

    Libby Anne, as impressed as I am by the diligent research and artful construction of thesis that went into this article, I feel obliged to say that I am even more impressed by you. You are one of those rare people that have the ability to feel strongly and passionately about things AND have the fearless intellectual honesty to be able to change your beliefs when necessary.
    Please believe me, this is a rare and valuable trait. Far more frequently, people on any side of an issue will cling fast to what they initially believed. They will accept any stretch of logic, any intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy, confirmation bias, or twisting of reality in order to avoid one simple admission: I was wrong.
    Congratulations to you for your intelligence, your honesty, but most of all for your courage in facing the truth and accepting the necessity of rebuilding your belief system. You serve as a role model for those still bound by fear. Perhaps some will be able to see in your example that if they remain true to themselves, it can be done.

    • Charlesbartley

      I was trying to figure out how to say this after I read her post. My world is truly better because people like Libby Anne are in it–even tough I know her only through her writing, even though I will likely never meet her. I have never felt so close to a person just through their written words.

      I greatly admire you Libby Anne. I went through a similar deconstruction and reconstruction of my views when I left Christianity. It was brutal. I don’t communicate about it nearly as well as you do. Thank you.

    • Emily

      Here here!

  • “Rebecca”

    “Banning abortion doesn’t make those pregnancies wanted. ”
    Yes, excellent point. One of the biggest frustrations of the Pro-Life movement is that they can’t mind-control women into wanting pregnancies. They’ll use any tactic to change women’s minds: lying, threatening, traumatizing, bribing, but ultimately, there will always be a number of women who would rather throw themselves down a flight of stairs than go through with the pregnancy. This is why even the best social care in the world won’t end elective abortions, and no doubt a part of why there is so much focus on the legal side of anti-abortionism instead of, say, universal healthcare. If they can’t control women, the thinking goes, at least they can make sure they’re sufficiently punished for seeking abortion.
    Though they would deny it on principle, deep down I doubt most Pro-Lifers care if a woman dies in a botched abortion. They would say she had it coming.

    • Doe

      A lot of the “saving babies” people believe that once the baby is born, the mother will absolutely want the child. I knew several girls in high school who had children and they were the strongest anti-abortion advocates around because they could not imagine life without their child.

      • “Rebecca”

        Right, I’ve definitely seen some of that. It’s very difficult to counter the views of women like that because they will take a pro-choice position as an attack on their baby and their choice, personally.

    • Cammie

      They are also the ones who have attacked me because I never once wanted children and gosh darn it didn’t have any (menopausal)

  • Matthew

    Libby Anne,

    The medical definition of abortion, as provided by American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, does not include failure of a fertilized egg to implant. This redefinition of abortion was invented by anti-abortion advocates to broaden the scope of their efforts to include hormonal birth control.

    So no, hormonal birth control is not an abortifacient.

    • Jacqueline

      WRONG. This redefinition was invented by pro-abortion advocates because the IUD prevented implantation and “terminating a pregnancy” was illegal, so they pushed to redefine pregnancy in order to legalize the IUD.

      Get your facts straight.

      • smrnda

        Saying pregnancy begins with fertilization or implantation – it’s a completely artificial designation to begin with. It’s as arbitrary as deciding that a new day ought to begin at 12am. I’d say that implantation is a better marker than fertilization just since so many fertilized eggs do not implant.

      • ArachneS

        Maybe you should check up on your biology. Your body will not make the hormones necessarily for a pregnancy until implantation has occurred. Easy version: Your OWN body will not recognize there is a pregnancy until implantation. Why don’t you go try telling women in the IVF clinics how they are actually pregnant the moment that embryo gets inserted, even when the embryos aren’t implanting and the couple desperately wants to be pregnant.

      • Cammie

        Jacqueline (if you really are female) you wouldn’t know a fact if it slapped you in the face and screamed “Hallelujah! I’m a fact”. You don’t get to lie and call it truth, kay? If ACOG said that means – read closely here – a bunch of scientist doctors said it. You don’t get to discount them. okay sweetie?

      • jane

        Citation needed.

  • Judy L.

    Libby, please note: Insurance coverage for contraceptives is not “free birth control”. Women pay for their insurance coverage.

    • AztecQueen2000

      Finally, someone said it! Thank you!

    • Jacqueline

      Not exactly. Sometimes employers pay for it. Sometimes the government pays for it.

      • Katty

        And who do you think ultimately puts the money in the employers’ pockets with which to pay for this insurance? Besides, offering insurance coverage probably means that the employer can pay a lower salary than they would otherwise have to, other things equal.
        And as for the government paying for it – well, I’m not sure that’s even true but if it was, well, “the government” isn’t some benevolent spirit which conjures money out of thin air either. We all pay taxes, whether directly or indirectly, so ultimately every woman pays for her contraceptives anyway.

      • Carys Birch

        If it’s a benefit of your employment, you pay for it with your labor. That’s how these things work, you see. Most employee plans involve the employee paying part of the cost and the employer paying part of the cost anyway, though there do exist a lucky few whose employer foots the whole bill.

      • Cammie

        Well, if you don’t want to pay more for insurance because of the MINIscule cost of birth control, then I don’t want to pay more for insurance because of the insane cost of pregnancy and children, which is FAR more expensive and just as much of a “life choice”…can’t have it both ways…

  • Paul Scott

    Excellent piece, thanks so much for writing it.

    I came to this conclusion some 20-25 years ago. I fought for the right to have easy access to birth control, but faced the opposition you described. Finally, I decided to just spend some money and get something done. I endowed a small vasectomy fund through the Lane County, OR (Eugene) Planned Parenthood office with the expressed purpose of offering free vasectomies to poor men who wanted, but could not afford a vasectomy. An article in the local paper resulted in many more donations, and a local urology group donated half the cost of the procedure, effectively doubling the fund. To date, many hundreds of vasectomies have been performed by that Planned Parenthood office and through funds set up in the Pasadena and Los Angeles offices of Planned Parenthood.

    I can’t say for certain how many unwanted pregnancies have been avoided, but it’s safe to assume there have been many.

    I encourage others to endow vasectomy funds with other Planned Parenthood offices. So often, the onus is on the woman to prevent pregnancy when it’s just as easy, and often cheaper, for the man to take this control.


      GREAT IDEA, and GREAT WORK, Paul Scott!
      After all, a woman can make approximately one baby each year. Men can make HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS…!!!
      Again, put the focus where it belongs, where all this originates, and where the biggest impact can be made! None of this is women’s responsibility alone.

  • Sarah Parisi

    Great post. I’ve long been pro-life but I’ve had lots of problems with the pro-life movement, and even more lately. As many before me have said, it’s ridiculous to be pro-life and anti-child/anti-mother.

  • Gina

    Hey Libby Anne, I just wanted to make you aware of groups like Democrats for Life of America , if you weren’t already. There are some pro-life people whose approach to policy is actually life-affirming. Thanks for this enlightening post.

  • Cella

    The guy that murdered the abortion doctor in Wichita was a nut job pro lifer. They interviewed his x wife. he had nothing to do with his own son, but spent his life protesting at Planned Parenthood and he had a real obsession with Dr. Tiller in Kansas. Pro life but did not give a rats behind about his own son who was alive and well.go figure.

  • KW

    Thank you for such a well-researched and thought out article, with so much compassion in it towards those you disagree with. I wish my fellow conservative Christians would realize how powerful the quiet, gentle reasoning of an article like this can be.
    I don’t agree with you on all points (I’m rather dubious of the long-term safety of hormonal birth control, though it seems decent non-hormonal BC is becoming increasingly hard to come by) but you’ve confirmed for me what I’ve been thinking for a long time, that anti-abortion legislation is not going to save lives. As the mom of a micro-preemie, I believe more than ever in the very early personhood of the fetus (reaching all the way back to zygote/embryo?? I don’t know), but I think the pro-life camp needs to sit down and take a hard look at itself and redirect its efforts. I especially want to see better support of low-income mothers or mothers who choose to stay home with their infants/toddlers – why do fundamentalists talk so loudly about the virtues of mothers staying home with their children but those who draw support from the government to do that are called “welfare queens”?

    • machintelligence

      It is called cognitive dissonance and authoritarian personality types are quite skilled at it. This might be a good time to put in a plug for Bob Altemeyer’s book on Authoritarians:
      It’s free to read or download and is very enlightening.

  • BB

    I am a 56 year old woman who came to the same conclusions around your age. I didn’t have the statistical analysis, I simply had common sense. Thank you very much for articulating this side of the situation so eloquently.

  • Marla Stair-Wood

    Brava, M’dear woman! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this sincere account of yourprocess. You are definitely an intelligent, compassionate and persistent person. I applaude your courage and this important contribution to raising the level of consciousness for this issue of great concern to the world!

  • Michael

    I’m sure the sentiments expressed in this article are heartfelt. They’re also wrong. Before Roe, there were about 600,000 abortions performed in America, concentrated in states where abortion was already legal. Six years after Roe, there were 1.2 million abortions, a number that’s remained consistent no matter how much (or little) birth control is available in this country. If you want to protect unborn life, you’ve got to ban abortions. If you don’t want to ban abortions, that’s fine, but please don’t waive your arms and pretend that your position is morally consistent with a view that life begins at conception.

    • Anat

      Access to contraception in the US isn’t anything like it should be, mostly because the most effective methods of birth control aren’t easily affordable, especially to low-income women. The recent study in St Louis showed that when these options are funded women choose the most effective, long-acting methods (such as IUDs) rather than pills, patches and condoms – the methods that are more commonly used when women have to pay for their birth control. And indeed, unwanted pregnancies decreased. So no, the US hasn’t tried on a large scale the effect of actually making contraception readily available and accessible to all those who want it.

    • UrbanSidhe

      Wow… You are an idiot… And your facts are way off.

      US population 1973 – 211,909,000 / legal abortions performed – 600,000 = .0028%
      US population 2008 – 304,059,724/ legal abortions performed – 825,564 = ..0027%

      Wait! So percentage wise abortions have gone down? So where did that 1.2 million number come from? Oh from the 90′s… 10 years ago when abstinence not birth control was taught in schools, that’s what I was taught in 1995. When getting the pill for your teenager was controversial. “47% of unplanned pregnancies (1.7 million) occur to women who were using contraception, mainly because of inconsistent and incorrect use.”

      It’s all about education and awareness. Your verbal tirade is based on lack of knowledge and archaic idealism so much so that you cannot embrace that the number of abortions has declined sharply since strong education of contraception has been introduced. Banning abortions does not work and will never stop.

      • JivinJ

        Before you label someone an idiot you should recognize the 2008 statistics you’re using don’t include a few states including California (a state where there are approximately 200K abortions a year). The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a pro-choice research org) estimates the annual U.S. abortion total at around 1.2 million.

      • SophieUK

        But if you add the number of illegal abortions to this first number, then does it not suggest that the number of abortions HAS increased? I’m confused by these statistics!

    • Alexandra Bryant

      I’d like to see where you got the information about how many abortions were performed pre- and post-Roe. Keep in mind also that the population between January 1973 (when Roe was decided) and January 1979 (6 years after, to use your example) rose by over 13 million people. So of course there was a change in how many abortions were performed – but look at how little that rate rose versus how much difference there was in population. And if that number has remained consistent since then despite a further population growth of over 89 million people then I would say your argument is truly unfounded. Feel free to fact-check me at

      • Jen R

        Actually, they’re wrong because the number peaked about about 1.6 million per year in the 1980s and has gone down.

      • Melissa

        “Since 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada threw out our abortion law as unconstitutional, the sky has not fallen, but our abortion rates have – we’ve witnessed a decline since 2000 and now have a relatively low abortion rate compared to many other developed countries – about 14 abortions per 1000 women of childbearing age per year.”

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Also, why hasn’t anyone brought up that data collection on a particular medical procedure isn’t going to be as good when that procedure is freaking ILLEGAL. Duh! There were more recorded abortions in states where it was legal? Wow, what a shocker!

    • Kay

      Here’s the thing though- this is not a Christian nation. If you pay attention to the Constitution, the founders of our great country have it right there in Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

      You can’t make religion part of government. Period. Forcing your religious and moral views on everyone in the country is wrong. Against abortions? Don’t have one. Advocate for the support of low-income mothers. Advocate for birth control being easily accessible for everyone. Don’t ban abortions- it won’t make them go away, it will just make them dangerous and sometimes deadly.

      • Jacqueline

        Are laws that protect the rights of born people making religion a part of government? Should we repeal laws that protect you from having your arms and legs torn from YOUR body?

        I have news for you: abortion is always deadly to at least one human being.

      • Nathaniel

        I have news for you: By your standards, if you have had sex ever, your body has killed someone.

        Which is the point of this post you are resolutely ignoring.

      • Anat

        Jacqueline, if you want to legislate rights for any entity (and especially if you want those rights to override existing rights) you need to do it based on secular justification. The first amendment to the US constitution means you cannot legislate anything, let alone overriding people’s rights, based on religious justifications.

      • “Rebecca”

        Jacqueline: “Should we repeal laws that protect you from having your arms and legs torn from YOUR body?”
        This kind of emotional appeal makes equivalence where there is none. The difference between me having my arms and legs ripped off and the same thing happening to an embryo is that the latter lacks the capacity to even care that it’s happening. It doesn’t care if it dies, never has been able to care, and, if aborted, never will care.

      • WYSIWYG

        You GO, Kay!!!

      • Brian

        Off-topic. Your comment has been moved to the “Pointless religious bickering” section.

    • BarrenLady

      Yes, of course there were less abortions recorded. There were less people in America, less access to real doctors who actually make a record of the abortion? Did you really think there could possibly be more? The number of abortions and the rate of abortion are two different things. Take a basic math course if you can’t figure it out.

  • Colleen

    Thanks for the article. You’ve clearly done your research and I think a good number of people need to read statements like yours to realize how damaging the American pro-life movement is to women and their rights.

  • Joanna

    I am 100% pro-life And personally don’t believe In Contraception, at least not anymore. I am also a devout Catholic. I returned to the Catholic Church and swore to defend the Bride of my Blessed Lord for many reasons but the most important one was because I HAD AN ABORTION!!! And I owe him my life. I had a miscarriage last year and I bled out… I was prepared to own up for my mistake. I was prepared to die. But my Lord in his love for me spared my life. The road to perdition is wide and many will end up there. The road to salvation is extremely narrow and few will find it. Pray do you don’t undergo the test.

    • UrbanSidhe

      I’ve always been a good person. Doesn’t mean the higher power hasn’t taken not one or two attempts on my life, they’ve taken 5. Therefore, when someone says “I almost died once! I’m reborn!!!” I roll my eyes and pat you on the head. You bled out because life happens. You didn’t die because life happens. It’s a roll of the dice.

    • Anat

      So you think a world where babies are born whose parents don’t want to have them and/or can’t care for them adequately is a better place? More pleasing to your god?

    • Heidi

      Translation: “My god can’t be bothered ‘saving’ all the aborted ‘babies,’ but he’s got time to make sure I don’t bleed to death.”

      It’s almost like he values pre-existing life over potential life.

    • Bruce McGlory

      Stories like this always make me feel physically ill. is there any clearer proof that religion is emotional and mental abuse than this? Geez.


      Joanna, am I understanding you correctly?
      You believe that your miscarriage and ‘bleeding out’ were punishment for your past abortion mistake?
      And, if you had died as a result of the miscarriage, that would have beenpart of your punishment from God as well?
      But because you didn’t die then, you owe Christ (and His Bride, the Catholic Church) your life?
      And the only reason you survived was because God loves you, and so he spared you death?
      If so, then — according to your belief system:
      Why did God cause you to miscarry, rather than sparing your innocent baby’s life the way He spared yours?
      And, don’t all Christians foundationally and fundamentally believe that they owe their lives to God and Jesus, previous to and regardless of one’s personal life experiences?

    • Cammie

      Just shut up. I had an abortion. And I have never ever felt the presence of Christ more than on that day. So really. You just sound ignorant.

  • scyllacat

    My story, almost word for word. Thank you for writing it. There must be a number of us.

  • Kacy

    Thank you for writing this Libby Anne! I shared it everywhere on Facebook today.

    I had a hunch that the number fetuses “aborted” through birth control was lower than the numbers miscarried before a woman knew about her pregnancy, but I had no idea the difference was so significant.

    Seeing your research on the practicality of pro-choice legislation leads me to believe that pro-lifers, especially the Catholic ones and those who are against contraception, let their perfect idealized vision get in the way of good legislation that actually helps others. I find it odd that they hold to such high expectations regarding human sexual behavior while simultaneously that humans are sinful creatures who will behave in sinful ways. Shouldn’t they at least recognize that we should pass policies to prevent the fewest number of people (in this case fetuses) from being hurt by the sexual “sins” of others?

  • Marcia L. Sandberg, R.N.

    So beautifully written and researched! Thank you!

  • Katherine

    Good article. I was once pro-life until I started reading about how birth control works from non-biased sources. This article,0,5897961.htmlstory is worth mentioning. It’s about the people in the Philippines want birth control but the Catholic clergy that has political influence doesn’t want them to have it. This article talks about the consequences of the lack of available birth control in Manila. They live in poverty because they have more children than they can support and low-paying jobs. It even goes into that though abortion is illegal, women will still find ways to terminate pregnancies like: teas to induce menstruation, drugs sold on the black market, or massage abortions. It makes me mad that the clergy there can’t see they are causing people to suffer.

  • Dorothy

    I am against abortion. I am pro contraceptive, which in my area seems readily available. Always excuses as to why an abortion is performed. If you can’t afford birth controll you sure can’t afford to have a baby! I hate being lumped in with every pro-lifer. I believe in the programs to help people live a better life. There is nothing wrong with being on Medicaid or Food stamps or whatever. My issue is purely with abortions. It just makes me so sad when someone kills an inoncent child and then the same pro choice people who say this isn’t life, they too would be devastated if they had a miscarriage. Why be upset if the fetus is nothing – not living, not a person.

    • UrbanSidhe

      This is why it kills me that pro-lifers are constantly trying to defund Planned Parenthood. Yes they perform abortions. An entire 3% of their business is dedicated to the process. The 97% is for free contraceptives, mamograms, PAP smears. They are the ones trying to save lives!

      • JivinJ

        Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide mammograms. Please do some basic research.

      • Spamamander

        Planned Parenthood may not perform mammograms in-clinic, but they do perform manual breast exams as part of standard practice, provide referrals for mammograms, and often pay for portable mammography clinics to come provide services.

      • Amethyst
      • justanotherhobbit

        I really want to believe this, but I have a really hard time finding documented sources of PP clinics providing mammograms or pap smears. All I get when I Google the subject is conservative blogs ragging on PP for not providing them (which could very well just mean that the Tea Party is better at SEO writing). I did a search and found a couple instances of single-day “mammogram clinics” as special events, as well as this report:

        “However, at my annual exam, I did have one of Planned Parenthood’s doctors look at it, and was encouraged to get an ultrasound, which then lead to me having to have the lump biopsied. The total estimated costs for the ultrasound and needle biopsy, which had to be done through an outside health institution would have been over $7000.”

        I don’t know what to make of that last sentence… so she still had to go to an outside clinic, because PP doesn’t provide services like ultrasounds and needle biopsies, but PP footed the cost?

        I would be happy even if PP didn’t provide mammograms, because they provide a lot of other things that yes, I do unequivocally consider to be “health services.” But if I had something concrete to respond with to conservatives who claim that PP does nothing but “prevent life,” I would like to have that ammunition.

      • justanotherhobbit

        In my defense, all of the above responses were posted while I was writing that! Thanks for the link. Would still like some info re: that quote, though.

      • Anne

        @JivinJ, then neither does any insurance company, they just pay the bills and manage referrals.
        PP provides initial exam and referrals to specialists. They’ll partner with healthcare providers to provide and pay for subsidized or free mammograms, and even follow-up care. They’ll help pay for mobile-mammogram units to tour remote areas where women may not have access to healthcare. Just because it’s not a PP employee conducting the physical mammogram doesn’t mean PP doesn’t provide mammograms for many women. Please do some basic research.

      • Doe

        Justanother, Googling “planned parenthood pap” gave me a bunch of links to regional Planned Parenthood sites with free pap tests. I doubt you’ll accept the word of a stranger on the internet, but during the time I was uninsured and getting my birth control from Planned Parenthood, I was required to get a well woman exam every year in order to get my prescription renewed, which included a Pap and breast exam (different from a mammogram). I got them done at the PP clinic because it was free. You can always call the clinic nearest you and ask.

      • Carys Birch

        @Justanotherhobbit – I’m very surprised you’re having trouble confirming that PP does pap tests… I have been having mine done there exclusively since I was an undergrad (well except for the few years I’ve lived outside the areas where they are, and then I usually manage to track down a similar family planning type organization instead) and I’ve never had a problem finding a place that did them, in fact, I think every clinic I’ve been to has done them.

        Here’s a link that lists what the annual “well-woman” exam constitutes at the PP in the region where I last used them:

        I’m not old enough that routine mammograms are recommended for me, so I can’t speak to that.

      • MommyAlice

        Yeah, My daughter had to stop working, and has no insurance. She needs hormones to keep her endocrine system in balance. She goes to Planned Parenthood because otherwise she would not be able to get a prescription.

    • Lizzy

      You’re making a lot of assumptions about other people’s feelings. I think the sadness over miscarrying a wanted pregnancy is about the loss of potential. When a women discovers that she is pregnant and she wants it of course her thoughts and feelings go to the beautiful future. It’s largely the same reason that I experienced a great deal of sadness following my abortion. I lost the potential for something that many of us as humans crave. That does not say at all that feeling sad about a miscarriage (or abortion for that matter) proves anything about the morality of abortion. In my experience women who experience miscarriages do not experience the same sadness and grief that women who lose actual children feel. It is just not the same thing.

      • Rosie

        I agree. I think a woman’s feelings about an abortion or miscarriage have a great deal more to do with her hopes and expectations than with any so-called “objective” reality. Which is why different women can feel vastly different things in similar situations, and none of us are “wrong” for feeling whatever we feel.

      • Liberated Liberal

        I dare any woman who has both miscarried AND lost a child they’ve been raising for 5, 10, 30 years – whatever – step forward and say with absolute honesty that they mourned the miscarriage more than the actual living, breathing child they raised.

        Everybody has a right to mourn a lost pregnancy if it was important to them. I’ve known people who were relieved by it. (Catholics no less :’o). Others were relatively ambivalent about it. But I know people who have had abortions AND lost children, and/or had miscarriages AND lost children. There is absolutely not one shred of comparison between the two. Not even close. I’m sure that any woman told that she is supposed to mourn her miscarriage as much as her 30 year old child would kill the person making that assertion.

    • jadehawk

      “Why be upset if the fetus is nothing – not living, not a person.”

      this is nonsense.
      1)women who wanted an abortion, couldn’t get one, and then miscarried anyway aren’t “upset”. they’re relieved.
      2)women who wanted a child but never conceived one are also upset, and you can hardly argue that they’re upset because of the loss of a person that was already there.

      Meaning, it’s not miscarriage that makes women upset. Being thwarted in your desire to have a baby is painful, and the more so the closer you’ve actually gotten to that goal.

    • Anat

      If you can’t afford birth controll you sure can’t afford to have a baby!

      Which is why a woman in that situation would seek an abortion. Many women can afford some forms of birth control but not others. They can’t afford the hundreds of dollars upfront that an IUD might cost them (especially if they are uninsured) but can afford the pill, or in the worse case, the occasional condom. Both of the latter are more vulnerable to error than an IUD. So people sensibly using the best birth control they can afford still might have an unplanned pregnancy. These people should have abortion as a back-up measure if they desire it. (And yes, it would be much better if more long-term, and effective methods of birth control would be made affordable to everyone. But even with that in place, abortion should be available.)

      • Sue Blue

        Not to mention the fact that sometimes even the most reliable of birth control methods fail through no fault of the woman. Other medications, such as antibiotics, can reduce the efficacy of the Pill (my own daughter is the result of this – my husband used to call her the “Keflex kid”). Condoms can be faulty, tear, or be used improperly by the man.

    • Melissa

      Who are you to judge ANYONE?

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Because it’s the loss of the valued and cherished opportunity to be a mother in the near future? That’s how I would feel if I miscarried a planned pregnancy. I wouldn’t be upset because I believed a baby had died. I don’t believe that. I’d be upset because I’d have wanted to be a mother, I’d have wanted to carry to term and have that baby, and now I’d have to try again and possibly have the same thing happen again. The loss I’d be mourning would be purely my own (and my partner’s, presumably.)

      Really, this is not that hard to understand. You don’t need to believe an embryo or fetus is a person in order to value and look forward to motherhood and to feel sad when that opportunity is lost after much excitement and hope.

      • Alara Rogers

        When I was pregnant with my son, before I knew he was a boy, I had a dream about a baby daughter. And when I woke up I was overwhelmed with grief, because the baby in my dream could not possibly be my real baby. I’m not religious, I don’t believe in souls, so I couldn’t see any way that by coincidence, my mind could somehow make up an image that turned out to be my actual baby. And that meant that even though I was pregnant, with a baby I wanted, I grieved for a baby that had never existed, because I met her in a dream and I loved her there.

        My dream baby didn’t die. She never existed. I love my son very much and I wouldn’t wish for my dream baby to exist at his expense. I also grieved for the miscarriage I had two years previous, and I still cry at the Tori Amos song “Playboy Mommy”, which is about a miscarriage, even though if that baby had existed my son would not. I don’t want the miscarried baby to exist at the expense of my actual son, either. And yet I still grieve for it, and I still remember the grief I felt when I woke up and realized my dream baby didn’t exist.

        The emotions invoked by parenthood are incredibly powerful. You can mourn for a child that not only was never born but never even conceived. You can mourn for a child that will have a perfectly happy life being someone else’s child, whether you’re a mother giving your baby up for adoption or an adoptive parent-to-be who loses the chance to adopt a specific child. Of course you can mourn for a miscarriage, whether it is a lost human life or simply the lost potential, because humans are quite capable of grieving for a lost potential life.

        I was pro-choice before my pregnancies and I’m more pro-choice now. My wanted pregnancies left me peeing myself for 2 years, so I had to get surgery; they destroyed my abdominal muscles, so even now, 6 years after my last baby’s birth, I can’t sit up without grabbing onto something and using my arms to haul myself up, and I still look pregnant in clothes; they damaged my tailbone, so I literally cannot sit on an uncushioned seat more than 10 minutes without extreme pain. I chose those things, because I wanted those babies. I chose the risk of stroke, and diabetes, and possible death, because I wanted to have children. Now that I have them, I won’t let a child I don’t want take me away from them, or make me too weak to care for them. I feel that as a good mother it is my obligation to abort if I get pregnant again, because my loyalty must be to the babies that exist and are growing up, not to an embryo that can’t think or feel. It’d be different if there were artificial wombs and I didn’t have to risk my health and life; I’d love to have more children if I hadn’t been told it could kill me, and if I didn’t know from experience it would destroy my health. But I must protect the real children. I may grieve for my dream baby and my miscarried baby, but if they existed my real son and daughter wouldn’t, so I wouldn’t bring them to life if I could. And I may grieve if I am forced to abort (which, since I got my tubes tied and I’m 43, probably won’t happen), but I’ll do it without hesitation, to protect the children that are real over the interests of a child that’s a mere potential.

    • MommyAlice

      I understand your feeling about abortion.
      But let’s look at your interest in providing support for poor women and children. Food stamps and Medicaid do not go far enough. Are you aware:
      In most states, there is no actual cash assistance to those who are eligible for food stamps or medicaid.
      If you are a single destitute adult, you probably receive about $200 per month for food. This does not include toilet paper, paper towels or napkins.
      You are encouraged to find a job. However, if you were to earn $1000 per month, you would lose your medical benefits until you have spent $2000 for your own health care.
      There is no money available to help with transportation, especially if you live in a rural area where there are no buses to get a pass for.
      Using the above calculation, if you earn 12,000 per YEAR, you are expected to use $2,000 for health care before the Medicaid would begin paying. So…that means that the government thinks that a person can live for $10,000 per year…and hold a job, pay for transportation. Oh, we have to count the food stamps, don’t we…although they can be cut to as little as $66.00 per month if you do have a job. So the food stamps come to $792 per year. And we haven’t even talked about rent.
      You can see that any support that you can round up to provide additional funding would be a godsend to the poor.

  • Erin Krumenacker

    Personally, I believe that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor. It is a medical issue, religion and politics have no business butting in. Let us remember as well that those doctrines were written by MEN who do not actually any idea what GOD really thinks about any of these issues. It is a personal choice and it should remain that way.


      You GO too, Erin K!

  • Alexandra

    Wow. What a journey you have had. I admire your conviction and your honesty.

  • http://na fred cosgrove

    I am male, so I feel like I and others like me shouldn’t participate in the argument surrounding abortion. The exception, comes in that when rights are at stake, all people have a legitimate voice in preserving them. I am not surprised the “right to life” is hypocritical or trying to advance a fundamentalist agenda (anti-sex), but I am disturbed by the idea. There are active and effective efforts by these groups to prevent abortion seekers from obtaining them and to embarrass or “shame” abortion seekers – and there are compelling medical reasons for needing an abortion (even if you bought their silly moral claim). Have you ever confronted someone in the organization about this reality? If so what would their educated reaction be?
    Glad to hear you found some wisdom! I find myself constantly wondering, why, if jesus taught, to do unto others (the golden rule) are these folks in the world trying to traumatize and convert those of us who are comfortable with our lives into their insanity?

  • heather

    Very good article. I myself am neither prochoice or prolife. I believe its wrong to use an abortion as a form of birth control but dont think less of anyone because they have had one. I myself could never have one because Id be full of what ifs. But I dont think abortions should be banned because everyone has there own beliefs if you were to ban something based on your religon or beliefs then you might be going against someone elses.That is something a lot of people fail to see in a lot of issues that are out there today abortion being one of them.

    • Lizzy

      How does abortion as birth control work? Do you know anyone who chooses multiple painful and expensive surgical procedures on a regular basis over using contraception?

    • Amyc

      What you described is the very definition of being pro-choice. :-D

    • Anat

      Of course abortion is a form of birth control. It is the form one uses when one’s original form of birth control failed or was sabotaged. And all of them, from abstinence to IUDs, can be be vulnerable to some degree.

      • Cammie

        So it’s wrong to get an abortion if you were trying to “do the responsible thing” and your birth control FAILS???????????? Wow, way to put women in a double-bind catch 22 like no other.

      • Anat

        Cammie, we are on the same side. Yes, of course women whose birth control failed should be using abortion as a back-up method of birth control.

  • Amyc

    My views on abortion began changing my senior year of high school when I read “The Cider House Rules.” I didn’t change my mind completely because of this book (it is *mostly* fiction after all), but it did make me think and question my existing pro-life beliefs on the subject. Looking back I can’t honestly say my pro-life position was motivated purely by a desire to save babies because I know I had some f’ed up beliefs about sex. I do remember being astonished to learn that birth control was illegal at one point and that there are still people around who oppose it. My immediate thought was,”Doesn’t birth control prevent abortions?” After that there was no turning back to my original beliefs.

  • mina

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your post. I can’t say I’ve ever been pro-life, well, since I figured out what they were talking about. Back when I first started forming my opinion, I couldn’t choose pro-life because they spoke in absolutes- never have an abortion, never use contraceptions. I have always reasoned, since I was about 13 or so, that I have never been the young 12-yr old, brutally raped by a male relative who ended up pregnant, so what right do I have to tell this innocent child that she should suffer? As I got older, I still believe this.It has only been recently that I started paying attention to how much crap is out there trying to limit women. I was amazed that in this day and age that there were actual laws that were created to make a woman powerless over her own body. I thought for sure that in this great US we were more progressive, that we had already moved beyond this. Then I read an article were a state (AZ I think) actually considered a woman pregnant a week before she even had sex, so that the window where she could have a legal abortion would be shortened. I have yet to hear a single argument that is pro-life that is based in science not religion, that actually seeks to save lives and not control women. Our nation was founded in separation of church and state. Yet, every time I turn around, the bases of pro-life seem to be founded in religion. To clarify- if someone chooses to be opposed to abortions and contraception usage, etc, because of THEIR religion, I have no problem with that. That is their choice and their right. However, I have a huge issue with someone trying to make me and anyone else not of their religion follow THEIR religious views. To oversimplfy, that’s like saying we should make a law to make everyone have to eat kosher because the Jewish faith thinks it’s what God wants.
    I recently read a comment (don’t remember who wrote it) that said that by pro-life people saying that they were “trying to protect the innocent”, it inherently implies that the pregnant woman is NOT innocent, even if she may have been violently beaten unconscious and then raped. So next time I hear someone say they’re just trying to protect the innocent, I want to say “Oh…you’re trying to protect the innocent rape victim?” Somehow, I think they will disagree.


      Awesome, Mina:
      “…we should make a law to make everyone have to eat kosher because the Jewish faith thinks it’s what God wants…”
      Love it!

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Well, actually, the subset of Jews that keeps kosher because they believe it be to commanded by the God of the Bible (not all Jews believe in the personal God described in the Bible, not all Jews believe in God at all, not all Jews keep kosher, and not all Jews who keep kosher do it because they believe it’s a commandment) believe that God commanded it FOR JEWS. It’s not and never has been considered a universal commandment but a commandment by a God of a particular people to those people. This is tangential but it’s a comparison I see a lot and it’s deeply flawed and not a good way to make the (very worthy) point that is trying to be made.

      • mina

        Petticoat – I wasn’t trying to make a judgement or assumption about jews/jewish faith, I was making an overly simplified example. I guess you could also say because one section of christianity believes that the holy day is on Saturtday, then every person in this nation should go to church on Saturday, regardless of their own beliefs. The point was…I am so thankful that our country allows relgious freedom, which includes the freedom to not believe in religion. Our ountry was for so long the haven for people who were presecuted for their religion. Our country was the land of freedom. Yet politicians seem to want to keep restricting our freedoms based on THEIR religion. Sigh. As everyoe knows, the two topics guaranteed to generate an arguement if not a war (look at the human race’s history) are politic & religion. Mix them together & it’s trouble waiting to happen. There is no one true way unless God himself/herself speaks directly to the person/people. I try to live by the do unto others principle. Since I don’t want my life restricted by what others think would be best for me, I choose to allow others the same freedom to make their choices & mistakes, & try to be helpful when they need me.

  • Elizabeth Munroz

    I am old enough to remember what life was like when abortions were illegal. I cannot express the terror I felt as a young woman who kept company with my desperate friend “just in case” while she sat in her bathtub having me pour boiling water with mustard and hot pepper powder in it. Did I say desperate? It’s a miracle she survived. After that failed attempt we came to the conclusion that adoption was the answer. Still she had to hide her shame, (HER shame, mind you, as a rape victim) and pretend to be the wife of the man who was to become the parent of her child, while his real wife sat in the background waiting for her bundle of joy. The child, by the way has grown up to be an alcoholic.

    I’ve also experienced life when abortion was first made legal “for special cases”. I was a cancer patient and my special circumstances were that my “life was in danger”. I was placed in the basement of the hospital with the windows painted over and kept in a room without access to the main hallway, no phone, no TV, no human contact except for a surly nurse who treated me (and my roomate) abominably. Incidentally, because of my cancer treatment, I had been told I could not get pregnant, therefore I had not used protection.

    The next abortion was in a different state with more modern methods. I drove myself to the doctor’s office and drove myself home a short time later. Because I had continued to have cancer recurrences, I had been xrayed and scanned while in the first weeks of pregnancy. I hadn’t known I was pregnant. Not only was there exposure to the radiation for the embryo, but I was then to have further treatment for the cancer.

    Not everyone has such extenuating circumstances, but I hate to think what would have happened to those two possible babies growing up without a mother, and in the one case, probably deformed or very ill.

    Unless one has lived through such things one has no right to demand control over my body. If life is so sacred, put the time and energy into preventing future violent murderers from committing crimes.

    • Melissa

      Elizabeth, your story is terrifying but thank you for telling it as a warning to those of us who did not live through this era in time.

      I hope very much that we are never put in that position again. I hope your friend is ok. I hope you are ok. *hugs*

  • Winston Jen

    You have my undying gratitude for composing such a comprehensive article on such a contentious issue. There is the compassionate side, and then there is the anti-choice side.

    • Jacqueline

      Because taking a poor woman’s money and throwing her shredded baby in a bucket and then kicking her out bleeding on streets is compassionate? I haven’t seen an charity for poor women sponsored by NARAL. I guess helping a woman for free is just cold, but profiting from her choices is compassion- oh wait, it’s the OPPOSITE.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        It’s zealots like you who are incapable of discussing the issue with anything less than hysterical hyperbole that are the reason that poor women’s money is taken. The rest of us want abortion to be covered by medicaid for poor women. And there ARE charities, abortion funds, that seek to provide women with the money they need to have an abortion. There’s also aftercare and counseling for women who have had abortions. But why am I even bothering to say this to someone whose posts read like they were written by some far-right Charles Dickens wannabe? You’re clearly not in a place to listen to actual facts or reason.

      • James Hague

        Folks, Jacqueline here makes the rounds on blogs, websites, and Facebook feeds peddling her ultra-Catholic nonsense. I’ve had the displeasure of encountering her before – she trotted out the ‘Sanger = eugenics’ argument, the ‘birth control treats women as if they were sick’ argument, dismissed any and all scientific and medical evidence that contradicts her beliefs. She’s apt to call people Nazis (as she did me, for being an atheist), or worse. Anything that threatens her worldview is either attacked or dismissed. She’s got nothing to say, and engaging her is worse than useless; it’s a waste of your time.

      • Cammie

        Jacqueline. You’re a coward.

  • Lia

    Thank you for presenting your ideas so clearly and calmly! This article is a really useful reference point for me – I’ve felt, as a result of articles I’ve read, speeches I’ve heard, etc., that birth control saves lives, without being able to clearly articulate how; and you’ve presented the figures in a readable and balanced way. I’m sure you’re going to be attacked by those whose values you really share, and I admire you for speaking out anyway, and being a bridge that can unite ideas and positions across the issue! So, thank you! I think you are a nice person and also a smart and brave one. : )

  • Gwen

    One subtext of this entire discussion is the effect that unintended pregnancy and limited access to any kind of pre-natal care, let alone abortion care has on the work force. I have come to my own conclusions about the role of Life/Choice policy debates in public discourse. It is the firm resolve of cheap labor conservatives to limit the options of female workers, and male workers that are linked to them concentrically in an effort to increase the rate of desparation and manipulate what they will tolerate in the work force. If you keep the workers strapped, desparate and dependent on mulitple jobs, clinic based access and interupted care and coverage for contraception, then you control the work force. I know it sounds like a leap, but what other possible reason could an artificial entity (corporation) have to oppose access and coverage? When these corporations convened for the purpose of conducting secular business of health care and education or whatever else it is they dabble in, they opened themselves up to the rules of secular business. These politicians that stumble onto the scene with pre-written model legislation written by ALEC, paid for by huge corporations aggregates like WalMart and the NRA, big PhARMA and big Oil – they really only have one agenda. It’s not religion, but its an easy exploit. Suddenly these companies have a religious objection that supercedes its desire to sell craft supplies or make chicken sandwiches. It’s control of the work base. 3rd world anyone?

    • Tracey

      Gwen, I agree with you. Conservatives desire a desperate, poverty-wracked underclass that’s willing to work for whatever crumbs the 1% throw them. When women can control their own fertility, they are more likely to be educated, therefore aware of their rights, and less desperate to feed 8 or 10 or 12 starving mouths, so they can hold out for higher wages.

      • Jacqueline

        It seems to me that liberals desire an poverty-wracked underclass in order to exploit their desperation to buy votes. Fertility is not hard to control and a healthy female body isn’t something you have to sabotage in order to be educated or earn a high wage. I have never used contraception, yet I managed to put my single self through a Ph.D. without any starving mouths to feed and I command an hourly wage as a consultant that allows me to live very comfortably if I only worked 10 hours per week. Your view of women as incapable of surviving without pills, patches etc. is a very low view of women.

      • smrnda

        Thank you for speaking for yourself. I am not heterosexual but I do use contraceptives since sex isn’t always consensual. However, since other women are sexually active, and sex can lead to pregnancy, they would need contraceptives to avoid this. I understand there exists the ‘rhythm method’ but it just appears to be too unreliable. I mean, lots of women I know have very irregular periods, so counting says wouldn’t be very effective.

        They could *survive* without the pill the way we could all *survive* without electricity, but at a tremendous cost to their quality of life and relationships. I’m sure that it makes you feel very morally superior to them since they *can’t go without sex* apparently, but if sex is fun, why should they?

        As for who is exploiting the underclass, the basic goal of the left is a social order where there isn’t an underclass. You might want to check out how things work in secular, Western European nations.

      • Rosa

        Jacqueline, do you believe capitalism is the right way to run our economy?

        Because there is no such thing as a capitalist economy where everyone makes high wages, if you measure high wages as “high enough to live on working 10 hours a week” – if everyone made that much money, prices would inflate. That’s how the money supply works.

      • smrnda

        I’m guessing that as a high paid consultant, Jacqueline’s job entails explaining to CEOs how to gut wages, bust unions, and use threats of moving over seas to boost the profit line, and ensure that people like her can live on 10 hours of work a week.

        Come on, I make a lot of cash and there’s really no justification for my high salary.

      • Anonymouse

        LOL @ Jacqueline, who drank the right-wing nutjob kool-aid and believes that Democrats *want* people to live in poverty to “buy their votes”. Uhm, hello? People with no money can’t buy anything.

      • MommyAlice

        Except for Jacqueline, and educated woman is a threat to the 1%. Why is it that they sound more and more like the Taliban! Next thing you know, we’ll get shot for wanting to go to school!

  • jadehawk

    the whole pro-life issue really isn’t about babies, it’s about sin. The reason it’s ok when half of all fertilized eggs get flushed out is because god did that, so no sin is being committed. but if it’s a fertilized egg flushed out because of the pill, then it was because of human choices, and therefore a sin. The same even goes for miscarriages at later stages of development sometimes. I actually remember being told about a woman who was suffering severe complications during her pregnancy that might have ended with her having to make the choice between abortion or injury; and then she had a miscarriage, which she said was god’s way of getting her out of maybe having to make the decision t have an abortion.
    And as far as promoting things that will lead to fewer abortions… from the perspective of at least the RCC, the point is not to make it easier not to sin; the point is to convince people to make a sacrifice and reject sin. It’s not supposed to be easy.

    • chris buchholz

      That is Libby Anne’s point, it’s not about saving babies, and it never was. It was only about saving babies for those of us who were duped when we were younger and less informed. But when very easy ideas could be implemented that would save babies are proposed and proven to work, and the churches and pro-life leaders refuse, that was when we realied it was about forcing women (not men) to live up to certain standards of behavior, a morality that the prolife movement wants to impose on women, and to punish any who go astray. That is indeed what it’s all about.

      The same applies to drug laws. Portugal and other countries have experimented with treating addiction as a medical problem, and have made great strides in lowering drug abuse and related violence and crime. But we will probably never do it here, because we see addiction as a MORAL problem, not a medical one. And we want to punish addicts, even let them die. (remember the famous quote during prohibition, when the govt was deliberately poisoning industrial alcohol?) We want to punish others, not help them, not save them.

      When I was a christian, i thought, as the gospel taught, that god chose me, that I am no better than anyone else, and so I didn’t feel this intense desire to punish women and drug addicts, or anyone else. that was God’s job after we die, not for us to take on for him now. Apparently I took the Gospel too seriously and believed it too much, because I sure never fit in with the moral majority.

      • jadehawk

        “That is Libby Anne’s point”

        umm…yes..? I’m quite aware of that and wasn’t disagreeing with her. just adding a slightly different perspective on why the anti-choice movement has the apparently contradictory arguments that it does.

    • plch

      it’s not supposed to be easy and it’s supposed to be painful, never understimate the catholic ability of sanctify pain: you did something good but yoiu didn’t suffer? it wasn’t good enough. Suffering is something noble in itself. This one of the aspects of Catholicism that made it completely alien to me.
      On the same line: try to get an epidural in Italy: almost impossible! you had sex and now you must suffer!

    • Melissa

      This is a secular nation. If there are those who follow religion and believe what you believe, then they are welcome to not get abortions.

      • jadehawk

        was that supposed to be a response to me? because I’m a pro-abortion atheist, so that totally doesn’t make sense as a response to a comment pointing out the rotten core of the anti-choice viewpoint. :-/

  • Megan

    Libby Anne, don’t come down on yourself too hard about having been brainwashed as a child and consequently feeling duped as a young adult. You saw through it, you educated yourself, and you came to an informed decision to change your mind and actions. You are even honest enough to admit it, and explain to others how to see through it. Me personally, for whatever a complete stranger’s opinion is worth, I am proud of you simply for the process you voluntarily went through — I wish more people were strong enough to undergo a faith-shaking like that, discovering that the ends do not justify the means, but that the means are just as important as the means . Now you can hold your head high as a rational, free-thinking and considerate human being *who is still dedicated to saving babies*.

  • Catherine

    I would highly recommend that you read “unPlanned” by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenhood manager. She once shared your opinion that providing contraceptives would decrease the number of abortions. Her story is truly amazing. Since you are very interested in gathering facts for your position, please consider seriously reading her account. There are many other PP workers who are leaving because they see the truth about what that organization truly stands for. As a post-abortive woman, I have suffered physically, emotionally and spiritually for many, many years. And I’m afraid you are terribly deceived about the harmful effects of contraceptives on women. Contraceptives are listed as a Class A carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

    • jadehawk
    • Emily

      This is good information for the “addressing arguments against abortion” #8 (the abortion industry preys on women) and maybe #9 (women are coerced into having abortions).

    • Melissa

      Soot is also a class A carcinogen. Most everything you encounter in daily life outside (and inside – paint, for example) is a class A carcinogen.

    • Niemand

      The WHO’s classification of carcinogens uses a 1-4 number system, not an A-n letter system (though there are letters subgrouping carcinogens.) Estrogen-progestin contraceptives are, indeed, class 1 (carcinogenic to humans) though there is a note that they are also anti-carcinogenic for certain tumors, i.e. reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine tumors.) Progestin only contraceptives are 2B: possibly carcinogenic to humans. Only one substance is classified as “probably not carcinogenic to humans” . In general, “possibly” is about as good as the WHO is willing to commit to. The one class 4 drug is caprolactam, incidentally. FW that’s worth.

      • Rosie

        Call me crazy, but I’m totally willing to risk cancer to have sex (with my husband) but not children. My risks are probably greater from eating food out of plastic containers than from contraceptives anyway.

      • Niemand

        Your risk of breast cancer increases mildly with combined estrogen/progestin birth control pills. But your chances of the much more deadly ovarian cancer go down. Get regular mammograms and don’t smoke. Even if you get breast ca you’ll have a good chance of being fine. (It’s still deadly in some instances, but survival and cure are the norm, not the exception these days.)

    • Lizzy

      I once saw a video of Abby Johnson speaking about her time working at Planned Parenthood. The first 5 minutes were blatant lies about the process of getting abortion at PP. Having personally gotten an abortion, I can tell you that what she says is false. Rather than rush me into the operating room without any opportunity to see an ultra-sound or reconsider my choice before being forced to have an abortion that was more expensive than I was originally told I had many moments in the waiting room in between various meetings with nurses to consider my decision.

      First, after checking in I sat in the waiting room where I threw up thanks to my horrific morning sickness. My husband waited outside of the door and hugged me close afterwards. After that I was taken downstairs for my ultrasound where I was given the opportunity to see the picture and be told whether it was a multiple pregnancy. I was told how far along I was and then I returned to the waiting room for a bit. Next I was called down to speak with a counselor about my decision, I was asked whether I wanted to discuss other options, if I felt that I was being pressured, and if I was certain that I wanted to go forward. My husband was then allowed to join me and I had my blood tested to determine if I would need a shot of rhogam. We then discussed my two options for the procedure, medical or surgical. After choosing the surgical option I was given my choice of sedation and was given a full overview of the prices for all of my options. During this session I was still incredibly nauseous and the counselor was very understanding and kind. She got me a glass of water and some pretzels to try to sooth my stomach. We wrapped up the meeting with brochures and information about how to contact the clinic if things seemed wrong afterwards as well as contact information for an abortion support line and the knowledge that if I faced depression afterwards that PP would refer me to a mental health clinician.

      After another brief stint in the waiting room I was called down for the procedure. I was given some painkillers and a Valium to relax me and they had me sit in a recliner to let it take effect. At this point I was so scared and so sad that I started crying. The nurse in the room brought me some tissues and told me that it wasn’t too late to change my mind. After waiting a bit longer, still crying, I was taken back for the procedure. At that time, two more nurses and the doctor stopped to make sure that I was making the right choice, in the words of the doctor “we don’t want to do anything that you can’t live with.” A large male nurse held my hand and helped me breath through the surgery, which was incredibly painful. He told me that nobody there judged me and that he knew I made the best decision for my life. After that I sat in the recliner with a heating pad for a while and was sent home with some antibiotics and a prescription for Vicodin.

      I was unlucky enough to be one of the very small minority of patients who have complications. It turned out that my abortion was incomplete (the was remaining placental tissue) and I had to return to the clinic, which is 70 miles from where I live. I had to have the entire procedure repeated, but at no cost to myself. I even chose the more expensive IV sedation the second time and was not charged for the difference. I wish that it had worked completely the first time, but I’m also grateful that I was able to receive follow-up treatment for free.

      At no point in my experience did I feel like I was part of some evil industry bent on profiting from my accidental pregnancy. Rather, I was treated with non-judgmental compassion and given the opportunity to change my mind at any point. Having an abortion was a very difficult decision for me and honestly I wish that I was in a position to have had the baby, but I’m not. It makes me angry to hear this woman slander an organization that works so hard to provide care for millions of women nationwide and that was there for me through an incredibly hard time in my life.

      • Tracey

        Thank you for sharing your experience.

      • Rosie

        My experience was similar to yours, Lizzy. Of course the details were different, but the staff at Planned Parenthood were all compassionate, professional, and willing to listen to me. And they guarantee their work; if anything goes amiss they’ll take care of it at no additional cost. Thanks for sharing your story in detail.

      • Cammie

        I had the same experience, down to the compassionate person holding my hand throughout, the gentleness of the people, etc.

  • Kimberly

    It is about controlling women – otherwise there would be much more discussion about the man’s role. “No sex without consequences.” Ya, right.

    And if you really want to bring religion into it: to an atheist who was raped – how is a pregnancy different from say, a tapeworm?

    • Linda

      Before the pill, there was not so much premarital sex. Girls were afraid to become pregnant so they said NO ! Because of the pill, the was an explosion of sex because people thought they were safe from pregnancy. SIMPLE MATH

      More birth control= more sex=more unwanted pregnancies=more abortions

      • Libby Anne

        Then how do you explain that Western Europe, with its extremely high rate of both birth control use and premarital sex, has the lowest abortion rate in the world? And how do you explain that African and South American countries, where birth control is very restricted, have some of the highest abortion rates in the world? Also, the idea that people didn’t have premarital sex before the pill is historical revisionism – it’s simply not true. In fact, in some areas of the country as many as a third of colonial women were pregnant at the alter. Not exactly the picture of your perfect chaste historical paradise. Oh and yes, they had abortion then too.

      • Anat

        More birth control= more sex=more unwanted pregnancies=more abortions

        Simply not true. See Free birth control project cuts teen births, abortions
        If you give women free IUDs and implants you get fewer unwanted pregnancies total.

      • ButchKitties

        This is as silly and untrue as insisting more safety features in cars = more time spent driving cars = more motor vehicle related deaths.

      • Anat

        Also, let’s not forget that many of those seeking abortions are married. Being married does not mean wanting any number of children.

      • jadehawk

        hahaha, no. there was a lot of premarital sex before hormonal contraceptives. there are diaries of New England midwives from the end on the 18th century that talk about all the premarital sex going on (except that once that sex resulted in pregnancy, you were supposed to get married; other than that, people looked the other way), and natural abortifacients and non-latex condoms are ancient technology; they just weren’t as effective as modern methods (and consequently, sometimes newborns were left to die of exposure; still common in cultures with no modern BC, btw)

      • Bix

        Yeah, pre-marital sex is not a recent invention. More like a middle class Victorian myth. And women always sought to prevent and space pregnancies, we’re just much better at it now. And what’s wrong with a woman saying YES?

      • ButchKitties

        My mom grew up believing that “a woman’s first baby always comes early”. It was only later that she realized this idiom was a way for communities to pretend that women who gave birth less than nine months after their weddings hadn’t had premarital sex.

      • Kim Rippere

        So? Premarital sex is an option that free women have. Not everyone thinks 2000+ year old words written by men control their actions in the here and now.

        Of course, you didn’t read any of facts, studies, etc in the article. You merely spouted your own irrational and unsupported viewpoint on this matter.

      • Christine

        Um, my mother was a teen before the pill. She suffered date rape from 2 separate boys because they WOULDN’T accept her “No.” Luckily, she didn’t get pregnant from either. A couple of her friends did, though.

      • ophelia
      • Mogg

        Bwahahaha! The only reason there might possibly have been less premarital sex (and you haven’t produced any evidence for that) is due to the fact that people got married much younger. And think of all the shotfun weddings, babies born “premature” 7 months after the parents’ wedding, babies born 16 years after their older “sister” (this was startlingly common before the Pill) and girls and young women who went to “visit an aunt in the country” for several months. And yet, while the girl had to be ashamed or at worst cast out of society, a boy or man doing exactly the same was merely “sowing his wild oats”, and considered perfectly normal and respectable.


      Right on, Kimberly!
      Men get to have sex without consequences, FAR MORE OFTEN than women do.

  • Jim

    In reality, the position you now claim and call “Pro-Choice” is really a true “Pro-Life” position. By supporting policies that not only reduce the number of abortions, but also work to improve a person’s quality of life by access to medical care, and being able to have control over their own body, one is acting and promoting life. The anti-abortion crowd has co-opted the term “pro-life”.


      Very nice, Jim.
      Pro-lifers are ‘pro’ a very specific ‘type’ of life. And they are anti-choice for anyone else.
      Pro-choicers are ‘pro’ EVERY type of life.
      And I don’t know anyone who would proudly characterize themselves as ‘Pro-abortion’… Even those who find to keep it an available option for women don’t embrace casual abortion, repeated abortion as birth control in the absence of contraception-control, etc.

  • Melissa

    Hi Libby! Was wondering if you had read this blog about the decriminalization of abortion in Canada:

    Would be interested to know your thoughts. It seems that putting trust in women and their doctors has worked for them in reducing not just the number of abortions but the number of unwanted pregnancies overall.

    As for your writeup here? I was blown away by the use of science, facts, data… and I’m in complete admiration that you admitted your former way of thinking was incorrect, and moved to one more in line with your morals and values. I find it hard to believe many “pro-lifers” will be able to do that, but I hold out a small amount of hope. I have always been pro-choice based on the belief that no one has the right to make decisions about another person’s body, but your writeup contains so much more info than I’ve been able to offer before. Thank you for this valuable resource.


      Trusting women and their doctors to make their own healthcare decisions???
      Rather than a bunch of male employers and male legislators???

  • Deb M

    If you want even more food for thought regarding the hypocrisy of (some) pro-lifers, you should read the essay “The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion”: . I could not believe some of the scenarios described in that essay.

    • Annalyn

      I am so glad you linked to that page. If I had reached the bottom of the page without seeing it, I would have done so myself. It’s an absolute must-read.

      • Katty

        I agree, thank you for that link, it was enlightening (and grating) to read. I was particularly struck by the story about the young woman who was president of her campus Right-to-Life organization and was planning to go right back to that position after her abortion “explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn’t want this to interfere with it”.

        Wow, just wow. This shows very clearly that in this case at least what this “pro-life” activist cared about was the position and the (I’m assuming) power and prestige that went with it, not “saving babies”. It just makes me want to throw up.

    • ScottInOH

      I think this is further evidence that a lot of the “pro-life” movement is about legislating morality (in this case, chastity). They want the possible punishment of bearing a child to be hanging out there so that people won’t have sex.

      When they or their daughters get pregnant, however, they already know they’re Good People, and if they can just undo this one mistake, it’ll never happen again.

      Not sure if I’ve articulated that quite right, but I hope it makes some sense.

      • “Rebecca”

        Completely agree. If the goal of the Pro-Life movement was solely an attempt to reduce the number of abortions through birth control, improved support for mothers/pregnant women, etc., they could be quite effective and would meet very little opposition. Unfortunately their unrealistic agenda, trying to fit everyone into the same mold of “chastity until marriage followed by unlimited procreation thereafter and no divorce,” basically ensures they will never succeed.

      • MommyAlice

        I can’t help myself…when you say Chastity, I can’t help thinking of Cher’s daughter, and how that came out!!!

  • Caraob

    As a former pro-lifer and born again Christian, I want to thank you for writing this. It so closely mirrors my own evolution in thought over the past several years, it was incredibly encouraging for me to read, and consider that maybe more people might make the transition I/we have. I agree with you entirely.

  • Bill S

    “Because of the pill, the(re) was an explosion of sex because people thought they were safe from pregnancy.”

    That is not the issue. You’re changing the argument from preventing abortions (which the pill definitely does) to outlawing extramarital sex. You’re using the fear of pregnancy as a deterrent to having sex when you should be looking at the pill as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

    This is the twenty first century. People who you don’t think should are going to do it. The question is how to reduce abortions and the answer is simple: birth control.

  • Holly R

    This is absolutely wonderful. I am very liberal in almost all of my political beliefs; abortion is one of the exceptions. BUT. You make some absolutely amazing points. I am sharing this far and wide. I read the whole thing and would be interested to see what some of my staunch pro-life friends would say in rebuttal to this IF they read the whole thing. I just don’t see another argument against what you said.

    thanks. :)

  • Tonya

    I would like to congratulate you for doing your research and recognizing what a croc the “pro life” movement is. I acutally don’t call the movement pro-life, as I’ve always been pro-choice. Pro-life would care about that life after the fetus is born in my mind. I am going to share this article as far and wide as possible. I wish other people that are “pro life” (which i don’t believe in that term, my choice term is “anti-choice”), would see the movement or open their eyes at least. However, I do believe the movement is about controlling women’s sexual lives and many people know very well that that’s what the movement is about. Again, congratulations to you for doing your research and hope others follow in your footsteps. I can’t imagine the backlash you must have faced when you turned your back on the organization (I assume you stepped down from your position as President at that org)

  • Kelli

    I say I’m pro-life because I, personally, would not choose to have an abortion myself under any circumstances. But I agree with just about everything you say in your article. Thanks.

    • Melissa

      Many of my friends say the same thing Kelli with one major thing in common – none of them believe abortion should be criminalized. I have nothing but respect for those who realize they can possess and live their own beliefs without pushing those beliefs on others :)

    • Trialia

      Kelli, if you yourself wouldn’t have an abortion but you want other women to be able to have that option available to them, that’s more or less the definition of being pro-choice… Why use a term that associates you with such a woman-hating movement? If the so-called ‘pro-life’ movement were truly pro-life, they’d give a damn about these embryos after birth as well as during pregnancy, but they clearly show in their actions that they don’t. :(

  • Sue Blue

    The anti-choicers who want to restrict access to both abortion and birth control are not only punishing single women for wanting to have non-procreative sex, they are punishing married couples as well. Not every couple can afford to have unlimited numbers of children like the infamous Duggar family – or would even want to. Why should men be forced by these backward-thinking Luddites into supporting a dozen children without the financial help of his wife who is too busy being pregnant, giving birth and taking care of children to work outside the home? Why should a married woman be forced to risk her health and life, not to mention sacrificing her individuality, talents, career and future, by becoming a baby factory?

    There are over 7 billion human beings on Earth, far more than the planet can comfortably support. Instead of focusing on quantity, how about focusing on quality? Why don’t these people express their so-called Christian love by working to reduce the suffering of people who already exist?

  • Will

    I have been pro-choice for as long as i can remember…the facts and numbers in the article back up what i have argued about with pro-lifers for years…thank you…

  • Sarah

    I was in the “pro-life” camp in high school. My church friends decided I needed an intervention when I carried a sign in an Iraq-invasion protest that said “Saddam Hussein was a fetus too.” I was also a vegetarian at this time and I had pins made that said “Pro-life: Not just for humans.” Apparently the lives of animals and Iraqi people are not as valuable as the lives of American fetuses.

    • Monimonika

      ???…*realization strikes*
      Awesome performance satire! Not sure if your church friends got the point, though.

  • Anonymous

    Personhood derives from mentality, not metabolism. Zygotes are human tissue in the sense of being genetically that species, but they are not humans in the sense of being a person who has or needs human rights. Killing it is not murder. There are many animals (yes, humans are animals) we kill for personal convenience. Most of those animals are delicious. Some are troublesome. But none are persons, and if we did find an animal with personhood, we’d be extending rights to it.
    Opponents will argue that zygotes become a unique person when they get their full chromosome count. This makes the daily shedding of skin cells a holocaust. The view is absurd. Opponents will argue that their unique genome endows them with personhood. This makes killing one of a pair of identical twins acceptable. The view is absurd. Opponents will argue killing one of the twins is not acceptable because they’re a human being, and this is proof that their view on abortion isn’t even believed by them. Thank you for agreeing that mentality, and not metabolism, is the thing you want to preserve.
    Now I don’t know if we can draw some nice sharp line for personhood, where after this line you have full human rights, and before it you have none. I damn sure know our law doesn’t do that. Infants don’t have human rights beyond what we grant to other animals, the right to not be senselessly beaten, tortured, or neglected. Young children under the age of reason don’t have the right to freedom of religion, their parents indoctrinate them with whatever they believe, and are free to punish them how they see fit for nonbelief. Teens don’t have freedom of association. Adults between 18 to 21 can’t drink, but they can fuck. So while I don’t claim to know exactly when personhood attaches, if there even is a single point where it should, I know the entire process happens after birth, and so there is a nice place to draw a line. Killing like this is only okay for non-born non-persons, and all it does is make them stay non-born non-persons.

    We have no duty to embody each and every of the uncountably infinite potential people we could possibly create by mixing every possible sperm with every possible egg. The view is absurd.

    • ounbbl

      All murders are killings. Where does a human person come from? Evoluted from an ape? or from chemical in the primordial swamp? No, the very zygote you are talking about and you are comfortable to get rid of.

    • ounbbl

      All murders are killings. Where does a human person come from? Evoluted from an ape? or from chemical in the primordial swamp? No, from the very zygote you are talking about and you are comfortable to get rid of.

      • machintelligence

        Evoluted from an ape? or from chemical in the primordial swamp?



    Either you believe in fetal rights, or you don’t.
    You go on and on about all kinds of ancillary issues, yet you don’t address the main one: do the unborn have rights or not? If the unborn have rights, why are you not pro-life?

    You can agree or disagree on a whole bunch of issues and still be in favour of fetal rights.
    I sense that you never really got the pro-life movement.

    • Dorfl

      How is, “the pro-life movement is systematically acting contrary to its stated goals” an ‘ancillary issue’ to whether one should be pro-life or not?

    • Lizzy

      If you read the article, you’ll find that Libby answers that question. “I no longer believe that abortion is murder because I no longer hold that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a “person.””

    • jadehawk

      no, your argument doesn’t work. even fully grown adults don’t have the right to use other people’s bodies without the express and continued consent of those people. the only way to make the argument that fetuses should be granted this special right to the use of a woman’s body regardless of her consent is to argue that women automatically lose a basic human right when they become pregnant: to argue against abortion on the basis of fetal rights is to argue that women’s human rights are conditional, unlike men’s hman rights, which are absolute

    • Patricia013

      Are you really “pro-life”? Do you believe in sending our sons and daughters off to die in wars? Do you believe in rights for the unborn but refuse to pay for children here and now who need medical attention or food? What is this “pro-life”? It seems to be pretty selective!


      Suzanne, can you define/explain ‘fetal rights’ to me?
      Do fetuses currently have rights?
      Or do they have no rights, but you believe they should?
      What sorts of rights would those be, in both cases?
      Thank you.

    • Cammie

      Either you believe that a woman is a reproductive slave brood mare with NO rights once she is pregnant or you don’t. Such idiocy. The world doesn’t fit into your black and white thinking, which, by the way is symptomatic of mental illness or more specifically a personality disorder…see yourself much??