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.

Conclusion

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.

Addenda:

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

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.

  • rhiamom

    I don’t think *anybody* is pro-abortion. Even we lifelong pro-choice folks see abortion as a necessary evil. 12 years ago I predicted that this was the path the Republicans were taking; that outlawing abortion would not satisfy them, for then they would go after contraception. Nobody believed me THEN.

    It is worth noting that the Equal Rights Amendment never was ratified. Over 30 years later it has less chance of ever becoming the law of the land than it did originally. We can thank the Christian Right for this, for empowering the Republican party to redistrict states with gerrymandered districts designed to ensure a “permanent Republican majority” in far too many states. And, as you pointed out in your post, Republicans pro-lifers are not about saving babies, but controlling women.

    • http://www.aglassdimly.com/ Jugulum

      You said, “Even we lifelong pro-choice folks see abortion as a necessary evil.”

      I’m honestly curious about this. Why do you see it as any kind of evil? Why isn’t it morally neutral? In your understanding, how is it morally different from something like an appendectomy? Or how is it morally different from contraception?

      • SophieUK

        I didn’t make the original comment but I think she thinks as I do; the fetus or zygote is a potential person. It is not a person but it has the potential to become one.

  • Wes

    I appreciate the research and logic you have applied to this subject; it’s clear you have put a lot more thought into it than most people have, whatever side of the issue they fall on (if it can even be said to have two sides). I have reached the same conclusions as you have, for what it is worth.

    One thing I did not see mentioned here, either in your entry or in the comments, are comments about gender-selective abortion. Since I first heard about this, very recently (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/06/12/ultrasound-gender-testing.html), I have to admit that it’s made me start to reassess my position on the morality of abortions. Aborting female fetuses because a male baby is more desirable, there is something very wrong with that. And, to flip the issue on its head a bit, it is the husbands of these cultures that are often making the decision to abort, again denying the woman the right to choose.

    In any case, I would very much like to hear your opinion on this.

    • plch

      in the same kind of cultures husbands still kills wife because they had just daughters (it happened last month in Pakistan) ignoring that it’s the man ‘fault’ if he father just females. Also, female infants are still actively killed or left do die, sometimes their own mothers kill them: I remember reading an interview with an Indian mother that confessed killing her own newborn daughter, she said that life for a woman in India is so hard that she was glad she spared her daughter years of suffering… so: selective abortion is just part of the problem.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Sure thing! I actually directly addressed gender selective abortions in this post.

    • Anat

      What is wrong is the culture that prefers one gender over the other. You don’t stop that by forbidding sex-selective abortion. What happens then is that the girls are neglected, abandoned and killed by their families later on. No baby should be born that is not wanted.

    • D.

      The problem here, Wes, is you’re acting like you need to approve of the reasons someone wants to abort. Yes, it’s gross, but it’s still her body and her life. The fix is to deal with the misogyny behind that choice, not to stop women from making them. Being pro-choice does not mean we’re in support of any and all abortions. We do not advocate forced abortions any more than we advocate forced births.

  • Lola Shipman

    You have expressed everything I’ve been thinking for several years. Thank you for posting this!

  • Andy

    Murder is also illegal at the state level.

    And the ban on murder hasn’t stopped murders from happening.

    Food for thought.

    • Dorfl

      If you could show that outlawing murder increases the murder rate, so that really legalizing murder would be saving lives, that would be food for thought.

      Otherwise, you’ve just come up with an analogy that demonstrates that the argument “banning abortion doesn’t stop it from happening, therefore we shouldn’t ban abortion” is stupid. And of course, Libby Anne never made that argument in the first place, since it’s stupid.

    • D.

      Murders affect someone else. You are not inevitably risking your very life should you choose to commit one if it’s made legal, so legalizing it removes the deterrent. People seeking illegal abortions do it knowing they risk their own health and safety. They aren’t going to be put off by the risk of being jailed if they survive.

      • D.

        That was worded poorly, but you get the gist of it. Dorfl is right in that the argument isn’t “it’s inevitable, so you may as well make it legal” so much as “it happens anyway and we should make it legal to save lives”.

  • Rebekah

    Thank you so much for this post. Your story closely resembles mine, but your post is so articulate and clear that I’m going to use it to finally step up and have some conversation I’ve been avoiding for years. I’m about to link to it on facebook and expect some crazy backlash comment threads, but your article is so well-written and so rational and non-aggressive that I’m hoping it will make more of an impact than anything I would have said myself. Thanks!

  • Desdemona

    Excellent post! Thank you for writing it. The only thing I disagree with is your decision to call yourself pro-choice. As is demonstrated by a couple comments in this thread, some pro-choicers do not respect those of us who would like to work toward reducing the abortion rate while keeping it safe and legal for all women. I simply cannot ally myself with the small number of militant pro-choice folks who feel there is no place in the discussion for efforts to cut abortion rates. As someone with health issues who has been in the stirrups enduring foreign objects stuck inside me far too many times, I do not wish it on anyone! If anyone asks, I say I’m pro-compassion. The most compassionate stance on abortion is to keep it legal and safe and to do whatever we can to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    • Little Magpie

      Desdemona: I know I don’t speak for all pro-choicers, but I think that most of us would agree with your, as you call it, pro-compassion stance. (And keep calling yourself that, it’s a great term!) :)

    • Taranel

      Here’s the thing. Saying you want to reduce abortions, whether you like it or not, sounds like you mean that you want to prevent abortions through any means necessary, namely outlawing it. THAT is why many pro-choice people bristle at the phrase…it most often is used by the group of people who actually are anti-choice rather than pro-life, no matter how they’d prefer us to believe otherwise, and it means precisely that the goal is to prevent women from aborting, period, regardless of their situation, and regardless of the particular abortive procedure used (not all abortions involve invasive surgery, after all). But what you apparently refer to is a desire to reduce the NEED for abortions. It isn’t the same thing at all as saying you want to reduce the total number of abortions; see the difference? People who want to reduce abortions are NOT the people who want to keep abortion safe and legal for all women, they are those who want to prevent women from having abortions at all costs. People who think the actual procedure of (surgical) abortion is harmful to women and needs to be eliminated in any case where it is not necessary, those people, like yourself, want to lower the NEED for women to have to seek surgical abortions in the first place, not to forcibly prevent women who freely choose that option from being able to access it. It may seem like a trivial semantic difference, but it isn’t, really, and there’s a legitimate and justified reason why many of us pro-choice women take serious umbrage when we hear someone talking about reducing the abortion rate: this issue would quite naturally and quickly take care of itself, without any particular emphasis on it as a specific goal, with the measures already discussed in this article–effective, easily acquired and widely available contraceptives, solid, accessible social programs such as daycare and related needs faced by low-income women, etc.–being put into widespread use. Plus, while it may not apply to you, personally, the fact remains that many of the people who talk about reducing abortions, as opposed to the NEED for abortions, turn the act of abortion into a seemingly moral issue, even when they are NOT making an argument for personhood of the fetus. It ignores the fact that many abortive procedures are not significantly dangerous, and that many women gladly have the procedure done without having a negative experience. This isn’t to say that surgical abortion is all sunshine and roses, but we’re talking about surgery here–what kind of surgery IS? Most surgeries are done for overwhelmingly beneficial reasons, but how often do people talk about reducing heart surgery, for instance, as if it is an ugly, evil thing? Hint: they don’t. Instead, they put out information about heart health, etc. The focus is on ways of keeping your heart healthy so that a person can make informed choices to positively affect the things within their control to lower the chances of NEEDING heart surgery, NOT cutting heart surgery rates. Put another way, the phrase “I want to reduce the abortion rate” on its own, without context, sounds like “I want to reduce the heart surgery rate”. It doesn’t sound like you want to improve heart health, it just sounds like you want to stop everyone from having heart surgery, even when they badly need it. Going further, it implies that abortion itself is inherently bad, not from the standpoint of surgery itself just being a bad thing, what with being cut open or having metal bits shoved inside your body, but it carries that stigma of moral squickiness. I.E. I’ve spoken to many self-claimed pro-choicers who nevertheless are squicked by the idea of abortion not because surgery is bad, hello, but because they’ve internalized anti-choice rhetoric about abortion=all that is evil in the world. They don’t want to make abortion illegal, but they’re bothered by the very concept of it all the same. This is what your militant pro-choicers are trying to oppose when they take issue with your stance: they want to promote the fact that abortion is just a medical procedure like any other medical procedure, and eliminate the moral cast it has that other surgical procedures simply don’t: Not something to sing joyously about, no, but also not something to fear or detest any more than having an appendix removed or a clogged artery repaired. They want women to stop feeling like it’s a guilty secret, and want them to be able to make the choice to have an abortion openly, without fear of being looked down on: they want it to be on the same level as any other surigal procedure so that women can say “I’m going to have an abortion/I had an abortion,” without shame or fear of negative reaction, as if it’s a bad thing, the same way that people can mention having their appendix removed, or having open heart surgery a hysterectomy or masectomy, without the stigma. That’s all.

      So please, remember that this minor difference in word choice leads to two very significantly different thought processes and refers to two entirely different goals: that of preventing women from having abortions even when they want and need them, versus reducing the overall need for women to even HAVE abortions because the overall percentage of unwanted pregnancies is drastically reduced. In the interest of honesty and clarity, I ask you to start making this distinction whenever you discuss the issue, because your stated purpose is actually quite different from what your chosen phrase implies, and I can personally guarantee you that you WILL see most of those militant pro-choice women you referenced in your post being a LOT more in line with your viewpoint.

  • Humberto Ramirez

    Libby:  refreshing to see someone with your open mind.  It is so sad to see how people cling to their preconceptions.  I was raised by my baptist father and catholic mother.  My dad left the religious part of our upbringing to mom, so we were brought up going to catechism and mass every Sunday. Dad would keep his religious beliefs and prayers private, he had no use for organized religion, believing that his spirituality was between him and God.  I feel the same about it.  I don’t see anything wrong with going to church, and sometimes I miss the sense of community.  I have been to Lutheran churches, was a priests altar boy for an Anglican church, been to evangelical church.  The latest one was evangelical and was really disappointed when after going in the morning hearing a beautiful sermon on the love of God and the evening sermon which is usually the same, was changed on the fly when the preacher saw a few ladies come in and they were all holding hands.  After taking a few furtive looks in their direction he changed the sermon to a tirade about homosexuality being an abomination. After a few minutes of listening to him the ladies got up and walked out, and while they were leaving he’s laughing at them and making snide comments to further be-little them.  Once they were gone he continues on his rant and sys “I’m a tolerant man and if their choice is to be like that fine, but not in my church”.  There is nothing tolerant about his attitude.  Then in keeping with the new sidetracked sermon he proceeds to go into president Obama not wanting to extend the bush tax cuts, calling him a socialist and the ending of the cuts the biggest redistribution of wealth in American history, which is not, considering that the top tax rate in the 50′s was about 90 %.  Then goes on to talk about abortion. The same I’ve heard before, it’s murder, a sin, sex Ed encourages teens to have sex and then they end up getting abortions. SMH…  They want to teach creationism in public schools, and they are even changing the textbooks to say the dinasaurs, and humans existed at the same time.  I applaud your critical thinking skills and using the most precious gift our lord bestowed on us besides life,  our mind.   As its been said before god gave you a brain, use it.  IMHO god created nature and nature takes care of the rest.  I believe the bible can be a wonderful tool, but at the same time it can be used for great evil in the wrong hands, also that it is not the inerrant word of God,  as some believe, they say God is perfect and the bible is his  living word, I ask what living bible means and I’ve been told it is living and changing, that is why there are so many different bibles.  How is that possible?  If God is perfect why would he need to change?  The only conclusion I can come to is that the bible may have been inspired by God but not dictated, with all the faults man has it would follow that they would inject their own take on things as they saw at the time they wrote the different books of what became the bible.   If we let religious zealotry dictate what goes on in our country we will end up like the middle east,  the ancient Islamic countries like Iraq where so advanced in astronomy and engineering Baghdad was a cultural Mecca for the region including Asia and Europe until the 12th century when their religious leader called science a thing of the devil.  When president Bush said his God is the God that named the stars I know he was referring to the biblical God, not realizing the most stars have Arabic names and our alphabet is actually the Arabic alphabet.  I have no qualms with Islam, just extremism in any religion, including mine.  I even think that an atheist person who tries to be good and unselfish is more deserving of the kingdom of heaven because he does it by pure love of life, and not because he expects a reward after death, he might not even believe in an afterlife and yet he lives closer to the teachings of Jesus than some holier than thou bible thumping preachers or followers of Christ.  In the words of the Dalai Lama ” I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ”. Keep up the good work and I pray for more people to come to realize that you are right and that critical thinking actually honors God. 

    Humberto Ramirez 
    LV, Nv

  • Luke-O

    A new one I’ve heard is “since the baby is totally dependent on one person’s body then it’s okay to killl the baby.”

    So what if a woman delivers alone, can she kill it after a few hours? The baby is TOTALLY dependent one only ONE person’s body… so thus, it has no rights.

    • Rosie

      I’d say that since the fetus is inside a woman’s body, it’s her right to remove it whenever she likes. That it dies as a consequence of this removal is an unfortunate side effect, but not one we have the science to remedy at this time.

      • Genevieve

        I say that since the baby is in the woman’s arms, she has the right to throw it over the overpass any time she likes.

      • Silentbob

        @ Genevieve

        If the only alternatives were throwing it over the overpass or surgically grafting the baby onto her arms and compelling her by force of law to breast feed it continually for nine months at a stretch, twenty-four hours a day, without respite and the woman had never agreed to hold the baby in the first place…
        … you might have a point.

      • http://tiny.cc/bostonreaders ounbbl

        It’s called murdering. If that’s not murdering, what else is?

    • SophieUK

      No, it no longer poses the same threat to her health when it’s not inside her. And she can go and find someone else to to take it.

    • D.

      No, you never heard that, because babies are born. Oops.

    • Taranel

      There’s no comparison between the two. A born child may be dependent on another person’s good will for its continued survival, but it is in no sense literally dependent on that person’s body, by dint of feeding off that person’s bodily resources. Not the same thing in the slightest, so your argument is null and void.

  • http://www.destroyideas.com Steven

    Of course it’s about controlling the sex lives of females. Thus the phrase, “I’m also pro-choice. They can chose to not have sex.” Or the joke, “The best birth control pill is the aspirin put between your knees.”

    These aren’t conflating pro-life opinions with a broader conservative economic opinion, these are the opinions expressed by the pro-life people on the issue of abortion.

    • http://tiny.cc/bostonreaders ounbbl

      Does any body care about sex lives of females in real terms – may be except the old pope ;-<
      As moms used to tell daughters 'keep your legs together'.

      • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

        And once again you prove Libby’s point. Its about sex for you people.

      • Rosie

        As a female, I care a great deal about my own sex life. I just don’t happen to think it’s any of your business, ounbbl, since I will never be having sex with you under any circumstances.

      • A

        We can have sex if we goddamn please! How many times have you had sex?
        Maybe you should keep your legs together, it takes two sets of genitals to have sex.
        It horrifies me how sexist so many people are when it comes to views of abortion..

      • Taranel

        This isn’t just about unmarried young girls, you know. Or consensual sex. Your statement “daughters keep your legs together” assumes that the only females out there having sex likely to lead to unwanted pregnancies are young women and teenage girls. Fact is though that married women have sex too, and of course many, many women–and girls–are raped. Both married women and rape victims are as likely to have unwanted pregnancies as those daughters who need to keep their legs together.

  • nixmum

    In case anyone’s interested, I’m a childless woman who was permitted (allowed to choose) a tubal ligation when I was 35. I’d been wanting one for years, and when I hit 35, I decided it was time. I had to go through some counseling (with a group). There were plenty of young women in there with me. At that time I’d had one abortion, and I was married, so I’m sure both of those factors made it easier for me to obtain the sterilization. This was, however, 16 years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s gotten more difficult to obtain a tubal ligation since that time.

    • Rosie

      I found it relatively easy, at age 38 (last year), to obtain a tubal without having children first. I picked a doc out of the phonebook, gave her all the information in my consultation appointment (married 10 years, abortion 3 months ago, no PIV sex since, a memorized list of contraceptive options and why I want the tubal), and she scheduled me right away. A friend obtained a tubal 5 or 6 years ago when she was 30 and single and childfree, but that was in Seattle where it’s probably a bit easier to find a feminist doctor. For a woman who’s under 30, it’s nearly impossible to get sterilized unless you have at least 2 kids, though. Reliable, reversible, options are generally better for women under 30, though–they don’t have to worry about potential bone loss from the hormones yet, anyway.

  • Pingback: Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life - Page 41 - Christian Forums

  • wcg

    I just want to say three things: 1) this is a great post, much appreciated and brave. 2) You are unusual in that facts actually changed your well entrenched beliefs. This seems to be happening less than it should. Beliefs are meant to be shaken. 3) I’m doing my part to make it clear to my kids that sex is natural and their views shouldn’t be distorted by other’s beliefs, contraception is perfectly acceptable and obviously preferred when they start to become sexual active. Abortion is my daughter’s choice not mine, not any church and not any government.

  • Sarah

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this.

  • ginger k

    Welcome to the rational world, author of this article. Rational people have been objecting to the misogynist anti-choicers for many years using your arguments. I hope you act on your new convictions and support pro-woman groups like Planned Parenthood.

    • Taranel

      So we have indeed been making these arguments already, and for quite some time. The fact is, however, that she does have a better likelihood of having her arguments more respected due to her background as a one-time religious-based pro-lifer. At least marginally, she does. I’ve no doubt many will revile her opinion because of her status as an EX-religious-based pro-lifer, but it’s also true that there’s a certain population of people who will be more inclined to trust her viewpoint because of it’s perceived higher level of trustworthiness.

  • http://www.insertcleverlinkhere.com Kelly L

    Like apparently many others, I found this post via a friend on facebook. I just wanted to commend you for not only freely expressing your views, but for doing research to back it up. I’ve always been too lazy to look up the facts and statistics but I’m glad someone did. :)

    I was actually in the middle of writing my own pro-choice post, I might quote you a time or two in it, if that’s all right. I’ll link back.

  • Andrew DeGiorgio

    Long, interesting article. I’m slowly working my way through it, but with regards to legal restriction and abortion rates: income and rule of law are huge confounding factors. The Guttmacher fact sheet the author links compares restrictive laws in developing countries to permissive laws in first-world countries, and it’s apples to oranges. Poland or Ireland vs. the rest of Europe would be a better comparison. But again, legal restriction in a country where rule of law is strong (like the US) and income is high is going to have an entirely different effect than in places like Bolivia.

    • Andrew DeGiorgio

      Also, note that Guttmacher may systematically overestimate abortion rates in countries where it is illegal. In 2006, it estimated 34-36 abortions per 1000 women in Mexico City. As of 2007, abortion in Mexico city is legal up to 12 weeks, and free. In 2008 and 2009, using Guttmacher’s own population data, there were only 7.1 public-sector abortions per 1000 women. Of course, there may have been other private/clandestine abortions; conversely, these numbers may include abortion “tourism” from all over the country. Make what you will of these numbers.

      References:

      http://www.guttmacher.org/media/evidencecheck/2012/07/30/Guttmacher-Advisory.2012.07.pdf
      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3415808.html

      (Search “Mexico City” within each of these Guttmacher publications)

      • http://tiny.cc/bostonreaders ounbbl

        That’s what the pro-abortionists are trying to base on their pro-death ideology.

    • Rosie

      Aye, if income is high and rule of law is strong, women travel abroad for their abortions, which may put their stats into a different country (depending on how they’re gathered) but it doesn’t make it not happen.

  • Aaren

    I am against abortion. And most the people I know along with myself believe that birth control would stop pregnancy. How ever the dispute lies in forcing an organization to pay for BC when it is against their believe. I am not of that faith but that is their right. Also, in my area are multiple clinics that all but give pregnancy and delivery cost away. Charging you on a sliding scale. Women are uneducated if they think they can not get help at low to no cost. Why cant we just try to change the pro life movement instead of changing our stance? I am pro life and will not change because they “haven’t seen the light”. As for the side affects of abortion, there are some and they are real, many women find they cannot conceive after having an abortion (besides the greatest side effect is a murder). I understand if their facts are not straight, but the pro choice and pro abortion movements also use stats to the their benefit and they leave out very important info. Everyone knows not every pregnancy takes, 1 in 3 women will miscarry. But a natural passing is very different from an induced loss. I understand your amazement at your eyes being opened to the idea of birth control, but you are misinformed if you think all pro lifers are that naive. There is amazing info out there, and what needs to happen is people need to be educated. I would love to think that my children will wait until they are married to have sex, protecting their bodies minds and spirits, BUT they will know what birth control is they will also know that the pill is not enough. This day and age you are lucky if all you get is pregnant. Wow, you have unsafe sex and you create life, congrats your body works and that is what sex does. But unfortunately STDs are more real and they take away life and those consequences are far greater than financially struggling to raise a family. The govt currently make a lot of concessions for helping “families”, I know this because the economy has hit us hard and we have been getting help. My child was born 5 weeks early and I was high risk with him. To think that I could have gotten scared and aborted him at that same stage of development is not just mind blowing but appalling and an insult to basic intelligence. My baby knew MY voice held MY hand and responded greatly to MY touch, not everyones. Though his lungs were not completely developed and he needed time (10 days) in NICU to let his lungs complete developing. It is an insult to every person to think that because an organization fudges facts that I might change my stance and that beautiful red headed little boy could have been killed because I could not inconvenienced is pure evil. Your drive to educate on birth control should be your focus, because those “other countries” that have low abortion rates are also because they are crazy loose with their sexuality and it is normal for a 12 year old to loose their virginity and to be on birth control. There is balance in all this, but I have yet to see anyone do it. Why is all or nothing for both sides? Yes birth control, yes pro life it is possible.

    • Aaren

      One more tid bit, it is possible to also get low to no cost BC NOW and women are not using it, and it is provided thru Planned Parenthood, to list one of many. I dont care if its free, women have a choice to use it or not. It will not drop abortion rates 70% as the other side would like to praise. Women are not using now and they could why should I believe they will have sex “responsibly” then?

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        If you would look at the actual study, you would know the answer to this question. There are many different kinds of birth control, some more or less reliable and some more or less expensive. The reason the study showed such a drop in rates was that the women opted for the more reliable forms of birth control that are also some of the most expensive ones, namely methods like the IUD. I have an IUD and it cost $900. It will, however, last for 5 years and has an extremely low failure rate.

      • Genevieve

        Libby, as a pro-life woman, I would gladly support IUDs for women who are on public assistance. They ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE under Medicaid, and no one is trying to take it away. In fact, many people, like me, would be happy if IUDs or similar long-term birth control were mandatory for receiving public assistance.

        I would also support requiring insurance that chose to cover ANY form of contraception to cover ALL forms of contraception and not just pick and choose only the cheapest method. So an insurance company might not cover EVERY pill formulation on the market, but it would cover a pill, and it might not cover all IUDs, but it would cover at least one IUD, etc.

        I am against forcing Catholic employers to pay for any contraception against their convictions, however. This is an entirely separate issue. And no, I am not Catholic.

    • smrnda

      Why should I toil for a company (as in my labor creates their profits) and pay insurance premiums to a plan that doesn’t cover my contraception? Should my employer be permitted to pay me in Company Money (or Catholic Dollars?) so that I cannot buy anything that they might object to?

    • Sophie

      I strongly object to your description of the inhabitants of countries with low abortion rates as being ‘crazy loose with their sexuality’ or that it’s the norm for twelve year olds in those countries to be sexually active and on birth control. I believe what you mean is that the inhabitants in those countries have very healthy and positive attitudes to sex and that the children there have been given a comprehensive sex education. You may also find that those countries also have extremely low teenage pregnancy rates and low instances of STDs.

  • Jen

    The one question left unanswered: Why does the Pro-Life movement overlook all the facts concerning birth control, etc that would actually lead to less abortions? Answer: Pro-Lifers are more concerned with forcing Americans to adhere to their belief system than they are about reducing abortions.

    • Genevieve

      Because it isn’t true. Birth control is available for free or near-free from a number of sources, including being available for free to every woman on Medicaid, and 1.2 MILLION children are still killed each year.

      • Anat

        People earning too much to be on Medicaid but lacking insurance are in a bind though. Also, does Medicaid cover IUDs and implanats? An IUD costs several hundreds of dollars up-front, but is among the most effective reversible methods of birth control. And not everyone can use generic birth control pills. The more specialized ones can be $30 per month or even $100 per month, according to some of Libby-Anne’s readers. So no, birth control isn’t as accessible as its consumers would like nor is it as easily affordable.

      • Rosie

        And if you want to get sterilized on your own dime, you either need a substantial savings account to raid or a really, really financially supportive family.

      • Rosie

        Also, isn’t Medicaid controlled by the state? I was able to get free contraception (as a non-disabled childless woman) under Medicaid in Washington, but I’m not at all sure the same is available to me in Kansas.

    • http://tiny.cc/bostonreaders ounbbl

      What belief system other than Reverence to Life?

      • phantomreader42

        If you fetus-fetishists gave a flying fuck about “Reverence to Life”, you wouldn’t fight tooth and nail against every effort to provide healthcare, food, and shelter to those in need.

      • Rosie

        If you haven’t read “City of Illusions”, the novella by Ursula K. LeGuin, I highly recommend it, ounbbl.

  • Brad
  • John Zerillo

    The welfare rolls, probation caseloads and prisons are filled with unwanted children. Only myopic intolerant people make the nonsensical statements that support the pro-life perspective.

  • Heidi

    A few things:

    First, not all pro-life movements are anti-birth control. I firmly believe that birth control should be covered by insurance companies.
    Second, there actually is a 5K for life here in Milwaukee that supports a ministry for pregnant mothers who need help.
    Third, I had no idea that 18% of fertilized eggs were rejected. Thank you for publishing that. We need all the facts. I now feel better about being on the pill and only adding 1 or 2% to that number.

  • Maria

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2012/11/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement-rebuttal-up-in-hurrrrr-part-1.html

    I’m sure someone already posted this but this such a clear response to your claims in your blog post.

  • RitaDee

    I have always been pro-life, but I have always believed that the only way to reduce the number of abortions was through better education, health care, job security & contraception/family planning, etc… NOT by force. For me, it is in the same realm of thinking as trying to reduce the number of suicides… a law will NOT stop a desperate soul looking for a way out. A single law does not deter a situation surrounded by multiple factors (woman’s health, rape, economics, deadbeat men, upbringing etc, etc). My belief is that the better way to save lives is to care for each other enough in the beginning so that it reduces the number of people who reach that point of having to make a choice.

  • Lucian

    But if banning abortion does not decrease abortion rates, what does?

    Selflessness and loving-kindness.

  • http://tamarastreasures-swerline.blogspot.com/ Tamara

    I suppose I could be called “A Church Lady for Choice.” I so agree with all you published and the resources quoted. The bottom line is the issue is NOT abortion – it is about morality. Morality is something that cannot and should not be legislated. I too, am pro-birth control. Legal abortion or illegal abortion? Keep them legal.

  • http://tamarastreasures-swerline.blogspot.com/ Tamara

    I suppose I could be called “A Church Lady for Choice.” I so agree with all you published and the resources quoted. The bottom line is the issue is NOT abortion – it is about morality. Morality is something that cannot and should not be legislated. I too, am pro-birth control. Legal abortion or illegal abortion? Keep them legal.

    • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

      Morality is something that is legislated every time a law is passed. Every law tells us something that is prohibited to do – ie, is wrong. Personally, I think it is the government’s responsibility to protect life by calling murder “wrong”. Perhaps you would prefer to live in a society that doesn’t?

      • Mary

        Do you think women who have abortions should be locked up in jail with little to no chance to get out, just like other murderers? What should their punishment be?

      • A

        What about protecting /her/ life? It’s murder to force a teenager to support a child she cannot have leading her into poverty and ill health- and it’s really murder of that child to leave it with someone who cannot love and support it.
        You can make claims of adoptions all day, but so many just sit there waiting for a family and end up passing of age and living alone, emotionally and mentally distressed. Or perhaps they could be chosen and end up in an abusive family?
        So what’s really murder? Killing off a few cells that haven’t yet developed pain receptors- and in many cases haven’t even developed all the required organs to ‘live’- or is it destroying the life of two individuals through abuse and poverty?
        I don’t know about you, but /I/ would prefer to live in a society where the least harm occurs to it’s residents- where it is considered ‘wrong’ to force women to ruin their lives and their child’s.

      • Taranel

        If it’s the government’s responsibility to protect life by calling murder wrong, why doesn’t the government make it illegal to bathe, since the act of personal hygiene kills microorganisms by the trillions. Why doesn’t the government make it illegal to innoculate against contagious diseases?

        Hint: it isn’t about protecting “life” because that is rather a nebulous term, and not all life is held to be equal. Thankfully most of us have moved beyond the days when people of color were not considered human and therefore not worthy, or just “less” worthy of legal protections, but we still, most of us, make a moral and legal distinction between such things as killing a human being versus killing a rattlesnake. Heck, we even, generally speaking, make a moral and sometimes legal distinction between killing a stray dog and killing someone’s pet dog. We also distinguish between killing a human after breaking into their house, and killing a human being who broke into your house. Killing a fetus growing within your body is killing life, yes, but it is NOT killing a person, the same way that cutting off a mangled arm is killing life, but not killing a person.

        Like it or not, in a great many cases, abortion, if you want to think of it these terms, is self-defense. That may sound horrible to you, but thanks to the society we live in, where the reality for many women is that having to raise a baby, or another baby, dooms them to perpetual poverty and all the very bad ramifications thereof, that’s the harsh reality of forcing women not to have abortions. And no, don’t come back with “but they could just go for adoption instead,” because adoption is not the great and final solution you think it is.

  • Penny Hammack

    My Story

    In 1966 I got a job with American Airlines. For that time it was a dream job, men were paid the same as women and we had good health insurance. A couple of years later I thought I was pregnant. I had a husband and two children and we were barely making ends meet. My first pregnancy left me severely morning sick for three months. My second pregnancy caused me to be morning sick all day long from two weeks after conception until four months into the pregnancy. My doctor went through every drug for morning sickness in the PDA. Fortunately he didn’t get to Thalidomide.

    American, as well as most industries at the time did not look favorably on employees coming to work and spending most of the day in the restroom throwing up. They also didn’t even think about an employee taking three or four months off to be morning sick and then returning to work. In fact I believed I would be fired immediately.

    I was using birth control (an IUD) but, as I learned later, it had floated out of my uterus into my abdomen. At the time abortions were legal in most of Europe but not in the United States. We had travel privileges on other airlines so I went to work determined to go to Europe to have an abortion if I proved to be pregnant. At that time and in our circumstances that seemed like the reasonable and prudent thing to do. The story ends here. I wasn’t pregnant and never had another scare like that again.

    This is why I will vote for the town drunk before I vote for any candidate that wants to eliminate abortion and birth control rights.

  • http://www.godpots.com Susan Phillips

    I just watched this 3 minute video with David Swartz, author of Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an age of Conservatism and he specifically mentions the idea of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies as a mutual goal for those who identify with “evangelical” and “left.”
    http://blog.chron.com/thepeacepastor/2012/11/the-often-ignored-evangelical-left/

  • Goo An

    I was (emphasize the ‘was’) thinking that really the only way the pro-life movement isn’t completely inconsistent with themselves is because of their mindset about media influence and the like; that is, they think policies that remind you something exists make you more likely to do those things. They think if you see legal abortions in your country and are taught sex ed or given easy contraception, it normalizes having abortions and unwed sex (which itself leads to abortions), so by making abortion illegal and teaching abstinence based sex ed, you are unlikely to do these things. But, that doesn’t hold up to the data of what people actually do with more pro-choice polices. For pro-lifers who know this, I am disturbed.

    They are inconsistent because they want policies whose main results are what a girl thinks about what she’s doing, not if or how much she does it.

    Many Pro-lifers underneath don’t care if teaching sex ed, making contraception easy, and legalizing abortion makes you more likely to have sex or abortions; they really just want their own morals set as the norm rather than others. These types of conservatives, instead of being about saving lives, are fighting a battle ground for the IDEAS of NORMAL (i.e. only their ideas should be normal or else you’re out to get them).

    This is the same BS that makes them ask for the erasure of LGBTQ in the media because it might “recruit the children”.

  • Jay

    Brilliant article, honestly and astutely written. You’re correct in your conclusion that the pro-life movement, like all movements stemming from the fundamentalist right worldwide, wants badly to control women’s bodies and women’s sexual behavior. The sad thing is that the political right in the country makes no bones about its desire for a monolithic conservative (medieval) Christian dogma dictating the legal and civil rights of all Americans. This has nothing to do with “saving babies,” as you rightly conclude,” but to rule America by a Christian sharia law. I’ve always thought this, and find it so vile and offensive that I can’t believe that mankind — well, an educated American populace — can allow such abominations like the pro-life movement to exist.

  • Tamara

    Thank you, finally, validation, I had come to the same conclusion that the use of birth control would reduce the rate of abortion and that the pro life movement was about regulating womens sex lives. Lots of great info, thanks.

  • Natalie Phillips

    As the founder and former president of a Big Ten chapter of Campus for Choice I would like to thank you. You get it. You really get it. Welcome and God bless.

  • Nancy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have lived through pre and post Roe v Wade, and have always supported CHOICE. Your positions are compelling on so many levels. I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of the information you sought….it has changed my perspective. I am now a pro-choice advocate that first wants to save unborn babies. It is your generation’s turn to fight this battle…. please continue to speak out!!

  • Shannon

    This was a brilliantly written post. Thank you for all of the hard work you did to write this. It was something that needed to be said, and you said it very eloquently.

  • US Journalist

    As a child, I learned that a beloved sister had tried to self-abort. My parents then got her psychological help and a legal abortion (this was in before Roe vs. Wade). So I have been grateful for that amendment my entire life. And while I have never had an abortion, I do not stand in judgement of women and couples who choose it. It is better than the alternative and as widespread as it appears to be, no one takes it lightly.

    Having spent a lot of time on evangelical blogs has further confirmed my understanding that anti-abortion, anti-contraceptive attitudes are indeed a “war on women” because what they are about is preserving patriarchal rule in families. “The wife’s body is for the husband’s comfort” is one of many quotes I picked up on a discussion thread.

    Go on line and find yourself a thread on having marital sex when you don’t want to. Essentially, women are not allowed to say no for any reason. If you think back to the evangelical position of abstinence until marriage, it stands to reason that what motivates a lot of pro-life extremists is making sure that, having given up many partners for a lifetime, their wife can perform the role of constant, eager, willing and sexual partner.

    If you really want to understand the evangelical pro-life, anti- contraceptive, men-need-to-keep-women-in-their-place-extremism, start your research there. And don’t forget the bitterness that divorce brings to their sense of moral rightness. Many evangelical men are left by wives. It is no surprise to me that they cling ever more closely to the idea that women should not enjoy freedom. Denying them any avenues to personal self-fulfillment is a way of guaranteeing that they will not be abandoned. “The wife’s body is for the husband’s comfort.” Translation: a man’s home is his castle. And a woman’s body is, too.

  • Loyal

    I can see some of the points made, but ultimately found some of them based on a particular subset of the pro-life movement and others I simply did not find convincing.

    Economics. The economics behind abortion is the author’s final point, but I will list it first because on this point we are in strong agreement. The primary pressure turning people towards abortion is economics- if a woman must work to earn income to sustain herself or her family, then she cannot easily afford to be pregnant; if pregnancy will hamper career advancement, she cannot easily afford to be pregnant; if a woman will be kicked out of school for getting pregnant, she cannot easily afford to be pregnant. And these pressures should be alleviated if we are to be truly pro-life. That is why being pro-life must be bigger than just outlawing abortion. Pro-life advocates should be saying FMLA is a great start but needs to be stronger and provide paid time off. Employers should be more flexible with parents- telecommuting, flexible hours, allowing children in (safe) workplaces, subsidizing childcare, etc. ObamaCare™ should be applauded by pro-lifers for reducing the demand for abortion through providing contraceptives and mandating a minimal amount of health care (but unfortunately many pro-life advocates are blinded by partisanship). Finding ways to create jobs that can support a family should be a top priority of any pro-life politician.

    And many pro-life ministries deal with those economic realities. For example, Mom’s House (http://www.momshouse.org/) provides free child care and career counseling to single parents who chose life and are furthering their education. Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services (http://svps.org/Services.aspx) provides education on adoption, local support services (medical care, financial services, etc.), parenting classes, financial counseling, etc. YWAM’s Adoption Ministry (http://adoptionministry.net/node/73) provides comfortable residential housing, academic tutoring, and medical care so that women who do not wish to keep their babies but wish to give them up for adoption can have a supportive and comfortable environment.

    Abortion laws do not reduce abortions. Not able to read the study the author referenced since it is not linked to, I can only go by what she summarized and a similar WHO study summarized in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/24/health/abortion-worldwide-rate-stopped-falling-after-2003-researchers-cite-scarcity-of-contraception.html?ref=worldhealthorganization). In both cases another correlation (and a more likely causation) is to be found and that is the link between abortion rates and economics/industrialization/age demographics. (In these studies, the term “rate” is abortions per # of women, not abortions per # of pregnancies.) US and Western Europe have low rates while Latin America and Africa have higher rates and of all of Africa, South Africa (the most industrialized) has the lowest rate in Africa. However, the more industrialized and economically well off a nation is, the more access to birth control there is, the more incentive to use birth control and keep families small, the better the education system is (and more likely the population is to be educated about birth control), the more likely public assistance is available to provide income for a woman who keeps her baby, and age demographics shift from a younger, more fertile population towards a older, less fertile population.

    Abortion laws cause women to put their lives at risk. This is true in the same way that banning pharmaceutical companies from selling cocaine or meth leads to people poisoning themselves with black market versions containing who knows what. But unlike that rather crude comparison, women are subject to many forces which direct them to abortions. The primary pressure is economics- if a woman must work to earn income to sustain herself or her family, then she cannot easily afford to be pregnant; if pregnancy will hamper career advancement, she cannot easily afford to be pregnant; if a woman will be kicked out of school for getting pregnant, she cannot easily afford to be pregnant. And these pressures should be alleviated if we are to be truly pro-life. That is why being pro-life must be bigger than just outlawing abortion. (See Economics.)

    Contraception. I am all for contraception. People are going to have sex whether contraception is available or not. It is better we educate and make contraception available than use abortion as contraception. We should not start confusing contraception with abortion. They are two different subjects. I understand that Catholic pro-life arguments often blend the two because they feel strongly about both. But as the author pointed out, most contraceptives do not cause miscarriages.

    “Zygotes” and the supposed lack of concern regarding them. When my wife and I had 3 miscarriages, all within the first trimester, we did not just lose a collection of cells we had no feelings for as the author accuses. We lost 3 children whom we mourned deeply and still do. If you ask just about anyone who has lost a baby through miscarriage they will share similar feelings. There has been extensive research by the medical community to help prevent miscarriages. In our case it was a simple hormonal imbalance that prevented proper implantation. Once this was corrected our next daughter was able to fully develop and she is a source of joy.

    • Jason

      So . . . essentially abortion should be legal because the body aborts naturally periodically and the Pro-Life movement is composed of many different people -some of whom are utter turds.

      Really??

      That’s like saying murder should be legal because folks tend to die regardless.

      There is no logical reason that a fetus should be denied personhood that does not apply somewhere else -other than it’s location inside the mother. It doesn’t breathe?? So you can kill folks on ventilators? No heartbeat yet? Well, we’ll save a whole lot of money on heart transplants.

      In my life, I have seen 3 children grow and develop and be born. I have also lost a fourth. It saddens me to no end when I think of the time I have played with my children in-utero -by tapping on their mother’s belly and feeling them tap in reply -and think of the response I got from each of my children upon hearing my voice unfiltered for the first time . . . . it saddens me that I was bonding with an unborn child that people don’t even think is alive. And that could be killed for any reason whatsoever.

      But let’s be clear: Birth control . . . illegal abortions . . . all of that is just fluff to split ideological hairs. Let’s have common sense. Let’s make birth control widely available. Educate whenever we can. Offer ‘legitimate’ pregnancy conuseling services -as opposed to Planned Parenthood who aborts 92 babies for every 100 pregnant women walking in the door. We need to change stateside laws to make the adoption process more relevant.

      But really . . . to say that a fetus isn’t alive . . . I just don’t know what to say. If you want a litmus test, why don’t you sit down with a sammich and frosy cold one and watch a late-term abortion. No? That would make you uncomfortable?? Good. Because it’s murder. It should make you uncomfortable. And the in-utero dismemberment of a 4 month old fetus is no different.

      • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

        Whoa, back the fuck up. You say stuff like, “92 out of every 100 pregnant woman,” you need to source that shit.

        Also, the very point is by getting pregnant four times with your knowledge, there are countless times your body has killed developing humans without your knowledge.

        Which means either one of two things:

        1.) You’re a murderer as much as any abortionist

        2.) Such lost pregnancies aren’t murder.

        And if they aren’t murder, then in the words of Churchill, “We have already established what you are. Now we are merely haggling.”

      • D.

        Damn, Jason. It has just occurred to me that we need to be outlawing most surgeries immediately, because I cannot handle watching them being performed. I notice you have offered no argument for that whole “inside the mother” thing. Why not?

      • Taranel

        A fetus is alive, yes. Nobody has argued otherwise. Seriously, do you ever see anyone claiming that a growing fetus is dead (obviously not talking about pregnancies that have to be aborted because the fetus IS dead)? No, you don’t. Because we don’t claim the fetus isn’t alive.
        Terminology matters. It really, really does. What we argue is that a fetus, especially one only a few weeks old, is not a person the way that a two month old baby is a person, or a grown pregnant woman (or young pregnant girl).

        And nice job, trying to equate all abortions in general with specific, late-term ones. The ones that make up exactly less than 1.5 percent of all total abortions, and ALL of which are done ONLY for serious health problems to either the pregnant person, the unborn fetus, or both. Late-term abortions are not pretty, no, that’s a given. But they are also the exception to the general norm of what abortion involves, and thus don’t deserve to be your litmus test for general abortion realities. I notice you specifically DID go for the kind of abortion most likely to wrench emotional response in favor of your perspective, rather than discussing a more typical abortion performed at, say, twelve or sixteen weeks. Even though early term abortions are far, FAR more common than the late-term one that so disgusts you, and are also the ones more likely to be done for, *gasp* non-health reasons.

    • Lisa68

      @Loyal: “When my wife and I had 3 miscarriages, all within the first trimester, we did not just lose a collection of cells we had no feelings for as the author accuses. We lost 3 children whom we mourned deeply and still do. If you ask just about anyone who has lost a baby through miscarriage they will share similar feelings.”

      I’ve also had three first trimester miscarriages (two right at the beginning of the second trimester). I also mourned, and still do – the first was over 15 years ago. However…one of those chlidren whom I mourned deeply wasn’t even a zygote. Upon ultrasound examination, it was determined that I had a “blighted ovum”. There was no embryo – just an empty sac. (It’s my understanding that these sometimes don’t spontaneously abort, as mine did, and require a D&C to clear.) My emotional reaction to the loss doesn’t determine the reality of what was in my uterus. I had pregnancy hormones. I had pregnancy symptoms. I had pregnancy euphoria. What I *didn’t* have, in any real sense, was a pregnancy. I still mourn that “baby”…and it wasn’t one, and it wasn’t ever going to be one.

  • Ro Hayden

    Libby Anne you’ve totally missed the point of the pro-life movement. We oppose abortion because it’s WRONG. Legal, illegal, one, ten, a million. If a politician votes for, or a president signs into law, an abortion bill that leads to the death of one child, the blood of that one child is on his or her hands.

    • phantomreader42

      No, the fetus-fetishists oppose abortion because they are brainwashed drones whose only goal is to make life miserable for women and children.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        phantomreader42, I don’t know if I qualify as a “fetus-fetishist”, but I assure you I oppose abortion on the basis of sound scientific and rational thinking. If you go around calling people “brainwashed drones” and accuse them trying to make life miserable for people, you are only displaying the hatred and ignorance that some pro-abortion people, such as yourself, hold to (and I hope is not typical of most of them). It also displays how, in the absense of any intelligent, rational arguments, you stoop to attacking people. If you cannot offer any intelligent and/or compassionate reponses, then you have no place in these discussions. (Please read the first 2 points in Libby’s guidelines for comments.)

    • Rosie

      “Wrong” is in this case a matter of perspective, philosophy, and religion. We don’t force people to follow a religion that is not their own in this country.

      • Rosie

        I should have said “in the US”, as that’s where I live, and I believe Libby does as well.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        Actually, Rosie, we have thousands of laws in our society that spell out what is wrong for people to do. I wouldn’t want to live in a society that didn’t call anything wrong, ie, that allowed people to do whatever they wanted. And, no, we don’t force people to follow any religion. What does that have to do with killing preborn human beings?

      • Rosie

        Well, I am of a rather libertarian bent, meaning that if it’s not hurting anybody else, I think it should be legal. In cases like abortion where one person and one potential person (or even, possibly, two people) are involved, the laws need to respect the person who is fully conscious and capable of making choices. In the case of two fully conscious individuals, the laws allow each to make their own choices, and for those choices to be respected. If I respect another conscious person’s choice to live, I can see it’s wrong to kill them in cold blood (self-defense is another story). But I’m not ever obligated to donate any part of my body to their continued life, no matter how much they might be in need of an organ I can (theoretically) spare.

    • D.

      So, just to clarify, you think abortion is wrong just because? It doesn’t matter to you how many lives can be saved by legalizing it and making it safe? Please, do explain why abortion is “wrong” if your objection to it isn’t a loss of life.

  • Allison

    I am so glad you got it! Your piece sums up what I believe and why. You brought up so many more points and key facts. I wish more pro-lifers would get it! If we are going to force women to have babies, then we must be ready to support them! Thank you for blogging this. It is so important for other pro-life people to read this and hopefully get it.

  • JoAnn

    You poor girl. You have been duped and your college education aided and abetted that. I will pray for you, for the lives that will be lost because of your so-called “convictions”. I hope you thank your mother for not being pro-choice and allowing you to be born. She gave you a great gift and it is one that you want every woman to throw away. God bless you child. You will need it.

    • phantomreader42

      When a christian tells an atheist “I’ll pray for you”, they are ALWAYS lying. What they’re really doing is fantasizing about watching their monstrous imaginary friend torture us forever for their own sick amusement. Prayer is nothing more than babbling nonsense to the voices in your head.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        phantomreader42, I always feel like punching someone who says “I’ll pray for you”. What a buch of crock!! But to try to say that religious people fantasize about torturing atheists (like myself) is ridiculous, and, worse, only serves to foment more enmity between people. Please don’t spread such vile sterotypes. We need to bring people together, not make them hate each other even more.

    • pieplatebingo

      My mother is, and always has been, pro-choice. She CHOSE to have me. She wasn’t FORCED to have me, which is what you and your ilk want of all pregnancies. I would feel incredibly guilty to be alive if my mother had to suffer through an unwanted pregnancy to bring me into this world.

      Your comment just really hit a nerve with me more than all of the run-of-the-mill hateful anti-woman crap above. How dare you assume all pro-choice people’s mothers were pro-forced-birth. My mother is awesome! And I’m an atheist so tell your imaginary friend to bless someone else.

    • D.

      You poor thing, you think your condescension masquerading as concern is fooling anyone. Pray for a backbone that will enable you to say what you mean instead of being so pathetically passive-aggressive, JoAnne. You need it!
      I don’t think you understand what “pro-choice” means. You see, we’re actually in support of the right to choose – unlike “pro-life”, the name that identifies us is accurate. Most women who seek abortions are already mothers. Supporting access to safe, legal abortion and the right to CHOOSE what is best for you is not the same as wanting everyone ever to get an abortion.

    • Taranel

      You do realize that pro-choice doesn’t mean “will always choose abortion”, right? Many, many women who are pro-choice also do not choose abortion for themselves. Being pro-choice doesn’t mean you don’t want to have children, it means you CHOOSE to have them, rather than being forced to. That’s rather the bloody point, actually. Thanks to Roe vs. Wade, women in the U.S. (barring all the stupid restrictive laws that’ve been passed recently), women have children because they WANT to have them and CHOOSE to have them, not because they’re forced to have them due to abortion being illegal. So no, sorry, you don’t get to decide that people who have children are somehow by dint of that fact automatically NOT pro-choice. My mother was and is pro-choice, and she wanted me all along. The same is true for me. I am totally, 100% pro-choice all the way, I believe that abortion should be freely available to all women for any reason, at any time, no exceptions and no restrictions. Yet I still plan on having one, preferably two, kids.

  • Mcn

    From your tone, your ‘I was duped’ prolifer-turned-prochoicer schtick seems to be a flimsy counterfeit to garner respectability. Your post is such a brazen apology for Planned Parenthood…there’s no way you’re what you say you are.
    If you were truly ever so opposed to abortion, you would not have ‘converted’ so easily. One doesn’t accept what one had previously viewed as intrinsic evil based on demographic data in a NYTimes piece.
    But for the sake of your readers, some rebuttals:
    1) the data from that NYTimes piece is cooked. There are thorough responses online that shred it. One small example: significant that they compare 1st and 3rd world countries based on population per capita…NOT on birth rates. 1st world countries have FAR lower birth rates so the comparisons are off kilter. And keep in mind the study was funded by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion advocacy group that was formerly an affiliated arm of Planned Parenthood.
    2) your logic that outlawing abortions does not lower abortion rates is ridiculous on the face of it…it doesn’t require deconstructing; by the same logic, outlawing contraceptives won’t lower their usage…so why is making them free supposed to increase their use?
    3) your logic on weighing contraception against abortion leads to one simple conclusion: put contraceptive drugs in the drinking water and offer an antidote by request – presto! impossible to have unwanted pregnancies. Better yet, sterilize everyone. By implicitly accepting ‘the end justifies the means’ you are on a steep and slippery slope toward full on eugenics.
    4) you keep saying you presume prolifers’ sincerity. No, you don’t. You savage their conclusions and their intentions.
    5) you say that personhood starts only at birth? So, if the doctor reaches inside your womb and kills your child a minute before birth, you’re okay with that? I hate to break it to you, nothing magical happens to the child during the labor process. It’s mostly a change of geography. The child who is +1 minute old is indistinguishable from the child who is -1 minute old. But you say killing one is murder and killing the other is nothing.
    6) you build up that prolifers consider a fetus to be morally equal to an adult. That’s a timeworn prochoice paper tiger. While many prolifers would argue that, many won’t. The largest prolife organization in the world – the Catholic Church – would reject such logic.
    7) you say that prolifers want to control women’s sexual lives because they’re against birth control and abortion. You’re missing the painfully plain fact. Prolifers advocate for natural relationships (monogamous, loving) with natural sex, which can and often does lead to natural conception and childbirth – all of which should be maintained in their natural integrity. Its is prochoicers who want to surgically and medically alter women’s bodies so that sex is divorced from its natural processes, so it can be had in unnatural relationships (i.e. outside marriage)…and if those interdictions fail, then the woman should resort to invasive surgery to abort the child. Who’s trying to control whom?
    Good luck,
    m

    • Silentbob

      @ Mcn

      Every single one of your objections was thoroughly debunked two day ago by the same author.
      See: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/11/a-response-to-objections-on-my-pro-life-movement-post.html

      (BTW, it’s ironic that you accuse the author of jumping to conclusions about the so-called “pro-life” movement, and then end by declaring that all sex that is not both within marriage and procreative is “unnatural”.)

      • Silentbob

        My apologies. That should have read “four days ago”.

    • Dorfl

      So, your rebuttal of Libby Anne’s claim that the pro-life movement wants to control women’s sex lives is to point out that yes, the pro-life movement does in fact want to control women’s sex lives?

    • Rosie

      Mcn, in point of fact, an “unnatural” lesbian relationship would have saved me a great deal of fear, grief, synthetic hormones, and abdominal surgery. Because lesbians don’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancies. You really don’t think women are capable of wanting to not be pregnant so fiercely that they’ll willingly sacrifice body parts? You think women don’t want to continue in their heterosexual marriages so much that they’ll undergo an expensive and elective surgery to maintain it? I think you need to get out more.

    • phantomreader42

      It is simply an observed, empirical FACT that countries where abortion is illegal do not have significantly lower rates of abortion that countries where it is legal. I know that the very idea of facts is anathema to the fetus-fetishist death cult, but your refusal to accept reality will not make it go away, no matter how desperately you beg your imaginary friend to torture everyone who dares tell the truth.

    • D.

      I think you make an excellent point, mcn. It really shouldn’t be illegal for me to stab someone, I mean, the difference between holding a knife outside of their body and putting it in them is just a change in geography, right? It should not matter that I am violating their rights to their body and disrespecting their choices. I trust you will agree wholeheartedly with me on this one, as you clearly don’t seem to consider bodily autonomy important either!

    • Taranel

      Unnatural? Seriously? Dude, marriage isn’t natural. It’s an artificial construct, a human convention, and one that only exists because human beings agree to say that it does–i.e. if we draw up a piece of paper declaring that two people are married, and tell our friends and neighbors that two people are married, it becomes mutually agreed by all parties involved that two people are married. For no other reason than because “we say so” and “we have a paper that backs it up and calls it legal.” But you won’t find it in nature, it doesn’t grow on trees or live in water. It is not a thing, it is an agreement between two people that is recognized by other people. There’s nothing natural about marriage any more than there’s anything natural about birth certificates or birthday parties or wedding anniversaries or celebratory holidays–these things, all of them, aren’t “natural,” they’re just silly traditions that human beings made up and which do not exist outside of human thought processes. Sexuality is natural, in all its various expressions, but marriage is nothing more than a social contract humans invented after we developed that nifty little thing called civilization.

  • bham

    this is by far… the stupidest article i have read to date. spare yourselves and not go through the whole thing. no articulation, poorly composed sentences, no intelligent facts, misleading, and not to mention, just absolutely fictitious about every single thing it pointed out. its seriously making me think that a pro-choice author just made up this story, making it seem like they were pro-life first then converted, just to invite a set of eyes to continue reading. i think this is an article composed out of desperation. it tells you to read that you might be educated, turns out its the author who needs some serious education. its not my nature to bash on anyone, this is just simply stating truths.

    • Silentbob

      You make a very convincing argument. Your lack of bias is obvious.
      (/sarcasm)

    • Dorfl

      You’re aware that the words ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ are not defined as “thing I want to be true” and “thing I don’t want to be true”?

    • inurashii

      What I love the most about this comment is that pretty much no one who will read it won’t already have read the article.

    • D.

      “Intelligent facts”, I love it! Facts are established truths. They are neither “intelligent” nor “unintelligent”, and you’ll excuse me if I don’t think much of your definition of either word. It doesn’t magically become not bashing because you feel it is true (the difference between “fact” and “opinion” is clearly not one you are familiar with). I’m glad to hear that this article “seriously made [you] think”, it’s just a shame that you’re so woefully out of practice that even your serious efforts are rather pathetic.

    • smrnda

      And I take comments where the author doesn’t even bother to capitalize properly SO seriously.

    • Taranel

      “Spare yourselves and not go through the whole thing”? Er. You realize that probably everyone who reads down to your comment will have gotten TO your comment only after having read the entire article in the first place?

  • michael3ov

    @MarkKB

    Are you really that dense? The chart you provided shows exactly what eric said.

  • Brad1990

    @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?!”

    Er, can we not lump every man on the planet into the same category? It’s quite insulting to those of us who happen to possess both a penis and a modicum of human decency.

  • Brad1990

    Libby-Anne, that was a fantastic post; well supported and a convincing argument. It was also quite inspiring; it takes alot of courage to admit you were wrong. You have my genuine admiration, for what it’s worth.

  • Tara

    Simple and honest. Thank you for putting it all together in a way people can understand and relate to.

  • Lee

    Welcome to the reality-based community. I say this without sarcasm or irony, because you have demonstrated the single most salient characteristic of that community: the willingness to change your opinions on the basis of empirical evidence.

    Sadly, I believe you will find that the people you most want to reach — those who, like your former self, have been fooled by forced-birth propaganda — are by and large *not* members of the reality-based community. Evidence means nothing to them, and your defection to the side of reality turns you into fair game. You’re about to find out exactly what your former compatriots really think of women; I offer you all the support and sympathy I can in the face of the outpouring of hate you will inevitably receive.

    • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

      Lee,

      I have been involved with the anti-abortion movement and community for nearly 30 years. Although people involved on this side of the issue will frequently speak derisively of organizations such as NARAL or Planned Parenthood, and will try to put down pro-abortion candidates to office, I have never heard any “pro-lifer” experess hatred of someone because he or she took the opposite point of view. Libby Ann may get a lot of responses in opposition to her viewpoint, but I doubt that any of your predicted hate mail will be forthcoming.

      • Niemand

        I have never heard any “pro-lifer” express hatred of someone because he or she took the opposite point of view.

        Excuse me? Are we talking about the same movement? The one that murders doctors for performing life saving abortions, yells “baby killer” at women walking into women’s health centers, even if they’re there for a pap smear, and bombs clinics? As to whether the “pro-life” movement sends hate mail, what else do you call this threat of anthrax? Love letters?

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        I assure you I have never known anyone who murdered a doctor, bombed a clinic, sent an anthrax letter or yelled “baby killer” at any woman. Yes, such people exist, but you wish to characterize the movement to oppose abortion by the actions of a few of its most extreme members. Indeed, the thing that amazes me is the restraint that the movement as a whole has shown in the face of the killing of millions of helpless, innocent children.

        But let’s let Libby Anne answer this one. I would be curious to know if she has received any hateful responses to her post. Libby?

      • Niemand

        Ward, the people who encourage bombing of clinics and murder of doctors are the leaders of the “pro-life” movement. They’re the people you support. You are an accessory to their crimes, no matter how much you deny it.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        Niemand, I am not sure what makes you think that I am supporting anyone. I don’t support people; I merely stand up for what is right, in this case, basic human rights. In fact I have almost as much problem with those people that you claim I support, as I do with those who stand up for killing preborns. I am constantly “caught in the middle” wishing I could find sanity on one side or the other. On the one hand are people who think it is just fine to kill a child simply because he or she is still living inside his/her mother’s body. On the other hand are those wish to preach religion, deny women access to contraception so that they can try to avoid getting into the place of wanting to end a pregnancy, and doing just about everything else they can think of to undermine their own efforts and standing.

        There have been eight doctors and/or clinic personnel who have been killed by anti-abortion activists in the almost 40 years since Roe v. Wade “legalized” abortion. Meanwhile, over 50 million helpless little preborn human beings have been killed (in the U.S. alone). If you really think that I am an accessory to the “crimes” of the “pro-life” movement, what would you have me do? Support the practice of abortion and become an accessory to 50 million crimes?

  • http://www.feministschoosinglife.org Kelly Vincent-Brunacini

    Libby, I appreciate the time and thought that went into crafting this piece but I have a few comments that I hope you will see and consider. First, is is dangerous to generalize about any group because it leads to inaccurate sterotypes and characterizations. Not everyone involved in pro-life leadership does so solely to save unborn babies or to regulate women’s sexuality. There are pro-life organizations that exist to protect women from the potential exploitation that exists within the abortion industry. My story is exactly parellel but opposite to yours. I was pro-choice and went over to the pro-life side because I have seen how the abortion industry manipulates women, withholds important information and is sadly profit driven. Pro-choice organizations such as NAYRAL and NOW consisently deny that abortion can often have negative long term consequences for women and won’t even publically speak out against the forced contraception and forced abortion that exists in India and China and in parts of the Asian communities right here in the US. NOW and NAYRAL are also silent on abortions for the purpose of gender selection. This silence, denial and withholding of information women would find useful when making the abortion decision tells me that they are more than willing to put the abortion ideology ahead of women themselves. If the pro-life movement requires reform, the pro-choice movement need for reform is tenfold. Corruption and Coersion are rampant. Good marketing has convinced us that pro-choice means pro-women but evidence shows otherwise. That is why I left the pro-choice movement. Pro-choice orgs. such as Planned Parenthood can’t simutaneously put women and profit first. Profit is first and women somewhere after that.
    Second, it is intellectually dishonest to characterize natural miscarriage as the moral equivilent to induced abortion (through oral contraceptions function to prohibit implantation or abortion). Natural miscarriage happens because of defect with the fertilized egg. Oral contraception prevents the implantation of perfectly viable zygotes. Hardly the same thing. By the way, it is also inaccurate to refer to abortion as murder. Murder is a legal term and since abortion is legal to refer to it as such is incorrect. While abortion is in no way murder, it is indisputable that it eliminates a human life. Twisted semantics was another reason I left the pro-choice movement because it infamously uses language to de-humanize and de-sensensatize. The biggest example is the pro-choice movements use of the term “reproductive health” when what they really mean is “abortion”
    On Dr. Peipert’s study: it was indeed true that access to free “high quality” contraceptives decreased the number of abortion in the study region but what the good Dr. doesn’t reveal in his study is that during the same time period, the study region (St. Louis saw a 40% increase in serious STD’s.)
    I agree with you that people serious about reducing the number of abortions and supporting women must support paid maternity AND paternity leave, subsidized childcare and universal health care. There are some pro-life organizations (non-partisan) that do. Democrats for Life, Feminists for Life of America and Feminists Choosing Life of NY are three examples. It is important, when writing about the pro-life movement that a distintion be made between religious pro-life organizations and non-religious pro-life organizations. Religious pro-life organizations are more likely to oppose birth control. I think within these religious organizations, there is an element of wanting to control women’s sexuality but a bigger goal is to protect God’s will in the creation process. Non-religious pro-life organizations are more likely to support or remain neutral on at least synthetic forms of contraception.
    Even though your perspective on abortion has changed, as has my own, nothing about the nature of abortion is different. First there is two and then there is one (only after full payment has been received of course) . Whichever ideology we hold, the end result is certainly nothing to celebrate. Abortion is a personal and collective loss and to call it anything but is what I call, the pro-choice’s ultimate lie.

    • Dorfl

      I can’t speak for Libby Anne, but there is one thing in this post that I wanted to comment on. You say that:
      “I think within these religious organizations, there is an element of wanting to control women’s sexuality but a bigger goal is to protect God’s will in the creation process.”
      I think many atheists, me included, won’t recognize this as a meaningful distinction. Where controlling someone’s sexuality would mean explicitly saying:
      “This is what I order you to do with your genitals.”
      Protecting God’s will in the creation process instead seems to mean saying:
      “This is what God has ordered you to do with your genitals, but since you apparently couldn’t hear him he totally appointed me to speak in his place.”
      I hope you understand why someone who does not believe God exists in the first place would be unlikely to see those statements as being different in any important way.

  • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

    Libby Ann,

    Thank you for your article. I am one of those “deluded” people who still thinks he should do everything he can to save human beings, even when still living inside their mothers’ bodies. I do, however, share your feelings about contraception, and I think it is good that you have pointed out this problem that, unfortunately, is typical among those who oppose abortion. We should promote contraception to reduce the “need” for abortion. (“Need” is in quotes because saying someone “needs” an abortion is like saying that a person “needs” to kill his neighbor who is playing music loudly and keeping him awake all night.)

    The antagonism of most “pro-lifers” against contraception is one of the problems that I deal with. The last time that I attended an abortion protest, for instance, a man was holding a sign in position to contraception. Seeing this sign, and observing them praying, as I walked up almost made me sick to my stomach and turn around to leave, but I didn’t. I spoke to the person holding the sign and tried to explain that he was hurting the cause of the unborn, but it didn’t seem to do much good. I have copied your article and will show it to him if he shows up with the same sign in the future.

    What concerns me, however, in your case, is that you have allowed the actions of people on “my side” of this issue to move you from opposing abortion to supporting abortion rights. That is most sad. No matter what people on any side of the issue do, I would hope that you would base your opinion on the facts of the matter. I have been (constantly?) frustrated and mad at my fellow “pro-lifers” because of their attitudes, inconsistencies and even sheer stupidity. But that does not change my attitude toward preborn human beings. It is not okay to kill people (given that, yes, there are exceptions to every rule in extreme situations). And if you are as knowledgeable as you claim, then you are aware that the embryo/fetus is simply a human being (or monkey, or raccoon, or mouse, or whatever organism) at an early stage of development. There is no magic that takes place at the moment of birth that suddenly “transforms” a bunch of cells into an organism. You know that over 3000 little human beings are being killed each day in the U.S. You know that over 300 are killed each day after reaching the twelfth week of development; and you know that a 12-week fetus is almost indistinguishable from a newborn baby. (You also know that most of these late-term abortions are elective abortions; abortions to save a mother’s life or health are extremely rare.)

    No, I will not let the inconsistencies of those in the “pro-life” movement determine how I will believe or how I will act in regards to abortion, any more than I will let the (even greater?) inconsistencies of those in the “pro-choice” movement do so. I will take my position based on science and facts, and a compassion for all human beings. I hope you will too.

    • inurashii

      Ward,
      Those of us who are non-religious have only scientific facts to decide when life begins, and I feel as though those facts have been adequately addressed in Libby Anne’s post. I cannot figure out where in scientific fact one might assign full life and agency to a bundle of cells. I could understand doing this once the fetus is theoretically capable of sustaining life outside of the mother’s body, but not before.
      From a non-religious standpoint — which is the standpoint from which one MUST legislate in the united states — I have never heard a compelling argument for life beginning at conception.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        inurashii,

        First of all, a non-religious standpoint is indeed the standpoint from which one must legislate in the US. I am not sure why you are bringing religion into the picture at all. This has nothing to do with religion. (Albeit, of course, any individual who is religious may be guided by religous principles in deciding personally how he/she feels about any issue.)

        Secondly, you said the facts as to “when life begins” (a phrase which, itself, is technically inaccurate) were adequately addressed in Libby Anne’s article. Actually she states that there are various reasons why she accepts birth as the dividing line (can she really belive that???!!), but does not go on to provide any reasoning as to why she chooses that point. As far as I can see she provides no scientific evidence at all for when we should accept that “life begins”.

        Third, I am confused by your reference to “full life and agency”. Obviously the cells/organism to which we are referring are/is alive. I don’t think there is anyone who would rationally argue against that point. I don’t know what you mean by the word “agency”.

        Having said all that, and to try to answer your main question, I am not goint to try argue that “life begins” at conception. I guess to clarify language, there is no such thing as “life beginning”. The ovum is alive, the sperm is alive. When they join nothing either dies or comes to life. There is no beginning of “life”, so the phrase is, as I mentioned before, technically incorrect. What we need to know is when an indivual human being comes into existence. We could also phrase it, “When does an indvidual human being’s life begin?” A seemingly minor but important distinction.

        And I am not going to tell you that a human being comes into existence at the time of conception. There is certainly good reason to believe so – I can’t find any other point where any “transformation” takes place which turns a “non-human-being” into a “human-being”. However, I cannot say with absolute surety that an individual human being’s life begins at the point of conception. I cannot, however, subscribe to the belief that it begins at the point at which the organism is “theoretically” capable of life outside the womb. You are talking about the organism’s capabilities, not what the organism is. One could just as easily say that it is not a human being yet if it cannot walk, or cannot talk, or is not yet able to reproduce. Indeed, there has never been a human being born that was capable of independent existence after birth. Babies require years of care before they are able take care of themselves. For that matter, even most adults require assistance from others to survive. Put me naked and alone in the middle of a jungle with nothing to do with except my wits and I’m not sure I would make it!

        You cannot confer “human-beingness” on a person based on what he or she is capable of doing. You have to do it on the basis of what he or she is. If you know of some point between conception and birth where it makes sense to say “Before this point there was no human being, but after this point there was,” then please let me know.

        Meanwhile, go to any site you wish that will give you a clear depiction of a 12-week old human fetus and take a look at it. While looking at it, remember one fact — over 300 developing humans (out of over 3000 abortions) are killed every day in the U.S. after reaching the point of development that you see there in front of you (and mostly for “elective” reasons). Can you honestly look at that picture and say, “Yes, that is okay?”

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        Mary,

        No, women are not stupid, but many of them (as well as men) are misinformed. You say that women know what abortion is, but then in the very next statement you contradict this by saying “They know that it is ending a potential human life”. No, it is ending a real, existing human life, ie, killing a human being, so if they think as you say, they are indeed misinformed.

        No I don’t know everybody’s situation and I’m not acting as though women who get abortions are stupid or evil. I am just stating the fact that they are killing their own children. They are not just “flushing out a few cells” as you would like to believe, they are killing real live human beings. And it is you who are trying to characterize anti-abortionists as “acting as though women are maliciously killing children”. We act as though they are killing children, because that is simply what is happening, but I think it is safe to say that 95 percent of people who oppose abortion do not think of women who abort as “malicious”. They care about both the women and their children. You are trying to ascribe characteristics to anti-abortionists that you want to see them as having. But that is what people who support abortion are always doing. You have no rational or factual basis for your position so you resort to trying to impinge the character of those who disagree with you. That is not a recipe for resolving anything.

        Mary, quit trying to judge and vilify the motives of those who disagree with you. Go out and get the facts. There are many websites where you can go and learn about prenatal development and see the reality of what abortion does. Then once you have the facts allow your compassion to guide your attitude.

      • Mary

        Ward, I know what the facts are. It is YOU who are misinformed, you are peddling the same bullshit that I’ve heard spewed from the pro-life movement for years and years. An zygote/embro/fetus is NOT a child. It is not a human, but a POTENTIAL human. If the woman carries the pregnancy to term, then it becomes a person with rights, but it does not have rights while it resides inside the woman’s body. I know this hard for you to hear but those are the facts.

        And you did not answer my question, do you think women who have abortions should be imprisoned for life? Since they are murderers, as you say.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        So, now I am “peddling… bullshit”! Mary, do you really think that you are going to resolve anything by maligning the people that you talk to. I have treated everybody on this blog with respect, no matter how much I disagree with them. Please do the same.

        And you are wrong. The preborn child is not a “potential” human being; it is simply a human being at a young stage of life. Are you saying that some great transformation takes place at the point of birth that transforms a “potential” human being into a “real” human being? Can you honestly believe that? (And the logical conclusion that a 7-month-old “preemie” is a human being, but an 8-month-old fetus in the womb is not.) It is you who do not wish to hear the facts. Have you gone to any of those websites that I mentioned, or are you afraid that you might find your “facts” to be incorrect? And, please, if you actually have some information that shows a (human) fetus to not be a human being, please, please, please share it with me! I really would like to see that!

        The thing you really need to understand, here, though, is me. You think it is “hard for [me] to hear” your idea of the facts. I suspect that you are not going to believe this, but I do not want for any woman to go through a pregnancy that she does not wish to go through. I am a compassionate person who does not want anyone to have to suffer through hardships that are unnecessary. I “would to God” that there were some way to spare any woman from going through this. But I am also an honest person who doesn’t just go around believing whatever he wishes to believe. I strive always to look at everything honestly and with an open mind and understand the facts and reality of how things are. I then accept that reality, no matter how much I don’t like it. (“Accept” meaning accepting the fact that it is true. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to change things if I find them unacceptable.) What is “hard” for me to hear is that an abortion actually does kill a human being. I so much wish that it didn’t, but I have to accept the evidence that is so clear in front of my face. I wish every woman with an unwanted pregnancy could end the pregnancy, but the fact of the matter is that if she does she will be killing that human being that is growing inside her. Those are simply the facts, as you will know if you visit those websites I suggested with an open mind, and I can’t just dismiss them. I can’t just say, “Okay, go ahead and kill those little human beings because these women are in a distressed state.” I have to show compassion for all human beings, not just certain ones who might be more to my liking or that I might relate to better.

        And as to your question about punishment of those who have abortions, I have already answered that elsewhere on this same blog, so you can look for it if you wish. Right now it is important for you to understand what I have just written here.

      • Mary

        You ARE peddling bullshit. If you don’t understand the difference between a zygote and a human being then I don’t know what to tell you. Over 90% of abortions are performed in the first trimester before any human-like qualities have formed. No brain, no central nervous system, etc. If that tissue is left to continue to grow it will become a human being. This is science, bro.

        I wish that no woman would have to have an abortion, either, but the fact remains that we live in an imperfect world, where people don’t have access to comprehensive sex education, reliable birth control and things like rape happen. If we want to curb the abortion rates we have to star tackling those problems, not just passing some legislation to make it all go away. That won’t work. Women didn’t just start having abortions in 1973. There are records of women aborting their fetuses going back thousands of years.

        If the pro-life movement actually cared about life or women or babies or any of the things they claim to care about they would change their methods. Simple as that. Also, I don’t have time to read all 1000 comments right now so please tell me what you think should be done to women who have abortions. Just tell me. You can’t tell me that you are a compassionate person who cares about women and then think that they should be thrown in jail for obtaining an abortion (if that is what you think).

      • Mary

        Are you also anti-war, anti-death penalty, a staunch environmentalist and a vegan, Ward? I mean, if you’re pro-life then you better be consistent about. I hate hypocrites.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        Mary, this is the last time you are going to tell me that I am “peddling bullshit”. If you wish to have a respectful and intelligent conversation, then I would be happy to do that. And I think it is obvious that you have not bothered to look for any of the sites that I mentioned. I will point you to just one – my own. I have a document outlining what is actually taking place in our society. It is short – will only take a minute or two of your time to read. It is found at http://www.abortionreason.com/fetaldevabortions.pdf. If you are willing to take a couple of minutes to honestly consider what it says and are willing to confine yourself to engaging in respectful conversation, then I will continue. Otherwise, we are through.

      • Mary

        Your website is full of propaganda and lies. I already know the facts about abortion. I’m a woman after all. I know all about my body, pregnancy, fetal development and what abortion actually is. I used to volunteer at an abortion clinic, actually. I probably know way more about this than you ever will. You know, seeing as how you are a man and an unwanted pregnancy will never be a part of your reality. If you want to ignore everything I said because I’m not playing nice with you then so be it but I want you know that I see right through you. You’re no different than all the other close-minded individuals who want to take women’s rights away under the guise of “protecting life.” Bullshit.

    • Niemand

      Ward, I notice your name is a link to a site that talks about bringing “justice” to abortion. What penalty do you propose for women who obtain abortions? What for doctors who perform abortions? What for women who have miscarriages? How do you intend to enforce these laws? In short, have you thought through the consequences of your position and the cost to real, living, thinking people?

      • Mary

        Of course he hasn’t. None of them have.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        In short, I have thought about the consequences of our current policy on real, living people who are still living inside their mothers’ bodies. Do you think it is okay to just keep on killing them?

        In regards to penalties, we already have laws in place to deal with those who kill or attempt to kill people. I do not propose making any changes to those laws.

        I don’t understand your question about miscarriages. We don’t penalize someone because someone in their family dies – only if he/she kills someone.

        Taking the liberty of moving beyond your theme of penalty, what we need is education. When everyone becomes fully aware of the atrocity that is taking place, it will stop. Women will not kill their children if they are aware of what they are doing. Unfortunately we have an education system that ignores what is happening, news media that only want to cover the “controversy”, never supplying us with the actual information about what is actually taking place, and a health care system that walks women through killing their children as if it was nothing more than an appendectomy. Go look and see what is actually happening (there are plenty of websites out there that will show you, if you are only willing to see it), and then start educating your friends about the true reality of what is taking place.

      • Mary

        Ward, you must think women are stupid. What do you mean “women will stop killing children if they know what they are doing”? Women know what abortion is. They know that is is ending a potential human life. The issue here is whether or not that potential human trumps the already born human (ie. the woman) with rights. You don’t have rights if you are zygote. But you have rights if you are a WOMAN.

        Women who get abortions likely have thought through what they are doing seriously and have decided, ultimately, that it is the best course of action for their lives. You don’t know everybody’s situation. Women get abortions for many different reasons, too many to list here. Acting as though women who get abortions are stupid or evil is something that many in the “pro-life” movement need to stop doing. Women have the right to bodily autonomy and that includes flushing out some cells in their uterus’s if they so choose. Acting as though women are maliciously killing children when they take control of their reproductive destinies is the major problem with the pro-life movement. That’s not what is happening.

        And again, my question. Do you think women who have abortions should be sentenced to life in prison?

      • Niemand

        we already have laws in place to deal with those who kill or attempt to kill people. I do not propose making any changes to those laws.

        So you’re in favor of putting women who have abortions in prison for life or giving them the death penalty. Good to know.

        I don’t understand your question about miscarriages. We don’t penalize someone because someone in their family dies – only if he/she kills someone.

        This is clearly a deliberately stupid statement. As you know perfectly well, we penalize people who put others-particularly their own children-in danger unnecessarily. We would penalize a woman (or man) who left a baby in a car on a hot summer day and the baby died of heat stroke, even though she didn’t kill the child and didn’t intend its death. Some miscarriages are, currently, unavoidable. But by no means all. If every embryo is a baby, shouldn’t each miscarriage at least be investigated as a potential crime? This will, of course, mean less police protection for you and your family, but if you really think that abortion is murder you should be more concerned with preventing these deaths than with protecting your property.

      • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

        Niemand,

        This is a thought-provoking question, and one which would indeed take a bit of effort to sort through. However, I am not interested in putting that much effort in continuing a discussion with someone who accuses me of making a “deliberately stupid statement”. I would suggest that the biggest division between the two sides in this issue comes not from differences in facts or differences in morals or principles, but rather because people on one side of the issue seek to denigrate those on the other side, making it virtually impossible for clear, thoughtful communication to take place. If you wish to continue the strife and division in our society over this issue, then keep on saying things like that. If you want to try to communicate and reach understanding then treat the people you are communicating with with respect.

        (And this admonition, of course, applies to Mary’s statement above, as well.)

  • http://www.washingtonchristian.net Ed Taylor

    I wish I had time to read all of the comments. Very interesting. But it’s just too much. However, one thing I noticed in the first zillion or so responses I read was that most of the commenter’s opinions about “pro-life people” line up with only the most fringe adherents I have ever met, and I have met a LOT of pro-life people (I am a pastor). The Pearl’s childrearing methods are fringe. Anti-contraception is fringe. Killing abortionists or even speaking about it in a positive light is the strict province ULTRA fringe whack-jobs. No one I know is out to punish “sluts,” be “pregnancy police,” or even demonize someone who has “chosen” abortion. These are all ad hominem and brutally short-sighted. Sure some “pro-lifers” are just “anti-abortion” but there are automatons in every movement (the pro-choice automatons are well-represented in this comment thread). I agree with almost everything (at least at some level) in the OP, insofar as it does not give fuel to more hatred in either direction. Even my children know better than to say, “You never do _____,” or “You always do _____.” C’mon, folks. Grow up. The people you so blithely malign are your neighbors. They don’t deserve to be stamped with your labels any more than you do. *steps down off of his ruddy soap box*

    • Mary

      The problem is that the LEADERS of the pro-life movement hold those “fringe” views. That was explicitly stated in this blog.

  • http://paintedskiesandrainbowseas.tumblr.com/ Helena

    This was a wonderful article and I agree with you 100%.

  • Caitlin

    Thank you so much for writing this. I grew up firmly pro-life, being taught to believe that Unborn Babies Are People And Abortion Is Murder, No Exceptions. I’m now firmly pro-choice–I still think of a fetus as a life, but not a person, not a life that has the same value or rights as the person carrying it–but I still sometimes find it hard to argue my case in the face of BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BABIES arguments from people I want to believe are well-intentioned.

  • Ellie

    What I find completely astounding is the number of pro-life/anti-choice people who use religion as their main reason for being against abortion and supporting legislation that would make getting or performing an abortion a criminal act. Some of them (depending on their intelligence level), go on to say that people who are pro-choice are “forcing their beliefs” on them, and thus taking away their religious freedom. It’s ridiculous how many of them fail to see the utter hypocrisy in this; we aren’t taking away anyone’s religious freedom, but they are taking away ours. By supporting the anti-choice movement, they are effectually forcing their religious beliefs onto the rest of the population, regardless of the fact that the United States of America was founded on the belief that there would be a separation between church and state, something that didn’t exist in most parts of Europe at the time.
    If your religion takes away the rights of others to control what goes on with their own bodies, then maybe you need to reevaluate your priorities, because you’re obviously doing something wrong.

  • Christine-chan

    Oh my goodness! For the last year and a half my views on reproductive rights have changed dramatically, and all this time I was trying to figure out how to express them. This article just said everything I ever needed to say, in the absolute most perfect way!! Thank you SO much!

  • Cy Winter

    It is simply wrong to agree to murder even one unborn baby. Your numbers game is meaningless when you accept the fifth commandment not to murder. Intending to kill anyone at any stage of life is still murder.

    • Mary

      Not according to the law. If it was murder then every woman who had an abortion would be locked up in jail for like, but that’s not the case is it? Try again.

      • Mary

        *life

    • machintelligence

      1. Quoting scripture at an atheist site is not going to win many points. BTW isn’t it “Thou shalt not kill”?
      2. Murder. I don’t think it means what you say it means.

      Intending to kill anyone at any stage of life is still murder.

      Killing in self defense isn’t murder, neither is killing in time of war, although both are intentional.
      State sanctioned killing (the death penalty) isn’t murder and plenty of pro-lifers approve of it.
      Murder is the unlawful killing of another person, and it is an open question at what point a fertilized human egg qualifies as a person. If abortion is legal, it cannot be murder.

    • D.

      There is no such thing as an “unborn baby”. Babies are, by definition, born. Do you go around referring to people as “undead corpses”, too?

      Psst… I don’t think you know what “murder” means, either.

  • Gerald Fnord

    It seems that what they’re really against is not death but sin…since no human actor is flushing those those sixteen zygotes, that’s less sinful than acting such that (notionally) two were flushed.

    • Rosie

      And if the “sinful” act produces less suffering in the world than the “righteous” one…that’s a deity I don’t have much respect for.

  • http://embersofincense.wordpress.com/ Honestly Catholic

    A decade ago, I went through a similar experience. I, however, am still pro life. I’ll explain my story a bit. In college, I got involved in Students for Life, and attended the March for Life. That summer, I walked Crossroads http://www.crossroadswalk.org/

    It took me two years to be able to say anything positive about crossroads, but one thing I can say is that I saw a great spectrum of pro life organizations. Some of it is good. Some of it isn’t. After that experience, I was half-heartedly involved. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything real productive either by attending the March or protesting outside of the clinic. I rarely saw saves (where a woman changed her mind and decided not to have an abortion), and I didn’t see a lot of help beyond that.

    I tried to get involved with crisis pregnancy centers at that point. The first one was dropped due to lack of interest. I then looked up the local birthright and came to their door. The facility, the woman I met and just about everything there made me feel unsafe. It seemed the wrong approach. I then found a crisis pregnancy center that had friendly staff, a nice building and was heavily supported by the community. Every year they hold fund raising event at a large park. Lots of people attend and the Christian radio station covers it. Every year, they’ve defended themselves against accusations that they’re not pro life enough. I’ve also learned that within my State there are two main pro life organizations. The complaint is that the older one isn’t pro life enough.

    It’s very important to understand this internal division. The entire pro life movement is not anti-contraception. Not all pro lifers reject the birth control pill. Of those that do, many do not reject other methods of birth control. It’s only in Catholic circles that I’ve seen people take a political stand against contraception. They see it as the root of abortion.

    When you get to extremes, people can be very stubborn about their opinions. They’ll claim sources that don’t support their conclusions are not valid.

    I am a devout Catholic. I use natural family planning. We abstain during peak fertility to prevent conception, but I don’t believe getting pregnant is my choice. I am sexually active and thus pregnancy is possible. I am merely reducing or decreasing the chance, but once a child is exists, the choice is over and I have to go through the pregnancy. It doesn’t matter how the child is conceived. I could never murder my child, and I could never support someone else murdering her own child either. But as far as what measures she takes to decrease her odds of pregnancy, that is her choice. I don’t see the morality of contraceptives as a life issue. I see it as a chastity issue. Its unchaste before marriage to have sex. Its unchaste after marriage to use contraceptives. But a contracepting couple is murdering a child by contracepting. And an unmarried couple isn’t murdering a child by having sex outside of marriage. I can respect other people’s choices so long as their choices don’t infringe on the basic rights of others. So no, if ending a pregnancy results in the death of a child, you don’t have the right to end it. That’s why I am not opposed to legal contraception (but personally opposed), but yet do not support abortion even in cases of rape.

    • Niemand

      I’ve mentioned this several times on various threads, but are you aware of how NFP works? Of course, if you have sex while you aren’t ovulating there will be no fertilization. But ovulation can occur at odd moments sometimes. If it does occur out of sequence, the uterine environment is not exactly right for implantation or maintenance of the pregnancy and it may spontaneously abort. Why is that ok, but the theoretical risk of a pill preventing implantation is not? If abortion is murder, why is NFP not reckless endangerment? Even leaving that issue aside, why is not conceiving because you don’t have sex at the time of ovulation ok, but not conceiving because you use a few micrometers of latex to keep the sperm and oocyte apart not?

    • Twist

      “I can respect other people’s choices so long as their choices don’t infringe on the basic rights of others.”

      Oh, the irony.

      Funny, because I can support your choice not to have an abortion. I can support your choice to carry your rapist’s baby. I can support your choice to bleed to death rather than have a fetus removed that will certainly die anyway, although I’d question your sanity if you did so (you didn’t mention “life of the mother” exceptions, but considering your stance that women should be forced to spend nine months carrying around the physical reminder of their rape inside them, I can only assume you’re the sort who thinks hospitals ought to let women die rather than provide abortions).

      I support your choice to live this way. But if you think that your personal religious convictions should be passed into law and every other woman, whether she believes as you do or not, should be forced to live as you choose, then you need to understand that your choices would cause harm to thers. Harm that would result in the deaths of many women. Harm that infringes on the basic rights of women to CONTROL THEIR OWN BODIES. This right outweighs any potential rights that fetuses might have.

      You are free to live as you want, but stay the hell out of everybody else’s reproductive organs.

      • Mary

        Amen, Twist!

  • Corey

    This blog post is so full of logical fallacies, conjecture about the understanding and motives of others and plain old spin that it would be comical if it weren’t so tragic in its implications.

    I am reminded of Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

    • Mary

      Funny, all of the pro-choice arguments I’ve read in this blog and in the comments are more logical than the “pro-life” ones. “Pro-lifers” keep proving time and time again that they’re only interested in policing the sex-lives of women and not actually saving babies.

      • Steph

        “When I was pro-life, I truly believed it was about saving unborn babies.”
        No, pro-life, the concept, is not about merely saving unborn babies, as much as you would infer pro-life, the movement, to be. Pro-life, the concept, is about responsibility in either gender to respect each others’ bodies and the reality that they can give life. BEFORE the unborn babies, there is a larger story, and it’s not about condemning and restricting women’s rights, but about respecting the rights of life-to-be. It’s too bad that the author perceived the pro-life movement this way. And that’s what people should support the pro-life movement as, and what the spokespeople should portray.

      • Mary

        Steph, that might be what you WANT the pro-life movement to be that, in reality, is not what it is. The pro-life movement spends a lot of time shaming people (especially women) for having sex and being opposed to comprehensive sex education and birth control. They also seem to think that overturning Roe will magically make all abortions go away, instead of seeing it for the band-aid solution it is. The pro-choice movement and mind-set is actually more about “respecting each others bodies and t hat reality that they can give life.” That’s why pro-choicer are trying to advocate that sexually active people have SAFE sex, greatly reducing the chance of pregnancy and thus abortion.

      • Steph

        The biggest aspect that bystanders see of the pro-choice movement is that they are resisting the ban of abortions. It’s easy for them to then associate the pro-choice movement with advocating abortions. I feel the fight is on the wrong level. So, rather than criticize each movement, if you really say pro-choice is about “respecting each others’ bodies and the reality that they can give life”, why aren’t the movements agreeing on that much?

      • Mary

        Um, because the “pro-life” movement is ignoring all logic and doing things that only work to increase abortions instead of decreasing them? I’m really not understand why this is so difficult. Feminists and pro-choice advocates have long said that abortions aren’t an ideal situation but since we live in an imperfect world, they are sometimes necessary. HOWEVER, there are things we can to do decrease abortions like practicing safe sex and expanding the social safety net. These are things that the “pro-life” movement, largely opposes. If the pro-lifers want to find any common ground with pro-choicer then they have to start being open to other solutions intstead of just telling people to not have sex and trying to ban abortion.

    • machintelligence

      Corey: Since you are such an expert on logical fallacies and instances of “spin” , I don’t suppose you could possibly name one?

      “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

      Everything leads to death. Religion is not in the business of selling eternal life, they are selling the promise of eternal life. There is no evidence that they can deliver on that promise.

      • Steph

        “It’s about punishing women for having sex” is a fallacy.
        A: Women have sex
        B: All sex causes abortion
        C: Women cause abortion through all sex?
        –> Women should be punished for sex?
        B is clearly a fallacy because it is not its inverse is not biconditional.
        All sex does NOT cause abortion; only the sex without thinking about the possibility of having a baby does, which I will label “inconsiderate sex”.
        And therefore, a better B would be “Inconsiderate sex causes abortion”,
        and a better A would be “Men AND women have sex”.
        So the implication would be “men and women should not have sex without respecting the possibility of giving life to a baby”.

    • D.

      Your post is so full of bullshit, it actually is comical that you think anyone is silly enough to fall for it. Try an actual argument.

      • E.

        Too ignorant to even point out what’s bullshit about it huh? These are actual arguments, the fact that you can only come out here and say it’s bullshit and nothing else means you know nothing.

    • phantomreader42

      The bible is a poorly-written work of fiction, and you are a lying sack of shit.

    • http://wingnutwatch.typepad.com/ futureshock

      I love this. I wrote something similar. Please peruse my website as you will find a lot of information backing up your points.

      Why I am Pro-Choicehttp://wingnutwatch.typepad.com/wingnutwatch/2009/02/why-i-am-prochoice.html

    • http://wingnutwatch.typepad.com/ futureshock

      I love this. I wrote something similar. Please peruse my website as you will find a lot of information backing up your points.

      Why I am Pro-Choice
      http://wingnutwatch.typepad.com/wingnutwatch/2009/02/why-i-am-prochoice.html

    • Chervil

      There needs to be a word for the situation where some rides in, makes a sweeping but vacuous comment, quotes a bible verse, wipes their hands as in “job well done”, expecting everyone to gasp in awe, and then leaves. Why isn’t there a word for the yet.

      • machintelligence

        Some of us refer to it as “drive-by trolling”.

  • Jerry

    A former pre-life student leader? Or a pro-abort ruse?

    • phantomreader42

      Yeah, Jerry, we get it, you’ve been brainwashed since childhood to be incapable of imagining how someone could leave your sick death cult. You’ve been trained to see all reality as a vast conspiracy to sap and impurify your precious bodily fluids. And you’re so obsessed with screeching that anyone that disagrees with you is part of some elaborate worldwide hoax by the imaginary boogeyman you call satan that you are incapable of addressing ANY of Libby Anne’s arguments honestly, or in fact even of READING a single WORD of them. All you are capable of doing is babbling nonsense, Jerry.

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting read, but I’m sorry to say I stopped at the part when you explained that the birth is when life counts. Yes, there is plenty of scientific and religious debates over when life “counts”, but no one seems to understand the entire range of a human’s life, the potential of one’s life, and the effect it could have in society, the world, or even the universe in a very small indirect way.
    Abortion is not directly murder, true, but it is still the removal of life. Whether an old person dies of old age, a middle-aged person dies of sickness, a young adult in an accident, a teen doing something stupid, a child neglected by a parent, or an unborn being aborted, a life is still removed.
    You still shifted my views with what I read. I am no longer the blanket “pro-life” supporter and actually would like abortion to stay legal so that stupid parents-to-be can still “remove life” safely and go about their disgusting life healthy, in the same way a death row prisoner gets humane treatment with painless injections. I will never give up my view that pedophiles are better humans than women who undergo an abortion though. Go ahead, continue with your promiscuous, selfish life. REAL women will either find a way to rear that child or ensure a proper adoption occurs.

    • Mary

      Seems like you didn’t actually read or learn anything. “Real” women (whatever that means) get abortions all the time. The majority of abortions aren’t performed on “promiscuous, selfish women” but on married women who likely already have children. And it says more about you than it does any woman who has had an abortion if you actually think pedophiles are better people. You’re such a typical “pro-lifer.” Gross.

    • D.

      Oh, do shut up. Most abortions in the US are obtained by women who – you may want to sit down – already have children. I can see why you are sympathetic to pedophiles (I think you mean child molestors/rapists – one can be attracted to children without actually acting on that) – you, too, feel it is acceptable to infringe on someone’s body without their consent.

    • Dorfl

      “stupid parents-to-be”, “their disgusting life “, “a death row prisoner gets humane treatment with painless injections”, “your promiscuous, selfish life”, “REAL women”

      If you reread your own post, do you understand why so many of us see the pro-life movement as hateful and more concerned with condemning others’ sexual behavior than being in any way ‘pro’ life?

    • Robin Maria

      Pedophiles? Really?
      You would rather see a pedophile live happy than a woman who has an abortion?
      You would rather a child to be touched, violated and ruined for the rest of their lives, than a child to not take their first breath in a harsh life where they weren’t wanted?

      Let me tell you something. My mom had me instead of aborted me. She gave me to my grandparents. I grew up angry, hateful and depressed. I’ve been violated as a child. When I turned 18, I was purged from my “parents” life and thrown into the world to fend for myself, while my grandparents went into retired living.

      Guess what? I wish my mom had an abortion, and I am more ANGRY with her for not having one, than I would have been for having one.

      Think about that. Think long and hard, because I am not the only 21 year old in the United States who feels this way.

  • Simon S.

    Re lack of support from pro-lifers for women after the children have been born: This is why Barney Frank cracked that “the pro-life movement believes that life begins at conception and ends at birth.”

  • Sarah

    Granted that the Pro-life movement says and does things that are counterproductive, your logic remains flawed.
    The availability of birth control did not lower the number of unwanted pregnancies, it raised them. Prior to the existence of the Pill, birth control was not trusted by most women, or most men for that matter. Women made their choices accordingly, and while men pushed, they were generally far less pushy and expectant of coitus, or sexual activity generally. Even men were afraid they would become fathers before they were ready.
    With the Pill and the changes in attitudes favouring individualism, and “rights” over responsibility behaviour changed dramatically in a short time, resulting in far more risk taking and far more unwanted pregnancies. Not only that, in the 50s we had 3 STDs, all curable, by the 60′s 5, all curable. Today we have estimates as high as 33 different STDs, most of which are incurable. Nature is far more judgemental, and far more unbending in her punishments than the harshest Pro-Lifer.
    I never got my basically pro-Life stance from my upbringing or the Bible, I got it from openminded scientific inquiry. logic and natural moral feeling. You’re quite right to say that at this point, with attitudes of sexual entitlement as high as they are, banning abortion will change little in the modern West. And it will not change in the less developed nations until issues of poverty and women’s status are addressed.. To point to those less developed nations and ignore other factors in them, trying to tell us that their restrictive laws are somehow magically causing more abortions is intellectually dishonest. Some of the nations that have the lowest rates of abortion are Muslims ones. Yes, they permit early abortions but that is NOT why the rate of abortions are low there. They are low there because they have almost zero out of wedlock births, due to almost zero premarital sex. as well as generous family benefits and free daycare in many of them.. They are living proof that expectations of chastity are not nearly as “unrealistic” as spoiled modern Westerners insist..
    As an interesting note to your inference that it’s better to lower the absolute number of abortions by making them legal and socially/morally acceptable than to uphold an absolute moral position, they did a study on Sociopaths and Morality which you can read here
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/22/1135188/-Sociopaths-and-Morality
    Basically, taking the stance that actively killing some is morally ok if it saves a greater number of other lives is one that most people have a very hard time with, but not sociopaths.less. You are trying to use this same sort of ‘functional morality’ argument here by implying that legalizing abortion is morally acceptable if the absolute number of lives saved would be greater. What if it could be proven that the absolute number of women murdered by domestic violence each year would be much reduced if we allowed men to apply to legally be permitted to kill their wives with no consequences (due to reducing impulsive killing)? Would those women be “acceptable losses” to you if the absolute number of women saved were greater? Yet that is exactly the logic you are using.
    And worst of all, the pro-choice movement doesn’t just want us to accept that logic, which some people might, reluctantly and as the lesser of two evils, it demands that we approve it or at least pronounce it morally neutral, which of course we can’t. It can only ever be morally bad; it can be more or less morally bad than another choice, but it can’t be good or even neutral. It strikes me very odd how many peace activists and even radical pacifists (who would not raise a hand even against someone about to murder them) will decry the notion of “acceptable losses” in a war, but suddenly will be fine with them regarding abortion. Not ok to kill a murderer, even in immediate self-defense but ok to kill an inconvenience. The pro-choice movement lacks consistent logical and ethical viewpoint to the same and even a greater degree than does a pro-war or pro-capital punishment pro-Lifer. For the record, I regard war as abhorrent and immoral except as a last resort and am absolutely against capital punishment. I regard abortion with the same abhorence,. When no other rational or better moral choice exists, I accept it reluctantly, as I do triage and other moral forced choices.

    • machintelligence

      Your comment proves Libby Anne’s point. You might want to go back and re-read the last three paragraphs of her post.

    • Robin Maria

      “Some of the nations that have the lowest rates of abortion are Muslims ones. Yes, they permit early abortions but that is NOT why the rate of abortions are low there. They are low there because they have almost zero out of wedlock births, due to almost zero premarital sex.”

      I stopped reading there. Muslim countries are so anti-woman, it’s not even funny. In parts of Muslim countries, women are only ALLOWED to work if it doesn’t interfere with their family lives, and if she is in financial need. In Muslim countries, a woman needs to go through legal and financial hell to get a divorce, while her husband can just demand one. Women in Islam will live in fear of poverty if they are not married. Muslim women can be killed for disobeying their husbands or their fathers. Yes, it’s true. This is called “honor killing”, and it is actually common. So, why isn’t there any premartial sex in Muslim? She isn’t kidding when she says, “No, daddy will kill me!”

      Worst. Example. Ever.

      • Rosie

        Not to mention mandatory “virginity tests”. And women in Muslim countries are at very high risk for sexual assault (despite the extremely “modest” clothing) because they have no legal recourse. Sometimes they are even convicted for having been raped. It may be Sarah’s idea of a model society, but it sounds like Hell to me.

    • Mogg

      Your hypothetical scenario of reducing domestic murders by allowing husbands to kill wives is not equivalent to abortion, for the simple reason that an embryo is not morally equivalent to an adult woman. It cannot suffer, or if aborted at such a late stage that neural development has reached the point where it might feel pain, is being aborted only for grave medical reasons which would likely cause it to suffer more if allowed to continue living than if it were humanely aborted, and/or because allowing it to continue to live will severely risk both its own life and its mother’s.

      As to your comment on pro-choice adherents demanding abortion be accepted as a positive or morally neutral: why on earth do you think that? Do you think we want people to rush out and have a medical intervention for fun? Of course it’s the lesser of two evils, but in many cases it is by far the lesser of the evils being chosen between. The preference is that it doesn’t need to be used in the first place, but just like any other medical intervention if it needs to be used it should be readily accessible, affordable and safe.

      You are seriously holding up Islamic societies as an example of how women should be treated and behave? Wow. That’s… special.

    • Bruce Gorton

      Actually, with the introduction of birth control teen pregnancies go down. If you look at the US states that have “Abstinence Only” sex education, their teen pregnancy rates are higher than states where birth control is more prevalent.
      http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/health/study-free-birth-control-reducing-teen-pregnancies-abortions

      Whoever told you “The availability of birth control did not lower the number of unwanted pregnancies, it raised them. ” is a lying liar who tells lies, and you should probably not trust anything they have to say from here on out.

  • http://danadriansen.blogspot.com/ Dan

    Libby Anne,
    Thank you so much for this blog post. It is incredibly well-written, thorough, respectful, and backed up by proper research. I share a very similar past. I also grew up believing that abortion should be illegal and that family planning should not be publically funded. Actually, I severed my tie with the “Pro-Life” movement just within the past couple months. I think the important thing in spreading this messaged to my fellow “duped” peers and friends is to argue respectfully. Even if they demonize us, we cannot retaliate by doing the same. We can only win them over by showing respect, even when we don’t feel it. I feel like you do this well. Keep it up! Now it’s time for me to do my part….

  • Ellie

    I was fascinated by this article. I’m a young English woman, and would describe myself as pro-choice. I was brought up in a fairly liberal family – my dad is a science nerd and passed this on to me, and my family as a whole are quite open about sex and sexuality – and my schools had great sex education programs. However, I wouldn’t have an abortion unless it was medically the best choice, or if it was a forced pregnancy, and even then I think I would have a difficult time dealing with the consequences. This is my choice, though. I wouldn’t dream of imposing my choices on any other woman. There’s also the fact that I’ve never been in that position and haven’t had to make that choice, so what right do I have to make it for anybody else?

    I’m also staunchly pro-contraception. I see nothing wrong with having an active sex life and I have such a problem with this “slutshaming” culture that is so prevalent. I’m lucky enough to live in a country where I can walk into my local doctor’s and ask about my contraception choices, be handed about 50 leaflets, spend half an hour discussing my options, and have most, if not all, available to me for free. It’s obviously paid off as I have been active a few years now and have never had a pregnancy scare. I was shocked by how much the implant costs in the US. I learnt a lot from this article and will be passing it on to family and friends.

  • http://livingontilt.wordpress.com Katherine Harms

    Given all the same information you so painstakingly collected and presented, I respectfully disagree with your conclusions. I do admire your perseverance and your personal honesty about your path to your current position. I have been a dupe in the past as well, but I feel I have been duped by the people you now align with. I am convinced that people want the liberty to live without self-discipline and to have fun with no consequences. People don’t want any boundaries to their desires, and they don’t want interference. Me, neither. But that is not humanity; that is animal living.
    Human beings are able to submit to God and accept that there actually are values greater than themselves. The joy and delight of sex are not intended to be used simply for personal gratification. In the sight of God this gift includes responsibilities and integrity. Children are gifts, not burdens. The right way to choose not to have children is to refrain from creating them, not to destroy the ones you don’t like.
    You have a right to your opinion, and I think you have put a great deal of effort into your decision. I still think you are going down the wrong path. Politics, however, is governed by secular — read that atheistic — standards, so politics will most likely follow you. You would be correct to say that people of faith can go their own way without forcing others to do the same, but anybody who thinks he or she has truth to share has an obligation to share it. People of faith must never be muzzled by political power just because their views derive from a relationship with God.

    • Mary

      Congratulations, you just proved Libby Anne’s point with your talk of “fun without consequences.” I suggest you re-read this post and all the follow-ups to it because you are exactly the type of person that she was addressing. Why does sex NEED to have consequences? Why do people have to have sex only to have children? Plenty of married people and plenty of “people of faith” have sex using birth control so that they don’t have to deal with the possibility of becoming pregnant. Plenty of those same people use sex as a bonding experience with their spouses and not as a means to bring life into the world. Not everyone wants and needs to have children. If your religion dictates that you need to have sex for procreation only then you are free to live that way, but plenty of people disagree with you and that DOES NOT mean that they are irresponsible or lack discipline. Your scope about this is very narrow.

      • Abraham Sherman

        The only birth control method that has proven to be 100% effective is abstinence. Sex NEEDS to have consequences because it does have consequences.

      • Mary

        I agree that the 100% proven way to not get pregnant is to abstain. But that’s not realistic. You can’t possibly expect that everyone on earth is going to abstain from sex unless and until they want children. That’s why we have birth control methods. It greatly decreases your chances of getting pregnant so you can have sex without having to face the “consequences.” People want to have sex for fun and bonding with their partners, not just to procreate and there isn’t anything wrong with that despite what the fundamentalists say.

      • A

        That is your faith and your belief, and it is fine to share that- but this isn’t about religion, this is about making abortions /legal/.
        This is a political matter, not a religious one.
        Can you not at least respect a women’s choice to decide whether it’s appropriate for her? If she does not accept your view, are you saying that she doesn’t deserve that choice?
        In the end it’s not about whether there is an ultimate right or wrong, it’s about allowing women to have their say about their own bodies- a universal human right.
        Sex is not just for ‘personal gratification’ for those who have it outside from attempting conception. Maslow, a psychosocial theorist, created a hierarchy of needs that is still used in therapy and social work practice. It states that sex is a psychological /need/ and is rated as important as food, water, oxygen etc.
        While children are a blessing, it is simply not possible to go through with every single pregnancy when there is a ridiculous population growth, poverty connected to the amount of children one has and teenagers who are simply not able to raise a healthy child (and not every child is adopted into a happy family- I really would urge you too look up even just the /developmental/ effects of ill parenting for children up to the 4 year old stage. It really is traumatic.)
        And while sex, for some, is seen as a use of conception- others make require it more frequently than that. Some people may never be able to afford a child. Does that mean they must stay a virgin for life?
        Out ruling sex unless it is intentionally to get pregnant is unrealistic and denying us a psychological need.

        Surely letting a child go back to heaven, rather than bringing it into a world where it is mistreated, malnourished and possibly abused is seen as a better option in God’s eyes?
        But that’s just my opinion- I’m not religious.
        As stated by Libby-Ann, all we can do to allow these blessings from not just living in this world- but living a /healthy/ life in this world- is to advocate contraceptives and legalising abortions.

    • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

      Katherine Harms: You say you disagree, but you don’t offer any information about what you disagree with or why. Instead, you change the subject. Can you explain what you disagree with, and provide some evidence to back up your position?

    • Russ

      This is like being against life guards and life preservers because swimming can lead to drowning and swimming needs to have consequences.

  • Dragon

    it truely grieves me to know that you were once prolife and then gave it all up. I am christian, and i am still prolife despite reading your article. you want to know why?
    my mother runs a pregnancy support centre that is run primarily by christians. i have met victims of abortions, i have heard their stories from their own mouths, and i have read about numerous studies in relation to contraception and abortion. every woman is hurt in some way or form. post abortion depression is very real. contraception is not the way for reducing abortions. n fact i think it increases them. they give a false sense of security, and often people don’t use them right, so they end up falling pregnant. there are plenty of legal abortions that are botched, just like illegal ones, it just that the legal ones are covered up. did you know planned parenthood has botched 16 abortions in 22 months? and that one woman DIED? yet you don’t hear so much as a whisper from the media.
    even if it is true what you say about 50% of zygotes being expelled, that is no excuse for abortifacient contraceptives. its like saying its ok to let all cancer patients die because we cant save them all. we cannot help those lost zygotes, but we can help the ones lost through personal action. year by year, abortion numbers have been growing despite widened contraceptive use and availability. not to mention that contraceptives do not protect against deadly sexually transmitted diseases.
    god made women as the givers and nurtures of life. its quite amazing when you think about it. as a consequence, killing our own children, however small, hurts our very soul. God never meant for human sex to be polygamous. we are obviously designed for monogamous sexual lives. i believe the way to genuinely reduce abortion numbers is to promote abstinence. it is an absolute con of our time to believe that we cannot control our desires. i think this is only a small part of how evolutionary thinking has affected our culture, reducing humans to animal status.
    i am not anti sex. i think sex is a wonderful gift from god. however, there is always ways to make even the best gift perverse. i’ve come to think that the better something is, the worse it can be made. what other things in human lives is better than sex? not that many when it comes to pleasure and fulfillment. however, the fulfillment only comes when it one person that you completely trust with your whole life. it is why children are created with such an action. sex is a glue that is meant to create the perfect community for a child to enter into. when you think about it in these terms, exclusive monogamy makes perfect sense. i don’t just believe these things just because i was raised in a prolife family, no. i believe it to the core of my being because i CHOOSE it, and because i know God is on the prolife side. i am on his side. which one are you?

    • Mary

      Hey, guess what? Not every woman, even women who are monogamous and married want to have children. Birth control protects against unwanted pregnancies and married and unmarried people alike use it. If we were to get rid of all contraceptives do you think the abortion rates would decrease? They wouldn’t. People would still have sex and they would be having riskier sex since there would be way to ward of pregnancies and STDS. The solution is exactly as Libby Anne says, to increase education and access to contraception to all people. You can live in your weird, idealistic conservative Christian/Catholic world if you want but the rest of us live in reality and are trying to find realistic solutions to this problem instead of telling all 7 billion people on this planet that contraception is evil and they shouldn’t have sex unless they want to have 10 kids.

    • Dorfl

      “contraception is not the way for reducing abortions. n fact i think it increases them”

      This is false. If you look at contraception usage and abortion rate in any part of the world, you will see that abortion is more common were use of contraception is rare, and vice-versa.

      “even if it is true what you say about 50% of zygotes being expelled, that is no excuse for abortifacient contraceptives. its like saying its ok to let all cancer patients die because we cant save them all”

      That is not the argument Libby Anne made. She said that if the goal of the pro-life movement were truly saving the lives of fetuses – all fetuses – they would be making an effort to save those fetuses as well.

      “i believe the way to genuinely reduce abortion numbers is to promote abstinence”

      This has been tried. It does not work.

      “i believe it to the core of my being because i CHOOSE it”

      I am unable to believe anything that the evidence available to me speaks against. I don’t understand how belief can be a choice for anyone.

      “i know God is on the prolife side. i am on his side. which one are you?”

      I don’t know which side God is on, and neither do you.

      • Abraham Sherman

        Contraception increases the rate of abortion. Planned Parenthood promotes contraceptive use for a reason – to increase their clientele. http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org/PlannedParenthoodApproachFails.htm

        The reason naturally discarded zygotes are a non-issue in this debate is because there is no element of human choice involved in that loss of life, thus there is no moral question. There IS human choice involved in sexual activity, and in the decision of whether or not to get an abortion.

        Contrary to your claim, abstinence is the ONLY method that has been proven to work, 100% of the time. Again, the crux of the issue is human choice, and whether or not people will accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

        The skeptic who demands a lab report before he will believe something has CHOSEN to make that his standard. There are many things which are true which aren’t subject to clinical trials – such as objective moral standards of which we are all inherently aware.

        I’m not sure how you could claim to know that someone else does not know which side God is on. Do you have exhaustive knowledge which allows you to determine what knowledge others have, or to decide for them what they couldn’t possibly know. What you yourself do or do not know gives you no such authority. Your skepticism does not cause God to cease to exist. If anything, you and those who agree with your skeptical views, seem a bit too invested in NOT believing something about which you could not possible have exhaustive knowledge. Your philosophy needs a dose of humility, and a dose of courtesy.

      • Mary

        Contraception does not increase abortion rates. That claim has already been refuted several times in this comment section. You guys need to stop regurgitating this garbage. Besides which, not everyone one earth is Christian/Catholic and they aren’t going to follow all your rules about sex not matter how hard you try to force them. Deal with it.

      • Dorfl

        @Abraham
        “The reason naturally discarded zygotes are a non-issue in this debate is because there is no element of human choice involved in that loss of life, thus there is no moral question.”
        Most of the time, there is no human choice involved when someone gets cancer. Even so, we consider ourselves to have a moral duty to help cancer victims and to work on finding a cure. Same with Alzheimer’s, ALS or Parkinson’s. That pro-lifers consider the lack of choice a sufficient reason not to work on saving naturally discarded zygotes show that they are applying a different standard there than elsewhere.
        “Contrary to your claim, abstinence is the ONLY method that has been proven to work, 100% of the time.”
        My claim was that promoting abstinence does not reduce abortion numbers. Abstinence itself obviously works as a way of avoiding becoming pregnant. However, the only person whose abstinence you can control is your own. Teaching abstinence in schools does not affect the students’ actual behaviour, leading to higher rates of teen pregnancy, and generally also abortion, than if you had taught them correct use of contraception.
        “I’m not sure how you could claim to know that someone else does not know which side God is on.”
        That is true. It is possible that God has revealed himself to Dragon in some tangible way and verbally made his wishes clear. In that case, I will retract my statement. However, if Dragon only has a deep feeling for what God’s wishes are, then that feeling cannot be accepted as constituting knowledge, because there are other people who feel just as strongly that God wishes something completely different. You could of course take the fairly solipsistic view that if you have a heartfelt feeling that things are one way, and somebody else feels the direct opposite, then that person must be wrong because the contents of your heart are realer than those of other people’s. However, if you don’t consider yourself to be special in that way then, without any way of directly comparing feelings for depth and sincerity, you have to rule out feelings as being a reliable source of knowledge.
        “Your philosophy needs a dose of humility, and a dose of courtesy.”
        I’m claiming that there are inherent limitations to what a human being can know. How claiming to have superhuman levels of knowledge is more humble than that, I don’t understand. As for courtesy, I’m afraid we have different standards for what constitutes courteous behaviour. I consider it quite rude to respond to a text by repeating claims that were already refuted in that text, no matter what tone is used.

    • machintelligence

      blockquote>i believe it to the core of my being because i CHOOSE it, and because i know God is on the prolife side. i am on his side. which one are you?
      I hate to have to be the one to tell you, but God is just a figment of your imagination. You are only agreeing with yourself.

  • William B. Turner

    Um, I think what differentiates you from a lot of others who call themselves “pro-life” is that you find convincing empirical evidence. I fancy a lot of “pro-lifers” would look at the study that first cause you doubts and just dismiss it as the work of fancy-pants liberal elitists. Most American “conservatives” are resolutely anti-empiricist, since reality has a troubling liberal bias, as in the complete lack of efficacy in “abstinence only sex ‘education”’ programs. Good for you. Empiricism usually triumphs in the end, since it actually offers a much more accurate account of how the world works.

    • Abraham Sherman

      Since your empiricism (i.e. glorified skepticism) does not account for the ruination that abortion causes in the lives of many formerly-pregnant women, we can conclude that your standard is lacking in accounting for all aspects of the human experience. But your beliefs are not surprising, if you happen to be a materialist or humanist – philosophical systems which arbitrarily eschew the many true and meaningful aspects of life that can’t be reduced to the contents of a petri dish.

      All human beings interact with the idea of objective moral standards. To seek those standards out, and to argue over their definition, is an inherently human experience. Many skeptics make the absolute statement that no statement can be absolute. (How does that logic work out for ya?) From this false aloofness, the skeptic attempts to shift the focus in this debate away from anything having to do with “meaning”. The meaning of life is inconsequential, since it can’t be measured in a lab. The meaning of the emotional devastation that many women experience after abortion is just “an unfortunate issue of temporary hormone imbalances.” Sorry, Mr. Skeptic, those women are devastated after having an abortion because their decision led to the brutal end of a human life, and the hormone roller coaster, which is real as well, leaves them less able to cope than they normally would be. Not like the choice to end a human life could or should ever be easy or thoughtless. Tragically, the choice to have an abortion is FAR too easy for too many women, who have sacrificed their moral compass to the idol of sexual recklessness.

      There is value to human life and personal responsibility that is far more profound than “empiricism”.

      • Mary

        Abraham, I know you’re talking, but all I hear is blah blah blah.

      • A

        the fact that ‘sexual recklessness’ keeps being used upsets me greatly.
        So women aren’t allowed to have sex unless they want a child- unless they are able to /somehow/ find the support, the money, the mental stability etc. to do so?
        Women who abort do have morals, no one /wants/ to have an abortion!
        But you cannot say that we are not allowed to have sex. It is a psychological need and it is not because we are sluts, or because we are reckless and do not care for human life.
        Maybe you could apply the marital sex argument back in the 60′s, where women would have enough support and money to have a child, but these days women get married at 30 or so- and divorce rates are through the roof. There is so little security, and you can’t tell every woman that she is to stay a virgin until she marries anymore.
        You say that there is emotional despair and hormonal issues with a woman who aborts, that’s true- but what about a women who gives birth who cannot support that child?
        There is no situation where a pregnant woman who is unable to support that child, could leave with no emotional or mental turmoil.
        - Seeing her babys face before sending it off for adoption, being unsure of it’s future or if it will ever find a family- perhaps even being put in the hands of abusive families.
        - Raising the child on her own (possibly with parents assistance if a teenager) and ruling out her social life, cutting out on education/work and ultimately living and raising the child in poverty.
        I assure you, /no/ woman wants to have an abortion- but they haven’t given up on their morals, they’re trying to decide not just what’s best for them- but what’s best for their child.
        Sometimes that is death, unfortunately. But if encouraging contraceptives and legalising abortions not only lessens the chance of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, but also as women’s health (in the case of unsafe illegal abortions) would it not be best that we all advocate it, for the safety of individuals and the better chance of ruthless abortions not being made?

      • Rosie

        The trouble with absolute “objective moral standards” (by which I’m pretty sure Abraham means “rules made by God”) is that they don’t leave any room for the vagaries of life as we actually experience it. They can in some instances be very, very cruel. For this reason, I prefer to live by compassion, to make some attempt at understanding the situations real people are really in, rather than just hand down a judgment that if they’re not following my rules they’re sinful and not worthy of my concern.

        I won’t deny that some women regret their abortions, or experience emotional trauma before or after. But women are adults. We’re capable of making choices, and it’s absurd and condescending to say that you’re taking our choices away “for our own good”. Only a deity might be in a position to know better than the woman herself what’s for her own good, and not all of us believe in deities. In any case, it’s a terrible foundation to make a law on.

        But who am I to speak of morals? After all, I’ve “sacrificed my moral compass to the idol of sexual recklessness” in a heterosexual marriage with a man who also doesn’t particularly want children. I’m sure Abraham would much rather I’d chosen a lesbian relationship, in which case I’d never be in the position to be seeking out an abortion at all.

      • Erin

        I had an abortion almost ten years ago and I will never regret NOT dropping out of college, moving back home and living on welfare. I am not a sexual deviant, I was and continue to be in the same long term relationship. I have suffered no long or short term psychological damage and do not consider myself to be a victim of abortion. I don’t see how raising an unwanted child in conditions of extreme poverty would have been a better choice.

      • Rosie

        I think the truth that the pro-lifers don’t want to look at is that *unwanted pregnancy* causes psychological trauma, no matter what the woman chooses to do with it.

      • Lisa68

        @Abraham: ” the ruination that abortion causes in the lives of many formerly-pregnant women”.

        How do you feel about the ruination that childbirth related PTSD and physical damage from pregnancy and birth can cause in the lives of formerly-pregnant women? I have four living children, whom I love very much. I’m very glad I have them. But, getting them here almost wrecked me as a person (serious emotional damage), and caused me permanent health issues. This isn’t uncommon in birth. Women have died in labour, too. Do you believe that women should only be having sex if they’re prepared to accept death? My pregnancies were wanted – we were actively trying to conceive for each and every one of them – and they still damaged me for life. Imagine the increased psychological toll if I hadn’t wanted them, or felt able to care for them, or suffered frail health, in the first place.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    This comment is from Sara A. Maimon, RN, who emailed me and asked me to post it for her:

    “As a person who suffered from depression following my abortion, I would say that depression and grief are common responses to abortion, and are recognized as such by pro-choice ob/gyn health care providers (I am one myself). They are common because the choice of whether or not to have the abortion or a baby are often not so clearcut, they can be very complex with pros and cons on both sides. When that happens, Naturally there will be grief. However, this is true of many life decisions; divorce, breakups, marriages, educational and career choices. Whenever there is a possibility of choice there is a possibility of regret and/ or mixed feelings. The feelings I suffered over the end of my relationship (which occured at a different time than the abortion) were just as severe if not more, than the abortion, however The so called prolifers never invented a “post breakup syndrome” or post whatever syndrome. The invention of a SYNDROME to categorize grief and depression which can happen in response to abortion like many other life events, is strictly politicized. Whats more you never here about the terrible psychological effects of adoption on mothers who gave their babies to adoption after birth. They are far more common in the case of adoption than abortion, which is only logical because they’ve given up an actual living, breathing child whom they will never see again- yet the prolifers forget all about there supposed concern for women and treat adoption as a solution for abortion. Last but not least, all the research concurs with Libby that one of the primary risk factors for psychological problems after abortion is Negative Religious and Cultural Attitudes about abortion. I confirm this from my own experience as well- my feelings about my own abortions are highly influenced by the attitudes and stigmas of the people around me and are much relieved when I am in an accepting environment.”

  • Pingback: Libby Anne: Portrait of an atheist feminist | Uncommon Descent

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  • Ann

    I stumbled across your article by accident and feel compelled to respond, on behalf of the ‘other side.’

    1) Please do not lump all pro-life organizations into one that is against birth control. I go to an evangelical church. All of my (married) Christian friends use birth control. We are not against it. We just don’t want our taxpayers to go towards paying for others’ birth control.
    Please see it from our point of view. What if your tax dollars were going towards something you were morally against? I.e. a government program to assist gays get out of the gay lifestyle.

    2) We believe life starts at conception based on biblical teaching (Psalm 127:3, Jer. 1:5, Luke 12:7 to name a few of God’s love and plan for us) and based on what God has imparted on our hearts. Sure, there are many interpretations that people use to justify their view, but it is my, and my church’s, sincere view.

    3) You addressed the non-fertilized zygote issue, but not saving the life of babies growing in the womb who are torn limb from limb, ripped from the woman’s body. Many people do not know how an abortion works, how violent it is. Part of the pro-life movement is educating people about what abortion is about. Shouldn’t everyone have as much education and information as possible when it comes to such a choice? You felt ‘duped’ not having all of the facts.

    4) No 5Ks for ‘zygotes’/unborn babies? What? In Texas we have lots of fundraisers for saving those lives, for example, for Crisis Pregnancy Centers and advertisements (like the ‘I’m a life’ campaign). We want mothers-to-be to know they have options other than abortion. My church and Christian community do a lot for the poor around us. We believe it is our role, not the government’s to take care of the poor. I could also add, why aren’t there 5K runs by pro-abortion advocates to raise money for birth control pills to hand out? Perhaps there are some. I haven’t seen any.

    5) Obama a pro-life hero? Absolutely not. In fact, he supports infanticide (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/did-obama-vote-to-deny-rights-to-infant-abortion-survivors/2012/09/07/9852895a-f87d-11e1-8398-0327ab83ab91_blog.html). When he was a senator, he voted against a bill that would allow medical care to be administered to babies who survive an abortion.

    6) Kids are expensive. Yes they are. Those of us paying for them know that. We financially plan and save for years so we can have a family. Why should we pay higher taxes, taking money away from our own families, to pay for those who didn’t plan as we did? We are stretched enough.

    7) As usual in liberal blogs, the Tea Party is mischaracterized as old-fashioned, greedy bigots. Really, their primary platform is getting this country back to the constitution and reducing America’s tax burden. We are ordinary people who want the government out of our lives. We want everyone to have more money so they can have as many, or few kids as they choose. We try to enact change by voting for lower taxes.

    8) Social programs (especially ones that don’t work, break the bank). Head Start doesn’t work (http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/stossel/blog/2012/04/07/government-cant-give-kids-head-start).
    You seem to like the European model of longer, paid maternity leave, subsidized daycare, etc. Have you not noticed that Europe is in financial ruin? These programs are unsustainable. There’s a reason America is an economic superpower.

    9) Speaking of Europe…I have lived under socialized medicine in a European country. It sounds good in theory but it is ultimately inhumane. Children wait for months, sometimes years for basic treatment we take for granted here in the US (a childhood friend had to wait months to get tubes in her ears). The elderly are often denied treatment. If you’re too old, and retired (read: no longer contributing to society), you will not get your hip or knee replacement. There are not enough funds. The rich can afford to go to a private doctor. The poor and middle class suffer under the bureaucratic system. You’re just a number. I agree our healthcare system has problems but getting the government involved is not the answer.

    10) I’m not trying to name call here, but you Libby called yourself a dupe growing up. It sounds like you mindlessly followed your parent’s, your circle’s approach to viewing the world pro-life until you ‘saw the light.’ I don’t believe you flip-flopped. You never truly believed the ideology in the first place because it was based on an emotional response, not approaching it from an intellectual angle. Please don’t lump all of us pro-lifers in with that. I stand by my convictions based not only on my faith, but on a thoughtful, academic approach as well (I’m sorry I can’t provide more of an intellectual argument in this post due to time and space. I encourage everyone to do your own research).

    11) You don’t mention the option and beauty of adoption. Can we not encourage women to do that more? Giving your baby up to someone who can provide them with a better life is very admirable. So many couple’s hearts are breaking because they cannot conceive. Babies are a gift.

    Let me conclude by saying that I’m pretty sure many of you on this blog do not know people like me, insert any of the following here [conservative, pro-lifer, evangelical, Tea Party, etc.) on a personal basis. I encourage everyone to increase your acquaintances to people like me, to understand what we’re about. More of the country actually leans pro-life now (http://townhall.com/tipsheet/danieldoherty/2012/08/25/new_poll_shows_most_americans_are_prolife), yet we are still misunderstood. We are kind, generous, hard-working people. We have many similar values to you, to care for those we love and help the underprivileged. Don’t marginalize us as ‘extreme.’ We don’t like being called names either. Explore all sides of the issues. Educate yourself. Be open for civil discourse. As Libby says, don’t be a dupe.

    Thank you for your time. God bless.

    • Katty

      Oh, wonderful. You say you don’t want to be lumped together with the pro-life movement as described by Libby Anne yet you’ve just provided the most comprehensive list of typical pro-life arguments (reaching from stupid and absurd to downright condescending) I’ve ever seen.

      Every single one of your arguments has been countered various times in this post and comment thread already and really, I’m just to tired and fed up with this nonsense to reply exhaustively. I’m sure others will do a much better job than I anyways. Or maybe we should just ignore this comment. Might be a more efficient use of our time.

    • plch

      “the elders are often denied treatment”… where does this happens? I have lived in countries with socialized medicine all my life and I have never heard of this, there are of course problems and the systems is far from perfect but elders aren’t treated like that.

    • “Rebecca”

      1) This seems really contradictory and even baffling. You are not against birth control, but you’re against taxpayers paying for it because… you’re against birth control?
      Sometimes taxpayer money is used to pay for things that some people are morally opposed to. War, for instance. People in some religions might be morally opposed to blood transfusions or other medical procedures, but that doesn’t mean they get to dictate policy. The anti-birth-control crowd needs to give sound, secular reasoning for their opposition to this basic medical care or they can expect to be dismissed by the powers that be.
      2) “Life begins at conception” is not an explicit Biblical teaching. You may believe that the Bible backs up your beliefs but this is only one interpretation. Other passages seem to contradict your beliefs. http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/abortion.html
      3) “who are torn limb from limb, ripped from the woman’s body” This kind of emotional appeal is misleading along with aborted-fetus pictures. The embryo/fetus at the ages when abortion typically occurs does not care if it’s being ‘ripped limb from limb’ as it doesn’t have self-awareness or pain reception similar to that of an adult human or even a newborn. There’s generally more cruelty involved in the making of a chicken sandwich than in an abortion.
      4) You’re misunderstanding the point of this. The point is that the pro-life movement claims that a human life has 100% personhood from the time it is a zygote. If that’s the case, then why do they only care about aborted zygotes when they don’t care about the many human lives lost through early miscarriage? If a zygote being expelled from my body unawares is exactly as sad as an infant dying from natural causes, why isn’t there a huge effort to stop miscarriages? It’s as if the pro-lifers, whether they realize it or not, care more about the *actions* of people who get abortions than they do about *life*, per se. If that’s the case, they need to be honest with themselves.
      5) The pro-life movement may not like Obama (I have my own reasons for holding him at arm’s length) but if he’s doing things that make it easier to obtain contraception and enable women to afford medical care for pregnancy and the ensuing children, this is going to reduce abortions, full stop. Illegalizing abortion is a band-aid solution for abortion anyway; attempts to attack poverty will do more in the long run since iirc most women who have abortions do so for economic reasons. That’s kind of the point of this article.
      6) Accidents happen. Your lack of generosity is going to result in women having abortions. It’s strange to me that you would object to the use of your tax dollars to enable people to afford their children… when you say things like this it sounds as if you care more about your money than you do about other people. For instance, if it cost you $10 a month in taxes to help care for ten children that would have been otherwise aborted, wouldn’t you want to do it? Which is more important to you, your capitalistic principles or the lives of fetuses?
      7) 8) 9) I’m not super well informed on Tea Party-ism and the particulars of economic policy so I’ll pass on commenting here
      10) It sounds like you have a really hard time understanding the viewpoint of people who disagree with you, as if the only way they could come to believe differently than you is if they lack sincerity. Some people become pro-choice based on emotional and intellectual convictions, it doesn’t say anything about how sincere they were as pro-lifers.
      11) Adoption is an alternative to parenting, not to pregnancy. It can be a very beneficial process but other times it is harrowing and exploitative. It is not a magic band-aid.

    • Mary

      Okay, it’s official. Pro-lifers don’t know how to read. Your arguments have been soundly refuted approximately 3948r9 times in this comment section, Ann. Better luck next time.

    • Sophie

      You seem to like the European model of longer, paid maternity leave, subsidized daycare, etc. Have you not noticed that Europe is in financial ruin? These programs are unsustainable. There’s a reason America is an economic superpower.

      I’m laughing hysterically here. Have you not noticed that your country is in recession too? In fact your country is in a much worse state than some European countries. Your Republican party sure had a lot to say about the state of your country leading up to the election. Which of course was all the fault of the Democrat who’s only been in power for four years and has had to fight a Republican Congress on every single thing he wanted to do to get your country out of the mess it’s in.

      9) Speaking of Europe…I have lived under socialized medicine in a European country. It sounds good in theory but it is ultimately inhumane. Children wait for months, sometimes years for basic treatment we take for granted here in the US (a childhood friend had to wait months to get tubes in her ears). The elderly are often denied treatment. If you’re too old, and retired (read: no longer contributing to society), you will not get your hip or knee replacement. There are not enough funds. The rich can afford to go to a private doctor. The poor and middle class suffer under the bureaucratic system. You’re just a number. I agree our healthcare system has problems but getting the government involved is not the answer.

      And now I can barely catch my breath I’m laughing so hard. Which European country was this that you spent your time in? Was it Freedonia? Socialised medicine is the reason I am alive today and I’m sure a lot of people in Europe can say the same. Socialised medicine means that anyone can get the treatment they need no matter if they’re rich or poor. And no one makes money off those people’s medical needs, unlike your insurance companies. Children and the elderly get preferential treatment along with the disabled because they are the most vulnerable in society and need to be treated sooner. In fact the NHS in Britain is in the crisis that is because of all the care and treatment given to a large elderly population.

  • Robin Maria

    This piece is beautiful.
    IDK how you did it, Libby, but you’ve done it. My name is Robin, and I’ve been pro-life for 21 years. I read this article and I see all my doubts laid out in front of me, explained and assured. You explain it so well, and I’m not afraid to take off the blindfold anymore. The article is not condescending or rude, and it never made me angry because I was pro-life, but it changed me.
    Thanks to you, I voted for Barack Obama. Thanks to you I’m…pro-choice. (Whoa, that feels weird to say…)

    PRAISE THE LORD AMEN I really didn’t want to vote for Romney anyway >__>

    I will continue reading your articles. Thank you.

    • hannahbanana

      I wish your comment had a “Like” button. I have been reading Libby’s blog for a while now and she has had the same profound effect on me!

  • LK

    I’d just like to say one thing. I’d like to see pro-life supporters present their argument without the mention of God, religion, etc. In an increasingly non-religious country, one must learn to argue a point without the use of religion or God. As the election showed, arguments using religion as a base no longer work. You cannot reach an increasingly non-religious majority using religious arguments.

    • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker
    • PJ

      (Not on behalf of all pro-life supporters)
      We, as Christians, can’t. Our feeble attempts at explaining our motives through a secular filter just simply are not possible mostly because we cannot explain them to ourselves. However, the foundation of our reasoning comes from our inherited desire to please God, while others’ (and probably yours) is to seek pleasure and avoid suffering. Therefore, we cannot effectively argue anything. It is not that our conclusions contradict or even that our reasoning and evidence clash. It is that our foundations for viewing and interpreting this world are on the opposite ends of an infinitely expanding universe. You may call mine blind and foolish, while I call yours selfish and limited, but they are in fact different. Thus, the only progress we can make in an argument is to insult each other to a greater degree each reply. Therefore, I do not intend to begin a debate, nor insult you. Yet, if you are interested, here is my attempt at revealing why many Christians are attempting to invade your personal choices.

      Honestly, we cannot force you to believe anything, nor do we want to. God gave us all free will to make our own choices. By that definition, God is pro-choice himself. Nevertheless, God still cares about our choices and will hold accountable, but He allows us to choose for ourselves. Whoever thinks he can control others’ choices, especially through regulatory government, is a fool, and I apologize for any misguided Christian who has tried.

      Instead, we, as followers of Christ, can only extend the invitation God has been offering to you your whole life. We just want you to have the same joy that God has given us, and we are deeply saddened to see someone struggling through life in misery trying to satisfy an emptiness that the world can never give. Our motive is not out of the tyranny, oppression, or persecution that it may so often seem; it is out of love that we try to live and share the joy. Love is our motive.

      I know that for many this evidence is not enough and that my faith seems as a childish fantasy. For me, however, even if this is the only life I will live, I would never trade the containable joy that I am experiencing here and now, every day, on this Earth, in happiness, in temptation, in suffering for all the pleasures that this world can offer me. I do not know why or how; I only know that is real. I find when I am actively following Christ and living by His rules, I experience this joy. When I am living to please myself by the world’s rules, I find the joy is missing. Not that it is gone, but I have forgotten it and do not see it until I return to God. Call me stupid; call me blind; call me foolish; call me whatever you wish. Nevertheless, the joy God gives me is my evidence for following Christ.

      (I realize that this response has little application to the post as a whole, I was merely hoping to answer LK’s concerning question.)

      • Dorfl

        “However, the foundation of our reasoning comes from our inherited desire to please God, while others’ (and probably yours) is to seek pleasure and avoid suffering. Therefore, we cannot effectively argue anything. ”

        As long as you keep assuming that the only alternative to Christianity is pure hedonism, then yes: It will be very difficult for you to effectively argue with non-Christians.

        I recommend trying to find out what actually motivates non-Christians – which will get answers as diverse as learning the rules of non-football would, mind you. It is even possible that some will subscribe to the “seek pleasure and avoid suffering”-philosophy you described.

      • PJ

        Then what is your foundation, so that I may learn?

      • Dorfl

        I admit that on a day-to-day basis, my motivations tend to be ‘Finish this assignment on time’, ‘Pass that exam’, ‘Make breakfast’ and similar. But when I take the time to step back and ask ‘What should I be doing with my life, and why?’ my reasoning usually goes something like this:

        Other people is every bit as real as I am. Their feelings, goals and desires are as real as mine, and therefore cannot rationally be given less – or more – value than mine. In practise, I will value myself more, because I’m not Spock, but there is no logical reason why I should do so. Since I should value everyone’s life goals equally, morality basically becomes the optimisation problem of allowing everyone to come as close as possible to fulfilling those goals. Whether those goals are ‘Act according to God’s perceived will’, ‘Maximise total experienced pleasure’ or ‘Become the best plastic cup-stacker in the world’ doesn’t really matter. I have no special knowledge that would allow me to say whether what someone sees as their goal in life is a good choice or not. In practise, there is of course no exact solution to the problem of maximising the goal fulfilment of every being capable of having goals, so I go by a large number of rules of thumb, such as ‘Don’t hurt people’, ‘Don’t needlessly restrict their choices’, ‘Don’t needlessly drain common resources’, ‘Contribute to the functioning of society’ and so on.

        So much for my obligations in dealing with other people. So what about my own life goals? I don’t focus very hard on living a happy life. Based on what little psychology I know, most people have some baseline level of happiness that they tend to drift towards over time, as long as their life circumstances stay above some threshold. My baseline seems to be ‘content to reasonably happy’, which I think is good enough. I really want to understand the world, whether that understanding is of any practical use or not. I try to learn as much as I can, so I’ll have at least a basic grasp of fields I’ll never formally study or of the beliefs of people I’ll never meet. Aside for understanding, I just want to see as much as possible of this wonderful universe we live in – see all the landscapes that have formed in it, the uncountable species that live in it and the variety of other people who share it with me.

        That is what motivates me. As well as I can describe it, it is the foundation for my actions. Others will give completely different answers. I don’t know whether my reasoning in the second paragraph makes sense to you, but I’m very sure that – no matter how wrong I’ve got the details – most of morality follows from the realisation that other people are just as real as you are.

      • Rosie

        My moral foundation, like Dorfl’s, rests on the recognition of other people, their beliefs and desires and feelings and needs, being just as real as mine. Given my evangelical upbringing, though, I’m still working on seeing my own feelings and needs as being as real as everyone else’s. For the first twenty or so years of my life, I really didn’t believe in my own existence at all. I only allowed myself to feel or opine things that were validated by some “authority” or other. Needless to say I was pretty miserable under that facade, and I wasn’t able to do anybody else any good either.

  • David Burress

    This is the great post from a thinking right-to-life supporter that I had been waiting for. I knew most of this but you have added new details.
    I’ll read through the voluminous comments when I have time. Apologies if the following is redundant.
    As you so clearly show, the organized movement (as opposed to outside supporters) has no real interest in actually reducing abortion or saving lives. However figuring out the true motive, or mix of motives is not so easy. Certainly the pervasive group-think and intellectual dishonesty is a hint, but we can’t just assume that sexual control of women is the only, or even necessarily the main, motive. More evidence is needed.
    To start with, we have to distinguish the Catholic clergy from Protestant and lay leaders. The Catholic clergy do indeed make unparalleled demands for control over human sexuality in general, especially of females but also of males. The historic origins of this are complex, but the present day motives must surely rest at least partly on drives for maintaining and increasing clerical political power, income, and social prestige.
    Other male leaders may have somewhat different motives. Unlike Catholic clergy, they do mostly engage in direct sexual relationships with women, and presumably any desires to control women have rather different psycho-sexual bases.
    But how do we explain female leadership in the movement? Are they trying to limit “unfair” competition from “sluts”? I don’t buy the idea that all of them are slavishly dominated by male leaders–they have autonomous motives.
    I’d like to see evidence on what those various motives actually are, with a little more nuance than just “controlling women.”

    • http://www.AbortionReason.com Ward Ricker

      There is a lot of focus on the “motives” of those on “the other” side of the issue. Are you going to base your position on what you conceive other peoples’ motivations to be, or are you going to base it on the facts of what is actually happening?

  • Judy Landau

    this is why I voted for president Obama

  • http://oldgods.net/alys/ Alys

    Libby Anne, I LOVED this post! It was so intelligent, fact-filled, well thought out, and fascinating. I am especially impressed by your ability to overcome deeply-held but incorrect beliefs when you find information that opposes them, and even to deliberately go looking for that information. So few people are able to do that, and the world would be a much better place if they could. Thank you for writing this!


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