A Difference in Perspective

There are a lot of things that the protesters at the Planned Parenthood clinic yell at the women walking in. One of the things is this:

Money is not an issue! If you need money, come to us and we will help you afford to keep your baby!

Every time I hear the protesters yell this, I am reminded of a post by Carl Freiburger of Life Action News, of my response to that post, and of his response to my response. In his first post, Freiburger responded to my assertion that if pro-lifers really care about preventing abortions, they should improve the social safety net to help women better afford to keep those pregnancies and raise the resulting children. His response?

The women she’s talking about presumably know they can’t financially handle parenthood, yet havechosen to bring the possibility of pregnancy into their lives. All of them could have chosen to say “not tonight,” and it wouldn’t have cost them a cent. Why isn’t it reasonable to expect people to factor basic responsibility into their decision-making? Why isn’t your preparedness for children something you should consider before having sex? And once you’ve brought about a situation you’re not ready for, why should the burden for alleviating it automatically shift to the rest of us? Most importantly, why should your child pay the ultimate price for costs you’ve incurred?

I responded with this:

But my whole point was that if it’s really about saving babies and not about making sure women face the full consequences of having sex, then the focus should be on finding a way to bring down the number of abortions that occur, not on forcing women to bear the entire “burden” of their choice to have sex. . . .

. . .

Pro-choicers often accuse pro-lifers of being pro-fetus but anti-child. As a pro-lifer I thought the accusation was ludicrous, but I understand it now. You see, by requiring a poor woman to bear the full consequences of having sex and refusing to support any programs that might help her handle those costs, pro-lifers doom her child to a life of utter poverty. Programs like medicaid or Head Start aren’t about enabling lifestyle choices pro-lifers find abhorrent. Rather, they’re about helping poor children. And yet, Freiburger seems to see these very children as simply a form of punishment meted out to poor women for having sex when they couldn’t afford children.

[In his last sentence] Freiburger is talking about a fetus. Once he starts talking about a child – and the costs involved in raising a child – he absolutely thinks that that child should have to pay for her mother’s decision to have sex when she couldn’t afford children. Because, you know, programs to give that child a better life than grinding poverty would be shifting “the burden for alleviating” the situation the mother wasn’t ready for “to the rest of us.” Fetuses shouldn’t have to pay, but children should.

Freiburger responded by doubling down:

We know from example that children can overcome far worse than poverty; many don’t, but to Anne, they don’t deserve even the chance to try.

. . .

This whole conversation is peripheral to the real issue: if the unborn have unalienable rights and intrinsic value like the born do, then no economic rationale would justify their destruction; if they don’t, none would be needed.

. . .

Modern radical feminism is animated in large part by a visceral anger at the fact that biology gives their sex an unequal share of the work in procreation and is obsessed with leveling things out . . . no matter the human toll. . . . To suggest that exercising basic responsibility is more sensible and humane than extinguishing another’s life is absolutely taboo, even though in most other areas of life we understand that responsibility is one of the basic necessities of adulthood. And yes, Libby, making (not “suggesting that”) Person A pay for Person B’s mistakes is wrong.

Freiburger’s post indicates that he is not okay with any programs aimed at helping poor children or at helping alleviate the financial burden of having children. Frieburger’s basic argument is that if you get pregnant and can’t afford a child, too bad, deal. (Freiburger also argues that things like paid maternity leave and universal healthcare would have absolutely no impact on the abortion rate, which sort of blows my mind.) Strangely, Freiburger does not even talk about things like charity or the church in his post, things conservatives usually bring up in response to progressive calls for an improved social safety net. But to bring this back to where I started, I’m going to assume that that’s what the protesters at the clinic where I escort are talking about—help from a church or charity.

Back when I was a conservative, I employed some combination of these same ideas. I believed that people should take personal responsibility for their actions and that welfare and other programs got people off the hook for this and thus enabled bad decisions. I also believed that the church and private charities were best suited to help people because they could personally mentor people, require individuals to be making progress toward financial independence, and work on the root cause of the problem, spiritual darkness.

I’ve been sitting here mulling the difference between church and charity programs on the one hand, and government programs on the other. There is no question in my mind that if I were to find myself with a pregnancy I could not afford, I would take what a government program had to offer over a church or charity program any day. The thing I keep coming back to is strings. Churches and charities often come with strings attached. Government programs generally don’t. And for conservatives, this is the beauty of trusting churches and charities rather than government programs. And it’s not because I want to be lazy. It’s because I want to preserve as much dignity as I can. And maybe this is the wrong way of looking at things, but I’m sure I’m not the only person to see them this way.

In the end, progressives and conservatives have very different visions of society. This private charity/public program dichotomy is one of them. The idea that people should suffer for making bad decisions rather than having their falls cushioned is another. This difference affects the way conservatives approach the abortion issue and renders them incapable of working toward a comprehensive government social safety net.

The thing is, there’s only so much a church or private charity can do. When the protesters offer financial assistance, are they talking about compensating for the loss of income at jobs that don’t offer paid maternity leave? Are they talking about covering childcare expenses? Are they talking about putting up money for college in eighteen years? I could be wrong, but I highly doubt it. But public programs can help with these things—paid maternity leave, subsidized daycare, bringing down the costs of public universities, even things as simple as larger child tax credits. I’m in favor these things because I see the next generation of citizens as something worth investing in. People like Freiburger, however, see children a person can’t afford to raise as the proper punishment for irresponsible sex. (You can always give the child up for adoption, Freiburger insists.)

In the end, I suppose, you might say it’s just a difference in perspective.

[For related reading, see the Slacktivist on conservative opposition to the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act here.]

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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.

  • Rilian

    Not tonight? To her husband? Every night? Every night until they aren’t poor anymore? She absolutely has the right to say no, as does her husband, but there will probably be a lot of pressure on her to do it… and if she gives in, now she has to be punished with a baby and be even more poor?

    • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

      Exactly: seems like there’s an implicit (maybe explicit) assumption that any woman who wants an abortion must be an unmarried slut, who should be punished for her immorality. Either that, or even married sex is a privilege of the relatively wealthy.

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        I hope it’s clear I’m using the word “slut” as an attribution of Freiburger’s attitude, not as my own opinion.

      • http://concerningpurity.blogspot.com Lynn

        “Not tonight” made it seem to me that he thinks all women who want abortions had one night stands, or infrequent sex with their boyfriends. A lot of conservatives frequently assume that no married couple could ever want an abortion, and that married couples are free from poverty.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        He also seems to assume that rape and sexual coercion do not exist. (Or maybe he thinks that our bodies have a way of “shutting that whole thing down?”)

      • SophieUK

        ” Either that, or even married sex is a privilege of the relatively wealthy.”

        Not to mention the healthy – some women will simply never be in a position to go through pregnancy and childbirth for physical or mental health related reasons. Doesn’t mean they don’t need love as much as any other women or that the only way to get romantic love is usually as part of a sexual relationship.

      • Emmers

        SophieUK – I know a person who told my diabetic friend that if she was worried about being unable to sustain a pregnancy (because, y’know, diabetes), she should just abstain from sex with her husband. For as long as necessary.

        I cannot understand that position at all.

    • Kat

      This also seems at odds with the view (not shared by all prolifers, but by some) that husbands essentially “own” their wives’ bodies and there’s no such thing as marital rape. So you can’t say “not tonight” to your husband, but I’m sure it’s somehow still your own fault.
      And as has been mentioned before, you can’t say “not tonight” to a rapist, because that’s WHAT RAPE IS. Still your fault, presumably. Oh, but they’re not about punishing women. Obviously.
      Fuck, I just broke my brain.

      • Rilian

        Yeah, I was thinking, after I left that comment, that maybe freiburger is one of those who promotes the “wifely duty”? I don’t know if he is. And my best friend saw this and immediately brought up the rape thing. But, hey, you can just give the baby up for adoption! Problem solved ne. Or do only rich women get raped?

  • Kit

    Growing up in Canada, it blows my mind that Americans don’t have paid maternity leave of any length of time. Absolutely, completely blows my mind.

    • Christine

      I suspect that being Canadian is a large factor in me being pro-life. Pregnancy costs maybe a few hundred dollars, plus maternity clothing (and that’s if you have problems), your employment is protected, after your maternity leave runs out there is parental leave (although I really wish there was something to bridge the gap between the end of parental leave and when the majority of daycare spots start). Until recently our furthest right official party (i.e. a party that gets seats and votes) was further left than the Democrats. Even today the majority of the people in that party are more in line with the Democrats than the Republicans.

      I also agree with Libby on the value of having basic services provided by the government rather than by charities (if the government doesn’t provide I’d say a publically/privately funded non-profit is the next best way to get the help, with private charity as a distant last choice).

      That being said – I’m not a proponent of fully-subsidized daycare or of full-day kindergarden. Locally we have a subsidy (that’s chronically underfunded, but if it actually could fulfill its mandate it’s what I would want). It fully funds daycare up to a certain income level, and after that you get a percentage which decreases as you earn more money. Although I think it may consider $10k p/a to be the full cost of daycare, and that’s pretty much the basic cost of daycare, and we have a chronic shortage of spaces. (Forget subsidized daycare. Just make it available in general, and accessible – if I were to get a job I’d need a car. If you can remove that problem, you have effectively made daycare free.)

      • Niemand

        I suspect that being Canadian is a large factor in me being pro-life.

        If you are consistent in your beliefs, then you must also believe that forcing people to donate their kidneys, regardless of their desires and health, is ok in Canada because Canada has free medical care for all citizens and therefore the kidney donation won’t cost anything. True, the person in question might suffer less than in the US, but does that make violation of bodily autonomy right?

      • Christine

        It’s only in the last few years that we finally started to actually partially compensate people for costs incurred with living donations…

        And yes, I consider it a moral wrong to refuse to donate. For reasons similar to why I oppose making abortion illegal I’m not in favour of trying to use the law to force people to donate, but I do consider it wrong to just decide to not do so. I am registered with One Match, and despite the now-questionable benefits of easily available blood transfusions I do plan on seeing if Blood Services will allow me to donate.

        In fairness, I generally eschew the pro-life label because it’s completely meaningless drivel – all it really means is that you’re opposed to abortion, you don’t actually have to be the least bit pro-life to say it with a straight face. That and the disgusting BS that the pro-choice movement tends to claim puts me off.

      • Niemand

        For reasons similar to why I oppose making abortion illegal

        Sorry, I thought you said you were pro-life. If you aren’t in favor of making abortion illegal then you’re pro-choice. Being pro-choice doesn’t imply a love of abortion. It doesn’t imply that you think abortion is even moral. It doesn’t mean that you don’t think that more aggressive pro-choice people aren’t jerks. It just implies that you aren’t willing to force women to continue pregnancies if they don’t want to.

      • Christine

        Well, then, I will bow to your version of what I believe. Calling me pro-choice will not actually make me so though.

      • luckyducky

        Why would you be opposed to subsidized daycare or full day kg? I don’t get it…

      • Christine

        I don’t object to them in theory, I object to them in how they’ve turned out. Quebec apparently has managed cost-recovery of the daycare, but that’s only because people are spending more money. Also, having daycare subsidized is only a small part of the problem, and doesn’t address the issues with trying to have two working parents and young children.

        Ironically enough, I consider half-day fully subsidized daycare (not even the $3.50/day) to be a good solution to the full-day kindergarten. My objection there is more how it has been implemented – the previous premier refused to raise taxes, even though the previous government had downloaded services & cut taxes (and I believe that when they knew they were getting voted out they cut taxes even further, just to cripple the next government). And yet full-day kindergarten (identified on the expensive report on what to cut as being something the province cannot afford) is being rolled out. It was used in my local by-election as a “oh, you have to vote for my party, because otherwise you might not get this”. The advantages are very real (for kids who aren’t as well off), but the cost-benefit of full-day kindergarten vs half day & half day daycare just isn’t there.

      • MichaelD

        On full day kindergarten right now ontario is trying to implement it but its not really ready. They don’t have the resources in the schools so often times it means the kids are stuck in the same room with the same number of toys and the same amount of playground space. In other words twice the kids with half the resources. This isn’t so much a problem with the general idea so much as our ability to implement it at the moment. It doesn’t help that instead of stopping the rolling forward of these programs they have given the teachers a pay cut (as of next year teachers will not be paid for their PD days) to balance their budget.

      • ButchKitties

        And yes, I consider it a moral wrong to refuse to donate.

        That’s not the issue. The issue is: do you think it is a moral right to forcibly take an organ from someone who doesn’t want to be a donor?

      • luckyducky

        I suspect that this may be of an question of degrees… and you Canucks are a little spoiled ;). I get monthly requests for photocopier paper and printer ink because the classroom has run out. Not to mention all of the random things for projects, etc. that otherwise the teacher has to provide for out of pocket. These are not well-funded classrooms though you can argue this is a first world problem and maybe my US standards exceed the Canadian ones and Canadian schools are comparably ill-equipped. Regardless, both kids have thrived or are thriving in full day kg in a poor, struggling US school district.

        Just has a parent-teach conference this AM and in filling out the pre-meeting questionnaire, I realized what a difference a year makes. My kg cries went he thinks he might miss the bus or be late to school and he has never attempted to get out of school. This is in contrast to preschool (expensive, with plenty of toys and full days of free and structured playtime and projects), which he consistently fought…. for 3 years. And it wasn’t the location — he went to 3 different preschools trying to find the right fit and he fought every single one of them most of the time even the one he now talks about going back to to visit (but he is very clear, he just wants to visit!!!) his beloved teacher.

      • Christine

        My daughter isn’t in school yet, but I know that funding (for one of the boards at least – it’s complicated) has really gone down. I can’t comment on exactly what parents need to supply. However, given the issues described with American school board funding in the homeschooling threads (and from my husband, who lived in Goshen, Indiana for two years as a child), I’m not sure that “if you take money away from the schools you will still be better funded than we are” is a good argument. I’ve heard what the educational funding in the US is like… The issue isn’t “full-day kindergarten doesn’t work unless it’s well funded” it’s “the boards are being put over a barrel and told to spend money the province doesn’t have”.

        And ButchKitties – it’s the exact analogy.

      • MichaelD

        @lucky ducky

        Glad things are working out for you. I have a mother who’s a teacher and does part of her work in a KG room that recently went full day and its apparently not working well for anyone. In part because in changing from half day to full day they payed for another adult to be there but not to increase any of the resources. The school board has also started covering more of the costs of supplies cause parents were complaining about being asked to supply stuff for the classrooms. I don’t know that we’re particularly worse off then US schools but aspects of the implementation has been far less then ideal.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I don’t understand. You have stated that you believe it should be legal for a woman to choose to end a pregnancy, even though you personally consider that choice to be immoral. What exactly is inaccurate about therefore calling you “pro-choice?” And what is all this “disgusting BS” the pro-choicers are apparently claiming?

      • Christine

        Thank you for catching that – it was a complete typo, that was supposed to be the disgusting BS that the pro-life movement has. This would include stuff like people claiming that you can have an elective abortion at any point in pregnancy, just because there is no law against it. The pro-choice movement is more likely to be unpleasant because it gets represented by people who seem to think that sovereignty is a good thing.

        Colloquially, at least around here, being pro-choice but anti-abortion generally means “it’s ok if someone else wants to choose that, but I never would.” Recognizing that a ban does at least as much harm as good (if not more) doesn’t mean I think it’s “ok” to chose to have an abortion. Libby Anne has presented some of the *only* sensible arguments I have seen on the topic (from both sides as a matter of fact…), and even then a lot of them are based on edge cases, or are specific to the American situation and make at least as good an argument for having other rights protected too.

      • luckyducky

        MichaelD, in my experience, such a transition is always rocky. You’ve got a whole system set up for 1/2 day plus you’ve got little kids transitioning to a much more structured environment that pushes them so their are tired and a little bit stressed (a normal, healthy amount of stress that goes with any big change) — no doubt everyone from teachers to parents to administrators question and are unhappy from time to time.

        Both of my kids spent the first several months of kg coming home and either collapsing in exhaustion or completely falling apart because they were so tired*. The key was they got up the next morning excited about school… though that wasn’t always so easy to focus on and there were several times, particularly with the second one where I was seriously considering pulling him out and holding him back a year because the evenings were so rough. We rode that out and apart from a long week here and there, and who doesn’t have those from time to time, everyone is happy as clams.

        *My kids still nap, even the 8yo, when given the chance, so some kids who have given up naps prior to kg may have an easier transition than those who have to trade naps for “rest time” AND spent all day in a fairly structure classroom. And all of the kg teachers I know still make room/time for those kids who occasionally can’t make it through the day without an actual rest, a few 1st grade teachers too. One had a yoga mat she’d lay out in an alcove she made with a bookshelf for one child who was just a train wreck after lunch.

      • MichaelD


        Which would all be fine if this was midseptember this is march and the kids are stressed the teachers are stressed and its not really working for anyone.

      • Ibis3

        I think you need your eyes opened. It’s too bad this documentary isn’t free anymore, but it’s only $2.95 for a 48 hour rental. Please watch it. http://www.nfb.ca/film/status_quo_the_unfinished_business_of_feminism

      • Christine

        Ibis – is that info available in any other format? This isn’t so much a “not wanting to put effort into the research” as a “I have a toddler and don’t have the luxury of watching videos”. (I also don’t have a good enough internet connection to be able to stream.)

        I can give you a first overview of my standpoint if it will help you address the specific issues. I have not seen an argument in favour of abortion that does not have a modernist perspective of “we can fix everything.” I’m not trying to say that Libby and others who were brought up with very modernist ways of thinking have failed to let go of this, it’s just that society as a whole has failed to let go in a lot of ways. We have promulgated a myth that children are something that you can have or not as you choose, and if there’s problems with that then technology will fix it. Not only does this give a false sense of security to a lot of women (because women unfortunately bear the burden here, as it is intrinsic to their bodies), but it has resulted in a lot less support when there are problems in either direction. e.g. The “treatment” for high risk of miscarriage is a higher level of monitoring – not only does this not have any preventative value, but it can increase stress levels in a lot of women, making the problem worse*. Even the idea of abortion as “choice” is a bitter one to a lot of women who have had abortions – it was what they had to do, not a choice they made*. Abortion may allow the consequences of problems to be minimized, but it is hardly a solution.

        Frankly, we are at a point where we need a huge change in societal attitudes to be able to move forward, and the regulations have done what they can. One of the biggest reasons that women need to get abortions is that they aren’t able to have children yet. We need to address the fact that women simply don’t feel able to have children until it starts to get difficult to do so. We need to address the fact that it is generally the mother who takes parental leave. We need to address the fact that doing so will result in more labour being required of parents. We need to address the fact that choosing to have children while living in a city is considered a stupid thing, because there isn’t housing (and so no one wants to put in the housing) – so people “aren’t able” to have children because it would result in exile. We need to address the fact that 15-year-olds are getting pregnant. Because if they’re getting pregnant, they’re having a chance to pick up STIs, and keeping them from having to deal with a newborn isn’t going to fix that. Access to abortion might be a great band-aid measure for a lot of these problems, but that’s all it is in a lot of cases. When the majority of women who get abortions are ones who actually need them, then I’ll be more convinced.

      • Neuroturtle

        Christine -
        Nobody disagrees with you. That’s the “choice” in “pro-choice.” You should be able to choose to have or not have a child without coercion.

      • Christine

        Well I’m glad that no one here disagrees. I have heard in other places that apparently women have free choice in the matter today, because the law allows abortions. (Along with the idea that abortion fixes the social problems, which I suspect isn’t ever intended in the way it is meant.)

    • The_L

      Most jobs don’t even have paid sick leave here, mainly because most people work numerous part-time jobs instead of one full-time job. After all, it’s cheaper to force your employees to take 3 other jobs than to actually provide them with legally-required benefits of full-time work. Only white-collar employees get paid sick leave, mainly because we’re salaried workers rather than wage workers.

      As an added bit of evil: I once worked for a local burger chain that offered health insurance for full-time employees. In theory, this should have provided insurance to every single worker over the age of 25 or so. In practice, however, every single rank-and-file employee was sent home at the end of the 39th hour, and the insurance was only available to people who worked 40 or more hours per week. So only people at the management level ever actually qualified; the other 90% of the workers got no health insurance through the job at all.

      • Little Magpie


    • Nurse Bee

      Actually we do in CA (at least 12 weeks of partially paid leave) and I believe this is also true in NJ….for those who pay into state disability.

    • luckyducky

      For the record, I don’t believe there is such a thing a overfunding education, particularly early childhood and elementary education. Nothing can get me more frustrated than going to a school meeting and have the entire time taken up with questions about lack of funding and managing all if the little fundraisers we do to buy art supplies and playground equipment the district can’t afford – selling pizza or helping teachers put requests on WeFund. And it royally pisses me off that my son’s teacher has to keep a second job and this teaching job was a pay increase over the previous one.

      On the other hand, I have a fairly good idea of what an impact all-day kg has on low income kids. I have seen them blossom in the classroom and get some much needed extra support in the form of early intervention, reliable school lunch and breakfast nutrition, and educational materials taken for granted in middle class households. So the idea of this not being a worthwhile investment and worth some frustration in transitioning (if you pay for people, you’ve both covered the biggest variable cost and the most important) is a more than a little frustrating.

      • The_L

        I’m reminded of the bumper sticker: “Imagine if schools got all the funding they needed and the Army needed to have a bake sale to buy a bomber.”

      • Christine

        luckyducky – I know that for low-income kids it does have a good effect (less so here in Canada again, because we don’t have as large an achievement gap). But from everything I’ve heard daycare has similar effects, and having the day split into two (heck, you don’t even have to make the kids change rooms – have the teachers change rooms) would cost significantly less.

      • luckyducky

        Christine, but didn’t you say that you don’t support subsidized daycare or full day kg?

        I admit, this may largely be a case of working with what is politically feasibly. If subsidized, quality daycare were doable here in my state, I might be pushing for that. It isn’t.

        However, full day kg, even full day pK in the public schools is. It isn’t common in my state but my school district has 2 or 3 early childhood centers (pK-2nd grade) and at least 2 other elementary schools that are pK-5th grade. They are highly sought after placements… which is in an of itself a problem because it is middle class parents who are best able to work through the system (just know they exist, get proper testing on time, meet application deadlines, etc. nothing underhanded, placement is by lottery).

        And since any childcare subsidy is limited to the truly low income (for everyone there is a tax credit that is probably on the chopping block with the sequestration – not eligible any more, haven’t checked), public school pK and full day kg programs are real financial relief for middle class families as well as leveling the playing field for low income families.

      • Christine

        Yeah, I was completely unclear about that one. My issues with the subsized daycare are because of how it ends up working out. That said, if you’re going to have a full-day programme at school for kids, split it so that you only need a teacher for half days, and have fully-qualified daycare workers for the other half days. Yes, you’re still going to be short on resources when you do the switch-over, but you’ll save a lot of money. Children going to daycare already have advantages over those who don’t, and I don’t think that the small differential in the outcome between half-day kindergarten & half-day daycare vs full-day kindergarten justifies the extra cost. Now, this is specifically a Canadian analysis – I know that the achievement differential in the US is significantly higher, so any small advantage you can get may be more worth it.

        As for subsidized daycare in general:

        Basically I’ll vote in favour of subsidized daycare over full-day kindergarten. And I’m definitely more on board with subsidized daycare than with income splitting as a way to help low-income families (especially since it helps single-parent household a lot more) – a two-income family making $80k is nowhere near as well off as one with one income earner making $80k. (Although seriously NDP – a family with two parents making $35k and two kids in daycare is a horrible example to use of people who are struggling and need the daycare subsidy. The financial benefit from one parent staying home will generally make up for the resume gap, and you don’t get penalized that strongly in most industries – the ones where you do, you’re not making $35k)

        Basically the only fully subsidized daycare we have here is in Quebec, where it mostly ends up helping middle class families who could afford to have two working parents anyhow. It often doesn’t serve the needs of those who need it most. (I think that the $7/day might be too high a burden for those who need it). And it’s touted as recouping costs, but the only reason it does that is because people are assumed to be buying more, so the sales tax can be counted towards the cost reclamation, and I have a hard time getting on board with a programme that has, as an advantage, an increase in societal consumption. (Also I think the analysis assumes that no family would be using daycare if it wasn’t subsidized).

        There is a daycare subsidy available locally (the regional council), it’s semi-need based, but the hierarchy of who gets it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. If I hadn’t quit school we still wouldn’t be eligable, because two full-time students are at the bottom of the list for who gets, and there’s never enough money for it. Because apparently it’s wrong to try to have a baby before you manage to hit the technical definition of infertile (actually we were over by a couple of weeks, but I had been on the pill beforehand, so it counts). But even without the questionable social engineering there aren’t enough daycare spots locally anyhow. (And the subsidy assumes that you get a good price for daycare – as far as I can tell it assumes $40/day and reimburses based on that).

        A subsidy only works if there are enough daycare spots in the first place, and if there’s something to bridge the gap between the end of paternity leave, and when the majority of spaces are available – a lot of places won’t take infants, and what are you supposed to do for the 6 months between when you stop getting EI and when they’ll take your toddler? So it’s not so much that I’m entirely opposed to them (although I would prefer that they be needs-based, with people over a certain income receiving only a portion of the cost, tied to income level), as I think they’re not going to solve as many problems as people claim.

      • luckyducky

        Haha, paternity leave!?! We don’t even have mandatory MAternity…

      • Christine

        Ok, I’m an idiot. We do not have paternity leave in Canada. We have maternity leave and parental leave. The most common way to take them is maternity leave followed by parental leave, all taken by the mother (we don’t have any protection for pumping here, and the leave is really biased towards mothers. It needs a lot of work). I meant parental, because I was trying to be good and not just refer to everything as maternity leave, although apparently I should have, because I can’t spell. (And I always read it wrong when reading the requirements and restrictions in the documentation).

      • luckyducky

        Again, you may be absolutely correct that your parental leave needs works but you’ll be hard pressed to get much sympathy from us Yanks as we have no federally-mandated parental leave at all. There is Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave of up to 12 wks but that only applies to f/t employees and not of small employers and it is not paid — just means you have a job to go back to (not limit to childbearing, it can be used to take care of an aging parent, an injured spouse, etc.).

        Paid maternity leave is essentially the purview of the employer except in a couple of states and paid paternity leave is limited to the more progressive employers. So, seeing as parents are easily paying $200/wk (~what it was in my low cost of living city 6 years ago) for an infant starting at 6wks, maybe 12wks, and they may have had to start daycare at 6wks or 12wks because they went a good portion to all of it without any pay and can’t afford to go any longer without pay and/or can’t afford to lose health insurance by going over FMLA, having 9mo of childcare taken care of at 4 or 5 can be a big relief for even middle class families.

      • Christine

        I’m a little reluctant to use the American system as a baseline for anything, because it’s such an outlier in pretty much everything. Like I said, full-day might make more sense in the US (and the higher achievement differential makes a big difference too). But anything which is only justified by high social inequality, lack of health care, lack of universal parental leave (even the 12 weeks that some Americans get would be an improvement), etc, doesn’t really justify itself in general.

      • luckyducky

        In one sense, I would agree, the US as baseline doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, the stress felt by middle class families here is instructive for the level of stress low income families in countries with more intact social safety nets. Heed our situation if for no other reason than as a cautionary tale. It is a matter if degrees.

      • Christine

        “If you can do nothing else, at least you can be a cautionary tale for someone else”. I was actually under the impression that a middle-class family in the US is often worse off than a low-income family elsewhere, but that’s probably going to depend entirely what measures of how well off a family is. (I tend to not use disposable income, because how much that has to do with well-being varies a lot depending on your situation.)

  • smrnda

    I’m starting to feel more and more resentful about the attitude that sex is some kind of frivolous recreation and not a deep, meaningful part of life and a profound expression of love, and as being that, it should be unreasonable to expect people to go without sex as much as it’s unreasonable for people to go without hugs, friendship, art, or any of the other things that enrich our lives. I might as well argue that we should ignore injuries from recreational sports since you could have just decided not to ride a bike.

    But I think it fits in with the general Christian hatred of anything fun, pleasurable, or enjoyable. It gets in the way of the ritual of self-flagellating remorse and self-loathing, combined with the occasional episode of brief, ecstatic relief during some worship ceremony.

    • minuteye

      Except that a lot of advice to Christian women on their marriages seems to present sex as an important marital duty, which they should never turn down for fear of driving their husbands away. So it’s not just that evangelicals are rejecting the notion that sex is an important part of life, therefore women who don’t want babies just shouldn’t have it; they’re also presenting sex as important (in quite a different way from how you are in your comment) and insisting somehow that it’s irresponsible to have it if you don’t want somebody to get pregnant. It’s cognitive dissonance any way you slice it.

      • smrnda

        Or just the usual ‘women lose both ways’ philosophy they’re so famous for.

    • ScottInOH

      Well said, smrnda. They fear and despise women and sex.

      (I will say that Catholic teaching is generally closer to Paul on this than a lot of Protestant denominations. Until recently, sex was only for procreation. Even know, when the Church grudgingly admits it can have a “unitive purpose,” they still see procreation as its highest purpose, and they see a positive good in periodic abstinence. It is more common to see a Protestant leader than a Catholic one imply that sex is a woman’s duty or that sex is an achievement/reward for the man and a gift from the woman.)

      To be consistent, Frieberger would have to (a) oppose insurance pools, since those are based explicitly on people paying for each other’s mistakes/misfortunes and (b) especially oppose any kind of coverage for STDs contracted by men or women.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      Awsome Comment

  • luckyducky

    My biggest take-away from Freiburger’s post was that he’s a condescending jerk.

    I am always taken aback at how conservatives and anti-choice advocate in particular seem to think that people who disagree with them have just not heard and/or understood their point of view. They live in a epistemological bubble and though I wouldn’t say *no* liberals or pro-choicers don’t, there are enough who came from their own epistemological bubble (i.e., Libby Anne) or at least somewhere in the middle that I can confidently say that we have heard and understand, we just don’t believe it in large part because of the data.

    • Nea

      Seriously. It’s “wrong” for people to “pay for” another person’s “mistakes”? Wow. I take it his red-letter Bible doesn’t have any red lettering in it? The parable of the talents references John Galt? Jesus had a nice little personal feast of loaves and fishes and told everyone gathered around to provide for their own lazy-ass selves if they wanted a meal?

      • JenL

        Agreed. There’s also the minor detail that apparently it’s only wrong for Person A to pay for Person B’s mistakes when A is being asked to fork over cash. When A is instead a child that is underfed, doesn’t receive proper health care, and is poorly educated, apparently that isn’t “paying for” Person B getting pregnant without access to the resources to raise a child.

  • Ryan

    “…exercising basic responsibility…”
    It’s telling, of course, that the only form of “responsibility” he’d be willing to accept is abstinence (which, as others have commented, isn’t always the easy or appropriate choice in a marriage). What about contraception? Isn’t that taking responsibility? I suspect he’d argue not because, well, we all know the kind of irrational slut-shaming that comes in to play over this one. Restricting contraception access is artificially removing responsible (and, ironically, cheaper) options in order to ensure the maximum likelihood that poor women will face the very situation in question as a penalty for being poor and having sex.
    (None of this is even remotely new, of course, but I quickly find it needs to be repeated so it doesn’t get forgotten.)

    • The_L

      Freiburger also does not appear to believe that rape, or pregnancies caused thereby, can exist at all. After all, if you get raped, that was hardly your choice, was it? And the only way to eliminate the possibility of rape is to NEVER leave your home at any time, for any reason, and live alone. Which is, of course, physically impossible.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        He also doesn’t appear to believe that sometimes a pregnancy could seriously hurt or even kill the woman. Women with certain heart conditions, women diagnosed with cancer mid-pregnancy, there’s a ton of reasons. They’re pretty rare, but they do happen. Are these women supposed to just lie down and die, possibly taking their fetus with them, instead of pursuing their own life and health?

      • SophieUK

        The_L: Someone could still break in and rape you. There’s no way of guaranteeing that you won’t be raped sadly.

        M – I would argue that pregnancy and childbirth always seriously hurt women – no woman gets through it without pain and some form of physical damage and the statistics on PTSD as a result of childbirth are alarming – as many as 1 in 3 women get PTSD. When you add in all the other birth injuries sustained and the other health effects I would say that the majority of women are harmed in some way by pregnancy and/or childbirth. For many they are more than willing to bear these scars as they have the child they always wanted but that doesn’t mean they were completely unharmed by the process. And I would also suggest that one of the reasons that death in pregnancy or childbirth is much rarer now is because abortion is often chosen when a pregnancy is particularly risky. The death rate would go up if all pregnancies were obligatory.

        My friend is currently on medication that I don’t think can be legally prescribed to pregnant women where I live (UK). She can’t come off it without dire consequences though so god knows what sort of danger she’d be in were abortion illegal. But I suppose women with health problems are irresponsible to choose to get married and have any form of physical relationship.

      • Brightie

        While I can’t speak for Freiburger, from what I’ve seen what is more common that an attitude that rape doesn’t exist, would be an attitude of rape being something tragic but extremely rare, which most people must only bring into an argument to twist the scenario in an unlikely direction and force their opponent to yield the point.

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com Ahab

    “The women she’s talking about presumably know they can’t financially handle parenthood, yet havechosen to bring the possibility of pregnancy into their lives. All of them could have chosen to say “not tonight,” and it wouldn’t have cost them a cent.”

    Unless, you know, she’d actually like to have a healthy sex life with her partner without being pregnant. Or her contraception failed. Or she was sexually assaulted. Carl needs to spend time in the real world so that he can understand WHY women experience unwanted pregnancies.

    “The thing I keep coming back to is strings. Churches and charities often come with strings attached. Government programs generally don’t. And for conservatives, this is the beauty of trusting churches and charities rather than government programs.”

    It disappoints me that some faith-based organizations place dogma above the best interest of those they claim to serve.

    As a side note, this seems to be the case with the USCCB’s condemnation of VAWA. They’re upset that VAWA does not contain a religious conscience clause that allows faith-based service providers to deny contraception and abortion to victims. I’m sorry, but if a faith-based organization isn’t willing or able to provide comprehensive services to its target audience, it shouldn’t be providing services to begin with.

    • Brightie

      That’s just the thing… faith-based organizations would believe that “dogma” IS the best interest of those they claim to serve. See: literally believing that if you can intellectually or emotionally convince the person to believe as you do, you have prevented them from entering unending torture after they have died.

  • http://concerningpurity.blogspot.com Lynn

    I used to think similar to Freiburger. I thought people should just not have sex if they didn’t want children. I hadn’t had sex so I had no idea what I was talking about. I also didn’t understand the diversity of humanity, and how you can’t expect everyone to follow the same lifestyle.

    It pains me to read his arguments because I know exactly where he’s coming from and how impossible it is to change his worldview. Yes, I changed mine, but I had to come to it on my own. Arguing with pro-choicers didn’t do it. Allowing myself to ask questions regarding faith, and trying to live out love was ultimately what did it.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Apparently when pro-lifers say they support families and family values, they don’t actually mean they support families.

    • Anat

      They only support those families that can manage without their support.

  • butterfly5906

    It doesn’t say in the post, but I’m just going to assume Freiburger is Christian.

    “making… Person A pay for Person B’s mistakes is wrong.”

    Substitute “Person A” with Jesus and “Person B” with anyone else in the world. Does he still think its wrong? This sentence contradicts his own religion…

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com Ubi Dubium

      That’s what jumped out at me, too. It’s a massive contradiction to have a religion BASED ON having somebody else pay for your mistakes, and then say something like “making… Person A pay for Person B’s mistakes is wrong”. He’s out there telling those “slutty women” that they have to pay for their own mistakes, and then going to church on Sunday and thanking jeebus for paying for all his mistakes. Complete hypocrisy.

    • Ken L.

      I’d say his statements contradict his religion in many ways but that’s not one of them. Making someone pay is very different then allowing someone to pay of their free choice.

      I must admit I often wonder if I should be allowed to serve any criminals sentence if I really wanted to. The most common view of the crucifixion is that it somehow satisfied God’s need for “justice”, so apparently justice doesn’t care who get’s punished for anything. If it’s good enough for God it ought to be good enough for us!

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    The women she’s talking about presumably know they can’t financially handle parenthood, yet havechosen to bring the possibility of pregnancy into their lives.

    As a man, I take great offense at such an anti-woman view. Freiburger doesn’t know the personal history of every woman who has ever had an abortion. What if it was a 19 year old woman with just a high school diploma and no marketable job skills whose construction worker husband gets killed in an accident 6 weeks after she got pregnant? At the time she decided to get pregnant, she made what seemed a rational choice. Now the sudden death of her breadwinner husband leaves her without the means to make a sufficient income to support the baby that Freiburger wants to force her to have.

    Sometimes I wish I could punch these people in the face. They have no idea of the damage they cause to the lives of women they don’t even know while they stand on the sidelines and snicker “You made your choice, now live with it!”

    • The_L

      Don’t be silly. Clearly the husband was being brazenly irresponsible by daring to let himself be killed. After all, he had a responsibility not to die. ;)

      • Niemand

        No, no. Men are never wrong. It’s her fault for not realizing that he was going to be killed 6 weeks later.

  • Nea

    Boiling the argument down solely to money and who’s “responsible” for paying neatly sidesteps quite a lot of factors.

    What if the woman was impregnated by rape?
    What if the pregnancy is making her sick/killing her?
    What if the fetus is too damaged to live?
    What if she has only partially miscarried and the uterus needs to be cleared out before the remains turn septic?

    The money argument that Freiburger is making depends *entirely* on the thesis that the woman getting the abortion is an irresponsible slut and that she and the child NEED to be made responsible for their own selves as punishment for her actions. It’s all about those women who had sex, and never about a pregnancy that’s going drastically awry. Considering how brutal he is towards the needs of the children he’s demanding to be born, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he thinks that women should “responsibly” die of sepsis or deal with profoundly disabled children as punishment for their slutty whorish ways… but he’s not framing the argument that way, is he?

    • Christine

      Of course he’s not. People dying is an inconvenient little detail, and doesn’t affect his real goal – preventing deaths.

      I think I may have just made more sense than he does.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    “We know from example that children can overcome far worse than poverty; many don’t, but to Anne, they don’t deserve even the chance to try.”

    I’m trying to evaluate the levels of callousness in this sentence, and having a hard time wrapping my head the whole way around it. Yes, people manage to overcome terrible circumstances, but they shouldn’t have had to. And that’s just talking about the ones who manage to claw themselves out of pits they didn’t put themselves in. Many more don’t. Somehow he thinks it’s better to force someone to pull themselves out of a shitty situation than to never put them in that position in the first place.

    And he’s telling you that you think kids are undeserving? Good grief.

    • Nea

      He seems to be espousing the same philosophy that a tea party co-worker of mine had, which is that the slightest Government help is 1) stealing from “my hard earned money” and 2) a complete disincentive to change the poor person’s lifestyle. She (the co worker) apparently seriously thought that any sort of help that wasn’t private charity to the deserving was infantilizing and patronizing the recipient… who was undeserving in the first place.

      Yeah, it didn’t make sense to me either. The argument, boiled down, seemed to come to this bottom line: J.K. Rowling was poor and she wrote a series of mega-selling novels; therefore it is possible to rise from poverty to riches; therefore anyone who can’t get out of poverty by striking it rich somehow is being lazy. Only two of those statements are even factual to me, but they were gospel to her.

      • KristinMH

        JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book as a single mom on welfare.


        She pays about a zillion pounds/year in taxes and the economic activity generated by the Potter franchise brings in gazillions more, but still LAZY MOOCHING WELFARE QUEEN.

      • Anonymouse

        We’re big fans of Rowling at my house. Rowling is a great talent, and she also caught some lucky breaks. First, she was born with an ability to tell stories (later honed by her teachers), then she was able to write a story (meaning physically able), which she then submitted to several publishing houses before it was then picked up by a one of them. Many, many talented authors write books that are overlooked by harried readers in publishing houses all the time. Then, an editor at her publishing house championed the book and publicized it, which got it read.

      • ako

        JKRowling should be seen as a success for social services. She took government money to support herself and her family, spent her time writing a book (how many people, if they didn’t know how the story ended, woould go “I completely agree with this single mother on welfare spending her time writing books instead of going on some sort of job training course!”?), and made enough money that she’s not only paid back considerably more in taxes than she ever cost the government, but also created a popular franchise that generated increased employment and made a great many other people wealthy.

        If anything, JK Rowling should be used as an example by people who are arguing for more government benefits!

    • Anat

      It’s right there with ‘Mother’ Theresa’s belief in the beauty of suffering of the poor. Let’s intentionally place people in conditions that will cause them great suffering because some of them will overcome it and will be so inspirational to us all. And the others? Oh, well …. right …

      • The_L

        I’m increasingly creeped out by how little attention is paid to the actual facts about Theresa’s “ministries” in Calcutta, and how much credit is given to the fantasy that she totally helped people.

        The same people were still suffering. She did not stop their suffering. She only told them, over and over, that it was good for them to suffer, and that they would get a place in heaven for it.

        That’s not charity. It’s sadism.

      • Christine

        A study has actually come out in a journal about religious life talking about her … disconnect in what she said and did and how she was viewed.

    • ako

      He makes it sound like growing up poor and mistreated is some sort of challenging but impressive opportunity, the equivalent to getting into an Ivy League school or something. Like he thinks they’re somehow lucky to grow up in bad circumstances. It’s horrible.

  • saraquill

    This alleged man calls children “mistakes.” I refuse to see how anyone who says that can be called pro-life when he makes his disgust for young living beings so clear.

    • Louise

      And then denying the “mistakes” adequate education, a life without poverty and healthcare. If the baby has a disease, too bad! Not his problem! These people are really reprehensible.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    I think he’s right about feminisst wanting to level out the share of work in procreation. Patriarchy dictates that since women are the ones who are able to get pregnant, they are the ones who are responsible for whether or not they get pregnant, and if they do get pregnant they have to do all the childrearing. Feminism advacates for fathers to do an equal share of childrearing and male birth control that does not require a choice between condoms or sterilization.

    • Sarah-Sophia


  • Generally Speaking

    I am going to stray from the rare what-if arguments of rape and illness because I think it detracts from the foundational argument that it’s MY body. I see abortion as a potential exercise in personal responsibility. If I engage in sex with my partner because I see it not as something frivolous or even an expression of romantic love, but as a physiological need, in line with breathing, eating and sleeping, and I become pregnant, I will take full responsibility – ahem, because it’s MY body – and decide whether or not I want to maintain the pregnancy for nine months.

  • Daughter

    Some government programs most certainly come with strings attached. To stay on TANF, you have to meet certain work and educational requirements. To receive unemployment, you have to conduct a certain number of job search activities each week. In some states, to receive food stamps, you just have to meet the income guidelines. But in other states, you not only have to meet the guidelines, but also submit to drug tests, and get rid of assets such as cars. (Of course, some of these strings were put in place by conservative lawmakers).

    Meanwhile, many church-run food banks don’t ask those who use their services to do anything except perhaps provide the number of people in their household and an ID, and the latter is usually just to prevent the same household from doing multiple runs in too short a period and not leaving enough for other households. With many food banks, you don’t even have to prove you’re in financial need. And quite a few church-run charities receive government funding, which means they cannot proselytize and have to offer all services in a non-discriminatory manner.

    This is not to say that I disagree with your overall points that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is a strong social safety net, and that charities are inadequate to do the job. I blogged about the latter a couple years back, based on my experience working 20+ years for both faith-based and secular charities:

  • http://thechurchproject.me Tracey

    I think there is a huge perspective difference in the way pregnancy is seen- namely the terminology for what is growing in a pregnant woman. Is it a complete human being or a collection of cells with its own DNA? Terminology of course reflecting a fundamental difference in viewpoint, seems to mean you and this other writer can’t ever agree. At least in your case, Libby, you’ve seen it from both sides. Based on how it was glossed over, Freiburger seemed unfamiliar with the whole idea that not everyone considers this a person. Unless he tackles that in another post somewhere.

    Incidentally, are you going to get back to the abortion arguments series, Libby? Those garnered so many interesting responses. I was really looking forward to the rest of them.

  • Judy L.

    “All of them could have chosen to say “not tonight,” and it wouldn’t have cost them a cent.”

    Really? What if the woman is a sex worker and saying ‘not tonight’ would have meant losing that day’s earnings and her pregnancy was the result of contraceptive failure? (Yes, I know, in Freiburger’s world, whores and women who use contraceptives are exactly the kinds of women who should be punished for engaging in sexual acts.) But seriously, pregnancy and STIs are a potential consequence of sex work just as lung cancer is a potential consequence of working as a coal miner. Following Freiburger’s reasoning, if the coal miner can’t afford medical treatment we shouldn’t have to pay for his chemotherapy and radiation treatment because then he wouldn’t be fully bearing the burden of the consequences of his actions. We should insist that he accept the consequences of his choices and his inability to afford medical care and not help him to destroy those living, multiplying and metastasizing cells in his body that will diminish his quality of life even if they don’t kill him. Don’t like the cancer analogy? What about a giant, benign growth that was the unintended and undesired result of a choice someone made? It’s not going to kill him, but it is going to have a huge impact on his quality of life: he’s going to have to lug it around with him everywhere he goes, when it gets infected he’s going to have to stay home from work and lose pay, and suddenly he’s lost his appeal on the dating scene because, despite the fact that his giant benign growth is actually really cute and fun, few people want to get involved with a guy who has that kind of ‘baggage’.

    If the pro-lifers want to offer poor women financial help to keep their pregnancies, they should be prepared to give her a minimum of $200,000 per child. And where is the responsibility of the men in all of this to not ask for sex unless they’re prepared to both be present and financially provide for the children they sire?

    And yes, government programs often have requirements, but I’ve never heard of any government agency demanding that you accept Christ as your personal saviour, ask you to hand over your mortal soul, and make you listen to and read bigoted propaganda. Those faith-based initiatives getting public funding for social services they provide always manage to serve it up with a side of preaching and successfully dodge having to follow federal anti-discrimination laws.

    • Daughter

      Judy, I’m speaking from a viewpoint of decades of working with nonprofit organizations, some secular and some faith-based, and many times working with secular organizations that have partnered with faith-based organizations to offer some services. You’re wrong – not 100% wrong, but wrong in many, many cases.

      No, a government agency won’t ask you to accept Christ, but the hoops that women on TANF have to go through to continue to receive their benefits will make you cry. Of course, the reason for those requirements often come from the same attitude that Frieburger has, of punishing the (usually) single mothers who receive TANF, and those requirements were often put in place by conservative lawmakers.

      And plenty of faith-based organizations respect the non-discrimination requirements they have to follow – respect meaning both “they follow them” and “they believe in them.” Because there are people of faith in the charity business because they want to serve people, not proselytize. In fact, some have to make that point to clients they serve who happen to be of the same faith, who want to know why they’re not busy preaching to all the other clients.

      • Staceyjw

        TANF has so many hoops because they know that many people will throw their hands up and say “Forget it!” because for all the hassle, they are only getting $100-300/month anyway. You can panhandle more, with less shame involved (and panhandling feels very shameful!). This allows conservatives to say “see they didn’t need the money anyway! Moochers!” They don’t care that the strings make it impossible in so many cases.

  • saramaimon

    actually while some women do experience trauma from childbirth, most do not and mamy actually experience it as moving and empowering. there is no basis to say that most women arw harmwd by pregnancy and birth.

    • The_L

      Every pregnancy and every birth carries serious risks, just by virtue of you carrying 30 lb. of baby-and-placenta around for 9 months and then expelling it from a hole that’s usually much, much smaller than a baby’s head.

      There are women whose vaginas are physically incapable of opening wide enough for the baby to pass through. Such women either need to be cut open (what do you think a caesarean section is for?) or they and their babies will die. There are women whose bodies are physically incapable of handling the strain of birth, either because they’re unusually petite, or because they were raped and impregnated at an appallingly young age (there’s a reason we don’t consider 12-year-olds to be ready for motherhood, and emotional maturity is only a small part of that reason). If such a woman (or girl) tries to carry a child to term, it will kill her. If a starving woman gets pregnant, either the fetus will starve and die, or both of them will.

      Before antibiotics, half of ALL women died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. Infections are really easy to contract when you’ve got such a sensitive orifice wide-open to the elements like that. The woman also defecates (poops) while she’s pushing the baby out, and can’t stop herself from doing so. Feces contains loads of germs–which is one reason why we are programmed to instinctively find it repulsive. The perineum (region between the vagina and anus) also often tears during childbirth (to prevent it from tearing, doctors often cut the perineum–which is like removing your eyes to keep you from needing protective goggles in a chemistry lab). The torn perineum bleeds, just like any other torn flesh, which means that blood is coming into direct contact with feces in many cases. Antibiotics, sterilized hospital environments, and extreme care on the part of doctors is the ONLY reason women survive childbirth so often today.

      The reason many women choose to have babies is because they consider motherhood of their own biological children to be worth the risks. They experience it as moving and empowering because they find it to be worth the risks. That women are moved by “I’m holding a baby that I made from my own flesh for 9 months!*” doesn’t mean that the risks are somehow not there. Mammals and birds are unusual as animals go–we raise our young, instead of either dying after laying some eggs, or moving on and abandoning the newly-hatched young to their fate, which are what you tend to see in other animals. Let me emphasize that: in many animal species (most dramatically in certain spider and mantis species, where the female immediately kills the male), reproduction itself automatically results in death for one or both parents. They die for the sole purpose of bringing more creatures into the world.

      So why is it so strange that women suffer physical and/or psychological trauma from the process of childbirth, which is unique to mammals (every other creature lays eggs) and is harder for us humans because our upright stance means that our hips are shaped differently from those of other mammals?

      * Seriously, that’s pretty amazing when you think about it

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

        Cutting doesn’t keep you from tearing and can actually make it worse.

      • Andi

        *Half* of all mothers died in/after childbirth? That doesn’t sound a little bit made up to you?

      • Nea

        Andi – not really, no. Look through history (and many old graveyards) and you’ll find staggering numbers of women who died in childbirth or soon thereafter. It’s not necessarily the first child, either, which may be what you’re thinking. If she died over child #5, it was still childbirth that killed her.

      • Anat

        OK, I think another part of the confusion is whether we are talking about maternal mortality rate, which is based on the number of women dying relative to number of live births – or lifetime risk of maternal death. The woman who dies after having her fifth child contributes 1 to the latter count but only 0.2 to the former.

        According to wikipedia, the worst rates of maternal mortality these days, in some sub-Saharan African countries are around 900-1100 per 100,000 live births, so around 1% of birth end up killing the mother, but if we consider the number of births these women already had before the one that killed them, the lifetime risk of maternal death in that region is about 1 in 16.

        Historically the worst rates of maternal death occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries in hospitals because of childbed fever, caused by doctors not washing hands between handling cadavers and examining patients. Some reports claim up to 40% maternal deaths. These plummeted once handwashing policies were established.

    • SophieUK

      I disagree – I have friends who work on labour wards and they are quite clear about the fact that most women sustain some form of injury, trauma or health problem from the process of pregnancy and birth. Many are so deliriously happy that they have a newborn baby that they don’t actually mind all that much and are happy to let the recovery process run its course (for those that do recover – some women live with the injury or trauma for life sadly) but that doesn’t alter the fact that birth and pregnancy are by no means naturally safe, even in this day and age. And I have to say that the pain of childbirth itself should count as being “harm”. It would count if that level of pain was inflicted on a woman by any other third party deliberately.

      Even if a minority of women were harmed though the argument would still stand. It still goes to show that pregnancy and childbirth are not naturally safe by any means and therefore every woman should have the right to protect herself from them if she considers the risks personally unacceptable.

    • Staceyjw

      Oh, please. I know you are an NCBer (natural childbirth advocate) which means you have no idea the facts that surround birth. Most NCBers think birth is safe, and wonderful, of you just “trust birth”. This is a philosophy that could only come from privileged women, in a modern, advanced nation.

      Did you know that in Afghanistan, ONE in every 11 women WILL DIE in their lifetime, due to pregnancy and childbirth. (according to WHO). ONE woman dies every TWO HOURS. does this sound safe to you? These women do not have access to any modern medicine, they birth with traditional birth attendants, or alone with family. Of course, even more babies die, and this doesn’t even count the injuries, pain, and suffering.
      ( http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2013/01/04/afghanistan-maternal-mortality-claims-1-life-in-every-2-hours.html)

      Please educate yourself about birth, and that doesn’t include reading birth blogs by fellow NCBers. That birth can be beautiful and empowering is in spite of the danger, it doesn’t remove it.

  • ako

    Definitely a difference in perspective. I’d consider saving fetuses less important than protecting the health, safety, and freedom of women, and helping children more important than seeing that their parents are punished severely enough for whatever mistakes they may have made.

    I can understand how someone would put fetuses and children in the same category, even if I disagree with them, but treating children as less important than fetuses? (Either that, or he’s working on some bizarre moral pyramid where fetuses and children are both more important than women, but less important than making people suffer for behavior he disagrees with, which is really creepy to contemplate.)

  • Sarah

    “And yes, Libby, making (not “suggesting that”) Person A pay for Person B’s mistakes is wrong.”

    Well then.

    Jesus was wrong wrong wrong for bearing the burden of all of mankind’s sins and getting crucified. After all, He paid for our mistakes.

    • Monimonika

      This was mentioned upthread, but the difference would be that Jesus volunteered to sacrifice himself (at least, that’s the general claim by Christians). Actually, did Jesus ever really explicitly state that he sacrificed himself on purpose to pay for everyone’s sins? I’m not a Bible reader, nor do I have the motivation to skim through the literature to even cherry-pick some passages. *shrugs*

      • Rosa

        did he volunteer? I thought God his father just decided he would.

      • Monimonika

        Now that you mention it, I’ve heard it said as, “Jesus died for your sins!” but the “willingly” part was just implied, not stated. At least, I strongly got the impression of willingness when combined with how Christians claimed Jesus loved humanity and that he’s the path to salvation, etc.

        Hey, Christianity-knowledgeable people! Can you tell me what the consensus is on Jesus’ own intentions about being crucified? What does the typical Christian (divided by sect if need be) tend to believe about Jesus’ opinion about getting killed?

      • me.all

        He said “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me”. judge for yourself.

  • Daughter

    Well, Jesus prayed, “Father, take this cup from me. But not as I will, but as you will.” And the Bible talks about him being in anguish over what was about to happen to him (crucifixion).

    I think that strongly suggests he wasn’t an entirely willing party, although he eventually chose to submit.

    So I think the analogy can be extended to taxpaying to support the social safety net: you may not be willing, but God commands it (and I think there is an argument to be made there; the Bible is clear that we both need to pay our taxes and need to support orphans and widows). And if you’re unwilling to do so, like Jesus, you need to pray until you can submit. (Note: I am being snarky, but if folks like Freiburger want to make statements like he does, then I’ll definitely point out that the Bible can make the opposite case much more readily).

    • Brightie

      Slightly more complicated.
      Yes, he did have the Garden of Gethsemane prayer where he basically seems to have been last-minute panicking, but he also is said to have predicted his own death on multiple occasions previously, he didn’t attempt to defend himself when he was on trial or offer convincing proof (read: miracles?) why they shouldn’t crucify him, and according to many Christian sects Jesus would be seen as something like a part or alternate personality of God, meaning he was probably involved with any decision God was involved with.

      But yes, I’d agree on the Biblical support for taxpaying and helping people.

  • saramaimon

    completely baseless that half of all women used to die in childbirth the figure is about 2 percent i beleve which of course is still a very high percentage compared toodern medicine. you may be thinling of the childhood mortality rate in some societies. and actually the majority of births even now take place wothout anti biotics. none of this reallyatters to the question of abortion though
    .. if childbirth was one huge orgasm it still woild be none of the governmentss business to enforce it on someone else.

  • saramaimon

    may be five percent ill have to check, not more

    • Nea

      In other words, you do not actually know the number, but you still reject what you’ve been told because it doesn’t fit what you believe.

      Perhaps you would like to check with my high school friend Victoria. Oh, wait, you can’t… she *died of complications in childbirth* in a modern hospital at the age of 24.

      • SophieUK

        The figure I’ve seen in documentaries and history books has always been 1 in 6 (is that about 16%?) but I haven’t checked that. Think it’s something similar in the developing world?

  • saramaimon

    at nea, unicef provides statistics. the figures for womwn giving birth in areas without access to mwdical, varies but is about two percent. in the usa ita closer to .001%. i am truly sorry you friend was that one, of thousands. however that is no reason to spread misinformation.

    • SophieUK

      Is that 2% of births or 2% of women? If the former the number of women affected would be higher than 2% since most women have multiple births especially given many lack access to contraception.

  • Staceyjw

    No one has said it, but where is the discussion of community, of societies needs? People like Frieburger act like we all live as our own islands, and what other people do on their “island” has no impact on us. This cannot be further from the truth. I know this he probably acts this way because he wants a to isolate himself and likeminded families, but even those that do, still cannot ignore the entire world around them. You have to leave your house sometime.

    I am all for welfare and social programs because they benefit the community as a whole. No matter how wealthy you are (and most of us are not), you still have to live in this world. I prefer to pay more taxes, and help more people live safe and healthy lives, as this makes my city, state, and nation a better place to live. I don’t like living where people are so poor they routinely become homeless, I don’t like that I have to avoid bad neighborhoods, I think that poverty effects everyones daily life, even if they don’t notice it. I think it’s a disgrace that we have the capacity to provide a basic standard of living to all for the first time in history, but we refuse to do it.

    Any conservative that denies this only needs to look to every other advanced nation (“welfare states” they Cry!) to see how far ahead they are, and how much better their citizens live. Canada doesn’t have sprawling ghettos with dead zones, and armies of homeless people, for example. France doesn’t have moms forced into pregnancy because abortion is inaccessible, who are then forced back to work 2 days after they have their baby because there is no paid leave. Or elderly people forced to live without heat, or food. What other “first world” nation has places like inner city Detroit, but spends trillions on wars they don’t need, or has such extreme income inequality? Where do conservatives think we get these things? From Lazy individuals that don’t fear Christ (in a nation predominantly Christian?)

    I am so very tired of the conservative and libertarian ideals of “every family as an island”. SO TIRED. we are social animals, always have been, we live in groups. What happens to our neighbor effects US, whether we like it or not. Even if you don’t care about anyone but yourself, plain old selfishness should make you want your neighbor to prosper as well, because it effects you too. The anti child, but pro fetus, rhetoric is among the most disgusting things to come from conservative mouths.

    • Jake Hamby

      Excellent comment. I completely agree with everything you wrote there. It’s been bothering me for a while that, since about the mid-20th century, humanity has gained such tremendous knowledge and power that we’ve never before possessed. We could feed the planet (and provide clothing, shelter, health care, and all the other necessities of a dignified life), or we can blow up the whole planet in a nuclear war, or anything in between those two extremes. If we stick to the Randian “I’ve got mine, screw you” worldview, then we’re going to fail as a society, and we’ve seen enough of the effects already. We’re already tampering with the ecosystem through climate change in a way that is going to cause a lot of suffering to a lot of people.

      But Americans have always had a particularly selfish perspective on the global situation. I just read a fascinating (from a historical perspective) but also utterly horrific and depressing book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, which goes into great detail on just how badly the Vietnamese civilian population was treated by Americans (as well as by South Korean and other troops sent by other countries in exchange for American favors). American media always mention the 58,000 American troops that were killed. They never mention the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians who were killed (estimates range from 800,000 to 3.1 million according to Wikipedia). They also never mention the 200,000-300,000 Cambodians or the 20,000-200,000 Laotians who were killed. The whole war was an atrocity, but U.S. media (other than Noam Chomsky and a few other similarly marginalized left-wing sources) only views it through the lens of the American soldiers.

      We should be paying reparations to Vietnam to help rebuild their country from all the bombs and Agent Orange we dropped on it, but that is never going to happen, because the U.S. never has to clean up after anything. We just retreat into our money and our vast carelessness, just like Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby.

  • Scout Kent

    The number was about 1 in 7 in the 1800s, which is horrifying enough. Almost everyone would know multiple people in their immediate social circle who died from childbirth, and they would hear about even more. Exact figures will vary (depending on whether the source is considering direct and indirect deaths, etc), but a range of 1% to 4% is the consensus for even the grimmest of places and times in recorded history.

    Humanity would not have survived 50% of women dying in childbirth.

    The 2010 rate for the US was 16.7 per 100,00 (or less than .02%). This is the highest death rate of any industrialized country.


    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      Actually, 50% of women dying in childbirth is compatible with the survival of the human species. It’s not 50% per pregnancy, but 50% chance over the lifetime of the woman. If a woman had 9 children and died having her 10th, she’s still more than replaced herself and humanity as a whole is doing fine.

      1%-4% is the chance per pregnancy/labor event. It’s a cumulative risk. By the 5th child, the chance of death is 5%-20% (or higher, since some complications show up more often in later pregnancies).

      I don’t know if the 50% is accurate or not. I do know that it can’t be dismissed out of hand as impossible.