When Stereotypes Replace Reality

Christian Post blogger Kae Am recently wrote a post on abortion and women’s humanity—or more specifically, a post arguing that abortion is a symptom of not viewing women as people. Upon finishing Kae Am’s piece, I have the distinct feeling that she has never actually met someone who is pro-choice—or at the very least, has never actually listened to one.

In an earlier article about abortion, I had stated emphatically that in a culture in which women are considered things for use, the results of such use are likewise considered things to use or to throw away. In other words, when women are regarded as things for sexual use and then as things for disposal afterward, then natural result of this use (the conception of children) are likewise regards as things for disposal. The humanity of women has been ignored and denigrated. The humanity of children has been ignored and denigrated.

. . . I have blogged repeatedly that abortion is dehumanizing and degrading to women. Abortion degrades and dehumanizes both women and their children.

There is nothing at all about abortion in and of itself that degrades or dehumanizes women. As I’ve become more involved with my local Planned Parenthood clinic, one thing that I’ve come to feel very strongly is that the availability of abortion is actually the opposite of degrading or dehumanizing to women—rather, it grants them a choice, options, and control over their lives. I agree with other pro-choice advocates when they argue that it is the idea that women should be forced to continue pregnancies they don’t want or can’t afford to continue that is dehumanizing and degrading. But Kae Am’s entire essay reads like she’s never considered, or even heard, this perspective.

Oh, and on the point of abortion being dehumanizing and degrading to children—there is nothing about the fact that women can choose whether to continue a pregnancy or terminate it that degrades or dehumanizes my daughter Sally, or my son Bobby. What Kae Am is actually referring to when she says “children” is the embryo/fetus. This also obscures the pro-choice goal that every child be a wanted child—there is actually a very good argument to be made that abortion is actually a good thing for children, as it helps ensure that they will be born into families where they are wanted, loved, and cared for. But again, I get the feeling that Kae Am has not heard this perspective, or at the very least has never actually listened to it.

When women are things for sexual use to dispose afterward, then natural result of this use are likewise things for disposal. Recently, the news has reported that three women—Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus—had been abducted by Ariel Castro.

Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro, the man accused of imprisoning three women at his home for a decade, as police charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and then starved her and punched her in the belly until she miscarried.

Castro now faces murder charges for the deaths of the unborn. And here is where the humanity of women connects to the humanity of children.

Castro regarded neither women nor children as humans. When they became pregnant, he forced abortions upon them for more sex. What he had done is indeed abortion. Abortion is the termination of an unwanted fetus. And this shows how abortion dehumanizes both women and children.

This makes no sense at all. Kae Am is, I believe, trying to suggest that regarding women as not human and regarding abortion as morally acceptable go hand in hand, and her argument to that affect is to hold up one man who both kidnapped, raped, starved, and tortured women, beating them until they had miscarriages. And then she does it again:

The Kermit Gosnell trial is another prime example of how abortion dehumanizes women and children.

After the abortion, Shayquana Abrams testified, she was so ill and in such pain that her aunt took her to a hospital. Abrams said she was diagnosed with a “grapefruit-sized abscess” on her side and a blood clot in the vein near her heart

And the feet of her aborted baby were severed for Gosnell to use as decorations. Gosnell decorated his dwelling with the feet of several aborted babies. Gosnell gave his women pain medication that never worked, and whenever the women protested or squirmed, he slapped and punched their legs.

Castro and Gosnell both regarded women as less than human and performed abortions, Kae Am tells us, and that means abortion is inherently dehumanizing and degrading to women. I’m sorry, in what universe does that actually follow? What about the vast, vast majority of those who provide abortions who do believe in the humanity of women, and who provide abortions in large part because they believe in women’s humanity? The abortions Gosnell performed were degrading to women, but it does not follow that all abortions are degrading to women or that abortions are inherently degrading to women. Similarly, it was, yes, very degrading for the women whom Castro starved and beat until they miscarried, and even dehumanizing, but in what world does it make sense to compare miscarriages induced by beatings with abortions woman freely choose exercising their own agency?

Castro faces murder charges for the forced abortions of the children conceived by rape, but if these women had went to an abortionist to eliminate children of rape, there would never be any murder charges because the children would instead be considered non-living non-human entities or burdens for removal and disposal. I say this to reveal the hypocrisy and how our culture has a subjective double-standard over women and children as if they are human in some instances and non-human in other instances. Either women and children are human, or they’re not; the answer should never be “human in some situations; non-human in other situations.”

I don’t know what charges Castro is up on, but if he’s being charged with murder I suspect it’s more out of a desire to impose the death penalty on him than anything else (Do I think he should be charged for starving and beating the women? Yes. Do I think he should be charged with murder for it? No.). Castro’s beating the women until they suffered miscarriages was a crime, but it was a crime for a different reason than Kae Am seems to realize. These beatings were not a crime against the embryo or fetus, they were a crime against the women. Forced miscarriages or abortions, however they are performed or induced, are always wrong—they violate a woman’s bodily autonomy just as much as does forced pregnancy. I would guess that Kae Am’s inability to see that pro-choice individuals’ opposition to forced abortions (or in this case miscarriages induced by beatings) is not hypocrisy (actually, it’s rather the opposite) is at least in part based on the lack of emphasis placed on consent in many parts of Christianity.

Pro-abortion advocates tend to focus on abortion in cases of rape as if the abortion itself would make the world a better place for women. What about stopping rapes and preventing rape altogether? So far, I have not heard any discussion from that side about how to do this. Eliminating rape is never a topic that comes up among the pro-abortion advocates. Abortion in those cases does nothing to make society better for women because the injustice against them has still been committed. A society that embraces and welcomes the human dignity of women would never have rape. Instead, our culture considers that atrocity along with bondage and sadomasochism entertaining through pop culture.

. . . what.

This is why I seriously doubt that Kae Am has ever gotten to know or actually listened to anyone who is pro-choice. Eliminating rape is never a topic that comes up among those who are pr0-choice? What? WHAT?!? This is not just a misrepresentation, it’s an outright falsehood. It is pro-choice women, in actual fact, who are the most vocal in efforts to prevent rape. Has Kae Am never heard of Slut Walk? This idea that pro-choice women’s solution to rape is “well, let’s just make sure rape victims have access to abortion” is ludicrous to the extreme.

That said, Kae Am is right that a society that embraces and welcomes the human dignity of women would never have rape (or at least, rape would occur at a far lower level). Where she’s wrong is that a society that embraces and welcomes the human dignity of women would also be a society with accessible abortion services.

Abortion is the result of a misogynistic culture and of misogynistic acts. In a culture that truly valued the humanity of women, there would never be any need for abortion.

No. No no no. First, Kae Am has not actually demonstrated that abortion is the result of a misogynistic culture or misogynistic acts. Her only evidence—indeed, her only argument—is that Gosnell and Castro were both misogynistic and performed abortions or induced miscarriages. Let’s make an analogy. Let’s imagine that there is an anti-Semitic painter. Does that mean that all painters are anti-Semitic? No.

Second, I get the feeling that Kae Am hasn’t heard of Beatriz, the El Salvadoran woman suffering severe pregnancy complications who will die as a result of her country’s ban on abortion. No matter how much a culture values the humanity of women, there will always be a need for abortion—and of course, I would argue that abortion access actually flows from that very valuing of women’s humanity. However, there is one point in which Kae Am is correct here. In a culture that truly valued women’s humanity, women would have ready access to the most effective forms of birth control and would also have access to things like paid maternity leave and pregnancy-friendly work policies, and these things would indeed bring the need for abortion down. One would hope that Kae Am is also in favor of these policies.

Here, we see abortion as the result of Ariel Castro’s misogyny, and the misogyny is shown evidenced in the case of abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

Let’s embellish the analogy I gave above, and imagine that our anti-Semitic painter paints anti-Semitic paintings. Would we therefore conclude that all paintings are anti-Semitic, or that painting itself is inherently anti-Semitic? No. Now look, I’ve heard the example that abortion is dehumanizing made a lot more effectively than this before, it’s just that Kae Am isn’t doing it. She isn’t saying that abortion denies biology and women’s maternal nature, and is thus anti-woman. She’s saying that some misogynist men performed or induced abortion . . . therefore abortion is misogynist. And I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t follow.

Throughout this country and other western countries with legalized abortions, men enjoy sexual relations until the woman becomes pregnant; then, they offer money for the abortion because the prospect of responsibility for the reproductive act is a burden upon them and because all they really wanted was the sex.

Here’s what’s confusing here. Kae Am acts like this is the fault of pro-choice proponents, seemingly not realizing that the most ardently pro-choice individuals are also generally the most ardently feminist, and thus the most ardently opposed to the idea that women are simply objects to be enjoyed for sex. Those who are the most pro-choice are also those who are the most vocally arguing that women need to be viewed as people, not as sex objects or as playthings, but as fully equal and fully worthwhile people. Kae Am might write a thought provoking piece by arguing that abortion somehow sabotages feminists’ efforts to bring about a world where women are viewed as fully and equally people (I don’t see the mechanism for that, but that piece definitely has the potential to be more interesting), but that’s not what she’s doing. Instead, she writes like she’s never actually met or spoken with anyone who is pro-choice, and has no clue what they actually believe or what the perfect world they envision looks like.

I have blogged repeatedly about how our hypersexualized abortion-obsessed culture neither acknowledges nor appreciates the true humanity of women. I wrote how Jessica Winter asserted that women need birth control and sex in to be regarded as humans. I have also written about how abortion is used to eliminate large numbers of the unwanted female population “gendercide“; that women do not appreciate their own bodies when they have an abortion. Planned Parenthood has campaigned against a law aimed to prevent gendercide in this country. I have posted about how young girls throughout western cultures are pressured into performing sexually . Boys coerce, manipulate, and essentially force themselves upon girls. An epidemic of teen girl suicides occurs when they succumb to pressure to send explicit pictures of themselves and then commit suicide when those pictures become sexual fare for a general audience.

In this section, Kae Am is mixing things that don’t belong together, and I don’t think she realizes she’s doing it. Those who assert that women need access to birth control so that they can control their reproduction and choose when to become pregnant and bear children are generally the exact same people who are against a culture that allows boys to coerce, manipulate, and “essentially force themselves upon girls,” and are generally the same people who are working to change our slut-shaming culture so that a sexually explicit picture on social media won’t be seen as a reason to commit suicide. (Also, I’ve written before about how the actual solution to “gendercide” is, well, more feminism.) But the idea that believing women should have access to birth control fits in the same misogynistic boat as the pressure on young girls to perform sexually—and the idea that slut shaming somehow goes hand in hand with belief in the importance of abortion access—is mind boggling.

This is the exact type westernized culture that champions free access to abortion: the exact culture in which women call themselves “sluts” as a means of liberation when they campaigned for free abortion.

But what is a slut that women pride themselves on being? When I looked up “Rock the Slut vote,” I came across advertisements for porn in addition to the campaign website. Sluts are terms used to describe women who have indiscriminate sex with lots of men. The victims of sexting were often called sluts prior to their suicides. I once saw a man who had a sticker on his wallet: “get some sluts.” Is this sexually empowering or sexually degrading?

Um. Okay then. It seems Kae Am has heard of Slut Walk, she’s just completely missed the point. Let me see if I can spell it out for her: Slut Walk and Rock the Slut Vote are about decreasing the stigma attached to being sexually active and at the same time placing an emphasis on women’s agency in choosing when and with whom to have sex. They’re explicitly anti-rape and adamantly against any attempt to control women’s sexuality. They’re about viewing women as people, as fully equal human beings, which is exactly what Kae Am claims she herself believes in. But given the way Kae Am defines sluts—”women who have indiscriminate sex with lots of men”—I get the feeling that she herself engages in slut-shaming rather than working against it. At the very least, she’s extremely uneducated on the topic—the fact that she can point out that victims of sexting commit suicide after being called sluts while seemingly being unaware that this is exactly the sort of thing Slut Walks and Rock the Slut Vote are working against reveals that she doesn’t actually know what she’s talking about here.

The point of this article is to explain again how abortion degrades and dehumanizes both women and their children. Forced abortions in the case of Ariel Castro; legal abortions in the case of Kermit Gosnell; a stronger demand for abortion by the people who either ignore or praise the sexual objectification of women. Sometimes, the most extreme examples such as Ariel Castro and Kermit Gosnell explain the social problem the most clearly, but that this dehumanization of women is a problem pervasive throughout any culture that cherishes abortion.

If that is the point of the article—to explain how abortion dehumanizes and degrades both women and their children—Kae Am has failed in making her case. Instead, she has revealed how little man anti-abortion activists actually know about feminists, pro-choice individuals, and their goals and arguments. But then, when I opposed abortion and was active in the pro-life movement, I, too, was ignorant of these things. I didn’t know anyone who was pro-choice, and I only learned about pro-choice arguments and goals through the filter of the pro-life speakers, literature, and groups I engaged in.

The idea that a dehumanization of women and an embrace of abortion of necessity go hand in hand both nonsense and something that Kae Am doesn’t actually back up or support in her post. How would Kae Am explain countries in the Western world where women have the greatest degree of freedom and equality and ready access to abortion? And how would she explain countries where abortion is illegal or highly restricted and women’s rights and ability to make their own decisions are also severely limited? It is true that a society with access to abortion is not automatically a society where women are treated as equals, but it is also true that the two issues frequently go hand in hand in a way Kae Am seems ignorant of—as women work to be viewed as people and as equals, they often advocate for abortion access as one stepping stone in that greater journey.

Oh, and also? Sometimes the extreme examples show us nothing. Sometimes the extreme examples are only outliers.

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.

  • NeaDods

    Extreme examples end up in in the news because they are *extreme,* not day to day business. So there’s logic fail one. Apparently all women who become pre regnant must stay so because thar’s how their bodies work – as if reducing us to bare biological processes without autonomy is liberating – logic fail two. Men and women (and that blogger) deny basic biological processes every day – unless Kea does not brush teeth, use deodorant, cut hair, wear glasses, see doctors, etc… logic fail three. I could keep going, because these deep truths of Kae’s are just as common, rebutted, ignorant, and patronizing as the Bad Catholic’s. My brain is also an organ of mine, Kae. Use of it trumps use of my uterus every time.

  • Sgaile-beairt

    actually castro WANTED one of his captives to have a baby….threatened to KILL the other woman he had beat to miscarry if she didnt deliver that one successfully ((in spite of no obgyn rtaining!) and the child is now 6 yrs old….so again lying, or ignorant, or both….!!

  • Sgaile-beairt

    i mean it was all over the news, lots of times, abt litle jocelyn berry….

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/08/us/ohio-missing-women-found

  • Stev84

    And it’s the ChristianPost of course. Why do they pretend that they are sane over there? No one is buying it.

    • Kate Monster

      Oh, but tragically people ARE buying it. So many people. So many voters. And every time I think I’ve found somewhere generally sane to move to once I finish grad school, it turns out that people there have issues with social justice too. Sigh.

  • Richter_DL

    By “The Western World” she means … I don’t know really. Alabama?

    I really, really, really hate it when Americans just assume everywhere in the Western World is like in America. Fortunatly, it is not.

  • Lainey

    Parts of mainstream western society are hypersexualised and misogynistic but I see little sign that they are “abortion obbessed”, consider the almost complete lack of coverage of the Beatriz story in mainstream media for example. As far as i can see the people most “obsessed” wih abortion are fundamentalist/evangelical Christians.

    • Richter_DL

      Of course there is a part of modern American (not Western!) society obsessed with abortion. It’s called the Pro-Life Movement.

  • Niemand

    I find the Castro=woman choosing an abortion analogy extremely chilling. It basically implies that the writer believes that women have no agency or will of their own and that they can not choose to have an abortion. Or refuse an abortion. This is the view of a rapist and, unfortunately, seen all too common in the self-declared “pro-life” movement.

    • Jayn

      Yeah, I got a distinct feeling reading this that she see abortion as something that is primarily done to women, or at best something women are tricked into doing to themselves, but never as something that women freely choose. (Gee, where have I heard that line before?). Yeesh, she didn’t even separate Castro and Gosnell there. While I won’t debate whether the latter saw women as human, in that case they were there because he was providing a service they wanted. Why he was doing what he did has no bearing on why they went to see him in the first place, and I can’t think of anything more affirming of a person’s humanity than being able to live as you choose to.

      • CarysBirch

        Yes yes yes! I hear this so often. As though women who choose abortions have no agency of their own. Their boyfriend made them do it, or someone told them they should or whatever. Poor widdle wimminbrainz can’t make up their mindses without help and guidances.

        Hello, misogyny, you’re not where Kae Am told me to look for you! Shock shock…

      • Kate Monster

        Well, it’s a part of the whole narrative that anti-choice propaganda pushes. Women HAVE to see pictures of their adorable li’l fetus–otherwise they just won’t know what’s really inside them! A tiny human! Look at how person-y it is! And women need to see that ultrasound–maybe TWO ultrasounds! Maybe three! Maybe one every couple of hours, accompanied by a recording of a really great fire ‘n’ brimstone sermon!–then go home and try to force their little ladybrains to think real hard about the contents of their uterus. And only DOCTORS should be prosecuted–after all, they’re the ones who know what the deal really is. Those silly women who want to have abortions clearly think that an abortion is like going out for Pinkberry, not a serious medical procedure that terminates a pregnancy.

        There’s a persistent thought among some anti-choicers that women who pursue abortions don’t understand what they’re doing–that they just don’t get that abortion is the end of a pregnancy (YOU MEEEEEAN A BABY!!!!!!!!one!!) or that it’s a serious decision. I can only conclude that these particular anti-choicers have never, ever, met someone who had an unintended preganancy.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Well see, as far as the fetus is concerned, there’s no difference between an abortion that a woman chooses herself and an abortion that is forced upon her. As far as the fetus is concerned, there is no difference between an abortion induced by sterile, medical instruments in well-trained hands and an abortion induced by starvation and physical violence at the hands of the rapist responsible for its conception. The fetus is being aborted regardless, so what’s the difference?

      What’s that you say? These things make a difference to women? Well, what does all this have to do with them, silly? I’m trying to talk about the horrible things that are done to fetuses and you won’t shut up about the containers they’re stuck in for 9 months!

      Now moving right along, where was I? Oh yeah, “Abortion rights dehumanize women.”

      • mayarend

        Stupid containers always getting in the way of the fetuses’ rights…

      • Kate Monster

        And I hear that some of these containers think they ought to be able to overrule their owners and make decisions for themselves! Truly, The Lord* has turned His almighty back on our nation.

        *As always, The Lord is Blond Jesus.

      • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

        This. A million times this.

  • Niemand

    To put it another way, Castro was all about keeping women from making a choice: He forced one woman to have a baby and forced others to have abortions. He fits, in short, more on the “pro-life” side. They are both about enslaving women.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      I have already said this above but it can’t be said enough: Castro did NOT “force women to have abortions.” He subjected his (forcibly impregnated) victims to beatings and starvation in order to induce miscarriage. The characterization of these acts as “abortions” even “forced abortions” is one of the most bizarre and disgusting things I have ever seen from the “pro-life” movement, and I really didn’t think they could top themselves anymore.

      Of course these women could easily have themselves been killed by such treatment, just as Amanda Berry could easily have been killed by undergoing a forced pregnancy under terrible conditions with no prenatal care, followed by a birth attended only by her fellow victims. But this is not Kae Am’s concern. What does s/he call the torture of a raped and forcibly impregnated woman? “The termination of an unwanted fetus.” I’m just going to let that hang in the air.

  • Gail

    She talks a lot about how the western world is so misogynistic (and yes, it has its problems), but I’m wondering if she realizes how misogynistic some non-western cultures are. In most western cultures, women are allowed to drive, show their hair in public, marry men they actually want to marry, and not get stoned to death for committing adultery.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Um, in most non-Western cultures women can do these things too. As far as I know, it is only Saudi Arabia that forbids women to drive. And some how, I’m sure that Kae Am can rant at length about how Muslims are Teh E-ville too.

      • Gail

        Yeah, I commented too quickly and should have given a broader range of examples. What I really meant was that a lot of cultures, both western and non-western, have some degree of sexism, so her singling out of western society as misogynist doesn’t make much sense. But I suppose that in her opinion, societies that prohibit abortion are not misogynist or something.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Possibly the distinction is hyr definition of “misogynist”, which seems not to be the same as mine…

  • Sally

    I do
    think we have to acknowledge that the law in some states does seem to raise a
    confusing point about the life of the fetus.
    Regardless of how heinous the kidnapping, imprisonment, and treatment of
    the women was, I don’t believe the law allows the death penalty for those
    things. But in some states, killing an
    unborn fetus is considered murder when it’s not in the context of an
    abortion. I think that in some states,
    if you kill a pregnant woman, you can be up on more charges because you’ve
    killed two people.

    Here’s the Ohio law quoted here: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/09/18145259-prosecutor-will-seek-murder-charges-for-terminated-pregnancies-in-kidnap-case?lite

    “McGinty specifically cited a provision of
    Ohio law that defines it as aggravated murder when someone causes, “with prior
    calculation and design,” the unlawful termination of another person’s
    pregnancy.”

    I am talking only about the law
    here. If the law allows murder charges
    for unborn fetuses and allows abortion, I do think anti-choice people have a
    point. It is confusing. From my perspective, the abortion is about
    allowing the woman to control her body.
    The murder charge is about the killing of a person who would have
    otherwise lived. The laws are separate,
    but they do seem to conflict on the issue of personhood. I’m not saying both laws aren’t good for
    their own circumstances. I’m just saying
    to an anti-choice person, one seems to make a point for the other.

    Please don’t flame me,
    folks. I’m not arguing anti-abortion
    here. I’m saying these laws are what
    they are, and if we’re going to discuss the issue, we need to be aware of this
    point anti-abortion people will make.

    • RosaMN

      It is confused, just like our general discourse is confused on whether fetuses are persons and whether women are persons with full rights.

      • Anat

        I wouldn’t say most people are confused on either of these issues. People are in strong disagreement about them, but individual people know what they think. What some people may be confused about is whether their opinions can be held consistently. It is not possible for both fetuses and women to have full rights.

      • Kat

        This is why I still think the whole question of whether a fetus is a person or not is a red herring. I’ll concede the anti-choice point that the line is a little blurry (although claiming this somehow means an embryo is a full person remains patently absurd), but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that, person or not, this creature is LIVING INSIDE and FEEDING OFF a woman’s body, severely impacting her health in the process even if everything is going as it should.

        You want to give a fetus the same rights everyone else has? Fine. Now show me where any other human being has the right to use any part of my body against my will. Viewed from that perspective, I honestly don’t see how granting a fetus the same rights as anyone else is inconsistent with legal abortion (I’m not saying fetuses necessarily need full rights, just that such a thing theoretically *could* fit within a pro-choice framework). It’s only when you grant a fetus the “right” to appropriate someone else’s body — a right that no one else has in any circumstance — that you run into problems.

      • Trollface McGee

        Every time and anti-choicer makes this argument I counter by proposing mandatory blood donations. Not once have I had any one take me up on it being a good idea. Apparently the invasion on one’s bodily integrity with a 10 minute blood donation session is far more intrusive than 9 months of pregnancy.

      • Jayn

        The comparison that always comes to mind for me is organ donation, because we don’t even require that of dead people. If we don’t require such things of people who can no longer be affected by them, why should we require it of those still alive?

      • Christine

        The problem with both of those analogies is that, when taken in the other direction, they make the pro-choice side look questionable too. “There is no reason that anyone should feel obligated to donate blood or organs. Any reason to not donate is good and prefectly moral.”

      • Nate Frein

        I disagree. Even in the case that set precedence that no-one can compel the use of another person’s body or organs (McFall v. Shimp), the judge that ruled that Shimp could not be forced to provide marrow was also incredibly immoral for choosing to exercise that right.

      • http://geekinthebreeze.wordpress.com mythbri

        No, I don’t think so. Because people do choose to donate blood. People do choose to donate tissues and organs. People do choose to have children, sometimes even in cases where it’s extremely dangerous to their health to do so. People even choose to have children for people who cannot have children.

        But can you imagine being forced to do any of those things? Just because people choose to do some things doesn’t mean that it’s okay to force them, even if they’d do it in other circumstances. And it’s not okay to force someone who wouldn’t do it under any circumstances. They own their body. They cannot be compelled to donate it or parts of it against their will.

        I will never have children. I take precautions against getting pregnant, but if I were to ever find myself with an unplanned pregnancy, I would have an abortion. I also donate blood as often as I can, and I am registered as a volunteer bone marrow donor, in honor of my step-dad who died from leukemia. These things are not incompatible.

      • Christine

        Great. It addresses the legal issues. But if that’s the analogy you want to use, then campaigns which are heavy on the guilt about how you shouldn’t have an abortion are a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Nagging someone to not have an abortion becomes the moral choice. While it is a good counter to the arguments about legislation, it completely justifies the majority of the anti-abortion arguments.

      • http://geekinthebreeze.wordpress.com mythbri

        campaigns which are heavy on the guilt about how you shouldn’t have an abortion are a perfectly reasonable thing to do

        They’re not reasonable at all. They might be strategically effective in some cases, but they are not at all reasonable. Abortion is a medical procedure. It is morally neutral – which means it’s exactly as moral as the pregnant person decides that it is.

        it completely justifies the majority of the anti-abortion arguments

        I don’t think that it justifies any anti-abortion argument whatsoever. And why should I allow anti-choice people dictate the terms of the conversation? This is about privacy and bodily autonomy – anything else is merely a distraction. They might choose to try to moralize about it, but that doesn’t justify that choice or magically make it reasonable.

      • Christine

        I don’t see how comparing a morally neutral action – not having an abortion – to a morally beneficial one – donating blood or tissue – doesn’t end up creating those problems. My point in criticizing the analogy is that it’s just as effective in the other direction.

      • http://geekinthebreeze.wordpress.com mythbri

        I still don’t agree. I don’t think that it’s effective in the other direction, not in the way you think it is. Some people are unable to make blood and/or tissue donations, for health or eligibility reasons – just like some people are unable to carry pregnancies to term. Does this make them bad people? Some people who are healthy and eligible don’t choose to donate – just like some people are healthy but choose not to carry pregnancies to term. Does this make them bad people? It kind of seems like you’re basically making an anti-choice argument here, which is “It is possible for you to do this, therefore you are obligated and/or legally compelled to do this, regardless of how you feel about it.” The anti-choicers think that all pregnancies should be carried to term, and that this position is “morally beneficial.”

        Except that we know that it’s not.

      • Christine

        Honestly, the only way I see the analogy working is if we say that blood/tissue donation is morally neutral. And I don’t know anyone who takes that position. That said, the opinion of a spectrum individual on whether or not an analogy works is not the best source to trust. And one of these days I will remember that before opening my big mouth.

      • Anat

        Actually the analogy works better with the differences. Compare carrying a pregnancy to term and donating bone marrow. The cost and risk required from the would-be donor is significantly less for marrow donation compared to several months of pregnancy, the potential benefit to the would-be recipient greater (because the potential beneficiary of marrow transplant is aware of the possibilities, can hope for the donation to go through and fear that it doesn’t, as opposed to a fetus), and despite that we do not force the would-be marrow donor to stick to a decision to donate. If we can’t force a marrow donation, then even more so to continuing a pregnancy that is not (or no longer) wanted.

        (In Talmudic debate this principle is called ‘kal vachomer’. I have yet to find a proper English term for it. You compare two things that are similar, but one is consistently more extreme than the other.)

      • Christine

        That makes a lot of sense. I had never heard the subtext of “not even in this case” before.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Except the majority of anti-abortion arguments involve their being no choice. The anti-abortion shriekers don’t want carrying a pregnancy to term to be the moral choice. They want it to be the only choice.

      • tsara

        See, the problem is that the pro-choice position is pro-choice, while the pro-life position is anti-choice. I’m all for people acting according to their personal moral compasses, but I’m firmly against anything that looks even the slightest bit like coercion. Given the history and cultural climate surrounding abortion? Guilt-heavy campaigns are coercive.

      • Anat

        I can’t prevent people from nagging, it’s their right to express themselves. I can at most tell them not to nag me in my private space. Or I can avoid listening. Or I can point out to them their nagging is giving me a bad view of them.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I don’t think most pro-choicers think that “any reason to not donate is good and perfectly moral.” I certainly don’t. There are plenty of situations in which I would think it was my moral obligation to donate and plenty of situations where I would consider it immoral to not donate and where I would strongly disapprove of a person’s choice to not donate. But I still think that it would be disastrous to try to legislate those choices and that it would open up a legal can of worms that could cause much more harm than it would prevent. And that’s why I think donation always needs to be a choice, even if some people will make some choices that I consider extremely immoral.

        This comparison is not about establishing a basis for the morality of abortion, it’s about establishing a basis for the legality of abortion. Morality is a separate issue and is dealt with by separate arguments. That’s how I look at it anyway, and I think that’s how most pro-choicers who make this comparision look at it.

      • guest

        I don’t get it–I don’t feel obligated to donate blood or organs, and I don’t. And as far as I’m aware it’s no one else’s business to determine whether my reasons for choosing not to are good or moral.

      • phantomreader42

        I go so far as to ask for their location and blood type, noting that I know some people who could use a new kidney. If they think it’s okay to hijack someone else’s body, then they should be subject to the consequences of their own policy. And they don’t insist on painkillers or aftercare for pregnant women…

      • ichen

        If I may offer an objection. I do not think the question of “whether a fetus is a person or not” is a red herring. In fact, I think it is at the heart of the issue.

        An embryo develops into a fetus which upon leaving the womb, we call a baby, a human. I can call it different names at each stage, but it’s very nature, it’s essence, is still a human being. What is a puppy but a “younger dog?” What is the difference between a human fetus an a fully-grown human being? What makes being inside the womb different from being outside of the womb?

        Your argument is that a fetus, because it grows and develops from it’s mother’s nutrients is akin to a parasite. And no one has the right to “appropriate someone else’s body” (correct me if I am wrong, this is the impression I got from your comment). I disagree that this is an issue about “rights”

        In addition to the fact that all of us, were once that fetus, feeding off our mother, growing and developing in her womb, this argument doesn’t seem to make much logical sense to me.

        Nature has dictated that a child is conceived from sex and develops in it’s mother’s womb before it has grown enough to resist the elements of the outside world. Still, babies, children, are very very dependent–both for basic needs such as food and shelter and culture, societal norms, etc–on their parents until years after their birth. This is just the way that biology works.

        Now humans may not have the legal “right” to use any part of another’s body against their will. (And rightly so. If I went up to you and cut off your arm, that would be very wrong and I would have no right to do that). But it doesn’t make sense that a child has no “right” to confirm its very existence by developing in it’s mother’s womb: how else would the human race continue to be repopulated? This “right” then (again a right determined by human law, not natural law), would have to be waived in some circumstances if the human race wished to continue. So what determines these circumstances then?

        I’ll stop here.

      • Ariel

        How else would the human race continue to be repopulated?

        Plenty of women are willing to volunteer to let their children use their bodies, even if they don’t have to. My mom chose to have me. Libby Anne chose to have Bobby and Sally. I will probably choose to share my body in a few years. The pre-Bobby fetus didn’t become Bobby because someone decided that it had the right to become him and that this right overruled Libby Anne’s rights to her body; it became Bobby because Libby Anne freely chose for it to do that. The best way to get the next generation is from women who choose to have children, not women who are forced to have children.

      • Kat

        “But it doesn’t make sense that a child has no “right” to confirm its
        very existence by developing in it’s mother’s womb: how else would the
        human race continue to be repopulated? This “right” then (again a right
        determined by human law, not natural law), would have to be waived in
        some circumstances if the human race wished to continue. So what
        determines these circumstances then?”

        Yes, the right to not have a fetus growing inside one’s body would have to be waived. And how is that determined? I’ll give you a hint: plenty of women with access to safe, legal abortion CHOOSE to carry pregnancies to term.

        Seriously, that’s all there is to it. Women who want to carry a pregnancy to term waive their right not to do so (at least for the purposes of that pregnancy; that does not mean they could not abort a future pregnancy if they chose). Nothing fancy, no elaborate system for determining when someone has to stay pregnant. If a woman wants to give birth, then she gets to do so. Believe it or not, plenty of us don’t have to be coerced into this. Which is good, because it’s better for everyone involved if pregnancy and childbirth are freely chosen.

      • Anat

        That an embryo, fetus, child and adult belong to the same species does not mean they should automatically have the same rights. There are rights adults have that children do not. I don’t see why a child can’t have rights a fetus lacks. But in this case, the right some people want to grant to a fetus can only be exercised at the expense of the rights of the woman. Women are people. Women are persons. Women deserve to control their bodies just like everyone else.

        Women can choose to not let an embryo or a fetus to continue developing in their bodies. The same women may choose to let some other fetus develop to term in their bodies at some other time, when conditions are better. Or perhaps not at all. There are plenty of women who choose to have children, it isn’t a problem that some don’t.

        And once the child is born, there are many possible arrangement to raise said child. If the biological parents aren’t capable or willing, someone else can step in their place. This is not true before birth. So leave the choice of whether to keep gestating an embryo or fetus where it belongs – with the person doing the hard work.

      • Rosa

        It’s not uncommon for people to be anti-elective abortion except in cases of rape, which seems to be confused about the personhood of the fetus. Also many pro-choice people support laws tagging a murder charge on folks like Castro. Libby Anne has talked a lot about the leadership’s motivations on that, but the general discussion includes a lot of people who really do believe contradictory things.

        It’s also not uncommon for people to be in favor of abortion for “good” women (married, using birth control, in college, etc.) and not for women who “use it as birth control”. Or to think one abortion is fine but three are not. Those show a certain fuzziness on the adultness, citizenship, or agency of women.

      • Anat

        This depends on what language said people use to justify their position. It is entirely possible they think neither women nor fetuses have ‘full rights’. It is entirely possible they are not framing the question in terms of rights. Coming from Israel, where there is no constitution (only some ‘basic laws’ that get voted individually and are supposed to, at some point, become part of a constitution, maybe) and laws get made based on whatever compromise is politically feasible at the time, the law dealing with abortion is such a hodge-podge that has nothing to do with personhood or rights, more about preventing some wrongs while expecting people to tolerate and tough up others.

      • CarysBirch

        Thanks for pointing out that people have that double standard. I don’t think ANYONE uses abortion “as birth control”. Some people have limited access to birth control (think teenagers here) and abortion may be the answer to the problem of limited access, but it’s not like they set out to be like “oh what the hell, I’ll just have unprotected sex and if I happen to get pregnant I’ll have an abortion! Because, you know, it’s so cheap and convenient!”

        I hate that argument.

    • Trollface McGee

      Whatever was the initial motivation behind those laws, prosecutors seeking conservative brownie points have twisted them into tools for the anti-choice movement. Women are being prosecuted for murder for having miscarriages caused by suicide attempts or drug use. That is why we have to be very cautious with any law giving any rights to the foetus. Not because we don’t value life, not because we hate babies but because the anti-choice side has absolutely no qualms or conscience in its drive to prosecute women for existing.

      • smrnda

        This is a really good point. I think doing drugs while pregnant and a whole lot of other things are not a good idea and should be discouraged, but I know how laws meant to stop this behavior will be abused and used as a tool of oppression.

    • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

      I know this has become a really long thread, but as a pro-choice person who supports murder charges for those such as Castro, I’d love to add my two cents.

      For me, the main issues are intent and bodily autonomy. Terminating your own pregnancy? No problem. Forcibly terminating the pregnancy of another? Murder.

      I am aware that there are some that are unable to discern subtle differences in situations (such as someone taking responsibility and making a choice that is their own, and someone who has been kidnapped, raped, starved and beaten to the point of miscarriage).

      The fact that *they* can’t discern those differences does not mean they don’t exist.

  • BobaFuct

    Christian Post blogger clearly gets all her news from Christian Post. She runs a google search that includes the word “slut” and gets porn hits and is A) surprised at this development, and B) thinks that this means a Slut Walk is some sort of porno parade.

    My family closes themselves off like this…no non-Christian friends, no non-Church social activities, etc….so they think the “outside world” is basically one constant orgy/mass abortion/orgy/mass abortion cycle of sin and debauchery and devil worship

    • Richter_DL

      And many fundamentalists talk about it with all the rage and disgust that envy and fantasizing bring about. Like Larry Craig and homosexuality.

  • JivinJ

    I don’t know what charges Castro is up on, but if he’s being charged
    with murder I suspect it’s more out of a desire to impose the death
    penalty on him than anything else. Either way, Castro’s induced
    abortions were a crime, but they were a crime for a different reason
    than Kae Am seems to realize. They weren’t a crime against the embryo or
    fetus, they were a crime against the women.

    Ummm….this makes no sense. If he’s charged with homicide against the unborn children (I know prosecutors want to charge him with this but I’m not sure if they’ll have enough evidence) he killed, then he certainly would be charged with a crime against the unborn. He can’t be charged with homicide against women he didn’t kill.

    • Niemand

      Jivin, I think you have something of a point in this case. The charges don’t make a lot of sense. I’ve never liked the idea of Castro being charged with murder of entities that had no independent life or brain function (critical for determining life or death in humans). Why not charge him with illegal abortion under unsanitary conditions against the will of the women on whom it was performed? I understand that they’re looking for an excuse for the death penalty here, but I don’t think that’s a good idea either. Just charge him with everything he really did do, including charging every incident of rape as a separate rape and make him spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole (because he’d have to be paroled from every last one of the sentences before he could actually get out). It’s quicker and cheaper than the death penalty anyway and probably close to as unpleasant for the person being punished.

      • Nate Frein

        Exactly. I don’t like the death penalty in general, but here it feels like they’re playing with fire to try to kill this guy off.

  • Jayn

    Ugh, totally missing the point of SlutWalk, which is that the term has no fully objective definition–different people put the line for ‘indiscriminate sex’ in different places, or use broader definitions entirely. I bet some people would label me with the term, and I’ve freaking monogamous.

  • Ann

    I really hope the author is a man. In an article about how women aren’t treated as fully human, there is no hint that women are their own agents. It’s all about men, their views, their wants. If the author is a woman, I feel bad for her.

    • Richter_DL

      It would be coherent with the fundamentalist Christian view though. The man is the woman’s head, as God is the man’s head, and all that.

    • Anna

      You really nailed it with the “no hint that women are their own agents” thing. I’m actually surprised that Libby Anne hasn’t explored this more strongly. Kae Am appears to work under the implicit assumption that women themselves never want sex (I would bet money that if questioned, he/she would say that women agree to sex, at best, for other benefits, like making men happy, emotional intimacy, cuddles, etc). Hence, OF COURSE, using a woman for sex and then not wanting the responsibility for the consequent pregnancy, is the only reason for abortion (and if a woman wants one, she’s just brainwashed or forced by circumstances). Note how this discussion itself is objectifying women by denying their agency in choosing to have sex in the first place, and then assuming that a woman could have no possible objections to being pregnant and having a child if it weren’t for the man who had sex with her not wanting to share the responsibility. Because women are these asexual creatures, they can only be “used” for, tricked, pressured, or outright forced into sex. Presumably, if left to their own devices, they would only choose to have sex a few times in their lives for the purpose of reproduction. So if men just stop hassling women and start respecting them, the whole problem of unwanted pregnancy would go away.

      • Ann

        I suppose s/he has a point that there is less respect/fear of sex when you have abortion (or contraception, which Kae Am’s logic would apply to just as well) by both men and women, but this only degrades women and men if you only value women as gateways to sex, which this article does in spades.

  • http://twitter.com/borednihilist Bored Nihilist

    I don’t know how you can write such lucid posts on the topics you do. I read them and laugh and laugh because you *kindly* SHRED the opposing viewpoint. It makes, in this case, the anti-choice viewpoint (or at least, THIS anti-choice viewpoint), appear as so clearly absurd that when I think about writing about it, I wonder how you don’t just laugh and post, “Srsly?! LOL!”

  • Niemand

    Boys coerce, manipulate, and essentially force themselves upon girls.

    Unfortunately, all too true. But I fail to see how forcing the girls and young women who have been raped to bear the children of their rapists is going to improve their situation any.

    • Marta L

      I was actually very bothered by that on behalf of the boys. I don’t doubt some guys do that stuff, and it’s human nature to want to exercise power I think so when women have no recourse you’re more likely to see this kind of thing. But Kae Am seemed to think all boys (or at least boys in general) act this way. On her view, it’s almost like we’re all either whores (girls) or rapists (boys), deep down…

      • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

        It’s funny, really, how patriarchy also dehumanises men along with women. I personally, have lots more respect for the average male (and his faculties) than it appears the fundies do.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Everybody, please, please, please stop accepting Kae Am’s premise that was Castro did was “perform illegal abortions” and look up the details of the story for yourselves. What he actually did was beat and starve his victims (after forcibly impregnating them through rape) until they had miscarriages. I think that’s rather different from “performing an abortion” even unqualified and under unsanitary conditions, no?

    And what does Kae Am find most egregious about Castro’s actions? Not the beating and starving, not the weeks-long intensive torture and brutalization of the women. No, those minor details don’t even get a mention. The real problem is that he did those things with the intent (and the result) of causing abortion! The real crime is against the fetus, see. What he subjected the actual women to to commit that act is not even significant enough for Kae Am to include in hir post. Voluntary D & C performed by doctor at Planned Parenthood? Weeks of horrible, continuous, life-threatening violence perpetrated by one’s captor and rapist? Meh, tomato, to-mah-to, right? And this person is telling us about misogyny and the dehumanization of women?

    Folks, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s even worse than you thought.

    • kisarita

      never mind abducting them and holding them against their will in the first place…

      • kisarita

        after all there were no fetuses at the time so that must be irrelevant!

  • Marta L

    What a fascinating, if chilling, look into the pro-life mind. I’m probably closer to Kae Am than a lot of people reading this blog, since I have a moral problem with most abortions and typically consider them the best of bad choices. (This is emphatically *not* the same as thinking abortions should be restricted legally, or that women who seek them should be shamed.) I think there’s a way to be anti-abortion (morally if not politically) without being anti-feminist; but I also think the view Kae Am advocates for totally fails on that point. So I found it really interesting to see the many ways Kae Am and I are so far apart on our assumptions. Specifically:

    (1) Kae Am says that if a baby is alive, if it is human (as if these are the same thing!), this settles the abortion question. I know that, even if a fetus is actually a human being, there is still the question of whether the mother has an obligation to nurture it simply because she had sex. On this view, there’s literally nothing in her situation that could possibly make abortion moral – she simply doesn’t factor into the equation.

    (2) Kae Am says that abortion is dehumanizing to women, but what she really seems to mean is womanhood, or rather to some specific version of womanhood. The same thing goes for the “child” – it is some concept of offspringicity (if I’m allowed to massacre the English language). The kind of world where women (or men for that matter) can seek abortion on demand is one that doesn’t adequately respect the role women can play in general – nurturing, caring, sustaining, etc. The decision to be a mother isn’t an inherent part of what it means to be a woman. Similarly, aside from the harm done to any particular fetus, abortion changes fetuses’ moral status in gneral to something that can be aborted without penalty. The way forced pregnancy dehumanizes particular women and fetuses doesn’t seem to enter into the picture.

    (3) Kae Am says that being pro-choice is the same as being pro-abortion. The way she spoke of cultures that “cherish abortion”… huh? I think Kae Am is trying to mimic the way her ideal culture cherishes children. Personally, I’ve found room for people like me in the pro-choice movement: folks who actively mourn the need for abortion while fighting like hell to make sure they’re available. I’ve also met people on a continuum of people who consider a zygote a full human from the moment of conception but who object to pro-life on political grounds (they don’t think immoral ==> illegal), to folks who say there’s a negligible or no moral cost to killing a zygote. The bottom line is, thinking women should have abortions doesn’t necessarily mean cherishing them. Even the women I have talked to who felt a great sense of relief at having access to an abortion would have preferred not to be in that position; they just were very relieved to have that “out.” Anecdotal evidence, yeah, but what the hey…)

    All of this makes me wonder: just how representative of pro-life movement is Kae Am? Her logic is so bad as Libby Anne points out… is this a case of an outlier being an outlier? I’d be more sympathetic to that reading if I hadn’t encountered these three trends (albeit not so baldly) among pro-life, anti-abortion access people I know.

    • gimpi1

      This is very well put.

  • Rilian Sharp

    I think aborting a baby without the mother’s consent is in fact murder. It’s not murder if the mother wants it to happen, because she has the right to protect her own body. But if someone else is choosing to do it, then it’s not self-defense. Does that make sense?

    • Anat

      A forced abortion is an assault on the woman.

      It cannot be murder if the fetus is not a person.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        ^This.

      • Sally

        OK, but that’s an opinion, which is all well and good. But that’s not what the Ohio law says (see my post about what the Ohio law says upthread). In a way, I think you’re drawing the same connection Kae Am is drawing (but to make the opposite point).
        I would argue that we can’t say exactly when the fetus is a person, but we can say whether or not the mother wants to terminate the pregnancy, so that’s the difference between abortion and murder.

      • Rilian Sharp

        I don’t know about “personhood”, since people define that all different ways, but to me the important point is whether the .. organism .. can suffer or has a will to live. We don’t know when humans develop those things.

      • Sophie

        The current thinking is that a fetus can’t feel pain until around the 24th week of pregnancy which is a considerable while after when most abortions occur. As for a will to live, that’s hard to define. Babies certainly have survival instincts, they cry when they are hungry, but do they have a will to live? I think that implies more self-awareness than is possible at that stage of cognitive development. I certainly don’t think a fetus is capable of it.

      • Anat

        In order to have a ‘will to live’ one must understand that one is alive and might die. The very minimal conditions to allow for such understanding is to perceive the future as something different from the present. That’s something that typically develops late in the first year of life.

      • http://profiles.google.com/david.mike.simon David Simon

        Actually, we do know that, or at the very least we can put a minimum date on it: at the time that the fetus’s brain begins to function.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Probably.

      • http://profiles.google.com/david.mike.simon David Simon

        “Probably” in the sense that the Earth “probably” revolves around the Sun. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that despite all evidence to the contrary, the brain *isn’t* responsible for consciousness, but it’s really implausible.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Yeah.

    • Sally

      And maybe if we say “ending a pregnancy” rather than “aborting,” then this works with petticoat’s point about definitions.

  • Gillianren

    Early in my current pregnancy, my boyfriend and I discussed the possible outcomes of the genetic testing I underwent. I asked him what he thought we should do in a worst-case scenario, and he told me that it was my decision. After all, it’s still my body, and I’ll be doing most of the child-rearing anyway. So how is this him forcing his opinion on me and dehumanizing me?

    • gimpi1

      I think it’s one thing for him to have an opinion, and for you to seek it out. That’s great. I think it’s quite another for him to have veto power over you, and be able to override your decisions. That’s the worry. No one should have that authority.

      I do believe he’s right. You are the one carrying the child, you are the one who must go through labor and give birth. Weather or not you wind up doing most of the child-care or not, the final decision needs to be yours. Good on him for understanding that.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    “Pro-abortion advocates tend to focus on abortion in cases of rape as if the abortion itself would make the world a better place for women. What about stopping rapes and preventing rape altogether? So far, I have not heard any discussion from that side about how to do this. Eliminating rape is never a topic that comes up among the pro-abortion advocates.”

    I think this is pretty clear evidence that alternate realities exist.

  • Garden

    I never understood the importance of “choice” until I found myself in a very bad, emergency situation. I realized that I had a choice. I had a say. My life was worthwhile. My future was important.

    I am newly divorced with two beautiful children, and I’m in the middle of finishing my college degree. I want to get my education. I want to be a good mother to the children I already have. I don’t want to run back to a very bad relationship with my ex husband just because we got pregnant. We have enough money to live on while I finish school, but another child would exponentially complicate every single area of our lives. It’s not that I don’t love children. I was a stay at home mother for three years before going back to work and back to college. It’s more that the children I already have are my first priority. I’ve seen uneducated mothers have child after child…ending up with several children that they cannot financially support. I didn’t want that for my children.

    I want to finish my college degree. I want my kids to see me get my college diploma. I want to have time for my children, be able to provide for my children, create a good quality of life for everyone in my family. When I found out I was pregnant it was the worst possible news, because it meant the end to everything I was happy about in my life. It meant that our lives were heading into ultimate chaos. I love my ex husband, but we cannot have a healthy relationship. We are actually getting along in friendship so well now as divorced co parents. He wants to reconcile when, if, I am ever ready…..but we are no where near ready. I don’t want to be forced to go back to a man who broke my heart a million times. I don’t want to be forced to do anything. I want to do it because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

    I want to be in a loving, healthy relationship when I’m ready. I want to bring another child into my family when I am ready to do it well for the sake of my entire family.

    I have choice, and I’m lucky that I have support in that decision. So, the idea that early first trimester abortion is dehumanizing couldn’t be more wrong! I told my ex that it’s like choosing between the better of two bad things. No woman ever wants to be in a situation where she cannot carry her pregnancy to term with the promise of a child to love. However, sometimes…..it is the best, most correct, most responsible choice that can be made.

    I am 28 years old and I finally understand how important my own ability to CHOOSE is. I have autonomy. Pregnancy isn’t something that happens to me….I have the choice. Raising a child is a truly awesome responsibility, but you shouldn’t enter into that life time of responsibility unless you are ready and able to do it well…for the sake of the child. For the sake of your other children. For the sake of yourself.

    The biggest thing that helped me, is to consider what advice I would give my own daughter if she ever found herself in this situation. I realized that she would be my first priority, that I would want her to make the best decisions for her own life and the family she already had, and that my love for her would override any other emotions. My daughter has the choice. She does not have to suffer. She does not have to sacrifice her life to unwanted pregnancy.

    Having that choice is about inherent dignity. It’s about your self worth as a human being.

    I am a rock climber, and now I don’t have to give up my favorite hobby. I don’t have to cancel my big week long trek into the wild that I’ve been planning for months. I have hopes and dreams for myself. I have two children, so I know what it takes to mother a baby. I breast fed my daughter until the age of three (attachment parenting). I’m so happy that we are past the baby stage and I don’t want to go through that again right now! Perhaps in five years….perhaps not. I don’t know. That’s the beauty of choice.

    I feel like I can just enjoy and love and raise the two beautiful children that I already have, and I can do a better job of it now. We can do the things that make us happy as a family because they are getting older. We are past the baby stage. The world doesn’t need yet another single mother with three kids struggling to get through college….the government supporting her kids. Now, that is the irresponsible choice.

    I deserve to be happy too. I matter. My hopes and dreams matter. I deserve to have the chance to finish college.

    The fact that I matter…….is an undeniable truth. I have to be responsible towards the children that I already have. I also have to be responsible toward myself. An embryo is a beautiful potential life….if you are ready to give birth and raise that child. But it’s a potential life. It’s like….when you plant a seed in your garden with the intention of reaping beautiful red tomatoes late in summer. The seed is not the tomato. The little green sprout that initially springs up is not the tomato. It is a potential future tomato if the plant grows to fruition. That’s how I really feel about it. I feel at total peace….in fact I feel such a flood of relief.

    I consider myself to be pro life and pro choice. To me….they are one and same. I am grateful that I have a choice. I made my choice in the best interests of the lives of the children I already have. They are my ripe tomatoes. I made it in the best interest of my own life. I made it in the best interest of the future life of the embryo. It’s about making humane, responsible decisions. It’s about going to college. It’s about making correct choices for your family and creating a good life. I am grateful for that opportunity.

    And when I climb my first hard rock route…and I’m standing at the top of the cliff face….I’ll feel so grateful. When I’m doing a good job parenting my two amazing children I’ll feel grateful that I can do it well. When I’m succeeding at work I’ll feel grateful.

    And on that day a few years from now, when I am receiving my hard earned college diploma….I will feel so much gratitude that there won’t be words to define it. I will finally be a college graduate. I want my daughter to see me walk across the stage and receive my diploma. I want her to go farther than me….and know that it is possible if you work hard. That is the future that I choose for myself, my children, and my descendants. I want to break the cycle of poverty and show my children how to make the right choices in life.

    My life is my garden to tend….the fruit that I bear is mine to bear. It is choice.

    • Alexis

      So beautifully and powerfully written.

    • Christine in Australia

      Garden – it’s stories like yours that are the main reason I am pro-choice. Sure, it would be great if all men could step up and be good dads and partners… some aren’t or never will be. And where this is the case, going through with a pregnancy is going to make at least 2 peoples’ lives hell.
      You, my lady, ROCK.

    • Ella Warnock

      “Having that choice is about inherent dignity.”

      This, a thousand times over. Good luck with college. From this post alone it’s clear that you will not just succeed, but exceed.

    • gimpi1

      This is one of the best statements of the value of choice I have ever read. Bravo!

  • byzant

    Also she isn’t even quoting the true fact sabout Gosnell. He was not proforming legal abortions instead he was taking advantage of desprate women who were without access to safe family planning/abortion provision.Arguing that he represents legal abortion with the feet in jars, untrained staff and unsantiary practice is like stating that if I set up as an optician and poke someones eyes out that means all opticians are going to do this. The mind boggles!

  • Plutosdad

    I think Kae Am would cry foul if we pointed to Eric Rudolph and said because he is a crazed bombing murderer that all anti-choice people really want to kill doctors and pregnant women. She would probably say that is not a fair comparison, to paint everyone on one side of a debate with the same brush because of one evil man.

    • Kate Monster

      I knew a lot of anti-choicers like this in school. Terrifyingly, the “Pro-life is not about that” thought is frequently completed with “…but I understand why he did what he did, and I can’t fully condemn him. After all–he saved lives.”

  • Katerina

    Kae Am’s whole article seems to revolve around the idea that women don’t enjoy sex. I’ve seen this a lot in Catholic circles the most. The idea that contraception is degrading to women because it allows men to use them as ‘playthings’ as though women can’t possibly want sex and that all women must want children.

    What gets me is they would assert that taking away a woman’s bodily autonomy and right to an abortion is humanizing. As though women are too stupid to be able to handle having complete control over themselves.

    A woman having access to cheap birth control? Dehumanizing

    A 13 year old being forced to carry a pregnancy conceived by rape to term when she does not want to? Humanizing.

    I’d love for someone to ask her about L.C. in Peru, or the cases of women imprisoned because of self inducing abortions in Latin America and explain how those cases are humanizing those women by imprisoning them or letting them be paralyzed.

    Why does she assume that all women must want children and can’t possibly enjoy sex without procreation?

    • sylvia_rachel

      You know what else? The whole first 2 years of my marriage, when I still had one ovary, my DH and were trying really hard to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, and honestly? Not the most fun sex of our lives. There’s nothing like the Cycle Monitoring nurse ringing you at work to tell you it’s a good day to have sex to put you in the mood :P

    • MissMikey

      That is something that boggles my mind. They toggle between this weird worldview that women don’t actually want sex and are just passive playthings for irresponsible men, completely unable to say No AND that modern contraceptive-using women are sexually indiscriminate “sluts” (their term) who run around having sex with as many man as possible and bragging about it and routinely having abortions.

      I can kind of see how the two worldviews align, but it is tortuous in the extreme. *If* women are just passive playthings who don’t actually like sex but are told by the media that they really do *and* given contraception and no longer have to face the consequences of the sexual act, *then* as mindless robots of course they are going to do nothing but have sex with men who discard them like used tissues. But again, THEY are the dehumanizing ones by positing that women are mindless robots/passive playthings, rather than actual humans with free will.

      The actual reality that women are rational creatures enjoy sex and are quite capable of choosing when and with whom to have sex based on some internal criteria that may change according to age, life situation, whatever, never seems to come into play. Obviously that’s because it would mess up their narrative, but frustrates the beejesus out of me.

    • Whirlwitch

      Or Beatriz in El Salvador. She’s been effectively condemned to die, and apparently the anti-choice crowd hasn’t a word to say about it. Colour me shocked.

  • smrnda

    This sort of reminds me of how some Christians equate elective contraceptive use as exactly the same as mandated sterilization and enforced eugenics. They fail to note that the difference is *choice.*

    • Rosie

      I’m not sure *choice* is a part of their worldview. I was raised in that culture, and though I began leaving it in my early 20s, I was well past 30 before I had any kind of grasp on what that word actually means in my own life.

  • dj_pomegranate

    “Eliminating rape is never a topic that comes up among the pro-abortion advocates.” aaaaaahahahahahahhahaahaa I am dying.

  • Christine in Australia

    She lost any sympathy she might have had as soon as she trivialised Castro’s victims.

  • Saraquill

    For someone who says that she’s speaking up for women, she’s quite keen on erasing them from the context of her essay.

  • ZeldasCrown

    First let me say that this part of the article “Forced abortions in the case of Ariel Castro; legal abortions in the case of Kermit Gosnell” is at least partially off-bse. What Gosnell did was not anything like what a legal abortion looks like (though I agree with the distinction of forced in the other case, but it wasn’t just the abortion part of it-it was the entire pregnancy). So to tout it as legal is dishonest.

    Finally, let me say that the actions of these two men are poor examples to use when trying to make the case that abortions are degrading to women. In Castro’s case, the degrading part was how he kidnapped the women, repeatedly raped them, physically abused them, withheld food, etc. The fact that his actions lead them to miscarry/abort was only a by-product of the horrors he inflicted on those women. In Gosnell’s case, the degrading part was the difference in care his patients received dependingt upon their race and socioeconomic standing, the condition of his clinic, the fact that he kept trophies, the fact that he often used the same tools between procedures and thus transferred STD’s between patients, etc. Again, the abortion part wasn’t the inherently degrading part.

    If one wants to make the case that abortions are degrading to women, then one needs to find a specific case study of a women who walked into a clinic for a legal, and safe abortion, and felt degraded during the process. I guarantee that if you were able to find such a woman, the degrading part wouldn’t have been the abortion itself, but the gaggle of pro-life protesters calling her things like murder, sinner, whore, etc that she was forced to walk through on her way into the doors.

    • ZeldasCrown

      And just to make sure it’s clear in the first point (after having re-read some of the earlier comments), I certainly agree with the forced part-as others have pointed out-induced miscarriage via mistreatment is more accurate. So let me revise that statement to say that Kae Am is only half right on each of those claims-for Castro, forced is correct, abortion not quite so much-for Gosnell, legal is completely incorrect, but abortion is an accurate term for the service he provided (albeit very dangerous and illegally).

      • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

        Thank you for getting it exactly right. It is, I think, an extremely important point that has been missed (although not by the esteemed readers of this blog)

  • LizBert

    This line of reasoning always seems so contradictory to me. It implies that women are incapable of choosing anything for themselves while pointing fingers at the other side. I am a fully developed thinking human. I can choose to have sex for my own reasons and I can choose to have an abortion. If somebody forces me to do either of those things it is horrific, but those are not the circumstances of most abortions.

  • Miss_Beara

    “Abortion is the termination of an unwanted fetus. And this shows how abortion dehumanizes both women and children.”

    She still didn’t explain why abortion dehumanizes women and children. Being in charge of your reproductive freedom is the opposite of dehumanizing. Being forced to have a back alley abortion ala Gosnell because lawmakers are closing clinics, that is dehumanizing. Being held captive for 10 years and starved and raped and beaten, that is dehumanizing. Having a say in our reproductive organs is most definitely not dehumanizing. We are more than our biology. Keep on closing down clinics and attacking Planned Parenthood, more dehumanizing of women who will be forced to go to the future Gosnell’s of the world.

    She should step out of her little bubble and see that nothing is black and white and that everyone has bodily autonomy.

    • Kate Monster

      Part of the problem is that in a lot of theological worldviews, people DON’T really have bodily autonomy. The body is God’s, not yours. In fact, YOU are God’s and not yours. So the idea that a person has the right to decide whether something grows within zir organs isn’t common sense, it’s a whole new concept. Of course, these people don’t necessarily see that God owns/has authority over their bodies for non-sex-related things, like eating that Krispy Kreme burger at the state fair, or getting that LASIK surgery or wearing clothes made of (NO!) mixed fibers. But sex is like a conservative lightning rod–it gets all the attention because it’s the easiest thing to hit.

  • Ella Warnock

    Positing the notion that women need to be corrected, to be advised or chastened, to be treated as if she – if left to her own devices – will always choose the wrong thing is how you promote the idea that women are nothing but children in adult bodies. Incapable of making serious and life-altering decisions, especially when that decision strays far outside of fundamentalist thinking.

    A clear-headed, strong minded woman aborting is not recognized as anything other than evil, selfish, and cruel. The idea that’s she’s an adult individual participating in the happenings of an adult world is never considered at all.

    So, that’s how we come around to the idea that anything that happens in and around and involving the uterus is equal to some sort of public square. Everything else in your life can be private except this one system in your body. Arguments involving philosophy, theology, or science (which are harmless in and of themselves), are brought into play as if they are entitled to demand a seat at a woman’s personal, private table.

    I would never have made a decision to abort based on philosophy, religion, or science. I would have made the decision based on what was in my best interest at the time, and nothing else.

  • aim2misbehave

    Oh, you missed the part where this author compares BDSM to rape!

    • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

      Yes, because consensual kink is *totally* the same as rape. /end snark

  • sylvia_rachel

    I think Kae Am has things kind of backwards as a result of somehow believing that abortion is a new thing, and that women had a better deal in the societies of hundreds or thousands of years ago than they have in North American society today. Both ideas are total horse-puckey, but that of course doesn’t stop people believing them (or pretending to for their own reasons).

    I mean, if you believe that abortion was invented in 1973, and before that somehow magically every woman or girl who got pregnant did so on purpose and was happy about it, and none of them ever had any health problems during pregnancy, and there was no such thing as anencephaly or Tay-Sachs or Canavan’s or any other fetal condition incompatible with life …

    If you honestly believe that the era back before feminism and women’s suffrage and equal pay for equal work was a golden age for women, when they were all happy and contented and fulfilled and had no stress in their lives and were never abused or beaten, never had to live in poverty, never had to make choices like I already have four children I can barely feed, including a nursling, so when the next one is born should I smother it, leave it outside somewhere to die, try and find a better home for it, or keep it and watch it and its next oldest sibling starve?

    then, sure, obviously the present situation seems like women are devalued, society holds human life in contempt, etc. Makes perfect sense.

    There’s just one wee tiny problem with this argument, of course, which is that its premises are COMPLETE AND UTTER HORSE-PUCKEY and you have to be living under a rock (literal or metaphorical) to seriously believe them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

      I wish I could like this more than once!

  • http://loneprairie.net/ Julie R. Neidlinger

    It’s an interesting post, and interesting discussion. I just hope that, in your enthusiasm, you don’t become your own version of someone stereotyping those you disagree with. I wrote about that on my blog just this week. http://loneprairie.net/pro-life/

    It can go both ways, denigrating the “opposition”, even without intending to. I don’t like to see it done to others (either “side”), and I don’t like seeing it done to me. Even when it seems like someone is an easy target.

    • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

      Abortion was legal in some states under certain circumstances prior to Roe vs. Wade (my home state, Colorado, was first to re-legalize it in 1967). It was legal in all states under common law before quickening prior to the early 1800s. Roe vs. Wade simply restored the common law right states had taken away.

      • http://loneprairie.net/ Julie R. Neidlinger

        That’s interesting. Wasn’t aware of that.

        You do understand, however, that my opinions aren’t based on the longevity of the legality of it. If it were, I would probably rebuff and say “murder has generally always been illegal” because of my view that it isn’t mere procedure but something more (i.e. ending life). That response, however, doesn’t fly well and I’m not really interested in going around calling women murderers. Women have received enough unnecessary names tossed their way. Those are interesting facts, though. Thanks.

      • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

        Oh no, I wasn’t making a moral argument. Just filling in some of the history. I’d say people on both sides need to know more of that.

      • http://loneprairie.net/ Julie R. Neidlinger

        You can never know too much history, much agreed.

      • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

        I’m a lover of history, myself, even (or perhaps especially) when it surrounds a controversial topic. Knowledge lends us more perspective on them.

  • Melder

    Wow what a great article by Kae Am. She obviously needs some more info, but that can be remedied If you want to read more great Pro Choice work that gives an even better argument for he abolition of abortion check out the Canadian Center for BioEthical Reform at http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/ !

    • http://profiles.google.com/david.mike.simon David Simon

      Do you ever feel bad sometimes about posting deliberately misleading links?


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