Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dignity and abortion

Against my better judgment I accidentally entered a Facebook debate with a friend's mom. Looking back, I should have realized the lost cause earlier on and not engaged, but I was getting so frustrated that I could not help myself. She was spewing ridiculous notions, and I could not hold back, but in the end, I did not even respond to her last comments because I could not handle how she could not see things that were to me obvious. But I suppose that happens when you discuss something as sensitive as abortion.

Yep, I had a Facebook debate with someone's mom over ABORTION. Why? Read above. It began with me mentioning how the LDS Church changes in response to political environments (and agitation by activists), and I mentioned a few things (how we banned polygamy to get statehood, granted the priesthood to blacks after the Civil Rights Movement, how we are engaging the feminist movement, etc.) and I made the mistake of mentioning the changing of the abortion rhetoric. Yes, the Church HAS changed its position on abortion in the past four decades from when the first official statement came out. They took a statement out that said abortion in the case of rape was permitted if carrying the baby to term caused grave psychological harm, and they added the clause about abortion in the case of severe disability of the fetus that would prevent the baby from living long after birth. But that is neither nor there. What the debate made me think about more was how we frame the abortion debate -- how we talk about the "sanctity of life" -- is really inconsistent and problematic. We can't talk about how awful and disgusting abortion is, and then tell a rape victim it is ok if she does not want to carry to term a fetus that she was forceably impregnated with (PS -- said mother Facebook debater also made the statement that rape victims should carry their pregnancies to term and birth their forcibly-impregnated babies because there are so many couples out there who want to adopt. *headdesk*).

So, scenario we have a Mormon (or evangelical, for that matter) women who is raped and "choosing" an abortion, who will already be socialized into thinking how awful and disgusting and murderous abortion is, and how can she reconcile the cognitive dissonance when all of a sudden she, as a young woman is forced into making a difficult decision, and when you see abortion as murder, how are you going to feel when it is you lying on that table even if it's been "OKed" by the men in suits? Even if you hear that it's not bad and not your fault, I just can't help but see how psychologically damaging this is, and really is a social structure that re-victimizes the victim that we need to address.

On the other hand, I'm not saying we should all just go out and get abortions, no biggie. Abortion IS a big deal, I think you can ask ANY woman who has undergone an abortion, and she will probably tell you it was horrible and she would not recommend it as a form of "birth control" as some of the pro-life movement sees how women are using abortion. It rarely (if ever) is a woman saying, "oh darn, probably should have used birth control. Let me just hop on over to Planned Parenthood and obtain a fun and pain-free abortion!" There is an amazing website (that I've since forgotten the name of and can't find) that tells the stories of women who have chosen abortion, for various reasons, and why they choose it and what the experience entailed. Reading some of those stories was really interesting to me and changed my paradigm quite a bit. As someone who used to say "I'm pro-choice but I wouldn't ever get an abortion" it was really eye-opening to me. Because you know what? Maybe I would should I in some other life be poorly-educated and pregnant with a child of an abusive man, or a scared 16-yr-old in Lubbock, Texas in an abstinence-only sex education program, or even if in this life if the fetus I'm carrying is severely deformed or has a genetic disorder that would drastically compromise the quality of its life.
90% of abortions in the US are performed in the first trimester, and most in the first month. Many times it simply entails taking a pill, and what feels like a really heavy period. I've seen the rhetoric about how the case against Dr. Gosnell is so obviously a sign that all abortion should be legal because it's all terrible and disgusting. What happened in Philadelphia was truly horrific, and I think any pro-choice activist would agree that it was a complete violation of choice, not a sign that the pro-life movement is completely right and we should be ashamed of our support of such a horror. These women were poor, (mostly) African-American women who had little other recourse in their situation. Some were scared off by vitriolic protestors at the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood, many traveled hours and hours because they had no facilities in their towns and were already well into their pregnancies by the time they asked off work and procured childcare and transportation, many just simply accepted that they were the scum of the earth as they had been told their entire lives and thus it was natural they were being taken care of in such a facility. Many had rarely seen what a proper medical facility should look like. And you know what's crazier is that SO MANY people knew about what was going on in there, including many pro-life advocates, but they did not really care because it wasn't a high-profile, big-name clinic like Planned Parenthood which I guess is more fun to protest at, and the women who were receiving care there were, of course, poor and minority women so whatevs. I think this awful violation of women's rights is a clear sign we need to both reframe our thinking of abortion and work harder to ensure that it is not only legal but easily-accessible, safe, and dignified. No matter the situation, a woman deserves her dignity, and what many pro-lifers seek to do is destroy what little shred she has left.

And there are so many other problematic issues that arise from framing life from embryohood and seeing abortion as murder. For one, if you truly think a fertilized egg and early embryo is a "person", why not go after fertility clinics? They are dumping embryos by the thousands on a daily basis. Is that mass murder? A holocaust? Genocide of white, middle-upper-class fetuses? I read a case in a seminar I went to about how in some states in the South (Alabama and Mississippi, I believe) lawmakers were trying to define an embryo as a person, which in turn would lead to the technical, legal necessity of criminal investigations of homicide for every miscarriage. There are even some cases now where women are arrested for negligence if they miscarry or their babies are stillborn (always poor, usually if they are drug-users, which is again, totally inconsistent because some babies are stillborn to healthy, non-drug-using women and some women who use drugs don't have stillbirths, so how can you isolate drug use as a factor let alone arrest women for it?) When we frame abortion as a sanctity of life issue and see fetuses as persons, we are really missing the inconsistencies (and harm) this stance perpetuates. What abortion really should be about is avoiding it through comprehensive sexual education, cheap and easily-accessible and reliable contraception (helllllo, male birth control pill, where the heck are you?), while ridding society of that disgusting and pervasive thing we call rape culture and empowering teenage girls and women to be able to make decisions about who to have sex with and when (including economically, there is a horribly pervasive practice of survival sex, sex that is not necessarily prostitution, but necessary to acquire your next meal or housing, etc. because you are economically dependent on a man for these things).

If you want to talk about abortion, let's also talk about how mothers are far from supported in our country. How having a baby is the number one leading factor of driving a woman into poverty. Let's talk about how we have ZERO mandated maternity leave (ok, there is FMLA but most poor women don't have the financial stability to take 12 weeks off unpaid when they are living paycheck to paycheck, I often had clients at WIC who went back to their job at a fast food restaurant or Walmart less than a week postpartum, so next time your cashier is subpar and you want to get huffy with her, think about that she might have just had a baby a week ago is bleeding profusely from her vagina, her breasts are leaky and she's dealing with the emotional trauma of being separated from her newborn for eight hours at a time, because she MAY be).. State-supported, subsidized high-quality childcare anyone? Meh, not in the free world. Do you even realize how expensive daycare is?? Really, really ri-frickin-diculously expensive. Is it any wonder some poor women choose to not work... their welfare benefits far outweigh what they would make at minimum-wage jobs minus daycare costs.

So, the solution: move to Sweden. Always.


  1. Can I just simply "like" this? Abortion is such an emotionally driven topic, as you said, and because of this I've had a hard time trying to decide where I stand with it. It's a topic I've thought about a lot lately, but I haven't been able to come to a cohesive conclusion. I think you just organized a lot of my thoughts and feelings for me with this post. So... "like."

  2. I agree word for word with what Jenna says above. I'm not sure I'm 100% with you on everything you posted but maybe I am. I'm still figuring it out and I appreciated reading your thoughts.

  3. Yes to every single thing. The problem is that, these are facts and people who believe in abortion only go with the emotions on this issue and refuse to believe anything women are saying.

    brb getting my swedish heritage checked out so i can get dual citizenship.

  4. hohoho i can not figure it out all, maybe my capability in English still low.
    i also have thinking of abortion. It should be known by government all arraund the world that abortion must be prohibited. Especially in abortion cased that related human right and living of human being.