Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is That What You're Really Saying?

If you're recently tuning in to this blog you might want the back story on my commitment to making our world safely pro-choice. That background is located here, in a piece I wrote just before the 2008 election.

This week a bill has been introduced in South Dakota that includes language that could make the killing of abortion providers justifiable homicide. That sentence is too short. I need to reiterate so you really take in what I'm saying. This bill would provide a legal way for a woman's parent, child, spouse, sibling or friend to kill the person who performed an abortion requested by that woman. If you are not pro-choice (let me be perfectly clear, no one is asking you to be pro-abortion, but pro-choice is vital) these are the people with whom you are aligning yourself. They speak for you. Is this complete disregard for the woman in that equation what you're trying to communicate?

South Dakota already requires shaming women out of abortion using sonogram pictures and a script read by the doctor describing the fetus as a living being that she will be killing. The implication being, of course, that the latter is something the woman will surely not have considered. Is this presumption that women choosing abortion are stupid and flighty enough not to have thought through the procedure what you want to be saying?

There are no abortion providers practicing in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood flies in one provider one time per week to help patients. Today, right now I believe, Congress is voting on whether or not to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. This would not, I suppose, harm South Dakota greatly since they barely allow the services already but it would be a nationwide blow to women and men trying to make responsible decisions about reproduction and sexual health. Planned Parenthood provides gynecological exams, sex education, STD screening and treatment, pregnancy tests and counseling on all options for women who become pregnant. They also employ abortion providers. The latter is, we can assume, the only thing the legislators are actually voting on today. Anti-choice legislators are willing to achieve their anti-woman goal by not only insisting on pregnancies being seen to term but also keeping both women and men from learning how to care for their bodies and plan their families. Is this carpet bombing approach (you'll pardon the terrible implied joke there) to refusing care what you would recommend to any woman you know?

Readers have come here and said that they are anti-choice (they call it pro-life but you can't be pro-life if you're only pro certain kinds of life) and that they hear me but don't agree. They say they love the women in their lives and that it is out of this love that they require legislation to keep their women from making bad decisions. Men, of course, make all the right decisions and decisions, certainly, are all either good or bad, no gray area, no rocky ground, no room for interpretation. Ideally, when I write about these atrocities being perpetrated against over half of the population of our fancy first world country I want those people to come to back to me on bended knee crying, "I was wrong! I was so wrong. You are right and I apologize to you and to every woman in my life. You are adults, life can be murky and difficult, and because I love and respect you I support your journey through it. Thank you, thank you for showing me the error of my ways." I don't expect that. I may be a little off but I'm not yet delusional. Moreover, I don't need that. I need them to change their minds. They don't have to tell me about it, they don't have to write a letter to any editor, they just have to shift (and to vote) their newfound perspective.

I hear you say you love women but if you are anti-choice that is the love of a child who carefully pursues a butterfly, coaxes it into a jar and screws the lid on tight with no air holes poked in. And that's no kind of love at all.


  1. lshykula11:27 AM

    What gives a family member the right to question a woman's decision about her body? Are we saying women are not mentally capable of making decisions? And then, to top it off, to allow those family members to KILL the person who performed the abortion! What the hell, South Dakota?!

    After college and before I settled into a more permanent life with an OB-GYN, I used Planned Parenthood. I had little money, and the availability of their services was key. They did not make me feel ashamed to seek birth control or judge me in any way. It would be an absolute shame if their funding was cut.

  2. I'm having this same conversation with a student of mine. I think I'm THIS CLOSE to changing his mind about choice. He's still clinging to that last thread of "but if it's my child, shouldn't I have a say" argument. I've almost got him understanding that until HE can incubate that child in HIS body, no, he doesn't. I'll update as the situation progresses.

  3. Miflohny1:24 PM

    Amazing last paragraph. Thanks for getting the word out there in such a powerful way.

  4. ...i have no words.

  5. "They say they love the women in their lives and that it is out of this love that they require legislation to keep their women from making bad decisions."

    Yeah...that sentence right there. That one? That's the one that makes my skin crawl. Also, it's obvious that people who say they are "anti-choice" are not strong critical thinkers.

  6. Since when was it "pro-life" to hate people so much that you think it should be legal to murder them? Of course, these are the same people who vote against prenatal care for poor women, free school lunches for poor children, or pretty much anything that helps actual people live. It isn't about life, it is about subjugating and controlling women.

  7. I know it's colder here (although perhaps not as cold as South Dakota) but when I read one of your pieces about pro-choice (and you're preaching to the choir here), you really ought to think about moving north.

  8. I'm going to plug my blog over here... I've put together a pretty good argument in favor of abortion, much better than anything I could put in a comment box: http://improbablejoe.blogspot.com/2011/02/ijoe-weighs-in-on-abortion-debate.html

  9. ravenshrike2:21 PM

    I'm just going to point out that killing an abortion provider would fail the lawful defense portion of the bill. Unless the doctor was performing the abortion without the woman's permission.

  10. Anonymous10:33 AM

    Your caricature of the pro life position would be comical if the results were not so tragic.
    As much as you would like it to be about you, it is not.
    It is about the unalienable right to live of all human beings including the unborn.
    Excepting self defense, no one has the right to end the life of another human being and that includes the lives of yet to be born human beings.
    Ane yes, that includes abortion doctors too.