i can't read anymore.
April 27, 2004 03:13 PM

Puzzled by the mix of attack-dog tactics (people with - I hope - fake fetuses in jars shoving them towards us, people calling us "wicked" and congratulating murderers of abortion doctors) and stoic silence (the "I'm sorry" crew, the "women deserve better" crew), I tried reading some of the accounts from pro-lifers who were at the March.

I can't.

I occasionally read the posts on After Abortion. I think we, as the pro-choice majority, need to recognize that individual women's stories aren't all about not being sorry. Some women are sorry, either when they do it or after. We alienate them when we act as if abortion is a simple issue for everyone. Most of those women don't, typically, argue that abortion and other reproductive choice resources shouldn't be legal, safe and available on demand. They just want to have their pain recognized. When we don't do that, they just feel anti-us. That makes them anti-choice, polarizes them when they didn't need to be polarized.

Is a man made to feel guilty for his vasectomy? Is he pushed to celebrate it? If he feels sad, is the only place he can turn to a pro-life community that calls him a reformed baby-killer? FUCK FUCKING NO. And yet hasn't he removed potential children from the world? This is an issue for all women, that we need to be able to recognize abortion as both a safe, legal outpatient surgery and a complex issue.

As supporters of choice, supporters of the rights of all women, I feel we need to stand by these women who regret abortions, need to respect that this is their feeling. Not because abortions are bad or wrong or need to be outlawed, but because their individual experience was bad. And if the pro-choice community can't see that, we drive more people to the pro-life camp. A camp whose followers bullhorned at me, called me names, called me a whore and shouted biblical verses at me (I guess they thought I was also a subscriber to their bible, which was perhaps a mistake). That camp shouldn't be the only welcoming audience for a woman who regrets or hesitates choosing to abort.

I personally don't give a rat's ass what choice any individual woman may make where abortion and birth control are concerned. I just want all these choices to be available. And I don't understand how someone, particularly a woman, could see otherwise (for instance, believing both sex education and abortion are wrong - how the heck does that work?).

So I read the March-related posts on After Abortion and on Diotima and the LJ abortion debate community.

Or, I started to read them.

And then I saw this pattern of generally moderate pro-life folk making comments about how we aren't really feminists, how all pro-choice folk at the March were mean (dude, did they actually encounter all of the million of us? I'm imfuckingpressed). It left me shaking with rage.

And I wonder if we can really have a civilized debate about this.

For now, I think, I'm just not reading any more of the pro-life side of the March coverage. I'll wait until they've cooled down a bit. I'll wait until the memories of some of the things that came out of those anti-us bullhorns are a bit softer.

But, like the women who regret their abortions, I feel polarized by this debate. I feel like I can't even speak or listen to someone who is strongly pro-life anymore.

And I'm thankful that we're the majority. Because if it has to be a contest instead of a compromise, I'd like to win.

To make us all feel better, here's one link about finding common ground between "choice" and "life": Naomi Wolf and Frederica Mathewes-Green in Sojourner, via a pro-life source

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your wicked thoughts

I couldnít even follow the links to the Pro-life discussions. When Iím face to face with a Pro-life person, which I can say doesnít happen very often, I can hold my emotions in check. Although Iím not sure I would have been able to if Iíd been shouted at through bullhorns. I can only imagine one on one.
Iíve been thinking a lot about the notion of life. Itís hard when the debate is positioned on the idea of the ďlifeĒ of the fetus. Iíve mourned the loss of possibility with my own abortion. But Iíve never regretted it. Iíve always believed that the life I could have given that child wouldnít have been a good one. But there are possibilities that Iíll never know.
The thing is Iím a white woman who has a certain amount of access to resources. There are women with six and seven children who they can barely feed and care for making the decision to have an abortion, here and all over the world. Iím not saying their choice is more ďrightĒ than mine was but we are both making choices about the life we can give the children we chose not to have.
I think the pro-choice part of the debate forgets the complexity of real lived lives and focuses on a notion of life that seems both abstract and, yet, very real if youíve ever had to make the choice.
There was a male doctor, or maybe he was a med student, at the march who talked about education in med school. Did you hear him? He said they donít learn about abortion but they do learn about Viagra. I think about the notion of virility wrought from pregnancy. And I donít want to bash men but I lived without a father. He was alive. And he knew how to find me. But he never did a thing to build that relationship or add to my support. And I still wept when he died.
This is all such complex stuff and, for me, the pro-life debate ignores that complexity. But there is one simple truth. The decision to have an abortion is about a womanís life. I obviously know you know this but I got started and I couldnít stop.

these are the thoughts of Tish on April 27, 2004 04:25 PM

I have friends who would never have an abortion. But they don't feel that abortion should be illegal. They recognize that while it's not a choice for them, it is a choice for others.

I heard that med student talking about Viagra, Tish. That was really depressing, to know that a drug that's intended to help men get it up for presumably recreational purposes (as opposed to reprodutive ones) gets more time in classes than a surgical procedure which could save a woman's life.

One idea that I brought home with me that struck me as really important was the one where a woman's emotional, financial, or physical well-being is threatened by an unwanted pregnancy, that counts as her life being threatened. I'd not thought about it in those terms.

these are the thoughts of Natalie on April 27, 2004 04:48 PM

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