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Saturday, January 21, 2006



My partner and I would have happily adopted Shamika's child - which must put anti-abortion folks in a real quandry: would they rather have the fetus aborted, or adopted by a pair of pro-choice, feminist, vegetarian, Democrat, hippie lesbians?



I have read a book called "The Mind of your Newborn Baby" claiming the infant knows a lot about life as it is being born. This has changed my perception about the nature of a fetus. I am well aware of the difficulty of being a woman, I have had an abortion, I was an orphan and a foster child and know that the issues of repressed grief and a neglected childhood influenced my decision to abort. I agree women have to make these choices but want to find ways of improving the lot of children in order that the choices in adult life are mature and not a reaction to deprivation in childhood as in Shamika's case. Having said that it is a long slow haul to reach maturity where the milestones of childhood have been missed or messed up by circumstance beyond our control.


I have to agree with Pandora. Women like Shamika are a few cards short of full deck.

What kind of counseling could this women be receiving if the person is not telling her that she lacks any sort of self-esteem to continue to have sex with and get pregnant by a man that cares nothing about her?

If he is supposedly such a good father then he will take care of his children whether he is with her or not.

Maybe it's just me but I think that during this "counseling" these women should be required to get some form of birth control such a IUDs or inplants because they are showing that they cannot control their own sexuality if they are continuing to get pregnant over and over again and sleep with men that care nothing for them.


I learn a lot from these posts -- mainly from the comments, and mainly that some folks will turn any story into proof that their own perspective is accurate. For that, I am thankful. Thanks for continuing this blog. I do hope that some anti-abortion individuals will eventually come to understand that life is not as easy for everyone as it is for them.

But this was a good post and I hope Shamika and her family are doing well.


"One died, and she had an abortion for the other-- the child might have been viable, but she felt it was better for him to die painlessly than cold and alone."

Huh? If she aborted him, he did die cold and alone.


Diatryma, if you`re following the conversation thread on the post after this one, you will see that there is no doubt Christina is totally opposed to abortion, even in the hypothetical circumstances you describe. She is as avid a supporter of a total abortion ban as I am of abortion rights. I`m always surprised, though, on how much pro-aborts and anti-aborts can agree, even as they remain polar opposites.


What would you think about a woman who is not being coerced, is not in an abusive relationship, and feels that an abortion is the right choice for her? No extenuating circumstances, nothing to influence her in any direction, but she does not want to be pregnant?

How about health? One of the most heartbreaking stories of abortion I have read was from a woman who was pregnant with twins. One died, and she had an abortion for the other-- the child might have been viable, but she felt it was better for him to die painlessly than cold and alone.
Selective reduction is a whole other tangle, but it is abortion. Pregnancies that might kill the mother?
I think there was a case in Florida where a twelve-year-old was pregnant and wanted an abortion because it was significantly safer than carrying to term. Is it right to deny her an abortion because she can't possibly know what she's talking about?

I think there are times that abortion is the best choice for a woman. I can't draw the line between those and the times it might not be; I don't have enough information. But I can imagine women making the right choice, no matter which one it is. I trust everyone to make the right choice, because I cannot make it for them.


Diatryma, I'm totally opposed to abortion. I also think that even most prochoice people would be opposed to most of what goes on behind closed doors.

And I don't think that respecting my friends includes condoning self-destructive behavior. One friend once told me that the biggest reason he valued my friendship was, "If I need a kick in the ass, you'll give it to me." Though I try to be gentle. When he told me he'd signed consent to yank his mom's feeding tube, I asked how he'd feel for the rest of his life having eaten a nice Thanksgiving dinner with his family while his mom was starving and dehydrating in a nursing home. He said, "Like shit." So he left the tube in and his mom had enough moments of lucidity to say goodbye to her family in the last few days before her heart gave out. Had I just "respected his choice" and "been non-judgmental" he'd have not had those last priceless times with his mom. His kids wouldn't have had those last priceless moments with their grandma. I didn't think J was a monster for wanting to pull his mom's tube; he'd just been told it was the merciful thing to do and he trusted the people who told him that. He and his family are glad I respected him enough to tell him I thought he was making a huge mistake.

There seems to be an idea afoot that "respect" means approving of every wrongheaded thing a person does. But real love cares more about the person's real well-being than about feeling "supportive" in the moment. Any woman whose man hits her is going to get the number from the battered women's shelter and a lecture on how she's going to end up as the subject of an Ann Rule book if she doesn't get away from that guy.

Here's a though: Why is it that the same people who have no qualms about being judgmental about other bad choices -- smoking, overeating, not getting cancer screening -- are suddenly "non-judgmental" when people are killing themselves with sex?


Christina, I think we agree on most things discussed here. You don't seem to be anti-abortion except as it's practiced-- it isn't the procedure itself you object to, but what surrounds it. Just as you don't seem to be against either birth control or recreational sex. You speak against all three, citing bad circumstances, but the circumstances are not the things themselves. I disagree with most of your conclusions, especially regarding birth control and sex, but I have a very high opinion of my friends-- I trust them to do what's right for them, and will help them decide for themselves and make the decisions stick.


Christina: I totally agree with you that we need to teach young women (and young men and old women and men, if it comes to that) that they don't need a partner to be "complete" or live a happy life. Yes, it's better to have no partner than an abusive partner--that goes for people who are married to their abusers too. Divorce can be the lesser evil, even when kids are involved.

I also think that every ob/gyn should do a domestic abuse screening on each of her or his patients and be prepared to refer them to counseling, domestic violence shelters, etc as they need. It's my impression, based totally on anecdote and therefore not at all definitive, that clinics that provide abortions are more likely to do this screening than most ob/gyn practices.

Abstinence is a fine method of birth control. I've used it exclusively at various times. Personally, I think that everyone ought to spend at least six months of their adult lives living alone and abstinent, just to show themselves that they can do it and don't need to have a partner or anyone else to take care of them. However, currently I'm in an exclusive, non-abusive, happy relationship. Having to be abstinent would put a strain on this relationship. Plus I'd miss the fun that good intercourse brings with it. Why should I or anyone want to do that? Sex has more uses than just reproduction in primates and it's no use ignoring that fact.


DP, abstaining is even safer, and for many women would be removing them from horrible, abusive situations that birth control does nothing to cure.

We need to get rid of the idea that if you're not using your genitals, you're living a wasted life, and that it's better to have an abusive partner than no partner at all.


Concerning the issue of the dangers of birth control pills versus other: for a young woman, the absolute most dangerous method of birth control is no method at all. Pregnancy is more likely to cause problems or kill women under 35 than any birth control method, including the pill--even if the woman smokes! (After 35, smoking plus taking the pill becomes more dangerous, but pregnancy is still more dangerous for non-smokers.) The safest method is condom use plus abortion as a backup for condom failure. Of course, condoms don't do anything for endometriosis, etc, but if the purpose is simply birth control, they're probably the best method available, assuming the person in question doesn't choose to be abstinent.

Reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=6671477&dopt=Abstract


Christina: Thanks for the offer, but if it's going to be more than trivially difficult for you to provide references, I'll look them up. I can probably find both with the info you provided fairly easily. (I work in a hospital so there's a medical library downstairs.)


Diatryma, I'm referring to the overall society attitude, not to individual choices. (Individual results may vary!) And we, as a society, seem to have this attitude that the orgasm is the be-all end-all of human existence, worth purchasing at any price. And I've seen so many women whose lives are a living hell because they think that unless there's a man in their bed, they're a nobody.

I listened once to a National Abortion Federation tape of a meeting of nurses trying to figure out how to get women to adhere to their aftercare instructions. All of these nurses lamented that their patients were in "relationships" (I hesitate to legitimize these women's dreadful circumstances with the word "relationship") with men who refuse to allow them to abstain from sex for six weeks while they're healing from their abortions. NO woman should be in a situation like that, were she can't even say "no" to protect her health, and perhaps her life! These men have multiple sex partners, refuse to wear condoms, beat and threaten the woman if she doesn't do what she's told, etc. Yikes! And it never, never crossed anybody's lips at that session that maybe the women needed the phone number for a women's shelter or a domestic abuse hotline! Those women existed purely to give their men a warm place to put it, and the staff of the clinics who aborted them seemed to consider it a given that yes, this is how women live.

I was so appalled. Beyond appalled. And it's these attitudes that I'm talking about. That the woman is nobody if there's not a man in her bed, even if the man is a total scumbag who cares less about her than he does about a pair of sneakers.


SPAYPET, there we'd have to move into too many details of this woman's life to discuss online without breaking confidentiality. The Nurturing Network (1-800-TNN-4-MOM) would probably be the best place to start. They have a nationwide network of homes and employers and schools.

Who can say what would work for her without knowing her? What are her skills and interests? What employers are there who are willing to train her? Is there a job training program appropriate for her? (Some of them pay child care expenses while she's in training, in addition to covering her training and transportation costs.)

It's a lot more work to address all her underlying problems than it is to just take her money, vacuum her out, and send her on her way. Helping women avoid abortions is hard work, which is why so many people just aren't interested. You can drive her to the clinic and feel virtuous and it's only cost you an afternoon. But helping her find a decent job may take months.


LF, let me give you words of wisdom from Alec Bourne, the British doctor who successfully challenged their abortion law by doing an abortion on a 14-year-old rape victim:

"Those who plead for an extensive relaxation of the law [against abortion] have no idea of the very many cases where a woman who, during the first three months, makes a most impassioned appeal for her pregnancy to be 'finished,' later, when the baby is born, is thankful indeed that it was not killed while still an embryo. During my long years in practice I have had many a letter of the deepest gratitude for refusing to accede to an early appeal." (A. Bourne, A Doctor's Creed: The Memoirs of a Gynecologist, London, 1963.)

And from Dr. Mary Calderone, former Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

"Conference members agreed, and this was backed up by evidence from the Scandinavians, that when a woman seeking an abortion is given the chance of talking over her problem with a properly trained and oriented person, she will in the process very often resolve many of her qualms and will spontaneously decide to see the pregnancy through, particularly if she is assured that supportive help will continue to be available to her." ("Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem," American Journal of Public Health v. 50 no. 7, pp. 948 - 954)

Draw your own conclusions.


Zygote, do you mean that wanting to help the woman and not having the resources is an unimaginable frustration, or that being that woman is an unimaginable frustration, or both?


DP, I've never seen either study online. I can look up the references for you. The CDC one you can then request online and they'll probably mail it to you. The Tietze one you'd probably have to go to a library that carries the journal it was in. I think it was Studies in Family Planning. Do you want me to look up the references for you? (I'm willing, but it's a bit of a pain and there's no sense in bothering if you're not going to actually go look them up!)


Many high schools have programs for pregnant girls, but they tend more toward the 'so you've wrecked your life-- here's how to change a diaper' than 'here's how to make your college provide daycare, here's how you get married housing if that's what you want, here's what you'll need to know'.

Shamika should have been helped, as close to one on one as possible. But not right now-- years ago. And she seems to be working toward the future she wants for herself and her children.

Christina, I think your views of birth control are... okay, I'm a college-age woman whose friends are divided on it. One requires it due to endometriosis; I know another commenter promoted organic living, but it's impossible to do with no income and blackout pain. One has what I feel to be a healthy attitude toward sex and is on birth control. One thinks she's a slut because she likes sex, but won't use birth control because her mother might find it.
There are so many reasons for a woman to use birth control. I don't think many of them boil down to 'so the boyfriend can have an orgasm'. A lot of them come down to 'so I don't have to choose between my life and a child I never wanted and feel I will forever resent' (yes, it's a bit exaggerated. But birth control's to control pregnancy, at heart). I plan to be on it sometime in the next few years. The idea that birth control makes whores of women seems terribly insulting to me, and the idea that birth control will somehow not affect married women, or that married women don't need it... nope.
With respect to the problems of birth control, yes, it's not perfect. It's something, though, and I think that with the right education and a doctor who's willing to work through a woman's concerns and observations, most women who want birth control won't have a lot of problems. I'd like to see that 600 deaths statistic compared to other drugs-- in my mind, it's kind of like denying birth control or emergency contraception to a woman because she might be pregnant, but allowing her to take medicines which could harm her or any pregnancy significantly more.

I just want everyone to be able to make the choice she feels is appropriate for herself, not the choice she feels she has to make. I want women to have access to birth control, I want women to have control of their own bodies, I want women to have access to medical care that respects them and their choices. We're going about it different ways, but we have pretty much the same goals. My means leave yours pretty much alone.



From what I read, she had no income. She was in some field of study she was trying to complete so she'd be self-supporting. I inquired as to what school kicks out pregnant women as they could be sued, but got no response.


So, how should this woman been helped? Pro-lifers? What say you?
I want a detailed description of how this woman and her family could have been helped. How could she have kept her pregnancy and still have an income?


"There are many different reasons why women get abortions. And they are all valid. No woman should feel guilty about terminating an unwanted pregnancy. And no woman should buy the crap that having an abortion is "selfish."

The birth of a child can be a source of great joy to a woman. But it can be a nightmare for a woman who for whatever reason does not want to have a child at a particular time or under particular circumstances. In such cases forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy is extremely cruel and sadistic. It will affect her entire life, and no woman's life should be twisted in such a way. No child should be born unwanted. No woman should be forced to choose between compulsory motherhood and a back-alley butcher.

Banning abortion is like rape--the violent assertion of male domination and male supremacist society over women, the forceful and violent control of women's bodies, in the most personal dimensions. Banning abortion means suppression of women by force of law and the state. It is institutionalized violence against women.

Today the right to abortion is still legal in the U.S. But restrictive state laws and the attacks of anti-abortion forces are making it harder and harder for women to exercise this right. There are fewer doctors performing abortions. So instead of going in early for a simple and safe medical procedure, many more women find themselves forced to wait for later and more difficult abortions or forced to bear unwanted children.

Abortion is a common and significant part of women having control over their own lives. And women have to stop being defensive about it. No matter how late in a pregnancy, no matter how much it might be able to live outside a woman's body, a fetus is NOT a child. And abortion is NOT murder. "

Thoughts? This expresses it as best as I ever could.


First of all I have to say how impressed I am with this last batch of comments and how civilly everyone is being. It's incredibly refreshing. Christina, to answer your question… in a perfect world we could fix the problems and the women and her child would go on and live happily ever after. In real life continuing with the pregnancy wouldn't allow the women to remove herself from the situation. It's a helpless feeling that I can't even begin to describe.


Christina: One other thing...actually two. Could you provide a link to the CDC study on the effects of the Hyde amendment and Tietze study?


Oops. The first paragraph in my last post is a quote from Christina's earlier post. I tried to put it in blockquotes, but it didn't work. Sorry for any confusion.

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