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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Comments

DP

she probably needed help with practical matters -- housing, child care, work. And that's something that is best worked out on a 1:1 basis by somebody who knows the area where she lives, and is willing to invest the time in helping her.

Sounds entirely reasonable to me, although I'd say that she is very likely to need financial help as well. She and her children are likely to be better off if she doesn't work or only works part time until the kids are school age or, at the very least, weaned*. Now, how can one ensure that she and every other woman who needs this help gets it?

* Confession time: I'm a flaming hypocrite: I went back to work when my kid was 4 weeks old. But I like my job and had family willing to stay with the baby. I wouldn't have gone back to work so soon if it meant leaving the baby with strangers or if I didn't like my job. But I had the financial means to do that, unlike many women, including Shamika.

Christina

Howdy again, L!

Again, I'd love to see the "reticent prochoice" start a movement to support "the other choice." After all, a choice to abort means nothing if the choice to give birth is seen as unattainable. Those who are really for choice, not for abortion, are a perfect group to fill this need. And I've seen individuals doing it as individuals approach them as friends, but there needs to be a movement. I've been praying for it for I don't know how long.

L.

Christina, there are indeed some women who fit the pattern you describe. But there are many other mature, fully informed women, including myself, who want to enjoy sex with our husbands or partners, and NOT have babies (or not have any more babies, or not have babies in particular situations). There are many of us who do not believe that "consenting to sex is consenting to the possibility of a baby." If our contraception fails, guess what some of us will do.

That said -- as I`ve said on your blog before, I think the pro-choice side in general does a lousy job of supporting the other side of choice -- the choice to have a baby, even if abortion would be the easiest choice in the mother`s particular situation. I have friends who were pressured into abortions they later regretted. How best to reach these women before they show up at the abortion clinic? I wish I knew.

Christina

DP, I believe in my first post I said that she probably needed help with practical matters -- housing, child care, work. And that's something that is best worked out on a 1:1 basis by somebody who knows the area where she lives, and is willing to invest the time in helping her. And it's a crying shame the only people willing to do that -- the prolifers -- are so demonized that women are afraid to reach out to them. (And yes, people among our own ranks help with the demonization. Screaming at a woman that she's a Hell-bound murdering slut isn't exactly going to reduce her anxiety about approaching you!)

Christina

Diatryma, I've seen dueling statistics on the effects of abstinance programs versus throwing condoms at the kids. One thing I do know is that the simple ready availability of abortion has been clearly demonstrated to increase the rate of pregnancy and abortion. That's not from some "antichoice" study but from Christopher Tietze of the Population Council.

Another thing that's been proven to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion is eliminating tax funding for abortions. The CDC's studies of the effects of the Hyde Amendment have shown that states that did not pick up the tab for elective abortions saw a drop not only in abortions but in hospitalizations for abortion complications among Medicaid-eligible women. There was not a comparable drop in states that picked up the funding of elective abortion. Yet the same people who say they're interested in reducing unwanted pregnancy and abortion continue to want to use tax money to pay for elective abortions.

The single biggest risk factor for unintended pregnancy and abortion is being sexually active outside marriage. Why, in any of the nine million names of God, would anybody who cares about women want to encourage the very activity that derails so many young women's lives? We as a society treat women as if they're just ambulatory sex toys. According to Williams Obstetrics, over 600 US women die every year just from complications of birth control pills. Why are we, as a society, willing to exchange women's lives for orgasms? And why are women willing to climb on the abortion table 4,000 times a day? The women are accepting all the pain, grief, and risk. Nay -- they demand the pain, grief, and risk as a "fundamental right."

Sorry, but there's no man alive worth putting my life on the line just so he can get his rocks off 24/7. And I am in charge of my own life, not a slave to my hormones. I'm not willing to derail my own life for the sake of an orgasm.

Women need to get off their backs and stand on their feet!

DP

Diatryma: I found a couple of articles on the abstinence only education issue that you might find useful...basically, they all indicate that, as you said, abstinence only education not only doesn't prevent pregnancy and STDs, it prevents programs that do reduce these problems from being enacted.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=16387256&query_hl=4&itool=pubmed_docsum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15015874&query_hl=4&itool=pubmed_DocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=14513629&query_hl=4&itool=pubmed_DocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12833743&query_hl=4&itool=pubmed_DocSum

The last link is to an article comparing the rate of teenage pregnancy in Sweden versus other industrialized countries. The rate of teenage pregnancy is much lower in Sweden compared to the rest of Europe and, especially, the US. Sweden has better social support, including more welfare, more openness about sexuality, and less emphasis on abstinence only as a method of contraception. Hmm...

DP

Christina: So what kind of help do you think would benefit Shamika and make her change her mind about the abortion?

Diatryma

Christina-- I was trying to refer specifically to policies which increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but abstinence-only programs, typically supported by religious organizations and pro-lifers (I'm not certain how much of that is simply overlap) do not prevent STDs or pregnancy. Abortions are becoming more common under a pro-life administration than they were under a pro-choice one.
As for poverty itself... I think those who are willing to work for it deserve all the help they can get. Not a welfare state, but it's one thing to have a welfare state and another to make childcare affordable, healthcare easier to get, and generally everything cheaper. We're approaching a state where the poor can't afford to be not poor because the initial outlay is too much. I know teachers who work two jobs because they can't afford to send their kids to college.
The abortionends thing could be interesting.

Christina

Zube Girl, I don't think it's a matter of not "respecting Shamika's decision". It's, for me, a matter of recognizing that Shamika wasn't making a free choice. She was doing what she felt trapped into doing. We even recognize in law that a decision made under duress isn't binding! I think far, far to many of these "choices" are made under duress. The duress should be removed first -- the woman's problems addressed. Then what will she choose, if she can choose freely?

I was convinced I "needed" an abortion. Had I had a different friend, I'd have ended up, like Shamika, "choosing" abortion. But my friend respected the real me, and helped me to address the real problems, removing the duress.

Christina

There seems to be a degree of agreement here that women who want to avoid abortions deserve help doing that. A movement has been started for people to simply make themselves available for these women, without anybody having to change their stand on abortion.

http://www.abortionends.org/

I think this is something that everybody here can get behind.

Christina

Hey, Zygote, long time no see!

Wouldn't it be best if all women had the experience I had -- where the pregnancy brought into sharp relief what needed to be fixed, and the problems were addressed without resorting to abortion? She gets to have her baby and gets to have her problems addressed.

The abortion won't fix the problems, so why even go there? It's like noticing your car needs a front-end alignment and just junking the car!

Christina

Diatryma and Sarah, it's not that the politicians in question are failing to support policies that help reduce poverty. It's that there are different schools of thought on what will reduce poverty, and many of us don't see the welfare state as reducing poverty. There is a validity to the "tough love" approach, that you have to push some people to improve their own situations because they don't seem to have the gumption themselves.

The simplest way to explain it is to use as example the approaches to drug addicts. If you "help" them, you're actually enabling the addiction and preventing the kind of "bottoming out" that's necessary for the person to develop the internal motivation to make the changes. (My ex used to work D&A rehab!)

So I oppose many of the social programs that supposedly reduce poverty not because I don't care about poor people (I've been one!), but because I have concluded based on life experiences that other approaches yield better results.

Don't assume that because people choose a different approach they don't have the same goal. Two people can argue about whether to drive from New York to LA, or to fly, but that doesn't mean that they don't both want to go to LA. They just disagree on the best way to get there.

amy

wow! I'm excited to find another abortion clinician blogging! Looking forward to a more thorough perusal when I next sit down at the computer.

amy

Zube Girl

Diatryma said- "I do wish the debate weren't so polarized; it's frustrating to argue with someone and not be able to say, "Yes, that is a sloppy point, it'll take me a moment to dig up supporting data," because your opponent will crow victory."

That is SUCH an excellent point. It really is. I just wanted to say that your contributions to the comments here, Diatryma, always impress me.

There is such hatred that goes back and forth with this discussion sometimes, and that TRULY gets nobody anywhere. It's very sad, actually. I had the most amazing conversation once with a VERY Pro-Life person. I told my story. She listened. She said she still didn't think abortion was right, but that I had to answer to God, not her. I smiled and said, "Well, not that I really believe in God the same way you do, but I know what you mean." And then we hugged. And remained friends. Maybe I was able to do that because I used to BE Pro-Life. I don't know.

It's just that, we're talking about WOMEN here. Not murderers. Not evil, vile sex machines. You know? Whether it's a clump of cells to one person or a baby to another, let's not forget to look at individuals as INDIVIDUALS. Everyone has their own story. I like to think that if we were sitting over coffee one on one, the debate wouldn't get half as ugly as it gets here, given the anonymity of the internet.

I also wanted to address Diatryma's question:

"Suppose you knew that you were going to die tonight. However, if you wish, you can be reincarnated after you die. If you chose to be reincarnated, it will be as the child of a woman who does not want to have a child at this time, maybe doesn't want a child at all. Furthermore, you and she will be a terrible match in temperment (ie if you're quiet and introspective, she'll be a loud extrovert or vice versa.) So, do you chose reincarnation or not? If yes, would you still say yes if you knew that you'd also have Down Syndrome? If your prospective mother lives in Iraq and you're going to be a girl? In short, are there any conditions under which you would forgo the possibility of extending your time alive?"

I, honestly, wouldn't. This question actually lends itself well to what I believe. I believe in souls. And I believe that souls are keenly aware of the situations they are putting themselves in when they choose to make the great leap into a couple of cells at conception. I believe that they know it may be a traumatic experience for their potential mother. Sometimes, the souls decide they're not ready yet, ergo we have misscarriage and still birth. I also believe that when a woman aborts, the soul knew that might happen from the beginning. It had every opportunity to change its mind, and knew full well that so did she. Souls are FAR more loving and forgiving than humans. That's my spiritual take on the whole thing, anyway. I often think it's unfair that Pro-Choice women are viewed as unspiritual. Because many of us are.

I respect Shamika's decision. I'm sure there's a soul out there respecting it, too.

Diatryma

I'm all in favor of abortion being an option. It's always going to be necessary-- there will always need to be someone who can end a pregnancy. I do wish the debate weren't so polarized; it's frustrating to argue with someone and not be able to say, "Yes, that is a sloppy point, it'll take me a moment to dig up supporting data," because your opponent will crow victory. I know women who vote to end birth control, but when they explain why, it's like they don't realize what they're doing-- they wouldn't ever have an abortion themselves, but they want anyone else to be able to have one, so they support for the pro-life candidate who wants birth control to be available only with the husband's permission from a pharmacist who isn't confused about what it does.

Zygote

Diatryma,
You have a very good point, but I believe we can take it a bit further, allowing a women the choice to have an abortion allows her the chance to change her situation. I know personally when I found out I was pregnant it caused the bad situation I was in to become glaringly obvious. Now my abortion did not remove me from this, but it allowed me the chance to remove myself. When you see those two lines appear on that stick all your faults come to the forefront. Sometimes you can overcome them and continue with the pregnancy, sometimes you all you can see is blackness with no hope and no amount of societal program will change this. When this happens abortion should continue to be an option. I appreciate everyday I have with my new perspective.

Diatryma

I'm not certain it's fair to expect pro-lifers to do everything to make abortions unnecessary-- some of that's on us too. But in many situations, where more is needed than an abortion, it's not that the abortion won't help-- it just won't address the cause.
Sometimes you have to treat the symptoms, not the illness. Will ending a problem pregancy remove the circumstances that made it a problem? No. But it's something.

Thank you, Christina, for helping people out without getting preachy about it. You do your part, and we'll do ours, and even though neither of them is enough on its own, we should get something done.

Prolifers in general: does it bother you that many of the prolife policymakers are the ones promoting programs that increase the number of abortions? There seem to be so many one-issue voters who would support anyone who said he'd prevent abortions, even if his policies increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and make bearing a child difficult.

SarahS

Christina,

You're talking about individual actions, I'm talking about systemic movements for change. While it is laudable that you send clothes to needy kids or write out a check, it does nothing to address the roots of poverty in this country or change the reasons why it exists. You alone can't fix vast and deeply entrenched social, societal, legal (and illegal), and medical problems in our country. If you pay the hospital bills of one girl, what about the millions of others who will not be getting a check from you in the mail? Paying that one bill won't change the reason why it needs to be paid in the first place. It's a band-aid solution.

I have no doubt that *individual* pro-life persons do nice and charitable things to help people, but I have yet to see a pro-life *movement* organize to fight the reasons why we need to send some kids clothes or why they need to have strangers pay their bills.

Christina

When I do volunteer EMS work to save the lives of born people, I don't give them a lecture on abortion to make sure they know that a prolifer is doing this. When I donate money for kids like Marlie Casseus can get medical care, I don't show the check to every prochoicer in town before I mail it so that they can see what I'm doing. When I brought burned-out families into the church Thrift Shop so they could take all the clothes, bedding, household goods, books, toys, and so forth that they want, I disn't admonish them to make sure every prochoicer they meet knows that the lady who helped them was prolife.

You see us only in an abortion context and draw your conclusions from there. I can hardly be blamed for the fact that you choose not to have anybody among your friends who thinks women deserve better than abortion.

shrimplate

It just amazes me how callous and blaming most of the anti-choice posters are to this blog, when the issue at hand is really none of their business.

That's it, folks. Unlees you are the woman making the decision, it's none of your business, and the things you say are less than useless. So stop it, and grow up.

Diatryma

Christine: yes. Yes, she needed more, and sooner, and younger. But what the writers here can give her is a safe and legal abortion when she decides that is the appropriate choice for her. It is not their job to fix everything any more than it is ours-- meaning they will do what they can do, and hope everyone else helps to make things better.
I do what I can. It's not a choice between supporting safe and legal abortions for those who want them and supporting social services. I do both.

SarahS

Right on DP

I don't see the pro-life movement working to fix medicare, welfare, or supporting free health care for all. I don't see pro-lifers fighting so women get equal pay, education, and job training. I don't see pro-lifers opening (or fundraising for) domestic violence shelters, abuse hotlines, or rape victiem support groups. I don't see them supporting equal adoption for gay couples. I don't see pro-lifers supporting easier access to contraceptives to prevent pregnancy in the first place. I don't see them supporting daycare (either state or corporate sponsored) in the workplace. I don't see any pro-life anti-racism or anti-sexism groups out there.

What I do see pro-lifers complaining that "women deserve better then abortion" while the pro-choice feminist side works its ass off to actually give women better lives instead of whining about it.

DP

Christina: Why not have both? Financial help for women (and men) with young children who might otherwise live in poverty, subsidized health care for pregnant women and children, subsidized daycare, obligatory maternity leave (and, perhaps, paternity leave), safe and well built public housing, etc--and legal abortion for those whose hearts say that that is the right decision.

Christina

This woman needed financial help, maybe childcare help, help finding an affordable place to live, etc. All she got was an abortion.

Don't women deserve better than having to go counter to everything their hearts tell them because it's so much easier for society to just permit abortion?

DP

"What would the aborted child say if it's vocal cords were developed?"

It would say that the apostrophe in "it's" is inappropriate: "it's" is short for "it is", not indicative of the possessive, as the apostrophe is in most other cases.

Sorry. I know that a) that was a cheap shot...and one you're likely to be able to return given my inattention to grammar and spelling and b)the vocal cords develop well in advance of the cerebral cortex, so if the abortion occured at a time when the vocal cords hadn't even developed yet, the "child" wouldn't have the mental ability to say anything, much less correct your grammar.

A philosophical question for anyone who wants to answer...There's no right or wrong answer. Really, there's no pro-choice or pro-life answer either. Suppose you knew that you were going to die tonight. However, if you wish, you can be reincarnated after you die. If you chose to be reincarnated, it will be as the child of a woman who does not want to have a child at this time, maybe doesn't want a child at all. Furthermore, you and she will be a terrible match in temperment (ie if you're quiet and introspective, she'll be a loud extrovert or vice versa.) So, do you chose reincarnation or not? If yes, would you still say yes if you knew that you'd also have Down Syndrome? If your prospective mother lives in Iraq and you're going to be a girl? In short, are there any conditions under which you would forgo the possibility of extending your time alive?

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