Call me biased…

…but I just can’t wrap my mind around anti-choice rhetoric. I am fairly skilled at seeing both sides of most complex social issues and I even try to give credit to those that oppose my view if their reasoning is sound, but anti-choice stuff…it is just totally illogical to me. I completely understand why a person could be morally opposed to abortion and why someone might choose to call themselves “pro-life,” but how anyone can be politically opposed to safe, legal abortion and reproductive health services? And let’s not forget: almost all of the anti-choice organizations are also anti-birth control and oppose comprehensive sex education despite that fact that their “pro-life” constituents often hold more mainstream beliefs. 98% of American women use birth control at some point in their lives and 82% of Americans believe that abstinence-only sex ed isn’t enough. Clearly the anti-choice organizations are out of touch with reality. But I’m preaching to the choir…

As most of you know, I work in public affairs at a Planned Parenthood affiliate. In my job, I try not to focus on the anti-choice groups because…well, it’s counter-productive, reactive, and mostly just makes me frustrated and angry. Better to stay on the offense. It’s kind of like getting in a fight with the class bully–in the end you give the bully the satisfaction of getting a reaction out of you and still end up getting your lunch money stolen. What’s the point?

But tonight, I am feeling kind of silly and I would love to share with you a sampling of my favorite (crazy-pants) anti-choice groups and why they drive me nuts with their scientifically inaccurate misinformation. I know this just feeds the beast (and drives traffic to their websites), but indulge me. Just once. And then vote for the anti-choice group that is the most outrageous to you! Rabble. Rabble. Rabble. Or, if you find this post to be petty and frivolous, which it may be…just skip to the very bottom after the jump for an awesome video of Sonya Renee performing “What We Deserve.”

This content below may not be safe for work.

National Right to Life
The mothership of anti-choice nutties. All the anti-choice messaging and misinformation is here. Abortion causes breast cancer. Margaret Sanger was a racist. Planned Parenthood uses tax money to kill children. Add your own crazy factually inaccurate statement here.

Feminists for Life
Would you believe there was a local chapter of this group at my college? Out of the Women’s Center I co-directed from 2003-2005?! When I came into office, feminists around the nation were mobilizing for the March for Women’s Lives. While still respecting the opinions of “pro-life feminists” at the Women’s Center, I managed to get our membership to vote to adopt a pro-choice position. This group annoys me the most because I think they really convince people that Susan B. Anthony was anti-choice. And because they have super-smart messaging that appeals to otherwise well-meaning feminists that don’t know all the facts about abortion access. “Women deserve better” is their motto. Check out the video at the bottom of this post for a great political performance piece based on the “women deserve better” messaging by pro-choice slam poet Sonya Renee.

American Life League
This group annoys me even more than the National Right to Life because they are SO explicit about their opinion that hormonal birth control and emergency contraception are abortifacents…which is clearly medically inaccurate. This is a Catholic group that follows all the anti-choice Catholic stereotypes. So…um…”be fruitful and multiply,” my friends. Oh, and this is the group that sponsors Rock for Life, the sexy teen-targeted event with pro-life bands and lots of ill-informed youth. The only good thing about Rock for Life is that they have a list of “pro-abort” bands to boycott. I suggest you support as many as possible. Bare Naked Ladies and Everclear…who knew?

Christian Coalition of America
This group gives Christians a bad name. Anti-same-sex marriage. Anti-sex ed. Anti-birth control. Anti-abortion. I could go on…

So now for Sonya! A great performance by Sonya Renee of “What We Deserve” in response to the anti-choice message “Women deserve better than abortion.” (You may have seen this before. It was dedicated to Choice USA and has been spread around the web in feminist circles…probably even here at some point.)

And, to prove that all religious groups and faith traditions are NOT anti-choice, tomorrow I will blog about groups like Catholics for a Free Choice and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and looking at sexual justice and religion from a reproductive justice framework.


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63 Responses to Call me biased…

  1. mikeb302000 says:

    You’re definitely preaching to the choir, as far as I’m concerned. But why don’t you get their side of it? You asked, “but how anyone can be politically opposed to safe, legal abortion and reproductive health services?” It’s because those people believe life begins at conception and it’s sacred, period, end of discussion. I don’t agree with that, but I understand it. In fact their argument is simple. What I don’t get is how they can look at the misery and suffering which results from their premise and not rethink the premise. Maybe some of them have.

  2. Jesurgislac says:

    It’s because those people believe life begins at conception and it’s sacred, period, end of discussion.

    Yes, well, discussion pretty much has to stop there, or else they’re left trying to explain why, if a fertilised egg is a “sacred life” the pregnant woman is somehow neither sacred, alive, nor discussable.

    What I don’t get is how they can look at the misery and suffering which results from their premise and not rethink the premise.

    Because they stop discussion with the fertilised egg. For them, “life is sacred” is a principle that applies exclusively and only to fetuses. The misery and suffering which results from forcing a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will is not discussed – not even referred to. It’s taken for granted. Period. End of discussion.

    That’s their side of it, Mike, and I get it – their side of it is that women are inhuman incubators whose misery and suffering need not be considered.

    Their argument is simple: women are breeding animals. Our argument is just as simple: women are human beings, and pro choice is the only moral option.

  3. Anna says:

    I love that poem. I get kinda weepy whenever I watch.

    So, how are Barenaked Ladies Pro-Choice?

  4. Kacie says:

    HA! All of my favorite bands are on the banned list.

    In other news, all of the “okay bands” are obscure little Christian outfits who sucked too bad to be real bands so they had to take the Christian rock path. I HATE CHRISTIAN ROCK!

  5. RMJ says:

    I have a lot of respect for the Feminists for Life, actually. Their rhetoric is generally well-reasoned and unhysterical, and much more respectful of the rights and needs of women than the other organizations you list. Additionally (I could be wrong about this) they do not focus their resources on eliminating safe and legal abortion, but on offering other options for women who are dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. There’s nothing wrong with offering MORE options; women should have a diverse array of options to choose from and should not be forced into an abortion they don’t want.

    I don’t see how Susan B. Anthony’s views on abortion are relevant to either side of the debate, though. It’s not a value that’s translatable. She might have been against abortion – and so? It was really unsafe then, and medicine was not what it is now. Her views on abortion are not a reason to be for or against it, just as it’s not a good idea for modern fourth-wavers like myself to take to heart Gloria Steinem’s views on trans rights.

  6. Christina says:

    Hey, I knew about Everclear being pro-choice! They wrote the song “Pennsylvania Is…” about the horrendous abortion restrictions passed in my state (including spousal notification before abortion for married pregnant women), most of which were upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. (The spousal notification wasn’t, but practically everything else was.)

    Lyrics include:
    I got a card today from a girl I know
    She used to live alone in Philadelphia
    She had to leave the state for a choice she made
    She says she feels just like a hostage in her home …

    I just got a call from my uncle Mike
    He said he left his wife and he’s not going back
    Said she changed her mind about a desire child
    I asked him if he wants a placemat or a wife

  7. emfole says:

    Wait- was Margaret Sanger a racist or not? I am confused…Didn’t she push abortions on black womyn or something? anyone have some clarification?

  8. KaeLyn says:

    I have a lot of respect for the Feminists for Life, actually. Their rhetoric is generally well-reasoned and unhysterical, and much more respectful of the rights and needs of women than the other organizations you list.

    This is exactly why I can’t stand them. Because feminists are freaking smart and, in this group, highly educated! And they do a good job of linking in their anti-choice views with their otherwise reasonable positions on domestic violence, services for children and families, equal pay, holistic motherhood, etc. The problem is, they do in fact focus their resources on eliminating safe and legal abortion. They cloak it well. And they spread misinformation similar to the other anti-choice groups, but in a way that makes it seem more womyn-friendly. To me, this is even more dangerous because are able to appeal to a mainstream audience and hide the fact that they are really extreme in their beliefs about abortion. I have no problem with anyone identifying as “pro-life” or believing abortion is not the right choice, but I am against any group that works to take away the legal right to abortion.

    There’s nothing wrong with offering MORE options; women should have a diverse array of options to choose from and should not be forced into an abortion they don’t want.

    If you look at their website, you’ll see that their idea of “options” is similar to a crisis pregnancy center. In fact, they directly refer womyn with unplanned pregnancies to pregnancy crisis centers from their website. That’s not my idea of getting “MORE options.” Womyn would get all options counseling on adoption, abortion, and carrying a pregnancy to term, as well as info on birth control and sexual health, from an unbiased, trained counselor at a women’s health clinic or doctor’s office. If Feminists for Life cared about giving womyn all their options, they would refer people to women’s health clinics and medical facilities. They have story after story in their newsletter about womyn who were raped, got pregnant, and chose to carry their pregnancy to term. Bottom line, they are against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and think it should be illegal. No pro-choicer is for forcing someone to have an abortion, but Feminists for Life are for forcing a woman to carry a child.

    I don’t see how Susan B. Anthony’s views on abortion are relevant to either side of the debate, though.

    What is annoying about this is that they make a really big deal out of Susan B. and Elizabeth Cady Stanton being “pro-life” which is neither true nor relevant. It’s a message they use over and over, with no factual basis, to reach out to feminist womyn who are conflicted about abortion.

    I’m not saying all of this to jump down your throat, RMJ, but I think your view is common among feminists for whom sexual and reproductive justice is not a top issue. And Feminists for Life is a very smart, strategic group. I would even go so far as to say that I agree with much of what they believe in terms of providing better care and fair treatment for women and children. Unfortunately, the reality is that they spend much of their time making womyn feel pressured into keeping a pregnancy or guilty for making the personal decision to terminate. And they work on a political level – in fact, we get them right here in Albany – to try to assure that abortion rights are chipped away at and overturned. For these reasons, I think they are the most dangerous of all the anti-choice groups out there.

  9. KaeLyn says:

    emfole, here is a link to an article on why Margaret Sanger was NOT a racist. It includes some of the most common anti-choice rhetoric and supposed quotes as well as context for the quotes that were, actually, hers. Hope it helps! If you want to see what the anti-choice groups are saying, just Google “Margaret Sanger racist” and you’ll get all sorts of crap.

  10. emfole says:

    thanks so much for the info, KaeLyn. Although, I know my friends who told me that MS was racist, will say that Planned Parenthood is a biased source….

  11. FashionablyEvil says:

    Have you read Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood by Kristin Luker? It really helped me to understand the anti-choice perspective. It was written in the 80s, but holds up well.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Even if MS was racist, it doesn’t change the fact that family planning is good for women.

  13. KaeLyn says:

    Although, I know my friends who told me that MS was racist, will say that Planned Parenthood is a biased source….

    True. Try this bio of Margaret Sanger hosted by New York University Margaret Sanger Papers Project which says about the controversy of her being a “racist”:

    She focused many of her efforts on gaining support from the medical profession, social workers, and the liberal wing of the eugenics movement. She increasingly rationalized birth control as a means of reducing genetically transmitted mental or physical defects, and at times supported sterilization for the mentally incompetent. While she did not advocate efforts to limit population growth solely on the basis of class, ethnicity or race, and refused to encourage positive race-based eugenics, Sanger’s reputation was permanently tainted by her association with the reactionary wing of the eugenics movement.

    Sanger supported negative eugenics, which is aimed at lowering fertility among the disadvantaged and includes abortion, sterilization, and family planning. Positive eugenics, which she opposed, was focused on encouraging reproduction among the advantaged and includes gov’t incentives to reproduce, in vitro fertilization, cloning, etc. Clearly, I do not agree with her view on sterilizing the mentally disabled, which on some level is indicative of the treatment of the physically and mentally disabled in the early 1900’s, and her theories on eugenics were radical, as was her view about birth control and medically safe abortion. But she wasn’t a racist and spoke out against positive eugenics. In fact, she worked with leaders in the African-American community to help women access family planning information, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Maybe this will be a more credible source in your friends’ eyes…maybe not. :)

  14. hypatia says:

    why Margaret Sanger was NOT a racist.

    Ok she definitely wasn’t trying to remove other races as many anti-Planned Parenthood groups try to claim but she was still racist by today’s standards. Of course she wasn’t pro-choice either. She, like many people, was a product of her environment.

  15. Jes says:

    It can be helpful to liken anti-choice people to vegans, in terms of why they do what they do and how they go about doing it, and much of the same criticism can be made about both groups. They both do what they do because they believe that there mass murder going on on a gigantic, systematic scale. They both believe that they live in a crazy world where so many people are just completely blind to what is REALLY going on. They both feel desperate to stop what they view was immoral, torture, murder of innocent creatures.

  16. Jes says:

    It can be helpful to liken anti-choice people to animal rights activists, in terms of why they do what they do and how they go about doing it, and much of the same criticism can be made about both groups. They both do what they do because they believe that there mass murder going on on a gigantic, systematic scale. They both believe that they live in a crazy world where so many people are just completely blind to what is REALLY going on. They both feel desperate to stop what they view was immoral, torture, murder of innocent creatures.

    As for the criticism, both anti-choice people and AR people have been criticized for engaging in criminal activities. Both have been criticized for focusing only on their particular issue and not broadening the scope to look at suffering on a wider scale. But they are both extremists and fundamentalists. Which I am not passing ANY value judgments on at all. I support almost everything the most radical AR people do. I know that 99.9% of them would bristle at even being mentioned in the same breath as anti-choice people, but I find it to be an enlightening exercise regardless in terms of helping me to understand WHY anti-choice people do what they do.

  17. emfole says:

    thanks so much for the further info, Kaelyn- im at wk and so can only skim right now- i will def pass this info along.

  18. Jack says:

    @Jes: except, of course, that vegans are not trying to pass laws that criminalize people’s choice to eat meat, or saying that people who eat meat are going to hell. For that and many other reasons, I think the comparison just doesn’t make sense.

  19. KaeLyn says:

    I haven’t read it, FashionablyEvil, but I’ll check it out! Maybe it will give me perspective. Let me clarify, though, that I do completely understand the point of view of anti-choice folk from a moral and ethical perspective. While personally, I, KaeLyn, am not opposed to abortion for any reason and don’t have any ethical conflicts with it, I can understand why other people do. I can even understand why people would see it as murder and I respect that opinion. I do know people that see abortion as murder, but are still pro-choice. Because they understand the ramifications of outlawing safe, legal abortion. When the debate becomes about whether abortion should be legal or not, that’s where my brain goes, Cannot compute! I’m not a total hater. I have friends who are, in fact, Feminists for Life. I understand where they are coming from personally, but we have to agree to disagree on the rest.

    I also think that we academic folk need to stop debating about personhood. It’s an interesting question and one that cannot and will not be easily answered. Quite frankly, if you care at all about the life of the mother, then whether abortion is murder or not is irrelevant. The fact is, abortion happens, legal or not. And the more we restrict it, limit access, and criminalize it, the more it will be pushed underground. In the U.S. today, there are still places where abortion access is so grim that women resort to illegal abortion methods. The reality is that abortion is a difficult, personal, private decision that women need to make with their doctors [and families and god/dess(s), if applicable] without gov’t interference. It’s a right. Postulating about where and how life starts does not change the fact that abortion is safer and better when provided legally in a medical setting and when women faced with an unintended pregnancy are given all their options. El fine.

  20. KaeLyn says:

    I’m a vegan! :) And agreed, Jack.

    This is actually a big debate in the vegan community. I think it is hilarious that PETA used to carry two bumper stickers for sale. One that said: “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegan.” The other said (you guessed it): “Pro-Life? Choose Vegan.” Unfortunately, I can’t find them anymore. I’m not a big PETA fan. Personally, I find their AR tactics too radical, but it is clear that even PETA isn’t sure where vegans stand on choice.

  21. Clueless WW says:

    I vividly remember Catholic all-girls high school one day — in religion class when the topic was abortion, the teacher polled us to ask whether we were “pro-life or not.” At thirteen, I’d never given it much thought, but figured, well I wouldn’t want to kill a baby, so I’m pro-life. There was one girl who answered “pro-choice”. The teacher argued with her for fifteen minutes — why did she want to kill children, blah blah — and the student stood her ground, explaining calmly that just because she believed women had a right to choose didn’t mean that she personally was a baby murderer and so on. (and Sarah, if you’re reading this, your stance that day deeply impressed me and changed my life.) A few years after I graduated, the same school banned the student paper from publishing a poll which showed that about half the students were pro-choice. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t intend to give to the alumni fund :P

    In conversations I’ve had since then, I always got the impression that pro-life positions had been given as much thought as my teenage self gave them — not much. “What if Famous Person’s mother had gotten an abortion, that Famous Good Thing couldn’t have happened” — or, harder to dislike or argue, “I can’t have children myself and it tears me up that anyone could kill a baby.” I can understand being opposed to personally getting an abortion. The leap from there to forbidding anyone in any circumstance from access to abortion isn’t one that I can make.

    (This doesn’t explain strange over-the-top anti-choice rhetoric, of course, but may help explain why it’s found strong traction with otherwise reasonable people.)

  22. Jes says:

    @ Jack
    There is absolutely an ethical component for AR activists, they believe that people who eat meat are committing a violation of our responsibilities to other living beings. I’ve heard AR activists say they believe meat eaters are going to face some kind of ultimate judgment. I’ve heard words like evil and immoral bandied about.

    And while AR activists are not working to make eating meat a crime, they are working their butts off to encourage legislation that would make the way most of our modern day meat and dairy is produced criminal (an endeavor I fully support) and do engage in guerrilla like tactics to protect animals (see Sea Shepard).

    I would never claim that the two groups are more alike than different. All I said was that there ARE similarities between the intensity of their passion, the reasons they do what they do, and this can be instructive when trying to understand WHY anti-choice people do and say what they do and say.

  23. Faith says:

    I’m pro-choice but I suppose I understand “pro-life” rhetoric considering 1) that I use to be “pro-life” 2) have family members who still are and 3) am married to a husband who is wavering between “pro-life” and pro-choice. When I was pro-life, I have to be honest and say that I put the “baby’s” life before the woman’s. At that time, I wasn’t really that familiar with feminism and how the anti-choice movement is ultimately about controlling women’s bodies. I would always think “if they don’t want their babies then just give them up for adoption!” What arrogance and naivety. I just didn’t think about women in this issue honestly. Of course, there was also the issue of when life begins. The irony of it is that I’m a Muslim and a commonly accepted belief among Muslims is that life doesn’t actually begin until the 40th day of pregnancy. This belief is often cited in support for stem cell research by Muslim scholars yet abortion, unless for a medical reason, is often condemned the same scholars, no matter what time it occurs.

    I think a lot of “pro-lifers” don’t think about women in their equation, at least when it comes to abortion. Not in an evil, “I hate women” way but more in a neglectful way. When I talk to my husband about abortion, the conversation always comes back to the “baby” or the “life” that will be harmed. He doesn’t hate women and much like Feminist for Life, he is liberal on family policy, domestic violence, etc. He even agrees with me about the hypocrisy of a lot of conservative anti-choice groups. But when it comes to the abortion, he just doesn’t see it as a woman’s issue, it’s a “life” issue. He’s teetering on the fence honestly. I asked if he wants to outlaw abortion and he said he doesn’t know. He really believes that adoption is the best option for all involved. Sorry for the rant.

  24. Cecilieaux says:

    Your post is a classic combination of the “straw man” and ad hominem arguments. Instead of reasoning you set up a ridiculous position to oppose, then you spew unreasoning venom at certain groups (with which I do not happen to agree).

    Your might want to examine your own rhetoric:

    “I completely understand why a person could be morally opposed to abortion and why someone might choose to call themselves “pro-life,” but how anyone can be politically opposed to safe, legal abortion and reproductive health services?”

    Answer: They are opposed to legal abortion because they think it is immoral. Now that wasn’t hard, was it?

    Indeed, I seriously question whether you “completely understand” why a person would morally oppose abortion if you can’t draw the simple line between moral opposition and political advocacy.

    It’s rants like this that make the “pro-life” movement look sane.

  25. Farhat says:

    It isn’t that difficult to understand. The anti-choice movement is not really anti-abortion nor do they particularly care about reducing the number of abortions. If they were really about reducing the number of abortions than there are a number of European countries with a far lesser abortion rate than the US. They get there by having comprehensive sex education and ready access to contraceptives both of which are opposed by these groups. What they really want to do is to punish women (and to some extent men too) for having sex, regardless of whether it is in or out of marriage. They may make noises about how within marriage it is beautiful and all that, but even there it is largely about the necessity of producing little kiddies not about joy or intimacy.

  26. KaeLyn says:

    Indeed, I seriously question whether you “completely understand” why a person would morally oppose abortion if you can’t draw the simple line between moral opposition and political advocacy.

    I didn’t think I needed to get into the detailed semantics because you all know them, but I am unsure what you are questioning here. I am for the separation of church and state and believe that moral and religious ideologies are not reason enough to make laws. I understand my post may have been a little “ranty” and I am kind of regretting posting the anti-stuff. This is why I mostly ignore it…it’s not something you can really have an intelligent conversation about. So, while I do get that some people connect their moral idealogies to political ideologies, I think it is a flawed way of thinking. That is what I am criticizing.

    I support same-sex marriage not because I am in a biologically same-sex relationship, or because it is “just the right thing to do,” but because same-sex couples are barred from receiving over 1,000 rights that married couples automatically have (Truth be told, I’m for the entire separation of marriage and gov’t, but I see same-sex marriage as a first step. But…for another post). I oppose the death penalty not because I think killing is wrong, but because there are economic reasons and psychological evidence that there are better ways to treat prisoners. I am vegan because I choose, ethically, not to consume or use animal products and believe this is a kinder choice for animals, but I would never try to outlaw the meat industry or lobby for legislation that forced people to eat vegetarian. (There are people that do and I consider them extremists.) Kinder handling of zoo and companion animals – yes – there is significant research that shows that animals can feel emotion and pain and treating animals well does not put anyone else’s life at risk.

    Maybe I didn’t represent myself well when I said that I “didn’t understand” because I do understand the viewpoint of “pro-lifers” from a simple, rudimentary point of view, as you so concisely point out. They think abortion is murder, so it is wrong and should be outlawed. I get it. But when confronted with FACTS, moral leanings and political opinions need to be weighed out carefully. That is what I am really saying. And nothing I wrote was overexaggerated. Frankly, I wasn’t trying to point out anything new to people in this post, but apparently there is education to do…

  27. KaeLyn says:

    Thanks, Farhat, for your insight. I totally agree. How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America by Cristina Paige gets into the truth about what the “pro-life” movement is really about (restricting access to sex ed, birth control, and promoting a pro-marriage/abstinence agenda usually based on personal religious beliefs). If anyone here has not read it, it’s worth a read. For a well-informed pro-choice advocate, it won’t teach you much, but it’s a great, concise primer about this issue exactly.

    (BTW, remind me never to use the words “I don’t understand” as a phrase to express exasperation again. I didn’t realize those were the three deadly words. Forgive a newb for opening the floodgates of exasperating critique and explanation.)

  28. Suki T says:

    Feminists for Life is a dangerous group. I went to their website. So much of it looks like a good idea. Making things easier and better for women with babies, better child care, education for all women, and more choices. The problem is their choices DO NOT include the choice. They take that one off the table.

    Some of their more questionable rhetoric is their “We Remember” page. This part of the website is all about those women who died while getting legal abortions. I read the stories. I was supposedto understand that abortion doctor’s are hateful bastards who don’t care at all about their patients. That abortions are dangerous and can steal not only the baby away from us, but also the mother. Unfortunatly, they forgot that their targeted audeince is intelligent women, who probably won’t fall for their tactics because:
    1. All the stories are from 1996 or before.
    2. If this is a list of a fraction of the women who died from abortion, then it is pretty good in terms of how many people die from surgical procedures all the time. How many women died from cesaerean sections in that time period?
    3. Most of those doctor’s had a history of mispractice. And if we comitted to making sure every woman had access to SAFE and LEGAL abortions, these kinds of things wouldn’t happen.

    Also i wanted to note that in one of their stories they target California as giving substandard care:

    “Angela is only one of the many women who have received and continue to receive substandard care in California abortion facilities. Twenty-seven-year-old Sharon Hampton died at a Moreno Valley abortion clinic in 1996. A 23-year-old Mexican woman died in 1995 from a late-term abortion in a San Ysidro clinic.”

    They assume that because they are hearing more stories out of California, that means that California has worse care. That just means California journalists care enough to write about it. What about in the bible belt? Substandard abortions don’t occur there? Yeah right.

    Also they have an “extensive” archive of stories from mother’s who regretted getting abortions. Unfortunatly I can’t seem to be able to get the PDF files to work. Where are the stories from woman who are glad or had good or ok experiences? Oh yeah, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and nothing is squeakier than people who have had bad experiences. I’m sorry that they did, and I don’t minimize their suffering, but women get abortions everyday, and we don’t hear every story.

    Anyways that is my two cents.

  29. RumTumTugger says:

    I bloody love the way ‘feminists for life’ has the tagline ‘refuse to choose’. That just says it all.

  30. Sailorman says:

    I used to have a extraordinarily religious close friend (we have drifted apart since) and he was unflinchingly opposed to abortion.

    We fought about it a lot but although I think he is 100% wrong I don’t see what is so hard to understand about his position:

    He bases his position on religion.

    That’s all you need to know; it’s really that simple: God says so. And God does not need to make any fucking sense at all because she works in mysterious ways, or for some other reason.

    You cannot convince him that god (or he) is wrong about abortion any more than you can convince him that there is no god–and yes, I have tried–or that any of the other tenets of his religion are wrong.

    So if you say you can’t understand his views, you merely need to understand that your entire method of thinking and coming to conclusion is not like them, because you are not crazy.

  31. Kristen from MA says:

    misery and suffering which results from forcing a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will is not discussed.

    They do discuss it: that’s what their talking about when they say ‘just because some women don’t want to be inconvenienced, for 9 months, they want to be able to ZOMG! kill their baybees. It makes me crazy!

    As for FFL (I always like to type [sic] after that particular word grouping), I get the vibe that they thing motherhood is ‘natural’ for all women, and anyone who findes herself pregnant and wants an abortion has been essentially brainwashed. Nothing makes me crazier that the idea that woman = mother. (BTW, when I was 9, I declared that I didn’t want to have kids. The response: ‘Oh honey, you’ll change your mind when you’re older.’ Well, at 42 and counting, I still don’t want ’em.)

  32. Cara says:

    Sanger supported negative eugenics, which is aimed at lowering fertility among the disadvantaged and includes abortion, sterilization, and family planning. Positive eugenics, which she opposed, was focused on encouraging reproduction among the advantaged and includes gov’t incentives to reproduce, in vitro fertilization, cloning, etc. Clearly, I do not agree with her view on sterilizing the mentally disabled, which on some level is indicative of the treatment of the physically and mentally disabled in the early 1900’s, and her theories on eugenics were radical, as was her view about birth control and medically safe abortion. But she wasn’t a racist and spoke out against positive eugenics. In fact, she worked with leaders in the African-American community to help women access family planning information, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Maybe this will be a more credible source in your friends’ eyes…maybe not. :)

    The problem is that women of color, as I have read from numerous very pro-choice sources, were a lot more likely to be labeled as “mentally disabled” as a means for forced sterilization. And I can’t feel like the forced sterilization that was targeted against women of color is wholly divorced from the encouragement of sterilization of women who were “mentally disabled” since after all many racist people saw WOC as mentally inferior. And once you start sterilizing one group . . .

    My point is that I do think Margaret Sanger was a racist. I think that a lot of what she believes has been blown out of proportion. But “blown out of proportion” is not the same as “not a racist.” While by the standards of her day it may be fair to classify her as not racist, it’s not fair to say that she wasn’t racist by today’s standards (as someone on this thread already said). Also, I don’t think that this erases the good work that she did or invalidates the pro-choice point of view in any way. Personally, I think that PP just ought to say “yup, Margaret Sanger held a lot of offensive views with which the organization no longer agrees.” And I said as much during a discussion on the issue at the PP Organizing and Policy Summit.

    Feminists for Life probably piss me off the most. I honestly don’t think that they make strong arguments. I just think that they make highly manipulative ones that sway the uninformed. In other words, they are definitely smart, but their arguments are smart only from a tactical point of view rather than a logical or actually feminist one.

  33. Lauren says:

    Gotdamn! Thanks so much for posting the Sonya Renee poem.

  34. Cara says:

    (BTW, remind me never to use the words “I don’t understand” as a phrase to express exasperation again. I didn’t realize those where the three deadly words. Forgive a newb for opening the floodgates of exasperating critique and explanation.)

    Seriously, while in retrospect it might not have been the wisest language, I probably would have used the same. I don’t think it’s the word choice so much as people being very, very fond of, as you put it, exasperating critique. Welcome to blogging! ;)

  35. Roving Thundercloud says:

    All y’all are missing the point. Those unborn babies are blank slates, still capable of perfection, whereas pregnant women are already lost to us by virtue of being not only women (naturally fallen) but also being sexually active, to boot! The woman’s life isn’t up for discussion as having any worth because the baby wins hands-down in these areas:

    a) Woman: no worth beyond incubator. Baby: might be a boy, ya know.

    b) Woman: already been ruined and in fact deserves punishment (she’s obviously had sex, and probably enjoyed it too, the slut). Baby: even if female, could become a perfect Christian someday and deserves that chance!

    c) Babies: defenseless. Women: enjoy perfect agency and make flippant choices in a consequence-free environment.

  36. KaeLyn says:

    Personally, I think that PP just ought to say “yup, Margaret Sanger held a lot of offensive views with which the organization no longer agrees.” And I said as much during a discussion on the issue at the PP Organizing and Policy Summit.

    This must have been really interesting. I’d be interested to see what SisterSong or ACRJ says about Sanger. I am willing to agree, Cara, that what Sanger said and believed would be considered racist from our enlightened (let’s pretend we are) point of view today. And lest we forget Margaret wasn’t some lovely little birth-control-toting lady in a hat. She was a fierce, pioneering, radical, socialist, anti-establishment activist. In the period of time during which she lived, as you said, she would not have been considered racist. And she never suggested that we should wipe out the entire black community through eugenics. That’s what I think people that say she is “racist” don’t understand. But, nuance and political comfort aren’t a good reason to be disingenuous, so I take your points really seriously. Your comment about WOC being viewed as hysterical and mentally unstable, though, is well taken and I would love to read more of the sources you reference.

    And, you have got to tell me next week what kind of discussion you generated by making that comment at the Summit. :)

  37. scamps says:

    The “pro-abortion band list” is HIIIIII-larious reading! Half of them are there just because they’re associated with punkvoter.com (including my beloved Dropkick Murphys). And apparently “Rock The Vote” is pro-choice? So, basically, they’re threatened by anything that convinces young people to vote.

  38. Rebecca says:

    Sailorman, was this friend politically pro-life as well? Because IMO, while I disagree with the pro-life position, I can’t really have any objections to people holding it as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on others – and the minute he tried to debate he’d get shot down.

  39. Cara says:

    Try Killing the Black Body and Pregnancy and Power as two books. Both very, very good ones. And honestly, the reaction at the Summit was a really positive one! Surprised me too. Maybe people just weren’t in the mood to debate me or something, but I do know that several people in the room expressed their agreement and no one in the room argued.

  40. ShelbyWoo says:

    Personally, I think that PP just ought to say “yup, Margaret Sanger held a lot of offensive views with which the organization no longer agrees.”

    A quote from PP’s Sanger article:

    “Planned Parenthood Federation of America finds these views objectionable and outmoded. Nevertheless, anti-family planning activists continue to attack Sanger, who has been dead for over 30 years, because she is an easier target than the unassailable reputation of PPFA and the contemporary family planning movement. However, attempts to discredit the family planning movement because its early 20th-century founder was not a perfect model of early 21st-century values is like disavowing the Declaration of Independence because its author, Thomas Jefferson, bought and sold slaves.”

    Of course, the anti-choicers would have to actually read and willfully comprehend PP’s website to see that, but it is there.

    And apparently “Rock The Vote” is pro-choice?

    I read it as “Rock the Vote” the first time, too – it actually says “Rock for Choice.” I’ve never heard of Rock for Choice – I’m gonna have to check that out.

  41. Ambiguous says:

    ” I completely understand why a person could be morally opposed to abortion and why someone might choose to call themselves “pro-life,” but how anyone can be politically opposed to safe, legal abortion and reproductive health services?”

    Why is this hard to see? What you said is analogous to saying “I understand how somebody can be morally opposed to intentional killing. But How can you politically be against the death penalty?” Some people, right or wrong, value the life of an unborn fetus over the autonomy of the mother to choose to end that life and liberate herself from pregnancy. There’s no “logic” here – it’s all sentiment, just like most of morality.

    Also – can we PLEASE stop with the strawman / red herring arguments so prevalent in pro-choice rehotoric? It doesn’t serve the pro-choice cause to say “pro-life = anti birth control!!!” If you’re addressing abortion, stick with abortion. I would venture to say that most Americans who are opposed to abortion have no problem with birth control.

  42. Thomas says:

    (BTW, when I was 9, I declared that I didn’t want to have kids. The response: ‘Oh honey, you’ll change your mind when you’re older.’ Well, at 42 and counting, I still don’t want ‘em.)

    Kristen, ageism never seems to go out of style. When I was that age, my extended family told me I’d move to the right as an adult, especially on civil rights and distributional issues. As a young lawyer, lots of my colleagues told me I’d move to the right as an adult, especially on parenting issues. I’m in my mid thirties with a mortgage, kids and a corner office, and if I have not moved all that far left, the big change is that I’m now a lot more free to be louder about what I think. Heh.

  43. KaeLyn says:

    Thanks, Shelby, for that excerpt! :) I guess that is why PP calls it the “Truth About Margaret Sanger” not ” Margaret Sanger isn’t Racist.” Apparently, I’m off-message. Whoops. I’ll check out those books, Cara.

    Scamps – they want them to vote, but they want them to vote pro-life! And not be swayed by the “liberal media bias.” You know…

    Rock for Choice is a project of the Feminist Majority Foundation that began in 1991. Nirvana, Melissa Etheridge, and Cyndi Lauper have all participated.

  44. Daomadan says:

    What Cara said in 32. Brownfemipower has also blogged on this issue before as well: http://brownfemipower.com/archives/2365 and is well worth clicking to read.

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  46. CM says:

    I think the ONLY band I recongized on the “anti-life” (see what I did there?) list was freakin’ Switchfoot. Otherwise, I recognized not one of them. The pro-choice list, however, is chock full of some of my favorites!!

  47. the queen of cabbage says:

    Feminists for Life annoy the piss out of me. They are the “nice, sane, *feminist*” folks the rest of the movement can point to when they claim not be be misogynists.

    My anger settled a bit, though, when I realized FfL folks are fluffy bunny pro-lifers. I first encountered the term “fluffy bunny” when dealing with various pagans. The fluffy ones may or may not be weighed down with five pounds of pentacles and crystals, but they are the sort of people who will, among other things, swear there is no such thing as a truly dark goddess. Kali and the Morrigan are just misunderstood and smeared by the patriarchy, see.

    To me pagan fluffy-bunnyism sounds like it has a lot in common with the “no woman *really* wants an abortion–they deserve *better*… but it’s more fun to whine about other people’s fetuses than try to bring about universal health-care, etc.” bunch. The belief that all women are aching for motherhood even if they don’t know it seems to be deeply held by both groups.

    Then again, fluffy pagans aren’t trying to illegalize the, er, spiky pagans (though you really don’t want to invite them to the same parties).

    In short, I now consider the FfL twits who really need to rip off those rose-colored glasses of privilege and ignorance.

  48. NancyP says:

    Sanger started out as a radical, and later grew more conservative in part to establish relationships with Planned Parenthood major funders. She started out by offering services face to face with the poor, and ended up as a speaker and fundraiser without much contact with the poor and powerless. When she was trying to establish PP as an institution, and dealing with fundraising, eugenics went from obscure boring “science” to the latest social fashion. In short, she went from a client-based perspective to a “society” perspective biased by the usual white non-immigrant privilege. So yes, she became racist, classist, and anti-immigrant (specifically, those who followed the major wave of Ashkenazy Jewish immigration).

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  50. Cecca says:

    I was raised Catholic, so I understand a lot of pro-life rhetoric and how people could follow it. I even understand their desire to outlaw it – to be a true Christian you must strive to make this world a better place (by your particular subset of Christian values) and right injustices; for Catholic Pro-Life groups, this includes outlawing abortion. Which I personally think is bullsh*t; but that’s one of the big reasons why I’m lapsed.

    My problem with Christian pro-life groups, *especially* Catholic ones, is the restrictions on birth control and comprehensive sex ed. Jesus hung with tax collectors and whores; you think he didn’t wave his hand and cure an STI from time to time? For me, it all comes back around to the “judge not, lest ye be judged” thing, as well as the ideals of service. Catholics love service; we’re supposed to give to the communities in which we find ourselves, sharing love and all that jazz. Giving of what the Church perceives to be the holy message is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be great to allow people the information they need to live their lives safely should they choose not to accept said message?

    Yeah, I know, I’m hopelessly optimistic and naive.

  51. Lillabet says:

    As I have heard Ann Stone of Republicans for Choice say when addressing antis as well as pro choice Republicans…this issue boils down to a fight between those who trust women and those who do not…….either you trust women to make their own decisions in their life or you do not…and if you don’t trust them…why do you let them raise children without direct and constant supervision?

    Republicans advocate government get out of the Boardroom…why then would they invite government into the Bedroom…it does not make sense!! And Republicans for Choice have surveys showing that even a majority of Republicans feel this should be a personal decision….no wonder this issue gives them fits!!

  52. Farhat says:

    Catholics love service…

    As long as you define service as protecting kiddiefuckers. :-/

  53. vgnvxn says:

    Ugh Jes PLEASE do not compare vegans or animal rights activists with anti-choice people. I’m sorry you met some jerky AR people, but that is not representative of the movement. At all. If anything, that’s just the only voice the media chooses to highlight (a problem in feminism too- the OMG outraged feminist). There are people in EVERY movement that are judgmental and commit criminal acts that are outside the mainstream of the movement.

    What does AR activists fighting for regulating food production have to do with anything? There are many reasons why we support food regulation, including the health of workers, public health, consumer health (we care about them too), and animal wellness.

    In fact, pro-choice people want to increase regulations and make things illegal as well! We want to make parental consent and other paternalistic laws illegal. Pro-choice people think forcing pregnant teens to talk to their parents about getting an abortion is unethical. We think that requiring women to come back 24 hours later is unethical because among other things punishes lower-income women. There is intense passion in the pro-choice movement! It really irks me when people assume all vegans, animal rights activists, and feminists are hysterical, outrageous, weirdos trying to totally ruin society. We are normal people trying to improve society like other progressive groups.

  54. Amanda says:

    @41: I had that same conversation with my (then future) MIL. “When you get older and have more things you’ll change your mind.” I just turned around and walked away, because she’s got a history of freaking out when someone directly opposes her, and I was 1000 miles away from home with nowhere else to stay. I avoid contact with her whenever possible.

  55. Luke Bruner says:

    KaeLyn,

    Perhaps this link will help you better understand the pro-life position on this issue:

    http://www.conversiondiary.com/2008/01/how-i-became-pro-life.html

    It talks about how she became pro-life (and was part of her religious conversion). The article illustrates the differences I’ll talk about below. As someone who has studied the issue extensively in an academic way, I believe there are a number of fundamental issues, and these are:

    1) When does life begin?
    2) What value, exactly, does life in certain stages have?
    3) Once one establishes their views on 1 and 2, what is the moral weight of the action of abortion?

    Not only is there fundamental disagreement on questions 1 and 2… BUT 3 has big disagreements. For example, a pro-choicer looks at my views on questions 1 and 2… understands them… BUT then disagrees about my moral value judgment. The reverse is true, I look at a pro-choicers view on 1 and 2, understand their views, but then disagree about the moral value judgment they are making.

    KaeLyn, I hope you (and your readers) find this post helpful. Your lack of understand (and the lack of understanding found on the pro-life side) comes on issue 3. We (usually) understand what others think, but we almost never understand how those views are being applied as moral value judgments.

    I appreciate any constructive feedback.

    Yours in Christ,
    -Luke Bruner

  56. Dan says:

    KaeLyn:

    “I…believe that moral and religious ideologies are not reason enough to make laws.”

    “So, while I do get that some people connect their moral idealogies [sic] to political ideologies, I think it is a flawed way of thinking. That is what I am criticizing.”

    (Sorry, don’t know how to use the quote function here.)

    Just wanted to point out that at its core, the purpose of legislation is to define morals. This is why theft, murder, etc. are illegal. Even if Congress passes a law against drilling in ANWR, they are making a moral judgement stating that it is “better” to not drill there than to do so.

    What it comes down to is one’s philosophy. In this case, yours allows you to make a moral judgement that abortion is not murder and should be publicly-funded, and thus you act on this, trying to gain support for this position and supporting legislators (and legislation) who share your moral values.

    My apologies in advance for not answering anyone’s responses in these ‘comboxes’.

  57. Farhat says:

    Luke,

    TO me the difference in those ‘fundamental questions’ is completely immaterial. The only question that needs to be answered is does a person have an individual right to choose what happens with her body? If someone doesn’t want to have an abortion, great more power to them. If someone does, then again it is up to them?

    Hindus consider cows sacred and as worthy of protection as humans, how would you feel if they lobbied to outlaw any beef and divert taxes to keeping old cows comfortable?

  58. Farhat says:

    Screwed punctuation up there

  59. (a different) Sarah says:

    I don’t think anyone’s pointed this out yet specifically, but the vegan=anti-choice comparison also ignores the fact that vegans are opposing a behavior shared by lots of different people and groups, while anti-choicers are targeting the actions of *women only.*

    The comparison is, I think, too generous towards the anti-choicers. While both groups are (or at least claim to be, it varies from person to person) operating from a moral stance and trying to effect change based on their moral views, the targets of their morals are very different. If vegans went around calling women who eat burgers evil filthy sluts, then the parallel would be more apt, I think. :p

  60. (a different) Sarah says:

    …the phrase “evil filthy sluts” did not get my post sent to moderation. Did I mention I love this blog? ^^

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  62. Rebecca (liberal!Rebecca) says:

    No, Dan, the purpose of law is not to define morals. Laws that define morals, such as the old Texas law criminalizing sodomy, tend to eventually get struck down. Laws are to protect rights.

  63. sj says:

    Rights are a subset of morals, Rebecca.

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