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83 Responses

  1. EG
    EG January 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

    Beautiful post, beautifully written. The woman closest to me, whose abortion I knew most about (my contribution was to talk with her and give–requested–advice beforehand and then to come over with chicken soup afterwards and play scrabble with her), had no qualms and was fascinated by the whole procedure, but not everybody is like that. We need to represent her as well as other women in talking about women’s experiences of abortion, the whole spectrum. Thanks for doing this.

  2. Andie
    Andie January 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm |

    I second EG, this was a lovely post.

    It’s important that we share our stories. Abortion is painted as this horrible, awful, tragic, worst thing ever. Which is true for some people, sure. For other people it’s a relief, or it’s just kind of ambivalent. The reasons vary from person to person and all these narratives deserve airtime.

    When we don’t share our own stories, then we give more airtime to the wide-brush “irresponsible sluts” narratives that dominate the anti-choice movements.

  3. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune January 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

    Thirding EG and Andie. This was a lovely post and very thought-provoking.

  4. hotpot
    hotpot January 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

    Thirded. This post was great! As much as I support a woman’s right to choose, I have very little knowledge of what a typical abortion really looks like, and I suspect I’m not alone. I think “pro-voice” has the potential to be something very powerful.

  5. SaraC
    SaraC January 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm |

    Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Danny
    Danny January 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

    I keep up with feministe using their RSS feed and I don’t often feel the need to share a comment on your consistently awesome content. But I feel the need to say that this piece in particular was really fantastic. I feel like it explores a really underrepresented narrative in the whole “Pro-Choice Pro-Life” binary. I really hope you get Taja Lindley back to guest post and maybe explore some of these ideas and concepts in even more depth.

  7. Drahill
    Drahill January 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

    Some patients hold their breath—sometimes because the decision to have an abortion is made reluctantly. Their circumstances can feel coercive: a lost job, limited income, negotiating rent and bills with potential expenses of a baby, or having parents who refuse to support their young daughter’s pregnancy because it sets a “bad example” for their other children. Others hold their breath waiting for a change in their heart or mind that may never come, deciding finally, despite the discomfort, that an abortion is what they want to do, or what they feel they should do.

    Want, desire, and “choice” become murky concepts in a tangled web of social and economic inequality.

    I’m so happy you wrote this. I gew up with girls who’ve had abortions. Some of them chose it because it was what they wanted, or what they felt was best. Others did it not because they did not want to parent (a few emphatically did) but they had no jobs, or bad jobs, or bad housing, or no insurance, etc. I’ve always felt very strangely in those cases, because they felt so coercive. It always felt like such a situation represented a failure of the system, not a victory. I’m glad that there are advocates like yourself who recognize that choice does not happen in a vacuum and that we should be striving towards making political, social and economic coercion obsolete, regardless of in which direction it pushes.

  8. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan January 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

    Excellent introduction of some nuance to the whole thing! It’s not like there’s some sluts vs. moms divide when it comes to who gets abortions.

    (I can’t get the “1 in 3 women” link to work for me, though, just fyi.)

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan January 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

      Mostly I’m just curious if 1 in 3 women get abortions, or if the number of abortions equals 1/3 of the female population; obviously some women have multiple abortions, and the people who get abortions aren’t perfectly representative of the population as a whole (trending poor, non-white, etc.)

      1. Taja Lindley
        Taja Lindley January 22, 2013 at 11:38 pm |

        Guttmacher Institute has research and info graphics that indicate nearly 1 in 3 women will have an abortion http://www.guttmacher.org/

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 10:31 am |

          I actually saw that, I just wanted to know if they were surveying women to see who’d had an abortion, or if they’d merely divided the number of abortions by the number of women to reach their 1/3 value.

        2. Buttered Lilies
          Buttered Lilies January 24, 2013 at 9:25 am |

          They use the number of women getting their first abortion divided by the total number of women.

  9. wanttobeanon
    wanttobeanon January 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm |

    Am I the only person concerned about the idea of moving away from calling it pro-choice? Pro-voice just doesn’t capture it for me. Pro-choice is such a good way of stating clearly: I support the spectrum of reproductive options and believe each woman gets to make her own choices in pregnancy. Bam. Done. Pro-voice strikes me like a weakening of that statement. It sounds more like “everybody gto be able to say everything they want to about the issue.

    1. wanttobeanon
      wanttobeanon January 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

      Ooops, hit post comment too soon. Last sentence there: pro-voice sounds to me like “everybody gets to be able to say everything they want about this issue.”

    2. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan January 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

      No, I really like “pro-choice” as well. “Pro-voice” definitely sounds wishy-washier, like trying to validate everyone’s opinion no matter how fucking ridiculous. It also leaves out the actual action part; when you make a choice ideally you act on it, but when you give voice you’re not necessarily going to (be able to) act on it. It’s kinda like freedom of speech without anything to back it up — sure, people can say abortions are great, but they still can’t choose to get one!

    3. BabyRaptor
      BabyRaptor January 23, 2013 at 3:37 am |

      No, you’re not the only one. I don’t like “pro-voice” at all. The only people having a voice in a woman’s abortion decision should be the people she wants to trust with it. “Pro-voice” gives different connotations.

    4. matlun
      matlun January 23, 2013 at 7:16 am |

      “Pro-voice” does not work for me either, and honestly the critique of “pro-choice” does not make much sense to me at all (and I did read the OP and the linked material).

      “Pro-choice” is clear in that it should be the woman’s choice. That this choice can be a hard one to make is not a counter argument. Neither is there in the term any intrinsic judgment which choice should be made by the individual woman.

    5. Elenath
      Elenath January 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

      I always feel a sense of internal discomfort when terminology and phrasing is changed to something else despite the meaning being different. To me it is to create a low impact euphemism, as though the term ‘Pro-Choice’ has too much bad press or something and they would like to start afresh.

      But to me the ideals and ideas are the same and the concept is the same, so to change the phrasing seems at best an act of unneeded political correctness and, at worst, affirming that there is something ‘wrong’ with Pro-Choice.

      Just my opinion, no disrespect to the author who wrote a wonderfully balanced piece.

      1. EG
        EG January 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

        My two main concerns regarding “pro-choice” is that it is too euphemistic already (pro-women! pro-reproductive-rights!), but also that I have heard/read many women of color and poor women talk about how excluded they feel by the rhetoric of choice, because they feel that given their circumstances, they aren’t given much of a choice at all. If changing the term and the discourse makes the movement less alienating to those women, I’m all for it.

        1. The Last Selina
          The Last Selina January 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm |

          But couldn’t you say that about any abortion really? No one says “yippeeee, i choose to have an abortion!” That is sometimes how it is framed, granted, but it’s not the reality. If women could go back in time and not make a mistake, not have a birth control failure, not get raped, not have a fetus that is so deformed it will eventually die and effect their health, they wouldn’t have to choose an abortion or not. Adding the voices of women so poor so they would like a child but can’t only bolsters the pro-choice argument. Shouldn’t abortion always be a safe legal option or a choice for women precisely because life is so unfair and many women are in circumstances they don’t choose to be in?

        2. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm |

          I disagree. If I had become pregnant through birth control failure or absence of birth control when I was a teenager or in my early 20s, damn straight I would’ve been all “YAY ABORTION.” And I think it’s disingenuous to compare systemic, institutionalized inequality to random life events like birth-control failure.

          Further, I don’t think you can argue people out of feeling alienated. If you’re fine with alienating those people, that’s one thing, but if you’re not, you can’t really tell them that their feelings of alienation are wrong. It’s what gave rise to the development of reproductive justice as a concept that resonates far more with many women activists of color than “pro-choice” does.

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm |

          Sure, you can’t argue someone out of their feelings, but their feelings shouldn’t necessarily dictate the discourse either. Maybe we should adapt “pro-choice” to be more inclusive rather than just chucking it in favor of this no-more-inclusive “voice” weaksauce.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm |

          But couldn’t you say that about any abortion really? No one says “yippeeee, i choose to have an abortion!”

          I would. I do not want to bear a child. I do not have the money to bear a child. Pregnancy is a terror and a traumatic thing for me because Unrelated Reasons. You’re damn right I would choose to have an abortion, and you’re damn right I’d be outright gleeful I did. Fuck, I’m probably the only woman you’ll meet, too, who beamed her face off when told her combined medical issues made fertility unlikely.

        5. Andie
          Andie January 25, 2013 at 10:54 am |

          No one says “yippeeee, i choose to have an abortion!”

          Considering in my own case, it would come down to having an abortion or potentially dying from carrying a child, thus leaving my children motherless, add me to the “abortion, Yay!” group.

    6. The Last Selina
      The Last Selina January 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

      I 1000% hate the idea of changing the term pro-choice to something else. For one, it kind of erases the history of the many people who fought for a woman’s right to choose. Also, it’s weak to change the language just because the extreme right or the mainstream media frame the issue in a simplified manner. There will always be backlash from people interested in defending the status quo, so every term that is used to describe an advancement in human rights will end up being smeared by them. Our response should not be to change the language because we will end up changing it over and over. Why make it look like we are conceding our position even slightly? Isn’t being pro-choice completely reasonable in any given situation? We should be proud to call ourselves pro-choice.

      It reminds me a little of words like “post-feminist” or “progressive” instead of liberal. Feminist and liberal have become dirty words to some so there are people who want to distance themselves from them. I think the mere fact that those words are smeared means that the movements behind them are working. There would be no need to put them down if they weren’t a real threat to the status quo. It does mean that there will be certain stereotypes attached to those terms, like “humorless man hating feminists,” but how better to fight them than to identify yourself as a feminist and put a human face on it? Is it better to come up with a different term or to claim it and show people what pro-choice really means?

      You don’t have to accept the binary politics associated with reproductive rights by accepting the pro-choice label. Don’t let the other side dictate the language for us. Really, you are just accepting the straw man arguments the other side makes about what it means to be pro-choice if you reject that term. I would argue that most people realize that abortion is a nuanced issue that doesn’t happen in some sort of choice vacuum, if you will. Should we discuss the great points raised in the article? Of course! But we shouldn’t fight an imaginary bogeyman by abandoning our history and our language.

    7. Buttered Lilies
      Buttered Lilies January 24, 2013 at 9:35 am |

      I’m not a huge fan of pro-choice – both reproductive rights and reproductive justice strike more of a chord with me than choice does – but pro-voice is even more alienating. What if a woman doesn’t want to voice her experience, because it’s no one’s business or she can’t deal with the stigma or she just doesn’t feel like she has anything to say? Is she then left out of the movement?

  10. CanadaGoose
    CanadaGoose January 22, 2013 at 7:55 pm |

    I’m very old now and I’ve had two abortions. One illegal (early-sixties) and one legal (early 1970s, I think). I think of these events so rarely I can barely remember when they were.
    I don’t remember any feeling other than profound relief after the first. The second one didn’t even involve relief because I was living in NY and abortion was readily available if I wanted it.
    I don’t contest that many women have emotional responses to having an abortion but I believe it’s mostly a social construct.
    Most women having abortions are not attached to the embryo. In fact, they’re most often anxious to rid themselves of it as quickly as possible. And yet, the media message that it’s a baaaaaaaaaaaabbeeeeeee! is nonstop. Look at the babymania in magazines. Every woman, no matter how accomplished, is focused on motherhood with the intensity of a laser. It’s the female version of Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred.”
    For myself, I never felt the need to cry or grieve or pray, nor did I feel guilty. Because I did not do anything wrong. If we continue to accept the idea that abortion is wrong, should be hidden, something you should feel bad about, we’ll keep fighting these state-by-state skirmishes.

  11. (BFing)Sarah
    (BFing)Sarah January 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

    Thank you. This was beautiful. I know a woman who had an abortion that remembered it each and every anniversary of the procedure and on the due date she would have had the baby. When she told me about it, she cried. But she doesn’t regret it, because she feels that if she hadn’t had that abortion, she probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school, let alone college and graduate school. It hurt that it happened, but she’s so glad she had the choice. I do think society sets us up to think that abortion is evil and that many women internalize a feeling that it is baby killing and that being pregnant is a super special MAJIK sparkly feeling and that every life is ‘meant to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’. I think that’s reinforced all the time and I do think that’s part of why women feel so conflicted. But I also think that for some women (myself included), once you get pregnant at a time when you do not want to be pregnant, there just are no easy choices. It was hard to stay pregnant and it would have been hard to have an abortion. It was just…hard. A hard choice. That’s why it needs to be the choice of the woman in that position, not the choice of anyone else.

  12. a lawyer
    a lawyer January 23, 2013 at 8:19 am |

    Their circumstances can feel coercive: a lost job, limited income, negotiating rent and bills with potential expenses of a baby, or having parents who refuse to support their young daughter’s pregnancy because it sets a “bad example” for their other children.

    I think you’re failing to distinguish between “this is coercive” and “life involves a lot of hard choices.”

    1. Taja Lindley
      Taja Lindley January 23, 2013 at 10:22 am |

      Coercive is the word I meant to use. We enter into “choice” unequally because of structural, social and institutional inequality… which applies to the list of situations in the quote you provided.

      1. a lawyer
        a lawyer January 23, 2013 at 11:37 am |

        Sure. But inequality of bargaining power is not at all the same thing as coercion. Coercion is a subset of a lack of bargaining power which is best defined as “objectively inappropriate pressure.”

        You don’t get around the “objectively inappropriate” part just by starting off calling something coercive, or even unequal. You have to explain

        We all agree that it’s objectively inappropriate to say “get an abortion or your husband will beat you.” We call that coercive because we think that “not being beaten” is a objectively valuable (and nearly universal) right. And we all agree that it’s objectively inappropriate to say “get an abortion because you may starve to death if you don’t.” And so on.

        But “get an abortion or you may find that the ongoing demands of parenting interfere with your other competing life goals” is different and depends on what those goals are. If “life goals” are “go to college” then we don’t think it’s objectively a problem: we haven’t defined “go to college” as a universal human need.

        And that’s an easy one, because at least “go to college” is governmental in nature and is a few steps removed from direct effect on others. But a lot of people who argue for removing what they call “coercion” tend to ignore the realities of where that removal magically comes from.

        If “not having parents who refuse to support their young daughter’s pregnancy” is coercive, do we force (coerce) the parents to give the support? If “not having a co-parent who is actively involved” is coercive, do we force/coerce the co-parent to be involved? If “being limited by the finances of parenting” is coercive, do we force/coerce others to contribute their funds, to a kid who they don’t want? If “negotiating rent and bills with potential expenses of a baby” is coercive, do we force landlords to give their own money to mothers who they don’t know? And so on.

        The choice to have an abortion or not is entirely an individual one, and it’s a (relatively) simple thing to protect. We’ve done a balls-up job of protecting it, but we could at least do so.

        But part of what makes abortions so worthy of protection (and part of what makes ant-choice so ridiculous) is that they’re really not that big a deal. And as a result there’s nothing uber-special about aborting which means that we need to give the decision to abort some sort of super-special weight.

        I don’t see how you can reasonably argue that abortion choice is something which is so minor/normal as to require the government to butt the fuck out (my own position) and simultaneously argue that the choice is so major/special as to require government to make all sorts of arrangements and laws to support a particular freedom of choice, in a way which it doesn’t do for anything else.

    2. EG
      EG January 23, 2013 at 10:29 am |

      Institutionalized oppression is coercive, and you’re fooling yourself if you think that socio-economic class in the US isn’t about institutionalized oppression.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 11:09 am |

        Eh, I… don’t know. I feel pretty complex about it. Ideally, I’d like for a pro-choice nation (any pro-choice nation) to provide a decent amount of support for women who want to have children, so that they don’t have to choose abortion/adoption/raising a wanted child in utter poverty. I mean, if you WANT kids and want to do well by those kids, those are all really shitty options. But I’d probably also want a sliding scale on that aid, where a person with 1-2 kids would get more aid per child than a person with 3-4 kids (keeping in mind, obviously, that this is a hypothetical country which offers safe and reliable access to affordable abortions and birth control). Because, as harsh as it may seem to some people, I’ve grown up close enough to poverty (my parents being the first generation in four that we can reliably trace to claw themselves out of it) and in straitened enough circumstances in my childhood that I don’t think people *need* to have five kids they can’t feed. I’m sorry, I just don’t think that.

        I’ve heard enough horror stories from all my grandparents, and my parents too, to know that saying “well, but if someone who’s totally poor wants eight kids, who are you to fail to support them?” is a bullshit statement. The only reason my mother’s alive today is that my grandmother only had two kids, and therefore had the money to pay for my chronically ill mother’s soaring medical bills even though she was working a ridiculously low-paying job and living in an expensive city because it was one of a few where she could actually GET a decently paid job as an unskilled woman in the 70s in India. If she’d had six or eight like my great-grandparents did, they’d all have starved and my mother wouldn’t have lived to see 16, let alone 56.

        Other reasons: I grew up in the fertility doctrine; I don’t feel less disgusted by it when I see it disguised as choice feminism as when I see it flaunted as quiverfull patriarchy. Also, for fuck’s sake, there’s 7 billion of us on the fucking planet, and considering the relative consumption of one child in North America to one child in…anywhere else really, I’m not remotely interested in the government funding a bunch of white reactionary dominionist assholes. (Because seriously, if you think increased government funds for state support of children would ever go to poor black kids or the kids of undocumented immigrants or troubled kids in foster care, you’re fucking kidding me and it must be nice where you live. Black people get screwed six ways to Sunday on getting government aid for anything afaict.)

        So yeah. While I fully support state aid to working-class/poor mothers-to-be who want to be mothers, I don’t think the conversation’s as simple as “you shouldn’t feel restricted by your circumstances”. There are circumstances in which one really doesn’t need to have eighteen kids, Duggar-style. (They are all of them.)

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 11:10 am |

          Um. “You” is a general you, not you personally, EG.

        2. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 11:21 am |

          I hear what you’re saying, mac. But I also think that demographically, when women get reliable access to birth control and abortion, and when they can be reasonably sure that their children will survive to adulthood, the birth rate almost always drops radically, so I think the likelihood of a significant number of women deciding to have 18 kids is quite low. I know it does happen–usually motivated by religious ideology, as you say–but I’m not sure that the decisions of women motivated by religious ideology are going to be materially impacted by an adequate social welfare system. By which I mean that I honestly don’t know, because the way people like that think is so alien to me.

          I came of age when right-wingers were constantly claiming that women had MOAR BABIES in order to increase their welfare checks, and not only is that absurd when you look at the economics of babies and welfare, but I also think it really…misunderstands how and why people have babies. I mean, in the US, nobody accuses middle-class people of having babies in order to get the tax credit. So I’m very leery of arguments that providing adequate support for women and their families will cause them to have more babies, you know?

        3. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 11:26 am |

          I think you’re setting up a false construct. You are assuming that if fundamental needs are met, reproduction would become unrestrained. The overwhelming majority of women in the world have NO desire to mimic the Duggars (as an aside, can there be a Duggar Goodwin Law that prohibits invoking extreme religious outliers from entering the conversation unless they’re actually relevant?). You seem to overlook that having 18 kids (or hell, having 4 or 5) is really fucking HARD regardless of one’s economic station (hard on your body, etc). Most women, when polled about childbearing plans, indicate somewhere between the 1-4 range, regardless of their income level. Those who poll higher are generally of a religious bent that prioritizes reproduction.

          There is no evidence that providing the fundamentals of a decent life (suitable housing, a living wage, food, etc). incentives childbearing. If that was the case, wouldn;t it follow that the nations with the largest social ssafety nets would have childbearing rates that are above replacement level? But largely, that’s not the case.

          Listen, I’m like you. I grew up in near poverty and surrounded by it. The vast majority of poor people are well aware of their circumstances and by and large, when you see a poor women with multiple kids, its because her family lacks the ability to meaningfully control itself. I also work in public welfare and housing now, meeting poor people day in and out. I can assure you I have yet to meet the woman who says “Now that you hooked me up with some housing and welfare, I’m gonna get working on that next kid!”

          Maybe there’s a deeper point to what you’re trying to say, but I’m really not seeing it over the initial “OMG, if we give them money the Poors will start breeding more!”

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 11:32 am |

          I think the likelihood of a significant number of women deciding to have 18 kids is quite low. I know it does happen–usually motivated by religious ideology, as you say

          Honestly, I would argue that, outliers like Nadya WassnameIcan’tremember aside, nobody has 18 kids anymore except for religious ideology. Fuck, I’d say nobody has 6 kids anymore except for it.

          So I’m very leery of arguments that providing adequate support for women and their families will cause them to have more babies, you know?

          Eek, no, I wasn’t suggesting a causative effect! If anything, I was trying to work in the other direction – women claiming some sort of bizarre definition of “right to procreate” (Oh hi, quiverfull doctrines, lots of creepy Hindu fundie sects and a few creepy Muslim fundie sects, I’m looking at you) to suggest that NOT providing them with equal amounts of government aid for, say, 10 kids as opposed to 2 is some sort of persecution.

          I actually don’t think many poor, really poor, families have more (wanted/planned) kids than a couple. I really am more worried about one Random Reproduction Is A Necessity Dominionist than I am about 4 of Random Black Woman Just Trying To Raise Her Fucking Kids. And that’s probably really just selfish of me, because, honestly, four black women’s kids are less likely to grow up thinking it’s moral to kill me and my fellow brown people of non-US residence than that one fundie fucknut’s kids are.

        5. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 11:42 am |

          Mac, I’m sorta trying to think through the argument about “the right to procreate.” Personally, I think if the pro-choice ethos is taken to its natural conclusion, then there MUST be a right to procreate. The act of reproducing is, fundamentally, an act that I carry out within my own body and that I choose to do. Thus, if the choice to NOT reproduce is an act of bodily sovereignty, then the act of reproducing must be as well. The only difference is that, at the end of the day, reproducing results in a new, sovereign human while not reproducing does not.

          Personally, you will always have a few certain outliers who go beyond societal norms for whatever reasons. However, the outliers do not set the trend. There’s no evidence to support an argument that providing basic human needs to anybody increases the rate of reproduction (in fact, there’s an argument to be made that it reduces it). I can get that you were not arguing for a causative effect, but that is how your initial comment came across, especially with the reference to “don’t have children you can’t take care of.” (which is still a line from the right-wing playbook).

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 11:42 am |

          The overwhelming majority of women in the world have NO desire to mimic the Duggars (as an aside, can there be a Duggar Goodwin Law that prohibits invoking extreme religious outliers from entering the conversation unless they’re actually relevant?). You seem to overlook that having 18 kids (or hell, having 4 or 5) is really fucking HARD regardless of one’s economic station (hard on your body, etc).

          …you’re not serious. I’m from India, do you seriously think I’m overlooking population issues?! I’m trying to address fundamentalist reproductive bullshit here, NOT poverty.

          The vast majority of poor people are well aware of their circumstances and by and large, when you see a poor women with multiple kids, its because her family lacks the ability to meaningfully control itself.

          Hence my specifically pointing out that my hypothetical country has access to safe/reliable/affordable birth control AND abortions.

          Look, it’s like… India is currently being all the things that US society is avoiding by the skin of its teeth. There’s no safe abortions, no consistent access to birth control, no meaningful family planning if the husband doesn’t want it, etc. I’m just pointing out that “I’m feeling oppressed because I can’t have 2 kids” is maybe a more valid statement than “I’m feeling oppressed because I can’t have 12″.

        7. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 11:53 am |

          to suggest that NOT providing them with equal amounts of government aid for, say, 10 kids as opposed to 2 is some sort of persecution.

          Oh, I see. I think this is what I wasn’t getting, that this would…happen.

          But on the other hand, it would feel wrong to me to condemn those ten kids to a lousy standard of living because they had the misfortune to be born to religious fundie parents…goodness knows that their lives will be hard enough. I think that’s a real issue for me–once we’re talking about children, rather than pregnancies and abortions, we’re talking about people who have the same right to decent lives as anybody else, and depriving them of that sounds too much like visiting the sins of the parents on the children for me to be happy. I don’t want to stunt somebody’s life chances because of something zie can’t help…like Dominionist parents, you know?

          But yes, now I better understand the complexities of what you’re saying.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 11:53 am |

          Personally, I think if the pro-choice ethos is taken to its natural conclusion, then there MUST be a right to procreate.

          Yes, there is. But I also think that there’s a point to be made that people need to stop and take a damn look at their circumstances before they do it for the 5th time or whatever because a priest said so/they need a boy/god wants babies/Christ wants soldiers/Allah wants soldiers/sons send you to Vaikuntha/insert ass-backward fundie reason here.

          I’ll believe you if you say it’s not the case in the US, but coming from a country where people have 4,5, 6 kids usually because they’re waiting for THE ALMIGHTY MALECHILD (while cheerfully beating/raping/denying education/starving the ones who are not), I’m really fucking leery of people who want to have lots of kids Because Religious Reasons and yes, my instinct IS to disincentivise that. And I don’t think they’re as much of outliers as you or others here think; I certainly don’t think they’re a negligible voice in the US. I mean, you guys still have to fight to have evolution in your schools! You’re still teaching young-earth creationism to children! You guys have fucking flat-earth Jesus-rides-T-rex batshit people who’d be laughed out of Indian schools on day one! People in your governmental body can say shit about slavery being justified and they’re not being beaten in the streets for it!

          Forgive me if that seems just a bit too bizarre for me to not give US society the fisheye despite you saying that religious fundamentalists are outliers.

        9. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 11:53 am |

          Mac – yes, I’m aware that you are from India. I’m also aware that the overpopulation issue is largely overhyped (there’s a lot of evidence that the biggest problem is that resources are poorly distributed and consumed, but that’s a topic for another post). I’m also aware (as you are) that India is a country that is struggling with providing a social safety net that most of its citizens can’t utilize and that birth control access and use are not widespread or uniform. Not to suggest that the US is doing far better.

          Personally, you’re hanging your hat on “OMG there’s too many people!” to make some kind of argument in favor limiting reproduction of the Poors. Here’s what I always ask the overpopulation crowd – Why do you need to use the overpopulation hysteria to make women’s rights a tenable issue? Birth control and abortion should be available not because they’ll limit the babies the Poors can have, but because they are implicated in core issues of bodily sovereignty. Full stop. That’s all there is to it. And yes, if you believe in bodily sovereignty, you must believe in the right to use one’s body as one wishes, including the right to reproduce. You’re throwing out every strawman in the overpopulation manual right now, but none of them work.

        10. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

          Yes, there is. But I also think that there’s a point to be made that people need to stop and take a damn look at their circumstances before they do it for the 5th time or whatever because a priest said so/they need a boy/god wants babies/Christ wants soldiers/Allah wants soldiers/sons send you to Vaikuntha/insert ass-backward fundie reason here.

          Mac, you’re really not getting it. You keep talking about “look at your circumstances” as a justification for not having children. And the point is that most people DO look at the circumstances their in and DO in fact, plan accordingly. You’re acting as those the majority of people are spawning without any regard for actual circumstances. And that simply is not true. (And oh, for your viewing pleasure, here’s an article that talks about how India’s population growth has actually SLOWED dramatically recently and that demand for BC in India is high: http://www.colby.edu/personal/t/thtieten/Famplan.htm

          The fact remains that women everywhere want BC. Fundamentalism is losing in most regions – due to the fact that even most religious women do not want to subject their bodies to prolonged childbearing.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

          Personally, you’re hanging your hat on “OMG there’s too many people!” to make some kind of argument in favor limiting reproduction of the Poors.

          Actually, my argument was in favour of not providing as much aid to someone with many children as someone with fewer. If you consider that to be limiting reproduction, you are in fact arguing against yourself in saying that NOT PROVIDING EXTRA HELP is the same as NOT LETTING PEOPLE REPRODUCE. I mean, the logical conclusion of that is that providing aid makes people reproduce! (This is not a conclusion I support fwiw.)

          Here’s what I always ask the overpopulation crowd – Why do you need to use the overpopulation hysteria to make women’s rights a tenable issue? Birth control and abortion should be available not because they’ll limit the babies the Poors can have, but because they are implicated in core issues of bodily sovereignty.

          Yes, everyone has the right to reproduce in the abstract. I’m talking specifically about groups that are made to feel that they do not have a right to NOT reproduce, for whatever social reason, and pointing out that unlimited governmental aid is accidentally-or-not going to further those religious agendas. You may consider a woman who has 5 kids because the first four were daughters and she didn’t want to be killed to be “exercising her reproductive choice”. I do not. And again, I have been consistently saying that these concerns arise primarily in a society where abortion/BC ARE ALREADY safe/reliable/affordable.

        12. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |

          But mac, you’re undecutting yourself. You argue that somebody with more children should not receive as much aid as somebody with fewer. You began arguing for this by making a strawman argument about the Duggars.

          Secondly, you missed where I mentioned the rights enumerated above as HUMAN rights. That means that each child born to a woman has the same rights. Human rights attach due to one’s human status, nothing more. A child born to an “irresponsible” mother would have as much right to basic aid as a child born to a “good” mother, for no reason than that they both exist. Before the child is born, the choice of whether to give birth is within the sole sovereignty of the mother.

          Let me ask you a question: you’re arguing that in a society where BC and abortion are truly accessible, such limits on aid for more children are permissable because few women would voluntarily exceed those limits anyway. But here’s the big question: even if few women volunatraily choose to exceed the limits, why are they permissable even if they’d infring on the liberty of very few? Surely you know that even if a law infringes on the liberty of 1% of the populace, that law much be struck down.

          You’re effectively arguing that since the dis-incentives would not need to be applied very often, they are permissable. I’m arguing that even if they are applied very seldom (which we agree they would be), they would constitute a violation of the bodily sovereignty of the pregnant woman. It’s also worth noting that the aid would in effect be directed to the CHILD, who would have a right to it regardless of the circumstances of the birth.

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

          Let me ask you a question: you’re arguing that in a society where BC and abortion are truly accessible, such limits on aid for more children are permissable because few women would voluntarily exceed those limits anyway. But here’s the big question: even if few women volunatraily choose to exceed the limits, why are they permissable even if they’d infring on the liberty of very few? Surely you know that even if a law infringes on the liberty of 1% of the populace, that law much be struck down.

          Except “not giving aid” is not exactly an infringement of any liberty, is it? I mean, I currently receive no aid from the Indian government, but are any of my rights or liberties being infringed upon because of it? A person who isn’t being given money by a government is not in fact having a basic liberty curtailed. I mean, to take a totally bullshit example, I get 80% coverage on prescription medication, which I need for a certain condition. The condition actually responds better to regular swimming than to the medication. Unfortunately, I don’t get health insurance to cover swimming sessions. I don’t consider that to be a betrayal on behalf of my health insurance provider, I just see that as it not being their job to send me to the pool when I can get alternative resources from them that maybe work less but that I don’t pay as much for.

        14. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date January 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

          Actually, my argument was in favour of not providing as much aid to someone with many children as someone with fewer.

          I think that this would punish children for picking the wrong parents.

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

          It’s also worth noting that the aid would in effect be directed to the CHILD, who would have a right to it regardless of the circumstances of the birth.

          Well, okay, so let me propose something modest (allusion deliberate). All women can have as many children as they want, and then “extra” children will be raised separately, never seeing their mothers, but with their every physical need provided for. There, you have your hypothetical non-religious totally-not-coerced-person’s right to reproduce AND the child’s right to a good life taken care of. Sounds good? (Actually, sounds rubbish to me.)

          And btw, look, you know what, you can call overpopulation a strawman all you want. You can claim that resources aren’t being “properly distributed” (yeah, because us former colonies turning up at our former colonisers’ doorsteps to demand our resources back would go SO WELL) and that’s the only problem. Until you fix that problem, you still have a too many people problem.

        16. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

          Mac, I was addressing a restriction on liberty as the dis-incentive to reproduce – which is a reduction in aid (per your suggestion), not the refusal to give aid at all.

          But I think this is what Taja was getting at initially – that the dis-incentive itself is problematic. Also, as I keep saying, technically, it would be a violation of liberty as a matter of equal protection because the aid attaches to the CHILD, not to the mother. So effectively, to reduce aid to a family with, say, 5 kids as opposed to a family with 2, child # 5 would receive less aid for meals than Child #2 from the smaller family. Thus, two identical individuals whose only difference is the number of kids their mother has would effectively be treated differently based on birth status. So there ya go.

        17. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

          Okay, I’m getting way too angry about this and having way too much of that anger be about listening to fundies growing up, so I’m going to bow out. Drahill, I AM thinking about the things you said, and trying to shift my view re: India and the US.

          (BTW: I have a whole post’s worth of stuff on what’s going on in rural India, particularly my corner of it, re: your article on birth control and the population bulge beginning to recede. I just don’t want to be frothy and make my reactions all about watching my own family/friends’ families/neighbours’ fuckups. Which I’m increasingly worried they are, because I recognise how I feel about this.)

        18. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

          All women can have as many children as they want, and then “extra” children will be raised separately, never seeing their mothers, but with their every physical need provided for. There, you have your hypothetical non-religious totally-not-coerced-person’s right to reproduce AND the child’s right to a good life taken care of. Sounds good? (Actually, sounds rubbish to me.)

          Come on, mac. You know that’s a sadistic assault on women–we have the evidence of how that works out from the interviews done on girls who were forced to give up their babies in the 1950s-1970s to know that. It causes depression and lifelong suffering. Being a religious fundamentalist who makes what I think are lousy reproductive decisions for stupid reasons just doesn’t warrant that kind of emotional torture. And, eh, it brings in the same kind of horrible ideas as China’s one-child policy–if a woman has six kids and the one is taken away, but then an older one dies, does she get the sixth one back?

          And now I read your following comments, where you’re bowing out. Crap, I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re wrong about these ideologies. I just don’t think forcing the women who adhere to them and their children to suffer more than they already are is a good solution.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

          So, I’ve been thinking about it, and… okay, so I have a question. Let’s take me for an example. I’m in a same-sex relationship, I have one stepchild, that we are generally able to take care of. We don’t have enough for savings, but we don’t have to worry about food, shelter, bills, (small) medical expenses and the odd book/movie purchase or two. Now, assuming that I don’t get raped, there is literally no way for me to have an unplanned pregnancy. If I did have a planned pregnancy, and had, say, four kids, to take your example of 5 (though even one more child would strain our finances to breaking), naturally we’d be in utter poverty and have to rely on aid to get by. So, my question is, in a society where BC/abortion is readily/safely/affordably available (which would be analogous to my situation, as in it effectively creates a scenario where only planned/wanted pregnancies come to term), would it be justified for me to deliberately plan and have MORE children knowing that, with my disabilities, I can’t care for any more children physically, and with our current income, we can’t afford them either? I mean, yes, I have a right to reproduce, but doesn’t that come with the responsibility to provide, emotionally and physically and financially?

          Before you accuse me of throwing up a strawman, I should point out that I know many, many people who have chosen to stick with one or two children for these or similar reasons, including my parents and much of their generation in my extended family (who, curiously and inexplicably, are also the branches of my extended family currently not in economic distress). I am also aware that there are just a few countries in the world that provide sufficient BC/abortion access to make this scenario valid and that the US and India are not among them.

          Second scenario, with identical caveats re: no unplanned pregnancies. I’m filthy rich, because I own huge factories all over the world. Does that justify my having 15 kids (or 5 or anything above replacement level fertility) considering how many resources these kids are going to consume? What a huge carbon footprint these 15 kids are leaving behind? What about what unethical financial practices I might have to engage in to accelerate profits to provide for all 15 equally? How many kids in the global south are getting trampled on so mine can live?

          I don’t think the rich hypothetical me has a better case to make for many pregnancies than the poor one. I don’t think so at all. And before you come back at me with “overpopulation strawman” again (talk about recycling fundie lines, are you going to mention we can all fit in Texas?), do you sincerely believe that unchecked consumption of resources (which is a pattern I prefer to overpopulation, largely because it places the blame squarely at the door of the US and other industrialised countries rather than the much more sustainable Indian subcontinent btw) is a good thing?

          Also, honestly, I have a real issue with “right to procreate” narratives coming from anybody. Yes, absolutely, people have the right to carry pregnancies to term, but there’s all these skeevy ownership assumptions wrapped up in it that just disturb the shit out of me. I’ve brought it up before, on other threads, that people saying they have a right to procreate as much as they want always sounds suspiciously like the hidden rhetoric of parental ownership of children, which is, again, a fairly religious idea that leads to things like the US not ratifying the rights of the child because it interferes with “parental rights” (like the right to beat your child? Deny it medical treatment? wtf?)

        20. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

          Come on, mac. You know that’s a sadistic assault on women–we have the evidence of how that works out from the interviews done on girls who were forced to give up their babies in the 1950s-1970s to know that. It causes depression and lifelong suffering.

          EG, I KNOW. that’s my point; that there’s no good solution other than government aid, but that that’s also problematic given religiosity. And no worries, I’m back, albeit with questions rather than answers (which went into mod naturally).

          I just…I don’t know. I really hate that I’m having “overpopulation strawman” thrown at me by someone who’s likely never lived in a city where the sewage system was breaking down and people die because they get forced out of train windows by crowds pushing in and shit like that. I fucking defy people to go to India and China and then come back with “nope, no overpopulation there, lol”, just as much as I defy them to go to the US and come back wtih “nope, totally sustainable resource consumption, lol”. It’s bullshit. There’s too many of us.

          For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re wrong about these ideologies. I just don’t think forcing the women who adhere to them and their children to suffer more than they already are is a good solution.

          Eh, see, I don’t know about that either. Yes, I don’t want people to suffer…but I don’t want to incentivise religious fundamentalist bullshit either. I don’t know anymore.

        21. CanadaGoose
          CanadaGoose January 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm |

          When women have free access to birth control and abortion, the birthrate goes down. When women have access to education and jobs, the birthrate goes down.

          Pregnancy & birth are hazardous to women. They’re also very hard on the body. When women have “the right to choose” they choose to have smaller families.

          The quiverful people are not affected whether BC & abortion are available or not. They have as many kids as they can until the woman is completely broken down. They do not represent a large portion of the population and many of the kids born to fundies don’t stay. If they have any access at all to the wider world, the game is up. Once women learn there’s another way to live besides constant childbearing and it’s possible for them to live that way, the game is up.

        22. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

          Mac, okay, lemme try to address your scanarios:

          First, I think you’re not uncoupling the concepts I’m addressing. You are talking about the socio-moral responsibility of childbearing. I am talking about the legal obligations of the government towards the poor, a very particular class.

          For your first example: you are addressing the moral dimesnsion of whether a person should INTENTIONALLY (and let’s make that clear) create a child who they KNOW (and let’s make that clear as well) that they cannot care for. We’re not talking about people who know it’ll be tight and think they can get by or something like that. We’re talking a conscious, reasoned decision to bring a child into the world knowing it could not be cared for.

          The first question is what the child would actually want FOR. From a human rights perspective, if that child wants for basic food, basic housing, basic healthcare, or any of the other fundamentals identified in UN Human Rights standards, that child has an absolute right to them. Not because of the circumstances of their birth, but because of their human status. You are addressing a moral obligation on the part of parents to assess before reproducing. I am not. I am addressing that once that child is here, it is entitled to those things regardless. As is the mother, regardless. That is the point. Morality has nothing to little to do with it.

          Mac, you keep bringing up the buzzwords of “ethics.” I’m not arguing ethics. I’m arguing on the basis of human rights law that is recognized by the UN but sadly lagging in many nations. You need to drop the arguments that are rooted in ethics if you wanna keep arguing, because right now I can’t do anything but argue past you.

        23. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm |

          Not because of the circumstances of their birth, but because of their human status. You are addressing a moral obligation on the part of parents to assess before reproducing. I am not. I am addressing that once that child is here, it is entitled to those things regardless.

          Drahill, I think I’m calm enough now that I’m seeing what you’re getting at. You’re absolutely right that the child is entitled to food/shelter/medical expenses/education upon arrival. I’m not so sure about the parent (because, um, she did choose), but since parent and child are inextricably wound that way, I guess they get those rights too.

          You’re also right that I’m primarily looking at morality; my concern from comment #1 has been more or less that religious fundamentalism will chuck the morality of having kids that cannot be cared for under the bus of having to have kids no matter what, God will provide, etc. I don’t know what the solution is there, but I agree, you’re right; the child definitely deserves to be accommodated.

        24. Drahill
          Drahill January 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

          Mac, that is my point. I also have a legal problem with saying its okay for the government to dis-incentive childbearing through its awarding of aid to low income families (when the middle and upper classes, who don’t rely on such aid won’t feel such pressures). That’s always my main beef with the population issue arguments as well – they generally focus on restrictions on female liberty and concerns over the poor while not addressing more pertinent concerns such as access to BC and, more broadly, really poor living conditions that the power structure isn’t really interested in rectifying.

        25. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          The only difference is that, at the end of the day, reproducing results in a new, sovereign human while not reproducing does not.

          Whoa, back the hell up. That is a huge, fundamental difference between the right to abort and the right to have a child. When you abort there is not a person now depending on you who has their own set of human rights, rights that (frankly) many parents are shit at respecting. Children aren’t property; you don’t have a right to own a bunch of children even if you have the right to give birth to as many as humanly possible. That’s why we’re theoretically okay with unfit/abusive parents losing custody of their children, because the rights of the child to be cared for trump the rights of the parents to hold onto that child.

          Women have the right to completely control their own bodies, not to completely control the bodies of their offspring (anymore than men have that right.) Don’t mix up the right to bodily freedom with the “right” to parent.

        26. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

          Back the hell up yourself, Bagelsan. Choosing to have lots of kids is not evidence of child abuse, and the right to raise your kids when you are not abusive is not about owning children. It is about respecting human relationships.

        27. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

          Choosing to have lots of kids is not evidence of child abuse

          Why yes, if only I’d ever said or implied that. 9_9

        28. EG
          EG January 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          Bagelsan, you linked them in your post. You put them in the same paragraph, even.

          But OK, let’s ignore that you brought up removing children from abusive homes for, apparently, no reason, as it has nothing to do with the subject at hand. What, then, is your point? Why are you so eager to divorce the right to bear child from the right to raise them?

        29. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm |

          EG, I think Bagelsan was trying to separate the right to have children from the right to abuse them as property.

          Drahill, I have to run to class; will respond in a bit!

        30. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

          Why are you so eager to divorce the right to bear child from the right to raise them?

          Um, because they are super different? And I think only one of those two things should even be a right?

        31. EG
          EG January 25, 2013 at 12:20 am |

          So as far as you’re concerned, Bagelsan, there’s no right to have one of the most primary human relationships respected? Well, I think we’ve found the root of our disagreement right there.

        32. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan January 25, 2013 at 11:59 am |

          So as far as you’re concerned, Bagelsan, there’s no right to have one of the most primary human relationships respected? Well, I think we’ve found the root of our disagreement right there.

          Wrong. Children have a right to their parents, but those parents don’t have a right to said children. If parenting those children is seriously infringing on the rights of those kids then the parenting is what has to go, not the rights of the children.

        33. Donna L
          Donna L January 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

          Wrong. Children have a right to their parents, but those parents don’t have a right to said children. If parenting those children is seriously infringing on the rights of those kids then the parenting is what has to go, not the rights of the children.

          You are the one who is wrong here, Bagelsan. Rights do not have to be absolute to exist. The fact that a parent’s right to their child can be subordinated to a competing right under certain extreme circumstances, and can even be forfeited, doesn’t mean they don’t have that right absent such circumstances. Very few rights are absolute!

        34. EG
          EG January 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

          You’re just wrong about this, Bagelsan. Freedom of speech is a right, but we accept its abridgement under numerous circumstances: prisoners, soldiers, children–their right to freedom of speech is subordinated to other interests all the time. That doesn’t mean that freedom of speech isn’t a right.

          Further, your insistence on seeing this issue as a matter of one individual’s right rather than a matter of the rights of a relationship, or even individuals’ rights to relationships is very blinkered. People exist in relation to each other, not as atomized individuals only.

        35. EG
          EG January 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm |

          Further, Bagelsan, I don’t know if you’re being genuinely or willfully ignorant, but you act as though denying parents the right to their children doesn’t have a long and vile history as a mechanism of social control and destruction. Poor people’s children have been taken away as a condition of receiving aid. Unwed women and girls have had their children taken away in order to punish them and maintain social order. Jewish and Native American children have been taken away in order to destroy the morale and culture of their parents and people. The fact that you could argue, in the face of this history, that parents have no rights to their children is pretty disgusting. Those rights can certainly be overruled by more pressing concerns–the health and life of the child, for instance–but that’s a very different thing from denying their existence.

    3. AMM
      AMM January 23, 2013 at 11:18 am |

      I’m guessing that since the commenter is using the screen name “a lawyer,” zie is using the legal interpretation of the word “coercive,” which AFAIK is fairly narrow, narrower even than common usage.

      But then, Teh Law is by its very nature not in a position to recognize its society’s structural inequities and coercions, since it exists to preserve and protect the existing social systems, however unjust they may be. (Cf.: the Dred Scott decision.)

      1. Henry
        Henry January 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

        Cf Brown v. Board of Education, all the recent DOMA overturns etc. The Law is also a tool for sometimes exceedingly fast social change. People use tools to build what they want, the tool does not dictate the structure.

        1. EG
          EG January 25, 2013 at 12:17 am |

          Meh. Brown was a long, long time in the making, and they were finding that schools had yet to desegregate for many years after it was handed down. I really wouldn’t use it as an example of exceedingly fast social change, and I’d be pretty curious as to what percentage of schools are de facto segregated today, and what percentage actually have an integrated student body and faculty.

  13. Drahill
    Drahill January 23, 2013 at 11:46 am |

    I don’t see how you can reasonably argue that abortion choice is something which is so minor/normal as to require the government to butt the fuck out (my own position) and simultaneously argue that the choice is so major/special as to require government to make all sorts of arrangements and laws to support a particular freedom of choice, in a way which it doesn’t do for anything else.

    But that’s not what’s being argued. The rights being discussed – suitable housing, food, a living wage – are rights that are not contingent upon reproduction (nobody here’s saying you should only get those things if you’re a mother or pregnant). They are essential pre-requisites to ensuring that each pregnant person can make the choice of whether to have children in an environment free from any form of economic or social coercion (or pressure, for the legally-minded). Those rights and conditions should be present far before reproductive age. You’re misreading the entire piece if you think its about pregnant women demanding new handouts.

    1. a lawyer
      a lawyer January 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

      You’re misreading the entire piece if you think its about pregnant women demanding new handouts.

      I’m replying to a comment, not the OP.

      They are essential pre-requisites to ensuring that each pregnant person can make the choice of whether to have children in an environment free from any form of economic or social coercion (or pressure, for the legally-minded).

      First, I’m talking about the freedom to abort, which of course is not at all the same as the “choice of whether to have children.” See, e.g., fathers and adoptive/adoptee parents and lots of other non-pregnant people.

      But second, when you talk about making choices of ANY kind “in an environment free from any form of economic or social coercion (or pressure, for the legally-minded)” that brings two responses:

      1) It’s not being “legally-minded” to ask that you don’t call things “coercive” when they’re not. Words have meanings, and “coercive” has a very distinct and very negative one. If you want to include every possible negative outcome in coercion (major or minor), then coercion is useless and we’ll just have to invent a new word which means “negative outcomes that we really care about.” Might as well stick with “coercion”, right?

      2) It’s simply not possible to have “an environment free from any form of economic or social coercion.” Especially not how yuo’re using it.

      People are widely variable and will always have some sort of advantage over the other, whether it’s natural (“Jill is smarter than I am”) or caused by intervention (“in an effort to compensate for the fact that Jill is smarter than I am, the government gives me $1000, but the amount is too low/high”).

      And also, many of those coercion things are caused by other people. As a result, any effort to reduce coercion on one group tends to affect another group. The cure can be worse than the disease.

      So in the end we end up focusing on the WORST issues, to make sure that we’re not taking the wrong road. Which is why we focus on things like “make abortion legal for Sally!” instead of “change Sally’s life and surrounding society so that she can make a completely free choice for all parenting decisions, without any risk of any non-ideal outcomes!”

      And when you focus on the worst issues…. well, you’re back to my “coercion is limited” point.

      1. SophiaBlue
        SophiaBlue January 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm |

        1) Why is poverty something we shouldn’t really care about?

        2) Unfortunately you’re probably right that we cannot completely eliminate economic coercion, but this doesn’t mean we can’t reduce it.

  14. Elenath
    Elenath January 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

    When I had my abortion I was considered of ‘appropriate age’, I had a good job and a supportive partner whom I am was and am married to.

    So many of the few people who knew then and who know since, could not really understand my decision, as though being in a ‘good place’ to have children should or could overrule my simple desire not to have them.

    I am one of those women who does not ever want children, ever. They are fine for other people, I am not anti-breeding but I simply have zero desire for that direction in life.

    But hearing that and knowing I am unapologetically pro-choice people assume that the decision (despite it, to me, being a forgone conclusion) is one that would have no emotional ramifications for me.

    It was quite the opposite, I was emotional and guilt-ridden and for MANY months after was depressed. The very day of my abortion my brother (who had no idea) announced that he and his girlfriend were expecting their first child so it was a complex emotional situation for me, and the presence of their child (whom I adore) did for a long time FORCE me to think about the abortion as if I had proceeded to have a child then our children would have been roughly the same age.

    Every story, every person is different. Their opinion, views, emotions and outlooks are all individual and sometimes the emotional reaction you would expect yourself to have is NOT the one you receive. There seems to be an outlook that women who have abortions are either poor victims who are forced into it or emotionless and loose women who have no consideration for life at all.

    When, as this article eloquently states there is a full spectrum of people who have an abortion and they run the gauntlet of emotions. Because the women having abortions are just that . . .women, people, human, flesh and that indescribable life-spark that makes us all wholly unique. They are more than a stereotype, more than a statistic and they are 1 in 3 . . .which means you likely know at LEAST one person who has.

    Thank you for this article.

    1. EG
      EG January 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

      Just saying that I think that not wanting to be mother or have children is the best possible reason for having an abortion, and that I’m sorry your friends couldn’t see that and support you properly. You deserved to have good support. I hope you were able to find your way out of the depression you felt.

    2. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it.

  15. Wading in Uncomfortable Waters: Abortion and the Politics – Feministe - Let You Know Everything

    [...] Taken from: Wading in Uncomfortable Waters: Abortion and the Politics – Feministe [...]

  16. Danielle Gauld
    Danielle Gauld January 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm |

    OMG – thank you for this. Amidst all of the “opinions” and “beliefs” about abortion, it is refreshing to read a reminder that it is actually about women’s lived experience.

  17. Remembering those still waiting for the promise of Roe « Radical Doula

    [...] of shifting, of opening that make you believe that maybe we are heading in the right direction. Full-spectrum doulas, and the movement we’re apart of, give me hope. The internet and the community it builds [...]

  18. What do the purple people want in PRRI’s abortion poll?

    [...] indicate that many Americans find these identifiers both to be inadequate on their own — as Taja Lindley recently wrote, the polarizing politics of abortion present a stark binary view that doesn’t capture many [...]

  19. Wading in Uncomfortable Waters: Abortion and the Politics of Experience « Still Wading

    [...] posted at Feministe on January 22, [...]

  20. Remembering Those Still Waiting for the Promise of Roe « Still Wading

    [...] of her work as a doula supporting people across the spectrum of pregnancy, including abortion at Feministe. At Feministing, Ash Moore bravely shares her story of rape as a young person, and the decisions we [...]

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