Why I'm Pro-Choice | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Why I'm Pro-Choice

I'm beginning to believe that the pro-life movement is made up mainly of a tense alliance between very sincere, deeply religious people and very insincere, deeply cynical people. The people who make up these two very different groups seem to only have one thing in common: They believe that individual women are not in the best position to decide whether or not the zygote, embryo, or fetus they're carrying is a human being--and that the government is obligated to decide for them.

I can understand the sincere religious point of view on this quite well, because I'm not really comfortable with abortion beyond a certain point. Who can say when human life begins, or what makes a human life human?

No, I don't lose any sleep over whether the cluster of microscopic cells lining the uterine wall during the first week of pregnancy is self-aware. That being the case, it seems to me that the best way to avoid the moral difficulties posed by abortion is to make emergency contraception more readily available--but it's difficult to get emergency contraception under current law, so it isn't really a live option for all that many women.

At four weeks, the embryo is 1/8th of an inch long. At eight weeks, it's about an inch long. At fourteen weeks, the fetus is still only about three inches long. That's a 1.5" head. So it seems to me that the second best way to avoid the moral difficulties posed by abortion is to make it easier to detect pregnancies earlier and make sure that any folks who are considering abortion have the option available to them during the first trimester--as early as possible, before the fetus has developed significant brain tissue.

Most abortions are performed by the twelfth week of pregnancy, thank God.

I do lose a little sleep over second trimester abortions. I honestly have no idea at what point during the second, or third, trimester the developing fetus stops becoming a part of the woman's body and starts becoming a human being. I look forward to the day when post-first trimester abortions are barbaric things that people used to do, when they are seldom, if ever, practiced.

I think about how the government can help achieve this objective:

Work to increase access to birth control, especially among the poor and adolescents. Require health insurance companies (which generally cover Viagra and Cialis) to cover the pill.
Work to increase the availability of Plan B, the morning-after pill which prevents pregnancy, and RU-486, which will terminate a pregnancy at any time from the day after conception to day 64.
Make sure that first trimester abortions aren't prohibitively expensive, or otherwise difficult to obtain, so that women won't be forced to wait any later in the term than necessary to have them done.

This is my pro-life agenda, and nobody is promoting it better than Planned Parenthood. But you know who stands in the way of these objectives: Yeah, that's right. The pro-life movement.

Why?

Well, some folks in the movement operate from a religious perspective: They believe birth control is unnatural, and that the human soul is implanted at the moment of conception. That cuts out both birth control and emergency contraception as options for them. I don't understand why these folks need to work against birth control as an option for other people, but hey, at least it's not a mean-spirited point of view. I can respect it, and if it represented the pro-life movement in its entirety, I think we'd even be able to work with it.

But the quiet buzz I hear from certain other people in the movement is that it's all about accountability. Have sex out of wedlock, the argument goes, and there's a natural consequence that comes with it. The wages of sin is pregnancy, followed by 18 years of raising an unexpected daughter or son. (And if one happens to get an unwanted pregnancy within the blessed union of marriage, well, the better to settle into one's role as wife and mother--there is presumably no need to fool around with all that career stuff anyway.) Mess with the natural order of things by increasing access to birth control first, and emergency contraception and first trimester abortion later, and you promote sex. Forcing people into having their abortions later, when the fetus has more fully developed, is apparently a small price to pay for this opportunity to get back at people for getting laid.

How else to explain people the strange confluence of the pro-life and anti-gay movements--as in the case of Randall Terry, who claimed to be concerned about "the rights of the unborn" for years, and then abruptly shifted gears as soon as the hot new topic of gay marriage came around? Or terrorist Eric Rudolph, who bombed an abortion clinic...and a lesbian bar? Or the local blogger, best known for regularly posting anti-gay rants to fill up two active blogs concurrently, who--almost as an afterthought--used the phrase "nihilistic death-slut" to describe a local woman who took a pro-choice point of view?

I look forward to the day when decent people in the pro-life movement stand up and reclaim it from the hatemongers and charlatans who control it today. I look forward to the day when Americans can come together under the same umbrella to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies to begin with, and then to make sure that women who need abortions get tested and get them done as early as possible.

No, I don't think it'll happen anytime soon, either.

As the little graphic on the right indicates, this is my Blog for Choice. Over 200 of us are blogging on January 22nd to mark the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and while I can't speak for everybody else, I personally wouldn't call this a happy anniversary. It seems to me that the pro-choice movement has been forced to focus on basic legality issues for over three decades, and that's a pretty depressing place to be. Maybe we can make some real progress on this issue. Maybe we can reduce the need for abortion. Maybe we can work to make women's lives better. Maybe it won't take another 33 years.

Previous Comments

ID
104367
Comment

This is the most informative Blog for Choice entry I've seen today. No surprise that it's from Feministing: http://feministing.com/archives/002565.html Creepiest reference here, and it really backs up my point about so much of the so-called pro-life movement being just about punishing women for sex. With pregnancy. Or, failing that, with cancer. There's a vaccine out there that's 87% effective in preventing cervical cancer with no serious side effects--but "pro-life" activists are blocking it because women who have sex frequently are much more likely to contract cervical cancer, and that's a selling point in the abstinence-only education literature because condoms don't prevent it. Yeah. I couldn't believe it, either. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-22T16:09:30-06:00
ID
104368
Comment

Couple of thoughts/questions. Why don't insurance companies cover birth control when many of them cover Viagra? That ranks up there with bringing the death row inmate back to life so they could kill him, as one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Is someone making money off of this sort of nonsense (forgive my conspiracy theory, I just watched The Constant Gardner and am a little distrusting of pharmaceutical companies just now). I am part of the religious pro lifers, but I am not opposed to birth control. I agree that it is tragic that the pro life movement has become just that "a movement." I would personally rather see our collective national attitude be pro life (due to individuals loving human life), rather than groups who allow the "movement" to be the most important thing. That probably makes no sense, but what I mean is it seems pro lifers have forgotten what they stand for, protecting the unborn, not defending the "movement" at all costs. Maybe this will clear it up. Remember when Christianity used to be about Christ, but somewhere along the centuries it became about the church. Therefore things like mental reservation began to spring up because, even though Jesus would not lie or withold truth, surely He wouldn't mind if we do to protect the church (priest molestation scandal ring a bell). One last thing, vaguely still on topic. I feel much the same way about the Democratic party as you do about the pro life movement. Just as you wish the good pro life people would reclaim it from the charlatans and hatemongers (amen to that), I wish the good folks who are sincerely interested in helping the poor and needy would stand up and take back the Democratic party from the extremists who have become the face of it in recent years (goodbye michael moore and howard dean, hello barak obama). I am with the dems on war as a LAST OPTION and giving the poor the tools to succeed and the help to stay afloat during the process, but I can't go along with some of the crazies who dominate the news. Similarly I am with the republicans on their conservative beliefs, but can't go along with the warmongers that are more worried about arming "allies" in hot zones than feeding and providing health care for citizens in America.

Author
brandon
Date
2006-01-23T11:56:27-06:00
ID
104369
Comment

Emergency contraception is misunderstood. It does not terminate a pregnancy. Most "morning after pills", or the emergency contraception that is in use today, if taken 72 hours after unprotected sex stops conception from occuring at all. These are just high doses of normal birth control pills. There is no "pregnancy". It terminates NOTHING. It simply stops the whole process before it begins. (Sorry for the caps, but their argument against this one makes no sense).

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-23T12:11:16-06:00
ID
104370
Comment

Sorry, I just realized I took the caps out so it wouldnt' seem I was yelling ;)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-23T12:12:18-06:00
ID
104371
Comment

Brandon, Good question! There are two explanations for the Viagra/Cialis thing, one charitable, one cynical. The charitable interpretation is that erectile disfunction is a disease, while pregnancy is a normal state, so (in theory) Viagra and Cialis--correcting, as they do, a disease--would be more insurable than elective medication meant to alter natural body processes. The cynical interpretation is that old men who can't get it up are a more lucrative demographic than the young women they'd like to have affairs with. Your point about Christianity/churchianity is a darned good one. I'm in no position to be a standard-bearer for Christian orthodoxy, but I worry sometimes about where the idea of a powerful institutional church came from, because it seems to me that Jesus was deliberately poor and countercultural. When I see a church get too rich, too focused on church property, for example, I look at that as a kind of disease. Same thing with a pro-life movement that is more focused on winning seats in Congress in hopes of achieving an elusive Christian Reconstructionist government, rather than actually reducing the number of abortions. It's depressing because one of the things I do have in common with folks in the pro-life movement--one of the things I think many of the most politically active pro-choicers, actually, have in common with the pro-life movement--is that we really, really don't like abortions. It's a painful, gruesome, expensive procedure for the woman, not even to speak of the philosophical beginning-of-life issues we need to look at. So the ideal would be women who never get pregnant in the first place, through one form or another (thanks, Ali) of contraception. And I actually agree with you 100% on the Democratic Party; I think Michael Moore and Howard Dean have their place, but they've become entirely too shrill. I used to absolutely love Dean, but "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for" is a terribly stupid thing to say, and promising a Senate takeover in 2006 seems awfully unrealistic. As for Moore, I think he's a good provocateur but a lousy standard-bearer. He's gotten way too orthodox. He needs to start doing things that tweak people on the left, too, or he'll just turn himself into a commodity, where a Michael Moore film is unproductively light entertainment for some people and unproductively harsh criticism for others--kind of like a left-wing O'Reilly Factor or Scarborough Country. Donna's perspective on political parties--"I hate 'em all"--kind of rings true for me, too. I briefly considered being a Democratic Party activist. Decided I didn't like the Party as a whole enough to do that. My problem is not with candidates who are too liberal, or even with candidates who are too conservative; it's with candidates who have nothing worthwhile to do or say, and are just kind of there. Ronnie Shows ran against Chip Pickering on an anti-NAFTA, the Mexicans are taking our jobs platform with an occasional anti-gay segue. I found that so horribly offensive that I really felt bad about voting for him, even though I knew he'd lose. Now I'm convinced that I made a mistake; I should have joined the majority and supported Pickering. I don't agree with his principles, but at least he seems to have a few. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-23T15:40:31-06:00
ID
104372
Comment

Ali, I actually knew this, but you'd never know it from my clumsy wording. :P I'll correct that. Thanks! Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-23T15:44:00-06:00
ID
104373
Comment

Oh, I wasn't yelling at YOU, Tom. I was just yelling. I'm sort of "I hate everybody" today. :) It happens.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-23T16:00:22-06:00
ID
104374
Comment

This is my position on the abortion issue: I do agree that human life is sacred. I do not believe in the ABC principle, that is Abortion=Birth Control. It is a position I have evolved into as I have advanced in my spiritual walk. That is why I have sponsored legislation in the past to limit abortions to the first trimester. I think it is a legal medical procedure that should be used only in extreme cases, such as the health of the mother, rape and incest, but if Roe is overtuned, I would not oppose the state, if they wanted abandon the practice, for we only have one on-demand clinic in the state as it is. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe, I hope to be in a position to provide funding for family crisis prevention centers, for they will need it to be able to cater to the young women that will need that assistance. I also support more funding for abstinence education, to continue to decrease the numbers of women who would seek abortions. I believe in accessibility for adoptions, that is why I support a tax credit for adoptive couples. I am opposed to the death penalty and to euthanasia as well. In all fairness, though, I have not limited "life" to just the issue of pregnancy. I am committed to make every citizen's quality of life better than what it is now, especially on the issues of health care, wealth building and retirement security. I don't know if this is a pro-life or a pro-choice position, given today's political climate, but that is what I believe. I used to be one of those folks that volunteered to escort women into clinics. Now after becoming a father myself, I find it hard to justify any position that deals with affirming abortion other than the fact that if the decision is made to overturn Roe, that somehow the right of privacy is not sacrificed in the process. That maybe optimistic, but I believe it can be possible. I do not oppose conventional birth control or the morning after pill, but in my profession as an abstinence educator, I cannot discuss it as an option in the classroom, due to federal funding restrictions. I think that exacerbates the problem tremendously, for I do not think that abstinence and birth control are mutually exclusive. But that's just my take on it.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-01-23T23:16:07-06:00
ID
104375
Comment

Rep. Fleming- No disrespect intended, but during my short time here on Earth, I've actually heard a Nun stand up in front of a crowd of educators and say "Abstinence doesn't work." (Rather than meaning actual "abstinence" she meant programs that push it as a form of birth control over a really great comprehensive sexual education program) This is a woman that has worked in these programs for years. Minus it being one of the more ironic and entertaining moments of my life, I was wondering how you felt about the efficacy of abstinence programs? And, how it makes you feel to not be able to discuss these viable options (birth control) in a classroom. I've worked with at risk youth for seven years, and the fact that MS can't get behind a sex ed program who's MAIN purpose is the primary prevention of teen pregnancy is just ridiculous. One that focuses on the actual factors that effect teenage pregnancy (like self esteem, knowledge about your body) I have numerous children in my care who believe you can "wash off" sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies if you bathe after sex. Most of these children are over the age of fifteen. This is deplorable. Eighty percent of them end up with children before the age of eighteen. Most of them have at least one STD along with the pregnancy. They do this because they have no support, and although "abstinence" programs are a dime a dozen, I still get kids who are pregnant and have NO KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER about the inner workings of their "bodies". One pregnant fourteen year old I knew wasn't quite sure "how" she had gotten pregnant. She thought she was still a virgin. I believe MS needs programs that teach women how their bodies WORK, how to protect their bodies, and how to keep them healthy. All of these factors go under "Abortion" for me. ALL of these factors tie into abortion factors. All of these factors tie into "Women's Issues". You cannot expect a state to have a decrease in abortions or unplanned pregnancy without good sexual education, support, and good birth control options. It makes no sense. Abstinence programs are not going to address this. The old wive's tale that "sex ed" condones sex is ridiculous. These kids are DOING IT ANYWAY. Its nature. If they don't know anything, or aren't taught anything, regarding birth control, emergency contraception, or how an actual baby is "made" , this will not change. I'm fairly militant about female productive rights. I make no apologies for it. Until women, especially our poorer, less educated women, have the right to good sex education and safe care this will not be an issue to me that men can banter about with the safe knowledge they will never have to make these decisions. Until our lawmakers can get inside the head of my FEMALE CHILDREN and understand their lives, this issue will never be resolved. I'm not degrading the "spiritual walk" that afforded you this belief in what is "right" and what is 'wrong". I'm simply asking that legislatures not make decisions for other populations based upon their personal "spiritual walk", but rather, based upon an understanding of their constituent's life. An understanding that their "walk" has yet to begin. An understanding that sometimes their walk is not going to include actions that are not supported by your religious beliefs. Reproductive rights for women are not spiritual. They are a basic fundamental right that all females should be afforded. These rights include a safe and affordable abortion. Not MORE abstinence education.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-24T08:46:59-06:00
ID
104376
Comment

An understanding that sometimes their walk is not going to include actions that are not supported by your religious beliefs. Sorry I meant "An understanding that sometimes their walk is going to include actions that are not supported by your religious beliefs."

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-24T08:50:31-06:00
ID
104377
Comment

"Your point about Christianity/churchianity is a darned good one. I'm in no position to be a standard-bearer for Christian orthodoxy, but I worry sometimes about where the idea of a powerful institutional church came from, because it seems to me that Jesus was deliberately poor and countercultural. When I see a church get too rich, too focused on church property, for example, I look at that as a kind of disease." Ali had a good quote about this a short while ago. I don't remember what article it was in (maybe she does), but I liked it enough that I included it in my ever growing book of quotes that I love. I don't have the link, but here is the quote, "I figured out very young that church 'buildings' were just stupid. God doesn't want all those BUILDINGS. He never really fought for ten million dollar churches with TV screens and childcare. In fact, to me the people who built that church have LOST THE POINT.....and have done it in a stupendous and very expensive way." It reminded me of the beginning of Matthew 24 when, after a scathing rebuke of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23), the apostles lauded the temple and surrounding buildings, only to have Jesus casually dismiss them by saying not even one stone would be left upon another. Clearly His primary concern was not with the building. I have a theory that churches only engage in large multi million dollar building programs to make themselves feel like they are doing something. Since they aren't carrying out the great commission or taking care of the poor, they need to feel they are doing something and a building program meets that need.

Author
brandon
Date
2006-01-24T11:30:31-06:00
ID
104378
Comment

Brandon-that wasn't an article. I think it was simply another thread on this blog. I have no idea which one it is. Thanks for the compliment. :)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-24T11:42:36-06:00
ID
104379
Comment

Tom, has anyone ever told you that you you bear a strong resemblance to the actor Peter Dinklage? If you haven't seen him he was in the Station Agent, Elf, and the short lived CBS alien show Threshold. If you've never seen him you should google him and see what you think.

Author
brandon
Date
2006-01-24T13:08:05-06:00
ID
104380
Comment

"I also support more funding for abstinence education, to continue to decrease the numbers of women who would seek abortions." - Fleming Erik, I'm with Ali on this one. Abstinence programs have been proven time and time again not to work... (link | link | link) They fail for several reasons. For one, many promote the whole notion of abstinence-until-marriage. Well, as a gay man, you're not helping me... You're not helping young, gay men, a demographic that has high-risk when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Many of these classes don't even discuss the concept of homosexuality from a biological, sexual, or social perspective. Most of these abstinence-only programs do little-to-no-good. I recall one study where people schooled in abstinence-only had a higher incidence of STDs because they actually lacked the information needed to protect themselves and had no clue of "risky" behavior. Sex education should be SEX EDUCATION. Talking about not having sex does not educate one on the joy, risk, and baggage that sex can bring. "I believe in accessibility for adoptions, that is why I support a tax credit for adoptive couples." - Fleming I'm curious why a credit for adoptive couples only? Coming from a gay perspective, I plan to adopt. Have every intent to adopt and if needed take it all the way to the Supreme Court or another country to do so... It's not because I'm gay and "can't have children" because I can. It's because I was adopted and know from experience how adoption helps individuals, children and society. So, why offer a credit to couples that adopt? Why not anyone that can adopt --- especially in Mississippi? I say especially in Mississippi because a gay individual can adopt but a gay or unmarried couple is not allowed the same priviledge. Sorry for swaying OT a bit.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-01-24T13:58:14-06:00
ID
104381
Comment

Wow. Lots of good posts, which pleases me--I was beginning to wonder if this was the only forum on Earth where abortion was not a controversial topic. On some of the old BBS's I used to call, it was actually banned as a topic because it was seen as too volatile, but everyone here seems like a grownup. First, a response to Erik... And apologies to advance, because you probably feel like Custer right now, so I'll try to make this gentle and focus on the issue at hand. You write: I do agree that human life is sacred. I don't; I believe that human lives are sacred. Erik, when a woman gives birth, two big, slimy, living things come out of her body. One is the baby. The other is the placenta. The baby is of supreme worth, in my view. But there's a reason doctors don't rush to the ICU trying to save the placenta. But is it human, and is it alive? Unquestionably, just as a kidney or spleen or ovum or sperm cell is human and alive. The issue at hand, IMHO, is at what point the zygote, embryo, or fetus becomes more like the baby and less like the placenta. Nobody is denying that even an unfertilized ovum is an example of human life. But is it, in and of itself, a human life? A separate human life from the mother? And if it isn't, when does it become one? The second the sperm hits it? If so, why? When it starts having the basic physical structure that a fetus later will, but is the size of a grain of rice? If so, why? An embryo is not conscious and cannot become conscious until it becomes something else. The same could be said of a sperm or egg. Where do we draw the line? I'm not saying you're wrong--your position on this issue is humane and one I can respect, especially when considered in light of your position on the death penalty. You are pro-life and consistently pro-life, not merely part of the pro-life movement. But to say that one believes in the sacredness of human life is like saying that one believes in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Neither speaks to the issue at hand. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-24T17:29:44-06:00
ID
104382
Comment

Ali, good post. But let me take Erik's side just a little bit on abstinence education... Kids and teenagers growing up are under a huge amount of social pressure to get laid. The fact that their bodies send them messages corroborating what society is telling them does not help. Parental neglect does not help. And the truth is that, sex being the very spontaneous and messy activity that it is, there is no such thing as completely safe sex for an inexperienced 15-year-old, no matter how many bananas, no matter how many condoms. I'm also concerned that minors pressured into having sex are having sex without full consent. The situaton is not completely unlike rape, which is why we have statutory rape laws. While it makes no sense to punish two minors for having sex, it does make sense to do what we can to make it socially acceptable not to have sex. Take it from someone who was homeschooled and remembers: It is not socially acceptable among your peers, even in Mississippi, to be a late-teenage virgin outside of religious circles. People do not respect that as the personal decision that it is. They try to figure out what's wrong with you, what it is about you that makes you sexually unappealing--so if you're a little overweight or what have you, they assume that's why you "can't" get laid. Nobody who's 17 and a virgin (especially girls, as you probably know better than I do) is likely to go around admitting it, except at church camp. It's considered shameful. And that's a predatory attitude to have to deal with. There's no other word for it. If the state of Mississippi wants to do an abstinence campaign to fight some of that, I'm all for it. We have proof that anti-smoking campaigns, if they're done well, work. There's no reason, in principle, why the same could not be said for abstinence. But what I agree 100% on is that abstinence is no substitute for sex education, and they're not the same thing. And of the two, sex education is much more important--because clearly kids are having sex already, and we need to address that urgent need rather than fantasizing about changing the entire culture in the blink of an eye. You also write: ...this will not be an issue to me that men can banter about with the safe knowledge they will never have to make these decisions. Sister, men are half the voting demographic, they just gave us eight years of Bush, and they're eight of the nine votes on the Supreme Court. So if we're serious about reproductive rights, men need to be talking about abortion more, not less. They just need to stop silencing women--and to be rational and educated enough about it that they develop some deference to the fact that these are other people's lives that they're talking about and that they'll never face an unwanted pregnancy themselves. It's sort of like whites talking about racial discrimination. Yes, whites need to talk about it much more--but with an understanding of how things like privilege and entitlement work. Unfortunately, many of the anti-abortion movement does not care about privilege and entitlement. But then they're the same folks who are most likely to ignore appeals by women to stop talking about abortion, which makes them even more likely to be overrepresented in the public debate. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-24T17:47:07-06:00
ID
104383
Comment

"many of the anti-abortion movement" --> "many of the folks in the anti-abortion movement." Ugh. Left two words out there.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-24T17:48:28-06:00
ID
104384
Comment

...and an addendum that applies to my post to Erik and the last paragraph of my post to Ali. The issue at hand is not at what point a zygote, embryo, or fetus becomes human. The state is in no position to prove its case on that matter. I believe what I said in the first paragraph of my blog entry: The real issue is whether the state should resolve this philosophical conundrum across the board, or whether the decision should rest with the individual who is actually pregnant. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-24T17:51:35-06:00
ID
104385
Comment

brandon, what a powerful post. And agreed. I like (and have probably quoted before) G.K. Chesterton's comment that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, but rather been found difficult and never tried. Jesus' teachings are incredibly difficult. I'm amazed that anybody on Earth thinks they're living by them, and if it's anybody who has his own television show and wears diamond-studded ties, I know he's trippin'. Nobody's ever told me that I resemble Peter Dinklage, but thanks. I actually am a pretty big fan of the guy. A little taller, maybe, but now that you mention it, I can see the resemblance. Hrm. I always thought of myself as looking a little bit like a skinnier Zero Mostel. (I don't look a thing like he did in The Producers, but there was a movie he made about an angel, late in life, where I found myself wondering if that's exactly how I'd look when I'm 70.) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-24T17:56:17-06:00
ID
104386
Comment

Knol, you bring up an interesting, and I think wholly relevant, point. Abstinence education, right now, simply doesn't apply to a huge chunk of the target audience. Gay teens will not be impressed by abstinence education curricula that misrepresent homosexuality. They also aren't very likely to become pregnant and need abortions, but I do have to question the value of any abstinence education program that presents marriage as the ideal instead of long-term monogamous relationships. To do that, you essentially have to rely on a religious argument while trying not to make it look religious--so it becomes very much like teaching intelligent design in biology classes. I think there is a very strong secular argument to be made for the acceptability of abstinence that is not being made, and it has the added virtue of being feminist. And agreed on adoption--no state or legislator that opposes adoption by gay couples or unmarried long-term heterosexual couples is really in a position to take credit for making adoptions easier, because the rule seems to be "Yes, we want more parents to adopt children--but only if the parents live a lifestyle that conforms to my religious beliefs." Not very helpful. One thing I will back Erik up on, BTW, is the "spiritual walk" point. As much as I oppose anything resembling theocracy, good legislators vote with their conscience, and it's hard to find any conscience that has not been at least indirectly informed by religion, so we may as well admit that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-24T18:04:09-06:00
ID
104387
Comment

Let me tell you about what I do as an abstinence educator. I talk to young people about human anatomy, psychology, sexual orientation and dealing with peers on the topic of sex. A student asked me once, "Are you referring to homosexuals when you talk about abstinence and relationships?" My answer was "Yes, sex is sex, period, regardless of orientation." I pride myself on talking to young people, straightforwardly, about abstinence. I don't have any grand illusions that I convinced 100% of the audience to abstain, but I know that I reached someone who was about to make a choice to have sex and then decided not to. I am not part of the zealot group that don't get any training before they go out and espouse their beliefs. I do research extensively and convey scientific knowledge to those I talk to. One of my strong points is that I can talk to them about the songs they listen to and build lessons from them. Now having said that, I briefly spoke to a group called Catholics for Choice and stated that a comprehensive program that teaches the benefits of abstinence and birth control, while working within the framework of scientific knowledge of human sexuality and psychology is the best course, but the government has restricted that, creating a dynamic where those that teach abstinence and those that teach about contraception are pitted against each other, fighting for the same federal dollars. That is wrong. The two work hand-in-hand. If that was not true, then why does Congress finance both programs? I don't pretend to speak for women on this issue. It is a hard choice for a woman to terminate her pregnancy, for it is not a natural tendency. However, when I, as a policymaker, see what is going on, I have some responsibility to speak on the subject and try to do something about it. It is hard to be labeled IMHO as progressive or conservative when you are talking about an issue like abortion. Nobody I know condones it, but what do you do when you are confronted with it? Admittedly, my perspective changed dramatically when I became a father, witnessing firsthand the total gestation process, so maybe I am skewed in my viewpoint. I just think rational people will have to come up with a solution, and stop letting emotion and political rhetoric dictate the conversation. I understand, TH, what you are trying to say, but I don't think a placenta is really a living organism anymore than human waste is. But your point is well taken that life is more than just biological function, that is why in human development we go through stages and experiences, both physically and mentally. However, gestation is a stage of life, and therefore, I respect it as such.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-01-24T23:15:29-06:00
ID
104388
Comment

BTW, for the record, I did publicly oppose the anti-gay marriage amendment. I felt it was discriminatory. Besides, even though the Bible speaks negatively about homosexuality, primarily in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the argument against gay marriage came from the insurance industry, not the church, because they did not want to recognize who you chose as a beneficiary, even though you paid for the policy. The Bible also teaches us not to judge, for we all will face judgement ourselves. I was asked by a true progressive female, "why did you vote against the amendment, if your religious beliefs frown on homosexuality?" I said, "Because the Bible teaches us tolerance and admonishes us to act justly." I try to apply that philosophy across the board on issues. To the untrained, it may seem like I am all over the political spectrum, but in all actuality, I am consistent, based on my conscience and belief system IMHO.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-01-24T23:33:31-06:00
ID
104389
Comment

Erik, you are what I like to call a Christ-like Christian. I admire that. Seriously.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-01-25T00:50:08-06:00
ID
104390
Comment

Thanks, Knol. I am by no means a person without spot, blemish or wrinkle, but as I continue my spiritual journey, I seek to do God's will, especially in this glorious calling He has bestowed on me called public service. I have enjoyed this dialogue that TH started. I only wish the discourse in politics overall could be this passionate and civil. I will try to exert my influence as a candidate to make this campaign one that will rival the Lincoln-Douglass debates as far as having a true discussion of the issues. I will not have 100% agreement on my positions, for you cannot please everyone, but I hope that the majoirty of the voters will see my sincerity and vote accordingly.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-01-25T08:18:23-06:00
ID
104391
Comment

Thought I would throw this into the mix. It explains my views, says the F-word a lot, and does it ALL in a way better than I could have... End is very good. The strength of the reproductive-rights movement is in its diversity and ability to welcome dialogue, debate, and difference. True choice means more than just the option not to become a mom. We need to safeguard all forms of consensual sexual expression, including sodomy and kink, for "choice" to truly matter. The pro-choice movement and the GLBT movement should work together to ensure our right to sexual autonomy. We need to provide cultural, social, and financial support for struggling parents so more women can embrace the choice to have kids. Just because you wouldn't have an abortion doesn't give you the right to decide for someone else. My mom is ardently pro-choice, even though, after giving birth to me prematurely at 26 weeks, her outlook changed. "After that, I could never have had an abortion. But I support a woman's right to choose; quality of life matters for both parent and child." We're entitled to believe in a woman's right to choose whom she fucks, how she protects herself, and what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, without supporting every tenet of pro-choice ideology or the reasoning behind Roe. We don't have to like any given woman's reason for aborting–it's her body, not ours. I'm all for encouraging sexual responsibility and safety. In an ideal world, everyone who doesn't want to get pregnant would use protection, and it would work. But when unwanted pregnancies occur, women shouldn't be punished by having to give birth. In an old Our Bodies, Ourselves I saw a photo of a woman holding a placard reading "Menstruation Is Murder." As a teenager, I couldn't begin to fathom the meaning of such extremism, but now it's clear her motto is the natural extrapolation of anti-choice logic. On the other hand, the socialists at my alma mater had Day-Glo stickers proclaiming "I Fuck to Come, Not to Conceive." I found those too bold, perhaps because many of us who fuck for pleasure, our own and our partners', will also be those who fuck to conceive some day. People have sex for many reasons–pleasure, boredom, curiosity, peer pressure, and, yes, baby-making. It's presumptuous, condescending, and infuriating to be told what my reasons should be. I'm pro-choice because I couldn't fully enjoy sex were I consumed with worry about the potential consequences. I'm pro-choice for all my friends who've had abortions and gone on to do great things, who are better women for being childless (for now). I'm pro-choice for the new moms and dads I know who were able to actively choose to become parents. I'm pro-choice for all those babies, like my new cousin Adam, born knowing they're 100 percent loved and wanted.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-25T13:40:51-06:00
ID
104392
Comment

Love the article, with one reservation: I'm pro-choice because I couldn't fully enjoy sex were I consumed with worry about the potential consequences. Is she really saying here that sex, even in a world where abortion is legal, is in-consequential? I mean, I'm not in any position to tell folks what they should and shouldn't think about sex, obviously, but for me it's a really weighty thing, loaded with emotional consequences if nothing else. I also don't like the f***-for-pleasure/f***-to-conceive dichotomy, as if there's no such thing as makin' love. It just seems to me to be a very stark, a very depressing and mechanistic, view of sex. Don't get me wrong--I don't mean to be so hard on the author, and I like most of what the article has to say, especially the argument that the pro-choice movement and the pro-LGBT movement are in many respects the same thing--but this statement really leaves me cold. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-25T15:57:45-06:00
ID
104393
Comment

Mmm. Love the way the article is written, let me put it that way. About to run an errand so won't say more right now, but I'll catch up when I get back. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-25T16:31:37-06:00
ID
104394
Comment

Tom, ever the diplomat. :)

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-01-25T17:48:49-06:00
ID
104395
Comment

Back. Now, about that article... - I don't think it's really fair to pro-lifers like Erik, who aren't anti-LGBT. - The "Menstruation Kills" placard is actually a pro-choice standard, intended as a reductio ad absurdum of the pro-life position. Otherwise, pretty much perfect. I especially agree with this line: We don't have to like any given woman's reason for aborting–it's her body, not ours. As far as I'm concerned, as a voter and as a spectator-commentator, abortion is a jurisdictional issue. A woman's body is not a U.S. state or territory, and as such the government is only authorized to intervene in an abortion if it can prove that a person is being killed, and not just a part of a woman's body. And it can't. The best politicians can do is cite the Bible and their personal feelings. That isn't enough to override the sovereignty of a woman's body, IMHO. That said, I have a whale of a lot of respect for non-antigay pro-lifers who are honestly acting out of a concern for the unborn, and not out of the kinds of motives described in this article. I think Erik and Brandon are two examples of sincere pro-lifers. I think there are probably a lot of sincere pro-lifers in Mississippi, and I'd be happy to do anything I can to work with them and provide better alternatives to abortion. Because I've never met a woman who told me "I want to get pregnant so I can have an abortion; that's fun." Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-25T17:51:39-06:00
ID
104396
Comment

Ali, I aim to please. :D Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-25T17:52:28-06:00
ID
104397
Comment

It took me a while to look at this thread because I didn't know whether or not things would get nasty here. So far, you all have been pretty civil. :-) As I've said on other threads, I don't like labels, but I guess you could call me pro-none of my business. As for ME, I made the personal decision to abstain until marriage and not have any abortions due to my Christian beliefs. However, since I don't live under a rock and have enough common sense to know that everyone doesn't think like me, I'd rather just stay out of other women's business as to what they do. Since we live in a democracy instead of a theocracy, I say the government should do the same. Brandon and Rep. Fleming, I appreciate your comments. You guys definitely sound like Christ-like Christians to me. I think more true Christians are starting to distance themselves from the "churchy" people who care more about bake sales than saving lives.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-01-29T12:09:09-06:00
ID
104398
Comment

L.W. writes: As for ME, I made the personal decision to abstain until marriage and not have any abortions due to my Christian beliefs. However, since I don't live under a rock and have enough common sense to know that everyone doesn't think like me, I'd rather just stay out of other women's business as to what they do. Since we live in a democracy instead of a theocracy, I say the government should do the same. Good post, Latasha; thanks. I see a lot of myself in that paragraph. I plan on ideally only having one sexual partner during my lifetime, and I doubt anything I ever do personally will necessitate anybody having to make a decision about abortion, but I feel very strongly that women should have the option. If we can say that the government can restrict the right of a woman to have a first-term abortion without ever actually establishing that the embryo or early term fetus is a human being, then we make a very strong statement about just how small a woman's jurisdictional boundaries, so to speak, are. But 100 years from now, I doubt many people will be having or needing abortions in the sense we understand them today. We're a few pharmaceutical breakthroughs away from perfect, can't-miss birth control and a few social breakthroughs away from making it universally available. If we can just achieve those goals, we'll be able to abolish abortion the old fashioned way: By making it obsolete. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-29T15:02:12-06:00
ID
104399
Comment

You're welcome, Tom. BTW, did you see this already? I think it ties in with the discussion a little (ha ha).

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-01-29T20:15:03-06:00
ID
104400
Comment

Something that worries me, Tom is that the ideal people would have of the pro-life movement is "We don't do that, and don't wanna tell you otherwise." What good does that do? I'm pro-life, from the perspective that it's a rotten form of birth control. I don't believe the death penalty is doing much good either. Both ends of the debate require serious change in society to get beyond. Society, on the other hand, is currently run by people who've honed the use of lust and greed to drive humanity into buying their goods. We live in an age of it, and our values as a culture reflect that. What few notice is that society doesn't value restraint anymore. As Tom has pointed out, and I can attest to, is that society views a person as somehow defective if they're not out trying to "score". That is sick. Respect should be given to all, no matter how they live their lives. Normally I hesitate in debating this issue, but I think I can trust everyone here to be nice. :)

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-02-02T20:34:39-06:00
ID
104401
Comment

What few notice is that society doesn't value restraint anymore. As Tom has pointed out, and I can attest to, is that society views a person as somehow defective if they're not out trying to "score". That is sick. I can attest to that. In my freshman year of college, other students never saw me flirting with, holding hands or kissing any guys on campus, so some thought I was a lesbian. That couldn't be further from the truth. (It was the 1990's, and I was still getting over my LeVar Burton crush). I was just taught not to be "easy". Anyway, I dated a couple of guys a few months later, and rumors spread that I was going from one dorm room to another asking for a condom! (Truth was, I participated in a paid AIDS awareness workshop, and my assignment one night was to give away some condoms. I didn't sleep with either of them, THANK GOD.) One person that I know of was still saying this about me, and she told this lie eight years later to some friends I used to go to church with, not to mention throwing in some garbage about me practicing voodoo. Voodoo, hoodoo, whatever...I don't believe in that stuff. Bottom line is, it's a challenge to be chaste in this society. (BTW, I was ticked when that "40-Year Old Virgin" movie came out, even though I'm not 40.) It's a catch-22. It seems like people want you to be completely innocent or a slut, and there is justification for both on each side. I think the world would be a much better place if everyone would take care of their own issues instead of turning their nose up at other people.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-02-02T22:31:39-06:00
ID
104402
Comment

s*** = s l u t. Wow, wasn't expecting that.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-02-02T22:33:53-06:00
ID
104403
Comment

L.W., missed your earlier post. Yeah, the baby-on-board stuff is pretty darned hilarious. The hope of these laws, of course, is that if enough of them are passed, an argument can then be made to the Supreme Court at a later date that community standards recognize the fetus as a person. IG, good post. Your paragraph is one that I can certainly agree with: What few notice is that society doesn't value restraint anymore. As Tom has pointed out, and I can attest to, is that society views a person as somehow defective if they're not out trying to "score". That is sick. Respect should be given to all, no matter how they live their lives. Hollywood sells us the myth of the nymph--sexuality and sexual innocence somehow permanently entwined, youth, perfect beauty, no responsibilities to tie anyone down (ever notice that in all of the '80s "Brat Pack" movies, everybody's a friggin' orphan?!), and, of course, no non-fashionable disabilities of any kind. Without spoiling any movie plots, let's just say that I spent about five hours over lunch a few months ago chatting with a religion and women's studies professor who uses a wheelchair herself, and has written extensively on disability and culture. She pointed out the spate of fashionable "cure or kill" movies that came out in 2004--where the implicit idea is that if quadriplegics or even paraplegics can't somehow be cured and made to walk again, they not only will want to end their own lives, but should somehow be expected to do so. This is the wrong message to send. And as L.W. has pointed out in other threads, treatment of mental illness is equally weird. Either you're a defective savant (Monk, Rain Man) or you're just plain defective. Which is ludicrous, given that no American who lives to adulthood--the surveys say "almost no," I say no--has gone through life without at least passing through one mental illness, and the only issue is how many of us are in denial. L.W., amen, amen, and amen. Though FWIW, I expected to be very offended at The 40-Year-Old Virgin and, after reading reviews and seeing clips from it, came to the conclusion that it's probably a funny, sweet little movie. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-02-03T00:41:03-06:00
ID
104404
Comment

I don't know if I would be considered pro-life or not. I am, but only when it comes to me. I have no right to tell others that there is one way to do things. It's their choice, and their right to make that decision. No one elses. After having two children, and being now 40+ years old, if a miracle happened and I became pregnant again, I would be happy... after they picked me up off the floor from my fainting spell. :) I do believe, if you don't want to get pregnant, true abstinence is the only way to go. Anything else, there's a chance. But knowledge is power, as they said in Schoolhouse Rock: knowing about your own body and knowing the consequences of your actions is the big thing. As parents, we should be teaching our children about sex. Many don't. That's why schools now have sex education courses. It's sad to me that the schools even need to have this, because I feel this is firmlly the responsibility of parents. But at least children are getting the information.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2006-02-19T01:14:08-06:00
ID
104405
Comment

...because I feel this is firmlly the responsibility of parents... Firmly. I can speel, honestly. I just can't tyep. :)

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2006-02-19T01:15:42-06:00
ID
104406
Comment

"Who can say when human life begins, or what makes a human life human?" Biologists can, and they will tell you that human life begins at conception. Peace,

Author
Kendrick Johnson
Date
2006-02-26T10:47:20-06:00
ID
104407
Comment

OFF TOPIC: Kendrick, I checked out your blog. I can't even imagine what I would be like if I knew a member of Switchfoot was wearing MY T-shirt! I'd probably pass out...

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-02-26T19:05:21-06:00
ID
104408
Comment

Tom, For your reference, RU-486 is NOT the morning after pill/Plan B/emergency contraception. Plan B/Levonorgestrel is nothing more than a higher dose of the birth control pills many women take on a daily basis. It's used within the first 72 hours after intercourse to prevent a fertilized egg (if there is one) from implanting in the uterine lining. RU-486/ Mifespristone-Mifeprex, on the other hand, is a true abortifacient. It can be used until eight weeks after conception. FYI Chairman Nunnelee believes that the morning after pill IS chemical abortion, and is likely to include it in his version of the bill. DHG ProChoiceMisssissippi.Org

Author
Deirdra Harris Glover
Date
2006-03-29T10:45:14-06:00
ID
104409
Comment

Deirdra, That was actually a typo on my part. Ali corrected me on it above, but I never got around to fixing it. I'll fix it now. Thanks. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-30T13:57:30-06:00

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus