I’m A Pro-Life Feminist, And It’s Uncomfortable

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First of all, before I get dragged across the internet for being anti-woman, let me explain that I’m a feminist. I believe in gender equality. I don’t believe in gender roles. Equal pay for everyone, access to safe and reliable birth control, and busting through the glass ceiling like nobody’s business give me life. End rape culture. End slut-shaming. Stop the perverse disparities and double standards our society teaches of men and women. I want women as CEOs, women as tenured professors, and someday, though I don’t love Hillary, I want to see a woman as President of the United States. Women deserve to be treated with respect across cultures and continents. They ought to be allowed to drive. They ought not to be digitally chopped into pieces for marketing campaigns. Women deserve to not have their bodies exploited. They deserve not to be trafficked. They deserve to be loved and protected and cherished by their partners, families, and society.

And women deserve to have autonomy over their own bodies.

But man, there are some problems with abortion that I can’t look past. Adversely, there are many, many problem with pro-life that I don’t even try to overcome. To be completely candid, I believe the fact that I am of a religious background contributes to my pro-life agenda. But I would also like to think that I’m a thoughtful, deliberate person who doesn’t come to complex moral decisions lightly. A liberal, almost always on the left, a sometimes-socialist all about SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, I consider the ethical implications of the positions I take for months, sometimes even years. And I’ve made the decision to fall on the side of pro-life, but before you boo me off the stage, hear me out.

For someone to be anti-abortion, they would have to believe that all life is precious, valuable, and worthy of protection. They would have to believe that the child in the womb is as important as the individual carrying the chid. They would have to consider the child as someone with rights, including the legal right to protection which supercedes the mother’s legal and constitutional right to privacy, to make private healthcare decisions between herself and her doctor. For someone to be anti-abortion, they would have to care about the safety of the child more than the bodily autonomy of the person carrying the child.

You see, to force someone to carry out an unwanted pregnancy is terrible; it’s sickening. The very idea alarms me to my core. Consent is mandatory in every part of life; why should this be any different? If a mother does not consent to a child living in her body, then why should the fetus’s right to life supercede the wishes of the mother?

These are the questions I ask myself and wrestle with. The importance of women having healthcare that is safe and accessible cannot be overstated. Her right to privacy is also essential. How could I, an advocate for women’s rights, a woman myself, be pro-life?

But this is the thing: I am completely, 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, convinced of the childness of the fetus in the womb. I have no doubt that the “lump of unformed cells” is in fact, a human being, one imbued with divine breath, the very spark of God. At eighteen days, the child’s heart is beating. At eight weeks, all organs are functioning. At nine weeks, the baby has fingerprints. At ten weeks, the child is capable of feeling pain. Calling it a blob of tissue, calling it a few cells and chromosomes, well, that isn’t fooling anyone. An acorn becomes a tree. A tadpole becomes a frog. At whatever state of development, the genetic markings are the same. The DNA tells the story. In this case, we are talking about the story of a life.

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The fact that I’m pro-life doesn’t mean I’m going to be sticking my nose into women’s private healthcare decisions. It doesn’t mean I judge people who have had abortions or who will have abortions. It doesn’t mean I will vote for Congressmen or Senators who have a strong anti-abortion agenda. At the end of the day, the fact that I’m pro-life applies to me. It means I will not have an abortion if I get pregnant. It means that I believe abortion is not right. And, if anyone wanted to know, here is how I see some of the arguments for abortion failing:

1: It’s a woman’s choice what she does with her own body.

What about the person in the womb? Aren’t some of them also women? Do those women not deserve legal protection because they aren’t self-sustaining? Or do they deserve the same basic dignity we afford any other member of the human race?

2. Carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is cruel and unusual torture.

I agree that the thought is reprehensible and alarming. But if we truly believe that the cell formation in the womb is human life (and I do), then I don’t believe nine months is too much of a sacrifice to make to ensure that life is kept safe.

3. What if she was raped, or the child was a product of incest?

I believe it is devastating to consider the moral implications of this. I find it shocking and terrible to think that a woman could have her autonomy taken, first by an assault she did not consent to, and then, a pregnancy occurring as a result of that assault. But I also know a woman who was conceived in rape, and I think it would be shocking to say that her life is not valuable. The generational pain of being conceived in incest is also devastating, but taking another human being’s life is more devastating.

4. What if the child has a birth defect or a disability?

I don’t care. Aborting a child because they have a disability is ableist as all get-out.

5. What if the child has a life-threatening illness, a birth defect that will render their lives miserable because of suffering, or the mother’s health may be in detriment?

These are the gray areas I don’t know what to do with. Many who want to carry their pregnancies to term are willing to take these risks, but for those who aren’t, these are the kinds of deal-breakers that would lead to back-alley abortion practices. Some would say to leave it in the hands of God, but not everyone is religious. I can only say that a child outside of the womb with a life-threatening illness would be cared for, so why should it be any different in the womb?

If the mother’s life is in detriment, I feel that she must make the decision about what to do with her health care providor. This may be the only point at which I believe abortion may be necessary.

prolifeAnd yet, as much as I feel all these things, I don’t like pro-lifers. I find their rhetoric disgusting, as well as their obfuscation of the facts. I believe they can be emotionally manipulative and unethical in their PSAs, that they are often polarizing, and that they can be anti-woman. I don’t like their insistance that a child be born, but their utter dismissal and disregard of whether that born child is fed, cared for, has access to education, has a stable home life, is loved, is desired, is valued. I don’t like the way pro-life people sneakily undermine women’s access to healthcare. I don’t like how they twist facts and information (as with the Planned Parenthood “scandal”) to suit their political agendas. Long story short, I find most pro-life people terrible. Luckily, I don’t believe that I have to throw my lot in with them to support women and children.

So, how does my pro-life belief system work out for me? First of all, I know that this belief is personal and one which I don’t force on others. I do not tell women what choices to make. I acknowledge that I have a religious factor that plays into my belief system. I acknowledge that I believe life begins at conception. I acknowledge that issues of classism and race play into the decision to carry a child to term, and that some women, due to poverty, instability, and limited ability, are less able to bear the financial and physical burden of carrying a pregnancy to term. I do not stigmatize or judge others for their personal healthcare choices. I support them. I love them. I pray for them.

And I vote for legislators who ensure that a child born is a child who has access to healthcare, a child born is a child who will receive an education, that a mother in need will be able to receive help from the state to keep a roof over her head and food in her childrens’ mouths. I do not allow my pro-life beliefs to stop at birth: they roll over into the actual born life of the infant. I vote for politicians who do not cut funding to women, to children, to education, to healthcare, and to welfare programs. State-support of women in need could be the single greatest factor to limiting abortions, far more ethical and humane than making abortion illegal or impossible, because no matter what, people will get abortions. But what really takes away any choice in having a child is when the financial and emotional burden is too great for a woman to bear. We can alleviate that additional strain by voting for politicians who advocate for women’s health, and women’s healthcare rights.

The strongest stance that I will take, is to say that I believe abortion is wrong, yet I also understand that it is exceedingly complex and personal. But at the end of the day, life deserves to be protected. All lives. The life of the mother, and the life of the child. Equally.

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19 thoughts on “I’m A Pro-Life Feminist, And It’s Uncomfortable

  1. I really relate to this. I hate the political rhetoric. As a woman who at one point said she would never have kids or get married and was not religious who later got married, got back into faith and willingly had a child, I know that things can change your mind, that life can change radically in an instant. That’s why I think that every child, wanted or unwanted, may just change the world, or even if they don’t, they should get the chance to. But, you can’t patrol everyone. We’re all sinners, people will do what they will do and you just have to live your best life and influence people with your own example (and not by telling them what your doing, just by living your life the best you can) while loving and understanding people in all walks of life. Well-written, thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Thank you for writing this, as a person of faith, I feel the same, all life is precious. However, I find the pro-life/anti-abortion activists totally repulsive. Former President Clinton said it best regarding abortion, ‘it should be legal and it should be rare’ (paraphrasing).

  3. If people are educated (since we are all human and do idiotic things from time to time) and aware of their options, I don’t think people will be getting abortions as frequently as “pro-lifers” exaggerate. It’s a safety net.
    You make money, you have cash. In a huge emergency, it’s nice to know sometimes you have a credit card, but that doesn’t mean you need to use it. And if you do use it, you need to be wary of the consequences.

    ” I vote for legislators who ensure that a child born is a child who has access to healthcare, a child born is a child who will receive an education, that a mother in need will be able to receive help from the state to keep a roof over her head and food in her childrens’ mouths.”

    And if that type of environment were able to be created and mothers were able to get extra support, I do not see any reason for abortions. But people WILL use abortion as the “go-to” of sexually active people. It’s not. Give them condoms, give them birth control in another way or form, explain to them masturbation and abstinence and other ways to prevent pregnancy in that fashion.

    Pro-Life people do not seem to believe that giving a better child-raising environment for the mother may help eliminate her want of an abortion during tough times. “Because if you’re having sex, you’re ready for a child!” Not necessarily the case anymore.

    I do not feel I can be articulate anymore, so I will end here. Thank you for sharing. /end thought/

    1. I’m glad I could help. I need to fix some stats, such as I was wrong about babies feeling pain at ten weeks. I’m glad some of this spoke to you and helped in some way, though ❤

  4. I think your writing is really great and I have read a few things you have written and found what you say really interesting, I don’t share your opinion on this but I think you have spoken in a balanced, considered way. I was wondering though what you think about non-human life – killing animals for meat, fur, hunting? I’m interested purely because you say that all life is valuable and made by God. It may seem like a strange thing to ask but I am genuinely interested!

  5. It seems to me that what you’ve described is pro-choice. Pro-choice doesn’t mean pro-death, it means that ultimately, you should be able to decide for yourself what is best for you. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to have an abortion, and knowing so many people who have felt the pain of misscarriage, it makes me sad to think that people would choose that option, but I will absolutely defend someone else’s right to safe access of abortions if she needs it. Sometimes giving birth is not a good option. I felt my baby move at twelve weeks, and I connected with the fact that he was in there, but if something had gone wrong later in the pregnancy, and I were forced to choose between his life and my own, I don’t know what I would have done. But I am thankful that as a Canadian, safe and legal abortion is an option for me. Just because I don’t think I will choose it, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have the choice. I believe that other women will be responsible with their choice, too. I respect them. It sounds to me like you also feel that legislation preventing safe and legal abortion takes away a woman’s agency, even if you personally have strong feelings that women SHOULDN’T get abortions. Pro-choice is a wider movement than simply “a woman should get to decide what happens to her foetus,” and the people who are part of that movement are more diverse than they are painted to be, too. This is not meant to start an argument, I just thought I should make you aware that the moral struggle your going through does in fact characterise many pro-choice women, and your decision to define yourself and pro-life seems a little limiting to me.

  6. When I first read your title I was a little nervous to actually read your blog. This day in age so many people want to tell others how to live their life and how they should think or feel. I haven’t followed you for very long, so I’m still learning about how you write.

    I’m so glad that I read it. You have a profound voice and a great way of articulating your opinions. Even mentioning the things that you’re not really 100% sure of is great. I think most of us have thought about certain situations on this topic that we feel are somewhere in the grey zone. I actually fall on the opposite side. I’m pro choice, but I have a really hard time with the fact that adoption has largely fallen out of the conversation in the past decade or so. People contemplate: do I keep it, or get an abortion? I wish more people still thought of adoption as an option.

    More than anything I think people need to be willing to have these conversations in an environment where they feel safe. I believe that if politicians and extremists on both sides of the issue could actually sit down and have a real conversation instead of arguing with each other about who’s right and who’s wrong, we’d have a much better country. I appreciate your open-mindedness with how you’ve shared your views. I promise, no matter what the title, I won’t be hesitant to read your blog next time. 🙂

  7. Thank you for posting this. I’m a feminist myself who struggles with this. I am not very religious. For me it just comes down to life. We should value all life equally. Isn’t that what all of our social struggles are for? But I feel like I have to hide my opinion to support the cause. I don’t identify with pro-lifers or their views on politics. I’m totally left. But this is the area where I differ. I take a backseat on this topic because it’s so loaded. It’s so tied to organizations like planned parenthood who do so many other amazing things for women. I struggle with this very often and I’m just glad to see I’m not alone. Thank you.

  8. There are some tough choices we have to make, collectively, as a culture, as a society. The really difficult ones seems to result in some sort of mass cognitive dissonance. We know what it is, but we pretend that we don’t.

    Of course that tiny lump is a human. It’s different, yes, but a 6 year old is very different from a 30 year old, and that 30 year old is very different from a 95 year old. They are just different stages in life, but all of those stages are human.

    So in the same sense that assisting the suicide of a terminally ill patient, or pulling the plug on that 95 year old, abortion is that same thing. It’s call euthanasia, but we just pretend it isn’t, because that avoids the broader questions about euthanasia. Is the intentional killing of a human under any circumstances the right thing to do? Should it only be for the relief of pain and suffering? Should it only be used on criminals? Can it sometimes be used for the convenience of others? Is it always totally wrong no matter what? Is it murder?

    That is a debate that we, as a society, are not ready to have. So we just change the words around to make it look like it’s something it isn’t. For unborn humans it’s abortion. For criminals it is capital punishment. For the terminally ill it’s assisted suicide. No matter what you call it though, it’s still euthanasia, “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life.”

    I’m not saying it’s always wrong, in any of the above mentioned cases. There are some situations that require unusual and difficult choices. In many cases it comes down to one individual who has to make that difficult choice alone. It is best, though, to not play word games and just admit, that for whatever reasons, good or bad, it is the ending of a human life.

    Gary
    share-a-like dot com

  9. I’m confused because if you said that you don’t care what other women do with their bodies and that you think they have the right to choose to have an abortion and that you would not condemn them for that choice, wouldn’t that make you pro-choice? Pro-choice does not mean that you are going to have an abortion it just means that you leave that choice up to the individual rather than have a government or whoever else tell them what to do with their bodies.

    Just confused.

    1. I think my ultimate desire would be to make abortion unnecessary as an option by ensuring healthcare and education and welfare as needed. But unfortunately, even all those things won’t stop abortion, so sex-ed and contraceptives should be available and free. Tbh, if I had it my way, ppl wouldn’t have abortions…I think that sentiment makes me pro-life in a way…

      1. I totally understand that — that you have an emotional response to abortion. However, as a feminist you have to allow for women, given this is the society that we live in, to make that choice for their own? There is nothing wrong with saying that you’re pro-choice but you would never consider abortion.
        Also, despite access to healthcare, I have never had a good experience with birth control. I have tried many different types and methods and they don’t work for me. It should be my choice to not take birth control because I suffer awful side effects and I should also have the choice to not have a baby. Its not like anyone WANTS to have an incredibly invasive, painful abortion. Its circumstance and unfortunate.
        Thanks for the reply.

  10. My sentiments exactly. You’ve articulated what I’ve always wanted to say about this. Here’s hoping I can be half as eloquent when I try to explain my position to my daughter who I hope will feel safe completely rejecting any of my ideas and making her own way.

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