First of all, let me say that I am relieved to see that Mississippi's"Personhood" measure was shot down by voters. And while I did share pretty much all of the same concerns voiced by ClassicLiberal, I must say that I am not entirely surprised by the outcome. While the pro-life camp has had their share of legislative and judicial victories, the historical record is largely filled with examples of public backlash anytime core abortion rights are threatened. And that's what was happening here regardless of how much politically correct, verbal diarrhea the MI Legislature was trying to dress it up in. They might rank 50th in adult literacy, but apparently the Republicans still can't overreach in Mississippi. And let's face it: If you can't win an anti-abortion battle in Mississippi? YOU'RE OVERREACHING. And if you read the rest of that article, you'll see how Ohio voters responded to their anti-Union proposal, not to mention a recall-election, and a few others that went for the Democrats. And this is coming off a HUGE win in 2010 and leading in to the 2012 election season. Nice going, Republicans! I'm seriously conflicted as to whether or not I want them to learn a lesson from all of this. Part of me wants them to keep fucking everything up for themselves, but then that same part of me remembers just how mind-bendingly stupid and gullible the average American voter is. Still: They've overreached, and the public spoke. Every now and then? The good guys WIN ONE.
Now I wanted to say something about JLarue's comment from the Sanger post.
As far as abortion goes... IMHO, morally speaking, it is simply never justified, with the exception of when it is being done to SAVE A LIFE. Unless SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE, I simply do not believe it is a morally justified course of action. And NO, that judgement does not change when it come to RAPE. That being said? I am pro-choice. Period. Without a second thought. And why? Because in contrast to the funny-mentalists on the Right, I do not labor under the delusion that anyone else should have their own behavior bound or limited by my opinion. My opinion, my principles, my beliefs all affect exactly one person: ME.
And it it the very fact that the choice is mine to make that I value and will vehemently protect.
(Pretty much the same way I describe my position on Gun Control as well: I despise guns, but I value the fact that the decision of whether or not I own one is mine to make. I don't own one, and I likely never will. But I will fight, kill and die to keep that decision mine.)
Now... JLarue goes on to describe how much abuse has been received regarding [what I perceive] a very moderate pro-choice / moderate pro-life position. And I've encountered this as well, particularly on extremely feminist websites such as Jezebel and Feministing. (Two of my all-time fav's, BTW, to be sure. But it suffices to say that I don't agree with the bulk of their readership on this particular issue.) To suggest that a woman in labor can have an abortion up to the moment that the chord is cut? Well... it's every bit as psychopathic as it sounds: Which is to say, ENTIRELY. And yet? You'll get that! I've gotten that! DW has gotten that! And it's completely, and utterly batshit insane!
Now, I'd LIKE to think that this kind of completely batshit insane extremism on the pro-choice side is purely in response to the completely batshit insane extremism on the Right, in general. IOW: We have to take a hard-line, because they will absolutely, positively never stop! They will never concede ANY GROUND, and they they will never stop clawing away at our rights no matter how much "common sense" / "common ground" we concede. They will not stop until all abortion is punishable by death (by stoning, of course), sentence to be carried out immediately, without trial, followed by a Congressional declaration that the person now burns in hell. In truth? That's where the political pro-life camp pretty much is, in the mainstream. So, to be fair, I would like to think that any extremism on our side is nothing more than a reaction to that mentality on theirs. (I really would.) Unfortunately? No - we have our whackos too, Im sorry to say. And even if a proposal (like the one I will present) would satisfy the Right forever (yeah, right!) you would probably find someone on our side who would say that I'm drinking the kool-aid. They're idiots, yeah. But they exist, sad as it is to have to acknowledge them.
Now... If you want to know how I feel about Abortion as a legal issue, as opposed to a moral one, you can click the on the Abortion Page at the top, check any of my past writings on the matter, or read the short version here. This is what I would propose:
1) First Trimester: Abortion is legal, including federally funded as applicable, no questions asked.
2) Second Trimester: Abortion is legal when the health of the Mother is threatened. And Congress would be obligated to define a list of health threats that would need to then be diagnosed. (Obviously, this list would be a source of continued debate, but I think that's OK. IMHO, this is really where the dabate should be anyway!)
3) Third Trimester: Abortion is legal only when the life of the Mother is in immediate jeopardy, and all other reasonable, commonly practiced options have failed, or have be ruled too risky. Doctor's judgement, but they may have to defend it.
An exception for Rape is not needed: It's covered in the first trimester. Partial Birth Abortion? Ugh. COMPLETELY BANNED, at least until an ACTUAL MEDICAL Doctor provides me with ONE EXAMPLE in which this is actually needed, and explains to me why at that point a full vaginal birth, or C-Section could not be performed. I've been told it can happen, but in all my reading I have yet to come across a single, definitive example. And I can be tatlly flexible here. All I need is one example, spelled out for me in words that a product of the American Educational system can understand. So far? That hasn't happened. (And seriously... If you're an OB/GYN who's reading this? PLEASE feel free to educate me here! I'm 100%, dead serious! I really do want to know!)
And the problem with the "personhood clause" is that it not only would effectively outlaw abortion, but open a legal can of worms regarding stem cell research, IVF, and various forms of Contraception. Not cool. I'm not going to get into a stem cell research debate here, but if you're interested you can read my proof. Short version?
Until that embryo is fully implanted in the uterine wall, you haven't even reached the threshold of potential for life, let alone life. (And please comment THERE if you feel you must, as I'd prefer to keep THIS POST strictly about Abortion and Contraception issues.)
And I don't fuck around when it comes to Contraception issues. You might have gotten that feeling for my last post on Sanger, but... yeah. I really don't fuck around there. And that absolutely includes this bullshit idea that Pharmacists should be allowed to choose not to fill prescriptions for birth control pills, based on their religious objections. As far as I'm concerned, this is nowhere near a protected right of theirs, but rather grounds for them to lose their license and business. Period. I'll spell it out for anyone stupid enough to have a different opinion on this matter...
HEY, ASSHOLE: YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AFFECT AND DICTATE THE BEHAVIOR OF EXACTLY ONE PERSON: YOU! AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION PROTECTS MY RIGHT NOT TO BE BOUND BY THE TENETS OF YOUR RELIGION, OR INDEED ANY RELIGION THAT I DON'T BELONG, OR DO BELONG TO YET CHOOSE TO IGNORE. IF YOU ARE OPPOSED TO ANY FORM OF CONTRACEPTION: DON'T USE IT, AND DON'T HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE WHO IS! PERIOD. END OF STORY. NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FUCKING FACE AND SHUT THE FUCK UP BEFORE I HIT YOU IN THE HEAD WITH A BRICK!
I really don't think I could say it any more clearly. LOL. And the Hatch Amendment has to go for exactly same reason.
(And if you disagree with me on that, you're either an idiot or you just haven't thought things through completely: If there exists a legal medical procedure that costs-less than a covered alternative?The Government has a moral obligation to the tax payer to fund it! If you don't like abortion , don't have one! That fact that your political party has failed in it's efforts to outlaw is of no consequence to me, nor are that religious taboos to you choose to honor, but which have no bearing on anyone who does not. If you don't want it funded? Outlaw it. If you can't, because the majority of America is against you? Too bad. Suck to be you. The alternative is live birth which costs more. Abortion and contraception are low cost, L-E-G-A-L alternatives to that, and until that changes there is not reason to dick around on the periphery of it with things like funding.)
But I got to thinking over the past week... Why exactly is Contraception so important to me? I mean... sure, yeah: Copious amounts of consequence-free sex. But, in all seriousness... there's got to be more to it than that, doesn't there?
And I think there is. And I think it goes beyond a parent's obligation to properly care for, raise and educate their children, and beyond our societies limited educational and social resources, not to mention our planet's finite environmental resources. That's all fine and good, but I don't see any of it as a reasonable explanation for why I have such visceral feelings on the matter. I mean: Environmentalism is a largely an academic issue to me. It's a voting issue, yes, but I'm no eco-warrior. I'm not going to get into a fist fight with anyone over it. But you know what? If a pharmacist's car were to get set on fire over his forcing his religion down his customers' throats because he refuses to fill birth control prescriptions? I'd sleep VERY well that night, and with a SATISFIED SMILE on my face, psychotic as that sounds. My blood seriously boils that much over this.
And I'm not saying that to scare you. (And I'm totally not kidding.) I just mean it to illustrate how strongly I feel about it. As far as I am concerned:
Any restrictions on contraception, up to and including emergency contraception (aka: the morning after pill) I consider as a HATE CRIME against all women.
You may feel that's an exaggeration, but it's how I feel. And I think I can explain why.
I'm a feminist.
Not a political one in every way, perhaps... though I'm sure we'll agree on a lot of issues. Almost all of them, in fact. Just not one so extreme as to share any of the more psychotic opinions about abortion. But you know what? I just value and respect women so much more than... well, than just about every single man I know.
A recent example of what I'm talking about...
Last week, I was in a bar in Tempe, Arizona with four of my colleagues, travelling on business. These are Engineers: educated people who's intellect and opinions I trust respect. Now... We're all engaged in an activity that four guys would normally be engaged in, in a bar in Tempe: Ogling women. (And no, I'm not proud to admit that, but I'll be honest here.) (And what's more, considering that we're all middle-aged and married? It crossed the boundaries of both sad and a little creepy as well! LOL) And believe me when I say that there was no shortage of extremely conventionally attractive women there, no matter where you looked. Lot's of beautiful women there, no doubt about it. (And four pretty pathetic guys, no doubt about that! LOL) And amongst all this, I noticed a girl sitting just off my 3:00. Short, dark hair - very short pixie cut, with a single long, thin braid on one side. Very little makeup. Tee-Shirt with holes in it. The slightness bit pudgy. Not obese, just having noticeably more jiggle than most of the girls in the bar. Eyebrows were bit unkempt (though nowhere nearly uni-brow territory - come on!) Nose-ring. A plain face, I suppose. I hope you get the idea. Basically? A slightly frumpy, artistic-looking, possibly lesbian woman, who I had no doubt my co-workers would be turned off by, in a bar full of cheerleaders and barbie-doll types. Do you know what my first (and only) thought was?
That's it. That was my only opinion. And, sure, maybe it was based on cliches as much as there's were, but of all the people there, if I was going to make the effort to talk to ANYONE, she was the only one I was the least bit interested in: Because she what the one who looked the most interesting. And when she left? One of my co-workers muttered, "What a train-wreck!" To which another replied, "The Lesbian? Yeah, I know!" And that's the real difference between me and pretty much every other guy I know: I was interested in HER. Her, the person. WHO SHE WAS was something that interested me. They were only interested in how people looked, and only then if they conformed to the "barbie doll" standard of beauty. It was a object lesson in the objectification of women. And sure - I could have been wrong: After all I was going only by appearances as well. But I didn't feel the need to say disparaging things about the other women. Indeed I didn't feel anything negative about them at all. At worst? I felt neutral, because I felt there was simply too little to be gleaned from their conformance to the conventional standard of style and beauty. That's not a BAD thing, but it doesn't tell me anything beyond what I can already see: THAT THEY LOOK NICE. Which... Just isn't all that important to me.
I've said it before, and I'll stand by it: The sexiest part of a woman's body is between her ears. I find so much more beauty (not to mention ugliness) in who people are than in what they look like. And that alone doesn't make me better than anyone else, at least until they feel the need to unload disparaging comments on someone just because they don't give a shit whether some forty-year old, half drunk, married man in a bar finds them attractive. But someone who refuses to play that game? Well, hey: THAT'S someone I'd look forward to talking to!
ANYWAY... I guess I just put that story out there to describe what I mean when I call myself a feminist. I simply respect and admire women as people, and I don't overly value physical appearance in women, anymore than I value say... money (for example) in men. It's just not important to me and does not define who you are. (Which is really all that matters.)
And so, for me, I think that explains why I feel so strongly about contraception. Because as I see it there are three things, three accomplishments, that brought about the equality of women in society. (Which, it shoudl be apparent by now, I hold as an inherent good):
1) The first was the invention of firearms. This may seem an odd choice, but consider it on a Darwinian level. When your survival depends on hunting Mastodons with spears? There is no question that, by and large, men are better suited for that activity. When societal conflicts are settled in duels and in wars - both fought with swords, and possibly in armor as well - again, there is little doubt that men have an inherent advantage. But two people with guns? Well, hey: that's a 50-50 proposition, my friend! And there is nothing about the basic physiology of men and women that gives one any inherent advantage over the others. Unless you use you penis to help steady your shot, the FACT of the matter is that, given equal practice and equipment, there is no reason a women won't be every bit as good as shooting things as the man. No so with spears, swords or even BOWS - since the power of the bow is in direct relation to its required drawing force. Physical strength, speed, agility and endurance gave men every advantage in hunting and in battle... Until the invention of the great equalizer: GUNS.
(That may also help explain my 2nd amendment stance as well, who knows? LOL.)
2) The second is women's suffrage. And that one's pretty obvious. Because proving that you can now do every important job every bit as good as a man (by shooting one, for example) will mean very little without a mechanism and the matching political clout to set things right. So that's #2.
3) The invention, mainstreaming and full legalization of all effective forms of contraception, up to and including abortion. Because even given the first two? There is still no question that the sexes are not equal when it comes to pregnancy. When two people have sex, at the moment of climax, the decision of insemination is ENTIRELY in the hands of the male, regardless of any previous agreement that may have existed. (This is a particularly brutal reality in the case of rape.) But ultimately? Absent of contraceptives, the MAN decides if pregnancy is going to be a possibility in any particular sexual encounter. And from that point on? It's the woman who carries the child. The woman who risks all the health implications of pregnancy. The woman who bears all of the all the lifestyle impacts of pregnancy. The woman who goes into labor. The woman who risks all the complications of delivery. (At one time accounting for up to HALF of all deaths amongst women, mind you!) And until recently, it was the woman who was expected to either raise the child or surrender it for adoption. Illegitimate fathers? Largely disappeared, up until a generation or two ago. And even now, it's the woman who takes the unpaid leave from her job to care for her newborn. And if she DID try to stop the pregnancy? The risk of death from abortion was entirely borne by the woman as well.
Contraception levels the playing field in the one area where things still remained inherently uneven. Every discrimination law in the world cannot lesson the impact on a woman's life that a single unplanned pregnancy can have. So I hold Contraception as a central pillar in the foundation of female equality in society.
Now... Getting back to abortion. JLarue laid out what I think is arugably the ULTIMATE pro-life political principle: Do what is necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy's in the first place. [And if anyone opens their pie-hole about preaching abstinence, I'm going to hit you in the head with a brick. The FACT. FACT. FACT. Is that even in States that saw a reduction in teen pregnancies when their school's had abstinence-only sex-education, they still trailed behind the rest of the country in that reduction. It just doesn't work, so SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT!] And there are so many areas that we agree on here. Here's MY anti-Abortion plan:
1) Mandatory, comprehensive sex education in the schools. This would begin no later than ONE GRADE LEVEL BEFORE the average menarche for girls, and ONE GRADE LEVEL BEFORE the average boy becomes capable of getting a girl pregnant. If those grades are different? PICK THE EALIER ONE. It would include a discussion of ALL forms of contraception, including a frank discussion of how they work, how they can fail, and how often they DO fail. And, just to show any religious folks that I'm not a complete dick to their beliefs, it would include the FACT that abstinence is the ONLY way to protect yourself 100% from pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. (STD's, of course, would also be discussed, in depth.) AND? You can also have a frank, objective and factual discussion about what prohibitions exist in various religious circles. This would, of course, be presented as a matter of FACT, and not as an endorsement of those views. (The teacher can even share their own beliefs, but must also then remind the class that they are obligate to defer to the student's family's and the student's own personal judgement and values in these matters. It is simply not their place to moralize.)
2) EASY, CHEAP, and even SUBSIDIZED or FREE access to various forms of Contraception. Keeping Condoms out of schools will not stop teenagers from having sex. Period. Just ask Sarah Palin. Burying our heads in the sand on this point will only INCREASE the number of abortions that happened, completely independent of the legality there of.
3) STRENGTHEN THE INSTITUTION OF ADOPTION. This is a big one for me: I'm adopted myself! And it's hard for me to get specific about this (the post is getting too long as it is) but I have heard countless stories of birth parent's rights winning out over adoptive parents right's in so many case that take it to absurd levels due to the vagueness and weak language in adoption law. This does a great disservice to ALL parties involved, primarily the child. Add to that the stigma that still exists when someone decides to give a child up for adoption. This has to be such a soul-crushingly difficult decision for someone to make. And yet, what is the most common response from friends and family? "Oh, you should KEEP IT! We'll help you!" Um... No. No, you won't. You'll BABYSIT occasionally, and give a lecture about responsibility whenever you feel too much is being asked of you. Fuck that. Don't fall for that charade, unwed mothers of society! If your life's plans didn't include children? Your choice is adoption or abortion. Period. And we really need to do a better job encouraging the former, and otherwise minding our own fucking business. Grandchildren are NOT a right! What's more? There's a TEN-YEAR long waiting list for healthy, white babies in this country. Shit - that's what it was ten, twenty years ago! I'll be honest: I don't even know what it is now! So, seriously folks: They're not going to the orphanage. That kid was adopted before you were even old enough to get pregnant. S/He'll go to a good home. (And before anyone tells me about foreign adoptions, make sure you've done your homework regarding the COSTS, RISKS and your LEGAL RIGHTS regarding those!) But people really don't know very much about the process of adoption; public or private. And that's a shame. I think that's a huge problem.
4) STRENGTHEN THE SOCIAL SAFETY NETS AVAILABLE FOR SINGLE PARENTS. I put this last, because I would completely prefer [number three] over the risk of incentivizing this kind of parenthood. But the fact remains that if the person just can't bear the thought of adoption, society has a far greater moral imperative not to incentivize abortion. So for all the Right's bed-wetting about Welfare Queens? Either PAY UP on welfare, or SHUT UP on abortion. You can't have it both ways. And having sex should not condemn you to a life of poverty and/or charity. This is the United States of American not a fucking Charles Dickens novel. So get over it.
INFORMATION. ACCESS. ALTERNATIVES. and SUPPORT.
Now THAT'S a Pro-Life stance that doesn't need to even TOUCH Roe v. Wade!