Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Being a woman in the 21st Century

Because I'm the one that started that whole blogging group and have since taken a two or three month sabbatical from blogging, I feel the need to come out of my recess. Especially after the news headlines I read today. 
Last Thursday, the 36th anniversary or the Roe vs. Wade decision a pro-life activist drove his SUV into the side of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The man told authorities that "Jesus told him to do it." I am aware that this particular location is known simply as the "abortion clinic" because it is a designated PP clinic that actually performs abortions procedures. 

I find this utterly heartbreaking. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota has a reputation of promoting awareness about Minnesota Family Planning Health Care Services, a state-funded program that helps women with low incomes afford family planning services such as access to yearly exams, birth control, HIV/AIDS testing, HPV vaccines and yes, abortions for little to no cost. Planned Parenthood has often been a sanctuary for young women who need confidential, low cost services and consultations about their bodies and their sexual and reproductive health.

Aside from the fact that I am very much a pro-choice advocate, the rest of these services are needed in the community and for someone to lose sight of that and take their self-perceived justice into their own hands in this manner is disgraceful to others who are supporting their cause in a peaceful, legal manner. So to that man, I hope you consider yourself subject to the same judgment you inflict upon others. 

We should not strive for a government that protects our personal morals and ideals, that it not what this country is about. This country was founded upon the value that our government should promote tolerance and freedom of thought. 

Women have fought for many things including the right to initiate actions for divorce, to press charges for rape, to vote, to have careers and one battle that we THOUGHT we had already won, was the right to choose whether or not to have a child. 

There is a prevailing idea in our society that women who get pregnant unexpectedly are irresponsible. Though I take offense to that opinion, I would also say that it doesn't matter. People who smoke cigarettes all their life and get lung cancer as a result are irresponsible, but we still allow them seek a way to return to the life they once had. People who become addicted to drugs or alcohol can escape guilt for circumstantial reasons and they still receive treatment to recapture the life they once had. But when a woman becomes pregnant, even in the case of rape or incest or by perhaps by being "irresponsible," they should not be allowed the same opportunity? It is anatomical discrimination towards women to deny them that opportunity simply because they have the potential to become pregnant. They should be allowed to seek to regain the life they once had after they engage in "irresponsible" acts.

The fact is, there are too many situations out there that are a lot more complex than we could possibly begin to describe that cause women to seek abortions, and it is no one else's business to interfere with that decision. Especially when most of the time, when a mother does give birth to a child that they were not prepared for, the one that often suffers most, is the child. We should strive to bring children into the world under the best possible circumstances, not to say that any child that is born under any circumstance is a bad thing, but IDEALLY we would want them to have a stable, secure upbringing. 

Bear in mind that I am not saying that abortion is ideal. It is not. Babies are not a disease or a problem. We need them and most people want them. But for those who don't, for whatever reason, making abortions illegal will certainly not stop them from seeking an abortion. Those in favor of anti-abortion laws are naive to think that such legislation would protect babies. If anything, it will harm mothers who will continue to seek abortions anyway. If you really want to save babies, it doesn't come from capitol hill, it's comes from social interaction, education and promotion of responsible behaviors. If you believe that God dictates these decisions and that humans should not interfere, save it for the pulpit, because our constitution allows for people to legally disagree with you. 

WE DON'T NEED TO MAKE LAWS AGAINST EVERYTHING WE DON'T MORALLY AGREE WITH, that is not what democracy is about and it is certainly not effective. If you want change of the social nature, you address the people. You council young women about sexual responsibility. You educate them on the alternatives. You truly do what Jesus says to do in the gospels. You approach them with compassion and understanding (you could follow Planned Parenthood's example on that one). And most of all, you accept that sex does happen. It will continue to happen and you have to deal with that. Avoiding that fact and promoting intolerance will only make you a bitter person.

So please don't' drive your SUVs into clinics. Instead, tell a scared pregnant woman that you care and want to help them, perhaps then, they will be more perceptive and perhaps then we will all begin to understand each other. Also bear in mind, that they have the legal right to disagree with you, but the moment you convince once woman non-coercively to have her baby instead of aborting it, it is my belief that you will receive satisfaction that is far greater than passing a law. 


Levi said...

Isn't it ironic that someone would drive their SUV into the clinic, possibly injuring or even killing people, for the sake of stopping the "murder" of babies because they were following Jesus, a figure not everybody cares about? I guess harming others is OK just as long as it benefits them.

C+C said...

I agree on most of your points. I agree that, despite one's views on abortion/reproductive health/whatever, that driving vehicles in to buildings solves nothing. And is stupid and accomplishes nothing for anyone, other than to cause great deal of damage.

I agree that Planned Parenthood provides valuable services to women who might otherwise have access to adequate healthcare, and, in this manner, provide a great service to the community and helps to make the world a better place.

I agree that sex isn't inherintley (sp?) irresponsible. Responsibility is something that can only be decided by humans.

However, I think your "cigarette/cancer" analogy doesn't fit the "sex/pregnancy" situation. If a person is mature enough to engage in sexual activity, and becomes pregnant, they should take responsibility for their actions. Everyone knows that pregnancy is sometimes a consequence of sexual activity. It's a risk that everyone takes, no matter how informed, careful and responsible they are. The fact of the matter is, despite arguements otherwise, that fetus has the potential of become of real, living, breathing human being.

I think it's selfish for someone to advocate having an abortion because they want to return to their prior life. Cancer doesn't involve ending a potential life (other than possibly that of the person with it, and in this case, we can say it's their own damn fault). What one wants to do with their own life is their own business. If one wants to smoke, they take on the risk that they'll get cancer, and then can make the decision to seek treatment. A potential child isn't the same as a deadly disease.

If a person finds themself unwillingly pregnant, there are plenty of people in the world who would LOVE to have a child. Any child. If you're mature enough to have sex, you should be mature enough to accept the responsibility of any and all consequences of those actions, whether that means raising a child for the rest of your life, or giving 9 months of your life(less than that once you actually find out that you're pregnant) so that the child that you've conceived has every opportunity to grow and thrive with parents that love and cherish him/her.

I respect your opinion, but feel obliged to voice mine, as I think I have a unique perspective on the subject that some of your other readers may not.

When Jacob told his father that I was pregnant, he said "You better fix that problem ASAP". My mother even suggested that I had "3 options".
Obviously, I didn't choose that route, and now have an amazing daughter who is the absolute light of my life.
That being said, being a mom is hard. Being a 22 yr old, single mom, graduate student is HARD WORK. It's not for everyone. It takes determination, and (for me) lots of faith. But there are many people in the world that would give anything for this opportunity, and for whatever reason are unable to have their own children biologically. I think it's very courageous and noble to realize that you aren't ready to be a parent, and to entrust your child in the hands of someone who is willing and able. And 9 months of your life, and the occassional stigma attached is not much of a sacrifice to bring a child into the world and making someone a parent.

Tattoos Are Forever said...

Levi, you're right, their are some obvious hypocrisies with the SUV story. I was hoping I wasn't the only one who noticed.

Carlen, let me just say that I respect that you chose to have your baby and to be a mother. I acknowledge that you have it hard. Where are opinions differ, is that I don't think that you had an obligation to do what you did. I think you made a noble choice, but you could have chosen the easier route, I would have seen nothing wrong with that.

Also, if you had chosen to carry the baby and give it up, or not carry it at all, I would still have loved you and respected you just the same.

I think that it is important to note that you had a choice and I also think you should consider what it would have been like if you had not had a choice on what to do.

The point is, our government should not be making those choices for us, we should.

We obviously disagree about whether or not abortion is "wrong," but that doesn't really matter. What matters is whether we're going to fight for the government to make our personal decisions for us, or whether we can live with the outcome of making our own decisions.

I will never vote for the government to control these types of personal decisions. THAT is irresponsible.

C+C said...

I'm not so sure that having an abortion is an "easier" route. Firstly, I have no idea because I've never been down that route, but I do know some people who have, and I can attest to the fact that they've suffered a great deal of pain and anguish regarding their decisions.

And, the truth of the matter is, that while I have a firm grasp of my opinion on the act and morality of abortion (and fully admit that not everyone shares the same opinions and morals, and that everyone has the right and responsibility to form their own), I am completely and utterly confused and undecided about the legality of the issue.

Mostly because I don't think that the government should be regulating morality, but secondarily because I know that whether it's legal or not, it's going to happen, and I'm concerned with the welfare of women who wouldn't have access to knowledgable providers of these services. IDK. I'm confused.

But, honestly, my opinion changed drastically after I had Cate, and I think that the same is probably true for many women. Which, is also scary, making such an important decision so young in life that you could possibly regret so much later in life when your priorities change. I guess that's just something a person in that circumstance will have to figure out on their own.

I've been trying not to bring spirituality into the discussion, but now that I'm a mother, and I can stare into my daughter's eyes, I really can't even contimplate how anyone would choose to end a life as beautiful and precious as a child's because they don't want to have to change their lifestyle. I feel such a strong connection to God, and to the Earth and Nature now that I'm a mother. Abortion seems like such an unnatural thing.