1.01.2006

Are Pro-Lifers Anti-Woman?

It seems like wherever there is debate about abortion rights, anyone who thinks abortion is wrong for whatever reason is eventually painted as being anti-woman. Even those who have had an abortion and now speak out against aren't free of this accusation. In the eyes of many a pro-choicer, pro-life cannot equal pro-woman - only pro-choice thought upholds women apparently. First, let's all remember that this is thrown up as a distraction. No one likes to be called anti-woman or guilty of misogyny. But once you're accused of being this way, it's hard to fight both battles - showing that you are pro-woman as well as remaining firm that abortion is wrong, and quite often, the "anti-woman" accusation goes by the wayside and never gets addressed. Let's take care of that, shall we?

  • Being pro-life does not make you anti-woman, but some pro-lifers are anti-woman.
  • Being pro-choice does not make you anti-woman, but some pro-choicers are anti-woman.

Let me speak to my pro-life friends first. You are not anti-woman because you advocate that abortion is wrong. It is often said that we are wrong for "forcing" a woman to carry a baby to term if she does not want to be pregnant. Pregnancy is a natural result that sometimes occurs from sex. Pregnancy, except for the case of pregnancy resulting from rape, is not forced on anyone. If left to progress naturally, a child will be born about 9 months after sex occurs. No one has to force that to happen - it happens naturally. It is unfortunate when a woman does not want to be pregnant but finds herself that way despite precaution. However, since we know that the fundamental truth of the matter is that abortion does end the life of a child that happens to be in utero, it is wrong no matter the circumstances.

So what makes a pro-lifer turn the corner to being anti-woman? It is when we become unsympathetic to the feelings of the woman. In our zeal to protect the life of the unborn child, some of us have a tendency to look at the women as mere tools that give birth. Hearing things like, "It's her fault she's pregnant," "She needs to take some responsibility," and "It's only 9 months..." really grate on my nerves. Logically, these statements are true. These statements do not exist in a vacuum though, and there is a real person going through a difficult time. Whether she is pregnant with her 4th child or her 1st...whether she wants to have the child but doesn't know how or doesn't want anything to do with the "fetus" inside her, she still deserves our compassion and our assistance. Doesn't she? Let's try to make it as easy as possible for her to give up those 9 months of her life to bring her child into the world. We aren't going to get there with anger or with the attitude that says her needs aren't important. When a pro-life person argues for the life of the child, we cannot do so at the cost of the woman's life/liberty/pursuit of happiness. The two should be inextricably linked, and if they aren't, that's when we are making a huge mistake.

Now onto my pro-choice friends. You are not anti-woman because you advocate that abortion is good. For the most part, I know that you think that abortion helps women because it got you or someone you know out of a bad situation. Abortion does have its positives. It depends on the individual woman - over the course of her life - to discover whether those positives outweigh the negatives. For at least half (if not more) it does not. That's a lot of women out there that don't buy abortion hook, line, and sinker - even after having one.

I won't use this space to tell you why abortion does not help women. Suffice it to say that I believe that abortion does hurt women individually and as a whole.

I will tell you where pro-choicers cross the line to being anti-woman. Much like pro-lifers that have tunnel-vision, pro-choicers can become so zealous to protect Roe v. Wade that they do not allow themselves to think that abortion should be restricted in any way, that it can sometimes be a bad thing for some women, and that it can end the life of a homo sapiens. Conceding these points (any or all) is too hard for many pro-choicers to do, and that becomes anti-woman. When you do this, you run the risk of not seeing the faces of the many women that do not want an abortion. You run the risk of hurting the women that do regret their abortions, and you run the risk of not giving women all of the information they need to make this important decision.

We both have issues that need some work. Fixing these issues will help women, and that's what we both need to focus on doing.

HT: JivinJ

7 comments:

GrannyGrump said...

I have a very hard time not viewing prochoicers as total misogynists, because they expect women to undergo surgery to make them "equal" to men. As if having a functioning uterus makes you inferior!

Not to mention it really belittles women to have all these people talking as if women are mindless, hysterical blobs of reflexes who will reach for a coathanger the way a Pavlovian dog starts drooling.

I just can't reconcile "feminist" with a movement that thinks women need surgery just to cope with the normal, ordinary challenges of life. And not just surgery -- surgery that ends another human life.

The Pro-Woman Pro-Lifer said...

I guess I would differentiate between your average pro-choice person and a radical "feminist-type" pro-choice person. The average pro-choice person who has put little thought into it (the type that says for instance "I couldn't do it, but it's okay if you want to") think that abortion helps women.

Even with the radical femimist abortion proponents, they think that abortion helps women become equal...so while you feel they are mysoginists, they don't...and vice versa. I don't think that they hate women. I think they have become confused about what is truly helpful to women and aretrying to deny their role in society as women, but I don't think they hate women.

I never mean to insinuate that women are mindless and automatically reach for abortion - I wasn't clear if that was for me or the other thread. ;) I do think that abortion laws as they are now do create a sense of security in women, and because of how easy it is to get an abortion immediately after a positive pregnancy test, many women do have a knee-jerk reaction to the situation and go on to do something they may later regret.

Zygote said...

Pro-Women,
I hope you do not mind me commenting on this post, but as a post-abortive women I have felt the heat from both sides and I understand first hand why pro-lifers are seen as anti-women. There is a group of people telling you that you don't understand yourself. That you are not to be trusted with your own thoughts and body. Unfortunately your last statement in your comment feed completely into this thinking.

"many women do have a knee-jerk reaction to the situation and go on to do something they may later regret."

I understand what you're getting at, but that doesn't change the connotation. That there are other people, male or female, that know better my mind and reactions better than me. I don't think you meant to imply any of this with your statement, but as a society statements we are trained not to deconstruct these types of thoughts. Take out the individuals thoughts on the morality of abortion and its understandable. If you would like to read my own story, please feel free to visit my blog.

The Pro-Woman Pro-Lifer said...

Hi Zygote,

Of course you're welcome to post here. I can understand your frustration, and I would agree that the statement would be wrong if I said "many women do have a knee-jerk reaction to the situation and go on to do something they will regret." I don't always know who will or who won't regret. I don't know your mind better than you. I do know that some women do schedule an abortion for 2 days following a positive test and then regret acting so quickly a week later. Do you see how that could be possible? It doesn't always occur, but it does sometimes.

I do think that pro-lifers need to move from telling you that you don't understand yourself to being sure that you are understanding yourself. That's what I shoot for. I try to make abortion rare and un-needed. I do this by proving that pregnancy, birth, parenting/adoption can work, and I focus on the woman instead of the baby.

What do you mean by "take out the individual's thoughts on the morality of abortion and its understandable"? I'm not quite clear what "it" is.

Thanks again for your comment.

Zygote said...

Thank you for the welcome. What I meant by "it" is the idea of controlling women and the feelings that other people know their hearts and minds better. Let’s remove the act of abortion, and all the morality issues that it comes with, and replace it with say....working after you've had kids. If anyone said to me, you may feel guilty about going to work after kids, you might be depressed and you may regret the time you don't spend with your children. I would be irate. All of these may be true, but it implies that I am not trusted to take a hard look at my life and make the correct choice for me and my family. It is the same with abortion. My abortion was not an easy choice, but it was my choice and I thought long and hard about all the ramification that might creep up after. I had to trust myself and for a women in a crisis situation being told you can’t trust yourself can really mess with your mind. I have gotten into to more than one fight with a pro-lifer who told me how I should feel and how messed up I'll be. It can get old and tiresome.

The Pro-Woman Pro-Lifer said...

Okay, I tried responding a couple of days ago, and Blogger ate my message...

If anyone said to me, you may feel guilty about going to work after kids, you might be depressed and you may regret the time you don't spend with your children. I would be irate. All of these may be true, but it implies that I am not trusted to take a hard look at my life and make the correct choice for me and my family.

You would be irate about this? Really? I wouldn't...I would be grateful that someone was looking out for me. It would be different if, after I told this person that things are fine, she continued to warn me and doubt that I knew what I was doing, but I think an initial, "Hey, have you thought of this?" is a good thing.

As you said, the warnings are true. She might feel guilty about returning to work. She might feel depressed and regret not spending more time with her kids. This person isn't saying you will feel this way, she is saying you might feel this way, and that makes a world of difference.

Now, that being said, if you are overly sensitive and defensive about your choice to return to work, anything remotely questioning your resolve to do it will rub you the wrong way. I would think that had more to do with you than it did the friend who offered her wisdom.

You thought through your decision, and that's wonderful! So many women I work with do not think this through. They get the positive test and call for an appointment the next day. Surely you must agree that is not a good idea. This has nothing to do with trusting her with the choice. It has to do with helping her to make the choice rationally - not out of fear or shock.

Anonymous said...

Rose, I hope you have found the organization Feminists for Life already, because if you haven't you need to! feministsforlife.org