Feminism, Guest Post, Sexuality

Let’s Talk About…PRO-LIFE: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

I will not apologize for the fact that my conversations with Elizabeth frequently revolve around Tom Hiddleston and other men blessed by God’s artistic prowess, but you know.  Sometimes we talk about slightly more important things, like politics, abortion, and social change! 


Tricia:  THIS is our next Obama/Biden bromance!?

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 10.21.07 PM

Elizabeth:  NO.
No, because you’re going to help elect Hillary, right?
And then we never have to hear from these idiots again.

Tricia:  Should our next Let’s Talk About be about politics?

Elizabeth:  Hm.  Maybe.  About 80% of my conversations about national politics these days devolve into me ranting about the hypocrisy of the allegedly pro-life party blocking birth control access.  Is that on brand for your blog?
Because it is an OUTRAGE.

Tricia:  Ooo yes!
What’s your definition of pro-life?  

Elizabeth:  I really started thinking deeply about life and choice issues when I was a reporter covering abortion as a political issue.  Journalists are typically admonished to say “anti-abortion” and “abortion rights” instead of pro-life and pro-choice because those terms are so much more specific and less polarizing.  Now, just in everyday conversation, I’ll sometimes use pro-life/pro-choice in the context of talking about political movements.  But you’re probably asking what I mean when I say I’m pro-life.

Tricia:  Yeah, because I agree that “pro-life” is not very specific.
And because I think the political movement is not all that pro-life.
It’s just anti-abortion.

Elizabeth:  I mean I think abortion is generally a bad thing, and there are ethical reasons we should work to reduce it, but I don’t really identify or associate with the pro-life movement.

Tricia:  samesies

Elizabeth:  What do  you mean when you say the anti-abortion movement is not very pro-life?  I think I agree with you, but expand upon that!  What do YOU mean when you say pro-life?

Tricia:  My definition of pro-life is something like: valuing life, full stop.  That means life for babies, life for adults, life for convicts.  And it just popped into my brain that it could include life for animals and life for the planet, but I am a bit of a tree-hugger and I won’t push that issue at this time.
But I find it VERY IRONIC that many “pro-lifers” are also pro-death penalty.
Call your movement something else if you support killing people!

Elizabeth:  Yeah, there’s a lot of hypocrisy in the evangelical subculture that tends to be associated with the pro-life movement.

Tricia:  Yeah.  Which is why, I think, pro-choice people have so little tolerance for pro-lifers.
And why people like you and me, who agree abortion is a tragedy, are also like “but don’t label me pro-life.”

Elizabeth:  I’ve realized I am so much more critical of the pro-life movement than of the pro-choice movement because I want there to be something I can support.  I’m with them on the underlying assumption that abortion is bad, but I can’t get behind almost anything they do about it.

Tricia:  Yes!  We’ve talked about this before, right?  All the ways we would RATHER help decrease the rates of abortion?

Elizabeth:  Yes!  I rant about this at least once a month.

Tricia:  Hahaha!
Let’s list some!

Elizabeth:  In the pro-life movement, there are basically two strategies:
1) overturn Roe
2) reduce abortion access
I would like to see almost all the focus go to a third strategy: reducing the need for abortion by improving access to contraception and increasing social support for families.

Tricia:  You mean treating the disease and not the symptom?  HOW NOVEL.

Elizabeth:  lol, did you just call pregnancy a disease?  This is going to go over so well.

Tricia:  Well, I could make a case for babies being parasites, but I will instead plead METAPHOR.

Elizabeth:  Anyway, I’m completely LIVID that pro-life groups have spent the last five years fighting the contraceptive mandate in the ACA.
Abortion rates have been dropping, and a lot of researchers think it’s because we have better contraceptives that are easier to access.

Tricia:  Ooo, yes, let’s focus on how they are absolutely shooting themselves in the foot.
It feels like conservatives are fighting two separate battles, one of which hurts the other.  They don’t want people (esp teenagers) to have sex, and they also don’t want people to have babies.  But if you restrict access to contraceptives, people are going to get pregnant with babies they don’t want/can’t care for!
And like, people are going to have sex.  That’s fighting a losing battle (though one that is only appropriate to fight in the home/church/moral sphere, NOT in government policies).

Elizabeth:  There’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of who gets abortions and why.  Most of the women having abortions aren’t teens, they’re mothers who already have children.  Many of them are married.
There’s a LOT of misinformation (ahem willful ignorance) floating around in the pro-life movement, which makes it difficult to craft workable policies.

Tricia:  Good point.
Another hypocrisy:  Don’t have abortions, but also, we won’t help you support the babies we want you to have with access to welfare.

Elizabeth:  True!

Tricia:  The other thing I would add is that it would be AMAZING to offer free counseling to women considering abortions – not to convince them not to have an abortion, but to give them a safe space to share their fears/anxieties/traumas.

Elizabeth:  I love this idea!
So how does this affect how you vote/plan to vote?

Tricia:  Abortion (per se) doesn’t affect the way I vote, because I don’t think any major laws will change (Roe being overturned, for example), even if we have a Republican president.

Elizabeth:  Interesting!  Even in this year, when we have an empty seat on the Supreme Court?

Tricia:  Yeah, I doubt it’ll change.
That’s a career-ruiner for any judge.
I think Republican politicians want to have their cake and eat it too: yell about abortion but then do nothing.
*quietly sips tea, being cynical*

Elizabeth:  Yeah, I’m with you on that.  It’s such a long shot (and I’m not sure Roe should be overturned, tbh) and all this harm is being done in the meantime.

Tricia:  Yeah, I agree, I don’t think Roe should be overturned either.

Elizabeth:  I think Republicans don’t have any sense of what overturning Roe would really mean.  I’ve talked to enough (male) politicians that I wholeheartedly believe they are. not. qualified to legislate on reproductive health issues.
Does that make me pro-choice?  Can I be both pro-choice and pro-life?

Tricia:  These are the limitations of our dualistic two-party system!
I’m both and neither.
But like you, I support the social changes that will decrease the likelihood of abortions (access to contraceptives, welfare, etc), almost all of which are found in the Democratic party.

Elizabeth:  Yesssss.
Vote Hillary!!

Tricia:  Woo hoo!

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About…PRO-LIFE: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG”

  1. 1) Have you ever listened to the Liturgists podcast/have we talked about this? I think you would enjoy. There’s one with Rachel Held Evans about pro choice/pro life. (Also it’s totally ok if you listened to it and don’t think it’s great.)
    2) *quietly sips coffee and is enjoying being cynical with you*
    3) I enjoy all of your suggestions. Planned parenthood is always a hard conversation, but they are always advertising free condoms. But I can imagine there being so much shame even looking in that direction with people standing outside with signs all day. I wouldn’t want to go in and feel that judgement.

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    1. 1) YES. I listen to every Liturgists podcast (from your months-ago recommendation), and it gives me so much hope for a Christian community existing where I feel totally welcomed.
      2) *mug salute*
      3) This is a good place to address the fact that this issue IS messy, and there is no 100% best option. But we choose the way we think is least messy, and I think it’s the Democratic platform (which includes Planned Parenthood). Especially because I just don’t think demonizing an organization is a good choice. Go create something better instead!!

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      1. About the liturgists: EXACTLY. Katelyn and I are going to the gathering in Chicago with some friends in Chicago. So excited!!

        It is SO messy, just like everything else in life. I’m with you. There is too much villianizing, demonizing, any-izing happening in the church. Too much pushing people to the outside of the city walls when we should bringing people in, no matter what they smell like. That’s on both sides of the aisle – liberals and conservatives and moderates, democrats and republicans and independents. But yeah I think right now the dems are the ones with the platform of hope. And I’m always drawn to such things.

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  2. Question: Are opposing viewpoints welcome? If so, it’ll take a bit for me to type it all up. The subject matter of this post is, to use your word, “messy”. As such, there isn’t a simple answer.

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    1. I am both fearful of opposing viewpoints and excited to create a safe place for disagreements. Especially because you’ve asked so politely, I would love to hear your thoughts!

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  3. I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak up on this. I truly do understand how frightening learning new things can be, I’ve walked this earth more than long enough to learn that. I promise to make an effort to avoid causing fear, but not at the expense of truth. To begin, I’m very much what you and your friend were speaking of, though I think y’all might misunderstand a few things about us. In case you haven’t checked out my page, I’m pro-life, pro-gun and pro-death penalty. I’m also an evangelical Christian.

    I’ll begin by stating clearly that I absolutely detest Clinton and Trump. Speaking as a member of the Armed Forces, I regard them both as the worst case scenario for my Commander-in-Chief. Clinton is an opportunistic psychopath and Trump is a bleeding Circus Clown. In all honesty, I keep hoping the Democrats and Republicans will let us now they were just kidding and bring out the real candidates. Sadly, I get the distinct impression that isn’t going to happen.

    To begin, I’ll state my premise, abortion is murder. It ends the life of an innocent human, which is something we shouldn’t ever be complacent about. There isn’t a single thing morally ambiguous about murder. It’s wrong, because God declared it so in the Ten Commandments. “You shall not murder.” Additionally, scripture makes absolutely clear that a believer is obligated to preserve life, theirs and the lives of those around them, even if it means taking the life of the attacker. It’s for this reason I choose to speak up on the subject.

    Before I go any further, allow me to give a little bit of my background. I’ve been an Army Medic for more than eleven years. I currently serve in my State’s National Guard as a Platoon Medic for a Combat Engineer Company. Yes, EngMed is short for Engineer Medic. I’m a 39 year old married parent of nine kids. I have five sons and four daughters. Between that and my medical training, it’s safe to say that I’m very well versed in human reproduction. P.S. I’m being intentionally vague about many of the details of my life, including my gender, because I’m a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, still serving and there are groups that would love nothing more to find and kill me and my family. Ah, the joys of serving in a place that’s long confused mental instability with equilibrium.

    Continuing on, I’ll address the accusation of hypocrisy. Given that hypocrisy is a universal human trait, calling us hypocrites is rather like declaring water wet. At the risk of making a generalization, any true Christian will freely admit to being a hypocrite on one level or another. The difference here is, there isn’t anything hypocritical about supporting the death penalty while opposing abortion, unless you want to make the case that an innocent baby is morally the same as a convicted murderer.

    On the one hand, babies are utterly innocent, pure as the driven snow. Taking the life of an innocent isn’t just wrong, it’s offensive on a spiritual level that just can’t be described. It’s a violation of such magnitude, it’s on the short list of offenses that will cost a believer their salvation. The idea of shedding innocent blood is as offensive to us as our support of the death penalty is to you.

    Then we have murderers. Granted, they’re human beings, just like babies. However, that’s where the comparison ends. They’ve committed a crime for which the punishment is death. This is according to both the Bible and American jurisprudence. Much like the crime of murder, there isn’t any moral ambiguity.

    Next, we have the accusation stating that we pro-lifers are somehow blocking access to contraception. I found this one interesting, because I’m fairly certain one can buy condoms cheaply at any convenience store. Also, as y’all mentioned in your conversation, Planned Parenthood has given them away for free for a very long time. In fact, I can recall them handing out “brown bag specials” when I was in my teens. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that I haven’t ever supported the restriction of the above-mentioned access.

    Now, if you’re referring to the fact that some companies have sought an exemption from laws requiring they provide coverage that violate their religious beliefs, then I can say that I won’t ever support anything that violates the rights guaranteed under the same Constitution I swore to uphold and defend. That isn’t an attempt at restricting access to certain products or services, that’s standing up for their beliefs. People who dislike that must be reminded that employment is voluntary. If one doesn’t like their employer’s policies, then they’re free to seek employment elsewhere.

    Moving on, it seems to me like you and your friend are of the mind that, while horrifying and tragic, abortion shouldn’t be banned. Perhaps I’m reading wrong, but that’s the impression I’m getting. If that’s the case, I have to ask how y’all arrived at that opinion? This is the wholesale slaughter of unborn children we’re discussing here, not the latest album by Wiz Khalifa or Soulja Boy. Granted, they’re horrifying and tragic, but for entirely different reasons, not the least of which is the tragic set of circumstances that led to their particular form of drivel being erroneously referred to as “music”.

    Going back to the sentiment about the term pro-life, and what it seems to mean. You make the statement that it ought to mean seeking to preserve all life, even that of a convict. I’m assuming you’re referring to Death Row inmates. As I mentioned before, there isn’t anything even remotely off about such stances, from a scriptural standpoint. There is no moral equivalence between an unborn child and a murderer.

    Now, we get to the meat of the matter. Your third option to reducing abortion rates is solid, well thought out and insightful. For the most part, I like it. Here’s my problem. I’m a firm believer in the sentiment behind the statement, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” As such, I believe that grown ups ought to stand on their own two feet. That’s what being grown is all about.

    Now, does this mean I’m opposed to social programs, such as Food Stamps and Medicaid? No. I recognize that people can fall on hard times, either through bad circumstances or bad choices they’re trying to move past. However, the system as it currently exists is too easily abused, removes incentive to work and destroys the natural family structure by making it more lucrative to remove the father from the home. For a society to have any hope of survival, this trend needs to be reversed.

    Were it up to me, social programs would have a five year lifetime cap. There would be a requirement for either full-time employment, full-time schooling or a part-time combination of the two. This will ensure that recipients of these benefits will eventually arrive at a point where they no longer need them. That’s the idea, right? It’s meant to be a leg up? Five years is more than enough time to either receive a Bachelor’s Degree, or complete training through a trade school, with enough time to gain experience.

    It’s true that the definition of a parasitic relationship is one in which only one organism benefits, often to the detriment of the other. When viewed in a certain light, one could make the comparison to human pregnancy, if they were willing to ignore the obvious benefit of continuation of the species. I mean, if we stopped having babies altogether, that’s kinda the end, right? Seems like that might run counter to the whole idea of survival.

    You make the point about how we push for the inclusion of abstinence in Sex Ed. Of course we’re going to push for it. Setting aside what scripture says regarding the rightful place of sexual activity, there’s the practical aspect. It’s the only contraceptive method that is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Personally, I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?

    That’s the problem I’ve encountered when speaking with people who oppose us. They aren’t interested in the practical aspects of what we’re dealing with. It’s all about the here and now, later consequences are immaterial.

    I do find it interesting that you make the point about morality being only appropriate for the private, personal realm. What’s the phrase people use? “You can’t legislate morality”? Hasn’t anyone told you? Every law passed is doing exactly that. We legislate morality all the time. How else do we know that things like murder, rape, theft and lying are wrong? Morality.

    These aren’t just intrinsic values we’re born with. If you’ve spent any time with babies and toddlers, you’ll note that we’re inherently violent, dishonest and narcissistic. That has to be taught out of us, because we aren’t born with empathy. We have to develop it, through moral instruction. A child who never received that early instruction won’t ever develop a sense of empathy.

    Now, the point about who is seeking abortions is completely irrelevant. The marital status of women seeking abortions does nothing with regards to the morality of the act. Being married doesn’t make it any less immoral. Murder is murder. This line of logic would be akin to insisting that Ted Bundy wouldn’t have been a serial killer, if he’d only been married.

    Again, we’re back to the part about being grown. You’re insisting that it’s the government’s job to help people support their families and themselves. Here’s the problem with that premise. History has shown that a government big enough to give you everything, is big enough to take it all away. There’s a reason why the term “democide” exists. Look it up, and be horrified.

    I’m utterly fascinated by the fact that you said that abortion has absolutely no impact on how you’ll vote. Earlier in your conversation, you both express outrage over the act, referring to it with terms like “tragic”. It’s odd to me, because it was the final deciding factor in my choice of presidential candidate. I’ve chosen Darrel Castle, of the Constitution Party, because of his pro-life stance, among other factors. Everyone else I looked at was pro-choice. (side note: if you wanted a candidate more in line with your stated beliefs, might I recommend Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party? He isn’t the horrifying cartoon spectacle of Clinton vs. Trump)

    You mentioned that you have spoken with male politicians, and came away with the sense that they weren’t qualified to legislate regarding reproductive health. I’ll make two points regarding this. First, if you were to consult the Bill of Rights, you’d note that any form of health is actually not within the purview of our Federal government. It would in fact be reserved for states to regulate, if anyone was following the Constitution anymore. Within the last half a century, our government has made a sport out of weighing in on areas of life that aren’t within their purview, and history has shown that such overreaching never ends well for the people.

    Second, I can name one male politician who is absolutely qualified to speak on the topic of reproductive health. That would be Dr. Paul, ObGyn. But he’s pro-life, so people like to pretend that he’s unqualified. It mystifies me that people tend to overlook him, given that he’s a literal expert, with decades of experience. I swear, he’s ignored only because his opinions are unpopular.

    In conclusion, I hope I’ve at least made you stop and think about your position. You strike me as a very intelligent person, so I’m hopeful that the passage of time and experience will help you gain a new perspective. I’m morally obligated to speak out against this, given the outrageous nature of the offense. There are few things worse than shedding innocent blood. That’s all I have. May God bless you and yours.

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      1. Ok. I was going back through some of my notifications, saw this exchange and had begun to wonder at the lack of response. If I might asl, which part did you find disagreeable? As I said, I’d go as easy as truth permits. Unfortunately, tact isn’t one of my strong suits…

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  4. I know I’m a little late in the game but this post is absolutely phenomenal! I too battle with the moral complexities of the pro-life vs pro-choice issue. It’s so difficult to examine it as a black and white issue and yet that’s the only way our political sphere chooses to present it as. I’m very pleased to see some concrete, written explanation of how I view this oh-so controversial topic. Although, I too enjoy being challenged by opposing arguments and different viewpoints. This is one of my first posts I’ve read of yours and am more than excited to read more!

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