Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Taboo breaking: still changing the conversation after 40 years

Yesterday, January 22, was the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that (more or less) legalized abortion for women in the United States.

Over the last year, I had occasion to work in fruitful, if uncomfortable, coalition with ethically serious religious people who really do believe that abortion is murder. When they seek to outlaw women's choice of abortion, they think they are "supporting equal protection of the law for prenatal children." Every zygote is a child in this perspective. Don't these good folks notice that something is missing? The woman -- the adult human bearing that potential creature -- I guess she's just a convenient vessel -- what happened to her full unique humanity, anyway? Kind of disappears, doesn't it?

Fortunately, polling on the occasion of this 40th anniversary says most us think that woman deserves to make her own decision about whether that potential child comes into her life.

... a majority of Americans – for the first time – believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

... a whopping 70 percent of Americans oppose the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned, including 57 percent who feel strongly about this.

That’s up from the 58 percent who said the decision shouldn’t be overturned in 1989; the 60 percent who said this in 2002; and the 66 percent who said this in 2005.

By comparison, just 24 percent now want the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, including 21 percent who feel strongly about this position.

Much of this change, the NBC/WSJ pollsters say, is coming from African Americans, Latinos and women without college degrees -- all of whom increasingly oppose the Supreme Court decision being overturned.

First Read, January 22, 2013

There's that "coalition of ascendant" that put the Prez and many Dems in office last November again, that harbinger of the country's direction and hope we've just seen again at the inauguration.
Out of respect for one of the unique women who have shared their unique experience of the choice to abort, I'll reprint below my friend Renee Bracey Sherman's story on this 40th anniversary. There's nothing easy or casual about this, but neither does she feel she ought to experience shame.

Indifferent. As I rode home from the abortion clinic and the days after the procedure, I felt indifferent. I had been told to expect overwhelming feelings of sadness and physical pain, yet I felt none. I felt fine. Not better than normal, but also not worse than normal. Indifferent. It was not at all what I was told to expect, by the doctors, the nurses, or what I had heard from friends.

I grew up in what many would call a ‘liberal’ family. We were middle class; my parents are both nurses, college educated, we lived in the suburbs of a major city, and we were a very open family. My parents are both ‘pro-choice’ and would have supported my decision when I was 19 years old to have an abortion, yet, why did it take me six years to tell them about it?

My experience wasn’t unlike other women’s; I had a steady boyfriend, I was on birth control, but I missed a few weeks of pills and became pregnant. At sixteen, when I told my mom about a friend’s abortion decision, she told me that it was a personal choice and one she supported. So, I should have been able to go to my parents when I needed support, right?

It just wasn’t that easy for me. Many of my cousins had children in their teens and were unable to finish high school and college, yet I was on track to do both. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother, I felt that if I told her that I was pregnant, I would let her down, make her mad. I felt that she and my father would be disappointed, even though they would have supported my decision....

Read the rest at Trusting Women archive.
The Rev’d Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton recently spoke at a Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Interfaith Service and quoted an insight that the people who would deny women the choice to abort an unwanted pregnancy would do well to remember:

Frederica Matthews-Green is quoted as saying, “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Animals and people fearing their own extinction will fight. Don't get in their way.

Perhaps there's a lesson there for my uncomfortable allies who want to do away with abortions: care for and honor those women; make sure they are protected from predatory men and can always secure convenient birth control; ensure they can escape the poverty that makes a child a burden; help them know they are valuable creatures in their own right. If those conditions aren't met, understand they'll fight, even it it means their own deaths. That wasn't the outcome you wanted, was it? Was it?


Anonymous said...

yes, that is the inorganic right-wing capitalist perspective.

for the organic left-socialist
stance, see here.

Anonymous said...

Record low number of people identifying as pro-choice. Record pro-lifers among 18-29 year-olds. The trends are clear.

Also, if we want to respect women, they are 4% more likely than men to think abortion is wrong. It is hardly surprising because abortion was legalized in Roe by all men--and in ways which serve the sexual and financial interests of men.

No one can be a true feminist unless they want equal protection of the law for all vulnerable populations--including women, racial minorities, gays/lesbians, and prenatal and neonatal children.

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