Sunday, January 31, 2010

The "Pro-Life" Veil

The other day, I attempted to donate blood. When I was in the blood donation center, I saw an ad that featured a smiling baby holding a teddy bear, and on it there were the words "Save A Life!". The first thing that you see when you open up their webpage are the words "Give The Gift Of Life". Their ads and slogans are strikingly similar to anti-choice ads, slogans, posters, etc. They use emotional appeal, they love to show off smiling babies in their ads, and they encourage people to "save a life". If I didn't know any better, I'd think that the anti-choice movement and the advocates for blood donation actually shared the common goal to save lives.

Boy, is that statement wrong. The two movements couldn't be more far apart from each other.

The anti-choice movement is, in all actuality, very pro-death. They support the killing of women and doctors, and they go on to disguise their real intentions by hiding behind the term "pro-life". They use emotional appeal, not facts, to brainwash people into believing that they are, in fact, for life. In our world, we consider it possible for someone to be pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture, pro-back alley abortion, pro-killing of doctors and "pro-life" all at the same time. Whose life is it that they're supporting, again?

You know who I consider pro-life? People who work at blood donation centers, people who donate blood, vegans and vegetarians, people who adopt animals in need, doctors who save lives, etc. It's more than just talk for those people. They act to help defend life, as opposed to anti-choice people who say that they defend life, and then go on to do as much as they can to destroy it.

Pro-Life is a term that's designed to kill. The phrase "pro-life" implies that pro-choicers are anti-life. It implies that doctors who save women's lives are against life. As Dr. Hern says, pro-life "is a dagger of psychological warfare that is backed by hate and terror." Doctors are being killed because of anti-choice rhetoric. When they send out the message that doctors are pro-death Nazis who murder babies, they dehumanize them and brainwash people into believing that doctors are okay to kill. The term pro-life is simply a mask. It's a veil that is being used to disguise their true intentions.

"There is an hour to come...when all of us shall cast aside our veils."
-Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Minister's Black Veil)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's State the Obvious: Roeder is Guilty

Today, terrorist Scott Roeder was found guilty of 1st degree premeditated murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Foulston told the court that she will pursue a "hard 50", meaning that Roeder will have to serve at least 50 years before the possibility of parole. Dr. Tiller's family released this statement:

"The family of Dr. George Tiller would like to thank the jury, District Attorney Nola Foulston and her office and law enforcement for their service in this difficult matter. Once again, a Sedgwick County jury has reached a just verdict. We also want to thank George's countless friends and supporters in Wichita and around the country who have offered their comfort.

"At this time we hope that George can be remembered for his legacy of service to women, the help he provided for those who needed it and the love and happiness he provided us as a husband, father and grandfather."

I'm very thankful, I really am. I'm happy that this terrorist is going to get what he deserves. I'm happy that he was convicted of 1st degree murder. However, we have still lost a great man. Even if another doctor were to step up and take Dr. Tiller's place, Dr. Tiller was so much more than just a doctor. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend, and a hero to many people. The pro-choice movement can not forget Dr. Tiller, along with the 7 other providers that anti-choice terrorists brutally killed. We can't afford to forget them, even when things are going strong for us. Even in all of my happiness about Roeder's conviction, I can't help but to ask myself this: How many more doctors will have to die?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What "Trust Women" Means To Me

This is a (delayed) response to NARAL's prompt for Blog for Choice day.

To me, to trust women means..

to believe them when they say "I do not regret my abortion" instead of saying "you will eventually!"
to support their choice to have a natural birth.
to offer a rape victim compassion and understanding instead of telling him/her that s/he "shouldn't have been walking alone", that s/he "shouldn't have gone to that person's house", or that s/he "shouldn't have gotten so drunk".
knowing that you don't know what's best for a woman. She does.
not forcing sterilization upon them.
to believe them if they are hurt after their abortions, and to offer them love and support.
not forcing abortion upon them.
refraining from telling a woman that she's "too young to decide if she doesn't want children" and denying her a tubal ligation.
to support their right to feed their children in public, and to do so without judgment and criticism.
not forcing adoption upon them.
to support their right to have a c-section, and to do so without judgment and criticism.
to support their choice to give birth at home.
supporting the choice to work outside of the home.
not forcing pregnancy upon them.
to support their choice to have an epidural when giving birth.
refraining from calling women and the doctors that help them "baby killers", "murderers", or "nazis".
to support their right not to breastfeed, and to do so without judgment and criticism.
refraining from harassing women who are just trying to see the doctor.
not working tirelessly to take away their basic human rights.
being an advocate for their access to health care.
supporting the choice to stay at home.
to support their choice to give birth in a hospital.
not expecting them to live up to the beauty standard that society has set.
to recognize the fact that women are full persons with full human rights, including the right to liberty.

To sum it all up; to me, trusting women means being pro-choice. Without being pro-choice you can not and do not trust women. If you are anti-choice, you don't trust women with their own bodies, with their own lives, and with their own families. You're pretending that you know each individual woman better than she knows herself. You're devaluing women. You're treating them like objects, much like rapists do. To be anti-choice is to deny women of their humanity.

I choose to trust women because of my mom, my cousins, my best friends, my aunts, and my grandmothers. I choose to remember all of the amazing things that they might do, and have done, for this world. I choose to recognize their personhood.

I trust women because I know that Dr. Slepian, Dr. Gunn, Dr. Britton, James Barret, Shannon Lowney, Lee Ann Nichols, Robert Sanderson, and Dr. Tiller did not give their lives for nothing. God bless them.

I trust women because, without trusting half of the population, you do not trust humanity. I have faith in humanity.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eight Reasons

"In 1982, Dr. Hector Zevallos and his wife were taken captive by the “Army of God” in Granite City, Illinois, because of Dr. Zevallos’ work in performing abortions. After two dozen clinic bombings in 1984, FBI Director William Webster said that the incidents weren’t terrorism because “we don’t know who’s doing it.” Since those times, the anti-abortion rhetoric has been filled with descriptions of doctors as “baby killers,” “mass murderers” and “child killers.” The antiabortion fanatics call themselves “prolife” while they are killing doctors and other health workers who help women. This despicable phrase implies that those of us who save women’s lives are “prodeath” and “anti-life.” “Pro-life” is not a neutral, descriptive term. It is a dagger of psychological warfare that is backed by hate and terror. It is a profound libel and insult to those who help women. Words kill, and the phrase “pro-life” is an obscene and grotesque sophistry. It is a cruel and vicious fraud."

-Dr. Warren Hern on the death of George Tiller (Warning: PDF)

This is "Pro-Life":
13,995 harassing calls or hate mail
659 anthrax threats
406 death threats
179 instances of assault/battery
175 instances of arson
100 butyric acid attacks
96 attempted bombings or arson
41 bombings
17 attempted murders
4 kidnappings

and 8 people, dead and gone, due to the movement that masquerades behind the label "Pro-Life". 8 families in pain. Because of "Pro-Life" there are children who lost grandparents and parents. Because of "Pro-Life" there are spouses who have been left spouseless. Eight people who are no longer here to continue helping the world, to continue helping women in desperate situations. As Dr. Hern says, these people represented a thought. The assassins wanted to kill a thought. The assassins wanted to kill liberty.

Those eight people gave us eight reasons to keep on defending choice. The reasons:

Dr. Barnett Slepian
, Dr. David Gunn, Dr. John Britton and James Barret, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, Robert Sanderson, and, most recently, Dr. George Tiller.

Eight reasons to keep on defending choice. Eight reasons as to why anti-choice is not pro-life.

Yes, I Am Pro-Abortion

"No one wants an abortion, therefore I am not pro-abortion."

How many times have you heard pro-choice people expressing this sentiment? I hear it on Twitter, on blogs, in real life.. It's a troublesome statement. Abortion is a naughty word. No one, even among the pro-choice community, is supposed to portray abortion as a good thing. We're supposed to hate abortion. We're supposed to think that it's terrible. We advocate for abortion to become safe, legal, and "rare". The anti-choicers have succeeded in scaring us away from the word "abortion". The question is this: Why have we let them?

We must be careful with our words, because words are powerful. Words can hurt people, and words can silence people. Do not say "no one wants an abortion", which is a potentially silencing statement for women who do want their abortions, when you mean to say "no one wants an unwanted pregnancy". Don't say "I'm not pro-abortion", when you do in fact support abortion, among many other choices. Being pro-abortion is a small part of the larger picture. You can't be pro-choice without being pro-abortion, along with being pro-pregnancy, pro-adoption, pro-parenting, etc. Let's quit with the "safe, legal, and 'rare'" sentiment. When it's safe and legal, and when we have comprehensive sex education, we will have as many abortions as we need.

Anti-choicers have shamed us into avoiding the a-word. It's time to reclaim the word. It's time to make it our own again. In order to remove the stigma attached to having an abortion, we have to first remove the stigma attached to the word in our own statements. It's time to accept that abortion isn't terrible. Abortion is a blessing.

“Let’s be very clear about this: when a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion — often a late-term abortion — to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion — there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember — abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.”

–Rev. Katherine Ragsdale