What sparked this post was a short video posted by Bill Nye, regarding the abortion debate. If you'd like to see it, check here. I'll wait.
If you didn't feel like checking it (or if I forgot to hotlink it) the gist was this: no one likes abortion, but trying to stop it by making it illegal has and never will work. You might as well try to get people to stop having sex. That's never worked in the history of humankind, either. We have some kind of twisted nostalgia for times that never existed when men and women never had sex before getting married, when everyone was straight, when all marriages were for life and no one ever had sex with anyone but their wedded spouse. That time in human history only exists in our fantasies of some Puritanical past. It's about time we got over it before sitting down to debate an issue that is driving a wedge between otherwise smart and friendly people to the point of electing a raving lunatic for the highest office in the land because some on his team feel that the other side, if in power, would be forcing women by the busload to terminate their pregnancies against their will.
This is nonsense, and we need to cut it out. We need to realize that we are far closer in our goals than those who benefit from our fight would like us to think. We would both like to reduce the number of abortions in our country. In the world, even. We want living babies who go on to live healthy, happy, productive lives.
Yes, I really do want that. I suspect you do, too.
Democrats need to take back this issue. We lose so many single issue voters because Republicans have painted us as abortion-lovers.
What we are, are people who support abortion-reduction* ideas that actually work. (And are cost-effective in the bargain.) I think it is time we stopped framing the debate as "People who value unborn life more than the value of personal decision" VS "People who do not value unborn life more than personal decision." Which is how we have all framed it for as long as I have been aware of the argument.
It's a false argument, at least for me. I do not actually value personal decisions more than I value human life, and I'm not sure any of the other Pro-Choice people I know do either. I believe that life is more important than most personal choices I might make.† Like Bill Nye says: Nobody likes abortion.
As he further noted, "Abstinence, closing abortion clinics and denying women birth control do not lead to a healthier society." I am a liberal democrat and I want to reduce the incidence of abortion. Closing clinics, making abortion illegal, teaching abstinence only in schools (and at home) and preventing women from having access to birth control - common tactics of the "Pro-Life" campaign - do not reduce abortion. The facts support this. Anyone who claims to be against abortion and supports reducing it through these methods supports ideas that simply do not work very well. A person is not "Pro-Life" if they do not support policies that actually work to reduce abortion. Especially so if they respond with death-threats and prayers for the death of women who disagree with them. I'm not sure what label they should have, but it isn't "Pro-Life." If you are Pro-Anything, I ask you this: If you have a goal, and the methods you use to reach it are proven not to work well, why do you keep using those methods?
People who support comprehensive free, reliable birth control for all women, comprehensive sex education, and research into male birth control are the ones actually advocating strategies that will and do reduce abortion by preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
I know that for some, providing a free IUD for any woman who wants one is tantamount to a holocaust. I know this, and I'm sorry you feel that way. The argument as to when life begins exactly is an unwinnable one. The most ardent adherents of the anti-abortion cause claim it's at the moment the sperm meets the egg that a fully-legal person begins, endowed with the same rights that I have. I can't argue with that. There is no science that can tell us if that is truly right or wrong. There may never be. The scientific definition is that it has the potential to eventually be alive when the zygote implants itself in the uterine wall. Up until that point it's like a seed that has been cast upon solid rock. All the genes are there, but you're not going to get a tree. Still others hold that viability outside the womb is the marking point. Even the Puritans had a definition -- when the woman could feel kicking inside of her. Only at "quickening" was the baby considered an actual life. It's estimated that 1/3 of all fertilized eggs do not implant, for their own reasons, and simply leave a woman along with the rest of her period. Perhaps some Pro-Lifers mourn this as well, but it has nothing to do with what man has wrought. It's just nature, and if it grieves you, again, I'm sorry.
This is a quandry rooted in religion, so the best I can offer to them is this: trust in your God to do what is right by those lives. Making abortion and birth control illegal will not save them. The best we can work towards is for the conception to not happen in the first place. You cannot, no matter how hard you legislate, stop human beings from having sex. So you need to let that go.
Maybe my Mirena has resulted in over 100 lives started in my fallopian tubes that found nothing to implant in. Or maybe it prevented the sperm from getting to where they wanted to go and no conceptions happened. We will never know any more than we will know if the millions of "late periods" each year were zygotes that shook loose, or failed to implant or any number of things. If you need to personally grieve that, then grieve.** I want to work with you to do what we can to reduce abortions the most that we can. Stop the sperm from getting out there in the first place. Stop the egg from being released at all. Use the methods that lead us to not knowing at all what happens inside a woman's body. Think of it as Schrödinger's fertilized egg. We can still work together on this.
I may not know (and neither do you) at what moment "life" begins. But I do know that if every pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy, then there is a very, very small need for abortion.††
This is something we can work together on. No more unwanted pregnancies. It's possible. We have the technology. All we need is the will to do it.
Pro-Life Liberal Democrats***. Striving to reduce abortions across the nation.
It's a radical notion, no?
*Yes, reduction.We are never going to get it to zero. If your goal is zero, then you're going to have to start killing a lot of women in the name of preventing them from having an abortion, and then all you have is a dead woman who cannot carry life inside of her. So let's aim to getting as close as we can to zero, without going overboard, shall we? To quote the inimitable Molly Ivins, "You cannot save the life of an unborn child by driving its mother to suicide."
†For the record, I think this is where the Pro-Choice argument usually goes off the rails by insisting that what I would choose for me, I cannot insist that someone else choose, too, for that is the foundation of our movement. No. It's not. Most of the Pro-Life crowd truly believe that an embryo is just as alive as I am, and killing that person is not a choice other people are allowed to make. I'm not allowed to choose kill a toddler or adult because they're making my life terribly, terribly hard, so why should I be allowed to kill an embryo? That's another trip down the rabbit hole of "when does life begin" and "when does the needs of that life trump the needs of my life" and it's just not an effective argument. Pro-Choicers need to quit arguing ineffectively, too.
**And can we stop with the sending of used tampons to legislators? It's counter-productive, makes Pro-Choice women seem crazy and dangerous, and it doesn't affect the people we want to affect anyway.
††No, I'm not getting into right now why someone might want to end a wanted pregnancy. All I'll say is that I know it happens, it's gut-wrenching, psyche-destroying, hellish awfulness I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy and it is never done on a whim.
***for another bit of something ironic sounding, I found this study cited by a website that used it as evidence that birth control does not reduce the incidence of abortion. I found it ironic that they would use a study whose conclusions were that more comprehensive education was necessary, and that more emergency contraception would reduce abortion rates as well. Well, that, and the overwhelming need for foolproof contraception.