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Ten practical proposals for reclaiming the moral high ground.

Most Americans think of childbearing as a deeply personal or even sacred decision. So do most reproductive rights advocates. That is why we don’t think anybody’s boss or any institution should have a say in it. But for almost three decades, those of us who hold this view have failed to create a resonant conversation about why, sometimes, it is morally or spiritually imperative that a woman can stop a pregnancy that is underway.

My friend Patricia offers a single reason for her passionate defense of reproductive care that includes abortion: Every baby should have its toes kissed. If life is precious and helping our children to flourish is one of the most precious obligations we take on in life, then being able to stop an ill-conceived gestation is a sacred gift. Whether or not we are religious, deciding whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy is a process steeped in spiritual values: responsibility, stewardship, love, honesty, compassion, freedom, balance, discernment. But how often do we hear words like these coming from pro-choice advocates?

Our inability to talk in morally resonant terms about abortion has clouded the broader conversation about mindful childbearing. The cost in recent decades has been devastating. In developing countries millions of real women and children have died because abortion-obsessed American Christians banned family planning conversations as a part of HIV prevention efforts. Those lost lives reveal the callous immorality of the anti-choice movement.

Back home, here in the U.S., our inability to claim the moral high ground about abortion has brought us one of the most regressive culture shifts of a generation. We are, incredibly, faced with “personhood rights” for fertilized eggs, pregnancies that begin legally before we even have sex, politicians with “Rape Tourette’s,” and a stunningly antagonistic debate about contraceptive technologies that could make as many as ninety percent of unintended pregnancies along with consequent suffering and abortions simply obsolete.

The voices that are strongest on reproductive rights often falter when it comes to the cultural dialogue. At least part of this absence is because so many of the pro-choice movement's leaders and funders are secular and civic in their orientation, awkwardly uncomfortable with the moral and spiritual dimension of the conversation, or, for that matter, even with words like moral and spiritual. From language that seems moderately wise--Who decides?--we fall back on “safe, legal and rare” (a questionable effort to please everyone) or even the legal jargon of the “right to privacy.”

The other side talks about murdering teeny, weeny babies and then mind-melds images of ultrasounds and Gerber babies with faded photos of late term abortions. And we come back by talking about privacy?? Is that like the right to commit murder in the privacy of your own home or doctor’s office? Even apart from the dubious moral equivalence, let’s be real: In the age of Facebook and Twitter, is there a female under twenty-five in who gives a rat’s patooey about privacy, let alone thinks of it as a core value?

The right to privacy may work in court. But it is a proxy for much deeper values at play. Privacy simply carves out space for individual men and women to wrestle with those values. In the court of public opinion, it is the underlying values that carry the conversation.

Far too often those who care most about the lives of women and children and the fabric of life on this planet limit themselves to legal and policy fights. Fifty years ago, reproductive rights activists took the abortion fight to the courts and won, and they have kept that focus ever since. But the legal fight has drawn energy away from the broader conversation. And the emphasis on “privacy” has meant that even the most powerful stories that best illustrate our sacred values are too often kept quiet.

Legal codes and cultural sensibilities are never independent of each other. Abortion rights were secured legally because of a culture shift that was aided by anguished stories and statements by compassion-driven Christian theologians during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The brutal deaths of American women every year, at a peak of thousands in the 1930’s, was, beyond question or doubt, a profound immorality that many Americans were desperate to stop. Protestant leaders across the theological spectrum took a moral stand in support of legal abortion. In contrast to the Vatican, they had long agreed that thoughtful decision-making about whether to bring a child into the world serves compassion and wellbeing—the very heart of humanity’s shared moral core.

At this point it should be clear that the tide has turned. Opponents, having lost in court, instead took their fight to conservative churches, where they have been refining their appeals for forty years. The last few years have seen a systematic erosion of legal rights driven by a culture shift that had been building long before. It has also seen a complete reversal of the once-stalwart moral support for reproductive rights among American Protestants, which in the 1950s was seen as a moral good by almost every denomination from the most liberal to the most conservative. Unless this shift is challenged and stopped, there is every reason to fear that abortion will once again become inaccessible for most women in the U.S.

Can pro-choice advocates reclaim the moral and spiritual high ground? Yes. But to do so will require a challenge to the status quo on two fronts. Rather than ignoring the right's moral claims, we must confront their arguments. We must also express our pro-choice position in clear, resonant moral and spiritual terms. In other words, in combination, we must show why ours is the more moral, more spiritual position.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Most “pro-life” positions aren’t really pro-life; they are no-choice. They are designed to protect traditional gender roles and patriarchal institutions and, specifically, institutional religion. The Catholic Bishops and Southern Baptist Convention—both leaders in the charge against reproductive rights-- represent traditions in which male “headship” and control of female fertility have long been tools of competition for money and power. They use moral language to advance goals that have little to do with the wellbeing of women or children or the sacred web of life that sustains us all.

The arguments they make to attain these ends are powerful emotionally but not rationally. They appeal to antiquated and brittle conceptions of God. They appeal to the crumbling illusion of biblical and ecclesiastical perfection—and the crumbling authority of authority itself. They corrupt the civil rights tradition and turn religious freedom on its head. They play games with our protective instinct and cheapen what it means to be a person. They lie.

That adds up to a lot of vulnerability in what should be the stronghold of the priesthood: their claim to speak for what is good and right.

Republican Strategist Karl Rove will go down in history for his strategy of attacking enemies on their perceived strength -- for example, by attacking John Kerry on his war record. In the recent election, we saw this strategy in play on both sides. Obama proved to be less vulnerable than his opponents hoped on his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. But by the time the election was over, Romney’s strongest credential, his background in business, was seen by many as parasitic “vulture capitalism.” If we want Americans to understand and distance from the moral emptiness of the “pro-life” movement, we will have to challenge the patriarchs in on their home turf, in their position as moral guides.

Here, for openers, are a few ways we might change the conversation:

1. Talk about the whole moral continuum. A moral continuum ranges from actions that are forbidden, to those that are allowed, to those that are obligatory. When it comes to abortion, we talk only about one half of this continuum—Is it forbidden or is it allowed?—when, in actuality, a women faced with an ill-conceived pregnancy often experiences herself at the other end of the continuum, wrestling with a set of competing duties or obligations. What is my responsibility to my other children? To society? To my partner? To myself? (To cite a personal example, my husband and I chose an abortion under circumstances where it would have felt like a violation of our core values to do otherwise.) The current conversation doesn’t reflect the real quandaries women face, one in which moral imperatives can and do compete with other moral imperatives. Nor does it reflect the wide range of spiritual values and god concepts that enter into the decision making process.

  • No-choice advocates say: Abortion is immoral. God hates abortion.
  • We can say: For me, bringing a child into the world under bad circumstances is immoral. It violates my moral and spiritual values. / Whose god decides?

2. Challenge the personhood/fetus-as-baby concept both philosophically and visually. The history of humanity’s evolving ethical consciousness has focused on the question of who counts as a person, and if the arc bends toward justice it is because it is an arc of inclusion. Non-land-owning men, slaves, women, poor workers, children—our ancestors have fought and won personhood rights for each of these, and abortion foes are smart to invoke this tradition. But their ploy involves a sleight of hand. The civil rights tradition is built on what a “person” can think and feel. By contrast, the anti-choice move is about DNA, and it seeks to trigger visual instincts that make us feel protective toward anything that looks remotely like a baby, even a stuffed animal. In reality, the tissue removed during most abortions is minute, a gestational sac the size of a dime or quarter, which is surprising to people who have been exposed to anti-abortion propaganda. It strikes almost no-one as being the substance of “personhood.”
  • They say: Abortion is murder. Abortion kills little babies.
  • We can say: A person can think and feel. My cat can feel hungry or hurt or curious or content; an embryo cannot. / Thanks to better and better pregnancy tests, over 60 percent of abortions now occur before 9 weeks of gestation. Want to see what they actually look like?

3. Admit that the qualities of personhood begin to emerge during gestation. Pregnancy is no longer the black box it was at the time of Roe v. Wade. Ultrasound and photography have made fetal development visible, and research is beginning to offer a glimpse into the developing nervous system, with the potential to answer an important question: What, if anything, is a fetus capable of experiencing at different stages of development? Although this isn’t the only question in the ethics of abortion, it undeniably relevant. How we treat other living beings has long been guided by our knowledge of what they can experience and want. By implication, ethics change over the course of pregnancy. A fertilized egg may not be a person except by religious definitions, but by broad human agreement a healthy newborn is, and in between is a continuum of becoming. Most Americans understand this argument morally and emotionally. The Roe trimester framework also codified it legally. Ethical credibility requires that we acknowledge and address the ethical complexities at stake.
  • They say: A fetus is a baby. A baby is a living soul from the moment of conception.
  • We can say: In nature, most fertilized eggs never become babies. A fetus is becoming a baby, grows into a baby, is a potential person, or is becoming a person.

4. Pin blame for high abortion rates where it belongs – on those who oppose contraception—and call out the immorality of their position because it causes expense and suffering. Unintended pregnancy is the main cause of abortion. Right now half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. For women under 30, that’s almost 70%. A third of those pregnancies end in abortion. The reality is that abortion is an expensive invasive medical procedure. For the price of one abortion, we can provide a woman with the best contraceptive protection available, something that will be over 99% effective for up to twelve years. If every woman had information and access to state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives, half of abortions could go away before Barack Obama gets out of office.
  • They say: Liberals are to blame for abortion. Planned Parenthood is an abortion mill.
  • We can say: Obstructing contraceptive knowledge and access causes abortion and unwanted babies. That’s what’s immoral. We have the technology to prevent almost all of the suffering and expense caused by unintended pregnancy, but many women don’t have access to that information or technology because of the twisted moral priorities of religious and cultural conservatives. Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood have done more to prevent abortions in America than all of the choice opponents combined. The no-choice position is anti-life. It kills women. It puts faith over life.

5. Acknowledge and address the powerful mixed feelings surrounding abortion. The most common emotional reaction to abortion is relief. That said, women react physically and emotionally in a variety of ways to terminating a pregnancy. Sometimes, even those who are clear that they have made the best decision feel a surprising intensity of loss. Women should be given the support they need to process whatever their experience may be. We also need to understand that some abortion opponents actively induce guilt and trauma in women who have had abortions.
  • They Say: Abortion is psychologically scarring. Women end up haunted by guilt and permanently traumatized after having an abortion.
  • We can say: No one should do something that violates her own values. Violating your values is wounding; that is why each woman should be supported in following her own moral, spiritual and life values when making decisions about pregnancy.

6. OWN religious freedom. Religious freedom is for individuals, not institutions. If the women and men who work for religious institutions all perceived the will of God in the same way, their employers wouldn’t be trying to control them by controlling their benefits package. Religious institutions have always tried to override the spiritual freedom of individuals, and they use the arm of the law as a lever whenever they can, and that is what they are doing now.
  • They say: Employers shouldn’t be forced to provide contraceptive or abortion coverage.
  • We Can Say: The freedom to choose how your employees spend their hard earned benefits and the freedom to choose whether to have a child are two very different things. No institution—and nobody’s boss--should have a say in one of the most personal and sacred decisions we can make: whether to have child. That is why all women, regardless of who they work for, should have access to the full range of contraceptives and reproductive care.

7. Talk about children and parenting, not just women. Responsible and loving parents do what they can to give their kids a good life. We take our kids to doctors, get them the best schooling we can afford, love them up, and pour years of our lives into helping them acquire the skills that will let them be happy, kind, generous, hard-working adults. But parenting starts before we even try to get pregnant. We consider our own education and finances and whether we have the kind of partnership or social support that would help a child to thrive. We may quit smoking or drinking to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy. More often than not, the decision to stop a given pregnancy is a part of this much bigger process of mindful, responsible parenting.
  • They say: Abortion is selfish. Women just want to have sex without consequences.
  • We can say: A loving mother makes hard decisions to bring her kids the best life possible. A responsible woman takes care of herself. A caring father wants the best life possible for his children. Wise parents know their limits.

8. Embrace abortion as a sacred gift or blessing. For years we have talked as if abortion were a lesser evil, rather than a remarkable gift. In reality, no medical procedure is pleasant and yet the option to have the treatments and surgeries we need is an unmitigated good. The term “safe, legal and rare” confuses things because it implies that what should be rare is the treatment rather than the problem, unintended pregnancy. An abortion should be exactly as safe, legal and rare as a surgery to remove swollen tonsils or an infected appendix. If we think about abortion like we think about other medical services, then the attitude is one not of shame or ambivalence but of gratitude.
  • They say: Abortion is bad. An abortion is regrettable.
  • We can say: An ill-conceived pregnancy is bad. An unintended pregnancy is regrettable. An abortion when needed is a blessing. It is a gift, a grace, a mercy, a cause for gratitude, a new lease on life. Being able to choose when and whether to bring a child into the world enables us and our children to flourish.

9. Honor doctors who provide abortion services as we honor other healers. The human body fends off most infections and cancers, but not all. It spontaneously heals most broken bones and closes many wounds but not all. Similarly, it spontaneously aborts most problem pregnancies, but not all. Nature tends to abort pregnancies where there are problems with cell division or fetal development, where there is little chance for a fetus to become a healthy, thriving person. Through medical or surgical abortion, as through every other medical procedure, doctors and healers extend the work of nature—of God, if you will—to promote health and wellbeing. By ending pregnancies that don’t have a good chance to turn into thriving children and adults, they are—literally or metaphorically--doing God’s work.
  • They say: Abortionists are murderers.
  • We can say: God (or Nature) aborts most fertilized eggs. Abortion doctors are compassionate healers who devote their lives to helping women and men ensure that they have strong, well-planned, wanted families. Their work is as sacred as any in the field of medicine.

10. Honor women who decide to terminate pregnancies just as we honor motherhood. Sometimes the decision to end a problem pregnancy is clear and simple. Other times not. Either way, a woman often has to fight off a sense of shame and blame that she has internalized from religious and social conservatives -- too often, including other women. She may feel bad even when her own values are clear and the decision has been thoughtful. How often do we affirm and honor the wisdom of women who make difficult childbearing choices (abortion, adoption, waiting) so as to best manage their lives and their parenting?

Most women chose an abortion so that they can later choose a well-timed pregnancy; or so they can take good care of the kids they have, ensuring those kids have the best possible chance in life. Sometimes a woman ends a pregnancy because she is choosing to put her life energy elsewhere. Even then, she is accepting that to embrace life fully she must choose among the kinds of good available to her and take responsibility for avoiding harm. She may or may not put it in these terms, but those are moral and spiritual questions, the kind that religion has long sought to guide. That is why many religious traditions support a woman or couple in weighing their own deepest values when it comes to reproductive decisions.

As individual stories show, the decision to end a pregnancy may be based in humility, responsibility, nurturing, prudence, forethought, vision, aspiration, stewardship, love, courage. . . . or some combination of these qualities. Mere tolerance fails to affirm the many strengths that go into reproductive decisions including the decision to end a pregnancy. These are virtues worthy of honor.

  • They say: An abortion is shameful. An abortion should be kept secret. An abortion needs to be forgiven by God.
  • We can say: Choosing abortion can be wise and brave. It can be loving and generous. It can be responsible and self-sacrificing.

In the end the real morality of our position lies in the right of babies to be truly loved and wanted and in the right of parents to bring babies into this world when they're fully ready to welcome them with open arms. As my friend Patricia said, every baby should have its toes kissed. Her simple message speaks volumes. Parents who get to plan and choose are more likely to eagerly await that toe kissing. They are more likely to have the emotional energy that makes those little toes irresistible even after sleepless nights and days of work. They are more likely to have a supporting community that can kiss toes when they are busy. They are more likely to have what it takes when a baby turns into a kid, and toe kissing turns into play dates and homework and I-think-we-need-to-talk. And they are more likely to still be kissing when they have to stand on their own toes to plant a peck on the cheek of a kid who’s on the way out the door with the car keys.

Toe kissing is a small, spontaneous celebration of love and life, the same values that are at the heart of our spiritual traditions. They are the values that no-choice, anti-abortion leaders claim to represent, but represent so poorly. We would do well to say so.

-------

Thank you to Brian Arbogast and Sara Robinson for their input on early drafts of this article.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington.  She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com  Our inability to talk in morally resonant terms about abortion has clouded the broader conversation about mindful childbearing. The cost in recent decades has been devastating.

Originally posted to Valerie Tarico on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Personhood is conferred when... (12+ / 0-)

    a woman says to herself, "This is my baby."

    Saw that on Twitter, wish I could remember the author to credit. Thanks for a well-reasoned diary. Unfortunately, your arguments will only appeal to logical people. They make perfect sense to ME. But to a spittle-frothing forced-birther, the only thing that matters is that women be held hostage to the zygote.

    We need to be punished for having purposely non-procreative sex, punished for being the victims of rape or incest, must be dependent on a strong, manly provider, stay out of the workforce, and of course the baby needs to grow up unloved and in poverty to eventually become private prison fodder. You must have noticed that the actual fate of the baby, once born, is of no interest to forced-birthers.

    But..it's worth it to keep fighting for choice. I'll never stop.

  •  Abortion Is Birth Control (6+ / 0-)

    This is my view.

    I believe that women, if she wants, should have access to abortion at every stage of pregnancy, without legal limits. What an individual woman does with that right is a private matter.

    What concerns me is how we increasingly refuse to acknowledge the humanity of those who have already been born.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 11:14:32 AM PST

    •  Really? I honestly have to disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ValerieTarico

      First, there is a Huge difference between an embryo at 9 weeks and a fetus at 6 months. My understanding is that the whole late term abortion issue is largely a myth. Are there real life examples of healthy women terminating healthy pregnancies in the 3rd trimester??

      At the risk of getting pies thrown at me, I don't know anyone, of any political persuasion, who would think it was fine for a woman to have an abortion after the point that the fetus/baby could survive outside the womb unless it was a case of serious medical issues for the mother or the fetus.

      Second, the idea that women use abortion as birth control is an accusation that has been used by anti choice forces for years, and again, I don't know any real life example of this.

      Women I know who have had abortions have never, ever looked at them as a form of birth control, but as the best choice available in a difficult circumstance.

      I think one of the best arguments for reproductive rights is that women who have made the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy should be able to do so early on, without legal impediments.

  •  2 questions for anti-abortionists (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, Pandoras Box, swampyankee

    1) How many children have you adopted who stood in need of adoption?
    2) What have you done to make a child's life better (other than your own)?
    You demand that all fetuses be born; what responsibility have you taken for this viewpoint?

    One other thing to not allow these folks to do: they claim they are the current day abolitionists.  They are not;  Abolitionists such as Henry Ward Beecher or Harriet Beecher Stowe or the poet Whittier would not have embraced forcing women to carry to term.  They lived so that shackles would be struck off all of humanity while the anti-abortionists would chain all women  

    •  Sadly, the answer to this is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      They do not really need to adopt or save any child born into poverty and abuse for this simple, hateful reason.  Their god is omnipotent. He sees everything, knows everything, created everything and controls everything. If their god is good those he 'punishes' them then they are bad.  If god chose for me to be born into a troop of angry, violent, drunken baboons, What right have they to interfere? The only reason their god would allow human suffering is if those humans deserved to suffer. Therefore, since they are good Christians and are not suffering they know they are right and those suffering are being justly punished.

      Most recently expressed on an Athiest radio program by a man who asked if maybe child rape victims were evil.

      I say this as someone who grew up in a troop of violent, drunken baboons and getting 'justly punished'.

      That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

      by stevie avebury on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 12:24:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  memes matter (4+ / 0-)

    As the diarist points out not much about our opponents is really "pro-life".  That's why I call them "forced-birth"

    I also wonder if "pro-choice" is the best terminology, seems lukewarm to me.  I think something like "reproductive rights" carries more gravitas. Consider:

    Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
    Are you for forced-birth or reproductive rights?

  •  A lot of the problem has to do with language (5+ / 0-)

    Names matter, and affect us unconsciously. For example, the name we gave to our side undermines us. "Pro Choice" trivializes a position that in reality has all the moral necessity -- and should carry all the moral force -- of the civil rights movement. No question. Abortion is a human rights issue.  "Pro-choice"  calls up an image of a picky woman choosing ice cream flavors, fussing over the color of a dress. It makes her sound spoiled, and it gives them rope to hang us with. "She didn't want to ruin her figure so she got an abortion" -- it feeds right into that kind of foul thinking. It doesn't carry the life-and-death importance of the issue. Language is powerful, and I am sure our movement name has chipped away at the effectiveness of our side. Purely in regard to the emotions carried by language, how can "pro-choice" ever compete with "pro-life"? But what to call us? Something along the lines of 'Advocates of reproductive justice' is a little awkward, but at least carries the right moral force.

    Also, since 2005 I have steadfastly referred to pro-lifers as "advocates of forced birth." This thrusts the spotlight right into that dark area they they totally negate -- what the woman is going through. The fears, the sense of violation, she must be experiencing. The other side spends so little time thinking of the issue from the woman's point of view that they've actually convinced themselves (I've seen this in their writings) that all pregnant women want babies but the problem is that mean boyfriends (or Planned Parenthood, etc., etc.) browbeat them into having abortions. We need to put women at the center of the discussion where they belong. And keep hammering away at the fact that women's rights are human rights.

  •  Worry about the living children (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mamamedusa, VirginiaBlue

    first.

    Then we can all worry about the rights of embryos.  

    I think many people feel that women need choices and abortion should be legal and available, but it has become unbecoming to say it out loud for all the reasons you list above.

    My son is called baby killer at school (freshman in high school) for expressing support for a woman's right to choose.

    The weird thing is that it seems to be more a joke than anything.  I think this debate has become so overwrought that evangelicals are beginning to lose the youth, at least the educated youth.  Those home-"schooled" fundies who have control over every breath of their children I'm sure have indoctrinated them thoroughly.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 11:45:15 AM PST

  •  This is a very interesting diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, mslat27

    I wish there were more eyes on it.

  •  Outstanding diary (4+ / 0-)

    Truly a great post that cuts to the heart of the matter.    

    Republished to Sexism & Patriarchy.

  •  I'm struck by the way your term (0+ / 0-)

    "ill-conceived pregnancy" sounds so banal, like an ill-conceived U-turn.

    •  One of the ironies, one of the immoralities (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandoras Box

      --to my mind--at play here is that people often put as little fore-thought into the wisdom of a conception as the wisdom of a u-turn.    With great power comes great responsibility, and as a consequence, the advance of technologies changes our moral landscape.  At this point we have technologies that can allow virtually every pregnancy (99+%) to be a sought pregnancy, an intended pregnancy.  The primary barrier, the reason that half of the pregnancies in this country are unintended is due to the antagonism of religious conservatives toward mindful childbearing and toward sexuality more broadly.    

      Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.--Jacob Bronowski www.WisdomCommons.org

      by ValerieTarico on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 03:38:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a truly outstanding contribution! (4+ / 0-)

    You're exactly right in that the defense of the election to have an abortion must be framed as a truly responsible, indeed loving, act. Early stages of human development are not, profoundly not, persons.  Making that case is challenging both tactically and substantially, but much ground can be gained by keeping the human reality of  parental choice from being obscured by reflexive bible thumping.   Thank you for this excellent piece!

    Almost nothing has a name.

    by johanus on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 01:11:09 PM PST

  •  Excellent diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, Pandoras Box

    Thanks for posting this, Valerie.

    We must proclaim the right of women to decide when and if they continue a pregnancy.

    I think your #8 is the most important here; a woman making the decision to terminate a pregnancy when she knows it isn't the right time is doing something just as important as a woman getting ready to welcome a new baby.

  •  A thoughtful and sensitive diary that cuts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, VirginiaBlue

    through the hysteria fueled by the Forced Birthers.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 03:50:13 PM PST

  •  They made it about babies, we made it about women (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, VirginiaBlue

    Which was a losing way to frame the debate around abortion from the start, I hate to say. But the reality is that we live in a culture where memes about women exercising the right to privacy when it comes to ending an unwanted pregnancy are going to lose out to memes about how innocent, vulnerable babies deserve a chance at life regardless of how selfish, uncaring, or deluded their mothers might be.  

    There are so many excellent points in this diary about the many reasons why we've lost the moral debate on abortion, but I love the idea of talking about how all babies deserve to have their toes kissed. I've never understood why abortion rights advocates haven't more strongly emphasized a less poetic variation of that point--that every baby deserves to be wanted and to be chosen.

    I remember the first time I heard this argument as a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic girl of 12 who firmly believed abortion was a sin committed by wayward women. It had never dawned on me to consider it from the viewpoint of the unwanted baby or to imagine what it would be like to be born to reluctant parents. I'm now a firm believer in abortion rights for many other reasons, but that was the first time the pro-choice position resonated with me on a moral level.  

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