There is a never-ending conflict about abortion. But there are few real debates.
I have been involved with both the Christian Pregnancy Care Centre and Planned Parenthood.
I was paid to support a woman who volunteered at Planned Parenthood at a time when I was very anti-choice. I read their literature and questioned the staff, trying to make sense of what I was told about Planned Parenthood, abortion and the people who supported it.
I couldn’t make it work. These women were full of joy, passionate about helping people, and believed that education and empowerment of youth would be beneficial to all society. Most shocking for me was that one of them did not regret her own abortion. At all.
I had been told that all women who had abortions were filled with shame and guilt. Apparently, the literature showed that those who were mostly belonged to the religious groups telling them they should be.
What? The guilt and shame didn’t come from some innate rule that god instilled into humans? It came from religion? I couldn’t accept that.
My experience at the Pregnancy Care Centre was very positive. The Centre is mostly staffed by social workers and has a huge emphasis on education. We volunteers had binders (shelves of binders) to read on psychology and social issues, mostly pertaining to abuse and trauma. As peer counsellors we weren’t to replace professional help, but to be additional support.
Training would take over a year and in the months I was there, I ended up mostly helping poor immigrant women find clothing for their children. The occasional counselling situation that I sat in on, as a trainee, was not focused on pregnancy and abortion, but on helping the young women in abusive relationships get the support they needed.
The Centre was tapped into every social assistance program and outreach in the city. Much of what they did was referrals.
I think that they were mostly true pro-lifers. They were dedicated to the well-being of the women and men who came. No shaming of discussion around abortion was allowed. It was there that I learned that safe abortion generally has much lower risks to a woman than carrying a baby to term.
I can’t say that about the majority of anti-choice people are pro-lifers and dedicated to education. The majority that I’ve met are poorly educated on the topic.
The discussion of abortion from an anti-choice person centres around ‘love’ for god and the unborn. They cannot comprehend woman’s rights as a viable issue in the discussion.
In fact, it can often be used to make people who otherwise view women as capable humans to decry women’s rights.
By educating women, allowing them to have vocational choices, etc. they see that women are choosing to have abortions. They become afraid that by giving women equal rights, they are making women into murderers. And, what is worse than her being a murderer, is for her to challenge “the family”. By “family values” they mean “patriarchal law”.
The fear for this is enormous. Never mind the fact that countries in which abortion and contraception are available do not have the predicted chaos and violence. Never mind that those countries which are most hostile to human rights and in which you would not want a child to grow up in often do follow “family values”.
There is no logic because the fear of angering a patriarchal god demands the sacrifice of both reason and women’s rights. Talking about women’s rights only lets them think they are right to curtail them in order to ‘save the babies’.
Caricatures make sure that a person must have much courage to even speak calmly to a pro-choicer, let alone listen to them and investigate the pro-choice arguments. Never mind investigating the arguments of their own side.
I found this chart which shows how the actions of many anti-choice groups demonstrate which motive is more coherent for their actions.
Are they really motivated by belief that abortion is child murder? Or is a punitive attempt to punish women for not having the ‘right’ kind of sex?
I had to step out of viewing the god of the bible and his spokesmen as the moral authority before I could evaluate the arguments.
For many fundies, if god’s law and women’s rights are not compatible, women’s rights are immoral.
Therefore, anything that makes them suffer for not following god’s “morality” is good. I think this chart is accurate but it is the rare fundy who can see through the ‘love of god and babies’ rhetoric to recognize it.
And it is frustrating to find out that the real argument is in the nature of god instead of in biology, ethics, and rights.