Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The complex feelings of many women who've had abortions
July 1, 2009 11:55 AM   Subscribe

"Every day I talk to people who have always been against abortion, . . . who are having an abortion. Or I talk to people who are pro-choice, [yet are] freaked out by [having an abortion]." Many women you know [have had an abortion]. Odds are, they never said a word about it to you. "We need to discuss the complex feelings of women who've had abortions." While many women experience only relief after an abortion, others may grieve for the lost pregnancy."Why flatten the decisions around abortion to just abortion?"

But by talking about women's emotions around abortion, aren't you actually feeding that ["abortion hurts [most] women"] strategy [of] the right?
American Psychiatric Association (APA): We must distinguish illnesses from feelings.


Spiritual and Emotional Health:

[A woman] needs to know there are friends, family, and/or clergy who do not judge her, who will listen to her feelings without interpreting them, and who will give her encouragement to plan her future.
I know I/we made the right choice in having an abortion, [but] is there something that I or we can do to acknowledge that this would have been a child?

Nonjudgmental Resources in the US:

Pregnancy Options Workbook: The people who put together this book support you no matter what you choose. We have tried to give you a realistic picture of all the choices you can make--abortion, adoption, and being a parent. You will find exercises to help you make the best decision for you [including spiritual and religious concerns about abortion, and post-abortion healing rituals].

Before and after an abortion
Backline: Offers unbiased and medically-accurate information to our callers, and our Talk Line Advocates remain politically neutral when speaking with callers.

After an abortion
Read, write, or send messages from your heart to another heart about your abortion experience at Heartssite.com.
Exhale Talkline: We believe that after an abortion, whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, you deserve to have your own unique experience seen and heard, and to get what you need for your long-term emotional well-being. This is the"pro-voice" message.

Previously 1, 2, 3.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (184 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just for the record--you can be pro-choice and personally balk at the idea of having an abortion yourself. This is one reason those stupid "Your mother was pro-life" stickers drive me up a wall...that is an invalid assumption. There's nothing about being pro-choice that says you have to love abortion or even be open to the idea of having one yourself. That's why it's called "pro-CHOICE," not "pro-abortion."

When people act like this is hypocritical or confusing, I just don't know what to say.
posted by ifjuly at 11:58 AM on July 1, 2009 [31 favorites]


A friend of mine asked me to make her a t-shirt on the subject.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


And to many women and to some clergy, 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.

posted by allen.spaulding at 12:06 PM on July 1, 2009 [44 favorites]


If people wouldn't go apeshit over abortion, maybe women could talk about it. But, as is, even other women scowl and ostracize women like they have some fucking right.

This debate is absolutely ludicrous. It should be completely legal, with zero regard to some string-pulling morality.

The decision to have an abortion is a singular, and belongs to the woman.

Or, to paraphrase, there is no heaven and abortion is awesome.
posted by four panels at 12:09 PM on July 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


But by talking about women's emotions around abortion, aren't you actually feeding that ["abortion hurts [most] women"] strategy [of] the right?

If anything, I think shining a light on the incredibly difficult and often painful emotions a woman goes through before electing to have an abortion is a good thing, as it puts a very real, very human face on the fallacy of the casual-abortion-gettin'-hussy that is one of the tenets of the anti-choice movement.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:10 PM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


In the heart to heart link, most of the 'hearts' are women expressing they were too poor or 'not ready'.

USE FU#$*@%! PROTECTION.

Protection is often provided FREE by the state/government. For fuck's sake people, USE IT if you're 'too poor' or 'not ready'. I'm pro-choice, but I would hope abortion would be used only in dire circumstances, such as major deformity or mental illness, or even rape. Just just a "WHOOPS I GUESS I HAVE TO KILL MY BABY NOW I AM TOO POOR TO TAKE CARE OF HIM."




... USE. PROTECTION. IT IS AVAILABLE TO YOU PAID FOR BY TAX DOLLARS. PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.

On another note, thanks for this post. Lots of good information here.
posted by Malice at 12:10 PM on July 1, 2009


Yeah, Malice, except what about the times that birth control fails? What about the many, many women -- especially those who live in rural areas (and, obviously, are often part of a lower economic bracket) who don't have the benefit of a Planned Parenthood clinic around the corner? What about the teenager whose parents have preached abstinence-only, who are terrified of being labeled a slut just because they bought birth-control pills? There a million different reasons why "USE FU#$*@%! PROTECTION" doesn't work, and it sure as hell doesn't contribute a goddamned thing to the conversation at hand.

Seriously. Take the judgmental, hysterical tone here a notch, if you don't mind.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:15 PM on July 1, 2009 [55 favorites]


Just just a "WHOOPS I GUESS I HAVE TO KILL MY BABY NOW I AM TOO POOR TO TAKE CARE OF HIM."

Maybe you should relax and try to understand that not everything will fit comfortably into your understanding of the world.
posted by lullaby at 12:17 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The New York Times recently covered this in their Motherlode blog. The comments from readers ran the gamut from, "Did it, saved my own life, never looked back" to, "OMG YOUR LITTLE ANGEL WILL HAUNT YOU FOREVER".

Then there's the complicated feelings of women who have had adoptions.
posted by availablelight at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would also like to add that I am not trying to invalidate anyone's feelings on the matter. I just would like to spread the good word of using protection and preventing this to start with. If you don't want a child, don't get pregnant. They make that option pretty easy now. There are so many different kinds of protection you have a virtual plethora of colors, sizes, shapes and methods to choose from. Women who rely on condoms instead of the pill or some other method should carry condoms themselves. That way at least someone is prepared, and it's your body, so you might as well be the one prepared.
posted by Malice at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2009


Yeah, Malice, except what about the times that birth control fails? What about the many, many women -- especially those who live in rural areas (and, obviously, are often part of a lower economic bracket) who don't have the benefit of a Planned Parenthood clinic around the corner? What about the teenager whose parents have preached abstinence-only, who are terrified of being labeled a slut just because they bought birth-control pills? There a million different reasons why "USE FU#$*@%! PROTECTION" doesn't work, and it sure as hell doesn't contribute a goddamned thing to the conversation at hand.

Seriously. Take the judgmental, hysterical tone here a notch, if you don't mind.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:15 PM on July 1


Hysterical isn't what I meant to come across as. Just LOUD. Birth control doesn't fail if you use two methods, which is usually recommended.
posted by Malice at 12:19 PM on July 1, 2009


Malice, it's really not that cut and dried as using protection versus not. In many cases, women do use protection and it fails, or they are massively undereducated as to how to use said protection, or their partners convince them there is no need, or they are running on insane propaganda that says providing birth control to poor people/youths is just an encouragement for them to run out and have sex.

And depending on the area, the only "free" paid for by tax dollars form of birth control available might be a car ride away. If you're underage, unable to drive, and in a city with little to no public transportation it may be quite hard to find a ride to the local Planned Parenthood.

I think the whole point of these links is that we should not judge. Abortion should be a personal, private decision made by informed women and their doctors. As a community we should be able to provide support as needed to those who have to make the decision, not judge how that decision came to be required.
posted by teleri025 at 12:20 PM on July 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


[lots of stupid shit]
posted by Malice at 3:10 PM on July 1



Malice, I dig the all caps. On the Internet. That is totally fucking awesome.

I mean like, total, non-ironic, I-am-so-right all caps.

Bravo. You are pulling this generation out of a sea os disillusionment and into the sweet, malicious light.
posted by four panels at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2009


Just just a "WHOOPS I GUESS I HAVE TO KILL MY BABY NOW I AM TOO POOR TO TAKE CARE OF HIM."

Maybe you should relax and try to understand that not everything will fit comfortably into your understanding of the world.
posted by lullaby at 12:17 PM on July 1


This is what I know and understand. Many methods of birth control exist and are available within the United States, Canada, and most modernized countries. Usually, for free. If these are available, why are they not being used? Elaborate?
posted by Malice at 12:22 PM on July 1, 2009


If anything, I think shining a light on the incredibly difficult and often painful emotions a woman goes through before electing to have an abortion is a good thing, as it puts a very real, very human face on the fallacy of the casual-abortion-gettin'-hussy that is one of the tenets of the anti-choice movement.

The alternative viewpoint to this, though, would be that you never truly win a political battle by conceding your opponent's characterization of the terrain. I don't want a world in which abortion is given full legal protection in a spirit of reluctance, with much sighing and beating of chests and endless acknowledging that of course abortion is a bad thing and should be avoided wherever possible and often causes severe emotional trauma. My point is not that these things aren't true, but that rights have nothing to do with what people feel emotionally about abortion as a choice for themselves or others. I might be being idealistic, but I can't help feeling that once you concede that your emotional attitudes towards abortion in any way inform or color your commitment to the legal right to abortion, you've bought into the basic fallacy of conservative morality, which is that my feelings of repulsion or attraction to some given act are somehow relevant to whether it should be allowed.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:22 PM on July 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


WHOOPS I GUESS I HAVE TO KILL MY BABY NOW

Killing babies? I thought we were talking about aborting fetuses.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:23 PM on July 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


If my birth control failed, I would kill somebody else's baby. Just out of sheer frustration.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Malice, it's really not that cut and dried as using protection versus not. In many cases, women do use protection and it fails, or they are massively undereducated as to how to use said protection, or their partners convince them there is no need, or they are running on insane propaganda that says providing birth control to poor people/youths is just an encouragement for them to run out and have sex.

And depending on the area, the only "free" paid for by tax dollars form of birth control available might be a car ride away. If you're underage, unable to drive, and in a city with little to no public transportation it may be quite hard to find a ride to the local Planned Parenthood.

I think the whole point of these links is that we should not judge. Abortion should be a personal, private decision made by informed women and their doctors. As a community we should be able to provide support as needed to those who have to make the decision, not judge how that decision came to be required.
posted by teleri025 at 12:20 PM on July 1


Do schools not teach you how to use protection anymore? Although that is a good point, that birth control is discouraged for young people. I think a girl can now get birth control without a parent's consent though, can't she? That's how it used to be. Of course getting there to do it is hard enough. I think mostly I am thinking of adult women who know the risks and get pregnant anyway.

I agree it is a personal choice. I wouldn't stop a woman from doing it regardless of what lead her there.. maybe we just need more available birth control and information regarding it. When I was in school they passed out pamplets and gave all the boys condoms (though they should have given it to girls too.)
posted by Malice at 12:26 PM on July 1, 2009


WHOOPS I GUESS I HAVE TO KILL MY BABY NOW

Killing babies? I thought we were talking about aborting fetuses.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:23 PM on July 1


Yes, but these women refer to them as 'my baby'. So I did as well.
posted by Malice at 12:26 PM on July 1, 2009


Um, Malice, you do realize that

-protection sometimes fails even when you're careful
-that it is not mailed out free by the government here in the States (pills will cost you about 50.00/month if you have no insurance)
-that many women are embedded in families and cultures that will punish them for extramarital sex so that casually buying condoms at the drugstore where you can be recognized is a problem
-that some men will not wear condoms
-that some men will even throw away their partner's birth control as a way to have control over them
-that many women have substance abuse issues, meaning they also have responsibility issues
-that lots of women don't realize that taking antibiotics will make the Pill ineffective
-That some women are in small towns with asshole conscience-clause-loving pharmacists who refuse to fill their birth control prescriptions?

I mean, that's just off the top of my head.

And really that's not even the issue. A woman who recognizes that she can't afford a kid and has an abortion is being responsible. Her reasons for not being responsible in the way you prefer is none of your business.
posted by emjaybee at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2009 [51 favorites]


Um, Malice, you do realize that

-protection sometimes fails even when you're careful
-that it is not mailed out free by the government here in the States (pills will cost you about 50.00/month if you have no insurance)
-that many women are embedded in families and cultures that will punish them for extramarital sex so that casually buying condoms at the drugstore where you can be recognized is a problem
-that some men will not wear condoms
-that some men will even throw away their partner's birth control as a way to have control over them
-that many women have substance abuse issues, meaning they also have responsibility issues
-that lots of women don't realize that taking antibiotics will make the Pill ineffective
-That some women are in small towns with asshole conscience-clause-loving pharmacists who refuse to fill their birth control prescriptions?

I mean, that's just off the top of my head.

And really that's not even the issue. A woman who recognizes that she can't afford a kid and has an abortion is being responsible. Her reasons for not being responsible in the way you prefer is none of your business.
posted by emjaybee at 12:28 PM on July 1


Mailed? You can walk/drive/bike to your local free clinic and receive a bag full of condoms or get birth control. For free. I don't know what you mean by mailed.

"Some men will not wear condoms"... well don't have sex with them, or use another method?

Don't doctors usually inform you that antibiotics do that?

As for the last thing you said, I'm not asking any one person in particular their business. I just wonder why, at least from what I read in that one link, it seemed like no one was using protection. Protection does not fail that often.
posted by Malice at 12:33 PM on July 1, 2009


Do schools not teach you how to use protection anymore?

Actually, Malice, in much of the United States, they don't. They don't even discuss protection in any meaningful sense. And if they do, they lose funding. It's part of the pedagogical clusterfuck we like to call "abstinence-only sex-ed" or, as I like to call it because we're such good friends, "stupid."
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:33 PM on July 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Do schools not teach you how to use protection anymore?

Actually, Malice, in much of the United States, they don't. They don't even discuss protection in any meaningful sense. And if they do, they lose funding. It's part of the pedagogical clusterfuck we like to call "abstinence-only sex-ed" or, as I like to call it because we're such good friends, "stupid."
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:33 PM on July 1


I guess things have changed a lot. That is too bad. I remember reading an article several years ago, maybe even here on MeFi, about elementary school kids receiving condoms with dinosaurs and such on them just to get the idea of using condoms into their heads early.
posted by Malice at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2009


I'm going to guess how this will end: with a lot of pissed off people and no changed minds.
posted by domo at 12:37 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Enough with this crap already, Malice and his/her enablers.
posted by Mister_A at 12:37 PM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Favoriting you a million times, emjaybee.

Not to mention all the crazy rumors/urban legends about not getting pregnant the first time, or by douching, or the "pull and pray" method. I never had any sort of comprehensive sex education in school. Our "sex education" was about venereal disease...complete with gross pictures...and about how nothing is 100% effective. (So why bother, amirite?)

-that lots of women don't realize that taking antibiotics will make the Pill ineffective

I was on the Pill for years before anyone told me this. *shudder*

Seriously, I consider myself a fairly smart person, well educated, from a regular middle class family and I am pretty sure the only reason I never got pregnant was luck.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2009


I just would like to spread the good word of using protection and preventing this to start with.

Awesome. So you accomplish this by, what? Yelling at a bunch of fellow MeFites? Who you think.. don't ... know this? Already?

Wow. That's like Mission-Accomplished-circa-2003 levels of moronitude there.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:40 PM on July 1, 2009


I just would like to spread the good word of using protection and preventing this to start with.

Awesome. So you accomplish this by, what? Yelling at a bunch of fellow MeFites? Who you think.. don't ... know this? Already?

Wow. That's like Mission-Accomplished-circa-2003 levels of moronitude there.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:40 PM on July 1

I'd hand out condoms to High Schoolers if i thought it wouldn't get me immediately arrested.

In all seriousness, the caps was misconstrued. I wasn't yelling AT any of you. I was capslocking in exasperation.
posted by Malice at 12:42 PM on July 1, 2009


I.*

What is also interesting is the similarities, emotionally, in women who have miscarriages and those who have abortions.
posted by Malice at 12:43 PM on July 1, 2009


Miscarriages.

And because of all of these typos, I'm done. I apologize for the derail.
posted by Malice at 12:44 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


insane propaganda that says providing birth control to poor people/youths is just an encouragement for them to run out and have sex.

Or there's the similar, but probably more widespread, idea that if you buy birth control in advance, then OMG YOU'RE PLANNING TO HAVE SEX YOU SLUT! At least if you just sorta get caught up in the moment, without any pre-preparation, then it wasn't pre-meditated and therefore not as "bad".

It's ridiculous, but there's still a pretty strong shame-culture around sex, even in adult women. Super-happy if Malice doesn't have to deal with that, but it's still a significant "morality vs. reality" burden for a lot of people.
posted by LordSludge at 12:47 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can walk/drive/bike to your local free clinic

Where are these "free clinics" of which you speak? Are there free clinics for anything in the US? Seriously, you don't know what you're talking about. Have you ever lived in a rural area? A conservative area? Been poor? Where I grew up, the nearest Planned Parenthood is two hour drive away. And according to their website, condoms "Cost about $1 each, but are sometimes available for free." Other forms of bc cost more, if you can even get there.

Do schools not teach you how to use protection anymore?

Where have you been the last eight years, when the gov't was pouring millions of dollars into abstinence education? I graduated from HS in 1992 and was never taught to use protection (see above re: rural, conservative, etc.).

Really, get a small clue before you start ranting with the all-caps and the utterly false statements.
posted by Mavri at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


Malice, your thoughts seem to stem from an assumption that all women have reasonably convenient access to accurate sex education and high-quality, affordable health care. This is not the case.
posted by lalex at 12:50 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know of at least two pregnancies which may be attributed to the "what do you mean, antibiotics interfere with my birth control?" surprise factor. Several women have related to me that they felt their doctors were a little casual about that, and a few changed medical providers over it. Reproductive education and resources in the United States can be a little appalling at times, at least as viewed from a practical perspective.

I suppose we do not have to flatten the decisions around abortion to just abortion, but given the amount of drama over that single question alone, asking one group of people who are already in a continuous struggle to keep another group of people from making laws about their bodies is a bit like saying, "Why limit your post-Titanic water-treading to just you? I've got this trunkful of dresses I'd like you to keep from going under, as well."
posted by adipocere at 12:52 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Free Clinics.

Yes, I grew up poor. No, I am not rich, or even middle class. Or lower middle class. Yes, my schools DID teach sexual education, at least a handful of them did, I moved a lot. I've already stated that it was news to me that they now teach abstinence instead of giving out condoms and teaching about birth control.

And yes, I have been to free clinics in many cities. Yes, they give out free condoms and birth control.
posted by Malice at 12:54 PM on July 1, 2009


-(pills will cost you about 50.00/month if you have no insurance)

Pffttt.. I have insurance and my pills *still* cost $68 a month. On the flip side, Viagra on my prescription plan is free. WTF BCBS.


-That some women are in small towns with asshole conscience-clause-loving pharmacists who refuse to fill their birth control prescriptions?

Also, this happened to me and it sucks.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 12:57 PM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


-that lots of women don't realize that taking antibiotics will make the Pill ineffective

Say hello to my eldest child, unknowingly conceived while his mother was being treated for a dental abscess.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 PM on July 1, 2009


And yes, I have been to free clinics in many cities. Yes, they give out free condoms and birth control.

Guess what? Not everyone lives in a city, hoss.

I grew up in a small town in Mississippi. The nearest "free clinic" was 200 miles away, and going there required braving a cadre of anti-choicers who were there every single day, rain or shine, blazing hot or freezing cold, and would scream the most unimaginable things at the women who would go there, even though they (the protesters) hadn't a goddamned clue why those women were there.

As has been pointed out upthread, not everyone lives in this weird little birth control utopia that you are so certain exists.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:58 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is what I know and understand. Many methods of birth control exist and are available within the United States, Canada, and most modernized countries. Usually, for free. If these are available, why are they not being used? Elaborate?

I'll bite -- with the understanding that your sentence "If these are available, why are they not being used?" rules out discussion of situations of rape, incest or birth control failure.

1. Lack of education. Parents have a great deal of control over what their children learn and are open to learning, well after they have become fertile. That lack of knowledge often leads to significant misunderstandings over what causes pregnancy, from the hilarious (OMG I kissed him, am I going to be pregnant now?) to the tragic (but he said you can't get pregnant the first time, and my parents wouldn't talk to me about it!)

2. Lack of access. Just because you can get 'em for free doesn't mean you can get to the clinic. Are you seventeen years old, without a car, without a job, without the internet, and overwhelmed by hormones driving you to have sex? Wait, don't have sex, instead try to figure out a way to get across town with no money and no car, assuming you even know where to go -- I'm a 38-year-old man who's been sexually active since he was fourteen, and I have no idea where to go to get free condoms. Seriously. I've always paid for 'em. Where should I go?

3. Hormones. It's hard to remember just how horny you were when you just entered puberty, but even if you remember and weren't very horny, some people are constantly horny when they're entering puberty, to a ridiculous degree. Some people have to deal with this even as an adult, where their sex drive is so strong it gets in the way of getting things done at work or school. When your body's hormones are pushing you to do something that you may or may not know is a bad thing (see #1 above) or don't have protection for (see #2 above), you may go through with it, perhaps rationalizing it in some way or convincing yourself it's okay.

Those are the ones that come to mind; there may be more. Just remember: accidentally getting pregnant while not using birth control can even be something like fooling around with someone when you're both 14 and have no idea what you're doing until you start doing it, and then starting to have sex for just a moment, realizing you might be in over your head, and stopping -- yet it's already enough to get pregnant. If you truly believe that people just stop for a moment, think "hmm, I could go get some free condoms, or I could just kill my baby if I have one...okay, let's fuck without condoms!" then you're really out of touch with the human experience. Or you're a troll. Either or. :P
posted by davejay at 1:00 PM on July 1, 2009


And yes, I have been to free clinics in many cities. Yes, they give out free condoms and birth control.

Guess what? Not everyone lives in a city, hoss.

I grew up in a small town in Mississippi. The nearest "free clinic" was 200 miles away, and going there required braving a cadre of anti-choicers who were there every single day, rain or shine, blazing hot or freezing cold, and would scream the most unimaginable things at the women who would go there, even though they (the protesters) hadn't a goddamned clue why those women were there.

As has been pointed out upthread, not everyone lives in this weird little birth control utopia that you are so certain exists.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:58 PM on July 1


I've been to them when I lived in very small Texas towns, too. The states I know they have them in most definitely are California, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina. A little research indicates that they are all over the United States.

Are you talking about an abortion clinic or a free clinic? They are two different things. It sounds like you're talking about an abortion clinic - they don't give abortions at free clinics that I know of.
posted by Malice at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2009


Malice, are you twelve? The world is a bit more complicated than you seem to think. Come back when you've had some adult experiences and we'll talk some more.
posted by jokeefe at 1:03 PM on July 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Gah. It'd be nice if we didn't derail this post and just have an intelligent discussion, but I don't see this happening. Malice lurked here for 9 years, it says, and it knows well how these discussions go. Please don't feed the Malice, people.
posted by heyho at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


-that lots of women don't realize that taking antibiotics will make the Pill ineffective
I was on the Pill for years before anyone told me this. *shudder*


Not true. Or maybe that should be a ?. I don't know how reliable the source is.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 PM on July 1, 2009


Or you're a troll. Either or. :P
posted by davejay at 1:00 PM on July 1


I'm too cheap to pay $5 to troll.

As for your question, Free Clinics usually service those on low incomes who cannot ordinarily afford their own medical care/birth control. They do service those who do not qualify for medicaid though. If you can't find one in the phone book (they aren't usually listed under 'free clinic' obviously) sometimes it helps to call around and actually ask where a free clinic is to other doctor's offices. That's how I found them in the bigger cities. My ex-husband's brother never paid for condoms. He'd go there about once a month and come back with a huge brown bag of them.

You make good points, but most of the points people are making are on the assumption that everyone who is getting abortions is a young teenager with a lack of education. It didn't seem that way in the links.
posted by Malice at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2009


Gah. It'd be nice if we didn't derail this post and just have an intelligent discussion, but I don't see this happening. Malice lurked here for 9 years, it says, and it knows well how these discussions go. Please don't feed the Malice, people.
posted by heyho at 1:05 PM on July 1


I already apologized for the derail. I am not a troll. ;p
posted by Malice at 1:11 PM on July 1, 2009


I guess things have changed a lot. That is too bad. I remember reading an article several years ago, maybe even here on MeFi, about elementary school kids receiving condoms with dinosaurs and such on them just to get the idea of using condoms into their heads early.

I will bet you a lunch that that "article" was either a) about one single school in one single jurisdiction or b) was thinly-veiled pro-life propaganda.

Yes, there are SOME schools that do educate students on contraception -- the emphasis here, though, is on the word SOME. There is no one single federal standard when it comes to access to contraception and providing contraception in schools, and providing sex ed in schools - every state decides their own policies on their own. And in some cases, the state throws up its hands even further and decides they're going to let each individual TOWN decide on ITS own. So in many cases, you have some states where kids are being encouraged to make balloon animals with condoms so they become accustomed to them, but in other states -- or even in other schools within the same state -- they're still preaching abstinence only.

As a data point: my own high school made "health class" a requiement for graduation, but said class was divided into two groups-- the health class which DID offer sex ed, and the health class which did NOT. In order to take the health class WITH sex ed you had to bring in a permission slip from your parents. If you did not, you basically learned about the four food groups and little else.

You are indeed fortunate that you had access to free clinics and good sex ed. You are also fortunate in that you live in a city where you have access to public transportation. However, not everyone had the same experience as you. And that is why this debate continues to exist.

Personally, I think that if the situation actually WERE as you describe -- if everyone really DID have access to free contraception and good education - then there really WOULD be a reduction in the abortion rate. However, that is not the world we live in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with Malice: if more people used protection correctly, and took the risk of pregnancy more seriously, it would be A Good Thing. The goal should not ever be to ban abortion, but to reduce reliance upon it.

The proper starting point for such action is education. Sadly, this is something that is very much lacking in the North American education system.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on July 1, 2009


Malice: Do schools not teach you how to use protection anymore?

No. Besides, did you miss that huge list of other reasons protection might not always be available or usable?

Protection does not fail that often.

Let's assume a 1% failure rate per year. If a million couples are having protected sex, that's 10,000 unwanted pregnancies. If a 100 million couples are having protected sex, that's 1 million unwanted pregnancies. I don't know how many sexually active couple there are in the United States, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are about 100 million. And surprise, surprise, there were 1.2 million abortions in America last year.

Sure, many of those were probably people who were not using protection. But there were certainly people who decided to keep their unwanted pregnancies too- I was an accident and I sure a lot of other people here were. So abortion isn't all that common, and it's about as widespread as contraceptive failure anyway.

So what are you yelling about again?
posted by spaltavian at 1:14 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do schools not teach you how to use protection anymore?
Not all schools, no, especially not with Republicans having been in control for eight years. Where have you been?

I think a girl can now get birth control without a parent's consent though, can't she?
Without their consent, sure. Without their knowledge? Whole lot harder.

I think mostly I am thinking of adult women who know the risks and get pregnant anyway.
Sure, but you must realize that you are describing a comparatively rare animal. Most who find themselves needing abortions are women of any age who don't know the risks due to the huge amount of misinformation and religious/social stigma out there. Some are just women whose lives are a complete mess (addiction issues and so on) and just don't have it together enough to coordinate birth control.

I agree it is a personal choice. I wouldn't stop a woman from doing it regardless of what lead her there.. maybe we just need more available birth control and information regarding it.
Ding ding ding! See, you get it. It just took a little lashing from the peanut gallery, is all. Less judgment, more action.
posted by AV at 1:16 PM on July 1, 2009


Oh, and I obviously should to my post above that many of those 1.2 million abortions were also because of medical reasons and cases of rape. I know my quick math doesn't prove anything, but I really doubt that abortion on the whole is that much more common than contraceptive failure to begin with.
posted by spaltavian at 1:21 PM on July 1, 2009



I will bet you a lunch that that "article" was either a) about one single school in one single jurisdiction or b) was thinly-veiled pro-life propaganda.

You are indeed fortunate that you had access to free clinics and good sex ed. You are also fortunate in that you live in a city where you have access to public transportation. However, not everyone had the same experience as you. And that is why this debate continues to exist.

Personally, I think that if the situation actually WERE as you describe -- if everyone really DID have access to free contraception and good education - then there really WOULD be a reduction in the abortion rate. However, that is not the world we live in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on July 1


It was about a single school, I never said it wasn't. The conversation had just reminded me of that, and it made me think that it was a failed but genuine effort to increase sexual education. I'd also remembered how badly it was received and people were getting angry that it was encouraging children to have sex.

Apparently I was fortunate, but my 'sex ed' came mostly from very open parenting. Which is another part of it all together, parents should (don't, but should) be teaching their children about sex and not leaving it up to whatever to do it for them. My parents weren't great, but at least I got that out of it.

I had no idea about free clinics to be honest until I was about 16. Someone told me about them. They don't advertise. Which is another problem - finding out about them, and then finding them.
posted by Malice at 1:22 PM on July 1, 2009


Okay, the Malice pile-on is silly. As far as I can tell, Malice is entirely pro-choice; (s)he simply feels that abortions should be (say it with me now) safe, legal, and rare, and that a good way to promote the scarcity of abortion is the proper use of birth control. An awful lot of wind would be taken from the sails of anti-choice folks if the number of couldn't-afford-parenthood or wasn't-ready-for-parenthood abortions decreased. Ideally, this number should be reduced to zero; as everyone in the universe has just pointed out in this thread, that's not possible, so of course zero-stipulations abortions must be kept legal and available. That does not mean that Malice is a terrible person for being upset by the carelessness of a few people that leads to avoidable pregnancies and thus inflates the anti-choice crowd's sense of moral indignation.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:24 PM on July 1, 2009


I agree it is a personal choice. I wouldn't stop a woman from doing it regardless of what lead her there.. maybe we just need more available birth control and information regarding it.
Ding ding ding! See, you get it. It just took a little lashing from the peanut gallery, is all. Less judgment, more action.
posted by AV at 1:16 PM on July 1


I've never felt any differently. These women have a right to their emotions and feelings, and a right to express them. All that frustrated me is the very little open discussion about protection to prevent this from happening.

Abortion shouldn't be a 'birth control option' as it was described by some of them. It's a dangerous and painful procedure and should not be taken lightly. It should definitely be available as needed, but prevention is just as important.
posted by Malice at 1:26 PM on July 1, 2009


Abortion shouldn't be a 'birth control option' as it was described by some of them. It's a dangerous and painful procedure and should not be taken lightly.

It's statistically less dangerous than giving birth; I'd wager it's less painful too.
posted by spaltavian at 1:30 PM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]



It's statistically less dangerous than giving birth; I'd wager it's less painful too.
posted by spaltavian at 1:30 PM on July 1


Which also shouldn't be taken lightly.
posted by Malice at 1:31 PM on July 1, 2009


Oh for gods' sake. Condoms break. Pills fail. Diaphragms don't work from the underwear drawer across the room where you've forgotten about them in the heat of the moment. People are designed to get pregnant and thwarting that very basic biological imperative is not always as easy as JUST USE BIRTH CONTROL DUH. Wouldn't it be a lovely boring world if everyone was completely organized and rational at all times and used birth control absolutely correctly and therefore only the roughly ten percent of them who had a completely unavoidable birth control failure would have to get abortions? Yes, yes it would and it would bear no resemblance to the planet most of us are currently living on. Unplanned pregnancies happen; they have always happened; and until some way is devised to make infertile everyone's default state that has to be actively changed with forethought they will continue to happen. When they do, let's all thank everything in the universe that it is, at this moment in time, in the country where I am writing this, possible to stop that pregnancy from continuing and allow that particular woman a chance to continue her life, make her own decision about her own body and decide to have children if and when it is the right time for her to be a mother and only then. And let's all continue to do our best to make sure that does not change so that perhaps, someday, every child will be wanted and every child will be planned.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:32 PM on July 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


Okay, the Malice pile-on is silly.

Yeah, sorry for the pile-on, Malice (I should've previewed). We've all said stupid shit that doesn't really reflect our opinion had we taken the time to think it through a little more. You're alright.

The scary thing is the many many people who, unlike Malice, will never question that anything but their own little worldview could ever be the right way to look at things. That's how we end up with shit like abstinence-only education. Sigh.
posted by AV at 1:34 PM on July 1, 2009


I don't think that anyone believed Malice to NOT be pro-choice. Just somewhat mis-informed about the fact that access to contraception can vary wildly from one town to another.

I think we all actually agree that abortion shouldn't be a "birth control option" and that protection is a better option. Where the disconnect came in, I think, is in our understanding of a) the actual availability OF said contraception, and b) the actual number of women who actually DO see it as a contraception alternative.

In truth, the actual number of women who do just see it as a contraception alternative is VANISHINGLY small, and the far and away vast majority of women who do have an abortion are truly doing it because either their access to contraception was limited -- either by economic circumstance, bad luck with where she lived, or lack of education -- or because of some other very difficult physical, mental, or emotional circumstances which would make carrying a pregnancy to term a cruelty to either herself or the unborn child.

All that frustrated me is the very little open discussion about protection to prevent this from happening.

It's possible that there was little open discussion because not everyone is living in an area where discussion would help. Knowing about how to prevent pregnancy is all very well and good, but if you're raped by a guy who doesn't use a condom or if you live in Kansas and work in a Burger King 200 miles from the nearest Planned Parenthood and have to walk to work, and the guy running the Wal Mart in your town is one of those guys who refuses to sell condoms, simply knowing about contraception and discussing it as an option with people really isn't gonna help you all too much.

I often say of the conversational situation we're in that "I think we're all on the same page, but we're just on different paragraphs." It's all good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2009


okay just one more little thing:

All that frustrated me is the very little open discussion about protection to prevent this from happening.

That's fine, it's just that to probably everyone who read your comment, it seemed like your frustration is directed at the women themselves, rather than the lack of information (which isn't their fault).

Just 'splainin. I think we're all agreed that better education and access to birth control is a very good thing. Kumbayah.
posted by AV at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2009


Abortion shouldn't be a 'birth control option' as it was described by some of them. It's a dangerous and painful procedure and should not be taken lightly.

It's a good thing nobody's taking it lightly, least of all the women getting abortions. At least not that I've ever seen or heard of, outside of pro-lifer propaganda.

The "I'm too lazy for birth control, I'll just get an abortion" trope is the pro-life version of the "welfare queen."
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:42 PM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh for gods' sake. Condoms break. Pills fail. Diaphragms don't work from the underwear drawer across the room where you've forgotten about them in the heat of the moment. People are designed to get pregnant and thwarting that very basic biological imperative is not always as easy as JUST USE BIRTH CONTROL DUH. Wouldn't it be a lovely boring world if everyone was completely organized and rational at all times and used birth control absolutely correctly and therefore only the roughly ten percent of them who had a completely unavoidable birth control failure would have to get abortions? Yes, yes it would and it would bear no resemblance to the planet most of us are currently living on. Unplanned pregnancies happen; they have always happened; and until some way is devised to make infertile everyone's default state that has to be actively changed with forethought they will continue to happen. When they do, let's all thank everything in the universe that it is, at this moment in time, in the country where I am writing this, possible to stop that pregnancy from continuing and allow that particular woman a chance to continue her life, make her own decision about her own body and decide to have children if and when it is the right time for her to be a mother and only then. And let's all continue to do our best to make sure that does not change so that perhaps, someday, every child will be wanted and every child will be planned.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:32 PM on July 1


I'm aware that birth control is not 100% effective. I am not against abortion in the slightest. There are many circumstances where it has to happen. In fact, I read on one of the links about a woman who had gotten pregnant while she had cancer and couldn't have the baby or it would kill both of them. I'd say that's a pretty valid reason, I don't know many who would think it wasn't.

But that isn't a reason to ignore that a lot of it could be avoided with proper birth control methods taken. I am willing to bet most abortions are NOT from faulty birth control.

I took some time to try to find some abortion statistics but I think it's difficult to find any that aren't pro-life biased. If I find some I will post them.
posted by Malice at 1:45 PM on July 1, 2009


I've been to them when I lived in very small Texas towns, too. The states I know they have them in most definitely are California, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina. A little research indicates that they are all over the United States.

Having lived in GA until I was 18 I can definitely say that from NW Georgia (Dalton area) that the closest free clinic is 2.5 hours away, which makes it a bit inaccessible for teens, low income people and anyone with a job, because they're only open until 6pm. Also, they won't give you birth control without a pap, which necessitates two trips. Have you ever tried to get 90 miles, twice, without a car and without your parents finding out? Impossible.

Also, my nearest free clinic here in KS is an hour away and has a two month waiting list.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:02 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am willing to bet most abortions are NOT from faulty birth control.

Hard to say, since it depends on exactly how bad 'inconsistent' use is amongst other details, but there's a chance you'd lose that bet:

Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions [in the US] had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use. (source; citation to original source)
posted by jedicus at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2009


I am willing to bet most abortions are NOT from faulty birth control.

Mine was.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2009


Birth control doesn't fail if you use two methods

I would feel uncomfortable asking my date to get a vasectomy.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter why people have abortions, Malice. That's all there is to it. It doesn't matter why. What the links up at the top are about is women coming to terms with the difficult and often painful fact of having one. As kadin428 says, the idea of a woman who's going around thinking "Oh hell I'll just have an abortion, nothing to it, why in fact I enjoy them, particularly when they are paid for by your tax dollars." is a myth and a crazy right wing myth at that. That's actually addressed in the very first link. And you know what? If there even was a woman like that then her getting abortions continuously is something we should all be devoutly grateful for.

So, look, the use or misuse of birth control, which, as I said above, sometimes works and sometimes doesn't and sometimes, for a whole variety of reasons - primary among them that humans are just not always rational, calm and thinking of long term consequences - isn't even used, is not what this whole thing is about. What it's about, I have gleaned from, you know, reading the links, is whether talking about womens reactions to abortions, which are not really all that uniformly positive, is okay in the face of the movement to stop them at any cost. Should all us pro choice people go on saying, hey, abortion is great, even though as any woman who has had one (I am one of them) will tell you, it is not always so great? Thus to stop the debate? Or are we all old enough now to say, look, it's not a decision anyone ever wants to make but sometimes it happens and yes, it can be really sad and make you grieve but it is of paramount importance that the choice remain, because it is an individual choice, period, full stop.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:08 PM on July 1, 2009 [17 favorites]


I think maybe - just maybe - if we pull away from the game Malice is trying to play here and stay focussed on the fundamental fact that abortion isn't about busted rubbers or not being otherwise careful but about it being a fundamental human right that you get to decide what you do or do not do with your own body, then all the squawking about "geez what's wrong with these broads use protection!!1!" doesn't make a jot of difference.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:11 PM on July 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


Hard to say, since it depends on exactly how bad 'inconsistent' use is amongst other details, but there's a chance you'd lose that bet:

Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions [in the US] had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use. (source; citation to original source)
posted by jedicus at 2:04 PM on July 1


That is a pretty tough call.

Of about half of the people who got abortions, only 13% and 14% used contraception correctly, however. The rest is really not something we can know without more data. Was it the contraception that failed or was it the way it was used/not used?
posted by Malice at 2:14 PM on July 1, 2009


Birth control doesn't fail if you use two methods

I would feel uncomfortable asking my date to get a vasectomy.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:07 PM on July 1


I meant pill/condoms, or spermicidal cream/pills, etc.

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, I'm not playing at any 'game'. I'm just discussing like everyone else. I haven't said a single thing nasty or rude to any of you.
posted by Malice at 2:17 PM on July 1, 2009


I haven't said a single thing nasty or rude to any of you.

I didn't say you had. But the game you started was making the effectiveness of contraception and whether or not it's even used the central issue, which it isn't. The central issue to abortion is whether or not we have the right to decide what we do with our bodies. It's nobody's fucking business but our own.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:25 PM on July 1, 2009 [6 favorites]



Let's say that you some how, miraculously, began to grow an extra pinky finger on your right hand. After much determination, you decide that you don't want to have an extra pinky finger on your right hand. In fact, you can't imagine why, in this time of your life, having an extra pinky would be a good idea, it may even make your life vastly worse.

After an incredibly time-consuming and emotionally draining process, you are finally allowed to have the extra pinky removed. But in order to get this done, you had to wade through people calling you all sorts of horrible names, a doctor requiring you to fully examine the pinky under harsh light and showing you all the things you might be able to do if you keep the pinky, driving insane distances just to find a doctor that will remove it, and probably paying out a decent amount of cash that you probably didn't have saved up, since you hadn't planned on having an extra pinky in the first place.

After that, once the actual physical pain fades, you start to suffer some emotional pain. Either you feel guilty that you removed that extra pinky and you miss it, or you feel guilty that you don't feel guilty enough. Regardless, getting someone to listen to you and provide you with emotional and psychological support without judging you about having a pinky removed or even growing an extra pinky in the first place is damn near impossible.

Like Marisa said, it doesn't matter why there is an abortion, or who got one or how often. What is vital here is not only should women be allowed to freely make this decision, but we, as a society, should support this decision without judgement as best we can. And not allow ourselves to be derailed into a finger pointing nightmare of blame and recriminations.
posted by teleri025 at 2:26 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm aware that birth control is not 100% effective. I am not against abortion in the slightest. There are many circumstances where it has to happen. In fact, I read on one of the links about a woman who had gotten pregnant while she had cancer and couldn't have the baby or it would kill both of them. I'd say that's a pretty valid reason, I don't know many who would think it wasn't.

But that isn't a reason to ignore that a lot of it could be avoided with proper birth control methods taken. I am willing to bet most abortions are NOT from faulty birth control.


I really have to ask ... you talk about how this lady with cancer had a "pretty valid reason" to have an abortion. Why does it matter what the reason for the abortion is? Does there exist a reason that you think isn't valid enough to be allowed one?
posted by kafziel at 2:27 PM on July 1, 2009


I haven't said a single thing nasty or rude to any of you.

I didn't say you had. But the game you started was making the effectiveness of contraception and whether or not it's even used the central issue, which it isn't. The central issue to abortion is whether or not we have the right to decide what we do with our bodies. It's nobody's fucking business but our own.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:25 PM on July 1


And I apologized for the derail and was willing to stop, but people kept on, so I responded to them. There's no fucking game.

I really have to ask ... you talk about how this lady with cancer had a "pretty valid reason" to have an abortion. Why does it matter what the reason for the abortion is? Does there exist a reason that you think isn't valid enough to be allowed one?
posted by kafziel at 2:27 PM on July 1


Birth control? I wouldn't change someone's ability to do it (who wants to be born to someone who doesn't want them?) but I'd personally feel that would be a bad reason to do it.
posted by Malice at 2:31 PM on July 1, 2009


Malice, seriously.

Get up from your keyboard and go eat something and drink a glass of water. Then go feed your pet.

By the time you get back, you maybe won't feel the need to come off as the biggest ass hat in the thread, making the post about your behavior instead of the subject of abortion.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:33 PM on July 1, 2009


And I apologized for the derail and was willing to stop, but people kept on, so I responded to them.

... by continuing the assertion that "that isn't a reason to ignore that a lot of it could be avoided with proper birth control methods taken. I am willing to bet most abortions are NOT from faulty birth control".

The point is: who gives a shit why anyone gets an abortion? It doesn't matter, or shouldn't anyway.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:35 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


julie_of_the_jungle: "I am willing to bet most abortions are NOT from faulty birth control.

Mine was.
"

*initiates secret handshake*

Yup, same here. Having an abortion was just as emotional for me as having my wisdom teeth removed: it was a medical decision, and easily made. Just like now, many years later, choosing not to have an abortion would be an easy decision, as I'm in an entirely different situation (and have two very wanted, very planned, very loved children).
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:39 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Birth control failures? Well, I'm what happened when Mom used just the foam, so....yeah. It happens. Don't use just the foam, people. If they even make that stuff anymore.

Anyhoo, back to the original topic, I would originally think that talking about the mixed feelings a woman could have about her abortion would be counterproductive, but the more I think about it, the more I want those discussions to happen. Because they humanize the women behind the decisions, and make it harder to stereotype them as too stupid to use condoms or lazy or immoral.

More sunlight, more truth, more acknowledgement of the complexity of this issue--in the end, that benefits a pro-choice stance, because it illustrates even more plainly how there are no easy answers, and therefore how personal and private such decisions should be.
posted by emjaybee at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2009


This thread is uncomfortably like a blog entry about Malice and what Malice thinks about abortion and contraception.

Which is too bad, given that the original FPP was about the complexity of different women's experiences around abortion, many of which are drowned out by other voices.

The links are quite fascinating in the diversity of feeling expressed. The paucity of support for the post-abortion complexity of response is also compelling.
posted by miss tea at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Whoops: I didn't mean to imply that unplanned pregnancies carried to term necessarily lead to unloved, unwanted children. "Surprises" can turn out very well, I know.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:48 PM on July 1, 2009


I didn't mean to imply that unplanned pregnancies carried to term necessarily lead to unloved, unwanted children. "Surprises" can turn out very well, I know.

Definitely. I'm the main reason my parents got married. That and their strict Catholic parents. But yeah, there wasn't a moment I didn't feel unloved.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:59 PM on July 1, 2009


Just for the record--you can be pro-choice and personally balk at the idea of having an abortion yourself.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said: If Mary had been pro-choice, Jesus would never have been born. I rolled my eyes so far into the top of my head that I nearly suffered a seizure. Way to misunderstand the term "pro-choice." Furthermore, I'm sure the person who bought and applied this bumper sticker thought that Jesus really is the son of God-- meaning that Mary was a virgin, visited by an angel who spoke to her, and then she was miraculously impregnated. Even if Mary had been All Abortions, All the Time! I seriously doubt she would rush out and abort the Son of God.

I seem to remember Sarah Palin having this same inability to understand the word "choice." She referred to her daughter's choice to keep the baby yet claimed she was not pro-choice.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:23 PM on July 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


You know it might not be abortion that makes people feel odd and emotional, it's being pregnant. I was a happy accident father) (for her, less so for my, and my mother, pregnant for the first time in her mid-twenties, and many women come and tell her their abortion stories. She theorized that they were talking to the fetus to justify the decision, but having read the very alienating and unique experience of being knocked up, and the blogs of women like "What to expect when you're aborting", something that's not being addressed here is that pregnancy is not only heavily socially charged, but a bit of a body hijack.

Some women adore incubating a baby, but for me, the idea of an alien thing growing in me uninvited gives me the heebie-jeebies and literal screaming nightmares. Eventually I want biological children, but for now, even leaving aside the emotional fallout from an abortion resulting in both my parents never forgiving me for ‘murdering’ their grandchild (if I told them), I know my family has a history of post partum depression and vulnerability to hormone related moodiness and I know I’ve got a very sensitive cervix. Terminated or carried to term, my body and mental wellbeing would not escape a pregnancy unscathed. It’s scary enough to make me consider celibacy, but it also makes me wonder why it feels like abortion terminated pregnancies aren’t supposed to be heavy on people if it’s known that baby producing pregnancies and miscarriages are both traumatic for some.
posted by Phalene at 3:31 PM on July 1, 2009


But yeah, there wasn't a moment I didn't feel un loved.

FTFM. Whoops!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:35 PM on July 1, 2009


Some women adore incubating a baby, but for me, the idea of an alien thing growing in me uninvited gives me the heebie-jeebies and literal screaming nightmares

Ahh, the number of women I know who link pregnancy and Alien...
posted by rodgerd at 5:39 PM on July 1, 2009


What is also interesting is the similarities, emotionally, in women who have miscarriages and those who have abortions.

Having experienced both of these on my ongoing escapade through the female reproductive system, I have to say that there are huge differences in the emotional quality of these experiences. At least for me.

When I had a miscarriage, I received loving support and reassurance from everyone in my life. I had no fear of telling people what had happened. I didn't worry about being judged.

Very, very few people in meatspace know that I had an abortion. Like 2, if you don't count the Planned Parenthood staff. I knew there would be no outpouring of loving support, and likely plenty of judgement.

I also feel there is a hierarchy of "ok-ness" for abortions. Women with fetuses that have congenital anomalies incompatible with life and those that will die without the abortion are the most "ok." These women are more free to talk about their experiences, since it "isn't their fault." Among certain groups of women, it is pretty common and relatively "ok" to have had an abortion as a result of youthful indiscretion. But unless you're working in some sort of confessional new media, it is only something you talk about with close friends.
posted by jeoc at 5:44 PM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


an aside from an old timer: "back then" before abortion became legal, a middle class pregnant woman could go to a therapist, pay the visit cost, and get a note stating that she was not emotionally ready to have a baby. The woman would take the note to a hospital and get a D and C, aborting the fetus....ok for her. But the poor woman, relatively uneducated and without money? She went to the neighborhood hanger person, around the corner and got an abortion. Or got a mess to cope with. So with all the other considerations noted above, there is also the class distinction that was in the past and that will be should abortion right be overturned.
posted by Postroad at 6:23 PM on July 1, 2009


Some women adore incubating a baby, but for me, the idea of an alien thing growing in me uninvited gives me the heebie-jeebies and literal screaming nightmares

Ahh, the number of women I know who link pregnancy and Alien...


That's 'cause those movies are about motherhood, in the deepest and most primal way. Just like Frankenstein.
posted by jokeefe at 6:24 PM on July 1, 2009


Why shouldn't there be an "ok-ness" scale for abortions? Do we really want a society in which abortions are treated with a cavalier attitude? In which the decision to have an abortion has as little moral weight as choosing to eat jellybeans for a snack?

I am rabidly pro-choice, but I'm also okay with abortion being given more weight than that.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:32 PM on July 1, 2009


Er, don't think anyone's trying to make light of abortions and the reasons behind them - just that the reasons themselves don't matter in the discussion of abortion's rightness.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:39 PM on July 1, 2009


Why should it matter so much to other people WHY or HOW OFTEN a woman has an abortion? Each individual woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices. End of story. No "ok-ness" scale should be applied.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:41 PM on July 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Why shouldn't there be an "ok-ness" scale for abortions?

I dunno, why should there be?
posted by lalex at 6:47 PM on July 1, 2009


What I'm hearing is that it's not okay to judge whether a woman's choices have been good or bad. I might be grossly misinterpreting the message.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:48 PM on July 1, 2009


Birth control doesn't fail if you use two methods

Especially if one of them is abortion.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:52 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I'm hearing is that it's not okay to judge whether a woman's choices have been good or bad.

It's certainly not okay when the point of making that judgement is deciding whether or not she "deserves" an abortion.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:53 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


fff: unless someone wants to claim to know and understand every facet of this woman's life and her choice, as long as abortion is legal, then no, it's not okay to judge.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:53 PM on July 1, 2009


Why should it matter so much to other people WHY or HOW OFTEN a woman has an abortion?

Because we are a better society when we choose to make better choices about sex that lead to lower abortion rates?

I guess it's possible that a society that uses abortion as casually as it eats jellybeans could be a "good" society. But I remain skeptical. I think we're better off educating children to cherish pregnancy and childbirth, and to use contraceptives correctly, consistently, and competently each and every time. I think we're better off trying to continuously lower abortion rates by increasing contraceptive success.

I could be wrong.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:54 PM on July 1, 2009


What I'm hearing is that it's not okay to judge whether a woman's choices have been good or bad. I might be grossly misinterpreting the message.

You're not. It isn't. There's no "ok-ness scale" with regards to why or how often you have an abortion. It's your right, you harm no one, it's no one's business why you do it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:55 PM on July 1, 2009


I think we're better off educating children to cherish pregnancy and childbirth, and to use contraceptives correctly, consistently, and competently each and every time. I think we're better off trying to continuously lower abortion rates by increasing contraceptive success.

Fortunately, we can do all that while still contending it doesn't matter why a woman gets an abortion.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:56 PM on July 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I take it this is a thread about abortion? I wasn't sure.

Anyway. I'm glad we've finally hashed out this whole abortion deal. Aaaaaand scene.
posted by tkchrist at 6:56 PM on July 1, 2009


Well, I'm a Bad Person. I judge people who get swastika tattoos, even though tattoos never hurt nobody. And I judge people who have grossly unhealthy eating habits. And people who don't use their turn signals to communicate with surrounding traffic.

I do like this idea of having a non-judgemental society. It means I could finally go wander the streets with only a sock on my cock. Not gonna hold my breath on that one.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:00 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess it's possible that a society that uses abortion as casually as it eats jellybeans could be a "good" society

What on earth makes you think women have abortions as casually as they eat jelly beans?
posted by lalex at 7:03 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What on earth makes you think women have abortions as casually as they eat jelly beans?

Because belief in total abortion rights = casual, la-di-da, just like buying new socks attitude. Duh.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:06 PM on July 1, 2009


Apparently you've never witnessed the battles between myself and a certain anti-choice MeFi user. Total abortion rights are an absolute necessity.

I also believe everyone who wants to pop out children should have the right to do so, and I also judge their parenting skills. I believe everyone with a drivers license should be allowed to drive, and I also judge their driving skills. Anyone who wants to eat a grossly unhealthy diet is free to do so, and sure enough, I'm gonna be judgemental.

Everyone makes judgements every day, all day. It's not a bad thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 PM on July 1, 2009


*does finishing twirly move to secret handshake*

Yup, same here. Having an abortion was just as emotional for me as having my wisdom teeth removed: it was a medical decision, and easily made.

It was the same way for me. My partner and I knew we were in no position to have a baby at that point in our lives. I'm not finished with college (he is), not married (although we were heading in that direction) and neither of us felt really ready to bring a child into this world so we made the logical choice and neither of us has regretted it at all.

My body, my life, my choice, end of story.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 7:27 PM on July 1, 2009


I'm having a hard time understanding your point. You're free to judge other people all you like, and no one's stopping you. When it's said "it doesn't matter why a woman gets an abortion" it's generally understood that legally, no, it doesn't and shouldn't matter, and also, passing judgement on women who have abortions for reasons you disapprove of is probably crass. But yeah, no one's holding you back from personally judging. I guess.

And I still don't get the jellybeans thing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:28 PM on July 1, 2009


I meant pill/condoms, or spermicidal cream/pills, etc.

You know, not everyone can take the pill. Those hormones can have a terrible effect on someone sensitive to them, like my mentally ill self. I was at my most suicidal when my psychiatrist put me on the pill to "straighten out" my periods. And it was December. A lovely Christmas of wishing I could find a rock to die under. I have never been so miserable, and I have spent *years* of my life wishing for death. I dare say I am an expert at self-loathing by now.

Oh, but there is the mini pill! And they use lower hormone levels nowadays, don'tchaknow? Well, fuck that. It's STILL not suitable for some people. So don't go around thinking it's a one-size-fits-all solution. There are side effects which can be downright nasty.

I was using the sponge until it went off the market again, and now I use ancient technology: a diaphragm (with spermicide). It is good to know I can get a safe abortion if it doesn't work as effectively as I'd like.

If people want there to be fewer abortions, I suggest they work for free day care for low-income mothers. Because frankly, that will cause a lot more wanted babies to be born.
posted by marble at 7:30 PM on July 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I have indeed witnessed your battles with that user, and that's precisely why I'm confused. I guess what I'm wondering is what, exactly, you base these judgements on.

Anyone who wants to eat a grossly unhealthy diet is free to do so, and sure enough, I'm gonna be judgemental.

Yeah, I also don't really get why you care about this.
posted by lalex at 7:32 PM on July 1, 2009


This whole back and forth has given me an interesting idea.
What if a non-profit started a website that you could order free birth control (in it's various formats) that would mail it to your house in (and this is the important part) like fake packaging for some innocuous sounding fictional other product?
Like "here's the free sample of Frootsplosion Botanical Lipgloss you ordered!" or whatever.
That way rural teens, etc could clandestinely get birth control without as much of a hassle.

Plz PM me for my paypal to donate. :p
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:39 PM on July 1, 2009


Also, MeFites that participated in my last business venture (Bobby's Bits/Ass Ticklers Faggots Fanclub) plz PM me: the first of the checks are in. :p
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:47 PM on July 1, 2009


It seems that, like birth control, abortion is not one-size-fits-all. Everyone reacts to it differently.

I for one like the "pro-voice" message. No matter what judgments anybody has, no one deserves to be silenced.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 7:59 PM on July 1, 2009


I'm judging you all

judging you all SO HARD
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:24 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


This whole back and forth has given me an interesting idea.
What if a non-profit started a website that you could order free birth control (in it's various formats) that would mail it to your house in (and this is the important part) like fake packaging for some innocuous sounding fictional other product?
Like "here's the free sample of Frootsplosion Botanical Lipgloss you ordered!" or whatever.
That way rural teens, etc could clandestinely get birth control without as much of a hassle.


I think the government should provide this service.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:24 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


And I still don't get the jellybeans thing.

It's the fear that if abortion is treated as a moot occurrence, it will reduce the impetus for people to choose to be really careful about using contraceptives effectively. Failure rates can be made extremely low if one cares to make the effort.

I support the right to choose to eat meat, but I also find factory farming methods largely distasteful. I support the right to choose to abort, but greatly prefer people instead make a real effort to avoid it.

In both cases, there is a stigma attached to the subject. Inhumane living conditions and cruel slaughtering techniques for the one; and the termination of a potential human life in the other. I think it is good and healthy for a society to feel this type of empathy for other living creatures.

I doubt I'm explaining myself well. I guess I can sum it up as: I think poorly of people who get careless with contraceptives, or who don't choose to get sterlized. It's not that I judge the abortion (not "she should have carried it to term!") but that I judge the carelessness ("he should have got a vasectomy.")
posted by five fresh fish at 8:30 PM on July 1, 2009


It's the fear that if abortion is treated as a moot occurrence, it will reduce the impetus for people to choose to be really careful about using contraceptives effectively. Failure rates can be made extremely low if one cares to make the effort.

Alright, but I don't see abortion being treated as a moot occurrence here. The point is that the reasons can be quite varied, and the reasons shouldn't be entering into the discussion of the abortion question, but there's nothing in that position that says, "Oh, and getting an abortion is like, totally no skin off my nose. It's like eating jellybeans."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:35 PM on July 1, 2009


Anyone who wants to eat a grossly unhealthy diet is free to do so, and sure enough, I'm gonna be judgemental.
Yeah, I also don't really get why you care about this.


For much the same reason I am judgemental about the idiots who get nazi symbols tattooed on their neck, or who don't wear a motorcycle helmet, or or use meth: it's a poor life choice that is going to reduce their chances of success by most any rational measure and is likely to have negative consequences for those people who know them.

I don't get why you would be laissez-faire about things that cause harm to self and others.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:36 PM on July 1, 2009


Perhaps I'm inaccurate. It's not the aborting, it's the behaviours that made it necessary. Treating sex casually as eating a jellybean. The consequences of sex are such that it's best not treated casually: pregnancy and contraception should be taken seriously, so that abortion is least likely.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 PM on July 1, 2009


When I was in sixth grade, two girls in my seventh grade class became pregnant. One had an abortion, one carried the baby to term*. The school principal must have figured out that the current sex-ed wasn't working, because my 7th and 8th grade sex ed was a lot more in depth than the previous year's.

And you know what? The talk about birth control probably helped some, but not half as much as having someone speaking to us about shit that really should be common sense-but unfortunately isn't. Like the fact that birth control doesn't always work doesn't mean you shouldn't use it (just use two types, don't try two condoms). Or that if you are going to have sex with someone, you should have a talk about what you're going to do if you do become pregnant (and if you can't have that conversation, don't have sex). And yeah, it covered abortions too-explained as a horribly emotionally messy last resort, but explained.

It kills me that kids can't get the same sort of sex ed nowadays because that would be encouraging them to have sex.

*When I tell this to people, I tend to get two different sorts of reactions: either an uncomfortable admission that yes, it was probably all right for the 12 year-old to have an abortion, or disbelief that the other 12 year-old did not abort. Both are passing judgment on something that really, they don't know anything about. It's the family's choice.

Anyway, I wish that this pro-voice movement will take off-it's wonderful work. I can't help but think of it as a parallel to the gay pride movement-it's harder to demonize women who have had abortions when you realize that you know them.

. . . a parade might be in poor taste, though.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:39 PM on July 1, 2009


The consequences of sex are such that it's best not treated casually: pregnancy and contraception should be taken seriously, so that abortion is least likely.

Yeah, again, not seeing anyone refuting this, either.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:44 PM on July 1, 2009


Perhaps I'm inaccurate. It's not the aborting, it's the behaviours that made it necessary. Treating sex casually as eating a jellybean.

Ok, but you have provided no evidence that women who have abortions treat sex casually. What I don't understand is why you think you are in a position to pass judgement on any of these individuals.
posted by lalex at 8:46 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then we would appear to be in agreement.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 PM on July 1, 2009


and stop with the jellybeans! (i am hungry)
posted by lalex at 8:48 PM on July 1, 2009


Er, that was to MStPT.

To latex: So you have no judgement (opinion) about the pregnant 12 year olds? You're all "hey, whatevs!" about it?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 PM on July 1, 2009


To latex

Heh. Nice Freudian typo.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


To latlex: So you have no judgement (opinion) about the pregnant 12 year olds? You're all "hey, whatevs!" about it?

Do I have an opinion about what we, as a society, could have done to prevent 12 year-olds from getting pregnant? Yes, I do, and I suspect it's similar to yours. Do I make a judgement? Nope.
posted by lalex at 8:57 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. I do. I judge that they shouldn't have been fucking around at age 12. I judge that if there were any conceivable way to think they should be fucking around at age 12, that they should have been using redundant contraceptives so that the chance of them becoming pregnant is so close to zero as to be zero. I judge that the one that chose to go to term probably put herself in enough danger as to be considered foolish.

I'm just an INTJ sort of guys these days, I guess.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:03 PM on July 1, 2009


huh, ok. No, I don't judge 12 year olds as if they had the same capacity as adults for logical reasoning, sexual ethics, or practical access to contraception. So I guess that's where we disagree.
posted by lalex at 9:32 PM on July 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


and I'm an INTP sort, so it must be that pesky J vs P divide that's getting in the way
posted by lalex at 9:36 PM on July 1, 2009


And look, five fresh fish, I will say this again. Your comments imply that you are entitled to judge the "ok-ness" of abortions based on your perception that society/women treat abortions as equivalent to eating jellybeans. Yet you have provided no evidence for your assertion. Why do you believe this?
posted by lalex at 9:51 PM on July 1, 2009


"Failure rates can be made extremely low if one cares to make the effort. "

As far as I can tell, the places where the abortion rate is the lowest are the places where access to contraception and sexual health education are taken seriously. So, there is a point to that. But the goal isn't really to lower the abortion rate, per se. It's more about treating sex as a health issue rather than a moral issue. Making abortion this big bugaboo - as a toxic, third-rail issue of any health initiative like you seem to want to do - treats it like a moral issue and distracts from what is actually important.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:13 PM on July 1, 2009


On the way home, I heard, for the umpteenth time, a radio ad for Birthright Counseling. They're all about "presenting the options" to hear them talk, but they're just another pro-life group, frontin'.

I've never heard an ad for Planned Parenthood. Ever.
posted by adipocere at 10:26 PM on July 1, 2009


I'm glad I followed crunchland's advice to, effectively, go away after hitting "post". I'd have been badly tempted to wade in, all "The links are interesting, and promising for advancing the debate, really!"

Two pdfs that I didn't end up putting in the post:

Abortion as Stigma: Cognitive and Emotional Implications of Concealment

Psychological Responses of Women After First Trimester Abortion

And an excerpt of an article by Laurie Shrage that I found really thought-provoking for talking about how the right has become synonymous in the (often sympathetic) public mind with powerful fetal imagery, whereas visuals from the left have had much less desired impact. In a section that was initially accessible when i first found the link but doesn't seem to be there now, Schrage talks about pro-choice calls (Kissling, Taft) for putting the fetus and emotions back into pro-choice discourse, and reactions from right ("Vindication!") and left ("Not helpful to talk about this") and her own conclusion that it would be more helpful than not.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:17 PM on July 1, 2009


Making abortion this big bugaboo - as a toxic, third-rail issue of any health initiative like you seem to want to do

Whu? Sorry, but that is to claim it as a "big bugaboo" or "toxic issue" is waaaay beyond any measure I'd make. It's a long way from my "least preferable" option to what you are describing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 PM on July 1, 2009


Lalex, it was an attempt to explain in shorthand what I have now stated in longhand.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:39 PM on July 1, 2009


hmmm, five fresh fish, I'm not sure if I've fully caught on...please describe the criteria with which you judge the ok-ness of abortions?
posted by lalex at 11:45 PM on July 1, 2009


I always find these abortiion threads bewildering. its just a non-issue in Australia except for the total nutjobs.

there is no stigma, there is no 'debate', there are family planning clinics all over and its just not a big deal.
posted by mary8nne at 2:47 AM on July 2, 2009


I've never heard an ad for Planned Parenthood. Ever.

They have them on the buses in Minnesota pretty frequently-advertising cheap/free birth control in English and Spanish. Don't know if I've ever seen them anywhere else.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:53 AM on July 2, 2009


Every time I read "jelly beans" in this thread I thought of Jelly Babies. Appropriately yummy.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:57 AM on July 2, 2009


Say hello to my eldest child, unknowingly conceived while his mother was being treated for a dental abscess.

I would certainly have a word with that dentist.
posted by malocchio at 7:13 AM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like this argument from Joshua Cohen:
.... I have suggested a case that sounds in political morality against restrictive regulations of reproductive choice, but does not decide the moral issue about abortion. In particular, I have said that reasonable people—with a sense of justice and an undiminished capacity for moral thought—disagree deeply on this issue, and that part of the idea of treating people as equals is we refrain from imposing highly burdensome regulations based on considerations that they reasonably reject.

It is natural to suspect that some sleight-of-hand must be at work here. After all, the conclusion at the level of political morality supports one side in the moral dispute. According to the objection, however, the pro-life and pro-choice positions on the moral issue are symmetrical. That is, either abortions are restrictively regulated or they are not. If they are restrictively regulated, the side that favors restrictive regulation wins. If they are not, then the side that has a liberal view on the moral question wins.

So you cannot resolve the issue without giving greater weight to one side or another in the moral argument. Applying this general point to the argument sketched earlier: yes, some people do reject the justification for regulation. But why should their objections should carry the day? After all, some people reject the current settlement, which permits abortion. Why don’t their objections to the permissive regime carry as much weight as the pro-choice objections to the restrictive regime?

The answer to this question is to reject the alleged symmetry. What breaks the symmetry are the burdens on women of a restrictive regime. The restrictive regime imposes substantial burdens on women’s liberty, equality, and independent judgment; if we suppose with Dworkin that everyone’s life matters equally, and that individuals also have special responsibility for their own lives—those burdens need to be justified, and the terms of that justification must carry some weight with those whose liberty and equality are impaired. Otherwise, we fail to respect them as moral equals. The reason that the restrictive regime cannot stand, then, is that no such acceptable justification is available.

Because of the asymmetry created by these burdens, proponents of a restrictive regime have only two options. Either they can deny that a restrictive regime imposes large burdens on women, or, accepting that those burdens are serious, they can deny the equal standing of those who reject the justification for the burdens as weightless. Neither option seems acceptable.
source
posted by AceRock at 8:36 AM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say hello to my eldest child, unknowingly conceived while his mother was being treated for a dental abscess.

I'll do you one better. Say hello to my eldest child, here today thanks to the fact I was taking hormonal birth control. Turns out, my body doesn't normally produce enough progesterone to maintain a pregnancy after implantation. However, because I was taking birth control pills when she was conceived, I stayed pregnant instead of miscarrying! Yay, birth control!

That said, I adore my daughter, and having her is one of the best things that ever happened to me, despite the fact I had her at a point that was, inarguably, NOT a point at which I should have ever had a baby. Thus the birth control.
posted by elfgirl at 8:43 AM on July 2, 2009


lalex: In simple terms, which necessarily paint with a broad brush: I do not feel it is okay to treat sex — or, more accurately, its potential consequence — so casually that instead of taking really good precautionary contraceptive measures, one relies instead on access to abortion to correct one's "mistakes."

"The condom broke" is not an acceptable excuse. The condom should be used with foam. "I forgot to take my pill" is not an acceptable excuse. The pill should be taken at the same time every day. Couples that do not want children should send him off for a vasectomy. Casual hookups should consider oral sex as an alternative to coitus. So on and so forth.

There are legitimate failures of contraception, but there are many more cases where poor decision-making is at fault. You'll note that these are not judgements of abortion: they are judgements of the behaviours that led up to the need for an abortion. People are stupid about sex.

Let me toss this back to you now: I presume you, too, would prefer to see abortion rates decline. What makes your view on that not a judgemental one? How do you form a preference without judgement?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 AM on July 2, 2009


All this talk about judging women and proper birth control uses bugs the crap out of me. I thought this was going to be a discussion about how women feel about their abortions, not birth control. Wishful thinking, I know.
I felt very little guilt about my abortion and then felt guilty about that. I thought I was an unemotional robot for about a year for not feeling much. It was very good for me to hear other people also felt that way. It is very difficult to talk about without a lot of people getting judgey. And we can see this here. If you have had an abortion you must not have used BC properly or given enough thought to what could happen when you decided to have sex. What I need(ed) and I think a lot of women need(ed) is what the links here provide; a place to talk about what we feel and felt without judgment. Obviously that is not easy to come by.
posted by shmurley at 8:48 AM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


I still feel conflicted about an abortion decision I was involved in twenty years ago. I am 100% pro-choice, however, and am glad we had the option of deciding we were not in a position to be parents.

On a related note, sex education has devolved, unfortunately, resulting in more unplanned U.S. pregnancies, as this article from today's Alternet points out.
posted by kozad at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2009


five fresh fish: ""The condom broke" is not an acceptable excuse... "I forgot to take my pill" is not an acceptable excuse."

Fortunately, neither your acceptance nor an excuse is necessary.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2009 [9 favorites]


So it's not an acceptable excuse, then what? They go to jail? They get punished in some way? They're not allowed to have an abortion. . . oh wait. That means that you're thinking about completed pregnancy and childbirth and raising a child as punishment and an abortion as a reward. If you're good, if you're careful, if you're oh so responsible and it would never even occur to you to have sex without using two kinds of birth control and making plans and possibly writing up a fair use agreement then you don't have to have kids? Is that what we're getting at here? Children are a punishment? Or is the abortion the punishment? You're going to have to make up your mind.

I would like to reiterate that there is no such thing as a woman who is walking around thinking "Oh the hell with it, I'll just have an abortion, because they're so much fun." They aren't fun on any level; they're painful, expensive, difficult to obtain and they carry miserable stigmas with them on a whole lot of levels. And, let me just say this again - why are so many people so fixated on WHY a woman is getting an abortion? She got pregnant, that's why, and right now is not the time for her to have a baby, and that is her choice. The reasoning behind it is none of anyone's business.

I'm sorry about the way this thread got derailed as well and like shmurley above I find it kind of chilling that a post about honest discussion of how abortions affect or do not affect women got derailed into a referendum on which women are good and deserving of sympathy or consideration - for the record, that would be women who have been raped; women who have been inhumanly careful with their birth control or women in situations of incest - and women who are not good and not deserving of sympathy: every other woman.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2009 [13 favorites]


So the decisions and behaviours that lead to the need for a "painful, expensive, difficult to obtain and they carry miserable stigmas" procedure exists wholly in a vacuum, does it? There is no opinion, no judgement, no framework in which to say that it would have been preferable to have avoided that outcome.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 AM on July 2, 2009


Of course it's preferable to avoid but how someone got there is no ones business besides the person making the choice. It is not for you to decide what is right or wrong here, that is the point of the post. Women need a place to talk about abortion without judgment.
posted by shmurley at 10:27 AM on July 2, 2009


I think people are misunderstanding fff's statements due to the use of the word "judgement." He is judgmental, but I don't think he's trying to be THE judge of anything. He's not going to force anyone to NOT get their swastika tattoos or extra double value meal or reckless hook-ups. It's not "You can't do that because it's wrong/bad!" just "Jee, that's dumb, and I have no qualms saying so."
of course, please correct me if I've misinterpreted, fff.
posted by luftmensch at 10:45 AM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Mary had been pro-choice, Jesus would never have been born.

If Klara Hitler had been pro-choice, the Holocaust would never have happened!

If Donna Wood had been pro-choice, THIS never would have happened!

See? Everyone can play with bad logic!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:19 AM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


"There are legitimate failures of contraception, but there are many more cases where poor decision-making is at fault. You'll note that these are not judgements of abortion: they are judgements of the behaviours that led up to the need for an abortion. People are stupid about sex."

Yes, but that's not your decision, and it's none of your business why someone might need an abortion.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:41 AM on July 2, 2009


"So the decisions and behaviours that lead to the need for a 'painful, expensive, difficult to obtain and they carry miserable stigmas' procedure exists wholly in a vacuum, does it? There is no opinion, no judgement, no framework in which to say that it would have been preferable to have avoided that outcome."

Yes, but it's a personal decision, and your judgment should not play a role.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2009


I thought this was going to be a discussion about how women feel about their abortions...

No, no, no... This is the discussion of how WE feel about women who have had abortions.

It's easy to confuse the two.

Clearly.
posted by LordSludge at 12:22 PM on July 2, 2009


I think people are misunderstanding fff's statements due to the use of the word "judgement." He is judgmental, but I don't think he's trying to be THE judge of anything. He's not going to force anyone to NOT get their swastika tattoos or extra double value meal or reckless hook-ups. It's not "You can't do that because it's wrong/bad!" just "Jee, that's dumb, and I have no qualms saying so."

The problem is not that fff's views on other people's sexual behavior are offensive, but that they are profoundly irrelevant to the abortion rights debate, and what is offensive is his apparent belief that they are somehow relevant. It's central to the notion of any kind of rights that you put aside your personal opinions about someone's behavior, and focus only on the question of whether it is the legitimate role of society to constrain that behavior.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:31 PM on July 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yawn. I'm bored to death with people judging whether a woman "deserves" an abortion. We all deserve the right to have control over what happens to our bodies.
posted by agregoli at 12:46 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


cybercoitus interruptus, thanks for the great post. The collection of links is very good. This may well be the best FPP on the topic of abortion yet. Bummer this thread turned so quickly into a vent for inconsequential-to-the-issue-at-hand worldviews. (I mean, really. Fifteen minutes in, and we already had #$%$!! going on... no way was that enough time to have sanely, calmly absorbed the content before, well... #$%$!!-ing. The long derail is inevitable once it's spawned in that manner, and everyone present knows that. Sad.)

But yay! for a great, great post. Thank you. I'd love to have contributed more to the discussion, but... not on your nelly. Which, of course, illustrates the thrust of your post: that it's not always perceived as "safe" for women to share this sort of experience, thanks to a few really, really, really, really correct, smarter-than-thou individuals who really ARE on your side. Really! Arghh.
posted by heyho at 1:04 PM on July 2, 2009


We're having an abortion rights debate? I don't think so. I am absolutely, unequivocally on the side of safe access to abortion and the woman's right to choose.

Luftmensh nails it: I am not judging in the sense of saying "you can, and you there, you can't." I judge many things: we all do, it is how we make our path through life. We look at what others do, and the consequences of what they chose to do, and we judge whether or not we would do the same.

I am using the term "judgement" in the sense that if one looks back on behaviours and can say "hey, I should have done this differently, I could have avoided the result that I got." Judgement is how we discriminate between the the better of two paths.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on July 2, 2009


I am using the term "judgement" in the sense that if one looks back on behaviours and can say "hey, I should have done this differently, I could have avoided the result that I got." Judgement is how we discriminate between the the better of two paths.

I think the issue here, though, is that you are not turning that discerning eye of judgement on yourself -- you are turning it on to others. It's all well and good to say "I should have done this differently" -- people are getting up in arms because you are not saying "I", you are saying "SHE should have done that differently."

While technically you are correct that we all have a right to pass judgements on each other -- it is at worst unconstructive and at the very least rude to publically state these judgements, unless they are supported by legal codes (i.e., you can tell someone "you shouldn't have done that" if "that" was "steal my wallet").

No one can stop you from thinking whatever you think whenever you hear about a given individual's having had an abortion, or from discussing those opinions with whomever you want. BUT -- your sharing those thoughts doesn't necessarily contribute into a discussion about the legal access to abortion ITSELF, because you do not, and never will have, a complete picture of her own experience, and her own history and her own background and all the nuances involved, which lead her TO that one moment and that one decision, regardless of what that decision is.

this is why people are saying that the motivations for an abortion "shouldn't matter" -- because trying to parse out the individual motivations for each and every abortion that happens is like trying to parse out the individual motivations for each and every sex act. No matter how full an account of their own expeiriences someone gives, there ain't nobody who is going to convince everyone in the world of the inherant rightness of their actions. There will always be at least one or two people who will think, "yeah, you know, I still would have done differently."

And that's why the only thing to do is to just trust that each person is making the best possible choice for their own unique situation, and to give them the slack that you know, even if you may not agree with what they do, who knows what secret thoughts may be lurking in their heart that could have pointed them the way they did or what behind-closed-doors circumstances may be affecting their lives in such a way to truly make this the best choice -- and then to let them be.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on July 2, 2009 [10 favorites]


mary8nne: there is no stigma, there is no 'debate', there are family planning clinics all over and its just not a big deal.

Has this absence of shaming and judging (and dare I hope...even stigmatizing?) led to a new norm of most women treating abortions as casually as eating jellybeans? Probably not.

fff:
There are legitimate failures of contraception, but there are many more cases where poor decision-making is at fault. You'll note that these are not judgements of abortion: they are judgements of the behaviours that led up to the need for an abortion.


To quote shiu mai baby way upthread, What about the many, many women -- especially those who live in rural areas (and, obviously, are often part of a lower economic bracket) who don't have the benefit of a Planned Parenthood clinic around the corner? What about the teenager whose parents have preached abstinence-only, who are terrified of being labeled a slut just because they bought birth-control pills?

and a million other situations that can't be addressed in any realistic or helpful way by either/or endlessly reiterated presumptions like "Many more cases of abortion result from from poor decision making ie not taking good precautionary measures. Shaming and judging will inspire abstinent-only-educated teens to know how to get contraceptives and how to use them once they're in hand, rural girls to go travel for 2 hours to get access to birth control, women relying on condom-only to now use spermicidal foam even though the foam encourages yeast infections" and so on. I know those aren't your precise words, I know you're staunchly pro-choice, but that is the (unintended, I think) import of your contributions to this thread.

I do not feel it is okay to treat sex — or, more accurately, its potential consequence — so casually that instead of taking really good precautionary contraceptive measures, one relies instead on access to abortion to correct one's "mistakes." . . . [treating abortion casually] will reduce the impetus for people to choose to be really careful about using contraceptives effectively.

Reducing the stigma around having an abortion or talking about having an abortion != treating abortions as casually as eating jelly beans.

I presume you, too, would prefer to see abortion rates decline. What makes your view on that not a judgemental one? How do you form a preference without judgement?


Not being snarky, because I'm just volunteering this from my own experience -- practice helps, and when I'm unable to let go of a judgment, I find that keeping it to myself is frequently more helpful than expressing it in contexts where it's unlikely to contribute to constructive change.

So the decisions and behaviours that lead to the need for a "painful, expensive, difficult to obtain and they carry miserable stigmas" procedure exists wholly in a vacuum, does it?


No. Aside from perfect-use b.c. failure, there's a wide variety of contributing factors, already mentioned a few times upthread. Your comments and Malice's have hammered, in an excruciatingly tunnel-vision way, at precisely one.

shmurley: Women need a place to talk about abortion without judgment.

Yes. At first I was surprised that our usual pro-"life" resident didn't pop in here to pass judgment, but when the derail just kept going on and on and on, I realized that my ostensible political allies did an impressive job of it on their own.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:20 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


While technically you are correct that we all have a right to pass judgements on each other -- it is at worst unconstructive and at the very least rude to publically state these judgements, unless they are supported by legal codes

If this were true, then there'd be no Mark Sanford thread. Indeed, a good many threads on MeFi would have to fall silent.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:24 PM on July 2, 2009


I wrote that wrong. Yes, you're my political allies, and at the same time, the wholesale judging sure did silence what might have been an interesting conversation covering new ground.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:26 PM on July 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


While technically you are correct that we all have a right to pass judgements on each other -- it is at worst unconstructive and at the very least rude to publically state these judgements, unless they are supported by legal codes

I don't see this. There are many behaviors that any individual is free to engage in--alcohol abuse, smoking, for two examples that I have personal experience with--that are not, and should not be, illegal, but that society seeks to curb by stigmatizing those behaviors.

If abortion should be safe, legal, and rare--why should it be rare? Is there one kind of abortion that is unequivocally okay (threat to the life of the mother, fetal condition incompatible with life, etc.), and another kind that ideally would be more rare (say, second trimester elective abortions, repeat abortions)?

Of course! So, how do we go about achieving this end? Education, obviously. Contraception, as Malice has said. And, as I think fff is saying, by treating abortion as the serious business it is. Being willing to have a discussion about what kinds of abortions are necessary and which are less so, and (as a society) offering better support to women in the latter category, and stigmatizing behavior that leads to these abortions. Which doesn't mean the final decision isn't still theirs (ours), but that culture should value nascent life and not act as if motive for abortion doesn't matter. Weighing these matters is exactly what Roe v Wade did, as it sought a balance between the rights of a woman and society's interest in protecting unborn life.

Going back earlier in the thread:
In truth, the actual number of women who do just see it as a contraception alternative is VANISHINGLY small

I know the stats are tricky, but this seems to me to be demonstrably untrue. Nearly half of abortions are repeats. Does this not suggest that some women treat abortion as a contraception alternative?

Women in the UK under 20 having repeat abortions rose 70% from '91 to '07. In 2007, about 5900 girls fit in that category. Which may not seem like a huge number, until you think about the reality for those girls. In one year, nearly 5900 girls in the UK had two or more abortions before the age of 20. That is just sad.

If abortion should be rare, maybe this is where we should start. But short of making multiple abortions illegal, what is there to do, beyond what fff is saying? Society has a couple of powers, apart from making behavior illegal: on the positive side, educating individuals not to engage in certain behaviors, and providing resources to help avoid those behaviors; on the negative side, stigmatizing irresponsible behavior.
posted by torticat at 4:05 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


there is no stigma, there is no 'debate', there are family planning clinics all over and its just not a big deal.

I saw my first right to life billboard on the highway between Roma and Charleville in Queensland. It was there for about 10 years, with the picture of a foetus getting more and faded and decrepit as time wore on, but it still always angered me. There are family planning clinics all over in the cities, sure, but a poor woman from the bush would still probably have trouble finding an abortion provider, even if only for the sheer distance and paucity of medical services in rural areas in general. Can you book an abortion from the flying doctor or in an Aboriginal community medical clinic? I have no idea, but I hope so.

There are often protestors outside the clinics - nutjobs they may be but they still work to intimidate women accessing abortion, and probably succeed for a few. There was a clinic near where I lived in Brisbane - in my misspent youth it was great sport to see how many protestors we could hit with water balloons as we drove past. And don't forget the security guard murdered at a Melbourne clinic in 2001 - one of the very few, possibly the only, such anti-choice-motivated killing outside the US. In most states in Australia abortion is technically legal only if the mother's health is at risk - sure this is determined by a three-minute "counselling session" in most cases but it's still not unconditional access, and contraception isn't free.

This could have been a great thread - thankyou to all who have shared their own stories, and to anyone who thinks it's okay to pass judgement on other's decisions about their own bodies: it's none of your fucking business. All women who terminate pregnancies do so because they don't want to be, or can't be, pregnant anymore. Why is irrelevant.
posted by goo at 4:06 PM on July 2, 2009


Women in the UK under 20 having repeat abortions rose 70% from '91 to '07. In 2007, about 5900 girls fit in that category. Which may not seem like a huge number, until you think about the reality for those girls. In one year, nearly 5900 girls in the UK had two or more abortions before the age of 20. That is just sad.

Why is it sad? The UK has one of the highest ratees of teenage pregnancy and the current rate of birth to teenage mothers is the lowest since the 1950s. This is a good outcome.
posted by goo at 4:20 PM on July 2, 2009


Thank you, torticat, for saying what I've been trying to say. And saying it much better than I.

Goo, there is one hell of a value judgement in your statement. Highest rate of teenage pregnancy coupled with lowest rate of teenage births means that abortion rates for teens are way the hell up. And you call that a "good outcome"?!

A good outcome would be a low rate of teenage pregnancy and a consequent low rate of abortion (on the assumption that most teens do not want to be pregnant). Proportional to pregnancy, births would the be high, because those teens that are pregnant would have chosen to be pregnant, ergo not choosing to abort.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:28 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Highest rate of teenage pregnancy coupled with lowest rate of teenage births means that abortion rates for teens are way the hell up. And you call that a "good outcome"?!

Yes, I do. Contraception is readily available and free in the UK, and the continued high rate of teenage pregnancy indicates that teenagers are having sex and getting pregnant anyway:

When those under 16 were considered the [conception] rate rose from 7.8 per to 8.3 per 1,000 - an increase of more than six per cent in numerical terms - from 7,826 [in 2002] to 8,196 in 2007. The proportion having an abortion rose to 50 per cent from 48 per cent in 2006 and as low as 40 per cent in 1996.

More pregnant girls aged under 16 choosing to have abortions is an excellent outcome in this situation.

Abortion is also a class indicator here in the UK - middle- (and above) class girls usually have abortions when they become pregnant, whereas girls in the (multi-generational unemployed) underclass choose to have babies. If more of these girls are choosing terminations, instead of relegating themselves and their children to a lifetime of reliance on benefits, the better their and their children's prospects and socioeconomic outcomes.
posted by goo at 6:03 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


By benefits I mean tax-payer funded welfare, in case that's not clear.
posted by goo at 6:09 PM on July 2, 2009


goo: abortion is class-indicated in the US as well. Women having multiple abortions here (or first-time abortions, for that matter) are likely to be poor.

The point is, is this an outcome you would wish for any girl or woman? That, by the age of 20, she would have had two or more abortions? Do you think her sex life, or her potential family life, will be unaffected by this?

I think what you are saying is, better this than a lot of welfare babies. Okay. But I doubt that that possibility is the top issue that will trouble these women's future relationships, or haunt their child-bearing years. In some cases, of course, they will not be troubled at all--some of them will never want to have kids, or will not be bothered by what they did in their teens.

But do you think they have this self-awareness now, when the multiple abortions are taking place? These girls are not even 20 yet! Why is this happening? Do you not think it would be better (ideally) if the incidence of these situations were decreasing, rather than increasing?
posted by torticat at 8:47 PM on July 2, 2009


But do you think they have this self-awareness now, when the multiple abortions are taking place? These girls are not even 20 yet! Why is this happening? Do you not think it would be better (ideally) if the incidence of these situations were decreasing, rather than increasing?

While it's certainly better that people use contraception rather than have to get an abortion after the fact, it's better — much better, orders of magnitude better — that women have unfettered access to abortions than feel in any way pressured to go through with a pregnancy they don't want. And when you start casting aspersions at women who've had abortions, I don't see how you're not increasing that pressure.

I think it's completely inappropriate to exercise any sort of social sanction on women who get abortions, for whatever reason. Even if there are women using them casually as "retroactive contraception" — and I think that's pro-life bullshit, but hypothetically — I don't think that we, as a society, should say a goddamn peep about it. Because a few extra abortions pales in significance compared to even a handful of extra unwanted pregnancies.

If a non-judgemental attitude to abortions somehow causes a few women to take a more relaxed attitude to contraception than they otherwise would be if they were scared shitless all the time about getting pregnant — and I don't think this is even remotely likely, but let's just say it happens — so what? They get pregnant, they have an abortion, it sucks, they move on with their lives. That doesn't seem like such a terrible outcome, particularly compared with an unwanted pregnancy, an increase in which will be the inevitable result of any reduced access to or increased social stigma on abortion services.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:10 PM on July 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


torticat: I know the stats are tricky, but this seems to me to be demonstrably untrue. Nearly half of abortions are repeats. Does this not suggest that some women treat abortion as a contraception alternative?

I want to reply to the rest of your comment tomorrow, but as to this point, your link says, "Women who had repeat abortions tended to be over age 30 and to have more children, and most were using contraception at the time" so...is there another way to interpret that sentence that I'm not getting?

ok, I looked up the actual study. About 54% were using contraception and still conceived (looks like the news report exaggerated), which means that just under half weren't, and, it goes on to say on p. 38,
While some [clinics] are able to give patients a limited supply of birth control pills at a reduced cost or free, some women are unable to continue this, or other, hormonal methods as they cannot afford the refills or the periodic medical visits required to obtain them. [there was some mention on a previous page about how when prioritizing whether to pay rent vs food for their families, contraceptives may take lower priority...that situation would assume, of course, that they already have ease of access to a clinic or non-judgmental pharmacist]
Looks like the news reported the Title X problem accurately enough though:
“The 'wall of separation’ that the federal government has erected between family planning and abortion services is, paradoxically, leading to more abortions,” said Sharon Camp, the Institute’s president and chief executive officer.

“These policies interfere with the ability of abortion providers to ensure continuity of care for their patients by guaranteeing that, following an abortion, every woman has an appropriate contraceptive method and is able to use it consistently,” Camp added in a statement.
So, sure, some women may be out there who could easily pay for and have access to contraceptives, but just don't and end up having whimsical repeat abortions instead, just because they're irresponsible, but this particular study doesn't indicate that clinics are teeming with such women.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:14 AM on July 3, 2009


As far as I know, it was US centrists who coined the phrase "safe, legal, and rare". There are many of us on the left who are not so concerned with the 'rare' part right now. Currently, most US women do not truly have access to an abortion:
Across the country, 86% of U.S. counties had no abortion provider in 2000, and as noted in the National Report Card, 34% of women live in such counties. (1) The lack of access to abortion services is particularly severe for women in rural communities. In non-metropolitan areas, 97% of counties had no abortion provider. (2)

Currently, I'm a lot more interested in making sure every woman who needs to abort a pregnancy has access to a clinic that will perform a safe, legal one. I'd also like public schools to have decent sex ed and every citizen in our country to have decent healthcare and a good job or appropriate government support. Once all those things have happened, maybe I'll be more interested in reducing the abortion rate.

In the meantime, the current abortion rate numbers reflect poverty, bad schools, poor healthcare, and limited access to reproductive services, and just trying to reduce the number of abortions seems like a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:42 AM on July 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


If this were true, then there'd be no Mark Sanford thread. Indeed, a good many threads on MeFi would have to fall silent.

Good point -- let me amend my earlier statement, then, to say "While technically you are correct that we all have a right to pass judgements on each other -- it is at worst unconstructive and at the very least rude to publically state these judgements when engaged in a discussion about the inherant rightness or wrongness of matters of public policy."

In other words -- it's one thing for a bunch of us on MeFi to be talking about what someone else did when it's just passing observation on "huh, that's weird, ain't it?", but when it comes to "so, how should the laws about this issue be written," that's a little different.

So, how do we go about achieving this end? Education, obviously. Contraception, as Malice has said. And, as I think fff is saying, by treating abortion as the serious business it is. Being willing to have a discussion about what kinds of abortions are necessary and which are less so, and (as a society) offering better support to women in the latter category, and stigmatizing behavior that leads to these abortions. Which doesn't mean the final decision isn't still theirs (ours), but that culture should value nascent life and not act as if motive for abortion doesn't matter.

I don't think anyone is disagreeing with you on this point, or disagreeing with you about the seriousness of abortion. I think the only thing that had others up in arms was fff's categorization of OTHER people's motivations as being NON-serious about abortion. Because it may look to US like "she gets an abortion like she was just eating jellybeans", as fff said, but we have absolutely no way of knowing what she may have gone through while leading to that decision.

Case in point: if I were, today, to find myself pregnant, I would automatically and without question go immediately to schedule an abortion. No hesitation, no tears, no taking a couple days to think about it. To many people, that may very well look like I was being cavalier about it.

But -- those people judging me on my actions today aren't seeing the entire year of intense thought, endless reading of theological discussions on the one hand and medical texts on the other, talking to new parents, and nights crying after doing soul-searching that I did several years ago when I first became sexually active and asked myself "okay, if I ever DID become pregnant, what do I think I would do?"

Just because we see a woman acting in a way we feel means that she doesn't take abortion seriously, it doesn't mean she really doesn't take it seriously. Trying to assign inner emotions to someone based on their outer behaviour is tremendously clumsy and often wrong, because no matter how much we see, we cannot see into the contents of their head and heart.

I think that's all people were trying to say -- that even in the cases where it looks to us like someone treats abortion "not seriously", that we cannot know for sure what conversations she may have had with herself in the middle of the night, and that if we did, we may very well find ourselves put to shame for our assumptions instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:54 AM on July 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I was coming back to say more, but EmpressCallipygos just said the other half of what I was going to say. I also would have an abortion immediately if I found myself pregnant. I could give you medical, social, professional, and emotional reasons that I have thought long and hard about. But the decision itself would now appear quick.

Mostly, I would like to see a lot more support, education, and compassion, but in the end the choice to abort a pregnancy belongs to an individual and I simply don't care what a woman's reasons are. If, as in the original post here, she'd like to talk about them, I think that's awesome. If not, it's her business, not mine.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:00 AM on July 3, 2009


"While technically you are correct that we all have a right to pass judgements on each other -- it is at worst unconstructive and at the very least rude to publicly state these judgements when engaged in a discussion about the inherent rightness or wrongness of matters of public policy."

First, "judgements on each other" is disingenuous. "Each other" implies a level of person-specificity that just isn't there.

Second, we discuss public policy frequently on MeFi and almost all of us do so by expressing our judgement of the morality, long-term social outcome, political practicality, and suchlike. Indeed, discussion of "inherent rightness or wrongness" necessarily requires that one pass judgement. You don't have rightness or wrongness without having a judgement.

In other words -- it's one thing for a bunch of us on MeFi to be talking about what someone else did when it's just passing observation on "huh, that's weird, ain't it?", but when it comes to "so, how should the laws about this issue be written," that's a little different.

In no way whatsoever have I said or implied anything about how the laws should be written.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 AM on July 3, 2009


In the meantime, the current abortion rate numbers reflect poverty, bad schools, poor healthcare, and limited access to reproductive services, and just trying to reduce the number of abortions seems like a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.

Better education, better access to contraceptions, and a greater respect for the value of pregnancy is the only way we will see a decrease in the number of unwanted pregnancies and a reduction in the number of abortions.

The implied message in "just trying to reduce the number of abortions" is that your opponent has a simplistic understanding of the problem and a facile approach to solving it. That is an unfair characterization and indicates only that you are making unwarranted, unsupported assumptions.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 AM on July 3, 2009


In no way whatsoever have I said or implied anything about how the laws should be written.

I'll grant you that it's an imperfect phrasing of what I was trying to say. What I was trying to say is that when it comes to discussion of judgement, there's a difference between a MeFi discussion about "boy, ain't Mark Sanford a wack-nut" and the statement that "you know, some women act like abortion is a casual thing for them and therefore I think that attitude should be addressed somehow." I was responding more to your statement that "it's not fair to judge other people's actions" would mean "but then we'd have nothing to talk about on MeFi." They're two different discussions, is all.

My point was more that in the former case, people are talking about their opinions for the sake of conversation -- but in the second case, you're making a judgement but allowing judgements about individual people to affect your opinion about an overall policy, but the problem is that you have no way of knowing whether your judgements of those people are even accurate. There's a difference between "that looks like he's messed in the head", an "that looks like he's messed in the head, and therefore I wish people would do this, that, or those."

Ah, here's how to say it -- using one's own judgement of an individual's actions as a basis for an overall, general statement is a dangerous prospect, becasue you don't know for sure whether that initial judgement of that individual's actions was even accurate to begin with.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on July 3, 2009


Where have I said word one about my opinion about an overall policy, other than that I am an absolutist when it comes to the right to choose? In fact, where have I once made a judgement of an individual's actions? I am pretty sure I have been speaking only in general, broad terms.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 AM on July 3, 2009


Better education, better access to contraceptions, and a greater respect for the value of pregnancy is the only way we will see a decrease in the number of unwanted pregnancies and a reduction in the number of abortions.

The implied message in "just trying to reduce the number of abortions" is that your opponent has a simplistic understanding of the problem and a facile approach to solving it. That is an unfair characterization and indicates only that you are making unwarranted, unsupported assumptions.


You missed the first half of my post and took offense rather than following the logic of my argument. Not enough women in the US have access to abortion right now. As far as I'm concerned, abortion rates should probably be higher than they are right now, and if the first step in improved access to healthcare is actually higher abortion rates, I will be delighted, not disappointed.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:14 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


has a simplistic understanding of the problem and a facile approach to solving it.

Three mentions of education amid a sea of charges -- to be fair, not just yours -- of irresponsibility! irresponsibility! irresponsibility! certainly does give that impression:

(took the risk of pregnancy more seriously . . . Sadly, this is something that is very much lacking in the North American education system. . . . as little moral weight as choosing to eat jellybeans for a snack . . . uses abortion as casually as it eats jellybeans . . . poor life choice . . . better choices about sex . . . a society that uses abortion as casually as it eats jellybeans could be a "good" society. But I remain skeptical. I think we're better off educating children to cherish pregnancy and childbirth, and to use contraceptives correctly, consistently, and competently each and every time. . . . if abortion is treated as a moot occurrence, it will reduce the impetus for people to choose to be really careful about using contraceptives effectively . . . if one cares to make the effort . . . make a real effort . . . the carelessness . . . relies instead on access to abortion to correct one's "mistakes.")

Can you see how although it was not your intent, the preponderance of the above comments have the effect of flattening out all the complicated factors contributing to the abortion rate to just one, individuals' pure, unadulterated irresponsibility and carelessness?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:20 AM on July 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


and before someone accuses me of aiming at a strawman when I said

this particular study doesn't indicate that clinics are teeming with such women.,

I realize that no one said the clnics are teeming with such women, but the degree of harping on individual carelessness / irresponsibility that constitutes most (!) of this thread strongly implies that pure carelessness / irresponsibility / disregard for the gravitas of human fetal potential is, if not THE major cause of high abortion rates, major enough to give the impression that the clinics are teeming with such women, to keep giving it as much derail-y airtime as St Alia and her "oh ye heartless, cold, unfeeling!" cohort ever did and will continue to do. I mean, the one abortion thread that's not all about her, and it still proceeded exactly the same as if she was.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:30 AM on July 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hear hear, cybercoitus interruptus. I'm sick and tired of this same discussion, this same blaming of women, when it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I really don't care what people think of those bad, bad, unfeeling, un-thinking women. It's immaterial and just plain incorrect.
posted by agregoli at 10:55 AM on July 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Where have I said word one about my opinion about an overall policy, other than that I am an absolutist when it comes to the right to choose?

In these comments:

took the risk of pregnancy more seriously . . . Sadly, this is something that is very much lacking in the North American education system. . . . as little moral weight as choosing to eat jellybeans for a snack . . . uses abortion as casually as it eats jellybeans . . . poor life choice . . . better choices about sex . . . a society that uses abortion as casually as it eats jellybeans could be a "good" society. But I remain skeptical. I think we're better off educating children to cherish pregnancy and childbirth, and to use contraceptives correctly, consistently, and competently each and every time. . . . if abortion is treated as a moot occurrence, it will reduce the impetus for people to choose to be really careful about using contraceptives effectively . . . if one cares to make the effort . . . make a real effort . . . the carelessness . . . relies instead on access to abortion to correct one's "mistakes."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:57 AM on July 3, 2009


But not one word of that is about government/legal policy.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:39 AM on July 3, 2009


And I never said I was talking strictly about legal policy. In fact, I made a point of saying what I said was trumped BY whether something was legal policy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:21 PM on July 3, 2009


I think what you are saying is, better this than a lot of welfare babies

My comments do read like that, torticat, but that wasn't what I was getting at - for which I apologise for my lack of clarity. Fundamentally, I don't see abortion as a bad thing, ever, and echo hydropsyche's comments above noting that the 'rare' part of 'safe, legal and rare' is an unnecessary add-on (I could say I assume by the centrists to appease the pro-lifers, but that would be speaking from an American perspective, which I can't do) that reinforces the stigma of abortion. And that sucks.
posted by goo at 1:34 PM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older 15 year old Kimberly Anyadike is flying across the...  |  Ayn Rand discusses in a 1979 D... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments