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The headline is colorful, chilling, and woefully short sighted about the issues of incest, pregnancy, and consent. I think it goes without much emphasis how quickly it hit all the wrong buttons that put me back to my youth being molested by my father. It made me immediately reflect on the moment I said yes when he asked if he could pretend I was my mother. That headline made me stand up and pace the room for a good three minutes, reminding myself how often incest happens: voluntarily - but with limited understanding of what it all means until the damage is done. Virginian delegate, Bob Marshall (R), is well known for his blatantly reckless, and often abhorrent, public airing of his reasoning regarding issues ranging from disabled children being nature's vengeance on mothers who have had abortions before, to making cursing in an email a misdemeanor offense if he had his way. When reading his rationale that there should not be an exception to an abortion ban in cases of incest because sometimes incest is "voluntary", one cannot help but wonder how many victims of incest, let alone those who became pregnant, has he ever been socially involved with. To take the attitude that because some victims were complicit in the demands of their abuser should automatically disallow abortion, even for those who were forcefully abused and impregnated, demonstrates how little this candidate is familiar with the dynamics of sexual abuse to begin with. My own experience of being molested by my father underscores the need for legislators like Marshall to understand that it is not black and white when it comes to abuse. My father was a verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive man. He pretty much left me walking on egg shells, anxious when working on projects with him, and never sure if I would become too annoying and he would find a way to punish me and make me go away for awhile to my room, or worse, take the belt to me. When my father approached me to come to his bed while my mother was nearly dying in the hospital from severe pancreatitis, and he was being gentle, caring, even conversational and patient, how could I at such a young age say no? I was completely ignorant on what sex was, or that his desire was inappropriate. My church never spoke on such things to children so young. All I knew is that dad wasn't acting like the normally recognizable monster that kept our home a nightmare of bipolar highs and lows, and I wasn't going to pass up on a chance to have a father that was calm and loving for once. Of course, I didn't realize he was hurting me until later on, and this is where Marshall's public opinion on "voluntary" incest is woefully misguided and lacking any real depth of the situation. It leaves out the reality that a lot of "voluntary" instances of incest and other forms of sex abuse are situations of "uninformed consent" -- which is assault..... It's been two years since Marshall made these statements, and sadly, he is in his 11th term of office, and even more politicians are taking the same attitude, but with different rationale. George Faught (R) state representative of Oklahoma, made it clear that except for genetic anomalies and Down Syndrome, that there shouldn't be an exception to an abortion ban. His attitude, like that of Rick Santorum and many other conservative congressional leaders, is that the suffering of one will "bring beauty from the ashes" in the form of the child that is forced to be carried to term, despite how it was conceived or the lingering psychological damage that the mother must recover from. Rape and incest, no exception, but genetic anomalies, kill it. The attitude that ultimately beauty comes from sexual abuse tells me they watch way too many Lifetime movies, or this demonstrates how much cognitive dissonance is at play in the policy making minds of many conservative congressmen in this country. The romanticizing of suffering, and the more personal an assault the better for such a process, is undeniable in the Bible. There have been many stories shared not just in religious studies, but in everyday life and story telling, of how a person is sexually violated, and the resulting child brings about a metamorphosis of recovery and strength to defeat all the odds against the victim. But as Faught seems to point out, a genetic deformity is not the same as sexual abuse. There wasn't an an act against one's will involved. There wasn't trauma. There wasn't a good enough story of a human life being shattered behind it. Worst of all, this type of romanticizing of suffering and humiliation of an individual creates an obligatory martyrdom that is then demanded to be shared publicly for all to gain a lesson from, which is atrocious and dehumanizing in my opinion. It takes away the right to process your pain in a manner that best suits you, and even encourages a suppression of hurt as there is an expectation to perform for the general public an astounding feat of an "overcoming the odds" underdog story of encouragement. It's pure selfishness on the part of these congressmen and ideologues pushing this line of rationalization to the general public. They are saying to victims,"We want a feel good story from your tragedy that reaffirms our faith values, Suzy, so you have to have that rape baby your daddy put in your belly. Don't worry, it's a blessing you can pay for, sweetheart." This is exploitation of the vulnerable to benefit the masses, and it must stop. Some might argue that it isn't about any of what I've just said, but actually a focus on the beauty of someone trying to survive and recover, and that the baby in the mix makes it all the more beautiful. But to whom? This refusal to offer exception for incest is not about the rare cases of sister and brother, or uncle and niece, who are of age, informed of the risks, and willingly in a desired relationship together. This is about the 15 year old, or 22 year old, who finds themselves pregnant after sexual abuse. They are feeling depressed, used, overwhelmed, and are struggling to survive. And you think that this notion that being in this predicament is benefiting them by showing others the strength and resilience of their desire to get through that mess? That in the long run, everything will end up like Queen Simonida of Serbia, and these abused souls will take solace in being the example for everyone else? That this constant recognition of pain and anguish will be a pep rally for their psyche to continue on and look back on their lives with a grateful attitude?
I know I cannot be the only person in this world that sees the last year of politics and governmental scandals as a circus sideshow. Everywhere I look there is over sensationalized headlines, vitriolic throw down a la congressional members, and blatant lying about facts and context. It's been an extremely frustrating year of slugging through statements and their veracity in regards to "data". I'm at a point, I see an issue, I don't bother to listen to ANYONE speaking on it. I look up the bill or policy, reading it in its entirety. Good old fashioned reading seems to be the only thing helping me keep ahead of the crashing waves. The studies I do read, I end up reading all their sources too. Lately though, I find I am more pissed off about the abortion argument and how in order to prevent them, many congressional members are putting forth measures that not just affect abortion rights, but my personal gynecological health care in general. This is bullshit with a capital B. Texas SB5 would be a wonderful example of this. This bill has additional requirements for women's healthcare clinics to meet in order to be in business in the state of Texas. One thinks this only applies to abortion clinics, but the majority of the women's healthcare clinics being affected by this bill don't solely offer abortion services. In fact, their primary service is NOT performing abortions. They offer regular uterine health exams, breast exams, birth control recommendations, sterilization services, cancer care, and more. So, these 42 clinics that would shut down are not simply clinics for one means, and thus not only women seeking abortions would be affected negatively by such closures. The state of Texas would put many additional non-abortion seeking bystanders at risk of less than affordable care. Many women's health clinics in Texas do not get the kind of funding that Planned Parenthood and other groups receive in order to offer women discounted care. Texas? What in the hell are you really trying to do? I guess I look at things differently than those who see human life as precious. For me, having someone tell me that after 20 weeks, abortion is illegal seems a bit preposterous. If a child is born at 20 weeks, do you realize what its odds of surviving are? What the development risks are in growth? Before the advent of modern medicine, no babies survived before 23 weeks' gestation. Now, very rarely, some babies can survive and thrive when born this early in gestation, although the road toward recovery is long and painful. Babies born at 22 weeks have a less than 10% chance of survival, while there are only two recorded cases of babies surviving at 21 weeks' gestation. Although survival at 20 weeks is theoretically possible and may occur some time in the future, a 20-week-old preterm baby effectively has a 0% chance of surviving. This is via the March of Dimes and Quint Boeker Preemie Survive Foundation. I still have not figured out how 20 weeks became the magical number here. If you must put a restriction on abortion, at least pick a VALID viability date, otherwise, you are dictating ownership of individuals' genetic material. How the hell is that legal? With that line of thought stated, I have issue with folks saying,"I know there are millions of people that would love to have a child by adoption." Again, how in the hell do you FORCE someone in to a position to give away their private genetic material. You want to FORCE someone to keep an unwanted child, then I say anyone that is denied an abortion should be given permanent government funding until that child is 18 years of age. You are going to force folks to have children they do not want or cannot afford, then pay for it! Put your money where your mouth is, otherwise, who are you to declare that my genetic property is subject to your whims and fancy? What really irritates the hell out of me is the vast majority of pro-lifers are deeply, religiously motivated. Some 78% of women who sought abortions stated they were religious. Over 50% were made up of Protestant and Catholics alone with the evangelicals making up another 13%. This is per the Guttmacher Institute study (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3422602.html). The pro-lifers need to do themselves a favor and start taking God out of this equation because unless abortion becomes an unforgivable sin, women will keep getting their abortions on Saturday and pray for forgiveness on Sunday. Can anyone start giving valid reasons for the sanctity of life other than God being involved? Then answer what should be done when women are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy and cannot afford to raise the child, or worse, expose the child to the abusive relationship that the mother wanted to avoid exposing a child to in the first place? If all human life is sacred, should we not preserve the mother so that she can continue on reproducing at a later date that will arrive sooner than waiting for the child to mature? Everywhere I look , when I ask for scientific reasoning (not emotional or philosophical) as to why we need to consider life from conception (parasitic) as more sacred than the host (mother), I almost always hear several phrases: 1. Well, she should have planned against pregnancy better. (Obviously not considering some may not have access or be permitted by their society to refuse sex or take birth control). 2. It isn't the child's fault. (Again, the same reasons as above AND no one is saying the child did anything wrong to begin with.) 3. There are plenty of people out there who want to adopt a child so abortion is not necessary. (All the reasons as above, and many cultures do not support abandoning children to other families.) Honestly, the biggest thing I see in the debate is a very spiteful attitude of "You made your bed, now lay in it." How is such a way of thought really helping a situation? Not only do you have one adult that cannot handle a child, you now have a child that will be subject to that inadequacy. The mother has to deal with workplace pressure over pregnancy stigma. The mother has to take off work for regular appointments and find a way to pay for services. Many states have a very low cap for working pregnant women to receive medical aid. Could you imagine living on only 890 a month in order to still qualify for medical assistance. Forget what her cultural pressures might be too. None of that matters? I hear arguments that a mother could be carrying the next Einstein. Have you considered that, in fact, SHE is the next Einstein and these circumstances she is in puts her in a situation where she will never move forward? Einstein wasn't smart about EVERYTHING. To be a genius does not make you wise or omniscient. The potential of the unborn isn't as important as the potential of the mother who is already contributing to society. How many have dropped out of schools due to forced pregnancy? This isn't just about high school folks, this is secondary education too. We are talking MILLIONS (http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/briefly-unplanned-pregnancy-and-community-colleges.pdf). Yes, millions of women, and of those millions a meager 28% return to school and finish. Look at how many POTENTIAL doctors, scientists, teachers, congresswomen, activists, caregivers, and more, that have never made it into our economic pool of opportunity. A serious understanding of abortion's benefits should be acknowledged in the general discussion. We do not live in a world where unwanted pregnancy will always have a good outcome, and until we have a societal support system for unwanted pregnancy to be mandatory, we surely have no business demanding women keep these pregnancies in the mean time. This is a cold reality of the natural world. In some ways, it is almost a survival of the fittest, except we are trying to handicap the fittest and add detriment to their survival.