NARAL Pro-Choice America offers a wonderful tool which allows you to see if your local lawmaker voted on H.R. 3. Even better, NARAL offers you the opportunity to help thank the representatives who stood up to this extreme attack on a woman’s right to choose and, more importantly, offers you the opportunity to hold the anti-choice members of Congress accountable.
“It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives… . You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I…
Okay, time to de-bunk a myth here. There is no such thing as “Post-Abortion Trauma” or “Post-Abortion Syndrome.” Check with various mainstream medical associations, such as the American Psychological Association, and you’ll find that they agree. This is a lie spread about by the anti-choice community in an attempt to demonize abortion further, and is not grounded on any empirical evidence whatsoever. Anti-choicers avidly seek out women who have had negative emotions regarding an abortion—all the while knowingly or unknowingly attempting to shame the woman whom they interviewed—and use this anecdotal evidence as if it shares the same weight as proven research.
A significantly “traumatic” psychiatric response in women who have abortions generally occur with women who have a history of psychological or emotional disorders. Furthermore, statistics show that the most common feeling a woman has after an abortion is relief.
Shockingly enough, more women suffer more stress and trauma through the process of adoption rather than with abortion. Emotions and difficulties brought on by an abortion are generally very acute, whereas a woman struggles throughout her life after an adoption, constantly fretting over the well-being of the child.
This by no means is meant to bash adoption, simply a fascinating bit of information I came across during my research. It also helps dispel some of the rumours that women are psychologically “better off” having to undergo the pregnancy and give up the unwanted child rather than having an abortion performed.
To wrap this up, I’d like to proffer a quote from leading specialists in the field who conducted their own research. Russo and Dabul shared their findings of an eight-year study in Professional Psychology:
"Although an intensive examination of the data was conducted, controlling for numerous variables and including comparisons of Black women versus White women, Catholic women versus non-Catholic women, and women who had abortions versus other women, the findings are consistent: The experience of having an abortion plays a negligible, if any, independent role in women’s well-being over time, regardless of race or religion. The major predictor of a woman’s well-being after an abortion, regardless of race or religion, is level of well-being before becoming pregnant…Our findings are congruent with those of others, including the National Academy of Sciences (1975), and the conclusion is worth repeating. Despite a concerted effort to convince the public of the existence of a widespread and severe postabortion trauma, there is no scientific evidence for the existence of such trauma, even though abortion occurs in the highly stressful context of an unwanted pregnancy.”
[Russo NF, Dabul, AJ. “The relationship of abortion to well-being: Do race and religion make a difference?”Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 1997, 28(1): 1-9.]
-BrittaniBotulism, blogging for Choice from Louisville, KY.
An interesting article that challenges using the Bible as a valid argument against abortion. Written by a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights it not only offers a beautiful argument, but also explains a few of the finer points in the Bible that some of the religious, apparently, cannot understand.
Randall Balmer revealed that the religious right seized upon abortion as a wedge anti-feminist issue to leverage their racist, sexist, pro-corporate agenda, which they deemed “family values.” They’ve done their best to prove that the only “pro-life” position is to shut down abortion providers. They cite the sixth commandment “do not kill” as unequivocal proof of a biblical ban on abortion.
The religious right is wrong. The sixth commandment does not prohibit abortion. It’s quite clear that the intended audience for the Ten Commandments is men: the last one prohibits the coveting of a neighbor’s wife, who is on a list with his donkey and house. Even though women could own property in Moses’ time, they did not have wives. I’m usually in favor of inclusive language, but sometimes, it is best to note when the Bible really is speaking to men, a point Jewish theologian Judith Plaskow made in Standing Again at Sinai.
The Commandments are not consistently sexist, however. Numbers five to 10 govern human relations, and the first on the list, number five, commands men to “honor your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land.” Honor, kaved, means to respect parents to the point of accepting responsibility for their well being, even when it creates a burden, all year round. “Do not kill,” number six, follows this commandment.
Jesus’ discussion of the sixth commandment (Matthew 5) makes it very clear that it prohibits revenge, murderous anger against another and other nasty forms of men behaving badly. In Mark 10, in a conversation with a rich young (male) ruler, Jesus lists the five commandments governing human relationships and adds another, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
The Bible does not mention abortion. Using the Bible to prohibit it, as if the intimate, tangled relationship of mother and fetus were an equivalent to battle begins with the wrong premise. It treats the two parties as independent adult human beings at war.
This relationship does not apply to abortion.
Hey there, BrittaniBotulism here to make a quick comment!
The petitions like the one recently reblogged do work, and our members of Congress do listen. I have signed countless petitions (and will now begin posting all of the petitions I receive here for accessibility) and have received three responses from Congress—John Yarmuth, Rand Paul, and Mitch McConnell have responded.
Even though Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell obviously did not agree with what I had to say (in the petitions there is an option to personalize your message, though be sure to always remain polite!) however the point is that they did get the message, and my voice was heard.
So, please! Sign any further petitions to alert our Congress that women will NOT be silent, and we ARE going to fight ANY and ALL injustices against Women and our right to Choose!
When you visit the majority of the sites on which the Petitions are located, there is usually an option to sign up for the mailing list. I would HIGHLY recommend it! They provide links to share the Petition on your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts—plus, you are constantly kept up-to-date on Anti-Choice legislations happening in your area and what you can do about it!
Since the start of this Congress, House leadership has pursued an agenda seeking to reduce women’s access to reproductive health care services. Now they are pushing H.R. 3, a bill that proposes dangerous restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion.
H.R. 3 would harm women’s health and would even raise taxes on individuals and small businesses to punish private health care decisions. Now we are hearing that this bill may come to the House floor for a vote as early as next week. We must stop them.
H.R. 3 reduces women’s access to abortion care in many ways, but here are some of its most outrageous provisions —
- Raises taxes and increases costs on many individuals and small businesses with insurance plans that cover abortion, which could force individuals and employers to drop abortion coverage from their health insurance plans. It could even shut down the entire private market for insurance coverage that includes abortion.
- Writes into permanent law a ban on abortion coverage for ALL women who depend on the government for their health care. This includes low-income women currently covered under Medicaid, women who will become eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, women serving in the U.S. military, federal employees, residents of the District of Columbia, women in federal prisons and women covered by the Indian Health Service.
- Unbelievably, H.R. 3 contains no exceptions for circumstances where a woman faces serious health consequences, even if continuing the pregnancy could cause permanent damage to her heart, lungs, or kidneys.
We refuse to stand by as they continue their outrageous attack on women’s health. Tell your Representative to vote NO on H.R. 3 and its dangerous restrictions on women’s health care coverage today.
All of the arguments against abortion boil down to six specific questions. The first five deal with the nature of the zygote-embryo-fetus growing inside a woman’s womb. The last one looks at the morality of the practice. These questions are:
- Is it alive?
- Is it human?
- Is it a person?
- Is it physically independent?
- Does it have human rights?
- Is abortion murder?
Let’s take a look at each of these questions. We’ll show how anti-abortionists use seemingly logical answers to back up their cause, but then we’ll show how their arguments actually support the fact that abortion is moral.
Yes. Pro Choice supporters who claim it isn’t do themselves and their cause a disservice. Of course it’s alive. It’s a biological mechanism that converts nutrients and oxygen into energy that causes its cells to divide, multiply, and grow. It’s alive.
Anti-abortion activists often mistakenly use this fact to support their cause. “Life begins at conception” they claim. And they would be right. The genesis of a new human life begins when the egg with 23 chromosomes joins with a sperm with 23 chromosomes and creates a fertilized cell, called a zygote, with 46 chromosomes. The single-cell zygote contains all the DNA necessary to grow into an independent, conscious human being. It is a potential person.
But being alive does not give the zygote full human rights - including the right not to be aborted during its gestation.
A single-cell ameba also coverts nutrients and oxygen into biological energy that causes its cells to divide, multiply and grow. It also contains a full set of its own DNA. It shares everything in common with a human zygote except that it is not a potential person. Left to grow, it will always be an ameba - never a human person. It is just as alive as the zygote, but we would never defend its human rights based solely on that fact.
And neither can the anti-abortionist, which is why we must answer the following questions as well.
Yes. Again, Pro Choice defenders stick their feet in their mouths when they defend abortion by claiming the zygote-embryo-fetus isn’t human. It is human. Its DNA is that of a human. Left to grow, it will become a full human person.
And again, anti-abortion activists often mistakenly use this fact to support their cause. They are fond of saying, “an acorn is an oak tree in an early stage of development; likewise, the zygote is a human being in an early stage of development.” And they would be right. But having a full set of human DNA does not give the zygote full human rights - including the right not to be aborted during its gestation.
Don’t believe me? Here, try this: reach up to your head, grab one strand of hair, and yank it out. Look at the base of the hair. That little blob of tissue at the end is a hair follicle. It also contains a full set of human DNA. Granted it’s the same DNA pattern found in every other cell in your body, but in reality the uniqueness of the DNA is not what makes it a different person. Identical twins share the exact same DNA, and yet we don’t say that one is less human than the other, nor are two twins the exact same person. It’s not the configuration of the DNA that makes a zygote human; it’s simply that it has human DNA. Your hair follicle shares everything in common with a human zygote except that it is a little bit bigger and it is not a potential person. (These days even that’s not an absolute considering our new-found ability to clone humans from existing DNA, even the DNA from a hair follicle.)
Your hair follicle is just as human as the zygote, but we would never defend its human rights based solely on that fact.
And neither can the anti-abortionist, which is why the following two questions become critically important to the abortion debate.
No. It’s merely a potential person.
Webster’s Dictionary lists a person as “being an individual or existing as an indivisible whole; existing as a distinct entity.” Anti-abortionists claim that each new fertilized zygote is already a new person because its DNA is uniquely different than anyone else’s. In other words, if you’re human, you must be a person.
Of course we’ve already seen that a simple hair follicle is just as human as a single-cell zygote, and, that unique DNA doesn’t make the difference since two twins are not one person. It’s quite obvious, then, that something else must occur to make one human being different from another. There must be something else that happens to change a DNA-patterned body into a distinct person. (Or in the case of twins, two identically DNA-patterned bodies into two distinct persons.)
There is, and most people inherently know it, but they have trouble verbalizing it for one very specific reason.
The defining mark between something that is human and someone who is a person is ‘consciousness.’ It is the self-aware quality of consciousness that makes us uniquely different from others. This self-awareness, this sentient consciousness is also what separates us from every other animal life form on the planet. We think about ourselves. We use language to describe ourselves. We are aware of ourselves as a part of the greater whole.
The problem is that consciousness normally doesn’t occur until months, even years, after a baby is born. This creates a moral dilemma for the defender of abortion rights. Indeed, they inherently know what makes a human into a person, but they are also aware such individual personhood doesn’t occur until well after birth. To use personhood as an argument for abortion rights, therefore, also leads to the argument that it should be okay to kill a 3-month-old baby since it hasn’t obtained consciousness either.
Anti-abortionists use this perceived problem in an attempt to prove their point. In a debate, a Pro Choice defender will rightly state that the difference between a fetus and a full-term human being is that the fetus isn’t a person. The anti-abortion activist, being quite sly, will reply by asking his opponent to define what makes someone into a person. Suddenly the Pro Choice defender is at a loss for words to describe what he or she knows innately. We know it because we lived it. We know we have no memory of self-awareness before our first birthday, or even before our second. But we also quickly become aware of the “problem” we create if we say a human doesn’t become a person until well after its birth. And we end up saying nothing. The anti-abortionist then takes this inability to verbalize the nature of personhood as proof of their claim that a human is a person at conception.
But they are wrong. Their “logic” is greatly flawed. Just because someone is afraid to speak the truth doesn’t make it any less true.
And in reality, the Pro Choice defender’s fear is unfounded. They are right, and they can state it without hesitation. A human indeed does not become a full person until consciousness. And consciousness doesn’t occur until well after the birth of the child. But that does not automatically lend credence to the anti-abortionist’s argument that it should, therefore, be acceptable to kill a three-month-old baby because it is not yet a person.
It is still a potential person. And after birth it is an independent potential person whose existence no longer poses a threat to the physical wellbeing of another. To understand this better, we need to look at the next question.
No. It is absolutely dependent on another human being for its continued existence. Without the mother’s life-giving nutrients and oxygen it would die. Throughout gestation the zygote-embryo-fetus and the mother’s body are symbiotically linked, existing in the same physical space and sharing the same risks. What the mother does affects the fetus. And when things go wrong with the fetus, it affects the mother.
Anti-abortionists claim fetal dependence cannot be used as an issue in the abortion debate. They make the point that even after birth, and for years to come, a child is still dependent on its mother, its father, and those around it. And since no one would claim its okay to kill a child because of its dependency on others, we can’t, if we follow their logic, claim it’s okay to abort a fetus because of its dependence.
What the anti-abortionist fails to do, however, is differentiate between physical dependence and social dependence. Physical dependence does not refer to meeting the physical needs of the child - such as in the anti-abortionist’s argument above. That’s social dependence; that’s where the child depends on society - on other people - to feed it, clothe it, and love it. Physical dependence occurs when one life form depends solely on the physical body of another life form for its existence.
Physical dependence was cleverly illustrated back in 1971 by philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson. She created a scenario in which a woman is kidnapped and wakes up to find she’s been surgically attached to a world-famous violinist who, for nine months, needs her body to survive. After those nine months, the violinist can survive just fine on his own, but he must have this particular woman in order to survive until then.
Thompson then asks if the woman is morally obliged to stay connected to the violinist who is living off her body. It might be a very good thing if she did - the world could have the beauty that would come from such a violinist - but is she morally obliged to let another being use her body to survive?
This very situation is already conceded by anti-abortionists. They claim RU-486 should be illegal for a mother to take because it causes her uterus to flush its nutrient-rich lining, thus removing a zygote from its necessary support system and, therefore, ending its short existence as a life form. Thus the anti-abortionist’s own rhetoric only proves the point of absolute physical dependence.
This question becomes even more profound when we consider a scenario where it’s not an existing person who is living off the woman’s body, but simply a potential person, or better yet, a single-cell zygote with human DNA that is no different than the DNA in a simple hair follicle.
To complicate it even further, we need to realize that physical dependence also means a physical threat to the life of the mother. The World Health Organization reports that nearly 670,000 women die from pregnancy-related complications each year (this number does not include abortions). That’s 1,800 women per day. We also read that in developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, a woman is 13 times more likely to die bringing a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion.
Therefore, not only is pregnancy the prospect of having a potential person physically dependent on the body of one particular women, it also includes the women putting herself into a life-threatening situation for that potential person.
Unlike social dependence, where the mother can choose to put her child up for adoption or make it a ward of the state or hire someone else to take care of it, during pregnancy the fetus is absolutely physically dependent on the body of one woman. Unlike social dependence, where a woman’s physical life is not threatened by the existence of another person, during pregnancy, a woman places herself in the path of bodily harm for the benefit of a DNA life form that is only a potential person - even exposing herself to the threat of death.
This brings us to the next question: do the rights of a potential person supercede the rights of the mother to control her body and protect herself from potential life-threatening danger?
Yes and No.
A potential person must always be given full human rights unless its existence interferes with the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness of an already existing conscious human being. Thus, a gestating fetus has no rights before birth and full rights after birth.
If a fetus comes to term and is born, it is because the mother chooses to forgo her own rights and her own bodily security in order to allow that future person to gestate inside her body. If the mother chooses to exercise control over her own body and to protect herself from the potential dangers of childbearing, then she has the full right to terminate the pregnancy.
Anti-abortion activists are fond of saying “The only difference between a fetus and a baby is a trip down the birth canal.” This flippant phrase may make for catchy rhetoric, but it doesn’t belie the fact that indeed “location” makes all the difference in the world.
It’s actually quite simple. You cannot have two entities with equal rights occupying one body. One will automatically have veto power over the other - and thus they don’t have equal rights. In the case of a pregnant woman, giving a “right to life” to the potential person in the womb automatically cancels out the mother’s right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
After birth, on the other hand, the potential person no longer occupies the same body as the mother, and thus, giving it full human rights causes no interference with another’s right to control her body. Therefore, even though a full-term human baby may still not be a person, after birth it enjoys the full support of the law in protecting its rights. After birth its independence begs that it be protected as if it were equal to a fully-conscience human being. But before birth its lack of personhood and its threat to the women in which it resides makes abortion a completely logical and moral choice.
Which brings us to our last question, which is the real crux of the issue….
No. Absolutely not.
It’s not murder if it’s not an independent person. One might argue, then, that it’s not murder to end the life of any child before she reaches consciousness, but we don’t know how long after birth personhood arrives for each new child, so it’s completely logical to use their independence as the dividing line for when full rights are given to a new human being.
Using independence also solves the problem of dealing with premature babies. Although a preemie is obviously still only a potential person, by virtue of its independence from the mother, we give it the full rights of a conscious person. This saves us from setting some other arbitrary date of when we consider a new human being a full person. Older cultures used to set it at two years of age, or even older. Modern religious cultures want to set it at conception, which is simply wishful thinking on their part. As we’ve clearly demonstrated, a single-cell zygote is no more a person that a human hair follicle.
But that doesn’t stop religious fanatics from dumping their judgements and their anger on top of women who choose to exercise the right to control their bodies. It’s the ultimate irony that people who claim to represent a loving God resort to scare tactics and fear to support their mistaken beliefs.
It’s even worse when you consider that most women who have an abortion have just made the most difficult decision of their life. No one thinks abortion is a wonderful thing. No one tries to get pregnant just so they can terminate it. Even though it’s not murder, it still eliminates a potential person, a potential daughter, a potential son. It’s hard enough as it is. Women certainly don’t need others telling them it’s a murder.
It’s not. On the contrary, abortion is an absolutely moral choice for any woman wishing to control her body.
Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, 14 September 1987
|—||Christina Page, author of “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America” (via brittanibotulism)|
|—||Katha Pollitt. (via brittanibotulism)|
|—||Margaret Sanger. (via brittanibotulism)|
Did you know you can stump anti-abortionists with one simple question?
Just ask them this:
If abortion was illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?
Now watch their faces as the cognitive dissonance sets in. They believe abortion to be murder. Murder deserves severe punishment. Thus, women who have illegal abortions should receive severe punishment — like life in prison or the death penalty. That’s the logical conclusion.
But they can’t accept this conclusion. They know it’s absurd and unfair — which means they know abortion is not really murder.
|—||Susan Faludi. (via brittanibotulism)|
Some of the actual regulations are almost this ridiculous.
Idiots: Any anti-choicers want to explain to me how they reconcile their philosophy with the fact that when abortion is illegal, more people die?
It’s true. It’s called back-alley abortions.
No matter what legislation is passed, abortion will still happen. You might as well keep it safe so fewer people have to die in the first place. Allowing that to happen is rather anti-life, don’t you think?
Wrong - what if scales reported that more people die when murder is illicit as opposed to government-induced death camps? Nice try (and fail)
To begin with, your response has little to do with the initial argument you provide. You are, quite simply, offering up a generic red herring of an argument. The initial argument is:
A) We ought to allow abortions to be legal, because statistics prove that whether abortions are legal or illegal they will still occur, and this inevitably implies that even if abortions were outlawed in the U.S. they would still happen, only more women would die because of botched back-alley procedures.
You offer the argument (as best as I understand):
B) If statistics reported that more peopled died while murder is illegal, what’s the point in keeping murder illegal, and why oppose death camps?
These are two completely separate arguments. By providing the second “argument,” you are beginning an entirely new debate entirely unrelated to abortion. For starters, abortion is a different matter entirely than murder. In its lawful definition, murder is “killing another human being under conditions specifically covered in law.” Abortions are legal, they do not break the law, and they are not killing a fully-functioning, self-aware human being with aforethought-malice. An abortion is a completely legal medical procedure performed by health professionals on a client who is quite obviously giving her consent.
The facts that the “idiots” presented were 100% correct, also. A minuscule amount of effort put into researching proves that Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence.
Comparing legal, safe abortions which in some cases save a woman’s life to governmentally-regulated death camps is both over-done and an absurd comparison. Abortions are not infanticide. Abortions are not genocide. Were they, entire generations would not exist. Don’t understand? Don’t believe me? Look up exactly what these two terms actually mean.
Finally, I would strongly advise you alter your language. You ought to consider just who it is you are calling the idiots, when you fail to connect two arguments together and offer your opinion in a rather willfully ignorant fashion.
Defending Your Right To Choose, Whether You Like It Or Not,
-brittanibotulism, guest blogging from Louisville, Kentucky.