Abortion in the News, Again

Rather than doing things like helping us get ready for another fire season or figuring out how to manage the damage the floods have done to our aging infrastructure, our legislature has decided to debate personhood. Again. Because that’s a totally awesome and useful way to spend the time we pay them to serve us.

What I got out of the article was this link found in the comments from a person who is pro-life due to religion. This whole debate drives me crazy, so let’s go ahead and address it. Let’s sit and think about each point the article brings up.

1. Abortion Offends God

I’ve heard this. Children, no matter how they arrive, are a gift from God and should be treasured. Well, if your God is giving gifts via rape and incest or sending gifts when the recipient can’t afford to keep it, it kind of makes him look like a jerk. Just like it’s rude to give a puppy to someone who can’t afford to take it to a vet, it’s rude to give a child to a person who can’t afford to take it to the doctor. On the subject of gods- I think abortion offends your God. You never asked what my God might think of it, did you? (Damn that religious freedom thing.)

2. The Unnoticed War

“By destroying the most basic human bond of all—that between mother and child—abortion dissolves the precious glue that binds our nation together.”

I think this man has never seen the interaction between a mother and an unwanted child. That is what will undo the fabric of society. A woman who chooses to have an abortion will have emotional scars from it. I don’t think anyone has seriously thought otherwise. However, they are all her own. A woman who is forced to bear and raise a child she doesn’t want (for whatever reason) is passing scars onto the child. A child who will have trouble loving. A child who will have trouble making meaningful connections. A child who will scar others as it grows. Also, do we really need the 56 million Americans this “war” has claimed in the last 41 years? Aren’t we having enough trouble employing the ones we’ve got?

3. Life starts at the moment of conception

This is from Other Helpful Facts at the bottom: “The unborn baby’s heart starts beating at 20 days4 and the brain gives off brainwaves at 40 days. If these factors are used by the law to determine death, why can’t they be used to determine life?”

Sir, either life begins at conception, or it begins when the brain and heart are running. Pick one. I would also like to point out that it is some time before the fetus can survive outside the womb (21 weeks, according to him). Prior to that, it is not a person. It is a parasite. A person can survive outside of an environment that is perfectly suited to nurture it. This also brings to light the question of miscarriages, or spontaneous abortions. If a woman’s body rejects a fetus at some point, is she guilty of murder? I suppose no more than involuntary manslaughter since she didn’t try it. Almost every woman I know that has had a child has had at least one miscarriage. And you think our jails are full now . . .

4. Mankind must protect life whenever possible

Says the religious group that seems to love war and the death penalty.

5. Abortion is unsafe

“Compared with other medical procedures, the abortion industry is largely unregulated. Although there are no exact statistics for the number of women who die from botched procedures, LifeDynamics.com compiled a list of 347 women killed by legal abortions since 1973.2

Fair enough, it is highly unregulated. Mostly because we can’t all seem to agree that it’s allowed to exist. Note that he didn’t address the number of deaths caused by illegal abortions in places where they can’t get a legal one. Because they do and always have happened whether it’s legal or not. Possibly because without regulation, we can’t track them. To provide a number of my own, between 2006 and 2009 there were 2,689 pregnancy-related deaths in America. It also appears that the likelihood of maternal death is increasing. I wonder how many lives those legal abortions might have saved . . .

6. A biogenetic Tower of Babel

I’m really not sure how cloning is a problem with abortion. Stem cells probably do make things easier, but I’m quite sure we could continue on that path without them.

7. Breaking the abortion cycle

“Abortion is a sin that perpetuates evil. The abortion mentality destroys the family by making it more difficult for new Americans who survive beyond the womb to find the family welded together by the indissoluble bond of marriage solely between a man and a woman. Children need families that will nurture them, guard their innocence and develop their personalities. In particular, all children must find within their homes the Faith that enables them to know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next. As long as the traditional family remains in crisis, we will never sever the power lines that supply the abortion mills. As long as the Faith remains dead in souls, we will never wipe out the moral rot of sexual immorality, which is the contaminated soil where the abortion movement grows and flourishes.”

Holy Mother of Pearl. Really? A woman who’s had an abortion can’t love and nurture other children? An abortion will dissolve a marriage? (Sometimes they do, but sometimes they save them.) Only the sexually immoral ever seek abortions? (Way to victim-blame.) I will bring this up again: your Faith, your God- not mine. I was raised in a happy home where my parents were still married to their first spouse, my innocence was nurtured, and we did not partake in your style of Faith. I was also raised to be pro-choice because I chose to  be, and to embrace my sexuality. The horror!

8. Roe v. Wade: 40 Years of Lies

Yep, more abortions were performed than people were killed in Hitler’s Germany. However, an abortion is performed on a fetus and releases the fully-realized mother from the burden of bearing and raising it. Hitler killed fully-realized humans. There is a difference.

9. Addressing an abortionist

“You were once an enchanting child, as all babies are. Today you are an abortionist, a killer of babies. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent blood of our children that stains your hands and cries out to God? Have you no shame as did our first parents when they sinned against God? Why do you not turn to Him today, seek His forgiveness and His strength never again to murder the innocent? Would you not rather bring children into the world than destroy them? Children you could raise with respect for life to take the place of those you robbed from God?”

Addressing and anti-abortionist: You are the child of a woman, as all children are. Today, you are an oppressor of women, a stealer of choice. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent lives of our women who are given no other worth than that which they bear? Have you no shame for stealing the same choices your mother had? Why do you not turn to her today, to seek her forgiveness, and her strength, and to never presume to take a woman’s choices from her? Would you not rather protect the women of this world than destroy them? Women who will have the knowledge and ability to make the choices that you would rob from them?

10. The slippery slope

“Yesterday it was contraception. Today it’s abortion and same-sex “marriage.” Will it be widespread euthanasia tomorrow? Then what…? Once abortion is universally accepted, what logical arguments will stop euthanasia and other forms of murder and brutality?”

That slope slips both ways. Today it’s rejecting abortion and same-sex marriage. Will it be forcing women back into dresses tomorrow? Then what? Once abortion is rejected, what logical arguments will there be against restraining a woman to keep an unwanted pregnancy? Impregnating lesbians because that’s all they’re good for? Will she have any rights to argue for by then?

I’ve had running through my head “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 20:21. Inserting things that offend your God into government rules is stepping on Caesar’s toes. If this is going to be fought, it must be fought with facts, not faith. 300 women dying in 40 years of abortion is a very weak fact to base your case on.

The other thing that pro-lifers forget, or overlook, is that just because abortion is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s required. We assume that a woman (or, in the case of an under-age pregnancy, her parents) are adults and capable of thinking through serious decisions. If she chooses to have an abortion, she has a safe, regulated way to do so. If it’s not legal, she may choose to have one anyway and won’t have a safe way to do so. However, it is also the woman’s right to choose to keep the child. If her faith, or her conscience, or her heart tell her to keep it, she has that choice.

What Is Domestic Violence, Anyway?

We’ve all seen the posters and pictures of cowering women with black eyes and casts on broken bones. We’ve seen pictures of women placing themselves physically between their children and their abuser. Maybe pictures of older siblings taking the same stance to protect younger siblings.

So, if you aren’t bruised and don’t have any broken bones, that means you’re not being abused, right?

Wrong.

The legal definition of domestic violence is: Any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another can constitute domestic violence. In my mind, it really boils down to fear. If you are afraid of your spouse, significant other, parent, child, or caretaker, you might be in an abusive relationship. If they are using fear, either through words or actions, to control you, it is abuse.

I have come across discussions about whether or not to spank your children. Opinions, of course, range from “spare the rod, spoil the child” to pearl-clutching horror that you could even think such a thing! The discussion usually involves talking about what crosses the line from discipline to abuse. A pretty standard answer is that if you are hitting them in anger, it’s abuse.

The problem with that is that I have been spanked and paddled in anger. I was not abused. I do not fear my parents now, and I never feared them as a child. Sure, they could be scary if they were pissed off. I come by my temper honestly. It wasn’t fun to piss them off- but that was because there were consequences to my actions, not because I had any fear of being hurt or worse. On the rare occasions I was spanked or paddled in anger it was because I was either being an unreasonable and unbearable brat or I’d scared them silly. In either case, it was a reaction to get me to see that my behavior was not acceptable and would have very uncomfortable repercussions. It was, in the end, an attempt to help make me a better person and a better citizen because I would think twice before being an unbearable brat or doing things that scare the people that care about me.

In an abusive situation, when the abuser is hitting the victim they may well be red in the face, veins popping, and otherwise exhibiting signs of anger or rage. However, in most cases if the phone rings or someone knocks on the door, the abuser can speak to the non-victim in a perfectly calm, rational manner. I don’t know about you, but when I’m pissed, and I get interrupted in the middle of being pissed, I’m going to be less than calm with the person on the phone or at the door. Why? Because real, genuine anger doesn’t dissipate that fast. Which means that the abuser probably wasn’t angry. What they were doing was using physical (or mental, or sexual) aggression to cow the victim. It’s very easy to hide that behind phrases like “I just lost it” or “I went crazy for a minute.”

Spanking is something that I’m sort of on the fence about. I don’t think it’s automatically abuse, but I also don’t think it’s the most effective response. Possibly because it never worked that well on me. I don’t have children, but I do work with animals. Training the two is similar enough to be able to draw some parallels. Something that crosses species is that you get more out of an animal that is allowed to try things and make mistakes than you do from an animal that is so afraid of being wrong that they never try anything but the handful of responses that they have found to be “safe.” An animal that is allowed to try things, to experiment, and to make mistakes is going to test your boundaries and have opinions that you may not share. However, you are giving the animal the chance to develop as far as they are able to. An animal that is terrified of being wrong, usually because the punishments were way out of proportion to the crimes, is not going to test you. The other side of that lack of pushing boundaries is that the animal will never reach their full potential.

To bring it back to humans, I was allowed to push boundaries and make mistakes as a child. Sometimes those mistakes resulted in disciplinary measures because consequences are real. The discipline was never given in a way that would stop me from wanting to keep asking questions and growing, though. Today, I am a fully realized person with thoughts and opinions that my parents may not like. That’s ok, because they would rather have a whole daughter than an easy life. In an abusive relationship, it’s about an easy life, not a whole partner. The victim is hounded until they stop straying from the handful of “safe” answers. Those answers or actions are usually very good for the abuser and vary from neutral to bad for the victim.

So, are you being abused? Do you know someone who is in an abusive relationship and may not recognize it? Fear is not normal. Making everything all about one family member is not normal. Completely and perpetually bypassing your own needs to always cater to the needs of the other is not normal. Everyone changes small things as they grow with their partner, but in a healthy relationship, they are still able to grow and express themselves as an individual. Are you a fully-realized person, or have you shed all of those parts of your personality that annoy your significant other? Domestic violence seldom starts with black eyes and broken bones, but all too frequently it ends up there. Recognize it before it does.

Midnight Sun of a Bitch

I’ve been reading Midnight Sun. Research! I swear! Ok, and at least a bit of being unable to look away from the train wreck. This is supposed to be sexy, people? Really? I won’t go over most of it. I’ll leave that in the most capable hands of Mrs. Hyde. There is one point, though, that actually stands above the rest for disturbing me.

Scroll down to page 212 to find this gem:

Yet a monster was loose in the streets of Port Angeles. A human monster- did that make him the humans’ problem? To commit the murder I ached to commit was wrong. I knew that. But leaving him free to attack again could not be the right thing either. 

The blond hostess from the restaurant. The waitress I’d never really looked at. Both had irritated me in a trivial way, but that didn’t mean they deserved to be in danger.

Either one of them might be somebody’s Bella.

That realization decided me.

Well I’m sure Mike would be relieved to know that being of trivial irritation means death isn’t necessary. Wait- sorry- Mike is male and therefore has a hardon for Bella. That makes dreaming about killing or maiming him sweet and protective and stuff.

Back to my point. The women only matter because a man might decide to give them meaning.

Apparently Midnight Sun was written because people were misunderstanding Edward. You know- I liked Twilight the first time I read it. I read it over one night and could self-insert pretty easily with Bella since I’m a fair-skinned brunette with a tendency to be clumsy, a history of being unpopular, and I’m pretty sure my head was stuck well up my own ass at that age. I could even forgive Edward a lot of his bad behavior. Dude was born in a different century and had spent 80 or so years being stronger, faster, and more indestructible than humans. It’s fair of him to consider himself superior. A 17-year-old from World War I would also have been more mature than most of the current lot of teenagers even without having 80 years to work on it. He was having trouble interacting appropriately with a human girl because he had no practice at it. His concern about her fragility is because, compared to him, she really is breakable.

It all falls apart, though, upon reading Midnight Sun. The above quote was really just the icing on the cake of awful that is Edward Cullen. Guess what, Eddie? Women didn’t get the vote until 1920, but they’d been fighting for it since 1848. If they are being recognized as voting citizens, the fact that they have worth past what a man deigns to give them is, well, a given.

Saints vs Edward

In my research about women, feminism, relationships, and abuse, I have run into people saying that feminism is no longer necessary. Its outlived its time. Women now have the upper hand. I beg to fucking differ. THIS is why we still need feminism. This . . . creature was written as the fantasy man of a contemporary woman. The story is in a contemporary time. The character was born too damn recently to legitimately say that the idea is just because it’s from the time when he was actually living. (I don’t really care how long ago it was written or set, no romantic hero I could fall for would ever suggest such a thing. Crap- is that my feminism showing?)

The women only matter because a man might decide to give them meaningYou know who thinks this way? Abusers. The woman’s worth can only be measured by what she’s worth to him. This character was written as, and is being read as, The Perfect Man. This book is being read by an appalling number of young (and not so young) women at a time in their lives when they are still forming their ideas of what a good relationship looks like. So they are being set up to see abusers as good men to date. Brilliant.

Why is this a job for feminism? After all, it was written by a woman.

Women are not immune to falling into the habits and thoughts that demean women. It wasn’t fathers that insisted their daughters get their feet bound or be corset-trained. Their mothers did it. They did it because they were so deeply entrenched in the patriarchal society that they thought they were doing right by their daughters as their mothers did right by them. This isn’t so different- it’s just that the bindings are on the mind, not the body. If the majority of society says that women are nothing without a man, then it is in a mother’s best interest to help her daughter get a man. If that means teaching her to sit down, be quiet, and stay chaste until her True Love comes along, then that’s what happens. When that happens, we end up with half-women like Bella that are so caught up in physical beauty and not offending their Man that they have no room in their lives for being, well, people. Guess what- this is a loss to both men and women.

Let’s see if we can rewrite it. We can keep his snobbish superiority and propensity to murder intact, even, but remove what makes him really dangerous to young women.

Yet a monster was loose in the streets of Port Angeles. A human monster- did that make him the humans’ problem? To commit the murder I ached to commit was wrong. I knew that. But leaving him free to attack again could not be the right thing either. 

The blond hostess from the restaurant. The waitress I’d never really looked at. Both had irritated me in a trivial way, but that didn’t mean they deserved to be in danger.

That realization decided me.