Friday, October 10, 2014

Get it, Got it, Good

It's easy to see judgement of the choices women make - often by other women. Look no further than the mommy wars. Look no further than the question whether or not women should have the right to a cesarean section. Look at the right to access an abortion.

Sometimes the judgement is downright militant. There seems to be a need - not only to control our own lives, but then to extend that control to others. A need to have our own choices reflected back in the choice of others. A need to pressure others to make the same choice.

The pro-lifers with placards outside of women's health clinics are bullies - seeking to shame women away from their choice. The lactivists who seek to shame women into breastfeeding. Those who look to those who work outside of the home with disdain - and those who look to those who stay home with an equal amount of disdain. All of them are bullies.

It is not healthy.

It is an act of seeing through other women, rather than seeing women through.

Today, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest winner of a nobel peace prize - she is quoted as saying "A girl has the power to go forward in her life and she is not only a mother. She is not only a sister. She is not only a wife, but a girl should have an identity." Malala gets it.

A while ago, Suzie Barston and Kim Simon started the #ISupportYou movement. Suzie and Kim get it.

Similarly, Dr. Walker Karraa, founded Stigmama to start to peel away the many layers of stigma associated with mental illness, particularly among mothers. Dr. Karraa, gets it.

In her speech to the UN on the need for men to also be feminist, Emma Watson demonstrated that she gets it.

Lastly, in my own home town, I came accross another woman who seems to get it. Celtie Lou - gets it.

They get that we need to see women as people, fully people: nothing less. They get that we need to be secure enough in our own choices to allow other women to make their own choices even when they are different from our won. They get that we need to support and empower women - understand what the real needs are, and then work to meet those needs. We need to respect each other. We need to see each other through, rather than seeing through each other. What's more, is that these women understand that it's not enough to just get it - and what is remarkable and amazing, is these women understand the need to help others get it too. They are doing good work.

Imagine for a moment the world, if more women got it. If more people got it. Truly got it. Imagine the communities, imagine the mountains that could be climbed and the challenges that could be overcome.

Now ask yourself, what can you do to help others get it? Go do that. It is good work.


  1. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 10, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    One question. And I'm being serious because I really am curious. To people who are pro-choice: when does life begin? When does a baby reach the point when somebody needs to stand up for it and its right to live?

    1. Here's a question in answer to your question, When does a woman's life end and her right to make choices with respect to that life? We do not force living (and in many places not even dead) people to donate organs to other people - even if it will save another life and is unlikely to cause harm to the donor. Pregnancy and childbirth are not benign processes to the lives of women. The choices around pregnancy and childbirth are intensely personal - and restricting freedom in this area is a restriction on a woman's right to full self-determination. I wish abortion was something that never needed to happen - that every conception was wanted and the result of a choice to become a parent and in circumstances where life makes being a parent difficult, I wish there was resources to make it something that works for that woman - childcare, support, jobs, etc., further I wish pregnancy and childbirth were completely benign processes to the health and wellbeing of women. A woman is not just a mother, a sister, a wife, an aunt - a woman is a person in her own regard, and as such she is entitled to make her own choices. Want to be truly pro-life, and not just pro-birth - donate to a single parent resource centre, work to make child care accessible and affordable, volunteer for habitat for humanity do the things that make it a little easier for a woman to make a different choice, but never, infringe upon that woman's right to make her own choices. Change the choices but not the freedom to make them.

    2. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 11, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      See, but that still doesn't answer my question. You're right, I wish it didn't have to happen either. And there are definitely other ways in which a person can help reduce the rates of abortion (I DO donate to single parent resource centres. Quite regularly, in fact). But in my mind, that baby is a baby and has a right to live. And in order to change my mind about that, somebody from the pro-choice side needs to help me understand why a baby inside the womb deserves less protection and rights than a baby outside of the womb.

    3. The difference is that a baby (fetus) inside a womb will not survive without his mother and a baby outside a womb will. I'm currently pregnant (by choice) and I wish to keep my baby and I wish the best for him. BUT, I know he won't survive without MY oxygen, MY vitamins, MY blood and among many others MY filtration system. Where is a baby that was carried to term (or closely to it) will survive, that baby will need around the clock care and love but from the moment he is outside the womb, he is able to breath and process nutrition all on his own without the use and total dependence on his mother’s systems. Perhaps it’s cold, but in biological terms, a fetus is best described as a parasite (unable to survive without the host), whereas a born baby described a living creature. I believe abortion is mostly avoidable process thanks to today’s education and contraception. At the end of the day, forcing a woman to keep a pregnancy (or imposing any other medical conditions), is no different than slavery. No matter how noble or moral, the end does not justify the means.

  2. So does your neighbour down the street, an adult - definitely "a person", have a right to your kidney because without it he will die? Ultimately, that is what it is - does another person have the right to interfere quite profoundly with the life of another for the sake of saving their own life? It is pretty clear, that such acts - life saving acts on the part of one for another, must be acts of free will and cannot be out of conscription. A right to life extends only so far as it does not interfere with the rights of others - you cannot take my life to save your own. If I choose to do something, like give a portion of my liver, or my kidney - to another person, that is something that should only be done after informed consent, and as an act of free will.

    By telling women that they "must" submit their own lives - not even to the lives of grown others, but to fetuses, and in the earliest stages of pregnancy balls of undifferentiated cells - to say that those lives have rights above and beyond the rights of those who most definitely are persons, is to tell women that they are less than persons. It is to tell women, that they do not have the right to choose not to submit their life to the needs of another life - every person must have the right to choose not to submit their own life to the needs of another. The act of submitting one's own life to the needs of another, must be an act of free will. Absent free will, the act is nothing more than slavery/conscription.

  3. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 11, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    That's interesting. I see what you're saying, but to me that isn't an entirely comparable scenario. The fact that your neighbor needs a kidney is completely separate from you. There is nothing that you have done to cause that neighbor to need a kidney. I don't see NOT having an abortion as making the choice to perform a life saving act. To me, having an abortion is making a choice to end a life. And I have an especially hard time with it when that life was created as a result of a conscious choice made on the part of the person now choosing to end the life.

  4. I have a hard time believing the pregnancy is a conscious choice - even when it is a wanted outcome, sometimes their is little choice involved (as any woman or man who has struggled with infertility knows). Often times, sex isn't even a conscious choice, at least not on the part of the person who becomes pregnant (rape and sexual assaults are a disturbingly common reality, as is birth control tampering). Sometimes a conscious choice is made to prevent pregnancy and for whatever reason the birth control chosen fails. Further, pregnancy and birth are not benign conditions - continuing with pregnancy and childbirth IS a life-saving act on the part of the mother, an act that sometimes poses serious risks to the health and well being of the mother. Whether or not to continue with a pregnancy is a conscious choice. To you, if you were in the shoes of facing an unwanted pregnancy the choice is clear, you know what you would do. How would you feel, if that choice - the choice to continue a pregnancy, was taken away from you? It sometimes is in countries like China. What if the pregnancy posed a serious risk to the mothers health and well-being? Note in Ireland and Chile this continues to be a real problem that has cost women their lives.

    Life is valuable, not just the lives of babies but also the lives of women - is it really better to force women to endure pregnancy and childbirth against their own wishes? Is it better to have babies born to mothers who are neither willing nor able to do what is required to put the best interests of the child-to-be ahead of her own?

  5. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 16, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    I never said that pregnancy was a conscious choice. I said it is sometimes the result of a conscious choice. And I happen to have an especially hard time accepting abortion in cases where sex was a conscious choice. Everything we do in life comes with risks. Even when an attempt is made to prevent pregnancy, there is a risk (even if it might be a 1 percent chance) that birth control will fail and pregnancy will occur. What other risks do we take in life where our options to lessen the affect on ourselves allow us to take another's life?

    It's always interesting to me that everybody wants to point to a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape when talking about abortion when the reality is that those abortions are likely a fraction of the abortions that are performed. I can't even begin to imagine how traumatic it would be to become pregnant under those circumstances because that is not a situation where a woman is making the choice to take that 1 percent risk.

    In the case where a mother's life is at risk as a result of pregnancy: If continuing with the pregnancy means that neither the mom or the baby would survive, naturally save the life you know can save as soon as possible. In a case where it is likely that one will survive but not both - to me it becomes a question of what is the greater good. An adult already has people who depend on her so carrying out the pregnancy and having her die will affect not just her but any dependents. One person is going to die: save mom.

    Asking me how I would feel if the choice to carry on with a pregnancy was taken away from me is the same as asking me how I would feel if you killed my toddler. How do you feel when you hear about somebody killing a six month old? It is sad and tragic, whether it is your own child or somebody else's. And I think that is where it comes back to my first question: in your mind there must be a point where a baby has a right to live. Surely once the baby is born you wouldn't support a mother who has decided after a week that she no longer wants a baby so she chooses to kill it rather than give it up for adoption? It would not be okay for a healthy woman, who has all the ability, knowledge, support and everything necessary for her to know how to give the baby up for adoption to choose to kill the baby instead.

  6. So you're just anti-sex.

    There's a risk of getting in a car crash when somebody drives too - and when that happens we don't say, well they knew it was a possibility when they got behind the wheel, they should have just walked everywhere, let's just let them die in the vehicle or live with their injuries. We send emergency responders to car crashes and provide access to medical care to help mitigate the consequences of the risky act.

    You say you want to understand the other side - but unless that side perfectly correlates with your opinion, you seem incapable of understanding "that other side". You seem perfectly okay to subjecting women to the risks of pregnancy and childbirth - even against their will, because heaven forbid, they had the gall to have sex in the first place. Adoption is the solution - but again, that neglects the reality of both pregnancy and childbirth, and the reality of giving a child up.

    There is a point where the baby has the right to live - abortions after a certain gestation are not carried out purely for maternal choice.

    Note: Many abortions are not on 25 year old single women, many abortions are performed on women who are in their 30's or 40's and already have a number of children to care for - so you'd rather those women be forced to carry their pregnancies to term, be forced to endure the medical consequences of pregnancy and childbirth, then be forced to explain to the older siblings, why they can't keep their little brother or sister? They "could" do it - but it would come at a tremendous cost.

    It's great you know what you'd do if you found yourself in those shoes - but why take away that choice, the choice about what to do under the circumstances - from another woman? It's easy to be an armchair pro-lifer, much harder to either give the baby up for adoption or raise it properly for the next two decades.

  7. Why is it pro-lifers equate infanticide or homicide with abortion? It is a ridiculous assertion - after birth the baby is no longer dependent on the mother's body in the same way, it is no longer a "life support system" - the physical risks of pregnancy and birth have already accrued. It is an entirely different situation.

  8. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    I was with you right up until now. Obviously if I am trying to understand the other side I need to be able to ask questions from my side. You say I’m not interested in understanding the other side unless it agrees with my side? Perhaps you should look in the mirror. But I suppose you already know that about yourself. You see no need to understand where other people are coming from if they don't agree with you. Got it.

  9. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 18, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    And FYI - telling me that I'm anti-sex because of my pro-life stance is as ignorant as if I said you are anti-baby because of your pro-choice stance. All along I have said that TO ME... MY OPINION... I understand WHY a woman would want to have an abortion, where the disconnect for me is, is that the fetus is a baby. And TO ME the death of that fetus makes me feel a sense of loss the same as I would for any baby. Ask a woman who lost a baby in her womb and she doesn't mourn for the end of a pregnancy, she mourns the death of a child. Tell HER that wasn't a baby.

    But anyway, you are getting close to answering the question I originally asked. Focus on why YOU think it is a "ridiculous assertion" to say that killing is a fetus is different than infanticide. THAT is the part of the other side that I have a problem with. That one single point is the disconnect for me.

  10. A baby after birth and near term can live completely autonomous from it's mother - the risks of pregnancy have been accrued and the risks of birth have also been accrued they are "sunk costs" - that is one difference. And yes, miscarriage and pregnancy loss of a child hurts, I've never said that it doesn't, I've never said that the choice is an easy one to make - I am sure any woman who has been in those shoes has been tormented by it. There is a world of difference - a baby or a child is a person, an adult is a person they have thoughts, feelings and emotions, they have a basic set of rights that must be protected. Would I mourn a miscarriage, a potential child - yes, I probably would. But if one of my children or step-children were to die, the emotional hurt that would be incurred is magnitudes larger, as it should be.

    One of the rights that goes with being a person is self determination - and part of that is the right to decide whether or not a person wants to be a parent.

    Earlier you indicated that in the cases of rape or grave risk to the mother's life - that abortion was acceptable. Did those "Babies" choose the circumstances of their conception? Why are they "less deserving" of the "right to life" than a baby conceived unintentionally?

    Part of being an adult is sometimes making extremely difficult choices that are in the "best interests" of those involved under the circumstances. For example, having a dog is nice. But a person should not decide to have a dog if having a dog compromises their ability to ensure that they can meet their own basic needs as well as that of the dog. If a person is unable to meet their own needs because of a dog - then the responsible thing to do is to find the dog a home that can meet those needs or not to own one at all until a person can do so.

  11. Trying to Understand the Other SideOctober 22, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    I actually don't think that an abortion is acceptable in the case of rape, however I was sincerely asking the question from a place of wanting to understand and not from wanting to make anybody feel judged or hurt. I'm not somebody who agrees with standing outside an abortion clinic and telling every woman who goes in that she is killing a child. I have no idea how painful it must be to be pregnant as a result of rape and while my opinion is pretty strong about the fact that a fetus is a baby, there is no sense in my making somebody in that situation feel worse with the comments that I'm posting on somebody's blog. I just said that it is interesting to me that that happens to be the situation that everybody wants to point to when justifying abortion even though the percentage of abortions performed for that reason are probably only a fraction of those performed.

    For the most part I keep my opinions to myself, but I chose to ask you because you are obviously very intelligent and often are able to explain things in an understandable way. I don't agree with all of the parallels you draw between pregnancy and the examples you give, but it has given me a bit of perspective anyway.