At the heart of my vision for Literally, Darling was a desire to create a platform for distinct voices to come together to discuss their differences and to open the debate. To give 20-something women a chance to have their say on why they believe what they do without censure, without offense, and with a respect to alternative opinions. With that comes a responsibility to tackle topics that often create visceral reactions which cause reason to flee at the mere mention of its name. Few topics accomplish this more than abortion. As women living in a generation in which our bodies, our rights, and our children are fodder for politicians desperate for votes, it’s more important than ever that we begin listening to each other and find the middle ground for ourselves.
Today Hope and Zuska offer their very personal perspectives not on why abortion should or shouldn’t be legal, nor its morality, but on why they choose to be Pro-Life and Pro-Choice respectively. Their opinions are their own and are not representative of the other LD writers, but they absolutely reflect our desire to bring to you our thoughts on the gripping issues affecting our gender and generation.
We hope you read both sides, not regardless of your own beliefs, but in respect for the critical need to foster understanding.
Publisher & Co-Founder of Literally, Darling
[tabs tab1=”Literal Looks” tab2=”Hope: Why I’m Pro-Life” tab3=”Zuska: Why I’m Pro-Choice”]
[tab]This is a hard thing to write.
I’m one of those people who goes out of my way to not show my political or religious affiliations in any way. I don’t want to end up like my mother, who still has McCain- Palin stickers on her car and hisses when Obama comes on TV. I don’t want to be like my roommate- who tried to cover our room in Obama posters, but yet couldn’t explain to me why he was the better candidate. I don’t want to be a polarizing person. So often your beliefs become a banner of who you are, and I’ve never wanted to hide behind that banner. In a way, I didn’t want to show my beliefs, because I didn’t want anyone to think badly of me, or get angry at me.
Until last semester when I was standing in line at my college’s dining hall to get a sandwich. I was wearing a t-shirt from my high school that proclaimed (in loud neon green letters) PVI CATHOLIC. And I was standing there, playing on my phone, when the girl behind me taps me on the shoulder.
“I can’t believe you would wear that shirt on this campus.”
To say I was surprised was an understatement. I had to look down at my shirt and make sure it didn’t say something offensive or have a picture of a murdered puppy on it or something.
“Just saying,” the girl continued. “I wouldn’t be brave enough to wear propaganda from a belief structure that has directed so much hatred and harm towards so many members of our student populace. Maybe you should think twice before blindly following right wing religious fanatics.”
I know what you’re thinking. Same thing I was thinking. There is no possible way this is real life.
What followed was me being very sassy and basically telling this girl to go fuck herself because I would never dare attack her over her beliefs, and how dare she attack mine with no previous knowledge of who I am, what I think, and with no provocation? The situation got kind of salty, and I found myself recounting it to people later and thinking “this has to sound like a bold faced lie. Who would do that?”
Now, this is important. I need to stress that I do not think all feminists are like this. I’m not using this story as an example to prove that anyone who isn’t pro-life or Catholic is an asshole. On the contrary, I’ve met way more asshole pro-lifers than asshole pro-choicers. I later told a feminist friend this story and she was mortified and felt the need to apologize on behalf of all feminists. I didn’t want that, and I didn’t care. This girl was one individual crazy in a sea of otherwise very reasonable people.
But it made me think. I can go out of my way to be so nonconfrontational and make sure to never make anyone disagree with me, and I can still insult someone while I’m in line getting a sandwich and sending a cat picture to my boyfriend.
I’d always had opinions and belief sets, but a lot of them were not formally thought out. In my effort to avoid confrontation, I realized that I hadn’t even had these arguments with myself. Sure, I knew that abortion left a bad taste in my mouth, but then I also had no problem with gay marriage. I had a few ill-thought out opinions on the economy, but I had never sat down and asked myself, why?
This realization came at a pivotal time for me. It was mere months before the Presidential election- the first one I was able to legally vote in- and I was on a college campus full of people who would happily argue with me on literally any topic I could think of.
So I made a pro and con list. It seemed juvenile at the time, but it got me thinking at the very least. It was very easy for me to figure out where I sided on a lot of issues- for example, I’d been very pro-gay marriage since high school. It never seemed like something I had to make up my mind on- it seemed like a no brainer.
But pro-life versus pro-choice was difficult. At the end of the day, it doesn’t just boil down to abortion or no abortion. For pro-lifers, the matter is entirely about abortion, but for pro-choicers, it’s not about the practice. It’s simply about the ability to choose that practice. Pro-choice has grown to symbolize so much more- a woman’s right to be recognized as the sole owner of her body, outside of Church or state. I want to be pro-choice. I don’t want any old white man sitting in congress or the Vatican or some cramped room to decide what I do with my body. It’s my body, and my right. Isn’t it?
But unfortunately I had to face the fact that it’s not. The second that a woman becomes pregnant, it’s not just her body. She has to share it. She has to make decisions for more than just herself.
That’s why I can’t be pro-choice. I believe that I am the only one who can decide what I do with my body- but shouldn’t that transfer onto my unborn child? Because it’s not just my body, it’s their body too. I have a right to choose- but they have a right to life.
I know that this is where science comes into the debate, and that you have to boil it down to when exactly an embryo can be determined as human. I’m not a scientist. But it seems to me that if it has the capacity to form fingernails and nostrils and make tiny thumps against your stomach, it’s a human.
In America, we have the capital punishment for those who murder. Murder is defined as the willful extinguishing of a human life. At the end of the day, it’s hard for me to see abortion as anything but that.
I realize that this is just my own singular opinion. There are thousands of people out there who will argue with me, and their opinions and their beliefs are just as relevant as mine. I will happily sit down and have a conversation with my pro-choice friends about the matter. I have learned so much about pro-choice movements and their rationale- a lot of which I agree with. I will never disregard your opinions- as long as you can tell me why.
I fully admit that I was very uninformed for a long time. I knew a whole hell of a lot about the pro-life movement, because I went to a Catholic high school. But I was woefully uninformed about the other side. I talked to my friends, I read articles, I wanted to learn. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t look past what information I already had.
If you are on the fence, or have just defaulted to the position of your parents and friends, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn. Please don’t decide to be pro-life because your parents are and it’s all you’ve ever known. Please don’t come to college and decide to be pro-choice because all your friends are. Make the decision based on you, and you alone. Think about what you would do, given the choice. Research Roe v. Wade. Ask a pro-choice friend or adult or person to sit down and explain their rationale. And this is the kicker: look up how an abortion is performed. A lot of pro-choice friends of mine are vastly unaware of how the embryo/fetus/child is aborted. A lot of people don’t even think about it.
I don’t support the pro-lifers who plaster pictures of aborted babies everywhere. That’s not the way. But a lot of my pro-choice friends have sat down and seriously reassessed their position on the subject when they learn some of the gorier details. Whenever I get into pro-choice/pro-life conversations, I’ve had friends ask me how it’s performed. In response, I always ask them are you sure? It’s gruesome, and rather terrifying. And once you have that knowledge, it’s hard to forget it.
I’m pro-life. I will never be anything but pro-life. I am pro-life in every sense of the word- I believe in an unborn child’s right to life, just as I believe in a convicted criminal’s right to life.
I believe that a human life is a human life, and that should never be taken lightly. Thousands of men and women across the world die in wars and genocides and internment camps. Every day, a bullied teenager kills themselves because they’re different. Why should we add to that list? Shouldn’t we be more worried about actively protecting the extinguishing of all these other lives as well? There are exceptions, of course. I agree with the use of abortion in rape, incest, or cases where the mother’s life is in danger. But the cases in which a human life should be exterminated are very few and far between.
I respect all of my pro-choice friends, especially my female ones. They have taken the stand to be the only ones who have control over their body and their futures. They refuse to have their choice made for them.
But in my ideal world, the women of this country- this world- would come together as mothers, sisters, daughters, and make a choice to stop killing the future mothers, sisters, and daughters of our world. I know that this is naive. I know this will never come to pass.
At the end of the day, everyone will disagree on this subject- and thousands of subjects to come. I don’t expect this to convert anyone. I don’t want this to convert anyone. But I beg you- don’t be complacent. Learn, research. Never settle on an ideal because it seems like the thing to go with. Don’t be afraid to speak out, even if it’s not the popular opinion.
Our opinions and our voices matter more than we are willing to believe. There are so many subjects and debates out there that are too important for you to blindly assign yourself to a side. I don’t care what side you align yourself with- that is your belief and your choice. But please, please, please. Just choose wisely and intelligently. [/tab]
Being “Pro-Life” or “Pro-Choice” is one of the most divisive conversational topics in American society. Think about it. If you are like me, you probably have a list of people with whom you can actually talk about those bugaboos- religion and politics. That list rapidly shrinks, however, when I think about the topic of abortion. It is a third rail that you do not touch. This is a huge loss- abortion is complex and our views are very much influenced by our personal experiences. It is important to share those. It is important to take in the complexity of abortion. So here’s my story: When I was seven I found out that my best friend (we were like sisters) had been hours away from being aborted. That same year, my mom had her sixth and final miscarriage. We had already named the baby and I had told all of my classmates that I was FINALLY going to be a big sister. Then when I was in middle school, my grandmother finally told us that her mother, my great-grandmother, had had two abortions because she wanted to be able to get away from to the emotional abusiveness of my great-grandfather.
So where do I ultimately stand? Well, my path has taken me to believe in the importance of a woman being able to choose whether or not to get an abortion based on the information that she possesses about the complexities of her own life. To use the proper labels, I am Pro-Choice, but I like to think that it is because I am also pro-life. But this is life in all of its complexity. My life experiences have led me to view the debate in terms of what happens to the mother and what happens to the child and I think this is something that deserves further attention.
So let’s think about the mother. Let’s not kid ourselves-a girl who gets pregnant while still in high school has her world turned upside down. Even if she decides to give the child up for adoption, she will have to live with the stigma of being a “whore” and “not keeping her legs together”. Teenage years are key developmental times. We are talking about losing an entire school year to this drama. Even in the best of circumstances, therefore, teenage pregnancy will forever impact a girl’s life. What about an older woman? Well, my great-grandmother was in a horrible marriage. She ran away with my grandmother and my great uncle twice to try and get away from her husband. Each time she was pregnant and she knew that if she had another child she would be forced to go back to him. The first time, he manipulated her to come back after a few months but after the second time she successfully got away. Yes, this occurred in the 1920s, a very different time. But the truth of the matter is that it is much more difficult for a woman with a baby to leave an abusive relationship. To my knowledge, my great-grandfather never hit my great-grandmother. But it was emotionally and psychologically abusive and she knew it. Still, she could not have proved it. Ultimately, she knew her circumstances and had to make the decision. She mourned those lost children but she knew that she had done the right thing. By leaving, she gave my great uncle and my grandmother a better life. My great uncle went on to become an award-winning photographer with the LA Times and my grandmother attended UCLA and became a social worker.
Now let’s think about the child. The choice to have an abortion occurs when there is a belief by the mother that she is not in a position to care for it. This can occur for a variety of reasons. Why condemn a child to life on the street? To end up in an abusive situation? To be unwanted? Or, if the teenage mother does keep the child, unless they have family support, they will live in poverty and uncertainty. Of course, adoption is an option. However, even then, there is also no guarantee that the child will end up in a loving home. There is a market for certain children and not others. Minorities and children with disabilities often remain unadopted and then end up in foster care.
Abortion is complicated. Take the case of my childhood friend. When I was 7 and she was 6, she casually told me that she had just found out that she had almost been aborted. Shocked and confused, I asked my mom and she told me it was true. That my friend’s mother had set an appointment for a clinic but then the night before she was “saved” (translation: converted to evangelical Christianity) and canceled it. I couldn’t stop thinking about that. My best friend might not have been born. The evangelical community in which I was raised was staunchly pro-life, so it is not like this was a value-altering revelation, but it definitely served to add complexity to the issue. My friend had a hard life. Her mother eventually married and she then became the unwanted child to an even greater extent.
In my friend’s case, her mother made the choice to keep her. But she would often talk about that as a mistake, that she should have aborted her. My point is that life is not rosy for unwanted children, even if their mothers decide to raise them. I believe that this is an issue that needs to enter into the abortion debate: What happens to children whose mothers are guilted into keeping their children or prevented from aborting? Where do they go? What happens to the mother? I love my childhood friend like a sister, but her life demonstrated to me the dark side of guilting a mother into keeping a child.
So what is the answer? Many will probably respond to this post saying that it is the fault of the mother. But that’s missing the point. What happens when the baby is on the way? What happens if the mother genuinely does not want the baby? The point of this blog is not to convince anyone one way or another. It is simply to point out a line of inquiry that should be incorporated into the debate.
In high-school, I was pro-life. But then, as I began to see the complexity of society and really reflect on my personal experiences, I came to the conclusion that a child should be wanted by the mother, not just by society. Ultimately, she must be allowed to determine whether it is the time and the place for her to have a child. Otherwise, the child’s fate is not at all secure. Moreover, with regard to teenage pregnancy, why is it necessary to insist on making a girl accept a lower income bracket and a grimmer future? This is not at all to discount the decisions that many young women make to keep the child. But it is to highlight the importance of letting them make that choice.
Yes, I have focused on the woman and the child and not at all on the father. That is because, due to the wonders of biology, pregnancy affects a woman in a way that it does not affect a man. Ultimately, it is her life that will be impacted the most by an unwanted pregnancy and, ultimately, she should have the right to decide whether or not to terminate it. Abortion is not a pleasant topic. But it is incredibly important and deserves more in-depth conversation and I believe that we can have it. It takes tolerance and a willingness to discuss radically differing view points. The goal of the conversation should be understanding, not attempting to convince. Ultimately, we need to realize that our society has to deal with unwanted pregnancy. If you are pro-life, think about giving money to foster care and promoting oversight legislation to prevent children from being abused in those homes. Work towards providing safe environments and jobs for single mothers. Fight against the stigma. Similarly, if you are pro-choice, work towards providing opportunities for mothers who decide to choose to keep the child. We can do better. I challenge us all: Let’s make a difference. Let’s have a conversation. [/tab]