Or: The Idiocy of Polar Politics
by Guest Blogger Adrienne
Reader beware: I am not the kind of writer who uses a lot of statistics to jazz up my articles. Partially because statistics can be skewed any way you need them to be, but mainly because when you're talking about something as emotional and personal as abortion, I don't want to sit down and look at a page of numbers to tell you what my gut says. When you go searching for statistics, I'd wager that you are really just looking for the ones that will support the claim that you all ready know is 'right'.
Recently, someone very close to me found out she was pregnant. I was shocked when she told me, and after the preliminary congratulations, I asked her how it happened. Obviously I know how babies are made, but it turns out that she was just as shocked as me. She quoted a Friends episode and said, "Sometimes everyone can wear everything that they're supposed to, and it still just happens."
The other day I was watching True Life on MTV, and a 17 year old girl was saying that her boyfriend told her that because he smoked marijuana he had a low sperm count and couldn't get her pregnant. As she was talking, she rested her long fingers on her round belly, a crib in the background. "I don't understand it," She said. "We had been having sex for like, a year and half, and I didn't get pregnant. Why this time?"
I was educated in America (like both of those women and their lovers). One day in ninth grade we were told to read Chapter 11 in our Health book and that there would be a quiz later. The chapter was about ten pages long, briefly discussed the parts of the male and female genitalia and how they are used in baby-making (because that's all sex really is, right?) and then went on to discuss what happens to a woman's body during pregnancy and how birth happens. There was no quiz, there was no class discussion, no question and answer period, no note-taking, etc.
I still remember when I was a sophomore in high school one of my friends (who was a college freshman) asked me if you could get pregnant if he ejaculated on her stomach. Another guy friend who was my age asked me once if he could get a girl pregnant from 69. I remember reading an article once that said that a girl got pregnant from swimming in a pond where a boy had masturbated.
And of course, I went through the discussion that every girl in her adolescence has with at least one of her friends: you know, the 'did we, or didn't we?' talk, the 'am I still a virgin?' talk, the 'just the tip, just for a second' talk. It's pretty clear, to me at least, that abstinence only, or the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on sex education is not working.
What does that have to do with abortion? Oh, only everything. If these kids aren't clear on how they can get pregnant, and aren't clear on what ACTUAL ways they can avoid pregnancy if they are being sexually active (or if they will become sexually active), then how could that be deemed 'CHOICE'?
When children (you know, like Jaime Lynn Spears) are bombarded with sexual messages on every commercial, billboard, tv show, etc, are pressured by their friends, are not given guidance from their parents except 'don't do it,' aren't receiving any education from their schools, and are trying to control their own raging hormones and curiosity, how can that be deemed 'CHOICE'?
To be pro-life and to rally for making contraceptives even more difficult to obtain is a conflict of interest. The sad truth is that young people are having sex at alarming rates—it's true. A hundred years ago, we would have all been married by age 16 anyway, so its no surprise that puberty is when most children get curious about sex—and that was before we had sex being sold to us at every turn.
Adoption is a beautiful option. I wish that every woman who was experiencing an unplanned pregnancy felt that adoption was the right choice—but it just isn't so. There are MILLIONS of women who for very practical reasons can't see how adoption would work for them. Women that have AIDS, women that have cancer, women that have MS or some other debilitating disease; women in abusive relationships, women with Down's syndrome, women who are victims of incest or spousal rape, women who are eleven, just to name a few.
And okay, fine, yes. There are probably a handful of women that have abortions because they had sex, they got pregnant, they don't want a baby. Some of them may not use contraceptive for no other reason than that they are careless. Some of them may have had three, or fourteen, abortions (although I don't think that is likely). And keeping abortion legal means enabling these women to continue to have abortions, whether or not the American public think that it is right. There are always going to be people who take advantage. And the BEST thing we can do to combat that is to empower them with the education on how to NOT get pregnant, and empower them with knowledge on why they are getting pregnant in the first place (for example: are they looking for love in all the wrong places? Do they have a sex addiction? Etc)
And guess what? If all you pro-lifers are right and these women are going to burn in hell for what they've done, that's going to happen whether or not you tell them so, isn't it? Telling doctors to stop playing God by performing abortions is hypocritical—YOU should stop playing God by judging people. Just be smug, smile, and rest confidently on your knowledge that they are going to be worm food someday and you will be a harpist (and let God judge you by what you're thinking, rather than letting people like me judge you for what you are saying).
Of all the pro-choicers I know, I have never met a single one who wants abortion to increase. In all our pro-choice discussions (you know, after we get done burning our bras and drinking bat blood), no one has ever said to me, "Did you hear abortion rates are up in South Carolina! Whoo hoo! Pass me the placenta chips!"
Likewise, the general consensus of every discussion I've had with a pro-lifer is that they want abortion rates to go down, or stop all together. And, USUALLY, they don't REALLY want the pregnant women to be stoned to death. (I have heard the 'she should take responsibility for her actions and deal with the consequences' rhetoric, to which I always wonder how a baby that is born as a 'consequence' will fare down the road, but that's neither here nor there).
I think, at the core of the issue, most people on either side just want abortion to stop (or to be a LAST LAST LAST case resort). So then why isn't there more outreach from both camps to figure out some kind of happy medium that can accomplish that goal? Why isn't there legislation trying to give everyone a little of what they want—requiring that pharmacists must fill birth control prescriptions and requiring that abortions have a longer waiting period? Or something? Why has no one from either side of the issue tried to extend an olive branch to find some way to meet in the middle?
Abortion, like the death penalty, war, and religion, is a polarizing issue. It's true. It is one of those things that almost everyone has a dead-set opinion on that they just can't budge on; which, by the way, is the definition of narrow-mindedness (shame on us all).
As a pro-choicer, I don't like the idea of a girl in high school or junior high needing parental permission to get contraceptives. I know that at that age I would have NEVER gone to my parents to ask for contraceptive. But it's a bargaining chip I am willing to toss up if it means that we can have REAL sex education classes in our schools (which, btw, might lessen the need for these young girls to have contraceptives in the first place AND make them more likely to talk to their parents about it). I don't want to see legislation that mandates there to be a 48 hour waiting period before any abortion, but I'm willing to trade that for legalized abortions in every state, for all women, in all circumstances.
I believe, fully, that this world and this nation NEED extremists. We need the people all the way on the left that are anti-war, pro-universal health care, pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, and we need the people all the way on the right that are pro-life, pro-tax cuts, pro-war, pro-religion in our schools. We need those people because without them, the people in the middle would just look at each other and shrug.
But what we ALSO need is for those people in the middle to start stepping up and saying what THEY want to see happen. The vast majority of this country agrees on so many issues— none of us want to see religious extremists becoming suicide bombers. No one wants to see senior citizens going without their prescriptions. No one wants to see more soldiers dying in Iraq, or anywhere else. NO ONE wants to see abortion numbers sky rocket. No one, no matter what their voter registration card says, or what terms they use to describe themselves, really wants to see their neighbors suffer.
So stop putting comments under our pro-choice articles that call us selfish and disgusting. Stop calling me a slut. Stop hiding behind Biblical rhetoric (being an atheist is not illegal), and stop telling us to keep our legs crossed and our heads down. In return, we'll stop calling you outdated and bigoted. We'll stop telling you to get bent and that we can't believe you have sex at all. You can't fight fire with fire.
Throw yourself a pity party tonight, eat some ice cream, call us all sluts and cunts one more time, and when you wake up tomorrow morning, be ready to come to work. Actually THINK about what you want to see happen, and think about what you're willing to do to get it. ASK a pro-choicer what they want, too. Build bridges. Find the road that separates you and walk down it together.
You can still call me a hippie. That's allowed.