I should be working. I’m not.

I really should be working. But I’m going to keep thinking about this until I write it, so here goes.

I’m personally very frustrated with my exposure with the pro-choice movement right now.

This week, I attended a meeting where I disagreed strongly with much of what was being said, but (and this is most frustrating for me) was not able to respond coherently at the time. The problem seems to lie somewhere in the assumption that the most legitimate pro-choice position lies between radicalism and the pro-lifers. I could not disagree more. Simply, I think it is a logical impossibility. There are no abortion radicals. The straw-prochoicer that is being constructed simply isn’t present in the debate. Abortion as primary birth control is a non-starter, and we cannot construct our own rhetoric as if we need to guard against that possibility. You can talk about providing better education and access to birth control without vilifying the women who for whatever reasons, have had multiple abortions.

But we kept circling around the goodness of having abortion be legal, but that really, really it was so much better to avoid it. Which I’d agree to thus far. Abortion is more costly and difficult for women than other means of birth control and reproductive decision making. But the backgrounded metaphysical assumption that if you’re not killing a baby (at least if you do it early enough) you’re in enough of a ethical gray area that it’s really best if you left…

You can’t assume any of this without Sperm Magic. If we believe women have a right to make choices about unplanned pregnancy, then we have to carefully examine our rhetoric that talks about safe, legal, and rare.

Now…i understand the tactical choices we make, and how to win support gently and not with a hammer. But when the doors are closed, and we have space to dedicate to reproductive justice…I do not want to hear a single word that carries a hint of slut shaming, bad mother implying, selfishness judging, or any of the other crap we are forced to listen to in other parts of the public discourse. None.

There is exactly one consideration in play. Does a woman, informed by the relationships, communities, and values that she holds to be important, want this pregnancy? That’s it.

Back home, one of my friends works with Planned Parenthood…and more than any other person I know, has changed how I see this whole thing. For one simple fact. I trust her. And if i were ever in some situation where the world was screaming at me, I was scared, and didn’t know what the hell to do… I would pray that someone as kind, knowledgeable, respectful, and level headed was there to help me make sense of it all. Simply, I am in awe of her ability to be present to others in difficult and uncertainty, with unwavering dedication to providing not just advice and information, but also respect for the autonomy and choices of the women she encounters for whom facing abortion and unplanned pregnancy is traumatic. I’m tearing up as I write this simply because I’m so damn proud of her, so convinced that the work she does is a critical ministry of compassion and care to people who need it. I am not without my questions or my troubles, and I do not assign over my moral judgment to others. But I know that I haven’t been there, and that even if I had, mine would not be the only experience. So I choose to place my trust in people who are able to honor the self-determination of those who are in a situation of unplanned pregnancy, who supply information and not propaganda, understanding and not guilt.

We don’t just leave people in trouble. And we don’t leave them without choice. Whether this is a terrifying moment of difficulty or one of frustration because of an unexpected birth-control failure, a crisis of health or a moment of education…it cannot be part of the civil compact that we could abandon anyone to ideology alone.

-sly

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