Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pro-life? Pro-choice? I'm thinking about something else...

*This isn't meant to be mean or attack anybody for their choices or beliefs, I tend to accept them all. This is more about how I feel about this topic, and I'm very much understanding to those who DON'T feel the same. I hope anybody reading this keeps an open mind.

I was driving home the other day when I saw a sign that sort of irritated me, though it shouldn't have since I've seen them all over, countless times, past and present. That sign-

Vote Pro-life.

What upset me about it wasn't the fact that I'm pro-choice. It wasn't that I think pro-life is wrong, because I don't, I get the argument and when it came down to decision time I chose to have Jack. What upset me is what happens before and after pro-life.

It's all fine and dandy to say "don't kill those precious babies!" But what about after they're born? What about the conditions of schools, foster care and orphanages these days? It just seems, and I'm sorry if I offend anybody, Pollyanna-ish to simply assume that IF a woman actually does choose to have her baby that that babies life will go on to be happy and productive, simply due to the fact that it was born.

What about the fact that so many of those babies are born into poverty? What about the ones born to resentful parents? What about ones born to addicts or abusiveness?

What pisses me off is not that people want these babies to be born, be it because of their religious beliefs or feelings. What pisses me off is that if they want these babies to be born so badly, shouldn't they take a good hard look at the system and start changing THAT first?! Shouldn't we be equipping young women with knowledgeable sex education programs so they can learn what to do to avoid having to make the decision of whether to walk into an abortion clinic or not? Shouldn't adoption be slightly easier for those who want it and can provide it, REGARDLESS of sexual orientation for the women who don't want an abortion but for whatever reason cannot raise a child? What about all the judgement for the mothers who have to get on some sort of government assistance to help feed the child she was told so feverishly not to abort?

I write this in the aftermath of Teen Mom's season finale. I watched these young girls struggle so hard to provide for their children and I feel for them because I was there too. I was 19 when I got pregnant with Jack and just a week after my birthday he came into the world, child of a 20 year old. And I consider myself lucky. Lucky to have support all around me, no matter my choice. Lucky that Jack has such adoring grandparents and a father who wanted him. Lucky that Greg is here, by choice, and lucky that he has a job that can support all of us.

But not everybody is as lucky. Certainly not everybody has that luck to help them in deciding their futures or that of their unborn children.

Until the system is changed, until the world starts thinking a little bit more about the greater good instead of just "what sounds right", I'll continue to vote pro-choice. Because not everybody has the luxury of lucky situations. I'll continue to support the women's choice, no matter what it is.

** I could go on longer about this, but I'm choosing to cut it off here. I'd like your opinions. I'd like good, productive conversation and opinions. This isn't an attack forum and all abusive comments will be deleted. I wrote this to express myself and yes, maybe start a discussion or two, but I hope all of them start and end with patience and understanding.

Now- What do you think?


Awesome Alicia said...

so well written. you can see the passion you have in your stance by your words. bravo.

I am too pro-choice because not everyone has the resources to care and love a child. and why bring a child into the world when you're still a kid yourself? (not you directly, of course) some may see abortion as the "easy way out" but I think it should be an option when the circumstances do not favor raising a child. a 14 year old should not be raising a baby. but of course, I don't believe abortion is a pregnant 14 year old's only option - but it should be an option. she should be allowed to choose. not only is having a baby and raising a baby difficult for a young teen (or any age for that matter), but going through the pregnancy itself can also be harsh to your body and mental state.

raising a child is much harder than it used to be. and so many "temptations" exist that prevent one from adequately raising one. even making the "right" choice or taking responsibility is hard and crippling. and more people are living in poverty now than before. is bringing a child into family living in poverty really better than not bringing the child into the world at all? and it's not like you can put an ad in craigslist to put your baby up for adoption. adoption isn't a simple process. instead of focusing on bringing babies into a world when someone cannot (or will not) care for them, we should focus on giving new mothers all the resources they need to care for and love a baby. otherwise you may not see or read about women leaving their newborn in a dumpster all the time.

JLYoungsma said...

I hate that people think that because I'm pro-choice, I'm anti-life. Ridiculous. Whats more ridiculous is that the same people that are the bible thumping, poster holding jackholes are the same people that want to take welfare and WIC away from families, because they they are "all on drugs" or are "lazy". Oh and the "government needs stop giving hand-outs"... Well, I haven't seen any plan of action from the loonies of how to care for these babies if they were to all be born. Are THEY willing to adopt hundreds of unwanted children themselves? Do THEY have the money for that?
They all don't want government in their lives until its something THEY want the government to control. Hypocrites.

Sorry, I had to go on a mini-rant... Ha! ;)

And ps;

Amanda said...

@Alicia- Yep! And thank you! I'm glad that we had/have you (and Chris!) as an extended support system with Jack. Once again, I got lucky. Lucky to be around good people.

@JLYoungsma- Exactly! And I think they need to make that into a bumper sticker- "Just because I'm pro-choice, doesn't mean I'm anti-life." With all royalties going to you of course ;)! It's the hypocrisy that gets me.

And ain't no shame in mini-rants if they have a purpose! Rant on!

Rashel Saak said...

I could not agree more with you! Great post!

elb said...

You make really good points. I'm undecided on how I feel about the situation, and because of that, I tend to harbor more pro-choice feelings, just because it isn't a condemning and final as being pro-life, I guess.

But I like your point about changing the system. So many of the people I know in my life who are pro-life are also anti any form of government assistance, are willing to judge these same women they encourage to have these children as welfare queens and worse, and are unaccepting of better sex education.

To make productive, effective decisions, you have to look at how all the parts fit together in the whole, not just what you feel about a single part.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I recently went to America to discuss this very topic with a group of lawyers who specialise in making sure woman retain the right to make their own decision. I was horrified to discover that some woman are forced to travel hundreds of miles to find a clinic. Not all woman in America can afford to make such a trip, and considering there is (and rightly so) a time limit on when you can have an abortion the situation can become impossible. I agree that the right to a choice is the most important aspect of this argument. But in many cases their right is being infringed upon by governments who go out of their way to make it difficult to get an abortion. Some woman take it into their own hands because of distance or money requirements. As you can imagine the results are horrific. Some governments (I was in just as much disbelief as you will be I'm sure) actually have requirements as to how hight the grass can be on an abortion clinics grounds! If the grass fails inspection the clinic can be closed. The arguments against abortion are fair and based upon individual beliefs. However in certain places the methods of preventing it are absurd.

Your post was well informed, fair and passionate. I agree with you whole heartedly.

Beryl ❤ Lynn said...

New follower... just here to say "I AGREE!"

Beryl ❤ Lynn said...

New follower... just here to say "I AGREE!"

Chelsea said...

Hey girl. I feel the same as you do. I think that IF girls had classes on these topics (like a class that taught you how to manage a check book and how credit cards work, and REAL life stuff. And also had topics like sex-ed and what happens when you DO get pregnant rather than just shoving condoms in kids faces and say, "just be safe!"

When I got pregnant with Conrad, I had NO idea that by the time I missed my first period, my baby wasn't just "cells" it had organs, it was forming, it was a baby. Bobbie gave me this book that she's had forever "from conception to birth" I've ordered it for a few of my pregnant friends. It won lots of awards. But it's just shocking to see that baby at 6 weeks in the womb, totally formed and if I were a teenager seeing that baby, totally real, and alive, and thriving, I would have been ALOT safer with sex as a teen. I'm sad that kids aren't educated about being safe with sex. I don't really look at pro life, or abortion in a "religious" way, I look at it in a realistic way. The baby isn't just cells, It's a baby and as a country we need to start valuing life instead of teaching our kids that abortions are painless things, they're cheap, it's easier to get them instead of having your kid and taking the responsibility for them.

Life will be hard no matter how your beginning is, whether your parents have money, or they struggle to feed their kids. Whether you get put in foster care because your parents suck or you've got a silver spoon in your mouth.

Also, abortions have such lasting effects on womans hearts. It stays with you for the rest of your life. Some say it doesn't effect them, but I have a friend who got one and she says she misses her baby every day and when she was getting it done, she KNEW it was the wrong choice for her.

And the whole "well what if you get raped by your uncle" argument. I wonder which case happens more, a girl getting pregnant because she choses not to use protection, or a girl getting raped by her uncle.... And if that's the case, I support her making the best decision for herself. The thing that just pisses me off about it the most is when abortion is used as birth control. It's a really painful and touchy subject, but since I've had a baby, I value life so much more than I did before, I value my body and I look at things differently. I dont' think we'll EVER be able to change peoples minds either way. I dont think abortions will ever be illegal. They will probably always happen one way or another, but if we could educate people on what happens when you conceive, I think they'd see their baby as much MORE than JUST cells.... I wish we could teach girls and empower them about their body and their choices so that they might not have to make hard decisions to abort their baby. My mom was hurt as a 13 year old girl, and she's had a few of them herself, so I know a thing or two about how they have everlasting effects on people and I'm pretty against them for that reason alone.

I also really like this story because she is a baby that was born that was meant to be aborted but survived.

Amanda said...

Wow, I just have to say, I'm thoroughly just in awe over my readers (those who subscribe and those who may just be happening upon my part of the woods). You are all amazing! I was very wary of posting about a topic as controversial as this, but I'm glad I did. It restored my faith in humanity a bit. I'm glad we can share opinions without judgments and name calling because for awhile now, everytime I've read an article on anything remotely political or even semi-controversial, the comments following have always either left me angry, disenchanted or sad at where society is headed. So thank you all for helping me feel less alone. And more than that, thankful.

@Chelsea- I saw that video! She's amazing. I really enjoyed her speech.

When I found out I was pregnant with Jack I was already three months along. The second appointment I had I found out his sex. There was just no way abortion was an option for me after that.

I do believe they should make late term abortions illegal. Even from the most cynical/scientific/whathaveyou viewpoint, that is no longer just a cluster of cells. Even my husband who is as scientific as they come, believes that once a nervous system starts to form, which is fairly early, you have no business terminating it (obviously, he veers more on the pro-life side, maybe more pro-prevention and definitely pro-adoption).

I really hate that women are vilified regarding abortion. Nobody goes into a clinic thinking "you know what, why not just kill this thing inside me. What a great day to do that!" I'd imagine (since I haven't been in that situation) that it's an extremely painful decision with lasting effects, just like you say. They should be getting support instead of harsh criticism.

Jessi said...

I completely agree with you that conditions that some of these children are born into are terrible. That's why there are organizations who work to help these moms out with resources and help if they choose to carry their child to term. I volunteer at a pregnancy resource center and we provide prenatal and parenting classes to low income women who in turn earn material goods, formula, diapers, etc for their children. There are also many maternity homes (but we do need to have motherhood homes for after the babies are born). We need more of this.

There is also the option of adoption (which has not been mentioned). This is an amazing option for both the child and a family who may not be able to have children of their own.

My last thought is this: if conditions are so bad for these children, then why is the answer to the problem: end their life before it even begins?? It absolutely breaks my heart that our society has settled on that. These children deserve SO much more. The solution should be, as you said, to improve conditions. For those of us who are fortunate to step up and help those less fortunate.

But ending a life in the name of compassion does not help anyone or anything. It has an enormous effect on the child it kills and as Chelsea mentioned, it has damaging effects on mothers (and fathers). And it devalues life in our society. Everyone loses when we settle on such a demoralizing solution.

Molly said...

So cool to have actual discussion about this subject instead of slogans and name calling. Thanks for bringing up the topic, I'm sure it took some courage!

In the few years I worked with women who were unexpectedly pregnant (both during the decision making process and after) I noticed something that sealed the deal for me. Not ONE woman ever communicated regret over giving birth to her child - regardless of her income (or lack thereof), her emotional support (or lack thereof) or her prospects for the future. I can't say the same about the women who chose to terminate. I'm not saying every woman communicated regret, but very few of them were skipping into or out of the clinic and happy to be doing what they were doing.

A description I heard that really stuck with me is that women choose to have abortions like animals who are stuck in traps choose to gnaw off limbs to escape. Typically it isn't a decision that is taken lightly or without stress. It is a choice made under duress and often with a feeling of desperation.

It breaks my heart that we have put women in that position. And we have. Through a lack of reproductive education, through a shortage of resources for pregnant and parenting students, through the crappy leave policies available for corporate moms and dads... the list goes on and on.

I get angry when I see billboards for either side - this isn't an issue that can be summed up with slogans and bumper stickers. This is a deeply personal decision that men and women make that has lasting effects for the rest of their lives. To see the issue trivialized in some trite "vote this way" statement just proves how deeply we are failing the men and women faced with the decision.

Amanda said...

@Molly & Jessi- If you haven't heard it before, let me say it- THANK YOU for helping out with women in unexpected pregnancies/clinics/etc. When I found out about Jack, I went to a pregnancy clinic and had great counselors who really comforted me and gave me some hope that I COULD do it and they also kept an open mind.

And I'm very happy that you have all read my opinion and respected it. Thank you all, again.