March 8, 2012
This morning I marked International Women's Day in what is for me, a fairly traditional manner. I got on the phone with my friend Jen, and we talked about the state of women's rights. It will surprise no-one who reads here regularly to learn that I am a political person - and by political, I simply mean that I care deeply about the politics happening in the world around me. I read, I think, I debate and discuss what I hear, and I vote.
Posted by Stephanie at March 8, 2012 3:12 PM
Whether it's my own country, or my neighbours country, or a country halfway around the world, I am interested in who citizens elect to represent their views, and what laws those people then make - because it represents who they are as people, and how they think things should be done. At least here in Canada, I don't think of the Government as some overlord, I think of it as a group of Canadians selected by other Canadians to represent our views, and I like to know how they're doing that, especially when an election doesn't go the way I would like, and the majority of Canadians choose something I wouldn't. I watch even closer then. The rules and laws these Canadians make are things that will effect my life, or the lives of people I know - or the planet I live on, or the lives of people I don't know far away, and I've never bought that it's none of my business what's happening in the politics of places where I'm not a citizen. That's how genocides happen.
So this morning, Jen and I were talking about the politics of lots of places, and how the politics and politicians of those places had an impact on women. We talked about how only 1 in 5 land owners worldwide is a woman. How even though this is the 101st International Women's Day, which has to mean that we've cared about this problem for at least that long, despite that - only 12 of the worlds top 500 businesses are led by women. Despite that, this week the Prime Minister of Afghanistan endorsed a statement that "Men are fundamental, and women are secondary." In Saudi Arabia, a country that is considered a friend to Canada, the US and the EU, doesn't even let women drive cars. Half their population just doesn't have that right. Hell, after 101 years of worldwide political attention drawn to the problem, the Secretary General of the United Nations says that domestic violence worldwide is increasing, not decreasing, and that despite everybody agreeing it's absolutely horrible, 2 million girls between the age of 5 and 15 are sold as prostitutes each year.
It's not just the Middle East and Africa either. All over the world the politics of countries make laws and rules that tell women that they aren't allowed to make their own choices. Here in Canada, The Prime Minister has been widely criticized as been no friend of women. He's closed 12 of the 16 Status of Women Offices, eliminated funding of legal voices for women, cut funding for women's advocacy by 43%, and denied financial support to groups who support access to abortion, which makes it look a whole lot like he's making it hard for women to speak up. Thing is, he did a lot of that before he was re-elected and while he had a minority government. That means it's no just him who holds these views, that means a lot of other Canadians agree with him. In the US, all of the GOP candidates - not some, but ALL of them agree that a life should begin at conception - which would not just make abortion illegal, but it could effectively ban most contraceptives, which would mean that the only way for a woman to guarantee that she wouldn't ever have more children than she could support, would be to only ever have sex when she was willing to have a baby. For me? That would have been three times. (I don't know how that's an appealing idea to those men, but there you have it.) 98% of American women have used contraception at some point - and lots of them are GOP supporters. It's not like being a Republican (or a Conservative, if you're Canadian) is wrong or horrible. It's a legal political position to hold, as valid as being a Democrat or a member of the NDP - it doesn't surprise me that people could vote that way. It does surprise me that if 98% of women use contraception, and 35-40% of them have had an abortion, that so many of them are okay with voting for someone who's going to make laws that won't let them do that.
After we talked about all of that, I think that it's safe to say that Jen and I were both a little hot. There was lots of talk about how this is 2012, and how can women let these things happen, and that while worldwide, only 19% of politicians are women - but you know, women have the right to vote in Saudi Arabia - and they're half of the population. I get that in a country like Afghanistan, where there's state sanctioned abuse of women - and men are regularly permitted to do things like light their wife on fire because she got uppity, that women, even if they have the vote, can't create real change yet, and that's why their rights are underrepresented in politics, but here? In Canada? In the US? Women have the right to vote. Women do vote. We're mostly literate, with at least the minimum amount of education to be able to make our own decisions, and the amazing thing to me is that given the gift of choice, we would make a choice to vote to restrict women's future choices.
Then Jen and I got quiet. Then we thought a bit. Then Jen said something about how it's like knitting something for someone. You make it, you give it to them and then you're done. You don't get to decide how someone treats or uses what you've given them. That's not the spirit of it. If you knit your Aunt Mary a scarf and she balls it up in the bottom of the hall dresser and never, ever wears it because it's itchy, there's zip all you can do about it, because you gave it to her, and now it's hers, and that's how choice works. You can then make another choice to never, ever knit her another one as long as you live - but it won't change what she does with it. I agreed with her, and I realized that this women's day, as I wonder if things are really getting better for women (or if it's just happening to slowly for my taste) and wonder at women's support of policies that don't seem to be good for them, I have got to stick with the real spirit of empowerment, and that's respecting a woman's right to choose what's best for her, and the hardest part?
If you really believe in a woman's right to make decisions about herself, her body and her politics, if you truly think that women can and must choose for themselves, then when women make choices you wouldn't, you can't call them stupid or regret giving them that choice.
Women have to have the right to choose. Even if you don't like their choices.
Happy Women's Day.
(PS. I edited a typo at 16:56pm that was possibly creating confusion. I said the legislation "would not make abortion illegal, but it could effectively ban most
contraceptives" Of course it would make abortion illegal. My apologies. )
What's happening in my country and the attack on women's rights is scary and sad. We are having to re-fight battles that I thought we had already fought and won. But I will fight til my dying day and after me my sons will, if need be.
You always give me an absolutely astounding amount to think about. This should spark some interesting conversation in my house today.
Astounding that we have tried for a long time and yet haven't come very far. In fact, going backwards is easier lately (sadly) than just standing still. I have hope for the future.
Bravo! Loved your post. I'm going to make my 15 year old daughter read it. It's so important to become politically involved, or at least knowledgeable, about our own country's spiralling conservative path. Achieving rights does not mean you don't have to protect them. Thanks for the reminder!
Very thought-provoking. I'm in a quandry about the U.S. presidential race this year--I am vehemently against Big Government, I think they waste money like nobody's business, and I hate it. I think our new healt-care mandate is impossible on several fronts. I am against abortion--but, I have to tell you, Steph, that believing that life begins at conception really only rules out IUDs and the morning-after pills (and even the Catholic Church allows morning-after pills for victims of rape or incest). Pills? Fine. Condoms? super. Those patches, rings, whatever--go for it. I'm also against the death penalty. I support gay marriage, gay rights, civil rights. I'm Catholic, and I have sound reasons for loving my faith, but I can't possibly vote for a (fellow Catholic) who claims that birth control "doesn't work." I can't find a single candidate I support this year, but I consider it my duty to vote--so I guess it'll end up being whomever I hate least, which strikes me as a really crummy way to go about it.
Meanwhile, I consider myself a sister to a woman named Neema who lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For the next year I'll be supporting her as she goes through a women's rights program and skills training, so that when she graduates she will be able to support her family and send her children to school. The organization which makes this possible is called Women for Women International, and I love them as much as you love KWB. To whom, by the way, I made a $100 donation last Christmas, but forgot until now to tell you. Cheers!
i'm a republican, in Massachusetts (not a safe haven for republicans), and I am Catholic...I strongly believe that women have the right to choices about their lives, their bodies, their minds and their futures. Conservative is not always bad and liberal is not always good, but there are some core rights that are fundamental to being a human being, regardless of what's between (or not) your legs.
Well said, Stephanie. Well said.
in the 1960s if you were a woman, worked for a bank, you had to leave if you got married.
in the 1970s if you wanted a credit card you had to get your husband or father to co-sign it.
I know things move slowly, and I know that I would actually never speak to my daughter again if she chose not to vote when women died to get her that vote. I know that my mother is declining into the complete fog of dementia, but still we discuss politics when it comes to voting time and I fill in her ballot paper for her (even though I don't agree with her choice)
I know I always want more for all women, and I want it now. I will continue to want more, but I will wait, I will endure and I will, will, will help the change in any minor way I can.
Women should absolutely be able to make choices about their own lives and they should also be smart enough and grown up enough to take responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
Headline in NZ paper this morning "OE romance: Kiwi beaten, starved"
We all have a long way to go, some countries further than others.
Well said, both to Stephanie and Kate (@3:32).
What you say at the end of your post is true and compelling. I make the same argument for free speech all the time - I defend both someone's right to say whatever they want, and my right to disagree with them vehemently. That's what it means to have free speech. That said, what I find most worrisome about the way that people seem to be voting these days is the thoughtlessness of it. I talk to a lot of people about what's going on here in the U.S., and I'm a professor, so I talk to a lot of young people too (and you should hear some of the conversations in my gender class! but that's another comment), and in so many cases, people are voting based on political party, or on the basis of something that they've been told is a fact, even though it's not actually true. Instead of considering carefully both their and their communities' (in the small and large senses) best interests, they vote by habit, or out of fear of the other guy, and with very little true analysis of the potential outcomes. And as education in this country is increasingly eroded, the situation gets worse. It's depressing, sometimes. But I keep teaching, and I keep voting, and I keep defending my fellow citizens' rights to do the same. It's all I can do.
Thank you! You have pointed out one of my most frustrating topics!
I cannot believe how little women's rights are respected in the US regarding her body.
I also get angry that though US politics are suppose to be separated from religion they are not. The entire contraception exception for healthcare is bs. Not 1 woman testifying on the panel and why not just let the women getting the healthcare decide?
You had it down at choice. And I think that is where the confusion comes from. Women have the choice of what to do with there own body, yet all the GOP candidates, and apparently enough voters who keep electing people, want to take that choice away. If you choose not to use birth control, not to have an abortion, not to have sex unless you want to get pregnant, not to have a same sex marriage, that is your choice, and no one is going to force you to do any of that. But when did it become ok to make it impossible, or at least so hard that it may as well be impossible, for me to make the choice for myself?
I love how you are able to condense the idea into something that isn't so emotionally charged that people will disregard it, and that you put it in a way that all sides can understand the point. Thanks.
Every woman deserves the right to make her own choices, but I think that sometimes we forget that every woman also bears the responsibility of informing herself before exercising her right to make those choices, whatever those choices may be.
Here's to continuing the fight to educate, empower, inform, and support women around the world today and into the future - happy IWD!
I am a man, but I am appalled at the treatment afforded women in this country and in the world. I am shocked when I see people complain about women breast feeding in public. (Yay for Beyonce, although having to have famous people do things to get what any child needs and deserves is just sad). I too am shamed by some of the things our conservative government here in Canada has done to limit women's rights to a voice) and can only hope that in another election we will be able to make a choice that will be a postive one. I am also glad to tell you that my MP in Ottawa is Dr. Hedy Fry who has been outspoken on the rights of Canadian citizens - women, men, gays, and people of colour among them. Thank you Stephanie for setting the table with food for thought.
Too bad that a woman's choice to choose abortion trumps that unborn child's right to life. So what's next? After birth abortion? Yep it's coming and I believe that is called infanticide. Or more commonly, murder (see link below).
Stephanie, I respect your right to believe how you choose. But honestly, even I cannot imagine you standing idly by while tiny babies such as your Luis, are murdered after they have survived birth, just because they are not perfect or of the wrong gender. Or God only knows what else.
God help us all. And I say that knowing you are an atheist.
There is no way that thinking that life begins at conception implies that birth control should be banned or unavailable. Most birth control prevents conception. It just keeps the sperm from meeting with and egg. It does imply that the "morning after" pill would be unavailable.
Amen, sister. It constantly amazes us here in the Northeast USA, in the bluest of blue states, that all people, including women, are regularly persuaded to vote against their own best interests.
(If you adopt me, can I become a Canadian?)
Yeah except here in America there's not a damn thing we can do about it. I can, and will, vote for Obama, and for my democratic representatives who support my rights (yay California!) and continue to be politically active, but if some Floridian decides to be backward and hateful towards women, well, too bad, there's nothing I can do about it. And then I have to live under the thumb of someone who, once elected, has absolutely no interest whatsoever in the opinions or fundamental rights of the American people. And who can't in any real, effective way, be governed by us once they've been elected. You can shout into the phone at their Capital offices all you like, but there's nothing that can be done to stop them. Literally, nothing. Protestors are arrested by SWAT teams even when they're 100% peaceful, and that arrest tanks ones job prospects - and remember, without job prospects, we have no healthcare.
So if you care enough about womens' healthcare to protest, you get unjustly arrested, a black mark goes on your permanent record, you can't get a job, you can't get healthcare, and meanwhile the guys you were protesting in the first place STILL decide to defund womens' healthcare, so the clinic that might have served as a last-resort for healthcare is closed, and you have no options. You can "choose" to have sex (since no one ever gets sexually assaulted unless "they were asking for it" - duh!) and then live with the consequences of your dirty, sexy sex, or you can ONLY have sex if you are already painting the nursery, which is of course a totally reasonable way to live ones' life. So you've got no job, no healthcare, a baby on the way. So you don't protest, you get cowed back to your desks because if you don't, the consequence is your total destruction.
The whole thing fills me with more rage than there are words, and it's ESPECIALLY awesome to sit there and watch vile, hate-filled words spewed on TV, until suddenly Ms. Fluke didn't say "we need these pills to save our lives", she said, "pay me for sexytimes." It's all spin, and it's enough to leave one sitting at their desk quivering in fury and hate and wanting to just set the entire country on fire.
This is not a matter of "change not going quickly enough" but "rights being rolled back to pre-modern times". And watching my country do this to me, as if women are a "minority" instead of 50%? And watching a panel of men discuss the validity of contraception and how taking away OUR ability to choose what's best for us, as if our personal actions that don't in any way affect them somehow offend their "religious beliefs?"
Depression slips over ones' head like a straightjacket.
I absolutely agree with you that once you've given someone a choice, how they choose is up to them. What bothers me about this so much is that these women (and men, of course) are choosing to *take away* the choices of others, because they don't like the choices those people (or the choices they themselves) have made.
I think it also matters about the education that's given. How can one make a good choice when access to information is so restricted in somce places? Or only one viewpoint is only really ever (socially) allowed (in some areas)?
It's a deep and sticky issue, and the trick is to plug away without becoming dispirited and bitter. Happy (and Hopeful!) Women's Day...
You've missed the mark just a wee bit in your comment about the GOP and all of the GOP candidates. Agreeing that life begins at conception does not equal not allowing contraception. That's a pretty big leap from the one issue to the other. Just because someone doesn't believe in killing babies doesn't mean they don't think that a woman doesn't have the right to try not to get pregnant. Yes, there is a candidate who doesn't like contraception, he's Catholic and that is a standard Catholic belief. I don't agree with that, but hey, he's welcome to knock up his wife/SO all he wants. If he manages to get GOP nomination, I will not be voting for him. The current kerfuffle about contraception going on right now is not about denying birth control, but whether an institution that doesn't believe in birth control should have to pay for birth control. It's a very different horse of a very different color. As a Republican, a conservative, and as a woman who thinks that abortion in most (not all) cases is wrong, I have never once been commented to, hinted at, or flat out told that I should only have sex in order to procreate, that I shouldn't use birth control, or that I didn't have enough children.
Thank you for this entry.
I volunteer in child welfare, and spent much of my day going through old DSS-CPS (Department of Social Services-Child Protective Services, the people who are responsible for investigating cases of child abuse and neglect) petitions as part of a research project. There were many common denominators in those cases, but the ones that jumped out at me were that the parents (most of them single mothers) involved were nearly always young (or were young when they had their children), poor, and products of abusive/neglectful families themselves.
I live in a fairly poor, very conservative area of the United States, where healthcare access is a serious problem and sex education is virtually nonexistent. So many of these parents were unable to make informed choices about their lives-- and now their children are in the foster care system, and may wind up making the same mistakes when they're older. It's a whole vicious cycle.
Needless to say, when I hear rhetoric about how women who use contraceptives are whores, I get spitting mad. The only thing that attitude accomplishes is feeding the problem.
If men could get pregnant, would there be any issue about contraception? Oh, wait. If the human race depended on males to give birth, we would have died out long ago.
As a citizen of the US and a proud member of the Democratic party, I wish women in the House and Senate would speak up.
Bravo. Well said!
I heard on the radio the other day that the GOP is having a hard time winning over women voters, and I was like "Really? What a huge surprise."
It's amazing to me the number of women in my state who are supporting a candidate who has definitely not shown himself to be a friend of women. Seems like we take 1 step forward and 2 steps back sometimes.
Saying life begins at conception does not rule out contraceptives. It rules out abortion. Which is another problem, but not that one.
It does not necessarily follow that a candidate, holding a private view as to when life begins, will likewise move to take a position that government should enforce that view. Nor does it follow that even if they wanted to they could. In 24 of the last 30 or so years, the US has been governed by presidents who hold this view. In fact, the US Supreme Court in Griswold vs. the State of CT said the right to contraception falls under constitutional protection and in the case of Roe vs. Wade, the Court afforded constitutional protection to abortion.
I also have a really hard time getting upset about abortion rights when I read those petitions-- which I know for a fact are usually the watered-down, sanitized version. Based on what I've seen, the true story is nearly always worse. I'd much rather hear about a woman having an abortion because she isn't ready to be a mother than read a petition detailing her leaving said child alone for hours on end because she was out getting high, allowing her registered sex offender boyfriend to spend quality time alone with said child, tying said child to a tree at night in the middle of winter as a form of punishment, and god knows what else. What I read is just the tip of the iceberg.
One thing I have often heard in conversations with women who are more conservative than I am that causes me great distress is these women's willingness to let men make all the decisions for them. They are willing to let this happen because they don't want to take the responsibility for thinking about issues and taking a stand. It is better for them to not have a say and then to complain how life treats them badly.
Conceived babies should have rights too. Life is precious.
Thanks for making me think and reminding me to respect other peoples choices even if I don't agree with them.
I think the reason violence against women is increasing is because we are making strides and it's scaring the utter be-jesus out of those who are trying to keep from being made obsolete and irrelevant.
I work in a very male heavy industry (software development) and finally, finally my field of UI Development is getting the respect it deserves on its own merits. It just so happens that UI Dev is where many women in my field sit.
My challenges are small when compared to those women in Afghanistan who are fighting for even rudimentary education. But I do feel that there are a fair amount of women in my generation and younger who have forgotten that what they have was fought for and take for granted those rights their mothers and grandmothers battled and suffered for.
I would be interested to see your source on the 35-40% of women have had abortions statistic. Am I reading that wrong? That seems really very high to me. According to the CDC (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005099.html), the US national rate is more like 20-30 per 1000, which works out to 0.02 to 0.03 percent, which is more like what I'd believe. Even if it were 2-3 percent, I'd be more inclined to believe that.
For the record, I personally wonder why there's such a huge fight over contraceptive (ie, pills and condom specifically) if the goal is stop abortion. It's way cheaper and less invasive and much less likely to be "killin' babies" if you allow the woman to prevent herself from getting pregnant in the first place.
Amen, sister. Happy Women's Day to you, too.
Full disclosure: I am an American who generally considers herself a Democrat. I agree with most of what you said, but I think I disagree that a necessary result of Republican candidates' belief that life begins at conception means that contraception would become illegal. To my knowledge, no Republican presidential candidate has advocated that position either.
I just read Nigel's post about breast feeding in public. It's sad but true. I remember being out and about with my young son (now a healthy 2-year-old) and trying to find a private spot to park so my husband could run into the stores while I nursed our son. I remember one older couple walking by and standing in front of my car staring at me in abject horror for a good 10 minutes. I had no idea how to react. Ummm...he's a baby and he's hungry. Mama has the milk...deal with it? Flying out to visit my in-law's was the real kicker. I forgot to pack my nursing cover but what else was I going to do? I whipped 'em out at the airport and fed him anyway. More than a few people looked really uncomfortable but several women came over to talk to me while I was nursing and tell me how wonderful they thought it was.
I find that normally you are well reasoned and highly factual with all you views -- even then ones I disagree with are in fact based in fact, most times. The conclusions we draw off those facts is where we can disagree -- however, I'm stunned at one of your statements today.
"but ALL of them agree that a life should begin at conception - which would not make abortion illegal, but it would effectively ban most contraceptives"
Um, conception is prevented with 90% of the birth control methods out there. Given that the single most popular birth control method is still the condom which creates a physical barrier between sperm and egg, there is no conception. The Pill prevents the release of an egg, preventing its availability to be there waiting for the sperm. Spermacides kill sperm. Diaphrams block sperm and egg meeting. Most doctors believe that even the IUD creates such a hostile enviroment that the egg and sperm could not survive much less meet. The only forms of birth control in question would be the "morning after pill" and abortion.
Now, you may call me anti-woman, but I do oppose abortion. I do so because I firmly hold that life begins at the union of sperm and egg and that life is precious. I hold this as a woman and a mother. And I'm ok with disagreeing with you -- because I think no less of you because you hold a different opinion than me and I would trust that you would hold no less an opinion of me.
I do hope that you will make this correction in the overstatement. We are not the Catholic church, and we are not outlawing the pill, condoms, spermacide, and such anytime soon. (Even us Americans.)
I can't believe in political solutions when groups of women working together in say an office can't even treat each right.
(Knitters don't count - they're nice to everyone.)
I have only one question for you. As someone who supports babies in ALL of their stages, how can you be "pro-choice" when it comes to killing them?
Don't know if anyone else raised the issue, but I don't know where the thought that because I believe that life begins at conception I don't believe in birth control. NOT TRUE.NOT TRUE.NOT TRUE! Please do NOT perpetuate the bad information! Of course I believe in birth control methods and I encourage anyone who wants to prevent pregnancy to use it! Both people! If you have sex please be sure one or both of you is preventing conception if you are not planning on adding another human to the planet. As far as I know, the Catholic Church is the only organization that doesn't believe in birth control.
That said, your body is yours to use and do with what you please. I do resent having to pay for your choices. I am a conservative and I, like everyone I happen to know, believe in birth control. In fact, there are a lot of people I wish would take it...
I'm just wondering why the heck we are in such a state that we need to have "Women's Day"?! No need to do such a thing for the other half of the species. I think that sums up quite a lot right there.
For those that believe that life begins at conception; please quit taking your birth control pills. Birth control pills work in three ways. We all know they help prevent ovulation; BUT they also prevent the uterine lining from being receptive to a fertilized egg. (They also thicken the mucus of the cervix which helps prevent sperm from traveling past it. If life begins at conception - which I do not believe BTW - then preventing a fertilized egg from implanting and thriving is killing it.
Sorry, math error on my part. 20/1000 * 100 = 2%, not 0.02. It's been a long day.
A painful truth. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. I try as hard as I can to at least try the water, when someone's leading me - maybe they're right and I'm wrong - but you can't force it on somebody.
I can only hope the ability to make our own choices remains open to us. That's what I fight hardest for.
People almost always do what they think is best, and they know more about themselves than you (or I) do. Best let them handle themselves.
The debate about contraception and abortion currently in the US is directly linked to religion. And a religion (and there are numerous ones) that has at its foundation a belief that women should be subservient to a male will never be in favor of women's rights - in any form.
Someday when religion and politics are kept separate we might find the ability to respect the other person's beliefs instead of trampling them because they differ from our own.
Wonderful post! I just have to say to the commenters who ask how you can be pro-choice and love and support babies. It's called a choice, there are many of us who as a person would be considered "pro life" but politically are "pro-choice" I personally believe that all women have the choice to do with their bodies what they want to and the government should stay out of it. If you choose not to have an abortion because you don't believe in them that is still a choice! Would you want someone choosing that you can't carry a child and mandating an abortion because for some reason they feel you are unfit to parent?
Of course women should have equal rights and choice. That said, just because women have the right to vote in Saudi Arabia, they don't necessarily have any say regarding what or who can be put on the ballot. If you don't have that power, then voting gives a false sense of empowerment. Also, I don't think the world is a better place because Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Ultimately it's all about human rights, isn't it?
Back in the heydey of the US "Womens' Movement" in the 1970s, I worked to get the law changed in California so a woman who married could choose which surname she wanted to use. Choice was the point. Then 2 years ago my daughter got married, and chose to take her husband's surname. I had fought for her to have the choice but had a seriously hard time when she made, what was to me, the wrong choice. I have now accepted it after going through the same internal arguments as you did. Her reasons? She wanted the same name as her (at that time nunconceived) children and she was tired of having to spell her (my) last name. You give us all things to think about in addition to our knitting lives.
This was the biggest load of crap! You talk about women's issues in 1st and 3rd world countries as if they were the same thing. You talk about abortion as if you didn't just herald in the birth of your "precious" nephew. You act like women are a group of victims who need to be coddled and overseen by a plethora of government programs. Yeah, I feel bad for women in 3rd world countries, but to act like their issues and our issues are somehow similar is ridiculous.
I find it mind boggling in my country how sheltered some of the kids coming out of school are, how ignorant about how women had to fight to get to where we are today.
I have a 19 year old cousin who flippantly makes disparaging comments about women and women's intelligence. I don't know if he says these things trying to be funny, but it makes me sad to think that there is a whole generation out there who doesn't understand that the rights we have now weren't always ours and women are still being paid less to do the same jobs as men. (Don't worry, whenever he makes these comments in my, my brother's, or eldest cousin's hearing he gets a big lecture about how very WRONG he is. I just don't think it sticks.)
I agree that women should have rights equal to men. I must correct your mis-understanding of contraceptives, however. Most pro-lifers, believe that contraceptives are FINE as long as they PREVENT conception, defined as The implantation of the fertlized egg.Preventing fertilization or implantation is accepted. Please check your facts before ranting.
As a Canadian who generally gets confused when I try to follow snippets of American politics all of these comments are very informative.
Jack De Gioia, Georgetown University President, had some very grace-filled, loving, and inspiring words to share about the recent brouhaha in the US involving Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke. I agree with you and Jen 100%, YH, and I'm 71 years old and a retired Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, mother of 4 and grandmother of 5. I've seen it all! What can we human beings contribute that furthers the cause of civil discourse, and not requiring ALL OTHERS to agree with our own interpretation of things? (Never mind that I don't want to hear "the eternal truth" from a person who doesn't come equipped with a uterus and is unlikely to fully "get it"!) May I remember each day that I can inflame anger and fury and name-calling, or I can listen to those who disagree with me, state that calmly, and "agree to disagree", making this a more possible goal as we listen to each others' stories. And, NICE GOING in terms of setting up a model for respectful sharing while disagreeing!!!
Thank you Stephanie. Thank you.
As someone who had a baby 10 months ago and who went through fertility treatments and wanted that child with every fiber in my being, I am more pro-choice than ever.
Raising this kid is kicking our asses and we have lots of support, money, and access to things. I can't imagine forcing anyone to do this.
Well, for all countries, it's that it's not about a single issue. I don't think a woman is standing a voting booth saying, "I am going to vote for a man that takes my choices away." But she may be standing in a voting booth saying, "I can't feed my family and this man's economic plan seems like it's more likely to give an opportunity to feed my family." That' the b!tch that is federalized politics.
I'll turn it around: in the last election, did you research the position of your candidate on every issue? Did that person's opinions and history match yours on every issue? Or, did you say, I don't agree with him/her on this issue, but I agree with her/him on these 50 others?
When I vote, i don't vote for a single issue, though I know there are some that do. But, if the only U.S. presidential candidate that supported a woman's right to choose, also thought that all blacks should be put in concentration camps and forced to do labor for free... well, you know what? I wouldn't vote for him/her. Because that it's abhorrent to me.
I voted for Obama last time and am sad beyond words at how bad a job he's done. I don't really like any of the republican candidates, but I'm willing to look at them as options. Because, I'm not making choices just about my life and my choices, but trying to pick who is best for the country, for my family, for the future of my unborn kids.
Oh, and to clarify, Ron Paul believes that life begins at conception. And he also believes that it's a state issue and not a federal (i.e. the President wont' get involved) issue to resolve. Not the answer you like, but at least he's saying he doesn't have any business deciding.
And I've pretty much hijacked this post, but I'll close by saying, that is what I find most deplorable about current U.S. politics - the focus on issues about which the government should not be involved with AT ALL and how politicians are chosen based on their beliefs about something that is NOTB.
And finally, I find it similarly sad that women still have so far to go for equal treatment. For example, why isn't a man being held to the standard of only having sex if he's 100% ready to be a father and provide for the child that is a product of the union?
Those who think that the conservative right don't want to outlaw contraception need to do a bit more research. Getting rid of birth control of all sorts has long been an aim of the the conservative right political groups; they just don't talk about it very much. It's only been recently that it has started to bubble to the top.
It really doesn't matter if YOU view birth control as acceptable or not; you aren't meeting in back rooms with candidates and giving them large chunks of change via superpacs.
Amen! Particularly your last lines.
Thanks, Stephanie, for this post. And happy International Women's Day!
I just wanted to second what a couple of people have said earlier: hormonal birth control DOES potentially prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Googling "how do birth control pills work?" produces some good descriptions of this (some from companies that make pills), though also some confusing ones.
And so, if you believe that fertilization = conception ('conception' is a fuzzy medical term), and you support a law that says that life begins at conception, then you logically have an objection to hormonal birth control.
I always feel that in these kinds of debates, where people feel so strongly about the issues on all sides, it is especially important that we all try to be clear in communicating the facts, and explaining how we feel those facts are relevant to our side of the argument, to at least make sure we aren't talking past one another.
Yes, I believe there is some kind of global war against womens rights happening in the world right now. Many western women, who have had advantages given to them in the recent past, meanspiritedly vote for men who would deny other women these very same advantages.
I call it dissosociative politica...noticeable impairment of recall resulting from adherance to a political ideology. It's also a form of sociopathy - the inablity to have any empathy for other women who deserve these same advantages, and willingness to deny them. Also known as the 'it'll never happen to me syndrome.' Maybe you'll remove this post - but you're right, there is something VERY wrong going on.
Brava, Stephanie! It's about giving women the ability to decide how to live their lives, and in some cases, simply the ability to live.
Keep speaking your mind, please, dear Yarn Harlot, about this and other things (including your honest, hardworking breasts, a phrase my partner and I adopted from your tweet to describe my currently lactating breasts).
Sending you love & light on this Women's Day Stephanie, as well as being thankful to find that your blog is, as always, just that: your. blog.
I happen to agree with you, but even if I didn't, I will always respect you. Thanks for sharing. xo
Ahhhh, nothing like the mere MENTION of the word abortion to get the steam flowing from people's ears. As an American woman, and someone who is personally pro-life and politically pro-choice, I want to thank you for pointing out that it is merely about putting the power to make the choice about our own bodies squarely in our own hands, and not in the hands of the government.
I'm pro-choice because I would personally prefer that we educated women and girls who are not yet ready to be a parent how to actually do so. And I don't believe that's advocating the killing of babies in any way.
Thanks for putting this thought out there Steph. It's always hard to open up discourse about this topic and I hope your readers will keep it civil.
This blog post is so offensive I think I'm going to have to "vote with my feet" and take the Yarn Harlot off my blog feed. Sorry Harlot! I just can't support this.
I'm not sure if the problem (if you can call it that since they choose whether or not they do it) is that NOT ENOUGH people are moved to vote. I know an alarming number of people who agree with everything you said above and that come election day, won't go out and vote.
This is the world we live in. Or at least the country I live in. Despite the appalling laws and fights being fought over abortions in my country, at least it's firing people up to walk to the polls, rain or shine, and make their opinions count.
People have no difficulty forming an opinion, but somehow, they have a world of difficulty making it count on the one day they have the opportunity.
I really loved reading this post, I thought it was well reasoned and very well put. I completely agree that the beauty of choice is that it's free to every woman to make, whether we agree with another woman or not.
But.. I can't help but wonder whether the choices being made are free of external influence of dogma, or pressure from loved ones, or arguments about precedent, etc. A choice is great when made of free will, but can we ever be sure that it is? How many times to even the most progressive of women find themselves realizing they just made an assumption based on societal norms, or worried about something they would fiercely argue was an ideal set in their head by magazines or tv shows or whatever? When there's any shadow of a doubt, or no clear majority of opinion, the freedom to choose must always be protected. As a literal example, if women firmly believe abortion is wrong, it doesn't need to be illegal, they just need to opt to not get one.
Brava, Steph! You said what I was thinking.
Thank you for giving voice to the silent.
I especially love how you would have been willing to have sex exactly three times. :-) and how you don't see how that's benefiting the males of the species.
I have to disagree: I can call them stupid. Just as I would do for someone who knows all the bad things about smoking but chooses to start smoking anyway. It may not be nice, but we get free speech, too.
We baby boomers thought we'd surely buried sexism -but alas, like racism and homophobia, it has just been swept under the rug, only to emerge in a different guise.
People come up with all sorts of justifications to vote their prejudices...what I don't get---women who vote against their best interests because that's how all the goofy, pasty white men tell them they should (that includes husbands, priests, popes, corporate slugs). Sexism, racism and homophobia will not end until people understand the nature of hierarchy and why/how it works to keep the "underclasses" subservient. Power is not easily released-just look at the Middle East.
I had Jury Duty today in Massachusetts. They showed their new video which stated that a black man first served on a jury before the Civil War in the early 1860's in Massachusetts. The first woman to serve on a jury was in 1950. Almost a 100 year later.
Also, the security guy with the baggage scanner confiscated my knitting. Later I read the Trial Juror's handbook that stated:
"What not to bring: Call the courthouse to find out if cell phones, laptops, cameras, knitting needles or similar items are permitted in the jury pool at that court. Weapons are not allowed.”
Cell phones and laptops were allowed in. So of all the items in the world to single out, they went after knitting needles.
Personally I could do just as much damage with my shoe laces as my two circular needles that my sock was on.
It does not become a baby at conception and it does not become a baby only after it is outside of the mother's body. It becomes a baby at some point in between those 2 events.
And that point cannot be determined just by whether or not the mother wants it. At some point it IS a baby, even if it is inside the mother's.
I understand the whole slippery slope argument, but it produces a little cognitive dissonance to say that a baby is only a baby after it is born and if the woman wants it.
Well said, Stephanie -- one of the things that has amazed me about the (completely appropriate) outrage at Rush Limbaugh's vitriol toward Sandra Fluke is that similar anger isn't evinced against Bill Maher for saying basically the same things about conservative women. I disagree with Sarah Palin's politics and think she's a bit of a dim bulb, but she shouldn't have to put up with people calling her a bimbo any more than Sandra Fluke should.
I think we're in some sort of a time warp...see below
On International Women's Day, Congress Debates Measure To Limit Reproductive Rights -
Thank you. You're awesome. I've been having the same conversation with my friends on FB and keeping up to date mostly thanks to Norma! The GOP candidates make my blood boil, and not just for this war on women - they are raging full-out class war against the poor and helpless. Until money is removed from politics, and Citizens v. United is overturned, I have no hope of reason reigning.
Thank You...mind if I tweet, re-FB, and shout this from the roof tops. Republicans in the US want less government, but are more than happy to have access to my decisions, my vagina (oops, sorry...) and my bedroom. Plus there is the whole separation of church and state thing, that they seem to conveniently forget. Our founding fathers and mothers understood this, but we are slip-sliding back to the stone age. It was good enough to build a country on. But now? Damn (oops, again) freakin (oops, sorry) irritating!
Thank you for your courage to write what you think, so clearly, calmly, and rationally, knowing that you will get a raft of abuse for it. I would also like to thank those who take the opposing side of these issues and are equally clear, calm and rational. Civil discourse makes my heart sing.
Don't forget to support both the candidates and organizations who fight for women's rights. Every time the conservatives make me angry with their views, I either send money to Planned Parenthood or the Democratic party.
I'm so sad you think abortion is an o.k. choice. I would never have guessed from your lovely words about babies in previous posts. Please consider promoting adoption instead....
Brave and true. Thank you.
Stick to KNITTING topics -- please.
I agree, Stephanie. Very much. I'm sad that many people are not understanding the point of your post - the fact that all of our choices are valid. That as women, we should be able to make choices about ourselves, not have them made for us by men OR women. This isn't about pro life or pro choice or pro contraception or pro have-all-the-babies. This is about us, women, choosing for ourselves and fighting for the right to make that choice.
Cheers, and Happy Women's Day!
Great post, Stephanie. Thank you.
One correction however:
Women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE. Neither do men, for that matter. This is because there are no elections in Saudi Arabia. It is an absolute monarchy, and the Sovereign (always a King, naturally) not only reigns, as in Britain (where the current Sovereign is Elizabeth II), but RULES as well.
I fully support women's rights everywhere. But I also believe abortion is wrong - a holocaust of precious unborn babies. Because of that belief I can't support any organization that funds abortion and will vote against politicians who advocate it. My thoughts on this subject are not 'backward' or 'ignorant', nor are they the result of blindly following charismatic religious leaders. I know that many women believe differently about this and I hope those that do can appreciate my beliefs and understand that a lack of support for abortion is not a denial of women's rights.
Wendy, while abortion is never an easy choice, it should be a legal choice, and a choice that a woman is free to make for herself. Being pro-choice does not mean that one does not love children. Unfortunately most pro-life proponents have never even considered adopting a child, much less actually taken a child into their hearts and home.
Oh, hey - partial correction to what I posted above.
Women in Saudi Arabia have just been granted the right to vote by the King in the limited municipal elections that occur in that *ahem* totalitarian state.
The next municipal elections - where local councils having little or no power are created - will be in 2015.
Sorry for the technical misinformation.
People interested in this topic may wish to Google "Saudi Arabia elections".
Life absolutely begins at conception and abortion for whatever reason is murder.
thank you for these well-articulated comments. I am pro-choice which means I believe each woman should make the choice that is right for her, given her personal beliefs and her health needs.
I object to men making these decisions for us. we don't need their help in this particular area. We DO need their help when it comes to supporting and raising the children that are produced when contraception is not used.
Men, please limit your assistance to those areas where you exercise control over your own behavior.
And women. . . .take the time to involve yourself in the world around you. If you have the right to vote and don't cherish it and exercise it, shame on you
I didn't use my real name because I am afraid of fanatics (note, I didn't say religious fanatics) who come after anyone who dares disagree with them. I haven't read the comments here. I don't need to. The Right(!)wing shock troops are out.
Politics is like everything else. It's a pendulum. It swings one way then the other, then back again, until finally, it reaches equilibrium. A big push one way will elicit a big swing the other way as well. It takes time.
Two steps forward, one step back. Same idea.
I welcome this political fight against women's rights to choose in the US. It's a big push, and it's going to get a big big swing back. And it's going to knock a few of those duffuses off their perches.
I have figured out how to procure for a friend a "safe" abortion in a country where they are illegal and adoption was not an option because having a child meant death. (Her brothers and father would have killed her not to mention this country adoption is rare.) I've had to explain to a pharmacist I needed the morning after pill only to be called a whore/slut (and worse but thankfully I didn't understand). I've been assaulted because I am female. I've been told I shouldn't speak my mind because of my gender. Do I feel any shame as a result? No. I am female and I am strong. (Plus I have sharp knitting needles with me.)
Let me blow your mind - in case you haven't heard - my home state of Missouri is making me embarrassed to be from there by putting a bust of Rush Limbaugh in its "hall of famous Missourians" in the next few weeks. I am horrified and disappointed that such a hater of women (heck, spewer of hate in general) is getting that type of recognition - particularly in the same room as Samuel Langhorne Clemens for crying out loud!!!!! Oh well, I hope he loses the rest of his advertisers and once and for all is removed from polluting the airways.
Happy International Women's Day!
Change may be slow- and often the best changes are slow, as hasty change may lead to leisurely regret- but some things in this country (US) appear to be changing for the worse. I respect and applaud every woman's right to make her own choices, but I demand that every woman also respect my right to the same. As to these Neanderthals making the headlines, I will thank them to keep their laws off my body. But only when we can completely ignore them will it stop being fun for them to make so much noise.
No offense intended to Neanderthals, but calling them gorillas was also an insult to gorillas, and Neanderthals are at least no longer around to have their feelings hurt!
What really boggles my mind is the Catholic women who let a strongly patriarchal society (the Catholic church) dictate their options for birth control. Some statistics say that 90% of Catholic women in the US do go against the church and use it anyway. Why can't they force a change? Aren't they half of the members? Would you really want to be a member of an organization that dictates such rules?
I am so disappointed to see how I disagree with some of you. I thought we were more like-minded people. Best NOT to discuss politics here. Or religion. I knit to get away from that stress.
I know this has been said before even here, but it needs to be emphasized. For all the women here who are saying "life begins at conception doesn't mean you can't have contraception, even the pill" or something to that matter, this isn't true. The insidious thing about the "person hood" stance (to give it the name that is being used in local politics) on this is, it really does mean you can't have almost any forms of hormonal birth control. One of the ways most hormonal birth control methods work is by blocking implantation (in the event that a woman ovulates, which can happen). Thus, if so-called "person-hood" amendments pass, it is no stretch at all for politicians to ban hormonal birth control. All a "morning after" pill is is an higher dose of what is in standard birth control pills. And before anyone says "but they wouldn't do that" look at current politics right now, and ask yourself again if you really believe that. I understand and respect the stance against abortion (though I do not agree) but we need to be honest about what these types of amendments really can do.
The thing in the US isn't about whether or not contraceptives are right or not-
IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE WANTING THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY FOR IT!
Women act like victims when they expect other people to take care of them. Is that empowerment? Is that what liberals stand for?
Respectfully, to the poster @6:40, I don't necessarily think the government should be required pay for my birth control any more than any other prescription, but I do think my insurance (which myself and my employer pay for) should. And this is really the current argument. The vast majority of us don't have government healthcare here in the US (unless you are on Medicare or Medicade or Tricare, but the current debate has been over whether private insurers have to cover birth control.
My respects to the person who suggested plugging away, without becoming bitter or dispirited. I would only add that encouraging thoughtful & conscientious opinions & actions benefits everyone within your sphere, the effect of which may be unseen, but nonetheless effective. And now, back to knitting!
It's amazing to me that people who supposedly read this site regularly don't realize that the owner is Canadian and thus would be considered a flaming liberal compared to conservative Americans.
I don't get those US conservative women who don't think that Republicans will not be going after birth control if there is no pushback. Did they not hear about the Blunt amendment that was barely defeated which would have allowed any employers to stop insurance coverage for birth control pills? All Republicans voted for it. All of them, including the women.
Oh, and it's hilarious that you mentioned your fear of genocide while promoting abortion.
Dude, you DID realize you were opening up a HUGE can of whoop-ass when you hit the POST button, right?
I want to thank those of you, on both sides of this issue, who have stated your opinions without insulting those who disagree with you. There is far too little of that kind of discussion occurring in the US, much to our own detriment. Knitting is one place in which I am able to interact with people (mainly women) who may think very differently from me, but due to our mutual love of all things fiber, we are able to build relationships that allow us to discuss our differing ideas in a somewhat more respectful manner. Perhaps all our elected officials should be required to participate in a knitting/crochet group on a regular basis.
I want to thank those of you, on both sides of this issue, who have stated your opinions without insulting those who disagree with you. There is far too little of that kind of discussion occurring in the US, much to our own detriment. Knitting is one place in which I am able to interact with people (mainly women) who may think very differently from me, but due to our mutual love of all things fiber, we are able to build relationships that allow us to discuss our differing ideas in a somewhat more respectful manner. Perhaps all our elected officials should be required to participate in a knitting/crochet group on a regular basis.
Amen to Kimberly @ 3:52.
No one here thinks birth control should be out-lawed. They simply think that people who have a moral objection to it NOT be FORCED to pay for someone else's birth control. It is not about freedom of choice; but if it were, what about the freedom of one group not to be compelled to foot the bill for something they find morally objectionable? There is a larger issue here, as hard as that may be to believe.
To be clear, in regards to the current US brouhaha over requiring health insurers to pay for contraception: the mandate would NOT require religious institutions to pay for contraception. It would require INSURERS to pay for it. In addition, any "taxpayer money" that funded such insurance would NOT include any money from religious institutions, because they are already tax-exempt.
I am sad to see so many women on this site defending misogynistic and patriarchal views which ultimately end with logic that continues to consign women (and children) to second class status.
Here is a joke I heard recently:
Several guys were hanging out with a woman who had recently undergone a male-to-female sex change? They were curious about the process and asked all kinds of prurient questions. They of course wanted to know what the worst part was, and assumed that it was having the all-powerful penis removed. The woman, though, said "That was petty bad all right, but the most painful part was when they cut my paycheck in half!"
I would like to pose a question then? Would it be fair then for the government to pull all its funding from these institutions? I am honestly asking and I think it is a debate that the US should have.
Sorry Deb, but my money goes to foot the bill for wars, which I find extremely morally objectionable, not to mention other domestic and foreign policy decisions that I disagree with. That's how taxes and democracy work. Not to mention the already mentioned above issue of the fact that I pay for my insurance, and I should be able to get the health care my doctor and I agree is best for me.
Great post! Thanks for raising the issue of women in Islamic societies. I think it is high time western feminists take up their cause and help these women achieve not just political freedom but freedom from misogynistic cultural and religious values.
I would like someone to explain to me why men want women to have children they cannot support and do not love. Do they really think those children will grow up to be well adjusted adults? There are worse ways of dying than being stopped at conception or aborted as a fetus and the papers are full of these ways every day.
As usual, Stephanie, you're right on target. I so admire your ability to discuss the issues that matter so much. You use the "pulpit" of your position among us to come out and say what so many of us feel. Bravo.
Do I feel marginalized and alienated by the US GOP position on the apparent lack of significance of women's issues and rights? On ignoring the weight of our choices? You bet I do!
My suffragette grandmother would so not understand how slowly and how little things have changed for women. Paradigms change, but not this one. Is it fear? Deep down it baffles me, and I'm sad I won't live long enough to see it change, not the way it's going.
I have come back to read this post 3 times today.
I think that equality for women might be going backwards here in New Zealand although far more women are working than ever before because they have to but the government has reduced the funding for advancing pay equity and the number of women in parliament has gone down! Fortunately I can see that my daughter has the right attitude and expects that she will be treated equally. Thank you for your thoughts - I almost cried.
My favorite line. Should be on a t-shirt
"Women do vote. We're mostly literate, with at least the minimum amount of education to be able to make our own decisions, and the amazing thing to me is that given the gift of choice, we would make a choice to vote to restrict women's future choices. "
well spoken, you have the right to say it as you see it, that's part of what IWD is about. i hope your day went well for you, keep on speaking out and speaking up, we need more of it. if you ever feel that you are speaking out too much go look at Catherine Deveny's posts down here, the rest of us are kittens beside her!
kaiteM from Australia
Wish I had poked my eyes out rather than reading this.
To imply that women who don't support abortion are somehow a step backward for feminism...?
Feminism doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing belief. Women can enjoy the right to vote and own property and earn a fair wage without subscribing to some of "feminism's" darker beliefs.
And I'm sorry, maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't understand how killing a baby is any different than ...well, killing a baby. And I don't understand how a woman's right to prevent a TEMPORARY change to her body trumps the right to a person's life.
But like I said- maybe I'm dumb. You intellectuals seem to have it all figured out.
That was a thoughtful post and I agree - this is about choice. Fortunately, no one in the US is forced to have an abortion, forced to take birth control pills, etc. The anti-choice people want everyone to be forced to make their choice, which is of course a lack of choice. Catholic Hospitals, etc. have been given a pass on paying for birth control - beyond that the comments reveal that many people do not understand how insurance works. And to my mind, the surest way to reduce abortions is to provide sex education and birth control as widely as possible. However, leaving US politics aside, your post made me think of my daughter's trip to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The women there were so excited about International Year of the Woman. It was a very big thing that they had looked forward to. Her host mother made each of the girls staying there a skirt from fabric printed in honor of that year, which she had saved specially. It made me kind of ashamed that I hadn't given much thought to it. We have battles to fight all over the world and we need to band together as sisters to fight them.
With all respect to you, I'd like to take issue with something you said. Many people, myself included, believe that life begins at conception and are all for birth control. No, we wouldn't use something that kills after conception, but things that prevent conception are fine. And let me add, insurance should pay for them!
Stephanie - while I admire your belief that the governments that are elected tell us about their constituency and makes laws that represent the same, this is "perfect world" thinking. As Kim, way up near the top of comments says, we often end up voting for the person we hate least.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was a great post Stephanie. You always say it so much better than I could.
I believe in people's right to choose (and that is not gender specific) but I also believe that responsibility goes hand-in-hand with choice. Politicians, when they represent their constituents, must be mindful of the responsibilities and consequences of their choices and we, the constituents, have a responsibility to evaluate our representatives' choices at the ballot box. That is how a first world representative system of government works and it is a privilege to live under such a system. May we all be mindful that there are a great many people in this world who do not share our luck and may we also be mindful that unless we experience the circumstances of someone else's life it is better to be supportive than judgemental.
Kathy Sorci: the Catholic Church is about so much more than edicts on birth control. Sure, the Vatican is a male establishment, but out here in the American provinces, a lot of the day-to-day matters are run by nuns, especially the schools. Priests run the show at Mass, but the face of a large part of Catholicism in the US is female. And these are the same nuns that told us in sex ed about birth control, from Church-sanctioned natural family planning to IUDs. These nuns taught me a lot more than that, too, including the universality of the Church and of God's love for all of us, regardless of the choices (there's that word again!) that we make.
Kim Bradley at 3:30 and Meredith at 6:39: you guys rock, in a comment section that is already full of rockin' women.
Stephanie: thanks, well, for everything in this post today.
When I first took the pill it was NOT paid for by my prescription plan until the Dr. noted it was for pms. Later that changed and it was paid for in the same way other prescriptions were paid.
To allow sex to become free from consequence for either party and thus more enjoyable to both does in certain ways create more responsibility for both individuals to meet each others needs. Perhaps by creating equality for BOTH individuals involved is too much for these patriarchs to deal with and women who enjoy sex must be denigrated to retain their subservient position.
The only word I can think of for a male who enjoys sex with many women is a gigolo or boy toy and that is usually based on older woman/younger man. A man who has lots of encounters is a player or some other positive word. It is still about power rather than sex in the same way that rape is about anger and not sex. Birth control changes the age old balance of power and some men cannot deal with the shift.
The right to choose and to accept the consequences of our choices is of course the most important right that we have. Women have been told that there is one right answer and a single mistake will doom us for life. Mistakes happen when we take risks and learn new things. My dearest friend has taught me that "if you are not lost you are not learning" and what is life without learning? Listening and hearing others, even if they do not always agree with you, is so important to personal growth. Thanks, Stephanie, for underlying that which makes us who we are, our ability to choose.
I am a US citizen without a political party. I vote according to my beliefs and frankly, the only thing I am entitled to is my opinion. My rights were hard fought for me, and it is my duty to fight for the rights of my daughter (but not at the expense of my son).
What I haven't seen mentioned and people in this country either have forgotten or are just uninformed and don't know is that most of the women's rights issues aren't fought at the Federal level but at the State level. If this can happen like it did a few weeks ago here in Illinois (the home of Obama) then it can happen anywhere.
If more people would focus on state and local elections, then we could make our voices heard.
Thank you so much for posting this thought provoking conversation. I, as an american woman, am currently scared that my rights will be taken away by the current set of repubilican presidential canidates. It is 2012, there are many places in the world that are worse off than me and where I live (Anchorage, AK); however, I still feel like the political class within the US is trying to belittle and control women.
My mother and grandmothers fought for the rights that I currently enjoy, and I will keep fighting for those rights. Thank you again.
I love this sentiment. I've been reading about many of these issues that have been coming up lately and my temperature rises so quickly. I don't mind people choosing something different than I would as long as they are not also trying to use misinformation to scare people into either position.
I thought after you said you and Jen went quiet that one of you was going to suggest we knit vaginas and send them to government officials of our choice. Ravelry doesn't really have any patterns but I bet someone could create one.
One of the most offensive things to me is that R legislators who are introducing so much of this anti-woman legislation claim that the just want women to be fully informed before they decide to have an abortion. Right, we want you to know that there's a tiny fetus in your uterus. So we'll force you to have a large probe inserted into uterus before we'll allow you to make that decision. Yeah, it has nothing to do with the fact that adding $500+ to the cost of an abortionist might make it impossible for some women to afford it since, even if a woman has insurance coverage for the abortion, the insurer is NOT going to pay for a medically unnecessary procedure.
Thank you Stephanie for the thought provoking post, highlight women's issues that we ALL need to be concerned about. Thank you to Meredith who actually stated that the morning after pill is just a high dose birth control pill. As someone who prescribes birth control day in and out, as a women's health provider, most of the people taking them are not actually taking the pills for contraception. There are medical conditions where the first line treatment is a OCP (oral contraceptive pill), i.e. endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease
I fully believe birth control needs to be covered by insurance companies, government sponsored or not. Why are erectile disorder medications more important than contraception?INSANITY!!!
P.S. You can celebrate the birth of one child and also respect someone else's right to choose not to have one. Pregnancy can be very difficult, physically and emotionally on some women; some women even die. It's a sad reality that every child is not welcomed or desired. Contraception prevents abortions, and should be available and affordable for those who desired it.
We fought for our own rights in the 1960s and 1970s. Then we thought we had it made. But the men just waited for us to get complacent. Just like snakes, they waited to strike again, and they have. The truth is that men are afraid of women and women's rights. That's why they need to control us and our bodies and our lives. Any woman with awareness needs to check out the issues in the upcoming presidential election and fully understand what she will be getting and what will be taken from her, her daughters and her granddaughters. If we are not careful about our votes, we will be pushed to the ground once again. Take nothing for granted. Pay attention!
Thanks for a well-written post. As an American, I too am amazed at the political climate these days. It does seem to be rather, well, retrograde. I kind of thought the legality of abortion had been decided with Roe v. Wade and all the subsequent cased that had built on that ruling.
I strongly support the right of women to make their own choices. I also feel that birth control should be provided by insurance if the woman wants or needs it. I take birth control mostly for pms - I have horrible mood swings without it. It's not because I'm trying to avoid having children.
As for abortion: I wish it were less necessary but I want everyone to have the choice available to them, especially in situations where it is necessary. I had a friend who had a partial miscarriage and had to go to a doctor because she had an infection - but because it was a fetus, even though it was not at all viable, she had to find an abortion clinic and pay out of pocket. Frankly, reducing the availability of medical care to women is ludicrous. Several pieces of legislation that restrict abortion do not include provisions for situations of medical necessity or in cases of rape/assault.
The United States of America used to pride itself on being at the forefront of medical technology and the freedoms of its people. With the way politics are going now, I'm afraid that women in third-world countries will soon have better health care from a reproductive standpoint. That makes me sad and frankly ashamed.
(and Diane H - there are vagina patterns on Rav - in both knit and crochet! just type "vagina" into the pattern search. There's also knitted breasts for prostheses and such-like too.)
So I haven't read all the other posts above me, but I'm pretty sure that a few of them might also be saying something similar to this: believing that life begins at conception doesn't necessarily rule out all contraception other than abstinence. Contraception that prevents conception is fine, but be prepared to accept the very small but real risk that it may not work. Possible pregnancy comes with the territory of having sex.
You might have seen the 'boob' scarf pattern recently uploaded to Ravelry. Perhaps that could be your next quick knit project?
Thanks for sparking such an interesting discussion, Stephanie. I feel the need to educate some of your readers on contraception and the "personhood" laws which would define life at conception. Some have said that only the morning after pill will be banned. That is not true. Barrier methods of most kinds will be allowed, if they do NOT also contain certain hormones which supress implantation. Regular condoms and cervical caps with spermicides would be okay. However, most hormonal birth control methods use medicine to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. At this point the cells form a zygote and do not become an embryo until implanted. So, birth control pills, things like the Nuva-ring and other cap-type barriers and/or sponges which are impregnated (pun!) with hormones would not be allowed. Similarly, fertility treatment would be nearly impossible, as it involves storing fertilized eggs (actual people, under the law!) which may never be used. In my opinion, it is sad that a zygote is given more rights than an adult woman. That is all.
After, scanning some previous comments, I just want to confirm what you already know, Steph. It is absolutely okay to care/write about more than just knitting in your life. You have a voice and the right to use it. You have a right to your opinions, even if they don't involve lace or intarsia. Keep up the good work!
My dear Harlot, thank you for your words. I'm old enough to remember when single women had a hard time getting birth control without a lecture; I thought those days were over, but after the last few days I've been worrying that we were heading back to the dark ages. Your words have made me feel hopeful again. I know you've raised your beautiful daughters to be strong like you, the best gift you could have given them. You're a brave soul bringing up the hot button issues, but you, like all of us, are entitled to your opinions and those commenters who wish to silence you obviously did not read your last paragraph. Brava!
"Most pro-lifers, believe that contraceptives are FINE as long as they PREVENT conception, defined as The implantation of the fertlized egg.Preventing fertilization or implantation is accepted." And then the pro-lifers that I talk to in my area are against contraceptives, even for women who have
problems with their periods.
And thanks for posting this...even though i'm sure you knew it would draw fire. In the spirit of the post, I think the most important idea is that we need to speak up for what we believe in, and i'm so thankful that someone as eloquent as you, is brave enough to talk about the tough subjects!
After reading through all 130-odd comments on here, something I never ever do, I have to say that, for the most part, we are some eloquent women. Passionate, sometimes vociferous, ferocious, educated, opinionated women. We obviously do not all agree, and we feel strongly about where we stand on these issues. But here we are, women, discussing it (for the most part) without stooping to name-calling, being insulting, or otherwise infantile. I may not agree with all of you but I feel like this really REALLY celebrates Women's Day on a whole new level.
Brava. Let's keep it up, eh?
I wish the commenters would back off the Catholic Church. Despite what is being reported in the media, there are loads of Catholic women (hi!) who believe that the teachings of the Church fully honor women. Fertility is a healthy and natural state for the female body. Birth control pills disrupt that. Natural Family Planning is a very effective way of managing family size without toxic side effects and can also strengthen the marriage (and is just really not that difficult - I've been married 13 years and only have 3 children). This is not something that 'men' in the Church are doing to us. There is another side to this story.
Reading about a successful program in Africa that educates girls and women helped me feel more hopeful about the state of things - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/africas-girl-power/
Thank you for this post. Thank you.
Oh Steph, I had to stop reading the comments when I got to the one who thinks abortion leads to infanticide. Yikes! Some women are our worse enemies....
"Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women." Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). Recently I have begun to bitterly reflect that the extra century would not have bought her enough time. Thank you for consistently being a kind but appropriately angry voice for what is too often an unpopular opinion. Finally, I can't help but reflect that removing structural, legislative restraints to choice (say, getting the vote, for example) while necessary is not sufficient for meaningful choice. That is, what does "consent" or "choice" mean when you are in a position of social weakness? What does "yes" mean when not everyone can say "no" without social sanction or worse? Forgive my vague hand waving to theory, but I can't help but be dubious about the integrity of the many "choices" women have. Anyway. Solidarity. That is what I would like today to be about. It's a good word that isn't used enough.
Of course women should have the right to choose. They should have the right to choose what to do with THEIR OWN BODIES. LEAVE MY BODY and everyone else's body ALONE!!
Hear, Hear! Please keep writing about whatever you want to write about, in addition to knitting! (I know you will).
Beautifully written. Thank you!!!
Very thought provoking.
@Alicia - 5:07 - I like your thinking.
Just chiming back in real quick to say that I for one don't worry as much about the Catholic church as I do about the evangelicals/fundamentalists who it seems to me are making a concerted effort to actively oppress women (i.e. the Duggars and the recent news item about Michelle Duggar writing or distributing a pamphlet describing how women should "submit" to their husbands). Certainly the Catholic Church has a long history of repressing women, and traditional structures that have long been used to support that. But my sense is that while among Catholics in and no doubt among the church hierarchy there is controversy over women's rights, abortion, etc., it is in the spirit of evolving towards more equality and more human rights, as opposed to truly a movement away from those values.
So sorry for the multiple posts!
Thank you, Stephanie. I completely agree with you. I'm pushing 70 and proud that I was born a flaming liberal and flaming feminist.
We adopted our children, yet I think every woman has the right and obligation to make her own child-bearing decisions.
Women are not necessarily pro abortion; they are pro choice. Those decisions are not taken lightly.
Wow! You sure know how to stir things up. Thank god. I'm in my 70's and for a while there I thought we (women) were on our way to a true equality. But somewhere along the line I lost hope. So many chances to make things better , yet so many opportunities lost. I still, and always will vote, I still discuss issues, but I have lost the one thing that makes the whole thing work. Hope. Why in the world are women always made second place citizens. I think it's getting close to a time of rising up once again.
In the meantime, I knit.
I think (I hope) that no one here using the Catholic Church as an example means it as any sort of personal attack on your beliefs. At least in my area in the media the Catholic Church is often involved in these debates, and often not on the "side" of some of us. Debates like this are important for just this reason. It seems like you feel your beliefs are under attack, and they shouldn't be, similarly, I and others here feel like our rights and beliefs (which may differ from yours) are under attack as well. Only be having these conversations can we come to respect and understand one another. To have balance we must have both sides.
Thank you Stephanie for your words. I'm inspired by your concise words and comforted to know I'm not alone. For me, pro choice means choosing not to use contraceptives, not to use abortion, and NOT to have illegal abortion as the only choice. We can have the choice to have a huge family, or to protect our health if need be by preventing pregnancy. It's choice, not force. We can gather together as different knitters, enjoying the variety and difference. We can surely gather together as women to protect women of all varieties.
I'm really glad that you use this space to talk about things that are important. One problem with the internet right now is that it's so segregated -- in the sense that, in general, if I want to see only blogs about knitting and cats, I can. It's rare to have a dissenting or unusual voice presented to us. People, will it really harm you if your favorite knitting blogger has a different political opinion than you do? Apparently for some people the answer is yes...
I was adopted and am super-glad that my mom chose to go through with the whole plan of giving birth to me. But you can bet that if I'd been in her shoes I would have been like, "no way!"
Also at this point it's a cliche, but it's still worth pointing out that American conservatives LOVE unborn babies, but the minute they're out -- screw 'em. Healthcare, education, safe streets, housing, early intervention services...nope! Suckers!
Why does the Religious (read that fundamentalist Christian) Right want to force their beliefs down other religions' throats? Jews don't believe life begins at conception. Jewish law does not consider a fetus to be a person. Jews don't know when the supreme Being inserts the soul into a human being. The decision to use birth control, have an abortion, or give birth is up to the mother and her physician. Not all religions believe the way the Christianists believe. I, too, support every woman's right to choose what she thinks is good for her; I ask for the same support for myself.
Well said Steph-
I am one of those who usually just reads - rarely if ever comments- BUT- I have to say there is so much more than just the argument about bringing a life into this world or not - its about the family, their resources and the environment and world that child is brought into- I have worked in a newborn intensive care for over 25 years and seen many sides of this question- the birth of a new family member can be a joyous experience or it can absolutely destroy a lot of peoples lives
I have lived through the baby doe era where women were told they had to have that child that would be severely handicapped but when it came down to the day to day care - this poor baby and mother were left to fend for themselves- so it really aggravates me when lots of people with lots of opinions tell us all what WE should each be doing- every baby deserves to come to a family that really really wants him or her-and what I do with my reproductive organs should be between me my conscience and my spiritual guide-
oh- and one last thing- vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina!!!
I hate to say it, but here in Canada there are places where women still have no rights. Not just in their homes, but in other places. There is a reserve near here where women can't even go to a doctor's appointment without taking their nearest male relative with them. When they are at the appointment, they are not allowed to address the doctor. Not even if the doc is female. The male relative does all the talking for them. They are property. If their husband or father dies, they become the property of the next nearest relative. Welcome to Canada. Home of human rights.
Thank you, Stephanie for stepping up and saying that. You are my hero.
Jackie Speier, the House rep in the district just north of me, testified before her male Congressional colleagues about the baby she and her husband had tried desperately for years to have. And she lost it.
A male colleague had just offered graphic photos to outlaw the very procedure she had had to endure at a time of so much sorrow in order to have any chance of being able to get pregnant again in the future.
When she said they were trying to outlaw D&Cs and the teaching of new doctors on how to do them, I was stunned: *I* miscarried a baby at nearly four months, and *I* had to go through a D&C to keep me safe from scarring or infection setting in that could have eliminated my chances of motherhood--and, like Speier's, this was my first pregnancy.
Absolutely unbelievable. The word needs to get out: even those who do not believe in abortion must understand the consequences of outlawing everything that might possibly also have to do with it: like the birth control pills, there are other health uses for them.
We cannot just shut our eyes and say this has nothing to do with us. It does.
Meredith: That is why I spoke up - the side of the happy and faithful Catholic woman is not being represented in the US media right now. Sandra Fluke does not speak for all of us.
And as far as I know, no one is trying to take away all women's access to birth control. The point I tried to make in an earlier comment (now more to the point) is that if birth control is so terribly important to an individual then perhaps that individual should chose a career or a school where it is covered. Don't go to a school where you know it's not covered and then expect everyone to change the rules because you don't like them. It's about responsibility.
One thought on Women's day. What is clear here, as is clear elsewhere, is that the pro-choice/pro-life debate/argument is clearly one where people get the most vehement and feelings can be hurt. As women, both pro-choice and pro-life, I think our energy would be well spent working towards a world where women are supported, loved, and feel safe no matter their circumstances. Where women can have children and attend school and have jobs and equal pay. I'm not naive enough to believe that this would eliminate all hard choices or circumstances, that the debate would disappear, but I think it would be a better world and one where just maybe people don't feel like they have to fear quite so much.
Thank you for eloquently stating your and representing! This is why I posed the question about funding earlier. Yes, there is a choice aspect here, but that choice gets muddied when a large religious organization (Lets NOT single out the Catholic Church here, there are plenty of others from many faiths) also acts in some ways as a "public" institution. An example: A school like Notre Dame...officially a religious institution, however, the recipient of a lot of public research dollars. From a public that may not share those beliefs. From a personal standpoint, I don't have any problems with a religious organization raising a moral objection to birth control, up to the point that they take public funding. What do you think?
Okay, can't bite my tongue-the comment about the "beauty of choice" - are aborted fetuses adding to that beauty? And the commenter saying -" leave my body and everyone else's body alone!" Impossible when you're ending the life of a tiny body that only needs time to grow. All the DNA is there, a complete human package. Just because the breasts and pubic hair havent popped, do we consider preadolescent girls less than human? I've been stumped by women's rights group - don't they concern themselves with the rights of unborn women?
I notice most everyone agrees with your post. I really hate talking politics. I belive life begins at conception. Birth control PREVENTS pregnancy. I am not against birth control. Abortion KILLS the unborn. I am against abortion, especially if it is used as birth control.
Very few countries where women do not have full suffrage.
When women do get the ability to vote in Saudi Arabia, it will be for half of the municipal council seats. The other half are appointed.
In Lebanon it is compulsory for men to vote, but women can only vote if they graduated from elementary school. Voting is optional for women.
The entire population of Brunei has limited suffrage, only for municipal elections.
And of course there are no women cardinals in the Vatican to vote for the Pope!
Thanks for the great post as usual! Please don't stick to only knitting topics, although we all learn from your knitting too.
Happy International Women's Day!
The Conservatives are using women's rights as a smoke screen, they do it every time. Everyone of those guys helped contribute to the down turn in the economy, democrats republicans tea partners, and they all know that the quickest way to a vote is to bring in emotional morals instead of focusing on the ethical morals centered around business to get us out of the mess. So they say,'hey! You don't want to kill a baby do you!' and the people say no of course not, and if they can keep that built up fire and keep it all black and white, than its easy enough to slut shame women into thinking any sex outside of procreation is wrong. I actually get very emotional bc my mothers say, abortion is wrong, on all counts and conception is life, and I see that women should be free to make their choices to protect themselves, and people are just stupid if they really believe saying,' well women should just keep their legs shut instead of having sex' it's offensive to think that my husband and I can't have sex unless we want another which we can't afford. This whole campaign is slut shaming, men arent held accountable for having sex, why are we?
Laura at 7:15 -
There is a difference between the government funding a war and the government mandating that a private company offer a certain service. Furthermore, no one thinks you and your doctor should not decide what is best for you. No one thinks you should not get the pill, or have access to it. I believe the objection is whether they should be forced to pay for it. Also, I would venture to say that virtually ALL insurance companies cover birth control, except those where it is specifically left out for religious reasons. Are people really saying that just because a very few companies don't offer it that they've gone without? Please.
Also, as my cousin stated,
If you can't trust me with a choice
How can you trust me with a child?
That's my biggest thing, sometimes they just don't want the child and won't do right by it even if you make them have it, I know, I had a childhood where I lived every day very aware of being a burden on my mother, I know because she told me and left me at random peoples houses, my father was powerless by the way, he tried to get custody to protect me, but the court system said daughters are always better with their mothers, that's the sad part, how messed up America really is, we try but we're missing the mark
Have you by any chance read Jonathan Haight's essay "Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion"? (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt07/haidt07_index.html) He's a guy who studies the intersection of psychology, morality and politics. I found it fascinating- and I think it has helped me understand a little better the views of people I strongly disagree with. And it treats with respect the beliefs of people across the spectrum. (Which is something I struggle with- as you say, sometimes people seem to choose things in contravention of what appears to me to be their best interests.)
Well said and thought out. Sometimes I think we have come far, and sometimes I think we are going backwards. There are some places I never want to live.
(and thank you for enlightening me that you gave the same problems in Canada - not that it makes me warm and fuzzy that there are more places where men think they can tell women what to do with their bodies ... or where women can't do what they feel is appropriate).
I love you. And Jen.
That is all.
People do not educate themselves about issues any more. They vote by sound bites and ad campaigns. (in the U.S. it seems anyway) But this is nothing new, it has been this way for a long time. I personally think that all this is misdirection to take focus away from the fact the real issue is keeping the super rich, super richer, and the poor, super poorer. That might be bad grammer, but it gets the point across. And this is a Women's issue because guess who most of the poor are? Women and children! Of course we have it good compared to women and children in the 3rd. world countries, but this is an issue all the same. I believe it is about keeping women un-impowered here and all over the world.
It's great that you let everyone express their opinion no matter what. Some people don't get that's what civil discourse in all about. I listen to your opinion respectfully, and you listen to mine, respectfully.
The state of modern politics scares the living hell out of me. I thought if things got really bad, I could move to Canada. Maybe not! Madness must be catching.
In the category of giving them a dose of their own medicine, I direct you to a recently introduced Ohio Senate Bill, authored by Nina Turner:
Good luck dealing with the impassioned commentors on your blog. Love they hyperbolic thinking that allowing abortion will leads to infanticide. You always spark such controversy with your women's rights and your gay rights and your lack of enthusiasm for crochet. I read the first line and I knew there'd be flouncing - hopefully it stays entertaining.
In sort: Totally agree, keep up the insightful posts.
I dream of a political world that is not fear-based, and until that time, fear-mongers will wield the power. I love that this group of knitters/those-interested-in-knitting has engaged in such diverse discourse, and with a few exceptions, most respectfully. Thank you all. I have a limited social life these days, and I enjoy visiting with you all!
Love, Peace, and Gauge, Irene
I know I'm late to the party (story of my life), but I'd just like to respond to your comments about Saudi Arabian women in particular. I lived in Saudi Arabia for 10 years. I understand how you feel - I felt the same way before living there. Yes, there are some Saudi women who want to have the right to drive. However, they first have to have the right to drop the veil and should not be required to wear the abayia. The dropping of the veil for obvious reasons and no abayia for the reason that they would get caught around their feet - just as the Catholic church had to allow nuns to wear street length dresses when they were allow to drive. The one thing I came to understand over time while living there is that what we feel are "rights" that should be given to all women is not how a lot of the Saudi women feel. What we don't "see" is that while to us they seem oppressed, they are the "queens" behind closed doors in their homes. It is a society that is very misunderstood, mainly because they don't care to share and we "judge" with what we feel is right (for us). It's very complicated and I could go on, but won't bore you with more. Just know that I understand how you feel, but what is "right" for us is not always what others feel is "right" for them. Bottom line is - thank you for caring, Stephanie.
I am grateful to live in country to have access to birth control, legal abortion, universal healthcare, compulsory voting and religious freedom.
Whilst there is some way to go to gain equality, the "choices" available to me are not limited by what another person may choose for themself. I am strongly pro-choice. I believe that I have a right to choose for me, and you have a right to choose for you. Whatever those choices may be.
Having read previous comments, I am heartened to read the interest and diverse conversation.
Thank you for this very though provoking post. I enjoy the dimensions you add to your blog by discussing a variety of current affairs.
Meredith: Hi again! I'm supposed to be in bed right now, but I do want to respond. I really do see your point however I am uncomfortable with the idea that a religious organization has to sacrifice its principles to receive public funds which are then used to serve the entire community. Faith based groups do provide a lot of helpful services. We are involved with many who provide food and shelter to the poor in our community (to an earlier commenter - pro-lifers actually do care about taking care of already born people). It is a fine and wavy line between the separation of church and state. I don't know that I have a clear response but it is late here and that third child I mentioned is still gestating so I might be more articulate in the morning. :)
I look forward to a day when women (and men) stop trying to judge each other's choices. We do not live in a theocracy, and the conservative opinion that life begins at conception does not make it so. If abortion becomes illegal again, then it doesn't mean that they will not happen. Just that they won't happen safely. If you base your opposition to abortion on the "sanctity" of human life, why not try to minimize the loss of life? If you want fewer abortions, encourage insurance companies to provide contraception at a reasonable cost. To everyone. Catholic employees too.
I don't usually read through all the comments. There has been a lot here, from people deciding not to read your blog anymore, to rampant support, to I love you but don't understand how you can support abortions becuase it's murdering babies, (Yes, I'm paraphrasing here.), to all sorts of debates inbetween. My view is that women are not equal yet. Feminism is not finished. People need support to be able to make good choices. That support can be in the form of education and in some cases money. If you can't afford to make your choice then it is not really a choice at all. One comment indicated how the love of fiber allows us to keep talking to each other even when we disagree and how our leaders should have to sit down together with some knitting or crocheting so that they can talk things out. I agree, everything is better when you get to play with yarn.
Thank you Steph, for a very eloquent post. And I'm ashamed to see that so many missed the point... that it's about choice... and accepting the choices of others.
I'm not up on Canadian law, but I do believe that America is touted as the "land of the free", which means that all citizens, including women, should be free to make choices - concerning their bodies, their education, their beliefs, and their politics. And I'm all for every person making their own choices. Just please do not act to restrict my choices.
Religious freedom means that you can believe as you will, but you cannot inflict your religious beliefs upon others. And the contraception/abortion/homosexuality debates are just that.... people trying to make laws to enforce their own religious beliefs. It's unconstitutional and violates one of the basic rights of our citizens.
The modern Republican party seems to care about "life" only from conception to birth... after you're born, you're on your own. I'd like to see everyone using even half the energy they expend on the abortion/contraception debate on the poverty/hunger/health care crises. They'd be solved by now.
Ask the abortee; No such thing as a "safe" abortion.
So much strong opinion is here in both the entry and the comments, I had to comment as well. Abortion has always been available, however, not always as readily as it is now in some countries. The two sentences that concern me more than any sentiment about abortion are the domestic violence and prostitution statements. If we can't help women to be free of violence and oppression if they are born, what kind of life have we given them? If you believe in the sacredness of life, what are you doing today for that young woman who still lives in fear and poverty whether it be near your home or half a world away?
Harlot, thank you for reminding us all that we have a long way to go to achieve full equality. As a woman in her early twenties, I have becoming increasingly horrified as I get out into the world and witness first-hand that the equality I have always been guaranteed, in reality is often superficial. After being subjected to both explicit and subtle forms of gender discrimination, I am no longer willing to any type of discrimination, intentional or not, directed towards myself or any other woman.
Thank you for reminding me that the best way to change attitudes towards women is to vocally oppose discrimination at every opportunity.
To all those saying of course they're not trying to outlaw contraception: Stephanie's right. In every state where they're trying to declare that life begins at conception, yes, most forms of contraception would indeed be outlawed for how they work biologically, and legally, then, I could be held for manslaughter for having miscarried a baby I wanted very much. If we say, well then we just won't enforce that, that's saying let's breed contempt for our laws.
Every Republican candidate has come out in favor of those laws.
If women have to pay for their own contraception by law, and if women are subject to the 'consequences of choosing to have sex,' such as trans vag ultrasound before abortion and unwanted children, then MEN ought to have to pay for their own viagra by law; and to be subjected to a firm exam from a licensed proctologist (which of course they'll have to pay for themselves since their insurance won't cover 'optional' procedures)in order to be able to choose to take the little blue pill. In addition they should be subjected to a 'consultation' about the consequences of having sex, and reminded that any child born and shown to likely be theirs by genetic testing may rely on said male for 70% of their financial support and any educational costs. I say 70% because in the US that is the going rate-- women make 70 cents for every dollar a man makes.... Punishable by nasty jail time. I think if laws for MEN were proposed they would be ridiculed. What makes it OK for MEN to propose such laws for women, but not OK for such laws to be propsed for MEN?
Politics all boil down to one strategy:
Divide and conquer.
Ignorance and (sexual) oppression are the problem. I hope we take care of that.
Wonderful article, Stephanie!
The world is absolutely a better place because Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. As one of the architects of Glasnost, together with Gorbachev and Reagan, her tenure of that position made her de facto one of the most powerful women in the world and a role model for millions of women. Even her detractors held a grudging admiration for her and everyone knew who she was. No one gave her that position, she earned it, and she used it to uphold some fine moral standpoints, such as not abandoning British Citizens just because they lived thousands of miles away in the Falkland Islands. There are times when being an Iron Lady is absolutely the right thing to be.
WHY is abortion and birth control a hot-button topic? Two main reasons: 1) violent debate over a no-win issue detracts from the real issues like crime, poverty, and the non-availability of viable health care for most of the population while the fat cats keep getting richer 2) WASPS are becoming an endangered species in north America - all the other ethnicities are reproducing at much higher rates while WASPS are actually declining in numbers. If people aren't having babies, who will pay taxes? Who will pay the Fat Cats' pensions?
Bottom line: it is NEVER about what it appears to be about, there is always an agenda when it comes to politics.
First: Thank you thank you! I was listening to CBC radio this morning and there were two republican women on The Current trying to explain how they were able to reconcile their personal views regarding bodily integrity (which is, really, what this comes down to) with the party position regarding small government and personal freedom. (My conclusion: personal freedom doesn't extend to uteri.)
To the commenter who said that we can't compare first world and third world women's rights: why not?
Examples of how this issue isn't just in the US: My first year at a small Catholic university in Canada, the Catholic Women's League raised a huge fuss because there were condoms in the frosh kits. In 1999. Currently, the MP in the next door riding, Brad Trost, wants to reopen the abortion debate in Canada. We can't afford to be complacent about reproductive rights. I will be hugely saddened if women do elect a man (because, let's face it, it's almost always men) who limits their reproductive freedom--but it's their choice to make.
Tangent: I work in criminal justice. Most of our criminialized behaviors are related to social issues: poverty, addictions, mental health, and education gaps. As the poster just above notes, it would be laughable if it wasn't so sad that the powers that be are opposed to sex education, birth control, and abortion, and yet the same parties (both in Canada and the US) who take this stance are anti-social program, anti-restorative justice, and pro-harsher sentences...which are far more expensive and take up far more resources than prevention in the first place.
Finally, can we just have another moment for how hugely inappropriate, inaccurate, and stupid Rush Limbaugh's comments were?
You raise an excellent point, and one I will consider more!
Have a great evening and thanks for the informative debate.
I was with you right up to the end. I will not support anyone else's right to choose something that limits my choices. That would be like Aunt Mary told me I could never knit another scarf because she did not want hers.
And That is Why I have kept reading your blog all these Long Long Years......and you have no idea who I am or that I exist.
No woman wants to have an abortion. They have them because they're terrified. Yeah, abortion is a real step forward. Millions of women living with secret pain that never goes away.
Incidentally, there is a way to avoid pregnancy, stay off the pill, and still have plenty of sex. It's called fertility awareness and exercising a little self-control. It has worked for me for a long time now, and there are no side effects. I'm not for banning the pill and I've never encountered anyone who is, but women really ought to know what all their options are.
Fertility awareness also helped my doctor to quickly and efficiently diagnose the reasons for my struggles with miscarriage, low energy, irregular cycles, and hormonal imbalance. She would never have been able to do that without looking at my NFP charts. If so many women (and their doctors) weren't chained to the pill, more people would know about this choice. THAT would be a big step forward for women.
I've become more and more aware of the state of women's lives outside of my own very sheltered experience. One of the things that shocked me was when a friend shared how her brother (currently a missionary in south america) had to include in his Sunday School lessons that it wasn't okay with God for the men to beat their wives. The response: "But how do you get them to do what you want them to do?"
Baby steps. Baby steps.
Liberty only exists when everyone has the ability to make choices that work for them . . . ESPECIALLY if I don't agree with them. If liberty only applies to one philosophy, that kind of limits a person's choice, eh? There's only one caveat governing liberty: no one has the right to harm another. In the procreative process, it's not a question of when life begins: life springs from life without interruption. So, when does the coercive condition kick in with abortion?
That said, it's not my choice. Nor do I think it ought to be.
How does one make the leap from believing that life begins at conception to banning contraceptives? That is an outrageous lie that Obama has thrown out from left field as a red herring issue to deflect attention from the destruction of America that he is orchestrating. NO ONE in the Republican party wants to ban contraceptives. It was never an issue before the fraud in the White House inserted into his Obamacare plan, forcing people with religious tenets to act against their religion and their conscience. It's sad that so many people are falling for it.
Of course women should have the same rights men. I just think that neither men or women have the right to kill an unborn child. Both men and women should take resonsibility for their actions in order to earn their rights. I do understand that is some circumstances a pregnancy has resulted from a traumatising rape but I think 2 wrongs can never make a right. If women are as strong as we strive to be and say we are then we can cope with changing circumstances and face our responsibilities and life changes without ending the life of someone who may have a bright positive future and may even be the first female president. We are not victims of a male society, we do not necessarily have to act like men or hold the same positions, but if we want to then of course we should have the same opportunities.
I am a woman and I hold no religious or political beliefs, I just live my life and enjoy it and I hope this is not at the expense of others. THAT is what we should all strive for.
Thank you for saying what I am too afraid to say out loud in the big internet world.
Stephanie, I appreciate your thoughtful commentary. As a registered nurse, I would like to clarify one point. Regarding the American GOP candidates' beliefs on contraception, please go back to what the candidates themselves have said about contraception, not what the press is misquoting about what the candidates have said. Each of the GOP candidates has been very clear that they are not against contraception--which, by definition simply prevents an egg from being fertilized. ("contra"--against and "cept"--i.e. conception --the meeting of the egg and the sperm to form one fertilized zygote)Even pro-abortion-choice leaders have agreed that any abortifacient is not contraception, but occurs after the fact. Regardless of one's political view--and I'm a confirmed independent--any candidate has the right to be accurately cited.
Thank you for your great blog!
The current flap in the U.S. is not about the availability of birth control; it is about whether or not religious institutions and employers should be forced to pay for it, when it is available for free elsewhere. Should a coompany be forced to pay for one area of medical care--birth control--when they do not pay for other medical care? Every woman in the U.S. has access to free contraception--even a tubal ligation, if she can't afford it-- because every county on the U.S. is served by a county public health department, where all such services are free.
On International Women's Day I worked with a group of female nurses in a very busy inner-city hospital. We took care of at least 30 sick people and their families while short staffed, meeting continuous demands from other departments, patients, families, doctors, etc. We did this in good humor, celebrating our knowledge and helping each other as best we could. Yes it was stressful! It always is, but we are a strong group of women and we rocked it! Happy International Women's day to all. Women are the cornerstone of the family, which means life would not happen as nicely without us regardless of our exhaustion!
Life does begins at conception. It's just a simple scientific fact. When you have an abortion you're putting an end to a living thing -not just 'tissue' - a living thing. Do I believe that women should have the right to a safe process for ending that living thing, yes.
I don't believe that contraception will become illegal or unobtainable in the US. It's an emotional argument that elicits a response but it truly isn't a remote possibility here - or in any industrialized nation.
Women all over the world need to be respected as equals to men and worthy of the same rights and privileges and I support that 100% in any way I can - but I do it with a clear head, open eyes and a willingness to hear the things I don't always want to hear. The truth is what counts.
Thank you, Stephanie dear. A thought - provoking post. I believe that a woman should always have the choice - I personally don't believe in abortion, except for very good medical reasons - but I do believe in contraception. BUT - it is the right of every woman to choose for herself. It is NOT for some man (or woman, for that matter) to choose for her.
I'm a little confused. If they decide life begins at the moment of conception, how would that rule out contraception? I see how it would rule out the "abortion" pill,and maybe the IUD because you have conception but implantation in the uterine wall is prevented. The pill however, does not work like this as it tricks your body into thinking it is pregnant and so you do not ovulate--hence no conception takes place. I believe many of the injectables also work this way (However I may be wrong on those--i have not looked into them). Condoms as well do not terminate fertilization but prevent it. So I do not understand why you say the belief that pregnancy begins at conception would relegate women to having sex only when they want children. Please elaborate.
I agree with AnnieRN at 7:38. Contraception stops conception from happening, so no life to eliminate in my mind. Of course, others might have a different view. That's the beauty of free speech. I'm against abortion, but I really have an issue with making it illegal. I'm afraid of the women who will get hurt trying to get an illegal abortion. Many will die. I always come back to the choice. It should be every women's right to choose. Conservative here, but I've got some independent going for me on certain issues. Always changing. Very interesting discussion Stephanie - thank you!
I know that there have been wide-ranging on comments on all of this, but I can't stand not saying something. (It is the college professor in me--we like to talk).
I think that part of what happens in all of our political issues here, both pro and con all sorts of things, is that we are, underneath it all, insisting that our religious beliefs should win the day. We all get our moral centers from a variety or sources, both religious and not. But in places like the US or Canada, we don't have a religion that gets to insist on its agenda. We very carefully have separated the government from religious control, partly to protect the religious groups, and partly to protect the government. So when we bring up issues with a very strong religious support for one side or another, we are saying that our religion supports this side. Which is great--no problem. But we can not state that our Constitution says that our religion should rule. So while it is important to respect people of any faith, or no faith, it is also important to remind us all that faith and our beliefs are not what gets to determine the law and policies of countries who have separated the state from any religious affiliation.
So our religion might or might not say that life begins at conception. But we have to decide whether a conceived life is something that we will allow to be ended, or what we mean by "life" in some way that is not based on a declaration of faith, but on something else.
If one's faith does not allow abortion, or birth control, or gay marriage, or any other issue, then if you are part of that faith, you won't do those things.
But if the faith of another does allow these things, then they may do these things. Because one faith does not control the other.
I also want to mention that in my dealings with hundreds of students a year, that I still am seeing issues that I thought we had addressed in the 60s and 70s. Girls are still thrown out of their homes by parents, because they are pregnant. Girls are still called sluts if they are sexually active (I have always wondered where the boy sluts are). Women still make less than men at comparable jobs. Women are still asked whether they really think they can be adequate firefighters, police officers, soldiers, sailors (I live in a port city), ministers, construction workers, auto mechanics, welders, electricians, etc.
Women who keep at this battle have to live on tiny scraps of hope some days. Be brave, sisters, and support one another with love.
I'm printing your post - it says what I've been trying to say for a long time but couldn't. Things I want to say to my friends, my sisters, my daughter - but, simple could not express my thoughts as well as your post does. Thank you
p.s. from my own little blog I will be urging my readers (mainly my friends/family - very small group) to go to your post, read and then think.
I'm an American ex-pat, and I look at what's happening in my country and I just get so depressed. I don't want to move back. Although the yarn is better there.
(OK, so there's more good things about the US than good yarn. But still, we're debating contraception. In 2012. WTF???)
WASPS are becoming an endangered species in north America - all the other ethnicities are reproducing at much higher rates while WASPS are actually declining in numbers. If people aren't having babies, who will pay taxes? Who will pay the Fat Cats' pensions?
Are you suggesting that the "other ethnicities" who are reproducing at higher rates aren't people? That they don't pay taxes? My gawd, that's actually--quite racist. Ugh.
I am a long-time reader of your blog. I've commented a few times, but didn't ever see the comments go up, so I don't know if they were eventually posted, or never posted. I know you probably get six thousand comments a week, so it's no biggie either way. I have really enjoyed reading your blog.
Please do not let the US Media spin suck you in. The conservatives/Republicans DO NOT WANT TO TAKE AWAY CONTRACEPTIVES. Period. That is BS. There might be a few who say it's bad for women, and some of them are referring to the harm of long-term hormone use (my mother's early death from liver cancer brought that bit of information into my life). Some are looking at it from a religious point of view. They do not speak for all.
But the bottom line is, there is no GOP/Conservative movement to abolish birth control. The media mostly tilts left here, and they have always done what they could to prop up the political left, even when they means outright lying about something that will damage the political right. We are not the evil minions they'd have you believe. This is one of those cases--we aren't anti-birth-control. We are anti-paying-for-other-people's-choices. The GOP/conservatives are mostly pro-life, and abhor abortion, but there is no big movement to take away access to birth control. What we are protesting is the current administration's demand that birth control be made *free* through insurance. Nothing is free. Making one commodity, any commodity, free, simply means that something else will be either unavailable or more expensive. Also, many conservatives do not want to pay, via taxes, for something that is so easily affordable to an individual. That is what we object to. Contraception is available and inexpensive in the US -- as low as $9 a month for the generic form of the pill. Without insurance. Most women can afford that.
Now, the current administration is trying to force the Catholic church to make contraceptive available, via insurance coverage. The Catholic church has always had a conscience-clause that permits it to offer insurance that does not provide sterilization/contraception, as that violates the church's long held beliefs. Now the current administration wants to change that, and that will violate the church's freedom to practice its religion.
Please believe me, there is no big GOP/conservative movement to make contraceptives illegal. That is an outright lie, Stephanie, and you really should have seen that. Do you really think so little of conservatives and religious people? We're not all that evil woman who gave you such a hard time a few years ago. She doesn't speak for anyone but herself. We are decent people who want other people to take responsibility for their lives and their decisions without forcing everyone to pay for it for them. To be crude, condoms are cheap, even free in some places (military and college campuses keep them out in bowls).
The 98% poll that you quoted was a very specific poll aimed at a range of women in the Catholic Church, and there are serious doubts as to its veracity. It wasn't 98% of all women. And it wasn't a large sampling. Again, birth control is very cheap and very available here. There is no need to make a government issue out of it.
I hope this letter conveys what I meant to say without being rude. I am 42 years old, and I have been watching for years while the big media (Reuters, BBC, AP) literally misrepresent the political right in the US, and the religious right, and their misinformation goes all over the globe. Whenever someone on the right says something outrageous (such as "birth control is bad for women") the media does everything it can to take it and push it out like that person was speaking for everyone, and then they get 'experts' to opine that this must mean the GOP wants to eradicate birth control. Was it Mark Twain who said something about a lie going around the world before the truth gets its pants on?
Please don't believe this of us, Stephanie, and please, please, don't spread this around through your blog. You have a big audience, and now a lot of those people are going to pick this up and spread it around their own blogs. The GOP does not want to make birth control illegal. We don't want to see a violation of our constitution, and we don't want to pay for lifestyle choices of others. That's the bottom line.
Thank you for noting this day. Here in NYC I had no idea it was International Woman's day -- such a shame. Please know that not all GOP candidates in the US believe life begins at "conception". You must have meant the 3 Republican Presidential candidates, but remember we have GOP state, local and congressional candidates running, too, and they don't all support legislation embodying that concept or even the concept. Politics in the US is extremely complicated, and as you go across our many different regions and demographics, "Republican" and "Democratic" candidates differ, sometimes radically, from each other inside the same party (also Romney is attempting to waffle on this, not make a clear public statement). And our press often doesn't accurately express public sentiment or the candidates' real positions on issues, they focus on the "horse race" of elections, i.e. who's ahead. I love you dearly and I think you and I would agree close to 100% politically, but please be careful in drawing conclusions about American's beliefs, American voter turn out is low as a percentage of eligible voters, and very, very very low in primary elections (the ones that determine who are the party's nominees). The most closed minded and zealous of party members will be the voters in the primaries, in either party, and candidates pander to that faction to get the nomination; then they must turn to the center to get elected. It's an absolutely horrible process right now in the USA, made worse by the Citizen's United decision. But my point is, don't think you know what WE think because of some particular state's policies or candidate's rhetoric, dangerous as they may be. Our problem is we need to get more people who think like us to vote. When you hate all the candidates, that's a tough one. With the greatest admiration for all you do, S.
Well said! I've never been really involved politically in women's rights issues, I thought here in the US we made lots of progress and instead I've devoted my time to animal rescue.
However, now it seems that progress is unraveling. I'm stunned that religious groups put up such a stink about paying for birth control in a health plan. My opinion, is if you want to have a money making venture, no matter your religious affiliation, then you need to be held to the same standards as every other business.
This year I will be donating to Planned Parenthood and I probably won't be doing any race for the cures! There are other breast cancer prevention organizations I would rather support. I just can't believe what is happening, I'm 37 and have benefited from the work of the Women's Liberation movement, I think now is the time for all of us to stand up. Even those of us who haven't spoken up before.
We can all vote but we can also vote with how we spend our money and what organizations we support.
Thank you so much for your post!!!
Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want as long as it does not infringe on the rights of someone else. Make your "choices" wisely, and deal responsibly with the consequences of your actions. No one, man or women, should have the freedom to terminate life. Thinking of all the precious little ones that have been cruelly terminated hurts my heart.
Please stick to knitting topics. If I wanted something this heavy I would have gone to CNN.
Just an aside:
I was working in the library of our local college last night and I overheard a young man talking to a female friend. They were about 20 years old. The young man said, "I don't sleep around. I would only have sex with a woman if I knew I was okay with taking care of a kid with her for the rest of my life."
After reading your post and all the comments yesterday, it was good to hear.
Very meaningful. Thank you. For a similar opinion, humorously rendered give this song a listen:
"Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight White American Male" by Todd Sneider.
Perfectly put - Posted by: Candi at March 9, 2012 9:40 AM
I've never commented before on any of your posts. This time I have to say you are right on and thank you for your thoughtful comments on this important day.
Well said, brava!
I cherish my Canadian education and upbringing and despair at the state of my adopted country. There is a false dichotomy in to the 2-party american political system that is unproductive, to say the least. While the Harper government is not one that I would pick, I am always heartened by the official, and unofficial, canadian opposition. I am proud of the canadian view that WE are the government - it is not some result of deus ex machina that comes in to control us or change our lives. Absurd.
The positions in the US seem to be rife with contradictions - people who advocate a ban on abortion do not (appear to) support family benefits such as paid leave time, low-income benefits, subsidized child care. Those things are apparently not even supported by the "left". It is everyone for themselves and the concept of "society" is often, sadly lacking.
I appreciate the openness and evenness with which you shared your opinions. It is sad to see the trolling on the "blog"... but I appreciate your willingness to share despite that.
The pill is a carcinogen and has been classified as such by everyone including the UN. Is that really what you want to fill your body and the bodies of your daughters with? Pill pushers make me begin to question who really is fighting for the rights of women. It is obviously NOT the people who want us all to have the pill. There really is a healthy, green alternative to all these terrifying chemicals. It is called NFP and it really works. Think about it.
I work for a large telecommunication company placing orders for replacement batteries for EMTA's(modems that provide telephone service). Every single day I have women tell me that they cannot possibly install their own battery bc they do not have a man in the house to do it. Or they say they do not understand electronics bc they are a woman. Or when I ask them their name, they say they are "JUST the wife". They tell this to me, a woman. These are not older women you grew up before the time of computers, for the most part. Older women sometimes need some guidence bc they are not familar with the verbiage but always are successful at the installation.
One day I will be fired from this job bc I am going to lose my mind and starting yelling @ a woman who tells me they need a tech to come out to their home bc they have no man @ home to do it.
I'm sorry for the rant and long comment but sometimes I wonder how all the progress around equality just seems to be slipping away.
What I don't understand about the current U.S. Republican candidates' "debating" (it's not debate when each person sounds off for an allotted time; that's just face-to-face insult slinging - kind of like on a playground among bullies) - Anyway what I fail to understand is how being anti-"Big Government" can coincide with wanting the government to be involved in individuals' decisions about sex and procreation.
Thank you for your post Stephanie. May we all be political as you are - interested, informed, open and voting!
Barb at 4:45-
No one is "forcing" anyone to raise an unplanned, unwanted baby. There are millions of infertile couples who would love to adopt.
Like you, I too wonder how it is we can be allowing ourselves to go backwards and wonder what will be left of our institutions once this majority gov't is done with its tenure. That aside, your comment regarding leaving women's choices up to women and therefore we can't criticize them is correct, but we can also educate, like your post may have done for some. Thanks.
Like you, I too wonder how it is we can be allowing ourselves to go backwards and wonder what will be left of our institutions once this majority government is done with its tenure. That aside, your comment regarding leaving women's choices up to women and therefore we can't criticize them is correct, but we can also educate, like your post may have done for some. Thanks.
Thank you and great post.
I very rarely write because you have so many commenters that my words would take up your valuable time. However, this post hit the spot! I, too, cannot see why so many women vote for men who would take their rights away. However, I am unable to say "it's their choice" ... I am too frustrated and am worried that the Republicans will take over the government and will stomp on women even more. Keep on speaking! Maybe some will hear and listen.
I'll admit I have not waded thru all the comments yet, so I'm not sure if this has been brought up, but I'm under the weather and wanted to reply to this before I ran out of steam...
There is a difference between supporting a woman's right to an opinion you find short-sighted and horrifying, and knitting a gift for someone who doesn't use/appreciate it.
The recipients reaction to/use of your knitted gift does not affect your ability to knit in the future. It may make you sad, or make you and your effort feel unappreciated, but it can not take away your right to purchase yarn, decide what to make from it, and knit future things.
A woman with different political and religious views than I have can choose to let the men in her life make all her decisions, not use contraception or have an abortion, not sign contracts without her husband or father's approval, and keep silent when men are speaking even when the law allows her to. Her legal right to do these things does not FORCE her to do them, it gives her a choice.
Unfortunately, however, if these cultural and religious mores are made into law, it DOES affect the rights of all women. This is a huge, huge problem.
I have an unfortunate amount of experience in groups where women are subordinated. I grew up in a rural area where even mild feminist (like equal work for equal pay) beliefs were openly mocked. For a couple of miserable years I was a member of a Christian sect that referred to a man as a woman's "Husbandly Owner" (yes, really, I kid you not), and my DH's family all belong to a church where women must keep their heads covered.
I am horrified and frightened at what appears to be the growing momentum of a radial political ideology that would adversely affect my life and the lives of women after me. And I am deeply saddened at the number of women who apparently embrace this possibility, and give it such vocal support.
I have a bad feeling about this... I hope so hard I'm wrong.
Respectfully to the women here who say no one, not one person, in the US is out to get their birth control, while that may be true in most cases I give you the following QUOTE from one candidate:
"One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”
It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."
This is a direct quote. It is fine for this person to believe that on a personal level, and for their family. It is not OK for them to decide this is what is right for anyone else.
I want to add that I too am scared with the (mostly) men, in the name of religion that are attacking human rights. There may have always been these people in politics but they were outside the two political parties. The fact that they are getting traction within a "legitimate" political party, really makes me feel ashamed of what's happening in America. If I was younger, I do believe I would immigrate.
Boy what a subject for you to be talking about. That can go on forever. I do agree with you. We do have our own lives and we can make our own choices. Its sad what other countries do to women and if someone can help just one then its all worth it. Hope things change.
Steph, thank you for sharing your post and your views. Whether I agree with them or not, I'm glad you make them. I'm disappointed in all the voices here who say things like "stick to knitting" or "how can you think this when you think that". I hope you never stop voicing your opinion. It's why I come here. I love seeing what you knit, as well as seeing what's going on in your life and hearing your thoughts and feelings on it.
I'm Canadian, married to and living in the US. I'm not allowed to vote but I try to stay aware of what's going on, what candidates are saying/promising, and I'm horrified at some of the things I see and some of the opinions I hear - from candidates, but also from citizens. I don't understand how women can think it's ok to control such a fundamental right as a body choice. I hope the worst doesn't come to pass. I will do my best to raise my boys to respect others, themselves, and the right to live their lives by their own choices.
Might i suggest stophhs.com for information regardung the mandate in the u.s. Amd feministsforlife.com for information on REAL choices.
Renee at 10:15-
Your comment is glib and flippant. As someone who struggled with infertility and seriously considered adoption, I find it completely offensive that you treat the adoption process as something akin to picking out a grapefruit at the grocery store.
You are right that no one is being forced to "raise" an unwanted baby but, without legal abortion they will be forced to "carry" an unwanted fetus. Will a woman who is forced to stay pregnant eat nutritious food? Will she take prenatal vitamins? Can she afford medical care? Will she listen to her body and its signals? If she smokes, drinks or does drugs, would she stop? What if she works at a job where she is exposed to harmful chemicals? Would that woman quit her job just to carry a fetus that she doesn't want?
Adoptions can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are wrought with emotional and psychological heartbreak. Just because a couple is dealing with infertility doesn't mean that they are willing to adopt any baby regardless of the circumstances surrounding it's birth. I can't speak for all women but I promise you that I would never adopt the baby of an alcoholic who drank through her pregnancy because the government would not allow her to have an abortion.
I want to add that many women still do what their husbands tell them to do so they vote as they are told to vote. We still have many men and women who think women are weak and need to be kept out of the frontline as they are not strong enough. Also many women are still forced to have sex with their spouses whether they want children or not.
I think men made this up hundreds of years ago, along with the Catholic Church to further their own interests.
And the check goes to Planned Parenthood! The job is not over and money is how things are made to happen - just check to see who is supporting which PACs' in the US.
Recently on my Facebook page, I wrote that if a woman must have a transvaginal ultrasound in order to have an abortion (which she must pay for, by the way), the man who got her pregnant should be required by law to have a transpenile ultrasound.
You know, the goose and gander platitude.
With all the issues facing the nations, women voting solely about their reproductive rights is voting with your uterus instead of your brain. Really disappointed in this blog post. I read it everyday to enjoy my passion of knitting and momentarily escape the insanity of today's pressures. I will not be reading it again if you knit a soap box and become political. I'm tired of people telling me what to think and how to vote.
Now that I have read the responses...I will strongly dispute several of them.
The Republican Party, thanks to its apparent take-over by the extremely vocal extreme right, IS trying to prevent access to contraception. How anyone can possibly argue otherwise astounds me, given that evidence has been plastered all over the news lately.
Not only because of the efforts to give employers with "moral objections" an out in including contraception, but because of quotes by extraordinarily influential Republican bankrollers like this: 'Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.' (the many misogynistic aspects of that statement could take hours to explore)
Regarding Insurance coverage for birth control...(**having insurance coverage is Not At All The Same thing as 'expecting the government to pay for it'...that is a straw man argument and I'm not having any)
Jehovah's Witnesses strongly believe that blood transfusions are prohibited by God, and many of them and their children have died rather than have one. If you were employed by a Jehovah's Witness would you be OK with them excluding coverage for a transfusion for you or your child if you needed one? No? Then I challenge you to explain the difference between a JW's objections to blood transfusions and the Catholic Church's and Many, Many Christian Fundamentalist's objections to birth control.
KathyB...I agree with every single word you typed.
It makes me sick just to think about it so I often just avoid the whole topic.
I'm getting ranty so I should shut up, but I want to personally thank Stephanie for her bravery in hosting this discussion. I am trying really hard to be civil, given that I know I'm talking to other knitters. I apologize if I haven't entirely succeeded.
I'm against back alley abortions which I think will come back if they make abortions illegal.
I've never had an abortion & at this moment don't think I would ever but that's my personal choice. However, I think if a woman chooses to have one, they should have access to a safe one. Making abortion illegal will not eliminate them (look at drugs & child porn), it would only make them harder to obtain & would result in more lost of life of women who are able to obtain them.
Aside, my daughter's an IUD baby. Nothing is 100% other than not having sex which is important to the health of a marriage.
Actually, my brain is voting to protect my uterus from men who would like to dominate it... just a small distinction...
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I firmly believe that women's choices are just that; choices. The choices might be good or bad, depending on point of view, but women MUST be allowed to make them for themselves.
This battle has been going on since forever, I am 78yrs. I never heard about birth control I was about '18' It was always discussed in a whisper, not in the public forum.
So, as life moved on, so baby came, the doctor as a matter of routine, birth control was prescribed. that was in 1954. No problem.
Then life move on, it became very open, part of the open agenda of a 'MAN's' world.
1970's Roe vs Wade. The woman's body became Political. We now have "babies" found in trash cans, public toilets, etc. Women butchered by back alley abortionist.
Now, what do we have? Women, now have their reproductive rights taken away, because, the use of birth control choices.
"BIRTH CONTROL SHOULD BE A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOICE."
Courtney at 11:16, YOU are the one likening adoption to picking out the best fruit.
THANK YOU STEPHANIE!! As always, so well written and so very right on point.
Very well said Stephanie, I absolutely agree. To echo the woman above me "BIRTH CONTROL SHOULD BE A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOICE." and I believe that proper abortion care should be available as a choice as well. There are measures in place, at least where I live, to ensure that abortion isn't being used as a method of birth control and even to provide proper birth control after the fact. Taking away a woman's options is not going to make anything better, it's just going to make it a lot worse and a lot harder on everyone.
My problem, at least out here in Vancouver, is what I really can do to protect my own rights? I absolutely vote, and try as best I can to be informed about who I am voting for, but when the popular tide is against you what else can I do? There's a protest in the city every other weekend, often for very good causes, but it doesn't seem to have any effect anymore. It's very frustrating feeling like while I can voice my support for women (or teachers as is the case at present) there is almost nothing I can do to ensure my voice and my support will lead to anything. I wish there was some viable way to 'put my money where my mouth is'.
I started writing a long comment, but it was quite a rant.
Suffice it to say that as a long-time voter (every election since I was eligible) I am seriously disappointed in the GOP this year, from the current candidates, to most of those that have dropped out, to the loony-tunes female candidates, including the one in the last election.
They are interested only in their own power, and any supposed interest in the bulk of the population is sheer pretense. Those who follow them like lemmings will get what they deserve. Unfortunately, the rest of us will also get what they deserve.
Thank you so much for this post. And to Kara - well said: "We can all vote but we can also vote with how we spend our money and what organizations we support." So, so true. And which campaigns we donate to. Obama got a lot of financial support from small donations.
In the US it's not like in Canada where the whole party will vote along the same lines. So maybe you choose a candidate who is pro-choice, but once he or she gets to the house or senate there's not a whole lot that can be done unless there's a majority who are going to vote the same way. Some Democrats are anti-choice, and some Republicans are pro-choice, so there's that too. I don't want to vote for an anti-choice Democrat, but no way am I going to vote Republican.
And of course there are so many people who are one issue voters - if you care about one thing you might have to give up your position on another. This is why, in my opinion anyway, so many Catholics vote Republican even though every other thing about the party goes against what the church teaches. (And thanks Jennifer @ 8:58!)
I believe in the sanctity of life, but I know for a fact that there are fates worse than death - and many babies and children suffer those fates when born to people unable or unwilling to provide the basics of what every child needs: love, nourishment, shelter, protection. Given that most vehement "pro-lifers" also believe in the immortality of the soul (I don't, because the Bible doesn't teach that), you would think they would see they would SUPPORT abortion so that babies can go straight to Paradise rather than be forced into hell on earth. I've never gotten that.
So, based upon your own review of the status of women I would ask-"So, how's that abortion thing working out for ya"?
I would ask you if dear little Luis is a welcome member of society and a person under the law, when did he become so? At what point was something added that changed him from a nameless POC to a person at a particular stage of development? He only had what value his mother gave him. He was Luis, a unique individual, from the moment of his conception. He lives because his mother said he could.
"Developing person" or "person at a particular stage of development" may be semantics but it is, I believe, of utmost importance to address. We are either human beings or we are not. We are never, after conception, on a path to become a dog or a pig or a petunia. We are human beings.
Based upon your assessment the only difference between dear little Luis and a pile of body parts is whether or not his mother gives him value.
I believe all human beings to be intrinsically valuable. I do not believe that any one person should have the power to bestow or remove the value of another person, no matter the location of their "residence"(womb), their race, their gender, their age, their intellect, their physical capabilities or their convenience.
Complicated? Yes, most certainly so.
I think that such grave issues as you have so eloquently raised today deserve a better answer than simply women must have the right to kill their children.
Just one "child of the 60's" opinion.
Brava and amen. And thumbs up to Suzanne @ 7:05, as well, about the rights and responsibilities to a civil discussion.
There are more than 250 comments at the time I read them, and it's interesting that taken all together they beautifully illustrate the whole range of opinions about reproductive issues (which appears to be the most commented-about aspect of your post).
There are the individual's choice voices, the never abortion under any circumstances voices, the abortion wrong contraception OK voices (and all the variations of what contraception involves), and the I disapprove of your choice but support your right to it voices.
However, I must add that I find many of the voices saying "no abortion" are scary, and that particularly extends to politicians. A great many (most?) of these voices speak from a religious or sectarian points of view, and it is frightening that they think it's all right to make everyone else live in accordance with those views.
Wait a minute... I don't like vanilla ice cream, and I think that bland stuff is against nature; it naturally follows that it should be a against the law for anyone to make or eat vanilla ice cream. And yes, people, that is the same thing - "You gotta live according to my opinions."
Steph, please ignore the "stick to knitting" voices and the "how can you believe..." voices.
1. The US is not a democracy, it is a REPUBLIC. Check your dictionary for the difference.
2. There IS a difference between Contraception and Abortion.
3. The Catholic Church is in the midst of a major shift BACKWARDS to 1940. For those of us who embraced Vatican II...they're waiting for us to die.
4. Women don't get a vote in the church but we do in a democracy and in the US Republic. Do your homework, make an informed choice and VOTE. Then become active in your community, not just a voice on a blog.
If men could had the plumbing to have babies they would sing a very different tune very fast. They would want all forms of contraception, all the time, any time.
Thank you so much for this post.
Wow. Black and White. Right and Wrong. Sometimes there is a grey area. It doesn't really matter how any of you feel about anothers decision. It's none of your business.
I was raped at 18 and ended up pregnant. It was an extremely low point in my life. I didn't want to bring up a child that was conceived through violence and hurt. And I made a choice that was right for me in my life. It was my choice to make. Not some man in a government office somewhere. Not some lady on her high horse who thinks she can tell me what is right in my life. (I thought Good Christian Women were supposed to love all God's children....pfffft - only if you do what they think is right).
Each women has the right to make her own decisions for what is right in her life. It may not have been the decision you would have made....but it wasn't yours to make.
Attacking other women for choices they have made is low, disgustingly low....and I feel sorry for you that you can not accept another HUMAN BEING for the choices they have made.
THANK YOU HARLOT for all that you do and say. I respect your opinions and your choices and if I didn't.....I would stop reading your blog and STOP LEAVING NASTY COMMENTS
I don't care if I get negative responses....it was my choice to leave this message....my choice to expose myself....my choice to live my life in a way that is right for me. Go live your own life and I'll live mine.
The women who are open, accepting and loving of one another this message is not for you.
Stick together. Hug a friend in need - even if they've made a choice you wouldn't. (It was their choice to make).
An alternative to chemical or barrier contraception that the Catholic church is 100% behind: natural family planning. It allows the woman to monitor her basal body temperature to see when she is fertile, and then she refrains from sex during that time (about a week/month), or she goes for it if she wants to become pregnant. It's simple science, and the Clear Blue people are selling little "ovulator strips" so that you know when ovulation occurs and can become pregnant...or avoid it. That said, as a Catholic, Vatican II and Humanae Vitae weren't exactly in tune with women's rights. The current trend in the church? Ay Carumba......1940 is maybe being a bit generous. (and I personally don't worry about how one prevents pregnancy. we do what we need to do.)
As for abortion, something that my fellow Catholics and Anti-abortion lobbyists tend to ignore: you want to stop abortion? Then stop the (perceived or not) need for it. Stop the rape, the abuse, the pain, the agony of pregnancy that is forced upon women. And secondary to that, give women a choice about how they deal with pregnancy. Remember that, even if everyone believed that life began at conception, sometimes that little life just can't be carried to fruition. If we want to make all life sacred, then we have to start with the living, breathing humans already on the planet. So far, we're not doing a great job.
Catholic, yes. A slave to dogma, no.
Where you say, "There was lots of talk about how this is 2012, and how can women let these things happen?"... Don't get me going. Good Lord, I would get laryngytis, then there would be, yet, another soap-box, then some ranting, then there'd be cyring as I was accused by some female in my husband's family of being a know-it-all AGAIN.
What I see happening is an all-out assault by media, policies, celebrities, etc, etc to get women to be sexy first and intelligent last. That's just what disgusts me the most!
Argh! I have to click "submit" NOW. Now! Before I type another word!
Thanks for that sentiment. I think that this (stop the need (perceived or not)) is somewhere where those of us on both sides should come together a little more. We can't make choices for others, but we should strive for a world where no one feels they have to make those choices.
"this week the Prime Minister of Afghanistan endorsed a statement that "Men are fundamental, and women are secondary."
When did this happen? Animals don't act like this. What would these men do if women's numbers grew fewer? In China, So many couples wanted their allowed one child to be a boy that now there aren't enough women for each of those boys to find to marry. The same thing is happening in India. Women aren't and can't be secondary. If anything, it's more the other way around. A small number of men could keep the human race going better than a small number of women. Not that I expect such a desparate scenario to come about.
Danielle @ 8:35 am is the only post I've seen here that brings up a major point. Outlawing abortions will not end abortions. One of the reasons abortions were legalized was that women were having 'back-alley' abortions that all to often caused death of the woman or massive medical problems due to unsanitary conditions or butchering by the 'abortion doctor'.
Abortions can be prevented by the informed use of contraceptives. Female bodies often prevent a pregnancy by non-implantation or miscarriages. This is what most contraceptives mimic. Will these normal biologic events be criminalized if this trend toward criminalizing abortions continues?
I became pregnant by force and chose to end it at the same gestational age as many spontaneous miscarriages happen. I was not able to work during my first pregnancy and a second one (while single) would have severely comromised my ability to care for the child I had.
When the world can feed, house, and educate every child currently living, then we can consider mandating that every life started must be continued. For present, those who choose to do so should be able to get the pre-natal and birth-on help needed to raise healthly, wanted people.
I still find it amazing that people think that gender affects mental ability. When, why, and how did it come about that women became considered to be unable to think as well as men? To be unable to take care of ourselves? Even to be bad to have sex?
Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing these issues up. Behind all of it is the prevailing attitude by men toward women and the efforts by them to control us. Again, why?
Enough. I have to go calm down now.
Thank you Spinster Beth @ March 9, 9:30am
and especially to Renee @ March 9,10:15 am for ~ "No one is "forcing" anyone to raise an unplanned, unwanted baby. There are millions of infertile couples who would love to adopt."
As a prolife mother of 4 children, one of whom is adopted, I can honestly say that adoption is such a beautiful thing. My life has been so blessed by adoption.
Many years ago when I was a pregnant teen, my mother took me to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test. When the test turned out positive I was offered an abortion. When I said I could not kill my baby, I was told they had noing else to offer me. NO - OTHER - HELP - AT - ALL. It was basically, "Good-bye, and don't let the door hit you on the way out." How is that a choice???? It seems to me that the "pro-choice" side isn't really very good at helping women understand different options that are available. It seems to me that there is a choice as long as it's the choice we are told to make. Where are the pro-choice people when it comes to helping women who choose life? Where are they on encouraging adoption? My experience (and it was only my experience) taught me that the prolife Christians were the ones willing to help me. They were the ones who actually helped me with my choice. To me they were the ones who cared about women, because of their willingness to get involved and help. I would not be where I am today without them. Those at Planned Parenthood certainly were not there to help me. The only "choice" they were willing to offer was abortion. Very sad.
Remember the story about the frog (or whatever) in the cauldron, and the water was turned up bit by bit without alarming him until he was boiled?
The women of Saudi Arabia may be happy in their cages, but they are still cages. We all may be happy in our cages, but the size of the cage, and how much say we have about it, makes a difference.
Thank you for sharing your story, I'm sorry that you went through that. I'm also sorry that a painful episode in your life keeps getting dredged up by political partisanship. :(
Because it's such a painful subject for women, it's very uncomfortable to think about. But it's important.
I hope you do not mind me pointing taking this a little further afield. Not only is this an issue for women who were victims of individual crimes of rape, but also for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women who have experienced (and still experience every day) rape as a weapon of war.
Forcing the woman to carry and bear the child of the enemy rapist is part of the vile 'rationale' for rape as a weapon of war.
The 'abortion debate' is so, so very complex and painful. Why are any of us advocating for more intrusion into our lives as women? Why are ANY of us objecting to the view that it is something that a woman be allowed to handle on a personal level, with her closest and most loved and trusted alongside her?? This makes me despondent...
Thank you. You are what is good about social media...providing women a place to speak openly without the vitriol so prevalent elsewhere.
I have 5 young granddaughters (ages 4 and under...yes, my children have been busy) and it appalls me to think these beautiful little beings could potentially have fewer rights/choices than we female baby boomers have today.
Thank you Stephanie. I salute your eloquence and willingness to host this discussion, even though I'm sure you're getting some awful emails from a few people.
It seems to me that everyone here wants rights for women, and the charged discussion is more about people's individual interpretations of what it currently happening than about pro-women's rights vs anti-women's rights. Since that's the case, I hope that everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, will be active in their communities, talk to their political representatives, keep an eye on the bills being proposed and passed and generally stay both informed on the issues and in contact with those that are representing them, so that maybe what's happening politically will someday actually be what the majority of people want it to be, without trampling the freedoms of the minority.
Our state's legislature has just finished its debacle on women this year. They have now effectively legislated a very stringent waiting period for women who want to terminate their pregnancies from the current 24 hours to 72 hours. If the state could eliminate abortions all together, it would. Oh I remember I time when it actually did and women would stream across the state's border to obtain something that was legally within their right to do. Then the US Supreme Court case in 1973 that changed everything and empowered a women's right to choose to terminate their pregnancies. I will never forget seeing picketing outside the women's clinic and those "pro-lifer" types ridiculing and attempting to block a woman from entering the business to get even a pap-smear or a prescription for contraception, because those protesters making an assumption that a fetus would be lost.
Then our "fools on the hill" legislature passed a bill that removed sex education from the curriculum stating that the only thing you can teach is abstinence. Once again, not only is a woman's right affected, a man's information is stifled. How far right must a group of people go to infringe upon a person's reproductive choices and freedoms?
I've lived a ton of life in my 55 years on this third rock from the sun, and I am appalled that we continue to vote for people who want to effectively prohibit our rights as women, or humanity, for that matter.
Would I have chosen to have an abortion? I don't know because I've never been in a position to make that decision. Do I condemn another individual's right to make that decision regardless of the reason? Absolutely not! Sadly, we worked so hard for our rights to our bodies over many decades, and yet, we are now headed back to the 1800s, back-shop abortion clinics, and the mortality of women is in jeopardy because of those who think their personal morality trumps that of another.
I am putting my forehead in my palm and shaking my head....what a waste of humanity and common sense. No one in politics ever really listens to their constituents. Ok, my rant is over.
One of the hardest parts of truly embracing choice was seeing the females in my classrooms make such radically different decisions than myself, and still needing and wanting to defend their right to make those seemingly incongruous choices. I watch my country's current GOP candidate contortions with absolute disbelief, and thank Bob that Obama is on watch to ensure things like workplace insurance contraception coverage. The world constantly struggles between tradition and modernity. I say it's about progress.
FYI - did you know that men in Italy give women flowers to mark International Women's Day? I must admit, I kind of like that. :)
Thank you. :)
The media would like us to believe that there are only two points of view in the abortion debate - pro, which means that one is generally a very nice person who cares about mums and the environment and picks up litter, and con, which means that one is a rabid, flag-waving fundamentalist who never smiles and still wears midi skirts (remember those?). I would like to respectfully suggest a third alternative. If I were pressed, I would call myself a fairly typical bleeding heart liberal who also believes in the sanctity of life. This puts me at odds with most of the people in those other two camps. When I say I am pro-life, what I mean is that I am pro-life in all its forms - that is to say, I am also anti-war, anti capital punishment, and anti abuse of any kind. I am pro education, pro caring for the environment, pro health care, to mention a few. I even pick up litter, and smile quite a lot. Stephanie, I know you to be a champion of little ones, and one who has compassion for their mums. I just genuinely don't understand how someone with so much caring in her can also want to promote easily available abortions. I've heard so many stories of people who were in extremely challenging situations and didn't have the abortion, yet immense good came out of that child's birth after all. And the other side, about women who did have the abortion, often under pressure from their men, and regretted it all their lives. Instead of easily available abortions, what I would like to see is a society where we let these little lives be, and support their mums in a way that allows joy to be the result.
I kept composing emails to send to my girlfriends about our one day a year, but they were all so angry, I didn't send any if them. Thanks for your posting, beautifully written.
There is a fundemental misunderstanding about how hormonal birth control works. It does not prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, but prevents the fertilized egg from embedding itself in the wall of the uterus. That is why if life begins at conception and that is when the egg is fertilized, the pill would become illegal. Woman need to educate themselves better to protect their rights.
It sure is hard to watch women make choices that do not seem best for women! Thank you for your thoughtful words. I was hoping you'd post something great for International Women's Day and you did not disappoint. You have a way of eloquently stating how I feel.
I find it ironic that some folks have said they won't read your blog anymore when the whole point of what you wrote was that you were respecting the right of women to restrict their own options by voting a certain way. I mean, you offer respect to the opposite viewpoint and it's rejected? How do you reject someone's offer of respect? Readers are finding mutual respect disgusting? Or they won't read your words anymore because they don't agree with you and can't offer you the same respect (agree to disagree)?
Keep being you. Post about whatever the heck you want. Happy Women's Day!
Brava, Stephanie! Standing strong and proud for women's rights and freedom.
Honestly, the state of discourse in the U.S. right now is making my blood boil. I'm proud to be pro-woman and pro-choice.
Hilary has an interesting and thoughtful response on this post -- but I want to add that one of our friends has become pregnant 3 times while using "natural family planning." Clearly this doesn't work for everyone... In fact, this couple now jokingly tell people that "natural family planning" seems to be a great way to GET pregnant.
I had to respond to an earlier comment, where someone said she resents having to pay for other people's choices. My question to her (and really, to everyone) is, Are you sure that's what's happening?
I say this because of the way federal tax dollars are distributed. There are states that are federal money cash flow positive, and states that are federal money cash flow negative. Here's a link with a map:
As someone who is a resident of California, I get mighty tired of paying for other people's decisions, too. This reminds me a bit of taxation without representation--if my money is helping out, say, Georgia, shouldn't I get some tiny say in the people they elect?
Something to consider - maybe a lot of women are willing to vote for a party that doesn't support abortion because they have learned first hand that abortion isn't good for them. They carry the emotional scars and regret with them daily.
I have a friend who volunteers as a pregnancy counsellor. She told me what is really interesting about the abortion issue, is that almost all of the women she has worked with felt that they had no choice but to abort their babies. What kind of world do we live in when women tell other women that they have no choice but to abort their children? If we really want to empower women then we would work to alleviate the problems within our society that force a woman to think she has no choice but to abort her child and elevate motherhood.
As well, your references to birth control are misleading and inaccurate. The pill, IUD's and some other forms of birth control can lead to spontaneous abortions (as well as a host of other medical problems). So those who believe in the sanctity of life are usually opposed to these methods of birth control. There are however, other forms of contraception that do not cause spontaneous abortions (i.e. condoms, fertility awareness, diaphragms, etc.) and many women have successfully used them to avoid pregnancy without having to limit their sexual activity to when they want to get pregnant.
I don't really have anything constructive to add to this other than a virtual round of applause. I love hearing people getting angry about injustice and I'm glad that I'm not the only one that feels like I'm surrounded by crazy! I really appreciate you speaking out about this because most bloggers are afraid that they'll lose readers. I'm glad you're not afraid of the way you feel!
Loved you before and I love you even more now. Power to the ladies!
Stephanie, I'm sure you knew it would degenrate to the typical shouting when you posted this, right? Sadly it's impossible to have a rational conversation when one side views anyone who doesn't believe exactly like they do as a murdering monster, and makes sure to say so.
Well said, Jen and Stephanie! Thanks for this!
The Yarn Harlot's statements regarding birth control are not misleading - condoms, diaphragms and fertility awareness are the least effective methods of contraception.
to Deb at March 8, 2012 7:08 PM
I'm morally opposed to war. Should I be made to pay for the Military and all the wars the US are in?
She states, "...but it could effectively ban most contraceptives, which would mean that the only way for a woman to guarantee that she wouldn't ever have more children than she could support, would be to only ever have sex when she was willing to have a baby." Banning methods of birth control that are linked to spontaneous abortions does not "effectively ban most contraceptives." There are many other birth control options that when used properly are highly effective. Banning certain forms of birth control doesn't mean that women can only have sex when they are willing to have a baby.
For the pro adoption people—how many are willing to adopt a very ill special needs child? Many make the sad and difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy after testing shows the fetus has some dire disease or condition, sometimes even something which would make it impossible to survive the birth process.
And at the other end of the spectrum—some abort a fetus solely because it is the wrong gender. Pro choice though I am, I find it awfully difficult to accept that it is OK for someone to abort simply because the fetus is of the 'wrong' sex, and yet it happens every day.
I'm politically conservative and fundamentally against abortion. I would think that most thinking people are against abortion, actually, especially with the advent of 3D ultrasound technology and the knowledge we have of just how soon that "fetus" is actually a baby, although a tiny one. One of my good liberal friends told me once, "Just because I'm pro-choice doesn't mean I'm pro-abortion." And that has remained with me. I don't view women who've had an abortion as murdering monsters. I think that most people of my viewpoint have this misleading notion that the women who choose abortions are insensitive, unfeeling monsters who want to keep their figures or their careers rather than sacrifice it all for some mewling brat. The truth is usually that the woman feels she has no choice, which is the most ironic thing ever, of course. My heart breaks for these women and young girls. I don't view them as monsters. I see them as victims of a vicious political machine that says it wants to empower women, but really only wants to empower women to be what it feels women should be. If you don't like abortion, then you're backwards. If you choose to stay home with your children rather than having a career, then you're backwards. So the notion becomes that liberal women are a bunch of overbearing, witchy monsters and conservative women are a bunch of inbred, retarded freaks. I feel like both sides are more concerned with being right than they are with actually fixing the general problems that people always bring up in this debate. I wish that rational, disagreeing people could just have a discourse wherein they express their views without attacking people. Both sides have people who have their views for very specific reasons. Understanding the reasons is the key, I believe, to finally making positive changes in the world. It's not about who is right or who is wrong or who is evil or who is stupid or any of that. It's just about trying to fix the problems. I wish that people could just focus on that.
I am an 83 year old feminist, flaming liberal and o not plan to change. I have raised my children to believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions but that they should respect the opinions of others. I am pro choice for all..I'll let my conscience decide for me. If I don't denigrate your position then don't denigrate mine. I remember when women were second class citizens and I do not wish to slide back. As Ez keep knitting through all drisis.
It looks like the comments have totally devolved into a shouting match over abortion since my last visit yesterday evening. I feel this devalues our lovely host the Yarn Harlot, because she made so many more excellent points about the lives and health of women around the world. But since we're there, I have to chime in. To me, tying every issue to abortion is how "they" get us to vote against our own best interests. In Texas, the state government has cut funding and rejected $35 million from the federal government so that they can close Planned Parenthood's clinics once and for all; this is their stated goal. No matter that these clinics are the only health care for thousands of rural women, that abortions cannot be paid for with these funds, and that NONE of these clinics performed abortions. ALL of the other functions (Pap smears, family planning advice, HIV testing, breast exams, etc. etc. etc.) will cease. How can this be good for us? Yet many women support these decisions. And this is only one state, it's happening everywhere.
Two of the most pertinent comments I've heard on these issues happened to come from former heads of countries (both men, no surprise there). Pierre Trudeau said that "the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation". And Bill Clinton said abortions should be "safe, legal and rare". Amen to both.
I am currently carrying a baby girl in my womb. I cannot believe or justify that idea that just because she is in my womb she isn't entitled to the most basic human right. The right to life - both inside and outside the womb. I hope that someday she will live in a society where women see the lives of children, all children, as precious and worth protecting at any cost, even if it means self-sacrifice.
You are one brave woman...and you are right. Thanks for doing what you do.
Sue at 3:40-
I am pro adoption, and anti-abortion. The answer to your question (how many are willing to adopt a very ill special needs child?) is probably not many, but they do exist.
I have friends who have made all kinds of choices, including abortion. These choices were theirs to make and I do not judge these people to be monsters.
The infertile couples I know, and I am infertile myself, have made all kinds of different choices. Some chose not to adopt at all, some have adopted children of other races than their own, others adopted children from other countries than their own, and I do know two people who chose to adopt special needs babies. One baby had Down Syndrome, and one came from an alcoholic mother.
Adoption certainly isn't for everyone, just as parenthood is not. The choice is a personal one, and no one can judge another based on these choices.
So Courtney at 11:16, I do not believe that you should be willing to adopt a child "regardless of the circumstances surrounding its birth" just because you are infertile. Your choice is a personal one, and I'm not judging you for making it. Your situation is difficult, it is emotional, but please do not construe my words to mean anything more than what I initially said: That there are couples out there who will adopt the babies.
Wonderfully said. Thank you for saying it. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend checking out the "Government-Free V-JJ" group on Ravelry; folks are knitting uteri and other female body parts to give to the male members of Congress who support this legislation. "Maybe if they have their own, they'll keep their hands off mine."
First, to Amber 10:43pm,
"...your women's rights and your gay rights and your lack of enthusiasm for crochet." Thanks for the belly laugh, it was appreciated!
On the rest, while I certainly appreciate that not all conservatives or evangelicals can all be painted with the same brush (nor can all liberals), I struggle with the public figures and media folks who:
a) Wax poetic all day long about the need for less and smaller government, both federal and state, but using that same government is ok if it's regulating my uterus, and
b) Spout loudly for political gain or TV ratings about religious freedom and individual rights. As long as you agree with their particular religion or belief structure. Not so much if you're a Muslim wanting to build a mosque in New York.
Finally, I appreciate and acknowledge those who disagree with your post here and engage in the debate. But to the ones who simply say "go back to your knitting" ?? Really? I can understand all kinds of disagreement, but seriously - go back to your knitting???? Unless someone is holding you at knitting-needle-point and forcing you to read the blog, I'm pretty sure you have the choice to just not read it. No need to be so righteously snarky about it. (And yes, it's not lost on me that I'm likely being righteously snarky in writing that. Oh, the irony.)
First, thank you for writing this! I second everything you said! Second, as long as women are the ones having babies, this will be a women's issue. At the same time, I'm pretty sure most heterosexual men would like to have sex more frequently than they would like to have children, so this is a need for men as well. (I bet if men were the ones who had to take a pill, the political discourse would be quite different.)
Third, I hate to sound picky, but I wish you would have included the phrase I've added, in the 4th paragraph when you say "would be to only ever have sex (with a man) when she was willing to have a baby."
Since not all women are heterosexual, as I know you are well aware. :-)
Not trying to be critical, just giving visibility to multiplicity of experiences.
Thanks Steph for another wonderful post. While I'm not well-versed on the finer points of each GOP candidates' views on abortion and contraception, I wholeheartedly agree that women need to continue to fight for their rights. Not just their right to control their own reproduction, but their right to vote, to get paid equally, and to get the same consideration and respect that men often take for granted, etc. (too many things to list). I am a physician in the US, and while Ob/Gyn is not my specialty, I think that many people (men and women) don't realize that pregnancy is not necessarily a "benign," straightforward, or easy condition for the woman or fetus. A woman should have the right to choose if she gets pregnant and undergoes the whole process of it and its resultant long-term affects, and if she unintentionally does get pregnant, she should have the right to terminate it. Yes, I said terminate. Not kill, not murder-- an embryo that then becomes a fetus (at 9 weeks) is a growing collection of cells. What is the point of anthropomorphisizing a collection of cells? Your body makes collections of cells all the time. Some of them you'd rather not make, such as malignant tumors, and we certainly don't fight for their "rights" like many people say they are fighting for the "unborn child's rights." When that infant/baby/child is born, of course they merit their own inviolable rights, but not when they are "unborn." Maybe I sound a touch too cynical, but when your patient is the woman, it's your job to protect your patient's rights, not the rights of whatever may be growing inside her. I could go on and on, but this comment has to end some time ;)
I could not agree with you more, Stephanie. Thank you!
To those of you who don't think that you should have to "pay" for other women's birth control - in the U.S. at least, if you have children, all of us are forced to "pay" you for having them since our tax laws allow you a deduction in the amount of your taxes for each child you have.
Thank you Stephanie. Well said.
@Sarah March 9
sorry - yes, that's what I said, but not what I meant. It's hard to be eloquent when trying to narrow down my thoughts to a few cogent sentences.
Yes, of course, all the other ethnicities are people too! However, what I was trying to say, is that WASPS are threatened when they see that they are about to become a minority, and the politicians play to that fear. They take advantage of that fear, in order to promote their own agendas. And of course, the chances are strong that WASP politicians are prey to the same fear - they they in turn won't have voters, if their traditional support base becomes the minority. I THINK that clarifies it, but I am still open to debate. It certainly was NOT intended as a slur on anyone but rapacious and opportunistic politicians, and I'll slur them any time I feel like it. Thanks for picking that up and giving me the opportunity to respond.
Hi, this comment may have already been made and I apologize if that's so, but I'm just too lazy to read through all 300 something preceding comments to find out. Anyway, while all U.S. Republican candidates may believe life begins at conception, Ron Paul, as a libertarian, does not propose that abortion be made illegal. It is his stance that the legal status of abortion ought to be decided by state. While I believe abortion is immoral (and I 100% respect your right to think otherwise and love those who agree with you just the same as those who agree with me), I think the true libertarian stance (and my stance) is that abortion should be legal if only because I'm not the boss of you (or anyone else) ...how is it that anyone can tell me what to do with my body (wrong or not)? There are some things that are between me and God and not me and Uncle Sam.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and courageous post. I am American and have been appalled by the current political climate here. I recently had the dubious pleasure of hearing one of my state representatives comparing women to farm animals on the house floor.
I am lucky to have grown up with both legal abortion on demand and with access to hormonal birth control. My mother remembers the days of having friends die from back alley abortions. I know women who have had abortions relatively late in pregnancy - right on the borderline of what is illegal in many states. They had pregnancies where the much wanted baby had no brain, large holes in the heart, and multiple other defects at once, no hope of survival. The decision was completely heartbreaking. It would have been much more dangerous and much more emotionally difficult to carry to term. Those same women went on to become wonderful adoptive parents, as the thought of another pregnancy and risking having similar defects again was more than they could bear.
I recognize that accessible birth control is what enables me to have the life I live. My graduate education and professional life would be so much different - the willingness to train and employ someone in a position of responsibility depends on employer confidence that the risk will result in a long-term benefit rather than in someone who will be leaving frequently or soon and permanently to give birth. I work with women who are living in poverty, and insurance coverage is very important for them. These are women who struggle to cover housing and food for themselves and their children. I'm not convinced that they could reliably afford birth control without coverage.
What's going on at the national level is disturbing, but whats happening at the state level in many states here is positively frightening.
The other day, on Facebook, in response to all that has been happening and some reading I've been doing, I posted two separate but similar posts. One, to men, was--how would you react of someone told you you were doing something like a woman? If your response was insult and outrage, then that's something to think hard about, because it sure smacks of your thinking of women as less. To women, it was--how would you react if someone told you you were doing it like a man? If you were terribly flattered, then that's also something to think about because why is that better? The global culture of misogyny is alive and well. We've made SOME progress that we had thought, obviously erroneously, was bulletproof. But in terms of seeing women as equally holding up our shared sky, I am thinking perhaps not so much. I think we need to look, men and women both, at our underlying feelings. I have a hunch that we won't necessarily like what we see, but that's fine. That's how we grow...
Each and every day a woman is alive, new born, born again, or ancient, is Woman's Day. We, as a sex need no special day
When we were made, we, like any other creature God made, for a purpose. We have meaning because we live...not because it is a certain "day" that is declared. No. We are special because of who and what were created to do and what who we are.
I am proud to be a woman and need no accolades to pronounce my value. For I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have given unto Him against that day.
I am woman...watch me change the world
Thank you Stephanie for your clearly written and brave post. I can't believe that women's sexual and reproductive health has become an issue for political debate! Contraception=Good Health for many women. It is something we take to other countries to help prevent the loss of lives in those countries.
If we allow politicians or Insurance companies to have dominion over our rights to health, it WILL mean we are owned by them. Once they decide we shouldn't have contraception paid for by the cooperative insurance payments of everyone, how far will they push it?
I still can't believe so much time and energy is being spent discussing abortion. If all that energy was put into supporting those who chose not to have an abortion, we wouldn't have many. But the truth of the matter is, women are shunned and left to their own resources when they fall pregnant.
Please use your wits. Pro-Choice does not mean people rubbing their hands with glee over another baby killed. That is a despicable and demeaning subversion of the idea that a woman's body is her own possession and has a right to chose what happens to it. Instead, it is the fact that we believe that should a woman ever have to choose the unthinkable, (a decision never taken lightly) they be able to obtain an abortion with out the added horror of other peoples' harassments. People (women included) have to do what is best for their own lives, the decisions being between them and their God. YOUR opinion should not be an issue.
Feminism is not a bad word. We need more men to declare their beliefs in the equal rights of women
Well said Stephanie. It seems to me that many of our younger sisters don't connect to our journey to obtain the rights we have. I am 60 and remember that my Grandmother fought for the right to VOTE, my mother's factory job was reclaimed by a returning soldier in 1945 - she was told to go back to her wifely duties. My first job was at half pay and half the vacation time because women were not worth the 'investment' the company was making. Young women today have so many rights and privileges but don't recognize the hard times and the bitter battles of the very recent past. It's up to US to teach them and to support their journey. Thanks for the reminder that we still have a lot of work to do. Stand firm for freedom of choice.
I live in the U.S. and am appalled by all the fuss lately over contraceptives.
What too many people here need to get: that very few of us can afford to have lots of children... and that married people do like to have sex!
I adopted a severely ill speciall needs boy and his twin precisely because of my anti-abortion pro adoptin beliefs. So I'm one. Women need to know they have the choice of an adoption at the end of their pregnancy - I'm not sure many are told. Please pro-choicers could you try promoting adoption aswell as a abortion at the very least?
Thanks for speaking so spot on about a subject that has made a head shaker out of me for years. In the U.S. currently women are slliding backwards rapidly, in some other countries the price they pay for being born female is just terrifying. I am giving my daughter-in law a Mother's Blessing tomorrow as she prepares to give birth to her daughter. I pray our little girl will live in a world where she can be what she wants,speak her mind, live in safety and health and be supported by people that love her all her days. I have always been saddened that people that are prochoice are treated as if they don't love children. I just don't believe I can dictatae to another woman what is right for her family.
We are currently cruising the Abacos, Bahamas on our SV Oneday and I was talking to a well informed shop owner in Marsh Harbour recently. She informed me that Bahamian women do not have any "rights" here and that they actually voted against equal rights.
I think a lot of it has to do with the amount of ideological rhetoric that the US does not regulate- TV, radio, news. None of it is required to be factual. So it works like advertising- lying to people about things until they think they should be skinnier, have expensive plastic surgery or that they are a whore for taking birth control. Emotion trumps logic because that is the way the human brain is wired. (See- The Political Brain) There is nothing to regulate manipulation of emotion with falsehoods and hyperbole. It makes me spitting mad that folks think my IUD is immoral. How many fertilized eggs does a woman's body throw off naturally? Should that be illegal? Are miscarrages murder? Is a potential human more important than an existent one? Thank you for this post. I hope it provokes more dialogue.
I'm for freedom of a well-informed choice, where ever that leads me. I'm against the government getting into my choice. In the Netherlands abortion is not this big of a topic, nor is the pill. What is a big issue is the shawls that muslim women choose to wear in this country. We have at this moment a big support for Geert Wilders, who leads the ironically called "party for freedom", who uses feminist propaganda to get a law against these shawls. "Muslim women are so oppressed, that we need a law to prohibit the shawls, just to protect these women."
Since when is telling the "apparently oppressed " women what they -can- and -can not- wear on their head the grant solution for freeing them of their "oppression"? I just wish more feminist here see that. If someone chooses to wear the shawl, how is that oppressing? The key here is having a choice.
I like having a choice. As a pagan women I really do not want to hear from Christian people what I should and should not do, just as much as they would not want to hear from me how they should live their lives. Hey, if you are against abortion and gay marriage, then don't do it. Just don't take away my choice to have a planned parenthood, to end pregnancies if they turn out to be too handicapped to live a good life. You do not have the right.
And yeah, as a handicapped women I would not want my children to be severely sick or handicapped. It is a though and painful life. If my mother would have terminated my life in the womb I would not have minded it, looking back.
My mother wanting me to live was not a guarantee for a happy and meaningful life. Life is only as precious as the people who take care of it in the end think it is. (and are able to take care of it)
But that is just me. I understand that people feel very strongly about this and might not agree with me.
People who promote "adoption instead of abortion" perhaps don't remember (or know) what it was like for women who did give up their babies (under duress or otherwise). They had to sneak out of town "to visit Aunt Mary" for six months; when they returned, it could never be spoken about again. The paradox about loss is that if it's never discussed, it never leaves you. And if anyone did find out that you had given up a baby, their reaction was never: "What an unselfish thing to do." It was: "so, your boyfriend wouldn't marry you?" or: "how could you EVER give your baby away to strangers?"
I thought long and hard about whether I would post to this thread. I live in a first world country outside North America, where there is free access to healthcare, education and women have been able to vote for more than a century.
Unfortunately access to these facilities didn't prevent me from being raped at 17. For the people advocating NFP, adoption, promoting the conception of a foetus as a baby - I have never been able to take the pill for medical reasons, strangely enough my attacker didn't trouble himself with contraception and I count myself fortunate every day that I did not conceive as a result of this episode.
If I had, abortion would have been my choice. As it was, I have been fortunate to receive counselling and support, and even then I continue to have nightmares about what happened to me and have struggled with relationships. I was in no position to be able to care for a child when I was broken myself.
15 years later I am expecting my first child with a compassionate, considerate and loving man. I do not and can not compare my current situation with that of my 17 year old self. No-one should be able to judge or condemn someone for this kind of action and it makes me incredibly sad to see people posting on this thread that abortion is equivalent to infanticide.
As always, wonderfully well-written, but for once I shall politely disagree with you. Just a little, and just on one point.
Choice isn't a gift. It's a right. It's a right that had to be fought for, but it's a right.
So exercising choice, even women who choose to vote against their own interests -- be they choices in our bodies or in a voting booth -- it isn't a simple mater of using, or not using, the gift of a scarf. Not at all.
When women vote against their own interest, it is more like living in a country where you have the right to wear a scarf, and receiving one as a gift, but belonging to a cult that forbids women to wear scarves. So not matter how much you treasure that scarf, you fear eternal damnation if you dare to wear it.
This is the conundrum of the right-wing woman voter: she wants her earthly rights, but fears damnation from her God if she stands up for them.
So all she can do is take out the scarf every once in awhile, admire it, but never dare to wear it.
And that is NOT a choice.
35-40% of women have had an abortion? I fervently hope that your statistics are inaccurate. I am deeply saddened to think that more than one in three women would have felt it necessary to make such a choice -- and deeply afraid that their hard-won right to make that choice may be removed.
35-40% of women have had an abortion? I am deeply saddened that more than a third of women would have felt it necessary to make such an excruciating choice -- and deeply afraid that their right to do so may be removed.
It is always amazing to me how a gaggle of men can make abortion, birth control, etc. when they don't have a pair of ovaries.
I'm a fiscal conservative but liberal with choices to your personal life as I think a lot of people are. Abortion is a very personal choice, I support anyones right to have one. I don't feel obligated to pay for it though and feel it isn't right to force us to. I can see one accident but multiple abortions? Go on the pill, stop having sex or use a condom EVERY time. Abortions aren't a form of birth control.
Let me add to that. I think it will be understood as a given that rape, the mothers life or a badly handicapped fetus are exceptions.
a very interesting post Stephanie. I'm a bit late in reading through the comments. One has popped up though re: what it means if the law states that life starts at conception and that it would then ban birth control. I did read some articles in the Washington Post and listened to news analysis. There are some lawyers out there that are saying that it could incidentally accomplish just that since some birth control is designed to not allow a fertilized egg from being implanted. If that egg is fertilized, it would be considered life under the proposed law. Therefore, one couldn't use anything that would prevent the implantation.
What I really want to see is more education on the different types of birth control, how they work, the different options for preventing pregnancy, etc. I would like to see more support for options to continue getting education, while raising children - more on-site daycare for example.
It is a very sensitive issue but it does come down to an individual's choice - based on their own values, their medical provider, any person involved in their life with whom they want to make these choices. I do not like to see the government entity getting involved in these choices.
"Women have the right to vote. Women do vote. We're mostly literate, with at least the minimum amount of education to be able to make our own decisions, and the amazing thing to me is that given the gift of choice, we would make a choice to vote to restrict women's future choices."
Very thoughtfully said.
We must work to keep back ally ways from being the place that furture generations must go for medical care. Many people forget/ignore how many women have died and continue to die each year trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies where birth control is not allowed.
Along with the possible removal of choice is also the movement to reduce aid to dependent women and infants also called by another name Welfare. Taking away the availability of choice will undoubtably increase the number of dependent women and children and infants. These are related to each other take either one out of the equation and the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and ignorance continue.
Woke up with insomnia, came to the computer to turn it off, and remembered that earlier today, a friend reminded me of my favorite conundrum for the "personhood begins at conception" crowd. No "life begins at conception" enthusiast has ever been able to answer this without hesitating, or look me in the eye with their answer:
You are in a hospital. There is an explosion, and the hospital is rapidly engulfed in flames. You run down a corridor as fast as you can, and soon find yourself at a T-intersection with another hallway.
There is an exit door at each end of this new hallway -- two ways out! The hallway is very long, and you are in the middle. The fire is approaching you FAST from the last corridor down which you ran.
Near one exit, a frightened three-year-old girl is huddled on the floor, unable to open the heavy door.
Near the other door -- far away, at the OTHER end of the hallway -- is a liquid nitrogen canister bearing a large label that reads: "HANDLE WITH CARE: 10,000 FERTILIZED HUMAN EGGS."
You can save only one. There is no time to save both. The exit doors open only outward, so you cannot grab one, run around the outside of the building, open the other door, and grab the other. You cannot call anyone on your cell phone to alert them to the presence of one or the other. In short, you cannot invent an option "C."
You must choose. The blaze is fast at your heels. YOU must turn, left or right, IMMEDIATELY, and save JUST ONE. The little girl, or the canister of 10,000 fertilized human eggs.
Which do you choose?
It is a question I would LOVE to pose to each and every political candidate out there. Just to watch them squirm.
Hong Kong right now stays one particular of the best offshore banking jurisdictions. It delivers a great mix of financial institution secrecy, corporate secrecy, a financially and politically steady environment, and sturdy banks. But probably most importantly, it is a safe offshore investment haven for these who want to diversify out of sinking western currencies into booming Asian markets, and China in particular.
Hong Kong, in my opinion, is the only functional illustration in the globe of a main town that has been developed from scratch and run as something of an offshore, free of charge marketplace experiment - very first by the British, then by the Chinese.
What has been left out of this post is God. Our society seems to think that it is all about "us". But, it is all about our Creator's plan for us and is you are not scripturely inclined, then you have missed it all. I am Catholic and live closely to the tenets of the Church. Those of you who are Catholic and don't use contraception should look closely at who you really are. It is not Carholic. Marriage was created by God in order to increase his kingdom. As the mother of 4 and one who also last 4, we have lived closely to the catechism to do God's will.
Betsy - abortion was pretty much like you described back then too - shameful and hidden. Adoption has moved on and most adoptions are very open. No shame attached, just the joy comfort of knowing that the life you created has made someone else very happy instead of ending with you.....
Thank you for the lovely post for International Women's Day. I am reading it a bit late and I am amazed by the variety of comments it inspired.
It puzzles me that some women forget the degree of poverty around the world, and even in the U.S. as one of the biggest reasons for abortions. A poor married woman with 2 kids to support simply can't afford to have another, just the expense of the additional daycare until they are school age is huge. And in the U.S. the pitiful amount of paid maternity leave of 6 weeks shows the total ignorance of the energy it takes to mother an infant!
sorry people don't seem to understand yet that this is not a knitting blog, it's Stephanie's blog who is a multi-faceted woman who writes about lots of topics. love you, love the blog, love this blog in particular for making people think.
have not read all the comments, but I will say that the last one epitomizes why I read and love this blog! Yay to Stephanie!
I'm a Canadian woman. I don't care about contraceptives if men or women want to use them, except to the extent that hormone use might not be healthy - I don't know. And I strongly believe abortion is wrong.
As a woman I really get mad when people (mostly other women) assume that as women we all think the same way and that we all believe abortion is just another health procedure, like having a tooth removed. I believe otherwise and think it's pretty much just as sexist to lump me in as if I must surely favour abortion. Really, if anything, the fact that in Canada an abortion is completely legal up to the time of the birth of the fetus (can I call it a baby at 7 or 8 or 9 mos gestation?) is more problematic.
So often it seems to me that women's groups are so focussed on abortion as the priority that the desperate situation of women around the world who want to have their babies, the both of them healthy and alive, comes second. That is not my idea of progress. Happy Women's Day. I agree that we have a long way to go.
Thank you, yarnharlot, for this fantastic blog post. I've shared it whereever I could.
To those commenters who've chosen to bring GOD into this discussion: Please keep in mind that NOT EVERYONE is religious. And for those who are, there are those of us who are conflicted between FAITH and the politics of CHURCH.
I've grown up Catholic, in a very Catholic family, going to Catholic school my entire life, church every sunday, started a Youth Group within my own church, etc etc. The first 18 years of my life, there wasn't a day that went by where I didn't actively take part in my faith.
What was the crux for me, though: losing my virginity being raped by a family member AS A MINOR, and becoming pregnant from it. It was in my best interest, despite my Catholic upbringing, to have an abortion, cosidering I was under 18, raped, and pregnant as a result of incest.
Because of the abortion - not because of the rape - I was asked to transfer myself OUT of a catholic highschool to finish my senior year elsewhere, since members of the school staff thought I'd be a bad influence on my fellow students. I was told by my priest that I was no longer welcome at my church, and as a result couldn't take part any more in the youth group I STARTED. And this was in CANADA, where one would think that my freedoms are protected, I was excommunicated from the only community I knew.
As a 30-something-yr-old, I still believe in God and what I was raised with, but my faith lies with what Jesus taught, NOT with what the church has enforced. I know that God still loves me, even though the Vatican may not approve of my actions.
Please, for those of you who believe you have moral high ground simply because of the religion you practice: Jesus taught us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER, without prejudice. We are ALL EQUAL, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or citizenship.
Excellent post. Mine isn't as political, but you can find it here if you are interested.
I find it very useful to listen to people I respect who have different opinions on important topics. After reading this rather patronizing post, I find I am no longer interested in anything you have to say.
As far as tax dollars paying for birth control - why not make the whole child support thing an issue? I know this has been brought up already in the comments, but it's all in the same pile.
I don't have children, but I've been actively paying taxes since I started working at 16, nearly 20 years ago. My taxes pay for schools, despite the fact that I don't go to school nor do I have school age children. My taxes pay for daycare even though I'm not using it. My taxes pay for people who are making a career out of welfare, and the children that they've brought into the world who are subsequently making a career out of welfare. So, if all this tax money that I'm paying for is in one way or another PAYING TO SUPPORT CHILDREN in one form or another, why not have it take care of things like birth control?
For some reason I can't pick and choose where my tax money goes, even though I work 2 jobs & 60+ hours a week, but I've got a government who dictates to me whether or not I can have birth control covered, whether or not abortion is a valid medical procedure, or even that I automatically earn less money than a man does for doing EXACTLY the same job.
I saw this very poignently from Pinterest:
Don't like gay marriage? Don't do it.
Don't like abortion? Don't get one.
Don't like drugs? Don't do them.
Don't like your rights taken away?
Don't take them away from other people.
Just a simple comment. It's not about abortion. It's about people taking responsibility for their actions BEFORE a pregnance occurs, whether the man or the woman, or both take that responsibility. Abortion is after the fact. It's the effect of a person not accepting responsibility for their actions. Plain and simple. Are you responsible? Then take steps to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Are you pregnant? Then be accountable for the actions you took. Funny how all the people who are pro-choice have already had the opportunity to be born. It's about being responsible and accountable. Nothing else.
I am a feminist and a socialist and I am absolutely against abortion. I know that women have had the bad end of the deal with the unplanned pregnancy thing - that patriarchal society has intentionally done a really bad job compensating for the biological fact that it is way easier for a man to walk away from a baby that arrives at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstances. I think all this recent debate in the US about how wanting contraceptives on your health insurance means you are a "slut" is hateful and wrong, and I think it's ridiculous for Harper to cut funding for women's advocacy when it's obvious we still need it.
I just don't believe in one oppressed group improving its situation at the expense of another, more oppressed group. I don't think that ending the lives of unborn children is the way to improve women's rights. It is a cop-out. What we need is for our culture to change so that there is a better social safety net for mothers who feel they cannot afford a child, and for there to be a professional culture that makes a woman with a demanding career able to take the time to have a child - even at the "wrong" time - without losing salary or promotional opportunities. That would be a better level of equality.
I agree with some of your points, women's rights are definitely an issue that should always be taken seriously. But it does occur to me that there are some things that you may not be considering.
The birth control issue brought up is one, but a lot of people have commented on that one, so I don't need to reiterate it.
The other comment I have though, is about women in power. Did you ever consider that there may be fewer women in higher offices because, well, fewer women than men WANT to be there? I have my undergrad degree, am finishing up my masters and am planning on going back for a culinary degree as well, but honestly, I don't want to have a high power, high stress, hoity toity position. I'd like to do something I love and get paid well enough to be comfortable, but that's it. Most of my girlfriends feel the same way. I know many men who want to make the big bucks, however. It comes down to personality differences.
I'm not saying women can't. In fact, I think we could do a better job than men more often than not (or at least, just as often, don't want to be biased). But just because we can, doesn't mean we necessarily want to, right?
Just something to consider.
To Heather, March 12 @9:50 a.m.
I try to look at fighting this way (and it is fighting cause you're fighting for something): Why are we all fighting? When is the world going to stop fighting? There are a LOT of women who want to nuture. There are an equal amount of women who want to trail-blaze. Everything that is said here is about choice - making a choice for YOURSELF and having it respected - no matter what it is. I myself chose to have a child - I had a beautiful, now silly and morally wonderful almost 10 year old boy - a boy who is being taught that ALL people, women and men, boys and girls, guys and gals have been given a brain and with that brain comes the right to choose. You can choose chocolate or caramel. You can choose school or work. You can choose whatever you want. There are always consequences to those choices. Some are internal consequences and some are outward, or social consequences based on someone else's choice on how to feel about another's choice. When it comes to choosing to have or terminate a pregnancy, what I do believe most sincerely is that if it takes two to tango, then it takes two to make the decision. Yes, it's a woman's body, but if she chooses to have the baby, she chooses to engage the father (willingly or unwillingly) for his entire life with that little one. I believe the same for if she wants to terminate it as well - it should be a well discussed decision with the father. If we're to have equal rights with men, we must give them equal rights in the decision making when it comes to keeping or ending a conception.
I dunno... maybe it's because I have a son and I know for a fact through having two sisters who manipulated everyone to have babies before they could financially afford to (including my mother) and then proceeded to not only disregard the other parent, but through their hatred and greed, destroy their child's relationship with their fathers and their father's lives, that why is it that when it comes to pregnancy, only the women's feelings are supported? Why, when the father may WANT to raise the child and the woman wants to terminate, only her tango is the only one that is supported? I couldn't imagine the look of utter pain on my husband's face if I told him after I got pregnant that I didn't want the baby. Everyone makes mistakes - it's how it changes people's perceptions of people that lets you know the magnitude of that mistake.
Until we all understand "equal", nothing will ever be. Until then, we treat men as nothing more than a sperm donor which is NOT cool.
With regard to the contraception argument, if a woman does not want a child, then we have one of two choices - use contraception or don't have sex. Same for men. It is that incredibly easy.
I try to live my life TRYING to understand BOTH sides and their feelings. I don't have a choice. I have a son and a husband. There are no other females in my house except for my two cats. I know how I feel - I'm trying to educate myself in how THEY feel.
(please don't attack me! it's an effort)
Well our President succeeded in changing the focus from what he did which was trample on the first ammendment. Requiring catholic entities to provide contraceptives to women. When he saw that wasn't going to fly he made another unconstitutional move which is requiring insurance companies to provide contraceptives for free. There is not a republican who wishes for contraceptives to go away. We don't want the President to be telling a private company that they have to provide something for free. I know that due to our media and hollywood it appears that the USA is Liberal and it is just a few pesky conservatives keeping us from "utopia" Well it is just the opposite. Most Americans identify themselves as conservatives. I would call that our culture. We revere our constitution and get ticked off when Liberals use every tactic to undermine it "because they know what is best for us". Please respect our culture. Women if you want to be equal quit acting like shrinking violets and act like women. Quit groveling. I find women like Sandra Fluke despicable. After I had my children and went back to work I had to use a manual breast pump at work on my lunch and coffee breaks. Since I'm an Electrician I was hard pressed to find privacy on a construction site. I either went into a dark electric room or laid down in my car. At the same time I was reading about women in manhattan working in highrises complaining about pumping in restrooms or their office etc. Pathetic.
Reproductive choices should be private, not public or political. Educated, informed choices must be available. IF that takes politicians, then we're going to use politicians to get those freedoms. If a health care plan offers "erectile dysfunction" medications to men, they must, in all fairness, offer birth control to women. Egads. Thank you Harlot for making people think. And I think women must live their relatively new-found freedoms - teaching them to children - peace, forgiveness, acceptance, respect and curtesy to all. Hardest job on earth is being a parent because you must live what you teach. And you do. Thank you.
Let me say how much I enjoy reading your blog. I agree with so much of what you said in this post. I work in a male-dominated field and feel discrimination almost every day. But that's nothing compared to what women have to deal with in developing countries. Women every day are abused and enslaved. I do, however, disagree with your stance on abortion. I believe that the unborn are people, too, and their lives should not be taken away from them. It is estimated that last year about 40 million children were aborted (worldwide), which means that about 20 million female babies lost their lives. A woman's choice did that.
First off, thank you. Second, I can just see the steam. Third, YES, there ARE some "one issue" voters, and yes, one of our Republican candidates has intimated that he would like to see birth control become illegal. Along with teleprompters (no, don't try to figure that out...).
I belong to an organization called Zonta International - it's a NGO working with the UN to help advocate for women both locally and globally. Stephanie, you should look them up - they have local clubs that do a great deal of good in the town they're in as well as internationally.
That being said, I also (at 54) can't believe we're discussing contraception. And by the way, I would love to see Rush call MY mother a "slut" since my own mom used birth control. He'd be mown over by a 75-year old and he'd never know what hit him!
If the anti-abortionists are elected, women will be dying again from back-room abortions. Women have always had abortions but before they were made legal many women died from them.
No woman should be made to go through a pregnancy she doesn't want just to provide someone who can't get pregnant with a baby.
35-40% of women have committed murder, I mean abortion? Yeah, right. Sounds like repeat offenders, if even. Half those babies being ripped apart or burned alive are females. Is it really that much easier to kill babies if you are an atheist, Steph? And guess what, I am giving you all exactly the respect you deserve. Abortionists are losing big time in the public opinion because people, not just men, PEOPLE are waking up to this silent holocaust. That is why the abortionists are so desperate to switch the topic to contraception which has always, ALWAYS been available.
That's right, I said it.
Thank you for such a thoughtful post. Legally declaring that life begins at conception is not just a birth control issue. Already in the US women have been charged with manslaughter after suffering a miscarriage. One state proposed a law that would force any woman who suffered a miscarriage to "prove" the miscarriage was "natural" and not induced, something that is medically impossible. Declaring that life begins at conception means that any woman who suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth will automatically become suspect of manslaughter or murder, and can be investigated accordingly, with no way of proving her innocence. I, personally, don't want to see that happen to any woman who has suffered such a loss.
By law, all people have equal rights, both in the US and Canada. What people do with those rights is up to them. I do not participate in womens groups, because I believe they are outdated and have served their purspose by getting equality for women. The rest is up to the individual. I feel these groups brainwash some women into thinking that they need help to exercise their rights-they cannot do it alone. Sometimes these groups instill a selfishness that is counterproductive to the individuals themselves and our society as a whole, by getting the followers to focus only on their personal needs, not the big picture. Women should not need a special department in a government, nor should they need special days, etc. to be independent individiuals. This kind of thinking actually holds women back. The women's movement has produced many independent, well-balanced women who conduct their lives with confidence and success (whatever that means to them personally). However, that same movement has led many women to believe that they are entitled to have someone take care of them. They have children that they are not capable of taking care of, either financially or emotionally. They view excluding the other parent as a form of independence, which is actually selfishness. That is actually hurting their children because they deny their children the right to have two loving parents guiding them through life, even if the parents do not agree with one another. The example of parents working together is a strong one for children, which is not the norm anymore. Many single parents raise children to serve their own emotional needs when excluding that other parent from the child's life, when it is actually overlooking the child's needs. These parents expect the government (=the taxpayers) to support them, and listen to them complain about decisions they made with their own lives. This is where the women's movement is off track. They should still look primarily to the other parent for whatever they cannot provide, and they should be looking at the welfare of their children FIRST, not their personal convenience and emotional security. They should be PROVIDING emotional security for their children, not ignoring their children's needs in excluding the other parent to satisfy their own emotional needs.
There should be no Women's Department, and no special women's rights. Everybody is equal, and we all need to get on with our lives with independence and personal responsibility.
The issue of birth control is a personal one, largely determined by religious upbringing. However, women need to keep in mind that it is a decision not about themselves, but about others as well. A pregnant woman holds a lot of power in her hands, to terminate a potential life, and to prevent another person from being a parent. That kind of decision should not be entered into lightly.
Men and women may have equal rights in theory, but the current political climate in the US, at least, shows that this isn't the case in actuality.
The individuals right to bodily autonomy is being challenged by the current laws being introduced in the US. In theory, that right is supposed to be inviolable, even if another person's life is at stake.
There are lots of ways we could legislate "saving innocent" lives, but don't. We could require all healthy adults to donate blood and join bone marrow donation registries. We could require healthy adults to donate kidneys. We could require that, upon death, all viable organs must be donated. But we don't, because we don't believe anyone should have to give up their autonomy, even after death.
So why is it so different if you are a woman of child bearing age? Why should you have to carry a pregnancy to term, when you aren't legally required to donate blood, or bone marrow, or an organ to your living child, even if it would save that child's life? Why should women be granted less rights in life than in death?
There are a lot of sexist attitudes in the world. Here's one of them:
"All women should think, believe, and vote the same. Any woman who accepts ideas or teachings about the nature of the human person that are not consistent with modern feminist thinking is brainwashed, or stupid, or at least voting against her own interest. It is completely impossible that such a woman could have come to such conclusions as a result of careful study and serious thought. Therefore any institution that promotes these ideas is oppressing women."
This attitude is everywhere, including most of the comments and the blog entry itself. Why is this form of sexism more acceptable than other forms?
Like most things there are no easy answers these days. It's hard to vote based on one issue, so for me I find it's about holding my nose and choosing between the lesser of two evils, at least how I may perceive that. Agree with what you're saying about women for sure, particularly since I've had a professional career in business as a result of affirmative action. Everything today seems to be so polarized at either extreme, when most people I know are actually in the middle, wanting fiscal conservative and social liberalism! It's much easier to hole up and knit...
I've carefully considered both sides of this debate in my life. I was raised by extremely liberal educated parents (I'm the daughter of two attorneys), and grew up staunchly pro-abortion. I'm definitely not there anymore, and even have a 20-year-old program to help young women and couples in crisis pregnancies--by providing dressers filled with baby supplies--as a result.
In my professional life, I have worked in regular hospital nursing practice, public health for low income migrant farm workers and other low-income people, and in a street clinic for homeless people... I do a lot of medical/legal advocacy work for families with handicapped adopted children. My husband and I have six kids, including two birth and four adopted...
I wish I could tell you otherwise, but to be truthful, in my "real life" practice, I can't tell you the number of women who have come to me--years after their abortions-- and told me that they were forced to go through the procedure by either their parents or their boyfriends/husbands, totally against their will. Other health care providers have told me the same thing.
It's common knowledge that in China, most abortions are done for the sake of sex selection--i.e. aborting female fetuses, because families value boys more than girls. The same thing has happened in the U.S. for years. If I look at it honestly, how sexist is that?
As medical care improves for premature babies, prenatal specialty nurseries are able to save babies who are born as early as 22-23 weeks, and without the blindness, cognitive problems, and cerebral palsy which marked premature babies years ago. Babies as small as 14 ounces are able to survive and be actually healthy as they get older.
I don't know how it is in Canada, but it is quite common in the U.S. for doctors to do abortions in the second and third trimesters, including two local hospitals where I first worked during and after nursing school. In the U.S., that beautiful baby whose picture you posted the other day could literally have been aborted just before his head was delivered--just because it hadn't emerged from his mother's vagina. Because I've seen this in my nursing practice, I've had to come to the point to honestly ask myself, "Is the only difference between an abortable fetus and a baby the six inch trip down the birth canal?"
And these are just the medical considerations--not a hint of religious concerns.
It was so easy when I was growing up to just blithely say, "Yeah, abortion is fine, and it's a choice." But if any person--pro-life- or pro-choice--understands the real in-your-face facts of looking at cut-up pieces of a fetus who could have survived outside the uterus and been placed for adoption--but didn't because the birth dad was pissed off--it should be a hard discussion, no matter which side of the argument a person is on.
Again, Stephanie, thank you for your thoughtful consideration of all of this. I appreciate your honesty.
Amy, thanks for correcting the misinformation about the pill in several posters' comments. yes, bc pills (and Plan B) can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. This is why pro-life pharmacists don't want to dispense them.
So if you believe a fertilized egg=a human being, it is hypocritical to use the pill or Plan B.
AnnieRN: "it is quite common in the U.S. for doctors to do abortions in the second and third trimesters"
More misinformation. In the U.S., 88% of abortions occur in the first trimester. Just 1.5% occur at 21 weeks or later.
Stephanie, it's unfortunate that so many people slavishly hang on your every word. Your statistics are ridiculously wrong, as are your pronouncements on Republican candidates. Yes, they are for the most part complete idiots, but so are you. If you really think that the USA sucks so badly, feel free to stay north of our border. This liberal, pro-choice woman thinks you need to STFU unless you REALLY know what you're talking about. Stick to your knitting until unless you educate yourself properly and get your facts straight.
Seriously, Buns at 3:04 am? What possible reason could you have dumping such crap on our host? "Stick to your knitting"?! Amazing.
Stephanie is entitled to her beliefs, as are you. She never said that her writing was anything other than her opinion. Stephanie, however, is polite - something you obviously don't know anything about. If you read through the comments, you'll see that there has been surprisingly little "shouting" in this lengthy string, despite the polarizing issues being discussed. Adults can do that.
Someone who professes to agree with her shouldn't be this disagreeable.
'So all she can do is take out the scarf every once in a while, admire it, but never dare to wear it.' Amen, Dez @6:56, AMEN.
Thank you for pointing out some of the awful things going on around the world. Here in Illinois, we have a new bill making its way through our legislature that would make women seeking an abortion submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. One of the scariest things about it was that it came out of the agriculture committee. Apparently, they think so little of us as women that we are lumped in with cattle and sheep.
I do not for one second believe that a woman having an abortion doesn't absolutely agonize over it. Prolonging her agony by forcing her to submit to legalized rape is cruel and unnecessary.