March 9, 2010

Women and Children First

A lot of you will probably not be able to stomach much of this story. I, for one, will not watch the video the woman made for YouTube, though I may read a transcript of the CNN interview. Something tells me actually seeing this woman visually while hearing her talk about her "experience" might make me so angry I will punch a hole in the wall.

Before I say anything about the story that potentially makes me that angry, let me give a preamble.

"Womanhood" is a hotly-contested subject. What makes a woman a woman? How should she behave, in public and in private? What should she think of caring for others, especially children? Does she have an instinct or inborn desire to act femininely, or must it be cultivated? Is that trait even necessary? Should she sacrifice for others, or put her own interests first, regardless of the consequences to family, friends, etc.?

If you've read this blog intermittently, you'll know I fall pretty squarely in the Biblical womanhood camp, meaning I believe a woman has a God-given desire (and it is a positive, character-building gift) to care for others, to nurture, to be gentle, to be kind. My pro-life stance has naturally followed from this idea.

But I didn't always feel this way. Ashamed as I am to admit this, there was a time when I was very self-serving, and ambitious in a limited way, only doing what would help my causes regardless of who got stepped on in the process. And I felt completely at ease with doing so because I felt it was my duty and right as a woman to "reclaim power" that I had been "denied." My point is that women feel differently about "what it takes" to be a woman, some falling into the former camp (Biblical womanhood) and some in the latter (what I will call the "empowerment" group).

Accordingly, the opinions on children and how women ought to care for them vary widely, depending on the group one falls into. I know women on both sides, and everywhere in between. Women who strongly oppose abortion but have had one themselves. Women who had children at a young age, not knowing if they wanted to be a mom or not. Women who are strongly pro-choice but who desperately want children of their own. Women who have great careers but grieve over not being able to have children. Women who had miscarriages and risked another pregnancy anyway. And, women who have absolutely no interest in kids at all, their own or anyone else's.

There are grand statements and misinformation readily available from supporters of abortion. One in particular is that abortion is acceptable because there are many cases of rape, incest and threat to the woman's life in which abortion is the only way to save them. In reality, cases of pregnancy by rape or incest, or cases in which the woman's life is threatened by the pregnancy account for less than 1% of all abortions performed in the U.S. That is to say, the abortion industry does not primarily perform for high-risk pregnancies; it is used most often as an "on-demand" option.

Another statement frequently made by so-called "pro-choicers" (in quotes because they really only vie for one of the choices; what about family planning and adoption efforts? Nearly non-existant in most abortion clinics) is that "it's not a baby, it's only a fetus." But what exactly are the criteria? He can't communicate verbally? He's not big enough? He can't make memories? I highly doubt that they would allow the same argument for cases of stroke patients who become non-verbal, cannot form new memories and withdraw into their own worlds. How about dementia patients and brain injury-sufferers; are they also inhuman (or non-human)? If so, are they not also expendible? That is not a claim I think they would accept.

And even though I support it, the pro-life arguments seem to be very simplistic at times. People will say, "Consider the life of the baby first" without qualifying that the mother's life is also a concern. Not more of a concern, mind you, but something to consider nonetheless. And, of course, the assumption is here on the pro-life side that womanhood requires a committment to making sacrifices for someone else. The "pro-choicer" does not believe that a woman must act for anyone but herself, so the urging to "think of the baby" always falls on deaf ears. The "pro-choicer" also doesn't believe it's a baby (as we've already noted, it's totally unqualified, but..) so that's not an issue for them either.

Sadly, "pro-choicers" see choosing to have an abortion as a symbol of "empowerment," a loosely-defined term encompassing the idea that, because women at other times have not had access to abortions in a medical facility, women today must take advantage of this option. In a similar way, women of my mom's generation seem to grasp tightly onto the notion that women my age must take advantage of every opportunity to participate in society simply because we can. They want us to go to college and get married and have children and stay at home and go back to work and be politically active and active in church and somehow make time to be reflective of all these roles. I think many my age see choosing not to abort a baby as giving up their freedom. Which may be true in a time committment sense, but goes right back to the question of what it means to be a woman. Is a woman defined by doing the same things a man does, and nothing separately (like having children)?

Which brings me to the original story, which is basically thus: a woman, Angie Jackson, got pregnant, claims her life was in danger because of the pregnancy, decided to take the RU-486 abortion pill to abort the baby and subsequently sent both twitter updates while the pill took effect, and made a YouTube video describing the event. Later, CNN interviewed this woman, who claimed it was an "empowering" experience, and she was determined to "demystify" abortion. She also says that "when a woman wants to talk about it [abortion]" there is a "strong reaction," implying that women aren't supposed to talk about it whenever they want to.

Maybe. But perhaps people are repulsed less by the dialogue in general (after all, abortion is a pretty widely talked-about topic these days) and more by the circumstances: describing an abortion to the general public, publishing the event on public forums twitter and YouTube, claiming the baby growing is a "parasite, " and more. The most depressing, and anger-inducing, aspect is this woman's glibness about the event. I've known a few women who had miscarriages and it was a horrible experience for them, surely not something they would want compared to a self-induced abortion. After all, abortion is a choice whereas miscarriage is most certainly not.

One last thing: Jackson, known as "Angie the anti-theist" on YouTube (not mentioned in the CNN interview at all), claims that her life was in danger, yet nowhere does she mention the diagnosis except for saying she had back labor during her first pregnancy (which she delivered normally - the child is now 4 yrs old). If you're going to go public with such a personal thing, why not disclose the reason for doing it in the first place? Seems like a huge missing piece to the story. Jackson was supposedly also advised after the first child not to get pregnant again, because it posed a risk to her life. So... why did she take the chance? That is pretty irresponsible.

You can judge for yourself. I'm interested to read and encourage your comments, from either sides of the debate. Here are a few links:

the HotAir story, complete with video of the CNN interview and the YouTube video from the woman

a blog with comments about how "awesome" and "empowering" it was for this woman to post her abortion experience, which will surely "demystify" abortion and encourage others with her "courage"

another report, which says Jackson is a "cult-survivor"

commentary from a pro-choice woman - who had an abortion she describes as "painful emotionally and physically" - pertaining to the self-aggrandizing nature of twitter

and, the obligatory abortionist-sympathetic Huffington Post article which actually says this: "Worried about her health and her young son (who's four years old), she decided she would have no more children. But, despite using birth control, she and her boyfriend found themselves facing another potentially dangerous pregnancy." So, she knew she shouldn't have kids, didn't have a tubal ligation, and yet we are to believe they innocently "found themselves" facing another pregnancy? That is to say, the HuffPo has taken the couple's responsibility completely out of the picture.

If it is Jackson's choice to abort the baby, why isn't is noted that it was her choice to get pregnant in the first place? Or, was she unsure that pregnancy was still an option unless she was rendered impregnable by surgery?

1 comment:

Burkulater said...

This is the kind of news story that makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. I won't be watching the youtube either. I just cannot understand this stance, nor will I ever understand it, especially those with such liberating feelings after an abortion.


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