rockinlibrarian: (roar)
Today is apparently Respect Life Sunday, meaning that although the Gospel was about the vineyard with the horrible tenants problem, the homily steered off onto the issue of abortion in society and HOW is it that so many people find it acceptable when, say, it's illegal to crush a bald eagle's egg? As I listened I became horribly sad.* This was rhetoric I'd grown up on, this plea for the sanctity of life and how do we allow the murder of innocents, and I agree with it. But online I have encountered many of the folks on the other side of the issue, and have learned from them that the issue isn't nearly so clear as I'd grown up believing, and it bothered me that people who never heard both sides would never understand it.

And I think of the vineyard tenants who won't hand over the fruit and instead keep killing the messengers. It's easy for anybody to put themselves in the place of the messengers, the people they disagree with in the place of the tenants. The parable always works. So maybe people need to be thinking more about the fruit than who's who. Maybe we all have to learn to listen to messengers before we kill them, even if, in other instances, we might be messengers ourselves.

Because here I am. I'm going to be a messenger today. It's a relatively safe way to be a messenger, writing on a blog with an average of 28 readers, judging by my Google Analytics. But it's what I've got, and I am going to, by nature of what I'm going to say, disagree with most of you on a hot-button topic (and before you shut me off, I'm going to be talking about even more than that, too. Actually I am right now). Because If You're Not For Us You're Against Us, right? Well, too bad. I am hereby going to be both For and Against all of you.

"You can't do that!" you yell at me. "You need to make a STAND! You can't wishy-washy between things!" You assume I'm being wishy-washy. I'm not. I believe strongly in what I'm saying. I've picked a third side. It's a side I've found by listening.

So, right. My family is full of women who are Pro-Life Advocates, beautiful strong women actively involved in beautiful work for beautiful reasons.** So, you know, it hurts when the Pro-Life movement is brushed off as something misogynistic because that goes against my personal experience with it. You would not think that if you saw these loving women in action, if you listened to what THEY were saying.

But that is exactly the problem. Nobody sitting in the midst of Pro-Life activism is listening to what the other side is saying, either. Well, maybe some are. Like me, for example. When I compare what I hear on one side to what I hear on the other, misogyny is not the problem I'm hearing in the impassioned pleas of the truly Pro-Life people in my life. The problem I'm hearing is PRIVILEGE. They're speaking from this ideal of an unexpected human being coming into a world where they'll have everything they need to survive, with the support of two loving parents. Confronted with the facts that not every pregnancy happens that way, they perfectly innocently wonder well WHAT were those people doing having sex, then? It's not being judgemental as much as just NOT GETTING IT. A lovely cousin of mine, forgive me referencing her here, I'm not calling her out so much as just trying to show an example, anyway she referred to having had to deal with a "crisis pregnancy" of her own so she understood in on of her Pro-Life shpiels-- except no. I mean I don't doubt that for her personally it was a crisis, being unmarried in a conservative family, still looking for work. But she was an adult (if young by modern child-bearing standards), and her family is loving, and her boyfriend was-- IS-- a wonderful supportive man who married her soon after and they've happily raised their now-large brood together for 20 years. Not the same thing as a teenage kid raped or at least abandoned by the father, whose own parents can't even take care of themselves. Not the same as someone in an abusive situation. Not the same as someone who can barely feed herself, let alone a child. It's a privilege to be able to see a baby as a blessing. *I* had trouble seeing my children that way, some days!

The Pro-Choice people I've met online opened my eyes to that privilege. I think many of them would consider ME Pro-Choice now because I agree with them that making abortion illegal at this point in time would be very dangerous. Because I recognize that even though I would never make the decision myself to abort, I don't have the right to make it for other people. But I still don't think abortion's okay. It still bugs me when Pro-Choice advocates say a fetus is not a person (what, and if it's born extremely premature? Still not a person?)-- there may be an argument to be made about exactly what POINT a fetus becomes a person but it's certainly a lot earlier than At Birth. It bugs me when they laugh off the idea of Personhood. I DO disapprove of the use of abortion as birth control by people who DO have the resources to support the child. So I'm not going to jump up and say "YOU'RE RIGHT! THE PRO-LIFE CAUSE IS BULL! LET'S TEAR IT DOWN!"

I actually think we're all focusing on the wrong thing. We need to think about what it means to TRULY be Pro-Life, and we need to get ourselves far, far away from political pundits.

Here's the problem with abortion legislation. It's championed by conservative politicians. "Conservative" by definition means "I like things just the way they are." To like things just the way they are is, guess what, a privilege. That's why so many financially well-off people are conservative. That's why political conservatives are more likely to be from majority populations, from historically dominant populations. Your white straight male. Since, as I said, the anti-abortion mindset assumes a traditional nuclear family in order to use the "babies are a blessing" line, it has become a politically conservative issue as well and has gotten tied in with all sorts of other concepts that are, ironically, NOT PRO-LIFE. Laws touted as being Pro-Life that actually show little knowledge of medical sense, that shame needy women, that are basically men wanting to control women's sexuality. That's not what I want when I sign up for something that says I'm "Pro-Life," and I'm sure that's not what most other Pro-Lifers actually want, either. The birth control issue is of course a knotty one because that IS also against Church teachings, but too often they're lumped together politically in a way that doesn't make sense (doesn't better access to birth control equal LESS ABORTION?). But most importantly, most insidiously, the same politicians who claim to be Pro-Life with all this legislation THEN GO ON TO OPPOSE THE LEGISLATION THAT WOULD GIVE CRISIS POTENTIAL-MOTHERS THE SUPPORT THEY NEED. Oh, they skew it so you can't tell it's happening. They make sure to feed you all the stories about people who abuse the welfare system, ignoring the many more people who legitimately need it. They say people working minimum wage jobs are just NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH. They make you believe that people who are struggling in the world probably earned it, and feed your own unacknowledged privilege with the belief that things REALLY AREN'T THAT BAD for anybody (unless it's THEIR fault) so stop complaining.

Which sounds pretty un-Christian to me. Politicians have ruined what it really means to be Pro-Life.

So maybe it's time we fought back. Maybe instead of shaming unwed mothers we support them. Maybe we give them systems that will allow them to find child care while they work. Maybe we ensure better family leave options. Maybe we help them out of abusive situations instead of insisting that maybe it's somehow THEIR fault. Maybe we give them a world they're not afraid to bring a child into. THAT will turn the tide of abortion.

But who's going to listen to me? We live in a society where everyone listens to the news outlets that tell them what they already believe. If you've read this long into my post, you probably already agree with me, too. If you're too firmly on one side or the other, you clicked out a long time ago. Or you're just going to spew your opinion in the comments without having actually read or thought about anything I said because obviously if I agree about anything the other side says then I'm wrong. But I don't get those kind of comments very often. Actually I rarely get comments at all. I LIKE COMMENTS, YOU KNOW! They let me know someone is listening! And in cases like this, I too often feel I'm just shouting into the void. Because everyone's made up their mind already.

The truth is, this post was inspired by the abortion issue. But it's really about listening to people. Hearing what the other side is really trying to say. I believe there are more truly good people in the world than there are bad, it's just sometimes we don't know it because we get blinded by the propaganda of the people we sometimes agree with. And when we only listen to the people who think like us, we'll never know for sure.

*It didn't help that my children were misbehaving at the same time, which is, you know, frustrating.
**In thinking about my frustration with my misbehaving children, and how my dad was effectively a single parent when he took us to church too, I remembered, no, my grandma came with us, too. And then I started missing my beautiful grandmother, and... okay I am basically an emotional mess today. Anyway, if you're going to diss Pro-Life Advocates as a whole, be aware that you're dissing my grandmother and I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE THAT FROM ANYBODY TODAY. YOU LOVE MY GRANDMA DARNIT BECAUSE SHE LOVED YOU! I DON'T CARE THAT SHE NEVER ACTUALLY MET YOU, SHE DID!

You're right!

Date: 2014-10-05 07:11 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] brian288.livejournal.com
I'd like to add a couple things...

First, my mom is pretty conservative, and considers herself pro-life, primarily, because she doesn't believe abortion is a responsible form of birth control. But I asked her "what about rape?" She says, oh, there should be an exception for that. I asked her "what about incest?" She says, oh, there should probably be an exception for that, too. I asked her "what about situations where it is known that the child will have horrible birth defects and will never live a normal life?" And she says, yeah, there should probably be an exception for that, too. As long as it's not used for people who just want to have irresponsible, casual sex, and then a few months later, fix their little "whoopsie". She also, being conservative, doesn't really think it's any of the government's business.

And that's when I point out to her that her views are actually pro-choice. Like text book pro-choice.

The second thing that bugs me, is that the same conservative pro-lifers tend to also be pro-death penalty, opposed to gun control, and opposed to smoking bans, which I find to be sadly ironic. (Not that I agree or disagree with any of those particular views - I'm just saying that this set of views seems contradictory with a so-called "pro-life" stance.)

Re: You're right!

Date: 2014-10-05 08:12 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rockinlibrarian.livejournal.com
Oh so much yes to your last paragraph. I mean even the Church's definition of Pro-Life is against the death penalty, and that gets swept under the rug so often because of political issues. I can't stand when politicians claim to be Pro-Life and then support capital punishment. It's like "No, you're anti-abortion, not Pro-Life." But so many actual Catholic Pro-Lifers are willing to ignore that part of it for fear of alienating political "allies," and seriously, that is NOT the way it should work.

And ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION! Come ON! That's a cause that SCREAMS Pro-Life, and there's SO much Biblical support for it ("stewards of creation" and all), and WHY is that ignored?

Re: You're right!

Date: 2014-10-07 03:36 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] amelia r (from livejournal.com)
I agree with everything you said.

I'm pro-choice for the reasons you discussed with your mother. While I don't know if I could personally make that choice, I feel that with those circumstances it's up to the woman in that position to make the choice.

It bugs me too that these politicians can tell a woman in one breath she can't decided what to do with her own body and then in the next say that we can decided if a person should die.

Date: 2014-10-06 10:36 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] catarina niza (from livejournal.com)
28? That's great - my reader number averages to 1 (can you guess who?)
Ohhh, this post sings to my heart. This is so *it*. WHY isn't Huff Post or something publishing you? This to me is the real sorcery afoot.

Date: 2014-10-06 01:29 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rockinlibrarian.livejournal.com
Well now I feel bad I don't end up checking my blog reader every day. ;)

I think news outlets are part of the problem. They take sides. They DON'T publish stories that take a third side. And I'd be afraid they'd try to spin what I'm saying with headline choices, anyway.

But yeah, they SHOULD be publishing me. ;)

Date: 2014-10-06 01:34 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] millysdaughter.livejournal.com
I have to agree with you - I am struggling with many of the same questions myself - I do not think it should be illegal, but I oppose it as birth control. Personally, I think birth control pills - and the morning after pills as well - should be sold over the counter at big-box discount stores, no age questions asked. If they are old enough to need it, they are old enough to buy it. And if they had a "trusted adult" in their life that could take them to a gyno for a scrip, they would not need to be buying it for cash on their own...

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