:: Sunday, January 26, 2003 ::
:: Saturday, January 25, 2003 ::
Feeling Like a Tongue-Tied Pro-Life Feminist?
Here's some help answering those tough questions from your abortion-advocating family members, friends, coworkers, etc.! Check out Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions.
:: John 1/26/2003 01:16:00 AM [+] ::
Serrin Foster Explains to the Washington Times That "Women Deserve Better!"
"Women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy also deserve unplanned joy," notes two-time Emmy-award-winning actor and New York Times best-selling author Patricia Heaton, who also serves as honorary chair for Feminists for Life.
The sad reality, however, is that this is so rarely true. In fact, the very opposite is usually the case: Women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy often end up experiencing the tragic violence of abortion.
Why is it this way? Or maybe more to the point, why should it be this way?
It is certainly not because women want abortion. We know even from numbers provided by abortion supporters themselves that the primary reasons women with unintended pregnancies turn to abortion are lack of financial resources and emotional support. Many women also say they felt abandoned, or coerced into having an abortion.
Despite child support laws, some pregnant women are threatened by the fathers of the child, who vow to withhold support.
Jennifer O'Neill, actor, model, author and spokeswoman for the Silent No More campaign, reluctantly had an abortion after being coerced by her powerful and wealthy fiance who threatened to take away her baby if she gave birth. She subsequently suffered nine miscarriages. "Nothing in the world could ever make me opt for that choice again," she said.
College-age women represent almost half of those having an abortion. Through FFL's College Outreach Program, women report almost universally that upon receiving a positive result from a pregnancy test they are told by campus clinic staff, "I'm so sorry" and are handed a business card to the local abortion clinic. Some colleges offer $300 loans for an abortion, but no financial aid for a live birth. Too often university clinic workers, counselors and professors tell women they can't possibly continue their education and have a child - as if women are suddenly incapable of reading, writing or thinking once pregnant. And those who are visibly pregnant are stared at like exotic animals crossing the campus. Forcing women to choose between sacrificing their education and career plans or sacrificing their children doesn't seem like much of a free choice.
Women in the workplace continue to hope for support through benefits - health care that includes maternity coverage, job sharing, flex time, telecommuting and the ability to make a living wage.
Many hope for support from well-meaning family and friends who - rather than offering congratulations, unconditional support and asking, "How can I help?" - tell her a child will "ruin" her life.
In other words, most women "choose" abortion precisely because they believe they had no other choice. As we note this month the 30th year since the Supreme Court handed down its Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion, this is no reason for women to celebrate.
Abortion is not a measure of our society's success in meeting the needs of women, but of our failure. And why celebrate failure?
Instead, this month the Women Deserve Better Campaign - supported by several pro-woman and pro-life groups - begins a long-term public education campaign highlighting this failure of abortion. The campaign is an effort to refocus the nation on why women feel pressured into abortion and to promote women-centered solutions to these problems.
Many women who have had an abortion carry emotional scars from the experience. Studies from Finland, Great Britain, Canada and the United States reveal higher rates of suicide, attempted suicide and psychiatric admissions for women who have had an abortion compared to women who gave birth. Feminists for Life board member Marion Syversen had two abortions as a teenager while living in an extremely abusive home. She supports studies of the impact on women who experienced the most common surgery in America. Reminded that former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said that it was problematic to study the impact of abortion because half of women would lie about their abortion, Ms. Syverson responded: "Well doesn't that tell you something? If it was such a great thing we'd all be talking about it!"
Women deserve better than this. FFL's honorary co-chair, actor Margaret Colin, recently asked members of Congress to "remember the woman" as we observe 30 years of legalized abortion and asked all of us "is this the best we can do for
Abortion is a symptom of - not a solution to - the problems faced by women. As Americans, we like to say that "failure is not an option." Thirty years of abortion is a tragedy. Abortion has completely failed as any type of social policy designed to aid women. Abortion is a reflection that we have failed women.
After 30 years, let's put an end to this failure.
This article was originally published in the Forum section of The Washington Times on Sunday, January 19, 2003.
ABC News on Feminists for Life
The original ABC News article appears here.
Feminists for Life
Groups Seek to Change Terms of Abortion Debate
By Dean Schabner, ABC News Jan. 15
Michaelene Jenkins has always considered herself a feminist, but 18 years ago she stopped believing that abortion should be legal — after she had one herself.
[Editorial Note: Elizabeth Cavendish says "welcome to the club"?! Pro-life feminists predate NARAL by more than a century and a half!]
Nothing prepared her for the emotional devastation she felt after she had the abortion, she said, but equally shocking to her was what she encountered as she was trying to decide what she wanted to do.
It was that experience — one that she said is all too common for women who find themselves with unexpected or unwanted pregnancies — that led Jenkins, now executive director of the Life Resource Network, to support a new campaign spearheaded by a group called Feminists for Life to make a case about "the failure of abortion to meet the needs of women."
The Women Deserve Better campaign, which is being unveiled in the Washington, D.C., area this month, seems to be an attempt to change the terms of the abortion debate on the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, which cleared the way for the legalization of abortion.
That debate, Serrin Foster, the president of Feminists for Life, admitted, has reached a stalemate "with one side chanting, 'What about the baby?' and the other chanting 'What about the mother?'"
The thrust of the campaign is that legalized abortion is not only bad for the unborn children, it's been bad for women and for all of society, because it has allowed employers, lawmakers, colleges and even health care providers to treat pregnancy as an easily avoidable condition.
"Babies don't ruin people's lives," Foster said. "Poverty ruins people's lives. Unemployment ruins people's lives. A lack of education ruins people's lives. Violence ruins people's lives."
Pregnant women grappling with the decision of what to do too often find themselves pressured by economics, by their employers or by their families or boyfriends to get an abortion, the campaign's backers say.
"Women say to me they don't feel like it's much of a free choice," Foster said. "I know women who have had arguments being pressured by their university health clinics to have an abortion. We believe that abortion is a reflection of how we have failed women."
That could change if there were social programs and laws to support mothers, and in its support for those issues the campaign shares common ground with abortion rights groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Organization for Women.
Who’s Fighting for What?
Those issues have been at the heart of the feminist movement since its inception in the 19th century, but according to Foster, they have gotten lost as the groups currently identified as feminist have focused on the abortion fight.
That's not the case, NARAL legal director Elizabeth Cavendish said.
"I'd say, 'Welcome to the club,'" Cavendish said when asked about the Women Deserve Better campaign. "NARAL has long been fighting for measures supporting women to make informed, reasoned choices and helping them bear healthy children should they decide to.
"To the extent that it's about giving women more options, we say, 'Go for it, great, get it done,'" she added.
[The link between abortion advocacy and feminism (in groups like NOW, which Feminists for Life leaders left in 1972) is, in reality, extremely recent. All the "first wave" feminists opposed abortion because it exploits and degrades women (the link provides only a sampling of quotes). They even worked to outlaw abortion. Of course, pro-life feminists are still around, continuing the true feminist tradition. REAL feminists are pro-life!]
But if there is agreement between abortion foes and supporters that women are still shortchanged, there is no common ground on what role the Roe vs. Wade decision played.
"We agree in some areas and part company in others," Cavendish said. "We support giving women acces to all their options."
A Forced Decision?
Options are what Jenkins said she did not feel she had 18 years ago, when she found herself unmarried and pregnant. Abortion was not her first choice. She said she initially wanted to have the child and give it up for adoption, but found no support for that decision.
"At the time, I was pro-choice," she said. "I felt abortion was very necessary for women to be able to advance their education and career goals."
Not only was her boyfriend adamantly against her tentative decision to carry the child and give it up for adoption, but her employer all but told her she would lose her job if she did not terminate the pregnancy, she said.
"I was young, I was living in a new state with a new job," she said. "All I could think was that I would have no place to live and have no job if I went through with the pregnancy."
She decided to have an abortion, but even then, she said, she wound up feeling shortchanged.
"It was even obvious going through the procedure that I wasn't being told everything," she said. "It didn't seem very pro-woman to me. I wasn't thinking in terms of ending the life of my child or facing the grieving process, and yet after it was over, that was what I went through."
She said it changed her entire view of the world.
"Something that I imagined would be empowering and necessary certainly wasn't," she said. "I felt violated. It made me rethink what it meant to be a feminist. It created a revolution for me."
Oxymoron or Rediscovery of Roots?
A woman's right to an abortion has played such a central role in the feminist movement over the last 50 years that the two have become wedded in most people's minds, though Feminists for Life's Foster said that the earliest American feminists [all of them, without known exception], such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, believed that abortion was degrading to women.
In the 1960s, though, abortion became a major part of the feminist platform.
Foster says the rationale for supporting abortion rights was that women could not gain equality in the workplace with men as long as employers had to worry about female workers getting pregnant and missing extended periods of time or leaving work altogether to care for their children.
Modern feminists, though, have never [?!] spoken in those terms. Abortion has been called a fundamental right because it concerns a woman's right to control her own body.
"I think it's an oxymoron to say Feminists for Life," Cavendish said. "You can't be a feminist and be anti-choice, or a feminist as I understand it, meaning that women are trusted to make their own decisions."
People on both sides say they agree that a woman should be trusted to make her own choice, but they still don't agree on what those choices should include.
:: John 1/25/2003 11:59:00 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 ::
Embryo Adoption: Please Aid My Research!
I am currently researching the moral issues surrounding "embryo adoption" (a.k.a. "embryo rescue," etc.). As you all know, thousands and thousands of human embryos, artificially conceived for couples who chose to have children by the immoral means of in vitro fertilization (IVF), are frozen in various storage facilities around the world. Many "leftover" or "surplus" embryos are abandoned to die in cold storage "concentration cans," are doomed to die after being thawed by facilities which no longer wish to store them, or will be submitted to further indignities in various kinds of embryo-based research (e.g. embryo stem cell research). Some people have proposed that one of the best alternatives to such hideous fates would be for the embryos to be adopted, implanted in the adoptive mother's womb, and born into loving families.
The Magisterium of the Catholic Church has not yet made any explicit statement regarding the morality or immorality of embryo adoption. Catholic moral theologians are divided on the issue--some favor and laud embryo adoption as a heroic saving act (e.g. Wm. May, Geoffrey Surtees, & Germain Grisez), others condemn it as a participation in the evils of IVF (or other immoral acts; e.g. Wm. B. Smith & Mary Geach).
I am currently researching the moral issue for a variety of reasons. If any of you find any Catholic sources (books, articles, etc.), whether online or in print, whether in favor of embryo adoption or opposed, including documents by the authors previously mentioned, please email me with more details on where I can locate those resources for my own research! Thanks!
:: John 1/25/2003 09:55:00 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, January 11, 2003 ::
Christmas Gift Idea
Every year for Christmas I donate money I've saved to a variety of charities like Feminists for Life, Nurturing Network, the Houston Catholic Worker's Casa Juan Diego, etc. Next, I get a pack of Christmas cards and insert a page in each which says "For Christmas this year, a donation has been made in your honor to [name charities and/or describe what they do]" (some charities like Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, and Heifer Project International make their own special cards for this purpose), and then I add a brief note to each of my adult friends and family members to personalize their cards. (Note: I probably wouldn't give this gift to a child unless I also gave a book, clothes, toy, or candy. A good explanation should also be given. Some kids may even want to contribute themselves!)
I recommend this practice: these donations make the perfect gift. You never have to fight your way through the holiday traffic at the mall, if you spend "over budget" it will really benefit someone, no one has to worry about the right color or fit (these gifts never need returning!), these gifts don't clutter anyone's home, they never have to be dusted, they benefit and are appreciated by more people than the addressee, they don't contribute to the "commercialization" of Christmas, etc. Each gift to your nearest and dearest is transformed into a work of mercy for others in need.
This works for other holidays as well. A donation to Nurturing Network, for example, makes a great mother's day gift (for mom or wife) with a card that says something like "I want to help other women become great mothers like you." Or give your parents an anniversary donation to Habitat for Humanity with a note that thanks them for "making a home" for you over the years. There are lots of possibilities. Use your imagination!
Don't have money for a charity donation? Remember that most charities will accept any donation, no matter how small. And if you really don't have any money to give, consider donating blood ("This year, a pint of blood will be donated in your honor...") or putting in some volunteer hours building a house! Be creative!
Of course there will be times when you see something in a store somewhere that "would just be perfect for so-and-so," or when you know an item a friend actually needs. You could always do the donation for Christmas and still give the "perfect" item as a birthday (or other special occasion) gift.
:: John 1/14/2003 01:44:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, January 09, 2003 ::
Editorial Offerings from the USCCB's Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
Here are some interesting editorials from the USCCB site:
:: John 1/11/2003 12:19:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 ::
Pro-Life Feminist Gear
The 22 January 2003 March for Life is coming up quickly! If you're looking for pro-life feminist gear, including t-shirts, mugs, stickers, postcards, and such, check out these online stores:
The inspiring postcards and notecards in each design are a new addition. All of these items are sold "at cost," meaning the store's designer & owner is not making any profit so the items are cheaper for you. For folks who don't want to wear the word "feminist" (some guys don't self-apply the term, though many cool guys, like Pope John Paul II, do), or for folks who just want a little variety, the design in store 2 ("Protest Violence & Injustice") is the one for you.
:: John 1/09/2003 02:31:00 PM [+] ::
Thirty Years After Roe v. Wade: Women Deserve Better Than Abortion
Coinciding with the 30th year of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade abortion decision this January, the Women Deserve Better Campaign is launching a public educational effort highlighting the failure of abortion to meet the needs of women. The campaign is a long-term effort to refocus the nation on the reasons why women feel pressured into abortion and to promote women-centered solutions to these problems.
The primary reasons women with untimely pregnancies turn to abortion are a lack of financial resources and emotional support. Abortion has been promoted as the answer, but it has instead been an obstacle to developing real solutions that truly address women's needs and concerns.
Partners in the Women Deserve Better Campaign who will bring their own perspectives and areas of expertise to the effort are Feminists for Life, Life Resource Network's Women's Task Force, The Second Look Project, Women and Children First, Solidarity With Women (Priests for Life), and the Silent No More Campaign, co-sponsored by NOEL (National Organization of Episcopalians for Life).
Campaign efforts in January will include ads appearing in Washington, D.C. subway trains, buses, and commuter trains as well as in print media. The ads are being sponsored by the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus.
The ads read: "Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."
Thousands of placards featuring this message will also feature prominently at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on January 22nd.
To see the ads or download them for your pro-life group's use, go to http://www.womendeservebetter.com and click "Join."
:: John 1/01/2003 01:32:00 AM [+] ::