A Private Message Discussing Abortion and Patriarchy

(mirrored from here)

Happy Tuesday!!

No real BFBTR for today…the local rag is late again. Ah well…

Over the past few days, I’ve been engaged in a discussion with a young man who identifies as nonreligious and “pro-life.” I have read various blogs by people who identify as atheist and “pro-life”…and I will admit that reading someone who takes on the topic of abortion from the position of atheist (many of whom identify also as freethinkers and rationalists) is very different from reading the standard religious nutzoids anti-choice proponents out there. That said, I tend to lean very strongly with PZ and Avicenna. I recognize that even among some nonreligious, freethinkers, there is a…distaste…for the idea of abortion.

Usually, though, I simply read with interest and remain disengaged from the general discussion. Usually. Once in a while, I dip my toes in the water. I know where I stand on the matter of the abortion debate (and longtime readers of this blog know that to be true…if you’re new here…scroll back and find the “Eggdrop Soup” entries). Typically, though…I avoid the abortion debate in favor of where my actual focus happens to be, which is comprehensive sexuality education directed primarily toward parents (at the earliest stages) with the long-term goal of reducing and containing sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Of course, the goal of STI prevention happens to work hand in hand with pregnancy prevention…but my focus, while strongly leaning toward women’s health, has a secondary, broader focus of reaching and helping other populations, including members of the LGBT community, addressing the specific needs of communities of color, people over 55 years, et cetera…

So to wind up in a lengthy discussion (over a period of several days thus far) about abortion, and about patriarchy…well, I will admit it took me by a bit of a surprise. I believe strongly in education. Comprehensive education. Both within the topic of human sexuality and other topics. The more information we have, the better equipped we are to make informed decisions. That is how I frame many of my discussions…from the perspective of advancing knowledge through as accurate of information as I can provide.

Which led me to this morning’s message. I will leave the individual unnamed…after all, this is a private message…but I want to share it here, in the event that the content might be useful for others. (The only corrections I’ve made to this are a couple of glaring typos I missed while composing the message.)

~*~

  • Good morning.
    I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with information. Truly.
    If you made it through the monstrosity of text walls I shared with you, and if you got through the Patheos link provided…
    …the next thing I’d like to share with you is that the woman who wrote the article in the link? I grew up believing very much the same things she expressed. I am a *former* “Pro-Life” believer. My transition from “Pro-Life” to Pro-Choice was a much longer journey than the woman who wrote the article. I was slow to understand the things she learned far more quickly (by comparison).
    What I’ve learned over the years is this: Nobody can “make” you (or anyone else) see anything. Each of us have to be able to see for ourselves…and in order to be able to see, and I mean *really* see, we have to have as complete and comprehensive information as possible. What the “Pro-Life” movement (which is MUCH MUCH larger than the anti-abortion campaign) does is work to muddy the waters and shield much of the critical information required to make a fully informed decision.
    One can be personally opposed to abortion…for *whatever* reasons…and still be pro-choice. Both things can be true.
    You asked what to do about undoing patriarchy. That is an *enormous* undertaking, because the history of patriarchy is so deeply entrenched in human (not American, but human) history. You are NOT alone in your frustration about that. There are days when I feel utterly impotent…helpless…enraged about the realities and outcomes of patriarchy…both here in the United States and around the world. It can truly be overwhelming. Truly.
    But trying to fight to make abortion illegal does nothing to advance the cause of undoing patriarchy. If anything, making abortion illegal only serves to reinforce it.
    You state that you are pro comprehensive sexuality education. That is what I do for a living. That is what I worked so hard to earn a doctorate’s degree for (even granting that all of my degrees are in *business*, which is extremely important for different reasons, because of the path I’ve decided to take career-wise, which I’m presently building a nonprofit business with the aim of reaching parents at the earliest stages to provide LONG-TERM comprehensive sex education from the very earliest stages of parenthood – yep, pregnancy). My business aims are rooted in advancing improved understanding about STI statistics, methods of prevention, and hopeful eventual containment…but STI prevention does work hand-in-hand with pregnancy prevention.
    There are three things that are needed to *truly* minimize the number of abortions: 1. Comprehensive sexuality education. 2. Legal and SAFE abortion access. 3. Free, universal access to hormonal birth control.
    Those three things…really JUST those three things…drastically reduce the number of abortions sought out by women facing unplanned pregnancies.
    Of course there are other things that need to be addressed, things like helping women and families who are financially strapped, to be able to afford things like food, health care, etcetera…women who might not otherwise seek out abortion for fear of not being able to adequately care for the children they already have AND any potential pregnancy they might not otherwise want to terminate.
    But really, it’s the 3 things noted that work to drastically reduce the number of abortions sought out by women. The “Pro-Life” movement is about -typically- Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage sex “education”, making abortion illegal, and….this is a big one (and why I suggested you look up the history of Griswold v. Connecticut)…undo the 1965 landmark Supreme Court decision of Griswold. If they can get THAT undone (which is the *real* goal, not Roe), they would effectively make hormonal birth control illegal…stripping women of their right to medical privacy, stripping women of their right to self-determination. That is the underpinning goal -after you cut away all of the clutter- of the “Pro-Life” movement.
    THAT is why I told you…if you work to make abortion illegal, then you’re actually serving as a tool of patriarchy. I wasn’t saying it to be mean, or harsh…I said it, because it is, simply, a fact. But rather than just tell you that…I chose to take you at your word that you’re seeking out information…and decided to appeal to your intelligence (and you strike me as an intelligent person)…and provide *SOME* of the vast amount of information available for you to be able to make a better informed decision about what position you wish to take.
    Cheers, and Happy Tuesday. ~dw
 
~*~
P/L/S
~dw

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