This will be a bit of a rant rather than a well-constructed article. You have been warned. Love ya!
Ok, so, I’m really effing sick of people purposely reframing “pro-choice” to mean “pro-abortion.” In the past week or so, I’ve seen those of us who fight for choice referred to as not only “pro-abortion,” but as “abortion advocates.” Who are these creatures who walk the land espousing the virtues of abortion?” I asked. “I’ve lived half a century, and I haven’t met a single one.” And no one could point me to any. Talk about your Straw Feminists.
Yes, I’m pro-choice. No, I am not pro-abortion. I do not advocate for abortion. I would never tell someone to have an abortion unless I thought that not doing so might kill them. I don’t think it’s something that should be entered into lightly. I believe there should be science-based limitations on when and how abortions can be performed. (I certainly don’t believe that a doctor should be allowed to kill a baby that survives a “botched abortion” — WTF, is that really a thing?) Yes, I know there are people who will judge a person evil if they claim to be “pro-life.” I’m not one of them–I get that some people actually believe abortion is murder. If I believed that, you can bet I’d be out there doing something about it. It makes me wonder how many on the right truly believe this in their hearts; why aren’t they taking to the street by the millions protesting all these dead babies? Why is this more of a political issue than a social one for them? I sincerely don’t get it.
Also, I’d have to turn myself in to the police, because I have had an abortion. I’m not sure I did it for the right reasons, but I do know that I was not in a position to provide for another child, and I believe that it happened so early in the pregnancy that it was not a baby, but a potential baby. And yet, that potential haunts me. Partly because I’m a mother and I know what it’s like to take a pregnancy through to term and give birth. And partly because I have a vivid imagination and can picture what that potential might have become. I’m sad about it sometimes, and I wish I’d been able to choose differently, because it turns out that was my last chance to have another baby. Sometimes the thought of that makes me cry. Sometimes (like, for some reason, when I watched Juno) I cry a lot. But none of this sadness or crying is about the idea of killing my child; I don’t believe that I did. I terminated a pregnancy in the first trimester, and to me, that is not murder.
But there is the potential, and there is the sadness. A few years ago I had a hysterectomy to eliminate the menstrual/ovulatory pain I’d lived with all of my teen/adult life. At that point, I still could have chosen to have a baby. I chose not to. I had what they called the “Blue Plate Special,” which means they took the works (uterus and ovaries). All those eggs…each of them was a potential life, too. Did my surgeon and I conspire to commit mass murder? No. No more than I did when I used birth control to prevent those eggs from becoming fertilized. No more than a man does when he pleasures himself or spills his seed into a spermicide-coated condom.
No, the sadness is about what might have been, but don’t discount it: it’s very, very real and once a woman chooses abortion, it can live within her for the rest of her life. Some might not like me pointing that out, but it’s true whether you like it or not. However, sometimes it’s the best solution to a difficult problem. Sometimes the condom breaks. Sometimes the pill fails. And if you don’t believe that the moment when sperm meets egg is tantamount to a lightning strike from God installing a soul and consciousness in that magical moment, well, then it’s simply not murder. I get that some believe that it is, and that drawing the line anywhere else is arbitrary. I just don’t agree.
And yet, here I am advocating not for abortion, but for options. Women must be allowed the option to choose not to carry a child. Women must not be forced to carry children in their bodies against their will. This seems so basic to me.
And another thing: Like voter fraud, I think the problem of sex-crazed women eschewing condoms for the convenience of their local abortion clinic is a made-up problem. Voter fraud almost never happens, and let me state this for the record: ABORTION IS NOT CONVENIENT OR FUN. If you’re a woman, ask yourself how convenient and fun a pap-smear is, and how often you’d opt for the super-invasive, painful, surgical version over actual birth control. If you’re a man and you’re completely grossed out by the preceding sentence, ask yourself the same question.
Ok, done ranting. I’d love to hear what you think.
As you probably know by now, yesterday we lost Dr. Sally Ride, a woman so many of us have looked up to for decades as a symbol of what a woman can accomplish in a man’s world. (That’s right, I said it: This is a Man’s World, and that’s why we still need feminism.) In the past 24 hours I’ve read so many heartbroken tributes from women for whom Sally was more than a role model; more than a hero. She was a turning point for girls whose passion for science had been discouraged and dampened by stereotypes.
Washington congressional candidate Darcy Burner said yesterday, “She made me want to be an astronaut.” And from my friend E: “A woman astronaut! That was transformative. This was when I believed that women had a chance. We could do what the guys did — let me rephrase. I knew we could do it, but that we would be allowed to do it.”
Sally made being the nation’s first woman in space look easy, though it was anything but. Everyone from NASA officials to the press wondered whether a woman could hack it. From her LA times obituary:
“There are,” Ride acknowledged, “people within NASA who need convincing.” She would have been much happier, I suspect, in the present day, when the presence of women in NASA is no big deal and every girl can dream of a career in science or technology or aerospace without being scoffed at and told, “Girls can’t do that.” But she had a big hand in making the extraordinary — a female astronaut — routine.
From her NYT obituary:
Speaking to reporters before the first shuttle flight, Dr. Ride — chosen in part because she was known for keeping her cool under stress — politely endured a barrage of questions focused on her sex: Would spaceflight affect her reproductive organs? Did she plan to have children? Would she wear a bra or makeup in space? Did she cry on the job? How would she deal with menstruation in space?
The CBS News reporter Diane Sawyer asked her to demonstrate a newly installed privacy curtain around the shuttle’s toilet. On “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson joked that the shuttle flight would be delayed because Dr. Ride had to find a purse to match her shoes.
At a NASA news conference, Dr. Ride said: “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”
Sally Ride made it her life’s mission to crush stereotypes relating not just to women, but to science. As Dr. Ride put it, “Girls tend to have a stereotype of engineers being 65-year-old guys who wear lab coats and pocket protectors and look like Einstein.” And she didn’t stop at being a great scientist and role model. After she left NASA, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to creating programs to inspire and feed kids’ passion for science.
And now, in death, Dr. Sally Ride has come out as a lesbian who lived happily with her partner for 27 years, adding support for a cause which must have been dear to her in life, but which had to come second to her desire to show kids–especially girls–that science was cool. Her image as the USA’s first woman astronaut was an important tool in that regard. She didn’t lend her name to many things. Her sister Bear Ride says she was a private person, but also: “That wasn’t her battle of choice—the battle of choice was science education for kids.” It seems to me that she sacrificed certain freedoms (e.g., the freedom to publicly love whomever she loved) partly in order to protect her “brand”–not for profit, but to avoid letting prejudice become an obstacle to her efforts to help galvanize new generations of scientists. Then yesterday she was all: BAM! Take that, everybody. Yep, she was gay, and you still love her.
I think I might love her even more.