Taking Responsibility: Pro-life Feminism

In all of the hub-bub surrounding the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood, the most disturbing is the accusation that those who support the pro-life/ anti-choice side, or those who just don’t want to support Planned Parenthood by giving them free government money, are somehow anti-woman, or worse, hate women. I am not going to speak for anyone other than myself but here are my thoughts on this sad, sad topic and if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be: responsibility.

-If you do not have insurance and need medical care, you need to take responsibility. Planned Parenthood is certainly convenient and easy to find but it is not the only option for free/ reduced cost cancer and STI screenings (especially if you find yourself wrestling morally.) The CDC offers a program in all 50 states called the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. If the CDC program is difficult to get to, try calling an OB/GYN office to see how much they will charge for screenings. You never know until you ask, right? One good place to start would be with traditionally Catholic hospitals, or OB/GYNs affiliated with them. Another resource is One More Soul, to find a Pro-Life Physician who might be able to help out.  As far as STI screenings, you can go to your local health department (as STIs are a public health issue.) Obtaining free chemical or physical birth control is a bit trickier. Pregnancy crisis centers usually offer free condoms, but to qualify for free chemical birth control (i.e. the pill,) low-income women may be required to apply for and be accepted into government programs (such as medicaid.) Which leads to…

-If you do not have insurance to cover chemical birth control, you need to take responsibility. Is there something you can do without? Is the data plan on your mobile phone really that needed? What about cable or sateillite? Those weekly mani/ pedis? To be honest, I have not purchased chemical birth control in over 4 years, so I have no clue how much it costs. The costs might be so out of control that simple cutbacks might not be enough. I don’t know. If you are a new reader, you might be wondering how we don’t have a house-full of children running around if there is no chemical or physical birth control involved? The Mister and I decided to learn about our fertility and we practice Natural Family Planning, also called Fertility Awareness. We observe mucus changes and basal body temp (when I am not nursing at night, which I am now, so we rely on mucus,) we track, we chart and when I am fertile, we abstain. That last part is where people usually say “Whoa, stop the bus!” But if you think about it, we have the control to not eat ALL the time, to not lie around in bed all day and to not wale on someone if they tick us off (unless you are on “The Bad Girls Club”) so why is it so odd to expect a couple to abstain when fertile? Which leads to…

-If you can’t afford chemical or physical birth control and you don’t want to learn about fertility awareness or follow the fertility awareness teachings to a T (after all, fertility awareness only works as well as the users using it… kind of like chemical or physical birth control, eh?) then, you need to take responsibility and I have to say it… don’t have sex or have sex with the expectation that there is a chance that you will conceive a child and that child will be it’s own unique creation and all yours to love and care for. If you are not ready to welcome a child, remember we are highly evolved creatures, there are other ways to declare undying love than bumping uglies.

As a parting remark, I want to put it out there that often times, people will declare you a non-feminist if you are pro-life. They will say stuff like “every child a wanted child” or “my body, my choice,” but I have to ask:

-Is it a choice if a woman has to choose between her child and her job?
-Is it a choice if a woman is told “end it, or I am leaving you?”
-Is it a choice if a parent threatens to disown their daughter if she carries her pregnancy to term?
-Is it a choice if a woman has to choose between putting food on the table and having a child?

We don’t want to set women up for false choices. The idea of choice implies that each option is viable in itself, not the lesser of two evils. In my mind, what we are telling women is “You don’t have the capability to do seek out resources on your own, if the government doesn’t give them to you and if you were to get pregnant at an inopportune time, you are better off getting rid of the pregnancy because your life is ruined if you even try to raise a baby and reach your goals.” How is that empowering women?

One of my best friends, and I will not name her here for she knows who she is, is the strongest person I know. She discovered she was pregnant not long after college graduation and she had her baby. She and the father married but later divorced, but she is rocking her life. Her child is amazing, everything that you would want in a child. She is a homeowner, she works full-time and is just an inspiration to me. I don’t know if abortion ever crossed her mind, but I thank God that she chose for life because our lives would be that much emptier without her and her child (after all, having a child changes you.) But that begs the question: Would I have abandoned her had she terminated her child. No, we are called to love and support each other through all times. Tough and Easy. That’s just how it goes.

For further reading about Pro-life Feminism, check out Feminists for Life.
Lent begins this Wednesday and I’ve decided that for 40 days I am going to avoid these HEAVY topics and try to focus on the spiritual with a dash of levity here and there. I’ll be including the meat-free recipes for your enjoyment and don’t forget, if you have one to share, email it to caffeinatedcatholicmama (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your first name for the props!

Pax Christi!



Filed under Catholic, feminism, life, political

7 responses to “Taking Responsibility: Pro-life Feminism

  1. Yeah, stories like that one are the thing that I think is most likely to change hearts. I have a friend who kept her baby who was the result of rape. That’s the one case everyone says is an “exception,” but that baby helped her heal more than anything else. Eventually she found a great Catholic guy who wanted her and her son too, and got married. Her husband adopted her son later.

    Meanwhile, people who have abortions regret them or become depressed. That’s not what we would wish on anyone.

    Like you say, we need to be giving women an ACTUAL choice. I would say MOST abortions happen among women who feel they have no choice. That isn’t freedom, any more than being forced to keep the baby secretly and give it up for adoption was 50 years ago. Women need to be supported if they want to keep the baby, too. If only it were still part of our culture that if a man fathered a child, he took responsibility for it! Instead it’s all left on the mother, who often does not have the resources necessary to care for it.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sheila! This part really resounded with me: “Women need to be supported if they want to keep the baby, too. If only it were still part of our culture that if a man fathered a child, he took responsibility for it! Instead it’s all left on the mother, who often does not have the resources necessary to care for it.”

  2. Excellent post. Thank you for listing some options and choices for women. The media has made it seem as if women will be deprived of vital medical care if the government stops giving money to PP. That’s a defeatist point of view.

    It is because I am a feminist and human rights activist that I oppose abortion and speak out about Planned Parenthood. I also speak out against the pink washing campaigns and SGK.

    Nowhere is it MORE anti-woman than in a society that tells a woman it is okay to kill her own offspring from her own womb.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Guggie! But I have to admit, I am totally ignorant about the pink washing campaigns and SGK. Please feel free to share!

      Pax Christi!

  3. ginmar

    I have to respond to the common anti-choice lie that ‘women who have abortions often regret them or get depressed.’ Long since disproven. In fact, abortions often alleviate the depression, anxiety, and pain that come with an unwanted pregnancy. It’s kind of funny. Nobody ever wants to talk about women who have kids and really, really, really regret it. http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/01/02/mtvs-truths-antichoice-lies

    If people really want to prevent abortion, they’ll hand out birth control like candy and educate women, not force that abstinence only crap down their throats. Why should women have to go from pillar to post looking for an option, when Planned Parenthood is easy, safe, and honorable? Isn’t it kind of insulting to assume that women haven’t done this? Crisis pregnancy ‘clinics’ certainly aren’t an option. And I have to say the idea of a ‘pro-life’ doctor is pretty unlikely—unless people are willing to be honest and point out that it’s not the life of the woman that he cares about. The Catholic Church, for example, just excommunicated a nurse who at a Catholic hospital who approved an abortion for a woman who would have died had she been forced to carry the pregnancy to term. They saved her life—but her life has little to no value, apparently. And of course, one can point to those instances where when an obscenely young girl was raped and impregnated the Catholic Church stepped up to excommunicate everyone but the rapist if anyone dared to get her an abortion that surely saved her life. There was one girl who was nine, I believe, in South America, another who was eleven, and probably more than I’m missing. Of course, if they excommunicated the rapist, then their stance on the child rapists in their ranks would look galactically obscene, and I’m not saying that merely because the infamous Father Porter was my parish priest for a while. It’s because if one cares about babies or children, one does not declare or place the mother or woman in the adversarial position with the fetus, which the OP hinted at above.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, GinMarie! I do think that we need to avoid superlatives such as “abortions often alleviate the depression, anxiety, and pain that come with an unwanted pregnancy.” For every delivery that leads to a happy healthy mama, there is another that leads to post-pardum depression. For every abortion that alleviates the depression of an unwanted pregnancy, there is another that leads to increased depression after the procedure is complete. We have no way of knowing how each woman’s individual psyche will handle the flood of hormones that accompany pregnancy and the abrupt secession of those hormones once the pregnancy is complete, whether by delivery or by abortion.

      There are areas in which condoms are “handed out like candy” but you still have high unwanted pregnancy rates. One that pops into mind is New York City. Condoms are handed out in New York City high schools (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070786/), but in 2009 74% of black teens found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/04/nyregion/04abortion.html). From the NCBI article :

      To understand the decline in condom use, the authors conducted focus groups with groups of students and examined schoolwide survey data. They found that even before condoms were made available in the schools, condoms were available from other sources in the community. The reasons youths gave for not using condoms did not typically include lack of access.

      As far as the rest of your comment, my OB/GYN is a “pro-life” doctor and he cares equally for the lives of the women and children in his practice. I don’t understand why that sounds so incredible? Medical tests can be wrong and we don’t know for sure what the outcome of the woman’s pregnancy would have been and we will never know. As far as the rape case, I am not going to get into Canon Law here, but I would hope that you understand that Canon Law and the legal system are not one and the same. Please know that “excommunication” does not require a public statement from the Church Hierarchy. Anyone who does anything to remove themselves from the Body of the Church is excommunicated, and that would include acts of violence. Public declarations are more dramatic, but they are no different from you or I being excommunicated for committing a mortal sin. But with that said, we have to remember that man is fallible and Christ knows the evil that lurks in the hearts of men (sorry, Lamont.) We can and will do wrong. It seems to me that you have been terribly wounded by some in the Catholic Church and for that I am sorry, but please do not hold the Church at fault for the actions of men.

      I look forward to hearing from you again.

      Pax Christi!

  4. Wendy

    The part of your post where you articulated the “choices” abortion offers women was my fav! I have vaguely thought around it, but never been able to express it. Thanks!

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