I am Pro-Life

(47 Posts)
AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 27-Jun-13 15:57:48

Inspired by the Wendy Davis threads and something being discussed on those, so please forgive the repetition.

I am sick of the anti-abortion debate hogging the term pro-life and making me out, by implication, to be anti-life.

I am pro-life.

I am pro-women's, men's and children's lives. I am pro-medical advances that extend lives and cure diseases. I am pro-healthcare programmes designed to improve public health and extend lives. I am pro-care for the elderly. I am pro-feeding the hungry and helping the poor. I am pro-advances which allow more women to successfully carry a pregnancy. I am pro- supporting those with mental illnesses.

Thinking specifically of the developing world, I am pro-safe drinking water. I am pro-sanitation. I am pro-medication and malaria nets and my wonderful friend who researches in the area of malaria. I am pro-education and and I am pro-those seeking to wipe out FGM.

That's just a few of the ways I am pro-life. I am going to stand up and say it loudly. I am pro life.

I am also pro-a woman's right to access a safe and legal abortion if she wants to or needs to.

reelingintheyears Thu 27-Jun-13 16:04:27

Yep,it is unfortunate that by declaring themselves pro life they,by definition make the rest of us sound as if we are pro death.
I've thought it for a long time but I suppose it's choosing your battles because the 'pro lifers' won't change their stance.

OddBoots Thu 27-Jun-13 16:07:08

Many of those who claim to be pro-life seem only to be pro-birth, after birth they don't seem to give a monkey's what kind of life a child has.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 27-Jun-13 16:10:28

Reeling - I do agree with 'pick your battles', but I suppose what I meant was that you don't have to have a fight with the other side. The more pro-choice people who also identify as pro-life, the less power that phrase has.

reelingintheyears Thu 27-Jun-13 16:12:33

I know,i agree,i'm pro life in the way you describe too ,I am also pro choice.

Jubelteen Thu 27-Jun-13 16:20:21

Yes agree totally with being pro-(womens)life. I don't get the anti-abortionists, how does it impact on their lives if I have an abortion? I like the idea of diluting the power of "pro-life" as a phrase.

scallopsrgreat Thu 27-Jun-13 16:22:50

But sometimes you don't get to pick your battles do you? As demonstrated in Texas. You have to front it head on whether the forced birthers are going to have their mind changed or not. Because other women need to see that their rights are being fought for and to try try try to stop dangerous and misogynistic bills from being passed.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 27-Jun-13 16:32:24

Scallops - Sorry if I wasn't clear. What I meant was you didn't necessarily need to directly debate about terminology to undermine the rhetoric from terms like pro-life. Sometimes you do need to debate that stuff head on, just as you need to address dangerous anti-women legislation head on. But at other times, maybe we can just chip away at the use of that term whilst doing other things.

scallopsrgreat Thu 27-Jun-13 20:49:22

On no Amanda I think you were quite clear. I just misunderstood. Ignore me I've got a cold! smile

VodkaRevelation Thu 27-Jun-13 21:04:15

I have always seen the term pro-life, as used by anti-abortionists, as meaning pro the life of an unborn child. I think for most people it is a given that we are pro-life in the general sense.

If you are pro life and pro choice do you value choice and/or the mother's life above the life of an unborn child?

mignonette Thu 27-Jun-13 21:10:36


specialsubject Thu 27-Jun-13 21:11:54

and so do I.

anyone seriously against abortion must be prepared to adopt and bring up an unwanted child. Never heard of any anti-choicers that would.

HairyLittleCarrot Thu 27-Jun-13 21:18:23

well said, Amanda. I completely agree.

And in answer to vodka's question, I personally value a woman's life more than the foetus inside her body, yes.

I do not believe that the law should have any say in what a woman chooses to do with her own body, at any time in her life. I'm elated that the filibusting was successful. It gives me hope to see that people are willing to fight for freedoms of others which are being eroded.

VodkaRevelation Thu 27-Jun-13 21:33:27

I think abortion should always be available where there is a medical need or in cases of rape but I do think women have the choice to not have a child before they become pregnant.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 27-Jun-13 21:44:59

Yup, and they also have the choice not to have a child if they conceive one.

HairyLittleCarrot Thu 27-Jun-13 22:33:28

how would you evaluate whether a woman was actually raped or not, vodka?
and what would you say to the woman who you decided, nope, I don't reckon you were raped, so you cant have an abortion. Off you go, now.
and how would you treat the woman who felt violated by having to prove that she was raped, to you, the judge of her worthiness to have an abortion?
how long would this "raped or not" trial last?
what about the woman who doesn't feel what she does with her own body or why she does it is any one else's business so won't discuss the sex act which led to her pregnancy with you?

Have a think about how it would practically work if you tried to introduce a way of judging worthiness of access to abortion.

Think about why its ok to abort if you are raped ( innocent victim doesnt deserve punishment of unwanted pregnancy)

And then realise that this means you are also equating
1. an unwanted pregnancy with punishment
2. a woman who consents to sex as deserving of punishment

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 27-Jun-13 22:41:09

Vodka - My question to you (following on from Carrot'spoints) would be why you believe abortion should be available for rape?

If it is because of the horror of having to give birth to your rapist's child, then in that situation you are placing the rights of the mother above the right to life of the baby.

I may strongly disagree with anti-abortion rhetoric which says that, as soon as a fetus has been conceived it is a person and has as much right to life as any other person. However, at least it is consistent (though difficult in situations where you have to balance the risk of death of both parties). I have never heard an argument for allowing abortion after rape which doesn't inherently contradict the reasons for being anti-abortion in the first place and/or directly or indirectly imply that unwanted pregnancy is a punishment for having sex other than to procreate.

runningonwillpower Thu 27-Jun-13 22:42:27

VodkaRevelation, I have some sympathy with the views you are expressing. Maybe.

For example, I don't think that abortion should a substitute for contraception. But what if contraception fails?

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 27-Jun-13 22:51:41

Running - But do you honestly think that there are many women out there using it as a substitute? The numbers must be miniscule. Yes, I can believe that there are women out there using the morning after pill as a substitute for proper contraception. But abortion? It's not quick, it's not easily accessible, in many cases it is very expensive, it's pretty visceral. I honestly think that the image of a feckless young woman on abortion number 7 is put about because that kind of extreme rhetoric helps those who want to outlaw abortion by stealth- by making women jump through more and more hoops to access one.

In a similar vein, there is an interesting Guardian article here about reporting on abortion.

NiceTabard Thu 27-Jun-13 22:52:28

The thing I never understand is that looking at he situation factually, restricting abortion does not result in fewer abortions. What is does result in is more illegal abortions, so the incidence of the woman/girl being permanently damaged / killed increased hugely, while the number of foetuses terminated remains the same.

So in fact, so called "pro-lifers" are actually in favour of more death.

Quite aside from anything else, like the points already made on this thread, and many others besides.

rosabud Thu 27-Jun-13 22:53:17

Very well put HRC Can I add, what about very young women who weren't raped (I'm thinking early to mid teens) but who are heavily influenced by a culture which sexualises young girls? Are they to be punished, too, with unwanted pregnancies? That seems unfair when the companies that promote such sexualisation, from advertising companies to clothing comapnies to media outlets etc etc and make a great deal of money out of it are not punished. What about young girls from vulnerable backgrounds or who have had poor access to good models of mature adult sexual behaviour and don't have the emotional maturity to be able to refuse sex? Do they all have to go through with unwanted pregnancies too? So then we could be in the situation of immature, vulnerable children bringing up the next generation. Unless we force them to give their babies up for adoption, like they would have had to do in the 1950s and 60s and the cases of emotional scarring for both mothers and offspring in such circumstances are well documented.

NiceTabard Thu 27-Jun-13 22:55:15

from 2009

came up, I was looking for the stats about south america recently

NiceTabard Thu 27-Jun-13 22:56:35

recent case

"Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates, the WHO says. For example, the 2008 abortion rate was 32 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Latin America. In Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds, the abortion rate was 12 per 1,000"

NiceTabard Thu 27-Jun-13 23:00:17

there are many many groups of females who are at risk through carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Whether through DV, mental health probs, loss of career / earnings / relationship / being shunned / health problems / risk to person and existing children due to already having as many children as they can cope with / etc etc ad infinitum.

Bottom line is that women are sentient beings who are afforded equality in law and thus must be granted autonomy over their own bodies.

And if that's not good enough, know that factually pro-lifers are campaigning for women to suffer and die.

NiceTabard Thu 27-Jun-13 23:05:32

Well obviously there are many many women who are at risk from carrying a wanted pregnancy to term, but that is kind of outside the scope of this conversation.

Incientally why do "pro-lifers" always seem to consider pregnancy and childbirth as a sort of null risk / nothing thing? It's still pretty much the most dangerous thing you can do in any country, relative to that country. And that's just physically. I think people who present it in this way (why not "just" have the baby and have it adopted!) really do see women as nothing more than semi-sentient beings whose purpose is to breed.

VodkaRevelation Fri 28-Jun-13 03:36:08

I know it's more complicated than that. I certainly couldn't judge who should and shouldn't have an abortion. I guess my views are for me and the decisions I would make in my life. I would never have an unwanted pregnancy, planned or not. For me sex is not just for reproduction but I know I could get pregnant any time I choose to have sex so it is always on the cards even at a very small level.

My views on this subject are by no means fully formed and I guess I entered this discussion to challenge myself rather than others.

Abortion has affected 3 people I know. 2 who decided now was not the right time for a baby (one multiple times) and one who was advised by doctors to have an abortion as the baby was not developing as it should and would not survive. She refused, and has a healthy little girl with a small disability.

I think in the former 2 cases education about their cycles as well as contraception could have, perhaps, helped prevent them having to go through the trauma of an abortion. Maybe they were educated and 'got carried away'. But then there's the morning after pill. Or, maybe contraception failed and they didn't know until it was too late.

We can each only account for ourselves. I do think there are cases where women could 'choose' before pregnancy. Yes, they can choose after conception too but before would mean they wouldn't have to go through the trauma
of abortion and the creation of an unwanted life could be avoided in some cases. Do we educate young people enough on sex and the outcomes of it? Enough so they really do know how easy it is to get pregnant or not to
get pregnant. I suppose what I find hard to understand is abortion as a back up option and, as in the cases above, this does happen.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Fri 28-Jun-13 08:37:29

Vodka - But you still haven't answered why you think it should be available in cases of rape, or how that would work? I do appreciate that you are thinking things through, but I think knee jerk reactions like that (oh yes, obviously an exemption for rape) do need to be challenged and thought through.

VodkaRevelation Fri 28-Jun-13 12:37:07

I acknowledged it wouldn't be simple to do. I accept it may not even be possible.

My views are based on choice. If someone is raped and becomes pregnant they did not make the choice to. If someone has consensual sex, knowing that there is a chance they may conceive then there are opportunities to make a choice before conception. And if accidents happen there is the morning after pill. And there is just not doing something if you can't live with the consequences.

But, you're right, none of this could be monitored effectively. As I said, my views are for me and the decisions I make. Yes, I don't understand why people can't make a choice before hand. But I do believe everyone should be able to make the decisions right for them. I don't have to agree though.

I want to add I am going through a miscarriage at the moment so my feelings on this are heightened and confused. I do know I am grieving for my unborn child. Every unborn child is a life to me and it makes sense to me that choice should be considered well before the stage of ending a life in the cases where this argument is relevant.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 28-Jun-13 13:37:55

Vodka, I am sorry for your loss.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 28-Jun-13 13:40:38

If contraception fails, where is the choice?

VodkaRevelation Fri 28-Jun-13 14:00:33

Thank you. For me, I would use the morning after pill. I also know that when I choose to have sex I could c

VodkaRevelation Fri 28-Jun-13 14:12:30

Thank you.

For me, I would use the morning after pill. I also know that when I choose to have sex I could conceive so if contraception fails I know I could get pregnant. For me that is where the choice starts. I wouldn't have sex at all if I felt so unable to deal with the consequences of it. That's me, and how I live my life.

This is how I have always felt even before I was married. Even when in a relationship I didn't necessarily see as long term I could have acknowledged the chance of conception and known I would happily bring a life into the world.


AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Fri 28-Jun-13 14:17:47

Vodka, I am sorry for your loss. I have experienced miscarriage myself twice, and do understand the feelings of grieving for a lost baby. If this discussion gets too hard, just say.

As regards the 'rape exemption'. The reason I specifically raised it is that, as far as I can see, it is incompatible with any anti-abortion argument based on the fetus having a right to life. If the fetus has a right to life, then that right must continue regardless of how it was conceived or who its parents are. Unless of course that right is not absolute, but overridden depending on how 'bad' the consequences for the mother. In which case I'm not clear why being raped and having a child is worse than some of the other circumstances in which a woman might desperately want or need a termination.

I also find the 'right to life' argument incompatible with arguments about the morning after pill (which, of course, is only an option if you know your contraception has failed. Which you don't necessarily with the pill or coil or injection) due to its mechanism of operation. I've said on threads here before that I don't think I could personally ever contemplate an abortion, and indeed didn't use the morning after pill when I knew we'd had an accident for the same reasons.

Your argument seems to be slightly different. It seems to be that, if a woman chooses to have sex, she is taking on the responsibility of possible pregnancy. So if she didn't choose to have sex, she shouldn't bear the responsibility.

I am not quite sure why you think that there should be such an absolute and crushing responsibility unless the fetus has a right to life though?

Do your views extend to placing such exacting standard on every man who chooses to have sex? What should his risk profile be every time? Because the woman is gambling with some pretty high stakes given that no contraception is 100% effective, and that many failures are not known about at the time.

Your argument also doesn't seem to about how we legislate, but rather your moral views on others' choices. Which is fine. But that makes you pro-choice. The whole point of being pro-choice is that other people get to make choices that you might never choose to make yourself.

5madthings Fri 28-Jun-13 14:23:10

Contraception fails and you don't often know until you find out you are pregnant, choosing to have a termination is dealing with it and for some people that is the right and responsible choice.

I have never had an abortion, tho my mum wanted me to when I got preg at 19 whilst at uni. Ds1 is now almost 14,I still completed my degree, but yes it made it harder. I font regret having him at all but I have wondered how different things would have been.

I don't know if I could have an abortion but I will never say never as I don't know what life may throw at me.

I believe in choice, as early as possible, as late as necessary. An abortion isn't something done on a whim fgs. Women have the right to bodily autonomy, I value the living, breathing woman over the unborn fetus. It is a potential life. I have also had two miscarriages and yes I mourned my lost babies. I can do that and still respect another woman's right to terminate.

Religion and politics have no place in my womb or any other woman's womb.

I am sorry for your loss vodka xx

VodkaRevelation Fri 28-Jun-13 15:05:37

Thanks for your replies and I am sorry for your losses too.

Your last paragraph sums me up Amanda and has made clearer to me where I stand (I think?!) I am pro-choice and certainly not anti-abortion in all cases. I can easily disagree with people's choices but I would NEVER want someone to feel bad about their choices and would never vocalise my views to make someone regret a traumatic and difficult decision.

I guess I do believe in right to life but also that the woman has a right to what happens to her body and life. The two things will rarely sit well together. It may not make sense so I can only apply my views and beliefs to my life and the decisions I make.

As for men, absolutely- I do think they should be responsible for any life they create but the nature of it is that the woman would be the one affected so how could we make men responsible? We couldn't so, yeah, my argument is flawed.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Fri 28-Jun-13 15:25:07

Vodka - Thanks for the interesting discussion.

I do think that, in the polarising and often aggressive debate on abortion, what you need to believe to be pro-choice is often mis-represented. You can be sure you would never choose abortion yourself. You can think it is rather horrible and very sad and the wrong decision in many cases. You can think all those things and still be pro choice if you believe that legally every woman should have the right to decide for herself. Of course, many feminists don't believe any of those things and have far more morally neutral views on the whole area - but actually pro-choice represents a massively wide range of emotions about abortion, with just the central agreement that it must be up to the individual woman and it must be legal and safe. Pro-life groups, who try to characterise pro-choice as being the same as being pro-abortion, rather miss that fact.

I know what you mean about struggling with two opposing views. I get that problem when the discussion reaches late term abortion. On the one hand, I believe in a women's right to bodily autonomy at all times. On the other, at 34 weeks or whatever, you are so clearly dealing with a viable baby who could live and thrive without advanced medical care (barring other complications). I've never squared the two, and the position under English law means I probably won't need to, especially since we are talking about such tiny numbers. I am comfortable with the law where it is. But nevertheless, I do get what you mean about trying to fit two views together that just don't go!

Sorry again for your loss and I hope that your recovery is swift. Be kind to yourself and don't overdo it. And if you are partial to one, a nice glass of wine later on (or a good brew if not).

VodkaRevelation Fri 28-Jun-13 15:57:20

Thanks Amanda. I am pleased I entered this discussion. It really has helped me think about what I really feel and believe. I am pro-choice and not pro-abortion. At the risk
of sounding stupid- Thanks for helping me realise I can be both!

I don't agree in all cases but would never want a woman to be forced into a situation she was unhappy (understatement!) with.

garlicnutty Fri 28-Jun-13 17:01:18

The more pro-choice people who also identify as pro-life, the less power that phrase has.

Do you know, for all the times I've argued about this phrase, I'd never thought of simply adopting it smile Thank you!

5madthings Fri 28-Jun-13 17:37:10

I don't like the idea of late term abortion but I simply believe that no woman would do it unless they had good reason. I also think its wrong that we allow it for babies diagnosed with disability etc in the womb and yet not healthy babies. By doing so we are judging the disabled as less worthy of life and that is wrong IMO.

And I truly think once you start giving a fetus rights we are leading down a very slippery slope. Women have the right to bodily autonomy.

msrisotto Sat 29-Jun-13 07:41:46

Great thread. Thank you for the incredibly clear, concise and sensible discussion.

CaptChaos Sat 29-Jun-13 15:54:04

This has to be the only time I've seen an adult discussion about this subject. Thank you to all the contributors, you have helped me to think differently about this.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Sat 29-Jun-13 21:06:15

5Mad - Yes, at an intellectual level I totally agree. I wasn't trying to steer the discussion off onto late term abortion (goodness knows it goes there on its own often enough). I was more trying to illustrate that many of us have areas of the debate that make us uncomfortable, parts of our views and emotions that we try to reconcile. And that that was ok.

Garlic - yes, it sort of dawned on me during the Wendy Davis stuff. If I walk up to a stranger and say "Hi, I'm Amanda, I'm pro-life", they'll assume I'm anti legalised abortion (and a bit of a nutter for walking up to them and announcing it, plus my name obviously isn't Amanda, so that would be extra odd grin). What if walking up to someone and saying that didn't automatically make a statement about abortion? What if it was just met by the other person thinking "well most people other than dictators and terrorists are, surely"

grimbletart Sat 29-Jun-13 22:24:06

When someone says to me that they are pro-life I always say "whose life?" because, sure as hell, they are not pro the woman's life.

Sparrowp Tue 09-Jul-13 14:07:49

"pro-life" surely means "pro-pre-life"?

Not as catchy, but much more accurate.

PeaceAndHope Tue 16-Jul-13 01:25:39

If you are pro-life, you're in the wrong place. There is no such thing as a pro-life feminist. No such thing.

inkyfingers Tue 16-Jul-13 20:46:29

Peace, you've missed the point of the thread then. Vodka was thinking aloud on this, and you've closed it down.

Eanair Wed 17-Jul-13 02:33:34

I think that what's commonly described as 'pro-life' could/should more accurately be described as 'anti-choice'. What I see on this thread and on other discussions is an acceptance that while an individual woman may not want/would not want to choose an abortion for herself, that she acknowledges the right of other women to make that decision for themselves.

However, what I see too often in the anti-abortion debate is a refusal to acknowledge that the choices of other women are valid and that the right to choose and the concomitant access to safe abortion should be open to those women.

I do wonder, though, whether a position that denies other women that bodily autonomy can be described as feminist, which I think is what Peace is saying. Personally I don't believe that that position can be a valid feminist position - I don't believe that if one is absolutely anti-choice and believe that that should be imposed on other women, that that is a viewpoint that I can recognise as feminist.

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