Saturday, January 26, 2013

I was lucky: Why I am a Pro-life Feminist.

In September of 2011, I received the biggest shock of my life. I was pregnant with my first child. At the time, my husband and I were actively trying to avoid pregnancy. The plan was that we would wait until I had established myself as a certified hospital chaplain. I did not want to get pregnant in Syracuse, NY, half a continent away from all of our friends and family.

But I was lucky. I was happily married. My husband (Matt) had a secure, well-paying job. Except for the very end, my pregnancy was easy and complication free. And James was born a perfectly healthy and happy bouncing baby boy.

Many, too many, women out there are not as lucky. I imagine what would have happened if Matt wasn't there. I would have been forced to drop out of grad school just 3 credits short of my degree. I would have needed to find a full-time job somewhere, anywhere. Jobs are hard to come by for a woman with a BA in Philosophy and an unfinished MA in Ministry.

What if James was not so healthy or the pregnancy wasn't so smooth? I would have been forced to depend on my family, charity, and the gov't for help. It's very humbling to admit you can't do it on your own.

What if Matt and I did not believe that life started at conception? It was inconvenient to have a child before I could finish certification for chaplaincy. Now, even with Matt's support, I will not be able to finish the certification process until James is in school. Thankfully, with Matt's support, I was able to finish my MA.

What if James was unwanted? Matt and I had planned to have children, James was just 2-3 years earlier than planned. What if I hadn't wanted to have kids at all?

I cannot understand what a pregnant woman who has no money or resources is going through. I was extremely lucky on that count. James was extremely lucky on that count. I do know the feelings of grief however. Grieving the life you had intended to have. Grieving the plans you had made. Worrying about how we were going to afford this (Matt makes good money, but not enough money to completely take that worry away). Worrying about what my future was going to look like now that my plans have been smashed to pieces.

This is the reason why I'm a pro-life feminist. I believe life starts at conception. I've always believed that. Years before I became a Catholic, much less Christian, I was the weirdo pro-lifer among my Wiccan friends. I also think that it logically makes sense to be pro-life: if you don't draw the line at conception, where do you draw the line? There is no other clear-cut line except for birth, and I think most of us can agree that life starts at some point before birth. I don't remember ever making a decision to be pro-life. I think I've always been this way.

Link to article about how she underestimated women

As I've gotten older, however, I've learned that abortion is way more complicated than whether or not the child is a life. There are all sorts of socio-economic issues at play. In our country, women are still forced to choose between a child and an education, between a child and a career. Even worse, women are forced to choose between the child in her womb and feeding the children she already has. A woman should never have to choose between a child and an education or career. A woman should never have to choose between her children. Women protest in the streets for the right to choose, but none of these situations sound like much of a choice at all. It isn't a choice if your personal circumstances force your hand.

Here are the latest numbers: Of all women seeking abortions:
~ 75% say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents,
~ 75% say they can’t afford a child,
~ 69% are economically disadvantaged,
~ 61% already have at least one child,
~ and 44% of all abortions are performed on college-age women.

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal in the United States, but it is still an every day occurrence. It is the fastest growing form of employment discrimination. It often goes unreported, however, because women just don't have the resources to report it when it happens. (More info)

Abortion just serves as a band-aid on the huge gaping wound of gender inequality. Women deserve real solutions, not "quick fixes." We deserve equal treatment in the workplace. We deserve support as pregnant women and as single mothers. We deserve the right to not have to choose. This week was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Almost 56 million children have been killed. Millions of mothers have been forced to choose.

On both sides of the abortion debate, there are heated words and the absolute refusal to try understand each other. In the feminist pro-life cause, I see a middle ground. No one wants to see abortion numbers rise. No one wants think about the fact that a quarter of all African American babies conceived since Roe v. Wade are dead simply because racism in the workplace and education is not dead. Instead of talking about gender and racial inequality, we are just making it easier to get a procedure that does nothing to address the underlying causes.

A child is a gift. James has derailed some of my plans, but if you think about it, events happen everyday that derail plans.

I might not be a certified chaplain before I'm 35, but you don't have to be certified to work as one. This time at home with him has given me the opportunity to work toward my big life-long dream of being a writer. And you cannot know what it feels like to love someone until you have a child. You might not feel ready, but you'll never really be ready. No one is ever ready to have a child just like no one is ever ready to be married. You just have to jump in feet first and pray to whatever deity you believe in that you don't royally mess up. A baby changes everything but it's completely worth it.

Above is an old Johnson and Johnson commercial that I think of every time I look at my kid.

The following is a 9 minute long video in which the organization "Feminists for Life" respond to an actual recording of Roe v. Wade.

More sources:
This article connects lack of access to an abortion with poverty. I ask why is there a connection and why are these women on the brink of poverty in the first place

The official Feminist for Life website

More disturbing statistics on why women get abortions

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