A farewell of sorts

As you may have noticed, recently I’ve been involved with an exciting new project. I’ve teamed up with Marysia of the Nonviolent Choice Directory to start All Our Lives. This project has been a long time coming. It started back in 2008, when Marysia and I shared our frustration that there was no longer any organization that advocated for contraception, sex education, and other vital needs without advocating for abortion as well.

Others, like LAMom and Cecilia Brown of PLAGAL gave their support, and we launched in March of this year.

We call ourselves a “reproductive peace” organization, which combines principles of the reproductive justice movement and the consistent life ethic. We reject the violence of abortion, and instead work for all women to have the power to make all nonviolent choices about their sexual and reproductive lives.

If that sounds interesting, please visit our web site and get involved. In particular, we’d love to have help getting the Nonviolent Choice Directory ported over to the new site.

This blog will stay up indefinitely — I have the server space, and it’s easy enough to maintain — but I have no plans to add to it. Thank you to everyone who has read and commented over the years; it’s meant a lot to me to know that there are other people out there who share some of my beliefs and frustrations. :) I hope to see you on the new site!

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I know how she feels

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee is upset that Elena Kagan once wrote, of the 1980 election,

Even after the returns came in, I found it hard to conceive of the victories of these anonymous but Moral Majority-backed opponents of Senators Church, McGovern, Bayh and Culver, these avengers of ‘innocent life’ and the B-1 Bomber, these beneficiaries of a general turn to the right and a profound disorganization on the left.

Johnson asks, “Was Ms. Kagan so dismissive of the belief that unborn children are members of the human family that she felt it necessary to put the term innocent life in quote marks, or does she have another explanation?”

I don’t know if Kagan has another explanation, but I do. Johnson would do well to read the rest of the phrase. “…these avengers of ‘innocent life’ and the B-1 Bomber,” Kagan wrote. Are B-1 Bombers incapable of killing the innocent? And are the lives of the innocent, whoever they even are, the only ones worth defending?

I’m sure that Elena Kagan doesn’t hold the belief that unborn children are members of the human family. Maybe she is unduly dismissive of that belief; I wouldn’t be surprised. But I think this quote is about contempt, not for the pro-life position itself, but for the all too narrow definition of “life” covered by that label.

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Guttmacher: Abortion has become more concentrated among poor women

The US may be a nation of unimaginable wealth, but its poorest women and children are made to live in quite another country, one of constrained resources and alternatives. And here are some of the real-life results:

The proportion of abortion patients who were poor increased by almost 60%—from 27% in 2000 to 42% in 2008 […].

The growing concentration of abortion among women with incomes below the federal poverty line likely reflects a combination of factors. Between 2000 and 2008, the proportion of women in the overall population who were poor increased by 25%. And a Guttmacher study published in the Fall of 2009 showed that the deep economic recession may also have played a role, as financial concerns led more women to want to delay childbearing or limit the number of children they have.

(Guttmacher Institute, Abortion Has Become More Concentrated Among Poor Women)

Not only are poor women less likely than more affluent women to be able to afford to raise a child without assistance, they are also less likely to be able to afford health care, including both prenatal/childbirth care and access to prescription contraception. One of the key reasons that women who use oral contraceptives sometimes miss pills (and are therefore more likely to become pregnant) is that they put off filling prescriptions for financial reasons.

We hope that the health care bill recently passed by Congress can help counteract these pressures on lower-income women.

(Crossposted to All Our Lives)

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Donate for prenatal care in Nebraska

Last week, I posted about women in Nebraska who have lost public funding for their prenatal care due to immigration politics.  Fear and uncertainty are driving some of these women to consider abortion because they're not sure how they'll be able to bear and raise their children.  Now there is a way that you can help. All Our Lives has created a charity badge for donations to One World Community Health Centers, Inc., aka Indian-Chicano Health Center, Inc., of Omaha, Nebraska.

If you wish, you may designate your gift specifically for prenatal care when you make your donation. Please donate if you can; if you can't, please help by spreading the word!

(Crossposted to All Our Lives)

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Nebraska prenatal care funding cut may drive women to abortions

While we’re all holding our breath waiting for the House to vote on health care reform, let’s not forget another health care situation. In Nebraska, Governor Dave Heineman is still refusing to support LB110. This legislation would allow the state to continue its decades-old practice of funding prenatal care for low-income women who are undocumented immigrants. The previous prenatal care funding expired March 1, and clinics in Omaha are starting to hear from clients who are scared and considering abortion:

McVea said she has been flabbergasted by the response from her mostly Hispanic patients, who have a strong cultural and religious aversion to abortion.

She said she can count on one hand the number of abortions she has been aware of over the past decade, adding that one of the clinic’s translators had never heard the Spanish word for “abortion” until the past two weeks.

“I just really underestimated how the loss of prenatal care would push so many people into doing something that ordinarily they would never, ever consider,” McVea said. “It’s a lot of fear. Uncertainty drives a lot of women to choose an abortion.”

She added that although the clinic is offering to help the women pay for prenatal services and reassures women that the government will pay for deliveries, the women don’t trust that information.

“We tell women, ‘It’s going to be covered, you don’t have to worry,’ ” McVea said. “But there’s a lot of fear because they’ve been turned down once.”

I’ve been in touch with OneWorld Community Health Center of Omaha, where McVea works, about earmarking donations for prenatal care at their clinic. I expect to hear back tomorrow. Please help if you can.

(crossposted to All Our Lives)

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The law problem

Last Saturday, I had my first long-form interview on the Shared Sacrifice BlogTalkRadio show. It was more than a little nerve-wracking. The great thing about Shared Sacrifice is that guests get a full hour to talk about the issues that are important to them. The difficult thing is — guests get a full hour to talk about the issues that are important to them! I’m very much an introvert, so it’s rare for me to talk to anyone for an hour straight about anything.

It went pretty well, with one exception. The question of legal policy came up, as it always does, and I had a lot of trouble with it. It’s very hard to answer. I know what’s wrong. It’s wrong that unborn human beings have no status in law. It’s wrong for the destruction of one of our daughters or sons before birth to be considered the equivalent of an appendectomy.

It’s also wrong that Amalia in Nicaragua can’t be treated for cancer because she’s pregnant. It’s wrong that a woman who has a miscarriage could face prosecution in Utah. It’s wrong that Christine Taylor could fall down a flight of stairs and then be arrested for attempted feticide after she went to the emergency room to see if she and her baby were OK.

I know what I want. I want social and legal recognition that in every pregnancy, there are two (or more) lives whose needs and interests we need to balance.

What I don’t know is how to get there from here. I don’t know how to get to the point of balancing two people’s interests when we only acknowledge one person’s existence. I also don’t know how to legally acknowledge the personhood of the unborn, in anything remotely resembling the current political climate, without inviting situations like Amalia’s and Christine Taylor’s.

I know what we can do. We can make the case for the human personhood of both pregnant women and the children they carry. We can urge people to consider that when they have sex, they are responsible for the well-being not only of themselves and their partners, but of any children they might conceive as well. We can work for women’s freedom to make all nonviolent choices regarding sexuality and reproduction. We can work for laws that directly benefit both mother and child, such as the expansion of prenatal care in Nebraska.

Beyond that … I’m just not sure.

I would very much like to hear your thoughts, either here or at All Our Lives. What laws can pro-balance people favor to bring about justice for women and children without contributing to the further oppression of either party?

(cross-posted to All Our Lives)

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Catch me on Shared Sacrifice, March 13

I will be on the Shared Sacrifice BlogTalkRadio show this Saturday, March 13, to discuss pro-life progressivism. If you want to listen live, the show starts at 12pm Mountain Time (UTC−7), and I will be calling in around 12:30. The show takes listener calls, and there is also a chat room. If you can’t listen live, it’s also available as a podcast — just follow the link on the web page or search for “Shared Sacrifice” in the iTunes Music Store.

(ockraz, you had some questions in comments to this post, and hopefully in this long format I’ll be able to explain my views in more detail.)

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just wondering

Do people who say that it doesn’t make sense to be pro-life without believing in God understand that they are at least as likely to drive people away from being pro-life with that argument as they are to bring them to belief in their God?

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Shared Sacrifice podcast shout-out

I got a shout-out on the February 5 episode of the Shared Sacrifice podcast. Much of the content of the podcast is drawn from a blog post Matt made last summer after the murder of George Tiller. He also referred to my first Shared Sacrifice article from last year, “A Primer on Pro-Life Progressivism”. Matt’s a self-identified pro-choicer, but he sees a lot of common ground with progressive pro-lifers and considers us to be vital to the future of the abortion debate:

“The only reasonable ground to have a debate about abortion is a progressive ground, where both those who are ardently in favor of reproductive rights and those who are concerned about the status of the unborn can come together and help — together — build a world that is truly, and universally, pro-life.”

Thanks, Matt!

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Secular, pro-life, sex ed

Secular Prolife has a new project under way: a secular, pro-life sex ed program. For more information or to participate, probably the best thing to do is to join their Facebook group.

I keep meaning to post about Secular Prolife. It’s an organization open to nonbelievers, as well as to religious believers who see the value in arguing against abortion from a secular point of view. It’s explicitly pro-sex-ed (obviously) and pro-contraception. The group doesn’t take an official stance on LGBT rights, but its founder, Kelsey Hazzard, is strongly in favor and it’s certainly an LGBT-friendly environment. It’s come a long way in a short time and has a lot more in store.

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Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I know I should be bemoaning the number of Republicans who want to outlaw contraception*, but I can’t get past this question:

QUESTION: Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?

 		YES	NO	NOT SURE
All		24	43	33
Men		27	41	32
Women		21	45	34
White		26	42	32
Other/Ref	9	51	40
18-29		23	44	33
30-44		24	43	33
45-59		24	43	33
60+		24	42	34
NE		19	49	32
South		28	39	33
MW		22	44	34
West		21	46	33

If you can’t even get 50% to answer “no” to that, you need to burn your party to the ground** and start over.

Somebody please tell me that this was a badly executed poll, so that I can sleep tonight.

* And I am. Believe me, I am.
** Figuratively speaking, obviously.

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Cry me a river

MSNBC, Conviction angers anti-abortion militants*

Testifying in his own defense, a remorseless and resolute Roeder insisted he had committed a justified act for the defense of unborn children by killing Dr. George Tiller, one of the country’s few physicians to offer late-term abortions. It was a bold legal strategy that, if successful, had the potential to radically alter the debate over abortion by reducing the price for committing such an act of violence.

When it failed, those who share Roeder’s passionate, militant belief against abortion were outraged: One said they are getting tired of being treated as a “piece of dirt” unable to express the reasons for such acts in court.

Maybe you’d get more respect from the courts if your legal theories didn’t entail undermining the very social contract that makes us able to function as a society. Oh, and if you weren’t in favor of shooting people in their homes and churches. Just a thought.

* (Can I just say, I’m pleased that they used “militants” and not “activists”? Cheerleading for murder isn’t activism.)

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Consistent Life Action Alert

From Consistent Life (in a roundabout way: I’m the one working on this project for them):

The Center for Reproductive Rights is beginning a campaign to end the Hyde Amendment and bring back Federal funding of abortion. One of their tactics is a series of videos in which supporters question why tax dollars can’t be spent on abortion but can be spent on things they disagree with, such as war.

This would be a great chance for Consistent Life to counter with a video pointing out all the different ways in which the destruction of life is promoted by our tax dollars, and emphasizing that we can and should oppose all of them.

To contribute, record a video of no more than 30 seconds in which you discuss what life-destroying programs you don’t want your tax dollars spent on, and/or what life-affirming programs you would like them spent on instead. Preferred format is .mov, although .avi is also acceptable. Then, contact video@consistent-life.org for uploading instructions.

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Consistent Life Action Alert

From Consistent Life:

We try to have a presence each year at the annual March for Life held in Washington, DC on or near the anniversary of Roe v Wade’s passage. The main organizer is not sympathetic, and has threatened several of our member groups with arrest in the past, but we definitely receive much more positive than negative vibes from fellow marchers. We need to show the pro-life community and the watching world that many who are pro-life on abortion have a different perspective than the organizer.

Join us on Friday, January 22, 2010 between 11:30 AM and Noon in front of the Sculpture Garden, on Constitution Ave. NW near 7th St. The location is across from the National Archives and about 2 blocks from the Archives Metro station. We will proceed together with our banner from there to the rally and march.

RSVP not required but it is helpful to know who plans to come. You can contact our President Bill Samuel at president@consistent-life.org to say you’re coming or with any questions. Bill can be reached by cell phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx during the March if you’re having trouble connecting with the CL contingent [number not posted here — please email Bill if you need his number -jr]

Consistent Life member group Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) is having a breakfast that morning, 9-11 AM, at the Holiday Inn Capitol, 550 C Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20024. (One block from the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station.) $30 paid at the door; proceeds benefit DFLA.

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