Pro Every Life, Pro Woman, Pro Reproductive Justice for All

Marysia has the manifesto online and ready for signing!

Pro Every Life, Pro Woman, Pro Reproductive Justice for All: A Manifesto

Sponsored by: Turn the Clock Forward & the Nonviolent Choice Directory

We, the undersigned, affirm that:

We are pro every life, before, during, and ever after birth.

Therefore we vigorously, straightforwardly advocate women’s right to nonviolent sexual and reproductive choice.

What is nonviolent choice? The ability to exercise freedom of conscience in making voluntary, nonabortion, abortion-reducing sexual and reproductive decisions. This freedom depends on one’s fully informed consent regarding different options, their benefits, and their drawbacks. It depends just as much on the social power to carry out one’s values and preferences.

Nonviolent choice includes, among other possibilities:

–Whether, when, how, and with whom (among consenting adults) to have sex. Philosophical and religious/spiritual views of sexual ethics for consenting adults are too numerous and divergent for state power to favor and mandate any particular one of them without treading on vital liberties of conscience, expression, association, religion, and privacy.

–Whether to prevent conception or seek it out. While we recognize the goodness of biological and social parenthood, we recognize equally the goodness of other-than-parental life courses, and the right of individuals to pursue these as desired.

–Which specific pregnancy prevention method(s) to adopt or not adopt. We are cognizant here of the need for the utmost safeguards against coercive population control, unethical pharmaceutical experimentation, and sterilization abuse.

These are all dangers, and dangers with long histories — to the poor, the colonized, people of color/ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. At the same time, we name as unjust the coercive denial of access to the prevention method(s) of one’s own choosing.

–Whether, in the event of a crisis pregnancy, to pursue parenting, adoption, guardianship, or some other safe care arrangement.

Reproductive justice for all is the surest guarantee for women’s right to nonviolent choice.
What is reproductive justice? In the context of all other human rights and needs, reproductive justice secures and protects reproductive rights and needs through deep and enduring solutions to multiple, interacting forms of institutionalized oppression, including:

–Denial and neglect of essential health, educational, and social services.

–Systematic discrimination against women, children, people of color/ethnic minorities, the global poor, immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, HIV/AIDS-affected persons, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) persons.

–Economic injustice.

— Environmental destruction.

–Armed conflict.

Reproductive justice for all encompasses both the unborn and the already-born.
Many reproductive justice activists endorse a general right to abortion. However, we call for a different — and, we venture, ultimately more inclusive — vision of reproductive justice. We identify abortion not as a right across all circumstances, but as generally a form of violence against women and unborn children that arises from and continues reproductive and other social injustices.

Male responsibility is indispensible to achieving reproductive justice for all, for the unborn and already-born alike.
Men, individually and especially as a class, exert unjust physical, social, and economic power over women. These power imbalances throw such heavy, lifelong, and life-stunting burdens on women as the devastation of violence; economic dependency; HIV/AIDS; and undesired pregnancies posing the horrible “choice” between abortion on the one hand and abandonment to unsupported single motherhood on the other.

This dynamic of abuse and neglect is reinforced by an ideal of limitless feminine self-sacrifice that represents a pernicious and fundamental form of disregard for women’s precious human lives. All men must learn what it means to have nonviolent power-with — not power-over — women. We stand with — and in some cases are ourselves–undergoing this profound transformation, and encourage all men to brave it themselves and become the best human beings they can.

We will carry out, or continue carrying out, whatever actions are within our nonviolent power to make this vision of life, compassion, and justice for all into global reality.

16 thoughts on “Pro Every Life, Pro Woman, Pro Reproductive Justice for All

  1. Please, everybody, if this manifesto fits you to a T, don’t hesitate to sign. If you don’t want to come out of the closet, you can sign anonymously.

    But please sign. It’s important for people to know that (1) “our kind” exists and (2) we are out there doing things to make our vision of human rights and wellbeing real.

  2. It’s good to know that there are others out there who have the rational, inclusive vision – untainted by religious fundamentalism on the one hand and political separatism on the other. There IS a right to choose over our OWN bodies – which in the reproductive rights context means the right to use, or not use, non-abortive contraception or sterilising agents, the right to be gay, lesbian, transgender, straight or bisexual, the right to have (nor not have) a family. Human rights inhere from the start of human life which is, of course, fertilisation. Everyone who is old enough to have a view on the subject has passed through the preborn stage, when we were totally dependent on others for our continued survival. It is only because our right to life is respected that we are able to develop our potential. No-one has the right to inflict death on another, whether born or unborn. Live and let live: respect life, difference and diversity.

  3. Well, I think the biggest problem is that there are a few of us here, a few of us there, but there’s no place we can go to get the attention of a critical mass of like-minded people.

    The number one comment I always got on the Leftout site was, “It’s so great to find out there are other people like me! I thought I was alone!” I got that *all the time*. If you want to reach conservative pro-lifers, there are plenty of existing organizations and blogs to contact. If you want to reach feminists who see abortion as a right, there are plenty of existing organizations and blogs to contact.

    How do we reach our constituency? There’s no good way, currently. We have to build it, and of course that’s going to be a slow process.

  4. I’m a conservative pro-lifer, yet I still find your proposal tempting. I think we could do much to reduce abortions if we could shelve other political concerns and work together for Life.

    However, your manifesto is seriously lacking in specifics:
    What exactly is “sexual and reproductive choice”? People can choose their sexual partners? Well, we already prosecute rapists, so what exactly are you looking for here?
    What exactly is “reproductive justice”? As you noted in your blog post, most people who use such language are using it as a trojan horse for abortion. You don’t mean that, right? Okay … what exactly do you mean?
    What is “male responsibility”? As a man, I strongly support any efforts to encourage (or force, if necessary) men to take our sexual decision seriously and support those decisions. This part of your manifesto is the strongest part for me, but it’s still too vague.

    I could keep going, but I think you get my point. Sweeping calls to action are not useful. All they do is enable like-minded folks to feel good about themselves. What exactly do you want to achieve? If you want people to support you, you need to be able to tell them what they’re supporting.

  5. Hi Naaman,

    Marysia should feel free to chime in, but I’ll say that in the context of this manifesto, “reproductive justice” is defined as all people having the ability to exercise nonviolent choice with regard to sexual and reproductive matters, and not having violence inflicted upon them as the result of other people’s choices (e.g. rape, elective abortion).

    The “multiple, interacting forms of institutionalized oppression” listed all work against the realization of reproductive justice. For instance, discrimination against people of color has led to unethical medical experimentation and involuntary sterilization. Pollution can lead to infertility or damage to developing babies. Rape is often used as a weapon of war. The poor have less access to safe medical services, less access to family planning resources, less ability to afford to raise a child, and many people proposing abortion as a “solution” to their problems.

    People can choose their sexual partners? Well, we already prosecute rapists, so what exactly are you looking for here?

    One thing to keep in mind is that this is not limited to the United States. Worldwide, many people still lack the ability to freely choose their sexual partners. Women can be married to men against their will. Rape is not prosecuted everywhere, and women can be punished for being raped. Homosexuality is still against the law in many countries, and punishable by death in some.

    Here in the U.S., this freedom is (mostly) protected by the letter of the law, but obviously rape still happens. Coercion still happens. People are still discriminated against, beaten, and even killed for being gay.

    Sweeping calls to action are not useful. All they do is enable like-minded folks to feel good about themselves.

    I agree that sweeping calls to action are not useful in themselves. But in this case, the first thing we’re trying to accomplish is to demonstrate that a community of like-minded folks exists. Lots of people have no idea that it does, including people who would love to be part of that community if only they knew they weren’t alone.

  6. Jen, do I really need to chime in? You explained it very well.

    Naaman, by definition a manifesto is sweeping and lacking in specifics. (: How to translate it precisely into action is something that needs to b worked out as its proponents go along.

    Sometimes “sexual and reproductive choice” is used as a code word for “abortion.” But it also can include many, many worthwhile causes that don’t deserve to be lumped in with the taking of life.

    We wanted to highlight that even though we risked the confusion that this was some covert proposal for all abortion all the time–which it is decidedly not.

    Part of what this manifesto is about is affirming real choices, the ones that don’t take life and in fact reduce abortions. And another part,as Jen said, is showing that opposition to abortion does not necessarily equal opposition to said choices, that there are a whole bunch of folks who in fact believe quite the opposite, contrary to ruthless stereotypes.

    That much said, I agree with Jen and with you that a sweeping statement is not an end in itself. And that is precisely why this little manifesto concludes with a pledge to action. Many people are already working in their own ways or already have to do their part in realizing this vision, or they have things they’re hoping to do. And we are deliberating over starting a new organization for people who take this approach.

    So you’re a conservative? That’s a good sign. (:

  7. Jen R wrote:
    I’ll say that in the context of this manifesto, “reproductive justice” is defined as all people having the ability to exercise nonviolent choice with regard to sexual and reproductive matters, and not having violence inflicted upon them as the result of other people’s choices (e.g. rape, elective abortion).

    Okay, I can agree with that.

    The “multiple, interacting forms of institutionalized oppression” listed all work against the realization of reproductive justice. For instance….

    Hmmmm … if I sign on to your manifesto, then I might also signing on to environmentalism, government-funded healthcare, and big spending on useless social programs to “help” the poor. Frankly, I was afraid of that. :(

    One thing to keep in mind is that this is not limited to the United States. Worldwide, many people still lack the ability to freely choose their sexual partners. Women can be married to men against their will. Rape is not prosecuted everywhere, and women can be punished for being raped.

    Good point! I’ll sign on to that. Rape is bad (at least), and it should be against the law everywhere.

    Here in the U.S., this freedom is (mostly) protected by the letter of the law, but obviously rape still happens.

    More law enforcement is always popular with conservatives. ;)

    People are still discriminated against, beaten, and even killed for being gay.

    Whoops, I think you just lost me again. :(

    Let me be clear: Nobody deserves to be beaten or killed for homosexual acts. Period.

    That said, “discrimination” against homosexuals can take many forms. If we’re talking about countries that still arrest people for homosexual acts, then I agree with you. That’s bad, and we should oppose it. On the other hand, if “discrimination” means the traditional definition of marriage, then I am utterly opposed to you.

    However, all of that misses the point. By definition, homosexual acts do not lead to reproduction. Therefore, why are they a part of any call for reproductive justice? It seems like your view might be a little too broad here….

  8. Marysia wrote:

    Naaman, by definition a manifesto is sweeping and lacking in specifics.

    Aha, good point. :)

    Nonetheless, as you can see in my responses to Jen above, it’s still a good idea to be as specific as possible. If you’re willing to pare your manifesto down to the essentials of defending Life, you’ll have a good shot at getting some conservative pro-lifers to join you. On the other hand, if your manifesto requires the entire liberal agenda, then you’ll be on your own….

    And another part,as Jen said, is showing that opposition to abortion does not necessarily equal opposition to said choices, that there are a whole bunch of folks who in fact believe quite the opposite, contrary to ruthless stereotypes.

    Hmmmm … so the purpose of your manifesto is to establish that you’re pro-life, but you’re not like those pro-lifers? Seems limiting.

    I agree with you that being pro-life doesn’t have to mean being conservative. However, it also doesn’t have to mean being liberal! I’d really like to see a pro-life manifesto that could reach across those ideological lines and encourage people to work together for Life. I think I’ll just have to keep waiting….

    So you’re a conservative? That’s a good sign. (:

    Yes and no. I’m actually a neo-con, in that I used to be quite liberal (and pro-abortion). Therefore, I’m immune to a lot of liberal arguments. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirts. ;)

    As a former liberal, I admire the efforts of pro-life liberals to reclaim the Left from the Party of Death. (See Ramesh Ponnuru’s book by that name.) Liberals should be opposed to abortion, destructive stem-cell research, and euthanasia. I’d even like to help you, but only if I can do so without having to accept a worldview that I’ve already rejected as false.

    “While You Were Sleeping” by Casting Crowns includes the following:
    As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies
    That save the trees and kill the children

    Too right…. :(

  9. Reproductive justice is about creating a society where everyone’s bodily integrity is safe and enjoys sexual/reproductive wellbeing. We differ from some reproductive justice advocates in recognizing the unborn child’s right to bodily integrity, and that of the woman threated by abortion.

    Yes, this is a pretty collective/communitarian sort of perspective. ANd it has a bit of libertarianism in it. Although people vary in what they think the role of government is.

    LGBT rights are quite an important part of reproductive justice including the prolife feminist variant. Because, among many other reasons, LGBT-phobia leads to violent assaults, suicide, job and housing discrimination, and risky sexual experimentation that in some cases leads to crisis pregnancies and then sometimes in abortion.

    So what changed your mind on:

    1. abortion
    2. liberalism

    two separate issues (: although admittedly I think leftism fits better with prolife

    the Party of Death? How about the Party of Some Deaths but Not Others?…Aha, so the Democrats and Republicans *are* hard to tell apart.

  10. Marysia wrote:
    LGBT rights are quite an important part of reproductive justice including the prolife feminist variant.

    Fine, but don’t expect conservatives to join with you.

    As I wrote earlier, I’ll just have to keep waiting for a statement of pro-life unity. :(

    Because, among many other reasons, LGBT-phobia leads to violent assaults, suicide, job and housing discrimination, and risky sexual experimentation that in some cases leads to crisis pregnancies and then sometimes in abortion.

    Firstly, the “phobia” talk is an obvious and patronizing strawman. Very few conservatives are actually afraid of LGBTQ people. I’m certainly not. I grew up in NOW, so I had plenty of exposure to LGBTQ people. I remember one social event at a Virginia NOW conference. It was a dance, and we even had old-fashioned dance cards. I was twelve, and I thought it would be cool to get my dance card filled. So I went around the dance and asked every woman I knew to dance with me. Afterward, my parents commented on the irony that my dance card was filled with lesbians. Whatever else I may be, I am not a homophobe.

    Secondly, your statement assumes that the only harm inflicted on LGBTQ people comes from conservatives and our nasty attitudes. I’ll admit that some people (the Westboro Baptist kooks are a fine example) heap abuse & hatred upon those poor souls who are confused about their sexualities. There is no excuse for hating people, especially among those who claim to be Christian. Just because I am not tempted by a particular sin, that gives me no right to hate those people who are so tempted. I have my own temptations, and I would not want others to abuse me for those temptations. The Golden Rule applies to us all.

    Here’s an analogy for you. Smoking is an evil, addictive, harmful habit. My wife’s grandmother was killed by smoking cigarettes, and her parents (even though they’ve quit now) seem destined for the same fate. My wife herself suffers from severe & chronic asthma that was caused by her parents’ smoking. Yet I am not afraid of smokers. I do not hate smokers. I have compassion for smokers, because I know that they are trapped in a sin that will inflict pain & suffering on them. Some people seem to have extraordinary temptation to smoke — whether the cause is genetic, environmental, or some combination — and those people deserve extra compassion. I hate smoking. I do not hate smokers.

    Now that you understand how I feel about smoking … I feel exactly the same way about same-sex attraction. It is an evil, addictive, harmful habit. I know people who have suffered from it. I know people who have been hurt by it. As a result, I have great compassion for people who are trapped in it. They need help, not condemnation or abuse. But my compassion does not blind me to the truth of sin. I hate sin. I do not hate sinners. We are all sinners, and we all need the love of God and the forgiveness of His Son to save us from our sins.

  11. Marysia also wrote:
    So what changed your mind on:

    1. abortion
    2. liberalism

    Jill Stanek posted my death-to-life conversion story a while ago:
    http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2007/05/conversion_stor.html

    Why am I not a liberal? Well, that’s complicated. The short answer is this: I grew up. I got out of college, got a job, got married, had some kids, and had to start taking responsibility for my own life. Along the way, God grabbed hold of me and changed my heart. He’s still changing my heart today….

    It all started to come down like a house of cards. Once I started questioning pro-abortion dogma, I started questioning everything else. Once I realized that absolute truth could (and did!) exist, I began to discard all of the moral relativism that had defined my philosophy. Once I had to start paying taxes, I started to question where all of that tax money was going and whether or not it was doing any good.

    Marysia opined:
    although admittedly I think leftism fits better with prolife

    It should. The fact that the Left is generally associated with the Party of Death is another sign of cracks in their philosophical foundation. When liberal activists can muster outrage over an Iraq War that has killed (in the extreme worst-case) 200,000 people over five years … yet they enthusiastically cheer for a monstrous crime that kills over one million innocent children every year … it demonstrates a clear failing of the Left.

    the Party of Death? How about the Party of Some Deaths but Not Others?…Aha, so the Democrats and Republicans *are* hard to tell apart.

    Sigh … you didn’t read the book, did you? The Party of Death is not the Democrats. The Party of Death is Ramesh Ponnuru’s term to describe the loose affiliation of:
    * many (but not all) liberals,
    * most media,
    * academics, and
    * the Courts.

    What unites the Party of Death is not their position on the Right-Left divide, but rather their willingness to categorize some human beings as “non-persons” who are not worthy of rights. Therefore, abortion is okay. Therefore, destructive stem-cell research is okay. Therefore, euthanasia is okay. Everything that we could want to do to a “non-person” is okay, because only people have rights.

    Seriously, read the book. Ramesh has a whole chapter about Dems who used to be pro-life, but then switched to the pro-choice side. There’s another chapter about liberal pro-lifers, including a lengthy discussion of the plight of DFL, Democrats For Life. It’s a really great book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Party-Death-Democrats-Courts-Disregard/dp/1596980044/

    Ignore the blurb on the inside jacket. Ramesh isn’t attacking Democrats. He’s attacking death. The publisher engaged in a little bit of misleading advertising to creat controversy and sell more books…. :(

  12. As I wrote earlier, I’ll just have to keep waiting for a statement of pro-life unity. :(

    Yes, this was never intended as a statement of pro-life unity. I confess, I’m no longer sure such an animal exists.

    It grew out of Marysia’s and my frustration that Feminists for Life used to be a more radical organization, and isn’t anymore. We weren’t part of the decision-making process, but we perceived that it changed in order to become more palatable to conservatives. Now, there’s some value in that — reaching people who have a negative reaction to the word “feminist” (as many, but not all conservatives do) is a good thing. But the cost was that they had to throw some values overboard that nobody else was/is embracing in the public sphere, and those values deserve an airing. That’s where we come in.

    I do wonder whether Ponurru had to approve the title, and if so, whether he regrets it (I suspect he might).

  13. Naaman, homosexuality is a normal form of sexual expression. You can cling to outdated and scientifically incorrect notions of it, but that doesn’t change the truth of the matter. If you think gays and lesbians suffer, it’s because of the discrimination they have to face daily. It has nothing to do with their sexuality.

    Using Christianity as an excuse to discriminate against homosexuals isn’t valid. The same passages that condemn homosexuality also condemn eating shellfish and wearing clothing in blended material. Do you feel compassion for the people who “sin” in these ways? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    Basically, the law against homosexuality is an outdated code that was only relevant to those living 3,000 years ago. It’s 2008. We know better now.

    Plus, the Bible says nothing about gay marriage. Therefore, you need to find a new excuse for being against it.

  14. I know this post hasn’t been commented on in a while, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE what I’ve been reading on this blog (well, by Jen R. and Marysia, specifically)–and I’m passionately pro-choice. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to finally find a such a thoughtful, balanced, respectful, and observant blog when I feel like so much pro-life material I see is full of hate, misogyny, and uneducated opinions.

    What I appreciate most, and what I think is exemplified especially by your manifesto, is an excellent understanding of what reproductive justice actually means. While I am pro-choice, and would consider early abortion acceptable as a facet of reproductive choice, I agree completely that real reproductive choice is about creating a society where women are free to make truly autonomous choices about all aspects of sex, reproduction, and childrearing. An abortion (or adoption, or birth…) chosen because there was “no other option” is no choice at all and only indicates greater flaws in society that many of the pro-life crowd refuses to acknowledge. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but I just wanted to let you know that you’ve got my support, and I’ll wager would have a LOT of support from other pro-choicers as well. I hope that you and people like you will continue to work towards this goal, and know that this blog has been a true breath of fresh air!

    Cheers!
    Annalee

Comments are closed.