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!

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.

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)

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)

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!

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.)

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.

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.

“I Am Whole Life”

I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on this new group.

From their “About Us” page:

What Does It Mean to be Whole Life?

The Whole Life ethic acknowledges that issues that appear to be separate such as human sex trafficking, political violence, famine, abortion, female genital mutilation, euthanasia, pornography, embryo destruction and many others are actually related threats to the dignity of the human person.

The Whole Life ethic recognizes that a threat anywhere to human dignity constitutes a threat to human dignity everywhere.

The Whole Life ethic is dedicated to promoting and defending human dignity in all its stages. In the United States the biggest threat is abortion, other places it may be female genital mutilation, famine, forced sterilization, or lack of civil rights.

Links on the Tiller murder

I am working 14-hour days, so in lieu of writing, I link.

“torture is part of this successful interrogation program”

Remember those commercials for kids’ cereals that said, “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs* are part of this nutritious breakfast” and then they showed a bowl of cereal with milk, some toast, orange juice, and scrambled eggs?

Dick Cheney appears to be taking that same approach with his claim that torture of prisoners at Gitmo worked. He’s now saying that the documents he wants declassified will show what was learned from the interrogation program as a whole. You know, the interrogation program that included nonabusive techniques like the ones FBI interrogator and torture critic Ali Soufan used successfully.

Carl Levin, who has seen the documents, says they contain no evidence that abuse or torture yielded any valuable information.

Great catch by Greg Sargent.

* h/t Calvin and Hobbes

What do we do next?

I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing this post. On the one hand, I know what I want to suggest. I want to say, we should protest against the murder cheerleaders. We should show them that they are alone, that they are beyond the pale, that they do not have our support, not even in our most private thoughts.

The trouble is, I can’t figure out whether it would help or not.

In my experience, genuinely peaceful pro-lifers can and do issue condemnations all day long and it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the pro-violence wing. They hate us and consider us traitors. They don’t care what we say about them, and they sure as hell won’t listen. In fact, being denounced by other abortion opponents just serves to highlight to them how much purer they are than everyone else. As janinedm puts it, “for a certain type of person, the rhetoric gets to the point that the nonviolent approach is also a form of treason and the violence is as much about spiritual purging as it is about the achievement of certain ends.”

So, I’m at a loss. How do you stop people over whom you have no authority and with whom you have no credibility? Nonetheless, we need to try. I’ve seen pro-lifers object to the notion that we have a special responsibility to stop this kind of violence, because it’s not the fault of people who speak and act peacefully. I say that something doesn’t have to be your fault to be your problem.

I’ve been thinking of writing to the leaders of the pro-life organizations I belong to and asking them to institute a policy stating that anyone who condones anti-abortion violence is not welcome as a member or a donor. I don’t imagine too many advocates of violence are interested in belonging to PLAGAL or Consistent Life anyway, but it would set an example.

I’m still going to do this, but I’m not sure how much of an effect it will have.

Several commenters in the previous thread had suggestions for action:
* Catherine brought up the possibility of donating to Tiller’s church.
* Marysia suggested donating to organizations working against handgun violence.
* Gwendolyn thought that pro-lifers should hold anti-violence vigils.

What are your thoughts?

On the murder of George Tiller

I want to express my horror at the crime that was committed today, and my condolences to the family of George Tiller. Were I in any position to, I would help the authorities apprehend and convict his killer.

I’ll have more tomorrow, but I don’t think this is the appropriate time.