As we read that Amnesty International and the Catholic Church are feuding over the issue of supporting abortions for women subject to rape and incest, a friend of mine in Oregon sent out this quote and citations from the US pro-life movement in email:
"I've never really thought about it." "I don't have an answer forÂ
that." "I don't know." "Just pray for them."
- Answers given in a mini-documentary about abortion. The man behindÂ
the camera is asking anti-abortion demonstrators if abortion shouldÂ
be illegal, and if so, what the penalty should be for women who getÂ
an abortion.Â Amazingly enough, the demonstrators seem to claimÂ
simultaneously that abortion is no different from any other murder,Â
but there shouldn't be any punishment for it.
I found this facile, including Anna Quindlen's opinion that the law treats women as hapless victims.Â In some cases, it is the place of law (and human rights policy) to protect hapless victims.
As a woman who was pressured into having an abortion years ago, I can tell you it is not always the informed and rational choice of the woman involved.
Does this make me pro-life?Â No.Â It means I believe that abortion should be available and safe -- and birth control even more so.Â But it also means that we need to do a better job of teaching women of childbearing age about their real options.
I do not personally believe that abortion should be illegal, nor that physicians or women should be punished.Â In fact, I think this question ducks the question of coercion.
Years ago, I volunteered for a women's health clinic.Â What I saw made me very sad.
Many of the women who go to physicians for an abortion do not choose abortion.Â Their parents, their lovers, their husbands, the stories they've been told (often false) about welfare, single motherhood, adoption services or parenthood -- those dictate their lack of choice, not their choice.
If abortion clinics required a psychological evaluation and the woman got to read about parenthood and abortion and then tested for comprehension, we'd have far fewer abortions. Â
And if we required such eval and testing, the pro-choice people would freak out totally, because the cost of potential intimidation by the process is a higher cost to them than the cost of women being coerced to have abortions.
Neither of the pat stances (pro-choice or pro-life) is what it says it is, neither is perfect, and as long as procreation is so highly charged hormonally, socially, and economically, there will be no good answers.
So good for these folks in the video who think women should be prayed for, rather than jailed.Â They are only whispering about what people on the pro-choice side of the argument are in serious denial of.Â Abortion is often not a choice, but a family or social mandate -- or seems to be a mandate to the woman, out of her control.
The woman is not in control of her body then, either, is she?Â Â How much better is an abortion imposed upon a woman by her boyfriend or husband than date rape or rape, which we punish openly? Â
But indeed, we should all support the right of a woman to an abortion imposed by violence, all the more.
Treat the woman as a person capable of making a rational informed choice based on her own judgement and good balanced information?Â Neither side is in favor.
Shava Nerad, News and Opinion Correspondent:
Shava Nerad has been working on the Internet for twenty-five years, at the boundaries of Internet and social issues.Â She is executive director of The Tor Project as her day job.Â She lives in Somerville, MA with her teenage son, her fiance (a professional magician and fundraising coach), and a corgi/dachshund mutt named George.
Opinions here have nothing to do with Tor.Â
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