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Pro-Choice and Pro-Voice

Posts tagged essays

Aug 21 '12

So let’s talk reproductive justice.



I want so badly to talk about this picture.

I do.

But when your first thought about it is “support women”, I can’t.

I can feel the words inching away from the raw wounds that even if they scar will always hurt.

Does that seem right to you?


I actively flinch from the word feminist. Because of a long list of reasons.

But the one I really want to talk about right now is the fact that they don’t think about my reproductive justice.

They don’t think about the reproductive justice that means that I and other people who could need birth control who aren’t women deserve to be included.

They don’t think about the reproductive justice that means that they need to support trans people’s rights not to have to be sterilized to get the basic right of being recognized as that person’s true gender/s,

They don’t think about the reproductive justice that means that they need to actively stop sterilization of trans people, of PoC, of disabled people.

They don’t think about the reproductive justice that means the right to accessible, free birth control for everyone.

Their reproductive justice is condoms, abortions, and birth control pills.

Does that seem right to you?


My mother lovingly referred to all of her fetuses as parasites when she was pregnant with each of us. Each of us was unplanned. Each of us was loved.

Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about their mothers being people?

Does that seem right to you?


What the fuck am I supposed to do if I am raped and I get pregnant?

What the fuck am I supposed to do?

This is not a rhetorical question.

What the fuck am I supposed to do?

And I ask because the answer is I don’t know. I was never told.

Does that seem right to you?


Only publishing one narrative of abortion says a lot less about those people’s stories and a lot about the publisher.

The vast majority of abortion narratives are about how abortion is a necessary evil, and very few are about anything else.

Does that seem right to you?


I want to talk about this picture, but for now, let’s talk about the fact that someone took  a gender-neutral picture with a powerful message and simplified it down to “support birth control and women’s rights”.

Why does this person not think that we—we people who are still using coat hangers and drinking paint thinner—don’t deserve to say “Never Again”?

Does that seem right to you?


I want to talk about how a very common topic of discussion between disabled people is whether or not our parents would have aborted us if they had had early detection of our disabilities.

I know my mother would not have.

But why the fuck did I have to even ask?

Why the fuck did I even have to wonder?

Does that seem right to you?


If you only ever talk about one form of justice, your justice is unjust.

And yet, that’s just supposed to suffice?

Does that seem right to you?


I want everyone to have reproductive justice.

If you never consider us to be people, then you don’t think about what justice we deserve.

Most people never mention what kind of reproductive justice we deserve.

Does that seem right to you?


I want my uterus out.

I want to not have ovaries.

I genuinely hope that I turn out to have a gene for estrogen-based cancers that runs on both sides of my blood, so I can have an early hysterectomy.

I genuinely hope that I have a higher chance of having my body grow fucking tumors—something that terrifies me on a visceral level because this has happened to both my grandmothers and my mother and I still have screaming, crying nightmares— because it’s probably the quickest way to get relief for the pain of having a cosmically wrong body.

Does that seem right to you?


People call themselves “pro-choice” and then act as if it’s a dichotomous choice.

To abort or not abort, that is the question.

Does that seem right to you?


I have to be afraid of being raped.

I have to be afraid of needing abortion.

But I also have to be afraid of people using that to mean that I know what women go through.

(I don’t. If you want to know what women go through, ask a woman. Ask especially the kind of woman that’s not often considered to be a ‘real’ woman.)

I have to be afraid of never being able to say “I was raped and I needed an abortion too” because then I won’t be a person anymore.

Does that seem right to you?


I can’t stand menstruating. I can’t. It’s one of the few ways that I’m transnormative—a cafab trans person hating menstruation is very transnormative.

It’s worse than just the physical pain, the violent dysphoria, the disorienting sensation that comes from dissociating because I need to be numb sometimes. It’s worse because I remember that no matter what, I need to be afraid.

Does that seem right to you?


One of the very first things someone said when I—self-deluding—told them I was a lesbian was “Oh, but you can use IVF and sperm donors!”

Because having a womb meant, to this person, that I should use it.

(I have fang teeth as well. Does that mean I should have used them to rip open her throat?)

Does that seem right to you?


If you’re a cis woman, I want you to read this, now.

If you’re a cis feminist, I want you to read it twice.

If you’re a cis feminist who thinks they understand how trans people deserve reproductive justice, I want you to read it three times.

I want you to know that this person, one of your own, would rather I drink paint thinner and potentially die than get an abortion.

Does that seem right to you?


“Never Again” is starting to look more and more like “Never Again For Us”.

Does that seem right to you?


One of the reasons that I do not reblog posts on things like suicide and crisis hotlines is because cis people make these lists and cis people reblog them and I cannot trust that you checked this out properly.

I cannot trust that you ensured the safety of me and mine.

I cannot trust you, because too many times has something been advertised as being for me and mine as well and turned out to want us dead.

Does that seem right to you?


When you call pro-fetus attitudes only misogynistic instead of being cruel, ableist, racist, classist, cissexist, violent, entitled, invasive, I wonder if you know what paint thinner tastes like.

When you pretend that pro-fetus people only hate cis white abled rich women, you say that you’re fine with a bloody coathanger and a half-empty bucket of paint thinner so long as it’s not in your sight.

Does that seem right to you?


If I ever need to, I might just go to Planned Parenthood, clutching my mother and sister’s hands, crying.

I’ll cry when they misgender me.

I’ll cry until the dissociation overtakes the dysphoria and all I know is the ceiling.

And you will all call my tears collateral damage.

Does that seem right to you?


The flip side of the feminism that won’t mention me needing justice is the feminism that says that all women need abortions.

The flip side of the feminism that would call my abortion a women’s experience and side with a rapist is the feminism that doesn’t care about trans women being raped—because, supposedly, trans women don’t need any reproductive justice.

Feminism hates women like nothing else, sometimes.

Does that seem right to you?


This response is personal.

The political is personal.

This person and this person want me to drink paint thinner for the crime of not wanting a parasite.

Does that seem right to you?


So, no, I’m not going to talk about that picture.

It might have been powerful until you destroyed it.

Never again?

We might never get to say “never again”.

Does that seem right to you?

Mar 20 '12
Feb 26 '12
Feb 21 '12




This entire piece is a Must Read.

I am so bloody tired of being used as a pawn by both the left and the right in reproductive rights rhetoric, I could scream. And in fact, I often do. The right tells us that they oppose bodily autonomy and choice because it would lead to abortion of “precious angels,” which is apparently code for “disabled people,” while the left, well, unfortunately often claims that the worst catastrophe ever would be to have a disabled child, so it’s a good thing we can screen for that sort of thing and prevent it from happening.

I’m a disabled person, and I actually wholly support prenatal screening and full access to prenatal care, because I think it can result in healthier pregnancies and better outcomes for both pregnant people and infants. On its own, prenatal screening is value neutral — it’s a way to find out more about what is going on with a pregnancy. I fail to see how that could be a bad thing, because in my opinion, the more you know about a pregnancy, the more you can support the health of mother and fetus.

Unfortunately, prenatal testing often gets twisted for other uses.

The assumption people like Santorum are making is that when prenatal screening uncovers disability, the automatic response is to abort. That’s… not necessarily the case. In fact, prenatal screening for disability can help parents prepare, and may result in being informed about measures they can take to make pregnancy, labor and delivery safer. It can also help medical teams address and possibly prevent complications that might arise in connection with disabilities.

THIS. When I read the excerpt on my tumblr dash I immediately was reminded of s.e. smith and how good they are at having nuanced articles about disability and abortion, and then I clicked through and sure enough it was written by s.e. smith! This essay is so important. People need to understand that this is a complex and nuanced issue, a conversation we should be having, but the solution should never be to limit the choices of people or to purposely deny them all the information to make an informed decision. Abortion isn’t the problem, prenatal testing is not the problem; it’s society. It’s how we treat people with disabilities, it’s how we treat people who choose to continue pregnancies knowing their child will have disabilities, it’s how we slash funding for resources and support systems. This was so good, just go read it all.

(Source: keepyourbsoutofmyuterus)

Feb 21 '12
Nov 22 '11

lauragpie replied to your post: hiya! i’m trying to develop a simple and effective pro-choice definition of the term ‘human being’. any suggestions?

thanks! just one more question, if you have time. when discussing bodily autonomy as an important part of being a human being, how would you deal with the issue of conjoined twins? is it just physical independence from the pregnant person?

I was looking at those kind of cases when I was answering your question, so I used the term “parasitic” rather than “symbiotic.” Both technically refer to relationships between different species, but for the sake of the argument, I think they’re clear enough.

If one mind shares a body with another mind, do they have bodily autonomy? Is it the same body, or two distinct bodies that happen to be connected? If one relies on some of the other’s organs to survive, do they take less priority?

This question came up in the case of Rosie and Gracie. Rosie and Gracie were conjoined twins who were certain to die if not separated; however, upon separation, Rosie, who had what doctors termed a “primitive brain” and was underdeveloped, would die, while Gracie, fully conscious and “owner” of the functioning heart and lungs, would live. Four judges came to four different conclusions on their case - one believed that there were two bodies and one acted as life support, one believed that Rosie did not have a right to be alive and that separation was an act of self-defense against a violation of Gracie’s bodily integrity, one believed that separation was the lesser evil than allowing both twins to die, and one believed that killing Rosie would be in her best interests, citing a list of academic authorities on the ethics of euthanasia.

(You can read more about the case here and here)

When talking about separation, I think it comes back to brain function. If both twins can cooperate, and are healthy and happy together, as is often the case, there is little issue. If one is nearly or completely parasitic, the issue is much more complicated, especially if there is still the capacity for suffering and/or pain perception.

This issue is why criteria for personhood is so complicated. However, it’s important to remember the difference between a fetus and a born, conjoined twin, so as not to get caught up and move further away from the issue. An undeveloped, nonsentient being living inside another person is quite different from a conscious being attached to another. Joyce Arthur wrote about the importance of social identity in determining personhood: “There can be no meaningful social participation for someone cocooned inside another’s body.” This is a social construction, not a universal attribute, made according to custom and necessity. Arthur does a fairly good job of explaining it in the rest of her article.

Why can’t I write this easily for my paper and Powerpoint on music therapy and substance abuse? Nerg.

Nov 1 '11
Oct 26 '11

Faith in Hiding: Are There Secular Grounds for Banning Abortion?


[Very interesting article. I think it does a good job of addressing how just because people say their antichoice beliefs aren’t influenced by religion doesn’t mean that’s necessarily true, and in fact a truly secular position cannot be antichoice.]

By Thomas W. Clark. Another version with endnotes can be found here.

The Declaration of Independence asserts our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but conflicts between these rights are commonplace. The extreme pro-life, anti-abortion position states that if there’s a conflict between an embryo’s right to life and the liberty of adults, for instance a woman’s freedom to terminate pregnancy, life always trumps liberty.

Pro-choice advocates obviously believe otherwise. What, they ask, establishes the overriding value attached to a newly fertilized ovum that requires women to bear the children of rapists, and to possibly sacrifice their health and life opportunities to raise an unwanted child? Why should the continued existence of an insentient group of cells have priority over the interests of a woman?

The pro-life answer—their basic argument against abortion (and embryonic stem cell research)—is straightforward: embryos, babies, children, and adults are all stages of human life. All these stages are equally alive, they all are human, and therefore, the reasoning goes, all have equal worth. But are all stages of human life equally worthy of protection, and if so, why?

This question has particular bite since the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade is under increasing pressure. The recent Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart banning late-term abortion by intact dilation and extraction allows no exception for a woman’s health. Why, one wonders, should the manner of a fetus’ destruction take priority over an adult’s physical safety?

Under Roe v. Wade, laws prohibiting abortion must still allow exceptions for threats to a woman’s life, if not her health. Such exceptions implicitly accord more value to a sentient, autonomous individual than the fetus. This is unsurprising, since unless ideology intrudes, we naturally feel more concern for a person with fully developed capacities and a network of established relationships than we do for an entity possessing neither. It isn’t difficult to decide between these two very different stages of human life when faced with a stark choice about which should live. The psychological and practical costs of death are simply much higher in one case than the other.

But the question remains whether there are other interests besides the life of the mother that might outweigh the continued existence of the embryo, for instance, her health and her desire not to raise an unwanted child. In the case of stem cells, the interests at stake are the potential medical benefits to millions that might come from research that requires the destruction of embryos. Pro-life forces generally discount such interests, while the pro-choice, pro-research forces believe they count more than the embryo’s survival.

Read More

Oct 13 '11


“The non-existent don’t regret their non-existence, and when the living start worrying about the non-existent, they descend into irrational nonsense.”

Joyce Arthur

I will always reblog this. It’s one of my favorite essays. You can read the full essay here: Is a Fetus a Human Being?

All too often, “person” or “human being” is confused with “human,” and I think this essay does an excellent job of explaining the difference.

Oct 6 '11
Sep 10 '11
Aug 17 '11
Aug 11 '11

It was recommended that I be aborted.


There were several risk factors involved in my mother’s pregnancy - she was an older mother (forty one years old), she already had health issues, she had several fribroid tumors in her uterus along with me, etc.

Obviously, my parents decided not to abort me, and several months later I was born via a successful c-section with no major health problems for mother or baby.

When I tell people this, sometimes the notions comes up “Oh wow, that’s crazy, what if they had aborted you, YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE!” or “I bet you’re glad they didn’t abort you, haha!” And obviously, yes, it’s nice they didn’t abort me, because well, being alive is pretty ok most of the time.

But sometimes when people say these things, it is said with an implication that people think this has affected my views on abortion, that somehow I’d have at least some sort of slight moral dilemma about it because of the position in which my parents were put. And of course, it has not affected my views at all. I would not have wanted my mother to go through with the pregnancy if the risk had been so high that she likely would have died. That doesn’t make sense. Why should a person, a living, thinking person, with a family and friends and a boyfriend and thoughts and consciousness and love die for what, at the time, was a non-sentient clump of cells, with no family or friends or consciousness yet?

If my mother had died, her family, friends, my father, all would have been devastated, not to mention her life, her consciousness, ended. Whereas if I was aborted… my parents would have been incredibly devastated, yes, but I wouldn’t be leaving behind tons and tons of saddened people, like my mother. Not to mention that, if my mother had begun to die while conscious, I wouldn’t have to go through the unimaginable terror of realizing something was terribly wrong, that even maybe I was dying. Because at that point, I was just a bunch of cells, forming into what might be a human someday.

It’s odd to think of what if certain people had been aborted. Should Hitler have been aborted? Probably. Is it a useful question to think about? Of course not. Every living human causes pain of some sort, at some point in their life. Some cause more than others, but everyone causes some pain. Thinking of if some people had been aborted or not, whether that is a good or bad thing, isn’t important at all, because they all caused pain of some sort anyway, no matter what.

I think probably the worst part of being alive is realizing that someday, you will die, and all of this will be over. I feel bad for ever alive, that we have to do that. Fetuses do not have to deal with such burdens of consciousness. So if I had been aborted… that would have been ok.

(I’m sorry that this is so ramble-y, I’m very tired but unable to sleep at the moment.)

(Also, want to know the funniest part of this? My parents go this medical advice at a Catholic hospital (they are not Catholic, I’m not really sure why they were there) and were told that, while the doctor did recommend the procedure, it could not be done at that hospital.)

This is really powerful.

Aug 8 '11
"Choice in all its many forms - adoption, abstinence, technology, choosing to be anti-choice, pleasure, abortion, birth control, kids, no kids, and even, I know, regret - is what makes human sexuality truly human and parenthood truly viable. Without it we are as witlessly tied to the mechanics of our bodies as salmon struggling upstream…"
Catherine Newman, “Conceiving is Not Always the Same as Having an Idea,” an essay from Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood & Abortion
Jul 31 '11

Why Choice Matters to Me.


This is a personal story. This isn’t going to be filled with my usual facts and statistics. You’ll also get to learn a little something about me.

I have Familial Polyposis and Gardner Syndrome. I get frequent adenomatous (carrying the threat of cancer) polyps in my stomach, small intestine, and am at high risk to develop polyps in other parts of my body. Just recently my mother learned she has polyps growing on her ampulla, and soon has to undergo surgery to have the entire gland removed. I am at risk for similar complications. I have psoriasis—though minimal, located on my left ear, though it is a sign of an auto-immune deficiency. My mother has it worse. My back is terrible, my sleeping sucks, and despite the minimal threat of cancer hovering over me, I live with the threat of colon cancer completely gone because when I was 16, I had my entire large intestine removed because it was covered in polyps. Thousands of them. Adenomatous, and a ticking time-bomb. Colon cancer would have been impossible to avoid. Because I have no large intestine, I am frequently malnourished. I am anemic, and have a severe Vitamin D deficiency.

All of this is genetic. All of it. My mother has the disease, her mother has the disease, so on and so forth. The likelihood of me passing on these genes to offspring is staggering. I would never wish this burden upon the life of another. I would never wish the physical trauma, the mental burden, or even the financial weight a person with these cracked genetics must carry, even upon my worst enemy. It’s something I joke about constantly, because that tends to be the easiest way to deal with it. I ignore it. I forget about it.

I don’t want to be pregnant. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want children—despite how I may grumble, I actually like kids. I had always entertained the idea of children being a part of my life, perhaps adoption, etc. In recent years, painfully close to the time I realized that bearing a child might not be the best idea for me, I developed the desire to give birth. To actually conceive. With cysts and scar tissue, I’m not sure that by now it’s even an option for me, but logically and rationally—and painfully—I realize that pregnancy would be one of the worst things I could ever endure.

I’ve discussed it with my doctors, and with my OBGYN, and they are beginning to begrudgingly agree with me. I am on the Nuva Ring, though it is more expensive, because it is less likely to fail—either due to the medicine itself or to human error (aka, forgetting.) I want a tubal ligation. I want the opportunity to experience pregnancy, but the process would be terror on my body, and considering I’m malnourished enough as it is, the likelihood of the fetus surviving is slim. At the very least there would be many complications.

I want my tubes tied, and even though I have only just begun to actively seek this out, I have been met with an astounding wave of negativity and hostility. Some who listen only hear “A woman who doesn’t want a child? What’s wrong with her?” Some tell me, “You’ll change your mind in the future.” Some say, “But it’ll be worth it.”

And those are just friends, co-workers, family, acquaintances. The doctors and nurses, they look at me and frown. They think, “She’s just 21. She has no idea what she wants.” And that’s the most common reason for a tubal ligation denial. That because a woman hasn’t had children, she might change her mind. To me that says, “You’re incapable of making this decision. You will regret your decision. It’s not your decision to make.”

I want to tear my hair out. I want to scream at them, that clearly I do know what I want. I do want children, I do want to experience pregnancy! That even though I am aware it is untrue, I feel almost less of a woman because bearing a child would be difficult, if at all possible! That I am in anguish, tormented and angry. That I want all of these things, that I want and I want and I want, but that I know it is a terrible decision.

My newly-beginning battle with my decision is why the opportunity to Choose is so important to me. Because an abortion would truthfully be the wise decision for me, though it honestly kills me to say it. I have always been a proponent of Choice, even when I felt that I could personally never have an abortion myself—simply because it is not something I could picture myself doing, it never occurred to me that every other woman ought to operate the exact same way. And now I fight so viciously because it is a matter close to my heart. It is a matter that tears me apart. 

I am fighting to never be faced with that Choice, but if it ever arose, I know what I would do, and I know why. And I don’t care if I am crucified for it, because those who judge and those who would call me killer are not me. It is my Choice, and it matters to me because it is a decision I have already made.