O’Donnell is a junior secondary education major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my favorite bumper sticker I used to see in the Goodwin-Kirk parking lot. I’m talking, of course, about the one that asks me, “Aren’t you glad your mother was pro-life?”
Good call, bumper sticker. Yes, all people who give birth are automatically pro-life. But just for argument’s sake, what might it be like to have one of those crazy, baby-eating, pro-choice mothers?
Bumper sticker, it might interest you to know that I personally have one of those baby-eating mothers. “But that’s impossible,” you might say. “You have not been eaten and surely you were once a baby.”
Well played, bumper sticker. One of the choices offered by being pro-choice is giving birth. My baby-eating mother didn’t decide to keep me out of fear, lack of access to a safe, legal abortion or because she saw a creepy pro-life billboard. In fact, it would seem that she kept me because she wanted me. Sometimes baby-eaters do stuff like that.
Pro-life is an interesting term, actually. The men and women who are truly pro-life are awesome. You can tell they’re awesome because they do such things as help pregnant women access prenatal resources and help parents locate health care, childcare and other support they need. Rather than guilting women or taking away their rights, some pro-life organizations also look at more successful ways of lowering the number of abortions, such as educating people about using birth control and preventing unwanted pregnancies. Avoiding unwanted pregnancies means fewer abortions, which means everyone wins. Go ahead and give the people who fall into this category a high-five. I like them.
Interestingly enough, though, many people who call themselves pro-life would more appropriately fit under the title of anti-choice. I’ve noticed that a solid chunk of the people who claim to be pro-life actually do more to reduce my autonomy than to increase the chance of life or the quality of life of my future children.
If you’re confused about whether you’re pro-life or anti-choice, here’s a litmus test: Are you forcing your religious convictions on me? Then you are anti-choice. Are you harassing a woman entering Planned Parenthood, intentionally and cruelly making a difficult day harder for her? Anti-choice again. Do you feel that cells in my body have more rights than I do? Anti-choice. Are you holding up a sign that confuses the terms “zygote,” “embryo” or “fetus” with an incorrect term like “baby” or “child?” Well, that doesn’t make you anti-choice as much as scientifically inaccurate and rhetorically misleading. But you still don’t qualify as pro-life. Boom. Roasted.
Moreover, when women are no longer able to get abortions for life-endangering pregnancies, it seems less pro-life and more pro-death. Also falling under pro-death: limiting safe and legal abortions for women, causing an increase in illegal “back alley abortions.” According to the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, 47,000 women worldwide died from unsafe abortions in 2008, not including the women with serious infections and lifelong physical and emotional scars. Don’t limit my right to a safe abortion and tell me you’re pro-life. Just don’t.
I’ll be real with you, pro-life bumper sticker. If I were to have any other kind of medical procedure and you interfered with it, I would judge you hardcore. There is, for instance, no need for you to protest my knee surgery with offensive signs. If you attempted to pass legislature to make knee surgery more difficult to get, then that would be a jerk move. Ditto in trying to ensure that my insurance wouldn’t cover that knee surgery. When it’s all said and done, I feel like you have no business being involved in my knee surgery at all, really. Seeing, you know, as it is a private medical procedure and also not your knee.
So how do we meet in the middle when you think I’m a baby killer and I think you’re laying claim to my uterus? You may be able to tell from aforementioned comments that I have a few opinions on abortion, and I am not free from blame when I say that as students at Drake, we have polarized the issue to the extent that almost all we can do is close our minds. The crosses in Helmick Commons last year signifying “dead babies” was probably not the most persuasive gesture Drake Respect for Life could have imagined (especially since I find it presumptuous that my embryo would have a cross. Are all “dead babies” automatically Christian now?). Likewise, if you’re one of the people who took those crosses or otherwise destroyed that display, you did absolutely nothing but prove your intolerance to other points of view. Good work, kids.
I would like to call a truce of sorts. As pro-choice Drake students, is it possible that we don’t tear down signs that promote Respect for Life and its events? In fact, what if we go to the events and try to understand their members’ perspectives? They had a non-polarizing speaker come to campus last year that said women don’t have access to or knowledge of resources and options besides abortion. What up, compromise? At the same point, it would be nice if the most recent pro-life speaker on campus didn’t lump together homosexuality, abortion, child abuse and the Holocaust. I can’t say those arguments convinced me of anything besides a misunderstanding of every issue, ever.
What if we had conversations around abortion instead of debates? Discussion around the issue of abortion is important, whether it is in classes, in print or in chalk. Perhaps we could see each other as intelligent and opinionated individuals instead of monsters. It would be nice to see collaborative programs educating students about reproductive rights and issues, and it would be great if you stopped assuming things about my mom. I dream of a day when outspoken pro-choice supporters and passionate pro-lifers can walk hand-in-hand and be judged not by their stances on abortion, but by their willingness to open their minds and respect each other’s seriously misguided perspectives.
Boom. Put that on a bumper sticker.