Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why Being Pro-life makes me a Feminist

"...[We resolve] to support maternal and child health..." (President Obama in statement made on 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade)
"I struggle to see how the Roe v. Wade decision supports child health when it seems that 100% of the children it directly affects are no longer alive" ~Brandon Vogt

I started this post back when the SB5/HB2 events were occurring.  I didn't have time to complete it when I first started writing and then so much time passed I decided it was no longer relevant.  Which is ridiculous, because if there was something that is always relevant, it is this issue.  But if you disagree, it's the 41st anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision and it's officially relevant again.  Disclaimer: I write this not to start a debate or offend.  I write this to let people who are on the other side of the issue know I understand and hear your hesitation and I hope this will help you to understand my urgency:

Since weening myself from College Republicans starting my junior year in college I've slowly retreated away from being my politically active self.  To be honest, it's just too frustrating and at times disheartening for me to participate in; no matter how hard I look I can't seem to find a person or party whom I can really identify with. I want to pick and choose.  So I've bowed out bit by bit.  Particularly on the online forums.  Facebook, blogging, all of it.  There is this lovely veil that people perceive when they are tucked behind their computer screens which emboldens them to make some pretty outrageous claims.  The Facebook debate drives me nuts; it will suck you in and never let you go "I MUST HAVE THE LAST WORD." 
Enter SB5, HB2, SB1.  Abortion.  It's my buzz word.  If there's anything that can rile me up it's this issue.  My feathers get all ruffled, my heart starts racing, and my jaw gets to clenching.  I cannot remain silent!  I made my first semi political facebook post in year, and I used the tactic of posting a picture of my son because no one is going to start a nasty debate underneath a picture of a cute baby, right?

But the message I was trying to get across is no less important.  The fetus in the sonogram picture and the infant holding it are the same DNA, the same beating heart, the same beautiful boy.  After watching the past couple of days unfold I decided I couldn't leave it at that.  So here I am, blogging.  I don't even know the purpose of this post.  I suppose just to get a little steam off my chest.  I don't want to address the "when does life really begin" "is it my body or is it a separate body" issues.  Many others have been doing that for me, and sadly few hearts are changed this way.  Instead, I want to look at it from the women's rights angle.
"WHAT?" you say.  "But that's the angle of the pro choice movement, you're beating yourself with your own argument."

Wrong.  Here's my position on why being pro life makes me quite the feminist.     

1) I refuse to accept that the only way I can obtain equality with men is through a medical procedure.
This one is pretty self explanatory. My (and other women's) worth, dignity, equality etc are inherent.  I don't need a procedure to bring me up to par.  Thanks for the offer though.

2) I refuse to reduce myself to such a level that my whole world will crumble and fall if I get pregnant because poor, weak me can't handle 9 months of pregnancy. 
This one sounds insensitive.  When I came back to this post and read #2, I thought, "oh that's not fair to say across the board"  I recognize that my circumstances are  not other women's circumstances.  I am aware it is easier for me to carry a child to term, with my house, loving husband, steady job than for many others.  But hear me out.  Women, you are strong and powerful.  Your body grows humans.  Life is started underneath your beating heart.  You have the capacity to accomplish something that is so everyday and yet so miraculous. Embrace this, it's beautiful.  Not always easy or comfortable or convenient.  But you are equipped with the power to do it, and that's amazing.
*Addendum* I had the following conversation with a friend about my post and thought it was important to include as to explain why I did not originally bring up medical circumstances which put the mother's life in danger: 

"You know there are people who don't have a choice? Who live with the haunting reminders of what they had no choice but to do? They struggle and it even sometimes goes as far as affecting their mental health."
"Yes, which is why I wrote this in the way I did because I think it's unacceptable that a woman would find herself in a place to say she has no other choice. Unless, a serious medical condition is the cause of this lack of choice, which I recognize does occur. And I didn't address that here because the kind of access to abortion granted by Roe v. Wade goes far beyond protection for women who are in these circumstances. And I have much compassion for someone in this situation, because I understand that as you said the haunting reminders are everywhere when abortion is such a frequently discussed issue and insensitive words are often carelessly said. But I also recognize I could never fully understand the toll it would take to have to face such a circumstance."
"I agree with you that it's gone way too far and is now just an easy access route for those who just don't want to take responsibility for their actions. I applaud you for being respectful and well mannered. Because you're right so many just toss words around and they think they aren't hurtful to those of us who would immediately step up but for medical reasons could not"

  3) I refuse to be mis and under informed. 
There is a lot of mis information surrounding abortion.  Although, I like to call it under information.  This coming from the girl who researched every procedure/medication on her birth plan to give myself the best chances of having nothing happen that I didn't understand.  Let's just say, I'm a big advocate for being informed about things being done to your body.  And yes, in the case of negative impacts, it is the mother's body being affected too.  Many women are told just enough to make it sound appealing and like the best option.  Information about the risks, about the details of the procedure, about the after affects are conveniently left out.  Don't insult me and my gender.  We deserve to be fully informed and offered proper care.  
Let me tell you a little story.  When I first started looking for work after having Aidan I came across a posting for a Counselor position at a clinic.  The description said something along the lines of "providing mental health and psychological care to patients to help with transition following procedures"  There was more to it and descriptions that would make you think someone qualified as a counselor should probably get this position.  I was pretty excited because it sounded like something I would enjoy doing.  I got to the requirements section and it only asked that you had a high school diploma and no counseling experience necessary.  I was immediately skeptical and Googled the company.  It was an abortion clinic.  Really, is this the best we can offer? 

4) I refuse to cover up the underlying problems which lead to women even considering abortions.
Here's where I address the insensitive part of #2.  My circumstance is not your circumstance.  You might be expecting me to say something like "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps"  "Try harder" "Get a job" "Shame on you for having a baby out of wedlock".  Not only am I not saying these things, I am in some ways arguing against those who do.  There is no question that a very large gap exists between what would ideally happen if abortion was made illegal and the reality.  And we must strive for better.
I work with people who have disabilities.  In my field we never refer to someone with a disability as being handicapped, because it is not the person but the environment that creates the barriers.  When we work to remove those barriers a person with a disability not only gains tremendous self efficacy but becomes an active member of our society.
Don't make the mistake of thinking I'm comparing pregnancy to a disability (See #'s 1 and 2).  However, I do believe there are barriers which must be addressed which abortion conveniently covers up.  There must be better and affordable access to real healthcare (ie other than abortion) for women.  Not just during pregnancy but after the child is born.  There are lots of amazing services who offer assistance to a mother during pregnancy but years down the road, services become fewer and far between.  
Our society needs to stop stigmatizing women who are pregnant and in difficult circumstances and instead offer a helping hand.  Whether or not you agree with the circumstances or, in some cases, your moral beliefs about sex out of wedlock, hear me out.  Many women are afraid of being shamed if they decide to carry the baby to term.  I'm not saying let's glamorize teen pregnancy (ehhmm 16 and Pregnant), but let's not forget to always show love.
There have been great strides the past few years to support working mothers and these need to continue to improve.  Including access to childcare, not only when the mother is working but when she is seeking work. 
 These ideas are lofty, yes.  What I'm trying to say is I realize that ending abortion is not enough; there are other issues to be addressed.  But they are not the bigger issue.  Some may argue we can't end abortion until these things are in place.  But I say we can't afford to wait to end abortion, because whether or not these changes are made, it's still a human life being ended and that takes top priority, always.  You see, I don't like to settle.  So rather than settling for abortion, I choose to advocate for better, shall I say, choices.

5) I refuse, REFUSE, to be looked on as little more than an object by men.  Refuse.
This one relates to #4.  What about women who conceive as result of rape?  The argument that "those circumstances are rare and therefore shouldn't be considered" is quite pathetic.  The fact that even one woman finds herself in this circumstance is not acceptable.  I refuse to give the man who rapes a woman an easy out.  Remember that a majority of rape occurs by someone the victim is close to.  This person knows abortion is an option should a baby result from his horrific act. It may not be the deciding factor, but it is a fact.  Remember that disgusting article by that frat guy who said SB5 had to be defeated so he could continue to have careless sex with women?  Yeah.  I'm not saying he's a rapist, I'm just saying that's the mentality.  I want to live in a world that fights harder to end sexual objectification than it does to keep the "right" to an abortion.

But even if all of this was irrelevant and abortions being legal and easier to access did "empower" me, I refuse to raise myself above the life of another.  My life is no more valuable than any other life; male or female, someone who has a disability or someone who does not have a disability, adult or fetus. 

And then there's this

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Adventures with Zilla: 11 Months!

How old?: 11 months!  1 month away from being a year old! 1 month from graduating from baby to little boy!

Not really sure.  Probably about the same as last month.     

Baby clothes:  
Still wearing same size clothing.

Zilla has become very good at pulling up to stand and walking around using various surfaces for support.  He can walk pushing a little rolling cart unassisted; though not without me hovering over him for safety.  I've seen him crawl in small increments, but in general he prefers to army crawl. 

Special outings: 
We stayed in town for the most part this month.  Other than a few trips to some restaurants or stores to go shopping, it was a home-y kind of month.  Probably because it has been a month plagued with illness.  Luckily, Zilla avoided most of the sicknesses, but mommy and daddy seemed to have some kind of sickness all month.  Mommy even had to make a trip to the ER.  We all seem to be on the mend now!

Highlights of the month: 
Zilla's very first Christmas was this month!  Get ready for video and picture overload!  We had such a wonderful Christmas.  Nina came into town so we could spend it with her and my family.  
We went to Mass on Christmas Eve.  Zilla hadn't taken many good naps that day so we were a little nervous.  He was fairly well behaved, despite having to sit for about two hours since we got there a little early to be sure we had a seat.  He is such an active baby.  He was twisting and turning all throughout Mass and kept everyone around us entertained.

Christmas morning we opened gifts with Nina first and then headed down the street to my sister's to have Christmas with my siblings.  I just love seeing all the kids playing together! 

After sibling Christmas we went to my Papa Joe's to celebrate with extended family.  We have a tradition of singing Christmas carols every year and it is my absolute favorite! 

Zilla made out quite well this year.  He is definitely not lacking in the toy department.  Our living room is quickly being taken over by cars and books and puzzles.  I love it!  

Baby's routine:  
Same as last month!  The only difference is sometimes he doesn't really sleep during his first nap.  He will just stay in his room talking and playing and climbing.  He started to stand up in his crib this month, meaning we had to lower his crib.  I think all of his new abilities are a little distracting and just too much fun to even think about sleeping!

Baby's favorite food: 
Zilla continues to like most foods.  We had a lot of avocado this month but also tried some citrus fruits and a papaya.  I don't know that he has a favorite right now, he just really likes to eat! 

Baby's favorite activity: 
His top activities are bath time and playing peek a boo (or where's Zilla)

Baby's favorite toy: 
Zilla enjoys toys that he can open and close or take out and put in objects.  He loves the satisfaction of getting objects to go through holes.  He also likes cars and loves being pushed around on his little bus. 

Big changes:  
The biggest change continues to be his mobility.  I think his increased confidence in maneuvering around has also helped him to become a little more independent.  We can put him on the floor and let him play and he won't immediately try to crawl into our laps anymore. 

Mommy Journal:
I can't even handle how close he is to turning 1 year old!  This year has gone by so fast and the changes that have occurred in such short time spans is incredible!  I was going through the past posts and remembering how excited I was when Zilla started tracking a toy for the first time or when he accidentally rolled over for the first time.  These little moments are simply incredible and I'm glad I've documented them in some way.  Some months it's hard to sit down and find time to keep up with the monthly blog, but I know I will cherish these little peeks into the past for years to come!