I know there are heated debates and people have been wronged on both sides of the arguments. However, I want to ask one question to pro choice people that will help you understand where pro life comes from.
Put aside your beliefs/biases/experiences please for this question and answer honestly.
"If you honestly believed that a fetus is a human life, wouldn’t you do anything to save it from being killed?"
Because pro life people truly believe, based on science, religion, or personal experience, that every fetus is a human child. Therefore we feel we must do everything in our power to save that life. We don’t always get it right, and there are some people who are cruel and heartless, but at the crux of our argument is that life deserves to be saved.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if I truly believed that abortion killed a person, I wouldn’t do anything like what 99% of anti-abortion agitators do.
You put pennies in a box.
You make signs.
You scream misogynistic and violent insults at women who are seeking unspecified health care services at health care facilities, some of which don’t even provide abortions to begin with.
You push laws that target the abortions that are most often life-saving, most often applied to non-viable fetuses.
None of these things really scream “I AM SERIOUSLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE LIVES OF ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS THAT I GENUINELY BELIEVE ARE IN JEOPARDY!” to me, you know?
What they instead speak of is an intense desire to project oneself into a life-or-death conflict, but one without any actual stakes and one that does not require much more than symbolic gestures on behalf of the “believers”.
As a bonus, you get to feel better than a bunch people just normal people like you. You get to feel like you’re a crusader for truth and justice in a world full of people so evil, they’d kill babies for fun and profit.
And when you’re out on the picket line, you can engage in the deepest, most shameful impulses that a human being can wrestle with as you shout vile things at the people trying to enter the clinic. Actual people, who are often actually at the most vulnerable part of their grown lives, possibly people who are wrestling with health problems, possibly people who are dealing with the devastating reality of finding out that a fervently desired pregnancy is not safe or non-viable… and you can reduce them to tears. Such power! You and your friends can mob up (strength in numbers) and shout whatever you want this person. You can completely dehumanize an actual human being standing right in front of you.
And it’s okay.
Because you’ve got this fig leaf for your conscience where—when it’s convenient to do so, when it suits your agenda and your plans—you convince yourself there are these other actual human beings that you are standing up for.
You’re desecrating the everloving carp out of the human life standing in front of you, but it’s okay, because life is sacred. When it’s convenient. When it’s your alibi. When it’s your sword and shield.
But when it’s not convenient? Forget about it. Oh, man… if you truly believed that millions of tiny precious babies were being systematically murdered, would you be blogging about it? I’m not daring you to go out and prove your convictions by committing violence yourself, but even restricting yourself to non-violent means, don’t you think you would be doing something more than posters and pennies and posts if you really thought that “an American holocaust” (as so many anti-choice folks have crassly put it) was happening?
Man, I’m glad you asked me what we would do if we sincerely believed that there were all these lives at stake, because it really exposes how hollow the “pro-life” movement is.
Though of course, its hollowness hardly needs to be pointed out. It’s weird how many protestant Christian denominations suddenly did a 180 on abortion and the belief that a fetus was a person with a soul when it suddenly became a viable political wedge issue. Did you know that? As recently as 1979, you could have gone to a lot of the most pro-life protestant churches in the country and asked their leaders if fetuses had souls and abortion was murder, and they would have told you no, that’s some Catholic dogma that’s completely against the Bible. And they’d point to passages that suggest that no, God does not see a fetus as being equivalent to a person and send you on your way.
But then, somehow, suddenly… the inerrant word of God changed. Almost overnight. Why? Because the preachers had allied themselves with rightwing politicians, and between them, they saw a goldmine.
Because they understand the real question isn’t: what would people do if they honestly believed that babies’ lives were on the line, wouldn’t a lot of people vote for a politician who takes a bold stance against baby killing, since that demands nothing from the person casting the vote but lets them feel like they’ve done a huge good deed?
So they did that.
And a lot of people fell for it.
You give your votes, you give your money, you give your time to the cause. Not much from each individual, but it adds up. It all adds up.
And you will always do this.
Because baby killing will always be wrong, and it’s not like anyone’s asking you to fight a war, right?
That’s what politicians call a permanent wedge issue. The people who “vote life” can be relied on to vote against their interests, to vote against their neighbors, to vote against politicians who would improve the circumstances that lead people to require abortions.
Abortions go up when social safety nets are cut. Abortions go up when wages go down. Abortions go up when health care costs rise. Abortions go up when sex ed is inadequate.
But “pro-life” voters vote for politicians who are in favor of all of these circumstances that lead to abortions.
Isn’t that weird?
But you’ll effectively vote for everything that leads to abortions, because all you care about is that you get to register your vote against baby-killin’.
The pro-life stance is about convenience and feeling good.
I want you to understand that I am not here to “inspire” you.
My life is not your “odd news”.
My existence is not any kind of fetish and does not impact on my ability to have a conversation.
I’m not inherently threatening or weirder than you. Compared to a lot of people I’ve spoken to, I’m still pretty risk-aware and risk-averse.
I’m not tricking people, I’m real.
I will fuck up your day and make you cry like the cowardly little XBox fankid you are if you misgender me.
if you are serious about anti-oppression/liberation work you gotta let go of your ego and learn to apologize. this work isn’t about you knowing all the answers or spitting out facts to cover up fucked behavior, this work when done right kicks our egos ass to make room for learning and listening.
with time it gets easier to catch our defensiveness and step away without saying hurtful things, but until then learn to apologize. letting go of pride, admitting fault and changing behaviors are integral to learning about our privileges. if we fight every person who points our hurtful behavior we will never get past our ego.
apologies: taking it further with an amends
an apology: “i am sorry i hurt your feelings/impacted you negatively when i did this ___________.”
an amends: “i am sorry i hurt your feelings/impacted you negatively when i did this ___________ and i am taking steps to change this behavior by learning about ___________ and or changing said behavior. thank you for taking the time to listen to me.”
when tied to anti-oppression:
an apology: “i am sorry i hurt your feelings/impacted you negatively when i did this [insert specific behavior] and acted out my ______ ism on you.”
an amends: “i am sorry i hurt your feelings/impacted you negatively when i did this [insert specific behavior] and acted out my ______ism on you. i am working on changing this behavior by [insert action here] and am thank you for taking the time to listen to me. “
an apology acknowledges the hurtful action(s)/behavior(s) which lets the person receiving it know that you have thought it out and are sincere. an amends acknowledges the behavior, as well the time and energy it takes for someone who has been hurt to sit through a recount of the oppressive/hurtful situation and goes further in making a commitment to change the behavior/action or perception.
when i make amends to someone i try not to beat myself up or self deprecate when stating my actions because that shit is 1. annoying and 2. takes the focus off of the person who has been hurt and back on me, the perpetrator of the act. if at all possible i also try to give them time to share any further thoughts that i haven’t addressed, by listening without interrupting or defending myself. listening is another skill altogether that i will write about on another day and something that i have struggled with.
another thing about amends is that sometimes you have people in your life that you fucked up with a lot and they don’t want to hear your apologies anymore so its best to just change your behavior and when you have built some trust talk about it. actions ultimately communicate the most, and if you tell them that you have really thought about the ways you have hurt them and took actions to change that and they see it they will most likely start to trust you again. it isn’t easy being accountable because often times we are taught and raised with the idea that discipline is punishment and adults/discipliners cannot be wrong and don’t apologize for shit. well we can change this and i believe that learning to apologize is one piece of undoing that.
i am a tactless person a lot of the time and i have had to make a lot of amends because i have been known to use inappropriate comments during serious conversations. i am still working on my tact to this day as well as continuing to unpack the privileges i have. i cannot tell you how much internalized oppression and privilege i have had to unpack in my life in order to get to a place where i value listening over being right and where i understand the importance of amends and committing to working on problematic behavior.
one last thing i should say that i am more receptive to amends than apologies these days especially from white people when it comes to racism. i am very familiar with the stoic and unaccountable “i am sorry i hurt your feelings” apology that doesn’t address the actions and is a further perpetuation of white privilege by making it about “feelings” and not their actions. when i hear this my trust is broken further because it sends the message (micro-aggression) that i am overly sensitive and not to be believed. i am grateful to have learned and adapted this from my time in 12 step programs.
thanks for reading this,
fabian romero- indigenous immigrant queer boi writer