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I Asked God. She is Pro-Choice March 13, 2010

Posted by Jarrah H in Can-Con, feminism, Politics.
Tags: , ,

“Silent No More” is a pro-life organization of the religious right which aims to discourage women from having abortions.

This organization was invited to my university (in the middle of International Women’s Week) by the pro-life campus club. Their presentation, entitled the “Abortion Monologues,” took place in the middle of the student union building – a busy area with many students walking by. There was a small crowd made up of mostly elderly women and a few students (mostly male). Three middle aged women stood on the stage, two held up large signs which read ‘I regret my abortion’ and they took turns sharing graphic testimonials about their personal experiences with abortion.

This is harmful. Just imagine the damage that could have been done if a student happened to walk by who may have had an abortion or was struggling with that difficult decision.

This group is also extremely manipulative and I was shocked at their tactics. They were actually presenting themselves as a non-judgemental support group for women, complete with a 1-800 help line number.

Pro-life organizations such as “Silent No More” are aware that far too many young women are ill-informed when it comes to sexual health – in fact, they count on it. They are known for spreading factually incorrect information, sometimes even downright lies. Take for example, a brochure being handed out at the event called ‘Condom Sense.’ It claimed that use of condoms causes sexually transmitted diseases. This is unacceptable and has no place on a university campus.

Fortunately, the university Women’s Centre was out in full force at this event with a great group of volunteers, as well as pro-choice signs & posters. They sent a very strong and effective message that the propaganda and misinformation propagated by “Silent No More” and the anti-choice movement has no place on our campus.

-E. Cain

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1. dylan - March 13, 2010

I’m having some trouble with your rationale concerning the representation of some pro-life women at an International Woman’s Week event.

Primarily my concern comes from this section:

“Three middle aged women stood on the stage, two held up large signs which read ‘I regret my abortion’ and they took turns sharing graphic testimonials about their personal experiences with abortion.

This is harmful. Just imagine the damage that could have been done if a student happened to walk by who may have had an abortion or was struggling with that difficult decision.”

Two points: first, if they had negative experiences with abortion including physical and psychological harm, then they have a right to tell their story as much as those who have not. There is conflicting scientific research over the psychological impact abortions have on a woman’s psyche and to discredit one testimony over another would be irresponsible in the spirit of dialogue. Secondly, you ask readers to “imagine” the “damage” done by hearing these testimonials for a person “walking by” that may be conflicted over having an abortion or not. First of all, anyone who is pregnant and considering an abortion shouldn’t go to an International Woman’s Week conference to gather their information – they should go to their doctor, an action both pro-life and pro-choice sides should be advocating. Secondly, the way you frame the testimonies is neither better nor worse than the imagery and demonization the pro-life debate chooses to frame your opinions and perspectives.

While I consider myself pro-choice, the framing of the debate over abortion is dated and in need of some fresh dialogue. Each side knows the others opinions and information better than their own – and there is no avenue that EITHER side is providing for dialogue and interaction to take a new course by which our community can explore the merits of abortion as a human right and/or a moral failure.

Let’s be clear: people’s opinions matter. And clearly there is more to the issue than human rights. Furthermore, I’d wager that perhaps the human rights context has run out of gas for many people who have been part of the debate since the late 1960s. Simply put, why has the Human Rights argument not “won over” certain populations, while in other areas HR arguments have been overwhelmingly accepted a generation after the struggle was launched?

HR is a set of moral beliefs, just like religious values. Indeed, I think both sides ought to re-examine their viewpoints. I wager that the one who does this self-reflection properly will be the victor of the debate.

2. E Cain - March 13, 2010

Don’t get me wrong. Im not saying that abortion isn’t a negative experience for some people and I respectfuly listened to each of the women speak and tell their stories.
In addition, I 100% agree that one should go to a doctor for advice regarding pregnancy.
However, my problem was with the fact that this group (with a clear religious, pro life agenda) was presenting themselves as a non-judgemental support group. This is a new tactic that I have never seen before.
While I could definitely see right through this claim- not everyone can (which is why they opted to hold the event in the middle of the student union building which is busy and full of many students, rather than in a private room.)
I also have a problem with the misinformation and lies spread by the group.

3. dylan - March 14, 2010

Alright, so I feel that we agree on some issues but I’m not sure you understand where I’m coming from in regards to the “framing” issue.

You stated that your problem with the group is their “religious pro-life” agenda. What about their religious beliefs bothers you? Furthermore, do you think that Human Rights arguments are not as value-laden as religious ones?

If human rights are normative. They have a particular ontology that places morality and values in the eye of the beholder. There is nothing empirical about human rights which are only deemed “right” if a society chooses to adopt them as norms through a social dialectic (contradiction, debate, amalgamation, which forms a new contradiction then debate and a new amalgamation, and so on). Some rights have gone through this cycle and have been adopted as norms. Others, like abortion have not. Why? As I proposed in my first comment, it’s because genuine dialogue is lacking exactly because of statements like the ones you have made. (Not to say that the religious right-wing does not make these same judgments, but one side needs to start somewhere and it might as well be the progressives.)

Believing that one set of values is superior to another set is ignorant. I’m not arguing for a moral relativist position but rather how can we frame the pro-choice debate that isn’t contradictory to our own position? How do we frame the other side of the debate and cannot the same line of argumentation be used against our position? If it can, it’s simply no good and to continue using that line of thought only digs our trench deeper – meaning, we are not advancing our position.

The title of you post is “I asked God. She is Pro-Choice.” I find that interesting. What about the biblical scriptures indicate that Christians should be okay with a pro-choice stance on abortion? (I take no issue with referring to God as a she, inclusive language ought to be encouraged.)

Are you a member of a particular church and faith tradition?

4. E. Cain - March 14, 2010

My intention was to frame this blog entry around the issue of how far pro-life groups will go to spread their agenda to students.

What specifically bothers me (and what I was referring to when I used the word harmful) is the manipulative tactics employed by this group. My main point is that whatever position a group takes – pro choice or pro life – they should be clear about it and not try to masquerade it as something else.

5. dylan - March 14, 2010

And by your (non) response and blog title you’re masquerading as a Christian? 🙂

6. E. Cain - March 15, 2010

Well first of all, you dont have to be Christian to believe in God…

Secondly, if someone is Christian and having an abortion goes against their religious beliefs then, obviously, they shouldnt have an abortion. You see, that is the beauty of the pro-choice position. Individuals can choose for themselves what option they want to take.

Given that both of your comments focused on the framing. My last post was to clarify my position. Hopefully, it is clearer for you now.

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