Post by Vyckie D. Garrison on Apr 15, 2009 22:20:38 GMT -5
This forum will not allow me to paste all of the comments from the original post in one message ~ so I am breaking it up into three sub-threads. However ~ PLEASE ~ post your comments to all three sub-threads as responses to THIS thread. Thanks so much!
*~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~* It is a most insidious drug which must be administered to others in order to achieve its desired effects for oneself. ~ Marie Winn *~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~*
Post by Vyckie D. Garrison on Apr 15, 2009 22:24:06 GMT -5
92 comments: Anonymous said... Personal convenience? Not dying in childbirth and leaving your children orphans is "personal convenience" now? Every time I hear that "convenience" strawman from the anti-abortion people, I am reminded of Mark Twain's aphorism, "Misfortune is easy to bear. Another man's, that is."
Margaret Sanger was herself anti-abortion. One reason she wanted women to have access to birth control was so that they wouldn't have abortions. Back alley abortions were available as a means of birth control long before safe and legal methods of preventing conception were around. In her autobiography, Sanger talks about seeing the lines at the abortionist's door on Friday nights in a poor, immigrant neighborhood. She also talks of how she dissuaded a woman who was pregnant with her eighth child from having an abortion, promising her that she would teach her how not to have any more. Planned Parenthood, the organization she started, was anti-abortion through the 1960's and into the early 1970's. (I don't remember exactly when that changed.)
I am not going to argue with you about the pro's and con's of abortion itself. I do suggest that you learn something about the history of the birth control movement from sources other than the ones you have been relying on, and that you not dismiss other women's reasons for not continuing a pregnancy as "personal convenience", unless you want your reasons for the choices you have made in life dismissed the same way.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Jadehawk said... I know you addressed primarily the pro-lifers, but I feel I must make one important correction to Mary Pride's assessment: abortion has always been "popular", which is half the problem. even now if you look at statistics, 50% of all abortions worldwide are in countries where abortion is illegal (and abortion is generally illegal in strictly religious countries, be they muslim or christian). the only difference is that here and now, abortions are out in the open, while in more restricted times/cultures, they were in the back alleys and hidden from view.
and (because I can't help myself): the only things known to reduce abortions in any significant way are: 1)women getting a say in their relationships/sex-lives 2)easy access, availability and de-stigmatization of birth-control
Friday, March 27, 2009 Vyckie said... It's true that I really had pro-lifers in mind when I wrote this post ~ but I certainly am happy to hear from those "of other persuasions" ~ LOL
Interesting. I just realized that I have always been so steeped in pro-life literature and its language that I really couldn't think of how to address someone who doesn't not agree with that viewpoint without showing disrespect or condescension.
Anyway ~ thanks for your comments. We're thinking ~ and you're welcome here.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Annie C said... OK, first off, can we please drop the whole anti-life worldview myth? As a secular liberal I can safely say that "killing babies" is not something we do for fun. It makes it sound like we all go about getting knocked up simply for the bloodthirsty joy of killing off the child. Brunch, murder, shoe shopping, tra-la.
Spare me. Please.
Personally I have yet to meet a woman who has had an abortion who did not consider it a necessary last resort. For all of them, at a minimum, having a child would have meant losing all support, emotional and physical. And in many cases it would have meant outright abuse from the father or from those around them. And for a number of them health was an issue as well. But none of them, none of them had an abortion because they were anti-life. They took a long hard look at the quality of life, both for themselves and their child, and decided they couldn't put a child through that.
As for birth control, no, I do not believe that it's murder. Now, you can argue health risks for any drug or internal device, so for the purposes of this discussion, let's stick to condoms. If keeping the sperm from reaching the egg via a latex barrier is murder, then so is abstinence. After all, as far as I know, God only had direct hand in making one baby in history, every one else involved getting two people in the same place at the same time with the same thought in their minds. If they then say no, they are thwarting God's will and preventing Him from bringing a child into the world.
Look at it this way. God made man in His image. He gave man dominion over all the plants and animals, including giving him the knowledge and ability to split them up, to control which animal breeds with which animal. Why would he not have also given Man the ability to control their own reproduction? After all, Man is the only being in the world that does not have a heat cycle, that does not have the irresistible urge to procreate. Man is the only being in the world where God is not in direct control of the reproductive cycle. Man is the only being that can say no.
Man is also the only being that can choose to do other things that don't result in babies (not going to get more specific, kids might be reading). So the question really boils down to "Should we be applying technology to this process or not". I say, why not?
And as for how someone can be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time? If someone wants to sin, it's between them and God. If they are that determined we're not going to stop it, On the other hand, I don't want the government getting between me and my doctor, for any reason. It is not a huge step from "You cannot not have this baby" to "you cannot have any baby" or "you have to have a baby". I don't want to open that door.
Besides, women in desperate situations have been having, or trying to have, abortions throughout history. If you really want to end abortions, end the situations that make women feel so desperate. Increase the social safety net, make health care universal, and seriously, seriously, work to promote adoption as a viable alternative. The way we treat that option is shameful in this country.
Anyway, that's my $0.02. And now that I've written out this reply, I'm going to go put it on my blog too.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Susanne said... Practicing responsible birth control is not necessarily indicative of an "anti-life worldview". Having children you cannot support emotionally and financially is not pro-life. No one has shown me any evidence God requires women to breed indiscriminately to be saved.
If we agree the moment of conception is God's divine will and it is a mortal sin to delay or eliminate this conception, then perhaps medical science in general is against God's will. Why prevent dying during childbirth if that dying is God's plan? Why seek treatment for a heart attack if that attack is God's will?
You're right though...the more you dig the deeper the questions go.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Vyckie said... Annie C said:
"If keeping the sperm from reaching the egg via a latex barrier is murder, then so is abstinence."
There it is again ~ the progression. Seriously, Annie ~ I understood the logic of this (not that I thought it was murder ~ only the thwarting of God's will in bringing another human being into existence) ~ only rather than thinking, "Okay, forget it ~ that's just going too far" ~ I developed a conviction against abstinence too. Crazy ~ I know.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Annie C said... Yea, I agree, the whole thing is crazy. said with a chuckle and a grin
So, just to follow the thought along. I'm going to assume (and correct me if I'm wrong) you mean abstinence in married women. What about unmarried teen-agers?
And where does that land the whole purity ball movement? Wouldn't those fathers be leading their daughters in sin, by causing them to reject God's will.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Charis said... We eventually arrived in the "no-birth control" camp as our own practice. I've been pregnant 11 times and birthed 8 full term and thriving children. But I never had any life threatening pregnancy complications.
I have grown daughters and a daughter in law none of whom have followed in our "no birth control" practice and I do not judge them. In thinking through the issue theologically, I have concluded that inventing and using birth control is part "exercising dominion" which was given by God (equally) to man and woman in Genesis 1:26-28.
I have often reminded my unmarried children that I would much rather they come to me if they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Abortion may look appealing as a "quick fix" in that circumstance. But it is not a pain free way of escape, IMO, it does violence right to the core of the mother's being. I don't wish it upon my daughters. I would rather they choose to carry the baby to term and we will give as much help and support for the process as we are able.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Vyckie said... Annie ~ for myself, I had a very hard time justifying abstinence to avoid pregnancy ~ even after I suffered a partial uterine rupture during my last delivery ~ because I could not distinguish between abstinence and birth control and abortion ~ to me, it was all the same line of thinking ~ that of playing God by taking it upon oneself to decide whether or not another human should come into existence.
(Can you tell by my writing that I have a strong tendency to make connections? Everything just seems to flow together in my way of thinking. That's probably my problem, eh?)
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... My Grandmother had 14 pregnancies, 9 live births and 7 children that lived. They had plenty of kids, and a struggling farm and tried to get birth control. Unfortunately at that time it was nigh impossible to get birth control legally. She died when I was 3, and was laid to rest on our shared Birthday. I really believe that if she hadn't been so physically drained by hard work and pregnancies I would have had a chance to get to know her. I really believe that since men don't hunt tigers with pointed sticks anymore, why should women risk their lives over and over again having children? I think God loves us enough that the doesn't want us to throw our lives away when it can be prevented. Isn't that a bit like committing suicide?
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... I can wrap my head around the pro-life arguments, but out of profound humility I am pro-choice. I do not want to stand before God and tell him that I thought imposing my morality on individuals He created was His will. I am more comfortable telling Him that I trusted each person created in His image to make their own choices. Obviously people make immoral choices, but that is between them and God, not me and them.
I believe in earthly laws because for a civil society to function it needs laws that enable people to function together. Ideally civil laws are based on the consent of the governed, with juries and judges acting as checks on the system. Abortion does not seem like a act that must be prevented to allow a society to function, it seems to be a personal decision, not a societal one. Murder and theft are acts against society. A bit of a Caesar/God dichotomy.
There is just no way I can feel comfortable dictating the choices of millions of women. Regardless of whether I would ever have an abortion, if I can imagine situations in which an abortion might be moral, I believe I must be pro-choice.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Annie C said... Well, no, I would consider that a sign of intelligence. Which I would not consider a problem. chuckle
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... If contraception is wrong, then is it wrong to try not to have a baby by abstaining from sex? If that's wrong, is it wrong not to try to fertilize every egg and use every sperm? That would be impossible.
I've never understood why "accepting as many babies as God wants you to have" is somehow synonymous with refusing to try to plan them. Surely if God wants you to have a baby that badly, he can force the condom to fail? Or, barring that--he somehow managed to get Elizabeth and Mary to conceive, didn't he?
Friday, March 27, 2009 Angela said... I can't imagine how it would be to live with the constant fear that everything you do can in some way go against your god - I had a taste of that in my childhood and I don't regret not going back to it. So far it sounds like there is no winning, no happiness in this lifetime, is that not something that a god would want for it's followers?
I was surprised to read so many comments that aligned with what I thought while reading this - particularly Annie C., Bravo! I don't think I have anything more to add except to stress again that there is not a single person who is anti-life, everyone has different opinions of what is right or wrong when it comes to medical procedures and a woman's right to choose but I have never heard one of them as anti-life. I personally am anti-abortion but pro-choice - which as I've noticed is very common.
But from a christian point of view, I think it was already mentioned that god gave you those resources to use at your discretion. If he is the all powerful being you believe him to be then those birth control pills are not going to stop him, right? Who's decision is it to know when god wants technological advances used or not? Electricity, plumbing, motor technology, modern medicine of any kind - if it's not in the bible you follow than why are you allowed to have it in your life at all? Even the amish make exceptions (in-door plumbing) based on "convenience" and it's up to you to decide what you're comfortable with.
But like the others said, giving women (not their men) that control lessens the uses of procedures like abortion (after conception) and I would assume that is the biggest battle for the anti-abortion regime.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Alyzza said... No, I do not believe the difference between abortion and simple birth control is merely a matter of degree within an ‘anti-life’ framework.
Access to birth control in general, and to “the pill” in particular, implies that women have a right to determine their own family size. This has very little to do with “convenience” so much as with a real, level-headed assessment of the available resources and how they’ll be allotted among x-number of children.
Fewer kids means less waste, less food consumption, and more time for those “convenience” issues like buying enough food to feed everyone adequately and ensuring there are proper, clean waste receptacles available.
It’s no accident that preventable deaths from malnutrition and disease don’t occur nearly as often, if at all, really, in countries where birth control is legal and readily available.
2.5 billion people around the world lack proper sanitation. This is a number that doubled between 1990 and 2004. Of those, about a billion have no sanitation – none; not even a ditch or a chamber pot. They and their kids may go in the bush or right on the street. Children die every day – every minute – from waste-borne pathogens that cause diarrhea.
In 2005, the World Health Organization released its estimate for global causes of death among children under five: 17% of them had died of diarrhea – more than were killed by Malaria, measles, and HIV combined. (At 19%, pneumonia just barely edged out diarrhea to kill more kids.) Malnutrition is listed as THE underlying factor 53% of the time.
Children tend to die by the truckload in countries where women are forced to bear them “as the Lord provides” and where women (with no vote) have no rights to force government change vis-à-vis no birth-control, bad sanitation, and limited education They also have no right to turn down their husbands’ demands for unprotected sex.
The math is pretty simple: More unprotected sex = more kids = more mouths to feed = less food per person = malnutrition in some of them = greater susceptibility to disease and infection = a far higher mortality rate among affected children. That’s how it is in most of the world.
That’s not pro-life. It’s anti-life.
The Quiverfullers are living in a rarified world of privilege where having more kids DOESN’T mean having to watch some of them die. And yet they speak of these “Quiverfull” principles as being universal in nature and application.
Friday, March 27, 2009 aimai said... the first two posters said what I would say and said it very well. Ellen and Annie C. I mean. I'm very strongly "pro choice" and also very strongly pro-contraception. As I believe Germaine Greer said once "If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament." That wasn't just a crude joke. Look at Laura's story up above about how her husband denied her a "power tool" because he thought that girls should learn to make bread by hand while he insisted on using "power tools" for his own work? Men, even men who advocate "no birth control" and "no abstinence" don't take that to mean that *they* have to have sex with any woman who wants their sperm, or even their own wives, or else they are sinning against g-d. If they want to have sex they have sex. If they don't want to they tell you that g-d doesn't want them to. No problem. Its pretty clear that they reserve the danger and the mess and the sacrifice to the women in their lives because they can.
I am not a swedenborgian--and as far as I know they are pretty kooky--but there was a swedenborgian church near us when I was growing up and they had the following sign on the front:
"It is a law of divine providence that man should act according to his reason."
I'm an atheist, or at the very least a seriously angry agnostic jew, but if there is a supreme being I definitely believe that that is the case. We have not only the right but the duty to excercise care in becoming parents as in all things. I don't run across the street without looking both ways because g-d is watching me--why on earth would I have unprotected sex when I don't want to have another baby? If g-d is watching me and controlling everything he'll get me pregnant immaculately if that is what he wants and if he's not watching why am I worried that g-d is some kind of peeping tom with a baby fetish that he can only pursue through my accidents and against my wishes?
Right now over at another christianist blog one of my favorite bloggers, still up to her eyeballs in the quiverful movement, has published an immensely scary and sad story: she herself is pregnant with her eighth baby and a close friend in her church was pregnant with her eighth too but lost it, tragically, to cord strangulation. That is truly horrible. Insisting that it was both g-d's will that this woman get pregnant again (after three miscarriages) only to lose the baby in at the end? What kind of a g-d would that be? And what kind of a person would submit lovingly to the reign of that kind of terroristic g-d? Reading the logical contortions that my blog aquaintance is going through is literally like reading the murmurings of a battered woman. It just doesn't seem like the loving thing for g-d to have done, if he were involved, and trying to make it out to have been logical just seems tortured and torturing.
My niece died, tragically, at age nine and at her nice christian funeral service one person after another got up and tried to make sense of the inherent contradiction between the loving personal jesus g-d and the sudden loss of this little girl. You could literally see people stop and start again as they reached the brink of saying "g-d wasn't there" or "what kind of g-d have we been worshipping?" In the end my sister in law, a evangelical christian, came to the conclusion that a lot of mainline christians come to which is that g-d is where you find him--he's there at the end of your tragedy but he's not the root cause of your tragedy. But why is it that women's lives and their tragedies--unwanted pregnancies, struggles with poverty and with demanding children, miscarriages and early death is thought to be something that g-d absolutely wills, when men insist that he doesn't will all the stuff that seems really bad to *them?* G-d's your best buddy and wants what is best for you except when your wife dies in unnecessary childbirth or kills herself in post partum depression? Im' thinking of Andrea Yates, here, who tragically killed her children during a bout of totally avoidable post partum depression.
Friday, March 27, 2009 aimai said... Alyzza's comment said very succinctly something else that I think needs to be said which is that unlimited pregnancies in poverty stricken third world countries lead to a hideous price. In china poor nutrition and certain bizarre ideas about pregnancy led to a common condition which was total pelvic collapse. The bones of the pregnant woman's pelvis would simply dissolve as a result of too little calcium and too much breast feeding. In Africa the emphasis on large families (partially cultural, partially due to the unavailability of contraception, partially due to an inability of women to deterimine when and with whom they will have sex and partly due to very misogynistic local practices like clitoridectomy) one of the signature illnesses of multiple pregnancies is "fistula" which is an unhealed and unhealing tear between the v and the a leading to permanent disability and ostracism for the woman. If g-d wants the pregnancy and the baby he's choosing a brutal way of going about it by creating a situation in which mothers are routinely left to die in their own feces and the babies die too of malnutrition and lack of care.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... Honestly, though my background is very different, I used to wonder about this too. But reading history (and doing a lot of mission work in some very poor parts of the world) has actually convinced me we're getting more and more pro-life. Hear me out! In the "olden days", by which I mean most parts of the world (I know of histories in England, Persia, West Africa, and China) the only way to control the number of children one raised was often infanticide. And people practiced it! Among the Greeks, the men of the family often decided to expose an infant. In Britain, it was often the mother's decision. But people killed living breathing external babies out of desperation and hunger, because otherwise starvation would get them first.
And then there seems to have been a long period of time where infanticide was very frowned upon but women got abortions frequently - in the Middle Ages in Europe there are many records of herbal abortions, and right on through the Victorian era many women ended pregnancies, dangerously for them and of course life-endingly for the fetus.
Then along came Sanger, who was not the sanest nut in the drawer, maybe, but who worked hard to make sure that our "anti-life mentality", that is the choices women who can't feed ten kids, could get rolled back to before the sperm met the egg at all. So now we have the tools to use prayerful judgment - just as we contemplate every other aspect of how to care for our children, we also have the ability to pray over how to raise all the children who might be and safeguard our own health and resources to better provide for our children and the work we are called to do in the world. (I mean heck, the Bible is full of words on how one should grown a field of wheat - I think you can say the Bible is a pretty pro-wheat document - but in Leviticus even the fields get a rest sometimes. Just because God gave us fields and wheat doesn't mean he thinks we should exhaust the ground cranking out as much wheat as possible, year after year. I think the same applies to the gift of our health, really.)
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... I liked part of what Annie C. commented on earlier, that God gave us the intelligence to separate animals to control their breeding. God gave us the intelligence to learn how our bodies work to an amazing degree, to study and appreciate his creation. Part of this is understanding fertility and contraception.
Having intercourse is a decision, not a default. That's an idea that doesn't seem real popular in this society, but it's true. We learn behavior such that we don't just lie, cheat or steal to get what we want or need. We certainly try to teach that our children shouldn't engage in intercourse before they marry. Why does that restraint automatically become a sin within marriage? Intercourse and children are not the only, or even the primary, reason for marriage. In the Bible Eve was created as a companion for Adam, not simply a brood mare.
I have to disagree with another point made by Annie C., however. I've known girls who have used abortion as a form of birth control. The great majority have put a lot of thought and anguish into the decision, but certainly not everyone does. I've seen evidence of this thinking even within my own family.
Here's my main thought: I'm a big believer in thinking more about when, with whom and with what attitude we approach intercourse, even within marriage. God gave us our minds to think about consequences and decide if we're ready for them and gave us restraint to abstain or use birth control as each person choses.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Jadehawk said... Man is also the only being that can choose to do other things that don't result in babies (not going to get more specific, kids might be reading).
another little correction. most, if not all, anomals do "other things". nature is a very very naughty place.
I'd prefer a different comparison: kangaroos can halt the development of a fetus/joey (joey = unborn kangaroo in pouch), if there's a drought or some other problem that would make it difficult/impossible to raise her young. or in religious terms: GOD gave them a way to make sure their babies will be born at a time when they'll be most likely to thrive.
we humans too have (or have been given by god) a way to make sure our children are born at the moment that's best for them and for the mother: a brain capable of making decisions (abstinence, natural family planning) and developing technologies (condoms, the pill, IUDs*) which we can use to plan our families.
* I know pro-lifers see IUD's with suspicion at best, but the truth is that modern, hormonal IUD's are really just like an automatic birth-contol dispenser. they do exactly the same as the pill
Friday, March 27, 2009 Carol said... I think everyone has pretty much said what I wanted to say but again ABORTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN POPULAR. And Exodus 20 is the only part of the Bible that deals directly with an unborn baby - if a man injures a pregnant woman, after quickening, and the woman loses the baby,then there is a cash payoff, it was NOT considered murder.
Friday, March 27, 2009 an atheist in the Bible belt said... As you can tell from my title, I'm not a Christian and the arguments of breeding for Jesus don't affect my thinking. In fact, I am childfree, and do not ever intend to have children. I do not consider a small clump of cells to be a human, so have no problem with not allowing a fertilized egg to attach. However, even if I were a Christian, I would still have a problem with pronatalism.
Pronatalism makes the underlying assumption that having children is the BEST good for which a woman could use her life, time, resources, etc. It doesn't matter if there are other good things that she could be doing, having the children ALWAYS is the BEST thing at ALL times during the time that a woman is fertile. There's NOTHING better that a fertile woman could be doing with her time and energy than having children.
Well known evangelical John Piper has this to say (it's on the Quiverfull wikipedia page):
"just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it. It is wrong to reason that since A is good and a gift from the Lord, then we must pursue as much of A as possible. God has made this a world in which tradeoffs have to be made and we cannot do everything to the fullest extent.
Although I obviously don't consider things to be a gift from any god, I completely agree with what he is saying about pursuing good things and making trade offs.
In my own life, there are many good things that I can pursue as a childfree person that I could not pursue if I had to spend all my time raising children. My talents, inclinations, and abilities are not geared toward nurturing children. There are other ways in which I can and do work to help adults. Should I put aside the career and volunteer work that I'm good at just because I'm a woman? Is the potential of children in me more important the the reality of the help that I've been able to give to others? My answer is obviously no.
It seems to me that if you're not willing to let go of the belief that you must have as many children as god gives you, then you're not really leaving the Quiverful movement, and the only thing such a woman could hope for would be to find a non-abusive husband who allowed modern conveniences. But the root philosophy wouldn't have changed. That is an observation, not a condemnation. But for someone who wants no children, like me, it's saying that there would never be a way that I could live the life that best suited my abilities.
Friday, March 27, 2009 aimai said... I have read a bit around what Vyckie started talking about here in the post--that is, the notion that there's a "slippery slope" between being individualistically or feministically minded and women deciding when and how to get pregnant and a "culture of death" as the christianist right wing would put it. That's a very complicated argument that needs to be addressed on its own terms. As I understand it the argument is this:
if individuals make up their own mind when, with whom, and for what reason to have sex then they aren't submitting to g-d's will in this area.
if individuals aren't submitting to g-d's will in the area of procreation and sex then they also won't submit in other areas that are all about life like elder care, murder, etc...
Is that basically it? Because its related to another religious argument that morality itself is either god given or non existent. That human beings could have no other way to relate to each other except selfishly and individualistically and brutally except through god given laws.
But of course just thinking about it reveals that this is not, and never has been, true. Human societies have always had laws and codes of morality whether those were considered god given or human leader given and certainly considering we had well known religions and communities prior to judaism and christianity societies also had perfectly workable laws and rules and morality long before the judeo-christian god appeared on the scene.
But as for the slippery slope argument that refusing to prevent contraception is ultimately the same as creating death that's pretty tenuous. In a direct sense to believe that refusing to have procreative sex means that a particular, important, distinct, human being is thwarted as it tries to come into being is a belief held by no religion except mormonism. That is, if my husband and I don't choose to have sex tonight, or choose to have sex with contraception, is the idea that by doing so we have actually "killed" a baby that somehow exists outside of the union of egg and sperm? Of course not. Until the union of egg and sperm and, some would argue, implantation and even a few months gestation there is no individual clump of cells that can be called individual X. (Mormons and some buddhists believe that there are souls waiting to be born, but Buddhists at least don't believe that the parents actions or inactions are the only thing that bring that soul into the world).
But even if you believe that contraception during the sex act actually prevents the coming-into-being of a particular baby X what makes sex with contraception any different from no-sex-every-other-minute-of-the-day? Even in the strictest christian "pro life" household there are literally millions of minutes when the patriarch is not having procreative sex with his potentially pregnant wife, aren't there? Why isn't that seen as a "negation of god's will?" If being tired, or on a business trip, or ill, or busy, or uninterested ok then why isn't contraception during the sex act? Each of the times a husband and wife choose not to try to get pregnant is as problematic as using contraception, isn't it?
The other part of the slippery slope argument is that somehow by not having as many babies as a litter of mice we are on a fast slope to euthanasia of our elderly. Not to go all historically accurate here but of course the Nazis were *both* pro-euthaniasia and pro-eugenics and also anti abortion and pro natalist. Prizing new babies, or new white babies, or new aryan babies, or new babies in our own church community doesn't begin to negate all the anti-life behaviors that people--even good christian people--routinely engage in vis a vis people outside their community. Is it possible to believe that a nun who dedicates her life to raising children in an orphanage is "anti life" because she doesn't get married and have biological babies of her own? Of course not. Well,what's the moral difference between a nun who devotes her life to other people's children and a woman and her husband who decide that they don't want to raise babies of their own because they need to care for siblings or elders or someone else's children? Its impossible to make the argument, with a straight face, that a person who doesn't want to get pregnant, or who can't risk it, is going to end up killing real life people later. So all we are left with is a vague, fuzzy sounding argument that not wanting babies, or not letting yourself get to the egg/sperm connecting moment is the moral equivalent of killing something (contraception is abortion) and its also the moral first step to killing everything. But that just isn't logical. Just because I eat hot dogs doesn't mean I will kill fido. Just because I delay childbirth until my husband and I are ready doesn't mean I'm going to smother grandma. And conversely, of course, just because Andrea Yates had five children didn't mean that she couldn't, and didn't, murder them. Brigham Young had twenty or thirty wives, long before contraception, and he ordered the mountain meadows massacre of men women and children. If there is a slippery slope between acting as an individual and murder its a natural one in the human soul and the contraception bump isn't even a speed bump on that slope historically or morally speaking.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... I don't know if abortion is right or wrong: I'm not God and he hasn'ttold me his opinion on the issue. I do know how hard it is to see a child raised by incompetent individuals or teenage girls end up in a downward spiral because of a pregnancy. These things I know so I am pro-choice. I am fairly certain that contraception is not tantamount to murder. Contraception is about being respondsible. Contraception aids in stopping a medical process from taking place. Just like people take medicine for high blood pressure or asthma - some people use birth control to prevent their body from doing something that would have negative life consequences. One day I want to be a parent - the best damn parent their is. To do that I need to get my life ready. Just like mothers go through a nesting process I'm nesting my life while contraception lets me express my sexuality and love in a respondsible way.
Friday, March 27, 2009 adventuresinmercy said... I think that the QF camp puts emphasis on numbers at the expense of quality.
Because I had five babies in six years, the *quality* of my mothering suffered severely (even as I did the very best I could to be as good of a mommy as possible), though the *quantity* of children I mothered was applauded by the QF community.
But God does not put quantity over quality. In a very strange sense (strange because of the vigour with which the QF/hyper-conservative community generally renounces the 100% business-minded principles of the church growth movement), the QF argument is almost exactly like the mega church concept:
The more people in your pews, the better church leader you are. The more babies in your home, the better Christian you are.
The thing is, I don't think God cares about numbers. Numbers are an outward thing. Who really cares if we have ten kids, but parent them so badly that they all have to spend the next twenty years of their lives in therapy to get over the damage we did to them. How about having two kids who love God and love others?
Why are we thinking that the more numbers we get, the more chance we have of winning? Isn't our God the One who picked a SMALL group of rag-tag bunch of disciples (that included tax-collectors and ex-prostitutes?) and claimed He'd build His church on that tiny altogether dubious foundation?
The QF arguments made so much sense when I was in the camp...though I was on the "lite" side of QF, in that I never went all the way with the more hard-core concepts (ie, I disagreed with those who said that NFP was sin, that marital abstinence was sin, that risking death in childbirth was not a good enough reason to stop having babies, etc).
Now, on the outside of QF---very happy with my five crazy kids but equally happy that I will not have any more---I am stunned at how similar the QF arguments are to other arguments, such as the "church-growth-equals-Kingdom-growth" arguments that I then quickly and easily rejected.
Still very pro-life (though agreeing that the pro-choice community has some very good arguments that the pro-life community really needs to listen to), Molly
Friday, March 27, 2009 Sivana said... People have already addressed the "anti-life" and "convenience" issues, but I would like to add that abortions and birth control are not always (or even most of the time) for selfish reasons.
Most women who get abortions do so because they feel that it is a sacrifice they have to make. They know that it will make them feel awful, but they also know that it will give their other children (either already living or in the future) a much better chance. So they make that sacrifice for the good of their families.
To give you a concrete example, I have a very dear friend who comes from the former USSR. Contraception was incredibly difficult to find and, when they could get their hands on it, was rarely any good. She lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her husband and three children, but only had enough family food allotment for three people (because the bureaucracy in their town hadn't updated their records since #1 was born). She and her husband went to bed hungry most nights so that their children could have enough to eat. Then she got pregnant a fourth time.
Even though she feels bad, even though she wishes she could have kept the pregnancy, she got an abortion because it was the only solution she could see. She couldn't let her selfish desire for her baby endanger her three other children.
And that's a very important point that I sincerely hope you come to appreciate - for most women, it's NOT getting an abortion that would be the selfish choice. For many women, it is an act of great sacrifice for them to put aside all their own feelings and desires and to abort.
No one likes abortion. We all wish it would go away. The thing is that anti-abortion laws don't solve the problem. Desperate women will still be just as desperate - making abortion illegal will only make them take their abortions underground to uncertified back-alley doctors, etc.
So rather than thinking that contraception leads to abortion or that contraception is somehow to blame because it makes women think of pregnancy as a matter of "convenience," I think that contraception is the single most important factor in preventing abortion. Affordable birth control will allow women who CANNOT afford to get pregnant avoid pregnancy. If they can avoid becoming pregnant altogether, they will never be in the desperate position of having to choose between life and death. The statistics are clear - when pro-contraceptive measures are used, abortion rates go down.
I think the second most important factor in reducing abortions is offering women other choices. There needs to be a safety net so that choosing to keep a pregnancy does not compromise the livelihoods of either the mother or her other children. That means a comprehensive welfare program, accommodating schools so that she can continue her education, affordable quality daycare, free/affordable pre-natal medical care, etc. Ideally, I would like to see anti-abortion groups pushing for all of these things because they ALLOW women to choose life. Unfortunately, what I seem to see most often is anti-abortion groups condemning women who get abortions and the doctors who provide them, but offering no support whatsoever to those women who want to be able to choose to keep their pregnancies.
I consider myself to be personally pro-life, but politically pro-choice. I want to see abortions become a thing of the past, but the difference between me and most pro-lifers I seem to see is that I believe that the best way to reduce abortions is to make their alternatives as easy and appealing as possible. I think that just making abortions illegal and telling kids to "just say no until marriage" will make the problem very much worse.
I do apologize that this post is all over the place. It's something I do feel very strongly about! Anyways, thanks for hearing me out
Friday, March 27, 2009 an atheist in the bible belt said... I wanted to add a more concrete example:
In your story, you talk about how you were helped by a female counselor at the domestic violence center. Certainly the center must have had a good number of female employees and volunteers working there. There were probably women there who put in long hours who couldn't have found the time away from their children if they'd had a new infant to care for every year. And they put in those long hours so that abused women like you could find shelter.
With the amount of children that you had, you'd have been hard pressed have the time and energy to work a job like that, even if you weren't homeschooling and doing everything by hand. Would you not say that the counselors and staff at the domestic violence center were living a life of service? That they had put aside some of their own desires (perhaps including having 10 children) to care for others? There can be lives of service which require a woman's resources to be directed elsewhere besides childbearing.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Loredena said... "Margaret Sanger was herself anti-abortion. One reason she wanted women to have access to birth control was so that they wouldn't have abortions."
This. Abortion should be safe, legal, AND RARE. It should be a last resort. What I want, what we all want, is for there to be no such thing as an unwanted pregnancy.
Which does NOT mean -- I got pregnant so I now have to be happy about it. It means full control of ones own body so one doesn't get pregnant without wanting it. Birth control that is both safe and effective. Care for abused women and children so that no child finds herself pregnant due to rape or incest (and surely it is as much a crime to force a child to bear a child as it would be to end it).
Support for a woman who finds herself pregnant and unable to care for herself and the child, so that if she wants to she can carry to term a healthy child, without it being at the expense of her own health, happiness, or future wellbeing.
And, in those unfortunate times where all else fails, and a child or woman is pregnant due to rape or incest. Or carrying to term would put her health at risk. Or any of a myriad other reasons that are between her, her doctor, and her god. That a safe and affordable means of terminating that pregnancy be available.
Because in no circumstance do I believe that the rights of the unborn outweigh the rights of the already born. Nor do I believe that it is my right to prevent someone from making a decision that fits HER beliefs just because they don't fit mine.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... I want to echo a lot of what Annie C, aimai, and even atheist in the bible belt said. I am a married Christian female in the bible belt as well. I am also childfree.
I believe there are several different ways to serve God, as well as I also believe children are so precious that not every Joe and Jane need to be getting busy popping them out.
One of the things that bugs me about QFers, is that instead of serving the people already here, they go home and create 18 new souls they can indoctrinate for their cause. I'm not saying all are like this or even that choosing to have children with your spouse is wrong. But many of these families hide from the world to the point that they refuse to interact with it. I don't see how they are serving Jesus by refusing to serve their fellow man.
God gave us all different abilities and strengths. I honestly believe that it was more than 'post partum depression' that did it for Andrea Yates. When we force people to keep having baby after baby and it's too much for them or they don't want it, you're going to end up with a lot more Andreas. I could be an Andrea if my circumstances were different.
I'm not anti-life. I'm anti BAD life. I don't want to see kids suffer and become unstable adults who repeat the cycle and create more suffering kids. Been there, done that, married to it, and NOT GOING TO REPEAT IT.
And aimai is right. There might be other relatives who need care and serving them is of course a good thing to do. Children aren't the only blessings God has bestowed on us!
Choosing to prevent the conception and subsequent birth of a child you know you cannot properly care for just isn't wrong to me. Why should I go through with it and mess it up just to make Jesus angry that I brought harm to a little one. Sounds rather arbitrary to me.
I do believe that being a Christian means sacrificing and suffering.. but not on purpose. Just because I won't have children doesn't mean I'll never sacrifice for God. This world is so big and vast and God needs some women to tend to other things for Him.
I believe that forcing children upon people who do not want them and cannot care for them is a death mentality. Someone is going to dearly pay for that.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Jadehawk said... bah! I seem to be having a "teacher moment" today! :-p
I don't know how much and what kind of information about the "pro-choice" you two, as well as other commenters freshly out of QF have, so I figure I'll make a short intro:
1)There's so called second generation feminists (i.e. the people fighting for women's rights in the 70's) who will always follow the "anytime, no questions asked" line, and will shrug and say "so what" at the mention of women who use abortion as a birth-control method. the reason for this is that they have often personally experienced what it means to have no control over your own sexuality (I know it's hard to imagine, but when the state tells you you don't get to have a say, that's soooo much worse than your religious cult doing it. because there's no escape at all!), and accordingly they refuse to let this even be a debating point ("no uterus, no opinion")
2)3rd generation feminists and most other, younger women ascribe more to the "safe, affordable, rare" model. they see abortion as a necessary evil, but do everything in their might to make sure as many women as possible won't ever have to make that choice. their approach is a bit like that towards victims of smoking: they will never deny a lung-cancer patient the treatment they need, but they will do everything to get people to stop smoking so the treatment won't be necessary in the first place
3)The last group includes women who themselves, personally, are in the pro-life camp, i.e. they will not even contemplate an abortion for themselves. Politically though, they are pro-choice, because they accept that their choice isn't every woman's choice. this group usually also works to reduce the circumstances in which a woman might have to make that choice, i.e. they work with adoption providers, promote Abstinence Plus education programs in schools, promote easy access to contraceptives etc.
Note that the last two groups are also anti-abortion, they've just chosen different weapons than the "pro-life" groups
Friday, March 27, 2009 Anonymous said... I just don't see this birth-control-to-abortion continuum, Vickie. Birth control is simply about preventing something from happening. How is that related to abortion?
If a fire marshall comes over to my house and tells me my home has dangerous conditions-- if I make some changes to prevent a fire from happening, am I thwarting God's possible will that there be a fire? Where's the logic in that?
We live in an imperfect, fallen world. We have imperfect, fallen bodies. My body's fertility cycle is thus not equatable with God's will. It simply is what it is.
I believe that all the things we have done to counteract the curse-- from better plows to birth control and pain medication-- are acceptable to God. I don't believe that "if God had meant us to fly He would have given us wings" -- do you? If God gave us the ability to invent wings-- and birth control-- what's wrong with using those abilities-- as long as we are not violating the law of love in doing so?
I believe a Christian should pray and seek God's direction on if and when to have children-- not toss our lives to random chance.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Angel Renee said... I can't believe some of what we used to believe in, Mom. My personal opinion is now that we each need to answer to our own convictions. I used birth control for medical reasons for a long time. I could have lived without them, but it would have been VERY difficult for me. You remember how horrible it was for me.
These days I continue to use birth control, but more as protection. To prevent the health concerns coming back as well as to prevent a poorly timed surprise on my part. I think this goes for the majority of young adults-until they are mentally, emotionally and financially ready to raise a family, then they have no business having one. That is the leading cause of abused and neglected children.
Whether that means abstaining from sex, or being very careful, the choice belongs to the couple. Of course, accidents to happen. Haha I was one of them, I guess-and I'm grateful to mom for life.
That being said, I AM against abortions as much as I can be without being put in that situation. I don't judge those who do. As someone said earlier, no mother does it as a frivolous choice, but rather it is a last resort. I don't know what I would do in a rape situation or other disasters, but I am human too. Sometimes people shouldn't be so quick to judge others when they live in a bubble of ignorance, not knowing what it's like. I don't think most people who HAVE been there are as quick to judge.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Arietty said... The QF movement is strongly rooted in the need to *control*. Women must be controlled and keeping them at home birthing and caring for the man's visible spiritual wealth is a very good way to do it. I had a Patriarchal QF male once say to me that just like an Old Testament patriarch could look out on his fields of livestock and revel in his wealth he could look upon his growing offspring and revel in his wealth. Each one that gets produced reflects upon his spiritual wonderfulness, after all God has *blessed him*.
Now that these children are growing up notice the scramble to continue the control via keeping the daughters at home, choosing whom they marry etc..
In order to control people you need fear. Fear of consequences. Fear of God. One way to keep christian women controlled is make them fear that not having a baby is in the same continuum as a choice to kill a baby. Once you have this burden crushing you you're in bondage to a lifestyle that keeps you controlled and producing offspring for the spiritual benefits of the male. No one wants to kill babies. It's very useful to tell women that there are only two camps to be in, the evil anti-life camp that rejects God's blessings and if that doesn't work kills babies and the blessed camp that is not afraid to do God's will.
It's a set up. An erroneous connection is made (birth control=abortion). It is backed up with the most racist and wacko factlets and quotes that can be found about Margaret Sanger (who died over 40 years ago). Christians are wont to believe that the origin of any practice or teaching imprints that practice or teaching for all of eternity. So if you get some condoms from Planned Parenthood you are promoting whatever wacko factlet was discovered about the founder's life decades ago. Pile on more alarmist statistic and stories and a terrifying boogeyman is soon created wherein using a condom, or saying "no" to your spouse is the exactly the same thing to God as infanticide.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Vyckie said... Lots of good points here! Wish I was able to respond to more of these ~ but wanted to at least post a few quick ones:
Adventuresinmercy ~ I feel like we have a real connection because of our shared experiences. It's encouraging to think that someday I might make some progress on processing all this and come to a point where I can truthfully say that I believe something again ;-)
"atheist in the bible belt" ~ I have so many questions for you ~ too many really. Maybe I'll have to make that a separate "We've been thinking" post, huh?
Loredena ~ your post reminded me of something that took me a long time to really grasp ~ that my religious beliefs enabled me to "be happy" in circumstances which were truly unacceptable. Rather than actually address and eliminate problems ~ I would find a way to make everything "okay" in my head ~ fit it into my belief system.
Angel ~ thanks for posting ~ I'm really glad you are here sharing your thoughts and insights. I do hope you'll considering writing more ~ you have a story to tell too.
Arietty ~ I really appreciate your post pointing out that it's really about control.
Friday, March 27, 2009 EK said... Angel Reneee, you're such a valuable addition to these discussions. I too hope you will post more. After all, what some lose sight of is that this ideology affects children as much as it does the husband and wife.
By the way, the maturity and wisdom in your post is such a balm to me. I often wonde rand worry about the daughters in such situations (I still worry about the Botkin sisters, even though I know it's not my place). It's wonderful to see that not every situation has to end up tragic for the daughters of patriarchy.
Friday, March 27, 2009 an atheist in the bible belt said... Vyckie, I'd be glad to answer any questions.
I am so grateful to you for sharing your experiences. As I mentioned in previous comments, I was close to buying into the pronatalist agenda to try to save a marriage. I didn't know that the movement had a name or more than a few fundamentalist adherents. Now I see that your story is a voice for many people, not only women in the quiverfull movement, but for all the women and men coerced into rigid roles that are sucking the life out of them.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Jadehawk said... and now for some semi-comic relief, a different fundie take on procreation and living a godly life:
One of the earliest perfectionist societies was popularly known as the Shakers. Founded in 1776 by “Mother” Ann Lee, an English immigrant, the Shakers believed that the millennium was at hand and that the time had come for people to renounce sin. Shaker communities regarded their male and female members as equals; thus, both sexes served as elders and deacons. Aspiring to live like the early Christians, the Shakers adopted communal ownership of property and a way of life emphasizing simplicity. Dress was kept simple and uniform. Shaker architecture and furniture are devoid of ornament--no curtains on windows, carpets on floors, or pictures on walls--but they are pure and elegant in form. The two most striking characteristics of the Shaker communities were their dances and abstinence from sexual relations. The Shakers believed that religious fervor should be expressed through the head, heart, and mind, and their ritual religious practices included shaking, shouting, and dancing. Viewing sexual intercourse as the basic cause of human sin, the Shakers also adopted strict rules concerning celibacy. They attempted to replenish their membership by admitting volunteers and taking in orphans. Today, the Shakers have all but died out. Fewer than 20 members survived in the first decade of the 21st century.
*~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~* It is a most insidious drug which must be administered to others in order to achieve its desired effects for oneself. ~ Marie Winn *~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~*
Post by Vyckie D. Garrison on Apr 15, 2009 22:25:46 GMT -5
Friday, March 27, 2009 Arietty said... My comments on Abortion:
Annie C. said "at a minimum, having a child would have meant losing all support, emotional and physical." It is not usually the pregnant woman who is anti-child it's a society that values a child based on how well the parent can support it without relying on the faceless taxpayer. People get so outraged at the idea that their tax dollars might go towards a teenager buying diapers for her baby via welfare but don't seem to blink at 1 trillion dollars spent on war. I like reading non-christian pro-life material because it seems to focus more on the value of each human being and less on screaming murder. If anyone is interested here's a few:
Friday, March 27, 2009 taijiya said... I too have difficulty seeing any automatic progression from contraception to abortion; after all, contraception exists to prevent pregnancy, and preventing pregnancy is the most efficient way of preventing abortion!
(Full disclosure: I am about as far removed from being "pro-life" as is humanly possible. IMO, the circumstances attending an individual's reasons for preventing or terminating a pregnancy are far too intricate for anyone outside the situation to correctly assess.)
BTW, this is my first comment here, though I've been reading for awhile.
Friday, March 27, 2009 Jon said... Wow! I have not read every post here, but I do find them fascinating. I did find it interesting that of all the comments I have read, they all seem to be from women. How about a man's perspective?
I don't have time right now for everything I'd like to say, so I'll keep it short and simple.
I agree with many of the comments that birth control via condoms or "natural family planning" cannot be synonymous with thwarting the will of God. God will do what He desires and that includes allowing a condom to fail or ovulation to occur at an unpredicted time.
I do have some concerns with the birth control pill, although not an expert, I have read that some pills can cause an implanted, fertilized egg to abort. Although, not wanting to be overly judgemental, that could borderline on a form of self-abortion.
Secondly, one aspect of the fruit of the spirit is self-control (Gal 6), and that includes our sex-life and reproduction. Sex was made for enjoyment and not just reproduction, just as sex was made for reproduction and not just enjoyment. Self-control comes into play when decisions need to be made regarding how sex is going to affect the parties involved. As much as people like to say that once the motors are revved, it's "impossible" to stop, I disagree. Just have one of your kids run into your room just as intercourse is about to commence, and I guarantee, the brakes will get put on, which is why usually we lock the door.
As much as making love should be spontaneous, it should be planned as well. If pregnancy is not desired, then wear a condom, or wait until the fertile time is past. In some ways, just like waiting for the honeymoon night increases the enjoyment (yes, I'm an abstinence till marriage proponent), putting off sex in agreement as a married couple, can add to the enjoyment later. Especially if as the guy, she chooses the moment and time (seduces you). And there is nothing wrong with seduction in a marriage (read the Song of Songs/Solomon).
Even the bible tells us that a married couple can abstain from sex for a specified period of time, albeit it's in the context of prayer and fasting, but the point is there is one example when the bible says abstinence in marriage is appropriate. If it's appropriate then, why not at other times, like when a mother's health is not good?
My wife and I would like to have another child, but she's dealing with some thyroid issues which elevates her heart rate and causes all kinds of other problems. So we are choosing to "put if off" until she is feeling better. We still plan on having sex, but it will be a little more controlled. That also means I have to exhibit self-control over my hormones and drives until she is ready. Unfortunately self-control is one of the first aspects of the fruit of the spirit to disappear and a lack of self-control is probably the biggest contributor to all of societies woes.
Wow, I'm sorry, I'll get off that soap box. This was supposed to be short.
Thirdly, I disagree with lumping together Mary Pride, Nancy Campbell, and the patriarchal movement. I am familiar with each and agree with some of each and disagree with other aspects of each. I do believe that although there are similarities, I think they are each a separate part of the whole, and this is where the problem starts to come to light. Anytime you base your "truth or reality" upon what others have written and their interpretation of Scripture you are in danger of misunderstanding what the bible really says. Your personal study of Scripture guided by the Holy Spirit, and not Nancy Campbell, will lead you to the truth. The bible says that God's Word is truth and that the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth who will guide us to the truth. Jesus said He was the way, the TRUTH and the life, and that once we come to know the truth, the truth will set us free!
Unfortunately Christians today have done much of the same things that the Pharisees did in Jesus' day. And boy did Jesus rail against the Pharisees. Like the Pharisees, Christians have taken the True words of God and created barriers around them, because of their fear of violating them. And the more fences you put around the "Law" (that's the term for what the Pharisees were doing), the farther away from the source you get. It's alot like playing the telephone game where you whisper in one person's ear something and they whisper it to the person next to them and by the time the last person repeats what was said to them it is usually totally different than what was originally said. Unfortunately that's what happens in many Christian circles. We become followers of Mary Pride, Nancy Campbell, Michael Pearl, or a host of others out there rather than being a follower of Jesus Christ. Even the apostle Paul said the same thing in Corinthians. "For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?" (I Cor. 3:4).
Now there are gifted people who can explain the Scriptures more clearly than what you or I may understand, but we must pray for discernment and ask God to confirm if that is true or not. There have been many a conference that I have attended, including one by Colin Campbell (Nancy's husband) by the way, that I have just agreed to disagree with some of the premises presented, and yet walked away feeling enriched and encouraged, because there were some good things that I heard and agreed with. I was not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because I disagreed with some of the points or doctrine presented.
As I already stated the Holy Spirit will guide us to what is true. The Bible says, "Test EVERYTHING. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil." (I Thess. 5:21). Even the people at Berea didn't trust what the Apostle Paul himself said at face value. The bible says the people diligently searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11).
One reason I don't like "movements" whether they be "purity balls", "quiverfull", "feminists for life" or whatever, is because usually they are birthed because someone had an axe to grind. And as a result they promote a certain agenda. Instead of just living the life of a biblical Christian and letting our light shine in whatever sphere God has placed us, we have to "flaunt" a specific point of interest. I find myself having to fight against that all the time. If someone asks me for my opinion or position on a certain issue, I will give it, but very rarely will I "push" my agenda on someone else. If asked I may respond passionately about what I believe, but pray that if I am in the right, then God will convince the other person, and if I am in the wrong, then I will be convinced by the other person. But other than that, I live out my convictions the best that I can with what God has given me.
That's enough for now, and way more than I originally intended to share. I apologize and if you would like to hear my opinion on anything else you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll respond. Or I might respond to another of your posts as I have time to read them.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 Anonymous said... Jon said "If pregnancy is not desired, then wear a condom, or wait until the fertile time is past." Leaving aside the fact that condoms (and the pill) aren't 100% effective, the people who follow that "just wait until the fertile time is past" dictum have another name: parents. I have an aunt and uncle who practice and even teach the rhythm method at their church. They have 8 children.
I know that wasn't the point of your post, but I can't stand to let bad information just sit there uncorrected. Carry on.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 Jadehawk said... How about a man's perspective?
that reminds me: for an example how badly exiting fundie christianity can end, and for a man's perspective on the situation:
I do have some concerns with the birth control pill, although not an expert, I have read that some pills can cause an implanted, fertilized egg to abort.
it can't. not even the "morning after pill" can do that! the only pill that can do that is RU 486, which is a completely different animal. however, it is conflated with the first two as part of the anti-birth-control agenda. (since you were also talking about agendas...)
Saturday, March 28, 2009 Anonymous said... In the old days, back when a condom was the only form of non-abstinence birth control, and frankly back before electricity was everywhere, my great grandmother had 6 kids. Only 6, over the course of 18 years, each roughly 3 years apart. Furthermore, only one died in childhood. How did she manage that? The answer is in the Bible. Abraham's son Isaac was not weaned until he was 3. As breast-feeding advocates will tell you, breast-feeding tends to suppress ovulation. That's the way God designed you. You weren't meant to have a baby a year! You were meant to feed your child at your bosom until they were out of diapers before another child was even a possibility!
And since a "child" was considered an adult by 13, you never had more than 3 or 4 kids around at once. Multiple families were common, so a young mom might well have older women around to help. Older boys were already learning trades, and probably bringing home a small paycheck. This is a far cry from isolated women trying to raise a dozen kids while her husband works his butt off!
Now that being said, I think modern birth control has saved many women's lives, making them able to be mothers and sisters and wives to their families. Furthermore, any poverty expert will tell you that the ability to plan your family is the cornerstone of escaping poverty both here and in less-developed nations. It stands to reason that if you have only so many dollars, you can more easily take care of a few than many!
Birth control is not about only being pregnant at your convenience. It's about respecting that YOU are a life, created by God, just as much as an embryo if not more.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 aimai said... aimai says:
For people having trouble getting the system to let them log on with a pseudonym just put your "name" at the top and bottom of your comment. It will help the conversation immensely.
As for the pastor who explained to us all that he can pick and choose what he likes from a smorgasboard of religious notions and writings I think he has missed something very pernicious and scary about the stories that he has been reading here. The right to pick and choose and decide which commandments to follow, and how, is offered primarily to men--married men--and not to women. That's the whole point of these women's stories. Their husbands assumed headship and after that all the choosing and thinking and deciding belonged to the husbands. Even if the community as such--the other married women and their husbands and their pastors--thought it was kooky or wrongheaded. This is the entire reason that tiny gestures of independent thought and action are treated by these husbands and by the movement as a kind of "rebellion" or "les majeste" (sorry I can't put the accents in here.) The notion that the husband stands in place of god and king is a very old one and it is the reason why rebellion against king and husband were both forms of *treason.* Rebellion against the husband was actually called "petty treason."
I, too, would like to hear from men who have left the movement but I'm not all that interested in hearing from a guy who simply doesn't get the basic facts at issue: no man is a god to his family and no man should ever accept that job, even a little bit. Its a very quick road to abuse and idolatry.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 Erika Martin - Stampin' Mama said... It's always boggled my mind that the conservative group thinks that birth control is trying to take control of God's planning of your family.
Do they really think He's fully in control of everything BUT that???
If they think God is so in control of everything, then why do they think that's the one area that God has no control over? Surely, you'd think they would understand that if God really wanted them to get pregnant, that no amount of condoms, IUDs, pills, etc. could stand in His way. But for some reason, they forget this part.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 Anonymous said... Grandma here... Just felt I had to share this little story, and a few thoughts...since we are doing some serious thinking here: Even in the secular world this male dominance thing is strong and 'regusting'. Just look at women's magazines...we are told how to lose weight, look attractive for our men, be sexy, build up his ego (like he doesn't have enough) cook all his favorite foods, keep a perfectly neat and orderly house (with no outside help). All this while he generally slouches around in his off time and gets fat and lazy..."Honey, bring me a brewski..." and controls the TV...which is usually on 24/7 to sports or some such drivel. Remember Archie Bunker, and Edith? If you are too young to remember them, here's a short synopsis: He's a bigot with a beer almost always in his hand, spouting forth all sorts of political BS, in his undershirt in front of the TV, always yelling something at Edith, his spouse, who is portrayed as a total nincompoop, who always has an apron on, always fawning over him, rushing wildly to wait on him hand and foot...GAG ME! And so, to lighten this up a bit, I humbly submit this joke:
Three American Indian men (Mostly matriarchal in their societies), all recently married, met in a neighorhood bar on the rez and had a few beers together. They began to talk about their wives... "I told my wife the first week we got married that it was going to be up to her to do all the cooking, because I am lost in the kitchen. The first week I didn't see any changes, but the second week she really began turning out some good grub. Now she's a fine cook!" The second man answered..."Yeah, that's good. Pretty much what happened at our house...I told the wife she was going to have to do all the cooking and cleaning. No change, then all at once, it all improved." The third man then replied... "I told my wife she was going to have to do all the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the yard work, all of it. The first week I didn't see anything different. The second week, no change. By the third week, I could see a little out of my left eye!"
Saturday, March 28, 2009 EK said... Just so, Grandma! Your post carries lots of wisdom.
When (secular) feminists look at Christian patriarchy and compare it to the (secular) patriarchy they despise and have worked against for so many long years....they have the clear vision to see that these two patriarchies are indeed part and parcel of each other.
Those of us who are/were inside American fundamentalism have been raised to believe there's a difference between the two patriarchies because one is purely for the benefit of men (worldly) and the other is ostensibly of and for God.
But having read much more deeply into the Scriptures (and read many balanced books on all sides of the issue), I now believe (as I believe Molly/Adventures in Mercy might) that there is no such thing as (New Testament) Biblical Patriarchy, and that the only reason cisolated verses have been construed to give men "leadership," "headship," and "authority" over women is that centuries of male theologians and pastors have a vested interest in so construing them!
The "Biblical" patriarchy is revealed to be just as self-serving and carnal as the non-Christian patriarchies of the past 5,000 years!
Now I just laugh when Christian fundamentalists rail against the big, bad feminists and say feminists are responsible for "The Breakdown of the Family," the Girls Gone Wild party and hookup culture, and all other ills.
Pardon my French, but to that I say: NOT BLOODY LIKELY!
Many feminists recoil at the exploitative, male-dominated secular culture that tries to push women into objectified sexual roles meant for male pleasure. Many feminists speak out against pornography and prostitution. Almost every major feminist school of thought of which I'm aware DESPISES (rightly) those awful women's magazines you mention. And, many feminists are doing the good works (which I believe Jesus would heartily endorse, based on his actions AND teachings) of helping the poor, the voiceless, the downtrodden, the sick. Now, anytime a woman (or man who claims to be Christian) swears off feminism, I look at them curiously and say, "Really? Why on earth would you admit to not wanting equal human rights for half the world's people?"
By the way, your joke gave me a good chuckle (although disclaimer: I don't condone violence against men anymore than I do that against women!)
Keep on posting.
Saturday, March 28, 2009 Anonymous said... I'm sorry, I haven't read all the comments so I may be repeating things that have already been said, but two things :
- First, women make something like 400 eggs throughout their lives. Given that, if you consider even abstinence to be anti-life, what's the difference between having 18 children or having 2 ? That's still over 300 eggs that died unfertilized. And that doesn't get into the billions of sperm cells men make during their lives. If God intended them all to fertilize an egg, well... How does that even work ? See number of eggs per woman's life above.
And you know how cloning is theoretically possible, maybe practically so within a hundred years. At that point any cell would become a potential baby. Should those babies also be born, in an ideal world ?
- And second, I remember being surprised when you talked about your childbirth problems in another post, you said that God had left you an uterus so he wanted you to have children... But God HADN'T left you a uterus ! A doctor had to fix it so you didn't lose it ! Sure, maybe God was working through the doctor's hands when he healed you, but then... wasn't he speaking through the doctor's mouth when he told you not to have any more children ?
- Third (yes, I said two things, my mistake) : life is wonderful, but too much life destroys life. See : cricket swarms. Algae that fill up lakes and suffocate the fish. Cancer. You need balance.
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Morgan said... As an anthropologist I study different ways of human life. We know now that, prior to the invention of farming, women had much fewer children. In those days (in general, I'm simplyfing) a woman would gather food during the day, often carrying a baby in a sling. The excercize from not having a car and being mobile would lower her percentage of body fat, as would nursing. This would make her less fertile. And so hunter-gatherers have fewer children than farmers or 'modern' people who don't use birth control. Basically, our bodies were never intended to bear 8 or 10 children: that's why it's so exhausting and damaging. Using some kind of birth control is going back to the number of children we can easily raise and bear.
Sunday, March 29, 2009 aimai said... Hi morgan, I'm an anthropologist too! Gives us a different perspective, I think, both on the biology and the sociology of religion!
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Anonymous said... Wow, the comments made here make for some interesting reading! As for birth control leading to abortion, isn't that kind of an oxymoron? Birth control logically would lead to less babies being conceived, which would lead to less abortions. I am a Christian, and I actually wish birth control would be used more, if it lead to less abortions.
As someone before me said, women ovulate about 400 times, and it would be impossible to make babies with them all! For one thing, some have lethal genes in them and so would end up naturally miscarrying; and to have the others, the total time of the pregnancies would last beyond the lifetime of the woman. She would have to have a lifespan of 200-300 years if she started having babies as soon she was out her own mother's womb.
Also, I don't find the QFs ideas of making 'arrows' anywhere in the Bible. Its just not there. So I think the QF movment is reading stuff into the Bible, and taking stuff out of context. There are many pro-women verses that they need to acknowlege, and the verse that says "believers are to submit to each other."
I am sorry that the QF movement gave you a messed up idea of Christianity. Real Christianity is far from that, it is freeing.
The QF's ideology is flawed; one cannot 'make arrows' for God, to become God's is a choice that must be made by each and every person, on their own. Christians cannot be 'mass produced," they are made by a choice and repentence.
One last thing, did you know that there are Christians called egalitarian Christians? They believe in mutual submission in marriage and that the wife has every say in the marriage as much as the man. They acknowledge males and females being fully equal in the kingdom of God, based on what the Bible says.
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Jennifer said... I have a hard time even wrapping my head around the idea that using ANY birth control is somehow part of an abortion mentality. There's at least a bit more logic to the argument I've heard from pro-lifers against the Pill: that it is an "abortionate" method of birth control because while its main function is to suppress ovulation, it also has the back-up function of preventing implantation if an egg should somehow manage to sneak by and get fertilized. So a woman on the Pill is taking the risk that she will "kill" a fertilized egg. By this logic, however, it seems to me that pro-lifers should refrain from driving cars: if you drive a car, there's always a chance that no matter how careful you are, a child could run out in front of your car and be killed. If the Pill is an abortionate form of birth control, then the automobile is a murderous form of transportation.
I heard that argument about the Pill way back when on some talk show in the late 80s or early 90s (Oprah? Donahue?); the guest was a rabid fundamentalist pro-lifer, Randy someone. Even back then, long before I (or most people?) had heard of QF, I thought that there had to be a hidden agenda: ban the most effective form of birth control, and you're going a good way towards tying sex to reproduction and women to the home.
I was able to free myself from the "all abortion is murder" mentality I was raised with (mainstream evangelical) when I came across Exodus 21:22 which says that if a man injures a pregnant woman so that she miscarries but she herself is OK, then he has to pay a fine, but if the woman dies, then he is put to death. That seemed to me clear-cut proof that God did not consider a fetus a full human life. When I later came across a special fundamentalist-oriented version of the Bible that rendered the first part of this verse as "he injures a pregnant woman but both mother and baby are fine," it just confirmed it for me: the fundamentalist camp was trying to cover up the fact that the only place in the Bible which talks about the value of fetal life actually says it's worth less than a woman's life. If the Bible doesn't agree with the ideology . . . they change the Bible.
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Jadehawk said... bah! please please stop spreading the rumor that the pill can prevent implantation! the pill makes your body think you're pregnant, so that it doesn't ovulate. that means that if somehow an egg would get produced anyway, it would end up in an uterus all set up for pregnancy, not one that can't receive an egg! that's why you still have a period even when on the pill: during the week that you don't take a pill/take a placebo, your body is discarding the uterine layer that was there because your body thought there was an egg growing in it! (if there IS an egg growing in it, then the amount of hormone released naturally because of that would prevent the layer from shedding, so that the egg wouldn't get expelled with the layer).
Sunday, March 29, 2009 an atheist in the bible belt said... I think it's interesting that some have mentioned being Christians and while believing in a more egalitarian marriage structure.
How would these people explain this verse? Ephesians 5:22- 24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the HEAD OF THE WIFE as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in EVERYTHING.
The gender difference in these verses and elsewhere is not ambiguous. You can't read that and say that it actually means that believers are supposed to submit to one another without regard to gender. You can say that you choose to overlook some parts of the Bible or that gender will possibly be unimportant in heaven, but you certainly can't say that the Bible calls for equality in daily living.
I think that telling an abused woman to stick it out in hopes that God will work in her husband's heart as long as she continues to submit is dangerous and repressive. I also think that it is clear that the Bible expects such behavior.
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Arietty said... "an atheist in the bible belt" I quite agree with you. I've long said that trying to make the bible be about gender equality or an egalitarian marriage requires much contortion and squashing of verses. I know people can't bring themselves to say "the bad stuff is there because of the culture of the day". It is a big fear to actually say that the bible might not be the Divine Word of God because once you say that all manner of things come into question and you have lost your blueprint for life and God's plans for you. One day I just woke up and realized I no longer saw the bible that way at all. Lydia referred up thread to christianity as being "freeing" and it made me think that I really have never experienced it that way. Exciting, yes. Freeing.. no, not really. Maybe there is something I am missing and I am open to discovering what that is. For the moment however what *was* freeing was no longer having to fit all my questions and beliefs and experiences into the bible blueprint, an endeavor that was becoming increasingly labored. From God-mandated genocide in the old testament to men being the head of women well.. the pressures off. I no longer have to strain shit through muslin and call it sweet.
Just the fact that we have to have a name for what should be normative--"egalitarian marriage" is weird. I understand what christians are up against and why they need to work very hard to call that kind of relationship biblical. Roles in marriage is a given in christian circles, you have "complementarians" who say that men and women are equal but have different roles that compliment each other. In order to actually get rid of the idea that God has specific roles based on gender you have to stop believing the bible.
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Vyckie said... Arietty ~ the same thing happened to me ~ all at once I realized that the bible is no longer "The Word of God" to me ~ and frankly, I don't care what it teaches about men and women and marriage.
Maybe this needs to be a separate post ~ "I've been thinking that the bible really does teach subordination of women ~ not that it matters to me anymore..."
Could be interesting ...
Sunday, March 29, 2009 Charis said... Jadehawk,
I've looked at drug description which is enclosed with birth control pills. Here is an example for Alesse 28 Tablets click here You will find this right on Page 1 "Clinical Pharmacology" "Mode of Action":
Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation)
One can research the "Mode of Action" for any hormonal birth control. These package insert drug descriptions are readily accessible online.
Monday, March 30, 2009 aimai said... Arietty, Fantastic comment. All the comments have been fantastic and thought provoking and I love hearing that Vyckie might consider a spin off post on some new issue raised in comments. My husband, with whom I've been discussing the blog, suggested that maybe Vyckie and her readers might find it interesting (if painful!) for Vyckie to post up some of her published pro-quiverful pieces along with some commentary or reflection on what was actually happening in her life or why she came to reject that particular point of view.
As someone up above said I check the blog a couple of times a day because it is such a powerful exploration of women's experiences generally, and women's experiences in a particular right wing religious community specifically. Even the most difficult and arcane parts of the experience have their parallels in the outside/non christianist world so even at the moment that I'm reading about some experience I've never had, I have to acknowledge that I've seen or had a parallel to it just living as a woman in American society. What I'm trying to say is that you and Laura and your commenters, especially Arietty, Charis, and others who have walked this path, are really doing something incredibly important in not only busting out of your prison but shining a light backwards on the broken bars as a light to your children and to other women.
Monday, March 30, 2009 Charis said... Lydia said: "I don't find the QFs ideas of making 'arrows' anywhere in the Bible. Its just not there" ENDQUOTE
The concept of children as arrows and having a "Quiver Full" comes from this passage:
"As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." Ps 127:4-5
Monday, March 30, 2009 Charis said... an atheist in the Bible belt asked: "I think it's interesting that some have mentioned being Christians and while believing in a more egalitarian marriage structure.
How would these people explain this verse? Ephesians 5:22- 24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord..." ENDQUOTE
1. In Greek, there is no verb in Eph 5:22. So one needs to start reading (at least) with Eph 5:21 "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God, wives to your own husbands... husbands love your wives even as Christ loved" Do you see that "submitting yourselves to one another? That speaks of a mutually submissive attitude between all Christians which is not to stop when they become husband and wife. Paul goes on to flesh out how this submission will look like for husbands and spends many more verses addressing husbands than wives (nourish, cherish, as his own body, sacrificially as Christ loved the church and laid down His life for her, etc).
2. I question whether the passage was ever even intended to describe fleshly marriage? Paul explains in verse 32 that he is using marriage as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church. "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." The church is referred to as "the bride of Christ", so the male members of the church need to submit to their "husband"=Christ too.
Monday, March 30, 2009 Vyckie said... Aimai ~ thanks for your very kind and encouraging words. Sometimes I feel pretty hesitant about what we are doing here ~ because I feel like we've taken on something HUGE and I wonder if I'm really up to it!
You and the other regular commenters here make all the difference for me. You all are SO encouraging and it inspires me to keep writing ~ there is really SO MUCH that I want to tell!
I know Laura is encouraged too ~ she's living a nightmare right now ~ and hearing from others who have BTDT and can clearly say, "Good for you ~ you're doing the right thing!" is a real boost to her ability to get through this struggle.
Your husband's idea to share some of my old writings and comment on them from my new perspective is one that I've actually been considering. Angel recently told me that if you Google my married name "Vyckie Bennett" ~ "It's like taking a total tour de crap!"
Maybe that's what I'll call the series: Vyckie's Tour de Crap.
Monday, March 30, 2009 Jennifer said... Re. the pill and implantation:
Jadehawk, I certainly didn't mean to imply that I AGREE with the logic of those who say the pill causes "abortions"--I think the rest of my post makes that clear. Nor did I think I was spreading a rumour: my information about the pill preventing implantation (as a backup to suppressing ovulation) was something I remembered being told by the very pro-contraception nurses at the public health clinic that set me up with my first free birth-control prescription at 18. It was welcome news, too--I was so petrified of getting pregnant that if I'd thought the pill was any less failsafe, I would have made my poor boyfriend keep wearing two condoms!
Anyway, the point I was trying to make was simply that even IF the pill might prevent the implantation of the extremely rare egg that might get fertilized, anyone who shuns it for that reason should also, to be morally consistent, refuse to take the risk to human life that's posed by driving a car.
Monday, March 30, 2009 an atheist in the Bible belt said... "Wives should submit to their husbands in everything" is a gender specific statement that is never matched by any statement telling husbands to submit to wives. Instead, husbands are to act like "white knights" to their wives- teaching them (but never vice versa) and protecting them. Some people may consider this loving or self-sacrificing behavior, so that you could put it under the category of submitting to one another, but the tasks given to men are still those of LEADING their wives. That's what my parents did for me when I was a child (and I appreciate that), but I'm not looking for a husband who's going to be another parent to me.
If you feel that one passage is insufficient to show the Bible's view on women, I hope you'll look up the following verses. I know that people will say "there's cultural reasons" or "it was addressing a specific church", but maybe it's excuse making when you find yourself having to justify why passage after passage doesn't really mean what it seems to say.
Monday, March 30, 2009 Charis said... an atheist in the Bible belt,
No comment on the Old Testament stuff since we are not bound to keep "the law". Your New Testament verses are a summary of all the "hard passages" about women which have been used oppressively. (typo- 13 should be 14 here- 1 Cor 14:34). They were all written by Paul and even his contemporary- Peter- said that Paul's writings are hard to understand and are sometimes "twisted". Does this ring true about how the verses you listed have been used?
"as also our beloved brother Paul... has written to you as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." 2 Pet 3:15-16
Monday, March 30, 2009 Anonymous said... Atheist in the Bible Belt-- I think the problem is that there is a fundamentalist way of reading the Bible, that starts from certain presuppositions. Starting from those presuppositions, you get a certain way of reading ALL of the Bible. But there are other ways of understanding the Bible that change the whole way it is read.
Fundamentalists (and atheists, too) usually read the Bible like a "memo from the Boss" which is supposed to read the same way to us ("plain-sense") as it did to the original audience. Read this way, it is not just the truths of the Bible, but the whole cultural context in which the Bible was transmitted, that are supposed to be preserved. If we take our own understandings of what a text means, and without reference to what it meant to the original audience (such as whether it was challenging them to slowly but surely move away from the strict patriarchy or bloody tribalism they had always known), we will, beyond doubt, find the Bible primitive, tribal, patriarchal and bloody.
But the Bible is not a "memo from the Boss," and the cultures in which the Bible was written are not being given divine sanction. We are not supposed to perpetuate the cultures in which the Bible was received, as if they were part of the truths conveyed by the Bible!
With this understanding, research is necessary to ascertain how the Bible would have been understood in the original cultures. God's gradual, redemptive work in each culture thus becomes apparent. God is working in and through human culture, not giving it some sort of blanket approval just because He spoke to people within the assumptions they were making at the time. Understand the assumptions, and you understand where God was trying to lead the people. And it was always, slowly but surely, AWAY from patriarchy and prejudice, and TOWARDS equality, freedom, and compassion.
KR Wordgazer (having to post as anonymous again because I can't figure out how to do otherwise)
Monday, March 30, 2009 lauren said... I think it's an illogical progression to say that acceptance of birth control leads to acceptance of abortion. The decision to limit the number of children one conceives, versus the decision to end the life of an already-conceived baby in the womb, doesn't seem to be related. Perhaps someone who supports contraception might do so for the same reason they support abortion, but another person might support contraception for precisely the opposite reason: to prevent abortions. It certainly may be true that society was slowly, "eased into" the proliferation of abortion by the widespread use of contraceptives, but that reflects the weak-mindedness of the people who were thus desensitized, not the inherent evil of the original concept.
For the record, I'm a pro-life atheist. I believe that, scientifically, human life begins at conception, not implantation, and that life should be protected from the moment of conception. I see no problem with, and I myself practice, means of birth control which prevent conception. But IUDs or chemical methods such as the Pill can and often do allow conception, only to flush out the newly-conceived embryo before it can implant. For that reason, I find those forms of birth control to be immoral. It has nothing to do with anything religious, but simply with my regard for all human life. Here is a good article on the subject:
I'll freely admit that I'm not an expert on the topic, and if I found evidence which I believed effectively contradicted the concept that human life is in existence in a zygote prior to implantation, I would certainly be willing to consider it.
Thanks, Arietty, for posting those links - I discovered the Pro Life Atheist & Agnostic League a few months back, and was encouraged to find that there were other, "pagans" like myself who valued unborn human life. )
Someone said, "the people who follow that "just wait until the fertile time is past" dictum have another name: parents."
When used correctly, natural family planning has a success rate almost identical to that of chemical birth control (over 99%). Just like any maintenance-based contraceptive method, though, its observance has to be precise (likewise, birth control pills' effectiveness drops drastically unless they are taken on an exact schedule). There are great devices out there nowadays for making NFP much easier - my favorite, with which I have personally had great success, is the LadyComp (google it). The fact remains, though, that in rare cases ANY form of birth control, even if used 100% correctly, can fail. And in those cases, I believe that parents much take responsibility for the results of their actions. By choosing to engage in even protected sex, I understand that I am taking the risk, however small, of becoming pregnant. If I found that small risk completely unacceptable, my husband or I (or both of us) would undergo surgery to virtually eliminate the risk.
Erika Martin, you stated, "It's always boggled my mind that the conservative group thinks that birth control is trying to take control of God's planning of your family. Do they really think He's fully in control of everything BUT that???" I would suggest that they are not willing to follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion. Why, if you truly believe in, "getting out of god's way" and letting him perform his will, would you bother to wear seatbelts? Carry insurance? Eat a healthy diet? Avoid playing in traffic? All of those actions potentially thwart god's plan to do good in one's life in spite of that person's negligence, right? I've even known of, "quiverfullers" who believed that the mindset worked both ways - that not only should a couple try to prevent having children, but that they shouldn't actively try to conceive (or overcome obstacles to conception), either.
Anyway, I'm rambling . . . to reiterate, I don't believe that the choice to use contraception (not to be confused with abortifacients commonly classified under that term) has any necessary connection to the abortion mindset. I adore my 4 children, but I do not plan to have any more - and the one statement does not contradict the other. This decision is not only for (but does include) selfish reasons on my part, but for the well-being of my existing children.
Monday, March 30, 2009 an atheist in the Bible belt said... We may not be bound to keep the law, but by Christian theology, God is immutable. The God of the OT has the same character as the God of the NT. Are you telling me that he has "changed his mind" about the value of women so that the laws of the OT are not reflexive of his character? After all, the law of the lord is perfect.
I'm not sure if you're trying to insult me by equating me with the "untaught and unstable" or if you're telling me that people who use the verses in a misogynistic way are twisting them. Although I know that it is a simplistic argument, it still seems valid to me to point out that it seems odd that God would make the words that he inspired appear to say one thing while meaning the opposite, so that the simplest Christian would take the wrong message from them. Perhaps the medieval Catholic church was right to only give the brightest and most studied the ability to read the Bible?
Please don't assume that I am unlearned in the cultures under Biblical law or at the time of Jesus. I completely disagree with KR Wordgazer that the Bible shows a progression away from patriarchy and prejudice, however, it is a difference of opinion (probably irreconcilable at that) and not because I am Biblically uneducated and insistent on reading everything as if it were for a modern audience. However, I do see a clear difference in "endorsement" between a story about a patriarch with two wives (not saying it's ok for modern Christians to model the same family structure) and a directive to the church that is inspired by God. Why not throw away any commands of God that we can excuse as being "part of the culture"? I mean, you name it and someone else can justify how it was only applicable for a certain situation.
I could get into a lot more detail, but especially considering that both sides have already apparently done a good deal of study on the matter, I think that the salient points have been made and I'd rather focus on Vyckie's and Laura's stories than get into a more thorough debate, at least on their website.
Monday, March 30, 2009 Charis said... aaBb wondered: "I'm not sure if you're trying to insult me by equating me with the "untaught and unstable" or if you're telling me that people who use the verses in a misogynistic way are twisting them. ENDQUOTE
(Do you mind if I abbreviate your screen-name?)
No insult toward you intended at all! If anything, I am "insulting" myself as I lived in a lifestyle which twisted the verses to my own destruction, and though I'm sure my husband felt powerful in a manic sort of way, it was not healthy for him nor our children either, so those verses were all twisted to our own destruction.
so definitely the second option of your quote above...
and I have to add that I made a decision to trust God's character-to believe that HE loved HIS daughters every bit as much as HIS sons- before I ever found ways to read Paul that are not misogynistic. Finally I learned (I was taught) of His love for me and of His grace and mercy not by preachers, books, and church, but by personal experiences.
Like you, I could not accept that a God of LOVE would make HIS Word inaccessible to all but scholars who can study and understand “historical context”. God’s Word is accessible to common people, not by “man’s wisdom… they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:13-14) If you are interested, I have written about a way of reading Paul which removes the misogyny by reading the passages through a grid of Paul's use of metaphors which have always been and still are accessible to anyone who can read (or hear reading of) the Bible. Apostle Paul is NOT a Male Chauvinist!
Monday, March 30, 2009 jemand said... lauren, I'm always amazed by the people who think they can set themselves up as the arbiters of all truth. Granted, it's more common in religion but atheists can and do get in the game themselves. You stated that you would be open to new information and might change your view if you were convinced the zygote was not human. However, other women HAVE that view! Their information, their interpretation, their moral values, all are of the opinion that the small risk of slightly reducing implantation chances is morally acceptable, possibly even morally good. However, if you had your way they would not be able to chose that. No. You want control of their bodies, their minds, their opinions. The law must follow YOU, and we must convince YOU in order to have our freedoms. I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. My freedom does NOT depend on you. It depends on ME, and MY decisions, and MY choices for my body.
You can take a newborn and raise it yourself, thus it is immoral to kill it. However, that isn't possible prior to birth, thus the freedom of the woman to come to her own values, priorities, moral decisions comes to the forefront. Convince her, yes, but the onus is not on HER to convince YOU to "give" her freedom. I'm all for the work in the previous links that aims to reduce stigma, increase actual choices and make life easier for women with inconvenient pregnancies to keep their children, but at the end of the day it must remain only an offer. Freedom must be preserved.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 LotusGeek said... So, I'm a REAL rarity on this blog in general, and this topic specifically - an atheist AND a (shudder) MAN!! But, just before you've fully formed your stereotype of me yet, here's a bit more background info: ** Married 24 years - to the same woman ** Five wonderful kids (3 girls, 2 boys - ages: 18G, 15G, 12B, 10G, 9B) ** Raised family as atheist/Unitarian Universalist, and taught "Sunday School" there! (I love study of religions, and religious history, so it made sense)
So, I'm not the typical atheist profile, especially on the "number of kids" front. Also, I've got some experience with conception, birth, etc. with 5 kids.
First, let me say that I feel that I am NOT qualified nor is it my right to tell a woman what to do with her own body, so I would never attempt to impose my convictions on a woman when it comes to an abortion. However, *personally*, my wife and I could never have an abortion (hence the five kids). Now let me share some thoughts on birth control.
My wife and I did not use birth control so that we could conceive our first two kids; however after that we did use the pill - and 2 years later conceived our first son, *while on the pill*. After that the pill caused my wife some medical problems, so we switched to condoms - and promptly conceived kid 4. After she was born my wife's OB/GYN suggested a new pill that wouldn't cause the problems she had earlier - and we conceived kid 5 right afterward. Fun, huh? (Incidentally, I had a vasectomy after #5 to ensure we had no more contraceptive failures)
So, to those of you who are religious and worried about thwarting "god's will" - are you so lacking in confidence in your god that a little pill or bit of rubber can cause "him" to be thwarted from causing you to conceive if it's "his will"? And if you're not religious, it is basically the same thought - if you're going to have a kid, you're going to have a kid - the pill nor condoms are 100% effective, to which I can confidently and repeatedly attest.
But, that's just my opinion; I could be wrong
--Rock, aka LotusGeek
I'm not going to get into the debate on when a clump of cells becomes a baby - that's a whole different can of worms. But I think that, for those of you against the idea of the pill, condoms should be a perfectly viable alternative.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 pro-choice atheist said... I agree with Jemand.
Lauren, you stated that the pill *often* works by preventing implantation, which is just not true. The pill is extremely effective at preventing ovulation. The idea that the pill is an abortifacient is a myth propagated by the anti-contraception crowd. The pill (and IUDs) provides a very effective way to control their own reproductive lives, which is why those who want to control women despise them so much. (Remember also that the pill and Mirena IUD are also used for medical conditions like endometriosis, and I don't think that can reasonably be considered immoral.
I don't really get how an atheist can justify the idea that a zygote is a mini-person with exactly the same worth as a developed, born person. If you believe in ensoulment at fertilisation then that view is more justifiable, but that is obviously a religious belief with no scientific evidence whatsoever.
I'm sorry; that view is one of my pet hates. I am extremely suspicious of the motivations of atheists who are against the pill and IUDs - which can be used without, say, an abusive partner knowing, which condoms and natural family planning can't. There is just no basis for the non-religious to believe that a fertilised egg is any more a person than an unfertilised one.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Anonymous said... Yo, pro-choice atheist, I don't think it's a myth. The first person to ever tell me that the Pill was also though to prevent implantation was the director of my local Planned Parenthood Clinic. I checked the paperwork that came with my pill box and, lo and behold, there it was in black and white. This was in 97 though...and from what I've heard, since they've not been able to prove it yet, it's still just conjecture so they took it out. My liberal friends are under the impression that they took it out so that the pro-life community wouldn't get their undies in a wad over it.
So...I don't think it's a conservative conspiracy at all.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Jadehawk said... charis, you made me check, since I've never seen those statements when I did my original research about 10 years ago. now a lot of pages have that statement(though half the time they notes that this is an untested hypothesis) Either they did new studies, or it's a"better safe than sorry" method a bit like the fact that the FDA took out Thimerosal out of vaccines even though it was harmless: people were making noise, and the FDA went the safe route. But I understand now where you're all coming from.
Jennifer, I'm sorry for jumping on you, this is just a major pet peeve of mine.
since we're on iffy issues of birth control and failure of implantation... there's been research that suggested that NFP can increase the danger of miscarriage. there's conflicting evidence, so it's not a sure thing, but i figure i better throw that out there, for the sake of information.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Jadehawk said... bah, I actually ended up going to PubMed and looking at some recent research in regard to pills and implantation. results: progestin (levonogestrel) has been tested extensively(the studies i looked at were from 2003 - 2007), and it absolutely does NOT prevent implantation. not in rats, not in monkeys, not in humans either. Neither does the Mirena IUD, since it is really an implanted progestin dispenser, nothing more. the reason the warning is on the label is because it was thought that theoretically, it might do that. but studies clearly show that if progestin fails to prevent ovulation and fertilization, implantation happens as often as without the progestin (keep in mind that 20% of all fertilized eggs don't implant even in natural conditions)
Apparently very high levels of estrogen (way above what the pill contains for normal use) can prevent implantation, so it shouldn't be used for emergency contraception if you don't want to prevent implantation.
something called "Mifepristone"(an anti-progestin), and "Tamoxifen"(an anti-estrogen) is used as emergency contraceptive and prevents implantation. avoid it if you care. (this is not the Plan B pill, btw)
The copper IUD, especially when used as an emergency contraception, can prevent implantation. avoid if you care.
so there you go: progestin-only pills or IUDs are the way to go if you don't want to worry about failure to implant.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Anonymous said... I am responding to those who a glad to be free from the bible and it's supposed rules. Has no one here ever heard of GRACE? It is am amazing concept. Read Paul's epistles...also read The Grace Awakening by Swindoll. The situations that these people are talking about are because humans take the word of God and distort it to fit their agendas. When you learn about grace it is an amazing freeing experience. I believe that Satan's most powerful weapon against God is taking God's own words and twisting them so that man uses God's supposed ideas to hurt their fellow man. This includes women and children.
Thursday, April 02, 2009 jemand said... My mom was asked to help read over the information given at a local clinic, to make sure it was clear and understandable. There was much talk about the difference between progestin only plan B and progestin and estrogen mixtures for emergency contraception. It was stated that the one containing estrogen could possibly, although never conclusively proven, stop implantation. However, progestin doses have been given to women with higher than average likelihood of losing their pregnancies through miscarriage, in order to increase the likelihood of KEEPING them! Since the clinic was only dispensing the progestin only pill, my mother recommended they take out the confusing language about them both, and only talk about the progestin pill, which has no risk of "aborting" even unimplanted embryos. I wonder if this effect has anything to do with the removal of the "may stop implantation" phrases from the literature.
But apart from all that, I object MOST strongly to the attitude that *I* must convince everyone else I deserve freedom. Nope. It's the other way around, others need to convince me on how to USE my freedom, if that is something they feel strongly about. But on questions about my own body, when the responsibility is non-transferable, I prefer not to argue facts first (such as there really is no risk in most hormonal methods of stopping implantation), but rather first point out the arrogance of making someone else responsible for convincing EVERYONE to allow them freedom. I don't need to go beg and convince and argue, etc, that is exactly the behavior Laura and Vykie escaped from in the patriarchy, and it's no better when coming from an atheist than the patriarchy.
Thursday, April 02, 2009 Charis said... Jadehawk,
Thank you. The research you posted above was comforting to me, as was LotusGeek Rock's experience of birth control "failure". My daughter and daughter-in-law are using hormonal birth control, much as I attempted to dissuade them and encourage a barrier method. They both dismissed my concern about that "mode of action" of fertilized eggs not implanting (and they are both Christians studying to be PA's, and seemed convinced that its ethical). Personally, I have a very sensitive conscience, and I view a fertilized egg as my potential grandchild. I do believe the ones who spontaneously abort have souls and are in heaven (I've had 3 that I am aware of).
Thursday, April 02, 2009
*~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~* It is a most insidious drug which must be administered to others in order to achieve its desired effects for oneself. ~ Marie Winn *~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~*
Post by Vyckie D. Garrison on Apr 15, 2009 22:26:08 GMT -5
Thursday, April 02, 2009 aimai said... This debate about "preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg" is simply absurd. One third of all pregnancies are thought to end in miscarriage before the first trimester. "Fertilized eggs" can be prevented from implanting by any number of causes just like an implanted fetus can miscarry for any number of causes and failures. Some of these can be attributed to maternal or paternal action--poor nutrition? drug addiction? physical abuse? exhaustion from too much childbearing? Genetic flaws? Who is to say what causes a fertilized egg to fail to implant. And yet we never hear that the man who forces his wife to bear too many children, or work to hard, is "murdering" his fertilized egg size children. And we don't think the fertilized egg is capable of "suicide" or "self murder."
Its a cliche of the pro-choice movement that if a seriously pro-life person is faced with the following choice they will make the same choice as a pro-choice woman:
You have before you a burning building. In it is a two year old child and a petrie dish of fertilized eggs. You can only save one. Which do you save? If you say you save the petrie dish with fifty frozen fertilized eggs you are strongly "pro fertilized egg" but you can't really say you are "pro life" since you left the two year old to die. Myself, I'd unhesitatingly save the two year old.
And, of course, this came up recently with the huge backlash against the "octomom." Here this poor woman was just taking seriously the far right's obsession with fertilized eggs. She insisted on bringing them to term as full blown humans. And is she thanked for this selfless act--my god! having babies without sex! isn't that the most pure form of self sacrifice known to christian theology?--why, no. All of a sudden the whole "but those were snowflake babies" drops out of the discussion and we are left with a generic disdain for women and their procreative power.
Every part of the human body is "alive" and, as someone pointed out above after cloning will conceivably be capable of being turned into a full sized human being--with a lot of technological intervention--but I daresay you won't see men arguing that a diseased limb can't be severed just because it is "potentially alive." You will never see a man voluntarily accept his own death in exchange for a fertilized egg or a scrap of flesh that could be turned into a fertilized egg. And you wont' see government legislate him to force him to do so. Just as you haven't seen government legislate to force men to donate kidneys or other organs to their live born children.
I hate these abstract arguments about "when life begins" and what we should do about it. We are faced every day with life and death decisions which we muff--yes, we do--resulting in the real life deaths of men, women, and children through our cruelty, inattention, mercenary considerations, selfish political plans, warmongering, or ruthless self interest. The hysteria over two or four cells floating in someone else's body is truly the "mote in thy brother's eye" kind of morality chopping. It has served as a distraction for the far right, eager to gain votes, for years. But the truth is that no one--no one--left right or center would privilege a scrap of cell life smaller than a pin head over their own life if they were offered that hard choice. Polygamous patriarchs in the FLDS movement routinely throw their male children out onto the side of the road to decrease competition for women within the community and they have the gall to preach about the sanctity of life?
The Catholic Church can barely bring itself to admit years of sexual abuse of women, children, and boys and yet they have millions of dollars to spend attacking condom use for married couples?
Thursday, April 02, 2009 Linnea said... :::standing ovation for aimai:::
Thursday, April 02, 2009 pro-choice atheist said... Yes, agree with Jadehawk, Aimai and Linnea re: Aimai.
There are many things that can increase the possibility of miscarriage. Regular, excessive caffeine consumption, excessive dieting or exercising, large amounts of stress, using hot tubs, some medications. I don't think anyone sane advocates aggressive state intervention into women's eating habits or use of hot tubs in order to save potential embryos. The concern about non-barrier contraception and embryos' rights is a distraction.
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Anonymous said... Arietty: I don't know about the other organizations that you mention, but I do know that Feminists for Life is a Christian fundamentalist front organization. Sarah Palin herself is a member, as are many other women leaders in the Christian Right.
It's just... Here's the thing... Sure, people can make claims about how they themselves would never ever have abortions all they want, but... The political question arises between people who think that the government should make that choice for women--and those who think that women should have the right to make the decision for themselves.
All I know is that we can't predict the future. None of us knows what our economic circumstances will be from one day to the next, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when it became clear that Obama would get to select the next Supreme Court justices.
And, finally, it's true that the Christian Right frames this issue as if it's about people who "hate children" versus people who love them. Abortion is often about class and circumstances and access to support and all of that... It's not about "hating children." None of my friends who have had abortions in the past have ever hated children; in fact, many went on to have children once their lives stabilized and they were better prepared to care for them.
And, finally, it's just not scientifically accurate to suggest that birth control is tantamount to abortion. Not at all... Not even Plan B (the "morning after pill"), despite the Christian Right rhetoric around it. It takes the sperm longer than a night to fertilize the egg (I think I learned at least this in eighth grade sex ed.); Plan B simply blocks that from happening *before* the sperm has had the chance to fertilize the egg.
I just... Okay, so here's the thing? My old family friends (adults) who are still in Quiverfull have had a *very poor* education in sex and reproduction. They think, for instance, that it's common to get STDs from what they call "heavy petting" (They mean groping. I don't think people outside use that term.). This may sound condescending, and I don't mean it to be... But... The Unitarian Universalist Church (I'm not a Unitarian) has an awesome sex ed curriculum. It's available on their website and probably also from the United Church of Christ (a liberal church that uses it). I woudl recommend reading it (or something like it) to get better information. The idea that birth control is anything like abortion just has no basis in the real world.
And one last thing: I sometimes think the "childfree" rhetoric can be just as dogmatic and judgmental as the Quiverfull rhetoric. I haven't seen that here (haven't read the whole thread though), but I am wary of "childfree" as a movement. I don't have children, and I probably never will because of congenital defects, but... I just believe that the decisions that others make about whether and when to have children are none of my business. Nor is appropriate for me to cast judgment on the choices of others to reproduce (or not).
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Anonymous said... Erika Martin: Not sure if you're still reading, but I'm wondering if we know each other... I had some friend connections to Quiverfull and the homeschooling movement a while back... Are you the same Erika who came with your sister to the South to help care for the children of some family friends of mine? You would have known me as "Kristi" back then.
Don't mean to sound stalker-ish, but, heh, small world innit. Drop me an email at kristinelisa5 @ gmail.com if this sounds familiar. If not, ignore this.
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Bronwyn said... Ephesians 5:22 is just one of the many, many worms in the can of the Bible. I've taken historical-critical university courses on the matter (just bachelor level) and just those were enough to learn:
- many parts of the Bible started out as oral tradition. - once they were written down, there start being copyists' errors and variants, so it's difficult to know which one is the most authentic. - various parts have been edited, patched together, rewritten, and sometimes more than once. - different parts were written and/or edited by different people at different times from/in different cultures with different goals. Triple emphasis on this one, thank you. - some of the Pauline letters probably weren't written by Paul, including Ephesians and another rather misogynistic one (see gbgm-umc.org/UMW/corinthians/deutero.stm). How many preachers mention this well-known controversy to their congregations before exhorting them to take these disputed epistles as God's word? - none of the gospels were written while Jesus was alive -- the earliest is Mark and even that is a good 30-40 years after the crucifixion. - the New Testament is generally written in Greek, but the people in it spoke Aramaic, so even the original texts have gone through one translation of unknown quality. - the Bible is a collection of scriptures, not a unified manuscript with a single author and edited for consistency. - which books go into the Bible has repeatedly been changed -- the last big change was in the 4th century AD, and the books that didn't make the cut have kind of been...lost...so we can't even find out what the church fathers at the time thought we shouldn't believe, to decide for ourselves. The Jews did this kind of curating too, except that they didn't make sure to destroy their runners-up completely, which is why today some Bibles include them as the Apocrypha.
All this is why reading the Bible literally and insisting on that being the correct interpretation is a fool's exercise. You can support ANYTHING with Biblical verses, and often it's quite easy to do. For example, this verse explicitly endorses baby-killing: "Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!" (Psalm 137:9, NRSV). And this one says that all Christians are equal, period: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28, NSRV) The Galatians verse is undisputedly written by Paul, and has been used by abolitionists, female and male alike, to end slavery. The one in Ephesians has been used to enforce it. Guess which one gets more sermon time from men.
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Arietty said... Kristin can you point to some documentation that Feminists for Life is a religious right front? I only know what I read on the website.
This is hostile world to have a baby in for many people. Being pro-life should mean giving women real options within the world, not just terrorizing them into going through birth and adoption. I wish ALL pro-life lobby groups would stop trying to make abortion illegal or difficult to obtain and put all that energy and money into taking care of women's lives. They tell a woman she should not abort but are they there financially when she has to quit her job at seven months pregnant? etc.. etc..
Saturday, April 04, 2009 jemand said... Kristin... yeah you're right, I've heard a lot of judgmental and elitist talk from those in the "childfree" movement... but then, they don't have kids and that's the point.
The quiverful mindset may be no more dogmatic or judgmental the childfree group, but the system has far more chance of harming far more people as whats kinda the point in that situation is to bring as many kids into your situation as possible.
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Anonymous said... jemand: Yeah, I agree with that. Certainly Quiverfull has the potential to do far more harm to far more people. However, I have seen some Quiverfull people come out of the movement only to go right into another dogmatic movement. I've seen this happen in other cases, and it often feels like a very similar mindset. (For instance, one "radical feminist" who left Quiverfull but now calls herself a "political lesbian" even though she's married to a dude. O/T: btw, can I just say? As someone who is *actually* into women, this kinda pisses me off? I'm a feminist too, but... Yeah, I don't love seeing straight women appropriate my identity for "political" reasons.)
Arietty: This is pretty well known about Feminists for Life. Even just the wiki article hints at this, but here's another one:
"The group believes abortion is an act of violence that is unacceptable under any circumstances. Unacceptable under any circumstances. Including rape, incest, major fetal defects, and danger to the mother's life. This position — "holistic solutions" aside — puts FLL to the right of their sister organization, Attila the Hun for Life..."
Hmm... But I do remember reading an article around election season that establishes that they're a Christian Right front group... I'll look for that and post it here if I can find it. The article I found said that anti-feminists like Phyllis Schlafly have praised the group because it's getting people who are less comfortable with Christian Right rhetoric into the cause. I'll try to find it...
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Anonymous said... Here are a few more links about FFL:
That's not the one I'm referring to though. I also find anyone hitching onto the ideology of the *early suffragette feminists* to be alarming. These early "feminists" were anti-abortion, it's true, but they were generally also eugenicists and virulent racists whose main argument at first was that Black men should not get the vote before they did.
I'm highly skeptical of the organization, I'll just say that. If Sarah Palin is a feminist, then I most certainly am *not* one. They say that they champion better care and more options for women... But... By what means? I mean, if Palin is viewed as a representative of the organization, then I'd venture that they don't support larger social safety nets for the poor (socialism!). So, in what sense are they feminists? And what is "feminist" about "relinquishing the right to choose"?
I mean, so... And to me, the "right to choose" means that women should also be free to *have* children. I was very opposed to all of the sniping and judgment turned on Nadya Suleiman when she chose to have children. Choice is choice, and I don't think that was the public's business anymore than abortion is. (btw, I *do* think there may have been some medical ethics issues at stake in the case of the octuplets, *but...* That's on the doctor. All of the criticism leveled against the mother for exercising choice because she did not have a lot of resources? Not our business.)
Saturday, April 04, 2009 Becky said... The comments section is so long I skipped most of them, but I wanted to assure the OP that there are many Christians who accept both birth control while rejecting abortion.
One is not necessarily a slippery slope any more than using modern medicine is thwarting God's will in helping a person recover from previously life threatening diseases.
If you have a person who believes that using birth control is sin because it thwarts God's purposes, then they should at least be consistent and refuse to take their kids to the doctor when sick or refuse to have open heart surgery if and when needed. They also might walk in the middle of the road sure that God will protect them from being hit by a car. These are "normal" results of life decisions. Having open heart surgery to open a clogged artery in order to keep living is changing what would have probably happened (heart attack). Using birth control will possibly change what might have happened (pregnancy).
Before the egg and sperm unite, it can't be considered abortion by anyone. It isn't. Many believe this. You need to "get out" among "non quiverful" people a bit more. (said with true kindness...really!)
Sunday, April 05, 2009 Anonymous said... Serious question:Are Quiverful people anti-medicine and anti public health?
One of the reasons modern First World people have the luxury of having so few children is that most of the children make it to adulthood--for the first time in history actually. Go to the old cematerys and see how many children died in infancy prior to 1950. It would seem that saving a child from dying with an antibiotic is as much against "God's will" as taking birth control.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 Rosa said... Vyckie, thank you so much for having the patience to host all these discussions.
I know you asked about birth control, but I want to talk about the other assumption in your original comment - that "The liberals are only having one or two kids ~ if they're gay, maybe they won't have any. If "God's people" are pro-baby they will multiply exponentially ~ and within a few generations, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will significantly out-number the "enemy" at the voting boot"
Kids turn into adults, and they don't all end up living the way they were raised. Otherwise, there would only be Polygamous Mormons in Utah, and Europe would be almost entirely devoutly Catholic, instead of mostly secularist.
Some kinds of Christians do think they're breeding their way to dominating the rest of us...but the rest of us have confidence that freedom, equality, diversity, and a concern for individual happiness are seductive enough to make up the difference.
Funny how you always hear about this being an option, but you so rarely hear from the women who do it.
I'm all for the availability of abortion, and I refuse to apologize for it. Why can't we trust women and say "if she wants an abortion, she must have a good reason"? Why can't that be enough?
Monday, April 13, 2009 Tapati said... Fascinating discussion! Morgan and Aimai, I majored in Anthro too.
One of the things that strikes me as I read through the Quiverfull arguments and descriptions of the lifestyle is that while women are tasked to "receive" all these "blessings" in the form of many children, I don't see any corresponding burden on the man of the house. He gets to simply be pleased at his "quiverfull" of "arrows." He goes off to his usual work, free as a bird, not seeing all of the work going on at home or the exhaustion of his wife and older children tasked with helping to raise these children.
Shouldn't there be a burden on him, too? Shouldn't there be some rule that for each new child he is "blessed" with, he has to come up with x dollars of new income to support that child? Shouldn't there be a rule that the standard of living for each child be the same level as for the first child? Why should each new child mean that all of the children in the family survive on less food, have less clothes, etc.? Very few of the Quiverfull men are bringing in an income that could really support all of these children.
Another way to look at the whole thing is selfishness disguised as service to God. (Not much different from the tradition I was in, though it was acted out in different ways.)
I say selfishness because the whole argument is to win numbers in some sort of culture war--who's fighting? I don't see anyone truly outlawing Christianity in America. What proof is there that this is what God requires? If it's the Bible, why do other Christians not see it the same way?
If there is a competition for who can win the contest for most fertile Mom, that's selfishness too.
Likewise if the men are competing for who can father the most kids.
It's only unselfish if the first and foremost desire is for each child to have the best possible life and everything they need, both materially and in terms of parental attention.
It seems obvious that family planning is the best way to achieve that.
From outside it often seems that the pro-life movement is about only that: the mere fact of life. Quality of life after a child is born is left out of the equation as far as I can see.
Abortion will never go away; it has always been with us and always will be whenever some desperate woman can't face having a baby. When I was in Junior High one of the girls in my class shot herself in the stomach with a shotgun when she got pregnant! She lived but was crippled for life. When people want to outlaw abortion I think of all the desperate girls like her who risk their lives to end their pregnancy. If the death of the fetus is bad, death of both the fetus and the mother is even worse.
Good, reliable, easily available contraception is the best and only way to prevent such desperation. I can't imagine how it could be seen as anything but an aid to both children's quality of life and prevention of fetal or maternal death.
I, personally, am a committed vegetarian since the age of 15. This seems like a digression but please bear with me.
I know vegetarians who are rather militant on the issue and if they were a majority in this country wouldn't hesitate to legislate their "meat is murder" views. In spite of my own beliefs, I would never legislate vegetarianism even if I could. I am a pro-choice vegetarian. In a diverse and free society, we each have the right and responsibility to make our own choices about things that lie under the purview of religion.
The existence of a soul is a religious question and for each woman to make a decision about. If there is a religious consequence for making the wrong decision, then she will suffer it. But it's for her to decide. It's not the state's job to legislate it.
I wouldn't choose to have an abortion, but I won't make that choice for another woman.
(I also read that account of living with the aftermath of adoption--incredible story.)
Finally, with a strong family history of early onset heart disease, multiple pregnancies would have both endangered my life and rendered me unable to raise all of my children. (I had a quadruple bypass at age 42, so having children through my 30s would mean I could die any time now with minor children left behind.) I can't believe in a God who demands women die in childbirth or have more than they can survive to raise. Again, what a burden on the children, to lose their mother!
There are many ways women can serve and contribute to society. I can't believe God demands that the only thing women have to offer is endless child-rearing. Why give us any other abilities, then?
Keeping women at home with children works out far better for patriarchal men than for God. So whose idea is it most likely to be?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
*~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~* It is a most insidious drug which must be administered to others in order to achieve its desired effects for oneself. ~ Marie Winn *~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~*
There's a whole book on this subject: The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who SurrenderedChildren for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler. She has a website: www.thegirlswhowentaway.com/
I know about the book because my son bought it for me for Christmas one year. He thought it was the kind of thing I'd like (true).
There's an older book Birthmark by Lorraine Dusky about her experience of surrendering a child for adoption
There is also the book I Wish You Didn't Know My Name: The Story of Michele Launders and Her Daughter Lisa by Michelle Launders and Penina Spiegel, but that's a different sort of account. Lisa Launders is the girl who became known as Lisa Steinberg.
The right wing has seized upon, and made good use of, the fake "post abortion trauma" syndrome--it was even used in a Supreme Court Case where Justice Kennedy fell for it even though there is zero--repeat ZERO--evidence that women actually suffer any kind of recognizable mourning or grief after abortions. Meanwhile the very real griefs and struggles of the children of adoption, and the mothers who were (historically) forced to give those children up are neglected. I'm the aunt of two adopted nieces, who I dearly love, and I think there is of course a place for adoption in society. The more open the better. But historically adoptions have not been open and many international adoptions are closed by circumstances, custom, and law. We can't begin to speak for the feelings of, for example, the chinese families who gave up their daughters because of the exigencies of the one child policy and poverty. I "know" an online woman who was recently contacted, and then rejected, by the birthdaughter who she gave up two decades ago. She has indicated an unending grief and guilt over the giving up of that child, and now has to deal with the fact that that child resents her for that selfless act.
There's a lot to be said for the notion that, karmically speaking, bringing a life into this world that you can't fully care for is a bigger sin than refusing to bring a new life into this world. When I think how I suffer when the children I am responsible for suffer I can't imagine having given up a child to another family and not knowing or having a hand in making sure that child is well cared for.
So to my mind adoption isn't an easy "answer" to abortion. Its not a responsible choice for a damaged fetus, for example, that you don't know for sure can be fully cared for by another family. its not a responsible choice for a child who will be dropped into an overwhelmed and racially charged foster care or adoption system which can't find families for mixed race or minority children. Its not a responsible choice for a child with a potential for a genetic disease.
Abortion and contraception are the responsible choices for people who don't want or can't raise their own children.
The right wing has seized upon, and made good use of, the fake "post abortion trauma" syndrome--it was even used in a Supreme Court Case where Justice Kennedy fell for it even though there is zero--repeat ZERO--evidence that women actually suffer any kind of recognizable mourning or grief after abortion
This is simply not true. We worked at a children's home. Each year one of the girls who had had an abortion would go into depression when the baby's due date was. She really struggled with guilt.
I'm not sure where you heard this, but I'm equally as sure that the case could be made "for" the trauma.
The right wing has seized upon, and made good use of, the fake "post abortion trauma" syndrome--it was even used in a Supreme Court Case where Justice Kennedy fell for it even though there is zero--repeat ZERO--evidence that women actually suffer any kind of recognizable mourning or grief after abortion
This is simply not true. We worked at a children's home. Each year one of the girls who had had an abortion would go into depression when the baby's due date was. She really struggled with guilt.
I'm not sure where you heard this, but I'm equally as sure that the case could be made "for" the trauma.
Wikipedia has a good review of studies done to date at:
In response to Surgeon General Koop's review, the American Psychological Association prepared and presented a summary of the literature and recommendations for Koop's report. After Koop refused to issue their findings, the APA panel published a synthesis of their own findings in the journal Science, concluding that "Although there may be sensations of regret, sadness, or guilt, the weight of the evidence from scientific studies indicates that legal abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester does not pose a psychological hazard for most women." The panel also noted that "...women who are terminating pregnancies that are wanted and personally meaningful, who lack support from their partner or parents for the abortion, or who have more conflicting feelings or are less sure of their decision before hand may be a relatively higher risk for negative consequences." The APA task force also concluded that "research with diverse samples, different measures of response, and different times of assessment have come to similar conclusions. The time of greatest distress is likely to be before the abortion. Severe negative reactions after abortions are rare and can best be understood in the framework of coping with normal life stress." Nancy Adler, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, has testified on behalf of the APA that "severe negative reactions are rare and are in line with those following other normal life stresses." In 2007, APA established a new task force to review studies on abortion published since 1989. The APA task force issued an updated summary of medical evidence in August 2008, again concluding that a single first-trimester abortion carried no more mental health risk than carrying a pregnancy to term. The panel noted a lack of quality data on the effect of multiple abortions. Additionally, the same factors which predispose a woman to multiple unwanted pregnancies may also predipose her to mental health difficulties; therefore, they declined to draw a firm conclusion on multiple abortions.
Even Everett Koop, the conservative surgeon general under Ronald Reagan, couldn't find evidence of post-abortion syndrome despite being pretty much ordered to by Reagan.
Koop reviewed over 250 studies pertaining to the psychological impact of abortion. Koop wrote in a letter to Reagan that "scientific studies do not provide conclusive data about the health effects of abortion on women." Koop acknowledged the political context of the question in his letter, writing: "In the minds of some of [Reagan's advisors], it was a foregone conclusion that the negative health effects of abortion on women were so overwhelming that the evidence would force the reversal of Roe vs. Wade." In later testimony before the United States Congress, Koop stated that the quality of existing evidence was too poor to prepare a report "that could withstand scientific and statistical scrutiny." Koop noted that "... there is no doubt about the fact that some people have severe psychological effects after abortion, but anecdotes do not make good scientific material." In his congressional testimony, Koop stated that while psychological responses to abortion may be "overwhelming" in individual cases, the risk of significant psychological problems was "miniscule from a public health perspective."
The numbers in brackets are footnotes in the original article.
Also every year one of my friends goes into a deep depression about the dissolving of her first engagement-- it's a kind of remembering the "road not traveled" and a bit of regret that she logic just did not allow the group of things she wanted to occur together... I dunno, just wanted to throw that out there, lots of people have yearly depressive memories and that's not to say that they shouldn't have done what they did, it might have been their least-bad choice. Which is why everyone should have access to as many choices as possible, to reduce the harm of the least-bad choice.
Anecdotal, but the people who are claiming that women are suffering from post-abortion trauma may be contributing to the feelings of guilt.
My friend's sister had an abortion, and she had accepted her decision as unfortunate but necessary. She had some Christian friends who convinced her that she should get some support from other women who had been through abortions. They introduced her to a religious pro-life group.
First, the women were told that they had killed a life and that they were definitely feeling guilt and shame- even if they hadn't been able to admit it to themselves yet. They went around the circle and gave verbal apologies to the "baby" they had "killed" and to each other. My friend's sister came out of the experience feeling very guilty. Is it any wonder that pro-life groups "discover" that the women they counsel have guilt and regret, when they're the ones pushing those feelings? Even though this was just one story, if you look at what pro-life post-abortion counseling have to say about themselves, you can see that many of those groups use similar methods.
Yeah, I have to agree that although all "I know someone" stories are anecdotal, and the plural of anecdote is not data, its pretty clear that people can feel sad, or be sentimental, about lots of things that don't rise to the level of public policy making or criminalization of other people's lives. My *&^%$ husband's sisters are both nuts. One of them is passionately attached to her cat and was very, very, very, sad when her cat died. (she once gave us a huge photo two foot photo of her cat which she thought we might like to display). When her *cat died* she told my husband's brother's wife who had just lost her nine year old daughter that she didn't think that my other SIL knew how *depressed* she was over the loss of her cat. How difficult it was to get out of the apartment when she was grieving that cat's death.
My other SIL, who had just lost my nine year old niece to a freak brain anyeurism, said rather calmly that she did understand. That for a year or so she had had to roll herself out of bed, fall to the floor, and crawl on hands and knees to get up to deal with her remaining child.
At the same time, of course, my SIL the evangelical christian and the totally obssessed with abortion and gay marriage was incensced--incensed!--to find herself in a grief group with people mourning their miscarriages. How dare they! she told me, begin to think that their feelings for their stilborn or miscarried fetus were as important or powerful as hers for her nine year old.
When it comes to love, sentiment, and grief I just try to stay out of the way. People can feel a lot of stuff. They can mourn their cars, their sports clubs, their lost limbs, their broken marriages. Doesn't mean that abortion should be outlawed.
I ran across this old feminist classic today, and thought it dovetailed nicely with this topic. If men could not only menstruate but did the child bearing, what do we think would have been preached all these years about abortion and child birth?