When using the ancient metaphor of the body politic it is important to remember optimal function is achieved when all parts work together and are nourished. In the past the metaphor was often used to denote a hierarchy, with the clergy or kings being the head and peasants being the feet. For the purposes in this blog lets assume that no part of the body is more valuable than another. That if one part is harmed so is the entire body. On an individual level lets look at how acts of abortion, and our attitudes towards terminating pregnancy, and biases against “unplanned” pregnancies are affecting the psyche of a person and the larger body politic. What are the motivations behind our desire for autonomy, choice, and sex? Who do these acts serve? Who do these policies serve? And why, in a Country founded on freedom of religion, are policies being made based on religious convictions?
Many people in the South sincerely believe abortion is murder. And defining it as such makes it go against their religious values.
These people feel they are doing women a service to make abortion illegal.
I know because I was one of these people in high school. I even co-authored a bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in Youth Assembly (a Y-Club sponsored event that did a mock government in which high school and middle schoolers participated as elected officials). I vividly remember a girl running out of the room in hysterics as I presented research about fetal development mixed in with a lot of my bias beliefs about the right to life, abortion being murder, and faith-based assumptions.
The bill passed.
It was a victory I regretted before it was won. Feeling as if the young girl hurting had made that choice, or been coaxed into that choice and the impact of calling it a murder was triggering and highly upsetting for her.
It caused me to question everything. And opened my eyes to the deeper complexities of this issue. How can we compassionately explore and support people faced with unwanted/ unprepared for pregnancies?
I came to the conclusion that way more non-biased counceling is necessary for expectant mothers and fathers. I like to include fathers in the conversation too because, while the woman is the party who carries the child for nine months within her body, it takes to people to create a child. And Frankly I am very tired of our society as a whole placing the responsibility of children almost entirely upon the women.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about what a woman should do with her own body, how she should have her children, raise her children, and how many children she should have. Not to mention society’s opinion about what clothes are acceptable for her to wear, how she should sit, and what mate she should choose.
What issues are we really addressing when we address abortion in today’s political climate? Over population or declining population, control, sexism? The paradoxes abound. Many of the people in the same states who are vehemently against abortion are the same people who want to cut human services programs because of the “welfare queen” myth. Punishing the poor if they have sex resulting in pregnancy. Calling for abstinence. Im pretty sure many of the same people calling for abstinence are the same people who feel entitled to have sex with whoever they please without “putting a ring on it”.
So, how can we create programs that better educate people about prevention options, choices, etc. I have personally been impressed with the new dialogue surrounding male contraception, vasectomies, and conversations that also hold men accountable for their part in creating a new life. I have also been quite impressed with how conveniently males forget that in the throws of passion they may agree to pull off a condom, forget to pull out in time, and forget to ask important questions or share important information regarding STIs with their partner.
But if masturbation will make you go blind, sex must only be had within marriage, and all the other propagandized stigmas around sex, sexual health, and intercourse keep abounding, problems are only going to get worse.
Not to mention so much of the litany of advertisement specifically triggers the human sexual appetite, because “sex sells”.
So unless we as a society, aka body politic, are going to go back to chaperoned courting until an early marriage at 18, or younger, demand and enforce mandatory vasectomies, and return to a time where one income can support a whole family while the woman (Or man) stays home and raises the multiple children that might result from the marriage, it is naive to believe people will abstain from sex, and it is even more naive to think “accidents” like pills failing, condoms breaking, or people being overcome in moments of passion are not going to happen. [Side note, this year after New Years Eve the shelves were cleared out of Plan B for 3 days at Wal-mart.] Not to mention forcing rape victims to not be able to make their own choice about keeping a child or not from one religious perspectives’ convictions is far from upholding the value of this country allowing individuals to exercise their own freedoms.
I personally, in theory, would never choose an abortion. I am glad I have never had to face that choice, but I surely have had severe anxiety about the possibility of facing an unplanned pregnancy many times in my life. And I possibly had a miscarriage due to being prescribed an antibiotic to treat an STI without the doctor performing a pregnancy test before considering medication options for treatment. I experienced a mixture of emotions from relief to grief and did not have many people I felt like I could talk to about this without being shamed and judged. And I know I am not alone in this or similar experiences.
But I, like many others, would probably have had to depend on state resources and my family to properly care for a child at that and this point in my life. Hell, even when I was married had my partner and I at the time gotten pregnant we would have been dependent on governmental and familial support. And even in the case of a financially successful couple I know familial support was accepted and needed by them when faced with an untimely pregnancy they decided to not abort. So, the punitive statements regarding people with less resources choosing to have children in states where anti-abortion bills have been passed is maddening.
Its been my experience that many males will say anything to get what they want and I was often a willing participant. Because I like sex. It helps me get out of my head and into my body, it helps alleviate migraines and tension headaches, and touch is one of my love languages.
I have used planned B before, been terribly anxious about being pregnant, reacted adversely to having an IUD, and cut my partner off from sex (which punished both of us) because he did not want to use a condom.
I’m really loving my stone wands right now when I need to release some sexual tension, but I miss the human exchange of sharing sensual moments and expressing my love for someone through touch, and I refuse to make those beautiful acts wrong, even when many men these days don’t seem to want to show up emotionally or financially to raise a child. Sex does come with responsibility. We need to talk about that more! We need to work together more. And we need to have more compassion for people facing decisions when it comes to family planning. The way I see it is, if you get pregnant you have 9 months to prepare. But that does not mean I feel like the law should legislate what a woman can or cannot do with her body which is required to nurture a developing fetus. It would be like mandating vasectomies for men on the flip side. It is a persons choice to undergo procedures, or not, at their discretion with privacy and confidentiality.
Shutting down options is not the answer. But there are other ways than those proven “safe” by the medical community and made into a business for terminating unwanted pregnancies. Medicine women, herbal books, and the internet can provide sources about herbs that are not bought in pharmacies and don’t contain chemicals that can induce clearing the womb without harm and the threats of infertility or botched procedure. I even once used wild carrot seed to make sure I was not pregnant when I discovered my partner was using meth and broke up with me when I confronted him out of concern and love for him. My period came, though it was late, and I told the disembodied soul “not now, but eventually, when the time is right, and there is a father that is able to show up for us, because you deserve love and support and so do I.” And so do you!
So please, if you have ever struggled or are struggling with these issues REACH OUT. I want to help you find support for whatever choice you wish to make and connect you to the resources you need. We do not have to go through it alone.