On Friday, I got a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day wish from Fem2.0 in Twitter. Of course, that meant that some random man asked in a mean-spirited tweet whether the wish included “abortive pro-choice mothers of dead babies.” I didn’t respond, because, well, why would you respond to a person who rudely interrupts, willfully chooses to ignore reality and is an arrogant jerk with what appear to be controlling tendencies. What people like this person refuse to acknowledge, indeed probably simply cannot afford to for a whole host of reasons, is that being a good mother includes not only knowing when you are capable of bearing and caring responsibly for children but, as importantly, when you are not.
Fully six in 10 American women who have abortions already have at least one child, and more than three in 10 already have two or more. Being able to regulate our fertility and manage unwanted and unplanned pregnancies means being responsible people and, for the majority, responsible mothers. It may be the difference between completing our educations and seeking better lives for ourselves and our families. It may be the difference between being safe from abusive spouses and physical trauma. According to multiple Guttmacher Institute surveys:
Three-fourths [of women who have abortions] cite concerns for or responsibility to other individuals, including children;
Three-fourths say they cannot afford a child;
Three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents;
And half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
Just because some women think rationally and decide quickly about the right course of action doesn’t meant they’re callous idiots. Just because women don’t suffer as a result of their decisions doesn’t make those decisions ethically wrong. The only people in this equation who seem incapable of rational, unprejudiced and realistic thought are those, often with power, who refuse to consider and respect the nuances of lives being lived on earth as human women. Women understand life and compassion and responsibility. When girls and women get pregnant the profound responsibilities of parenthood and the lifetime consequences of early childhood and family life are clear to them.
Women having abortions, it turns out, are religious people, too:
More than seven in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation (37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other), and 25% attend religious services at least once a month. The abortion rate for protestant women is 15 per 1,000 women, while Catholic women have a slightly higher rate, 22 per 1,000.
These facts – you know, based in empirical, observable reality – are true of all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, social class.
No racial or ethnic group makes up a majority of women having abortions: 36% are non-Hispanic white, 30% are non-Hispanic black, 25% are Hispanic and 9% are women of other races.
It is true that people who need to have abortions are the poorest.
Women with family incomes below the federal poverty level ($18,530 for a family of three) account for more than 40% of all abortions. They also have one of the country’s highest abortion rates (52 per 1,000 women). In contrast, higher-income women (with family incomes at or above 200% of the poverty line) have a rate of nine abortions per 1,000, which is about half the national rate.
And, apparently, as a society, we want to make sure that stays the case, since the cost of contraceptives is higher in many poorer neighborhoods than in wealthy ones.
I imagine that Mother’s Day is especially poignant for the small percentage of women do have abortions very late in their pregnancies. In the United States, only about one in 10 abortions happens during the second trimester of pregnancy, whereas more than nine in 10 take place in the first 12 weeks, and more than six in 10 during the first eight. The circumstances tend to be complicated, difficult, sad and often dangerous. So, what is the “pro-life” movement doing, state by state? Making them more complicated, more difficult, sadder and even more dangerous.
Patriarchal fuzzy thinking is particularly bad for girls and women. Why patriarchal and not religious or ethical thinking? Well, just a simple example: if this weren’t a matter of control over women, their bodies and reproduction we would have a well developed and commonly used male contraceptive that wasn’t based on 12,000 technology by now.
People like this man need to stop talking about things they don’t understand and find another hobby or expression of power and identity – one that doesn’t hurt girls and women and their families and futures. Too bad legislatures don’t have a “Block User” feature.
So, in closing, Happy Mother’s Day to women who think for themselves and make decisions about what is good for them and their families!