On the list of the things I want for my daughters, is the experience and joy of motherhood. As the mother of four children – two male and two female, I know that despite all the challenges that have come with parenting being a mother has been the most gratifying part of my life. It has meant more to me than any other thing I have done singularly or all the other things collectively.
This is not to say that I seek to be primarily defined by my role as a mother, or that I want my daughters to be defined in such a monochromatic way. I am more than the children I have birthed and raised, as are all parents. I merely want my daughters to be able to experience motherhood. And yes, it is true that I have a bit of self-interest in that I further feather my glamma nest with every new grandbaby.
If you are wondering if I likewise would like my sons to experience being fathers – yes, I would. This isn’t a gender-based wish for my children – it is an experiential one. However, I am thinking about my daughters and motherhood today as I become increasingly concerned about the state of affairs in North Dakota for women and men as decisions concerning parenthood are being made via a legislature that wants to all but outlaw early-stage abortions. I worry about the effect of such legislation for women and men when pregnancies occur that are not planned and not wanted. I particularly worry about the protection of my daughters’ reproductive rights. They are the ones who would bear the brunt of such a law.
I cannot tell you that I am a fan of abortion, I don’t wish for that outcome for anyone. But I realize that unwanted pregnancies happen. They particularly happen in states where sex education in the schools consists of an unrealistic abstinence until marriage message that isn’t balanced with enough facts on what to do to prevent pregnancy and the spread of disease should young people not be able to hold out until their honeymoon for their first sexual experience (don’t even get me started on this – click here for that rant). I continue to be amazed that the approach to curbing unwanted pregnancies focuses on restricting abortion as opposed to better educating folks and making contraceptives more readily available and less cost-prohibitive.
I am not sure who to credit for this image – but I applaud the effort.
Yet, even as I am not a fan of abortion – I believe it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will proceed with a pregnancy. And I can tell you unequivocally, I am against government mandating pregnancy. Indeed, I believe to do so is essentially the government mandating compliance with specific religious beliefs – which is clearly unconstitutional. I find it doubly irritating that those who push forward their religious ideology as a foundation for law do it selectively. If the same religious views were faithfully carried across other areas of lawmaking there would be an awful lot of folks who would be in a world of hurt – and make no mistake, some of our most obnoxious legislators in this country would be right there with them.
I support a government that adopts no formal religion and that allows for religious freedom. As such, I understand pro-life advocates’ angst about abortion and I support their right to their firmly-held beliefs. I often do not agree with the approach these advocates take even as it applies to the messaging they use, but I respect their right to protected speech. What I do not support, condone, or have patience for is their continual push against abortion through state and federal law. If pro-lifers would work within their communities to better educate folks before sex about birth control and disease prevention the issue of abortion might become a non-issue. But you can’t hold on to the abstinence message as your primary message and expect no unplanned pregnancies.
If I was the head of the pro-life movement, I would partner with Planned Parenthood and other such agencies to educate abortion away. This would be a much more successful and soundly devised movement than the “Pray away the Gay” movement (which never worked with any Gay person ever…and if you doubt me, then try praying away heterosexuality). Educating abortion away is the way to change the demand for abortion. Teach people how to make smart and responsible choices about their sexual activity and how to avoid pregnancy and disease. Say more than – wait until marriage (which, by the way, does not necessarily eliminate the need or desire for abortion).
Which brings us back to the beginning of our North Dakota legislative session – where religious ideology tried in vain to shut down the NDSU grant focused on sex education. That was exactly the wrong move pro-lifers. Let me reiterate again the direction you need to move toward to succeed – educate abortion away. Trust me. Try it for ten years and see what the effect is on abortion rates.
You can compliment by vision and brilliance in 2023…but until then, drop this religious-based assault on the laws of this country and on the rights of women. I have other things to write about on my blog – silly, irreverent things – that I just can’t get to when you continually make me want to shake some sense into you. Work smart, not hard, pro-lifers and you will see I am right. I want you to prevail in your mission to reduce abortions. This is the path…I got that message from God herself.
Day one thousand three hundred and fifty-five of the new forty – obla di obla da