Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Abortion Pledge

(Posted by Jocelyn)

As you may have heard, the Republican presidential candidates are frothing at the mouth about the Pro-Life Pledge, put out by the Susan B. Anthony List. Here's what it says:
I PLEDGE to the American people that if elected President, I will:

FIRST, only nominate to the U.S. federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench;

SECOND, select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services;

THIRD, advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;

FOURTH, advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.

Obviously, there is some disturbing language in this pledge. Not only is it threatening to a woman's right to choose, but it also advocates discrimination against those who want to protect that right. As such, Rick Santorum has, of course, signed it. He's also criticized Mitt Romney for not signing it. It's clear to me, however, that this pledge is a threat to women's health, to families, and to freedom (pardon the Republican-style rhetoric).

In light of this alarming document, I thought it wise to produce my own. Behold, the Abortion Pledge:

I pledge the following to the members of the Susan B. Anthony List:

1. If I get pregnant before the age of 21, I will have an abortion.

2. If I know anyone who gets pregnant before the age of 21, I will strongly suggest that they have an abortion.

3. If I get pregnant while still pursuing my education and cannot feasibly financially support a child, I will have an abortion.

4. If I get pregnant and am a current heavy drug user, I will have an abortion.

5. If I get pregnant and discover that my unborn child has a defect that will cause him or her a short life of unbearable pain, I will have an abortion.

6. If I am in a situation where not terminating my pregnancy is likely to kill me, I will have an abortion.

7. If I am in any other situation where I feel like an abortion is the best course of action, I will have an abortion.

8. If I am in any of the aforementioned situations and opt not to have an abortion, I will remember that my choice would have been meaningless without the right to choose and will continue to defend that right.

9. If I have the ability, I will donate to Planned Parenthood and/or other organizations that defend a woman's right to choose.
You can sign it here. Spread the word.


  1. The biggest issue with the pledge is that the first part would guarantee that they appoint judges who would overturn the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is blatantly unconstitutional under the "original meaning of the Constitution."

    None of them caught that? Really? Even the "Champion of the Constitution" Ron Paul? This is why I don't blame Cain, Romney, or Huntsman for not signing it.

  2. This pledge is no good. For options 1, 2, and 3, abortion is certainly reasonable, but adoption would also allow the woman to get on with her life. A pledge like this would only reinforce conservatives' misconceptions about pro-choice people.

    As for the original anti-abortion pledge, well, if anyone gave a darn about scientific evidence, then FOURTH would be a non-issue. (sigh) If embryos really are innocent lives, then wouldn't it be wrong to step on them for political goals?

  3. Yeah, the pledge is good though; it's just not what you want it to be. It's not called "The Pro-Choice Pledge" for a reason. It's not that I'm not pro-choice; it's just that I didn't think that kind of language would be strong enough to get the point across.

    The idea is that it's a list of situations where I think an abortion is the most appropriate course of action. Others who agree can sign it, and they have. The positive feedback I've gotten has far outweighed the negative.

    The whole point is to say that we want these rights - not just when we're in physical or emotional danger from our pregnancy, but all the time. What is the point in having the right to choose if that choice is demonized when we make it without what the right might concede is a valid reason?

  4. You forgot "I will get an abortion if adding another child to my family will severely compromise my financial, emotional, or physical ability to care for my existing children's needs." Most women who get abortions already have a child, and it's their existing children's well-being that they're considering, as well as their own.

  5. "What is the point in having the right to choose if that choice is demonized when we make it without what the right might concede is a valid reason?"

    That's got to cut both ways, though. Telling a young woman that she must get an abortion because she's under twenty-one is just as bad as telling her that she must not get one.

    Your pledge doesn't say "I will consider it acceptable/appropriate to get an abortion in the following list of situations," it says "I promise that I will get an abortion in the following situations" and it certainly seems to ignore any surrounding context. A twenty-year-old woman who's married and has a job might have way less need for an abortion than a fifteen-year-old dropout with a loser not-boyfriend.

  6. I didn't tell anyone that they must do anything. Signing the pledge is optional. This is an effort to show that there are a number of woman who want the right to choose in all situations, not just extreme ones. We are the ones who can define when is a reasonable time for us to have an abortion.

    In short: if you agree with the pledge, I would like you to sign it. If you don't, please feel free to choose not to.

    I thought the nuances of people's particular situations were covered in number 8, but hey, you can't please everybody. Don't sign the fucking pledge.

    Oh, and get over it. K thanks.

  7. Yes, by gosh, I can kill a child whenever I freaking please. Thank you for that list. It truly hit home for me how little people value the unborn. Inconvenient? FU, baby! Truly sickening.

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  9. I agree with darkfrog. I support a woman's right to choose abortion, but as an adoptive parent, I'm delighted the woman who decided she could not afford to care for another child chose adoption.

    I WANTED to be excited about this pledge, because the pro-life pledge seems so extreme to me. Yes, this contrasts, but pledging to abort in every inconvenient situation doesn't seem reasonable. If it said, "I will consider abortion..." it would adequately reflect the real right to choose more clearly.

  10. Why the gender-neutral "they" in #2?

  11. On the petition, could you change the language about who can sign to something other than "ladies only, please." I don't like being called a lady, even in a chummy way. And some dudes are capable of getting pregnant as well.

  12. The Pro-Choice Pledge:

    1. If I become pregnant and I feel like an abortion is the best course of action, I will have an abortion.

    2. I will respect any woman's right to a safe and legal abortion, even in circumstances where I would not have an abortion.

    3. I will respect any woman's right to remain pregnant, even in circumstances where I would not remain pregnant.

    4. If become pregnant and opt not to have an abortion, I will remember that my choice would have been meaningless without the right to choose and will continue to defend that right.

    5. If I have the ability, I will donate to Planned Parenthood and/or other organizations that provide women with access to affordable contraception, with the full knowledge that such contraception will not in all cases be effective.

    6. If I have the ability, I will donate to Planned Parenthood and/or other organizations that defend and facilitate a woman's right to choose.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. More discussion ongoing at Dan's blog on "The Slog":

  15. The government and all the pro-lifers can do whatever they can to make themselves feel better by making abortion illegal. Abortion can be made illegal. Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics can be de-funded and shut down. But there is one glaring fact that pro-lifers don't seem to realize: women will have abortions if they want, regardless of the law. I am disappointed Ron Paul has signed it...he seemed the perfect Presidential candidate. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for anyone who will make abortion illegal. I sign with a strong signature.

  16. Your pledge is disgusting. You're acting like abortions are trivial and laughable. They're not. Pro-choice is not the same as pro-abortion.

  17. And where, exactly, does this pledge say "pro-choice?" It's called "The Abortion Pledge" for a reason.

    I find it interesting how quickly people who claim to be pro-choice have jumped down my throat for this. I don't claim to speak for you guys, but I expect you not to judge what I see as a perfectly acceptable list of situations in which abortion is an appropriate course of action. Otherwise, what's the point in being pro-choice?

  18. Jocelyn, you specifically said in the Slog thread that you thought this was what all pro-choicers thought but didn't say. We are only trying to tell you differently.

    I disagree with you, but I have not been any of the people calling you names on the other thread. That was uncalled for.

    I did, however, after reading your explanation of your thought process on Slog try to make a coherent reply as to the objections I have to this pledge. Will repost here.

    You said:
    "What I'm trying to do, however, is get a group of people together who openly admit that they want and will exercise the option to have an abortion in more than just the most extreme of circumstances. If this is a vocal and sizable chunk of the population, then those who simply want the right to abort when health or psychological reasons make it detrimental not to will have an easier time with it."

    I'm starting to better understand what you were trying to do here, so thanks for sticking around to explain it. But I still think it was poorly executed. I can understand your desire to get women to sign on to a document that expressed that they would have an abortion in a range of cases that are not strictly the oft trotted-out "rape/incest/death" reasons given for safe and legal abortion. I get that.

  19. The problem is that you picked cases in which women already experience a tremendous amount of judgement around any decision to become or remain pregnant. To do what you set out to do, it might be better to have just gone father afield of the society-accepted (mandated by social judgement, in some cases) reasons for abortion and had the list read with items like this:
    "If I find myself pregnant, at the age of 33, and I have no intention of becoming a mother and do not have the emotional resources to carry a baby to term and give it away, I will have an abortion."

    The problem with the items with you selected is that they are already very much in currency culturally as times when women *should* have abortions - to the point that women who choose not to in those cases often experience judgement and a lack of social support (Because they *could* have chosen to have an abortion, so why should anyone socially/financially support their choice to remain pregnant.). In this way, your pledge actually appears to be picking on the vulnerable.

    What you have tapped into, without really realizing it, it the other side of reproductive un-choice. It has a long history and it runs deep. While white, middle-class women (I'm one of these, so this isn't really my story to tell, but I'm doing it to make a point) were fighting for the right to say 'no' to childbearing and child-rearing (i.e. access to contraception and abortion), poor, racialized, and indigenous women were fighting for the right to bear and rear children (i.e. fighting forced sterilizations, abortions, and/or child removals). The problem with your list is that it seemed to run uncomfortably close to a list of people who shouldn't become mothers, and babies that shouldn't be born. It appears that this was not your intention when writing the list, but that was how people reacted to it. (And your initial comments that young mothers were not good mothers did not help alleviate these concerns.)

    The thing of it is that most of us, for example, are not under 21 (for example), so signing that we would have an abortion if we became pregnant under 21 has no personal meaning or resonance. It just seems like we are signing on to a prescription for the behavior of others (which the second point seems to make clear). I personally probably would have had an abortion if I had become pregnant before I was about 23 or 24. I was not personally equipped to be a mother at that time, and I know that I would also not have been able to give a baby up for adoption. If someone I knew who was under 21 confided in me that they were pregnant, I would also make sure they knew that they could have an abortion, that it was a choice I would support if my support mattered to them, but I would stop short of telling them they should have an abortion - it would be their choice.

    So again, I get what you were trying to do, but I don't think it works. It appears to pick on women who are already vulnerable to judgment for choosing to remain pregnant.

  20. Dude, don't repost your comments from Slog. I've read them all, get what you're saying, and disagree with you. For the final time: the pledge isn't meant to be signed by everyone. It's meant to get a collection of women together who agree that these are situations in which we would likely choose to abort.

  21. I should also mention that there is obviously a demand for the kind of pledge you want, and that will likely come to fruition in the next couple of days. We're working on it.

  22. Thanks Jocelyn.
    I just wanted to repost somewhere I knew you were still reading, after you said you were leaving the Slog thread. (And the Pro-Choice Pledge I just wanted to put out there as a counter-weight to what you had written.) I do see, now, that here you aren't claiming to speak for everyone who considers themselves pro-choice. Dan's post, however, was entitled "An Abortion Pledge for the rest of us", which seemed to imply that you were. I realize now that that probably wasn't your doing, and I am glad you read my comments (I did try to put a lot of thought into them) - even if you don't agree.

  23. Yeah, I'm still reading them, I'm just not involving myself in that discussion anymore. Seems pretty pointless. And thanks for not calling me a "vapid pretentious fucking cunt" like some other Sloggers.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I'm commenting on this thread NOT that I'm defending Santorum because there are too many reasons that I could give as to why I don't like the man. However, it seems that this pledge has been grossly misinterpreted.

    Pro-Life Leadership Presidential Pledge states:

    1) Only nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges WHO ARE COMMITED TO RESTRAINT and APPLYING THE ORIGINAL MEANING OF THE CONSTITUTION, not legislating from the bench;

    **this means that he’s only going to nominate people who will not use their personal bias above the law. What’s not to like about that???

    2) Select pro-life appointees FOR RELEVANT Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice;

    Hello? There must be an equivalent amount of appointees for positions that are relevant.. ie; there must be a certain number of people for these certain positions that represent both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life.
    That being said, he has agreed not to make the playing field (if you will) uneven by appointing another Pro-Choicer into a position where another Pro-Choicer already is represented.
    I don’t see what the problem is there.

    3) Advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and International spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;

    *Taxpayers should not be required to be financially liable for any abortion. Not even myself, a “Pro-Choicer”. If one wishes to privately support these programs ie; Planned Parenthood, then they may do so. It’s NOT “O.K.” no matter which side of the abortion issue that you stand on to mandate that another person pay. This in no way removes a woman’s right to chose to terminate her pregnancy.

    4) Advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.

    *This is just common sense, even from the perspective of myself, a “Pro-Choicer”. Most abortions are performed in the first trimester, which is prior to the gestational age in which pain can be felt by the fetus. However, late term or partial birth abortions are performed during a later gestational age at which time science research shows that the fetus has the ability to feel pain.
    I, a “Pro-Choicer” do NOT want an abortion performed on a late gestational aged fetus that has the ability to feel pain without the administration of a drug to the fetus that blocks pain receptors. There is no reason why “Fetendo” cannot be used to administer general anesthesia to a fetus prior to a late term abortion so the fetus is unable to feel pain. Why this is not being done is unknown to me.

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