Suddenly I See

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A better place to start

There are always words that catch my attention when watching something political. This evening was no different while I was watching Obama's 100 days press conference. Someone asked a question about abortion and my ears perked up. They always perk when any woman's issue is discussed. They can't help it. They are pretty passionate about women's issues.

This is what Obama said in response to a reporter asking him about his beliefs regarding abortion and the Freedom of Choice Act. I have never heard a politician, or a man for that matter, explain their view on abortion like this, in a way he took the words right out of my mouth.

OBAMA: You know, the -- my view on -- on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.

I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they -- if they suggest -- and I don't want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women's freedom and that there's no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

OBAMA: The reason I'm pro-choice is because I don't think women take that -- that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day. And I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a president of the United States, in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their clergy.

So -- so that has been my consistent position. The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again.

And so I've got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp, to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.

Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose. But I think that the most important thing we can do to stamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that's -- that's where I'm going to focus.

Obviously I have many more feelings regarding this issue than can be summed up in a three minute answer at a press conference but I just think that a politician could not have given a better answer. It's nice to hear that there is a realization that there are many struggles when abortion is considered.

I am not the same ultra liberal person I was before that was extremely pro-choice and didn't even want to discuss it further but now I can see the issues on both sides. I am still pro-choice because I know what it is to be in a position that you never thought you would be in and I guess I focus more now on why abortion is necessary in our society. I was lucky but many women are not. Why do women put themselves in the position of having to get an abortion and to me more importantly why are women put in this position by others? I was happy to hear the president say something about reducing unwanted pregnancies. To me that comes from a place of love, that comes from wanting to help people as individuals and wanting to make society a better place as a whole. That is a much better place to start then constant debates and disagreements about rights and choices. Frankly, it's been awhile since I was moved by a politician and none have ever expressed their position on abortion quite like this and it was good to hear. It made me feel like maybe we could all look at this issue with more understanding and tolerance. That includes me,
I can be more understanding and tolerant of people who have different views than mine.

Is this all to heavy for a blog? Probably. Sorry if I brought you down.


Eliza said...

I don't think it's too heavy for a blog.

My own feelings on abortion are complicated. They have become more complicated now that I have gone through two pregnancies. I don't know if you remember, but I posted about this once a year or so ago.

I completely agree that the best place to start is preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. And I believe that abortion should be available to those who need it--in other words, it shouldn't be a form of birth control. I don't think anyone should be out having casual unprotected sex thinking, "Well, I can always get an abortion." How to define who "needs" it is where the argument lies. Banning it completely is ridiculous, and it would never work. And regulating it is very, very tricky.

I'm trying to remember the name of a book I read a review about. It was a memoir of sorts written by an OB who made her living doing abortions. The quotes I read were very compelling. She spoke of women who came back multiple times for multiple abortions, women who were in tears, women who were stoic, women who "couldn't go through with it." It sounded fascinating, if a little sad. (or a lot sad.)

Eliza said...

Also I like what he said about how it's an issue for everyone, and it's not just about women's bodies.

Katie said...

That sounds like an interesting book, I may have to pick it up. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I remember your blog as well. I wonder sometimes how I will feel about the whole issue once I have a baby. I feel like the older I get the more signifigant I see these issues and the more I realize the consequence of them. That's not to say that I expect others to feel the same but the older I get the more gray areas I see.

I went to a very liberal college and I couldn't understand how others didn't have the same liberal views I did but I feel like I am increasingly becoming more and more conservative on a personal level while still pretty liberal when it comes to society.

Anyhow, thanks Eliza for your thoughts. I wasn't sure if anyone would comment on such a touchy issue.

Alexandra said...

I've always had a pretty conflicted view on abortion - I don't see it as a political issue, and I don't really see how one can frame it that way and feel good about themselves. So I'm also happy to have someone who has clearly thought carefully about his stance on this issue in the White House.

What I think about most often right now is how "those who need it" becomes such a gray area when you're the person who may eventually have to perform the abortions, and how difficult it will be to see people who seem to just be being reckless with their bodies. I do know, though, that the research certainly seems to show that abortion will happens whether it remains legal or not, and it's just a matter of whether it happens safely, with appropriate medical supervision. When it's legal, people have safe abortions (most of the time) - when it's not, they have late-term, unsafe ones. So if that's the decision to be made, I have a pretty firm stance in favor of providing safe abortion facilities, and making sex education and condoms ubiquitous, to try to get rates of unwanted pregnancy down.

But that doesn't mean anything about my personal moral stance on abortion. So it's a pretty tricky subject for me.

Jenn said...

I agree that one can be against the concept of abortion and still be pro-choice. I am one of the more liberal people I know, and I was having a conversation with someone who is totally against abortions in any case. I was trying to get him to see that nobody likes abortions, very few people take it lightly, but sometimes it is (or feels like) the only choice.

When I was pregnant at 17, I considered it to the point where I had an appointment made, but I couldn't go through with it. I am so glad I didn't now, because he is the best thing in my life, but I won't say it isn't hard. I don't judge girls who make the opposite choice harshly; I just feel sad for them. Now, after my reproductive problems that most of the readers of this blog know about, I will occasionally feel resentment toward women who choose abortion just for convenience reasons (and mothers who don't seem to appreciate the gift they have) but I have to remind myself that I can't ever know their whole story.

Katie said...

Thanks for all the comments. I agree Alex that keeping abortion legal keeps it safe because even if it wasn't legal it would still happen. And I agree Jenn that being pro-choice doens't mean that you are for an abortion personally or otherwise.

To me, it just makes me sad that abortion is necessary sometimes because of things that happen to women and that those things may be the easiest to change just by education and love.

Eliza said...

Also here is an article I read recently in the Washington Post Magazine: A Hard Choice. It's about a young med student (a woman) who plans to be an OB and is deciding whether to become an abortion provider.

I'm going to try to find the name of that book for you.

Katie said...

Thanks Eliza

Pam said...

I agree, it is a tricky issue. I do not believe that it should ever be made illegal. However, having my own babies and knowing how it feels to be pregnant, I don't think I could ever make the choice to end a pregnancy(not that I have to worry about it at this point). I think once you have carried a baby, in your mind, it is a baby from conception. However, having said that, it is hard for me not to judge a woman who has an abortion for convenience sake only. There are so many families that would welcome a baby into their homes that otherwise cannot have one. I wish adoption was made more of a choice. My opinion only.