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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No, Pro-Choice does not mean Pro-Abortion. It means HAVING THE CHANCE TO DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.

I'm not sure if I'm just imagining this or not, but I swear I always feel the need to blog about a serious, heavily debated issue immediately following one with a bunch of happy pictures or nice stories. Not because I've talked about happy things and consciously want to balance it out, but because some discussion or book stirs up my passion on any remotely emotional and/or controversial issue somehow find their way into my life. Or, let's be honest, most of these debates (internally and with others) appear on my radar (or reappear, as the case is today) via Facebook status updates. Sad, I know, but I'm a busy girl, and keeping up on current events rarely seems to take any top priority slot--that goes for celebrity gossip too, unless it's a conversation going around work or I happen upon it during the occasional lunch break spent perusing People magazine.
Yesterday, Kristin put up a status regarding pro-life and pro-choice debates, and the link/disconnect with feminism. Naturally, I wanted to blog about it immediately. My last blog post consisted of a few pictures from Laura's wedding, and the one immediately preceding that one was written in a very happy state of mind, because that it was right after I made the conscious decision and preceded forward with plans to take the LSAT in December, and HOPEFULLY start law school at Ole Mis in the fall. Both blogs were happy ones, even amidst my nerves trying to convince me that I won't get into law school. My nerves can suck it, btw.
Now, I don't think my blog is going to be particularly unhappy or argumentative, by any means. But I was born opinionated, and for something like this especially, I wanted to say my piece. So.
Years ago, like I think before I even started at GPS in 1998 or maybe after 7th or 8th grade, my view on abortion changed pretty dramatically, not so much because anything happened or anything but becuase I really sat back and looked at the issue in this debate instead of just agreeing with my parents or taking the Presiden'ts word for it. Now, at age 25 and having been the victim of rape on more than one occasion, I understandably possess even stronger views on it. I'm not going to accost you in the parking lot to yell about what is right and what is wrong, nor will I shut you out completely if you disagree with me (same goes for all issues here) as long as you at least pretend to take what I have to say into consideration. As a young woman in her 20s who is in no way prepared to raise a child (and fear I wouldn't give the baby up for adoption once I gave birth and saw him/her for the first time). Or as a rape victim more than once (yes, I realize rape is not the only route that could lead to an unwanted pregnancy, bu it does make up a very high percentage of them). I've also developed a much stronger sense of self than I possessed 12 or 13 years ago, and while I'm not seeking out any protest rallies to attend, I very much believe in feminism as a concept, though naturally flawed as is any political idealology. When humans create new ideas, or buildings, or works of art, the end result is flawed because humans are flawed. And, of course, extremists ruin the fun for everybody for somehow managing to be blaringly ignorant on a topic they apparently spend all day, every day researching and analyzing. But I digress.
Feminism is, at its core, an idealology that supports women and seeks them out as leaders, if they wish to even be a leader. The concept of having and using "choice" to determine the path your life takes is a pillar of the foundation of feminism. We get to decide on daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and lifelong goals, because the opinion of women is just as important as that of men. It's the choosing that makes us unique individuals, not the color of our eyes or the texture of our hair. How, then, can a self-proclaimed feminist be pro-life and not pro-choice? Really, it doesn't make too much sense. I think part of the issue is ignorance about what each term really means. Pro-life is anti-abortion, in most cases no matter what. Pro-choice, however, means that the woman can choose for herself whether to have an abortion, or have the baby, or give it up for adoption--she gets to decide. It doesn't mean she doesn't take input from others, or rush into wanting an abortion before really thinking about it. Some women (many, I'm sure) do make that decision is such a way, not allowing or feeling just in general any emotional attachment to their unborn baby from the start. It may be less messy that way, but it would take soem thought for me. I think most women are like me when it comes to this issue--I want to be able to choose what stays in me and/or comes out of me at any given time, but it would be an incredibly difficult decision to make if it happened to me. Depending heavily on the circumstances, of course, I highly doubt that I would abort my child. I know myself well enough to know that I would never forgive myself if I did, and living a life of regret. But like I said, cirumstances vary and some aspects of a woman's decision making process--like if there was a good chance I"d die and the baby may or may not live, or if I were raped and could not detach that act and trauma from the life growing inside of me. These examples once again show why a choice is important; no two scenarios are exactly the same, and saying always or never doesn't typically sit well with humans.
I've even thought about what I might have done if any of my rapes resulted in a pregnancy. Not that any rape is okay, but some are less violent or cause less trauma and may not constantly be tied to the child in that woman's mind. Some rapes astound me, both because of the sheer rage that builds up in some people and how violently that can escape through a person during such an act, but mostly because the women survived, often taking parts of their rapist with them (chunks of hair and skin, for example) and reminding such people that women should never be underestimated. One of my rapes clearly comes to mind as being one it would be difficult to separate from the child, and the knowledge that the emotional state of mind of both me and my child would likely be compromised would make me want to protect even my unborn child from a life lived in the shadow of a rape that destroyed a portion of my soul...and an even bigger piece of my sanity. There are some scenarios that I feel would make me waver back and forth for days, tormented with the decision. But don't misunderstand--I'd always WANT that decision.
I understand the argument that abortions result in a death, if you believe it's a life from the moment of conception or once there is a heartbeat (on average, around the 5th week of pregnancy). To a certain extent, I believe that. Personally, I think it's a person once there is a heartbeat, since the prescence of one is a primary indicator for life and death for every living being on Earth. The prescence of a heartbeat while in utero bridges a connection to my own heart beat, and that connection validates life to me. So yes, I get that.
Adoption is also a wonderful alternative, but that process is more difficult for all parties involved than one might think--some of the time, of course. Choosing between a private or open adoption while dealing with pregnancy hormones would be trying at best, and then there are those who don't decide until after the birth--and tell me that process isn't emotionally draining. I think it would be particularly difficult to decide on a private adoption, as you wonder how you or the child may feel 10, 20, or 50 years down the road. Sure, there are ways to unseal those documents, but that process takes both time and money that some just don't have available to them. There is also a "trial period" for the adoptive parents and the birth mother alike, where the birth mother can change her mind and opt to keep the baby herself instead (I want to say it's like 60 or 90 days, but I'm not sure). For the adoptive parents, that would be undoubtedly earth-shattering, but those agonizing days would stretch on forever for the birth mother also, if she were unsure of her decision in the first place, or once the pregnancy hormones began to wane. Of course, it is generally pretty expensive to adopt a child, not including the cost once it becomes your child. Hundreds of screenings and interviews and letters of recommendations later, you still aren't guaranteed to ever be matched up with a child. There are private agencies you can go through to get a chance to screen prospective adoptive parents (for birth parents), then meet them in person as many times as is necessary before deciding--an arduous process, but worth it I'm sure. And yet? Very expensive. Many children just bounce around foster homes and "orphanages" for years before being adopted; others still never get matched up and leave the foster care system once they turn 18, without a family to truly call their own. That happens more often than the use of private agencies--way more. That life would be tough on the child, for sure, but sometimes for the birth mother as well, who wll worry every day if their child is happy...or even alive. Adoption is an exhausting process (so I've heard) and can cost a small fortune--and even then it sometimes doesn't work out. So, to those out there who consider adoption their trump card for any abortion debate, give it a rest. It's not nearly as easy as your making it out to be, though it is wonderful for everybody involved if all goes well.
There are stories of birth mothers who decide at the last minute (or sometimes well before delivery) that they are going to keep their child, and end up loving it and doing a fantastic job. Happy endings are possible, but then again traigc ones are as well, with the end result being suicde, murder, drug addiction, name it.
Truth be told, none of these decisions would be easy, and they aren't meant to be. The future of a human being hangs in the balance. Still, isn't it important and meaningful to make that decision yourself? Or with the help of close friends and family, who know you and love you as a unique individual? Making abortion illegal shouldn't be left up to crotchety old men in government, or even up-and-coming young women. They aren't in your body, and they won't have to live with your decisions. Not to mention, everybody knows that making abortion illegal won't stop it from happening; instead, it will just make it riskier and shadier. People will find a way to achieve what they want, or haven't we learned that from money counterfeiters and kidnappers?
When push comes to shove for me personally, I just don't want somebody telling me what I can and can't do with my body. I've experience enough of that from those who wanted to badly to feel important and loved and powerful that they held me down and forced me to see and feel them. Here's the thing, though: having to act that way and do those things to make yourself feel powerful and special really ends up making you look cowardly and insignificant. The same holds true for those in government; the more hostility and control you convey, the less we respect what you have to say. True power and importance is felt by the outsider before they even see the person. Those you have it don't need to flaunt it, and those who don't just won't ever stop trying to prove to you that they matter. I mean, really? The average male is about 7 inches taller than me and 70+ pounds heavier. If you hold me down and force yourself on me, I don't see you as important and powerful, as you are lacking that ability to be resepcted; what I see is a lonely, scared coward. Forcing the ideals and beliefs of yourself onto others won't make them listen any more closely. People in government--listen to the citizens and take their ideas into consideration. They won't always be right, of course, but then again...neither are any of us.

So, give us a choice and we'll most likely think hard on it and come up with the best decision. Take things away, and there's intrigue. People want what they don't have.

P.S. In case you couldn't tell, I'm pro-choice :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When good friends get married (I wanted to put up more pictures, but my internet is being stupid!)

Laura Dunn and Scott Arnold
September 10, 2011
1:30 PM
Gatlinburg, TN

1) The cutest chapel ever, where the awesome couple said their vows

2) Just married!

3) Caroline caught the bouquet! Brian's response: "Well...that's awkward." HAHA!

4) Me, Laura, and Caroline...two of my very first BAM friends.