Reproduction and the Right

I’d like to start with this video from my friend Kit the Brave:

Yeah, I know. These quotes are from out of touch extremists. Except, you know, one of them has a strong chance to be the Republican nominee for president. And…in case you feel safer with Mitt Romney, well, there’s this…what Romney thinks depends on who he is pandering to.


I’d really like to be able to present these issues in a balanced, fair way, as I try to do with many of the things I talk about. But the problem is that those who oppose birth control are not thinking that through. Those who oppose abortion should SUPPORT birth control, right? Listen to what Romney said in Iowa in September. This isn’t rocket science, right? More birth control=fewer abortions. That simple, yes?


For the record, I don’t have children. I forgot to put it on a to-do list. It never happened. When I finished my PhD in 2001, Bryon and I had the talk. We had pretty much waited too long. He didn’t want children because he works with kids all day. Yes, I know that your own children are different, but hey, look no further than a nurturing job to take care of many of your nurturing needs.

Also for the record, I am very pro-kid. I like kids, and I’m not one of those childless people who has any trouble with taking care of the tykes. If we’d become pregnant, unless there was any medical issue that prohibited a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, we would have done the parenting thing.

But you know, I don’t feel a child is my way to live vicariously in the world. I feel that there’s a bit of a food/space/water shortage. And my immortality is not assured by a child. The memory of you tends to disappear in five generations, they say. So I’m happy with the alternative as well.

If I had had a child, I am in a good position to take care of one. But what if I had four children? It could be quite a stretch to take care of another if I had four. Or, what if I became pregnant now at 46? That’s an age to have pregnancy complications, and we older perimenopausal women are the second highest group to have accidental pregnancy. Birth control keeps me from having these problems, or keeps me from having to weigh the very private and moral issue of abortion.

I could be abstinent. But…I don’t have to. Birth control. Yay.


Again, I don’t understand the conflation of birth control with abortion issues, or birth control seen as an evil of its own. Men and women engage in family planning. Ninety-eight percent of women use birth control, and the majority aren’t using it to be unfaithful. Statistics bear out over and over that men on the whole tend to be more unfaithful then women. We never here about how slutty guys are when they have sex. Ah, cultural double standards, how we perpetuate you!

Abortion is a trickier moral consideration for most. And yet there are strong, compelling reasons to have an abortion. I would never want to be in a position where I had to consider abortion, and that is a large part of the reason I use birth control. That said, unlike Rick Santorum, I would not give a young girl a miserable disabled life, knowing that she was going to die young. Yes, I know her life could be a gift. But the decision to have that child and make her suffer, from another angle, could be considered very, very selfish.

I also find myself wondering why there are those who suggest that a woman’s life is less important than a fetus life. The baby is, indeed, alive. So is Mom. If having that baby is going to put Mom in danger, who would the family be more vested in at this point? This is NOT an easy decision, kind of a lose-lose. But if a choice has to be made? Guess what? For me, Mom is the choice.

Statistically, the numbers of women who use abortion as birth control are just not borne out. Even if they were, I can’t understand all the circumstances of an individual woman, and I certainly don’t think a conservative congress person should be able to dictate the terms surrounding an abortion. Unless lawmakers can promise me that they will make sure every child in this country is fed, clothed, and given health insurance like they deserve. And I’d appreciate also a guarantee against abuse. Then, I might get behind them a bit more.

As things stand, there is hypocrisy here. My mother-in-law suggests that lawmakers only care about children’s rights until they are born. We’ve seen the US engage in a consistent war against children since the 1980s. Children have been systematically stripped of health care and welfare benefits, making it harder to live their lives. (Granted, some improvements have been made in recent years, but not yet enough to reverse the damages of the “ketchup is a vegetable” administration.)

Many children in this country live in poverty. Many do not get enough to eat. Lawmakers, do better by the children we have, and make it possible for US citizens to believe you really care about children. Make the US safe for children. For my own part, then I’m ready to listen to your dialogue about abortion.


I leave you with a piece that originated with John Scalzi and now has found a home with Jezebel: A Doctor’s Civil Disobedience on Texas Abortion Laws. You might also want to visit these Doonesbury Strips.


From the party that wants to take away mandated health care in the next few days, these abortion and reproduction arguments smell like yesterday’s fish. You can’t argue for individual liberty for health care, but mandate abortion practice. I’d like to find common ground with these gentlemen, but I just can’t. My gender is being told what to do by mostly old white conservative men in the name of a religion they don’t truly practice. That makes me mad.

There’s no way around it. You want to make women step backwards. You might be surprised to find out we won’t stand for it.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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