Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Abortion Slacktivism And The White Savior Complex

The documentary film After Tiller is a fascinating look at the abortion industry, but it's also a fascinating piece of propaganda. It delves into the issue of late term abortions, a topic too grisly for most people to consider. 

The film focuses on a few of the few - the tiny percentage of abortionists who will do the procedure all the way into the third trimester of pregnancy. Only four doctors to be exact.

Dr. Hern is one of them. Most days he commits late term abortions in Boulder, Colorado. However, when reminiscing about how he got his start in After Tiller, he talks about his peace corp days in Brazil... 

What most people will conveniently overlook as he pulls at our heartstrings, is that he was looking at this community through a lucky set of eyes. A very lucky set of eyes. He chose to go to this impoverished country. He was not born there and forced to live there, like these women do day in and day out. He chose to tend to these underprivileged children for a set amount of time. He was not forced to conceive and care for them his entire life like the women of this village who he claims he was simply attempting to help. He chose to offer "safer" abortions as the "solution" to these women's problems, because he doesn't have to live with the fallout of the many more unplanned pregnancies and subsequent terminations that will continue to plague these mothers, sisters, and daughters since the real problem was never actually addressed at all. Meanwhile, he has flown back to the comforts of his American life and now uses their circumstances to justify his living extinguishing other human lives.

The pregnancies are only a symptom of - and abortion merely a BandAid for - the real problem: that women in many communities the world over live in a deeply patriarchal society where they have zero power, autonomy, freedom, or opportunity. We hear phrases like "baby machines" bandied about in the U.S., but here it might actually apply. Most of these women are going to grow up, be impregnated, and bear child after child, and there is nothing they can do about it.

Reproductive rights mean nothing if you ignore the fact that these women have no control over whether or not they will reproduce in the first place. And rather than addressing the true oppression these women are facing, Dr. Hern simply offers them an abortion after their rights have already been sufficiently trampled on. 

That is lazy activism from a privileged man who wants to pat himself on the back when really he's only compounding the problem.

I wish this were a unique story, but unfortunately this is how the west tends to treat most people not lucky enough to be born here in America (and of course those unlucky ones here who had the audacity to be born poor). Here's some pills, if they don't work, we'll kill your children for you. It's not that we don't care, it's just that we think these sorry excuses for "help" are the answer, when the real answer is to encourage economic health and self-sufficiency. "Give a man a fish..." We all know the saying.

Meanwhile, when we discuss abortion, we often hear the argument "But what about a woman's choice?" The response is pretty simple: "We are all for a woman's choice, but by the time there is an innocent human life inside her, the choice has already been made."

But what about the truly poor women of the third world, who don't get to choose whether or not they get pregnant, or raped by their husbands for that matter? Can your magical Western pills stop that from happening? I didn't think so...

It's difficult to see clips of a poor Brazilian woman, sitting outside a hut, no running water, no electricity, only the food she can grow or kill, with seven children playing around her in the dirt, and no say whatsoever in whether or not she has more. The ones she has are already hungry. Who on earth would say it's a good idea for her to keep having child after child she can't feed?

To the slacktivists, the answer is, of course, is birth control and abortion: send a (probably male) doctor over there to pat her on the head and scramble her baby up in her womb and suck it out and dispose of it and send her back to her life with a few hormone altering packets of class 1 carcinogens, where she will continue to have no power or control or real choice. Then if she gets pregnant again, and he'll go suck her next baby out, and so on and so forth. She'll still be poor and helpless, and he'll be a savior... to some. But certainly not to her. 

That is a sorry excuse for a solution. 

The answer, of course, is to advocate globally for women's rights, and for economic opportunity, which is the only way women will be able to access those rights. A world in which every girl can decide for herself what kind of life she's going to have; every woman can choose to marry or not marry, be a mom or not be a mom; every woman can wake up in the morning and have power and autonomy over her own body and her own life, from the moment it first exists.

Maybe it's just a dream, but that's the kind of world we are working toward.

These "saviors" in After Tiller do nothing but perpetuate the victimhood of women. They don't actually solve any problems. They just help keep a repulsive system running by propping up a patriarchy that preys on poor women.

After Tiller is absorbing, fascinating, and seductive. But it's propaganda. Don't let it fool you. Women - all women, everywhere - deserve much better than the desperate, wounding abomination of abortion. They deserve true liberation. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Raising An Activist

Last week in DC my daughter Eiffel had a mini breakdown. It wasn't totally unexpected as I was fully prepared for her to be overwhelmed by the amount of abortion talk she'd overhear during the March for Life and surrounding events.

There are giant blown-up pictures of abortion victims along the march route that I knew she'd see. Plus, I figured the counter-demonstration we'd face in front of the Supreme Court with women and men in bloody pants screaming "God does not exist!" would be a new experience for my 9-year-old as well, and I was fully prepared for all of these talks. What caught me off guard however was what ultimately caught her off guard.

She handled the march like a champ, but that night back at our hotel, all hunkered down for the blizzard, we decided to hang out with some friends from Ireland in the lobby whom we'd had dinner with the previous evening. They're a jolly bunch. They drink too much and smoke too much, but also they say "feck" a lot.  According to them this is a word that's less offensive in Ireland than "crap." It's NOT the f-word although it sounds similar, and for us it's probably akin to "freaking." To Eiffel though it was a BAD WORD.

As we were headed down to hang out with them she stopped me. She grabbed my arm and when I looked back I noticed her eyes were filled with tears. She'd been such a trooper the whole trip that this surprised me but I figured something from earlier in the day must've finally gotten to her. I asked her what was wrong and that's when she told me, "I don't want to hang out with them because they're always cussing."

I love her heart. I love her heart so much.

To her their words were inappropriate and offensive. She's always been bothered by swear words in movies and songs, even when her siblings weren't, because she's my rule follower... only I never made a rule against “cuss words.”

I know most good moms do, but to me they're just dumb words. It's a sequence of sounds coming out of someone’s face and most of the time they mean nothing on their own and are only added for extra emphasis. I tried to explain this to her, but she just kept telling me that these words made her feel bad; that they hurt her.

I totally got what she was saying, but at the same time I felt the need to challenge that.

They're words. They're not sticks and stones. Words should never be able to have that much power over us. At least not arbitrary words like "feck" or hell, even "f*ck." As a nation we've become far too comfortable with taking offense at sounds coming out of people's faces. We claim that words hurt us, but I'm sorry, that's simply not true. Every word that supposedly "offends" us we've heard before... which is how we know it's offensive in the first place. It's not a new combination of sounds being introduced to the airwaves that is somehow magically able to assault our eardrums like no word before it.

And if any word should ever really *hurt* us, it should be "abortion." I asked Eiffel when was the last time that THAT word made her cry.

She kept trying to tell me that the other words she heard bothered her more even though she didn't know why and I said that while I understood, the meaning behind words is what really matters... and that's when she finally asked me.

She asked me what abortion really was.

She'd seen the pictures and grasped the general concept, but being the daughter of a prolife activist she'd somehow missed out on the nitty gritty.

We sat on the hotel room floor and I told her. I walked her through the procedures and I explained the different techniques used for different gestational ages. I told her how so many women who choose abortion simply feel that they have no other choice and that is why I, personally, am prolife.

The tears returned to her eyes but this time she couldn't blink them away. As they streamed down her face she looked up and asked me, "How can they let this happen?" And in that moment we had the same heart, because that's a question I ask myself every day.

She finally understood the difference between bad words and bad actions, and the fact that sometimes you can even put pretty words with bad actions. You can kill a child and call it "reproductive justice." You can force a woman into an abortion clinic while saying it's a "woman's right" and "liberating." You can stop someone else's heart from beating while somehow claiming it's still just a part of your body.

Last week my daughter learned a lesson that so many of us are constantly trying to teach our children: Actions speak louder than words.

Last week my daughter became an activist.


Post By Destiny

(Photo By Robin Marty)