All Our Lives has repeatedly-and civilly, respectfully- attempted to dialogue with both prolife and prochoice groups so that we can actively cooperate with them on abortion-reducing measures. With prolifers, we have mostly tried to address widespread myths about contraception that deter support for it. With prochoicers, we have mostly expressed our solidarity on matters like voluntary family planning and our willingness to bring the message to constituencies they have not reached.

 

Not that we haven't gotten any positive responses-but the negative, dismissive ones have outnumbered them. We won't mention any names, but here are but two examples.

  • We try to share the news of our "Family Planning Freedom Is Prolife" presentation on the social media page of a prolife group that professes neturality on "artificial" contraception, even though we known many members who support it. Our post is swiftly removed, but the administrator gives no reason for its removal-nor are we violating any policy known or accessible to us. To test whether this was some flukish glitch, we post our announcement again. Once again, it is swiftly deleted.
  • We join an initiative devoted to action on a measure indispensible to alleviating the root cause of abortion, but does not itself involve abortion. We are the only prolife group involved, but we have found nothing in this initiative's policies that suggests we are not permitted to join. Some members welcome us warmly, but others feel so strongly that this is a prochoice-only cause and a prochoice-only space, we are summarily ejected from the campaign.

We won't stop trying to network. The human cost of *not* striving for cooperative action is just too high.

But if you're someone who has censored and blown us off already: kindly please reconsider. And if you're someone who is inclined to censor and blow us off in the future: kindly please stop it already.

Let's talk. What do we all have to lose if we *don't*? More than that, what do we all have to gain?

Comments

  1. All Our Lives is not in the middle. They ARE anti-abortion. They can soft-shell it by trying to concentrate on approving pregnancy prevention til the cows come home, but yes– they as a group are probably no more welcome JOINING a group for pro-choice than a pro-choice group would be joining a prolife group. I see big old crocodile tears.
    Sadly, there is nothing to listen to as far as either side goes. One side believes the other generally should be legally prevented from having an abortion, the other believes the mother has a right to make that choice. There isn't a middle ground.
    There are those in the middle, who may truly believe abortion is either wrong or a terrible choice, but do not wish to take that right from others and actually work to help educate about pregnancy prevention, provide care so that women who do not want an abortion but see no other option etc.
    All Our Lives pussyfoots around it, but they do not believe a woman should have the right to an abortion. And "infiltrating" groups to hammer their cause is not censorship, it is avoiding internal trolling on a site supporting what they do not. Want dialog? Set it up, meaningfulling– your group with others. Not joining sites where you know you are not wanted.
    Feel free to delete.

  2. Anonymous, I am *not* going to delete. Because this is a conversation that needs to take place.

    Just how familiar are you with the work that All Our Lives does, and is planning to do?

    All Our Lives *is* working to promote pregnancy prevention/contraception and better alternatives for women who are already pregnant or parenting.

    The incident described in the above blog post concerns an initiative that did *not* mark itself as prochoice-only space. We did not hide our stance when we joined. It was no big secret, even as we focused on the areas of agreement (because there's a time and place to focus on that, and a time/place to air differences). Hence no "infiltration." There's an enormous difference between infilitration and openly, straightforwardly trying to build coalitions.

    By definition, coalitions involve people with both similar and dissimilar views. Most social progress takes place through coalition building of some sort or another.

    As for no "middle ground"-that does exist between plenty of people, even those who disagree over whether abortion itself is a right. Most countries aren't as polarized on the issue on the US, but even in the utterly polarized US, about 80 percent of those who identify as prolife on abortion support  publicly funded contraception. For example.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are not middle ground. Unless you agree a woman has a right to decide if she wants an abortion. Otherwise, ultimately you ARE anti-prochoice. It is pretty simple. Crying over removal from sites supporting choice.. get real. Again, want debate, set it up. Set up your own site. But bottom line is that there is no MIDDLE and pretending there is simply is dishonesty. Either a woman has a right to choose to have an abortion, or she doesn't. No one, on EITHER SIDE, doesn't support helping prevent unwanted pregnancies. That isn't the middle, that is truly common ground. But then, you knew that. So I am done. Because the reason sites don't want your input is that the only discussion is the legal rights of woman and you really are NOT willing to concede women should have that right, they aren't willing to agree it should be illegal and there is no meaningful dialog.

  4. Anonymous, you characterize us joining a group that promotes the availability of emergency contraception as "infiltration," even though we joined precisely because we agree with that goal. Do you think EC is a pro-choice-only cause? Do you think it should be?


    We had no reason to believe we were not wanted in that coalition. It's a coalition — in my experience, what that usually means is that groups that are not identical come together to work on something they agree about.

  5. What you seem to be saying is that it's unreasonable for pro-lifers to expect to be able to work with pro-choicers on those areas where we agree, such as contraception, unless we become pro-choicers. Do you believe that, or am I misunderstanding you?

  6. I'm curious about this: "You are not middle ground. Unless you agree a woman has a right to decide if she wants an abortion. Otherwise, ultimately you ARE anti-prochoice."

    I interpreted it as meaning all three of the following: 1) Unless you agree a woman has a right to decide if she wants an abortion, you are not middle ground. 2) If you do not agree that a woman has a right to decide if she wants an abortion, then you ARE anti-pro-choice (i.e., you are pro-life). 3) You are not middle ground because you do not agree that a woman has a right to decide if she wants an abortion, and therefore you are pro-life.

    #1 is odd, because it says that you can be middle ground only if you endorse abortion rights. Obviously, if you endorse abortion rights, then you are not middle ground, though. Ergo, if #1 is true, then it is logically impossible to be middle ground. #2 & #3 seem right to me. I've never gotten the impression that All Our Lives portrayed itself as middle ground. My understanding is that it is pro-life, but actively pursuing common ground policies. You don't need to be middle ground to pursue common ground -or- I don't think you need to be. Perhaps that is where the disagreement lies.

  7. We're still in the process of networking, but all of us oppose the death penalty as a right to life issue and we will, I'm sure, be incorporating that into our work. Similarly, we believe in the right to obtain medical care in both everyday (bronchitus, depression) matters and catastrophic (cancer, major accident) situations, so we will also incoporate that into our advocacy for women, children and families within the framework of a consistent life ethic. I'm not sure what the verification process involves, but Jen may be able to answer that question.

  8. Different Anonymous says:

    You have to look at it from the colation leaders' pov.  Will they lose more people/money/xyz by adding you than they will gain?  What do you bring to the table that is worth even the appearance of compromising on the larger coalition's basic beliefs?  Do you have lots of people who right now will proudly stand up and say they are members of All Our Lives rather than b number of people voted c in a poll sometime?  Grant money?  Real world meeting places, charismatic speakers, political connections?  Nobody has an obligation to include you and you have no right to be included just because you want to be.

  9. We are simply pointing out the folly in refusing to work with those with whom one disagrees. Nothing gets done that way.  It is extremely disturbing to think that someone would withdraw their support for an organiziation because it has a pro life/pro contraception organization as a coaltion member. Moreover, as we've said, some of these organizations do not specify that they are "pro choice" or that they "oppose birth control," yet they've made that position clear via their response to our efforts. We wish they'd at least make their position clearer. As you know, all new organizations are started by people who have a common goal, or, as you put it, "voted c in a poll sometime." Grants, charismatic speakers, et al come gradually, not all at once.

  10. If a coalition claims not to be explicitly pro-choice, then how is it a matter of
    “the appearance of compromising on the larger coalition’s basic beliefs?”

  11. Different Anonymous wrote:

    —You have to look at it from the colation leaders' pov.  Will they lose more people/money/xyz by adding you than they will gain?  What do you bring to the table that is worth even the appearance of compromising on the larger coalition's basic beliefs?  Do you have lots of people who right now will proudly stand up and say they are members of All Our Lives rather than b number of people voted c in a poll sometime?  Grant money?  Real world meeting places, charismatic speakers, political connections?  Nobody has an obligation to include you and you have no right to be included just because you want to be.–

    How is it "even the appearance of compromising on the larger coalition's basic beliefs" when (1) the coalition is for an issue *other* than abortion (2) we are not, in that venue, trying to persuade people to change their beliefs about abortion, but agreeing to disagree and focusing on the shared issue (3) we are adding to and extending the coalition's reach on that shared issue (4) members of coalitions often disagree on many important issues?

    Also, treating other human beings from a *strictlly8 short-term, instrumental, what-can-you-do-for-me-right now perspective can be counterproductive and self-defeating, even in terms of reaching specific political goals.

    Not only is that an ethically suspect way of dealing with people–human beings have things to offer one another in their shared goals and cooperative work that may not be detectable from within such a narrow cognitive schema, things which cannot always be predicted–and it works both ways.