One of our board members just gave a talk on “Family Planning: Myth, Reality, and the Lifesaving Power of Choice” at the Call to Action Conference, a large gathering of progressive US Catholics. The detailed, amply referenced handout from the presentation is useful for family planning advocates of all faiths and none. Like the presentation itself, it covers the following points.

–Family Planning Freedom Is A Universal Human Right.
–Family Planning Freedom Saves Lives.
–Pregnancy Prevention Choice Is Not Violence Against the Already-Born.
–Pregnancy Prevention Choice Is Not Violence Against the Unborn.
–Natural Family Planning Is A Good Answer for Some, But Not All.
–What You Can Do to Advocate for Family Planning Freedom!

You can download it as a free .pdf here.

MoveOn.org displayed a poster with a photo of an unborn child and a series of questions that All Our Lives has heard many times before.

"Will You Still Be 'Pro-Life' AFTER SHE'S BORN? Will you apply the same vigor to your work: against war, against hunger, against poverty, against homelessness, against our planet's degradation, against capital punishment, for human rights, for opportunities for education and jobs, that you do to your efforts to make abortion illegal? If not, please stop calling yourself 'pro-life.'"

So often these questions are accusingly rhetorical, with the expected answer-if the recipient has not been utterly shamed into speechlessness-of "Hell, no."

But that is not at all what All Our Lives has to say.

Our response?

Yes of course.Yes of course. Yes of course. Yes of course. Yes of course. Yes of course. Yes of course. Yes of course.Yes of course.

And by the way, it's all about making sure as few women and babies as humanly possible ever end up in situations where there appears to be no other choice.

Of course "pro-life" cannot mean anything less than this!

The editor and publisher of On the Issues Magazine, Merle Hoffman, has been involved in providing abortions for over 40 years. In Where the Reality of Abortion Resides: Intimate Wars, she bears witness to

…so much vulnerability: legs spread wide apart; the physician crouched between white, black, thin, heavy, but always trembling, thighs; the tube sucking the fetal life from their bodies.

A poignant thread runs through so many of her clients' stories.

"I would want to keep this pregnancy, if only…" I learned that it is in the "if only" that the reality of abortion resides…

If only I wasn't fourteen.

If only I was married.

If only my husband had another job.

If only I didn't give birth to a baby six months ago.

If only I didn't just get accepted to college.

If only I didn't have such difficult pregnancies.

If only I wasn't in this lousy marriage.

If only I wasn't forty-two.

If only my boyfriend wasn't on drugs.

If only I wasn't on drugs.

If only . . .


Yet Hoffman concludes:

The act of abortion positions women at their most powerful, and that is why it is so strongly opposed by many in society…the assumption — the myth — that women should not be trusted with this ultimate power.

But Hoffman's perspective does not leave any room for the very real motives for the stance that All Our Lives-takes against abortion. We trust women to exercise power-with, nonviolent power. Power-over, for people of any gender, is another matter. However, we don't agree to begin with that abortion "positions women at their most powerful."

I do not question Hoffman's intent to help women in difficult situations. But I hear in this claim a strange reminder of certain antiabortionists who also believe that abortion is women's "ultimate power."

Unlike Hoffman, they take this as the ultimate reason to oppose abortion. They harbor a virulent suspicion and hatred of women who dare to exercise any kind of power. Let alone any power over life and death of the sort that men have traditionally and territorially staked out for themselves. This is precisely why they can behave as if life begins at conception and ends at birth without becoming so ashamed of themselves, they crawl under a rock.

Even conceding (however briefly, for the sake of argument) that women are at their most powerful in the decision to have an abortion: what does this say about the severity and gravity of the constraints that still bind women's lives? If abortion is an exercise of women's "ultimate power"-isn't that a cause for weeping? And isn't that a cause for ensuring that no woman and child/as few women and children as possible ever end up in that position?

All Our Lives opposes abortion-and tries to build substantive alternatives-because we believe it is so often a sign and symptom of women's powerlessness.

Powerlessness to prevent unintended pregnancies, powerlessness to get through and beyond difficult pregnancies.

It is not fear or mistrust of women's power that moves us. It is sorrow and distress and outrage that women are so robbed of power, on such a massive scale, in such an intimate, painful, lifetaking way.

Thanks to Aimee Bedoy, editor of the new consistent life ethic journal Life Matters. She published our article "Family Planning Freedom Is Prolife" in the inaugural issue.

All Our Lives has encountered active censorship not simply when we have sought cooperative action on birth control with prochoice groups, but when we have tried to civilly raise this issue within the organized prolife movement as such.

Never mind (as the article points out) that most who identify as prolife on abortion support contraceptive rights. We welcome this opportunity to get matters out in the open.

Please read, support, and send your own work to this welcome new journal.