I just finished reading a very compelling post from Words of Choice about the anti choice movement's mission and what they really want to accomplish. As a former CPC "counselor" the post delivered nothing to me that I did not know already. But I am very happy to see it being exposed, and want to help the process.
After my first post here at CPC Watch, my heart was warmed beyond capacity by the thanks and well wishes left in the comments section. I've received private messages from women sharing their very similar accounts with me. I've connected with a clinic escort that I may very well have encountered while protesting in Louisville. Here we are, together. We're all in this. Together.
I thought my heart was going to leap from my chest the first time I heard the phrase "anti-choice" uttered by a reproductive rights advocate. "Anti choice" is, to me, the perfect label for the broad range of anti-abortion activists, from the clinic protesters to the CPC volunteers to the pastors who use their pulpit to invoke intolerance and misunderstanding of others' lives. You see, anti-abortion activists are not just against abortion; they are against just about everything regarding the woman's body.
Don't believe me? I was one of them. At the CPC I worked at, we gave out "statistics" about the high failure rates of certain kinds of contraceptive devices such as condoms and the diaphragm. We told women that the Pill and other hormonal methods caused "early abortions" that would "kill" a tiny, tiny baby. We also told them these methods were very unsafe and caused a number of undesirable side-effects such as weight gain, nausea, and of course, infertility. Not even giving information on natural family planning (delaying sex until women are no longer fertile) was encouraged. At my very mainstream CPC, as in so many others, it goes like this:
1) Sex is for reproduction.
2) Pregnancy is God's punishment for premarital sex (and pregnancy during marriage is, conversely, God's reward)
3) Abortion, and many contraceptive methods, kill innocent life.
Us CPC workers didn't even abide by the strict standards we imposed on so many women, and our beliefs were rarely as extreme as the beliefs we actually succeeded in guilt-tripping some women into. The idea was, of course, that no one is perfect and we all need to better ourselves in order to submit ourselves to do God's work. It wasn't until I got into the same "trouble" as many of our clients that the veil was lifted from my eyes (though to be fair, my "trouble" as a married, thirty-something mother of two with a decent household income differs slightly from the average CPC client).
But what's behind the anti-choice mission is not merely abortion. As my initial e-conversation with CPC Watch volunteers confirmed, the anti-choicers are opposed to basically any number of lifestyle choices that do not fit a fundamentalist Christian model: they are opposed to contraception, pre-marital sex, sex for the sake of love making and sensuality, sex for the sake of pleasure, single motherhood, gay and lesbian rights, and many others. "The issue, in our eyes, is not about abortion, it's about controlling women's bodies," Lauren wrote to me, so beautifully stating the things I myself had been striving to verbalize since what I've been calling my "reproductive rights identity crisis." And I think the article at Words of Choice verbalizes it further.
It's wonderful to be involved in such an inclusive and diverse movement! Thank you all for welcoming me and helping me find my voice.