Pollitt in September 2007
|Born||October 14, 1949 (age 67)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Occupation||Author, journalist, poet, and cultural critic|
|Period||Late 20th, early 21st century|
|Genre||Essays, poetry, magazine articles, non-fiction|
|Subject||Feminism, politics, reproductive rights|
Ariel may look a lot like Barbie, and her adventure may be limited to romance and over with the wedding bells, but unlike, say, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, she's active, brave and determined, the heroine of her own life. She even rescues the prince. And that makes her a rare fish, indeed, in the world of preschool culture.
Do men drop out of college because they get someone pregnant? Do they quit their job if they get someone pregnant? No. And we do not require men to support women they have made pregnant. Once the baby is born, there can be child support. Before that, though, no.
Since 'Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights' came out, I've done a fair amount of public speaking, and the two statistics that always make the audience sit up are that nearly one in three women will have had at least one abortion by menopause and 61 percent of women who have abortions are already mothers.
Abortion opponents say women seek abortions in haste and confusion. Pro-choicers reply: Abortion is the most difficult, agonizing decision a woman ever makes.
If you have been vaccinated for polio, mumps, measles, chicken pox, hepatitis, or rabies, it may be too late for you to stand your ethical ground: You have already benefited from fetal-tissue research. This is, after all, a practice that's been legal since the 1930s.
I think women have the right to consult their own wishes, needs, and capacities and produce only loved, wanted children they can care for – or even no children at all. I think we would all be better off as a society if we respected women's ability to make these decisions for themselves and concentrated on caring well for the born.
Sure, men like a challenge – but so do women. And nobody likes to be challenged all the time. I know plenty of long-standing happy couples who slept together right away, spent hours yakking on the phone, split checks down the middle, and lived together for years before the wedding.
Women have to control their fertility for 30 years. Thirty years is a long time not to make mistakes.
Opposition to abortion was one of the ways the Christian right was brought into the Republican Party by conservatives hoping to move the party further right. Now, of course, the tail is wagging the dog.
I think there are a very few pro-lifers who would say that a zygote in a petri dish is the equivalent of you or me; it's just younger. If you can say that without laughing, maybe you are a true pro-lifer. But I think most people are able or willing to make distinctions that show they maybe don't quite believe that.
Coming out was crucial to changing attitudes about gays and lesbians: will people feel differently about abortion if they know their mother, their aunt, or their friend had one?
Abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it's not a good idea to bring them into the world.
Women who have abortions are people you know. Because that is the truth! One in three American women will have an abortion by menopause.
In our culture, the shame about accidental pregnancy is inextricable from the shame about having had sex. That disapproval of sex is one reason our record with contraception is so poor. If you're not supposed to be sexual, you don't plan for sex. You cross your fingers and hope for the best.
My mother had an illegal abortion in 1960, which was the year the birth control pill came out, but I guess a little late for her, but – and I never knew. I found out when my father, after her death, got her FBI file.
It's a rare pro-lifer who is against the death penalty, who's against all war, who favors, you know, all the things people need to flourish and stay healthy in life. They've tied themselves to the Republican Party, which doesn't support any of that.
We have an idea that the man should help pay for the child. But we don't have a law that says a man has to support any woman he gets pregnant. Why is that? Because she doesn't have the baby yet. But if we're going to say it's a human being, then he should be supporting her during pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood is a pretty popular organization. Way more popular than Congress! It claims that one in five women have received care from one of its clinics. And this care, despite what abortion opponents say, is excellent and not easily replaceable by 'community health centers.' Texas tried it, and thousands of women went without care.
The notion that female initiative is useless because men know what they want is particularly odd – most people don't even know what they want for dinner.
We want to make sure that women have a way to use all their gifts in society, to get educated, to be all they can be in the workforce, to really develop as people in all the ways that they can. We want this for men too! And we want this for children. Well this can't happen if this can be sandbagged by an ill-timed and unwanted pregnancy.
I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook and email for women to tell me their stories about their abortions. And many women said, 'I told my boyfriend I was pregnant, and that was the last I ever heard of them.'
In the end, abortion is an issue of fundamental human rights. To force women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against their will is to deprive them of the right to make basic decisions about their lives and well-being, and to give that power to the state.
Women who give up their children for adoption are years and years later talking about how painful it was, much more than women who have abortions.
We need to say that women have sex, have abortions, are at peace with the decision, and move on with their lives. We need to say that is their right, and, moreover, it's good for everyone that they have this right: The whole society benefits when motherhood is voluntary.
We do not have the idea that all children are valuable parts of society. We only have the idea that our own children are.
Abortion opponents know full well that the public would not abide putting women in prison en masse. Politically, it's more palatable to portray them as irrational, ignorant, and childlike, perhaps even temporarily insane.
There is a huge reservoir of support for abortion rights from ordinary women. I hear all the time from women who had abortions and say it made possible the good life they went on to have. Social shaming silences too many.
A potential person is not a person, any more than an acorn is an oak tree. I don't think women should have to give birth just because a sperm met an egg.
I think the meaning of abortion is what the woman says it is: For a woman who wants a child but can't have this one, it can be sad; for a woman who doesn't want a baby, it can feel like a huge relief, like having your whole life given back to you.
Everyone will be happier if fewer women are tied to abusive men, drop out of school, and live impoverished lives because of a random pregnancy.
Most Americans probably have no idea how hostile anti-abortion sidewalk counseling outside clinics can be. There's a reason pro-choicers volunteer to escort patients as they make their way past angry crowds to the clinic door.