I started this blog because a friend suggested it as a way to get out what I needed to get out, instead of ranting to my friends. I have just started my second trip to Tunisia (in north Africa, for those who don’t know, I didn’t know at first either), so while I’ll certainly chronicle important aspects of my trip, I really want to use this blog as a way to voice other opinions. A lot of them will be controversial, hot button issues like gay rights, abortion, etc. Not sure it’ll be much different from any other liberal, activist blog out there, but we’ll see. Let’s start and find out.

The death of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, KS, on Sunday shocked me. It shocked me first because the murder of any innocent person is horrible. It was less shocking to hear that he was not only an abortion provider, but one of the few left in the country who still performed late-term abortions. This actually made the event more tragic to me, yet not surprising given the amount of anti-abortion violence there is in this country. What also shocked me though was that he was only the 4th doctor to have been killed for this reason, the last one being over 10 years ago. I just thought there’d be more, although I’m obviously grateful that there aren’t. These murderers think that the people they are killing are themselves murderers, so how can they possibly justify their hypocritical crimes?

While researching anti-abortion violence in light of this event, I stumbled upon the Feminists for Life website. As a liberal and as a feminist, I always thought that this was an oxymoron. And especially if Sarah Palin is a spokesperson for their group, I certainly don’t want anything to do with it. However, upon reading their mission statement and the rest of their website, I actually feel as though they have the right idea in a lot of ways, more right than some other pro-choice groups. Not to say they’re a perfect match for me, as I still believe abortion should be 100% legal for so many reasons I won’t get into, but they really got down to the heart of the issue.

They say that they want to further sex education and contraception education and distribution so that we won’t have to deal with the issue of unintended pregnancies. They also want to create a better environment for single mothers, help subsidize day care, make adoption more available, etc, so that women who do choose to keep their babies have more options open to them. One of their slogans is “Women deserve better than abortion.” They’re right. Women do deserve better. They deserve better than being forced to have an abortion or drop out of school to raise their child, work 2 or 3 jobs so they can afford day care, live with a boyfriend/husband who beats them but they can’t leave since he supports her and the child, or any other horrible situation that could arise from having a child that one did not plan on.

I feel that the abortion debate in this country focuses way too much on the question, “Is abortion right?” Those who believe it is inherently wrong, we’re never going to change their minds. Nor will they change ours. It’s a matter of opinion. However, the real answer is how do we prevent unintended pregnancies, and how do we help those women who choose to carry the baby to term?

I survived 13 years of Catholic school (k-12, high school being all female). Naturally, my sex education consisted of “don’t do it before marriage or you’ll die and go to hell, and just in case you were still thinking of it, we’re going to show a bunch of young, vulnerable teenagers some gross pictures of STDs and skewed statistics so they’ll be too scared to do it even if they want to.” What a great message to send the youth. I was angry. Even at 14 I knew I was being bullshitted, that they were trying to force my decisions in life, that they were trying to take away my freedom to choose.

This anger towards my education (or lack thereof) led me to not only do my own research as a teen on sex and sexual health, but to become a huge advocate for reproductive rights. This not only includes access to abortion, but also access to birth control and accurate, available information on it. While FFL and I disagree on a huge, fundamental issue (the legality and morality of abortion) as well as other smaller things (like waiting periods), I feel that they’ve got the main points right. Many pro-choice women’s groups are fighting for the same things they are, such as the National Organization for Women, but some others don’t bother to look at the bigger picture. While I never thought I’d say this, FFL, you’ve gained my respect. Women DO deserve better.