Let me start by highlighting the fact that I do not like using the term “pro-life”. Here’s why: The term “pro-life” suggests that the opposition (“pro-choice”) is “anti-life”, which is completely incorrect. The pro-choice movement celebrates and empowers all people’s reproductive decisions, whether this includes choosing to carry a pregnancy to term or not! THIS IS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO CHOOSE. Hence, pro-choice. To put it simply, pro-choice is not synonymous with anti-life, but pro-life is certainly synonymous with anti-choice.
I feel incredibly lucky to be a student of Western Washington University, where countless workshops, lectures, seminars and discussion panels on the progressive topics such as reproductive rights, queer activism, feminist theory, and trans justice are offered each quarter. Just last week, I sat in on a fantastic trans workshop lead by one of Seattle’s most prolific trans activist, contributing author of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and co-founder of Seattle’s Gender Odyssey, Aidan Key. Unfortunately, I also attended another event last week that wasn’t quite so progressive: a talk by Priests for Life’s Alveda King, sponsored by the WWU on-campus Students for Life club.
Alveda King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and an avid anti-gay and anti-choice activist. I went to the lecture out of curiosity and because I tend to take any opportunity to hear the logic of individuals who oppose reproductive and queer rights. Above all else, I wanted to know what messages the Students for Life club is choosing to promote on our university campus. This post is not meant to discount the opinions of those who do not chose abortion for themselves or to subsume the entire anti-abortion movement into one person’s words, but rather to highlight some of the more problematic and arguably hypocritical talking points of Alveda King’s speech. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 most ridiculous quotes from Alveda King’s 5/21/15 Anti-Choice talk on WWU campus.
1. “A woman has a right to choose what happens to her body, but the baby is not her body.” – King, on her “pro-life feminism”
This statement is so scientifically inaccurate that I hardly think it even needs debunking, but I’m going to do it anyways. Clearly, Alveda (and whoever else agrees with this statement) has never heard of the placenta and umbilical cord. Let’s do some review: Upon fertilization an egg it divides into two components: the embryo, which develops into the fetus, and the placenta, which grows along the lining of the uterus. The umbilical cord develops from embryonic tissue and connects the placenta to the fetus so that it can carry oxygenated blood from the placenta to the baby through one vein and deoxygenated blood from the baby to the placenta from two arteries. (source) I’m not entirely sure what world Alveda King and her supporters live in where the placenta and umbilical cord, the lifeline of the fetus while it grows within the womb, are somehow not a part of the woman’s body. Personally, I call bullshit.
2. “Let GOD plan parenthood!” -King, birth control and barrier methods
This idea is absurd, especially because it completely eliminates the concept of safe sex and STI prevention. If a woman really has a right to choose what happens to her body, as King so proudly asserts, then why wouldn’t she be allowed to choose whether or not to get pregnant or use contraceptive methods?
3. “We are not animals, so we can choose not to give in to our desires. For example, I love fried chicken. But a few years ago I found out I was gluten-free, so now I don’t eat fried chicken anymore! Well, actually I’ve found a great gluten-free fried chicken recipe that I use now instead.” -King, on why girls should choose celibacy instead of birth control and barrier methods
Let’s take this statement sentence by sentence, because there’s a lot of problems here.
Alveda King’s oral contraceptive to protect her from unplanned conception of celiac food babies.
“We are not animals” We are animals. Kingdom of animalia, phylum of chordata, class of mammalia, order of primates, family of hominidae, genus of homo, species of sapiens (source): yes, indeed, we are animals.
- “I love fried chicken” Really Alveda, fried chicken? Way to go completely off-topic and perpetuate racial stereotypes in the same sentence!
- “I found out I was gluten-free, so now I don’t eat fried chicken anymore” Alveda is out of her mind if she thinks that not eating fried chicken because you are gluten free is in any way akin to giving up sex because you do not feel you are ready for motherhood.
- “I’ve found a great gluten-free fried chicken recipe that I use” Oh, the irony. If not eating fried chicken because you are gluten free is equivalent to not having sex because you do not want to get pregnant, then what is the sexual equivalent of finding a gluten-free recipe so that you can have fried chicken without getting sick? Using contraceptives and barrier methods, so that you can have sex without getting pregnant.
4. “You can choose to only have sex when you’re not ovulating! It is physically impossible to get pregnant when you’re not ovulating. And plus, it is empowering to choose not to have sex!” -King, on “natural family planning”
This person is EMPOWERED AS HELL because they have the right to choose.
To some extent, I do agree with the notion that it is empowering to choose to not have sex. On the other hand, I agree far more strongly with the notion that it is empowering to choose whether or not to have sex. As in, either one….so, a choice. Also, it is most definitely possible to get pregnant when you are not ovulating. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Ejaculated sperm remain viable for several days within a woman’s reproductive tract. Fertilization is possible as long as the sperm remain alive — at least five days.”
5. “It’s only 9 months, it’s not permanent!” -King, on why a woman should always carry her pregnancy to term
This cute lil babes would like to politely remind Alveda that they exist after being born.
I genuinely think that Alveda forgot that a fetus becomes a baby which becomes a real life person that can live well into a century after leaving the womb. Yes, a woman can give her baby up for adoption. But either way the baby is still a permanent fixture in the world, whether or not they live with their birth parents. Adoption is a wonderful thing because it provides babies with loving families and provides families with loving babies, but this does not discount the problem of overpopulation and the amount of children who go into the foster care system because their bio-parents were under the misconception that the outcomes of pregnancy were “not permanent!”
So there you have it, peoples and folks! My top 5 most ridiculous quotes from Alveda King’s 5/21/15 anti-choice talk on WWU campus. Feeling a little miffed by what you just read? Go spread some positivity in the world by getting involved with your local Planned Parenthood!