There is a woman named Kristen Day who identifies herself as the Executive Director of an organization called the Democrats For Life Of America and advocates for anti-choice within the democratic party. She only has about one thousand followers, but she is vocal and has managed to get articles she has written in The Hill and The Washington Post. I have had the displeasure of talking to her briefly on Twitter recently before I had any idea who she was. When possible, I try to have respectful, reasonable conversations with people on Twitter even if I disagree with their perspective. I have had respectful and good conversations with people I disagreed with when the other person was also respectful and willing to talk. In cases like this we’ve had good conversations with each other and come away with a better understanding of each other as people. It’s an amazing thing when it happens. However, this did not happen with Kristen Day because she refused to listen or engage in conversation. She espoused her point of view over and over and refused to answer my questions. I told her that as a pro-choice woman I have, did, and do happily and joyfully support colleagues, friends, family when they have had children. I asked her if she would support a woman who chose not to have a child. I asked her at least twice. She would not answer me. I told her she was evasive.
I am pro-choice. I support all decisions a woman makes regarding having a child, including not having a child. Kristen Day is not pro-choice. It’s that simple. I and other pro-choice women demand that the Democratic party be one hundred percent pro-choice because women deserve the right to make all choices about their bodies, especially if and when they will have a child.
Kristen Day has somehow become the self-appointed head of the Women Need To Have All The Babies Their Bodies Can Push Out Their Vaginas Party and yes, I have a problem with that. Please allow me to explain. I have read a little about Kristen Day.
Kristen Day has three children, not four, not ten, not fifteen. The woman telling every woman not to stop having babies for financial reasons, even if they are poor, and she does not appear to be at all poor, stopped having babies at one point, and it was at three. Now, as a pro-choice woman, I support that. However, if we are to hold Kristen Day to her own often and loudly spoken philosophy for women , her own life choices, do not reflect that philosophy. I have to ask why? Why, Kristin Day, why? You see, not so sneaky inconsistencies annoy the heck out of me. I also have a real problem with blaring hypocrisy, especially loudly and often espoused blaring hypocrisy.
I don’t actually expect to get an honest or direct answer from Kristen Day so here are some of my suspicions on her reasons for having three children. I believe like most reasonable and intelligent women, Kristen Day realized that there was only so much energy, nurturing, and physical care that she had to give her children in a day, so she realized that it was reasonable to stop at three children. Some women stop at one or two. Some women decide not to have any children. This is a woman’s right, and I respect this. This is what being pro-choice is all about, a philosophy Kristen Day benefits from but does not espouse for other women, again showing blaring hypocrisy. It is however, responsible parenting, and I applaud her for making this decision for her children and also for herself so that they all have a good quality of life.
I believe like most reasonable and intelligent woman, Kristen Day realized that she had limited financial resources, and she could afford to care for three children. She knew she could house, feed, clothe, and educate three children but not more than that, so that is where she stop having children. Again, that is a responsible parenting decision and one I support as a pro-choice woman.
I know that pregnancy and birth takes a toll on a woman’s body. Giving birth to three children may have been all that Kristen Day chose to put her body through. As a pro-choice woman, I support her choice. As a reasonable, intelligent woman, I’m sure she realized she needed her body to be strong and healthy to care for the three children she had given birth to so that she could raise and nurture them to adulthood. Also as an adult, Kristen Day had and has the right to make the choices that allow her to have good physical health. As a pro-choice woman, I also support her right to make this choice.
I believe Kristen Day realized that as a reasonable, intelligent woman that she would be most fulfilled if in addition to loving and nurturing her children, she also had a career that she loved and found fulfilling, so she stopped having children when she reached three children. Women and men need to keep their brains active. We as humans are built to interact socially with others and to learn and to grow. Three children was what Kristen Day felt she could raise well and had the resources to handle and still be able to manage her time and work and feel like a productive member of society. As a pro-choice woman I support that. (Stay at home mothers, please do not take this as criticism. I am a disabled woman who stays at home. I am not judging anyone. Okay I’m judging the hell out of Kristen Day due to her hypocrisy, but well, let’s just go with that. I am using Kristen Day’s life as an example right now. So please, just go with me on this.)
While it BAFFLES me that K. Day chose a career telling other women to have more children than they could possibly handle within their financial, emotional, intellectual, or physical resources, while she herself chose to only have the three she felt she could responsibly handle, I still respect her decision, because I am pro-choice. I’m also all for doing what’s best for children. HOWEVER, I will point out her hypocrisy often and loudly, or at least on my blog and probably on Twitter.
I have seen interviews with Kirsten Day, and she appears well dressed, put together, attractive, and that she is doing well financially. Having grown up in poverty, I also know that if Kristen Day were poor, she wouldn’t have time to tell other women to have as many babies as their bodies could possibly produce. No, she would be busy just surviving.
I do NOT believe that Kristen Day or anyone else for that matter has the right to ask women living in poverty or any woman whatever her circumstances are to have more children than she can afford. I do not believe that anyone has that right.
Woman, whatever their financial status, must make their own decisions about having children and everything that happens with and to their bodies. Full stop.
You see, I have a great deal of love and respect for children and the importance of parenting. I grew up in a family where I was abused horribly by two sociopath who I called Mom and Dad. I decided when I was seven years old, ironically during a beating from my father that my mother was calmly standing by and watching, that I wouldn’t be anything like either of my parents. I then did everything I could in my life to reach that goal. I am not perfect, and never claimed to be, but I can proudly say that I am not like my parents. I know from personal experience that not everyone is meant to be a parent, and it shouldn’t be forced.
I also worked in the social services field for twenty plus years, many of those with abused children in residential treatment. I have heard and read that children are resilient. No, they aren’t. Children survive if they can. Those who do are damaged by the abuse they endure at the hands of their abusive parents. It stays with them in ways that often lasts a lifetime. It creeps up on them in their sleep, in their nightmares, when it is least expected, in their behaviors throughout a lifetime, and causes them pain forever, even if they do everything they possibly can to make it better. Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn’t, but make no mistake, it never goes away completely.
Child abuse is horrific, and the cycle is passed from one generation to the next unless something is done to end the cycle, something like therapy and education. Therapy is hard work, it is painful, but well worth the effort. It can be expensive. It must be done with a licensed, trained, and skilled therapist. Otherwise the emotional, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse gets passed on from one generation to another. The cycle just keeps repeating itself.
I have been a foster parent. It was an honor and emotionally and physically exhausting. I fell in love with children. I had my heart-broken. I highly recommend it if you have the heart for it, are patient, and are willing to educate yourself, and become well-trained. I highly recommend it if you will fight for the absolute best for a child and understand that you may not get it, but that you will keep trying. I have seen the heartbreak of the trauma that being placed in foster care, even when necessary, causes a child. I have seen the trauma of a child who feels unsafe, despite finally actually being in a safe place. Yes, sometimes children have to be removed from their homes for their own safety because it’s the only answer, but it’s still traumatic for the child because they have been removed from everything they knew, their parents, their home, their family, their friends. I have fallen asleep while resting on the floor in the doorway of a child’s bedroom night after night for months at a time at the end of exhausting days so that a little girl could feel safe. There are no good or easy answers when it comes to child abuse once it has already happened. The best you can hope for is prevention. Society is pretty far from reaching that point, unfortunately, so if a woman says she is not ready to be a parent, we have an obligation to listen to her and respect her choice.
The next best thing is healing and a lot of love, patience, and understanding for and from everyone. You hope that the foster parents have had good training so they know how to help the child feel safe. You hope the foster parents will be patient and kind no matter how tired they are, no matter now many times that child says no to a request, even a simple one like taking a bath, getting ready for and going to bed, or getting dressed for school, getting in the car to ride to school, or eating just a little food at dinner, even food the child likes. You hope the foster parents understand that the child is in emotional pain and doesn’t have the words to tell you. You hope the social worker is working with the biological parent and helping them learn how to parent because they were most likely abused and don’t know how to parent in a way that isn’t abusive, and they love their child, and the court will probably return the child to them. You hope as a foster parent, that you can let the child know that you like them, respect them, care about them, even love them, and you also like their parents, because they love their parents, and they want to know it’s okay with you, the people they depend on to keep them safe each day that they love their parents. It’s all complicated but not as much so if you understand it and take the time to look at it from the child’s point of view. You also want the biological parent to know that you are not judging them so you treat them with respect because you know they love their child. They are human beings and they love their child. They don’t know you. They know nothing about who their child is living with or where they are living. They do not know if or when they child will be returned to them. A well-trained foster parent, an empathetic person tries to imagine how they would feel in that position and tries to be kind and respectful. A well-trained foster parent knows the child will most likely one day leave their home and tries to make the transition home to their biological parent as smooth as possible for the foster child because that is what is best for the child.
I know that being a parent is an incredible responsibility and one that should be entered into when people are financially and emotionally ready. Granted, often pregnancies come as a surprise and often as happy ones. However, I grew up in poverty and with abuse. I decided as a young woman that I would not get pregnant because I didn’t want any child of mine to go through the difficult childhood that I had. I had the right to make that decision. Every woman has that right. I used birth control religiously, but if it had failed, I might have considered an abortion. I knew in my twenties that I was not financially or emotionally prepared to be a parent. I knew I needed time to heal from my abuse that even then I struggled to understand. I knew I needed time to work and get financially stable. I knew that, and I had the right to make those choices.
I grew up in poverty and had to work hard to put myself through college. I worked and I took out student loans. I graduated $25,000 in debt four years later. I got married after college and my husband also was in debt as he had done the same thing, taken out student loans and worked to put himself through college. People who grow up in poverty start out behind. We can’t just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. There are no bootstraps.
My husband and I put ourselves through college in the 1980’s. I paid one hundred dollars rent a month, half of the cost of renting the bottom floor of a house, in a college town. I ate twenty-five cent generic macaroni and cheese most of time for dinner and for a rare indulgence I added tuna fish. I doubt poor college students could afford to put themselves through school like I did then.
My husband and I started out our lives in debt. We were so far behind in our financial lives when we graduated from college. That is simply a fact. Although we had tried to work hard and do everything right, we had nothing but $50,000. in debt and two degrees. My husband had joined the Marine Corps and we were off to Virginia for his continued training and some serious culture shock, but that is another story.
Yes, women choose not to have children for financial reasons. There is nothing wrong with that. Women make difficult, painful, ugly choices in their lives everyday. People know nothing about them, but they happen, and the hard reality is that people living in poverty make even more of those choices. Not having a child because a woman or a family living in poverty can’t afford to is just one of those choices.
I do not want to hear Kirsten Day or the anti-choice movement members say that there are programs that will help families pay for food, housing, clothing and education for children born into poor families. I grew up in a home, in poverty, on those programs, and it was a childhood filled with anxiety, fear, and shame. I know that being poor is not a crime or anything to be ashamed of. I do not judge families living in poverty. I know that they are good people . I know having or not having money doesn’t make you a good or a bad person. In fact, I don’t place value on material things. I don’t crave material things. I judge people for who they are and how they treat others.
I value life. I value the life of poor people, of rich people, of middle class people. I value the life of children. I value the life of women, and I respect them enough to say, women must make their own decisions about their bodies. They must decide when and if to have a child. Full stop.
I know from experience that it’s not easy to live in poverty. It’s hard, it’s sad, it’s boring, and it can be a truly unpleasant way of living your life day after day. I decided when I was a young woman that I didn’t want to get pregnant at least partly because I had experienced poverty. I know I said that before, but I believe it bears repeating. I also know that my choices were colored by the abuse that I endured. However poverty was a large part of my existence as a child and a teenager and a valid part of my choice. I am not saying that people are required to make the same choices that I did. I am saying, it was a valid choice for me. I am saying that women have a right to make the choice not to become a parent whatever their reasons.
Yes, living in poverty was hard, and yes, my childhood felt even more hopeless because I was abused. I know that, but people who haven’t been poor need to understand that poverty shouldn’t be romanticized. Poverty is not something you can make an uplifting movie about,watch it for two hours, and then forget. People LIVE poverty. They live it every second and every hour of every day of their lives. It’s real, it’s hard, it’s ugly, and it never ends. Children and adults do without things because there is no money for it. They do without clothing and shoes and medicine. When I was in the fifth grade I remember wearing pants that I had outgrown, that were far to short for my legs because I knew that my parents didn’t have the money to buy new ones. Kids at school teased me, and it hurt my feelings. but I tried not to show it. I didn’t say anything to my parents. I also knew I’d probably wear those pants again. I didn’t ask for things because I knew we were poor. I didn’t join Girl Scouts. I didn’t ask. It never occurred to me. We rarely went out to dinner, there was an inexpensive hot dog place that my father liked and we went there a few times during my childhood.
I remember one time that we went to a nice place and it was awful. My mother talked about her fear that we couldn’t afford it in a low, tight, frightened voice, and that we would spend all of our money and have none left. My child’s stomach was in a knot the entire time, and I felt like I couldn’t eat, but I forced myself because I felt my father watching me. My father simmered quietly in his rage, and I was terrified sitting quietly at the table in the restaurant. I wanted to cry, but I was afraid to. The drive home was silent and horrible. Being a child in that family was terrifying.
We stayed at home. My sister and I went to school. We existed because we were poor, and that’s want poor people do. They live each day exactly like the day before. On Sundays we went to Church and then to visit our Grandmother. For me, visiting my grandmother in the country was a treat. She lived an hour’s drive away and sometimes in the summer we went swimming in the lake near her home. I at least had that.
It’s boring to be poor because you have no money to do anything. There are no vacations. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. Reading saved me. Books saved me from poverty and abuse. They were my escape. They were what I had. They helped me to educate myself and to go to college. They helped me to momentarily escape my reality of abuse and poverty. I loved and still love books.
I had a few good things in my life, books, loving friends, a few loving, kind adults who were neighbors, my grandmother, and an aunt and uncle I rarely saw were among them.
When I was seven my parents were receiving food stamps. My parents were embarrassed. They were hard workers, the working poor. We had a garden and my mother cooked from scratch. The meals were delicious, and we had plenty to eat, but I was always anxious that we would never have enough because my mother talked about it often and loudly. Her fear became my fear, and it never left me. I received free lunches as clearly as I remember from the time I was in seventh grade through the twelfth grade. The ticket I quietly left home room each Monday morning to receive didn’t look any different from one someone could buy, but I was sure everyone knew my shame. No one ever said anything to me, but I lived with that shame and the fear of someone, anyone finding out and saying something, anything to embarrass me. I felt less than. I knew I was less than. Now as an adult, I realize I didn’t need to feel that way. It wasn’t my fault that my parents were poor, and there is no shame in being poor. However, as a child, I didn’t know that, and I certainly didn’t feel that.
I know that even being poor, I was luckier than most. My father had a decent job before he got sick, before he lost his job, so he and my mother had bought a modest but decent house in a small town years earlier. We lived in a nice place. It was sometimes hard being the poor kid among my friends and trying not to let them know how poor I was. They weren’t rich, but they weren’t living in poverty. Their families were doing okay. My family was pretending to do okay. My family was all about appearances. My parents were pretending to be good parents and nice people. They were pretending they weren’t poor. I was pretended I wasn’t being abused. It was required of me. My parents made that clear. My younger sister was adopted so she didn’t have to pretend anything. My parents didn’t seem to own anything about her. They just took credit for how great they were for adopting her, and then in the privacy of our home, they abused her too. I hated my parents for hurting my little sister. I hated myself at seven years of age for not being brave enough to face my father’s violence in order to protect my four-year old sister. I hated my parents for eventually making me hate my little sister, for turning us against each other, and for hurting me and always making me afraid. I also loved them, and I feared them. I was a very confused child, and all I wanted to do was grow up and escape them.
My father got a different job making far less money. He also worked at many part-time jobs. My mother worked part-time at her job while my sister and I were younger than got a full-time job. She also helped him. My younger sister and I went with him because they couldn’t afford child care. I didn’t know that then, but they took us everywhere they went. Often we helped with the work. We helped if we could, other times we just stayed out-of-the-way. A job I loved was when my parents cleaned the local public library at night after it had closed. My sister and I were kids and would sit in the children’s section and be sure not to disturb anything, while I read whatever I could. The time in that empty library felt magical.
If people want to help those in poverty, they must give them a way out of poverty, not just a means to survive it. And telling women to keep popping out babies like Kristen Day does because she in her infinite and self-appointed wisdom finds life to be so precious, is not a valid argument to me. I don’t know if she is doing anything or even enough to make the life of impoverished children in America more than a mere existence devoid of anything than more of the same. Even if she is, when will she get bored and stop?
Children, teenagers, adults, everyone needs joy in their lives. They need purpose. Just existing isn’t enough. So don’t ask women to keep producing babies so that you the anti-choice people can feel good about yourselves. People need joy, a purpose, and meaning. Parents want to have children they can love, nurture, feed, and care for them, and watch them flourish and grow, not just produce and watch them exist.
A fun fact, Republicans are doing everything they can to defund programs for the poor or low-income, so people won’t be able to even exist. They will starve. They will lose their healthcare and die if Republicans have their way.
Women who do not have control over their bodies, over the decision of when and if to have children are not free. Women will not sacrifice this right. The Democratic party should not ask us to.
Kristen Day said, quoting Mr. Lujan, in her article in The Washington Post, entitled, “Democrats don’t need to be afraid of antiabortion liberals, …”If you demand fealty on every issue, then it is challenge. ”
Well, Mr. Lujan, we pro-choice women do not demand fealty on every issue. We do demand fealty, on this one incredibly important issue for woman, reproductive rights including that the democratic party support only pro-choice candidates, including financially. You see, this one issues affects every aspect of our lives. It effects our right to choose when, or if we become mothers. If affects our physical health and well-being. It affects our ability to get an education and to work and when and where we work. It affects our finances and the finances of our family and any children we may have. It affects the quality of life of and for any child we may have, if they are happy, joyful, fulfilled, healthy, and productive just to name a few things. Our reproductive choices and independence affects if any child we have has a chance for education, and to learn and to be independent rather than just exist. Our reproductive issues effect every aspect of our lives, so yes, we want a fealty oath on that ONE ISSUE, democratic party and Mr. Lujan.
Women as half of the democratic party do not think that’s too much to ask. We don’t think it’s too much to ask to have the right to make any and all decisions about what will or won’t happen with and to our bodies. Men have those rights and women demand those rights. Women don’t see those rights as being negotiable in order to win an election or for any reason, really. So Mr. Lujan and the Democratic Party, the Women of America would be just thrilled if you could get on board with that. How about that fealty oath on this one incredibly important issue for women? We are waiting to hear from you and soon. I and the Pro-Choice women of the Democratic party request, no demand a response from you , Mr. Lujan, Mr. Perez, Democratic Party. I think you owe us at least that.