In light of the various nasty things that Republicans are doing regarding women’s reproductive rights in the US lately, I’ve been musing on a woman’s right to choose.
When you get down to it, this isn’t an issue that’s very likely to concern me directly, but I still have an opinion. My stance comes in two versions; short and long.
The short version is; I don’t have a uterus, and don’t have the right to tell the people who do have one what they can and cannot do with it – frankly I don’t actually care what you get up to in there. I expect that courtesy to be extended to me and my reproductive organs, and the only real way to do this is to extend that courtesy to others – it’s kind of like the rules of war.
The long version is a tad more nuanced, and is as follows.
In an ideal world, there would be no abortions, because every single pregnancy would be planned, wanted, and prepared for; the parents would desire the child and provide them with a loving and supporting home. There would be no abortions, because there would be no need for them.
But this is the real world, and I understand that the scenario of “every pregnancy that happens is one that is wanted” simply doesn’t happen. It is a simple fact that abortions will take place, legal or not. And if they are illegal, they will be unsafe. Prohibiting abortion is a direct assault on the health and well-being of women.
I also find the notion of using the law to force women to do anything with their bodies against their will to be extraordinarily unethical; we’re talking “in the same post code as slavery” here.
A few other things;
- Post-abortion depression is a load of old tripe. Like increased incidence of mental illness in the gay community, increased incidence of depression amongst women who have had an abortion is most likely caused by the snots condemning them;
- The anti-abortion arguments that try to play on pity are complete and utter hogwash, in addition to being emotional blackmail;
- The anti-abortion argument that life begins at conception is hogwash too; 50-70% of conceptions fail to pass the first trimester.
- Arguments based on religion don’t convince me of anything, and all that happens is I think unkind thoughts about the person making them;
- If the lady in question is under 18, but over the age of consent, then you still ought to butt out – involving her parents should be something decided by her and the medical professional;
- If the lady in question is beneath the age of consent, then I’m afraid there’s going to have to be awkward conversations, but under no circumstances should she be subjected to any adverse treatment – a person in that position needs support, empathy, and care, not judgement or harassment; and
- No, I don’t consider a foetus prior to the point of viability to be an individual human being (edit: this is looked into further here).
In the time I spent researching this post, I managed to develop a pet hate around the whole business; the two “what if?” questions posed by anti-abortionists.
1. What if your mother aborted you?
Well, I wouldn’t be around to have an opinion, then, would I? For around 13.75 billion years I wasn’t born, and I don’t recall being bothered by it; I doubt my stance would change if I had continued to not be born. The question is utterly inane.
2. If you encountered a pregnant woman with [insert adverse life circumstances here], with [number greater than five] children to support, would you advise her to get an abortion? If yes, you just killed [insert great cultural or academic icon here, most often Ludwig van Beethoven].
I’ve seen it many times, and it is complete rot; it’s trying (often using blatantly false and misleading information) to goad a pro-choice person into hypothetically preventing the death of a great cultural icon. It’s practically begging for this response;
If you encountered a pregnant woman with [insert good life circumstances here], with [number] children to support, would you advise her to carry the baby to term? If yes, you just midwifed [insert horrific individual like Stalin, Jack the Ripper, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, or Anders Breivik here], which led to [insert atrocity here].
See? I can play “what if” too! This is a fun game! But it doesn’t prove anything. It’s a hypothetical; at best a thought exercise, but the inverse exercise blows it apart. At worst it’s pure sophistry.
You know what’s real? That 13% of annual maternal deaths is due to unsafe abortion, mostly carried out in areas where it’s illegal, and the millions of women who suffer long-term damage or disease because of unsafe abortions (source). That women will have abortions anyway, and that to deny them this is to assault their health and their rights.
Everyone with any grip on reality owes it to the women of the world, and to sanity, to keep the procedure legal, safe, readily available, and free from stigma.