I have a lot of feelings about a lot of feminist issues, but I’m not sure any of them rustle my jimmies more than that of the abortion issue. This post might alienate some of you, or maybe some of you will agree. Maybe, MAYBE, some of you will change your mind. Probably not, but who knows? I’ll give it a go anyway.
By now, many of you have heard or read about Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors in Philadelphia. If not, and you’re eating or you’ve had tummy troubles recently or you don’t want to cry yourself to sleep, I will summarize by saying that this asshole posed as an abortion doctor and administered “abortions” to low-income women. Except he really just killed some babies and some ladies too. And by killing babies, I mean he literally severed their spinal cords after they had been born, alive. Which, everyone can agree, is murder.
However, not everyone can agree that abortion is murder. I, for example, do not believe that it is. Why? Well. I just don’t. To me, it’s a cluster of cells that a woman is growing inside of her. That cluster can turn into a person! (I know, because that’s what I chose to do!) But also, a woman might have some really great reasons for not letting it turn into one. Who’s to say what a “really great” reason is? Not me. Not you. But the lady growing the thing. Maybe she was raped. Maybe the cluster of cells has a horrible deformity. Maybe she took precautions to not get pregnant but did anyway. To force a woman to give birth to a child she does not want is not punishing JUST the woman, it is also punishing the child. Perhaps even especially the child.
You can get into semantics, and talk about viable fetuses and such. Late-term (or “partial-birth,” a term so misleading I’m shocked that actual news sources have actually used it) abortions are certainly a hot-button issue because many people are under the impression that doctors perform them like Gosnell did. But that is not at all how they are performed. Abortion doctors do not deliver live babies, then sever their spinal cords like the goddamn Spartans. In fact, even the few abortion doctors left in this country who perform safe and legal late term abortions will not (WILL NOT) attempt an abortion if the fetus is determined viable outside the womb. (The ones they do perform are generally on fetuses that have something REALLY WRONG with them.) They will turn people away who “waited too long.” HOWEVER, I would also like to note that the women seeking that type of medical treatment are not the godless, whorish masses that those in the anti-choice movement would have you believe. The percentage is tiny, and the women who make the final call did not come to that conclusion lightly.
I’ve found that most of the arguments against abortion, against keeping it safe and legal, can be traced back to religion. Specifically, Christianity. They will argue that abortion is murder. They will argue that it isn’t the child’s fault if a woman is raped and wants to terminate her rape pregnancy (insinuating that it is, in fact, the woman’s fault and she should be forced to bear the child of a man who assaulted her). They argue that even if a woman’s life is threatened by this pregnancy, fate will prevail…even if she has other children who, in all likelihood, need their mom around. God’s plan. And you know what? That is fine. I respect that. (I don’t actually, I don’t respect and I think it’s horrible.) But the last time I checked, the United States of America is a country that was, literally, founded on the separation of church and state. So it’s totally fine that you think women should die because a fetus is more important than she is (even though if the woman dies, the fetus will too, so it seems like kind of a moot point, right? I’ve REALLY never understood that one.) It is your right as an American to believe that. It is your right to believe that sex is only for procreation because it says somewhere in the Bible.
But it is NOT your right to assume that every single person in this country shares your beliefs. If abortion is kept safe, legal, and accessible, there would be at least 4 women still alive who visited Kermit Gosnell out of desperation. Because they had nowhere else to go but a cut-rate abortion clinic. Women’s lives get pushed to the side when discussing abortion. I chose to have my son because it was the right decision for me. As I’ve mentioned, I have a loving, supportive group of friends, and a loving, supportive family who have managed to help me in myriad ways. Not every woman is as lucky as I am. And, honestly, as someone who has been outspoken about being pro-choice since her early teens, I kind of surprised myself that I chose to continue my pregnancy. But it was my choice. Mine.
I suppose my main argument in support of all abortion rights is this: If you oppose abortion, don’t have one. Just because abortion is safe, legal, and accessible does not mean that every woman has to have one. Abortion is a big deal, but it is also not a big deal. At no point do I see it as my business to judge a woman on her decision. Forcing women to have children they don’t want, or can’t support, isn’t going to “teach” anyone a lesson. It isn’t going to help families. It’s going to kill women. Abortificents have been available since the dawn of time. Women are going to find ways to end their pregnancies. Why would you want them to end their own lives, too?