First of all, before I get dragged across the internet for being anti-woman, let me explain that I’m a feminist. I believe in gender equality. I don’t believe in gender roles. Equal pay for everyone, access to safe and reliable birth control, and busting through the glass ceiling like nobody’s business give me life. End rape culture. End slut-shaming. Stop the perverse disparities and double standards our society teaches of men and women. I want women as CEOs, women as tenured professors, and someday, though I don’t love Hillary, I want to see a woman as President of the United States. Women deserve to be treated with respect across cultures and continents. They ought to be allowed to drive. They ought not to be digitally chopped into pieces for marketing campaigns. Women deserve to not have their bodies exploited. They deserve not to be trafficked. They deserve to be loved and protected and cherished by their partners, families, and society.
And women deserve to have autonomy over their own bodies.
But man, there are some problems with abortion that I can’t look past. Adversely, there are many, many problem with pro-life that I don’t even try to overcome. To be completely candid, I believe the fact that I am of a religious background contributes to my pro-life agenda. But I would also like to think that I’m a thoughtful, deliberate person who doesn’t come to complex moral decisions lightly. A liberal, almost always on the left, a sometimes-socialist all about SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, I consider the ethical implications of the positions I take for months, sometimes even years. And I’ve made the decision to fall on the side of pro-life, but before you boo me off the stage, hear me out.
For someone to be anti-abortion, they would have to believe that all life is precious, valuable, and worthy of protection. They would have to believe that the child in the womb is as important as the individual carrying the chid. They would have to consider the child as someone with rights, including the legal right to protection which supercedes the mother’s legal and constitutional right to privacy, to make private healthcare decisions between herself and her doctor. For someone to be anti-abortion, they would have to care about the safety of the child more than the bodily autonomy of the person carrying the child.
You see, to force someone to carry out an unwanted pregnancy is terrible; it’s sickening. The very idea alarms me to my core. Consent is mandatory in every part of life; why should this be any different? If a mother does not consent to a child living in her body, then why should the fetus’s right to life supercede the wishes of the mother?
These are the questions I ask myself and wrestle with. The importance of women having healthcare that is safe and accessible cannot be overstated. Her right to privacy is also essential. How could I, an advocate for women’s rights, a woman myself, be pro-life?
But this is the thing: I am completely, 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, convinced of the childness of the fetus in the womb. I have no doubt that the “lump of unformed cells” is in fact, a human being, one imbued with divine breath, the very spark of God. At eighteen days, the child’s heart is beating. At eight weeks, all organs are functioning. At nine weeks, the baby has fingerprints. At ten weeks, the child is capable of feeling pain. Calling it a blob of tissue, calling it a few cells and chromosomes, well, that isn’t fooling anyone. An acorn becomes a tree. A tadpole becomes a frog. At whatever state of development, the genetic markings are the same. The DNA tells the story. In this case, we are talking about the story of a life.
The fact that I’m pro-life doesn’t mean I’m going to be sticking my nose into women’s private healthcare decisions. It doesn’t mean I judge people who have had abortions or who will have abortions. It doesn’t mean I will vote for Congressmen or Senators who have a strong anti-abortion agenda. At the end of the day, the fact that I’m pro-life applies to me. It means I will not have an abortion if I get pregnant. It means that I believe abortion is not right. And, if anyone wanted to know, here is how I see some of the arguments for abortion failing:
1: It’s a woman’s choice what she does with her own body.
What about the person in the womb? Aren’t some of them also women? Do those women not deserve legal protection because they aren’t self-sustaining? Or do they deserve the same basic dignity we afford any other member of the human race?
2. Carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is cruel and unusual torture.
I agree that the thought is reprehensible and alarming. But if we truly believe that the cell formation in the womb is human life (and I do), then I don’t believe nine months is too much of a sacrifice to make to ensure that life is kept safe.
3. What if she was raped, or the child was a product of incest?
I believe it is devastating to consider the moral implications of this. I find it shocking and terrible to think that a woman could have her autonomy taken, first by an assault she did not consent to, and then, a pregnancy occurring as a result of that assault. But I also know a woman who was conceived in rape, and I think it would be shocking to say that her life is not valuable. The generational pain of being conceived in incest is also devastating, but taking another human being’s life is more devastating.
4. What if the child has a birth defect or a disability?
I don’t care. Aborting a child because they have a disability is ableist as all get-out.
5. What if the child has a life-threatening illness, a birth defect that will render their lives miserable because of suffering, or the mother’s health may be in detriment?
These are the gray areas I don’t know what to do with. Many who want to carry their pregnancies to term are willing to take these risks, but for those who aren’t, these are the kinds of deal-breakers that would lead to back-alley abortion practices. Some would say to leave it in the hands of God, but not everyone is religious. I can only say that a child outside of the womb with a life-threatening illness would be cared for, so why should it be any different in the womb?
If the mother’s life is in detriment, I feel that she must make the decision about what to do with her health care providor. This may be the only point at which I believe abortion may be necessary.
And yet, as much as I feel all these things, I don’t like pro-lifers. I find their rhetoric disgusting, as well as their obfuscation of the facts. I believe they can be emotionally manipulative and unethical in their PSAs, that they are often polarizing, and that they can be anti-woman. I don’t like their insistance that a child be born, but their utter dismissal and disregard of whether that born child is fed, cared for, has access to education, has a stable home life, is loved, is desired, is valued. I don’t like the way pro-life people sneakily undermine women’s access to healthcare. I don’t like how they twist facts and information (as with the Planned Parenthood “scandal”) to suit their political agendas. Long story short, I find most pro-life people terrible. Luckily, I don’t believe that I have to throw my lot in with them to support women and children.
So, how does my pro-life belief system work out for me? First of all, I know that this belief is personal and one which I don’t force on others. I do not tell women what choices to make. I acknowledge that I have a religious factor that plays into my belief system. I acknowledge that I believe life begins at conception. I acknowledge that issues of classism and race play into the decision to carry a child to term, and that some women, due to poverty, instability, and limited ability, are less able to bear the financial and physical burden of carrying a pregnancy to term. I do not stigmatize or judge others for their personal healthcare choices. I support them. I love them. I pray for them.
And I vote for legislators who ensure that a child born is a child who has access to healthcare, a child born is a child who will receive an education, that a mother in need will be able to receive help from the state to keep a roof over her head and food in her childrens’ mouths. I do not allow my pro-life beliefs to stop at birth: they roll over into the actual born life of the infant. I vote for politicians who do not cut funding to women, to children, to education, to healthcare, and to welfare programs. State-support of women in need could be the single greatest factor to limiting abortions, far more ethical and humane than making abortion illegal or impossible, because no matter what, people will get abortions. But what really takes away any choice in having a child is when the financial and emotional burden is too great for a woman to bear. We can alleviate that additional strain by voting for politicians who advocate for women’s health, and women’s healthcare rights.
The strongest stance that I will take, is to say that I believe abortion is wrong, yet I also understand that it is exceedingly complex and personal. But at the end of the day, life deserves to be protected. All lives. The life of the mother, and the life of the child. Equally.
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