Abortion is Not the Issue

Looking over this discussion on The Hand Mirror – a discussion spawned by the Catholic Church’s genius handling of the issues surrounding the rape and impregnation of a nine-year-old Brazilian girl – I am once again struck by what a huge red herring this entire ZOMG ABORTION thing is.

Here’s a fact: abortion has always existed. It wasn’t particularly safe and it certainly wasn’t something you spoke about in mixed company, but the truth is – women have been choosing to end their pregnancies for thousands of years. For as long as it was done secretly, for as long as the sluts stood a good chance of bleeding to death – few people actually worried about the so-called moral implications of abortion.

Of course, the minute a rape victim or anyone else can have access to a safe abortion, it becomes an issue of BUT WHAT ABOUT THE INNOCENT BABY???

Like I said in the comments to the post I link to: if you really believe it’s a “baby,” then be consistent. Demand that not only abortion be outlawed, but that every “suspicious” miscarriage that didn’t have witnesses must involve a criminal investigation. If it’s really a sweet, innocent perfectly cognizant baby in there, the moral crusaders need to determine – did the potential mother trip, or did she deliberately jump off the staircase to murder the baby?

In fact, we ought to prevent pregnant mothers from doing anything at all that could possibly harm the sweet, innocent soul. They shouldn’t leave their houses. They shouldn’t even have conversations with anyone, lest they get into an argument about the merits of “America’s Next Top Model,” or something, and get really stressed out and miscarry and murder their own children due to their irresponsible behaviour.

Or, better yet, how about we just scoop women’s brains out altogether – and turn them into little hatchling factories for the precious babies?

Isn’t that what this is really about? The idea that some of the little ladies, far from fullfilling their duty as hollow objects so that the smart and intellectual and totally-not-insecure men could have something to project against, decided to officially and publicly assert dominion over their own wombs?

Nah. Abortion is not the issue. Misogyny is.

15 thoughts on “Abortion is Not the Issue

  1. You know the fact that women have had abortions forever is something that is really acknowledged. When we controlled reproduction with the help of midwife this kind of thing happened all of the time. Since the medcalization of reproduction thus making men the authority, our ways of caring for our bodies has increasingly come under attack. It is ridiculous.

  2. I would recommend watching Revolutionary Road as a reminder of how fair we have come in allowing abortion…. I wonder if my recent ectopic pregnancy would be counted as an abortion by the RCC….. or was it ok because I was at risk of dying, not to mention the fact though that the pregnancy would never have become a baby…. I am pro choice, its not a choice I would personally make but then I am not 9yrs old and the victim of systematic rape from someone on trust, and I am not being used for the RCC to gain political mileage…. I like your post it sums up well how I am thinking about this.

  3. I’ve always considered myself pro-life, that doesn’t mean anti-woman, but that I deeply wish abortion were one of those things that just isn’t considered. I know that’s not the case, and as long as we live in a world where evil exists, there will be people who rape and abuse, and pregnancies that result. I do not believe, under any circumstances, that a 9 yr old child should have a baby. Nor should a woman who’s pregnant due to rape. In a perfect world, those events just wouldn’t happen. But it’s not, and they do, and because of that someone in those circumstances should be able to have a safe abortion in a clean facility. I still (and probably always will) think that abortion is too convenient, and I regret that our culture considers it an acceptable practice, but then I’m really old fashioned that way.

  4. You’re like my mom, Rootie. 🙂

    I think that one of the reasons why my mom is negative toward abortion has to do with the fact that when she got pregnant with me, the response from everyone was immediate – “abort abort abort” – because it seemed like the timing was bad, her relationship with my father was not “approved of,” etc. Even though she really wanted a kid, felt ready for it, and was devastated by the fact that she had to give up on the chance now that she was actually pregnant. She was lucky in the sense that my dad encouraged her to do what they both wanted – and not what anyone else wanted. Abortion can be a very obvious solution to a complicated situation, but that doesn’t always make it the right one – especially when the woman actually involved wants a child.

  5. Rootie,

    I don’t quite agree with you, but I’m really glad you said what you did. I’ve always struggled with abortion as an issue, and it feels really foreign to me to see women say “this was never an issue.”

    For me it’s not being old-fashioned, but rather being a preemie. I lived, born as something that wasn’t supposed to be born yet. I have a difficult time seeing the bright line many women see between “fetus” and “child” — the thing that was me was only not a “fetus” because it fell out early.

    Of course I know we’re not usually talking about fetuses that would be viable outside the womb, and it’s a cheap shot of some pro-lifers to say we are. Still, the most common pro-choice arguments hinge on the idea that a newborn baby “is a person” while something in the uterus is “not a person” which makes it disposable.

    I can’t get behind that. Was I half a person?

    Instead, I am (uneasily) pro-choice because although I believe that abortion is deeply worrisome, it is the individual woman’s moral issue to wrestle with, not mine… and certainly not legislators’.

  6. (and honestly, that interpretation of personhood is really weird anyway. I’m guessing it traces back to Kant, but Kant wouldn’t have said human newborns are persons either, given that he grounded personhood in human rationality. Infants aren’t rational yet.)

  7. Trinity, I think for individuals – abortion was always an issue. Abortion is an issue. It always will be. I was supposed to be aborted. My mother had the doctor’s written recommendation and everything. But she wanted me, and perhaps that’s the point wherein I begin to recognize my own personhood. When my parents sat in a cafe and tore up the recommendation. I was part of the plan from then on. If that makes sense at all. My mother could have still miscarried, or changed her mind – but that want and desire, it shaped everything.

    When I talk about abortion not being an issue – I mean a political issue, one that’s used as a cudgel against women.

  8. “Here’s a fact: abortion has always existed.”

    I don’t understand the m,oral significance of this statements. Pretty much every immoral action (rape, stealing, murder, etc.) “has always existed.” Something doesn’t automatically become ethically licit because a lot of people do it.

    “Like I said in the comments to the post I link to: if you really believe it’s a “baby,” then be consistent. Demand that not only abortion be outlawed, but that every “suspicious” miscarriage that didn’t have witnesses must involve a criminal investigation. If it’s really a sweet, innocent perfectly cognizant baby in there, the moral crusaders need to determine – did the potential mother trip, or did she deliberately jump off the staircase to murder the baby?”

    If a child accidentally dies, there is not a criminal investigation unless there was something actually suspicious about the death (not a hypothetical “Well what if she really…”). A woman miscarrying wouldn’t be cause for suspicion unless there was some considerable reason to believe she intentionally aborted her child. I think you are dealing with a strawman. Why not check out Francis Beckwith’s book “Defending Life” if you are interested in critiquing a stronger set of pro-life arguments?
    http://www.amazon.com/Defending-Life-Against-Abortion-Choice/dp/0521691354/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237987917&sr=8-1

  9. I don’t understand the m,oral significance of this statements. Pretty much every immoral action (rape, stealing, murder, etc.) “has always existed.” Something doesn’t automatically become ethically licit because a lot of people do it.

    Alphonsus, as I mention up above – abortion only became a huge issue when it became safe. Now why would that be…?

    A woman miscarrying wouldn’t be cause for suspicion unless there was some considerable reason to believe she intentionally aborted her child. I think you are dealing with a strawman.

    I wasn’t trying to set up a strawman – but show up the logical inconsistency surrounding the “sweet, innocent life” BS.

    I especially think it is BS because women have been resorting to home remedies in terminating pregnancy for centuries. Remedies that have involved everything from jumping off things to taking hot baths.

    I don’t really buy the whole “child dying accidentally” thing – because the child is not inside the women at the time.

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