Well, after the Animals
post about abortion, I said I would present a followup. And here it is, uncut and rambling and profane as it may be. There is probably more to come, on ethics vs. legality, on right vs. privilege, and such like that. But that is later.
Right now, I tackle the myth of the "irresponsible woman."
Before I fire my opening salvo, I want to direct you to this heartwrenching post
from a blogger who was brought face to face with the reality of abortion as a necessity when his wife almost died from complications of pregnancy.
It is a worthy and painful post, one that I feel it is important for people on both sides of the debate to read, and while it does not directly have any bearing on the myth of the irresponsible woman, there are remarks in the comments that most certainly do.
First, I present this little gem
There we were in the bathroom with the home pregnancy test kit in hand reading positive for pregnancy and she gets all histerical, crying and raving on and on about how her life is now ruined and how she can't go through with being pregnant, etc.. I told her it's her choice, but if she kills my baby (has an abortion) that I would divorce her in a heartbeat and I would never speak to her again. I thank God that I was able to sway her foolish and immature, emotional and illogical thinking, and she decided not to kill our baby girl. We are still married to this day and my wife and I both love our baby girl more than anything. In fact, if we did not have our baby (if my wife never got pregnant), I am pretty sure we would not still be married . . . having the baby has brought my wife and I closer in our marriage and has given us something greater than our love for each other (which is very strong), but now we are a family and we mutually love our daughter. If I had allowed my wife to abort our baby or I had not cared enough to take a firm moral stand based on what I believe is right, then today (1 yr and 9 months later) I would have been robbed of the single greatest joy I have ever known in my entire life.but if the child can be saved at the loss of the mother then I would choose the child.
Right below it, we find an almost alarming message
, delivered in bullet points:
- Sex is an act aimed at creating life. The recreational use of sex could be seen as an abuse of the act.
- If you want a baby, have sex. If you don't want one, don't have sex.
- Having risky sex thinking that, if an "accident" happens, abortion will be a solution is irresponsible.
- Saying that the condom/pill did not work is no excuse.
On the other side:
- Someone owns his body.
- Rape victims becoming pregnant should be allowed to have abortion.
Also, there are thousands of couples who cannot have children and who would be happy to adopt one! There are baby "drop boxes" in many cities . . .
In the end, people should be RESPONSIBLE human beings! If they do something/anything, they should assume their responsabilities!
I'm sure it makes me a twat of some variety to use the comments these idiots have posted to DDB's intensely personal and affecting story to illustrate a point, but boy does it ever
make my point. This is not something you can choose for anyone but yourself. And, much as they like to pretend otherwise, the pro-life faction does indeed contain people who view women as nothing more than ambulatory baby machines. Many of them see people who don't want to be pregnant as irresponsible if they have sex.
Any sex at all.
Sex with protection, sex without it, sex with their spouses, sex with strangers.
All of it.
You don't want babies? Then having any sex at all is irresponsible, even if you're taking measures to prevent getting pregnant. Are we clear on that? Because that is what so many
of these people think.commanderd
adds more fuel when she posts about a particular message she received via email:
Why don't you get married? That will stop you needing an abortion! . . . Marriage is a sacred bond between a man and woman for the sole purpose of making babies! You shouldn't need contraception at all if you are married because that's when you WANT babies. The only reason you would still need contraceptives or abortion services if you are married is if you are cheating on your husband.
So, I guess the rationale is that "You shouldn't be having
sex, even sex within marriage, if you aren't prepared to deal with the consequences." Add to this a heaping helping of bullshit comprised of equal parts "all people/married people/women want babies" and "marriage is for babies, not adults" and you have a recipe for some truly self-righteous asshole casserole.
Don't get me wrong. I agree that people should take responsibility for their own reproductive capacity, beginning with choosing when and with whom to have sex and when and whether to produce offspring, continuing through all forms of birth control, and ending with abortion. I also believe people should deal responsibly with the consequences of their actions. And yet I seem to mean something different by all this than the anti-abortion people do.
To me, abortion is a perfectly reasonable and ethical approach to "dealing with the consequences." To me, abortion is
I find it ironic that the same people who insist that all children, even unwanted children, are "blessings" are usually among the first to insist that a woman be punished for her "sins." And the punishment, these "consequences" that they would so smugly visit upon us? Why, they are the very children they insist are gifts from the divine!
On further contemplation, that does not indicate a very high opinion of either women or children, does it?
We are expected to "deal with" the consequences of our actions. We are expected to suffer for our sins. But children are not a consequence, and sex is not a sin.
Yet there is a persistent and Puritanical belief that women who get pregnant out of wedlock are immature, promiscuous, etc. A child is seen as a means (usually God's means) of enforcing moral rectitude on a person dwelling outside of accepted sexual bounds (i.e., having sex for pleasure and/or out of wedlock).
Once the "gift" is given the woman, no matter how reluctant she was to give birth, will come around and see the error of her ways. She gains not just responsibility for a human life, but the maturity and self-sacrifice necessary to care for it, and the willingness to do so. It's a daydream in which even the most unwilling and desperate women are all secretly good mothers on the inside, and are only waiting for the magic of parenthood to awaken them.
Even a woman who elects to put her child into the arms of the adoption system has at least paid for her crimes in pain and blood, and has proven that she cares more about all human life than her own convenience; hopefully next time she will think better of having irresponsible, thoughtless sex for fun, and will carry her subsequent children (because there will be more) to term within the confines of a stable, heterosexual marriage.
Why should people who believe any
of this see forced birth as an evil thing? After all, it's good for women to become mothers. It's what all women want anyway, and if they don't want it, it's because they haven't tried it.
See, many of those who dream this dream honestly believe that being a parent makes you a better person. And even those who don't believe it still see childbirth and motherhood as the only way to control sexually adventurous women.
In this fantasy of universal motherly love and hidden punishment, women who seek abortions are cast as ingrates or immature fools incapable of understanding their duty and unable to appreciate the gift they have been given. Those who choose to carry to term are seen as responsible, moral, and most of all, contrite
. They have changed their ways. They are no longer the dangerous wild card, a sexual woman without attachments. They are now comfortably in a closed and locked sexless stereotype, that of the Mother, and their individual needs can be ignored now that they are filling the role society has prescribed for them.
The myth of the serial aborter plays into this entire tableau. It is so pernicious that it can be found in even the most liberal circles. It's batted around like a stubborn urban legend: somewhere out there is a woman who goes in to the clinic every two months to have her uterus scraped out like a cantaloupe, just in case a rogue fetus has set up housekeeping since her last public-access blood orgy. And she does it all on the taxpayer's dime.
Without this mythical "irresponsible woman" who is both promiscuous and morally evil (because of her lack of regard for human life and also because she refuses to stop fornicating) many of the arguments against abortion begin to crumble. Without this shibboleth, this lurking hag, there is no villain to chase down with pitchforks and torches. There is no stereotype to plaster onto every woman. There is no hidden monster whose existence will justify withholding a basic right.
Without the specter of the irresponsible woman, there are only individual women, making individual choices.
This stereotype, that of the irresponsible woman, casts women who seek abortions as villains at worst, and irresponsible dumbasses at best.
She needs to go. She needs to be put into the same coffin with the money-grubbing Jew, the priapic black man who lusts for white women, and all of their ilk. We need to abandon her as a model for our theoretical debates, our assumptions, and our legislation. We need to stop treating all women like her, and we need to stop insisting that the burden of her blame and her stereotype be shouldered by all women. We need to stop casting women as guilty until proven responsible.
Yes, I'm sure some women have multiple abortions because they are too irresponsible not to get pregnant in the first place. That seems like a shame, but if a woman is so off-kilter she cannot manage her own reproductive processes I would honestly rather she have a series of televised
abortions than have children; and while I cannot begrudge a woman assistance for a child she was not allowed to prevent, I certainly do not want to pick up the tab for her multiple offspring if she is denied the opportunity not
to have them. I don't want to see our barely-functional system strained by children we insist be born just to "punish" women who are irresponsible. Because who does that really punish? The woman? No. It punishes the child, and nobody wants to see that happen.
If a woman is irresponsible, do you really think forcing her to give birth is going to make her more responsible? Do you really think it's going to make her a good parent? Do you really think it's going to teach her a thing?
Do you really think that a woman who does not want a child will care for that child?Do you really?
A woman who has multiple abortions may be committing folly (so might a woman who elects to keep a child she cannot care for), but it's a personal risk to those women only
, rather than a moral outrage.
The moral outrage would be to deny all women the right to choose what they do with their bodies, simply because a few are dimwits.
I cannot imagine using the folly of a few women to justify denying abortion to all women.
I cannot even justify using human folly to deny abortions to fools, because there is no way to define folly or a fool that does not diminish people's humanity.
Should our society deny medical care to someone who was "fool" enough to drive without a seatbelt, or in the rain? Should it deny counseling to an alcoholic who is "fool" enough to pick up the bottle in the first place? Should it deny intervention for the woman who was "fool" enough to marry an abusive man? Should it refuse to take care of disabled children whose "fool" parents chose not to abort them? The answer ought to be no
, but there are people who will argue for all of these things . . . even when the "fools" are not fools at all, but are simply human beings doing the best they can with what they have been given
So do you consider a person's folly to be adequate justification for causing permanent harm?
Do you really?
Because all of us, all of us
, are fools of some kind. And there is nothing morally wrong with that. It is not an outrage, or a hideous tragedy, or any of that. It's just how people -- you, me, everyone else -- are
The idea that abortion is a tool that can be misused is a dangerous one, and most dangerous of all is the belief that it needs to be kept out of reach of certain people, or all people, because they cannot be trusted with important decisions.
Never mind all the human reasons it happens. How sure are you that you know the whole story behind every single woman's choice to terminate her pregnancy? Is it possible that she knows something you don't know, something she is not telling anyone else because it is painful or even dangerous
for her to do so? How sure are you that she would be a good mother, that that kid would end up in a good foster family, that pregnancy and childbirth wouldn't psychologically or physiologically scar her for life, or kill her?
Do you think that a woman who desires an abortion for reasons you personally disagree with should be punished severely by denying her that choice? Do you think she should be barred from having further abortions and forced to be a parent? Or should she be forced to give birth, and then be sterilized, the child taken away? Should we have any pity at all for a woman who may be a little foolish, but who would be foolish and
miserable if she had a child that she could not financially or emotionally care for? Do you
feel qualified to decide how she should be punished for being such a stupid, thoughtless, open-legged whore? And what about the child? Do you presume to know what is best for it?
Do you really
If you do, I don't fucking want to know you. Get the fuck out.
Nobody should be forced to justify or defend their need for birth control or abortion in any way, to anyone. The idea that abortion should be restricted to people who are "responsible" places women on a par with children: moral grade-schoolers who cannot be trusted to make their own decisions, and who must from time to time be punished for their foolishness. It is infantilizing, patronizing, diminishing.
The also-common assumption that women who use only one form of birth control are irresponsible is likewise faulty.
Due to uncooperative biology, I was stuck until recently with only one form of birth control that I could safely use -- and an unreliable one at that. Yet I am occasionally criticised by people like commanderd
's commenter for taking the "risk" of having sex without also taking on the "responsibility."
Well excuse the fucking shit out of me for foolishly assuming that I, a grown person, ought to be allowed to decide what risks I am and am not willing to fucking take. Excuse the shit out of me for assuming that if I became pregnant, I should be allowed to decide how to deal with it by myself
, without interference from busybodies who think they have a right to tell me how I may and may not conduct the most personal part of my life. Excuse the shit out of me for assuming that, by making informed decisions about my sexuality and my parental status I am
I have been told to my face that if I "really" didn't want kids, I'd use double or triple methods so that I could be sure I would never need an abortion. The implication is that there's no need for abortion to remain legal, because all pregnancy is preventable if only people were more responsible. Even in the childfree community, where you would think the staunchest supporters of pro-choice values would be found, some regard abortion as a morally inferior, irresponsible, or wasteful choice, and they will verbally shit on women who don't have a platoon of armed guards in full-body condoms protecting their vaginas from invasion by rogue sperm.
I cannot describe how offensive it is to imply – or state outright, as in the second anonymous comment to DDB's post, above – that women who turn up unexpectedly pregnant are stupid and foolhardy at best, or worse, were all secretly hoping it would happen. Worst of all is the implication that people who wind up pregnant somehow deserve
it as a punishment for their folly or their promiscuity.
To say I resent this point of view is an understatement. It fucking enrages me.
As an adult human being I am entitled to conduct my sexual affairs as I see fit without seeking permission or approval from anyone
but myself and my partners. If I turn up pregnant as a result of deciding that my sexual fulfillment is more important to me than being able to straddle some nonexistent moral high horse (which is apparently a unicorn
accessible only to virgins), the only people who have even a potential ethical investment in that pregnancy are myself, the father of that child, and possibly
the medical professional who is providing the termination.
Even if I'm the most irresponsible slut in the world, the collective judgement of the masses does not enter into it. I do not need to justify my reasons for wanting to abort my child or defend my choice to do so in any way, to anyone. I would not be asked to legally justify my reasons for wanting to keep
And I absolutely do not need an inquisition into how I got pregnant in the first place to decide whether or not I "deserve" to be allowed to exercise bodily autonomy. It does not matter how it happened.
It doesn't matter if I was using three forms of birth control plus two safewords and a hand signal.
It doesn't matter if I was asking for it by standing on a streetcorner in a gold lamé bikini with a giant sign around my neck that said "KNOCK ME UP."
It doesn't matter if God himself shot his ectoplasmic wad up Tom Welling's ass and had him deliver it to me, Incubus-style, like the archangel Gabriel showing up at Mary's place in nothing but a boner and a smile.
, has the right to grant or deny me birth control, up to and including abortion, based on their opinion of my behavior.
The assumption that all women who use only one form of birth control are irresponsible casts a woman who is seeking an abortion as a villain at worst, and an irresponsible lackwit at best. The truth is a complicated thing, and even in the cases where it is not, we should not interfere, as truly villainous or irresponsible people make tragic parents.
It's fine to support adoption as an alternative, but it would be unacceptable to insist
that a woman bring a child to term; for some of us, it's not the idea of being parents by itself, it's also the idea of not wanting to be pregnant or give birth. Nobody should be told that they must endure that to satisfy another's conscience.
I am left enraged at those who cannot see that the choice of when to become a parent, or whether to become one at all, is not one that should be legally enforced -- under any circumstances.
I am left in awe of the ignoramuses, like commanderd
's charm school graduate, who would deny us the tools to prevent pregnancy in the first place, and then have the nerve to suggest we should have to "deal with" the consequences of our actions.
Guess what? Birth control, up to and including
abortion, is a perfectly valid and responsible way of "dealing with" it.
And the world is just going to have to deal with that.Abortion facts.
* Unless I happened to be disabled, mentally ill, fat, gay, promiscuous, not Christian, not wealthy, not the right race, or any of a number of other things that might make me a "bad parent." Or if the fetus had any appreciable chance of being or not being any of those things; that's bad too.
ETA: If you want to link, feel free. It wouldn't be here if I wasn't going to stand behind it.