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Jessabelle's Links
JANUARY 15, 2009 2:57PM

Why I'm Pro-Choice

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So I'm at work, waiting for SAS to finish doing its thang, and I stumbled across this post:

 Most of the points and information contained therein are, to be blunt, absolutely fucktarded (e.g. ectopic pregnancy is the only reason for which a woman would need an abortion for health reasons).  The post was from a really long time ago and also smacked of trolling, so I declined to leave a comment--what good would it do?  (Answer: none.  It would do no one any good at all.)

But it really made me cringe because I'm sick and tired of people going back and forth and back and forth about when "life begins," as if it has anything to do with why abortion should be legal, widely available, affordable, and an essential item on a woman's roster of her rights.

Here's why abortion should be without exception legal and safe and inexpensive: 

Let's suppose that I developed liver cancer, and we couldn't find a match from donors; my brother was the only one whose liver would do.  Let's also say this takes place ten years in the future, when my brother is a successful and widely-acclaimed brewer and winemaker (he's in school for oenology right now, and brews the most ri-goddamn-diculous Scotch ale I've ever had the pleasure to taste, and that's WITHOUT any formal brewing education whatsoever). 

Donating his liver so that I can live would fuck up his entire life.  He wouldn't be able to taste his products or anyone else's, and he'd have to sell his business and go for a career in something else for which he's not trained, something that he definitely doesn't love as much as his current vocation.  He wouldn't die, but he would suffer--and I would live.  So, I ask you, should the government be able to mandate organ donations in cases such as these?  Or even more frivolous ones, such as when a prospective donor simply doesn't want to hand over a kidney to someone else?  I don't think so, and I don't know anyone who does. 

No matter what the stakes are (someone dies), or how frivolous others might judge our reasoning for not wanting to use parts of our bodies to sustain or bring forth another life (I'd never be able to drink alcohol again!), our rights over our bodies supersede others' needs for our organs.  Mandatory organ "donations" are unconscionable and a clear violation of the "donor's" rights; the same is true of forcing a woman (by keeping her from having an abortion) to "donate" her uterus for nine months and her pre-baby body forever to a fetus she doesn't want.  My right to life ends where another person's body begins--if they don't want to use their body to sustain me, whether that's through a placenta or a donated organ, they don't have to, and that's exactly as it should be.

The usual rebuttal to this is: "But newborn babies depend on someone else to live, too!"  Such an argument is stupid because it doesn't matter to a baby's survival whether it is being fed/changed/cuddled by the biological mother, the biological father, the adoptive parents, the grandparents, a foster family, a nurse or doctor, or a babysitter.  However, we cannot do embryo transfers, so it matters quite a bit to a fetus whose placenta it's living off of--it can only be that of the pregnant lady who is carrying it.  During pregnancy, unlike after a baby is born, the ability to sustain the life of the fetus is solely that of the woman, and it is her body and no one else's that can do so--therefore, if she doesn't want to use her uterus (and the rest of herself) in that manner, she shouldn't have to.  

The bodily rights reasoning for abortion rights also covers some arguments that anti-abortion people bring up that other arguments don't address, the viability/when does life begin argument being the main one.  When does life begin?  It sorta kinda does begin at implantation, because a separate biological entity has been created AND it's latched on to the uterus in a manner that allows it to grow; it's just that that entity depends on one particular other body in order to grow and live.  Life begins at conception, but so what? Whatever life it is feeds off of someone else's body, and if the host doesn't want to use her body that way, too bad--she is completely within her rights to decline to do so.

Also, reasons for why a woman should or shouldn't be able to obtain an abortion don't matter.  I've always thought that having an exception for rape and incest was phenomenally stupid and represented little more than a series of huge legal hassles--how do we determine if a woman was raped for the purpose of allowing her an abortion?  Does there have to be a conviction?  Does it have to go to trial?  (Most rape cases don't even make it to trial, much less result in a conviction.)  Is she required to show up an rape crisis center or hospital, and have the whole thing documented?  (This also doesn't happen very often.)  Does the rape have to be the stereotypical "stranger in a dark alley" scenario, or is she still allowed to get an abortion if she passed out drunk at a party and woke up naked in a stranger's bed?  (Or do we blame her for the pregnancy and say it was her fault for being a lush and a skank?)  Do we take the woman or girl at her word and allow her to have an abortion just by saying she was raped, which is probably more humane but also beside the point, because then ANYONE who wanted an abortion need only say she was raped, and, presto, there it is.

With the bodily rights argument, it doesn't matter why someone wants an abortion.  Having an abortion just because you want to fit into skinny jeans and don't want to get fat is probably not the most moral thing in the world, just as declining to donate a liver to your sister because you want to drink booze is not the most moral thing in the world.  But guess what?  It's your body, and the government doesn't get to mandate that you use it in a manner befitting their moral standards--especially if those moral standards are the result of lobbying by a small and theocratic minority.  Cheating on one's spouse or SO is immoral in most cases, but adultery is not a crime in most countries, because it's a private matter and how people conduct their relationships is none of Uncle Sam's business.

So yeah, that's why I'm pro-choice.  If someone wants to donate her body to sustain and produce another life, that's great--but no one has an obligation to do so, and forcing a woman to be pregnant because you feel bad for the cute little "unborn baby" (what about the woman?!) is as disgusting as forcing me to give my bone marrow away because you feel bad for the cute little kid with cancer.  I feel bad for the cute little kid with cancer, too--but not enough to give away part of my body and compromise my health and future goals.

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i'm pro-choice because if you're willing to bomb pregnant women in a distant country that never harmed you, killing fetuses at home shouldn't raise an eyebrow.
I too believe that abortion should be legal, affordable and accessible, but I don't necessarily think that your stated reasoning helps the pro-choice movement.

For many--not just the "small and theocratic minority"--abortion is often seen as an immoral act. These people argue (and I tend to agree with them) that widespread abortions of convenience are not indicative of a healthy culture or society.

Your mandatory organ donation hypothetical does not correlate well to the abortion situation, because the fetus (that needs the "donated" uterus to survive) is incapable of being its own advocate. We progressives push for laws that protect children, since they too cannot always be their own advocates, but we lash out at those that want to extend such protection to fetuses.

I am pro-life in the sense that I think it is our society's best interest to limit abortions to the greatest extent possible. However, I feel that limiting access to abortion is not the way to accomplish this goal. Better sexual education, easy access to contraception and maybe even mandated counseling are ways to limit abortions in moral and healthy manner.

Still, I understand that whether or not to have an abortion is ultimately a woman's individual decision and we should ensure that the procedure is safe, accessible and affordable.

Edgar--"Abortion is often seen as an immoral act. . .widespread abortions of convenience are not indicative of a healthy culture or society." But that's the point--in order to be legal and protected, abortion NEED NOT BE MORAL. And even if the fetus had advocates aplenty--which it arguably does, both from the pro-life movement and doctors of all political stripes who advise future mothers on how to eat and exercise so as to produce a healthy baby--it doesn't matter, because the body belongs primarily to the woman, NOT to the fetus.

That said, I agree with you on your stance--I don't think that widespread abortions are desirable or indicative of a healthy society, and I agree that better access to and education on how to use birth control is THE greatest factor in reducing abortions.

What do you mean by mandated counseling? Do you mean consultations with doctors for teenagers who may be sexually active? That's a fantastic idea. Or do you mean pregnant women/girls who want an abortion would sit down with a counselor and hear all about how their very special fetus has fingernails and a heartbeat and that instead of aborting it they should consider giving birth so that they can love it and hug it and call it George? That seems rather patronizing (are you REALLY capable of making your own decision? Are you SURE???) and like a really great way for zealots to sneak into the medical industry in order to push their agenda instead of helping women navigate what is often a difficult and heart-wrenching choice.
thanks for the response.
As for counseling, I was thinking more along the lines of the first option you put forward.