Taking a Stand for Choice
Letters to the Editor
I am writing to discuss an article in the October issue of the Index, namely Taking a Stand for Life. I read this article with a growing sense of revulsion, and by the end, was unable to articulate anything more than wordless outrage. The gall of this person, the absolute temerity, was appalling. That they would take such a pompous, heavy-handed, chastising tone about such a delicate issue was infuriating.
Allow me, as a pro-choice advocate, to explain to this unapologetic advocate against abortion rights, exactly what actual arguments pro-choice advocates make, instead of the straw man nonsense I read in that article.
Firstly, the plague is not indifference, it is ignorance. On both sides. Pro-life and pro-choice. People who don't care are one thing; it's the people who care, but don't care quite enough to learn the actual facts, that are plaguing this debate. People, for example, who look at babies and say Isn't that just adorable, how could something so precious be wrong?
Personally, I can think of 10 different situations in which having a baby would be the worst plan imaginable, including giving a child to those parents who would neglect, or abuse (physically, emotionally or sexually) the child, parents who are sincerely irresponsible, or hopelessly addicted drug users, a mother who was raped and does not want anything to do with a reminder of that psychological trauma, a fetus which would, if not aborted, almost certainly kill the mother it was being carried by, and so forth. I can go on. I won't. All of these are depressing situations. All of these are realistic situations “ things that really happen “ and when you look at that shiny, healthy, lovely baby, you're looking at the ideal. Many fetuses that are aborted would not have been born into that ideal, and they would not be that beautiful, bouncing baby.
Secondly, many people do defend the right to have an abortion without considering abortion evil. Our society considers children the de facto property of their parents until they're 18. Why would this situation be any different? The woman has not had the child yet. It is still a part of her body; it is still entirely up to her to choose what happens to it. If that wasn't true, we'd be doing a lot more about women who smoke or drink or use drugs during their pregnancy. Women have a right to privacy for themselves and their bodies, and no man (and no other woman) should be allowed to hijack that right in the name of saving a child that, had it been born, they would have later scorned for social services.
If someone is so concerned about the sanctity of life, they should not be so critical of welfare or Social Security, and they should be a lot more concerned about the death penalty. Statistically speaking, people who fall on the other side of those debates tend to fall on the pro-life side of this one. It's simply inconsistent if the worry about the sanctity of life was the genuine motive. It's high and mighty, and, frankly, it's hypocritical and snobbish.
On the question of whether someone supports abortion or the right to abortion, your moral dilemma is easily solved. I support abortion and the right to an abortion, personally. I cannot speak for other people. I don't know what they think. But I think that, often, an abortion is the most morally advisable choice, here in the real world, where things are not quite so black and white as killing is bad and babies are cute. Sometimes the baby will have a short lifespan, full of nothing but pain and misery. Sometimes, yes, I think the mental or physical anguish the mother will suffer is a bit more important than a fetus. Or a baby. Sometimes, I think that a couple having their 18th child is irresponsible, and poses risks to the health of the mother and the child, and the financial capability of the family to support those children.
Even if I didn't think abortion was morally all right, that does not effect my pro-choice stance. Some people think blood transfusions are morally suspect. Some people think gay marriage is morally suspect. Some people think sex before marriage is morally suspect. Some people think lifting a finger on the Sabbath is morally suspect. Some people have different viewpoints from you. Some people disagree entirely with every viewpoint you hold. But they have that right to disagree with you. And they have the right, legally, to do things you think are immoral, but which are still legal. And abortion is legal. Rightfully.
It is a woman's right to choose what she does with her body. Her decision to destroy her unborn child is her decision, based on her personal choices and situation. People don't go around getting abortions for the fun of it. Responsible people don't use abortions as birth control. And they shouldn't. No one should. But they should be allowed the option, because, and I hate to dip into feminism any more than I already have, it is not your right to tell that woman what decisions she should be making. That right belongs to her, and that right is infringed upon only as much as yours is.
When the male author of this article finds himself in a situation even remotely comparable to that of having an unwanted, potentially dangerous (physically or psychologically), pregnancy, then he can write articles about how outraged he is that women feel they have a right to decide the course of their lives. If he impregnates a woman, he has the option to leave, as coarse as that sounds. He might never take it, but the option is there, even if he just feels like stepping out of the room for a couple minutes so that he doesn't have to deal with or think about the pregnancy for a while. The woman doesn't get that option. She doesn't get to step out for a few minutes. Though we're better about it now, it is still the female who invests double her time and energy into the child once it's born. Men (not all of them, but certainly men only in college, inexperienced in life as they are, and who most likely didn't even do their own laundry before striking out on their own) have no concept of what they are asking a woman to give up by forcing her to keep an unwanted child.
It is a poverty that a child might die so that someone can live as they wish. But if living as they wish simply means having a halfway decent standard of life, and some modicum of enjoyment therein, etc, then screw that, and screw you. If you hate abortion so much, go adopt a child. Support welfare. Support sex education programs that actually work. Destigmatise sex in general, because it's certainly working for the Dutch (so says sociologist Amy Schalet). At the very least, do something to make the idea of carrying that baby to term and then giving it up sound like less than the stupidest idea someone could come up with, because those children have a horrible quality of life, unless they get very lucky. Things don't turn out perfect if you just hope hard enough, if the baby is cute enough. Life isn't like Juno.