Monday, January 22, 2007
for the One True Definitive Statement on Reproductive Freedom which Puts All Others to Shame So I'm Not Even Going To Bother - click here.
an excerpt, as written by the more-radical-than-YOU Lauren Sabina at www.barf.org:
Many people make the mistake of thinking only very few (or perhaps very bad/stupid/fallen) women have abortions. That's where they'd be wrong. One of the little known realities is that abortion, in America, is all around you. The Kaiser Family Foundation came up with one approximation: "It is estimated that 43 percent of women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 45 and that more than 30 million have had an abortion since the procedure was legalized in 1973 (based on 1992 rates.)" (Fact Sheet: Abortion in the U.S., October 2002)
That's an estimate that 43% of American women will have an abortion by age 45.
Abortion, far from being rare or some isolated event, is a very real and NORMAL part of a large portion of American women's health care.
[As an aside, by comparison, and sequentially different in time (as this relates to women who have given birth, not those pregnant) easily less than 3%, some calculate as little as 1%, of women who were unintentionally pregnant here domestically, will pass those eventual children into an adoption by someone other than family members, and even this may or may not happen with the pregnant woman's full consent. (Don't even begin to babble adoption at me, I'm a Bastard myself, and I've seen too much.)]
Once a woman is pregnant, she has all of TWO options (potentially under her control, barring miscarriage etc), 1. continue the pregnancy or 2. try to end it. Then contemplate the number of women who don't manage to get an abortion but wanted one, and the number rises from that 43% to another far less quantifiable number.
Those women wanting to end a pregnancy, who have already lost a measure of their own autonomy, unfortunately must rely on and turn to others to try to regain control over our own bodies, via abortion. Thus abortion and abortion providers become crucial to the maintenance of women having consent and ability to regain autonomy over our own lives. If that gets labeled "selfish" it is due to the criticism emanating from those who have no concept of autonomy, who view any genuine control over one's own life (gender not withstanding) as heresy and rebellion against one's maker and master.
Of those women desiring abortion, some will be successful; others will be thwarted through state interference, financial realities, or street level harassment by thugs.
I reiterate abortion is not an aberration among women; it is a NORMATIVE facet of women's experience and medical needs, period. To deny women abortions is to deny women autonomy. Once you can deny that large a portion of any population autonomy, guess what that may mean for the rest of a population?
But further, to label abortion "horrible" is to also label those who provide, assist with, or seek, participate in, or experience abortion as "horrible". PEOPLE are those targeted within, but hidden by the language of 'this form of medical care is horrible'. As people who are part of that form of medical care are inseparable from and essential parts of that action.
Seriously - go read the whole post. Radical words by a radical woman. Radical-er than anyone I know or have ever known.
(No discussion of abortion is complete without a mention of Carol Downer, who devised a home menstrual extraction kit. it never caught on, but I thought her idea was pretty clever, at least in theory - not sure it was 100% safe, but I don't know the stats on it. Just thought I'd throw it out there.)
all that being said, I think abortion makes a living thing dead. but I'm okay with that, sometimes.
The thing that rankles me about the Roe v. Wade decision is that it clearly states that abortion should best be left "between a woman AND HER DOCTOR". Not between a woman and the gummint. Not between a woman and a throng of angry sign-wavers. That seems really logical and wise to me - If I want to make this living thing dead, I should consult a medical professional and make sure I don't die myself in the process. (though it occurs to me that the medicalization of the procedure, to the extent that's been successful, brings along its own tyrranies, I suppose. Wonder what Carol Downer thinks?) But we still managed to screw it up - abortion occupies a weird, dodgy demimonde, neither a fully-recognized medical event nor a quick-and-easy drive-thru haircut-style procedure.
Neither "side" really addresses the full spectrum of issues presented with every untimely, inconvenient or disastrous pregnancy. Neither "side" has the truth on a leash, in my opinion.
part of the problem with the pro-life movement is that it doesn't seem to be FOR life, honor life, actual living breathing drooling bleeding screaming crying life, so much as it seems to be AGAINST illegitimacy, trashy girls and sluts.
If folks really want to prevent abortions, drastic measures should be taken to really honor life. I'd advise people who are distressed by the thought of making living things dead to do everything in their power to make abortion unthinkable, not criminal. Campaigning to criminalize abortion is the lazy way.
Abolishing the concept of "illegitimacy" would go a long way to make more babies and less death. but that's a lot harder than pushing legislation through congress. Abolishing the concepts of "poor" and "trash" and "slut" would be a big step forward in making more babies and less death. but that's much more complicated than holding bleeding-baby-head signs and screaming blue murder. Abolishing the concepts of "appropriate" and "normal" and "proper", in favor of "human", would make more babies and less death. but, jeez, that's a terrifying prospect. It's much easier to mash the precious-baby-cuteness pedal to the metal and pluck on heartstrings 'til they snap, than to challenge assumptions about when it's okay to have children.
Because it's not just a choice between a living thing and a dead thing. as it stands, it's a choice between your life as you know it being OVER and your life continuing as you planned. Figure out a way to honor life as it comes, without shame or fear or hostility, and the pro-life movement instantly becomes more credible, more legitimate, and less full of crap, for me.
On the other hand, the pro-choice movement doesn't come close to answering my own personal need for truth in politics. The minute you say "jeez, not having money/not having a husband/not finishing school is not a good enough reason for me to have an abortion," you're suddenly a collaborator with fundie-breeder-bigot-bible-bashers. How respectful of choice is that?
To deny the life inherent in an embryo seems to be bad science, to me. (I'm no scientist, but if cells growing in a petri dish can be considered "alive", then certainly an embryo growing in a uterus can be "alive".) The act of abortion makes a living thing dead. Of course, that's not always the end-of-the-world event we think it is. (Consider that people make living things dead all the time, without a moment's remorse. We think we have all kinds of good reasons to make living things dead.)
because it's not just a choice between your life as you know it being OVER and your life continuing as you planned. Figure out a way to accept the fact that death happens in an abortion, and the pro-choice movement instantly becomes more credible, more legitimate, and less full of crap, for me.
I'm grateful for the option to make a living thing dead without taking my own self with it, if I feel the need. I'm not unaware of the fact that women who can't quickly and easily and safely and cleanly make a living thing dead will place themselves in dire peril in order to make that living thing dead. I'm fortunate that if I need to erase the existence of a clump of cells that would become a child in order to function sanely in the world, I can do that. I'm lucky that advocates for compulsory pregnancy haven't succeeded, and made the act of making that living thing dead even more dangerous, more terrifying, more deadly to me.
Nonetheless, I'm not convinced that denying life equals protecting choice. the rhetoric, the politics, the language, what is this or that party line - I'm not so interested in that. I'm interested in not making life harder for a woman, whatever she decides about the clump of cells growing inside her, whether it's to make a living thing dead or honor the life that Life has created.
and that's all I've got.
I can't speak for everyone, but I can't see a lot of pro-choice folk objecting to that statement. Maybe if it went like this:
"jeez, not having money/not having a husband/not finishing school is not a good enough reason for you to have an abortion,"
I'd get a little annoyed at you saying that, yeah.
And I agree with sara's comment above - while I would abort for that reason, I can totally see that it is not a good enough reason for many people and I respect that choice.
But neither identity feels right or whole to me. so, as usual, I'm fence-sitter-y and ambivalent.
To deny women abortions is to deny women autonomy. Once you can deny that large a portion of any population autonomy, guess what that may mean for the rest of a population?
that's huge, and terrifying, and that's what makes abortion the Big Deal.
and you look at Romania during Ceaucescu and see what happens when pregnancy-to-term is made compulsory.
so maybe I have what amounts to a minor quibble with the pro-choice movement, and not with pro-choice principles.
I don't know. it sure does keep me up nights.
Yea, but if they abolish the concept of illegitimacy, slut, trash, etc. then they'd actually have to treat the rest of us like humans.