Until there are literally 0 unwanted pregnancies in the entire world (100% of the population has affordable access to contraceptives, and those contraceptives are 100% effective 100% of the time, sexual assault never happens, and contraceptive sabotage never occurs), and until pregnancy is 100% safe and never presents medical risks or complications, and until pre and post-natal care is 100% affordable for 100% of the population: legal abortion will be needed.
Never forget that. Abortion is a medical procedure that serves a wide variety of situations and may be needed for a wide variety of reasons. And until only people who want to be pregnant get pregnant, and only when all pregnancies are safe and affordable, and all pregnancies are carried safely to term, until that somehow happens, people will need abortion.
If you want to reduce abortions numbers (and really, we ALL do) then we need to address the factors that make abortion needed.
Just had one of the best lectures I’ve had in med school
It was on ‘The ethics of abortion’, and I was sorta expecting a lecture tip-toeing around the different viewpoints without offending anyone. But our lecturer slayed!
- she started out by saying how the ‘pro life’ side always get emotive pictures of babies and foetuses etc, and that there’s hardly any for pro choice. So she put up a photo of a woman lying dead on the floor, after bleeding out from an unsafe abortion her partner tried to perform on her
- she showed us statistics on how abortion rates are lower in countries with safe, legal access to abortion
- she showed us more statistics on how high maternal death rates and deaths from unsafe abortions became when countries made access to abortion more restricted
- she put up photos of discarded babies in streets and rubbish bins in countries where abortion is illegal
- she talked about a case in the US where a woman was ex-communicated from an ethics committee at a catholic hospital, after the committee allowed a woman with life-threatening complications to have an abortion, then our lecturer commented that ‘it’s funny how it was wrong for her to do that, yet child abuse is apparently ok’
- she went through cases of more women who were so desperate to have an abortion that they seriously harmed themselves
- she ended the lecture on the photo of the woman who died, and said ‘whatever your stance on abortion, the fact is that if a woman has made up her mind that she doesn’t want to be pregnant, she will do whatever she can to get an abortion, even if it puts her life at risk’
I think we need to talk about what “Bodily Autonomy” means.
You see this phrase thrown around a lot, especially in the abortion debate, but I think a lot of people don’t really understand what it means.
Bodily Autonomy, sometimes called Bodily Integrity, is the idea that a person has an inviolable right to determine what happens to their physical body, and that a violation of a person’s consent in matters concerning their own body is unethical, immoral, and possibly criminal.
This does not mean “you are allowed to do whatever you want.” It isn’t comparable to property rights or taxation or laws regarding public health that impact whole communities.
What it does mean is that your body should always be under your control. You can chose or deny what things involving your physical body are at stake. Some examples:
You can choose to donate your organs but, No one can steal your organs
You can choose to get a haircut, but no one should chop off your hair without permission.
You can choose to get a tattoo, but no one should hold you down and forcibly tattoo anything onto you.
You can choose to have sex with another consenting person, but no one should sexually violate you.
Doctors should ask permission from you (or someone you have given permission to speak on your behalf) before administering drugs or treatments
This previous point is important in many capacities, but one very relevant on to reproductive rights is that doctors should ask and respect choice made regarding birth- whether to have a c-section, whether to have an epidural, etc.
Infants should not undergo circumcision, as they are unable to consent. (If adults want to undergo circumcision for whatever reason, they can do so.)
You should not be forced to give blood for any reason (including donation to save another person, OR for drug testing. These actions may be volunteered, but should not be mandatory)
Intersex infants should not be subjected to genital surgery unless there is a pressing health need (such as a blocked urinary tract or exposed internal organs) at which point, the parents need to be consulted.
And YES, a person should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if they do not want to, no matter how they became pregnant in the first place.
And the list goes on. We have to start with the understanding that in matters concerning the physical body, you should be the final authority, and you should always be given the information, resources, and opportunity to make the best possible choice for yourself.
There is never a point when the pregnant person’s body stops being theirs. Stop insisting that there is. It’s disgusting. The pregnant person’s body is always theirs. And they can always withdraw consent from ANYONE who would like to use it.
I don’t see the point in debating the personhood of a fetus.
It doesn’t, like, matter? Whether or not we assign a fetus “personhood” doesn’t really change whether or not a pregnant person should be forced to give up their bodily autonomy against their will?
Like, woman can not just STEAL men’s livers in the dead of night, even if they NEED those organs to live? The elderly don’t get to just go around and harvest the kidneys of the young in back alleys? You can’t just, like, kidnap a person and drain all their blood, even if it is used for life saving procedures. Fully grown, autonomous people with rights and consciousness are not allowed to violate the bodily autonomy of others, even in deadly situations.
So…why would we let a fetus do this? Use another PERSON’S blood and uterus and stomach and everything else? For months? Altering their body irreparably? WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT?
No. Abortion is first and foremost an issue of consent and bodily autonomy, and any argument about personhood is a distraction from that.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Any Pro-Lifer who argues that they just want to ‘save babies’ but makes an exception in rape cases is lying.
If they were truly against abortion because they believe that a fetus is entitled to full rights, enough to deny the bodily autonomy of the person carrying it; if they truly believe that the fetus has a soul and is a baby or however they say it: then they wouldn’t make exceptions for rape.
A pregnancy created through sexual assault would not make that fetus less human. It wouldn’t make it “not a baby.” Being conceived through rape wouldn’t make that fetus not have a soul. Either a fetus has a soul, is a human, is a precious baby, or it isn’t.
What the “rape exception” means is that they want to control women. That women who have consensual sex should be punished, should “have consequences” for having consensual sex, for not being “responsible” enough when they have sex. It says “You are a woman who had consensual sex, and to punish you we will take control of your body away from you.” They HATE that women can have sex for recreation, and want to take that away from us.
You see that bullshit argument? You call them on it. Don’t let the point go. If they make an exception for rape- ask them why. Make them explain the logic. (They know how fucking awful it sounds when they don’t make an exception for rape too. There’s no moral high ground for them there.)