A day or to back, Greaterthanlapsed responded to a quote of mine expressing frustration at the difficulties having any sort of respectful discussion on abortion by explaining that opposition to abortion is the EXACT SAME THING as support for slavery. Right.
No, here’s the deal:
1. You posted some stuff about abortion, said you were pro-life, and then explained (quite rightly, I think) that the pro-life and pro-choice positions are always, at some point, mutually exclusive and irreconcilable. In fact, you did a good job of explaining why that is the case, so, yay for at least being intellectually honest!
2. One person got a bit angry and sent you a rather unpleasant message explaining why zie was unfollowing you, to which you responded with a lament that this is exactly the sort of reason why you don’t like to discuss abortion—because people get so mean about it. Okay, yeah.
3. Although I follow you directly, I actually came across this whole bit of back story after I saw the quote shared by azspot, clicked through to your Tumblr to find some context for it, read all the stuff I just mentioned, and decided to respond.
4. In my response, I explained why it’s difficult for me (and many other uterus-owners) to “respectfully disagree” and engage in “thoughtful conversation” on this topic. My main points (which you have not reproduced, but only misrepresented, above) were:
- There will always be a need for abortion services to preserve the reproductive choice and autonomy of women, due to a variety of factors.
- If a woman is not allowed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, then she is being forced to carry that pregnancy against her will, which is a violation of her bodily autonomy—as her body is being used in a way that she doesn’t want.
- Using a person’s body against their will in ways to which they do not consent is slavery.
- If I am threatened with slavery, I feel devalued, disrespected, and unsafe. Many (although not all) women feel this way, and so it makes it difficult for us to accept with good grace the opinions of people who threaten us with slavery. It makes us a little grumpy.
5. Everyone has opinions. Yep, we sure do. However, the pro-life stance is generally not simply an opinion or a personal choice—it is an organized and concerted effort to ban abortion procedures, intimidate women, deprive people of education about reproductive and sexual health, and (in short) make it as difficult as possible for women to control their own bodies until attempts at banning abortion are successful.
6. Those efforts to deprive women of bodily autonomy, reproductive choice, and basic human dignity tend to make some of us a bit salty. If your opinion is that abortion is wrong, then don’t have one. If your opinion is that women should be forced to have babies that they don’t want, and you take steps to make that so, then we have a problem with you.
7. I have a few questions for you, since I am worried that you will continue to misunderstand me and because I want to understand you better:
- On what basis would you consider a fetus to be a person? I cannot deny that a fetus is human, but I would argue that it is not a person, while a woman of childbearing age is. Would you say that a woman is a person?
- If we don’t use the admittedly loaded term of “slavery” to describe forced pregnancy and childbirth, what word would you suggest?
- You expressed support for numerous policies and programs that would reduce the number of unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, as well as diminish the burden of pregnancy/childbirth/child-rearing on women/families. However, no method of birth control (including sterilization) is 100% effective, sexual violence and reproductive coercion exist, and some women will continue to just not want babies. If a ban on abortion existed, it would prevent women from terminating unwanted pregnancies, no matter how rare unwanted pregnancy was. Is that really what you are advocating as part of your pro-life stance?
- If we accept that a fetus is, in fact, a person, how should we equitably resolve the competing rights of fetus and woman when they come into conflict? How do we determine what the desires, dreams, and opinions of the fetus are, weigh the fetus’s arguments against its mother’s, and make a decision that is fair to both? And who, if not the woman in question, is qualified to make that decision?
- What rights, if any, would you grant a woman in regards to her body when it has a fetus inside it? Can she still smoke? Be fat? Eat cheeseburgers? Have a glass of wine six months into the pregnancy? Have sex? Listen to heavy metal? Slip on ice or fall down stairs without being accused of trying to kill her baby? Where do you draw the line?
- Personally, I’m very progressive—certainly not a small government conservative in any way, but all this seems like excessive legislation even to me. How can we protect the fetus from its mother most effectively? Is it cost-effective? If there are legions of unwanted children left at hospitals following forced births, who will care for them? Who will enforce whatever rules we enact to keep fetuses safe in the womb? Is it really this important for us to police women’s bodies and sexuality? Exactly how much effort is appropriate? What is the right amount of resources to dedicate to subjugating women?
I bolded the parts I loved the most. I want to hug this person so hard they cough a little. I know most viewers follow me or come here because they want to read/see sexy stuff, but sex doesn’t exist in a vacuum. This issue is relevant to everyone and it is acutely relevant to those who chose to be sexually active with or as someone with a uterus.
[Edited to quote The Random Truth: “I was about to say ‘calling it slavery might be a little harsh.’ But then I remembered: ‘A man chooses, a slave obeys.’ And it seemed fitting.” ]
As the owner of a uterus, I’d just like to throw out there that it’s really difficult to respectfully disagree with someone who wants to enslave me (and every other owner of a uterus)—clearly that person does not respect me. It’s also difficult to engage in thoughtful conversation on the matter if “thoughtful discussion” means that I’m supposed to concede that maybe there is some hypothetical situation where forced pregnancy and childbirth are morally acceptable and not really slavery.
Even if all women had access to education, birth control, healthcare, and social programs, there would still be women who get pregnant and don’t want to be. There would still be ectopic pregnancies, failed sterilizations, severe fetal abnormalities, and women whose organs start failing as a result of pregnancy. There would still be women whose birth control fails and they find themselves pregnant 3 or 4 weeks later and they want to get rid of it because pregnancy is a hassle—it’s painful, exhausting, and requires many lifestyle changes, and it ends in labor and delivery, which are dangerous and sometimes traumatic.
Any way you look at it, at some point when you are talking about banning abortion you are advocating forced pregnancy and childbirth for women who don’t want to do it. And what do we call that use of women’s bodies against their will? Everyone all together now…. SLAVERY.
So, while it may not be very nice to say so, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone—especially someone with a uterus—to call that monstrous. No one can deny that a fetus is “human life.” However, a grown woman is a person, with ideas, opinions, desires, dreams, and plans for her future. She is autonomous, and a fetus is not. She should get to choose while, unfortunately (albeit necessarily), a fetus doesn’t get a say in the matter.
So, you know, maybe it is “name-calling” for someone to call the anti-abortion stance monstrous. Maybe it is disrespectful. But I sure as fuck don’t feel respected when my body is treated as public property, and I have no desire to have a thoughtful conversation about whether or not I should be a slave.
(words by/via greaterthanlapsed)