There are few common statements I hear from pro-choice folks regarding their side of the abortion debate:
1) It’s a woman’s body, so it’s a woman’s choice.
2) It’s not a “real human”, it’s a “fetus”.
3) “Get out of my uterus!”
People will go so far as to say that regardless of the situation or circumstances, it is always a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.
This has always been a concern of mine, and throughout the last couple of years I have spoken with a few folks regarding the issue of choice and abortion. My concerns with abortion have never been theological in nature, rather instead they have been philosophical & psychological. That we live in Canada, which at the time of this posting has zero abortion laws. If this is about it being a “woman’s body” and “the right to choose”, then Canada is a great case study; we have zero restrictions on abortion here. Our nation should be a bastion and ideal for the pro-choice movement, as women have unlimited choice.
What this does is presents a difficult position, namely the consequences of said unlimited choice. We have already seen studies that are showing that “female” babies are being aborted for being “female”. When my son was minus six months old, we went to the doctor. They offered to have him tested for Down’s while he was in the womb. Before we even agreed to the test, abortion was offered as a viable option for us. We never even said that we were going to have the test taken, yet abortion was presented. Other forms of disabilities were also brought up, and abortion was presented as a solution each time. To me, it makes me uneasy; in a way it is being said that these babies aren’t normal and are undeserving of living, not worth as much as “normal children”. What does it make the children who are outside of the womb have have these disabilities?
Where is line drawn? What if we can genetically test for mental illnesses, like ADHD or depression? I have the former, my wife has the latter. My son very well may have either (or both), would my wife have been able to terminate him without my consent, her choice? What if someone doesn’t want their black unborn child to grow up in a world where there is still racism? What if they determine a way to screen for homosexuality (some studies say it’s genetic, right?, does a woman have the right to choose to terminate an unborn child because it might be gay? Might be black? Might be disabled? Might be a female?
Which brings us to the last litmus test; partial birth abortions. If this is truly about a woman’s “right to choose”, then this isn’t up for debate; partial-birth abortions should not be frowned upon or banned. An abortion should be able to be obtained at anytime, even if all that is left to leave the womb is a baby-sized foot. you can hear and see most of the child, however a woman should still be able to choose to silence the thing – otherwise you’re restricting “choice”. If you think I am exaggerating, partial-birth abortions are exactly what it says on the tin – the child is partially birthed, then aborted. If the doctor waits five seconds, then it’s a “real child” in the eyes of Canadian law.
The concept of “when does life begin” is an interesting one, and it saddens me no one wants to have a rational discussion about it. Nearly two years ago I looked down when my wife was in labour, and I saw the tip of my boy’s head. His eyes has not yet left the canal yet. In this country, our fine country of Canada, my wife technically could have said “I don’t want to go through with this”, and legally someone could have taken my son away through a partial birth abortion. And despite this being *my* son as well, I’d have no say. Yet two minutes later, there he was. What was the difference between him being human or not? Three minutes and location.
If you say “it’s a woman’s right to choose”, that means she can do whatever she wants. I described several situations above, including partial-birth abortion, which people who are pro-choice should be fine with. As soon as you say “partial birth abortions should be banned”, you are restricting choice. Same thing with anti-eugenics laws like banning gender-based abortions. That’s the catch; people disagree with with the reasons for abortion (and disagree with partial-birth abortion), but by disagreeing with them you’re limiting the choice of a woman to do what she wants with her body. And, really, it’s not *really* gender based abortions, because the fetus isn’t actually a female until it leaves the body. So people should be able to abort a “girl fetus” anytime they want, because it certainly isn’t sexism.
Speaking of sexism, being told “your opinion doesn’t matter” due to one’s sex is quite two centuries ago. It’s a common trope that is brought up, but it doesn’t really add much to the conversation because it’s illogical and undermines all the work that feminists have fought for. Because do women really want people to start dismissing opinions strictly because of gender and human biology all over again?
I don’t need a womb to be uncomfortable with the ramifications of the above. This isn’t theology, this isn’t “pushing my beliefs on others”. my concerns on eugenics are based off of philosophy and psychology. Simply put; the idea of “choice” and how an unborn child is treated is a concern of mine. And for the reasons I listed throughout this post, I feel those concerns are valid.
If someone can present a discussion point involving the “right to choose” which counters my above thought process on eugenics, by all means speak up. Remember, supporting a woman’s “right to choose” means that you need to support our current lack of abortion laws within Canada, because any restrictions results in diminished choice.
I was pleased to read this blog. I agree with what you wrote in its entirety. Keep up the good work that your writing is doing. I am the director of Birthright of Ottawa and I see the ramifications of what you wrote about choice quite often. It is sad to see that people think the pill freed women when in reality I think it freed men to take no responsibility for their unborn children,.
Thanks Elaine! Keep up the great work you and Birthright do!
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