Permit me a quick rant this Sunday morning while the boys nap and I ignore some work I need to be doing.
Not only can I not believe we are still having the same dumb argument about abortion, but I can’t believe things have deteriorated to the point where we actually, earlier this year, had an outrage-sprinkled discussion about the legitimacy of legal birth control.
Really? This is why some of us still identify as feminists. Because it’s a marker that says, “You know what? Fuck you. So-called women’s issues aren’t fringe issues and I’m going to keep banging the same old drum and I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable or if you’re bored with it.”
Joey posted a link to this Jezebel account of the bizarre sisterhood at the RNC this year.
And there’s so much sad stupid cluelessness that I want to ignore it like the fringe craziness that it is, but I can’t. Because it’s not fringe. Actual people I know, people who have drivers licenses and voting rights, believe this stuff. There are actually people who believe that women routinely get pregnant after recklessly unprotected sex, waffle on whether or not they want to have a baby until the fetus has been cooking for eight months, decide they aren’t up for it, and then waltz in to the Abortionplex to “get it taken care of.” People seriously believe that THAT scenario constitutes the reality of abortion.
It’s baffling to me.
And guess what, just because you breathlessly announce that you LOVE WOMEN!!!, Ann Romney or any other person interested in a social or legal structure that commodifies and polices women’s bodies, doesn’t make you pro-woman or feminist so stop trying to co-opt our terms. If you do not support abortion rights, you cannot call yourself feminist or pro-woman. Period.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO THIS. I am going to quote, liberally, commenter mcjulie at that Jezebel link above, because she breaks it down for a “pro-life-ish” commenter who is having trouble understanding how pro-choicers can square legalizing killing something that is clearly human life:
Here are some things I want you to think about. First, the issue isn’t really life, it is personhood. Of course the fetus is alive. The sperm cell was alive, and so was the egg. Both of them carried human DNA as well. Does that make them human beings, the equivalent of a baby? Nobody seems to argue that — not for individual sperm and egg cells, anyway. Is a newborn baby a person? Nobody seems conflicted on that score either. So these things, these cells, which are alive and not people, exist on a continuum with a human baby, alive and definitely a person.
At what point does the fetus stop being a collection of cells and start being a person? We have no precise answer to that question. Until fairly late in the pregnancy, a fetus has ambiguous personhood. The woman carrying the fetus, however, has unambiguous personhood. So, if both entities are competing for “ownership” of the same body, who has the better claim? The ambiguous person, or the unambiguous person?
When that is the question, I have no trouble granting the right of decision-making to the unambiguous person.
Any attempt to make abortion illegal is taking that right of decision and giving it — not to the fetus, which has nothing to say on the matter, but to the state. The state says, your fetus has a greater claim to your body than you do. I find that a grievous violation of women’s civil rights. Right-leaning politicians who seem to fear communism — the state taking ownership of the means of production — above all else, nevertheless advocate for the state taking ownership of women’s own bodies.
Further, in that scenario, the state takes ownership of the woman’s body, but no responsibility for the result. Anti-abortion activists take no thought for the welfare of the child once it is born and an unambiguous person, or for the welfare of any other children the woman might have, also unambiguous people. Places such as El Salvador that have implemented draconian anti-abortion laws have seen the results, as impoverished, motherless, starving children run wild in the slums.
No matter how any one person feels emotionally about abortion — and I believe a conflicted feeling is entirely natural and expected — as a society we have only two choices: legal and illegal. Illegal is clearly tyrannical and invasive. It is harmful to the welfare of women, children, and society as a whole. It renders women inherently second-class citizens, with the state taking ownership of their reproductive capacity. And, with all of that, it does nothing to prevent abortions.
It cannot be any clearer than that.
Related: Legislative war on women.