Abortions, and debates about abortion, have existed for as long as human pregnancies have existed. This is not new territory. Yet we find ourselves continually treading the same ground.
So-called pro-lifers have been vocal since this whole Planned Parenthood video nonsense started. Even though the videos have been disallowed as evidence in court due to them having been hacked and slashed like a Jack the Ripper victim. Still, they are touted by conservatives as being the complete truth. This debate has gotten even weirder since Carly Fiorina claimed that there is a video about brain-harvesting of a living infant, like something out of American Horror Story. There is absolutely zero evidence of any such video existing, but that likely won’t change the far-right’s view that a) the video exists and that b) it proves that Planned Parenthood should be defunded. Whatever that means.
We are all sick of seeing these silly, emotional, nonsensical arguments against abortion. We all know the real reason that the right-wingers are against abortions is that abortions take place inside a woman’s body. Abortions that do not take place inside a woman’s body – the thousands of fetuses that are destroyed every week by fertility clinics – are of no concern to these pro-lifers. Conservatives want to crawl inside a woman’s reproductive tract and control it from the inside.
Here are the 4 most common arguments against abortion, and why they are total bullsh!t.
1. How would you like it if you were aborted/if Einstein were aborted/if anyone else were aborted?
The first fallacy here is to appeal to emotion, a completely useless way to discuss anything. Any number of people would feel any number of ways about any given topic: feelings aren’t worth anything in a debate. Secondly, I wouldn’t feel anything if I were aborted– I would be a pile of cells smaller than a finger. If Einstein had been aborted, no one would know about him, obviously. We might be behind where we are now in terms of theoretical physics, and WWII may have ended a different way. Or not – who knows? – the butterfly effect makes arguing about alternative histories completely pointless.
2. We should defund/ban abortions because that will reduce the number of abortions.
This one is tempting because it seems like one of the most earnest and well-meaning arguments against abortion clinics. Don’t want abortions? Shut down the abortion clinics– it’s just common sense! Except that history has shown that women will seek abortions whether they are legal and safe or not. If you are against legal, safe abortions, you are for illegal, unsafe abortions.
We all want to reduce the number of abortions— it is never a positive situation that causes the need for an abortion. It is a woman in trauma, caught in a situation she never wanted to be in. She is terrified and unsure, dealing with pregnancy hormones and possibly lacking a support system. She needs help. That need for help won’t go away if she can’t easily access an abortion– likely she will just keep looking for an abortion, and may turn to dangerous unlicensed practitioners or attempt to end her pregnancy by herself. Recent data shows that states with the most restricted abortion access have had the highest increase in abortion rates.
3. The life of the fetus is “worth” as much as much as the life of the mother.
I have two children. Let’s imagine that one of those children needs a kidney from me, and somehow I am the only match that they can find. She needs a new kidney to live; both of her kidneys are shutting down like she’s a character on House, and she’s pretty much on constant dialysis. They estimate she will die within 24 hours if she does not get my kidney.
Can the hospital force me to give her a kidney? Of course not. That would be ridiculous; a clear violation of my bodily autonomy.
Yeah, says the pro-lifer, but you chose to have sex! You made that choice. You can’t abort it because you chose it!
Doesn’t matter. Even if I had, at some point in the past, given my consent for my kidney to be given, until I am knocked out for the operation I can revoke that consent at any time. No governing body can force a person to donate a part of their body to another person, even if that person is her child. Even if that person will die. My rights over my body supersede any moralistic view that I “should” donate the kidney to my child so she can live. Ironically, the so-called Tea Party “libertarians” would probably be first in line to defend my right to my own body (especially if I was a man)– the same folks who would deny me bodily autonomy if I were pregnant.
4. We should ban abortions, birth control, and promote abstinence-only sex-ed.
What in the actual f#ck, guys? If you are truly anti-abortion, you should promote the things that have been proven to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduce the number of abortions.
This argument really does not need more explanation than to say that legal, cheap (or free) access to birth control reduces unwanted pregnancies. Accurate, non-judgmental sex education reduces unwanted pregnancies. Period.
The most glaring correlation with abortion rates is class, but that has stark economic implications that the right-wingers don’t want to think about. Because the groups and individuals that oppose birth control and sex ed don’t really want to save the lives of fetuses; they want to control women’s and girls’ bodies and try to keep them repressed and subservient.
Abortion is an unpleasant topic at the best of times. But it is necessary to discuss. When the responsibility and burden for carrying on the species is borne by one sex (the sex that has been dominated and subjugated for almost all of human history), we need to bear that in mind. But we’ve already established that reproduction is not the issue at hand– the control of women’s bodies is the real issue.