Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Pro-choice - what other choice is there?



Let's make this absolutely clear because it seems that those of us who would like ALL women to have free access to abortions, have to say this:

I am not pro-abortion.

I am a pro-choice. Not only that I believe in choice right up to birth.

So why?

I believe in a woman's right to autonomy over her own body. For me, this is non-negotiable and is part and parcel of being a feminist and a woman. And that means being able to decide what can and cannot happen to your own body at any stage, including being 39 weeks pregnant. It is hard to imagine any conditions in which I, personally, would need or want a late-term abortion so I found the discovery that in fact I was pro-choice at any time, difficult to accept. But of course, I don't have to have a late-term abortion. Other women are not so lucky.

The argument against women having abortions up to term is based on women-hating rhetoric and no fact whatsoever. Yes a woman in 1983 did have an abortion at 38 weeks because she wanted to buy a new pair of shoes instead*. Women really are that flaky. So obviously we need to penalise womankind because of it. Instead of trusting women to know what is best for them, we are treated as fickle children. We are not allowed to decide what can be done with our body, just in case a woman really does decide to buy a pair of shoes over having a baby.

Trusting people involves accepting that some will make a decision that you may not deem correct. There seems to be this view that as soon as abortion is allowed to term women will suddenly decide, for no good reason to abort foetuses at 30 weeks +. There is no evidence that would be the case, but hell, we are women. Who knows what we will do? But realistically, given a completely free choice, i.e. without external influence and pressures or problems with health of mother or foetus, how many women would actively choose to have an late-term abortion? If your answer is greater than 1 in a million then take a serious look towards your internalised misogyny. You also need to revise your understanding of pregnancy, late-term abortion and birth.

And that should be enough of a reason shouldn't it? Except it's not, of course. Because we don't live in an equal society, free from the patriarchy, where our choices are free. In fact if we did, abortion rates would probably be considerably less than they are. And, of course, we don't have free access to abortion up to term (at least not in the UK). So here are my other reasons I am pro-choice.

Because society unfairly penalises women for having children in terms of monetary income, career options, status etc.

Because women are raped.

Because women are subjected and trapped by domestic violence and abuse, often beginning during pregnancy.

Because of monetary and logistical constraints.

Because the woman's life may be at risk.

Because contraception fails.

Because men and women have sex without contraception.

Because of society's preoccupation with PIV (penis in vagina) sex rather than other non-penetrative forms of sex.

Because the foetus may not be able to survive or may have severe disabilities if born.

Because circumstances for mother and foetus can change throughout the pregnancy.

Because men are always trying to get rights over women's bodies:
Paul Ryan - allowing rapists to stop their victims from aborting
Paul Ryan (again) - trying to make it possible for rapists to sue women who abort

Abortion gives women choices. These choices, in some situations are desperately needed. Access to abortion is a key necessity in our fight for equality and to free us from oppression. It saves women's lives. It gives them some control. It is essential.

* I made that up - just in case you were in any doubt.

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