I am an enthusiastic advocate for women’s rights. A part of the discussion around women’s rights, sometimes all the discussion, focuses on women’s bodies. What they can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, etc do/feel about them.
Back in high school, I was very much against abortion except for in the most severe of circumstances.
In fact, it still feels disingenuous to me when we start arguing technicalities about when someone is a person versus a fetus or whatever. What really drove me from the Pro-Life camp had nothing to do with that argument at all.
I still think that to abort a fetus is to end the life of a person. However, I am a relentless utilitarian, and I could not reconcile the Pro-Life camp’s obsession with getting a baby to term, and no focus at all on supporting mothers through the pregnancy, adoption processes, or child rearing. They are often the same folks who refuse to support national child care or health care policies, and lump in sex education and birth control all into the same bucket.
In a perfect world, I would be a pro-lifer. In a perfect world, an impregnated woman would be no less a person. She would have access to excellent health care for the time of her pregnancy and any support she requires to bring the child safely to term. She would have whatever resources she needs to either find a loving home for it or raise it herself, even if she does not have a partner. A world where she has a place to go if her current circumstances are not safe for another person. These resources would be based on need, so if she gives birth to a child with special needs, those needs would be met, regardless of the mother’s background or wealth. She would have the support she needs to continue to develop herself as a person and as a mother. She would not have to sacrifice her career or other ambitions. Choosing to bring a person into the world, regardless of the circumstances of the child’s conception, would not be an unfair hardship. In a perfect world, she would also have access to sex education and birth control so she has more control over her body before something starts gestating.
When we live in that world, I will happily go back to the pro-lifer camp, and I think most people would go with me. Until then, we need to spend less time arguing about the individual and often difficult decisions women must make for themselves and more time building a world where abortion is just not necessary.