Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why do I hate abortion so much?

Back when I was a Guide at, Sierra Mist raised some provocative questions in the Forum.

Why does abortion have such a big place in your life?

In a nutshell, because I have a low betrayal tolerance. Abortion, especially as practiced in the United States, involves so much betrayal on so many levels, it's impossible for me to ignore:
  • Mothers are supposed to protect their children, not sign their death warrants; by choosing abortion, a woman betrays the profound trust a child must be able to have in his or her mother.
  • Doctors are supposed to preserve life, not destroy it; by participating in abortion, doctors are betraying the trust their youngest and most helpless patients should be able to have in them.
  • Doctors are supposed to do no harm to their patients; by participating in abortion, they are ignoring the overall well-being of their patients and instead prostituting their skills and betraying the doctor/patient relationship with the mother. Abortion facilities operate in an atmosphere that promises information and counseling to women, but it is standard operating procedure to withhold vital information, and common to lie in order to facilitate abortions; this is a betrayal of the trust women should be able to place in organizations that purport to exist for their benefit.
  • Communities owe it to their smallest and weakest members to protect them; by supporting abortion, communities betray this responsibility to the youngest among us.
  • The scientific community is supposed to pursue knowledge; abortion supporters use the patina of science to promote politics, at the cost of women's well-being and the lives of unborn children. This is a betrayal of the public trust.
  • Prochoice organizations present themselves to the public as the vanguards of women's health, safety, and well-being; however, they betray the public trust by putting politics and the promotion of abortion above the needs of the very women they supposedly exist to protect.

If abortion was illegal again, would that fix the problems that lead to women seeking abortions? If not, how do we begin to fix all those problems?

The biggest thing leading women to seek abortions is the normal ambivalance of early pregnancy. We can't make that go away, any more than we can make toddlers stop going through the "terrible twos." We need to teach women that this ambivalence is normal and self-limiting.

What could we all be doing right now that would help women not need abortions?

The most important thing would be to address the myth that abortion is a need. Panic and rejection of the pregnancy are normal in early pregnancy. Our job is to educate women about the fact that this early panic and rejection are normal and self-limiting.

I think just taking the focus off the idea of abortion and turning the woman's attention to addressing any concerns she has about having the baby would do most of what is needed in terms of focusing resources on the woman's real needs, whatever they may be.

If you think making abortion illegal would solve the problem of abortion itself, ask yourself:
~Will women who would otherwise abort really care about the life inside them?

Since rejection is normal in early pregnancy, there's every reason to think that they'd adapt, like everybody else. The advantage of recriminalization is that there's be nobody hovering like a vulture waiting to tell her that the feelings are abnormal and cash in on her fears by selling her an abortion.

~Would they bring into this world a healthy baby?

No more or less likely than any other woman.

~Would they find other means of aborting?

Some no doubt would. The question is whether we build our communities to pander to the minority who persist in wanting their fetuses dead, or whether we build our communities to support the vast majority of women who don't really want abortions but who might feel trapped into them if abortion is presented as the normal response to early pregnancy stress.

~Will those women die trying to illegally abort?

Some will, just as some die from legal abortions. The female body is designed to protect the fetus, and abortion is a violent assault on the female body. I'd prefer a situation in which only those women who have a genuine, persistent enthusiasm for the idea of an abortion are subjected to the risks.

~Would the lives of those dead women mean anything to you? If those women did not abort, and had the baby, and even kept the baby, what kind of mother's would they make towards the children they did not want?

This question is loaded with unquestioned assumptions: that criminalization is throwing huge risks at hapless women, that early rejection of the pregnancy means that the woman would reject the baby, that an unwanted pregnancy means an unwanted baby. There's no evidence that any of these assumptions is true.

~If they had the baby and it was unhealthy, because of the woman not caring about it, who would take care of it?

Again, this question contains the unquestioned assumption that legal abortion improves the quality of prenatal care sought by those women who do carry to term. There's no evidence of that. There's no reason to believe that recriminalizing abortion would reduce the amount of prenatal care women would seek. Actually, I'd bet that eliminating the idea of spending early pregnancy deciding whether or not to abort would get women into prenatal care earlier, and improve the health of both mothers and babies.

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