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Mar 22 2010

The Abortion Post

Last night, health care reform passed the House. I should have been happy. Not ecstatic–the plan doesn’t contain enough of what I wanted (strong public option) for that. But happy. This is progress. It has been a long time coming, and the forces arrayed against it, from vested interests to an administration unwilling to spend too much political capital to a media more interested in talking about the fight than about the huge political will among the public to see it passed, have been formidable.

Instead, I found myself angry. I Tweeted this:


HCR = yay, but once again, women bear the largest burden of getting everyone to the table and acting like adults.


An old friend on Facebook wanted to know what I meant, so here’s my answer. The anger here isn’t directed at him.

I’m tired of this. I’m tired of my reproductive system being held hostage by people who are, you know, generally okay with treating people decently as long as they can still have a peep into my uterus whenever they feel like it. I’m tired of my autonomy being the price of getting anybody to do anything helpful politically. I’m tired of being the sacrifice for the common good.

This pregnancy thing; you know it kills people, don’t you? It doesn’t kill as many people as it used to, but women still die over this. Those who don’t die are changed, sometimes drastically, sometimes permanently. There isn’t a system of the body that isn’t affected by pregnancy. If it didn’t result in the continuation of the species, we’d be devoting unprecedented resources to finding a cure–despite our poor history addressing conditions that only affect women.

I have a great deal of respect for women who know what pregnancy entails and choose to go through it willingly. Forcing the unwilling, however, is barbaric. That includes the lies and coercion that make it impossible for a woman to make the choice for herself. It also includes the ignorance that is imposed on so many women by insufficient or misleading education on the subject.

Life doesn’t begin at conception. Sperm and eggs are not dead things. They can’t survive without a host, but neither can the products of their fusion. And a large percentage of those don’t survive even with a host.

Neither the Bible nor any other holy book I’m aware of condemns abortion. Most of them do praise life, as do most people in general, whoever they think should get to make reproductive decisions. But aside from the Jains, most religions don’t maintain a core belief that every bit of life must be preserved at all costs. Those messages come from those who don’t have to bear the costs–neither of your pregnancy nor mine–and without them, women who have had abortions don’t experience crushing regrets in this life either.

Of course, this isn’t just about the women. It’s also about the children. It’s about what it’s like to be unwanted, or to be “imperfect” in a world that still doesn’t tolerate difference well. It’s about going hungry amid too many grumbling bellies and starting out in the world too far behind to ever catch up and running wild because someone can work or spend time with you but not both. This too is barbaric.

And this is what we may not fix. This is what we’re not allowed to change, the problem we must set aside every time we want to achieve any tiny step forward in the world. This is the currency with which we buy progress, and last night’s progress is just one more example. The cost of human decency must apparently be human decency.

And it’s pissing me off.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    sunnyskeptic

    What I love so much is that the anti-choice people don't seem to give two shits about LIVE babies, just the yet to be born ones. What's up with that? You can't abort the thing, but once it's born you can't give it health care either???

  2. 2
    Anonymous

    If it didn't result in the continuation of the species, we'd be devoting unprecedented resources to finding a cure–despite our poor history addressing conditions that only affect women. – well said, as is the rest of your post. Katie F

  3. 3
    Tim3p0

    Very well said. Excellent post.

  4. 4
    Glendon Mellow

    Brilliantly said, and clear.

  5. 5
    Becca

    My health insurance has an opt out clause for the abortion coverage. It's worth $0.40/year. My insurance coverage specializes in covering college students- a lot of young women in prime childbearing ages. I can't imagine this population isn't enriched for a comparatively high % of dollars going to abortion relative to other companies… and yet. $0.40.What person, no matter how Jainist in their personal philosophy, can really say with confidence that less than $0.40/year of their tax dollars aren't going DIRECTLY toward killing innocent adults or children through our government's actions (in the military and elsewhere)?? This was not about tax dollars being spent on abortion.This was about rightwingers being able to take a few people of conscience (misguided people, but nonetheless) and USE them. To USE this "wedge issue" to try to retard progress. I'm glad it's done with. I'm sick to my stomach that it had to be accomplished by dehumanizing women and cowtowing to the cult of delusional, cruel, and petty idiocy.

  6. 6
    ScientistMother

    The whole abortion issue had me in state of conflict. The "rational" part wished the left would concide, give the no federal dollar wish, save the abortion issue for another day. The "human" part said fuck that shit, why are women's rights always sacrificed. Thank you for verbelizing this issue so well

  7. 7
    NewEnglandBob

    Good post. The people who are against choice do it for purely woo reasons and the fact that they hate freedoms.

  8. 8
    Mike Haubrich, FCD

    It's never about "the babies" for them. It's about control, it's about shame, it's about whatever. The fact that there were some of these "pro-life" people who thought it more important that HCR fail completely than allow a penny of federal funding for pregnancy termination, allowing thousands of very sick people to die for lack of access to care, is illuminating.

  9. 9
    Adamo

    Health care reform just shows that the Dems are the only actual pro-life party. Health care promotes life after birth, regardless of all that death panel crap spouted by the fearmongers. No wonder the nuns supported it.About abortion: to be pro-choice is to be pro-life – as in, pro the life of the woman. Maybe abortion is really about the possibility of losing the lives of some potential men?

  10. 10
    Rich

    Can I refuse to pay my taxes until they repeal the death penalty?And as I posted on FB: "It's funny how important the sanctity of life is before it's born, but then after that not so much."

  11. 11
    Kay

    Well said! Thank you!

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    George Carlin had a famous line that went something like, "oh, sure, they're all pro-life when it's a fetus, but as soon as they're out of the womb, fuck 'em, they're on their own."What's horrible about this whole thing is Stupak is ostensibly on "our side" and yet he jeopardized the bill over apparently wholly imagined abortion rights issues. Fact-checking here: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2010/03/09/2222673.aspx

  13. 13
    Ambivalent Academic

    I feel you. Well said.

  14. 14
    Dave Zawislak

    ObamaCare aka HCR, and the abortion funding issue, shows how it's not about providing health care, it's about control of peoples lives.

  15. 15
    Adamo

    Dave, you are wrong. It's all about class warfare. Without any insurance coverage for abortions, even those to save the life of the mother, only those wealthy enough to pay for one themselves will be able to get one. Once again, back street abortionists will thrive and women will die – poor women will die, that is.

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