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Apr 01 2014

Thank God for Abortion: What’s At Stake for Black Women

By Favianna Rodriguez

By Favianna Rodriguez

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Thank “God” for abortion.  More specifically, thank the Christian god, the vengeful omniscient one that white anti-abortion terrorists ritually invoke to justify the murder, mayhem and fear they inflict on thousands of American women in the name of Jesus.

At each of the two clinics where I gratefully got abortions in the 1990′s lone white men were stationed outside with bloody signs of fetal apocalypse.  As white men protesting in predominantly black and brown communities their presence was unchallenged, their bodies unhindered by the policing and criminal surveillance that all people of color in the public sphere face.  This was the high water mark of Operation Rescue, the radical anti-abortion group which laid the groundwork for the current wave of anti-abortion militancy.  Then, as now, mainstream pro-choice activists ceded the moral high ground to the anti-abortion regime, wavering between whether to frame abortion as a matter of personal choice or as an inalienable right.  It’s a legacy that has had grave consequences for intersectionality as the “post-feminist” trope of sluttish immoral women recklessly using birth control and abortion has become legion in American political discourse.

As a black atheist already damned to a smokin’ Christian hell it’s gratifying to know that the Christian god has failed to completely prevent women from exercising their basic right to self-determination.  But the Christian soldiers, fascists and terrorists of the American right have doubled down with hundreds of new restrictions on birth control, abortion and clinic access which have the most insidious implications for poor and working class women of color.  In Texas, Mississippi and Montana, clinic closures, vandalized clinics, restrictions on abortion physicians and providers and the GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid further jeopardize the socioeconomic sustainability of communities of color. These attacks, concomitant with the Supreme Court’s pending decision on right wing retailer Hobby Lobby’s “religious freedom” challenge to the Affordable Care Act, could gut the rights American women have taken for granted for decades.

Pro-death, anti-abortion public policy and protest are a form of race, class and gender warfare disguised as religious morality crusades to “protect” innocent “babies”.  Challenging the abortion as “black genocide” billboard campaign mounted by right wing foundations a few years ago, reproductive justice activist Loretta Ross said, “We decided to have abortions.  We invited Margaret Sanger to place clinics in black neighborhoods.  We are part of the civil and human rights movement.  We protected the future of black children, not our opponents.”  Despite their high levels of religiosity, a solid majority of African Americans support safe and legal access to abortion.  And African American women have the highest rate of abortion amongst all groups of American women.  The reasons are not mysterious—black women are disproportionately poor, under-employed, single and living in highly segregated communities with limited health care access which have borne the brunt of the economic depression.  Due to slavery and the violent legacy of Jim Crow, black women have a history of coercive control over their reproduction.  Thus abortion is an essential right in a white supremacist capitalist economy that neither supports nor values women of color and their children.

For black women, the radical push for abortion on demand is not an abstract concept.  Abortion on demand cannot be separated from the conditions of racial apartheid that black women find themselves in, especially vis-à-vis the wealth gap and the criminal justice system.  Nationwide, unemployment rates amongst African American women have skyrocketed, as have sentencing rates for non-violent offenses committed by African American women.  Unlike white women, there is never a presumption of innocence or extension of “feminine” protection for black women who defend themselves against abusive partners (as the egregious sentencing and imprisonment of Marissa Alexander demonstrates), engage in sex work or consume/sell illegal drugs.  Unlike white women, black women who do so are rarely deemed misguided, victimized or troubled but simply criminal; bad mothers, bad bitches, bad “hos” and everything in between.  The intersectional work of the National Association for Pregnant Women has been critical to challenging the disproportionate criminalization of women of color for drug-related fetal homicide and fetal endangerment offenses.

Given the dire nature of these public, highly politicized assaults, there has been a shift in the tenor of discussions on abortion in my high school classes.  Several years ago, religious-based anti-abortion pushback dominated.  Male and female students routinely condemned abortion as a sin.  Many trotted out the refrain that a “baby” shouldn’t be made to suffer or pay for a woman’s “mistakes.”  Now there is more vocal support for abortion as a necessary life choice.  Some girls of color express their desire to remain childless, pointing to the burdens child care and caregiving have placed on the lives and ambitions of their female relatives and friends.

But most of my students would be hard-pressed to attend a pro-choice rally or protest precisely because abortion is still identified in the mainstream as a single issue “white woman’s” cause, divorced from a more overarching reproductive and economic justice context.  At the same time, pro-choice sanitization of abortion discourse, promoted by liberal politicians and religious progressives, continues to obscure the mortal danger posed by a teetering Supreme Court and near daily attacks on reproductive health care.  As the organization Stop Patriarchy notes, “For far too long, pro-choice people have hoped that the Democrats or the courts would somehow stop this fascist assault on women. Too many people have remained passive, or funneled all their energies into supporting politicians who have openly promised to seek ‘common ground’ with forces who are fighting for female enslavement.  Seeking ‘common ground’ has really meant ceding ground to this whole onslaught. There can be no common ground with those who are fighting for female enslavement.  The fight over abortion has never been about babies it has been about control over women.”  A crucial part of the fight is framing abortion for Millennials who believe same sex marriage and sex education are “morally acceptable” but view abortion as morally questionable.  Despite their increased secularity, Millennials are still just as conflicted about abortion as older generations.  Many believe that abortion is simply a matter of personal “choice”, rather than a moral right.  This disconnect has not only been fostered by decades of high profile Religious Right campaigns against abortion but by “left wing” appeasement/equivocation—both sides clamoring to be on the right side of an imaginary God.

48 comments

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  1. 1
    NORM ALLEN

    As a supporter and former member of and writer for Planned Parenthood, I often had problems with the claim that abortion had been directed toward Black women as part of a genocidal attack upon Black people. I am glad to finally learn that Black women invited Planned Parenthood into Black neighborhoods.

    I, too, have read Stop Patriarchy’s contention that there can be no common ground with the Religious Right, the sworn enemies of women’s freedom. However, some feminists, like Gail Dines, have recently worked with religious conservatives in Canada to stop online porn. Are these feminists also making a pact with the devil, so to speak?

    1. 1.1
      blackskeptics

      I think “deal with the devil” is a bit hyperbolic but I certainly wouldn’t strategically ally with the American RR to redress the porn regime

  2. 2
    lancifer

    I am an atheist married to an African American woman, but I also realize that most of the people that are anti-abortion are not demonstrating some pathological white supremacist, anti-woman, racist hegemony tactic.

    Most of these “Pro-life” people believe that abortion is killing a “baby”. If they were as hell bent on destroying “people of color”, as you claim, one would expect that they would be all for aborting as many “non-white” babies as possible.

    I think your view of this issue is clouded by your view that everything in America, and indeed the world, should be viewed through the prism of white supremacist, capitalist hegemony. How tedious and unproductive.

    Abortion, like most issues, is a complex matter. You seem to have left out a key participant, the abortee.

    I, personally speaking, have no issue with aborting the cluster of cells that represents an embryo in its early stages. But I, like most people, would have severe reservations about allowing a woman to “terminate” a soon to be baby of eight months gestation.

    The point in between these two extremes, where one is comfortable drawing a line, is the real intellectual battleground of the issue. Making it a football for your personal political views is not helpful in resolving this question.

    1. 2.1
      Gareth Bridges

      Poor Lancifer – makes a very simple point that somewhere between conception and infanticide there is zone of uncertainty – gets hammered.

      Why would you post in this blog?

  3. 3
    trina

    No person has ever been pregnant for eight months and then decided on a whim ‘on second thoughts, this whole child thing ain’t for me.’

    The technique for an eight month abortion, moreover, would be to induce labor. An eight month old fetus is only delivered by another technique (dismemberment) if natural delivery poses a threat to the mother. Your objection to eight month ‘abortions’ reveals how little you think of women.

  4. 4
    lancifer

    trina,

    My example, of the eighth month abortion, was just that, an example. It was purposely chosen to be an “extreme” and unlikely scenario, designed to show that (almost) no one would agree that this should be legal.

    The conditions you inferred, threat to the mother’s life, obviously changes the dynamic and I, and most other people, have no problem with sparing the mother the trauma or life threatening consequences of delivering a full term non-viable fetus.

    My example was chosen such that (almost) everyone would deny the mother an “abortion on demand”. Thus illustrating that Ms. Hutchinson’s portrayal of the issue was idiosyncratic and politically motivated.

    Your contention that it demonstrates “how little I think of women” says more about you than me.

    1. 4.1
      leni

      Any reasonable person would know that I never said anything like that.

      Yes. You did. You just couched it in a convenient hypothetical:

      rina,

      My example, of the eighth month abortion, was just that, an example. It was purposely chosen to be an “extreme” and unlikely scenario, designed to show that (almost) no one would agree that this should be legal.

      Except for when we do.

      The conditions you inferred, threat to the mother’s life, obviously changes the dynamic and I, and most other people, have no problem with sparing the mother the trauma or life threatening consequences of delivering a full term non-viable fetus.

      My example was chosen such that (almost) everyone would deny the mother an “abortion on demand”. Thus illustrating that Ms. Hutchinson’s portrayal of the issue was idiosyncratic and politically motivated.

      Your contention that it demonstrates “how little I think of women” says more about you than me.

      No, it really doesn’t.

      1. leni

        Oh blockquote fail again sorry >< first line of my post is supposed to be quoting lancifer.

  5. 5
    gwen

    Lancifer, as a neonatal nurse, I can tell you ‘abortion’ of an 8 month fetus is called a ‘premature induction of birth’. No one ‘aborts’ an eight month fetus. If the mother’s life is in danger, we either induce labor or do a c-section. At the end of the procedure, you get a live baby. The only time you don’t is when you have an intrauterine death, and the baby is stillborn, which is considered a tragedy by all involved. The canard of the ’8month abortion’ is just that.

    That being said, do you really think a woman who does not want to be a mother is the best person to raise a child she does not want? Do you think a collection of cells has more rights than the person carrying it? Do you think it is more important for a woman to die from complications of pregnancy, rather than ending the pregnancy to save her life. Do you think women who do not want a pregnancy will not do everything, including resorting to the stereotypical coat hanger to end the pregnancy? Do you realize deaths from attempted abortions was one of the top ten causes of death in childbearing women before the 1973 decision? Why do you think this will not happen again?

    Lastly, saying ‘I’m married to a black woman’ does not give you any special insights into the problems of the black community, or even women. It’s like saying ‘my best friend is black’….

  6. 6
    ema

    I also realize that most of the people that are anti-abortion are not demonstrating some pathological white supremacist, anti-woman, racist hegemony tactic.

    Really? So the Most Dangerous Place For An African American isn’t, in fact, In The Womb, and melanin content isn’t relevant to making medical decisions or recognizing genocidal plots. Healthy egalitarianism, pro-women, and color-blind tactics rule!

    Abortion, like most issues, is a complex matter. You seem to have left out a key participant, the abortee.

    Abortion, like most medical procedures, is a (relatively) simple, safe, and effective procedure. Also, uterine bits and the uterine container, one and the same participant.

    But I, like most people, would have severe reservations about allowing a woman to “terminate” a soon to be baby of eight months gestation.

    Elective 8 Mo terminations are silly propaganda. No such thing in real life. So, let’s stick with reality.

    You, like most people, would have severe reservations allowing a pregnant woman to make her own medical decisions. Why? What exactly makes pregnant women incompetent and, according to you & co, in need of becoming wards of the State for the duration or pregnancy and delivery?

  7. 7
    lancifer

    gwen,

    First of all, being married to an African American woman (for eight years) is hardly the same as saying “my best friend is black.”

    I have literally joined my life to hers; legally, physically, emotionally, financially, etc. Not that I have anything to prove to you or anyone else. I only mentioned it as a point of reference, just as I mentioned being an atheist.

    Also the “coat hanger” remarks were unnecessary, emotional dodges. I am in favor of a woman’s right to control her own body and her reproductive life.

    I am not in favor of allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy once the fetus is viable outside of the woman’s body. At that point the baby, and yes that is the correct word once the baby can survive with out biological support from the mother, is a person with it’s own rights.

    The point at which that is possible is becoming sooner and sooner with modern medical technology.

    Do you favor giving a woman absolute “abortion on demand” rights, up to and including termination of fetuses that would be viable outside of the woman’s body?

    If you said yes, I’d like to hear a rational defense of that position.

    If you said no, then you and I are in complete agreement on the issue.

    The problem is that many people place that threshold at an earlier date. Though I disagree with them, I understand that most of them are erring on the side of preserving possible human life. Some of them are doing so for religious or philosophical reasons with which I disagree, but insisting that these people are making that decision based on a “white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist” agenda, as asserted by Ms. Hutchinson, is to ignore the reality of the situation.

    If you want to persuade the nearly half of American society which opposes nearly all abortions that they are acting irrationally and cruelly then demonizing them as racist, hegemonic enemies is a very poor strategy.

  8. 8
    lancifer

    ema,

    First, take a deep breath. Now.

    What exactly makes pregnant women incompetent and, according to you & co, in need of becoming wards of the State for the duration or pregnancy and delivery?

    Where exactly did I say anything like that?

    Please read my reply to gwen.

    At the point of fetal viability, currently accepted as 24 weeks, an abortion becomes a very different issue. That is why forty-one states now have laws specifically restricting post-viability abortions.

    Is it your contention that a woman should be free to abort a fetus past this date even if her life is not in danger from continuing the pregnancy?

    But again, all of this is beside my main point that people that oppose abortion are not generally doing so to preserve some “white supremacist capitalist” system that is designed to oppress “women of color” as asserted by Ms. Hutchinson.

  9. 9
    ema

    First, take a deep breath. Now.

    No need to be insecure and project all over the place. Take as much time as you need to regulate your breathing.

    Where exactly did I say anything like that?

    Here:

    But I, like most people, would have severe reservations about allowing a woman to [make a medical decision at] eight months gestation.

    Pregnant women not allowed to make medical decisions, guardian has to step in to consent to all those prenatal/intrapartum/postpartum decisions.

    I am not in favor of allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy once the fetus is viable outside of the woman’s body. At that point the baby, and yes that is the correct word once the baby can survive with out biological support from the mother, is a person with it’s own rights.

    When it comes to medicine it’s best to stick to reality. (Briefly, in real life there is no such thing as a stage at which delivery will result in live birth. Even a term, uneventful pregnancy isn’t a predictor of a desirable outcome. All viability tells you is, given X medical conditions and Y geography, is delivery an option.)

    Is it your contention that a woman should be free to abort a fetus past [24 wks] even if her life is not in danger from continuing the pregnancy?

    First, again medicine and reality go hand in hand. There is no point in pregnancy at which the woman’s life isn’t in danger. Second, my contention is that a pregnant woman, at any point in her pregnancy, should be free to make her own medical decisions.

  10. 10
    lancifer

    ema,

    …my contention is that a pregnant woman, at any point in her pregnancy, should be free to make her own medical decisions.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Calling an abortion a “medical decision” doesn’t change the fact that doing so after the fetus could live outside the uterus is ending the life of another individual that has protection under the law, not to mention the moral issues.

    While I support a woman’s right to safe and accessible abortion I am also among the vast majority of people that support laws that limit that right when the competing rights of another person become involved, namely the rights of a viable fetus.

    Your glib and hostile replies demonstrate that you are either unsympathetic to the rights of anyone but the mother or are pretending that no such conflict exists.

  11. 11
    gwen

    @Ema Post#9 Agree completely.

    Mr Lancifer, please cite a case where a woman has gotten a post viability abortion other than to save her life. My daughter had one of those…and I now happily call the results a ‘grandchild’. If the child had not survived, I would have still had my daughter. I’d rather have her than have both of them dead.

    That being said, I firmly believe the determination of whether to carry the fetus period, should be the mother’s and only the mother’s with consultation with her doctor.

    If my daughter had decided to carry her child to term, damn the costs, it would still have been her choice. I have seen woman make that choice. It boggles my mind that men are okay with women making the latter choice, but not the former,

  12. 12
    lancifer

    Mr Lancifer, please cite a case where a woman has gotten a post viability abortion other than to save her life

    gwen, for Christ’s sake, I said that I purposely chose the 8th month date to emphasize the fact that almost no one would approve of allowing an abortion, except to save the life of the mother, that late. It is actually illegal to have such abortions in almost every state and it is specifically forbidden in Roe v. Wade

    But ema said she was fine with letting a woman make the decision to have an abortion “at any point in her pregnancy”.

    How about you?

  13. 13
    resident_alien

    It makes sense from a white supremacist point of view to force black women to continue pregnancies they want to terminate:
    - more black people=a greater mass of exploitable labour plus the option to divide and conquer the proletarian body ( white proles hating on black proles keeps them from questioning the capitalist order)
    - black women forced to abandon educational and professional aspirations to care for unwanted children=
    worse quality of life for black people
    - the sadistically happy notion that they get to control black bodies

  14. 14
    jesse

    Lancifer– if you don’t think a woman should have an “abortion on demand” then when? When she doesn’t demand it?

    They do that in China. Last I checked it wasn’t popular.

  15. 15
    gwen

    Lancifer, you are completely missing MY point. A ‘post viability abortion’ for whatever reason is called a ‘premature birth’ and they are done all the time, usually because of health concerns for either the fetus or mother.

  16. 16
    lancifer

    jesse,

    I said I am in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable and even then if her life is in danger.

    Are you in favor of giving women the right to abort third trimester babies when the mother is in no imminent life threatening danger?

    Try to avoid ema’s idiotic “all pregnancies are dangerous” cop out. Eating a freaking ham sandwich is dangerous under her definition.

  17. 17
    lancifer

    gwen,

    I know that gwen, that’s why the laws make exceptions for those cases.

    To do so when the mother does not face life threatening consequences is illegal in almost all states and I am arguing that it should be so.

    You and ema are ignoring that issue, why?

    I’ll ask you again directly.

    Would you be in favor of giving a woman the right to abort a healthy 25 week old fetus if she was in no imminent danger of death or serious injury from continuing the pregnancy?

    Please answer yes or no.

  18. 18
    lancifer

    resident_alien,

    Yeah, nothing convoluted and conspiratorial about that solid chain of reasoning.

    You must have a hard time going outside with all of the microphones and cameras watching you and reporting back to white supremacist head quarters.

  19. 19
    Razzler

    Lancifer,

    On the topic of late term abortions…it should be noted that we really are dealing with a propaganda ball we fling at one another. NO woman is going to leap at aborting at 8 months if she can help it. 1) It’s more dangerous, 2.) it’s more expensive, 3.) it’s more time-consuming, and 4.) by that point your body has changed so radically in a direction most women are keen to avoid (weight gain, stretch marks, sometimes skin discoloration, etc.) that it’s not worth it to do unless you’re getting a baby you want.

    And keep in mind, (and if you were relating well enough to the people whose rights you are discussing, Lancifer, you’d have picked up on this) a woman so desperate to abort she’d do it at 8 months would seek out a termination whether it was legal or not, in which case we would have a whole new set of problems. There’s no sense in outlawing it, the procedure should be to make it safe, easy, and accessible, leave the entire business to the judgment of women and doctors, and couple that with quality sex education. Illegalization is poor strategy.

  20. 20
    ema

    @lancifer

    Maybe less emo/intent divination and more focus on reality.

    Again, there’s no such thing as a set point in pregnancy when delivery results in a live birth. So, at what arbitrary point in gestation do we make women wards of the State?

    You need to support your assertion that products of conception have legal protection/rights.

    As to my alleged lack of sympathy I shall have you know that I can produce copious documentation of my support for placental rights. (Viva la Placenta!)

    So, why shouldn’t a pregnant woman be allowed to make medical decisions during her pregnancy?

    But ema said she was fine with letting a woman make the decision to have an abortion “at any point in her pregnancy”.

    There’s no such thing as elective termination “at any point in [a] pregnancy”; work on your reading comprehension.

    Try to avoid ema’s idiotic “all pregnancies are dangerous” cop out. Eating a freaking ham sandwich is dangerous under her definition.

    Interesting. Why are you so perturbed by medical facts*? Unless you are a minor you must have made a health decision at some point in your life. How did you decide on the best course of action for you, throwing darts or weighing the medical risks/benefits?

    *Risk for Women Aged 15-44 Years (death/year)

    Risk per Pregnancy from Continuing Pregnancy……………1 in 10,000
    Risk from Terminating Pregnancy [legal/1st trim]………1 in 263,000

    [Post the data for eating a ham sandwich and I'll add it.]

    *Williams 21 ed, p 1518

  21. 21
    lancifer

    Razzler,

    Laws limiting late term abortions are nearly ubiquitous and exist for a reason. And it aint white supremacist capitalist oppression of women of color.

    ema,

    I quote you. You quote me quoting you, and then you ask me to read for comprehension?

    If you cannot comprehend the meaning of your own words I’m not sure what you expect me to do about it.

    Though you strain credibility ignoring the fact, a developing fetus becomes closer and closer to being an actual human being with each passing day of gestation. Referring to this living being as the “products of conception” isn’t fooling anyone (except maybe yourself).

    At some point the competing rights of the mother and this “being” come into conflict whether or not you concede the point or not.

    Razzler and ema,

    Your knee-jerk, absolutist defenses of “abortion on demand at any time during pregnancy” are as irrational and emotionally driven as anything presented by “right to life, life begins at conception” zealots.

    My position, accepting a woman’s right to an abortion up to fetal viability, is about the best you could ever hope to become the law in the US.

    That you both missed the point of my post, that Ms. Hutchinson was mischaracterizing the actual nature of the abortion debate, and focused on this side issue only emphasizes your inability to see the forest from the trees.

    If you can’t see that I am effectively on your side then I have little hope that you and the “right to life” crowd will ever find common ground to work together to end the rancorous schism that exists over this very important issue.

    Which is a shame, because the women whose lives are effected by this issue are not just ideological concepts.

  22. 22
    gwen

    Lancifer–”Which is a shame, because the women whose lives are effected by this issue are not just ideological concepts.” On this one point we agree. And the correct word is Affected, not Effected.

  23. 23
    lancifer

    gwen,

    Glad we could agree on something.

    And yes I used “effected” when I should have used “affected”, probably because I had just used the word “effectively” (correctly) in the sentence above. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, I strive to write as clearly and effectively as possible, but sometimes my writing is affected by careless errors.

  24. 24
    cressida

    @lancifer (#21): Laws limiting late term abortions are nearly ubiquitous and exist for a reason.”

    Are you aware that abortion is legal under any circumstances in Canada? Don’t you think that if women were aborting 8-month fetuses right and left, there would be an outcry? Doesn’t that suggest that women don’t do that, and therefore that outlawing it is completely unnecessary and controlling?

    @dr. hutchinson: That opening graphic is the best ever. I’m going to share that at every opportunity.

  25. 25
    nrdo

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the way anti-choice groups are now going about their campaign; through access and insurance restrictions, is likely to impact poorer African Americans more than other groups.

  26. 26
    lancifer

    cressida,

    I found this at a Canadian pro-choice site. It points out that while late term abortions are not explicitly illegal they are nearly impossible to get, and people seeking them are referred to clinics in the US. Very few Canadian doctors are willing to perform abortions after 20 weeks and thus they are restricted by the medical community.

    Late-term Abortion in Canada

    Many anti-choice and misinformed individuals would have Canadians believe that a woman in Canada can access abortion services at any point during the nine months of pregnancy. This belief is hugely inaccurate and serves only to appeal to the emotional response of people in trying to prevent the acceptance of abortion as a critical reproductive health service. In Canada, a woman cannot have an elective abortion past 24 weeks gestation. There are simply no doctors and no facilities that will allow for an elective termination at that point. In fact, there are only a few doctors in the entire country who are willing to perform abortions past 20 weeks. As there are different methods of abortion, each woman’s pregnancy is individually assessed by a doctor to help decide which method is safest and best for her. However, since abortion services after 20 weeks are not easily available in Canada, many women who seek an abortion at this point must either travel to another province or to the United States, or must continue to carry the pregnancy to term.

    Despite what some may believe about the availability of late-term abortion services in Canada, Statistics Canada has reported that less than 1% of abortions take place past 20 weeks gestation.[1] The fact remains that nearly 90% of abortions in Canada take place before 13 weeks gestation. The belief that a woman makes the choice to have an abortion easily and without giving it much thought is especially inaccurate in instances of late-term abortion. Many women who have an abortion after 20 weeks originally wanted to have a child, but chose to have an abortion after discovering that her foetus was severely or fatally impaired, or upon the discovery that her own health or life is endangered. Other women need to access abortion services past 20 weeks because of extremely long wait-times or, especially in the case of young teenagers, because they were either not aware that they were pregnant or were in denial about being pregnant until the symptoms were no longer unavoidable. Whatever the reason a woman seeks to have an abortion past 20 weeks gestation, Canadians must know: abortion services in Canada are not uniformly accessible and late-term abortions are much more rare and difficult to access than abortions that take place within the first trimester of pregnancy.

    http://www.canadiansforchoice.ca/hottopic01.html

    But again you are missing my point, that the primary reason that most people oppose “abortion on demand” is not based on some nefarious attempt to subjugate “women of color” but is instead motivated because of concerns for the fetus, which is becoming more of a human being with each passing day of pregnancy.

    Please try to respond to this point and not continue the distraction of debating whether late term abortions are, or should be, legal.

  27. 27
    nrdo

    I think you have to allow for both possible motivations on the part of anti-choice groups. There’s no doubt that many rank-and-file protestors believe that they are strictly out to save babies, but the effects of their campaigns, making abortion and basic family planning less accessible, are racist because they impact the African American community particularly hard.

    On the other hand, there are probably leaders who astute but bigoted enough to realize that family planning is an important tool for socioeconomic progress and want to deprive minorities of it.

  28. 28
    lancifer

    nrdo,

    People in lower socioeconomic strata area more strongly affected by many things.

    So are taxes on cigarettes and liquor racist since they are “regressive” and hit minorities harder?

    Then you also state “…there are probably leaders who (are) astute but bigoted enough to realize that family planning is an important tool for socioeconomic progress and want to deprive minorities of it.”

    Do you actually think there are “leaders” that sit around and think up strategies that are specifically designed to “deprive minorities” of “socioeconomic progress”? That is very different than thinking there are leaders that adhere to political strategies that disregard the welfare of minorities while attempting to advantage their own constituencies.

    What possible advantage would these “leaders” envision from impoverishing a significant portion of society?

  29. 29
    nrdo

    We can’t know with certainty what their motivations are. It is all speculative, but yes, regressive policies (e.g. the “war of drugs”) and tax structures can be racist in their effect, and that’s one of the reasons to oppose them.

    Getting back to the heart of matter, if you don’t believe in god/souls and acknowledge the evidence that shows that easy access to the abortion and family planning actually reduces abortion and poverty overall, how would you calibrate abortion availability any differently?

  30. 30
    lancifer

    nrdo,

    I certainly don’t believe in gods or souls, and I am all for affordable access to abortion and family planning. My ex-wife and I used the services of Planned Parenthood early in our relationship, when we were not covered by medical insurance, to obtain contraception and yearly reproductive check ups.

    I just have reservations about allowing abortions after fetal viability for women that are not in serious risk of mortality or when the fetus is not severely compromised. I don’t like killing animals for food or even killing bugs in my yard. One need not consider a fertilized egg a “human being” to have concerns with the life of developing embryos and fetuses.

    I don’t think there is any “bright line” where a fetus becomes a “baby” but there is certainly a progression from one to the other and at some (perhaps arbitrary) point the rights of this being have to count for something, at least by me.

    I agree that access to contraception and family planning reduces the number of abortions and that working with people that have concerns for even younger fetuses could produce progress towards providing this service thus reducing abortions.

    Demonizing these people as “white supremacists” is not a useful strategy in gaining their cooperation. Nor is it particularly helpful even if you are not seeking their cooperation but just trying to understand their opposition to access to abortion.

  31. 31
    leni

    lancifer:

    I just have reservations about allowing abortions after fetal viability for women that are not in serious risk of mortality or when the fetus is not severely compromised.

    I have reservations about forcing certain classes of people to become organ donors. If I have to pick, I’m going to side with the donor’s right to refuse to accept risk and cost for another person’s benefit. At any time.

    My viability and right to life don’t give me the right to take your kidney against your will even if you are never “severely” compromised or in imminent danger of death. Even if you said I could have it and then changed your mind. There is no point in that surgery (and afterward) when you are at zero risk on my behalf and against your will and anything could happen at any time to drastically increase your risk.

    But if my right to life takes precedence over yours, then (so long as I am alive) the surgery will proceed until it is completed or until you are critical, even if you never wanted the surgery in the first place and can’t pay for it. Maybe I don’t get the kidney because you die on the table. Maybe I get the kidney and you die later from complications. Too bad for you, I guess. Maybe I get the kidney and die anyway and you get to enjoy a big bill and dialysis for the rest of your life.

    My outcome is unsure and not actually relevant when what we are discussing is your agency as donor. If we don’t “allow” you agency at some point in that process, we will be actively denying your right to refuse to accept risk and cost on my behalf. Is my viability still your primary concern?

    Ok, so lets say it isn’t, but that doesn’t matter because I’m probably viable and you aren’t in any real danger. And I’m about to get my new kidney despite your protests, oh happy day! Do we chain you to the hospital bed if you try to run? If we think you might run? If you run and I die, do we prosecute you afterward? Charge you with murder? Negligent homicide? Misdemeanor? Fine? Community service? A stern scolding about how selfish you are to not risk death for me on your dime?

    When you say we shouldn’t allow a donor agency after some point in the donation process (as if choice in the matter is a privilege we bestow upon people- you see the problem there?), that presumably means something: what?

  32. 32
    lancifer

    leni,

    Your scenario is a very poor analogy for pregnancy. So poor that it really doesn’t merit a serious response.

    Maybe if you somehow included the fact that the person with terminal kidney disease was placed in that precarious position by the direct actions of the donor, and that the only way they could be saved was by that one donor, and that the donor would have to undertake an invasive procedure to prevent donating the kidney naturally then you might be on the way to a plausible analogy.

    Still defective, but at least on the way to a reasonable analogy.

  33. 33
    leni

    Your scenario is a very poor analogy for pregnancy.

    And your scenario was an even worse description of abortion.

    Your inane, condescending scenario with women schlepping down to the abortion clinics in their Cheeto-stained sweatpants at 8.5 months because they finally just decided not to be pregnant anymore strikes you as relevant and useful, but imagining yourself in a situation where you might be forced to undergo a potentially life threatening procedure on behalf of another, against your will and on your dime is… preposterous?

    Ok that’s actually pretty funny, but I suppose from your perspective it’s true. It is not very likely that anyone will ever ask (or force or legally compel) you to undergo a risky procedure on someone else’s behalf, against your will and on your dime.

    There really is no reason for you to consider that at all, which is much less funny considering that half the population does. Routinely and for large portions of our lives.

    ..Maybe if you somehow included the fact that the person with terminal kidney disease was placed in that precarious position by the direct actions of the donor,

    And there it is, the inevitable but this whole thing is your fault, slut! Since you are so creative in your scenario conjuring, I don’t imagine it would be difficult for you to imagine a case where that is exactly what happens. Car accident, kick-boxing, it’s not that difficult… unless you are specifically trying to get mired in details of scenarios that will never happen so you can fucking ignore the actual topic- which is your agency as a human being with body parts potentially usable by others for life-sustaining reasons.

    Still defective, but at least on the way to a reasonable analogy.

    Ugh. Don’t like my scenario? Then just imagine you are pregnant and didn’t know it or couldn’t get access to abortion services until very late. Imagine there were waiting periods, clinic closures, time needed off from work you couldn’t get, money you didn’t have, transportation hundreds of miles away, no insurance coverage. A man in Cleveland kidnapped you and raped you for years, and when you finally escaped it was at 8.5 months and not 7 years. You cook up the reasons. Whatever it is, put yourself in that situation and imagine that you don’t want to be there.

    Not that you were too fucking lazy or just decided on a whim you were tired of being pregnant. Put. Yourself. In. Reality. Not your idiot hypothetical that is pretty much a slap in the face to any woman who’s had a late term abortion.

    Abortion on demand isn’t like hitting the Taco Bell drive through at 3 am. People who go for late term abortions do so because they don’t have other choices. The point of “on demand” is not because we enjoy killing late term babies- take that patriarchy! It’s that no one needs your approval. They don’t need to fill out a few forms and clear it with the pearl clutching “but I have reservations about shit that never happens” brigade who like to dream up stupid and insulting scenarios and then pat themselves on the back for being so principled and thoughtful.

    The point of it being on demand is not to make it like Taco Bell at 3 am, it’s that people have the right to make decisions regarding their bodies under all circumstances, even ones that make you uncomfortable.

  34. 34
    lancifer

    leni,

    Self-indulgent much? I think you may have pulled a faux-outrage muscle.

    You are as unhinged as any bible thumping idiot demanding that a fertilized egg is a “baby”.

    I can’t see one reason to continue a conversation with you.

  35. 35
    leni

    Self-indulgent much?

    Says the guy who thinks that thought experiments about women who like to have abortions for fun at 8.5 months are relevant.

  36. 36
    leni

    Oops, blockquote fail XD

    You are as unhinged as any bible thumping idiot demanding that a fertilized egg is a “baby”.

    That’s funny. Because you know what’s unhinged?

    Pretending like people have abortions for fun at 8.5 moths.

  37. 37
    lancifer

    Pretending like people have abortions for fun at 8.5 moths.

    Any reasonable person would know that I never said anything like that. Of course you have demonstrated that you are not even close to being reasonable.

    1. 37.1
      leni

      Any reasonable person would know that I never said anything like that. Of course you have demonstrated that you are not even close to being reasonable.

      Says the “reasonable” and clearly “unemotional” guy who just argued that he was uncomfortable with “Oh-demand” because it might let Slutty McBitchpants get an abortion in the third trimester without his moral approval first.

      Yep, nothing emotional about that. Passes the “everything is just fine here” test.

    2. 37.2
      SallyStrange

      That’s pretty much exactly what you said. So are you lying to us, or to yourself?

  38. 38
    NoAthena

    I think some people in this comment thread have completely missed the point of this article. I am glad to see you bringing attention to these issues. You are very right in pointing out that many young females of color are less likely to rally over these issues because they, like many other feminist issues, are seen as white woman problems. No, making laws like these is not *explicitly* racist but they do disproportionately affect lower class people of color and pointing out this problem does not make one overly sensitive or “nit-picky.” We must discuss these issues if they are ever to change.

    Thanks for this article.

    1. 38.1
      blackskeptics

      Thanks for commenting Noa — I see the stigma/reluctance everyday among young women of color.

  39. 39
    Gareth Bridges

    Isn’t the graphic that goes with the article a little inflammatory? It hardly sets the scene for polite and reasoned discourse, does it?

    1. 39.1
      SallyStrange

      Isn’t the graphic that goes with the article a little inflammatory? It hardly sets the scene for polite and reasoned discourse, does it?

      I reject your implicit premise that “polite and reasoned discourse” is what is needed. First, “polite” and “reasoned” are orthagonal.

      Second, politeness is not what I want to see when my human rights are under attack, as they are now. What I want to see is outrage and passion.

      If you want politeness then go have some tea and crumpets with your local book club.

      1. Gareth Bridges

        I think the word you mean is “orthogonal”. And yes, the words are orthogonal, which is why I used both of them. If they were synonyms I would only require one of them. Perhaps you think “orthogonal” means contradictory – which it doesn’t. Orthogonal words apply to two separate and independent (non-overlapping) concepts – not contradictory. This is the mathematical basis of the word anyway, and I guess that is what you are doing – taking a mathematical concept and applying it figuratively to words.

        The antonyms of reason and politeness are madness and conflict, not outrage and passion!! It is still possible to have outrage and passion while being reasonable and polite.

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