Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Dreaded Abortion Post

For the past few months, I've been watching the relatively new legislators on the other side of the aisle discuss abortion in various ways.  There is the guy who wanted to criminalize miscarriages, the various snide remarks by McCain during the 2008 Presidential debate about the health of the mother, and the latest was the remarks by an Indiana lawmaker who said that women lie about being raped to get free abortions.  All this in the shadow of the Congressional GOP trying to defund Planned Parenthood.

And as you have come to realize by now, all of these news stories get the wheels of my brain turning, until I need to write.  Up until this day, I've tried to avoid abortion because it is a touchy subject.  But here's the thing: I have some suspicions about the anti-abortion crowd, and I want to see if there's any truth to them. So, let's dive in, shall we.

To be clear, let me state my position upfront - I am pro-choice.  Now, that does not mean I am pro-abortion, but rather, I firmly believe in the doctrine of "no uterus, no vote."  I was lucky enough to be born male, which in addition to being able to pee standing up (a huge, huge plus when it comes to using public restrooms and restrooms at sea), means I will never know what its like to be pregnant or have a child.  While, legally speaking, I am responsible for the children that I father, I'm not the one who has to undergo dramatic changes to my body to give birth.  So, why do I get a say?

Oh, and I also think the constitutional reasoning - the right to privacy - is a misnomer.  Its not the government shouldn't know stuff about you, its that the government doesn't get to fuck with your shit.  In other words, we all have the right of personal sovereignty.  But that's a topic for another post (which I may have already written).

Anyway, like all pro-choicers, I think there are two types of people who oppose abortion: the pro-lifers, who oppose abortion because they believe that a fetus and/or embryo is a human being, and that killing said fetus and/or embryo is morally wrong; and the anti-choicers, who oppose abortion because they believe that women should not have any control over their reproductive cycles.  Exhibit A in the anti-choicer column is Rick Santorum who stated that abortion and birth control have caused the social security crisis (because people aren't having as many babies as before).  Now, a lot of pro-choicers suspect that most "pro-lifers" are really anti-choicers.

This is important is because compromise could be found between the pro-choice and pro-life movements.  Lowering the number of unwanted pregnancies through education and better distribution of birth control would certainly produce a result that would please both the pro-choicers and the pro-lifers.  And certainly a lot of pro-choice politicians move to that direction. 

But that said, the existence of the anti-choice group - who believe that an unwanted pregnancy is punishment for risky sexual behavior - complicates things.  There does seem to be a more natural alliance between the pro-lifers and the anti-choicers because the slogan "no abortion ever" works for both groups.  Thus, pro-lifers are willing to go along on bills requiring a woman to prove her miscarriage was a miscarriage, or requires a rape victim to prove she fought back, or removing health and safety protections or the "abstinence-only" sex education, even if those bills are completely opposed by pro-choicers.

And of course, the more of these sort of bills are proposed, the less likely there will be compromise.  Fundamentally, there can be no compromise between the pro-choice and anti-choice positions because they are diametrically opposed. 

Additionally, I am left wondering if the abortion debate is hurt by the lack of women who openly discuss abortions they have had in the past.  One of the greatest political strategies by a minority group was Harvey Milk's coming out plan (and yes, I am aware that he probably didn't come up with that plan first).  As Milk reasoned, the more people who know someone in the LGBT community, the less homophobic they become.  And low and behold, he was absolutely right in that.  In some ways, abortion, by being hidden, wraps itself in stigma.  But then again, I'm probably being an idiot.

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