Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice: Missing The Point?

Today’s guest post comes from Penny. Blogging at Penny Gets Lucky about things like feminism and sexuality, Penny’s comments have been featured here before and I was delighted that she was willing to write a post for the Tea Cosy. 

A Difficult Topic

Abortion. It’s an ugly topic. Emotionally charged, difficult to sort out, and fraught with hyperbole on either side.

So I’m not writing this to discuss my views on abortion, per se. I consider myself both pro-life and pro-choice; the two are not mutually exclusive, regardless of what the rhetoric in each camp may say. I believe that every wanted baby should be given the best possible chance to make it into this world; and I believe every woman should be allowed to make a fully-informed decision as to whether she wants children or not. No one should enforce having babies; and certainly no one should enforce not having babies.

Right now, though, I think there’s a piece of the abortion-debate puzzle that’s largely getting ignored. We’re all so worried about what happens if abortion were made legal, or what happens if abortion were abolished, we’re forgetting to ask a fundamental question… What if we simply made abortion obsolete?

Making Abortion Obsolete?

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16 thoughts on “Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice: Missing The Point?

  1. To sum up, “safe, legal and rare”?
    At best tangentially related, but this reminded me to go look, so this is where the link lands: – Catholic doctrine on when abortion is allowed. It explains some of the YD weirdness about the definition of abortion that became obvious around Savita’s death – the “if it saves her life, it’s not an abortion” rhetoric.

  2. Pingback: Penny writes a guest post! | Penny Gets Lucky

  3. Great post. Tricky subject well tackled.
    I sadly know too many young girls who have had multiple abortions before the age of 21. I think its a lack of sex education as well as carelessness on their part. If you are going out and having multiple partners – which is totally fine – please do so sensibly. There’s almost no excuse for getting pregnant these days, there are so many options out there for women, and men. Its the responsibility of both parties, however, yet it still seems to be down to the girl to “sort it out” most of the time. Which is another story for another time!

    • I don’t agree with the idea that there’s “almost no excuse for getting pregnant these days”. I can think of a ton off the top of my head. Starting with people who are assaulted/raped or in abusive relationships. Then there’s people for whom contraception isn’t so easy- people with latex allergies, negative reactions to HBC, people who don’t have the €$£ for methods that work for them. There’s the fact that no method of contraception is 100% effective. There is, as you said yourself, a major lack of sex education in most places. There’s widely-spread misinformation and myths about the effectiveness and safety of contraceptive methods. There’s religious and cultural factors, such as the way that for a lot of fundie christians, planning to have sex (buying condoms, getting a BCP prescription) is considered even worse than a momentary lapse of control.

      That’s just off the top of my head.

  4. “I think we can all agree that, in a perfect utopian world, abortion wouldn’t need to exist.”

    I don’t agree in the least. To me, abortion is neutral, not bad or undesireable.

    “There’s no denying that the process of abortion comes with significant physical and emotional risks.”

    I would deny that. Many abortions are not surgical, but medication-induced, and almost all of them are safer in than childbirth, in the sense that they are less likely to be complicated and maiming. A properly performed abortion by a medical professional is extremely safe and unlikely to have a long-term effect on health, according to the scientific evidence. I would be interested to know what you mean by “emotional risk”? There have been several studies that show many people feel relieved and elated after an abortion. The belief that abortion is a sad, morose and horrific procedure is particular to a certain group of people who share a worldview, not an objective truth.

    “I don’t think there are many people that truly want to see a friend going in to the clinic for her tenth abortion.”

    Only if s/he* was unhappy about it. I see abortion as a vital procedure, one that should be universally available, a force for societal good.

    *Women are not the only people who get pregnant, trans men and non-binary individuals seek abortions as well.

    • I agree with you on this one- abortion is a hell of a lot less risky than giving birth, there’s no evidence for post-abortion syndrome, and maybe that tenth abortion is something your friend is just fine with.

      On the other hand, where I come from at least, abortion is expensive and stigmatised. And in the majority of cases there are forms of birth control that would be a hell of a lot easier, if they were accessible. I think that Penny’s getting at the idea that abortion is fine, but it would be nice if we stopped worrying about whether people had abortions and started talking about how to make them unnecessary in the first place. Most people who get abortions don’t want to be pregnant in the first place, y’know? And for some people it is an emotionally and/or financially difficult thing to do.

      • Sorry – y’know, it could be that my understanding of the actual process of abortion is limited. I was under the impression that abortion is a surgery and therefore comes with typical surgery-like risks. I also was laboring under the assumption that an abortion is similar to a miscarriage – something I have experienced that did have significant emotional and physical consequences. (I blame the fact that I was raised Catholic for my lack of knowledge :p)

        As far as your other points, kungfulola:

        My apologies. I should have said “I think many can agree…” rather than all.

        My bad. I should have said “It’s my understanding that the process of abortion can sometimes pose serious physical and emotional risks…”

        You’re right. I guess there are tons of folks out there who are like “Yes! It’s way better for you to have multiple abortions than to be educated about contraceptives!” and are super-excited that people close to them are getting abortions. I am also aware that trans folks exist, and was careful to use non-gendered language in the rest of my post for that reason.

        Maybe my particular experience is coloring this post – I willingly admit to that. After all, it’s clear I have some misconceptions and misinformation about the particulars of abortion, how it’s performed, and the risks involved. And even though the pregnancy I miscarried was unexpected and not particularly wanted, miscarrying was still a harrowing and terrifying experience – one that I (perhaps mistakenly) projected onto the recipients of abortion as well. Out of curiosity, could you link me to the studies you mentioned?

        All that aside, I still believe that squabbling over whether or not people should be legally allowed to have abortions is missing the point. If people had access to contraceptives and education, and were free from sexual violence and social stigma surrounding their sexual activity, then the argument over the legality of abortion would hopefully be moot.

  5. Pingback: A Religious Pro Choicer – Stephen Spillane | Consider the Tea Cosy

  6. I mostly agree, except for this:

    “After all, we want to support the right of every woman to do what’s right for her, but there’s no denying that the process of abortion comes with significant physical and emotional risks. I don’t think there are many people that truly want to see a friend going in to the clinic for her tenth abortion.”

    I think that’s a strawman. Does anyone really get that many abortions? Are the risks of getting an abortion really any more significant than that of any other elective surgery?

    • The reason my best friend thinks abortion should be illegal is that she personally knows a girl who has already gotten nine abortions. Obviously an extreme example, but not exactly a strawman.

      And again, my knowledge of the process of abortion is admittedly limited – but as with any surgery, there is always a risk. I was told there was a remote chance I could die on the operating table when I went in to get pins put in a broken ankle. So is it better to take even a remote chance that I could die under anesthesia, or would it be better to have prevented the broken ankle in the first place?

  7. Pingback: Taking anti-abortion claims to their logical conclusions | Consider the Tea Cosy

  8. I mostly like and agree with this post. I grew up in an anti-choice family, and it took me a long time to come to terms with abortion being a neutral thing.

    Kungfuola, I actually would like to live in a world where abortion wasn’t necessary – I’d also like to live in a world where people didn’t need to have their tonsils removed. I am thrilled to live in a world where we can terminate unwanted or dangerous pregnancies – and in a world where we can remove tonsils if someone like myself keep getting tonsillitis. I would love to live in a world where both of those decisions would be seen as neutral, and up to each individual person to make.

    Abortion as birth control? As Aoife already pointed out no birth control is 100%. My friend got pregnant while on the pill, and there might be some genetics involved there as her mum got her pregnant with her while on the pill and with her younger brother while having an IUD. Then, as Aoife also pointed out, there’s the whole question of availability of birth control – and personally I’d just love to see birth control made free and readily available.

  9. eliminating rape and incest… what a ridiculous suggestion.

  10. The thing I don’t like about abortion the most is that sometimes, both the mother and child will die during. If I were a husband or boyfriend, I would rather you spare my wife or girlfriend though. I’d rather the unborn child die than her. If someone can come up with a way which makes it nearly impossible for a woman to die while going through an abortion, I would be much less hostile to abortions.

    I also do not think abortion is a necessary form of birth control. That’s what contraception is for. It’s better to prevent the pregnancy than to terminate it.

    • Hi! Thanks for dropping by. You raise some important questions in your comment- I hope you don’t mind that I’ve answered you in a separate blog post– I thought it warranted a post of its own. Do pop over and have a read!

  11. Pingback: Abortion: Is it safe? Who decides? And what about birth control? | Consider the Tea Cosy

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