Should “potential fathers” have any say in abortion?


Of course women should have the right to choose. But.. shouldn’t the potential father have the right to be consulted, too?”

If you talk about abortion a lot, and you’re coming from the pro-choice side of the spectrum, you’ve probably heard this- or maybe even said it- a few times. The reasons people give for saying it tend to boil down to two basic ideas: that both people are parents of the potential child and so both should have a say, and that it can be incredibly hurtful to men who want to be parents, if their partners abort the pregnancy that they still want.

Both of those points refer to very real, significant things, and it’s only natural to empathise with people in that situation. However, I’m going to argue that, despite these, there should be no obligation on the part of a pregnant person to consult with, or even inform, their partner about their intent to terminate a pregnancy.

We Don’t Have The Right To Become Parents

Continue reading over at the Tea Cosy’s new home!

Advertisements

Abortion: Is it safe? Who decides? And what about birth control?


An interesting comment showed up in my filter the other day. It’s a reply to a guest post from Penny Gets Lucky back in February, Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice: Missing the Point, where Penny argues that if you want to prevent abortions, there are far better ways that criminalising and demonising the people who have them. Here’s the comment, from Jemalacane:

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.

This comment raises several important questions. Is abortion dangerous? What is the role of partners in deciding whether someone can have an abortion? And, of course, the question of whether abortion is a preferable method of birth control.

Let’s get the last two out of the way first.

It’s better to prevent the pregnancy than terminate it.

Yes! Yes, it is. With the exception of cases of fatal fetal abnormality and threats to the health or life of the pregnant person, people who seek abortions generally don’t want to be pregnant. Pregnancy was not part of the plan, and even if the pregnant person knew immediately that abortion was what they wanted to do and didn’t have any difficulty with that decision, a certain amount of stress is almost inevitable. In Ireland, where abortions involve travelling overseas, this is doubly the case. Even without that, it seems silly to suggest that someone would, all else being equal, prefer to undergo an uncomfortable medical procedure instead of preventing it. Medical abortion pills cause painful cramps, and who actually enjoys being trussed up in stirrups for any kind of gyno visit? Contraception is normally a hell of a lot easier, and there are enough different methods around that most people can find something that suits them fairly well.

There’s just a few problems. We haven’t yet invented an infallible method of contraception (aside from having the kinds of sex where there’s no more than one kind of gamete around. I gather that a lot of people don’t swing that way, though). We do a terrible job of educating young people about sex and birth control. And people commit rape and sexual assault every day.

It is, in most cases, better to prevent a pregnancy than to terminate it. But once you’re pregnant, you don’t have the option of going back in time and changing what happened weeks or months ago. Once you’re pregnant, the decisions left to you are to carry to term, or to terminate. While sometimes it might feel like both of those options, quite frankly, suck? It’s what you’re stuck with.

And yes, we should do a lot more work around preventing people from getting pregnant when they don’t want to. And around empowering people to make all kinds of informed decisions about their bodies. Let’s do that too!

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.

That’s… nice? I’m glad you think that way? I’d like to be honest about one thing before I go further: this was the only part of this comment that annoyed me. If you’re reading this, Jemalacane- and I do hope you are- then I’d like to state for the record that I can see that you’re probably not trying to say anything hurtful or damaging here. And I’d ask you to read this next part carefully.

There’s just one thing, though. If I were a girlfriend or wife, and you were a doctor, I would rather you ask me about what medical procedures you carry out on my body. I’d rather you ask me if I would want you to risk my life to save my pregnancy, or if I would choose for you to do everything necessary to save my life.

If I were a girlfriend or a wife of someone who would prefer to put me in danger to continue a pregnancy, against my will? I would want a doctor to take absolutely no notice whatsoever of what that person, who is not me, said. And if I were to be unconscious and unable to have those conversations with my doctor? I would want that doctor to act in the best interests of their patient- me– and not listen to anyone who tells them otherwise.

In short, I do not want my life to be dependant on whether or not I’m currently making wise decisions about dating. I would really prefer if the worst consequences of bad dating decisions were epic facepalming, having my friends sit me down and ask me if I don’t think I might do better, and some embarrassing memories. I’d like to be alive to have those, thanks.

With that question firmly sorted out, let’s go to the last- but by no means least- question. Here we go:

The thing I don’t like about abortion the most is that sometimes, both the mother and child will die during.

That sure is a point. It’s a scary one at that. If you feel that abortion risks the pregnant person’s life, then I can see how it would disturb you! I would never want to advocate something that would hurt and endanger people.

Looking at statistics, though, we find that abortion is safer for a pregnant person than carrying to term. Much safer, in fact. A person is fourteen times more likely to die during or after giving birth than they are of any complications following abortion! I’m going to say that again, because it’s a staggering figure- you’re fourteen times more likely to die from giving birth than abortion.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to go picket antenatal units and GPs offices around the country, begging women not to have babies because of the risk to their lives. The vast majority of women survive pregnancy and birth, and they have the right to make informed choices and bear and raise children. It simply means that, of all the reasons that a person could choose to oppose abortion, the minuscule risk of life-threatening complications simply doesn’t add up.

Except.

Except where abortion is illegal. While only one person in 167,000 will die from a legal and safe abortion, death rates for unsafe abortions- which are what pregnant people will and do turn to when they have no legal alternative- are, according to the WHO, 350 times higher. Three hundred and fifty times higher. And that’s just counting the women who actually die. Add to that the incidence of complications that don’t kill outright, and you have a massive, preventable health crisis on your hands.

If the thing that you don’t like most about abortion is risking the lives of the people who have them? The single best way to prevent that and save lives is to make abortion legal and accessible to everyone who needs one.

Things Anti Choicers Say: “Every Pro-Choicer Has Already Been Born”


I was planning to write about roller derby today. I’m afraid, though, that you’re going to have to wait a little longer for rhapsodising about the joys of knockin’ people over on eight wheels. I’m letting you know this because just as soon as we sort out reproductive rights for all and dismantle the kyriarchy, everyone will get to blog all day long about their favourite things. I’ll turn this into a food and derby blog, write reviews of my favourite books, and yarnbomb my balcony. I’m not sure what you lot will do, but it’ll be great.

In the meantime, though, we have to keep doing this. Sorry ’bout that. Might as well get to it, though, eh? In the wake of my post the other day on antichoice responses to BPAS in the Irish Times, I’ve had a few conversations here and on Twitter. This morning I woke up to this in my inbox:

There are a lot of flippant responses I could give. Let’s take a look at the premises behind this one, though, and see what comes out of it.

1. That we would be horrified at having been aborted ourselves

Continued over at the Tea Cosy’s new home. See you there!

Advertising Abortions In The Irish Times


Waking up this morning, I flopped over in bed (almost exactly like how I imagine a sleepy walrus would) as usual, and picked up my phone for a bit of a browse of some news until I felt ready to face the world. I can’t be the only person who does this, can I? Somehow reading news articles in bed feels almost like I’m doing something productive. Almost.

This morning, I was treated to news of an ad in the Irish Times today. Doesn’t sound like news to you? Check this out:

bpas

That, my friends, is one hell of an advertisement. It’s more than an advertisement. It’s a gauntlet thrown at the Irish government to get their act together, grow a pair (of ovaries), and start providing women with the healthcare and bodily autonomy that are our rights. And it manages to simultaneously give essential information to people with crisis pregnancies. I’d have put a hat on just to take it off to them, if I weren’t, as I mentioned, still under my duvet at the time. It was a chilly Saturday morning- I wasn’t getting out of there before I had to, especially not to tip my hat to people who weren’t in the country, never mind the room.

Then I read the comments. I know- don’t read the comments. Unless they’re the comments on a blog with a silly name that seems somehow related to tea. You should read those. In those comments were a few things that I think deserve to be talked about.

What had the charming anti-choice masses of the internet to say?

You’re all a bunch of filthy murderers, tearing babies apart limb from limb

Ah, this old chestnut. The charming characterisation of pro-choice people as slathering, bloodthirsty hordes who love nothing more than dismembering innocents. I imagine that we also take the time to perfect our evil laughs before an entertaining evening spent kicking puppies, stealing sweets from children and then chopping the heads off their favourite teddy bears, yes? Oh, and we never use our indicators, always hold our umbrellas at your eye level, and turn the volume on our headphones up so loud that you can sing along to our earworms from the other side of the bus.

While all of that is of course perfectly true, there is one factual inaccuracy here. It’s the bit about “tearing babies apart limb from limb”. You see, while Irish people have abortions at about the same rate as our UK counterparts, there are a couple of important differences in how it happens, both of which can be traced directly back to the Irish abortion ban.

Irish women have abortions later. And we have more surgical abortions.

We have abortions later- two weeks, on average- because travelling to the UK for a medical procedure is not a simple process. Finding money. Finding a clinic. Finding money for flights- ever had to book Ryanair on short notice? Booking flights and other transport. Can you afford a place to stay? Have you friends to stay with? Getting time off work. Have kids or other dependants? You’ll need to find someone to care for them. Oh, and remember that bit about the money? Time is ticking, and the cost of an abortion is rising with every passing week.

Even when Irish women manage to have abortions early, though, we still end up having surgical abortions far more than our UK counterparts. Why? Medical abortions- that’s the abortion pill- take more time than surgical. Those pills take time to work, and controlled miscarriages can be as painful as natural ones. Despite the fact that many women would prefer medical abortions to having surgery, they often simply can’t afford even more time away from home, as well as the cost of days of accommodation.

So let’s get something straight: if anyone is encouraging women to “tear their babies limb from limb” (a description that is as unpleasantly graphic as it is, in the vast majority of cases, inaccurate), it’s the people who force Irish people seeking abortions to have their abortions weeks later, and to endure more invasive procedures than they need. That’s anti-choicers and the Eighth Amendment, by the way.

But let’s move on, shall we? I have a couple more chestnuts to get through. How about this one:

noplane

Who do BPAS think they are, sticking their noses into Irish business?

On the face of it, this seems legit. Us pro-choice activists are always banging on about how certain anti-choice groups active in Ireland seem to be a little.. further West.. than most of the rest of us. Y’know. A fair bit west. The kind where you set off from, say, Kerry or Galway, point yourself away from land and keep going till you get to the land of s’mores and Taco Bell. If we get to complain about how they seem to get shedloads of money from shady US backers, then they should be able to object to UK organisations taking out ads in our papers. Right?

Wrong, actually.

When we object to things like overseas funding and a strange unwillingness to publish where certain organisations get their money, the point isn’t that some people who happen to live outside Ireland are giving people some money. The point is, in fact, twofold. It’s inappropriate and harmful for people with no stake in, or knowledge of, contemporary Ireland to try to influence our laws- it’s quite frankly none of their business. And hiding that you’re doing so, while pretending that you have vastly more local support than you do, is unethical and dishonest. If you can’t make your point while fighting fair? GTFO.

BPAS, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different. Ireland’s ban on abortion doesn’t mean that Irish people don’t have abortions. It means that Irish people get our abortions from English doctors. English hospitals, nurses and doctors do what their Irish equivalents will or can not. They provide the care and services that we need. By banning abortion, Ireland forces itself into a symbiotic relationship with our neighbours. UK hospitals, whether we like to admit it or not, are an integral part of Irish health care.

BPAS aren’t strangers to Irish women. They are the people who, for decades, have stepped up where our country has abdicated responsibility. When Ireland talks about statistics and anonymised cases, BPAS provides services to real people. They are as part of Irish healthcare as my GP down the road. And as the people who care for Irish women, who hear our stories and show us the respect and compassion that our country denies us, they have as much a say in this issue as anyone on this island.

And they write their name on their ad.

This is just a cynical move by those murdering scum to make more profits from killing cute little babies who have toesie woesies and things

This one makes no sense. BPAS are challenging the Irish government to actually get off its butt and decriminalise abortion already. BPAS are a British organisation. Britain is where Irish pregnant people go to get abortions now. Irish pregnant people don’t get NHS treatment, so we have to pay privately for our abortions. If abortion were legal in Ireland, we would have abortions in Irish hospitals and clinics. Not British. This would mean that they would be paid less money by the 12 people a day who wouldn’t need to travel.

It’s called logic.

You know what else, though? I took a look at BPAS’s site today. They have a specific Irish website which I found through their main site. While Irish women cannot access the NHS, BPAS charge us significantly reduced rates than UK private patients. They can waive consultation fees in several circumstances. They link to non-directive pregnancy counselling, free post-abortion medical and counselling services, and to the Abortion Support Network for people who need assistance with funding or accommodation.

Does that seem like the actions of uncaring people who care about nothing but profit to you?

Anti-Choicers: Why Do They Demonise Us? TW!


Anti-choicers, that is. In the arguments with anti-choicers that I get into so frequently these days, there are two trends I notice. They try to make us ‘admit’ to our pro-choice views, as if they were something to be ashamed of*. And they demonise us.

Oh, do they demonise us. The vitriol I have experienced from anti-choicers is shocking in its intensity and blatant hatred.  They call us murderers. They tell us that we hate children, that we want to destroy innocent life, that we have no respect for life. They tell us that we are uncaring monsters.

I think I know why.

If we are not uncaring monsters, then we might have a point to be listened to. If we do care deeply for the welfare of infants, then there must be a genuine reason why we support abortion rights. If it is possible to respect life and also the right to access abortion? Then they might be wrong.

The only way that extreme anti-choice perspectives can justify themselves is to ignore the reality of the people who have abortions and those who support them. You can’t justify forcing someone to carry a pregnancy that makes them suicidal, or that destroys their body physically. Condemning someone to spend months growing a fetus who is doomed to die at birth is deeply inhumane. There is nothing but cruelty in telling a rape victim that for every minute of every day for 9 months she will be forced to carry her rapist’s child, regardless of her consent.

And yes, telling any person that they have no choice but to give their body up for a pregnancy they actively do not want is heartless, and destroys any notion of our right to bodily integrity and self-determination.

But if every pro-choicer is nothing more than an uncaring monster with no respect for life who takes joy in killing babies? You don’t have to engage with any of that.

That’s why they call us murderers.

*I’m not.

Pro-choicers Begging For Blood


When you get tweets like this:

I think that maybe there are anti-choicers who’ve confused this:

 

With this:

I’d say it was an easy mistake to make, but..

 

 

Abortion. On demand.


“Abortion on demand”

We hear that phrase a lot. It comes from anti-choicers. Scaring the middle-ground with talk of floodgates opening and irresponsible women demanding- always demanding- abortions whenever they feel like it. In Ireland, even a hint of legislation that just might save the lives of pregnant people needing abortions is met with this. If we don’t allow women to die for want of lifesaving terminations, we are opening the doors to abortion on demand. If we acknowledge that mental illness, despair and suicidality are threats as real as septicaemia, it’s the floodgates we’re opening.

To abortion on demand. Abortion on demand. But what exactly is abortion on demand?

Oh, those hysterical women

You don’t hear stories of women requesting abortions. Anti-choicers don’t talk about women who consider the alternatives available to them and come to the conclusion that abortion is the best decision to make. They don’t mention women talking it over with their loved ones and partners, weighing up their options, figuring it out. And there’s nothing about the people who find themselves pregnant and know, straight away, that there is no way that they can or would ever want to carry to term. Or those who are simply unable to survive pregnancy. Or who would survive it, but at a cost to their health that they would never be willing to pay.

You don’t hear that. You hear “opening the floodgates to abortion on demand“.

‘Abortion on demand’ isn’t just a phrase used to evoke images of women marching into hospitals and commanding hapless doctors to terminate their pregnancies or else. It also evokes fear of the women who aren’t in hospitals, who aren’t pregnant, but who demand to own their own bodies if they are. ‘Abortion on demand’ is about the idea that women might just want to take our own lives into our own hands. That we refuse to be deemed incompetent. That we don’t need panels of psychiatrists, doctors and legislators telling us what’s best for us. That we can do that ourselves.

Yes. On demand.

I’ve never heard of a human right being granted on request. Have you? A group who, having been denied equality, set things right by asking their oppressors politely if they wouldn’t mind treating them with equal rights and dignity, please?

Our rights are not granted from above. We take our rights when we demand them and refuse to take no for an answer. We get them from years of showing up, not shutting up, getting in the way, arguing and always, always demanding what is rightfully ours.

Let me be clear. A person who is pregnant has the right to an abortion in only one circumstance: when they ask for one. And if that request is not acceded to? Damn right we’ll demand it.