by Josey Ross
1) They use the term “Unborn”
It’s an emotionally and linguistically manipulative move made to put the discussion in their terms. It’s also a meaningless term. Since 30-50% of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion (commonly referred to as miscarriages), and 22% of those remaining pregnancies end in termination, the likelihood that an embryo will actually develop into a full-term fetus and be delivered is somewhere between 39-55%.
More importantly, however, is the fact that it attempts to confer the ethical weight of personhood upon the embryo/fetus, with the implication that personhood de facto makes abortion an immoral act.
2) They capitalize “Abortion”
To be honest, I don’t understand the significance of capitalizing it, but assume it is meant to make it ominous and to imbue it with a sense of institutional power that simply doesn’t exist. Think of the way right-wingers capitalize Government when talking about the need to remove things like healthcare from its jurisdiction.
3) They state they are pro-choice, “as long as it isn’t being used as birth control.”
This is one that actually gets thrown around a fair bit by people who would consider themselves progressive but have drank a little too much of the misogynistic Kool-Aid that is our cultural conversation about women’s rights.
For one thing, abortion is, in the most simple terms, a form of birth control. It is used by women to control if, when, and how they will become mothers, as well as how large of a family they are able to adequately care for.
For another, the majority of women (54%) who have abortions were using contraceptives in the month that they became pregnant. The fact that many of those women report incorrect or inconsistent use is testament to the fact that we have a culture that shames women for being sexually responsible and does its damnedest to ensure our young people are not learning how to keep themselves safe.
Most importantly, pro-choice is pro-choice. We don’t get to decide which abortions are right and which are wrong. Every abortion a woman chooses in her own best interest is the right abortion.
Finally, so what if a woman is “using abortion as birth control” (whatever that means)? Isn’t it better that a woman who (probably) has inconsistent access to other contraceptive means or doesn’t have the knowledge or ability to correctly use them recognizes that she is incapable or unwilling to be the kind of mother she would want to and thus takes the necessary steps to not bring an unwanted child into the world?
4) They state they don’t have a problem with abortion “IF the unborn are not human”
First, this is a strawman. There is not one pro-choice person, literally not a single one on the planet, who is arguing that a fetus is not human. There is no feminist out there advocating reproductive justice on the basis of fetuses being toasters, or goats.
The real issue here is one of personhood, but that again, is a misdirection. It is an exceptionally clever move the anti-woman movement has made, I will grant them that. The simple fact of the matter is that we have no more ethical, moral, or legal responsibility to continue a pregnancy for the sake of the fetus alone than we do to donate a kidney to our Aunt Rita, even if the proposed recipient will die without it. Regardless of the personhood, or lackthereof, of the recipient of your good will and sacrifice, it is immoral, illegal (for now), and incredibly misogynistic to coerce women into carrying and birthing a child they do not want.
Personhood arguments are being made all over the United States, and have been trotted out multiple times in bills and motions in Canadian Parliament. They are used in an attempt to grant ethical weight to fetuses while denying women our personhood.
5) They tell you they are pro-choice but “sex-selective abortions are absolutely wrong”
You know what the problem is with sex-selective abortions? A patriarchal culture that so undervalues girls that women would rather abort a wanted child than face the repercussions (for themselves and their girl-child) of having a girl. You know what isn’t the problem? Abortion.
So let’s stop acting as if abortion is the cause of women’s oppression, when it is, quite clearly, one of—if not the—biggest causes of what emancipation we’ve gained.
And, for god’s sake, let’s stop using sex-selective abortion as a dog-whistle for xenophobic resentment and racism.