Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"I Don't Want to be Pregnant" is Reason Enough

As I said Friday, I'm really tired of hearing about how abortion should be rare. In that post I demonstrated that even if you're careful and use two methods of birth control (or practice abstinence), the cumulative risk of pregnancy over many years of use is pretty high. As a result, we should expect a fairly substantial demand for abortion.

Since writing Friday's post, I've had a couple conversations with people who identify as pro-choice, yet maintain that even with the fairly high birth control failure rates, abortion should be rare. Which means they think that abortion is okay in some circumstances but not others (and we're not talking about trimesters here.)

That's not exactly what I'd call "pro-choice." It's more like begrudging choice. Like, "I'll let you get this abortion, technically, but I'm totally going to judge you and shame you for it." That's not cool. And it's going to scare some folk out of getting an abortion who want one.

"I don't want to be pregnant" is a good enough reason. It will be my reason, should I ever get pregnant. I'm healthy. I'm financially comfortable. I even think I'd be a decent parent. But I do not want to give birth, and so I'm not going to. Please keep your judgment to yourself. It's my medical decision to make, and implying that I shouldn't have an abortion is, frankly, anti-choice.


  1. When I read this, I immediately thought of the similar situation of loaning/giving money to someone. (Yes, I'll explain! ;)). When you gift or loan money to someone for a specific reason, you cannot make them use the money for that specific purpose. If someone is struggling with an unexpected bill and you give them $100, they can use that $100 for anything they wish. That gift or loan of money *has* to be unconditional - once they have the money, it's theirs to do with as they wish. You do have control to set terms if you expect that money be paid back, but that's it. The same with abortion - if you say you're pro-choice, then you are pro-choice. Someone's reason for abortion is THEIR OWN reason, and you cannot project your own morals and 'allowable' reasons upon someone else. That choice, like how to use that $100, is unconditional.

    That said, I would totally have your baby! ;)

  2. Now that's fandom. Too bad I owe my first-born to the devil.

  3. It sounds like you've had conversations with people who use the "rare" part differently than I've heard it. In my experience, it is shorthand for "people should have access to all means of birth control possible, good education, and control of their own sexuality." Really, relative rarity of abortions should (to my mind) just be an indicator of a healthy culture around sexuality, not a goal in itself. That said, I don't have a good sense of what proportion of undesired pregnancies come from standard BC failure versus (largely preventable at the societal level) lack of easy access or needlessly risky choices.

    I'm sure that you're referencing people who are kinda-sorta pro-choice, but wouldn't say what I've said above — I've talked with them too — but I don't think that "rare" is necessarily the coded judgement you allude to here.

  4. Indeed, my initial inclination was that the argument for "rare" abortion sprouted from people thinking that abortions were due to a lack of/improper use of birth control: hence Friday's post. Since then, as stated in this post, I have had two additional conversations with folk who claim that given frequent birth control failure, abortion should still be rare. One individual went on to talk about how awesome adoption is. The other made some similarly problematic statements. Both were horrified to hear that I make no ideological distinction between birth control and abortion. Both seemed eager to outline "acceptable" circumstances for abortion and reluctant to allow women to determine those circumstances.

    On a side note, I find your assertion that I incorrectly interpreted conversations that I was a part of but that you were not ... amusing.

  5. Sorry Kyrie, I wasn't clear and I now see how you could have read it how you did. I didn't meant to even question the specific conversations you had, and I agree with all of your conclusions. What I meant by my last line was, in fact, that I've had similar conversations with people who meant "rare" in exactly the way that you were describing and (rightly) arguing against. And for those people, there are definitely "deserved" and "undeserved" abortions. I just don't believe that, at least in its general use, "safe, legal, and rare" typically describes that mindset. It is entirely possible that I am naive about this, though. I'd be curious (and possibly horrified) to know the actual statistics of this.

    Either way, it's ultimately a good thing to note that two people can say the same words and be nominally in agreement on reproductive choice, but mean very different things by it.