I never write about abortion. This is because, frankly, the debate has always bored me, and I have never really understood it. In Canada, there has not been a genuine debate around abortion rights in the time I have been alive. It simply never felt as though my right to access an abortion could ever be under threat, and found American feminists’ obsession with the abortion issue, over all other issues, tiresome, boring, and a distraction from more pressing issues.
I am not saying this because I believe I was necessarily correct in my thinking — the fact I took abortion access for granted was a product of my circumstances. I took a similar approach to free speech for most of my life, which is to say it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have it, therefore I never concerned myself much with the issue. Not a great way to go about protecting civil rights, I know.
Now that my brain and politics have matured a bit, I see free speech, abortion, and civil rights and liberties much differently. But let’s talk about abortion, seeing as this is the current target of liberal hysteria, and seeing as it is a topic I have never really addressed in a formal way.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that an initial draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito had been leaked, revealing that a majority of Supreme Court justices support overruling Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, allowing “the States to regulate abortion as they see fit.” This is only a draft opinion, and is not final. The final opinion is not expected until summer, at which point we will know for certain whether Roe and Casey will be overturned, meaning access to abortion is no longer a constitutional right for women. Justices may change their votes in the meantime.
As others have pointed out, this leak is not a good thing. It is indeed the first time such a thing has ever happened, and whoever did it — likely a progressive clerk playing hero, though of course I don’t know for certain — committed a pretty serious breach, demonstrating a lack of respect for the rule of law. Bari Weiss spoke to a law professor who told her, “What they don’t understand is that, by leaking this, they violate the trust that is necessary to maintain the institution.”
If it is the case that this was a political move motivated by a self-perceived saviour, the result is won’t likely be the desired one: it is unlikely any justice will change their vote on account of the leak, and the court may be more cautious about hiring obviously partisan people in the future, lest something like this happen again. Who would want wokies perceiving themselves to be brave whistle blowers around, if this is the result? It is possible that the aim of the leak was to galvanize support for the Democrats, which may well have been a good strategy, considering dwindling support for Biden in the polls. The result, though, will not be a good one, in my opinion. Hysteria, further division, and self-righteous partisans, even more steadfast in their positions, and derisive of the “other side,” will be the result.
To my mind, the current hysteria is unwarranted. In general, hysteria is unwarranted and also a bad approach to solving problems rationally and effectively.
In this case, it is manifesting in predictably bad takes, and further division in America, as if things weren’t bad enough. Progressives are freaking out, and claiming women will now be thrown in jail for attempting to seek abortion, despite the fact a majority of states are unlikely to criminalize abortion, and the right are joking about sad liberals who love murdering babies, and may find this a more inconvenient hobby in the future. Democrats are making predictable statements about “men controlling women’s bodies,” which makes zero sense, considering a majority of men in the US believe abortion should be legal, that there are many of pro-life women, and considering that Democrats claim to no longer have any idea what a man or a woman is. Moreover, chanting “my body my choice” after having spent the last year attempting to force people to take unnecessary vaccines against their will is monumentally hypocritical.
Both sides of this debate are driving me crazy. But let’s start with the right wing idea that women want legal abortion because they love having abortions and treat it as contraception (eek!).
Speaking for myself, I have always supported women’s right to abortion, whenever she feels like having an abortion. It should be no one’s decision but her own, and had abortion not become something reigned over by the medical establishment, it would still be only a woman’s decision. Abortion was not invented during the second wave — it has been going on since time immemorial and has always been a form of contraception. Abortion was once the realm of midwives (i.e. women!) — something people on both sides of the debate, who can only perceive of abortion as a medical procedure that takes place in a hospital, seem unaware of. As midwife, nurse practitioner, reproductive sovereignty activist Mary Lou Singleton explains:
“When physicians who are now medical doctors took over all of medicine, they criminalized all other kinds of providers of healthcare…
… The medical industry was moving away from plant-based medicine, towards industrially produced chemicals as medicine. One of their biggest threats to doing this was midwifery. Midwives were in every community. They didn’t just help women have babies — they were the ones women went to when fevers were too high for the mom’s comfort level, when bones were broken, when someone had skin problems or abscesses. These midwives also helped women with their dying processes and their death rituals. So midwives were really integrated into their communities. Women — and even men — trusted midwives.
… The problem was: how to get rid of the midwives? Well, at this time, there was no industrial birth control. Birth control was abortion. In her book [When Abortion was a Crime], Leslie Reagan documents women’s diaries and newspapers from cities that advertised menstrual regulation services. There were many women who had multiple abortions. Pregnancy wasn’t considered real until you could feel the fetus move. It was considered regulation of the menses to end an early pregnancy, and midwives were the primary providers of that.”
Few in this debate want to address the fact that abortion should not even be a question of debate. It could and should be something women can do on their own, if they like. Of course they should also have the option to go to a hospital or medical clinic, but they needn’t. Any woman can have an abortion if she likes, and she does not need permission. This is the history of abortion and contraception — this did not all begin with Roe v Wade.
As to the notion that women support abortion because they love having abortions, this is bs. I have never had an abortion. I hope to never have to have one. The one time I became accidentally pregnant (with an abusive man I did not wish to be in a relationship with, who I would have been tied to for life, had I gone through with the pregnancy), I did not want to get an abortion. I was living on a tiny island, at the time, and there was only one abortion provider in the vicinity, a ferry and two hour drive away. I went for a consultation, and left the clinic crying, because the doctor was a total asshole who wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. Considering I didn’t even want an abortion in the first place, but had no other option, unless I wanted to ruin my life, there was no way I was letting some man who appeared to hate me do the procedure. This meant I had to make an appointment at the Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, postponing the procedure by weeks. I dreaded going, and in the meantime, I serendipitously (though I believe I willed it) miscarried. The miscarriage was excruciatingly painful and traumatic, not emotionally, just because I thought I was going to black out and die, and was alone in a hostel, with no vehicle, at 3AM, and my doctor had told me the experience would be like “having a heavy period” HAHAHA.
I have never in my life wanted to have a baby. I don’t like babies. I do not wish to have children mucking up the life I love. I have interests and goals that are far more important and valuable to me than reproducing is. I do not wish to give birth. Nonetheless, the moment I became pregnant, at 27, living in a trailor with a part-time job at the local cafe, my body told me to keep that baby. This is what women’s bodies are made to do. We do not glory in killing babies. Evolution is still a thing — we have not escaped nature. Nonetheless, sometimes it is not right timing — not right for the individual, not right for the family or lack thereof, not right for our financial situation, not right for our health, not right for the potential child. The fetus loses nothing in not coming to fruition — for the woman, a baby changes everything.
People seem to believe I’ve “gone right,” because I have determined the left is full of hateful, unethical, irrational, dogmatic, hypocrites. I have not. I have gone rational, which is what I have always tried to be, though I’m sure I have failed many times. My blind commitment to the left and to ideology impeded my ability to think rationally and independently. I now subscribe to no ideology, political party, or “side.” I choose positions based on what makes the most sense and based on what is ethical and true, as best I can. I am not sorry that I can no longer be pinned down — I am proud of this. I remain open to engaging with, befriending, and sharing platforms with anyone who is open to the same, who is interested conversation, genuine attempts to understand one another and find good solutions.
Countless feminists have accused me of endangering women by refusing to support the US Democrats, Canada’s leftist party (the NDP), or Trudeau’s Liberal Party. I will never support any party that cannot define the word “woman,” and that refuses to support women’s sex-based rights. I will not vote for a party that fails to stand up on such a fundamental level for women’s rights and civil liberties, and who threatens our ability to speak freely and tell the truth.
Abortion is not the only issue on the table, but abandoning the left does not mean embracing every right wing position. So stop this nonsense, division, and blind partisanship, and do your best to stand up for what is right and ethical, regardless of who you end up standing beside.
I do not support women’s right to access abortion because I am left or right, but because I support individual rights and freedoms, bodily autonomy, and a woman’s right to choose the path that is best for her in life, as best she is able to.
Whether a woman wants to carry a child and give birth should not be up to a vote. She belongs to no one. The fetus growing inside her is a part of her body — a literal parasite — until she gives birth. It is up only to her if she wishes to go through with that. Forcing a woman to carry and give birth to a child against her will is draconian. I don’t care how many weeks along the woman is (though the notion that women are seeking out late term abortions willy-nilly is ridiculous — if a woman seeks to end her pregnancy that late in the game, it is likely because something very serious is going on, for example fetal anomalies or maternal life endangerment) — it is still her body and her choice what she wishes to do with it. A cliche, perhaps, but one for a reason.
If you support bodily autonomy, individual rights and liberties, I cannot see any other ethical legal position. You can have whatever personal feelings and views on abortion you like, but you may not tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body. She is not a cow, she is not confined to your factory, you do not own her or her potential child.
And to the progressives raging at the right, and accusing them of hating women and of making bad arguments: How dare you act self-righteous after throwing women’s rights in the garbage in favour of post-modern, anti-science garbage. How dare you claim to stand for individual/women’s rights and bodily autonomy after advocating totalitarianism for two years, and creating enemies out of anyone who stood up for free speech and civil rights and freedoms. You put men’s desires in front of material reality and the rights and safety of females — you have lost credibility on the issue of rationality and women’s rights.
We need consistency in this debate, and right now, I am seeing very little of that.