Tag Archives: single pregnancy

“Yay abortion”: complexities of the pro-choice stance, pro-life welfare queens and Tam Lin

‘Pro-choice’ tends to be used as an umbrella term to cover absolutely anyone who isn’t an anti-abortion activist. But within this position there are widely differing stances.

1. There is seeing abortion as a necessary evil (I fall into this category)

2. There is being against abortion (pro-life) but not interfering in others’ lives by making it illegal for all women to have one

3. There is ‘true’ pro-choice, i.e. believing everyone should have an abortion whenever they want it

As well as every nuance in between! And to complicate things further, some pro-choice people are opposed to abortion after the first trimester, or four, six, or however many months, no matter whether they are in positions 1, 2 or 3.

And just to make things even more complex, people may be position 1 for certain situations and other positions for different situations. Take me, for example. Overall, I’m position 1. But I see abortion in regards to teenage pregnancy as a mixed blessing, because teens having abortions only reinforces the idea that they shouldn’t be having children or are too stupid/immature/irresponsible to have children. Also, a lot of teens abort because they have been indoctrinated into believing teenage parenthood is a ‘bad’ thing, a social evil, or that it will affect them going to university (it won’t. I know parents who are at university. You get extra student loans and grants if you have a child as well as benefits and child tax credit.) So, I am more towards being opposed to abortion regarding teenage pregnancy.

So being pro-choice means different things to different people. Some, like me, may actually agree with the pro-life arguments. The only argument the pro-lifers seem able to come up with is that abortion is killing, an argument that amazingly has managed to survive in the U.S., probably because abortion was finally achieved through a Su[preme Court decisin (Roe v Wade) and not a law passed by elected officials, which means it may have been harder for Americans to accept, and also easier to challenge.  Anyway, ridiculous as the argument obviously is – not even counting the fact that it is tied to religion, and only one religion at that – I do accept it. Abortion is killing, because not only does life start at conception, but the egg and sperm were alive prior to conception. And so what if it is killing? We kill plants, ants, slugs and spiders, and (with the exception of plants) they can feel pain, and are much bigger and more developed than a zygote or early-stage embryo. We kill other living cells in our own bodies when we wax our legs, get a nose job or scrape our knees. So yeah, abortion is killing, as is scraping your knee. Of course, the potentiality for growth is the diference between a zygote and another cell, which is why I think of abortion as a necessary evil instead of something to be celebrated.

However, the pro-lifers really confuse me with their activism. I know people who are 100% against abortion, but they’d never dream of trying to interfere with someone else’s life. If you’re against murder, don’t murder. If you’re against abortion, don’t have one. Even if you’re a welfare mom with six kids because you won’t abort, I will pay taxes for your kids out of respect for your beliefs and your right not to have an abortion. If your baby will be born a junkie, you have the right not to have an abortion. I don’t care how much of a burden on the state your kids will be. I don’t care if you are too doped up to use contraception and so you have twenty kids. If you’re against it, nobody can force it on you.

So why the activism? Why the intervention in others’ lives and the destruction of their freedom and right? All you have to do is not have an abortion if you are pregnant.

Weirdly enough, those who are most against teenage pregnancy are also against abortion, which is illogical. If you are against teenage pregnancy, you should be promoting abortion. (Not that I’m personally in favour of either encouraging ordiscouraging abortion, adoption or keeping the baby – it’s the woman’s choice and nobody else can make that choice because only she understands her own situation and what it feels like being her.)

Another odd fact about abortion is that the right-wingers constantly reinforce the idea that abortion is a new phenomenon brought on by the permissiveness of the 1960’s/the women’s movement/the liberals/secular society/the devil. Actually, abortion is thousands of years old, if not hundreds of thousands. It has variously been permitted and regulated throughut the ages from the Babylonians to the Romans and every other age – even the Victorians had illegal abortions. In ancient China herbs were taken to abort. In the old Scottish ballad Tam Lin, the protagonist is told by her mother to have an abortion by eating a leaf from a certain type of tree, but Tam Lin (the father of the baby) stops her, asking her instead to win him from the Faery Queen so he can live with her and “be your bairn’s father”. The woman agrees, meaning that she actually wanted her baby but only sought abortion out of not wanting to be a single parent, a situation which remains much the same in Scotland today where lone mothers are also stigmatised.

The stigma against lone mothers perpetuated by the right wingers will only lead to more abortions, which they also hate for some reason. Again, this is another illogical move.


Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Feminism, Literature


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