Paul Akin’s comments about rape and pregnancy in the USA have had people rushing to denounce the notion of forcible rape and defend the exception in the case of pregnancy caused by rape in states with restrictive abortion laws.
Abortion in the case of rape, incest, or a foetus with a profoun disability are often types of abortion that even conservatives consider ‘acceptable abortions’. There is a massive problem with this. It is a misdirection and does not serve our true point.
No one type of abortion is more moral than another, by privileging some types of abortions over others we send the message that these abortions are acceptable whereas abortions in other circumstances are not. Trying to convince conservatives that abortion in some cases is ok, and providing emotive stories and justifications for this simply adds to the idea that in general abortion is not an acceptable choice. At the end of the day, trying to find situations where conservatives may find abortion tolerable does little to advance the movement because the message remains that women’s bodily autonomy is an insufficient reason for abortion to exist.
If I choose to have an abortion because having a child is not something I can accommodate in my life right now, this choice is no less legitimate than if I had been the survivor of rape. All abortion is legitimate. It is legitimate because women are entitled to their bodily autonomy and should have the right to make choices about what happens to it.
That is all.
Yes there are perhaps more factors at play in a women’s decision if she has been the victim of rape or incest, yes there may be more factors at play when there are issues with the foetus. That is all these things are, an additional layer of complexity that a woman must consider when she is making the choice to keep or terminate a pregnancy.
Keeping rape and incest exceptions in places where abortion is heavily restricted is important. This is because that some access will always be better than no access. This is not because women who have suffered rape are more deserving or entitled to abortions than any other woman.
Yesterday Jessica Luther @ScATX on twitter said “Raise your hand if you’re tired of talking about exceptions to abortion LIKE THEY ARE A GOOD THING. *raises hand*.” This captures pretty much exactly how I feel. The exceptions to restrictive abortion laws around the world are not a good thing. At their best they are better than nothing, they provide the opportunity for some abortions to occur where there would be none. This is not something to celebrate. These exceptions are necessary only because women are not trusted to make decisions about their own bodies no matter what the circumstances. This is a tragic state of affairs.
Abortion is an important issue to me because it cuts to the core of women’s personhood. I am more than just a potential incubator for a foetus. I am a human being and I deserve to be treated as such, much more so than a foetus deserves to be treated as a human being. So I will continue to fight for the right of all women without exception to have the right to terminate a pregnancy when they see fit.