I can’t turn off comments on individual posts, so I’m asking you to be respectful of my page. Remember, social media consumption can be modulated, and you are welcome to move along if you disagree. Debates on this subject are not going to get very far with me, so please take it to your own page. Let’s be sensitive to the fact that the numbers say about 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in her lifetime, so if you comment, do so knowing that people reading this are the people you’re commenting about.
I wrote a post like this awhile back ago, but I always feel led to bring it up during politically charged seasons.
There are generally four Western ideologies around abortion, and often, you will find yourself fitting in one.
This is often the ideology adopted by politicians and religious leaders. Abortion is an anathema, not necessarily because of what it is (after all, if ending abortion was the goal, sex education, free contraception, universal healthcare, and living wages would be the answer), but because of who gets the choice. Control of women and their bodies is a cornerstone of patriarchy—it is the same mindset that leads to rape, domestic violence, and abuse. What’s interesting is that we find that many of the men who fall into this category have also paid secretly for abortions. People who suggest things like jailing women over abortions, re-implanting ectopic pregnancies, etc. are not concerned about the safety, care, or thriving of the child. Just controlling women.
This is where most “pro-life” people fit. They are truly concerned about infanticide and believe that a zygote becomes fully human and soul’d at the moment of conception. You will hear a lot of rhetoric around women’s bodies being hosts for babies and that once pregnancy is detected, her rights are less important than the rights of the child growing in her uterus. Most people who sit here are concerned greatly for the unborn and deeply grieved by abortion. While a lot of this has to do with one’s conception of God, science, innocence, and life itself, people who protect find themselves as the voice for the voiceless. Nothing is more important than the abortion issue, and all of humanity and morality rests in whether or not abortions are banned and punished.
Many “pro-choice” people rest comfortably in this category. There is an acknowledgment that a woman should have full autonomy over her body—what is put into it, what grows in it, and what risk she is willing to take. They often take major offense at the labeling of non-viable pregnancies as babies, and reject the naming of abortion as infanticide. Pro-choice individuals do not see most abortions as killing, but do see late-term abortions as regrettable and tragic (due to the structural poverty, racism, ableism, and abuse that usually leads to them). Pro-choice people often support policies that improve the lives of single and struggling mothers, while supporting abortion as a means to safety, health, and autonomy.
Finally, most of the people you find here are those who claim a consistent life ethic (against the death penalty, war, policies that disenfranchise the least privileged, abortion, and societies that allow homeless, sick, and immigrants to suffer). Honestly, they don’t have a great answer to how to hold the tension well, but choose to keep on naming it. Their voting habits may differ, but they honor the souls of the born and the souls of the potential born. And in that, they struggle to fully explain to the other groups how to honor it all at the same time. People in this lane might vote for pro-choice policies in order to curb abortions through reducing the need for them.
Wherever you fall (other than #1, if you’re #1, get out of here), there’s a reason for it. And you have to decide what that means for your life and your interactions with others.
Personally, I’m a mix of 3 and 4. But I am also a person of faith and someone who values the life of all. To reduce this conversation to 2 vs. 3, ignores the fact that the 1s will always manipulate 2s to hurt women and the 4s are a very valid option for staunch 2s.
One of the things that is vital in these discussions is understanding that the language of “infanticide” does nothing to further the conversation, save lives, or reduce abortions.
And (I know I’m showing my hand here), voting for people who are firmly in the “Control” box will not reduce abortions. Studies have shown that those people will hike the abortion rate through cruel and inhumane policies.
At the end of the day, the women around you have either had (or known someone who had) an abortion. How are you talking about them? What message are you sending teens about pregnancy? Is it shame? Disgust for women who choose to end their pregnancy? Disgust for women who get pregnant?
If you don’t believe in a consistent life ethic, please don’t act ideologically pure around this issue. It does nothing to save babies from abortion, but throw them out on the street once they are born.
Also, if you’re talking to #3 as a #2, there is a very huge disconnect when you start to say abortion is “killing babies.” You disagree on science and soul, and if that’s not reconciled first, you won’t be able to have any productive conversation at all.
All in all, the point of this is that you take a breather, figure out motives and beliefs, and then proceed.
(Also, can we change the names? Pro-life and pro-choice are not accurate or helpful in describing these belief systems.)
Do least harm. That’s what 2-4s want. There’s just a disagreement on what that means and how to get there.
Figure it out, and proceed from there. Just don’t dehumanize people in the process.