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The illogic of the abortion debate

I really want to spill out some thoughts here. I get so endlessly frustrated with the way abortion is discussed in the media - by the pro-choice side. I am so tired of the phrase “exception for rape and incest.” Every time some nasty anti-choice bill comes up, we have to get upset because it doesn’t even include an exception for rape and incest!

As an aside, let’s imagine a world where a woman would have to produce a conviction of her rapist in order to get an abortion. Then let’s stop thinking about that, because it’s horrifying.


Why would there be an exception? The only good, clear reason to oppose abortion is if you think it is murder. It’s not ok to murder a baby because the father was a rapist. That makes no sense.

But apparently some large proportion of the populace thinks abortion is only ok in cases of rape and incest. Or rape, incest, or some other tragic circumstance. It better be tragic, not just “I don’t want a kid right now.” This is a nonsensical view. Abortion is either murder or it’s not (it’s not). If it is not murder, then saying the reason matters is some serious misogynistic moralizing bullshit. I wasn’t particularly disturbed or offended when the Huckster said that eleven year old shouldn’t be able to get an abortion - at least it’s a consistent view. I vehemently disagree with him, but at least he’s sticking to the “it’s murder” view in a coherent way.

But not that coherent. I doubt the Huckster would say that women who’ve had abortions should be jailed for 25 to life. Or maybe he would, there’s about 10-20% of anti-choicers who actually carry their views to their logical conclusion. The rest of them mumble something about the women being the victims and the doctors being the murderers, which still makes no sense. Someone who hires a hitman is on the hook for the murder. The discussion is a mess.

What frustrates me is that we on the pro-choice side have this tendency to cede ground, and play along with this narrative of “well maybe it really is killing a human.” Abortion is discussed as a terrible but necessary choice, a difficult decision, blah blah blah. I’m sure it is for some people. I’m sure it’s tough when you want a baby, just not now, and what if you won’t get pregnant again? Or you wanted it but circumstances changed? The third trimester abortions people keep talking about are incredibly painful. But women shouldn’t have to earn the right to their abortion through a sufficiently sad story. It is an absolute right, a Constitutional right. It is a right of bodily autonomy, and it is not murder.


I kind of despair of ever convincing that 10-20% of very logical anti-choicers that an embryo is not a human. But instead of saying how important it is to be able to abort a rapist’s child, and what a difficult decision it all is, I’d rather work on convincing the maybe 50% or so of them who have never truly thought about it.

I want to close with another thing that made me angry. One of my anti-choice friends posted an article on facebook that included a quote from Peter Singer. Peter Singer is an animal rights activist and philosopher (and is pro-choice). I disagree with him on most things, but he’s good at making you have a hard time disagreeing. But this was a thing used by the pro-life author of the article to further his point:

“pro-life groups are right about one thing: the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference… The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite: to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.”


Of course a man, lacking a womb, would say that. No, dude, it makes quite a bit of difference whether this organism is located within someone else’s body. I’m not a receptacle for other humans. While that proto-human is still inside me, it’s subservient to me and my body and is not accorded the same moral status that I am. Perhaps we should assign moral status to your sperm?

ETA: fixed instances of “pro-life” to say “anti-choice.” I think it’s important.

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