Sunday, May 07, 2006

How inhuman can you get?

It seems the UK Life League is out in force again, this time posting delightful photographs of terminated foetuses.

I just don't understand what these people think they're doing (and no, that is not a cry for enlightenment). Pro-life should really be more accurately renamed anti-choice or even anti-woman. There may well be women out there who feel that they would never have an abortion themselves, but the idea of using that subjective position to get rid of that choice for every other woman out there seems barbaric and counter-intuitive. I'm going to get a bit academic now and point out that there is no way in any valid political conception of the good that making that sort of choice (to ban abortion) would stand up. And yet, in empirical politics, it certainly seems to.

If we can't ban pornography, why the fuck should they be able to ban abortion? Oh yes, because one is something men can get off to, whereas the other is to do with a woman's autonomy over her own body (or really, both are, but probably fewer men get off on heavily pregnant brood mares). Heaven forbid we should do anything to impede a man's ability to wank whenever he so chooses.

Anyway, got off track slightly there. Ahem. What really gets me is the underhand methods that are used to make the anti-choice point. Firstly they ignore the fact that pro-choice is not synonymous for pro-abortion in every instance. No-one is saying that when a woman gets pregnant she should automatically go down to the clinic to terminate her pregnancy, simply that she should have the choice to decide what she does for herself.

At University we banned Life from advertising as a neutral and impartial pregnancy advice line. We phoned up a lot and surprise surprise, we were always advised to keep the child and to not even consider having an abortion. Women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant are often (if not always) particularly vulnerable and need someone to listen to them and discuss options with them. They do not need advice, from either end of the spectrum. Especially when that advice takes no heed of their current circumstances or capabilities. And even more importantly, when they are getting biased advice from someone who is claiming to be neutral. It seems extremely underhand and immoral.

I've always had some difficulty with the idea that men should be able to have a say in abortion debates. I don't want to deny that men should be able to have an opinion, but it seems more academic and abstract from their point of view - this is something that is not going to have an impact on their body or their future in that same direct way. As women who have been pregnant know, it is at that time that you most fully appreciate how important that choice is, and how thankful you are to be able to make it, whatever you decide. No doubt many men go through this with their partner, but in the end, I'm in favour of the last choice being that of the woman. If there are men in our lives, they should be able to trust us to make a responsible decision (it's not like this is something you decide on impulse) and if they're outside of our lives, it has nothing to do with them at all.

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