BLOG FOR CHOICE DAY….Over at Unfogged, LizardBreath writes about an abortion she had a decade ago:
Continuing that pregnancy wouldn’t have been an epic tragedy for me; any proposal for abortion rights that requires abortion to be permissible only when the only alternative would be starving on the streets would leave me right outside.
But man, did I not want to be pregnant. I did not want to be locked into a minimum eighteen-year relationship with someone I’d been dating for a couple of months. I did not want to be responsible forever for someone who didn’t exist yet. I didn’t want to be physically pregnant. I had no idea of where I was going professionally — I was a temp receptionist, thinking about maybe taking the LSATs — or of how I would support myself or a child, and had no idea of how I’d find my way into a career with a new baby. The only thing being able to get an abortion did for me was give me some control over the course of the entire rest of my life.
So, politically useful as it is, I get a little edgy about rhetoric that stipulates that abortion is always a strongly morally weighted decision. I don’t think it is, and if it were I’m not certain that my reasons for not wanting to continue a pregnancy at the time qualify as sufficient to do a wrong thing — if abortion is an evil, it’s not clear to me what evil would have been the lesser under those circumstances. But I am thankful every day of my life that I had the option to end that pregnancy back in 1995.
I agree. Paying obeisance to the view that abortion is an overwhelming emotional and moral decision is politically useful, and as such it may be helpful in keeping abortion legal. For that reason, I understand why many pro-choice politicians — who obviously don’t believe that early and mid-term fetuses are human lives that deserve legal protection — treat it that way.
But as LizardBreath points out, there’s also a real downside to the constant repetition of this kind of rhetoric since it serves to confirm that abortion should be an emotional rollercoaster, which in turn suggests that unborn fetuses really do have a morally ambiguous status. Pro-choice politicians ought to keep this in mind too. After all, what’s politically useful today might not be quite so politically useful tomorrow. In the long run, the pro-choice movement would probably be a lot better off if we laid off the guilt and simply acknowledged instead that early and mid-term fetuses aren’t sentient and women should be able to freely choose whether they want to bring theirs to term. The world would be a better place.