The Abortion Debate

I think I was about fifteen when I first heard of someone having an abortion. It horrified me. One minute she was pregnant and everyone was talking about how this sixteen year old had “ruined her life” and the next, the pregnancy was never mentioned again. When I asked where the baby was about a year later, a hushed response was whispered to me, “She had an abortion.

The very word, “abort,” sounds like an abomination. It evokes the very image it is intended to evoke. The dictionary defines it as “bring to a premature end because of a problem or fault.” I mean. That says it all. You don’t need to unpack that. From the first clause to the last, you have the entire pro-life debate. Although the doctor performing the abortion will use a different term specific to how many weeks along the pregnancy is, we all still call it an abortion. So, while I personally don’t like the word, there’s not much point in going down the rabbit hole (so to speak) of pregnancy termination words. It is what it is.

And yet. Even as I type this. I wonder. Do we do ourselves harm by using a word that is so loaded? But maybe I’m getting hung up on the wrong issue, which is the right to choose how your own body will be governed.

Let me be clear. I am pro-choice. I am 100% all the time pro-choice. Not “well, in some circumstances” or “well I could never do it but I understand why other women do it,” or any of that other namby pamby muddying of the debate that seems to happen in nice circles. Her body. Her choice. The end. I won’t tell you what to do with your uterus, your spleen, or your prostate.

OK, I will totally judge you if you smoke. I have asthma, so the idea that you would disregard a perfectly decent set of lungs while I need medication just to breathe in and out baffles me. I will ask you to find a way to smoke that doesn’t impact my choice not to smoke. And in pretty much every experience I have ever had, smokers get it and don’t push their decision to smoke on me.

And there it is. Your choice. My choice. They want to smoke. So they smoke. I don’t want to smoke. So I don’t. And when smokers are smoking, we don’t mingle.

But back to the abortion debate. I have a few issues with this whole business of women needing to fight for our right to not be baby factories because legislation determined it to be so. But I also have some solutions. Because, I’m a solution-minded individual.

  1. If you are a man and you want to stop abortions, come up with a way to ensure you stop the spread of your careless seeds. See, here’s the thing. I like my lawn to be green and free of dandelions. If a dandelion starts to grow in my lush, fertile, green lawn, I won’t yell at my grass or whisper about it when I pass it on the street for allowing a dandelion to plant its dandelion seeds. I won’t pass stronger legislation that forces my grass to carry a dandelion seed to its full taproot potential on the off chance that the dandelion could be a the person who cures cancer or a brain surgeon. (I would go mow my grass right now if I thought a stray dandelion could be the next Trump.) If I don’t want dandelions on my lawn, I dig up the dandelions. If the dandelions insist on spreading their seeds all over my yard, I might go get Round-Up and deal with the dandelions harshly. (Probably not though. I have a dog and I don’t want him frolicking in a Monsanto product.) If you want fewer pregnancies, go deal with the thing that caused the pregnancy in the first place. Put your son on The Pill. (You might want to push for it to be put on the market while you’re at it.) Buy him a purity ring and take him to the annual Mother-Son Purity dance. (That isn’t less creepy when the genders are reversed, is it?) Take him to the doctor and have him sterilized so he can’t impregnate someone else’s daughter. Do whatever it takes to stop the careless spread of his seed.
  2. Create a penalty for men who got a girl pregnant. Oooooo. Yeah. I went there. Right now the penalty for a girl (woman) who gets pregnant is that her body autonomy is stripped from her for a minimum of nine months, assuming she can endure the permanent emotional pain of putting her forced pregnancy baby up for adoption. And let’s not forget the public shaming that happens nonstop from the moment her belly pops until… well… twenty years? Thirty? When does the public shaming stop? The penalty for the man? He has to go into the witness protection program so he can avoid child support. Or he doesn’t pay it at all and simply gets on with his life. Or he does pay it and simply gets on with his life. It’s up to him if he wants to tell other women that he was irresponsible with his seed. The penalty, at worst, will be financial. And given how many maintenance enforcement programs exist in an attempt to enforce the court ordered child support that the deadbeat needed just to hear the message of responsibility, that penalty is more like an annoyance. Oh sure. I get it. I can hear it now: hashtag-not-all-men. Yeah. That’s lovely. But focus on the issue. Since a woman is penalized for her pregnancy, let’s come up with something that is equal for the men. I don’t know… mandatory sterilization has been thrown around and it’s not a bad idea. We remove someone’s driver’s license for less than that. So maybe the penalty for a first offence is a twenty-year vasectomy. Whoa. Crazy. But won’t that impact his potential to find a wife and settle down and have kids? Yeah. Good catch. Kinda like the woman raising a child on her own is experiencing. Fertilize responsibly, menfolk.
  3. Pass a law that forces everyone to be tested as an organ donor AND that if a match is found, they are forced to donate their organ to save a life. OK. I’m not actually serious, but hear me out, because serious or not, I’m making a point. A uterus is an organ. By legislating a woman to have to donate her uterus to save the life of an unborn child (because that’s what we’re saying, right?), we are saying her body autonomy is less valuable than the life of another person. If this is true for a uterus, it is reasonable to assume it should still remain true for other organs, like your spare kidney or your extra lung or maybe that eyeball you barely use. If someone is going to die on dialysis, and Senator White Man’s name pops up as a match, well, stop the assembly and get him out here STAT. He has a life to save. They could be a brain surgeon or the next Einstein. We can’t kill them. I know. How uncomfortable. The idea that we could be forced to donate from our body, that we could possibly die in the process, and that we have no control and no choice is just reprehensible. I mean, unless you’re a girl. Then it’s cool. Also it’s your fault.
  4. STOP TREATING MOTHERHOOD LIKE A PUNISHMENT. Yes, I used caps. Remember that first time I ever heard about an abortion was in the context of a girl who had ruined her life? That lesson was loud and clear. Motherhood is the screwing you get for the screwing you got. Unless she can identify the father as her husband, in which case it’s all good. Motherhood is a gift. The moment you pee on a stick could be the most amazing moment of a woman’s entire life. And if we lived in a world that actually celebrated mothers, it would be for every woman. If you want to stop abortions, put an end to the shaming and punishment that comes with a pregnancy that didn’t happen on the right side of the sheets. Celebrate every single fertilized egg like it’s a gift from God. Write speeches that say, “A midwife for every woman!” (You know, like “a chicken in every pot”?) Open free-standing massage clinics for women to pop into when her lower back is sore. Build birth palaces for when the moment comes. And if you have generously donated your body to the birth of a potential future world leader or the next great gas attendant, you get a shrine erected in the town centre and your name on a plaque, not to mention free healthcare, free housing, and all the other goodies you need to make sure that future world leader or gas attendant never has to wonder what it’s like to play hockey because you wouldn’t be able to pay rent if hockey got added to the household budget. (And hockey would be co-ed, because in a world that values girls, we wouldn’t see the end of women’s hockey here in Canada. Just saying.) Let’s make pregnancy great again.
  5. Butt out of business that isn’t yours. This one is my favourite. I probably don’t even need to talk about it too much since it’s self-explanatory. But just because it’s my blog, I’m going to expand on it. (Also my grade six teacher always told me to expand on my answers. Incidentally she also told me to use fewer parentheses, which she called “brackets.”) I’ve heard every variation on why abortion is wrong that you can imagine. My personal favourite, and I say “favourite” with the same wry tone I use when I describe self-checkouts, is that women will just use it as birth control. So, let me ask you, if this is something you believe, what’s the issue here? It is a form of birth control. There’s no birth as a result of the abortion, so, uh, yeah. You nailed it. NEXT question? It is literally not my business what another woman does with her uterus. And even though I’m pretty sure I know all the words to Monty Python’s “Every Sperm is Sacred” the reality is that I also don’t care what you do with your sperm. Well, unless, you, the carrier for that sperm, have decided that the lyrics are actually true and you can’t wait to see what each and every one of your sperm can be when it grows up. Then I care. Because unless you have a mutually consenting egg, you’re being a dick. Or a legislator, which is even worse.

But here’s the real thing. I learned all of these arguments when I was in my early teens. That was thirty-five years ago. I don’t get why we are still having this same Puritan debate. At what point will we be able to agree that women’s body autonomy isn’t subject to adverse laws? I don’t have a solution. I sure as heck don’t have a timeline. I’m angry that in my lifetime, I have yet to see the debate cease over whether or not women have the SAME right that men have in deciding whether or not we will become parents.