Tag Archives: prochoice

Women’s Abortion Rights — A Wager

CAUTION: As indicated by the title, this is a blog on a sensitive topic. Please don’t read this if it will deeply damage you–this is a painful topic. I don’t mean to discourage those with different viewpoints from reading it, this was written for you, and debate is good (with a desire to understand on both sides)–the world needs more of that. But like any duel, I should not ambush…
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Women’s Abortion Rights — A Wager

Pascal had a famous wager. This is mine.

Women get exploited all over the world, particularly, in sexual and familial matters. Hence, oppression, domestic violence, and rape. It is something we must fight all our lives.

Abortion gives a woman control over her body, she can decide if she wants to carry a pregnancy to term or not. It is her choice, her body, her decision.

So abortion rights is for the woman, right?

On a spring morning in Philadelphia, for the first (and last) time, I stood outside an abortion clinic a mile or so from my undergrad campus. We held homemade signs about adoption, and tried to talk them out of it. Unlike many clinics, the cars didn’t drive quickly past us into a fenced off parking lot, but instead people were walking down the sidewalk, into the clinic because the entrance was right near the street. The stretch of sidewalk directly in front of the clinic was off-limits to us, so we had to stand back, with the prochoice escorts sweeping past, but it was a long sidewalk, so we had a chance to speak to them as they walked past us first. It was a Saturday morning, about 20 women went in. None of them spoke to us–they were in no mood for talking. About 18 of them looked annoyed or upset, suddenly texting their phones, looking past us, their steps quick, their eyes averted.

But two of them looked at us, or maybe I should say, gazed blankly in our direction. One was a young Asian girl–she looked to be in highschool. The tears were streaming down her face. A middle-aged Asian man–he looked to be in his later forties, had her by the hand, leading her into the clinic. She trailed behind, silent, tears streaming. Probably her father. I can see him in my minds’ eye, saying something along the lines of: you must accept Yale’s offer and be ready to focus on pre-med studies by the fall! The opportunity you must not miss! This relationship with that loser Jim will ruin your life

The second woman’s face still haunts me. There were three of them, one woman and two men. They got out of the car, and got on the sidewalk. She was white, in her mid-thirties, at least six months along her pregnancy if not more. Her eyes were bright red, her face puffy from crying. Her shoulders were slumped, her neck bent down. She took small steps, and looked down at her feet. Two men accompanied her, one muscular man who looked to be in his early forties and another man with grey hair but still spry, who looked to be in his early sixties. They walked before and behind her, moving her along. Her feet dragged, slowing down, turning in my direction. I took a small step closer to her, looking towards her face–and then the muscular man stepped between us, eyes blazing, his arm tense and fist tightened, as if about to strike. He made a motion with his arm at me: I stepped back instinctively from fear, and the two of them hustled her past me. It all happened in a second. In a couple more seconds they were in the prochoice escort’s area (that was fenced off to us) and they entered the clinic.

Accompanied by those men, looking like a beaten dog, exhausted, she had looked to me— and I had not helped her. Because I had been afraid of being punched.

Women do not make their choices in a vacuum. The same men that pressure them in other decisions will pressure them in this area as well.

It comes down to this:

If abortion is outlawed, more women will be forced to give birth against their will.

If abortion is legal, more women will be forced to undergo abortion against their will.

Which is more devastating? Which violates their body more? Which one is more terrible? To have given birth when you did not want to, or to be coerced to put your feet into those stirrups, as something alive is torn (piece by piece) from your body, to be dumped into the bin of biohazardous waste?

People endure so much ghastly suffering in this life.

Let us not make it any more painful than it already is.

The Catch-22 of Compassion in the Abortion Debate

We must try to see it from eachother’s perspectives, really try. I don’t mean just emoting, I mean understanding eachother’s reasoning too. Once you understand why they come to “those” positions, perhaps you will also better understand your own position.

If one tries to argue that a fetus is a human person, the debate does not–as one might expect–center around conflicting definitions of personhood. Rather, one is rebuked as hateful and cruel, for emotionally torturing women who have had abortions by making them into murderers.

Biological definitions and ultrasound images have no place in defining personhood. No, for nothing is as it seems, “only thinking makes it so” and as long as we don’t *think* of it that way, then nobody is guilty, but if a society starts thinking differently, then suddenly many people will feel guilty and be in great pain.

In other words–reality is culturally constructed. There is no place for any kind of empirical, scientific evaluation of data in the formation of our definitions.

So let us de-humanise the fetus, so that women will feel less pain. Right?

Fully 1/3 of women who experience miscarriages have suicidal thoughts, and most of the rest struggle with serious depression. Those who have not gone through it, or intimately known someone who has (and witnessed it firsthand), have absolutely no idea of this very peculiar and horrible pain.

It is the pain of loving into a potential, something that would have been, was, and yet wasn’t. There isn’t even anything tangible to hold onto, not even a photograph–just a little plastic thing that looks like a thermometer, with two pink stripes. And all those familial jokes and eager anticipation and food cravings, the projected due date and the mended baby clothes, the discussions and the dreams, now nothing but the passage of blood. No funeral, and there is no point in telling others because their casual compassion, as they smile and shrug it off, is twisting the knife in the wound, “You already have other children,” or “don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again”. As if this loss was something completely replaceable, a carton of eggs, an “it”.

It is Rachel, weeping for her children, for they are no more. They aren’t even allowed to be deceased in our culture, just non-existent. This is a pain whose depths you will never fully understand until you go through it.

And it is a pain that is greatly increased by our present culture, which de-humanizes the ‘fetus’. “It” isn’t even allowed to be a human person. And so this culture, which tries so hard to diminish the pain of women, torments those in grief, who are denied even the personhood of the one they have lost.