28 June 2007

Denying abortion as a means of controlling women

Via Jessica at Feministing, I read this article at Marie Claire. I know, barf. The only real "magazines" I read are Bitch and Southern Living. My coffee table is quite the conversation piece, but I digress.

The article is a personal account of one woman's experience with the abortion pill, Mifeprex. While this is a very safe drug to induce miscarriage, this particular woman had a horrible experience with infection and hormonal imbalance for months after taking the pill. Mifeprex almost always causes very uncomfortable cramping, bleeding, and some other side effects. But in my opinion, I would rather deal with these discomforts than have a surgical abortion, if only because I would rather be at home, with people I care about and trust.

As I was reading the article, I thought about how it would bring out the anti-choice zealots in full force to shame this woman for her "choices". (For a little background, the woman was about to be married, but had been a cocaine user during conception and for most of the month or so that she was pregnant, and made the admirable choice of not bringing an addicted and possibly severely disabled child into this cruel world.) After scrolling to the comments, I was proven correct. The first comment made my stomach turn. The commenter had chosen a medical abortion a few years ago, and still regrets it to this day. No mention of how it might be the pregnancy that she regretted, or the lack of support she received from her friends and family, or the fact that our society shames women who abort and induce horrendous guilt. In addition, she claims that "the idea of inserting it vaginally itself was the hardest thing". Really? Putting your fingers into your own vagina was really the hardest part of your abortion? Wow. I put my fingers in my vagina every time I menstruate in order to insert a tampon. Has this woman ever masturbated? Likely, no. Get thee a rabbit, and fast! But now I'm getting off topic.

The next comment gets into the writer's coke addiction. So predictable.

I do not think using an author who had a raging coke habit (at an age when she should have known better nonetheless!) was a wise choice.

At an age when she should have known better? Basically, what this commenter is saying is that s/he can understand if the author was a teenager, when they probably can't afford coke anyway. Not to mention that addiction is a bitch. How many meth/heroine/coke addicts out there are really enjoying their addiction? Not many, I can guarantee that. And we certainly don't encourage pregnant women to seek help for drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, we incarcerate them.

But then we hit the real nerve, abortion as birth control, in the fourth comment. There are some folks on the fence about abortion, who say it shouldn't be used as birth control. Guess what? Abortion IS birth control! Women aren't getting abortions for fun, despite what some of the more unhinged anti-choicers would like you to believe. When you get an abortion, you are deciding whether you want to give birth or not. Birth. Control. That means that proponents of "Natural Family Planning" (since what the rest of us participate in is so UNnatural) are also using a form of birth control. Even abstinence and non-penis-in-vagina sex is considered birth control.

In my opinion, there isn't a human being on this earth of reproductive age that doesn't (wish to*) participate in some form of birth control. What baffles me is why people think that abortion is so abhorrent a form of birth control. I get that it's icky, but so is every type of surgery. Is there really a myth out there that women have unprotected sex thinking, "Well, I'll have sex sans condom, and if I get pregnant I'll just get an abortion on my way to work one day"? Abortion is the last birth control resort for women, save the victims of rape.

Next on my list is the hypocrisy of the "rape exception" of most proposed abortion bans. This has become so common in the political discourse that it hardly stirs a reaction. However, it has always bothered me. By banning abortion, sexually active women are punished. By making an exception for rape victims, legislators are rubbing salt into the wound of the rest of women by basically saying that the reason they can't have an abortion is because they CHOSE to have sex, and weren't forced into it.

This is the proof that anti-choice policies are not really concerned with saving fetuses, but with controlling women. And this is what it's all about. Privileged men, so afraid of losing their power, feel the need to control women who dare to act independently. (See, street harassment, rape, domestic violence.) Scary.

* When I say "wish to" I am implying consensual sex. Rape and incest victims cannot choose birth control, unless they are using regular hormonal contraception. We cannot forget these victims whenever we talk about a right to birth control.

No comments: