This thought occurred to me during the writing of my last post in this series, about the “pro-life” myth that people who are in favor of reproductive choice hate babies. As I (hopefully) demonstrated in that post, a lot of the the time, someone’s reason for getting an abortion is the exact opposite: they care a great deal about children, both preexisting and potential, so having an abortion when unable to care for (another) one is an expression of that respect and love. I stand by those statements, but wonder: why is it that that argument gets under people’s skin so easily? It certainly gets under mine, as somebody who feels exactly that way: I adore children, but if I got pregnant right now, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would not carry it to term (to be fair, it’s possible that I would feel differently if actually in that situation, but at least on a theoretical level, I have no qualms about having an abortion). So, pro-lifers say that people who aren’t against abortion rights hate babies because it stings. “I do NOT hate babies, you idiot!” the more self-assured pro-choicer thinks, while somebody on the fence just might be swayed “No, I love babies! Look, I’ll prove it! What are we chanting, now?” So, the baby-hating trope works as a shaming technique, because a lot of people don’t hate babies, and even fewer want said feelings to be attributed to them.
However, I inevitably think of the others. Because of course, there are women (and men) who just plain don’t want to have children. Ever. Maybe they like playing with relatives’ kids, or babysitting, but don’t want to ever have to go through pregnancy or raise a child (even if they were mutually exclusive). Or maybe they are just plain allergic to anyone under the height of four feet, or age of 12 (or 18). And who the hell cares? Some people don’t want kids. Life goes on.
We are constantly told that any woman who would even consider having an abortion is a selfish slut, an idiotic bimbo who doesn’t want to take responsibility for her actions, a woman who “uses abortion as birth control” (as opposed to most women, who in no way use it to control having children), an infanticidal maniac bent on revenge, a weak-willed fool being taken advantage of by “abortionists”, selfish partners, or “feminazis” – in short, a completely amoral and disgraceful imbecile not able or worthy to tie her own shoes. I think I’m on the record as believing that such an actual person who fits that caricature is nonexistent, a strawwoman concocted to win people over to the anti-abortion cause (because, of course, she’s easy to hate, and deflects attention away from the actual women affected by anti-choice laws and beliefs). But if we are to take the anti-choice movement at their word, and even a fraction of those in favor of reproductive rights fit some of that bill (statistically speaking, there’s probably at least a few)- what would be the most morally reprehensible thing to force these people to be, from either the pregnant person’s or the child’s perspective?
Social conservatives believe that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, noble and admirable above all other things. After all, she is the life-blood of The Family, which is of course the very fabric that holds our society together and keeps it from falling into the sea or becoming like those Damn Europeans. If that’s the case, then why are they so in favor of forcing all of these patently unworthy women to raise children? You can’t denigrate any woman with free agency and still maintain the mantra that child-bearing and -raising women are the only thing that stand between us and The Abyss, when there’s so much overlap between the two populations.
If women are weak and witless killers who couldn’t refrain from sinning to save their life, then they shouldn’t have children or raise families. If women are noble and sacrificing and know what is best for their children and families, whether it be through “motherly intuition” or just being beaten with the Bible , then they know better than you whether or not they and their family can handle having a child. Here’s a rule of thumb – if somebody really doesn’t want to have children, she will probably not be a very good parent, not to mention completely miserable (but there I go again, thinking about women as people instead of, as George Carlin would put it, “brood mares for the state”). If you think a woman is irresponsible for having gotten pregnant, then why would you think putting an enormous strain on her finances, time and energy would make her a good parent? If you think a woman is a heartless bitch for not wanting to carry a baby to term, then why do you think she would make a good parent?
Forcing women who don’t want to remain pregnant to do so isn’t just vindictive and misogynistic. It’s fucking asinine, if you think the Abortion Strawwoman is the one who wants an abortion in the first place. And if you don’t believe in the Abortion Strawwoman, you have to respect each woman’s individual life choices, instead of projecting your moral insecurities onto her.
“Pro-Life” Myth Series:
3.5. Pro-Choicers hate babies, so they should…have more of them?