Why both the left and the right are wrong in their approach to reproductive rights
If you support freedom, autonomy, and the health and well-being of both women and children, you should support women's right to choose.
I’m going to be perfectly honest: I do not understand or relate to emotional responses to or feelings about abortion. At least not about other people’s abortions. This does not mean I believe those who do have feelings about abortion — which includes plenty of liberals and pro-choice people — are wrong, or stupid, or misguided. It just means that personally, I think women should be able to have abortions whenever they like, and don’t feel any ethical or emotional qualms about saying so. I think a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy at any point, and believe that women who have abortions, whether before or after 12 weeks, have good reason for doing so. I think that so long as the fetus is growing inside a woman’s body, this is a question of her bodily autonomy and individual rights to decide whether she wishes to continue with the pregnancy and give birth. And, yes, I believe the life of a full, adult, human woman takes precedence over the life of a fetus.
I also believe that to win public favor, we need good arguments, not just personal feelings. So, here are some things that we know:
Women have always had abortions and always will, legal or not.
The vast majority of abortions happen before 12 weeks, meaning the common right wing talking point sounding something like, “So you think women should be able to kill their babies at 21+ weeks, then?!?!” is mostly a moot point, as these instances so extremely rare. That said, for a woman to get a late term abortion, something very serious has to be going on, either for her or the fetus. Which leads me to believe she should still have the right to make what is fair to presume is an extremely devastating choice.
Nor are women, as some on the right claim, having abortions willy nilly. Most women who abort are doing so for the first time.
Plenty of women have all sorts of feelings about abortion, and most don’t take the decision lightly. But if they do, that’s none of your business.
I don’t understand why any pro-life person would see forcing a woman to go through with an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy as a win. It is punitive to the mother as well as, potentially, to the baby. It is potentially dangerous, if, for example, the baby is born to someone who doesn’t want it or can’t take care of it, if going through with the pregnancy is a health risk to the mother or baby, or if the baby is being born into an abusive or drug-addicted family/home.
I’ve heard people on the right as well as radical feminists say that women should simply stop having sex with men if they wish to avoid the consequences of pregnancy. Expecting women to give up sex with men is, frankly, ridiculous. No one expects men to give up sex in order to avoid potentially fathering a child, and while, yes, women do need to be more careful about who they engage with sexually for a variety of reasons, they too are sexual creatures who desire and enjoy sex with men. It is both laughably and repulsively naive and cruel to suggest that women don’t have sex at all unless they are ready to become mothers at any given moment. We don’t demand the same thing of men, though if we did, we would see a lot more careful condom use, fertility awareness and self-educating about women’s bodies, as well as vasectomies. Men are equally as capable of being accountable for their actions, yet too many of us continue to position women as sexual gatekeepers — treating sex as though it is something only for men, that only men enjoy, and that women give up under duress (or because they are bad, dumb sluts who deserve what they get anyway!)
Women like sex. Women like orgasms. Women like men.
Get fucking real.
And while, yes, many contraceptive methods used today are relatively new, and women are freer to make reproductive choices today than they were in the past, contraception is not new. Women have always found ways to prevent and end pregnancies. Abortion was not invented in 1950, with a coat hanger. Midwives were helping women to end pregnancies for centuries before they were criminalized by the modern medical establishment — abortion was considered birth control, and ending an early pregnancy was simply considered regulation of the menses. It was not “killing a baby.”
Unless you are opposed to individual rights and liberty, there is no reason why it should be anyone’s business but the woman in question what medical choices she makes and what she decides to do with her body. You can find it as disturbing, immoral, unethical, or sad as you like, but at the end of the day, it cannot be up to you whether or not another woman gives birth, as she is not owned by you, and forcing women to give birth against their will is inhumane.
All that said, it is incredibly troubling to me that even the feminist movement treats women as though they are too irresponsible and stupid to control their own fertility. Women have been, in my opinion, disempowered by the faction of the feminist movement that failed to educate them about their own bodies, cycles, and reproduction, telling them instead they must rely on Big Pharma and a pill that has countless side-effects, including lowering your libido.
What on earth is the point of taking a pill to avoid pregnancy that causes you not to want to have sex?
The pill essentially frees men up to have all the sex they like, repercussion-free, and has numerous risks for women. Messing with your hormones and stopping your period is not good for women, physically or mentally, and being on the pill can impact us in all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle ways that tend not to be discussed or that are actively suppressed and shut down when women do attempt to question or criticize hormonal birth control.
Much under-discussed is the fact that the fertility awareness method is incredibly effective, safe, and actually empowers women to understand and take charge of their own bodies. So is — yes, I’m going to say it — the withdrawal method. I am of the opinion that only teenagers don’t know how to pull out, and that no adult woman should be having sex with a man who claims “oops.” Indeed, when used correctly, with a responsible, adult man you trust, this method is 96 per cent effective.
Both of these tried-tested-and-true methods are poo-pooed (ironically) by feminists, who seem to believe anything outside Big Pharma and the male-established medical industry is silly new age nonsense, rather than woman-centered, safe, and long-practiced methods of controlling our own fertility.
To be clear, I absolutely believe women should have safe and easy access to legal abortions in hospitals and clinics, as well as to whatever form of birth control they like, including hormonal. I also believe women deserve to be fully educated about how their bodies work and what the full effects and risks of hormonal birth control are, then be trusted to control and make decisions about their own bodies and fertility.
I do not believe we should rely on the state to determine whether or not we keep pregnancies and give birth. I believe women’s health should be in women’s hands, and that we should take back the power we have long held in terms of determining our own lives and bodies.
I think both the left and right have got much wrong this debate. We on one hand have a group of people who refuse even to acknowledge this is a specifically female issue, and that only women can get pregnant and give birth — the same group of people who denied people’s right to refuse the Covid vaccine who are now shouting “my body my choice.” And on the other hand, a group of people who insisted (correctly) that no one should be mandated to take medication or undergo medical procedures against their will because they support freedom of choice and bodily autonomy, who now apparently believe in refusing women the right to control their own bodies, choices, and lives.
Let people choose what is right for them. If you believe in and support freedom and autonomy, you must believe in women’s right to choose. Just as you believe in people’s right to make medical choices for themselves, and to live lives, broadly, as they see fit, without the state or another entity determining on their behalf what is best for them, you should believe in women’s ability to make their own empowered choices and allow them liberty and autonomy.
Free thought, free speech, free choice.