IA on Abortion

Invisible Adjunct has an excellent post on her take on the abortion issue. It is remarkably close to my own, in fact. She describes a deep personal discomfort with the idea of abortion while simultaneously being uncomfortable with the government making decisions about women’s lives. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I think the position she espouses is closest to how most Americans, including staunch feminists and Planned Parenthood supporters like myself, feel about the issue.

But I must disagree on her opposition to so-called partial birth abortion. It is a shame that right-wing propaganda has led people to believe that women are out there in their ninth month of pregnancy, deciding that they don’t want their baby, and wantonly lining up for a third-trimester abortion. (I don’t think this is what IA thinks–I am not trying to put words in her mouth.) Most states already, and I think reasonably, forbid such abortions EXCEPT to save the life of the mother. And in saving the life of a woman I believe doctors, not legislators, should make decisions about what procedures to use. The current federal law, recently passed by Congress and signed by Bushie, makes no exception for the life/health of the mother. It was an unprecedented interference in the decision-making process between doctors and patients that I find deeply distressing. Which is why, like many women, I support Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights organizations’ efforts to overturn such legislation: not because I think third-trimester abortions are a great idea, but because doctors and their patients shouldn’t be hampered by congressional fanatics.

I find it hard to be passive on the issue of abortion, because I think bound up in all the rhetoric surrounding it are two fundamentally different approaches to the position of women in society. Anti-choicers are not motivated by a respect for life (generally speaking) but by a desperate desire to control women. If you think I am exaggerating, I invite you to go observe any women’s health clinic (even those that don’t perform abortions) in your town on a day when the protestors are lined up outside. I guarantee you’ll come away from the experience with an entirely new perspective.

I have come to the conclusion that to give further ground on abortion will impact women negatively on a number of other levels. Already state governments don’t trust us enough to make our own decisions so that we have to wait 24 hours, or beg a judge, or sneak across state lines. For me that’s a short trip from the choice between a forced pregnancy and an illegal abortion–no choice at all.

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