In Every Case

I am anti-abortion IN EVERY CASE where the pregnant individual wishes to carry her pregnancy to term.

I am pro-abortion IN EVERY CASE where the pregnant individual wishes to terminate her pregnancy.

In other words, I am pro-choice IN EVERY CASE.

This does not mean that I have no common ground with people who are anti-abortion. I know people who are anti-abortion in every case. Some of these people I consider friends. Here is what it takes for common ground between me and people who are anti-abortion in every case:

If you are anti-abortion and you try to help protect life at every stage, we can have common ground.

How is that possible? The first step is to realize that nobody wants abortion. Yes, some women choose abortion when faced with unwanted pregnancy. But nobody seeks out the abortion experience. Nobody thinks, “hey, you know what would be really fun? Getting knocked up and then having an abortion!” Abortion is not recreation. It’s not addiction. Nobody enjoys having an abortion. Everyone would be happy if there were no need for abortion. This includes abortion providers, who could easily make more money with their medical degrees.

The second step is recognizing the common ground:

If you are anti-abortion and you support comprehensive, accessible, universal health care, including comprehensive pre-natal and neo-natal care and breast-feeding support, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you support universal paid family leave for all parents, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you support public schools, including free and reduced fee lunch and breakfast programs, arts, music, and sports in our schools, we have common ground. If you understand and support our civic responsibility to provide quality education for all children, including children with disabilities, children who are homeless, children who are undocumented, and children who are transgender, then we have common ground.
If you are anti-abortion and you support restrictions and waiting periods on firearms and understand that the Second Amendment actually has two clauses, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you believe that war is a last resort: at times necessary, but never glorious and always tragic, we have common ground. If you support comprehensive support and healthcare for veterans, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you support comprehensive environmental regulation and corporate accountability so that we can preserve our natural resources and ensure that all of us and our descendants have clean air and water, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you refuse to participate in slut-shaming or virgin-shaming and you respect personal sexual and gender identities, we have common ground. If you support comprehensive, reality-based sexuality education and access to affordable, safe, reliable contraception, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you support victims of domestic violence in leaving dangerous situations and becoming survivors, understanding that pregnancy is one of the most dangerous times, we have common ground.

If you are anti-abortion and you truly believe that Black Lives Matter, we have common ground.

My friends who are anti-abortion are less about the “anti” than about being truly pro-life at every stage. They love fetuses but also babies, children, teenagers, adults, seniors. They raise money to help people in need. They help exhausted parents. They support their public schools. They take care of the environment. They donate to food pantries. They volunteer at soup kitchens, libraries, and schools. They open their homes to and communities to refugees. And they don’t do these things to earn tax breaks or to showcase their moral superiority. They’re about love, not shame. And they respect the fact that we are different in our beliefs about abortion and we can still be friends.

So yes, there are people who are anti-abortion whom I respect.

What I do not respect are people who are anti-abortion but not pro-life: people who only care about life while it is in utero. If you aren’t on the front lines supporting health care, school funding, environmental preservation, or any of the bullet points above, don’t even bother to claim that you’re pro-life.

And while we’re at it, don’t even claim that you’re just pro-fetal life because fetal life is somehow innocent and all other life is tainted. You’re not even out to protect all fetuses. If you were, you’d make sure every pregnant individual had good nutrition and quality pre-natal care. You’d open our borders and your doors to pregnant immigrants and refugees, whether or not they were “documented” or even vetted. You’d be on the front lines to ensure health care for pregnant trans-men. Yes you would. You’d provide shelter for every pregnant teenager kicked out of her home. You’d make sure that pregnant inmates were protected and cared for. I don’t see any of that happening by people who claim to prioritize fetal lives over others, so no, I don’t believe that you truly even care about fetuses.

But going back to my friends who are truly pro-life, if I respect them, why can’t I compromise? Can’t I at least agree to some restrictions? For example:

What about parental consent? Shouldn’t minors talk to their parents before having an abortion? Yes, that would be great. You know what else would be great? Minors talking to their parents before making any major choice, such as abortion….or dating, or having sex, or getting married, or applying to college, or getting a job, or…having a baby! Yes, talking to one’s parents is a great idea but sometimes it is not practical or safe. These conversations should be encouraged, not legislated. Legislating morality is rarely a smart idea.

What about abortion for sex-selection? Surely I must recognize the inherent misogyny in sex-selection abortions, right? Yes, but I am not going to second-guess anyone’s reason for abortion. In cases where cultural norms lead prospective parents to prefer one sex (usually male) over another, the issue is not abortion, but the cultural norms in the first place. The answer is not to take away the right to abortion. The answer is to break down the rampant cultural misogyny. That’s a much more daunting task, but it needs to be done. Focusing on abortion is the lazy way out and it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

You know what else doesn’t fly with me? People who claim they are anti-abortion but are willing to “compromise” and “allow” abortion in cases of rape or incest. Anti-abortion, but compassionate towards victims of abuse, right?

No. That position is not about compassion.

You either think that a fetus is a person that you need to protect or you don’t. If you really think abortion is murder, you don’t make an exception for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. In no other situation is a crime victim permitted, with complete impunity, to commit murder of an innocent person. So when you say you are okay with this exception, you are admitting that you don’t really think abortion is murder.

In fact, what you’re really saying is that you’re not comfortable with women having absolutely no bodily autonomy but also not comfortable with women having complete bodily autonomy. What you’re saying is that it’s okay for women to have some choice about our bodies, just not too much. We can either choose to be sexually active or we can choose to have a baby. But both? That’s asking too much. If we don’t get to make a choice about having sex — if “sex” is forced on us — then we get to have a choice about being pregnant. But if we do make the choice to be sexually active and become unhappily pregnant as a result, too bad — we’ve used up our allotted bodily integrity by deciding to have sex.

So no, I don’t respect that position at all. I demand complete bodily integrity. That’s why I am pro-choice in every single case.