If you are ‘pro-life’, you are not pro-women.
Still births and miscarriages are tragic because the women who experience them want a child. They feel able to raise their child and to offer the time, attention and love that all children need to develop a coherent sense of self. How babies are treated during their infancy is pivotal in their succeeding physical and mental growth into adulthood.
The pro-life movement believe they are doing good. They are not only quashing post-abortion regret, they are thwarting mass baby slaughter. Often their argument is religious — conception starts at birth, all lives are precious, we are protecting a being that does not have a voice, God should decide; yada, yada, yada.
Trump is pro-life. He also hates immigrants, people of colour, LGBTQ people, trans* people, refugees, women and Mexicans. Not everyone who is pro-life is a Trump supporter, but many are right wing conservatives, with a capital C.
The Bible talks about how God knew us all before we were formed in the womb. It also mentions, in Exodus, how it isn’t cool to hit a pregnant woman; if you do hit a pregnant woman and her baby dies, you should be put to death. Fair enough. I’d prefer it if people didn’t hit pregnant women, or any women for that matter. However, the bible says nothing about aborting an unwanted child due to a) not wanting a child b) being raped or c) not being able to support a child. “But they can put it up for adoption!!”, I hear you cry. Yeah, perhaps. But they might not want to. They might not want to put their body through that process, and that should be respected. Why? Because women should have bodily autonomy. Their quality of life, and future, matters more than an insentient fetus.
This is not to undermine those who lose their unborn child. When a child is wanted, expectations are formed and excitement is kindled. Soon-to-be parents ask for hand me downs, paint a nursery, talk to their midwife, go to prenatal classes; they begin to carve a cute baby-sized nook into their lives, and that is a beautiful thing. To lose that, after the planning, anticipation, expectation, nervousness and excitement — it must be devastating. This does not, however, mean that abortion is immoral; nor does it mean that women should be forced to carry a fetus to term in order to provide another person with an offspring. Those who do not want children do not owe it to the childless to provide them with a child.
There is no shortage of children who need a loving home. Unwanted children, who have mothers who have been denied abortion, do not fare well. A study demonstrated that:
“Psychiatric hospitalization was twice as common. Delinquency was twice as common, and criminal activity was three times higher. Registration for public drunkenness was 50 percent higher. The likelihood of receiving public assistance between ages of 16 and 21 years was six times higher and of having learning disorders two times higher. In all dimensions, children born after denied abortion fared less well than their peers.”
What’s more, mothers experience unprecedented mental stress when placed in this avoidable situation. It seems pro-lifers have very little interest in the quality of life for these unborn beings, and zero concern for the quality of life of the mother. Their concern is not for the woman who is desperate for an abortion. Pro-lifers are not pro-women, they are pro-birth, regardless of the circumstances that these children may be born into.
What’s pissed me off about the most recent pro-life march is not so much their age old Old Testament arguments, but their scathing critique of, and comparison to, the hugely successful Women’s Marches that took place on the 21st of January 2017, one day after Trump’s inauguration. Pro-lifers who attended the march, and people in the media, highlight that people weren’t swearing, shouting or dressed up as genitalia; no, they were spewing seemingly innocuous statements such as “I am pro abundant life” and “We don’t need planned parenthood”. Eh. Fair enough. I completely understand how you can be against an organisation that offers hope to millions of women and men, providing invaluable education, contraception, safe abortion that doesn’t lead to death of both woman and fetus, and support to those with nowhere else to turn; oh no wait, I don’t understand. Not one bit. Who did you say Jesus was again?
The comparisons between the marches highlight how deeply embedded patriarchy is. If a woman is angry, she shouldn’t be listened to; if a “washed up” female celebrity — fully aware of the glaring inequalities perpetuated by both genders — dares to stand-up for women, she will be criticised; if a woman makes a statement by doing something that doesn’t fit within the right wing parameters of “normal”, she will be vilified. It’s almost like America wants people to toe the Conservative line; the line that endeavours to cross out anyone on the fringes of society; anyone who doesn’t abide by their definition of wholesome and normal. How sickeningly dystopian.
If you’re going to cite Exodus, make sure you follow all of the Old Testament law. Make sure you pay homage to the thousands upon thousands of women who die when they try to abort a fetus illegally and unsafely. Make sure you protest for these children’s quality of life; how much their parents will love them, their education and future prospects. Make sure the mother doesn’t commit suicide, having been forced to endure 9 months of pregnancy in order to give birth to a baby she doesn’t want, and won’t be able to care for. Make sure you console the woman who became pregnant after being raped. Make sure you love each unwanted child unconditionally, and offer your home to all of the children that are shifted around foster homes for their most formative years. Make sure of that.
Motherhood should not be forced upon anyone, and men (both present and biblical) should not dictate what a woman does with her body. Period.