A Letter to the Pro-Lifers
A few months ago we had this discussion in biology class where we discussed whether abortion could be considered murder of the fetus or not.
Most — if not all — of the guys in my class agreed with that statement. While all of them gave a different time at which they would personally define the beginning of life, they all agreed on the fact that life starts before birth and therefore any termination of that ‘life’ is murder.
Then our teacher said something interesting. Something that explains why the whole debate is a complete waste of time. She said, “You all name a different time, but who gets to decide which is the right one?”. And that is the ultimate response.
Nobody should get to decide that because everyone has a different opinion, since it is a personal, ethical question and not a scientific one.
Yes, a fetus can scientifically have its first heartbeat at 6 weeks, but does that mean they can be considered complete human beings at that point? Should they receive a passport at that stage then already, if they are living people? How can life be defined in the first place? And who decides which definition is set as the official one, if everyone has a different idea on the issue?
You see, that is why the whole discussion on reproductive rights shouldn’t be a discussion at all. It would be an endless debate. Elon Musk will have bought all of the world already until we’ll have agreed on a concrete definition.
That is why we should focus on being Pro-Choice, instead. You personally don’t want to have an abortion because you think it’s murder? Don’t have one! It’s that simple. At the same time, though, accept that there are other people who have a different opinion from you and give them the possibility to make their own decisions according to their personal beliefs. Just like you had the freedom to do.
Once somebody puts themselves in charge of taking a generalised decision, say in governments, based on their own individual belief (like ‘pro-life’) without the acknowledgment of other ones, we’re talking about control. We’re talking about supremacy, about entitlement to impose one’s own beliefs onto others and, in this case, about taking away the bodily autonomy from people.
Even if people might regret having an abortion, which very rarely happens, it is not your job to try and ‘prevent’ such regrets by making the choice for them, in form of a general law for instance. You will completely take away the possibility of abortion from others who might not regret it and need it to survive. If people have chosen to have one, they will have thought hard before making that decision, since abortion is not something people do just for fun. So stop playing moral judge and treating us like we can’t make responsible decisions for ourselves.
Nobody should be allowed to have such control over someone else’s body, because our body is ours only, and that is a human right.
Now, what do misogyny and sexism have to do with all this?
Even if there is an even distribution of female and male students in my biology class, and we all got the same chance to express our views on the issue, only two girls raised their hands to say something, while all the boys were eager to speak their mind. Why?
Because already since child and teenager hood, boys are encouraged to express their opinions more than girls, including on things that don’t affect them directly, and this has a huge impact on their future.
In fact, if we look at the statistics, to this day, cisgender men are the ones who hold the majority in powerful decision-making positions like politics, and therefore have the final word in every discussion, including the ones that don’t affect them personally, such as the abortion debate.
Here in Germany boys and girls are taught sex education separately (in a very transphobic way), so how can men be educated or even empathetic enough to make proper decisions regarding women’s or generally other people’s bodies? The answer is they can’t. And if they are ignorant people who choose to rely only on their own ethical principles, without considering or even knowing the consequences they might have for others who will actually affected be by it, it’s even worse.
And yet, so many men do it because being in that position makes them feel entitled to putting their stances across first, since they think it is ‘the right thing to do’ and basically don’t know otherwise.
Additionally to this, comes the still prevalent belief people have about sex being solely meant for reproduction, that women are only vessels to carry children, the only ones responsible for pregnancies (as if we can impregnate ourselves?), as well as the (un)conscious feeling of entitlement men are still indoctrinated to have towards women’s bodies (see sexual harassment & assault), all of which is still very much encouraged and supported in different parts of our misogynistic society, but disguised in order to uphold the systemic control of women without it being too apparent.
Do you think men would ever introduce a law forcing other men or people with penises to have a reversible vasectomy? No, they wouldn’t, because they are not held responsible for pregnancies the same as women, even if they are the main source of it.
All of this adds up to the supremacy I was talking about earlier, only that here the element of entitlement is reinforced by gender inequality and gender bias. This entitlement gives men the power to keep oppressing and controlling women in the patriarchal-built structures of our society, the way they have been doing it for centuries. Trans men and non-binary people that can get pregnant are affected by this, too, because their existence is also harmed by the same patriarchal structures that encourage the gender binary.
But Michelle, then why are there women like Amy Coney-Barrett in positions of power actively speaking against abortion? Is that also about misogyny?
Yes, of course. Firstly, because even if they are women, they can still be close-minded people who have internalized misogyny, or believe their perception of abortion or pregnancy is superior to the ones of others, and want to impose it on them. And second, because guess who appointed Amy Coney-Barrett to the Supreme Court?
Does an anti-abortion law itself even make sense?
Due to the prevalent structures of oppression that exist to this day, decisions like an anti-abortion law would affect people disproportionately.
A rich person, who is most likely one of the lawmakers, is not affected by this law the same as a poor person, because they will still be able to get one in secret at a qualitative facility since they have the means to afford it.
A black woman, though, wouldn’t benefit from the same privilege of getting a ‘secret abortion’, or possibly afford a journey to another country/state to get one, the same as a white woman might, because she is financially more disadvantaged due to prejudice and racism.
A trans man or a non-binary person would also be met with more hostility at an abortion clinic than a cisgender woman would, because they’d have to face the transphobia that discredits their gender identity based on genitals, which is still incredibly persistent especially in the healthcare sector.
An anti-abortion law would therefore further these inequalities in our society and spread more intolerance amongst the population, making it harder for these structures of oppression to be dismantled or even recognized.
The ridiculous thing is, these consequences themselves show how baseless such a law is, because through the (rich) lawmakers being able to & actually profiting off this inequality, they are strongly acknowledging the importance of abortion without even realizing it. They become living proof that an anti-abortion law will not stop abortions, but will only cut off the access to safe abortion clinics for the majority of the population instead, pushing people to risk their lives as they try to get something that should rightfully be theirs.
That is why abortion should not be criminalized but funded as a part of healthcare.
Because some people don’t have the means to support a child. Because some people have been abused. Because a condom broke by accident. Because some people are not ready to be a parent. Because some people don’t want to carry their abuser’s child and relive the trauma. Because some people risk losing their lives through a pregnancy. Because some people don’t want to put their bodies through nine months of pregnancy. Because birth control did not work. Because some people don’t want to go through pregnancy again. Because some people don’t want to give up on their careers to raise a child, (especially women who are still mainly the ones who have to sacrifice their careers for unpaid childcare). Because some people don’t want to relive their childhood traumas. Because for some people pregnancy can cause further gender dysmorphia. Because some people don’t want to drop out of school to raise a child. Because some people simply don’t want to have children.
Because all people should be able to have control over their own fucking lives, and the governments - which are mainly run by white heterosexual cisgender men who can’t even find the clitoris - shouldn’t have a say in any decision people make over their bodies, that they know barely something about.
I don’t have to put MY body through nine months of pregnancy, which might bring me a lot of unwanted pain and suffering or might even kill me, for OTHER people. They won’t have to carry the child. I’ll have to. And if I don’t want to share my body with anyone, I should have the right to terminate that pregnancy and not be forced to carry it to term.
How does an unborn fetus have more rights than me in this world?
So, what do we do?
Get your boys used to listen to girls’ opinions more and encourage your girls to speak their mind more openly without fear of taking up space.
- Be more open-minded towards other people’s opinions and start being willing to learn about other people’s experiences, especially about subjects that don’t affect you personally.
- Start unlearning biases you might have about pregnancy, because it is not always the fairytale you have been taught to believe it is, and start recognizing the patriarchal base that anti-abortion laws are built upon.
- If you are in a position of power, work on providing more help for childcare and better access to birth control for everyone, so that people can be ensured to have multiple options they can take, when confronted with a difficult situation.
- And try to become more empathetic towards people you don’t know personally, by treating them with the same respect you would like to be treated with.
All of this, with the hope that in future biology classes or in governments more girls, trans boys and non-binary people will raise their hands during the discussion of abortion - or even better - that it will finally not be a discussion anymore. And that they can finally be able to take the reins over decisions that concern them personally in order to shape their own future.
Pro-Life doesn’t exist, but Pro-Control does, SO be Pro-Choice instead.
We are way more than just empty vessels to carry the children of tomorrow. We are human beings with goals, aspirations, futures. And this ‘free world’ in which we claim to live in should allow us to be the decision-makers over our own lives. Reproductive rights are human rights.
It is embarrassing that in 2022 we still have to write essays about this shit.