The Morality of Abortion
ACN Member Marcy Bloom writes about the current political situation and the morality of abortion, affirming that women are good moral decision-makers, despite attempts to stigmatize those who choose abortion.
As we in the Abortion Care Network watch in disbelief as the right to safe abortion, and specifically access to abortion, continues to deteriorate in the U.S. and around the world, this feels like an especially critical time to reaffirm how absolutely integral these rights are to women’s and girl’s lives, health, and dignity.
Abortion is a moral choice and a compelling human right that keeps women safe, allows us to decide our futures, and permits us to act upon our consciences, values, and unique life circumstances. The RIGHT to choose a safe abortion is NEVER wrong.
What is wrong with the world that far too may do not believe that women are capable of being ethical and moral decision-makers when facing life-changing circumstances, including an unplanned pregnancy? It is long overdue for us to be universally trusted and respected for our ability to wisely choose the direction of our lives. This includes whether, when, and with whom to have children~or not to have children. The moral choice of safe abortion must be normalized, destigmatized, and respected.
Why is it not?
The right-wing obsessively fetishizes and humanizes the potential life of the pregnancy/the fetus above that of the
REAL life of the woman with lying billboards, deceptive photos, manipulative pregnancy centers,
and cruel, distorted propaganda that are all designed to intimidate, confuse,
and induce guilt in women. When the fetus is regarded as more morally important
than the woman, when the U.S. public feels increasingly ambivalent about
abortion, and also takes the right for granted, this ensures that abortion
remains demonized, isolated, negatively discussed, and ripped from the overall
fabric and experiences of women’s lives and our intrinsic value as human
LEGAL ABORTION SAVES LIVES & REDUCES HUMAN SUFFERING. We in ACN know this is an absolutely core aspect of reproductive freedom, justice, and equality, and we live this every day. But that is not the societal message we hear.
We typically hear how evil and bad abortion is and that means, of course, how evil and bad are the women who make this choice. Stigmatize abortion...and the women who make this choice are simultaneously stigmatized as selfish and self-centered, often even as whores and murderers. And the good and skilled people risking their own lives to provide safe and respectful abortion care are talked about in even more disparaging term as exploiting and greedy baby-killers, furthering the ongoing demonization, isolation, and violence.
As a key aspect of using new vocabulary and normalizing abortion, The Center for Reproductive Rights has asserted that abortion providers need to be seen as human rights defenders and emancipators of humanity. YES!
Our discourse must shift so that we are talking far more openly and frequently about abortion and its positive impact on women and families. Women need to be trusted and supported. The discourse needs to emphasize that SAFE abortion is an absolute and fundamental human right, basic health care, and imperative for women’s survival and safety. Abortion needs to be seen as mainstream medicine for women, as a normal and common part of women’s reproductive health care needs and services.
We in ACN know that the pervasive stigma of abortion exists everywhere, including in the US, and is very successful. In the U.S., since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, there have been over 45 million women who have chosen to have safe, legal abortions. In fact, 37% of American women~that’s 1 in 3~will have an abortion by age 45.That is a lot of women. Where are they?
Most of the time, these 45 million women are shamed and scared into silence. Abortion remains hidden and secretive and something that “other people do.” Because we as a society don’t tend to openly discuss abortion as a normal, life-saving, and common woman’s experience, people don’t know that their loved ones, friends, neighbors~their daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers~ have had abortions and are not damaged or immoral women.
And the pro-choice majority is also far too often silent and defensive about actual abortion procedures and the advancement of abortion rights. Most of the well-funded campaigns we see about abortion are anti-choice, anti-abortion, and anti-woman, all in the name of extremist religious and cultural dogma that depicts an oppressive and punishing God. These anti-woman messages relegate us to one~and only one role and choice in life~ that of a mother. Now, being a mother can be a wonderful life experience, but only IF it is freely chosen by a woman, NOT if it forced upon her by repressive cultural norms and societal laws.
This is a tragic and common global theme. A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute in NYC has found that that the incidence of abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions of the world where it is legal and in regions where it is illegal, or highly restricted. The key difference, of course, is medical safety... and tragically, illegal, clandestine abortion is both extraordinarily common and extraordinarily dangerous, especially in the developing world. Unsafe abortion causes an estimated 70,000 deaths of women annually, and an additional five million women a year are treated every year for complications from unsafe abortions. And approximately three million women who experience serious complications from botched abortions go untreated every year. This is a form of violence against women
The impact of violence and the abuse and mistreatment of women through illegal and/or severely restricted abortions infects our culture in many ways. Even our allies will frequently make uninformed, apologetic, and misguided statements.
Abortion is the lesser of two evils.
Abortion is selfish.
Abortion is a tragedy.
I am pro-choice, but I would never have an abortion.
I am not like those OTHER women.
I don’t believe in abortion as birth control.
Abortion is too easy to obtain and should be RARE.
Why did she wait so long?
But these so-called friends and allies have it very wrong. Why should abortion be rare? It is unintended pregnancy that needs to be rare, and that is only accomplished with age-appropriate, linguistically comprehensible, and medically accurate sexuality education, which needs to include information about ALL forms of contraception. Safe abortion needs to be accessible to any and all women who request it. There need to be as many abortions in the world as women freely want and choose. It is unintended pregnancy that needs to be rare and that means (among other issues) that contraception must be plentiful.
Frankly, I am sick of a world that denies respect and recognition of women’s lives and realities. Too many cultures still treat women as children and view women as vapid entities unable to make sound decisions. We need to see a transformation of basic attitudes about human freedom, reproductive justice, self-determination, and women’s autonomy and dignity as human beings.
After all, it is women who are in the best position to be honest and true to themselves as they make the most responsible and most moral decisions possible. The choice of an abortion can be a loving, considered, and unselfish decision and women deserve kindness, compassion, and support in this process. Why can't the world see this?
When women work from a place of self-knowledge, inner truth and goodness, and use their personal moral authority as they decide the outcome of an unplanned pregnancy, they also frequently struggle to free themselves from the extremist religious and cultural dictates of perfection, obedience, and martyrdom. Why should we try to be perfect, obedient, or martyrs? This is yet another destructive stereotype of women as perpetuated in the madonna/ whore myth which completely ignores the complexities of our lives.
I dream of a day where women and girls everywhere unite and work together to reinforce new beliefs about women, and transform bigoted laws and harmful attitudes of cruel and unforgiving societies. If we as women are ultimately able to change oppressive traditions, we will eventually enable every single woman and girl in the world to freely live the liberated life that SHE desires, deserves, determines, and chooses.
We don’t yet live in that world. But I sincerely hope that we all live to see it and I look forward to it.
I know that you do too.