Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Get Out of My Uterus


Monday, January 22 marked the thirty-third anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

While we try to stay focused on feminist issues at Yale, we thought when it came to abortion and a woman's right to control her body, we had to say something (even if it was a couple of days later). Additionally, wiith the nomination of Alito, who attended Yale Law and his adamant anti-choice stance and the recent anti-choice activisim of our campus (read: www.yale.edu/clay), we think it's time the pro-choice camp made a visible response.

There are so many things to be said about this debate that it is hard to know where to begin. For one, there is the simple fact that the same number of women sought and had abortions before and after it was legalized; the only difference was that when it was legalized fewer women were dying from back alley abortions. Two, the fact that even though we may have a supreme court decision backing our "right," there is still very little acccess to safe, affordable abortions and even those of us who can afford them face increasing harassment and violent opposition. Three, the langauge of the debate has been co-opted by the "pro-life" movement which ignores that to be pro-choice is not to support the act of an abortion, but rather the ability for each individual woman to have a say over her body and her life.

Anti-choice proponents argue that an abortion kills a life. Where human life begins doesn't really matter to us. Sure, the embryo shows signs of life, the fetus, when more developed with its heart beat, is a moving and legimate proof of this. But that's not the point. Abortion involves making life and death decisions, literally but also metaphorically. Most women who seek an abortion do so because they cannot afford to have another child or because they were impregnated under horrendous circumstances - for them,
as Catherine MacKinnon put it, any choice about abortion involves making life and death decisions - why do we privilege the choice of someone else (say, a politician - in particular, a white man like Samuel Alito or George W. Bush), over that of the very woman who is pregnant? Why would we deny this choice to the women whose lives it changes and, many times, saves? Being pro-choice, ironically enough, is being pro-life.

4 comments:

Nathan Kilbert said...

And pro-family, for that matter, because it allows women to bring children into the world when they are ready to be parents.

Michael said...

What does being "white. . . like Samuel Alito or Geroge W. Bush" have to do with any of this?

Also, I fail to see anything "metaphorically" life or death in abortion. It's simply life or death, in real, non-academic terms.

Finally, although I agree with many of your points, I disagree with your last argument. Your last point plays the numbers games with lives, and furthermore places values on individuals when all living beings should be respected. Choosing a politician may indeed lead to the loss of many lives, but there is (usually) no direct correlation. Nor is there any way to predict how many lives are changed or saved by a woman having an abortion. The only clear calculation is that, at some point, a human life is lost during the process of abortion. How can you objectively say that one life is worth more than others in this situation?

laura said...

FYI Michael, black and hispanic women, as well as lower-income women, are more likely to have an abortion in their lifetime than white women. Some abortion activists argue that stopping federal funding for abortion and other forms of family planning is classist and racist, since it disproportionately hurts women of color who wouldn't otherwise have access to this type of medical care. Although abortion might not usually be argued as a racial issue, I think it's relevant to remember the dynamics of power that are at play here.

Michael said...

Thank you for making that overt; I wish that context was made clear in the original argument.