Saturday, September 19, 2009

How abortion disempowers women

Richard Smith:

That is, the presence in the sexual marketplace of women willing to have an abortion reduces an individual woman’s bargaining power. As a result, in order not to lose her guy, she may be pressured into doing precisely what she doesn't want to do: have unprotected sex, then an unwanted pregnancy, then the abortion she had all along been trying to avoid. Even though her abortion in this case is not literally forced, it would be, in an important sense, imposed on her. And, far from alleviating her overall situation, it would merely return her to the same sexual pressures, made worse by a new assurance to her boyfriend that she is willing to take care of a ­pregnancy.


Easy access to abortion has increased the expectation and frequency of sexual intercourse (including unprotected intercourse) among young people, making it more difficult for a woman to deny ­herself to a man without losing him, thus increasing pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

When a woman opts for the culture of life, in effect, she is closing herself off to a large number of prospective partners.

This is the difficulty of choosing abstinence.

While I agree that women should be responsible, the reality is that adolescent girls are hungry for opposite-sex affection, especially those who grow up in dysfunctional situations, and they are rather vulnerable to forego their principles in the name of intimacy.

It's not that abstinence is not the best choice. It's that in order for abstinence to be achievable, decision-making cannot be based on the the adolescent (or adult's!) willpower alone.

Because willpower has a funny way of succumbing to emotion and passion.

I am for abstinence education, but abstinence education without the cultural back up of parental supervision and social structures that encourage it will lead to abortion.

This is why I disagree with this statement:

Throughout human history, children have been the consequence of natural sexual relations between men and women. Both sexes knew they were equally responsible for their children, and society had somehow to facilitate their upbringing. Even the advent of birth control did not fundamentally change this dynamic, for all forms of contraception are fallible.

It is precisely because contraception is available and accepted that women feel the need for abortion. Contraception DID change that dynamic. Because contraception gives the impression that there is such a thing as sex without consequences.

And when you discover that you're pregnant and that's not true, you need back-up to erase the undesired consequences.

But here's a point I really relate to:

It is she alone who finally decides whether the child comes into the world. She is the responsible one. For the first time in history, the father and the doctor and the health-insurance actuary can point a finger at her as the person who allowed an inconvenient human being to come into the world.

I have an autistic daughter, yet I chose to have a third child.

Who do you suppose people are going to "blame" if my third child turns out to be autistic?

After all, I'm monitoring the third child with tax-funded and charity-funded resources (not to mention my own money).

That's money that could have been used for some other baby who was "innocently" conceived, i.e. the parents could not have suspected autism.

My daughter is "taking up" precious resources that could have gone to someone else who needed it more badly.

And considering that there is going to be a prenatal test for autism sometimes down the line, the pressure is going to be greater for women who do give birth to an autistic child down the road.

Now autism isn't a fatal disease, and occasionally, it can offer a few advantages. But generally speaking, it's a pain in the butt to raise a child who has profound developmental issues.

What do you suppose people are going to say if I vent about the difficulties?

Well it's your own fault for having an autistic kid. If you didn't want to have a hard life, you should have aborted her!

(I just cringed reading that sentence-- the idea that any of my daughters should have been aborted angers me to no end-- not withstanding the challenges that I face).

I can anticipate the reactions: how dare you bring a defective child into this world. How dare you not consider other people's needs and wants before giving birth? How dare you make a child suffer by letting him be born with a neurological condition? (As if abortion is less cruel!)

This is analogical to my four-year-old daughter's ideas on sharing. "Mom, sharing is really good. You should always share. Now give some cookies to me!"

It's the same thing with that self-serving mindset that castigates you for bringing another "defective" child into this world. "Our earth and its resources are precious. We're so very lucky to have them. But you, little baby, are a threat to those resources (and my share of them!)"

So, the woman, in the end, bears the blame for her decision to keep the baby.

I know that feminists will tout "choice"-- as if it's all about my body, my choice.

It's not all about that. Because those choices have intellectual and social ramifications. There's more to it than a woman's body. Female autonomy does not exist in a vaccuum.