Dec 27, 2006

Abortion- Is it a "right" or a wrong?

Should we be able to terminate pregnancies that we don't want? It's an old argument, but progressives have been steadily abandoning the fight in the past five to six years.

post got me thinking about this again. As "just a male" I have always automatically deferred to women in this matter. To be honest, in situations where the abortion question popped up, (as a young a-little-too-sexually-active-for-his-own-good man) I invariably handed off this question to the woman and secretly hoped that they would, indeed, go get an abortion. My main concern was how I was going to support the child, the marriage issue,etc - all the stereotypical things you would think a young punk would care about- myself.

I already had one son from having unprotected sex as a teenager in high school and I sure didn't want another. Not enough that I would start using condoms or tone down my aggressive quest to be a redneck Lothario of infamous proportions. I was a very big fool who didn't learn from one mistake, it generally took me three or four.

So, I had been party to more than one abortion that involved me as the would-be father. I am not proud of this fact, but it IS a fact. Then later, I have been the friend, in several situations that did not directly involve me, where women have made the decision to get an abortion, usually in situations that involved men who were simply not there once they were informed of the pregnancy. Men who were married, men who didn't give a shit. And there were two occasions when female friends chose to have abortions even though the father stood by them and said they would be supportive, and even wanted the babies. Still- it was the woman's decision, wasn't it? I have yet to recall even one of these men who were anything but relieved (in the end) at the abortion decision made by the women involved.

So, what's the point? Why has my perception changed, later in my life?

As a male, I deferred to the woman in all the cases. "Your body, your choice". I cannot imagine how it feels to physically experience those abortions, but I was there emotionally for the aftermath. I have watched in anguish what experiencing those abortions did to those women and how it forever altered them later.

Years later, maybe I am wiser, maybe I am more inclined to put in my two cents- But it sure seems to me a LOT more murkier now than being simply a "woman's right". It's invasive and has emotional effects on these women that sometimes haunt them for years. There is the emotional baggage I carry (even as just a simple male) that I have to live with every time I look at my children.

And why? Because for whatever reasons, the people I refer to didn't go to the extra effort for birth control. Why? 'Cause if accidents happen, we could go throw down $300-$400 and get an abortion, no harm no foul (we thought). But it's a lot more complex than just being a simple decision. No less so than the decision to suddenly get married. And even though I am a single parent who has custody of my daughters because their mom abandoned them- I still balk at 'men's rights' concerning a pregnancy. I still defer that it is only a woman's decision, but more and more I am wondering if even that "right" should be in her hands.

Hey- I am all for new technological advances that prevent pregnancy and think they should be sold in vending machines on every street corner. I know "abstinence" as birth control is a complete fucking fairy tale. I realize that every mother-to-be will not want a child in their life.

But can I support Abortion as a "right" anymore? Now that I have seen and experienced what I have directly with pregnancies and abortions, I don't think I can anymore. If a lot of hard core progressives are "abandoning" Abortion as a right, maybe it is because we have decided that taking responsibility for our actions is a little more important than simply wiping the slate clean.

And maybe knowing that we didn't have the ability to quickly wipe away our irresponsibilities would make every one of us a little more careful.

UPDATE: C&L just picked up the Digby post- the commentary just started- but something else I wanted to add that I commented there:

and while I still consider myself pro-choice, I am starting to think that there simply is NOT a beneficial way to frame abortion as a right.We should be promoting The Morning after pill, the pregnancy prevention options, not abortion. There's simply no way to win with that argument.New Way to Frame an old argument: Choose medications that PREVENT Abortions.The more legal options that Women have prior to 8 weeks into a pregnancy the more CHOICE they have.


Anonymous said...

As a woman with no children, and a long previous marriage, my opinion may be a little uninformed. I had never wanted children with my husband. We both decided early in our relationship that with the way the world seemed to be headed, we could not bring into it another innocent life. That was a wise choice, considering I was 15 at the time. Now, at 28 and at the start of another serious relationship, the talk of children has again arisen. It seems to me, in this age of medical technology, vast options, and moral debate, there is no excuse for an unwanted pregnancy. But mistakes happen, "accidents" happen, and irresponsible persons continue to, in my opinion, sweep any dirt under the rug, and continue on with thier lives. I dont think an abortion is something I could ever live with. I have made my own stupid mistakes in the past, where that possibly could have been an option. Thank God it was not something I had to face. I will not stand to take that choice away from any other woman, though I do believe the father should have just as much of a say in the matter. I, maybe in cowardice, sit on the fence as to the moral debate of the termination of a life, at any gestational age. Women, emotionally stronger, or perhaps more callous than me, continue to believe that is an answer to a problem. I have also seen first hand the aftermath of abortions, the pain and loss and guilt. I have also seen the grief of a mother who has lost a child, either in a miscarriage or later in life. It seems that a mother who has wanted something so badly, and lost it, should perhaps be the one to counsel a woman making the choice to abort her child. Either way, a pregnancy is something so preventable, so life changing, and so often so little thought is put into that in a moment of passion. We should all take care to think about our future, and thiers.

Anonymous said...

Well, a famous quote sums it all up for me.
"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."
'Nuff said.
Actually, not. On that "birth control" thing, why is ALWAYS the woman's responsibility to PROVIDE the birth control? And if birth control pills are SO SAFE, WHY DON'T THEY HAVE THEM FOR MEN??????
As you can tell, I think MEN should STFU about this subject. Until, of course, they can get pregnant.

Fade said...

Well, I knew I was opening a can of worms by even talking about this stuff... But I never said it was a woman's job to provide the birth control. It is a joint responsibility. I think if both parties were really doing their part they would make sure they both covered their own end at the same time. I guess I just can't wrap my head around this: If a woman has the desire to kill their own baby in their womb, let them do it. I mean, I've encouraged the decision in the past- but it still doesn't feel like it was the right thing, just because the parents wanted to do it. A fetus isn't a kid. I know that. Not yet. But chances are- It would be one, if you didnt kill it. Maybe I just have some guilt issues on my own to work out.
I know its wrong for Israelis to off Palestinians without a second thought because they JUSTIFY it. Why am I wrong here? Why isn't abortion wrong just because a woman justifies it?

Is that TOO bleeding heart?

Fade said...

And then THIS Thought Struck me after reading HCgal's comment- If Men are not allowed a say - then WHY SHOULD we be held responsible for birth control at all? Is it ALL on the woman or SHOULD it be an Equal matter?

Frederick said...

Personaly I think abortion is wrong. Thusly, every effort should be made to distribute birth control and educate to prevent needing one in the first place. Once family planning measures are in place and widely availible in every community I would be in favor of scaling back on Government support for abortion. Till then...

navyswan said...

Once the religious right succeeds in getting rid of surgical abortion, their next target will be birth control and the morning after pill. Lest you forget that a lot of them consider birth control pills abortion.

They have so far been successful in letting fundy pharmacists opt out of dispensing the pill. By doing this, they have already set the precedence for equating the pill to abortion.

I could go on about many more reasons that letting up on this issue is crazy, but it would take too long. So, I will leave you with some reminders of why it is important: rape, 13 yr old pregnancies, high risk pregnancies that put the mother's life in danger, incest, etc...

Pregnancy prevention through education, birth control, condoms, morning after pill, etc. are the best ways to go, but we aren't even there yet. The same people that try to make abortion illegal are against these things. So, throw them a bone if you want. I sure as hell won't.

Fade said...

Good point, Navyswan. This whole thing get so convoluted, It makes my head hurt. The asshole "christians" around me are against abortion, but they are also the same people who claim that welfare babies are what's destroying America... You would think they would welcome abortions on a wholesale scale, if only applied to minorities.

I understand that SOME of these people are against ALL forms of birth control, but i think a greater number of them are against JUST Abortion. And I guess my point is defending a condom is a hellofa lot easier than defending an abortion. I can foresee a lot of chaotic ramifications of the Religious Right's psychotic actions- but I don't think that outlawing condoms and the pill is one of them.

You are right about not throwing them a bone- If they want to throw all birth control focus on abortions, then I guess we should focus on their most radical ideals as well- such as their desire to outlaw all pre-marital sex, illegalize masturbation and oral sex, and only allow sex when used specifically to create a baby.

Or Maybe we just need to sterilize our children at birth, to be Unsterilized when they are of legal age and choose to do so..

Anonymous said...

Oh, look, another faux-gressive male asshole with a big honking blind spot when it comes to women's bodily autonomy.

Anti-choice? You ain't a progressive. sorry.

Faded said...

Oh, look, another anonymous shit-talker who offers nothing but a quick insult from an all black and white perspective...

The heart of being progressive is being able to discuss the greys honestly and openly.

Who seems to be more like a full-of-shit stuck in the mud anti-progressive here?