The Abortion Question(s)
These questions were posted in the Feminist Group I admin on Facebook (This is What a Feminist Looks Like), from what appears to be a religious website (American, thus the spelling in the questions– I’m not, thus the spelling in my answers). Here are my answers, with the questions in italics:
Here are 10 questions you never hear a pro-choice candidate asked by the media:
1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?
To support a cisgender woman’s and pre-transitional transgender man’s right to choose precludes assertion of moral restrictions. However, legal restrictions pertaining to term in pregnancy would seem to me to be at the right level at the moment, in UK law. The vast majority of abortions are conducted in the first trimester, far fewer between 12-20 weeks and after that date only in the case of the continuation of the pregnancy endangering the mother and/or the child. Such decisions should only be made after consultation between the medical professionals and the mother. As a non-participant within that prime relationship, no-one has any right to any say on the matter. There are no further restrictions I would approve of; in fact I would strongly oppose the attempt to impose any further restrictions as profoundly inequal and an imposition of arbitrary moral beliefs over the fundamental right to body autonomy of the pregnant person.
2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world – abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?
The phenomenon poses a problem in that it is developed from the patriarchal, heteronormative and misogynistic belief in the superiority of the male gender. It is this which I oppose and strongly believe it should be campaigned against.
Some gender-selective decisions may be made due to the existence of genetically-inherited extreme disabilities, and the choice as to whether to carry a pregnancy to term under those conditions is one for the parent(s) to make.
Within the United Kingdom such decisions are already insufficient for seeking abortions, and areas in which such procedures may be sought have blanket policies in which the gender of a child will not be given when the foetal development is scanned during pregnancy. However, it is possible that in areas where this policy is not upheld alternate reasons may be given for gender-selective abortions. To assume a gender-selection is the true reason for seeking an abortion would be to profile the patient according to presumed belief systems held according to religion and/or colour of skin. This is discrimination, and cannot be utilised to prevent abortion procedures.
The only way to oppose such procedures is to fight for gender equality, and to ask our own governments to put pressure on societies which do support misogynistic gender-selective abortion.
3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?
Some teenagers may be seeking abortion as a direct result of rape and/or incest, and this may be at the hands of a relative or even a parent. To force them to have to tell their parent before seeking an abortion may cause untold damage to the teenager and put them at serious risk of physical harm. I would support counselling and therapy for the teenager, which may involve encouraging them to inform their parent once it is determined rape/incest is not the cause, but to enforce legislation requiring a teenager to inform their parent is not acceptable. Legislation must be written to cover all possible reasons, and cannot therefore be written to assume facts or that may cause potential harm to the teenager.
4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?
Human life begins when there is an autonomous body, separate to that of the parent, i.e. when the baby has been born. Human rights should begin when the baby is living independently, separate from the body of the mother.
5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago – the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem “unfit” to live?
I question this statistic and would like to know where it comes from. Further, it presumes the only reason for the abortion is the detected disability of the foetus. There are myriad other factors which may lead to such a decision, such as economic ability to support a child of disability (especially pertinent in the United States from where this question is derived, given the lack of socialised medical care and the expense of raising disabled children), the emotional stability of the household into which the child may be born and raised, and the parent’s ability to raise a child of disability. As a disabled person myself, I do not agree that such decisions are ‘eugenics’ and believe that to classify the decision as such is presumptive and ignorant of myriad additional factors which are utilised in making decisions with regard to pregnancy.
6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?
This is a circumstance specific to the United States with regard to this set of questions, as the United Kingdom has universal medical care in the form of the National Health Service. I believe that whilst employers can have personal religious consciences which govern their own actions and beliefs, companies are corporate entities in their own right which cannot discriminate. My understanding is that medical insurance policies cover myriad healthcare situations, and that access to contraception and abortifacient drugs are merely a part of any insurance policy. Such drugs are specific to those who can become pregnant, and to refuse to honour a part of an insurance policy because of the personal beliefs of an employer is a violation of equal access to medical care under such insurance policies and should not be allowed. If insurance policies are available to be provided by employers which specifically exclude contraception and abortifacient drugs, that would be up to the board/sole boss to decide whether that would be the company health policy or not. Personally, I would not support such an insurance policy, because they are supporting a blanket policy of removal of the right to body autonomy of those who can become pregnant, and are legislating their own companies on a non-secular basis, which is discriminatory.
7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?
Again, I would like a citation of the evidence for such statistics. Racism, endemic in society, creates myriad circumstances which may cause a statistically disproportionate number of non-white persons to seek abortions, such as economic status, violence etc. The provision of abortions for those who become pregnant who choose to have them is not a form of white supremacy, but the reasons why people of Black and Latino populations may make this choice (as this question specifically states) is. Removing access to such services based on racial profiling is a racist, white supremacist policy. I find the conflation of separate social issues and the circumvention of actual cause of making such a choice in this argument quite offensive.
8. You describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?
Such language is deliberately emotive and bordering on emotional blackmail towards the entire class of those who become pregnant. If a person disapproves of abortion, then they should not choose to have one themselves. To legislate against abortion for the entire population, for which one must read the entire population who can become pregnant, imposes a personal moral stricture upon those who may not believe the same way. The choice must always be available to those who may need and/or want to make that choice. The ways in which those who have had the procedure react are many, varied and unique to each set of circumstances and person.
9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable – able to survive outside the womb?
How is ‘viable’ being defined? A foetus may be able to survive outside the womb, in extremely rare circumstances, at between 22-24 weeks but only with medical intervention. Without such medical intervention the foetus, or baby as it is called once it is separate from the mother’s body, will die. I believe the current legislation as it stands in the United Kingdom is acceptable (no abortions after 24 weeks unless there is severe risk to the mother and/or foetus, and even then if the foetus has a viable chance of life it is supported with medical intervention and is not an abortion but is early onset labour brought on by medical intervention).
10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?
I believe the sentencing deliberations should reflect the murder and murder of potential life and impose a harsher sentence. However, to charge the murderer with two counts of murder creates a dangerous legal precedent with regard to those who seek abortions and those who provide them. Until a foetus is viable, it is not separate from its host parent. It may be possible to state from, say, 34 weeks when a foetus may be viable without medical intervention, that such a situation would be two counts of murder. I would support a 34 week amendment to the law to create a murder charge at that stage, but there would need to be specific provision within such law for extreme medical crises which would necessitate the bringing on of labour should the mother’s life be at risk.
My own words: Abortion should be available as an option for those who find themselves pregnant either unexpectedly or with foetal problems. If a person finds abortion morally repugnant or against their conscience, that is a matter for themselves. No-one has the right to remove the autonomy over their own body of a person who may get pregnant. No-one can really know the reasons why a person chooses to have an abortion, and that reasoning is a matter for themselves, their medical care provider and, if relevant, the father. I am and always will be pro-choice.
From → Ideology