For Choice.

For the 12 people travelling out of the country for abortions today. And the 12 tomorrow. And the 12 the day after.

For the right to be treated like human beings, not incubators.

For everyone who has been silenced.

For everyone who made that journey alone because they couldn’t afford to have someone by their side.

For everyone who made that journey alone because there was nobody they felt safe to tell.

For every non-citizen who has no way out of the country, and no way out of their pregnancies.

For every child growing up in this country who deserves better than all of this.

For Savita, and everyone like her.

Because this country values a days-old blastocyst more than a woman or child.

March for Choice.

march4choice

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For Choice.
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37 thoughts on “For Choice.

  1. 1

    Out of curiosity (because I’m always interested in… where people draw lines, and so forth), what would be… the minimum acceptable abortion law where you would be willing to say “Ok, as long as it doesn’t go past this point, I’m OK with that”?

    That is… imagine you are locked up in a room with an ardent pro-lifer (I’m generally in favor of calling people what they want to be called, as long as it’s at least vaguely factually correct, and at least *some* pro-lifers legitimately deserve the name). Neither of you is allowed to leave until you come up with a law that both of you are willing to sign, and once that law is enacted neither of you is ever allowed to demonstrate against or otherwise try to change the law. What’s the closest to that “every fertilized egg is a Living Soul and Must Be Protected” viewpoint you’d be willing to go? (assume your pro-life opponent is ardent, but sane, and willing to make at least *some* compromises of his or her own)

    1. 1.1

      Hmm.

      My immediate response is: this is one of my no-compromise issues. There are lots of spaces where I feel like there’s room for disagreement and where I’m happy to settle for less and acknowledge the perspectives of people I disagree with.

      The right to choose isn’t one of them.

      The disagreement is too fundamental. Any compromise involves accepting that someone other than the pregnant person should have the final say in what they can do with their body. This isn’t a matter of weeks and circumstances: it’s the fact that our bodies are not acknowledged as our own. I’m willing to fight tooth and nail for that principle.

      However, on a moment to moment practical level? Right now, abortion law in Ireland means that if I were going to be blinded, paralysed, left in a permanent vegetative state (anything short of outright killed) by a pregnancy, it would be illegal to terminate.

      So I’d swallow my bile and agree to just about anything to save pregnant people’s health.

      But once I got out of that room I’d keep on arguing.

  2. 2

    Assume your hypothetical opponent… is unwilling to concede as a philosophical matter that fetal life is more important than maternal autonomy, but recognizes on a *practical* level that you won’t sign the law unless there’s something at least within shouting distance of “abortion on demand” in it. That the law actually needs to be a true compromise between your respective positions, and not just her bullying you into her position. (also, that it’s fundamentally pointless to outlaw abortion when the vast majority of women who want them can just go to the next country over, and thus the precious blastocysts aren’t getting saved anyways)

    What compromises would be *genuinely acceptable* to you, in a “I am willing to drop the issue forever” sense? A limited window for “abortion on demand”? Mandatory counseling? Laws stipulating that if the fetus is viable outside the womb its life must be saved whenever possible, unless doing so is likely to kill the mother (that is, induced labor or c-sections rather than abortions for late-term cases)? Something else?

  3. 3

    Personally, I’d agree to “full and informed consent” which could I suppose include being told the objective facts and some assistance with the mental strain that goes with a decision which, for some, will be difficult. For some, it will be a decision which is simple and needs no help at all.
    But “mandatory counselling” sounds an awful lot like “we’re going to force you to listen to this, and to watch this, and we’ll push your emotional buttons even though you have asked us NOT to do that, and we’ll do our very worst to change your mind”.
    To consider any law that would force an unwanted baby into this world against the wishes of its mother… – an unwanted baby – unwanted. Unwanted. Unwanted. Bloody hell, I just can’t get past the word unwanted. This is how to fuck over at least two people’s lives in one easy move. This is awful.

    1. 3.1

      A legitimate concern, but it probably depends on how the law is phrased, and who gets to pick the “mandatory counselor”. If the places providing abortion are free to hire any person with certain minimum qualifications (and fire someone they don’t like), and the only legal requirement for said counseling is along the lines of the “full and informed consent” idea, then… what abortion provider would intentionally hire an abusive a**hat who would bully prospective clients? Yeah, if they’re someone government-provided or whatever, or provided by the Catholic church, or something like that… yeah, that’s the road straight to trying to bully people out of getting abortions.

      I will note that… an unwanted baby (at least in the sense of a baby not wanted by its mother) does not *necessarily* mess up anyone’s life, *if* the woman is mature and emotionally together enough to 1. give the kid up for adoption to appropriate parents, and 2. not be messed up by this. Hey, I’m sure some of those newly-married gay couples in Ireland would probably love to have a baby to adopt [g].

      1. 1. Pregnancy isn’t baking cookies. It is potentially life-threatening and always leads to pain and a body that is in worse conditions afterwards than before.
        2. I’m pretty sure that people consider adoption themselves. But the happy adoption with nothing but winners is actually not very common.
        3. Seriously, pitching gay couples versus abortion rights is not OK

        1. I actually largely agree. I was just quibbling about the unwanted kid=2 ruined lives thing. And the gay couples thing was at least 90% a joke.

          Consider me… at least 70% playing Devil’s Advocate here. Not so much arguing for positions I hold, as arguing for positions I *could* see a reasonable person holding.

  4. 4

    Germany has “mandatory pro-life counselling” before you can get an illegal but not prosecuted abortion (outside of a few circumstances like rape and maternal health) and honestly, that’s so fucked up.
    I’m 36 years old, I have two children, and if my birth control fails I’ll get an abortion ASAP. What is some “pro-life counsellor” going to tell me about my life that I don’t know? Why am I to be treated like an ignorant child who needs to be talked to by somebody who knows about these matters?

    1. 4.3

      I agree that that legal situation sounds kind of f’ed up.

      But there do exist people who do not *have* all of the information. Who don’t know about services available to help poor single parents, or that they have a legal right to compel support from the baby’s father, or about open adoptions, or the like. Or who are being talked into an abortion they don’t really want by a boyfriend/husband/parent/etc, and who could use the emotional support to make the choice they’d really prefer. Though I profoundly disagree with the bullying-type tactics I’ve heard of being used in some “counseling” situations, I’d rather have competent and informed adults like yourself told things they already know than risk having scared and ignorant girls/young women have abortions *without* having all of the facts first.

      1. There always exist people who don’t know everything. By forcing every pregnant person to undergo some counselling you are assuming that they really don’T know what they’re dong, that they actually don’t want to do this and that if they only knew they would not have an abortion.
        AFAIK, clinics in the USA ask the patient if this is their own free will when alone with the nurse. That’s a good safeguard against somebody being pressured into an abortion.
        Offering counselling is a different pair of shoes. Forcing people into it is not treating them as competent adults. After all, nobody forces people who want to have a baby into some mandatory counselling testing if they really actually want a baby.
        Also, the devil doesn’T need an advocate

        1. Let’s… I feel like I should clarify something here.

          “A is a morally better choice than B” is very different from both “B is morally unacceptable” and “B should be illegal”.

          Where A is “carrying a healthy pregnancy to term”, and B is “having an abortion”, I feel the first statement is true, but the latter 2 are most definitely not. I do not believe a blastocyst is the moral equivalent of a full-grown person, but I do believe a fetus has at least *some* moral standing, so where a fetus is healthy and a pregnancy is not in any unusual way high risk, it is at least somewhat morally better to refrain from terminating the pregnancy. So, I don’t have a problem with *gentle* pressure to try to convince people to refrain from terminating pregnancies, provided that pressure is not an undue hindrance to those who chose to terminate a pregnancy anyways.

          I don’t think being required to sit down with a counselor for 10 minutes to talk about alternatives before you have an abortion is an undue hindrance, especially since some people getting abortions *are* scared, confused kids who may just be making the choice they feel they’re “supposed” to make. I *do* think things like 24-hour waiting periods, gross-out videos, requiring a counselor to actually *sign off on* a pregnancy termination, or invasive procedures (hello, transvaginal ultrasound), are an undue hindrance.

          Does that make sense?

          And, note, this does not in any way mean that I think women who have abortions are immoral. I also think a vegetarian diet is a morally better choice than an omnivorous one, and I’m definitely not a vegetarian. Carrying an unintended pregnancy to term, especially if you don’t want the kid and are giving it up for adoption, is to me an above-the-call-of-duty Good Thing, like refraining from killing animals for food.

          1. Well, I don’t think that carrying a healthy pregnancy to term is morally superior to an abortion. Quite in fact, I believe that often abortion would be the more moral choice. Parenting is hard and not everybody is cut out for it. Also, adoption really isn’t a good choice in many, many situations. First of all, unlike abortion it has a high risk of causing mental health problems. Secondly, there are many, many children stuck in the foster system at any given point. We don’t need more kids stuck there. Sure, if it’S the occasional healthy white baby, it will be picked up quickly, but looking at the numbers of people who abort and the numbers of people who want to adopt, it doesn’t work out. Lastly, you really can’t pretend that people have abortions because they’ve never heard about adoption.
            And yes, I find somebody forcing me to sit through 10 minutes of telling me I’m totally wrong and obviously a bad person (you CANNOT declare birth superior to abortion and claim your counselling is value neutral) before I get to decide about my own body an imposition.Not because of the time but because of the implication.

          2. As far as I’m aware (admittedly, I don’t necessarily know, I’ve just never heard anything to the contrary), most mental health problems and the like from adoption are not from *infant* adoption, they’re from adopting older kids. And, frequently, the mental health problems aren’t as much from the adoption as they are from the situation that left the kids potentially adoptable (eg screwed up family situations, or having their parents die). As far as I’m *aware*, basically healthy children adopted as infants (eg not crack babies or the like) have no higher incidence of mental health problems than any other kids. If you know of studies or the like to the contrary, I’d be happy to read them.

            From the admittedly small sample size of “people I know who were adopted as infants” (my cousin, her kids, my first boyfriend, and his sister), they seemed no more troubled or messed up or whatever than their non-adopted peers. The cousin had some issues when she was younger, but it was more from over-indulgent parents than because she was adopted, as far as I know.

            And, as far as I’m aware (again, I freely admit I may be wrong), healthy infants who can legally be adopted are in pretty short supply in the foster care system, at least in the US. There are a lot of kids in foster care, and this is not a good thing, but most of those kids entered foster care well past infancy, and/or have severe medical issues. There’s a *reason* a lot of would-be adoptive parents end up going to Russia or China or some third-world country or whatever to adopt infants from there, and it’s not that Russian infants are just more awesome or whatever. It’s that there are years-long waiting lists and strict requirements, because there aren’t as many healthy infants as there are people who want to adopt an infant.

            We might end up with an “oversupply” if *every* woman who got an abortion carried the baby to term and put it up for adoption instead, but that is highly, highly unlikely to happen. Some women have abortions for medical reasons (either risk to themselves, or a deformed fetus). Many women are unwilling to go through all of the pain and risk of pregnancy to give birth to a baby they don’t even want, even if someone else does want it. Others know or suspect they wouldn’t be able to give the kid up after carrying it for 9 months, even if they knew they’d be shitty parents or weren’t in good circumstances for raising a kid. I doubt that even as many as 10% of women who currently opt for abortions would instead decide to carry to term and give it up for adoption

            And I doubt even the most ignorant homeschooled-by-religious-fanatics pregnant teen or whatever has never heard of adoption *at all*, but they may easily have *serious* misconceptions or misinformation about it. For example, they may not know about open adoption, and be reluctant to give a baby up for adoption because they don’t want to hand it off to strangers and never see it again.

            And, even though I think (at least in the case of a healthy pregnancy) adoption is a morally better choice than abortion, that doesn’t mean I think that every woman who wants an abortion is “totally wrong and obviously a bad person”. Any more than I think I’m “totally wrong and obviously a bad person” for eating meat when I think vegetarianism is a morally better choice. You see the distinction between “morally better” and “morally obligatory”, right?

          3. (I didn’t finish my thought on the foster care thing… there are likely some healthy infants in foster care, but as far as I’m aware most of them a. are in the process of being adopted, or b. cannot be adopted because their birth parents still retain their parental rights, the kids were just temporarily taken away for one reason or another)

          4. Em, just one thing to keep in mind: this blog isn’t US-based. I’m based in Ireland and that’s the context that I’m speaking/writing from. When you talk about open adoption or foster care from a US perspective, it really doesn’t make a huge amount of sense as it can’t be directly transferred to this context.

            But: I’m going to take a proper look at this conversation and give you more in-depth replies once I get back home later or tomorrow, kay?

        2. Oh, and on the “forcing people to get counseling” thing…

          I usually use this analogy in the other direction, but…

          We probably all agree that no one should be able to *force* you to donate blood. But, how would you feel about a requirement that, before you get some social or medical service or whatever, you had to listen to a 10-minute spiel from the blood donation people asking you to donate blood? Or, for something a little more directly analogous, before you could get a risky surgery, you had to talk to someone for a few minutes about whether or not to donate your organs if you die?

          1. I would think that the people forcing you to do this are assholes.
            This is independent of the fact that there’s no direct link between “getting social sevices” and “blood donation”, so the analogy doesn’t hold true. Mandatory counselling is counselling that tries to talk you out of getting the care you came for. But why would those people still be assholes? Because they’d pressure people in a vulnerable situation.

  5. 5

    @Melissa, I know you said you were only quibbling, and that you have chosen to appoint yourself the advocate for the devil. But I’m not going to argue with you if you think that there’s any mileage in thinking that there are people out there who launch off into an abortion just because they didn’t know there was any other option that could involve their pregnancy being a smidgen better supported by an absentee father. Or if this hypothetical person didn’t know that their pregnancy could just be handed over to someone else in an “open adoption”.
    Whatever an open adoption is.
    And I’m not going to bother to find out what an open adoption is either. Sounds like a shitty pineapple on the end of a shitty stick.

    1. 5.1

      Open adoption is where you know the people who have your kid, and even potentially have some contact with it afterwards, as opposed to a closed adoption where you basically hand your kid off to someone you never meet (though you might, eg, pick them out by reading a file), and/or have no post-natal contact.

      Basically, there are some people who know they’re not suited to be parents, but don’t want to have a kid, then hand it off to strangers and never see it again. So they might opt for an abortion, when having the kid then giving it up in an open adoption would be acceptable to them.

      And, at least in the US, where our social services pretty much suck, someone may have an abortion of a pregnancy they would prefer to keep, because they know they can’t afford another kid. If they had some assistance navigating social services to get the financial support they’d need to *afford* that kid, they might well keep it.

  6. 7

    Melissa Trible sez:

    Consider me… at least 70% playing Devil’s Advocate here.

    Yeah, well, could you not do that? It comes off like you’re amusing yourself, and this is a serious issue that ruins the lives of or even kills a lot of people. And here you are asking folks who put energy into battling the anti-abortion true-believers to divert some of that energy into humoring you.

    And for what? If the topic interests you, then try engaging with the “what are’s” instead of the “what if’s.”

    1. 7.1

      Let’s put it this way. If one side of the debate is saying “This, and only this”, and the other side is saying “That, and only that”, you’re never going to get anywhere. But if at least one side is saying “If you’re willing to concede this, then I’m willing to concede that”, then you can at least *potentially* make some progress.

      I agree fully that the situation in Ireland right now sucks rusty boulders. And anyone too exhausted from dealing with “what is” to consider “what if” is free to ignore me, and I will not in any way object or continue to pester them.

    2. 7.2

      Further thought I had on this, btw.

      For me, where I presently live, this is probably at least 80% a purely academic question. Despite the best efforts of the far-right-wing fringe of the Republican party, no one is seriously arguing that I shouldn’t be allowed to terminate a pregnancy if it will cause me harm, or if I’ve been raped, and there’s not even really a serious credible threat to my basic right to decide to terminate an unwanted pregnancy for any reason.

      There have definitely been efforts to restrict *access* to abortion, some of them vastly annoying, and some of which are genuine problems for some women (for example, 24-hour waiting periods for rural women who live hours away from the nearest abortion clinic, or entire states with only a few clinics total), but as a city dweller in one of the states that’s being only mildly annoying at worst about this bull hockey, it is still, at least at this point, only something that is happening to Other People.

      So, I’m more willing to treat it as a “what if” academic exercise than are people without the advantages that I possess. If I have annoyed anyone who is not in such a fortunate position with this discussion, I apologize for this.

      1. If one side of the debate is saying “This, and only this”, and the other side is saying “That, and only that”, you’re never going to get anywhere.

        What a ridiculous characterization. Do you think you’re going to teach pro-choicers how to compromise or something? As if we’ve just been a wee bit too stubborn and demanding to do it right and find some kind of middle ground? Never mind that where our host is from, the anti’s have all the power already, and where you and I are from, we have been losing rights on a practical level since legalization because of trying to compromise with absolutists and are now having to dig in to keep from making abortion de facto unobtainable for most women?

        For me, where I presently live, this is probably at least 80% a purely academic question. … So, I’m more willing to treat it as a “what if” academic exercise than are people without the advantages that I possess.

        Yeah, that’s the problem. It’s insulting of you to treat this as a “what if” just because it has no real impact on you. There are plenty of folk for whom it is not a “what if.” Who know far keener and deeper what’s at stake than you hopefully ever will. You’re not going to help them as a privileged dabbler dreaming up hypotheticals in an ignorance bubble. If you want to be useful, try listening to their stories and needs instead. Then meet those needs as best you can. (Offer abortion rides, give money to women needing emergency contraception, counter anti-choice lies that relatives spread on Facebook with facts, encourage your liberal friends to vote, donate to abortion providers, distribute free condoms, volunteer as a clinic escort, etc.)

        1. And part of what I try to do with discussions like this is figure out… what things are making abortion de facto unobtainable, and which are merely minor nuisances, to help figure out when and where we do need to dig our heels in and when and where we should save our energies for more important fights.

          I’m too broke to give money to any worthy cause, and for whatever reason the clinics near me don’t seem to attract protesters to the extent of needing escorts to get people past them (maybe because *no one* wants to stand around outside in 100-degree (40C?) heat). I do try to counter anti-choice lies with facts, and to get people who are “pro-life” to genuinely consider what *else* their positions imply.

  7. 8

    @melissa

    “…especially since some people getting abortions *are* scared, confused kids who may just be making the choice they feel they’re “supposed” to make”

    Would you support making all women wanting to go through with their pregnancy “being required to sit down with a counsellor for 10 minutes to talk about alternatives” given that some people going through with pregnancy “*are* scared, confused kids who may just be making the choice they feel they’re “supposed” to make”?

    I’m all for better education so that people can make informed decisions, but perhaps that should happen by making adequate sexual education accessible early on, rather than trying to force some sort of moral position on women when they make a decision that you don’t agree with.

    1. 8.1

      I fully and enthusiastically agree that we need better education overall. In fact, better education overall could lead to a lot fewer women having to *decide* whether or not to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, because they’d understand how to prevent one, and I think anyone who’s not really just pushing an agenda of controlling women’s sex lives would have to agree that that would be a good thing.

      I will note that some decisions… are more reversible than others. If you decide to keep an unintended pregnancy, then change your mind, if it’s early enough you can still get an abortion, and if it’s not you can give the baby up for adoption after it’s born, you have various ways to not end up in charge of an infant that you don’t want. But if you have an abortion, then change your mind…

      1. Just one thing (apologies, by the way, for not taking much part in this- I’m away from home for a few days and tablets are my least favourite way to do comments, especially because with this app I can’t see the comment I’m replying to when I’m replying to it!): but I think that it’s very easy to underestimate both the emotional consequences of adoption, and the physical consequences of pregnancy.

        1. I do realize (at least as an intellectual abstract) that giving up an unwanted child for adoption is… not something everyone can do. Though I think there are fewer problems with emotional consequences in something like open adoptions (where you have a relationship with the people adopting your child, and still occasionally see said child, so you’re not left wondering what happened to the kid and whatever–does Ireland have that kind of concept, legally?)

          And I also realize even a healthy, normal pregnancy is physically taxing, and not everyone is willing to go through with it.

          Which is why I am strongly pro-choice. Even though carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and then giving the baby up for adoption is, to my mind, a noble thing to do, I don’t think *anyone* should be *required* to be “noble”.

      2. Melissa

        As far as I’m *aware*, basically healthy children adopted as infants (eg not crack babies or the like) have no higher incidence of mental health problems than any other kids. If you know of studies or the like to the contrary, I’d be happy to read them

        You are completely ignoring the consequences to the person who gave up the child for adoption who, unlike with abortion, have a high risk of sufferinng mental health problem as a direct result of this.

        I will note that some decisions… are more reversible than others. If you decide to keep an unintended pregnancy, then change your mind, if it’s early enough you can still get an abortion, and if it’s not you can give the baby up for adoption after it’s born, you have various ways to not end up in charge of an infant that you don’t want. But if you have an abortion, then change your mind…

        And if you notice after three years that this whole thing is not working out you have fucked up somebody who is now a person. First of all, there is absolutely no indication that the overwhelming majority of people who get abortions do not regret them. If you got people answer honestly whether they regret having children, they’d probably answer “yes” in higher numbers.
        Second, you can get pregnant again. There’s absolutely nothing magical about a certain embryo.

        1. You’re right, I was not thinking about that.

          But, I do not think that mental health problems from giving a child up for adoption are anything like a universal thing. And if abortion is, meaningfully, an option, then people who are likely to be screwed up by giving up a baby will likely opt for abortion instead. And I’d like to see what the statistics actually *are* on mental health problems from giving a baby up for adoption, vs other options (parenthood or abortion). I would… suspect that the incidence of mental health problems from giving a kid up for adoption are low in countries where abortion is legal and relatively freely available, and/or single motherhood is not particularly stigmatized, because people in those circumstances who give a kid up for adoption *chose* to do so instead of being forced into it, and I would suspect *that* is where a lot of the mental health problems come from.

          And… while there is nothing “magical” about a certain embryo… we cannot be *certain* at what point an embryo becomes a person in a morally meaningful sense. So, all else being equal (which, of course, it never is), it is preferable to avoid killing an embryo that already exists, rather than replacing it with some as-yet-hypothetical future embryo, because there exists at least a slim chance that the presently existing embryo *is* a person.

          Note, this does not mean that I think someone should be forced to carry to term a pregnancy that they do not want, by any means. But the minute we develop a practical uterine replicator, and can meaningfully separate the embryo’s or fetus’s right to exist from the pregnant woman’s right to control her own body? The moral landscape changes, drastically. And, at the present time, I, at least, don’t have a problem with *gently* trying to encourage women with healthy unintended pregnancies to refrain from aborting them.

          There are no *perfect* answers here. There certainly are better and worse answers (for example, I think anyone sane can agree that preventing unwanted pregnancies is better than aborting them, and virtually all people in this particular little corner of the interwebnets agree that forcing women to carry pregnancies to term against their wills is a bad thing), but any answer will have downsides, because we live in an imperfect world.

          1. Wide body of studies on the detrimental effect of adoption on birth mothers.
            Oh, also:
            Higher risk of adopted children

            And if abortion is, meaningfully, an option, then people who are likely to be screwed up by giving up a baby will likely opt for abortion instead.

            So, when you want to “gently discourage them from abortion”, you are the one who tries to interfere this assessment. The pregnant person can decide best. If they have reached the conclusion that abortion is best for them and YOU discourage them and influence them towards adoption, you are possibliy talking a person who cannot cope well with an adoption into one. Do you think that’s compassionate or even moral? You are constantly assuming that the pregnant person doesn’t know what they’re doing and that you know better.

            So, all else being equal (which, of course, it never is), it is preferable to avoid killing an embryo that already exists, rather than replacing it with some as-yet-hypothetical future embryo, because there exists at least a slim chance that the presently existing embryo *is* a person.

            No, you’re just making the assumption that this is preferable. Personhood is a strawman here. It is alsready well established that the embryo cannot feel pain or anything. Why anybody should convey “personhood” on such an entity is beyond me, but it still doesn’t even touch the argument of bodily autonomy.

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