Anti Choicers Ask The Darnedest Things. I’ve got a few questions for them.

I’m often amazed by the questions anti-choicers ask in conversations about abortion. They want to know if we know that pregnancy leads to babies, or that babies are people. They ask us if we know that we’re filthy murdering scum.

And, of course, they say things like this, in the comments on an Irish Times article from yesterday:

Picture of a Facebook comment, reading "Aren't you lucky your mother didn't abort you?"

I remember the first time I heard someone shouting this at me. I was at a counter-demonstration to an anti-choice march. They’d called it a ‘vigil’- but I’ve never seen a vigil to make so much noise. They were booming Queen (QUEEN! Queen is ours. Freddie’d be doing somersaults in his grave if the world made any sense at all) from loudpeakers on their giant buses followed by thousands of people carrying identical signs.

rosaries ovaries photo
This bunch. Those yellow smiley faces HAUNT MY NIGHTMARES. Photo by infomatique

We had made a line at the side of the path, in between the anti-choicers on the road and everyone else. A guy comes up to me. He’s angry. He gets right in my face.

“Aren’t you lucky your Mother is pro-life?”

I just look at him. My mother’s about four people down the line from me, carrying a giant sign saying “Keep your Rosaries off our Ovaries!” So I say “Dude, that’s my mother. I’m glad I know she wanted me.”

Probably not one of my finest moments, but I won’t pretend to be sorry.

Back to our questioners. This guy wants us to think:

Picture of a Facebook comment reading: "How many of us would be here if abortion was available to our mothers, maybe stop and think of that."

He’s right. Here in Ireland abortion has been illegal since 1865. While plenty of resourceful women have found ways to get around that, I’m sure there are plenty of people in the country who would never have been born if their mothers had a choice in the matter. I’ve got a few questions for Oliver, though.

  • How many of us would be here if there was something decent on TV when we were conceived?
  • How many of us would be here if our grandparents had managed to get our parents to keep their mitts off each other till they’d put a ring on it?
  • How many of us wouldn’t be here if our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers had had the right to say no?
  • How many of us would be here if Michael Collins hadn’t been assassinated at  Béal na Bláth, Dev hadn’t been able to shove though our deeply misogynist Constitution, 20th Century Irish politics had gone a different direction which caused enough small changes that maybe our grandparents conceived a child the month before one of our parents would have been conceived, so we could never come into being?

    michael collins photo
    Not that one. The other one. Photo by Anton Gurevich

  • How many of us would be here if so many of our many-greats granduncles and aunts weren’t murdered by British economic policies in the Great Famine?
  • Which of us would be here if our many-greats granddad wasn’t forced into marrying our many-greats grandmum, but was able to run off with that nice boy next door instead?
  • Or if our granduncle wasn’t shoved into the priesthood and got a job as a builder instead and when your granddad would have met your gran he was actually out for pints celebrating his brother’s first pay packet?
  • What if everyone hadn’t been so awful to Germany at the Treaty of Versailles, thereby not shoving a country into a couple of decades of misery and impoverishment and creating fertile soil for the rise of fascist ideologies, meaning that the world had 60 million more people living in it, at least one of whom bumped into an ancestor of yours and jostled them just enough that a different sperm fertilised your other ancestor’s egg and someone else was born instead of you?
  • What if just before the asteroid hit, a small wee furry mammal didn’t duck quite fast enough to get out of the way of a hungry dinosaur? What if that one little fuzzball was one of our distant ancestors and their absence meant that a slightly different population survived, changing the course of evolution in small but essential ways that, over the course of the past 65 million years, meant that humanity as we know it never evolved? What if another smarter, more compassionate species evolved instead?

  • What if your older sister or brother had had a nightmare and come knocking on your parents door just before you got conceived, so they ended up comforting the kid instead?
  • What if your mother, grandmother, or seven-greats grandmother hadn’t had the abortion she needed when she was young? What if your grandmother had had an unsafe abortion before your mother was ever conceived, and was never able to have any more kids because of it? How many people wouldn’t be here today if our mothers and grandmothers hadn’t found ways to safely terminate the pregnancies they knew they couldn’t keep?

Maybe stop and think of that.

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Anti Choicers Ask The Darnedest Things. I’ve got a few questions for them.

12 thoughts on “Anti Choicers Ask The Darnedest Things. I’ve got a few questions for them.

  1. 1

    Your problem is expecting them to think period. Their questions are like Pascal’s Wager, destroyed just by thinking just for a moment about what the question means.

  2. 2

    If my father’s high school girlfriend hadn’t aborted, my dad would not have gone to college away from home, and would therefore have never met my mother. So I would not exist and neither would my brother and sister.

    I owe my life to my hypothetical half-sibling’s abortion.

    Getting beyond the pointless hypotheticals, when are they going to realize it’s not the Bronze Age anymore? Extra humans is a problem, not a blessing.

  3. 3

    I’m adopted, the third offspring of a poor (presumably Catholic) family who simply couldn’t afford to feed another mouth. If abortion had been legal then, and if my birth mother had defied her religious upbringing, I wouldn’t be here. But the unlikelihood of any PARTICULAR individual being born is so huge that adding another small variable to the equation isn’t going to tweak the result much. It’s yet another argument from lack of understanding of math.

    It’s also not germane to the real tension, which is the right of the pregnant person to control their own body vs. rights we wish to grant to a developing proto-person. I simply can’t justify elevating the developing proto-person over the thinking, feeling, fully-formed person carrying the pregnancy.

    1. 3.1

      The great thing about “what if you were never born” from the questioner’s perspective is that nobody who was never born can answer it. It’s like their other ‘argument’ that “every pro choicer has already been born”.

      Of course they have. Anyone you can have a conversation with exists and is already born. It’s completely meaningless, and yet they act as if it’s some kind of a gotcha.

      1. “How would you feel if you’d never been born?” That’s a gotcha, if they had the wherewithall to understand the question.

        And so many fertilised eggs never make it to the womb, or are aborted spontaneously before the uterus-possessing person concerned becomes aware of being pregnant. Or even after they’ve become aware of it.

        And if a wanted pregnancy ends with a spontaneous abortion, these people will say that “God works in mysterious ways”. As if that’s any comfort. They simply aren’t consistent in their explanations.

        1. I’ve never gotten an adequate explanation for why, assuming a god exists, we should accept everything they do and then listen when they tell us not to do exactly the same thing.

          And no, “because they’ll torture you forever” isn’t an adequate explanation. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  4. 4

    Um…my mom is pro-choice. She chose to have a baby at a certain time and, as luck would have it, I was the one she got. If she’d done something differently, from not going out on the blind date where she met my dad to having sex a day earlier to thinking twice about having a second baby within 2 years of the first, I wouldn’t have been born and this all would be, profoundly, not my problem. Abortion is the absolute least of my existential problems. Really, I’m just lucky older sister didn’t start crying at the wrong moment and break the mood on the critical night. Hey, what if she did do so on the night before and, gasp, stopped my hypothetical brother from being born? Do I condemn her for killing (preventing the conception of) my brother or thank her for allowing mine to occur? So confusing, thinking this way!

  5. 5

    Another way of looking at it: A relative of mine’s parents met when they were in La Resistance together. If it hadn’t been for the Holocaust, she would never have been conceived and, if she had been, her mother might have chosen to abort rather than have a child in the middle of what was supposed to be her university career. So, maybe not everything that led to the particular people now living was actually a good thing? (Though I’m very happy that this particular person was born and that I know her, I can’t say that I think that everything that led to her being born was the greatest.)

    1. 5.1

      Come to think of it? My Nan spent WW2 working as a nurse in London. I’ll bet if it weren’t for the war her and my grandfather wouldn’t have started a family at the time they did.

      Given a time machine, I’d still get rid of Hitler though.

      1. Actually, don’t. Hitler was… actually pretty incompetent as a leader. Without him, the Nazis may have ended up in power with someone *competent* in charge, and then we might have lost the war and still have a Nazi Germany (and the rest of Europe, too).

        1. Good point.

          Okay, I’d go back to Versailles and give people a Good Talking To until they agreed to not be terrible to Germany. Anyone who didn’t agree to that gets to have an unfortunate accident. Just enough to keep them out of commission until the new, better Treaty is signed.

  6. 6

    Well, my great Grandma was arrested at a pro choice demonstration and sentenced to hard work (thankfully she was pardoned). Her son, my grandpa, met my grandma in French exile. The other set met when my grandpa was wounded in Russia enthusiastically fighting for the wrong side. Good luck Hitler happened or I wouldn’t be here, right?
    Somehow anti choicers seem to think the whole history of humankind just exists to produce that one particular baby, therefore aborting any given fetus means 6 million Jews died for nothing.

    Besides, since my mother really fucked up that parent thing, my usual response to “what if your mother had aborted you?” is that it would have been better for both of us if she had.

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