How to defeat the strongest pro-life argument
This is a portion of an in-depth article.
There are strong arguments presented by anti-choice feminists who do not lean on religion or emotional logic. Rather they leverage socioeconomics and cultural norms to propose that abortion is not part of women’s empowerment.
They also suggest that it does not align with feminist values either. Let’s take a closer look at their strongest talking point and the more compelling counter-argument.
Abortion is a symptom of other women’s issues
A commonly pointed to reason to not permit abortion is that it is simply a by-product of other widespread and harmful women’s issues. Allowing women access to abortion is akin to treating the symptom and not the illness. The argument is that rape and incest occur because we live in a rape culture. If we are able to change the rape culture, we will naturally not have rape or incest as pervasive issues. Consequently, abortion would not be needed. The same can be said about domestic violence and poverty. As both are cited as a reason for abortion, if we treated the causes of those issues, then women would not need abortion.
Rape and incest
Yes rape culture needs to be eradicated. However, if the reason for denying abortions is because rape is a problem, that logic doesn’t follow. Rape cited as the reason for an abortion account for less than 2% of all abortions.
When it comes to rape culture itself, it would seem if anything it’s growing in American and Canada. A strong indication of this is the fact that rape is the only violent crime in America to have risen for six years in a row. The same holds true in Canada.
It is inaccurate to claim that we need to focus on rape, incest and rape culture as they are the root problems and abortion is merely a by product. To say that if tomorrow we woke up and the concept of rape didn’t exist that would justify the abolishment of abortion is… interesting.
Why does a woman need to be violated in order to seek an abortion? Why is she unable to be in control of her body unless it has been violated first?
I wholeheartedly agree that we need to closely examine rape culture and work towards dissolving it. But I would be hard-pressed to say that if it was dissolved it now makes sense to remove access to a medical procedure.
The same logic applies to cases of incest. Why must a family member of a rapist be assaulted before they are worthy of the right to bodily autonomy? This thinking is steeped in patriarchal values and moves us further away from equity, not closer to it.
The same hesitation to deny abortions because domestic abuse exists as it does for rape. It will not be possible for them to have full control over their lives if they cannot control their bodies.
And to gatekeep abortion is abhorrent. To require someone to live a traumatic experience before being permitted to seek this medical procedure is violent. That being said, there’s an undeniable correlation between domestic abuse and abortion.
In cases where a history of abuse exists, it is often the only reason cited for an abortion. It comes as no surprise that women were less likely to inform their partner of their pregnancy when they had reported a history of abuse.
It’s true that there is value in examining the motives behind someone seeking an abortion. It’s also reasonable to question whether they would make the same choice if their circumstances were different. However, in doing so, what gives us the right to deny someone the option to have control over their body?
49% of American abortion seekers live below the federal poverty line. But this doesn’t mean poverty is their reason for seeking an abortion. In fact, women in households below the poverty line have the highest birth rate.
Arguably, it is harder for women who are poor to obtain an abortion. We have only to look at the birth rates and poverty rates around the world to see this striking relationship.
Abortion rates have been declining since 1980, despite poverty rates fluctuating. The more likely explanation for declining rates of abortions is the correlation between comprehensive sex ed and lower rates of unwanted pregnancy that has been proven repeatedly.
A common claim is that abortions disproportionately impact Black women and other WOC and is therefore also a race issue. In reality, it is only white people who have maintained their rates of abortion, all other races have seen a decline.
I agree that abortion could be considered a racial issue. But because of the disgusting care Black women and WOC receive in medicine as an institution, not specifically treatment during abortion procedures. In that instance, the solution would be to dismantle institutional racism within medicine, not to remove access to procedures.
Question of the Week
Should the internet be selectively censored?
Studies have proven that exposure to certain forms of online content leads to an increased likelihood to dehumanize a specific group of people or even commit violent acts against them. Two significant examples to point to are violent porn and hate crimes. What are your thoughts on online censorship for some types of content? Should censorship exist? If so, who controls it, and to what extent? Can we trust them to remain ethical with this control? If not, how do we justify the harm that comes to people as a result of a lack of censorship? Who would be most negatively impacted and why?
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