22 Jan 2007, Comments Off on Blog for Choice day: a tale from the front

Blog for Choice day: a tale from the front

Author: Helen

I don’t generallly do blogosphere “days”. But trust me, this one is worth it. Why I’m pro-choice: this topic might have me pecking the keyboard into the wee hours. Women in Victoria and in some parts of the US (still, I think) have the access to abortion that was gained under the Menhennit ruling and later Roe v. Wade, but it’s under severe threat in most states of the US – and since our Federal government slavishly copy developments there, our Aussie godbags Abbott and McGauran are busy chipping away at our rights as we speak. They’re made more dangerous by the rise of social conservatism and fundamentalism, which spells trouble in the future for our daughters if we’re not careful.

Hence the need for Blog for Choice day.

I suppose “why I’m pro-choice” has two parts. What is my philosophical take on it, if you will – my fundamental reason to support reproductive rights up to and including abortion? I am a utilitarian person who doesn’t believe that a foetus in someone’s body is capable of either conscious suffering or regret at being denied life (which is logically meaningless, as someone without consciousness is incapable of regret). I know that to most of you, this will seem unnecessary to point out. Some people quibble about varying levels of reflex or developing features in the developing foetus (Look! a spine!), but if you were to give that central importance then no-one should eat meat or fish. The average farm animal is subjected to a miserable life, then a most unsurgical death. The importance given to the human foetus is generally based on an assumption of human personhood and/or a religious belief in a “soul”, which I don’t share.

Further to that, denying access to abortion equals forced pregnancy. A foetus is part of me until it’s out – and until then I, and no one else, have the right to carry it to term or not. One of the important features of the Abbott/McGauran style of anti-choice activism is that they don’t trust women to make that decision. They seem to imagine we’ll all go around having abortions at 36 weeks just for the hell of it, if given half a chance. That is offensive.

The second part is, why I’m pro-choice now – or why pro-choice activism is necessary at this time in history.

I’ve had two abortions, a bit more than twenty years ago (before I had two children by choice). I was lucky; it was at a time when the Menhennit ruling was on the books and the Wainer clinic was operating. I also went to a GP for emergency contraception on one occasion after a condom failure. The full horror of what it will be like if Roe and Menhennit are overturned, or the fundamentalists manage to further impose their world view on us, was brought home to me last September. Biting Beaver, who lives in Ohio, has three children and doesn’t want, and can’t afford, a fourth. When a condom broke, after a lot of obfuscation and embarassed stuffing around by medical staff, she was denied emergency contraception.

Every sperm is sacred! Could that happen here? Yes, it can.

The next day, BB had to hit the phone to drive to another town and source some emergency contraception. She was successful, but the EC itself failed, largely no doubt because of the procrastination by the medical staff she’d already visited. Of course both she and her partner had to suddenly take time off work, and I don’t have to tell you how much harder the situation might have been if she’d been a scared teenager with no transport instead of an educated, activist, mature woman.

And then something else happened – she got the most revolting, vicious comments on her blog, hundreds of them. Including death threats.

Bertram and Jo Wainer, the Australian abortion activists, used to receive death threats as well. A security guard actually was shot and killed. Of course, there have been many more deaths in the US. I really can’t understand why the “pro-life” movement is so in love with the death threat as a tool of trade. Weird.

Five days after the condom breakage, BB succeeded in getting a (non-surgical) abortion via Planned Parenthood (whose waiting room was tastefully fitted out with concrete and bulletproof glass because of the lunatic protestors).

Is this what we want here? Is this what we want for our daughters? I think the eternal vigilance thing is a good idea these days. That’s what Blog for Choice day is about.

Evening update: Anna Winter at LP has a post up with links to Pandagon and Feministing. Their posts hang off the NAPW (National Advocates for Pregnant Women) Summit. Because as Jessica points out, there’s “the myth that there are different kinds of women—women who have abortions and women who have babies. The fact is, of course, that we’re all the same women.” As my example and BitingBeaver’s also demonstrate.

Jill of Feministe got in early. Maia at Alas, a Blog gives the view from New Zealand. Here’s a few more bloggers weighing in: Brownfemipower, The opinionated Suki, Trish of Lone Sophist and Letters from the Front (similarity to the post title is completely coincidental).

Morning-after update: There’s a monster link dump at the Blog for Choice day site. It’s overwhelming, in a good way.

Pro-choice advice:

WIRE (Women’s Information) 1300 134 130, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Marie Stopes International

Comments (0)

  • Jan says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  • zoot says:

    Who would have thought that in the 21st century we would need to be eternally vigilant regarding medieval attitudes? Thank you Helen.

  • trish says:

    Great post — really makes you think. I am participating as well, but waiting another hour for the clock to roll over before I post. I am glad to see so many people participating. The state of this country is scary.

  • Thank you for alerting me to this Helen – I’ve put up my own little post. It’s interesting all teh different views women bloggers have on the matter, and all the different ways we’ve come around to the same point of view.

  • audrey says:

    Well said – if I had known about this earlier than today I would have joined in. I too am amazed by the vitriol spouted by Team Anti-Choice. It’s indicative of the greater belief that women are really here to waste time until they fulfil their essential function on earth – and those that have no inclination to do so clearly must be punished.

  • Helen says:

    Thanks all you commenters – I’ve linked to Trish and LettersfromtheFront and some others in an update.

    No trolls so far (crosses fingers)

  • suki says:

    Thank you Helen for letting me know of this.

    As always, you write insightfully, passionately and extend my thinking and knowledge.

  • weez says:

    When I landed in Australia in 1996, abortion was not a topic in general public discussion. Women had a right to state-funded abortion on demand if they needed it- and the conversation was over. The cathlicks made the odd grumble in the background. Only when the extremists were installed in government later in 1996 was it again raised in a manner threatening to women.

    An overwhelming majority of Australian women when polled indicate they agree with abortion on demand. Let’s see if 52% of the voting population will decide to kick the religious patriarchy out of federal government in 2007.

  • Helen says:

    I’ve had to disable comments due to receiving about 1,000 on this post from a Mr Loanmortgagevich. Fuck off, Mr L.

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