Sunday is Roe Day [edited to add: and some good news to celebrate!]. I wrote this piece a long time ago, and I’ve reposted part of it since then. And now I’m doing so again because I still think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read, let alone said, on the subject.
The bottom line about abortion is this. Do you trust women to make their own moral judgments? If you are anti-abortion, then no. You do not. You have an absolute moral position that you don’t trust anyone to question, and therefore you think that abortion should be illegal. But the second you start making exceptions for rape or incest, you are indicating that your moral position is not absolute. That moral judgment is involved. And that right there is where I start to get angry and frustrated, because unless you have an absolute position that all human life (arguably, all life period, but that isn’t the argument I’m engaging with right now) are equally valuable (in which case, no exceptions for the death penalty, and I expect you to agonize over women who die trying to abort, and I also expect you to work your ass off making this a more just world in which women don’t have to choose abortions, but this is also not the argument I’m engaging right now), then there is no ground whatsoever for saying that there should be laws or limitations on abortion other than that you do not trust women. I am completely serious about this.
Let me unpack a bit, because I know this sounds polemical, since I am clearly stating a bottom line. When pro-choice feminists like Wolf, or liberal men, or a lot of women, even, say things like, “I’m pro-choice, but I am uncomfortable with… [third-trimester abortion / sex-selection / women who have multiple abortions / women who have abortions for “convenience” / etc.]” then what you are saying is that your discomfort matters more than an individual woman’s ability to assess her own circumstances. That you don’t think that women who have abortions think through the very questions that you, sitting there in your easy chair, can come up with. That a woman who is contemplating an invasive, expensive, and uncomfortable medical procedure doesn’t think it through first. In short, that your judgment is better than hers.
Think about the hubris of that. Your judgment of some hypothetical scenario is more reliable than some woman’s judgment about her own, very real, life situation?
And you think that’s not sexist? That that doesn’t demonstrate, at bottom, a distrust of women? A blindness to their equality? A reluctance to give up control over someone else’s decision?
Because if you cannot see that, then I don’t care who you are. Male, female, feminist, reactionary asshole. You are acting as a conduit for a social distrust of women so strong that it’s almost invisible, that it gets read as “normal.” The fact that abortion is even a debate in this country demonstrates that we do not trust women.
By the by, I am not reposting the second half of the original post, primarily because it’s not on the topic of abortion. It is on the topic of “civility” and “tone,” however, which some of y’all might find interesting. If so, click “this piece” up top, which will take you to the OP, and scroll down to the dashes.