Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Abortion, pregnancy, and slavery

So, according to Mike Huckabee, abortion is like slavery. So, if you're against slavery, then you have to be against abortion, too, for the same reasons. Because they're the same. (Read the lovely article here: Huckabee likens abortion to slavery at Missouri fundraiser - Kansas City Star.)

According to Mr. Huckabee, slavery was about having "life-or-death power over another," and it is still immoral "that one person could own another human being and have full control even to the point of life and death over that other human being."

Uh, Mr. Huckabee, did you perchance get your sex ed in Texas or Florida? Are you even aware of what pregnancy is, or how it works?

The way pregnancy works, the woman has "full control even to the point of life and death" over the parasite living inside of her. That's the way the system is set up -- that's the way God set it up to work. Did you catch that whole "inside of her" part?

If the woman does not take proper care of herself, what happens to that fetus? If the woman does not have access to proper pre-natal health care, what happens to that fetus? If the woman takes drugs (illegal or prescribed) during the pregnancy, what happens to that fetus?

YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THEM. I really wish you people would stop talking as if you could.

Just as the woman has complete control, "life-and-death power," over the fetus inside of her, that fetus also has that same "life-or-death power" over the woman. In some cases, the fetus has the power to kill the woman. It happens, often.

This is not done by "choice" by either party, this is the way the effin' system works. This is the way pregnancy was designed. The woman and the fetus are inherently tied, and cannot be separated. The life of the one is deeply affected by the existence of the other, and the potential life of the other depends on the choices made by the one.

Even after they are separated, after the baby is born, it still depends wholly on the mother -- whether the biological one or a surrogate. The mother's life is forever changed, and her health, as it was during the pregnancy (even one without complications) is affected, negatively. If that baby is going to survive, someone needs to care for it, literally 24/7, until it develops to the point where it can move and communicate on its own, and can take care of itself. That newborn has taken control of that woman's life.

Yes, for a woman who wants that baby, the risks and harms, and work, are well worth it, but that doesn't mean they are not there. (On a coincidentally timely note, Heather Armstrong's book on her experience with post-partum depression, and how it nearly killed her, was released today. Check it out.)

My point is, your argument about how one life should not have "life-or-death power" over another? God made that happen. He designed it that way. Go tell Him it's "immoral."

And must I state the obvious? When you stand on your platforms and tell me I can't terminate an unwanted pregnancy because of what you believe, how is that NOT you having control over my life?

When I first started this post, I was enraged that you would so cheaply use slavery to peddle your anti-choice views. But, now that you've made me think about it, the comparison you make is twistedly apt.

Taking away our reproductive rights and freedoms is, in fact, a new form of slavery. You are forcing women to be slaves to their bodies. You are controling our lives and our decisions. As if you owned us.

You do not have a right to own us. To control our lives in this way. If you find slavery immoral, then by that very same reasoning, you must find the anti-choice movement immoral.


  1. You know... I think this is the most compelling argument I've seen for abortion. The fact that the mother and the fetus are one organism until they separate makes a lot of biological sense.
    BUT... this is a moral debate (not a scientific one) and I feel that it is impossible to change someone's mind on these issues.

  2. The problem with the moral debate is that not everyone agrees -- for some, it IS a scientific debate, nothing else. For some, it is a moral issue but they see the problem from different angles. You are right that it is impossible to change someone's mind on these issues, which is why the law should allow each woman to make her own choice, based on her own personal morals.

  3. Stephane-- and then there's the side many of us take that, while we may see the problem with the act of abortion itself, we see the alternative (that women will always seek abortions, if made illegal will have to do so by unsafe means that risk many more lives) as even more immoral and wrong. And thus, as with so many of these issues, it gets incredibly complex no matter how much people try to simplify it.

  4. I'm not sure that I'd go to the "making women slaves to their bodies" extreme. To me, that sort of implies that we have no control over our own sex drives. However, I'm really glad that you made the point that woman and fetus are not separable and that one depends on the other by its very nature. I'm especially enamored of this line: "The life of the one is deeply affected by the existence of the other, and the potential life of the other depends on the choices made by the one." Beautifully accurate.

  5. Laura,
    What I meant by "slaves to our bodies" was that we would have to control our sex drives, and abstain from sex pretty much completely -- unless I am ready to conceive a child. (How is my husband going to feel about having sex only twice until I hit menopause?)

    Some might argue that women could use the rhythm method, which is faulty at best, and only has a hope of working if you have a body that runs like a Swiss clock. So women with irregular periods are condemned to a life without sex? (Except for those two times they do it to conceive a child?)

    I know that "slaves to our bodies" is a little extreme, but I don't think it's inaccurate. Women should be free to have sex (as often as men are), especially when men are so keen on asking for it.

  6. I am rather loathe to write this, but if you make the comparison of a woman and child being tied to each other, than in essence you're supporting not only abortion, but the right to kill a 1 year old as well. Would a toddler survive on its own? No. Would you go to prison for killing that toddler? Yes.

    My point is that slavery is not about control or even ownership, but power. Do you honestly think that the power of that baby is the same as the power the mother holds? Are they physically and spiritually linked? Absolutely. Can a baby kill its mother? Absolutely. Does the baby ever make the concious choice to do so? No.

    A parasite never purposely kills its host. To do so, it risks its own survival. The host is the powerful one.

    Long story short - abortion is about power. Who gets to hold that power is a different story, but that's the heart of the issue at its core, and I think that's where we agree.

  7. LindsRay,
    You can separate a 1-year-old, even a 1-second-old, from the mother. You cannot separate the fetus from the mother. We all agree once the child is born, it is a person. Killing it, once it is a person, is murder. Abusing or neglecting it is also a crime, as is throwing it in a Dumpster because you never wanted it in the first place.

    Whether the fetus "wants" or tries to kill the woman is not the point, she's going to die whether it was "intentional" or not. The woman, whom we all agree is a person, should have a right to make her own health care decisions.

    The point I make in this post is that the power issue is there, due to the nature of pregnancy, regardless of what the abortion laws are, so that's a silly argument to make against legal abortions (if the woman can't do it legally, safely, in a doctor's office, she'll find some other way, even if it's starving herself to starve the fetus).

    My argument is that each woman should have the power to decide what happens to her body. That power should not be held by the government, especially one with no medical degree.

    My argument also is that women be granted this power by having access to birth control, all forms of it. It should be accessible and affordable, and women should be educated about their options and choices, so that we don't have to get to the point where we need to have the abortion conversation.

  8. "That power should not be held by the government, especially one with no medical degree."

    LOL! I think I might borrow that line...

  9. Hmmmm... This is such a controversial subject and one that I doubt everyone will ever agree on. I'm pro-choice (definitely NOT pro-slavery ;) and nothing gets my blood boiling more than a man who bleats on about how criminal/sinful/evil abortion is, when he'll never, ever be in a position where he has to make that difficult and agonizing decision. I'd like to see our friend Mike explain his theory to a young rape victim who has been impregnated by her attacker.

  10. Criss, I am late reading this post but wanted to tell you how much I appreciate it. I am an old-timer to this fight and can happily say now that pregnancy, wanted or unwanted, is something I no longer worry about.

    I came of age shortly after dependable contraceptives and legalized abortion became accessible. Before the anti-abortion side had organized and while news stories of women being permanently disabled or worse yet dying of back-ally abortions were still fresh in people's minds.

    I understand the sentiment, but I still cringe when people reduce this subject down to a moral issue or a scientific issue. It may be both but far more importantly, it is a fact of life. Women have looked for and found ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies for thousands of years and will continue to do so as long as they can become unwillingly pregnant. If abortion were illegal tomorrow, women would still get abortions. Women of means would get safe ones and women without means would take their chances on back alley abortionists or do-it-yourself remedies, and the odds are strong these will end in tragedy.

    Women of my age tend to look back and marvel how far we have come. But reality is this: Men are usually physically stronger than women. Men can, if they want, have sex and impregnate a woman whether she is a willing partner or not. Men do not carry a child to term and physically go through childbirth. Men can usually avoid the responsibility of parenthood if they want. And men still control the ability to legislate, regulate and morally decree that a woman does not have the right to decide what course of action is best for her and for the parasite she is supporting. (I'm speaking in broad generalities - I actually like or love most men.)

    Worse yet, women of my generation have allowed the funding of such ridiculously ineffective programs such as "abstinence only" to the detriment of frank and practical sexual education that drives home the fact that sexual activity can't be separated from biological results.

    For these failures, I am really, really sorry. I only hope your generation (and my daughter's) does a better job. Thanks again. Great post.

  11. Lulu,
    Thank you for your comment! I wish there were a way to make people of my generation understand the things your generation, and those before you, saw and lived. Even though we still have a fight to fight, we have it so easy compared to women 30+ years ago. And we need current and future generations to understand this, so we don't go back to the way things were.

    You said it better than I could. Thanks for reading. :)