Abortion is a very contentious issue at the moment. With Donald Trump enforcing restrictions that have a global effect, with more than 3,400 Irish women travelling to the UK for legal abortions in 2015, and Poland’s recent attempts to try and completely ban abortion in any case- it feels that abortion along with other women’s issues is at the forefront of 2017 politics . With it being in the media, no doubt it gets brought up in discussion and you are faced with the task of deciding which argument you side with. Pro-life or pro-choice?
For anyone unsure of these terms let me explain; being pro-life is being anti-abortion, in that you believe no one has the right to take the life of an unborn child, and it is wrong to suggest that an unborn child has no right to life. Pro-choice is generally being in support of abortion if this is the choice of the pregnant person, the argument being each person has autonomy and can make their own decision, in this case the pregnant woman’s body takes precedence over the unborn child’s. Simple right? No, not really.
The issue with these signifiers is that they come with huge amounts of moral baggage. To be considered pro-life is also considered to be unsympathetic towards rape victims who may wish to abort a child they had no choice in conceiving. Moreover, people can often assume you are fanatically religious, morally blind or aren’t educated about the science of the body. To be labelled as pro-choice can mean you are tarred as being actively encouraging abortion and discouraging carrying the child to term, you can be viewed as a murderer and are often deemed to be part of the so-called ‘feminazis’. No wonder so many of us squirm at the thought of being asked, especially when the majority have no concept of what it’s like to be in that situation.
I think maybe it’s plausible that you yourself could be pro-life but that doesn’t mean you judge other people for not being. I think it’s also realistic that one’s stance might change on a case-to-case basis. However I hope we can all agree that the people who should be enforcing or altering laws around abortion should be people who understand, perhaps have been through it, and my personal suggestion is to consult a least a few people who own a womb. The viral image of ‘a room of old white men standing over Trump’ as he signs an order that literally has no bearing on any of them is honestly laughable and simultaneously upsetting. Whatever stance you take, I hope that you understand that if we restrict access to safe abortions it is not guaranteed to reduce unwanted pregnancy, only guaranteed to increase unsafe and illegal abortions that historically have killed and permanently damaged people. I understand it’s a taboo topic, and not something we want to address if it is not affecting us, but if we don’t talk about it we lose a discussion of safe sex and protecting our bodies. In shutting down this conversation we also shut down those about contraception, the struggles of single parenthood and the mental health affects surrounding this issue, which in turn makes it all the more likely to occur without a safe solution. This is a modern issue- so let’s talk about it.