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"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Elizabeth Cady Stanton



Friday 20 April 2012

A Misguided Sense of Empathy

I have only a few friends who are decisively pro-choice, and all of them are pro-choice because they are able to empathize more easily with the pregnant woman than with the fetus. When we talk about abortion, they always focus on the horror of finding your body change when you don't want it to, the injustice of having to cater your life to someone who you'd rather wasn't there, the difficulty of finding yourself pregnant with the child of a man you don't love, the options and opportunities that disappear once accidental parents are responsible for a new life, and the lives of women who have health risks which are compounded by a pregnancy. They never talk about the lives that are lost, or even the "potential lives" that are lost (if you're a pro-choicer who views an unborn baby as a potential) - in fact, the baby is rarely, if ever, mentioned by them.

My pro-choice friend, who I've mentioned before, also spends a lot of her time lamenting on the "poor young people" and "poor women" who have limited to no access to artificial birth control, and attacking the pro-life side for being largely against the pill, and to a lesser extent against all birth control methods except NFP. She goes into great detail about how difficult it is for her to afford birth control, and how it is a stress that she and her boyfriend should not have to go through. But when I asked her about failure rates, about how she could become pregnant even if she is using contraception, she acknowledged that she does worry about the possibility of becoming pregnant. And when I pointed out that this is a major reason that pro-lifers are against marketing contraception as a solution to abortion (though we are not necessarily against contraception itself) she side-stepped the issue and continued to act as if the pill would completely protect her against an unwanted pregnancy.

So then I brought up how it is horrible that pregnant mothers are not given more support, which often forces them into believing that abortion is their only option, and how this is not a very "pro-choice" state of affairs.  I brought up examples of programs (largely the work of pro-lifers) that help make life a possible choice for women facing unplanned pregnancies, and my friend went right back to the contraception issue - claiming that contraception would make my points completely moot because then there would be no unwanted pregnancies. She claimed all of this even though she had just admitted that contraception fails.

I have always found the focus of self-professing "rabid" pro-choicers to be quite odd. All of the focus is on the mother and on contraception ... the baby is ignored, the actual abortion procedure is ignored, and solutions which would enable women to keep their babies are dismissed as unnecessary "because we have abortion and the pill." The intrinsic morality of killing your child because you cannot deal with them is glossed over or dismissed, the psychological or health effects of the abortion procedure are unimportant when compared to the effects of childbirth.

So even though these friends of mine really do believe that they are being supportive of women, I do not see this worldview as compassionate towards surprise mothers in any way. Everything regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood is seen as evil, unless (of course) the pregnancy was explicitly planned.  As someone who knows and loves many "surprise" babies, I will never understand the misguided sense of empathy pro-choicers feel towards pregnant women. There is nothing compassionate about claiming that contraception will solve everything, and that providing pregnant mothers with help and support beyond the abortion clinic is a side issue not directly related to the abortion debate.

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