Very long, may be triggery.
It's been 9 years since I first began writing this. Each year, I update and expand on it, hoping the situation will improve, that some sort of sanity will prevail. Matters have only gotten worse.
The many, many gynophobic laws that have been passed or introduced are unbelievable in this modern age.
In the news, we read stories of women “being raped” as if she did it to herself - the rapist is rarely mentioned and often defended. We've watched court cases of rape victims being further victimized, and far worse than when there were no victims rights advocates. We've seen 11 year olds being accused of "asking for it" when they are gang-raped on video. We've heard of women forced to carry terminal and dead fetuses because they aren't allowed to abort them - even though abortion is still legal. We've seen laws being proposed that would criminalize women who miscarry - adding insult to an injury, jail time for losing not even a fetus, but a blastocyte. We saw a woman imprisoned because she expressed doubts about having the baby she carried (and what pregnant woman hasn't panicked during the pregnancy?). We've seen legislation proposed that would make it legal to hunt and kill women's health care providers. We’ve seen more women and children becoming homeless because they weren’t allowed a choice that could have prevented the whole problem. We have people actively and vociferously advocating birthing babies without providing any support or infrastructure for the newborn and beyond - in spite of the fact that we are breeding ourselves out of resources. All of that is horrific beyond words, inhumane. It completely disregards actual lives in favor of potential ones.
We need to consider the welfare of those who are already born and living in this world. We need to care for those who are alive now, and in need now.
As a Numenist, I believe the life of the soul begins long before conception and continues long after death. Our souls take up residence in the flesh, so how we treat one another between birth and death matters. But the soul is not tethered to the flesh until viability - the point at which the fetus can survive on its own outside of the womb. Life is sacred. All life is sacred. I am morally opposed to the malicious taking of any life, but I believe life that already exists independently takes precedence over a potential life. Choice must be moral, ethical, and legal.
Let me explain.
I chose life for myself and the children I bore, because I am inherently selfish and fluffy.
I choose for no other woman because I am an American. It is the precise separation of religion and law that allows disparate faiths to thrive alongside one another, including disparities within religions, such as Catholics and Methodists. The American attitude of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state has ensured our safety in the practice of our beliefs, and our rights are not dependent upon the morality of the privileged few, but rather on higher ideals of justice, equality, and freedom.
I am pro-choice because it is the only moral choice to make when it involves other people.
Without choice, there can be no morality at all.
Consider. A woman who becomes pregnant has not just her unborn child to consider, but also any other children she may currently have, her health, her own body, and any other people dependent upon her. She is the custodian for all of them. She must be allowed the freedom to choose to add this unborn child to the family or to abort it for the greater good of those already born. If we take away that choice, then the unborn baby may be saved but at the cost of a far greater evil to the woman and to those already born.
Is it better to allow a woman her choice, knowing she may choose to abort in some cases, or do we remove that choice and most assuredly commit evil in every single case?
Life must be protected. There is no doubt about that. As a woman, it is my duty to protect the life of my unborn child as well as my already born children, not the government's, not some preacher's, certainly not yours. It is my duty to protect my health and well-being so I can take care of myself. It is also my duty to protect the lives of other children I may already have, and those living children take precedence over an unformed and unborn potentiality. It is my duty as a woman to protect the people already living in my care, and I must consider so very many things.
The welfare of the developing embryo is, like the embryo's own tissues, too caught up in the mother's own existence to be considered separately. The distinction between mother and child occurs gradually. In the beginning, when there is no distinction, when the embryo is incapable of independent viability, it is and must be entirely and completely the mother's decision on how to safeguard all the lives within her care, from her own and the already-born to the unborn within her.
The woman can, should, indeed, must, protect herself first, because she must be healthy and able to care for those dependent upon her. Then she must protect the already born who are in her care – whether those are older children of hers, her elderly parents or grandparents, cousins, kin, mates, mates' kin, co-workers, neighbors. She has a large group of people to consider, not just the one unborn child.
Life must be protected, and the question becomes, whose life?
The pro-life argument is not one of law or physical technicalities, but of the spirit. It is not life with which they are concerned, but control and punishmentl. Let me address this from my own Numenist perspective.
To have any integrity of the human soul at all, we must be allowed to know, and knowing, to choose our path. To remove a person's right to choose is tantamount to gainsaying the spiritual concept of free will. Free will is an important part of Numenism. This includes the free will to determine when to sever a soul from the divine and house it in an individuated corporeal being. An abortion allows the soul to remain an integral part of the divine, to be born some other time and to some other woman. The soul does not begin at conception and end at death; it has an eternal existence that is not dependent upon being housed in a human body. Abortion, to a Numenist, is a delaying of the soul's corporeality.
Those who would prevent a woman from making a choice to bear or abort the unborn embryo may think they are stopping a terrible crime, but what they are actually doing is harming everyone - everyone connected with the woman, everyone in that woman's neighborhood, society, culture, and religion. They are stifling spiritual growth, playing god in an unhealthy way, and abusing the intelligence granted us.
It is wonderful and good to be pro-life. If you can change someone's mind with love, compassionate words, and the physical and financial support they require, so much the better.
It is not acceptable on a spiritual level to force someone to make choices they would not make because you feel it is the right thing for them to do. Removing choice from someone removes their humanity, their adulthood, their hard-won maturity. It stunts them. The removal of choice makes them slaves who must obey the commands of those who control them.
Abortion isn't about killing babies, it is about the freedom of the human soul. It is about being allowed to choose our destinies. It is about being allowed to have respect for our own gods-given reproductive lives, and it is about having no shame when we protect ourselves by doing what we must.
I could never ask a woman to risk her life for a pregnancy she did not want.
I could never ask a woman to shoulder a lifetime responsibility she does not feel she can bear with grace.
I could never presume to make a life-altering decision for anyone not myself. I didn't even have my son circumcised so he could make that decision for himself when he was old enough. How could I have the utter arrogance to decide if a woman would bear a child or not?
I believe that abortion is the ending of a potentiality, but it is not murder. There is no negative stigma of a woman choosing to preserve the emotional, physical, and mental well being of her life and the lives of those already dependent upon her. Abortion is a method of self-defense and protection for her and her world. To label a woman who has had to choose an abortion with the same name as the people who deliberately shoot their already-born children or drown them or starve them is a disservice to the soul of society. When we burden society's soul with too many negatives, it responds in harmful ways. Those already-born become less valuable, more disposable. People who know their lives are not valued in turn place little value on other people, and violence, greed, and callousness become common.
The reality of abortion is not good or evil. It is human struggle, filled with blood and grief and fear and pain and humiliation. Nobody plans to get pregnant just so they can have an abortion. Abortion is not used as a primary method of birth control, not by any sane, valued being. Birth control methods fail, and abortion is a back-up for that.
Men rape women and if impregnation happens, abortion is there to protect the woman from one major consequence of the man's violent act. Only the woman can determine if she is capable of surviving a pregnancy forced on her through violence and then spending the next 20-25 years raising a child created in violence.
And that brings us to what our society would consider the dark side of abortion and what I consider the bright side of it. Relief.
Abortion is a safety valve for families.
The choice to abort or not allows the woman and her family freedom, safety, prosperity. It is a considered action that dignifies the value of human life and the human soul by considering all parts of the equation and not just the one unknown cipher. Like any act of great human consequence, there are times when abortion is the right and only thing to do, and times when it is a terrible mistake. The pregnant woman is the only one right now who can make that decision, and once made, we, as a society, cannot ethically and morally judge her choice; not and remain a moral and ethical society.
Who are we to second-guess her choice, a choice that is never as simple or easy as it sounds?
We have the wealth, the technology, the knowledge, the skills, and the ability to make every child born into a wanted child, to prevent unwanted pregnancies, to safely abort dangerous or unwanted pregnancies, to provide support while any children are entirely dependent upon the family, to make families stronger and safer.
But we don't.
As a society, we Americans devalue the mother, we force women into untenable positions to assuage the vocal demands of a small group of control freaks, we force children into untenable lives of poverty and violence, we make all of society colder, meaner, and more selfish. We cut funding for Medicaid, for education, for child nutrition, for food stamps, for housing, and have the unmitigated gall to consider ourselves decent, moral people. We get laws that restrict pay and job conditions, and we attack mothers forced onto welfare because we prevented them from making the hard, informed choices they must make.
Abortion is not easy. It is as life-altering a decision as giving birth, and there's not a woman who has had an abortion who doesn't regret the need for that decision. They may not regret the decision itself, they may rejoice that they could have that choice, but they will always regret the need that forced the decision upon them, a need our society should have prevented, but didn't because we refuse to provide the support women need.
This isn't even addressing the primary reason for allowing women to make the choice to carry or abort the pregnancy – the spiritual growth that such decisions will bring. By abrogating the woman's right to choose, we stunt her spiritual growth. We enslave her soul and entrap the souls of her children for the duration of their flesh and blood lives. Forcing birth, forcing motherhood, forcing life, entrapping souls are all evil actions. The freedom to choose - to choose birth and life and motherhood, and the freedom to choose life without birthing and motherhood, builds character in the soul of the woman and those about her.
Perhaps there are those who want women to remain spiritually small and weak; they are themselves small-spirited.
There are those who will cry out, "But what about the father's right to choose?"
And to them I answer: The father's right to choose takes place before the act of coition and orgasm. Once he decides to squirt out his sperm without using or confirming the presence of birth control, he hands over the decision for what happens next to the woman. It is her body, her life, her family, her community, her spiritual well-being that informs her decision. She may choose to allow him a part in her decision, but it is ultimately and completely her decision, and it will remain hers until we develop viable artificial wombs. When we have artificial wombs that put no woman's life at risk to carry a baby to term, that involve no woman's emotions, bodies, or families; then men can decide to take custody of the embryo, grow it in the artificial womb, and raise it.
When women can walk away from the pregnancy as easily as men can, then men can have a choice in the future of an embryo.
So, if men want to make that decision, to take the lifetime responsibility of growing and rearing a child, they should hustle and develop working artificial wombs as soon as they can. Until then, they need to take responsibility for their fertility, either through using condoms and a spermicide, through abstinence, through vasectomy, through the male birth control pill, through self-control, through masturbation or through providing the emotional and financial support the children and their mothers need. They do not have the right to access a woman's body against her will (and how she dresses or where she goes does not give unspoken permission, and any female under the age of at least 16 is never asking for it and men should know better than to even think about it), and they do not have the right to force motherhood on any woman by refusing to provide for their own birth control. And they must always, always be aware that birth control does indeed fail, that surgical sterilization isn’t always 100%, and that mistakes happen, people are forgetful, may have an idiosyncratic reaction to birth control, and sometimes, sometimes, in spite of all the effort to the contrary, pregnancy occurs.
Abortion is a safety valve for those instances. For men as well as women.
Abortion is never an easy choice. No matter what the media and the forced birthers try to make us believe, abortion is never lightly undertaken and is not the birth control method of choice for any woman. It's an invasive procedure that requires care so the woman can, should she choose, get pregnant and have a baby later. So many things can go wrong in an abortion - sterility, permanent disability, maiming, even death of the woman as well as the embryo - that no sane woman would submit to it without a compelling reason. If a woman is impregnated by a man - through failed birth control, through lies, through rape, through changed circumstances - she has very few options. Every one of those options has a strong potential to be detrimental to her health, her spirit, her mental well-being, her finances - and the health, well-being, and care of those already alive and in her care. Even a chosen and planned for and healthy pregnancy damages a woman's body. She needs the right to choose the damages she will suffer.
Once impregnated, a woman is going to suffer damage physically. Her body will forever be altered. There are so many things that can happen to damage her during it. If she can't sustain the pregnancy, she undergoes a different risk - dangerous drugs or a surgical procedure to free herself of the unwanted pregnancy. A man can walk away without having to undergo any kind of surgical procedure or alteration to his body, without any risk to his health and life and well-being. It must be her choice about the risks and health consequences she will - not might - will receive from the pregnancy.
If, for religious or ethical reasons or, increasingly often, for lack of adequate medical care in her community, she has to carry the unwanted pregnancy to term, she risks a host of damages and ailments, up to and including death. A man gets to walk away without any kind of damage to his body and certainly without any fear of dying because of the pregnancy and birth or the host of infections, hemorrhages, and other damages that accompany pregnancy and childbirth.
In a forced pregnancy, the woman no longer gets to choose to place the child up for adoption. If the father wants, he can force her to feed, house, clothe, and educate the unwanted child at her expense - because he can shirk child support while denying her the ability to adopt the child out. The sperm donor (I can't call him a father) gets to walk away without losing a moment's sleep over the lives he's just destroyed. Even if a court of law determines he should pay child support, he still gets to walk away from caring for the child or participating in its life if he wants to, and often he can get away with not paying that child support. Worse, he can control the woman he raped by getting to stay in her life, demanding child visitation and reminding her at every opportunity that he did violence to her and now legally gets to control her through the child she was forced to birth. No woman gets to walk away unscathed from a pregnancy, however short it may be.
If the couple is married when the child is conceived and the man decides he no longer wants to be responsible for the child he helped create, he gets to walk away. No one condemns him for it. No one blames him if he denies the child is his. After all, short of DNA testing, there’s no proof, not like there is when a woman gives birth. Maternity is rarely in doubt.
Men make their decision to impregnate women the moment they allow their sperm to squirt out into a woman. If men failed to use birth control themselves, (via abstinence, condoms, male birth control, self control, or vasectomy), they have already made their decision.
The burden of birth control is not and should not be entirely upon the woman.
Me, I'd like to see every child born be a wanted child - planned and anticipated and hoped for. That means everyone has to own up to their part in the procreation process - from erection to childbirth, and take responsibility for the results of their choices.
That means we need a wide variety of choices, from better birth control for both genders to better behavior from men and women to better health care. We need artificial wombs so women can walk away from a pregnancy as easily as men do. We need better methods of adoption and fosterage.
We need to allow women the freedom to choose and we need to give them easy access to knowledgeable and skilled physicians to help them in their choice. This in turn means we need doctors skilled and educated in all aspects of women's healthcare, including abortion, and the freedom to use those skills and knowledge at need without fearing for their lives.
And men? Your job is to make sure every child conceived is wanted by the woman who will birth it - or - you could create fully functioning artificial wombs and buy eggs from an egg bank the way women buy sperm from a sperm bank to have your very own baby without any contact with a woman.
In the end, choice is the only moral course we can take.