I just don’t get the fuss about abortion. I really don’t. For much of its existence, a foetus is simply potential. Heartstoppingly real enough, when you discover you have one, but no more than a potential nevertheless. We are all potential killers, but nobody locks us up because of our potential. Treating a potential state or trait as if it were reality sets my alarm bells ringing. Imagine arresting people drinking in bars or in their homes, just in case they had cars and got into them later to drive away. Or Muslims, just in case they turned out to be terrorists. Where does the potential for human life end? In a sperm, in an egg? In desire? Could refusing a fuck be considered denying potential human life?
Then there are the protesters, the ones flinging abuse and urine at real people, theoretically in an attempt to protect people who do not yet exist. As Ruby Tuesday quite rightly points out, their efforts might be better rewarded ensuring that women do not have to choose between studies and childrearing, work and childrearing, economic viability and childrearing. But I don’t think that supporting single mothers or female autonomy comes very high on their agenda, no matter how big the crop of foetuses might be. And remember, it’s a short step from protecting foetuses – who are only potential – to banning contraception because every fuck is a potential foetus.
And how about the “If you’re old enough to have sex, you’re old enough to live with the consequences” school of thought. Wow. Who are these people? The Institute for Parenthood as Punishment? The authors of “Resentment and Frustration as key qualities in childrearing”? Not people with a child’s best interests at heart, that’s for sure.
I can only understand the fuss over abortion in terms of control over women’s bodies and lives. Dressed up as religion, or morality or humanity, abortion is condemned because we NEED babies. We need them to pay our social security systems, to operate our manufacturing processes, to fill out the ranks in our armies, to compete in the global market, to farm our fields. And women are still the only source of babies. So women get a lifelong training in learning to want them and we get fancy guilt trips for failing our training and not wanting them, or not having them.
Then, there’s the additional advantage that whilst we are busy raising children free for ourselves, our partners, our families, and ultimately, our country, we are often too busy to compete with men on the job market, protest about our condition, make waves.
In Spain, the falling birthrate and consequent rise in the ageing population has made the State’s dependence on women’s free provision of mothering starkly evident. I, for example, am unlikely to ever receive a pension unless some wonderful altruistic young women out there rapidly start dedicating themselves to the breeding and rearing of numerous tax-paying citizens. But what is the State doing about this? What rewards do mothers receive for their fundamental contribution to the existence of the nation’s population, let alone the State? Sweet FA is the answer: there is still no widely and freely available childcare provision or support, anywhere. Nation States in general are still reluctant to fund something that they have always managed to acquire for free, although it’s changing, slowly. In Austria, for example, I could earn as much staying at home rearing my child as I do working for a wage. This has got to be the future.
Killer fact: Statistics show that as women’s educational level rises, the number of children they have drops.
My personal experience with the National Health Service in the UK was that it was easier to get an abortion (just one potential human life lost) than to be sterilized (my entire reproductive services to queen and country lost forever). And, as feared, instead of being tied up with childrearing, I spent my 20s and 30s getting an education and economic independence, campaigning against nuclear arms at Greenham Common, finding safe housing for battered women (and thus “breaking up” families), campaigning for women’s rights and generally being a nuisance to society. I am everything that the anti-choicers are fighting against.
You’d never guess it if you met me. I like gardening.