I matter. You matter. We all matter. Right now, though, I’m going to talk about the first one. Why? Because for far too long, I haven’t thought that I mattered. Not in a global sense (such as, where do I fit in this world). Not in a societal sense (such as, I am no benefit to anyone). Not in a personal sense (such as, I could die, and it would not make one whit of a difference). It was the root of much of my depression, and it held great sway.
With that in mind, let’s turn to the murder of Dr. Tiller. Before it happened, I was tangentially aware of the pro-choice movement (and, more accurately, the anti-choice movement as well). How can you not be if you grow up in this country? I was pro-choice by default, but I never really thought about it. Like marriage, having children is a foreign subject to me, and quite frankly (FREE AL FRANKEN! Oh, sorry), abortion wasn’t on my list of important issues.
That changed in a heartbeat.
After Dr. Tiller was murdered, I grieved for two days. Then, I asked myself, “Why am I grieving so much for a man I never knew?” Only after reading more about him did I realize just how truly heroic he was. I don’t use that term lightly, but he saved so many women’s lives. He treated them with compassion, dignity, and respect. He had a button that said, “trust women”.
I came to realize that this issue of abortion did mean something to me, on a personal level that is. On the boards I read, many of the debates over abortion have been when does personhood start. At Balloon Juice, one man insisted that he wasn’t a misogynist, but that women should have to deal with the “consequences” of getting pregnant. He said consequences, but I heard punishment. He goes on to say it’s about peoplehood and blah-di-blah-blah.
That’s when the full realization hit me. I matter. What the fuck, Minna? Huh? Yeah, I know, sounds moonbatty, but have a listen.
Here is what I understand to be the anti-choice reasoning. A few cells swimming in my uterus constitute a person. This person has equal right to life that I do. Therefore, abortion is wrong. Oddly enough, some people will add, except in the case of rape, incest, and if they’re feeling especially generous, if the mental health of the person was at risk. Why is this odd to me? Because, if a life is a life is a life, then why make those exceptions? Could it be because the life of the woman is more important in those cases? If so, then why not in any case? Ah, because the stupid sluts who have indiscriminate sex must suffer for their sins.
What, no? That’s not it? Then what is it?
The other thing I noticed is that most of the leaders of the anti-choice movement are men. I’d like to give a big WTF for that one. Men. Who will never be in the position of having to choose to abort or to carry out a pregnancy are leading the charge to overturn Roe V. Wade (which, by the way, guys, not gonna happen). Well, never say that men don’t have balls. They are strident in their opposition to something that will never happen to them, and I think that’s part of the problem.
See, we women, we give life, and, yes, we can take away the potential of it as well. Men can’t do this. At all. The next best thing is being able to control women in this capacity, and I think this lies at the heart of the issue for many men who are anti-choice. If you read the newest asshole conservative at the NYT, he thinks Roe V. Wade was a power grab. I’ve read his stuff, and he really is icked out by women who are unabashedly sexual. Women should know their place, do as they are told, and not enjoy sex. He really is rooted in the madonna/whore syndrome, which is doubly depressing as he is considered one of the bright young Serious writers of the right. Anyway, I find this thread of thought very pervasive in anti-choice rhetoric.
Sluts shouldn’t enjoy sex. If they do, they should be punished.
So. Anyway. Ahem. Back on track. The whole debate about personhood is another one of smoke and mirrors to me. See, this is where I had my epiphany. I don’t care if the zygote or fetus is a person or not–my life matters more because I am a viable human being. So. There is the uncomfortable truth that I have never said out loud before. I matter more to me than does a fetus. I quickly extrapolated it to, “The woman’s life always matters more to me than the fetus she is carrying.”
It blew my fucking mind. Why? Because then, so many of the arguments against abortion melt away. I feel that the pro-choice movement has bowed down to the anti-choice side for far too long (much like Dems still cower and whimper before the GOP, even though WE FUCKING WON). We try to placate and apologize and minimize.
Yes, yes, abortion is bad. Yes, yes, no woman ever wants to get one. Yes, yes, the goal is zero abortions. Yes, yes, a woman should think long and hard about it and then be burdened with guilt ever after. Yes, yes. A woman is an evil slut if she gets pregnant outside of marriage (except, remember, in cases of rape and incest) and deserves to be punished, oh, I mean, bear the consequences.
No more. I will repeat again: I matter. My life matters. My body matters. What happens to my body matters. As such, I and I alone get to decide what happens to my body and my life.
I’m really making this crystal clear before I go on because the anti-choice movement has chipped away at abortion rights ever since Roe V. Wade was passed into law. There has always been abortions. Before they were legal, they were done in the back alleys by unqualified hacks. Read this account from Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings and Washington Monthly and try not to wince. There will always be women who get abortions. This is a fact. As long as there are women who are in situations where having a child is untolerable, there will be abortions.
Since this is running long, I do not want to get into the side issues of caring about the kids after they are born and such. I want to re-focus on my core statement which is this.
A woman’s life supersedes the life of the life of the fetus inside her. A woman’s right to choose what to do with her body, her womb, her life supersedes the right of other people to tell her what the fuck she should do with any or all of the above. Abortion is a fact of life. It is not a good fact nor a bad fact, but simply a fact. Some women feel wretched about having them, and some women feel relieved. Many feel both or neither and a whole range of emotions in between. The idea that women have to be wracked with guilt over an abortion is another way to bludgeon us over the head in order to make us less likely to talk about having them and what we really think about abortions.
Sorry. That wasn’t as focused as I wanted it to be.
I matter more than the life of a fetus inside me. I am not a brood mare or a slut who should be shackled with a child for the rest of my life because a condom broke or I had unprotected sex. I am not a vessel for a fertilized egg, and I am not ‘the body’ containing the fetus.
I am me. I am a person. A living, breathing person who matters. This is the message that the pro-choice side has to promote when the anti-choice side talks about the right to life. A woman has the right to her own life.