Tomorrow at noon, a “New Abortion Caravan” full of brain-washed young adults is showing up at the Vancouver Art Gallery — its first stop across Canada, in an anti-choice campaign that co-opts the language and concept of the original Abortion Caravan (a pro-choice campaign that went across Canada in 1970) for the exact opposite end goal (they wanted abortion legalized, the “new caravan” wants it criminalized and the very concept of it eradicated from thought all together). There will be graphic posters plastered all over the city’s downtown core, comparing aborted fetuses to horrific atrocities captured on film during multiple ethnic genocides throughout history. What they aren’t telling anyone who happens upon one of these traumatizing posters by random chance, is that the pictures of aborted fetuses are all the result of illegal abortions. So tonight, I am compiling a list of fast facts for all anti-choicers (otherwise known as “pro-lifers”), to contribute to the pool of knowledge on which they form their political opinion.
1. Pro-Abortion Sluts Are A Myth
An anti-choicer found my picture on Facebook, in which I am depicted holding up a sign explaining that men who raped me agree with their view of women. She then declared that 99% of abortions are decided upon by individuals who get them done for selfish reasons pertaining to their lifestyle (i.e., a mere 1% of abortions, she claims, are conducted for women who have conceived during incest or rape, or who have medical contraindications which outweigh the beautiful gift of motherhood). This claim, regardless of stats (which I can guarantee will be shown erroneous, but I don’t care enough to look it up instead of preparing for tomorrow, so I recommend you do), is always rooted in the assumption that there exists women who are a) using abortion in place of birth control, and b) complete sluts who won’t keep their legs shut. I’ve written about the slut myth in a previous post, but I’ll sum it up here: the pro-abortion slut is a ridiculous and immediately fallacious myth designed to shame and police women into being willing subjects of existing gender-subjugation. No woman in the world would risk life and health to have multiple consecutive abortions instead of using a condom, spermicide, sponges, oral contraceptive, depo provera, an IUD, birth control patches, Nuva ring, a diaphragm, and/or abstinence, just so she could fuck every available partner of sperm-producing capacity as often as possible. Period. Read that list out loud as if you were Stephen Colbert for the full effect. And please, please stop and realize that you are actually claiming that there exists a person who would risk their life to have sex. And then stop being so fucking arrogant.
2. There Is No “Pro-Life” Vs. Pro-Choice
The so-called “pro-life” stance is not about “protecting” or defending the “life” of an non-viable fetus. It’s about taking away the legal right to access a safe abortion. But guess what? That doesn’t stop pro-choice pregnant women who are in need of an abortion from accessing one. Except where abortion is criminalized, that means they are having them at the end of a coat hanger in their bathtub, in the alley, or in a hotel. Whether abortion is legal or not, it’s happening at the same rate. This brings me to some numbers: 300,000 more Canadian women are alive today to talk about their experiences since abortion was de-criminalized in Canada in 1988. Prior to 1988, 12,000 women died every year from the life-threatening side effects of illegal abortions. These numbers only address the women who died after getting an illegal abortion. But there are still more –another 20,000 a year — who survived their horrific ordeals after being admitted to the septic obstetrics wards of Canadian hospitals, in seek of immediate medical treatment. Maybe you aren’t sure you just read that right. Allow me to re-phrase for clarity: entire hospital wards were dedicated to treating the life-endangering side effects of illegal abortions before the practice was de-criminalized. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian women were accessing abortions even though it was illegal. Making it illegal again won’t stop anyone from doing it.
3. If You Are Opposed To Forced Pregnancy, You Aren’t Anti-Choice
Say a woman of child-bearing age is locked in the basement of her natal home and repeatedly raped by her own father over the course of 24 years; being forced to deliver a total of seven children in the dungeon while he makes up a series of lies to explain the repeated appearance of random babies in his life, in order to cover up his horrific crimes. Oh, right. This actually happened, so we don’t need to play “imaginary thought experiment”. Well now that that’s out of the way, I can get to the point: if you are opposed to forcing incest and rape survivors to carry the unborn children of their perpetrators, you are not “pro-life”. You are confusing a personal choice for a political stance that requires you to actively interfere with everyone else’s right to access abortion — including incest and rape survivors who conceived during their assaults.
You may not be an incest survivor, but I am. You may not be a rape survivor, but I am. You may not believe that it’s right to have an abortion, but I do. But these personal beliefs and experiences, all on their own, do not constitute a political ideology. I cross the line from personal preference to political stance when I take my sign and step into public space with it, because I am not simply saying what I would or would not do if I were in the position to make that choice. But you? Sitting on a chair in front of your computer, reading this blog or that Wikipedia article, and espousing the belief that abortion is wrong? You’re just a person with an opinion that happens to be shared by people who are taking their genocide photograph posters and plastering them all over the street lamp posts of the downtown core in major cities across Canada. And if you join them, you better expect me to stand in front of you with my naked and tattooed back turned to you, to make sure that no one has to see your political message. And I’ve found a few more noise-makers to take with me to demonstrations so that no one has to hear it either.
4. “Pro-Life” Rhetoric Criminalizes Survival Of Rape And Incest
In the same vein as the above point, it needs to be stated (however obvious) that one cannot become pregnant if one has been beaten or strangled to death, tortured to their last breath, maimed perimortem and mutilated postmortem, or neglected until unnatural death provides merciful release. But if one survives incest and/or rape, one can (and in some cases does) become pregnant during this horrific ordeal. Thus, the political ideology that criminalizes access to abortion, which by the same virtue legalizes forced pregnancy, also criminalizes survival of rape and incest. It seems obvious to me that this entire ideology is founded on the belief that the world is more just than it actually is, therefore, if I’m raped, it’s because I did something to bring it on myself (so I should be ashamed of myself or punished if I continue to act out in these transgressions). By extension, if they don’t do those things, they won’t ever be raped. So it doesn’t matter to them whether their ideology criminalizes both abortion and survival of rape and incest, because they’ll never be in that position, and the only people who ever will be deserved it. No wonder the pro-lifers I’ve been demonstrating against for two weeks ambitiously wish rape upon me and tell me I should be ashamed of myself. If I suffer the misfortune of being raped again, that means they’re winning. At least, that’s how it works out in their deeply disturbed thoughts.
5. Genocide Doesn’t Pick Genders
Pro-lifers argue that abortion, which they believe is analogous to genocide, is especially horrific in the case of sex-selective abortion. This is yet another loaded claim designed to incite polemic rage; answered either by a pat on the back as someone is instantly converted to becoming a pro-lifer, or a grossly over-inflated guilt-trip on the part of all the lives of women who never were. I’m pro-choice, and even I find abortion for sex-selection morally problematic. But I’ve also done my research on just how widespread sex-selection is, and whether or not it’s the only reason for uneven distribution of genders in Asian and Middle Eastern countries (note: Wikipedia’s page concerning this article’s very complex argument is a grossly inaccurate paraphrase). Spoiler alert: the actual frequency of sex-selective abortion is inextricably linked to 1) the number of women whose lives have been extinguished by deprivation of even the most basic nutrition, adequate health care (including legalized abortion and prenatal/postpartum care), literacy, education, and gainful employment; and 2) the number of women whose lives have been taken at the hands of violent perpetrators of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and murder enacted on the principle of misogyny (including infanticide). That means that sex-selection (through abortion and genocide) may be motivated in part by societal conditions that would bring endless suffering to infants born female. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a parent to a child I knew was going to have to be strong enough to survive starvation, just to be raped by one or more of her own family and/or community members, be systematically deprived of her voice, and be systematically deprived of the means to survive outside of relationships that exploit every manner in which she is kept vulnerable; before dying young and in agony when she is deprived of adequate healthcare. Why would anyone want to bring that kind of suffering onto their own child? Never mind the blatantly racist implications of comparing sex-selection to genocide. I may not agree with an individual woman’s decision to have an abortion if she is basing that decision on sex-selection, but I owe her my support for her right to access that abortion safely and without legal repercussions (see the following point).
If abortion is genocide, then where the fuck is the rage for the entire scope of gender inequality, that has caused the lives of more than 100,000,000 women to be extinguished? MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED FUCKING MILLION. But rather than do something to help stop even half of these problems, pro-lifers would rather pretend the women who were born, lived, and died because of any or all of these forms of systemic gender inequality have all brought it on themselves (see the above two points). Additionally, as a person with strong emotional connections to multiple ethnic and cultural genocides across the world and throughout history, I really take deep personal offence and serious philosophical issue with the direct comparison of accessing an abortion to the enthusiastic participation in horrendous crimes against humanity. The Holocaust wasn’t sex-selective. Neither was Rwanda, nor the Indian Sikh genocide of 1984. Nor was the genocide that continues to this day, against the First Nations peoples of Canada. Nor the very similar genocide against indigenous peoples of what is now the United States, Central America, Australia, and so on, and on, and on. Pro-life rhetoric co-opts the language and historical documents from survivors of these genocides (and their living relatives and descendants), and misappropriates their collective pain, suffering, and history to exploit the vulnerabilities of society’s collective conscience. To what end? To work to secure legislation that controls women’s bodies and polices everyone’s thoughts.
6. Fetus Rights Are Worthless If Women Have No Rights
This may or may not either surprise you and/or fuck your shit up by now, but women are the people who carry human babies. If a woman’s rights are non-existent, or if they are taken away the moment she becomes pregnant, the fetus she carries only has rights that gain recognition after they’ve already been violated. Putting women at risk of agonizing death for daring to violate fetal rights through illegal abortion, and putting women in prison for having done so, is going to accomplish exactly fuck-all (i.e., nothing) for unborn children. It doesn’t bring them all back. It doesn’t give closure. It doesn’t stop women from accessing abortions. It doesn’t make abortion, as a concept, virtually unthinkable. Which brings me to the final point…
7. Fighting Against The Right To Something Only Incites Speech
Thought-policing is a pointless exercise. When an idea is censored, it literally incites people to speak about it. When a particular material is criminalized, it creates a black market economy to provide access to it. The same goes for criminalized behaviours. Making something illegal doesn’t stop people from doing it, and there are some behaviours and materials that are taken up with enthusiasm by some individuals, because they literally get a kick out of breaking the law — this “kick” can either be completely selfish, or completely political (i.e., as a form of activism). Making abortions illegal won’t create pro-abortion sluts, any more than keeping abortions illegal did, prior to 1988 in Canada. But there was a very obvious black market economy for illegal abortions at work, or those 32,000 women who entered the septic obstetrics wards every year on average (a little less than half of whom never came back out), would never have appeared in Canadian hospitals (or morgues). The pro-life movement is doomed to failure already, but when its end goal is to eradicate the very concept of abortion from all thought? Puh-leazze.
How about you take all that energy to raise money for single Moms who live in poverty and/or in countries where girls suffer exceptionally high mortality rates, and chose to carry the child to term anyway, because of their personal beliefs around the morality of abortion? You know. Instead of turning Canada and the United States into one of those countries.
A pro-choice survivor of incest and rape, who has had the pleasure of knowing multiple women who are alive today because they didn’t die with coathangers in their respective vaginas