The thing about abortion

The thing about abortion is that it's not just about the zygote/embryo/fetus (henceforth abbreviated to zef). There's a whole nother human being involved in the equation.

Pinko Feminist Hellcat and Nick Kiddle of Alas, A Blog have written excellent posts recently, reminding us of this fact.

Nick Kiddle's post (which I can' t quote from directly because Alas appears to be down) reminds us that pregnancy isn't a passive state that leaves a woman unchanged except for the knowledge that there's a zef inside of her. Pregnancy, Kiddle reminds us, is a process. One that often has enormous, almost devastating, consequences on the body of the pregnant woman. Pregnancy causes permanent changes to your body. It causes you to go through nine months of hormonal fluctuation that can lead to nausea, drastic mood swings, exhaustion, soreness, headaches, and swelling of various body parts, among other things. Giving birth can be an extremely traumatic event. Complications at any stage can lead to anything from miscarriage, to a requirement of bed rest, to the death of the woman.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't want to over-medicalise or pathologise the process of being pregnant here. Pregnancy is an entirely natural process that women have been doing successfully for millenia. What I'm trying to emphasise here is how involved a process it is, and how profound an effect it can have. Many people in the enforced-childbirth camp would have us believe that pregnancy is not a process. That the only thing required to maintain a pregnancy is to not abort it. That a woman's right to bodily autonomy doesn't trump the zef's right to exist is only a valid argument if you don't see the pregnancy as particularly infringing on that autonomy. But it does.

Would men in the enforced-childbirth camp support a legal requirement to give up a kidney, or donate bone marrow, or even blood, for everyone who qualified, and whose body parts were needed by someone else? Should women who aren't already pregnant be required to undergo implantation of excess zygotes produced in vitro?

The fact is that every person should have veto power, up to the last possible moment, for anything that might infringe on their autonomy. Anything from playing contact sports to having sex to being pregnant to having surgery. Would we claim that a person who has agreed to donate a kidney should be legally forbidden from changing their mind? Even if without that kidney someone else would surely die?

So why would we treat pregnant women any differently?

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