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?
Snails make good pets. They're unobtrusive, quiet and very low maintenance. They need food and water a couple times a week, and a clean tank and new cuttlefish bone every month or so, and that's about it. Snails are also very low cost pets. Once you've got the snails (which you should be able to do for free or close to it, see my third paragraph) and the tank (mine came to just under 60$ all told for a tank big enough to hold 2 - 4 large snails plus corrugated plastic signs as a lid) they're almost free. They eat vegetable table scraps (they're especially fond of cucumber and zucchini), and the cuttlefish bones and moss they live on are dirt cheap.
Snails are fascinating creatures, too. You can see their muscles expand and contract as they move, and if the tank you keep them in is transparent (highly recommended) you can see the ripples on their bellies as they climb the walls. Their eyestalks are cute as anything, and they make a neat little scraping sound when the eat. I like it best when my snails hang upside down. It seems so contrary.
There are only two problems with snails. One is that they're kind of boring. If you want a pet that will interact with you, recognise you, and play with you, snails are probably not the best bet. This also means that it can be easy to forget about them and forget to feed them. Which is why it's good that they only need food every couple of days. The second problem is that snails are horny little bastards. They reproduce like *crazy* and they make tens of eggs in one clutch. It can be hard to unload the little ones too, because not everyone wants snails as pets. This is why it can be easy to get them for free, though. Anyone who has more than one snail living in the same tank is probably desparate to get rid of the offspring, and will pay you to take them away. This is even more problematic because snails are hermaphroditic, so all it takes is two.
The snails that I have are Giant African Land Snails and are illegal in the USA because they're an introduced species that could wreak all sorts of havoc on the ecosystem. This means that when my snails do reproduce I can't just release the offspring into the wild. Generally I take care of the problem by either crushing or freezing the eggs and then throwing them out. I feel kind of callous for doing this but, well, it's either them or my ecosystem, and I choose my ecosystem. What can I say?