Trigger Warnings

Some of my posts deal with rape and that means that bits of this blog may be triggering.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Abortion: I'm a civilian, not a ship's captain

So here's the thing.  There's this baby and he needs my kidney.  If I don't give it to him, he'll die.  He won't feel any pain, he won't have any consciousness, he'll die long before he is even born, so he won't know anything about it, he won't suffer.  Also, he's got no relatives apart from me to grieve for him, so no-one else will be upset - no grannies, aunts, siblings or anyone will ever know he was there waiting to be born if only I gave him my kidney.

Selfish bitch that I am, I'm not going to.  I'm keeping my kidney for myself.  I know you can get by with one kidney, they're brilliant organs like that, using each other as backup. The chances are that I could get one removed and still be healthy and lead a normal life afterwards.  But there are some potential long, short and medium-term risks to donating that kidney so I am going to exercise my right as a full human being, to put my own health and welfare before the right to life of another human being.  And as a result, he will die and that's very sad but absolutely the right thing if you believe that I have the right to put my own life first.

And no-one, but no-one, will tell me that I don't have the legal and moral right to do that.*  Further, no-one argues that everyone ought to be forced even to donate their blood, so that there are enough blood stocks to help out victims of accidents or other patients who might need the blood.  Even though donating blood has practically no risks at all (there's the tiny risk of infection if needles aren't sterilised, risk of slight pain and inconvenience of having to wait for your tea and biscuit for a long time - all fairly low risks).  No matter how trifling the inconvenience of having your blood taken, no government has yet dared to declare that all citizens should be forced to donate their blood for the common good. And if one did, it would set off a massive debate about how far the state and medical profession has a right to intrude upon the bodily integrity of its citizens, even in a good cause.  So far, all but the most repressive of states have always come down on the side of allowing individual citizens bodily integrity even at the cost of the lives of the vulnerable.

The idea that human beings should be forced to put the health and welfare of another human being before their own, is absolutely counter to any idea of individual liberty.  The only instances that I can think of where human beings are supposed to prioritise other people's safety and welfare before their own and can be subject to criminal charges if they don't, are the captains of ships and the pilots of aeroplanes.**  

And of course women who are pregnant with potential human beings they don't want to carry in their bodies and give birth to.

Forget all the arguments about when life begins.  They're all irrelevant.  It doesn't matter if life begins at birth or at 12 weeks or at quickening, as the Catholic church used to say before women frightened the Vatican horses by getting a few voting and property rights.  It doesn't matter if the baby can survive outside the mother's body at 28 weeks, 24 weeks or 2 weeks. I don't care about whether you think what's in the womb is a clump of cells, a zygote, an embryo, a foetus or a baby.  It is utterly irrelevant. The main issue, is not whether that's a real human being in there: it may well be, I don't bother to argue against that.  My argument is that if you believe in women's essential humanity and if you believe that we have have the same rights to bodily integrity as men, then you have got to believe that  we have the right to put our lives and long term welfare first, even before those of a cute little baby, if those are the terms you want to argue on.

If you don't believe in safe, legal abortion, then in effect you believe that women have a responsibility that no man ever has, unless he signs up for it, to put someone else's right to life, before her own.  What clearer signal can there be, that you simply don't believe that a woman's life, is worth as much as that of a man?

The difference between captains of ships and pilots of planes and ordinary civilian women, is that the men with the uniforms get paid fortunes and have mountains of kudos and social status as part of the deal of being responsible for the lives they carry in their vessels AND THEY HAVE CHOSEN IT. Not even firefighters, police officers or soldiers in armed combat are expected to actually risk or give their own lives and safety for their comrades, though some do.  And when they do, men give them medals for doing it (no-one gives a woman a medal for putting her long term health on the line by going through a pregnancy and birth she chooses, much less one she didn't choose). But no-one ever says to men in a combat or emergency situation, that they are not actually allowed to put their own lives, welfare and long-term health first and it will be a criminal offence for them to do so, because the law says that another human being has first dibbs on any safety, health and welfare available.

But that is exactly what anti-abortionists are saying to women.

There is no situation except in the most repressive regimes where human rights are non-existent, where men are required to put their lives on the line for another human being unless they have actually chosen to do so.  This only happens to women and it doesn't happen because we get pregnant, it happens because in a patriarchal society, women's lives simply don't matter as much as men's do.  If you believe that women's lives matter like men's do, you believe in safe, legal abortion for any reason. If you don't believe that women should be the ones who decide whether they put their lives on the line for the sake of another, then maybe you just don't believe women are quite as human as you thought you did.

*Actually, maybe someone will.  I await with interest...
** I accept that there may be others I haven't thought of, feel free to let me know about them.


  1. This is perfect H&H. Unfortunately the anti-woman, anti-abortionists do quite explicity think that women are less than men. That it is our god/evolutionary ordained place to put everyone else's needs first, to be responsible for everyone else's actions and to have no rights of our own.

    1. Yes, absolutely agreed. There are a those on the extremes who say that outright and are generally recognised as the bucket-heads they are, but there are many who don't realise that they believe that, if you see what I mean- they have to be gently talked through their position to realise the implications of it and like most people who think someone from a different - or even the same - group as them is actually worth less than those belonging to another group (whether that be PoC, women or whoever) they are very resistant to facing the deep-seated assumptions and beliefs that they weren't even aware of having.

  2. Wonderful, wonderful post. So logical and calm. Thank you (really enjoy your blog generally).

  3. The whole fallacy of your arguement is proven by the example you start out with, the unborn child needing your kidney. The fact that you say you can get by with 1 kidney shows that you are talking about a kidney transplant, not the use of your kidney while in the womb.
    Additionally, there is a huge difference between donating a kidney & killing an unborn child via abortion.
    1st of all, you will know. & even if you pretend otherwise, the guilt will stick with you for the rest of your life.
    Additionally, you know that God would know.
    Fortunately, God is merciful. For those women who are carrying the emotional & spiritual scares of abortion, they can turn to Him for healing & forgiveness.
    You may rant & rave. You may attack me, you may mock what I, or the Catholic Church, which was founded by Jesus, the 2nd person of the Triune God, says. But deep down, you know that I am right, the Church is right & that God, not you, will have the final say about what is right or wrong.

    1. I don't believe in your fairy tale God. :) But thanks for trying again! You're getting better at the trolling thing, you really are.

    2. Once again you prove that when an abortion supporter can't defend their stand against the facts they have to resort to name calling instead. How sad. May God have mercy on you. I'll be praying for you.

    3. Actually I didn't call you any names, I took the piss out of you. I'm perfectly capable of defending my stand, but I have made a deliberate choice not to with you because arguing with a religious fanatic is like trying to teach a dog to read: entertaining when you're in the mood, but ultimately pointless.


  4. Has it crossed your mind that every time you post on the internet, someone else embraces atheism?

  5. I love everything about this post. This is very different than all of the others I have read for "Blog for Choice Day." Absolutely brilliant! I love that you compared women carrying a child in the womb to a captain commanding a boat.