Now that I am blogging on a regular basis, my mind is starting to adjust to the role. Blogging requires pretty constant content production, so now I find myself almost thinking in blog posts. I’ll be reading something or talking to someone, and suddenly there’s a post in my head or the snippets of posts percolating.
I ignore some of these post ideas, either because I think they are lousy, or I’m just not in the mood to write about a topic.
Such has been the case with the issue of abortion and the flare-up related to Planned Parenthood funding. Every time it comes up in the news, I feel this tug of obligation — this sense that, as a female writer commenting on social and political matters, abortion is a pretty big topic to ignore.
I have ignored it to date, though, because my feelings on the matter don’t fit nicely and neatly into either of the two available viewpoints: pro-choice or pro-life.
I’m sure most readers are familiar with the story about aborted fetuses being used for scientific research and the videos that purport to show that Planned Parenthood profits from this market. Most readers know this recent flare-up has nearly crippled Congress and is the primary reason Congress barely passed a temporary spending bill in time to stop a government shutdown.
And the issue is sure to be a featured part of whatever debacle the ongoing budget negotiations become as the temporary spending measure quickly runs out.
My first thought: No matter how important an issue abortion is, the idea that this one debate can potentially undermine the functioning of the rest of government is insane. Just insane. That our legislative process has deteriorated to this level of dysfunction is a huge problem we voters need to get a handle on.
My second thought: If government didn’t try to insert itself into women’s uteruses, these things wouldn’t happen. Politically, I tend to lean pro-choice for that very reason. What I do with my uterus is very personal, and I don’t want politicians and judges involved.
Further, life is full of complications and crises, like sexual violence and health problems, so legislating around such a plethora of circumstances probably goes beyond the scope of government.
The owner of the uterus, her supports, and medical professionals should be the ones navigating the circumstances.
My surety about the abortion debate stops there, though, and thus my hesitation to wade into it. It’s a hard one for me. I support my fellow uterus owners in their rights to make their own decisions, and I don’t judge the decisions they make. Life is hard, and there’s no easy instruction manual. We all, for the most part, do the best we can in the moment we’re in.
I say that as the adult manifestation of a completely unwanted, pre-Row v. Wade pregnancy, so I wince a little when I say it.
Of course I don’t know for sure if my biological mother would have had an abortion if abortions were legal in Michigan in 1968. I do know for sure that she wanted nothing to do with me, and she resented the pregnancy and the birth.
She made that crystal clear to the staff at the hospital and to the social work staff handling my case. She didn’t want to see me, didn’t want to know what happened to me.
She just wanted it over.
Honestly, I don’t blame her for that. Or the adult me doesn’t blame her for that — the kid me had to come to terms with it. Late 1960s Detroit was a hotbed in the civil rights movement, and what young, white college student would want to try to succeed pushing her mixed baby in a carriage through that mess?
Rather than resentment, the adult me feels gratitude toward her and empathy for her situation, which is why I think pro-lifers are missing their mark. Now that abortion is law, their best bet is to fight for things that benefit women, children and adoptions. It’s to fight the stigma of unwed childbirth and to shore up the systems that enable women to make different choices when their life circumstances allow.
Pro-choicers miss the mark by assuming any questioning of the abortion debate is an attack that will automatically lead to abortion being outlawed. It’s the same reaction extreme gun rights activist have whenever legislation around guns is discussed. All-or-nothing thinking is undermining the caliber of thought at the heart of so many debates.
Pro-choicers need to acknowledge this issue isn’t as cut and dry as they want it to be. It’s okay for people to feel uncomfortable with the idea of fetal tissue being dissected for scientific research, whether the fetuses were sold at a profit or not. Myself? I’m uncomfortable with the idea that I could have just as easily been an experiment in a lab somewhere.
And I think it’s okay to feel that way, even if I am politically pro-choice. And even if I don’t want government to shut down over it.