Posts Tagged 'pregnancy'

Blog for Choice Day

Yesterday was NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day.

I don’t currently live in the US. However, I have a lot of friends who happen to have uteruses who live there, and the right to abortion is not solely an issue for citizens and residents of the US.

As the owner and operator of a uterus myself, I think it’s important to review why abortion is important, and so contentious.

Roe v. Wade was 38 years ago. According to Wikipedia, the US Supreme Court concluded that the woman’s constitutional right to privacy covered pregnancy termination until the fetus is viable (viability tends to depend on size rather that strict developmental age, between 24 – 28 weeks), wherein the state’s right/obligation to protect the fetus’ life begins to supersede.

The philosophical difficulty is the question of when a fertilized egg becomes an individual with rights, rather than a part of the woman’s body.

This is not a person

The critical elements here are the woman’s autonomy over her person, and the medical condition or pregnancy. People opposed to abortion object to the termination of what they see as a human life, often assuming that abortion is being used as a form of birth control, and a reflection of extreme selfishness.

Let’s look at the facts, shall we?

Pregnancy takes nearly 10 months. In a healthy, normal pregnancy, one can expect several weeks of vomiting, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, structural changes to the body (skin stretches, hips widen, etc), headaches, cramps, swelling in the legs and feet, and changes in eyesight.

Here are some possible complications of pregnancy:
– Anemia
– High blood pressure
– Pre-eclampsia (persistent headaches, flashing light, blurred vision and seeing spots, upper abdominal pain and sudden excessive lower leg swelling)
– Eclampsia (seizures and coma)
– Ectopic pregnancy (life-threatening)
– Fibroids

Here are some possible complications that can happen to the fetus:
– Downs syndrome
– Sickle cell anemia
– Tay-Sachs disease
– Phenylketonuria

(read more about these exciting conditions here)

Choosing to become pregnant is probably the biggest decision a woman can make. If a man chooses to get a woman pregnant, he may support the woman throughout the process, or be held legally responsible for some financial support, but it is physically impossible for a man to experience the same intense physical and emotional changes that result from pregnancy and birth.

A woman’s body is changed permanently, and she puts herself medically and psychologically at risk. Choosing to have children can make this process delightful and exciting. To have it forced upon you is torture.

The state has no right to force anyone to go through the process of pregnancy.

Here are some statistics on abortion rates from Guttmacher.org:

– Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.

– Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.

– 18% percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers

– Women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and women aged 25-29 obtain 24%.

– 54% percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.

– About 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

Sexism and misogyny make life hard enough for women. It affects how we are educated, how we work, how much we’re paid, how we feel about ourselves, and how others treat us.

The idea that something as intimate and drastic as pregnancy has anything to do with the state is obscene. Laws that hinder and prevent abortion arise from a notion that the woman cannot be allowed complete autonomy over her body.

Such laws are inspired by a ‘morality’ that determines that a fetus has a right to life at the expense of the person carrying it. This kind of morality would not be possible in a world where women were perceived as equal to men in value and capability.

Get Pregnant, Ladies!


Carol Sarler wrote this bizarre piece in the Daily Mail yesterday.

The gist of the article is that all capable, appropriately aged women should make babies, because it a) completes them and b) makes them better employees, and if they don’t they are a) weird and b) selfish.

“Much as I like to trumpet the importance of a woman’s right to choose all things at all times, there’s one choice I simply cannot understand: the choice of an otherwise sane and healthy woman not to have children.”

Wow, thanks for the support. Sarler ‘understands’ all the freak show women (like lesbians and those over 35) who want to make with the babies, but those with operational wombs who opt out are apparently incomprehensible.

Sarler writes on the subject now because ‘research’ (the source remains undocumented in the article) has shown that bosses/execs (male?) prefer to hire/work with women who are mothers rather than not. Because, see, the single ladies “lack humanity”. Whether single men or fathers also lack humanity is not mentioned. Perhaps it isn’t relevant for male employees – it’s just the women the bosses have to worry about being inhumane.

The article is full of similar offensive remarks and rather bizarre generalizations – “They’re [mothers are] not there to compete for the attentions of the male executives; they’re there to get out of the house; they’re there because they genuinely enjoy some adult company; and they’re there because they have mouths to feed other than their own and shoes to buy for someone else’s feet.”

Yes, as we all know mothers don’t have jobs because they are satisfied by work, it’s because they are tired of speaking in baby-talk and need the funds to purchase more Lego. And those single women in the office, drawing the attention of the male execs – wait, why are the execs male? Is this point moot when there is a female boss? Are the non-mothers trying to find attention for their work, or is Sarler implying that single women work so they have a selection of wealthy guys in offices to seduce? And, of course, non-mothers don’t also genuinely enjoy adult company.

“You cannot be a mother without knowing something about selflessness, compassion, generosity, commitment, fierce loyalty and plain hard work. You cannot – surely – be a boss and not value assets such as those in your staff.”

You cannot, surely, assume that these traits are exclusive to mothers. Nor can you assume that all mothers have these traits – not every mother is a ‘good’ mother. To think about it for a moment is to realize how illogical that statement is.

And perhaps the most offensive phrase: “we actually need our children; they complete us as women” – Bull. Shit.

Those women who are barren are incomplete? Single women are incomplete? How about high schoolers or university students? Is that senior thesis just filler until the true meaning of life is revealed in the eyes of your child?

Sarler’s illogical and frankly misogynistic article baffles. It is an attack on working women – the mothers don’t come across much better than the inhumane non-mothers, as it seems that what their job is doesn’t matter as long as they can talk to some grown-ups and get home in time to make dinner.

I have to wonder in cases like these if writers seriously believe what they put forward or are engaging in a little ‘Modest Proposal’-like mockery, looking at the underlying logic and implications of studies that even bother to ask ‘bosses’ whether they prefer hiring women with or without children; if you think about it, the study itself was designed either to say ‘all women should make babies’ or ‘you can’t have children and a successful career’.

image from bbc.co.uk