Trying To Make Abortion Go Away Will Not Make It Go Away
Yesterday morning, I picked up a Wendy’s cup from the table by the couch to pour out the leftover drink and throw the cup away. On the side, the Snapchat logo was accompanied by a slogan: “Support adoption in a snap.”
Except I mistook it at first glance to say, “Support abortion in a snap.”
That would’ve been fine with me.
It makes a lot of sense for Wendy’s to be endorsing adoption; founder Dave Thomas was adopted when he was six weeks old, and he went on to champion that cause as an adult. Wendy’s website even names adoption as their “signature cause,” and spare change dropped into in-restaurant coin canisters goes to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Adoption is a noble cause to support. But, in a way, so is abortion.
I hesitate to call the act of abortion itself noble, and I can count more people than I have fingers to count on who would jump down my throat to argue that “there’s nothing noble about murdering an innocent baby!” or “unborn child!” or whatever you want to call a fetus. (What you call it doesn’t really matter.) And I will agree that there’s nothing noble about murdering an innocent baby — but I’m not one of those people who believes life begins at conception, and so up until so many weeks of pregnancy, I believe that it’s a fetus and not a baby. (And for at least a day or more before it becomes a fetus, it’s nothing more than a fertilized egg.) But that’s not what I’m thinking about right now.
What I’m thinking about is my right — or lack thereof, as the case may be — to make decisions for my own body.
There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet (I don’t watch TV news because I’m a millennial — and yes, I mean that sarcastically) about abortion lately, and Republican lawmakers’ efforts to criminalize it. There’s even been talk of criminalizing miscarriages — never mind that most, if not all, miscarriages are both unintentional and completely uncontrollable. My mom nearly miscarried me, in fact, and I was a wanted pregnancy. Why the hell would you even consider punishing a woman for miscarrying a baby that she so desperately wanted to have? It just doesn’t make any sense. (Of course, a lot of what lawmakers try to do doesn’t make much sense to me.)
It certainly sounds like a lot of the bills or laws that are trying to go into effect are not even particularly logical — no exceptions for rape or incest; the outlawing of abortion as soon as a heartbeat is detected, which is typically around six weeks and often before many women even realize they’re pregnant, and certainly not at a point where the fetus could survive outside the womb. This is the point when a lot of abortions take place: when it’s too early for the pregnancy to be viable.
2015 is the most recent year for which the CDC has available data, and 91.1% of all abortions were within the first three months of pregnancy. Only 1.3% were late-term abortions, and those are generally reserved for when the pregnancy poses a dangerous risk to the health of the mother.
Whatever answer the government is looking for, criminalizing abortion is not it. It will not make them go away. What it will do is make them more dangerous to have, and probably raise the mortality statistics in this country. The fact is, women are still going to seek out ways to have agency over their own bodies. There are a lot of women out there — and I know, because I’m one of them — who will view these bills and laws as attempts by (primarily, but not entirely) men to take away their ability to choose and control what happens to their bodies and their lives. Whether or not this is the intention of the government does not matter, because it is the reality that women are facing.
I have not read or seen The Handmaid’s Tale but there are parallels being drawn between it and the U.S. in 2019. It’s possible that such articles paint this reality in too many shades of black and white, rather than too many shades of gray — because there is gray area to just about everything. But things are starting to feel pretty black and white lately, and it’s frightening to really consider what that might mean.