Let them bleed

I've been following the anti-abortion debates in the United States with a growing sense of horror - which is why I was grateful for some light relief from The Feminist Philosophers' blog with their cartoon: The Mombies!!!
But what are these people thinking? Do they really think it's ok to sacrifice a mother's life in order not to kill a fetus, even though the fetus will probably die if the mother dies before the fetus is big enough to survive?

But of course, that's not the end of the story. Women who are denied legal abortion will often seek illegal ones, and this, my friends, is not good for your health! Every 8 minutes a woman dies because of an illegal abortion! Oh, and yes, the fetus dies too. Making abortions illegal does not keep fetuses alive, it just kills the mother too.

So what, some people might say - so what, so people do say - a great number of women die from illegal abortions, but that number is nothing compared to fetus death from legal abortion! Baby murder! they say.

Just to be clear on that, as a moral philosopher (by profession), I'm meant to have a position on whether abortion is murder or not. I'm meant to know whether a fetus is a human being, or just a potential human being, whether your death can count as murder if you're not even conscious yet. Well, I don't. Not really.

But I'm quite clear on what other kind of things count as murder: taking the life of a person against their will, and that includes capital punishment, and killing in war. Not much to think about here, really. You inject poison into a person's arm, and you have to strap them to a bed so they don't try and escape while you do it - that's murder. You drop a bomb on a bunch of people, shoot them in the chest - that's murder. And yet, note that a lot of the people who support anti-abortion reform are also pro-capital punishment and pro-military intervention. Pro-life, indeed!

So granted, they believe a fetus is innocent, whereas a convict is not (well, not entirely clear on whether that's at all true of most death-row inmates...) and a foreign soldier or at a push, civilian, definitely is not. And a woman who got pregnant and wants to get rid of her baby? Of course she's not innocent! What was she doing getting knocked up in the first place? She got raped, you say? Well, let's face it, she was probably asking for it.

So I don't have a knock-down philosophical argument in defence of abortion, but I've got some pretty good ones against the anti-abortionists. I really don't think abortion is murder. But letting a woman bleed to death because you prevent her from choosing a safe abortion is murder.

Oh, and here's a thought for a possible compromise: maybe anti-abortionists would be ok with the idea of aborting only female fetuses since these females are likely to grow up into rape-provoking women? Hold on, isn't that the case already in some parts of the world?


Looking for Blue Sky said...

What a brave post. I am more anti-abortion than I used to be after having a baby at 26 weeks and realising that until recently it was legal to abort up to 28 weeks (in the UK anyway).

But I totally agree about the hypocrisy of being pro-life, but only when it comes to foetuses, anyone else is fair game to be murdered. And after the foetus becomes a baby, it's on its own. Again many 'pro-lifers' seem to be the same people who oppose universal healthcare, education for kids with special needs, welfare for single mothers etc. Then the problems of the baby/child become the fault of the mother...

Foodie Mummy said...

A very brave post indeed! It is a very touchy subject on which I agree with you. Some pro lifers go as far as killing doctors and nurses, so their argument doesn't really stand, does it? I think it needs to be strictly regulated, and not used as a method of contraception in itself, but I believe that a woman should have the choice. Especially in certain circumstances such as rape etc.
As it is now, in Ireland, it is only legal if the life of the mother is in danger, but it has been proven that not many doctors are willing to sign off on that either. There is an excellent french film on the subject of illegal abortions, called Une Affaire de Femmes.

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

A very very brave subject. Its one topic that incites fire and passion on both sides. While I personally do not believe I could have an abortion, I will be damned if I have someone telling me I CAN'T ! My body, my choice and I wont have anyone telling me what I can or can not do with it. I will always fight for choice.

Off Topic - regarding your question on my post about the Women Haters Men/Spam... if you have a Facebook acct, friend me there (if you're not already) and I can give you the info. Its all there... or drop me an email. Addy is on my blog.

Sandrine said...

I have to intervene before the next commenter says this is a very very very brave post! Thanks gals! But I'm thinking that the brave ones here are all those who look out for their friends, or sisters, or daughters who have to have an abortion, for one reason or another, and who are taking great risks to protect them.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

Well this is a very, very brave post. (Sorry couldn't resist).


I doubt that there are many women who choose to undergo an abortion lightly, (regardless of their reasons for wanting to abort) the last thing they need is a bunch of bible bashing militants waving placards in their faces (or much worse).

Society needs to stop judging women and the choices they make, and by society I mainly mean other women. It's all well and good to say that you would never go down a certain road regardless of circumstances, but I think that until you are put in that position you can't be absolutely sure so therefore we shouldn't be so hasty to judge and scorn others.

However, those who have multiple abortions as a means of birth control should be hit around the head with a placard though!

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