“Women deserve better than abortion.”
I’ve been seeing this statement a lot lately, and I increasingly have a problem with it.
First, it implies that women who have abortions are victimized by “the abortion industry”–another phrase that make me more than a little angry (as if clinics are performing assembly-line style abortions for huge profits, which is demonstrably untrue).
Women have abortions for many reasons, and there are cases where parents, boyfriends, or husbands coerce women into terminated their pregnancies. Those women and girls who are coerced can be said to be victimized, but they are victims of the abusive assholes who are supposed to care for them—not of the clinic where their procedure is performed or the doctor who provides the service for them. Those women and girls do indeed deserve better.
Most women who choose to terminate a pregnancy have made a thoughtful and considered choice to do so. They face guilt, stigma, and villainization at the hands of a society that fails to respect their choice or even, often, to see them as human beings that are more than incubators for fetuses. They face being called whores and murderers. They face bearing all the blame for the situation that led them to choose abortion, as if women get pregnant in a vacuum with no one else around. Women do deserve better than that.
There are women whose partners sabotage their birth control, causing them to become pregnant against their will. Those women deserve better.
There are women who become pregnant because they have been raped. They deserve better.
There are victims of abuse, molestation, and incest who become pregnant. Those girls and women deserve better.
There are women who are deprived of complete and factual education about their bodies and their sexuality, becoming pregnant because they lack the tools and information to prevent it. They deserve better than that.
There are women without the financial, social, or familial support that might make it possible for them to keep a child. There are women for whom carrying to term an unplanned pregnancy can mean giving up their hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations, making it nearly impossible for them or their children to have the health, happiness, and security they need to thrive. Those women deserve better.
Unplanned or unnwanted pregnancies happen because no matter how much control women have over their reproductive lives, we will almost certainly never have 100% control through contraception alone. Our “choice” then, according to strict anti-choicers, is to reject and stifle our sexuality by abstaining completely unless we are willing to be mothers, effectively giving up a large facet of the human experience simply because our biology burdens us with consequences that men never have to face.
Some things in life have nothing to do with what we “deserve.” In a perfect world, no woman would ever become pregnant unless she wanted to. No woman would ever have a child that she isn’t mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically able to love and care for.
We don’t live in that world, and until we do, women deserve access to reproductive healthcare. We deserve sexual education that enables us to make informed decisions about our health. We deserve support and understanding for whatever choices we do make. We deserve to be treated as human beings with feelings, emotions, and goals that involve more than just popping out babies.