Can we just excise the words "responsible" and "irresponsible" from all discussions of abortion? I have spent a ridiculous amount of my day reading and responding to comments on this post. The post itself is mostly fine; a guy with a blog is signal boosting a girl's description of her abortion. That part is great: the more firsthand accounts of abortion available, the less the stigma; the more accurate a portrayal of women's different experiences we have; the less likely we are to lose the right to terminate pregnancies as people learn more about the procedure and are less influenced by photoshopped pictures; and most importantly: first person accounts help women make informed choices. Can a woman's choice be called "informed" if we're not making damn sure that it doesn't look like a choice between Kermit Gosnell and a life of lambs, cherubs, and blue or pink baby blankets?
But I say the post is "mostly" fine because the male blogger adds some gross commentary about how abortion is ALWAYS gut-wrenching, painful, awful, and a matter of timing (LOL — I never want kids, so I don't think it's always a matter of timing).
But I'm writing this because the emphasis on "responsibility" in the comments really bothers me. When anti-choicers level the charge of irresponsibility against a woman, we accept it. We don't accept that she was irresponsible, but we accept that it's a legitimate criticism. We accept the terms. We say: oh no, she wasn't irresponsible! She was using birth control! It fails sometimes! (Or: she was raped.) Because fuck those women who have unprotected sex and then have abortions. Let's just throw them under the bus and suggest that while they have the legal right to abortion, they're inferior to the women who did everything "right." As I said on that post, agreeing with hardcore umlaut:
"We are letting [the anti-choicers] frame everything, and then making measly little points within the frame they created.
We grant them that: women who don't use birth control are irresponsible when we say "but birth control fails!"; that if a woman made the choice to have sex, she should have to face some sort of negative consequences, when we say "but some women get pregnant through rape!"; that there is something inherently wrong about abortion when we say that they should be "rare"; that "sluts" shouldn't be able to "get away with it" when we say "but no woman uses abortion as birth control!"; that all women want babies and just want the best for them, when we say that it's all about "timing"; and most importantly, when we say that abortions are always difficult choices, we grant everything: if the procedure was morally neutral, then why would it always be a difficult choice? The supposed universality of that difficulty — that moral struggle — suggests that the procedure isn't morally neutral at all... so maybe that fetus really is a person. So maybe abortion shouldn't be legal."
This is a subject really close to my heart. I've had three abortions, and my right to do so and the right of other women and girls to do so is indescribably precious to me. But I'm really worried about how we are trying to defend our right. I don't see us winning, long term, if we stick with this strategy.