More on Abortion

The revival of the utterly useless abortion debate brought a lot of arrant stupidity out of people.

“Why is everybody acting like it’s impossible to avoid unwanted pregnancy? Just use birth control! Getting pregnant is hard even without birth control, let alone with it.”

Honey, you are low-fertility and you are so out of touch with your own body that you don’t understand that you are not the norm. I’m also low-fertility but I’m lucid enough to be aware of it.

“Abortion is no big deal. I had five and don’t even remember them.”

Sweetie, you are as out of touch as the low-fertility chick. You have more in common than you two think. When you get pregnant, your entire body begins to transform to prepare for the enormous work of bringing a child into the world. If you interrupt this process, that’s a huge trauma to your body. You are denying your trauma in service of a narrative. This doesn’t mean the abortion wasn’t the right decision for you but nature doesn’t care about your decisions or narratives.

Instead of judging each other, try to see your female body as the miracle of creation and not a machine you happen to live in.

I saw a friend today who is about to give birth. Her belly is so big, it’s hard to tell if the baby is inside or outside. “It’s your birthday tomorrow!” I said. “Happy upcoming birthday!”

“Is it,” she said indifferently. “I don’t know what day it is. All I can think about is my baby.”

This woman has a serious health condition that makes pregnancy and birth very complicated. She and her husband also have a shared genetic defect that makes the likelihood of delivering a viable baby very low. For her, the baby wasn’t real until the genetic tests came back at 12 weeks and showed she was free of the genetic curse. My friend was going to abort if the tests came back bad. She was absolutely desperate for this child, and to protect her psyche from shattering she didn’t let the baby be a baby in her mind until she knew it was going to be fine. So anybody who says that it’s the same baby at 4 weeks as at 40 weeks is being a jerk. There’s an enormous effort of the female body that goes into the time period between 4 weeks and 40. Discounting that effort is stupid. And if you are a woman, it’s really really counterproductive.

Is a miscarriage at 4 weeks the same tragedy as a stillbirth at 40? Obviously not. It doesn’t mean there isn’t immense suffering with an early miscarriage but there’s really no comparison. Tomorrow is going to be 8 years since the day when my son’s heart stopped at over 39 weeks of gestation, so I unfortunately have every reason to know this. I never aborted but judging a woman who had to make that tragic decision is just low.

32 thoughts on “More on Abortion

  1. It would be nice if you let everyone know if and when your friend gives birth successfully. It has been a horrible couple of years, so it would be nice to hear of something truly good happening for once.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I will never judge a woman for getting an abortion, because I know that I’m not “above” that and would have been totally willing to get one should the situation call for it back when I was pro-choice, and for as casual of reasons as “I just don’t want to be pregnant” (obviously this situation never came up this is simply a theoretical.) But I fail to see how “the mother doesn’t think of it as a baby” means anything, materially. Thoughts are powerful but not that powerful.

    I concede that a 4 week old fetus is developmentally much different than a 40 week old one, but a 3 year old toddler is also much different than a newborn yet it’s wrong to kill either of them. I understand your thinking here though even if I don’t agree with it.

    I am entirely uninterested in the “keep your legs closed, slut” contingent of the pro-lifers and view them no more positively than you do. This group is almost entirely judgmental young men who think they’re perfect, but will hopefully realize everyone fucks up sometimes when they’re older. Some are so coddled that I’m worried it won’t happen though.


    1. A toddler can get to 3 years of age from a newborn without the mother’s body being engaged or without her even being alive, so that’s a false analogy. The debate here revolves around whether it’s OK to force a person to subject her body to great damage, pain and strain against her will or not. A better, if incomplete, analogy would be forced adoptions.

      The way things currently stand is that the abortion debate has been won by abortion. The Texas abortion bill is a gigantic victory for the pro-abortion left. The right doesn’t see it because, as you said, it’s desperate for an illusion of a win. The left doesn’t see it because it has redefined the concept of a victory and perceives everything as a defeat. But a victory it is.

      The only chance for anybody to make a dent in the high number of abortions – which I see as a very important goal – is to persuade women. A different vision of the female body is the only hope. But to start moving towards that we all need to abandon the outdated arguments about when life really begins. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks about it. If the mother thinks it’s not a baby, that’s the only thing that matters. Whether it’s “true” or “not true” is utterly unimportant. She’s going to do what she’s going to do.


      1. And speaking of analogies, if you can force somebody to risk PUPPPS among many other pregnancy complications “to save lives,” there’s absolutely no argument why you can’t force them to take a COVID vaccine. Aside from death, there’s no side effect of the vaccine that even comes close to a serious case of PUPPPS. It’s hellish torture that drives you to insanity.


        1. Forcing someone to get a medical treatment is not equivalent to allowing the natural bodily process of pregnancy to take place. If I’m forced to get surgery, that’s a violation of my bodily autonomy. If I’m denied a surgical procedure that I wanted to get, it’s not a violation of my bodily autonomy, though one could still argue it’s immoral for other reasons (I think it’s wrong to deny someone lifesaving medical treatment because of their race or vaccination status, for example.)


          1. “If I’m denied a surgical procedure that I wanted to get, it’s not a violation of my bodily autonomy, though one could still argue it’s immoral for other reasons (I think it’s wrong to deny someone lifesaving medical treatment because of their race or vaccination status, for example.)”

            -It’s actually illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race or health status. Several states passed laws at the start of lockdown requiring the treatment of people who are perceived to be of greater risk to catch or spread COVID in particular — that would include unvaccinated patients.

            A surgical procedure that you wanted to get also covers life-saving procedures such as appendectomy and surgical cancer treatments. A great many of these procedures are considered “elective” in the eyes of the treating hospitals, as even more patients and providers found out during the lockdown.

            I could make the case that forcing someone to get a medical treatment is not equivalent to allowing the natural bodily process of depression (or PTSD, or non-flesh-eating tonsilitis, or another potentially debilitating condition) to occur would be a lost of bodily autonomy. If I’m forced to take medication of any kind that I don’t want, that’s a violation of my bodily autonomy. However, if I’m denied medication that I wanted to get, because I know that it is the best choice for my personal health condition…that is also a violation of my bodily autonomy. This is the same whether it’s PTSD, depression, tonsilitis, endometriosis, a slow-growing cancer, or, yes, pregnancy.


            1. I never argued it was legal, and indeed I’m glad it isn’t. But it isn’t a violation of bodily autonomy. That’s the distinction I want to make here.


      2. I never claimed they are the exact same situation. I just do not think that the developmental stage is particularly relevant. The fact that the fetus is located within and dependent on the woman’s body is relevant, and it’s an argument that makes sense.


  3. I’m with you on convincing women, and adopting a different view of the female body. Like everyone else, I grew up with women telling their childbirth horror stories (never the good ones!). Plus, had horrific menstrual problems. It gave me a really warped, very negative view of what it is to be a woman, and to bear children. I was saved by reading Ina May Gaskin’s classic hippie childbirth manual: Spiritual Midwifery. I don’t totally buy her trippy psychedelic ideas about pregnancy and birth (I’ve had three kids now: pregnancy is miserable and my labors are very short and not at all like participating in the divine feminine or contacting the cosmos: more like being run over by a truck), but I’m forever in her debt: that book made space in my head to see my body, and my reproductive capacity, as functional, natural, and sacred. And that was life-changing. I feel like the abortion debate would be in a whole different– and more positive– terrain, if as a culture, we could all have that same space.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s exactly what I want to create for my daughter! A vision of a woman’s body not as that of a defective man but as of wonderful and amazing of itself.

      I think we’ve all really gotten off track, thinking that freedom for women consists of being “like men.” Actresses call these actors, young girls chop off their breasts. This just isn’t right. Instead of seeing abortion as an aggression of a hostile culture towards our bodies – like the feminists of the 1970s did – we pretend like it’s nothing because it’s nothing to men. And the same with hormonal contraception. And the really shitty treatment of pregnancy and birth by the healthcare industry.

      This whole mentality of “I spend more time with my kid than my husband so I’m oppressed” is garbage. It’s the best thing that happened to me in life that I could spend more time with my kid. I’m the winner here by far. We have to start changing how we think about all this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, by some miracle I avoided the whole hormonal contraception thing. I was offered it by multiple ob/gyns and just… nope. I had awful menstrual problems, but I really couldn’t see the logic of it: “Your hormones are screwy. We’re going to fix that by shutting down your whole hormonal system and not bother with trying to figure out what was wrong in the first place or trying to fix it.” It’s like if you consulted a plumber about a leaking pipe, and he was like “yeah, let’s just shut off the water to your house: that’ll solve it!”

        And the medical profession treats pretty much all female-specific things in a similarly idiotic and insensitive way. Nearly every mammal needs darkness, privacy, and a feeling of safety to give birth easily and without complications: it’s a delicate physical and chemical process that’s easily disrupted by stress hormones. But somehow we think that what human females really need is a painful car ride, beeping medical devices, bright lights, and being perched up on a dizzyingly high hospital bed (so strangers can better access your private parts! Yay!), while total strangers come and go. Because we’re not mammals, apparently? And then we try to solve all the problems created by failing to meet basic mammalian needs… with drugs and surgery.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. When I had a very severe form of PUPPPS, the OB-GYN announced brightly, “it’s ok! It doesn’t harm the baby!” It was apparently unclear to him that the mother isn’t just a box where the baby is sitting. If the mother is in extreme pain, the baby might just feel the adrenaline coursing through her. If a doctor doesn’t understand that the mother’s emotional and physical state has an impact on the child inside her, I truly despair.


          1. Oh, yeah. I had PUPPS with kid2, only for the last couple of weeks, but still… torture! I know you had it for way longer, and all I can say is: gah! That’s awful! The nurse at the hospital while I was in labor at least had the good grace not to be dismissive. I was, actually, weirdly gratified that when she got a look at it, she gasped a little and was like “OMG that’s the worst case of PUPPPS I’ve ever seen!” We were literally watching it creep down my legs while I was in labor… it was horrifying.

            But as much research as there is out there, it is really shocking that we still can’t acknowledge, say, a basic need for privacy, feeling safe… this is how all 3 of my kids ended up being born in the bathtub/shower. I like running water for pain relief, but also: the bathroom is the only place you can get any privacy in a hospital, and the closer I get to transition, the more desperate I am to creep into a burrow and hide from the hospital staff.


          2. …and also, crikey, about not caring about mom at all, and thinking she shouldn’t have any concerns other than the baby! This is how we end up with the situation where hospitals will not allow women to “risk” a natural childbirth if there are any of a long, long list of complications (twins, breech, late-term etc), even though the interventions (labor induction, c-section) pose a greater risk to the mother’s life, bodily integrity, and future fertility than giving natural labor a go. Sure, there’s more risk to the baby, but we live in a country where it is perfectly legal for that same woman to get an abortion at 40 weeks! Why on earth would we then prioritize the baby’s well-being over the mother’s?? Mother doesn’t even get to make that cost/benefit analysis for herself, and that should be infuriating to every true feminist. If I want to make that noble self-sacrifice and risk my life, my body, and all my hopes of future children, to give this one baby a better shot at life, great. But what if I don’t want to risk that? Isn’t that my choice? Every time a woman gets pressured into an “abundance of caution” c-section for a first baby, that is putting some really hard limits on how many other children she can have. Every C-section leaves your abdomen full of scar tissue and adhesions. After 3 of them, things get really dicey, your risk of horrifying things like bowel obstructions and placenta percreta go through the roof. What if she really wants a big family? Her priorities might say it’s OK to risk the first or second kid, in order to preserve her ability to have more children. Why do the doctors’ priorities come first?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. @methylethyl: “…crikey…”

              Without intruding, how does an American come to use the word “crikey” in day to day conversation?


              1. It is sort of a running household joke. Our toddler has picked up some non-age-appropriate exclamations, and we have been actively using and teaching him less-offensive phrases. It is working. Gradually. We have also taken up saying things like “Jumping Jehosaphat!” and “Blistering Barnacles!” It’s fairly hilarious, and he’s started playing mix-and-match with them. Lately, he likes to say “Holy moly mackerel!”


  4. // the interventions (labor induction, c-section) pose a greater risk to the mother’s life, bodily integrity, and future fertility than giving natural labor a go.

    Are you sure of that? One needs to be a doctor in this field to be able to make such claims.

    // it is perfectly legal for that same woman to get an abortion at 40 weeks

    It cannot be true for a healthy fetus / child already at 9 months. At such time it is already birth, not abortion.

    // If I want to make that noble self-sacrifice and risk my life, my body, and all my hopes of future children, to give this one baby a better shot at life, great. But what if I don’t want to risk that? Isn’t that my choice?

    What if attempting the ‘natural’ birth despite serious complications makes this child an invalid for life? Kills the mother in the process, thus making 100% sure she has zero children in the future? Does caring for a child with a serious disability help to create this one big happy family you’re describing?

    Btw, I am sure most such women and their families would then blame doctors for not informing them well enough, not giving sufficient warning, and sue the hospital, the doctors, everyone and their grandmother.

    I do not know the state in USA hospitals, but the situation looks more complex than you are describing.

    Natural birth in former centuries resulted in more women dying in it than % of soldiers dying in battles (read about it in some book).


    1. Abortion is legal in NY and VA until birth. The governor of VA famously said a couple of years ago that even right after birth it should be the mother’s decision if the child should live.

      I deeply respect everybody’s right to give birth as they prefer but for me it’s like debating if steak is better medium or medium-rare in front of a starving person. I had no choice with either pregnancy and hoped only for a live child even if the doctors had to drag it through my nose to get it out.


      1. // The governor of VA famously said a couple of years ago that even right after birth it should be the mother’s decision if the child should live.

        That’s insane and the worst thing he could say for pro-choice movement. Hope he referred to cases of a child with enormous health problems capable of staying alive for some time with help of machines.

        // Abortion is legal in NY and VA until birth.

        I am sure if a woman with a healthy 8-9 months fetus arrives, the child won’t be killed.

        Arranging a C-section and letting parents give a child away is different from killing him/her.

        If I am ever pregnant, giving birth does sound frightening.

        Because of problems during my mother’s labor, doctors predicted I wouldn’t even walk or talk, and my mother was horrified at the prospect of insane child.

        So I do not believe ‘natural is best’ or that a woman with complications shouldn’t be strongly offered a C-section because of her dream to have 10 kids or fear of a surgery.

        Obviously, nobody has a right to force a C-section on unwilling women, but doctors have a responsibility to explain all side effects and present their side.

        Btw, I know a woman who had her eggs frozen and gave birth at 48. Not ideal, obviously, but she was highly religious and hoped to marry till making this extreme for her step.

        Another woman got married at around 40 and gave birth at 42, I think.

        Those are both women I work with, so if I know two out of a small group, there must be many of them.


        1. I know! This governor delivered a bigger blow to pro-abortion rights movement than the current Texas bill by far. I listened to him and thought, whatever side he’s on, I don’t want to be there.

          My sister also knew she couldn’t face natural birth because of the birth trauma when she was born. She was only 27, so it wasn’t a health-related decision. The doctors tried refusing but she was adamant. So I totally get how you are feeling.

          Look, the most important thing is that you do get to have a child, right? How it gets here is really unimportant in comparison. I look at my healthy, happy kid, and the last thing I think about is how I delivered her. Also, on case you don’t know, the time to start your pregnancy vitamins is a year before conception. It doesn’t work as well if you start it later.


        2. “I am sure if a woman with a healthy 8-9 months fetus arrives, the child won’t be killed.”

          Look up the case of Dr. Gosnell. And mentally add up in your head that there’s probably at least one of those outfits in every state, and the only reason that guy went to jail is because too many of his women patients died.


        3. I am not suggesting that doctors not offer C-sections to women. Of course they should be told, in a high-risk situation, that C-section is their best option! But then the mother should get to make her own medical decisions, based on her own values and priorities.

          You don’t seem to understand the weird medical/legal situation with that in the US. Here, if you’re having twins, unless you give birth in your car on the roadside, or in the elevator on the way to the maternity ward at the hospital, you will end up with a C-section. They don’t give you a choice about it, and if you express too keen a desire to deliver naturally, the hospital can, and will, get a court order to have you confined to a hospital before your due date, to make sure you don’t try to hire a midwife and birth at home.

          Delivering twins naturally has a somewhat higher risk to the babies than delivering surgically, but there are other factors that affect the level of risk: age and health of the mother, size and health of the babies, competence of the hospital staff, etc etc etc. But none of those factors are taken into account. Only the fact that it’s a twin pregnancy. Because liability and insurance.

          As a result, delivering twins is rapidly becoming a lost art in the US: there are techniques that help, and that need to be learned from an experienced doctor or midwife. Hardly anyone has that knowledge and experience in the US, anymore, because of the C-section policy. The same is true for breech deliveries. This is a really big problem, because some women have precipitous labors or unexpected breeches, and they will have those babies naturally, no matter how the doctors and hospital plan it out. And when they do, there is nobody at the hospital with the training or competence to manage that situation safely.

          As for the risk of injury and disability to the baby… do you really think that no baby suffers injury as a result of overuse of drugs, surgery, or instrumental delivery in the maternity ward? I have a disabled niece who was part of a class-action lawsuit that says otherwise… doc just about crushed her head with forceps, and she will never walk or talk. Things might have turned out very different if there had been anyone at that hospital who knew how to handle a precipitous breech birth.

          We have completely lost the ability to make cost/benefit analyses, when it comes to medical care. With my last two children, I tested positive for GBS, which causes dangerous infections in a small percentage of newborns, and kills a small percentage of those infected. The treatment for that is IV antibiotics during labor, administered at least four hours before delivery. I opted out in spite of strong resistance from my doctor and every other medical professional involved.

          Is that because I don’t care about my kids? No. It’s because I weighed the potential danger of GBS infection in my babies, against the proven negative effects of antibiotic exposure in children before age 2, adding in the various risk factors (their father has asthma and food allergies, so they’re probably at higher risk for negative abx effects), and I went back and read the studies that established the antibiotic protocols, and found that the colony count in the study was much, much higher than the colony count on my lab tests (which did not even meet the minimum reporting threshold), which meant that my kids were at lower risk than the study percentages gave. I also factored in the labor-immobility that the IV would induce, the fact that you’d need at least four hours after starting the IV for the drugs to really be effective, and I’ve never spent that long in labor– my kids are in a hurry!– and I have a massive needle-phobia, so the IV itself had a good chance of pushing my cortisol levels into the stratosphere, and causing labor complications that I might need additional drugs and surgery to overcome (all of which come with their own risks for the baby). I did the math, and I made the choice I felt best for myself and my kids, against the advice of my doctor. And we are all fine.

          I don’t think that decision should be taken away from me. And I think all women should be able to make similar choices on behalf of themselves and their unborn children. The doctor should give her opinion– and it’s OK if that opinion is strongly worded and vehement. And then the woman gets to decide. Because it’s her body. And her choice.


  5. Searched for C-sections in Israel since I thought it was very hard to achieve one, even if a woman asked for it. Turns out I was right AND there are two evolutionary reasons for rising number of C-sections in the Western world:

    // More mothers now need surgery to deliver a baby due to their narrow pelvis size, with researchers saying cases where the birth canal is too narrow have increased from 30 in 1,000 in the 1960s to 36 in 1,000 births today.

    With an average rate of 154.3 caesarean sections per 1,000 births, Israel has the lowest prevalence of such procedures out of 34 OECD countries – while also having the highest overall birth rate, the Jerusalem Post reports. The OECD average of caesarean sections is 258.7 per 1,000 births.

    Dr. Philipp Mitteroecker, of the department of theoretical biology at the University of Vienna, told BBC News: “Women with a very narrow pelvis would not have survived birth 100 years ago. They do now and pass on their genes encoding for a narrow pelvis to their daughters.”

    Researchers studying the phenomenon, who gathered data from the World Health Organization and other large birth studies, found opposing evolutionary forces.

    They found that on one hand, there is a trend towards larger newborns, which are healthier, but also causes them to get stuck during labor.

    If not for modern medical intervention, this situation would have proved lethal for both mother and baby. In addition, it would stop their genes from being passed on.

    “One side of this selective force – namely the trend towards smaller babies – has vanished due to Caesarean sections,” said Dr. Mitteroecker.


    1. For a first birth after the age of 30, the likelihood is that it will end in an emergency C-section with a million complications. If that’s the choice, it makes sense to just do a scheduled C-section where you can walk and carry the baby a couple of hours after. But again, I completely respect everybody’s choice. My unusual situation obviously impacted me enormously, so I’m not clear-sighted on this.


      1. // If that’s the choice, it makes sense to just do a scheduled C-section where you can walk and carry the baby a couple of hours after.

        If I hopefully give birth in 2-3 years from now, I would love to have a scheduled C-section.

        Unfortunately, I do not think it will be possible to get it from doctors in Israel.


        1. If you are 35 by that time, you’ll have to beg them not to schedule a C-section. I mean, you are thin, you might be able to do a natural birth but I’ve honestly never seen anybody manage it for the first birth past 30.


            1. Oh, then you are good. Only a very weird doctor will suggest anything but a scheduled C-section. It’s ok, even at 40 I was running up and down stairs 3 days after the C-section. But it was scheduled, not emergency. With an emergency you can stay bed-ridden for up to two weeks, unfortunately. Both my sister and I had scheduled C-sections in all 4 pregnancies, and the same experience. Easy, painless, immediate recovery.


          1. Clarissa, I had my first at 31. No drugs, quick labor. Recovery was brutal, as the hormones do freakish things to my blood sugar levels. Actual birth was the easy part. It depends on a lot of things besides age.


  6. Just a final note, though: what everyone missed, but my mother pointed out to me today… Texas passed unlicensed concealed carry at the same time they passed this abortion bill. All the hysterical types too busy obsessing over this bill, so that hardly anyone outside conservative/libertarian circles even noticed the UCC thing. That was a beautiful bit of political sleight-of-hand 🙂


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